Hi Andrea, thanks for having me today as your guest.
What was the inspiration behind this book?
I always thought the idea of a highway robber romantic – as did my poor heroine until she tried it. But the idea really is how desperate would you need to be to have to resort to something like this – and especially in days when women were brought up to be sweet and nice and not much else.What kind of research did you have to do for it?
Mostly just reading lots of articles about highway robbers. In fact, by 1813/14 highway robbery had nearly died out – (pardon the pun). This was because of the increase of policing etc. However there were still a few around and I used that as my jumping off point. Then of course there’s lots of research on clothing and lifestyle, but the one I had the most difficulty with was transport and how long it would take to ride from point A to B and was that doable. One wonderful fact I came across was a passage about frost fayres… about when rivers and lakes froze over completely and the Thames did this for the last time in February 1814 – it’s to do with not just the fact that it was an extremely cold winter, but that the Thames in those days was wider and therefore a lot more shallower in places and so would freeze over because the water was not so deep. This fact came in handy for a very important place in the book…..won’t tell because it would spoil your reader’s reading!To which character do you best relate?
I think probably my poor tortured hero, not because I’ve been tortured LOL, but because I feel the man’s poor pain and sorrow and heartache and also feel guilty for putting him through it all. Bad, bad writer!What is one of your favorite scenes?
I think I have two. One is when the hero and heroine are alone in a barn. It’s the first time really they are just themselves, with the world not interrupting them. Then actually there’s a really tender scene with the hero and his son, when the hero has to let the boy down – again.If you could go back in time, where and when would you visit?
Oh this is easy. There’s a few periods really. Firstly the time of Henry 8th and Anne Boleyn, just for the intrigue of court life, but I’d have to make sure I kept my head attached to my neck! Then also when Cleopatra was queen. She was a strong woman, it would be interesting to see her in action, though I don’t particularly fancy bathing in ass’ milk!What is so appealing about the historical romance novel for readers? For writers?
I think because my heroine Tess is stepping completely out of her comfort zone into the unknown. She’s desperate and she’ll do anything, but she is also a romantic and this new life she’s dared to try is nothing like what she’d read in books. Reality is brutal! For writers…hmm… I think knowing that when I started writing there was no son….but this little boy came into my head and said I really had to write him in, and he wouldn’t go away. He’s a lovely and quite integral part of the story and certainly more than a challenge for my hero.You cite 'Island of the Blue Dolphins' by Scott O'Dell (one of my favorites!) as the first "real" book you have ever read. How do you define a "real" book? What was so compelling about that book for you?
This book I read probably as a 10 or 11 year old, so apart from Girls’ Annuals and comics LOL and maybe other school books is the 1st major book I remember. I loved the story and could feel the character’s angst, so I always say it’s the first proper book I read. Though I do remember a book we had to read at school – about age 7 – about King Arthur and the sword in the lake, loved it. I think maybe that is when my imagination about characters kicked in.What drives you as a writer?
Pig headed determination. I do get these ideas that don’t go away, but more it’s just the joy of writing a character’s story, weaving the words together.What is your advice for writers who are burned out by rejection?
Grit your teeth, eat some chocolate and keep on going. But really, it’s painful, depressing and gut wrenching. I remember once getting this rejection that completely floored me. I was sure this would be THE ONE. Nope. Well, by 4pm that after noon I’d already had a couple of rum and cokes, cried a who lot and eaten a huge amount of chocolate and then I went and had a lovely bubble bath.
By 8pm that night I was back writing! So there’s a bit of picking yourself up, pull up your socks and brush off the ‘hurt’, and do it all over again, and again and again. But…also what did the rejection letter say. Does it give you a hint where you went wrong. If so… look at it, work with it. Figure out what they’re saying. Did the other rejections say the same thing. If so…work hard at fixing that thing they say you’re not doing right.
But don’t give up.What is something that readers may be surprised to learn about you?
I’m in love with my label maker. Am OCD about containers and labelling them LOL My family just roll their eyes when I’m in this mode. Or when I’m in my – let’s move the furniture around – mode! Oh the joy of it all.Is there anything else you would like to share?
Well, I’m hoping that they’ll pop on over to my web site – www.janebeckenham.com and check out my other books. Also coming next year are two romantic suspense novels, one set in 1918 and the other in 1851 – so lots of fun – and research!Thank you so much for your time!
And thank you Andrea for having me too. It was fun thinking about these questions and about my answers.
by Jane Beckenham
Forced into a marriage . . .
Compelled by her uncle to marry a man who has a predilection for violence, Tess Stanhope resorts to a ploy from her favorite novels to fund an escape—highway robbery. But her attempt is botched by a maddening, handsome rogue named Aiden.
Driven by revenge . . .
Aiden Masters, the Earl of Charnley, is hell-bent on avenging his sister’s brutal treatment at the hands of the criminal Florian Nash. He single-mindedly seeks vengeance at the expense of all else—even by furtively roaming the highways at night.
Blackmailed for love . . .
At a London party Tess meets up with Aiden once again and blackmails him...marry her or she’ll divulge to society his clandestine life as a highwayman. She desires a marriage in name only—but the more time they spend fighting their desire, the closer they come giving in.
Read an excerpt:
Her mind reeled at his closeness, a sensory world of heat and touch. Of sinful thoughts. Concentrate. Stick with the plan.
What plan? This had been a spur of the moment idea. Now she had to make it work.
A flurry of nerves and fear coiled tight in her gut. This man was big. Her gaze dropped to his hands. Big hands. Hands that could break her with one flick of his wrists.
Tess knew she tempted him, which was exactly as it needed to be if she were to succeed. Then he did something she hadn’t expected. He lifted a hand to her neck, scraping the back of his fingers along its curve. Her breath hitched for a heartbeat.
Do it, Tess. He’s your only hope.
“I desire the independence of a married woman,” she said in a rush.
His eyes darkened to the color of the deepest night sky. “And?”
The tip of her tongue slid along the rim of her mouth, and butterflies fluttered in her stomach. “Marry me, Aiden, and you’ll never see me again. Marry me, or I will announce to the world your penchant for robbery.”
His hand fell away, his expression instantly stony. “You are either very brave, Tess Stanhope, or extremely foolish.”
“I know what I want.”
“So do I.”
Then he kissed her—and that changed everything.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Multi-published author Jane Beckenham lives in a tiny slice of paradise just north of Auckland, New Zealand. From her office she can watch the tuis and fantails flit about, along with families of pukeko and quails and a pair of lorikeets have taken up residence.
Along with the menagerie of bird life, are Jane’s husband of thirty years and two daughters, and her beloved dog, Bingo.
For the last ten years Jane has sat in her office every day, writing stories of hope and dreams that bring a smile to her face and hopefully her readers too. Romance, love and honor are the words in Jane’s tag line, and words she believes are the centre of all her romances.
Jane’s love of reading began as a child when she spent years in hospital. Those days inspired her dreams, which over the years have become a crucial part of her life. Dreaming of being able to walk again, then dreaming of her own happy after, and dreaming of becoming a mother, and subsequently adopting her daughters from Russia.
Come and dream a little while with Jane.
Visit Jane’s web site www.janebeckenham.com