- Tracy Sumner
- Release Date
- February 2020
- Book 1 of League of Lords
In the first in Tracy Sumner's sizzling League of Lords historical series, mysticism in Victorian England is the setting for a captivating love affair . . .
He's a viscount with a dark past who yearns for the one woman he can't have. She's rebellious, spurned by society and determined to change his mind.
BOOK INTERVIEW on February 2020
Interview by Laura
Welcome, Tracy, to The Romance Reviews!
Q: Where did you get your inspiration for the League of Lords paranormal series? It sounds exciting! How are the books tied together?
I had a scene in my mind years ago. It's not actually a scene that is IN the book but rather described there. When the hero and heroine meet as children. I hesitate to strongly use the word paranormal--think psychics. With much of the similar Victorian historical wrapped around it.
The hero, Julian, "sees" images when he touches an object, images of someone who touched it previously. The heroine, Piper, is a healer. She's able to calm the noise for someone with a supernatural gift--and she can see auras. The connector between the series is the League, the community of people with mystical abilities. Which was a very popular topic in the Victorian era, when the book is set, though maybe not the most popular if you suffered from said ability!
Q: Having a viscount with a psychic talent in Victorian England is a fresh take on the genre. How did you come up with it? Would we see heroes/heroines with different paranormal talents in the coming books?
I believe this series is similar to the Arcane Series books by Amanda Quick. Remember those? And Nora Roberts has done some "psychic" type characters. Perhaps I was inspired by those! It is a fresh take, which can be a risk, but I can only say I was compelled to write THE LADY IS TROUBLE. Again, it was that initial scene I could see in my mind that got me thinking, I have to write this book. Yes, future books feature others with supernatural abilities. Book #2 (coming out this summer – title still under consideration) is about Finn Alexander, bastard half-brother to Julian (the hero in Trouble) and supposed most handsome man in England. Oh, and he reads minds. I mean, no biggie, right? Gorgeous and talented. #3 in the series is about the Duke of Ashcroft, who can shoot fire from his fingertips. Some on the League call him a firestarter. Okay, a little inspiration from Stephen King there!
Q: Please tell us more about heroine Piper Scott. She sounds like a forward-thinking woman of her era, in short, delightful.
Without planning, I must be attracted to writing strong, independent heroines. (Side note: as I was doing the audiobooks for the Garrett Brother's series, I started receiving comments about what feminist novels they are. They're set in the Outer Banks, 1898 (Gilded Age Suffragettes!) Piper flies by the seat of her pants. She does get into trouble, hence the title, but she's honest and loving and very generous of heart. She loves Julian pretty much without hesitation from the first moment she meets him. But she's also got her own way of thinking, which shouldn't every lovable heroine have?
Q: What about Julian Alexander, Lord Beauchamp? How is he a swoonworthy hero, despite being pulled between duty and desire?
Julian is a tough nut to crack. He is very protective, very honorable. Feels protective of the people he has to protect and his viscountcy. I loved that he wanted to do the right thing. He even counsels himself on making the best choices in life. And he's willing to sacrifice Piper's love for her safety. I think he's a solid mix of Alpha and Beta. Loving her is not the issue, it's the choice to accept HER love that is the challenge. They are fated from pretty much the first time they see each other. He's also an artist, which is a bit of a surprise to Piper as she thought she knew everything about him.
Q: What is their first meeting like (after Piper got tired of waiting for him)?
Here's an excerpt:
She caught sight of Julian as she turned off the square, her step slowing with her catch of breath. She placed her hand on her stomach to contain the beating pulse, but it overtook her. Block, she warned herself in desperation, a version of self-healing that sometimes worked.
The carnal thoughts entering her mind were not ones Finn could witness.
He stood next to a secured bundle of Norfolk reed, stripped to the waist save for a thin linen shirt. He gestured to the men pegging the reeds in place as he took notes in a leather folio, muscles in his forearm shifting beneath his bunched sleeve. With a smile, he jammed the pencil between his teeth and the folio in his armpit, grasped a thatch, and demonstrated to a towheaded boy standing by his side. After the transfer of the rod to the lad, Julian's hand came out to tousle the boy's hair, the affectionate gesture melting the little of her unaffected at seeing him.
Shadowed jaw. Cheeks dented to hold the pencil. Hair a dark twist about his head. More mister than lord. Closer to the boy she'd fallen in love with while watching him exit a carriage in her grandfather's drive than the man he had been forced to become. Prying her gaze away, she spotted Julian's coat and waistcoat folded neatly over the railing of a spanking-new fence. Freshly whitewashed cottages and an industrious village on the mend surrounded them. She suspected the man standing twenty paces away, face streaked with dirt and sweat, was part of the reason.
