Get into Bed with Deb Marlowe (Author Interview 3)

love listKeira: What is the Harris List of Covent Garden Ladies?

Deb Marlowe: The Harris List of Covent Garden Ladies was a real publication, an annual register of lightskirts (prostitutes) in London.  It was widely popular in the 18th century and had faded out of existence by the Regency.  It was written in a light tone, meant to be witty, but I find it sad.  The List would have a name and address for each woman, along with a description of her, often mentioning her best assets and what her ‘specialties’ might be.

Keira: How is Miss Brynne Wilmott mixed up in all of this?

Deb: Brynne Wilmott had the misfortune of discovering that Lord Marstoke, her betrothed, was dark, dangerous and deranged, and that her father was unwilling or unable to help her escape the betrothal.  She makes the difficult decision to leave her old life behind and takes refuge with Hestia Wright, the former courtesan who has pledged to help all women in trouble, at Half Moon House.  At the time she had no idea that Hestia was also Marstoke’s most hated enemy–or that he would revive the Love List as a means of revenge on them both.

Keira: Why does Nathan Russell, the Duke of Aldmere, agree to help her?

Deb: He does so against his will. :) Experience has taught him that Fate is fickle and interfering in others’ lives only leads to worse trouble–and disaster.  He prefers to live a safe, solitary existence on his ducal pedestal, and has no intention of becoming involved in Brynne Wilmott’s affairs, despite her temptations.  But they discover that his brother is also mixed up in the Love List affair–and has gone missing.  Reluctantly, they decide to work together, and find that there is far more going on than meets the eye.

Keira: What reasons helped make your decision to self-publish The Love List ?

Deb: There were many reasons, but the ones I’m most happy with are the ability to write longer than I could for my previous publisher, and the opportunity to write the sort of book that I’ve been longing to write, one that has a grand adventure to match the passionate romance.  I have to say, I’ve also loved having a say in cover design and other elements for the first time, too. :)

Keira: How did you decide on your title for the novel?

Deb: It went through several incarnations, but with my critique partners and agent’s help, we pared it down to a catchy one that fits well with the rest of the series.

Keira: When and how did you first get into romance novels? What made you leap into writing them?

Deb: I started reading Romances when I was young–as a teenage I shared books by Judith McNaught, Kathleen Woodiwiss, Dorothy Garlock and Jude Devereaux with my Mom and Grandmother.  We loved talking about the books and it was a real bonding item for us.  I’ve read Romance ever since.  Even then I dreamed about writing them, but had to take a more practical path in life. :) When my Eldest was born with some health problems I had to stay home with him and I took the chance to start writing then.  And I’ve never looked back!

Keira: Would you rather travel for a week to and around Great Britain or time travel back to the Regency era of Great Britain? Why? Would your answer change if it was a weekend instead of a week?

Deb: If I knew it was only to be a weekend or a week, I’d snatch at the chance to see the Regency era in person.  What an eye-opener that would be!  But only if I knew I could come back here, to hot showers and advanced medicine. :)

Keira: What was the most interesting tidbit you found while researching this novel?

Deb: There are so many!  Studying the darker world of brothels, madams, courtesans and prostitutes was fascinating, as was delving deeper into the political intrigues that were happening in England and abroad during this time.  Coming up with my own schemes that also fit into the real history of the time was a huge challenge, but exhilarating!

Keira: What book or movie are you most looking forward to this year?

Deb: Can I make a List of my own? :) I cannot wait for Claudia Dain’s Much Ado about Dutton to be released.  Sabrina Jeffries has a new The Duke’s Men series coming, and Liz Carlyle has In Love With a Wicked Man–and those are only in the next few months!

In movies:  I’m dying to see the Joss Whedon interpretation of Much Ado About Nothing, Star Trek: Into Darkness and the next Avengers movie!

Buy: The Love List (Half Moon House Series)

Review: To Seduce an Earl (Seduction, Book 1) by Lori Brighton

to seduce an earlHero: When Alex Weston was young, he was blackmailed into working as a male prostitute in order to keep his family from London’s prisons. He has been thinking of escaping ever since, but the information that caught him then, is holding him captive today. With nothing much better to look forward, Alex decides to stay where he’s at until an intriguing costumer comes to his bed. Can he find the strength to break away from his world in order to keep her there?

Heroine: Grace Brisbane arrives at Lavender Hills quite by mistake. She’s tricked by her stepbrother and has no idea what she’s getting when Alex comes to the bedchamber. Clearly he is not an eccentric book collector. Horribly hurt by her stepbrother’s actions, Grace confronts him and learns the family’s finances are not good. Apparently her stepbrother wanted to help her catch the eye of the Earl of Rodrick, a man Grace has been infatuated with for a while. The Earl prefers experienced women over virgins. Can she gain enough experience to seduce an earl without complete ruination? One way to find out!

