It is my great pleasure today at My Written Romance to be hosting Jayne Fresina, who is here to talk about her latest novel, Miss Molly Robbins Designs a Seduction. This is the final of four books in the Sydney Dovedale series.
I was lucky enough to have a chat with Jayne about the book, the series and her writing journey in general. She has also graciously provided you, the lovely readers of My Written Romance, with a sneak peak from the story. There is also a giveaway at the end of the post, and the prize is fantastic. So be sure to enter, my lovely readers (sorry, US and Canadian residents only)!
So, what is Miss Molly Robbins Designs a Seduction all about?
Molly Robbins is finally stepping into the spotlight. Her unique dress designs have caught the eye of London’s elite. And if it means her own dress shop, proper Molly will make a deal with the devil himself—the notoriously naughty Earl of Everscham. But becoming his mistress is not a part of their arrangement. It’s right there in the contract’s fine print: No Tomfoolery.
He’s an Expert at Taking Them Off…
Carver Danforthe has a reputation for beautiful mistresses, cutting remarks, and shirking his responsibilities—not for indulging the ambitions of his sister’s maid. He must have been drunk when he signed that blasted contract. The stubborn female may thing she’s gotten the best of him, but what this situation calls for is a little hands-on negotiating…
All’s Fair in Love and Fashion…
Now for my chat with Jayne Fresina:
Hi, Jayne! Welcome to My Written Romance!
Tell us a little bit about yourself
I am a slightly crazy writer, who is also a wife, sister, daughter, aunt, friend and dog mother. I do my best at all those things, but I’m not sure I’d pass if there was an exam! I love the change of seasons, dinner with friends, touring old ruins, airplane food and good ghost stories. I hate housework, seafood, alarm clocks, waiting rooms and loud people.
What is it that you love about this book, and in particular your hero and heroine?
I’m very fond of Molly because she’s been there with me through all four books in the series and I feel as if I know her very well. She has grown from that shy little girl into a confident, steady, ambitious woman. She knows what she wants from life and she works hard to get it. Of course, she’s not without her faults and that makes her even more endearing to me. Carver is a man who seems, on the surface, to have everything. Money, influence, good looks, charm….But he is actually quite a sad and lonely character underneath. For all his wealth, he isn’t even half as rich as Molly. She sees that, even before she fully understands how she can help him and give him the one thing he doesn’t have. And Carver appreciates Molly in ways no one else ever has. He loves her and wants to protect her, but he also sees the importance of letting her spread her wings to be happy. I think these two characters fulfill each other— complete each other, at the risk of sounding corny!
What inspired this particular story? Is there anyone that springs to mind when you think about your hero and heroine?
Molly’s story really began way back in the very first book in this series, where she makes a small appearance as a timid little girl with a gap in her front teeth. When I wrote the first book I had no idea it would become a series, or that shy Molly would be the heroine of the final book. But as the series continued and Molly kept popping up at different stages of her life it became inevitable that she should get to have her own love story. She demanded it, really. She grew up during the course of this series and I like to think that I’ve grown with her, as a writer.
What was it that drew you to writing romance?
I liked reading it first. I loved books of all kinds and then found historical romance and thought, “This is like taking a holiday, but it’s cheaper!” Trying to write them seemed like the next step for me, as I’d been writing stories of all sorts since childhood.
What is your favourite part of the writing process? Is it creating characters, world-building or is it typing The End?
Creating characters. I always have them running around my head and it’s fun getting them down on paper, making them come to life. They always come first and then the story.
When you hit a blank patch for inspiration, how do you rediscover it?
I try to let my mind rest. If I feel like its tied up in knots I will try to do something else for a while until it clears— watch a comedy or read a magazine, or do some sketching. When I recently hit a wall with the story I was writing, I took some time to sketch a layout map of the village in which my characters lived. That really helped free my mind and gave me some new ideas.
Who is your writing superhero? Why?
There are two – Shakespeare and Jane Austen. Because they wrote stories that still capture the imagination all these hundreds of years later. They had a certain magic that still appeals to us, even in a world that has changed so much since they were writing.
Outside of writing, what do you do? How do you relax?
I like to run, if the weather is fine. I do sudoku puzzles. Once a month I go out with friends for dinner and martinis. But to be honest, writing is my way of relaxing!
What’s next for you?
The Book Club Belles society is my next series for Sourcebooks. It begins with a free prequel e-book, Before the Kiss, which will introduce the series in May and then the first book, Once Upon a Kiss, is released in June.
I’d like to leave you with a little excerpt from the book. This is from a scene in which Molly has just delivered the first loan repayment to her benefactor the Earl of Everscham.
“Business is going well, it seems,” he muttered gruffly.
“Indeed, your lordship.” Her face very solemn, she curtsied again and moved toward the door. Suddenly, she stopped and turned to him. “It was not necessary to involve your mistress, the Baroness Schofield. I am capable of finding my own clients.”
“What makes you assume—”
“Do please credit me with some sense, your lordship. I may be a country wretch, raised by simple folk rather than among the grand sophisticates of Town, such as yourself”—she appeared to bite down on a chuckle, while her eyes once again studied his dirty knees—“but I am not naive. I have also borne witness to your high jinks for half my life.”
He should have been angered by that remark, but something about her funny little face and her fascination with his breeches made it impossible to lose his infamous temper. Yet. A dent in her lower lip was in danger of absorbing his attention for too long. “Half your life?”
She sighed. “Yes.”
“Then you know I am an unconscionable cad.”
