Keira: 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!