Keira: How does one join the League of Second Sons? What credentials are needed beyond being a second son?
Isobel Carr: The way I pictured the whole thing starting was with a bunch of disgruntled younger sons forming a plan over a late night of drinking after the Hardwicke Marriage Act passed in the 1750s. The Act brought huge changes to England, especially when it came to clandestine marriages. It's the reason all those Regency couples raced off to Gretna Green (the first town on the Great North Road after you cross the border into Scotland).
Suddenly, a runaway marriage with an heiress was a much harder thing to accomplish. This was a BIG deal to younger sons (and was one of the reasons it took forever to get the act through Commons, which was stuffed to the gills with younger sons).
So initially, the club was just the band of younger sons who formed it, but over the years, it would have expanded as they invited others to join, and then the membership was expanded from just second sons to all younger sons. They don't take politics (Whig/Tory) into account, and they don't take school (Eton/Harrow) into account either. Like all clubs, you'd need a sponsor (another younger son), but I don't see it as something as formal as White's, where you had to be voted in.
Keira: What juicy tidbit does Lady Olivia Carlow have on Roland Devere? Must be something huge to blackmail him into playing her betrothed during the London season!
Isobel: The tidbit is the letter he sends. It¹s rude. It¹s presumptuous. And it would be hugely embarrassing for him if his parents ever found out. I based it on a real life event from the mid-eighteenth century, where a young rake sent a starchy widow just such a letter. Furious, she went directly to his parents and introduced herself as their future daughter-in-law. The young man, who DID care about his parents' good opinion, was trapped between a rock and a hard place. Call the lady a liar and let his parents see that letter, or accept her version and hope to plead his way out later. The lady in question did eventually brake off the engagement and let the man off the hook (I don't think she ever had any intention of marrying him, given how horrible her first marriage had been), but I was really taken with the chutzpah it took to respond the way she did. So much better than just pitching a fit.
Keira: Which do you love better: blackmail romances or wager-based romances? Or in the case of Ripe for Seduction, both!
Isobel: I like anything naughty that can both bring a couple together while also serving as a hurdle for them to get past. I¹m not always a huge fan of the wager-based ones because they so often all take the same tack of having the woman find out and be hurt. I want to see something a little different. Something with a twist.
Keira: How do you define love and can love survive said blackmail and wagers?
Isobel: In real life, I define love (and friendship) by who gets a kidney. When I'm writing, it's not much different. The person you love most, in that sweeping romantic way, may drive you nuts, may piss you off, may do things that make you want to cave their head in on occasion, but when push comes to shove, you¹d do anything for them.
Keira: What is next on your plate? What inspired you to start the project?
Isobel: I'd always planned The League of Second Sons as a six part series, so I have three books to go (Marcus Reeves, Anthony Thane, Dominic de Moulines). Next up is Ripe of Revenge (title subject to change, LOL!). It's my take on the secret baby plot. I'm also tinkering with a few ideas for novellas. I love writing short!