by Joyce Lamb)
Lorraine Heath, author of When the Duke Was Wicked, joins HEA to chat about wicked dukes, survivor heroines and scandalous gentlemen.
Joyce: Welcome back to HEA, Lorraine! When the Duke Was Wicked kicks off a new series for you (a spinoff of the Scoundrels of St. James series — yay!). What can you tell us about the new series?
Lorraine: Thank you, Joyce. It's such a pleasure to visit again.
In the Scoundrels of St. James, I introduced three boys: Jack's ward: Henry, the Duke of Lovingdon; Peter Sykes: a street child Frannie took in; Whit, the Duke of Avendale: Winnie's son. Twenty years later, they are so well liked that they are forgiven their scandalous reputations as the ladies vie for their attentions and hope to bring at least one of them to heel. But they are not of a mind to fall easily. To enjoy their stories, a reader doesn't have to read the Scoundrels first. The Scandalous Gentlemen of St. James is a series that completely stands on its own.
Joyce: The heroine of When the Duke Was Wicked, Lady Grace Mabry, is, unusually for a Regency romance, a breast cancer survivor. Why did you choose that direction?
Lorraine: I know it may sound odd, but the story chose the direction more than I did. Grace is so concerned with finding the "right" love, a strong and unconditional love, that I knew she possessed inner scars that were driving her. When she tells Lovingdon that she didn't trust her heart, it had betrayed her before, I thought a broken heart was the motivating factor. But as I got more deeply into the story, I realized it was something more, something that involved external scars. I'll admit I was a little hesitant at first to accept that she was a breast cancer survivor. I've had several friends affected by the disease, and didn't want to make light of what they went through. Nor did I want to be inaccurate regarding the treatment at the time. If I was going to write about a historical breast cancer survivor, I didn't want her to have a miracle cure. As I researched and discovered that Victorian physicians were making progress with the treatment of breast cancer, I realized I could make Grace's journey a realistic one with a happy ending. Also, during the writing of this story, I was struggling with a sense of powerlessness as my husband was undergoing treatments for prostate cancer. Like breast cancer, prostate cancer is considered a couple's disease and can affect a couple's relationship since it affects how a survivor perceives his sexual self. I couldn't write about prostate cancer because it generally affects older men and in 1874 there was no cure for it. So writing Grace's story was cathartic for me, gave me a place to put some of my fears, and, in the end, to show love triumphs.
Joyce: It sounds as though your heroine knew exactly where she was leading you.
What's so wicked about the Duke of Lovingdon?
Lorraine: Everything. His kisses, his touch, the rough purr of his voice as he whispers in a lady's ear. He's supposed to help Grace find love and in his attempt to educate her on what love should be, he demonstrates what it shouldn't be — taking liberties, kisses in the garden, whispers in the dark. Unfortunately, the more he demonstrates, the more he finds himself wanting Grace.
Joyce: What can you share about the next book in the Scandalous Gentlemen of St. James series?
Lorraine: Once More, My Darling Rogue is Peter Sykes' story, although he has changed his name to Drake Darling in an attempt to shed his origins. I refer to this story as Overboard meets Victorian London. When he rescues Lady Ophelia Lyttleton from the Thames, he realizes she has amnesia. The lady has snubbed him more often than he can count so he decides to exact a little revenge and tell her that she's his housekeeper. Only for a day …
Joyce: Please fill in the blanks: If ____ isn't on your keeper shelf, it should be because ____.
Lorraine: If Wild at Heart by Patricia Gaffney isn't on your keeper shelf, it should be, because it's the wonderful story of a man raised in the wilds who views himself more wolf than man until a professor's daughter shows him his true self. I love this story. Wish it were available electronically.
Joyce: Is there anything you'd like to add?
Lorraine: I want to thank you for the thought-provoking questions. Readers can visit my website, www.lorraineheath.com, for info on my upcoming releases or e-mail me at Lorraine-Heath@sbcglobal.net. I love hearing from readers.
HEA curator and contributor Joyce Lamb has 25 years of journalism experience and eight published romantic suspense novels, three of which have been RITA finalists. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter (@JoyceLamb). You can also follow HEA on Twitter (@HEAusatoday).