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Cara Elliott Interview
We go inside Cara Elliott’s historical romance series, Circle of Sin, for a special look at the series ender, To Tempt a Rake. Learn which beloved rake inspired the hero of this new romance, what true historical elements Elliott wove into the story and find out the three facts you must know about the hero of Elliott’s next series!
RT BOOK REVIEWS: In To Tempt a Rake, the final installment of your Circle of Sin trilogy, the heroine Kate Woodbridge is a fiery botanist. What is Kate’s favorite part of studying botany?
Cara Elliott: Kate loves seeing buds unfurl and bloom into glorious shapes and colors. She’s had a tough, nomadic life up until now, and has felt rootless, so botany has been a balm for her troubled spirits. But now that she’s come to London, new relationships with friends and family are also beginning to blossom.
RT: Your hero, Conte of Como, Marco Ghiradelli, is also very determined—as well as being devilishly handsome and charming. What was your inspiration for this Italian rake?
CE: Just watch Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean! I love that swaggering devil-may-care toughness that hides a heart of gold.
RT: Both Kate and Marco are incredibly headstrong characters. Do you have a favorite scene between the two of them that characterizes their relationship?
CE: I really like their nighttime encounter in the glass conservatory where amid the silvery moonlight and shadowy exotic plantings, Marco realizes that he’s met Kate before. Ah, but then there is the scene when they are forced to take shelter inside a private collection of erotic statues . . .
RT: To Tempt a Rake moves from England to Vienna. What inspired you to set their romance in more than one location and how did you see the travel affecting the characters?
CE: Seeing as both Kate and Marco are “international” (Kate is half American, Marco is ALL Italian) and have led adventurous lives, I thought it would be fun to have them travel outside of England for part of the book. They journey to a grand diplomatic Peace Conference in Vienna in order to help solve a mystery, and the glittering parties, combined with the swirling intrigue, provided the perfect setting in which to resolve their own inner conflicts. Talk about wrapping things up with a bang—quite literally!
RT: While doing research, what is something that you learned about Vienna that inspired you?
CE: The actual Congress of Vienna, which took place in the fall of 1814, was absolutely fascinating to research. The royalty of Europe, along with all their entourages, gathered for the serious task of restoring order to Europe after the Napoleonic Wars. But they also came to play! Honestly, they spent as much time partying and making love as they did making peace. The stories of the real life parties are better than fiction—there were sleigh rides with orchestras sliding along to serenade the guests, medieval jousts with “Queens of Love”, elaborate masquerades, and lavish outdoor balls, with dancing under spectacular displays of fireworks, just to name a few events. Honestly, what better setting for a historical romance!
RT: Along with the release of To Tempt a Rake, you offer a recipe for a Viennese chocolate cake. Can you tell us a little bit about how cake fits with Kate and Marco’s story? Is the recipe your own or is it something you discovered while researching the book?
CE: The Sacher Torte is a very famous traditional Viennese chocolate cake, and its original recipe has been a closely guarded secret since 1832! However, I did find a recipe for a replica, and if you haven’t ever tasted the sublime combination of chocolate cake, apricot jam and drizzled chocolate icing, I highly recommend it! In celebration of Valentine’s Day month, I’ve posted a downloadable PDF of the recipe on the home page of my website, www.caraelliott.com.
RT: Real life historical figure Prince Metternich makes a cameo appearance in To Tempt a Rake. What inspired you to include this actual historical figure?
CE: Prince Metternich was actually the person who “created” the chocolate cake. (though a little later in history than my book.) He ordered a very sumptuous dessert to be made for a special dinner he was giving, and warned the chef, “Take care that you do NOT make me look a fool tonight.” Also, he was quite a real-life rake, and was having a passionate affair with a lovely duchess during the Peace Conference. So he added perfect “color” to the story.
RT: Your Circle of Sin series has been full of steamy passion. What do you think is the most important component in the chemistry between your characters in To Tempt a Rake?
CE: They are both fiercely strong, yet vulnerable. It’s that rubbing together of the hard outer shells that sets off sparks . . . and then, of course, the fire melts into something softer.
RT: As To Tempt a Rake is the final book in the Circle of Sin series are there characteristics of Ciara, Alessandra and Kate that you wish you had more of?
CE: I think it’s important to keep challenging yourself, in order to learn and grow. But that said, it’s easy to want to stay within your own little comfort zone. So I hope some of the spirit of my fictional characters rubs off on me. They are bold and adventurous—and willing to take risks.
RT: All of the ladies in the Circle of Sin have a scientific background. Why science? Is it something that you have a personal interest in?
CE: Why I picked scientists is beyond me—I was absolutely hopeless in math and science in high school! (But hey, that is one of the joys of writing fiction—you get to be the fairy princess or the brilliant chemist.)
The real inspiration came from a museum exhibit I saw several years ago called “Romantics & Revolutionaries,” which featured a selection of Regency portraits from the National Portrait Gallery in London. I was riveted by the women represented. They were artists, poets, scientist, explorers—but what they all had in common was the courage to defy convention and pursue their passions. I knew right then that I wanted to write a series that would somehow capture their spirit.
RT: What is a project that you would love to work on, or a character you would love to write about, that simply hasn’t fit into your schedule yet?
CE: I’m really keen to write a series set in Edwardian England. Like the Regency, it was a time of great changes in all aspects of society, and I find that a fascinating backdrop for stories of individuals struggling to find their own place in the world. Oh, and then I’ve been fooling with a fun idea involving pirates (but not in the Caribbean!). And Steampunk is really intriguing . . . I think I may need six more hands and several more brains!
RT Book Reviews: We are already looking forward to the first book in your new trilogy, The Lords of Midnight. Too Wicked to Wed will be released in Fall 2011, what are three things we must know about your new hero Lord Killingworth?
Cara Elliott: His nickname is the Irish Wolfhound. He is an earl, but he must work for a living. And he owns a . . . oh, but that would be spoiling all the fun.
Want more of these dashing heroes and passionate leading ladies? You can pick up all three books in Elliott’s Circle of Sin series now!
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