Today we're visiting with Regency Romance author, Regan Walker. Her novel, Against the Wind was recently released. In addition to an interview with Regan, we will also have an excerpt of her novel to read and enjoy. Before we begin, let's take a look at Against the Wind...
A night in London’s most exclusive bordello. Agent of the Crown Sir Martin Powell would not normally indulge, but the end of his time spying against Napoleon deserves a victory celebration. Yet, such pleasure will not come cheap. The auburn-haired courtesan he calls “Kitten” is in truth Katherine, Lady Egerton, a dowager baroness and the daughter of an earl as elusive as she is alluring. She flees a fate worse than death. But Martin has known darkness, too, and he alone can touch her heart--as she has touched his. To the English Midlands they will steal, into the rising winds of revolution.
Tricia: Hi Regan. Thanks for stopping by to talk to us. Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Regan: As a child I loved to write stories, particularly about adventure-loving girls, but by the time I got to college more serious pursuits took priority. One of my professors thought I was suited to the profession of law (not sure that was a compliment), and I recall thinking that I’d rather be a hammer than a nail. Years of serving clients in private practice and several stints in high levels of government gave me a love of international travel and a feel for the demands of the “Crown” on its subjects. So, my romance novels often involve a demanding Prince Regent who thinks of his subjects as his private talent pool.
I am an avid historical romance reader and reviewer with my own blog (Regan’s Romance Reviews, http://reganromancereview.blogspot.com). I live in San Diego with my golden retriever, Link, inspires me every day to relax and smell the roses.
Tricia: When did you begin writing?
Regan: Very young—in grade school--but I did not again take up writing fiction until the last few years. I discovered historical romance about 2010 and fell in love with the genre. My first novel began soon thereafter. If I had it to do over, I would have taken up writing historical romance a long time ago.
Tricia: Can you tell us about the Agents of the Crown series?
Regan: The idea came from my early love of mysteries and spy stories and my knowledge that all branches of government have their own agents. It wasn’t much of a stretch to conceive of the Prince Regent asking a few of his subjects to take on “special assignments.” Kings have been doing it for centuries. Hence each of the books in my trilogy features a hero who has been asked to take on a unique task.
Tricia: Is there more in store for this series?
Regan: Yes, next after Against the Wind will be the 3rd in the trilogy—Wind Raven. It takes place on a schooner and in the Caribbean in 1817 and features a rakish sea captain and a pirate who plied the seas around Puerto Rico at the time. I’m writing it now. Then, there’s a prequel, To Tame the Wind, the story of the parents of the brothers who are the heroes in books 2 and 3. It will be set in the late 18th century in England and France. I have the idea but have not begun to write that one. And finally, I have the idea for a Christmas reunion of the Agents—it will be set in Scotland. You can get a hint of it from my short story, The Holly & The Thistle. Both of my short stories feature some of the characters from the trilogy.
Tricia: What was the most challenging aspect of writing your novels?
Regan: It might be easier to tell you what was easy first. The concept for each of them was easy, also the characters for the most part. Generally, after I do my research, I have the history I want to incorporate and some idea of how the story begins and ends. My biggest challenge is what I call “the mire of the middle.” I am a complete pantster in the middle and sometimes it’s a struggle to develop an intriguing tale that will grab and hold the attention of the readers. (I envy those authors who plot it all.) Eventually it comes to me but some days I just don’t feel inspired to write. The well is dry, so to speak. So I read and do other things and come back to my writing a day or two later.
Tricia: I understand you’ve also written a short story. Can you tell us about it?
Regan: Two actually. Both are set in London in 1818. The Shamrock & The Rose takes place in February and March (think Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day), and features an Irish hero; and The Holly & The Thistle takes place in December (Christmas and New Year’s), and features a Scottish hero. A central figure in each is Muriel, the Dowager Countess of Claremont, a matchmaker, who also has a cameo appearance in Against the Wind.
You can read more about the short stories on my website (http://www.reganwalkerauthor.com).
Tricia: Of all your characters, which one is your favorite? Why?
Regan: Oh, that is hard. I really love my heroes, all of them, and my heroines are women I would like to know. I suppose it might be my Scottish hero…William Stephens, the shipbuilder in The Holly & The Thistle. He is so sure of his love for Lady Emily Picton and very strategic in the way he goes about winning her. We would all love a man like that. You’ll see him again in the Scottish Christmas story that will come at the end of the series (book 5 if you count the prequel). But I also like Hugh, the Marquess of Ormond from Racing With The Wind—the Nighthawk. Very sexy guy, that one.
Tricia: Which character was the most challenging to write?