"He only shipped me off when I was close to getting what I wanted," she murmured.
"What was that?"
Heat lit her cheeks as she waved Finn away. "Nothing."
"Everything we were building was ruined that night, Pip, and he's just trying to create something secure. For us, for the League, for himself, I guess."
That night being her grandfather's last. She recalled it well, often in nightmares. The shouts and the mayhem, the smell of blood, the gumminess of it beneath her slippers. Their desperate race into a new future, a new life.
Apart from each other.
It had been an unclimbable mountain of loneliness, at least for her. And here she was, hoping Julian would solve that problem as well when he had no intention of getting near her again.
A burst of panic hit her square in the chest. "This was a mistake, Finn. Let's go."
And that's when Julian noticed her.
His words fell away, mid-sentence, his lips going slack. He took a step forward, and for a brief unguarded second, she swore on everything worth a damn to her--basically, the two men standing in the churchyard--those remarkable eyes of his filled with pleasure.
Please, let it be.
The folio slipped from its home beneath his arm. Julian bent to pick it up and was grossly recovered on the return, his expression stark, determined. Like a flame cut by the wind, his aura deepened to a hue that, if she were smarter, would have had her running in the other direction.
Five long strides and he reached them, his open collar dancing with the movement. Instead of meeting his gaze, she focused on the taut line of his trouser brace, a dark slash holding his billowing shirt to his chest. Shifting the folio, he dragged his hand through his already disheveled hair and said something beneath his breath. Weakly, she wondered what it would be like to have his fingers trail over her skin, delve, record, take.
They had not made it that far before but, my, how she'd wanted to.
She flushed in places profound and hidden as he towered over her. Julian was fearsome on a good day, but on this day, with perspiration adhering mud-spattered linen to the defined muscles of his chest and belly, and his long, slim fingers repeatedly flexing about the folio, he was impressive for reasons only a woman fascinated could appreciate.
Before her stood a very tall, very handsome, deeply aggrieved man.
The changes since they'd last been together made her stomach do a little flip-flop, a rather unwelcome reaction when she'd found him tremendously attractive before.
Q: What makes them perfect for each other?
Well, the meeting created an instantaneous, lifelong connection (this is the scene I could see in my mind). He's cautious, she's not. He's scared to love, she's generous of heart. It's a bit of a battle of the sexes (as one review recently stated) and a case of opposites attracting. And they're friends--no matter the love element. They are family, even before they agree to fall in love.
Q: What for you is a romantic moment between them?
Enjoy this excerpt:
He grasped her shoulders, his lids lifting to reveal irises gone so dusky they edged to black. His aura radiated molten gold, as if she stared directly into a sun blistering her to her core. The wound on his shoulder had bled through the bandage and left a crimson trail down his arm.
Her heart broke, doomed with love.
"If this is how you're healing others, Yank, I have to object."
Somehow, she found the courage to ask: "Are you going to object now?"
His gaze lowered to her breasts, straining with each urgent breath against the bodice of her gown. Then he murmured one word--no--threaded his hand through her hair and brought her to him. She fell, a mad tumble, but he knew how to find the perfect fit. A skillful roll and he was atop her, pinning her in place. His other hand went to her cheek to still her movement as his lips covered hers--a rough invasion.
No gentle foray, no polite request, his need rolled over her as powerfully as a wave over the shore, ripping her feet from beneath her and plunging her into a chaotic, sensual sea. She accepted his challenge, opening like a flower beneath him. He tasted of mint and tea and felt like the answer to a prayer.
To deny him never occurred to her--and if it had--she would have rejected the offer.
With a throaty sound of pleasure, he settled between her legs, which with no hesitation, sprawled wide to give him better access. He adjusted his body, a subtle hip shift, once more, then, oh, yes, there. Her nipples instantly peaked, scraping against fabric, so pleasurably sensitive she sighed as the air left her lungs and entered his mouth in a sharp burst.
Desire poured through her; ablaze, covetous, she seized each new sensation. "Jules," she gasped, her head falling back. "More."
In impatient fistfuls, he yanked her skirt high as he found her lips, bringing her back into the kiss. Their bodies melded beautifully, naturally, pelvis to pelvis, each peek met with a contrasting valley, hot flesh separated only by thin, damp layers.