“Yes.” No equivocation there.
“So why would I help by sending customers to you? Why should I care what becomes of an ingrate who abandons a good, steady, well-paid post in my household and has the gall to accuse me of—what was it—high jinks? You can hawk your wares on a street corner and down a quart of gin a day, and it won’t make a ripple in my life.”
“I assume you want your investment returned.”
“Two hundred pounds? Do I strike you as a gentleman in need of it?”
“Do I strike you as a woman who lacks the determination and wherewithal to find her own customers and achieve her own success?”
There was a little feathery seed caught in her hair by her temple, just visible under the brim of her bonnet. Must have blown there in the spring breeze as she walked through the nearby park on her way to Danforthe House. Carver badly wanted to raise his hand and take the seed out for her, but then he would have to touch her hair. It would be soft, warmed by the sun. The curls would twist around his finger. He might not be able to stop there, and he didn’t want his fingers bitten.
He felt a sharp pain, like a toothache. Wincing, he quickly lifted that same tempted hand to rub his cheek, and then it seemed as if she thought he was laughing at her, for the young woman’s anger visibly mounted. When she stepped toward him, Carver could see more color in her face, more detail in the deep, warm, chocolaty depths of her eyes.
“And for your information, sir,” she added indignantly, “I’ve never touched a drop of gin.”
“Perhaps you should. Might make you smile for once.”
“I do not believe in the overconsumption of alcohol. I’ve seen what fools it makes of people.” Her face was pert, censorious. “Like you, for instance.”
Oh, she was getting far too bold now, and he’d let her stretch her legs far enough. It was time he reined her in. “I daresay you also learned a lesson from your father’s misfortune.”
That caused the prissy madam a jolt. Her eyes widened. “What can you mean by that, pray?”
“Was he not the village drunk?”
“He most certainly was not!”
“But he was drunk the night that carriage ran over him. Had he not just been tossed out of the local tavern?”
Her cheeks flushed a dainty shade of pink. “My father was on his way home from market that evening. It was late, and he was tired.”
“How dare you!”
“It’s true. My sister told me. She heard all about it from Rafe Hartley’s aunt and uncle.”
Her lips parted. Her lashes flickered. Some of the high color in her face drained away.
“Perhaps your mother wished to save you from the truth,” he added, realizing he might have gone too far in his eagerness to put her in her place again.
She turned away swiftly, and the fresh, sweet scent of lavender tickled his nose as the sway of her gown released a soft wave of fragrance into the air. He waited. What could he say now? It wasn’t as if he had any experience in making apologies.
“In any case,” she managed, recovering quickly, “had I wanted meddling in my business, your lordship, I would have asked your sister for a loan. Not you.”
Meddling? Meddling? He was speechless and so annoyed that he forgot his toothache and any thought of apologizing.
Now came the thrust of her sharp tongue, getting her vengeance. “Please do not send any more of your women to me.”
She made it sound as if he kept a tribe of them in the cellar, along with a collection of fine wines. An amusing idea and quite practical actually, when he considered it. Carver always swore he would never devote himself to just one woman. Far better to have lots of Buffers, as he liked to think of them.
After that brief loss when he mentioned her father’s drunken mishap, his assailant was now getting her color back. Had she much bosom, it might have been heaving with the exertion of her temper, but her shape was carefully guarded from his assessment, securely buttoned up under the armor of her green coat. He considered that first button, imagined his long fingers slipping it free of the hole and then proceeding to the next. And the next.
“Get a hold of yourself,” he muttered. “There is no occasion for hysterics.”
“Clearly you don’t understand the cause of my distress.”
Her distress? Oh, she had no idea. “Well, there does seem to be a blasted lot of it, but then females are prone to exaggeration in general.”
She sucked in her cheeks and stared at him.
“Is your corset too tight?” he offered politely. “That could be your problem.” One he would willingly help her out of.
“Your lordship, let me explain my problem in plain terms. The baroness ordered three day gowns and three for evening. You will pay for those gowns, therefore, paying back your own loan. Which means, your lordship, that this is not a business loan to me at all, but a gift. That was not what I asked from you.”
“So what? So it is a gift.” Laughing uneasily, he rocked on his booted heels. “Most women would take it and be damned grateful.”
“As we already ascertained, I am not most women.”
No indeed, she was not, he thought bleakly. He could neither seduce nor frighten her. There went the jabbing pain in his tooth again.
Thank you so much for stopping by My Written Romance today, Jayne. It’s been wonderful chatting with you!
And now for the giveaway!
The lovely people at Sourcebooks in conjunction with Jayne Fresina have a wonderful prize pack on offer for a lucky reader.
The prize pack includes the 4 book set of the Sydney Dovedale series – The Most Improper Miss Sophie Valentine, The Wicked Wedding of Miss Ellie Vyne, Lady Mercy Danforthe Flirts with Scandal and Miss Molly Robbins Designs a Seduction – as well as a box of tea and mug and a tin of English Butter Fudge from Jayne.
This giveaway is only open to those in the US and Canada.
So let me tell you a little about Jayne Fresina:
Historical romance author Jayne Fresina sprouted up in England. Entertained by her father’s colorful tales of growing up in the countryside, and surrounded by opinionated sisters, she’s always had inspiration for her beleaguered heroes and unstoppable heroines. Miss Molly Robbins Designs a Seduction is the fourth book in her Sydney Dovedale series. She lives in upstate New York where she is working on a brand new regency romance series, the Book Club Belles Society. Visit www.jaynefresina.com for more information.