- Libertary Co
- Release Date
- February 2016
Sometimes love happens at the most unexpected times and in the most unexpected places. Sometimes it quietly sneaks up on you, and sometimes it knocks you over on a London street, just as it happens to Lord Graelem Dayne when Laurel Farthingale's horse runs him over and breaks his leg. Graelem has until Midsummer's Day, a mere thirty days away to find a wife or lose a large inheritance, so when a remorseful Laurel begs his forgiveness and promises to do anything, anything for him, he takes her up on that promise and insists that she marry him.
Laurel Farthingale has no intention of becoming Graelem Dayne's biddable bride and is furious that he's tricked her into a betrothal. She plans to marry another, her long-time friend and childhood infatuation who is now in London to propose to her, for she's a Farthingale and everyone knows that Farthingales only marry for love. But as she comes to know Graelem, she realizes that he may very well be the man she's destined to love. Can he ever love her above his desire to secure his baronial fortune?
BOOK INTERVIEW on April 2016
Interview by Laura
Hi Meara, welcome to The Romance Reviews, and let's talk about your latest release.
Q: Where did you get your inspiration for the Farthingale series? How are the books tied together?
I've always been a fan of historical romance novels. Jane Austen, of course, set the standard of excellence with Pride and Prejudice. However, I also have a big, loud, loving and meddlesome family that I love dearly and who are very important in my life. These two influences somehow came together to create the Farthingales a mix of Pride and Prejudice meets My Big Fat Greek Wedding. It is wonderful and at the same time comically scary how closely my own family resembles Tula's family in that movie. So I simply had to take these wonderful elements and use them to create my Regency world. The series is anchored by the five beautiful Farthingale sisters, each of whom takes a turn being introduced into Society and each of whom will get into a heap of trouble along the way, because the stories wouldn't be any fun if they behaved! There will be more stories in the series, there are lots of Farthingales to be introduced to my readers.
Q: A MIDSUMMER'S KISS is the 4th book in the series, but it's actually the prequel to the first three books. What made you decide to write a prequel?
I meant to start with the eldest Farthingale sister, Rose, and then work my way down to the youngest, but as I started writing, the two youngest girls, Lily and Daffodil, who happen to be identical twins, started chattering in my brain and wouldn't stop until I agreed to write their stories first. So my debut book was My Fair Lily (Lily's story) and quickly followed by The Duke I'm Going To Marry (Daffodil's story). Then I wrote Daisy's story she's the middle daughter which is Rules For Reforming A Rake. Each sister has a distinct personality and going in backwards order seems to work because with each new book, you see the younger versions of Lily, Daffodil (called Dillie by her family and friends), and Daisy with hints of the young ladies they'll grow up to be. The twins in particular are so much fun to write because they're clever and curious and mischievous, so the readers know that something fun and unexpected is going to happen whenever they make an appearance.
Q: Please tell us more about heroine Laurel Farthingale. From the blurb, she sounds delightful. What kind of family does she have?
I loved writing Laurel because she has so much passion and isn't afraid to stand up for herself. She's also very protective of her sisters. She may be a little hotheaded, but always with the best of intentions, which is how she accidentally tramples Graelem Dayne (our hunky hero) while she's out riding, and Graelem ends up with a broken leg. Now, this is a problem for Graelem because he's come to London to find himself a bride and he has only thirty days to marry or he loses a vast inheritance. So as Laurel begs his forgiveness and promises to do anything to make it up to him, what do you think Graelem is going to ask her to do? Yes, marry him! I mentioned the boisterous and meddlesome Farthingale family earlier, and they play an important role in Laurel's story, as they do in all the stories. There's no such thing as privacy or keeping secrets in this family, so when Laurel is caught kissing Graelem, the entire family must hear about it and offer their unsolicited comments.
We also learn a lot about Graelem and his character in the way he steps up to help Laurel bail the twins out of trouble yes, they "borrow" a valuable and rather large fertility god from the Royal Society's museum and need Graelem's help to get it back where it belongs before anyone notices it's missing. Graelem's determination to help Laurel's sisters shows how protective and loyal he is to those he loves.
Q: The Farthingales sound like a delightful family. I love them already! How about Graelem Dayne? How do you pronounce his name? How is he a swoonworthy hero?