Unlike their sweet encounter long ago, this was a frantic, erotic battle. His tongue engaging, delving until she had no choice but to match his rhythm. She arched into him, the swollen weight of his shaft pressing against her thigh. She should have been repelled, when instead, she realized a wild urge to grasp his solid length, memorize each single, stiff inch of him.
This is madness.
It was the last coherent thought to funnel through the carnal haze surrounding her.
Her arms rose to encircle his neck, her hands diving into the silken strands she had imagined touching in a hundred wicked dreams. The scent in the room--citrus, man, paint--lit her nose and her senses to a peak. She liquefied, melting into the wooden planks beneath her, pliable, mastered by his touch. His lips trailed her cheek, her jaw, a diverse seduction she couldn't record or prepare for.
Her pulse had centered to a relentless thump between her legs. Never, never had she felt this reckless, this consumed by need, raw, urgent, indescribable.
It was an onslaught as he took complete and utter possession of her mind and body.
"God, Piper, I want," he whispered on a rough exhalation. His lashes fluttered, revealing frantic, glazed eyes gone deep slate. "I want…"
"Then take," she answered against his cheek. Following his example, she nipped his jaw, then laved it with her tongue, deciding his skin tasted like ambrosia.
His harsh oath evaporated in the sensual mist surrounding them as he trailed his fingers along the nape of her neck, a teasing dance over her shoulder. Along her collarbone, where he dipped his calloused fingertip inside the lace edge of her gown. Her breath too frayed to speak, she bumped her breast against his palm. With a low hum of approval, he curled his fingers around the sensitive mound, taking firm possession.
His thumb brushed her nipple, once, twice, then stayed to circle, over and over until she began to lose the battle, a familiar defeat. She had touched herself in the darkness of her bedchamber many times while thinking of Julian, wanting the sensations she created to come from his fingers, not her own.
Now, maybe her dream to break apart in his arms would be fulfilled.
She expressed her hope that it would without saying a word.
Q: Which character in the book is the hardest to write? Why?
I'm not a big "villain" diabolical/suspense writer, so writing the villain in this (Sidonie) was not the easiest for me. And I wanted her to have more than one side--and not simply be evil. (Piper is hunted to a certain extent because her power of healing can be used to benefit others but leave little for her, even her life.)
Q: What kind of research did you have to do to write this book? Please share an interesting fact or unique behind the scenes experience.
I did a lot of research into the Victorian era's fascination with mysticism and the occult. The scenes about Piper playing a medium were drawn from texts describing those events! Also, Julan's estate is also based on a real one in Oxfordshire.
Q: How fascinating! Please give us a sneak peek at book 2 in the series.
Book two is Finn's story. He's lovely--maybe a softer soul than Julian--able to laugh at himself and the absurdity of life. And he's blindingly good-looking. He was rescued by Julian as a boy (an orphan from a rookery/slum in London) and I find that I am bringing many elements of adoption into his story. Perhaps unintentionally. My son is adopted from Vietnam and we met his birth family this summer for the first time, so I know what it's like to be outside looking in. Or I imagine I do. He finds his soulmate in Lady Victoria Hamilton, who he begins to dream about without knowing exactly why. And Finn never dreams about anyone outside the League. Of course, she has a gift--a very powerful one. And a fiancé. And Finn is a bastard, so he can't marry a lady. Chaos and love ensue.
Q: What's up next for you?
I have a contemporary series out with my agent (and publishing moves so slowly--we shall see what happens with that). But my promise is to complete Finn's story and the Duke of Ashcroft's, then take a moment to decompress. My thought is to write five in the series (Humphrey and Simon, but you have to read the books to see who they are!) if things are going well.
Sounds exciting! *grin* Thank you for your time, Tracy!
Bio of author, Tracy Sumner:
Tracy's story telling career began when she picked up a copy of LaVyrle Spencer's Vows on a college beach trip. A journalism degree and a thousand romance novels later, she decided to try her hand at writing a southern version of the perfect love story.
When not writing sensual stories featuring complex characters and lush settings, Tracy can be found reading romance, snowboarding, watching college football and figuring out how she can get to 100 countries before she kicks.
Tracy has been awarded the National Reader's Choice, the Write Touch and the Beacon – with finalist nominations in the HOLT Medallion, Heart of Romance, Rising Stars and Reader's Choice. Her books have been translated into German, Dutch, Portuguese and Spanish. She loves hearing from readers about why she tends to pit her hero and heroine against each other and that great novel she simply must order in five seconds on her Kindle.