Mia Marlowe is a rising star whose Touch of a Rogue was named one of Publishers Weekly‘s Top Ten Best Romances for Spring 2012. Mia learned about storytelling while singing professional opera. She knows what it’s like to sing a high “C” in a corset, so she empathizes with the trials of her historical heroines. Mia resides in Boston, Massachusetts.
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First, thanks for having me today and for letting me talk about where I get my ideas for my books. I always feel ideas are floating all around us. Like the word ‘inspire’ implies, I sort of breathe them in. Sometimes it’s a song. Sometimes a painting. Once in a very great while, a television show.
That’s right. Downton Abbey got me started thinking about why I loved it so much. Part of it was the wonderful house and grounds, the clothes and sparkling crystal. If I could create a setting like that, only in my beloved Regency era, I believed readers would enjoy visiting it. So Somerfield Park was born and with it, the first book in the series, A Rake by Any Other Name.
The second part of Downton’s pull for me is the wonderful characters. I knew I had to people my fictional world with an eclectic bunch, starting with my hero.
Richard Barrett, Lord Hartley, has earned the reputation of a rake while traveling the Continent with his profligate friend, Lawrence Seymour. He may have sown his wild oats, but when his family needs him, his sense of duty, of “ought-ness” kicks into high gear. Not enough to go quietly when his family tries to convince him to let down Lady Antonia, to whom he very nearly proposed, and marry an heiress whom he’s never met instead, but Richard stands ready to take the reins of Somerfield Park in its time of need.
During the Regency, young ladies dream of doing everything right, of fitting in and winning the approval of all with their fine manners and proper behavior. Nothing could be more repugnant to my heroine, Sophie Goodnight. Raised in India, she has outlandish ideas and can’t fit into the narrow confines of British society any more than she can walk briskly in the narrow column dresses she’s expected to wear. And she’s as against the match her parents are trying to broker with Lord Hartley as he is.
Nothing brings a couple together like their shared distaste of being thrown together.
Of course, I had to have some intrigue going on in the “below stairs” world of Somerfield Park. So I treat my readers to the breathless courtship between Eliza Dovecote, the wistful scullery maid and David Abbot, the handsome footman as they try to uncover a secret that’s likely to upset the entire estate. And there’s also the middle-aged joy of the under-butler Mr. Porter’s Walter Mitty-esque pining for Mrs. Culpepper, Somerfield’s buxom cook.
Once my characters become firm in my mind, they are my best inspiration. I sort of follow them around while they whisper their secrets. Writing is the only profession where it’s good to hear voices!
A Reluctant Lord. A Resistant Lady. A Superfluous Fiancée.
And a Devastating Family Secret…
When Richard Barrett, Lord Hartley, is abruptly called home to take the reins of the estate, he discovers the extent of the family’s financial straits. The remedy: marry the heiress their families have picked out for him. Unfortunately, he’s already planned to marry someone else.
Miss Sophie Goodnight isn’t too keen on becoming his purse with feet…and she sabotages all attempts to woo her. But when Lord Hartley discovers the shenanigans in his father’s past, he realizes that deciding between two beautiful women is the least of his problems.
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