Review: I got tired of Alex’s never-ending pity party. The picture painted at Lavender Hills wasn’t ideal, but neither was it so foul that I felt Alex was truly trapped. (Is this a double standard? Yes, it is.) He was trapped mentally in his own apathy about his situation more than anything else. Sure, there are a couple of big brutes standing guard in the halls – it’s called a window. Alex won’t take that escape either because the blackmailing madam of the house would send said brutes to find him. For a man capable of wooing any virgin, he wasn’t as manly or ferocious in his sex appeal and I had hoped. Grace and Alex, when they are together, kept the story moving forward and kept my focus. It’s entertaining, quick, and good for passing time at the airport. I look forward to learning more about Gideon.

Rating: ★★½☆☆

Buy: To Seduce an Earl (The Seduction Series)

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To Capture a Rake

to seduce an earlGuest Blog by Lori Brighton, author of To Seduce an Earl

What is a rake? Well, if you’re a gardener it’s a tool used to gather things like grass and leaves. But to the romance reader, a rake is something far, far more interesting.

According to Wikipedia, “A rake, short for rakehell, is a historic term applied to a man who is habituated to immoral conduct, frequently a heartless womanizer.”

Immoral conduct?! Sign me up! For most romance readers, the rake is the ultimate hero, but of course only if he’s changed by the love of the perfect woman. Pick up a romance book, any romance, and most likely you’ll find a rake as the hero. A man who sleeps around with anyone; a man so gorgeous and charming, he can have any woman he wants, and often does. That’s right… they were manwhores and they were the inspiration for my newest historical romance with Amazon Montlake,  To Seduce an Earl.

I know what you’re thinking… my book sounds like every other romance out there. Well, not exactly. Sure, I could have written a book about the typical rake, but I decided to take it one step further and turn the rake into an actual prostitute. The heroes in my newest trilogy actually work in a brothel that caters to women.

Although it sort of started out as a joke, mocking your typical bed-jumping rake, I wanted to bring an element of reality to the situation and make this an emotional experience. You can imagine my relief when I received this review from the website, The Season, “Brighton perfectly captures the detachment sex workers develop to cope with their lives (yes, my day job as a social worker recognized this right away).”

The fact that a social worker appreciated the emotional depth I tried hard to convey, was quite the relief. So, if you have any interest in paid companions (and who doesn’t), or would just like an emotional read, I’m giving away two signed copies of To Seduce an Earl. Just leave a comment and a way to get into contact with you!

Buy: To Seduce an Earl (The Seduction Series)

Review: Her Husband’s Harlot (Mayhem in Mayfair, Book 1) by Grace Callaway

her husband's harlotReviewed by Carla F.

Summary: When she accidentally finds among her new husband’s things a party invitation with a lewd illustration on the back and the words, “Get Thee to The Nunnery”, Lady Helena Harteford recognizes it as the name of a brothel. She knows that Nicholas plans to go to that party. After all, since their disastrous wedding night, he hasn’t come to her bed. She decides to don a mask and go to the brothel to beg her husband not to take a whore. If he does, it will break her heart.

Nicholas decides to go to a brothel because he doesn’t want to subject his lovely, innocent wife to anymore of his carnal desires. He knows that if she knew of his past that she would be shocked, appalled, and would wish she had never married him.

Things don’t always turn out the way you expect…

Review: I devoured this book in a couple of hours! I just love how Helena and Nicholas fancy each other like mad, but suffer so much from their own insecurities. They both believe their spouse is is ashamed of him/her. It takes them a long time to get past this and accept themselves. I also liked how Helena (even though she is shy) later on decides to take charge and seduce her own husband.

The mystery involving Nicolas’s background is one that keeps the reader’s interest. You want to know who the villain is.

One thing that I couldn’t believe: The part where Helena goes back to the whore house as the masked lady and sends a note to Nicholas to come visit her there. Even though he doesn’t know who she really is, he shows up, beds her, and pays her!

Recommended: If you love a story with a heroine who is a wallflower with a backbone of steel or a damaged hero then you will love this one too.

Rating: ★★★★★

Buy: Her Husband’s Harlot (Mayhem in Mayfair #1)

Review: A Lily Among Thorns by Rose Lerner

The Heroine: Serena learned the hard way that men couldn’t be trusted. She ran off to marry a young man from her father’s employ only to be jilted. Too proud to return home she took up life as a prostitute and learned that all men were pigs… all except 200 Pounds, the title she gave to another young man who left without her services and gave her money enough to start fresh. In her new life Serena vowed she would never be dependent upon a man again. When her path crosses 200 Pounds she’s determined to repay the debt, little knowing all he wanted from her was the real her not the persona she built as the Siren.

The Hero: Solomon is a man of honor and that makes him odd. Odder still is his preference for tinkering with chemicals to create dyes for cloth with one uncle when he could lead a life of privilege under his other uncle. He recognizes Serena as the prostitute he gave 200 pounds too as soon as they are alone in the dark, but not before. When a man from her past threatens her freedom with a fake marriage, Solomon is determined to help again even though he sought her first for help locating a family heirloom.

