Keira: In a Regency battle of the sexes, who would win in a game of wits: Gayle Windham or Anna Seaton?
Grace Burrowes: They would go at it tooth and nail for about the first three rounds, then become distracted by their chemistry and start to negotiate (the technical term would be “flirt”) between hurling arguments and tossing out witty asides, and pretty soon, the battle would be forgotten in the haze of growing attraction, until, well… they’d both win, at the same time, more than once.
Keira: Who has the most power over the household: the housekeeper or the earl?
GB: This is a fascinating question, but from a Regency perspective, the earl. His word was literally law within the walls of his home at the time, but unless he wanted damp sheets, cold food, bad razors, weak tea, and rancid butter, he’d better be on good terms with both his cook and his housekeeper.
Keira: What would Gayle say is deadlier: a woman with a fireplace poker or a matchmaking mama in the country?
GB: A matchmaking mama, by far! All it takes to withstand the fireplace poker is a very hard head, which his lordship has. The matchmaking mamas are an invidious, scheming, tireless, horde, aided and abetted by the old duke himself.
Keira: Anna’s story is a rags-to-riches tale (or should I say from Housekeeper to Duchess). So my question is how is a housekeeper like a Duchess?
GB: In truth, Anna was raised in an earl’s household, so she’s had more than a glimpse of the comfortable side of aristocratic living, but both a housekeeper and a duchess must have the ability to delegate, to keep peace among their underlings, to show grace under fire, and to handle uppity aristocratic men with a deft touch. It doesn’t hurt if they’re poised, self-reliant and tolerant of others, either.
Keira: Is Anna really a war widow?
GB: There were hordes of these too—Waterloo alone created more than 20,000 casualties—but she is not. At the time, the title Missus was bestowed on or appropriated by various women who were not married, housekeepers among them. It was also acceptable practice of the day for a courtesan to take the title, “Mrs. Protector,” at least among her social circle.
Keira: What was your favorite scene to write in The Heir and why?
GB: Hoo-boy… I like the scene where a sick Westhaven arrives on the doorstep of his former fiancée and her current, adoring spouse. Douglas scolds and insults and generally has great fun at Westhaven’s expense, even as he rallies immediately to protect Westhaven’s interests. The ways men show they care about each other fascinate and confound me.
Keira: How do you define love? (It’s a tough question, but one of my favorites to ask romance authors.)
GB: Love between adults is an act of will that elevates the good of the beloved to a status comparable to the lover’s own self-interest. This is more or less Plato’s take on it, but I think he put the good of the beloved above that of the person loving. I put the two as equal, which is a terrific challenge to figure out in a dynamic relationship. It requires work, creativity, and tenacity. (I don’t think my characters from the Regency would recognize this definition.)
Keira: What do you think makes a great lovemaking scene?
GB: Gracious… The intimate scenes are the hardest for me to write. I get down a paragraph, go start the tea kettle. A sentence or two, go take the kettle off the burner. Unravel a paragraph. Eat a cookie. A great love scene is one where the characters’ motivations for being intimate at that time and place are so clear the scene reads as if that is exactly what had to happen at that point in the story, and exactly how it had to happen. It can arouse or not, but it must move the reader closer to the story.
Keira: Can you tell us a little about Proper Peer? What else is next for you?
GB: Ohhhh… somebody has been peeking! Douglas and Gwen’s story is actually the fourth in a succession, with Westhaven and Anna’s being the fifth (The previous stories relate to Gwen’s cousins, Gareth, Andrew, and [in-law] David). Douglas is one hurtin’ pup at the beginning of his story, honor being about all he has left to him. He must humble himself to ask for Gwen’s help, but she—not being in any better shape than he is—is disinclined to assist him. But he goes and saves her kid’s life, and geesh, what’s a heroine to do? It’s a lovely story, all the better for having pointed me in the direction of the Windham family and that rascally old duke.
But next, coming out in 2011, we have the remaining Windham brothers who also have five sisters…
Keira: Is there anything else you’d like to talk about? The floor’s open!
GB: I started writing after my parenting responsibilities were largely behind me, and it has been wonderful, like finding a pot of gold at the end of one of life’s rainbows. I love to write, love to turn on the computer and crank up my imagination. I know every book won’t appeal to every reader, but if my stories can bring a little cheer and comfort, if they can distract an overworked, tired mom from her frustrations and challenges, then I’ll consider myself a successful writer.
If you enjoy Gayle and Anna’s story, then you can look forward to Devlin St. Just’s (the eldest brother, but illegitimate) story in The Soldier in July 2011, Valentine’s story in The Virtuoso in November 2011, and the first of the Windham sisters’ stories, Lady Sophie’s Christmas Wish, next October, all from Sourcebooks Casablanca.
I love to hear from my readers, and can be reached at www.graceburrowes.com.
Thank you, Keira. These were among the most creative and thought-provoking questions I’ve come across.
THE HEIR BY GRACE BURROWES – IN STORES DECEMBER 2010
An Earl Who Can’t Be Bribed…
Gayle Windham, Earl of Westhaven, is the first legitimate son and heir to the Duke of Moreland. To escape his father’s inexorable pressure to marry, he decides to spend the summer at his townhouse in London, where he finds himself intrigued by the secretive ways of his beautiful housekeeper.
A Lady Who Can’t Be Protected…
Anna Seaton is a beautiful, talented, educated woman, which is why it is so puzzling to Gayle that she works as his housekeeper.
As the two draw closer and begin to lose their hearts to each other, Anna’s secrets threaten to bring the earl’s orderly life crashing down—and he doesn’t know how he’s going to protect her from the fallout…
Buy: The Heir
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Grace Burrowes is the penname for a prolific author of historical romances whose manuscripts have so far won, finaled, or garnered honorable mention in Romance Writers of America-run contests in Georgia, Indiana, New Jersey, and Florida. Burrowes is a practicing attorney specializing in family law. She lives in rural Maryland and is working on her next book, The Soldier, set to release in July 2011. She can be reached through her website at www.graceburrowes.com.
PS - Through December 2010 you can buy The Heir (Kindle version) at 66% off for just $2.39! Good deal!