Many of your novels are set in Victorian England. What attracts you to that time period?
I love playing with the exquisite manners of the day. What does our heroine do when she finds herself completely in lust with an utterly unsuitable man? That creates such lovely sexual tension.
How long have you been writing romance?
I’ve been writing historical romance for 15 years under a variety of pseudonyms. I’ve been published by several mainstream houses, but with the advent of ebooks, I’m able to place my work directly in the hands of readers. What a fabulous privilege for an author!
Places to find Ava:
“You had me from Hello.”
A few thoughts on first impressions in romance novels.
How to introduce a hero. It’s a quandary that writers everywhere agonize over. And well they should. The hero Matters.
I don’t know how many books I’ve read where I couldn’t relate to the heroine—too mousy, too stubborn, or simply too perfect. Annoying, yes, but as long as the hero captured my attention, I was hooked.
This is absolutely not true with a bad hero. Tough as nails Alpha heroes are fabulous, but open Page One with a guy who’s mean, short-tempered, or selfish and I put the book down.
No matter how insurmountable the conflict that drives your hero and heroine apart—the juicier the better—the heroine (and your reader) need to start falling a little bit in love with the hero the moment they meet.
In Out of Her League, my latest release, the hero is introduced twice. The first time is in the heroine’s memory:
Her mind traveled back three years, to a charity ball given by one of the directors of St. Thomas. Kate remembered being instantly enthralled as she’d stepped into that enormous candlelit ballroom. She’d been intoxicated by the sheer loveliness of it, and that was before she’d even dared to sip a glass of champagne. She remembered swaying to the swelling strains of the orchestra as it played from its discreet position behind a row of potted palms. She’d loved the dizzying array of gilt mirrors, loved their shimmering reflection of the elegantly dressed crowd. She’d been entranced by the way the dancers swept effortlessly across the floor, gliding through an endless series of quadrilles and waltzes.
And in the center of it all—or at least it appeared that way to her at the time—was James Lancaster. Tall, muscular, and strikingly handsome in a way that went beyond mere attractiveness. It wasn’t just his dashing uniform, or the way the candlelight warmed the streaks of gold in his thick chestnut hair, or the laughter that sparkled in his deep blue eyes. He exuded an air of carefree virility, a dynamic combination of wealth, poise, and masculine confidence. He was the magnetic axis around which the females in the room spun and swayed, desperately vying for his attention.
Except Kate herself, of course. She knew better than to hope a man like that would notice her.
The next time their paths cross, the dreamy hero our heroine has lusted after has changed considerably:
Ignoring the dull pounding in his head, James braced himself up on his elbows. His sheets pooled about his hips, leaving him naked from the waist up. As his recent injury prevented him from mounting the stairs to his chamber, his household staff had set up a bed for him in the library. The accommodation had been a necessary convenience, but he realized now what a ridiculous sight he must appear. Unshaven, undressed, unkempt—he couldn’t remember the last time he’d bothered with a proper bath. Irritation and embarrassment flooded through him in equal measure. But he’d be damned if he’d show it. Instead, he sent the group before him a cocky nod of greeting.
“Good morning,” he said. “What a pleasant surprise. It appears I have guests.”
Although his chest was bare, the lower half of his anatomy was covered by a pair of sturdy cotton breeches. He swung his left leg—his good leg—out of bed. His foot hit an empty bottle of scotch, sending it skidding across the room. The bottle spun in a wobbly circle, coming to rest with its long neck pointing at him like an accusing finger. James heaved a sigh of disgust. He’d never taken a bottle to bed before, but since his return to London he’d managed to reach a new series of lows.
And there you have it. The hero has been properly introduced, the heroine is intrigued, and your story is successfully launched. Don’t hold back. Fall shamelessly in love with your hero from the moment he appears and your reader will, too.
Happy reading to all!
Captain James Lancaster, formerly one of London’s most notorious rakes, returns to England a broken man after a brutal tour in the Crimea. He is wounded in body and spirit, his badly injured leg leaving him unable to walk without crutches.
Nurse Katherine Riley has spent her entire life caring for others, but lately she finds herself longing for more. On a whim she indulges in a secret cache of provocative lingerie—just a little something to make her feel beautiful beneath her drab gowns, even if no one else can see it.
When James glimpses the erotic beauty hidden beneath Kate’s prim and proper façade, he introduces her to a sensual array of forbidden delights. Healing takes on an entirely new meaning. As Kate nurses James to a full recovery, their liaison opens her eyes to an enticing new world. How will she ever return to the staid life she once knew?
Purchase: | Amazon |
“Something wrong?” His voice was a low murmur in her ear.
“You need drapery,” she blurted inanely, just to have something to say to break the tension that hung between them.
“True.” He cocked his head to one side, considering the room. “I was thinking of scarlet.”
“Scarlet?” she choked out, feeling heat rush to her cheeks. “Surely that’s an odd color to suggest.”
“Is it?” He studied her with a playful smile. “But it’s such a passionate color, don’t you think? Brazen, bold, irresistible. In fact, now that I’ve considered scarlet, I can’t seem to get the color out of my mind. These past few nights, it’s all I could think of as I was falling asleep.”
She squared her shoulders and brought up her chin. Even leaning as he was on his crutches, he was still a full head taller than her. “If you’re referring to what I think you’re referring to, a gentleman wouldn’t refer to it.”
His lips quirked. “That’s a lot of referring. Are you certain I’m not simply inferring?”
“You’re interfering, certainly.”
“Must be infuriating.”
He was teasing her, and she was determined to resist him. Resist his smile. Resist the twinkle in his deep blue eyes. Resist the urge to lift her hand and push back the chestnut curl that fell so appealingly over his forehead.
“A gentleman wouldn’t mention what he saw.”
“True. A gentleman wouldn’t. Therein lies the problem. The glimpse I had of your breasts in that scarlet corset was the loveliest thing I’ve seen since my return to London. Hell, that’s not accurate. The loveliest thing I’ve seen in years.” He watched her for a moment in silence, then reached out and softly stroked her jaw. “It’s not my intention to embarrass you.”
“What are you intending?”
“Damned if I know.”
“This certainly isn’t proper.”
“Damned if I care.”
To her utter astonishment, Kate wasn’t entirely certain she cared, either. She’d played the part of dutiful daughter, dutiful sister, and dutiful nurse her entire life. Now, at the age of three and twenty, she was coming to the realization that the role didn’t entirely suit her. She’d lived her life as though crammed into a pair of shoes that had been pinching and cramping her for years. Here was an opportunity to try something scandalous and new. An invitation to see what she’d been missing, if only she had the courage to reach for it.
She moistened her lips, tipped back her head, and closed her eyes.
For a fraction of a second time stood still. Kate was overwhelmed by the horrifying certainty she’d misread his intentions. Then James’s lips brushed hers. The pressure on her mouth was light and gentle, allowing her the opportunity to change her mind, to slip away if she wanted to. So, a gentleman after all. The gesture, touching as it was, was wasted.
Kate stepped closer.
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