I adore Graelem! Readers can pronounce his name however they like, but I sound it out like "Grellem". It's one of those old Scottish names probably derived from a Viking name or old Druid name. He's this big, brawny Scot who's had a hard upbringing and isn't used to being shown affection, so when Laurel rushes to his side and takes his hand to soothe his pain from the broken leg, she's just given him thanks to her beast of a horse stomping on it, he doesn't quite know how to handle her natural affection or what to make of Laurel. But the gentleness of her touch, something he's been deprived of for all of his life, is what instinctively prompts him to accept her promise to do anything, anything for him. He knows then and there that she's the girl he must marry. Convincing strong-willed Laurel that he's the right man for her is another matter. But I think readers respond to Graelem because he's this big, gruff, handsome bear of a man who sincerely loves Laurel (although he won't admit it to himself) and who will protect her and her family always.
Q: How is their first meeting like?
As in all the stories, they open up with the unsuspecting, happy bachelor (i.e. the hero) dramatically meeting the Farthingale heroine, and his life will never be calm and ordered again! Chipping Way becomes known as a bachelor trap, and it's a running gag throughout the stories about the "Chipping Way curse", because the hero will walk down the street a happy bachelor but he'll walk out a doomed-to-be-married man. Of course, the Farthingale girls are beautiful, smart and passionate, so the heroes don't mind being "cursed" with a wife they love. Here's the opening scene in A MIDSUMMER'S KISS where Laurel barrels into Graelem:
"Oh, dear heaven!" The sound of a sweet, feminine voice reached Lord Graelem Dayne's ears, and a soft hand came to rest upon his much larger, rougher one to draw it off the boot he was clutching. "Sir, you mustn't touch your leg. I think it's broken."
"I know the damn thing is broken," Graelem said as he lay sprawled on his back in the middle of Chipping Way on this warm and sunny morning, writhing in agony and glowering at the snorting beast that had just burst through the open townhouse gate of Number 3 Chipping Way at full gallop and knocked him senseless.
That horse, the color of devil's black, had been rearing and fighting its rider while she struggled to bring it under control. As Graelem had tried to roll out of the way, one of its massive hooves landed with full force on his leg, cracking sturdy bone.
"Hellfire!" An excruciating jolt of pain shot straight up his body and into his temples the moment he tried to move his leg.
He was in trouble.
Serious trouble, not only because the horse was still skittish and snorting, but also because Graelem's now broken leg would make it impossible to complete the business he'd come down to London to accomplish. At the moment, he couldn't walk and his every breath was a struggle as it came in short, spurting gasps.
What was he to do now?
There would be no balls, soirees, or musicales for him for the next month, that was for certain. He'd never cut a striking figure hopping about on one leg, for he was a big oaf even when on two functioning legs.
He glanced at the angry beast.
Hellfire again! Just as Graelem thought he was about to be trampled once more, the beast lowered its massive hooves, let out a few soft neighs, and finally calmed.
"Pull the boot off my leg!" he ordered the young woman who'd slid off the saddle in a blur of green velvet and rushed toward him a moment ago. He wished she had been a man so he could pound his fist into his face for so recklessly galloping into him and efficiently destroying his courtship plans along with his leg.
"Now!" he commanded, knowing the task would be much harder once his leg had swelled as it was starting to do now. Cutting through leather was no easy feat, and any attempt to do so would be far more painful than one swift tug done immediately.
"Of course. I'm so sorry!" She knelt beside him and braced her hands on the heel of the boot, letting out a sob as she apologized again.
Damn, why couldn't she have been a man?
She sounded young, hardly more than a girl.
He inhaled sharply as those soft hands began to tug at his boot.
"I have it," the young woman said in a soothing voice that flowed over him like warm honey. "Close your eyes and take another deep breath. I'm afraid this will hurt."
Q: Eventually, what does Laurel see in Graelem? And vice-versa?
To me, the hero and heroine must connect on a deep level so that their hearts must understand that they are soul mates even if their brains resist the notion. In A MIDSUMMER'S KISS, Laurel at first sees Graelem as a man who's tricked her into a betrothal and she's resentful of it. But she's also feeling guilty for injuring him and knows she must make it up to him somehow just not with marriage. Laurel thinks she's in love with a childhood friend, and being a true and loyal person, is torn up thinking she's betraying this friend's trust. Laurel is also determined to marry for love because this is what Farthingales do, give their heart and soul to the person who is their perfect fit. No marriages of convenience for these girls.