Regan: That would be Sir Martin Powell from Against the Wind, my latest release. He is a very complex man. A former sea captain, a rebel and a spy who served in France during Napoleon’s reign, a widower, a rescuer and a reluctant hero. But oh, so tender in his loving. And did I mention he has eyes of dark blue flame? No wonder Lady Egerton was helpless to deny his passion.
Tricia: I love Regency Romance. What made you decide to write Regencies?
Regan: Well, first you should know I don’t write the light stories many Regency authors do. I like history in my novels. And I think it was a fascination with all that was going on in France and England during the time that drew me—and a love for the stories of Jane Austen. In addition to England’s war with Napoleon, there was the War of 1812 that made the relationship with young America so interesting. There was just so much to work with. But I love history of all periods, so I won’t likely confine myself forever to the Regency period. I have a half done medieval, The Red Wolf’s Prize, that I will come back to when I finish the Agents of the Crown series.
Tricia: Which authors have inspired your writing?
Regan: The ones who write/wrote the deep historicals: Kathleen Givens, Kathleen Woodiwiss, Penelope Williamson, her sister Candice Proctor, Marsha Canham, Elizabeth Stuart, Virginia Henley, Shirlee Busbee and a host of others. (I have over 500 reviews on Amazon and many “best lists” on my blog.) Some of those still writing have been gracious enough to read my work and even offer a quote (you will see them on my website). I want to write like they do when I “grow up” as an author.
Tricia: What projects are you currently working on?
Regan: I’m writing Wind Raven now. The hero is Captain Nick Powell. You meet him in Against the Wind. A privateer during the War of 1812, he is now a merchant sea captain in his family’s business. A rake and a wounded man, he loves all women and he loves none—that is until he meets an impudent American named Tara McConnell. It’s research intensive since I have to learn all the nautical terminology and understand life on a schooner at the time. And I’ve a very worthy pirate to understand, too. It’s so important to get all that “right,” elsewise some clever reader will point out that I got it all wrong!
Tricia: How do you handle unfavorable reviews?
Regan: There is no way to handle them except to either ignore them (which some authors do) or to read them to see if the criticism is legitimate and learn from them. I try to do the latter. So far I haven’t had any really low reviews and that is a blessing. I hate to see authors who spent a year writing a novel get 1 and 2 star reviews for one thing in the story the reader didn’t like. It is so unfair. There is always something good one can say. I try to be fair in my reviews.
Tricia: What advice would you offer to new or aspiring authors?
Regan: First, get some critique partners you respect who are committed to getting (or are) published. Then, when you have finished a novel, get a few “beta reads” (a holistic read of the story for plot, characters and whether the reader liked the story—by different folks than your critique partners). Then, having made the changes that those led you to make, get it published. These days you have many options. If you like being in the driver’s seat, and you don’t want to spend years chasing a publisher, you can self publish. Of course, you’ll need a good editor and copyediter/formatter. But those can be found. I’m told by the authors who use it that Create Space is a wonderful way to go. If you want to go with the big 4 publishers (I think they are down to 4 now), you might want an agent. Otherwise, I don’t think you need one. I got lucky with Boroughs Publishing Group, a small ePublisher, and never felt the need for more. I like having a good editor, flexibility in designing my cover and the fact my publisher has kept the names of my novels. We all have to do our own publicity so that is going to be required no matter what you do. Best to have an author website and Facebook account in ready for when your first book rolls out.
Author’s Amazon page
Regan’s Romance Reviews blog
Chapter One of Against the Wind:
(Now Available on Amazon)
(Now Available on Amazon)
London, April 1817
She is dead.
Katherine, Lady Egerton, stared at the still form lying on the bed. Beloved sister, friend of the heart…Anne was gone. One minute she was struggling for breath, the next she lay silent and still. The only person in the world Kit loved more than life had left her.
They are all gone now. The sudden solitude tore at her heart.
Kit smiled sadly, gazing through eyes filled with tears at the frail body lying before her. The brown mouse. Anne’s name for herself. Delicate even as a child, she had not long survived her marriage to the cruel Earl of Rutledge. Kit knelt at her sister’s bedside, assailed by grief and guilt, and reached for Anne’s hand. Could she have done more to save her sister from the dread disease? Could she have done more to protect Anne from the heartless man who was her husband?
Pale in death, Anne was still beautiful. Kit had often sketched that heart-shaped face. Not a mouse, but a much-loved sister with a kind, unselfish heart.
Kit had seen the end coming in the last few months, months through which she’d faithfully cared for Anne. The coughs that wracked her sister’s slight frame had grown worse as Anne seemed to fade before Kit’s eyes. Kit knew she was losing her even as she willed that weak body to heal. The physician said he could do nothing; each time he left shaking his head and telling Kit to make “the poor girl” comfortable as best she could. Kit had tried to save Anne, doing the only thing she knew by giving her syrup of horehound and honey. But such a small measure was not enough. Then, too, her sister had seemed to welcome death.
