USA Today bestselling author Jade Lee has been scripting love stories since she first picked up a set of paper dolls. Ball gowns and rakish lords caught her attention early (thank you, Georgette Heyer), and her fascination with the Regency began. An author of more than thirty romance novels and winner of dozens of industry awards, Lee lives in Champaign, Illinois.
Today we excited to welcome Jade Lee to the blog! Jade’s latest title, 50 Ways to Ruin a Rake, is out May 5th and is the first in her hilarious new Rakes & Rogues series. To celebrate her new release, Jade is here to share a quiz about the book. See if you can guess correctly!
Question: I've been asked a lot about the title of this book. The truth is that I suck at titles, so usually marketing decides what is best. Guess which of the ones below (and it can be more than one) is what I call the book.
A. The Duke's Cunning Plan
B. Trevor and Mellie's book.
C. The turkey book.
D. Book 1 of the Lady Eleanor contract
E. The ^%^#^$## book.
Answer: All of the above. Yes, the name of this book has gone through a number of iterations, and when deep in revisions, every book of mine is cursed out. Tervor and Mellie are the hero and heroine, so that's obvious. My title was the Duke's Cunning Plan as a Black Adder reference and because everyone in this book has a cunning plan that goes horribly awry. Yes, I thought I was being clever. Marketing thought I was being stupid.
The turkey reference is clear once you read the book. A turkey is featured in a couple of very funny scenes. And as for contracts, Lady Eleanor will be a secondary character in all three of these books. I originally had grand plans to build a torrid affair for her, but at the moment, it's a sloooooow growing affair.
What about you? Are there titles of books that are perfect or really, really imperfect? Tell me! It will give me something to aspire to or make me feel better about my poor attempts.
Mellie Smithson has a plan…Mellie Smithson is trapped in the country with no suitors and no prospects on the horizon except, perhaps, the exasperating—although admittedly handsome—guest of her father. Unwilling to settle, Mellie will do anything to escape to London...Trevor Anaedsley has a problem…Trevor Anaedsley’s grandfather has cut off his funds until he gets engaged. Beset by creditors, Trevor escapes to the country—ostensibly to visit his old tutor Mr. Smithson—where he meets Smithson’s lovely daughter Mellie. The obvious solution is suddenly before him—but will this fake engagement go as Trevor and Mellie plan? Or will they find that even the best laid plans often go awry?
Trevor was down. Ronnie was going to finish the fight. But he hadn’t reckoned on Melinda. She’d been an unwilling participant in this whole disgusting display. Well, if her cousin wanted a Cheltenham tragedy, she would bloody well give him one.
She surged forward, having no need to fake the desperation in her voice. “Stop it! Ronnie, stop it now!” And when he didn’t hear her, she said the words she’d never thought she’d utter in her entire life. “My love!”
That got his attention. His fist was raised, but he looked to her, his eyes alight with excitement. “Mellie!”
She flung herself forward. Dropping to her knees, she slid in the mud, coming to a stop just where she’d intended—right beside Trevor’s head. Ronnie reached for her, but she pushed him away as she wrapped herself around the fallen lord.
“Stay away, you brute!” she practically spit at her cousin. Then she used her cloak to dab at the blood on Trevor’s face. “My love, my love, are you alive? Oh God, someone fetch a doctor! Please, someone!”
Her words were ten times more dramatic than were needed, but she’d learned that the best way to deliver a message to her cousin was in the most theatrical tone possible. So she cradled Trevor in her arms and crooned like any heroine in the most lurid gothic romance.
Trevor’s face was indeed a battered mess, but not so unrecognizable that she didn’t see the gleam of appreciation in his eyes or the mischievous smile that pulled at his swollen lip.
“Are you an angel?” he asked. “Have I died?”
The man was lying in the mud, his ankle nearly snapped in half. His face oozed from a myriad of cuts, and yet he still had the wherewithal to give the crowd a good show. It was enough to make her contemplate dropping him in the mud. She didn’t, of course, but she hoped her glare would suffice.
Meanwhile, Ronnie just stood there poised, his fist still raised as he gaped. “Mellie?”
She looked up, shooting a venomous look at his bloodied fist. “Do you mean to trounce me as well? Lay me out in the mud and the shite like last week’s garbage?”
“What?” Ronnie took a moment to understand while she gestured with her chin toward his fist. Then he abruptly gasped and shook out his hand, dropping it helplessly to his side. “But I won. This was an affaire d’honor.”
“Congratulations,” she mocked. “You beat a man half your weight.”
“Hey!” muttered Trevor. “I’m not that small.”
“Oh shut up. I’m making a point.” Then she turned her attention to her cousin. Best make the situation absolutely clear. “You were right, Ronnie. You have made everything so clear to me. I could never love a brute like you. It’s him I want. A man of elegance, not violence.”
She watched her cousin absorb her words, his mind obviously working slowly, and no wonder. Certainly, Ronnie was an accomplished fighter, but he’d never in his life been called a brute. He was a poet, for God’s sake. And his father was wont to call him a useless fribble with no starch whatsoever. Of course, both appellations were completely wrong, but truth didn’t matter here. Not when he’d wanted drama. And so she stretched the truth—she outright broke it—and she felt no remorse.
“I love Trevor,” she said loudly enough for everyone to hear.
“Since when?” her cousin demanded.
Since never. She had a thorough disgust of them both. Especially as Trevor began to speak in a quavering voice.
“Oh, to finally hear those words, now in the moments before I expire. My life is complete.”
“You’re not dying,” she hissed. Unless he was hurt more than he appeared. The thought shot her with alarm until he started speaking again.
“I am dying!” he cried. “Kiss me, my love. Kiss me, and mayhap your love will keep me tethered to this mortal coil.”
“I will not,” she said between clenched teeth.
He pitched his voice to a plaintive wail. “Then I shall die for sure!”
Damnation on all bloody, arrogant, ridiculous men! One glance about her showed that the crowd was hanging on his every word. She didn’t really care until she looked at Ronnie’s face. He wasn’t stupid. He could see that Trevor wasn’t really hurt. It wouldn’t take him long to remember that she’d never spoken of Trevor with anything but disdain. And from there it was a small step to realizing that this entire display was a sham. So she had to do something quickly. Something that he’d never forget, even if he did suspect the lie.
So she did it. She kissed Trevor.
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