Laurel responds to Graelem on a physical level from the first he's big and strong and handsome, but as she gets to know his worth and noble character, she finds herself drawn to him. When she receives terribly sad news, she instinctively runs to Graelem. She doesn't understand why she chose him, but we know that Graelem has had a hard upbringing, he's suffered loss and can be sympathetic, caring, and patient with Laurel as she works through her grief. Graelem at first views Laurel as a convenient solution to his problem. He needs to be married by Midsummer's Day and now that he's stuck in bed with a broken leg, he has no choice but to force her to live up to her unintended bargain. But the reader also knows that Graelem is already falling in love with Laurel and that he needs her to bring joy into his life. He's also the sort of man who has confidence in his masculinity so that he will support her independence and talent, and encourage her to live up to her full potential.
Q: What makes them perfect for each other?
Laurel has a strong sense of independence and she needs a man who will encourage and support her, who will treat her as an equal. She also needs a man she can admire and respect, and whose judgment she trusts. She is strong-willed and needs someone who is also strong and smart enough to sway her by using his wits and reason. Graelem fulfills all that. Graelem has spent most of his life on his own with no one showing him any affection. Laurel is like a fireball of love thrown at him. He loves her passion and her gentleness. She's beautiful, but he also loves her inner self. She sincerely cares for him, and he knows that she'll defend and fiercely protect their children, not abandon them as he was abandoned. He admires and respects her, and yes, he also lusts after her hot little body.
Q: What for you is a romantic moment between them?
I think Graelem's reaction when he realizes that he's the only man ever to kiss Laurel is romantic because it's so significant to Graelem. Here's the scene:
The solution to this problem was so simple that Laurel wanted to grab Graelem by his shirt collar and shake him soundly. "I'll speak to your grandmother and we'll arrange a small tea party right here. I'll also speak to my parents and insist on our hosting a dinner or musicale in our own home. I'm sure you will easily manage to walk next door given a few more days." The ideas continued to whirl in her head. "I have several friends making their come out this season. They'll trip over themselves to meet a wealthy baron."
He arched an eyebrow and leaned closer. "If they're so eager, then why aren't you?"
She tipped her chin upward in indignation, the common ending to most of their conversations. "As I said, I'm in love with another."
"Ah, yes. Devlin, the man who's kissed you with the ardor of boiled socks."
Her face began to heat. "If ever he were to kiss me, I can assure you it would be with more ardor than that of boiled socks!"
"If ever he..." He shook his head as though confused, then gaped at her and laughed. "You mean to say that he hasn't kissed you yet? Not even one stolen kiss under a Yuletide bough?"
She didn't think that her cheeks could grow any hotter, but they did. "No. Not yet, but"
"Blessed Scottish saints," he said in a husky murmur. "Are you saying that I'm the only man who's ever kissed you?"
"In that crude and plundering way. Yes." In that wonderful, fires-of-hell-take-me-I'm-yours way that still had her blushing and wanting to rip the shirt off his body and run her hands along his hot, golden skin? She cleared her throat. "In any way at all? Yes. You're the first."
A solemn quiet came over him, but he shook out of it quickly. "Laurel, lass." He spoke with a gentleness not present before. "You can't possibly love him."
"I knew you were going to say that." She curled her hands into fists and returned his gaze with a scowl of exasperation. "I do love him. I don't love you. The kiss we shared was a mistake. I wasn't myself. I was distraught and uncertain."
She paused a moment and swallowed hard. "But thank you for not taking advantage of me. Had you tried, I think I would have let you." Because she was crazed and hurting. No other reason. Certainly not because she felt any desire for the oaf.
Goodness and mercy! Why would she feel anything for him?
"I know, lass," he said with a nod. "But I gave you my promise that I wouldn't touch you against your will and I'll keep to it. You wanted the kiss and it was harmless enough." He leaned closer still. "Granted, you wanted more. But I will not have you shamed or living with regrets for your actions on one of the most difficult days of your life. When you marry me"
"If I marry you. Which I won't." Drat! The words sounded uncertain even to her ears.
"I'll make you a bargain."
She shot to her feet, instantly wary. "What sort of bargain?"
"I'll agree to attend these bloody teas and musicales if you stop dismissing the idea of our marriage."
She nibbled her lip in thought and noticed that Graelem's eyes darkened as he watched her. Honestly, why did the oaf have to be blessed with dangerously seductive eyes? They should have been watery or rimmed in red. They weren't. His eyes were clear and magnificent. "No more dismissing the idea of our marriage? I'll agree not to mention it when we chat"but I'll still think it"so long as you don't dismiss out of hand the young ladies I plan to invite to said teas and musicales."