Suddenly, the room grew cold. Kit felt his presence, a looming evil behind her. She took a deep breath and summoned her strength.
“Leave her and come to me.” Rutledge’s tone was harsh and demanding. Kit had no need to see him to know his face would be twisted in an odious scowl, his lips drawn taut. “It is time.”
“I must see to my sister.”
“You need do nothing. I have arranged for the burial. Come away now.”
Kit knew what he wanted, for she had seen the lust in his dark eyes. What at first had been sideways glances became leers and unwanted touches. Though she’d lived in his home since the death of her husband the baron, Kit had avoided the earl, rarely leaving her sister’s bedside. She had been thinking of a way to escape, but her exhaustion in caring for Anne these last days left those plans incomplete. With meager funds, her options were few.
When she failed to rise at the earl’s direction, his hand roughly gripped her shoulder. She stiffened at the pain of his fingers digging into her skin.
“I have waited long for you, Katherine, enduring that mockery of a marriage to your sister while all the while it was you I wanted, you I was promised. Now I shall have what is mine.”
“No!” She rose swiftly, stepping back as she turned to face him. Revulsion rose in her throat. What did he mean by those words? She never had been promised to him!
His smirk transfigured what many thought of as a handsome face. Hadn’t Anne at first been fooled by his aristocratic features and wavy brown hair? One had only to look closely to see his nature reflected in those thin lips and narrow eyes now focused on Kit. A deep furrow between his brows bore witness to his long having insisted upon having his way. When Kit sketched him, it had been as an attacking hawk.
“What will you do?” he asked smugly. “Where will you go, m’dear? You are alone and without funds. I am the one who has provided food and shelter for both you and your weak sister, though I wanted only you. You are mine, Katherine, and I will have you.”
Terror seized her. Cornered, her eyes darted about like an animal snared in a trap. His tall figure blocked the door to the corridor; the only way out led through his adjacent bedchamber. She fled toward it.
She hastened into the room as he stalked after her, knowing she had but seconds, and her eyes searched for a weapon, something to hold him at bay. At the side of the fireplace were tools, short bars of iron that could fend off a man. But could she reach them in time?
He lunged for her just as she ran toward the fireplace. His body collided with hers, and she fell upon the wooden floor with a thud. Pain shot through her hip. His body crashed down upon hers, forcing the air from her lungs. She gasped a breath just as his mouth crushed her lips, ruthlessly claiming dominance.
Tearing away, she pushed against his shoulders with all her might, but his greater strength held her pinned to the floor. His hand gripped one breast and squeezed. She winced at the pain, but that was quickly forgotten the moment a greater terror seized her: His aroused flesh pressed into her belly.
Violently she struggled, but to no avail. His wet lips slid down her throat to her heaving chest as his fingers gripped the top of her gown and yanked at the silk. Kit heard the fabric tear as he ripped her gown and the top of her chemise, and she felt the cool air on her naked breasts. Frantic, she mustered strength she did not know she had. Twisting in his grasp, she reached for the iron poker now a mere foot away.
His mouth latched onto her breast where he voraciously sucked a nipple. Lost in his lust, he did not see her grasp the length of iron, raise it above him and bring it crashing down on his head. Stunned by the blow, he raised up, his eyes glazed. Kit let the bar fall again, this time with greater force. Blood spattered her chest and face as his body went limp. He slumped atop her.
Kit’s heart pounded in her chest like a bird’s wing beating against a cage. Frantically she shoved his face from her breast and rolled his body to the floor.
Unsteady at first, her breath coming in pants, Kit rose and looked down at the crumpled form lying before her, every nerve on edge as she gazed into that evil face, now deathly pale. Blood oozed from a gash in the earl’s left temple. There was no sign of life, no movement.
I have killed him!
Fear choked off her breath as she wiped blood from her face with a sleeve, and with one last look toward her sister’s bedchamber she raced from the room. Footsteps sounded down the hall. Alarmed at the prospect of encountering one of the earl’s servants who would summon a constable, Kit knew she must find a place to hide, and there was nowhere to hide in the house. Quietly stealing into her bedchamber, she grabbed her cloak and reticule, stuffing inside it the one piece of her jewelry that could be sold to sustain her, and fled the dwelling.
Out on the street, she paused to draw her cloak tightly around her, desperate to cover her torn and bloody gown. Where could she go? Who would shelter her in the state she was in, given the deed she had done?
Only one name came to her.