Review: Packed with intrigue, A Lily Among Thorns, brings together a beta hero with a backbone (he knows what he wants and won’t accept less) and a heroine who acts in spite of fear with a determination to be admired. The story is very character driven and sprinkled with spicy moments. I particularly liked when Solomon broke the lock dividing their two rooms and how Serena reacts (and thinks about it later too.) Only had one caveat, Solomon starts as a virgin hero and I missed any reference to him losing it before meeting Serena a second time, where he clearly knows what he’s doing. ;)

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: A Lily Among Thorns, A Lily Among Thorns (UK)

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Review: The Harlot by Saska Walker

by Carla F., guest reviewer

Summary: Jessie Taskill is a prostitute who is known as “The Harlot of Dundee.” She has gotten this name because she enjoys her work and doesn’t just lie there. Jessie gets into a fight in a bar with another prostitute over a client. When the other woman realizes that Jessie is going to win she accuses Jessie of being a witch. Jessie is then sent to jail.

She really is a witch and is ready to cast a spell to escape her cell when a priest comes to visit with her. Gregor Ramsey has come dressed in priest robes to see Jessie because he has a proposition for her. He will help her escape in exchange for her to help him get revenge on his enemy.

Review: This sure isn’t anything like Pretty Woman. The world that Jessie lives in is a crude one and this book reflects that. The first view that Gregor (and the reader) has of Jessie is of her bare behind while she is fighting the other prostitute.

There are all kinds of sex here: straight, lesbian, gay and threesome. Since this book was from Harlequin’s Spice line, I wasn’t sure if this was even going to be a love story. I was almost halfway through the book before I came to care about either Jessie or Gregor. (It took stories of their difficult pasts and seeing affection between them to make it happen.)

Overall: Mostly erotica and some of it coarse, but once the love starts the story becomes interesting.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Buy: The Harlot, The Harlot (UK)

Review: Faking It by Elisa Lorello

Summary: Writing professor, Andi Cutrone, first sees Devin at a cocktail party and learns he’s an escort. Months after their initial meeting, she calls him up and barters for his services. He will give her one-on-one love lessons and she will give him a one-on-one writing course. It’s a deal he doesn’t initially go for but in the end agrees to and the two sign contracts stating one thing very clearly… falling it love is out. But when does life and love ever adhere to a contract?

Review: Set up a bit like a diary, with the chapters being the month. There are a couple of things I could have done without – a reference to a shady school pediatric doctor for instance. Other things I loved – the emails between Andi and a special someone. Very cute.

Devin is an interesting character with a lot of emotional entanglement issues. He has a love/hate relationship with his father, who thinks he’s gay or a prostitute by turn.

Andi hates her body and is on the heavy side. This and several harsh memories have made her a thirty something virgin who wants to but can’t get intimate.

I was hoping for a little more Sex and the City when it came to their lessons, but that wasn’t the case. A little less literary short pieces would have been nice too as I didn’t feel they did much for the story. The art review at the end though was a good touch.

The story is on the serious side, but the focus on change and growth is nice. Andi falls in love twice and her final romantic relationship is very cute.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Buy: Faking It

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Review: A Precious Jewel by Mary Balogh

I got this novel from the library when MagdalenB recommended it for a hero who bumbles his first declaration of love/marriage proposal:

Balogh’s A Precious Jewel. Gerald tries to explain why marriage is good idea; forgets to mention “love.” Twice!

Read it in a day because it was so different than any courtesan romance I have read to date. While reading it I simply couldn’t put it down and I liked it a lot. Writing the review pointed out to me all the things I didn’t like about the novel so you’ll have to excuse the overly negative approach. This novel was not without flaws, but if you’re like me you’ll enjoy it anyway.

Priscilla Wentworth lost her father and brother within a very short span of time and became a ward of her uncle. Her uncle is a lecherous creep and to avoid his advances she runs away to London to meet up with her former governess. She had planned to get a job at her finishing school. In actuality it was a high end whorehouse. Prissy tried for two months to get a job as a maid, a servant, or a governess and could not because she had zero references. Too prideful to take a made up position by her old governess she chose instead to become an honest whore. No virgin prostitute novel here.

After two months working, Sir Gerald Stapleton, becomes her client. One night he comes to her and finds her beaten by her previous costumer and decides to set her up as his mistress. Gerald has very simple tastes in bed – he likes his partner to be unmoving and receptive. He has never made love to a woman, just used them. The love scenes are very detached because of this, even when he comes to Prissy and tries to learn.

Gerald is not really romance hero material. He has zero redeeming traits. He is not bright, or adventurous, or particularly good at anything. He is not handsome. He is not good in bed. He makes no grand gestures (except screwing up his marriage proposal twice) and his idea of romance is buying her pieces of jewelry (something most men did for their mistresses anyway). He tells Prissy she’s a “good girl” and “you have pleased me” more often than he should. In bed he takes and does not give. He doesn’t know how or care really to learn. He believes (and it’s true) that he’s inadequate.

However, he cannot help but love Prissy. She’s the backbone of the novel. Her warmth, unfailing kindness, and presence in his life draw him in and won’t let him go. Gerald must overcome his anger at the betrayals by his mother and stepmother in order to truly acknowledge his need for Prissy. Until then he treats her like a mistress and like their time together is strictly business.

Rating: ★★★½☆

Buy: A Precious Jewel

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