"Agreed." He gave her a heart-melting smile. "Care to seal it with a handshake?"
No, she'd much rather seal it with a kiss. A lips-locked, tongues-plundering string of kisses to be precise. "Blessed Scottish saints," he said in a hoarse whisper and rose from his chair to stand beside her. "Don't look at me that way, lass."
"What way?" She felt her heart beating faster and the heat in her cheeks was now spreading through her body, blazing a fiery trail through her veins. Graelem stood too close. She put her hand on his chest to nudge him back, but somehow her hand curled against the front of his shirt and she found herself tugging his big body closer instead.
Oh, dear. The wrong way.
"What's it to be, lass?" His mouth felt feather soft against her ear. "Do we seal our bargain with a safe and proper handshake?" His cool breath sent very hot tingles up and down her spine. "Or would you rather we seal it with a dangerously improper kiss?"
She let out a soft gasp. Did the man have no shame?
Q: Which character is the hardest to write? Why?
When I first start a story, I think of the personality of the heroine and then I match her with a hero who should be utterly wrong for her. By the time I sit down to write the story, I already know them so well that I know just how they'll react to each other in each situation I throw at them. They're not really hard for me to write, although I think that writing an interesting heroine in the Regency era is probably hardest because she has to be well-mannered, polite, and dutiful without being boring. So I made sure to give each Farthingale sister a talent that is frowned upon in women so Lily is a bluestocking, a mix of Darwin and Einstein and Sophia Vergara rolled into one. She's writing a breakthrough research paper on baboon colonies, but the stodgy fellows in the Royal Society won't acknowledge her brains or accept her into the Royal Society. Laurel knows horses and has an excellent eye for breeding them, but she's not permitted to pursue that business. Rose is an extraordinary artist and creates ceramics and china to rival Wedgewood. Yet, they all want to fall in love, get married and raise a family. Their goals are traditional but they're not traditional girls. Making them fresh and interesting but firmly grounded in the Regency period was the hard goal. I hope I succeeded!
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 always refer to my research books to be true to the manners and costumes of the period, to create a believable Regency world that will draw readers into the past, but the heart of the story is still about emotions these are timeless and always relevant so within that researched world, I try to give my readers a humorous and heartwarming ride to romance. Much of my research is spent getting to know the particular parts of London, the costumes of the day, the coaches, the foods, the Napoleonic War, but since my voice is a light, humorous one, I also think of the way Oscar Wilde and Jane Austen constructed their secondary characters in order to poke fun at the rigid manners and privileges of the Upper Crust. One of the funniest lines I ever heard was from Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest when the stuffy old dowager intones "the general was a man of peace, except in his domestic life". I suspect he learned that gimmick from Jane Austen (who probably learned it by reading Shakespeare), because her stories are filled with these little witticisms that poke fun at Society the classic opening line of Pride and Prejudice for example. Of course, if the guy is rich he must, must, must be in want of a wife!
Q: Please give us a sneak peek at book 2 in the series.
Since I have four books out in this series now, I'm more than happy to acquaint readers with all the books in the series, but I'm especially delighted that you asked for a peek at book 2 which is Daffodil Farthingale's story, The Duke I'm Going To Marry. Of course, Ian Markham, the Duke of Edgeware is the one man that she's certain she'll never marry even if he is a rich and handsome duke because on the surface he appears cold, arrogant, and disdainful of love. On the inside however, he's this wonderfully tortured character I gave him a cruel and heartless family, a childhood tragedy that haunts him to this day, and deep emotional scars. He guards his heart tightly and is determined never to trust anyone with it, but he mistakenly kisses Daffodil one moonlit night and ever since then, he can't get her out of his thoughts (she was snooping in her neighbor's garden and Ian had snuck out there to meet a woman for a tryst, and mistook Daffodil for that woman in the dark).
Here's an opening snippet:
When Dillie Farthingale crossed to her bedroom window to draw the draperies before retiring to bed, she never expected to wind up in front of the Farthingale townhouse, elephant gun in hand, worried that she'd just shot the Duke of Edgeware. Not that this season's most eligible bachelor and dangerously handsome rakehell didn't deserve shooting. He most certainly did, but not by her.
"Crumpets!" She fell backward after getting off a shot that merely startled the duke's assailants. She aimed lower, getting off a second shot that almost ripped her shoulder out of its socket with its recoil. Scrambling to her feet, she reloaded and hurried out of the townhouse, shoving open the front gate that led onto Chipping Way, eager to inspect the damage and dreading what she might find.
Her street was one of those charming, quiet streets, a most desired location in London. Eligible dukes did not die on such streets. "Ian, you idiot! Are you hurt? Who were those awful men, and why were they attacking you?"
She knelt beside him, her heart firmly lodged in her throat. Her nightgown and thin wool shawl offered little protection from the midnight chill. Had Ian's eyes been open, he would have been ogling her, for that's what rakehells did best. Ian Markham, as the duke was known, was as rakish as they came, but he would never dare more with her. She was related to his best friend, and as disreputable as Ian was, he did have a code of honor. Of a sort.
She had never considered Ian more than a mere nuisance deserving of a frown or indignant tip of her chin. Certainly not worth shooting, except for that one instance when he'd thoroughly surprised her by kissing her with enough passion to curl her toes. It had been their first and only kiss, a case of mistaken identity in a moonlit garden, for he'd expected another lady to be standing beside the lilac tree where Dillie happened to be hiding while she innocently spied on her neighbor's dinner party.
Dillie had been trying to forget that kiss for the past two years. No doubt the duke had put it out of his mind immediately.
"Ian?" He appeared to be unconscious, his large, muscled body sprawled beneath the tree she'd practically splintered in half with the force of the elephant shot.
She set down the gun and shook him lightly when he failed to respond. "Oh, please wake up."
He opened his eyes with noticeable difficulty, his gaze decidedly fuzzy as he cast her a pained grin. "Bloody blazes, it's you. What are you doing here?"
"I live here. You're the one who's out of place."
His eyes were still unfocused. He blinked them slowly in an attempt to regain his vision. "Oh. Right. Then I ought to be going." But he made no attempt to rise. "I'll be off now. Good evening, Daffy."
Dillie ground her teeth in irritation. "Don't call me that." In a moment of madness, her parents had named her Daffodil, but she'd managed to sail through most of her nineteen years avoiding that hideous appellation. Everyone called her Dillie. Everyone but Ian Markham Markham, the arrogant, infuriating Duke of Edgeware, who took every opportunity to torture her with the use of her given name and every ridiculous variation of it that came to his fiendish mind. "The name is Miss Farthingale' to you."
"And I'm a duke. That's Your Grace to you."
She fisted her hands, wanting to pound the feathers out of him, but those two blackguards who'd attacked him seemed to have done a wickedly good job of it already. They were hired ruffians, certainly paid by someone angry enough to want him dead. "Very well. Your Grace, you idiot! Whose wife did you seduce this time?"
"That's better. About time you showed proper respect for my title." He tried to sit up, but he couldn't and fell back with a gasped oath, struggling for breath as he clutched his side.
Q: What's up next for you?
Next I'm working on Rose Farthingale's story, she's the eldest if you will recall from my prior answers, and finally gets her story. It's a prequel because I wrote them backwards, but she makes me proud, leading the way to mayhem and disaster in her debut season. It happens with the best of intentions, and she can explain why she abducted handsome Viscount Julian Emory she was only trying to keep him safe from the clutches of a wicked and unsuitable woman. After all, Julian rescued Rose when her ceramics kiln exploded (shades of Animal House!). Can she turn her back on his family's pleas when he is about to make the worst mistake of his life? Of course not! Oh, Rose stole his clothes. And now she's really in a mess because she didn't count on being abducted along with him (a little twist his family neglected to mention). Her clever plan has gone awry and now she must find Julian's clothes and pray he never finds out her involvement in the scheme which, of course, he will.
I also have a paranormal Regency series soon to be released involving an ancient Fae prophecy, a desperate (and hunky) Fae king who must find the mortal girl (you guessed it, sweet and innocent Regency heroine) who will fulfill the prophecy and save his people from the demonic Dragon Lords. Readers can find out more about this paranormal series and all my books by going to my website at www.mearaplatt.com.
Thank you so much for the opportunity to share my books with you!
Sounds exciting for us, too! Thank you, Meara, for taking out time from your busy schedule for this interview! Looking forward to reading more of your books.
Bio of author Meara Platt:
Meara Platt is happily married to her Russell Crowe look-alike husband, and they have two terrific children. She lives in one of the many great towns on Long Island, New York and loves it, except for the traffic. She has traveled the world, works as managing partner in a boutique law firm in NYC, occasionally lectures and finds time to write. Her favorite place in all the world is England's Lake District, which may not come as a surprise since many of her stories are set in that idyllic landscape, including her Romance Writers of America Golden Heart award winning story.
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