Message From The Author
REGENCY-ERA STORYTELLER STEPHANIE LAURENS CELEBRATES A MILESTONE WITH AVON
By Lauren Spielberg
After spending years honing her craft, Stephanie Laurens is definitely among the queens of Regency-set romances. And with her newest release, she and her stalwart publisher Avon will introduce a twist in the fictional "world of Stephanie Laurens."
With To Distraction, her 20th book for Avon and the one that kicks off her 10th anniversary with the publishing house, Laurens links her reader-favorite Cynsters novels with the Bastion Club books, creating a special release that, according to Avon Director of Publicity Pam Jaffe, "provides the thread that will tie together To Distraction and two forthcoming novels."
While the book marks the fifth installment in the Bastion Club milieu, the former research scientist is quick to point out that the story, like her others, takes place in a self-contained world, meticulously created with her fanciful imagination and scrupulous historical research.
"All my 20 Avon books so far, and all of those to come, are about a particular fictional slice of Regency high society, comprising aristocratic families in which the men have traditionally been warriors and defenders," Laurens says.
"Now the wars are over, and they're having to settle into civilian life and find new roles -- new outlets for their protective instincts and warrior talents.
"The Cynster and Bastion Club novels have always been linked," she continues. "It's like viewing a stage from two different perspectives. One group comes from a ducal family background, while the other is a group of ex-military heroes needing to marry, but it's the same stage, the same cast of characters on it."
To Distraction follows Deverell, Viscount Paignton, in pursuit of a ladylove. At his aunt's urging, he makes the acquaintance of secretive bookworm Phoebe Malleson and quickly becomes embroiled in a feminist cause near and dear to Phoebe's heart.
"I love following my characters into new and different dangerous situations," Laurens declares. "There's an exceptionally dastardly villain that Deverell and Phoebe battle to unmask and overcome -- assisted, of course, by other members of the Bastion Club, family and friends."
Deverell and Phoebe's titillating encounters notwithstanding, Laurens deftly prolongs the suspense, forcing her hero to investigate the object of his desire, all the while wooing her into taking his hand. Along the way, readers are reacquainted with characters from previous Cynster titles, such as Heathcote Montague. "We have previous and upcoming heroes and heroines in minor roles" in the book, Laurens promises. "Tristan and Lenore from The Lady Chosen [Bastion Club #1], Jack and Kit from Captain Jack's Woman [prequel to The Lady Chosen], as well as heroes to come in Gervase Tregarth, Christian Allardyce and the enigmatic Dalziel."
Laurens is no stranger to interweaving her series characters. Devil Cynster made his presence known in The Lady Chosen, and Helena, Dowager Duchess of St. Ives, edged her way into A Gentleman's Honor, the second Bastion Club title. "Demon Cynster was in A Lady of His Own [Bastion Club #3], in which Devil and his cousins played a vital offstage role in learning how the heroine's brother died. And of course, Lady Osbaldestone played a critical onstage role in A Fine Passion [Bastion Club #4].
"This hasn't involved any change in the way my stories flow," she says. "It's a natural development of the linkages that readers have so enjoyed in the Cynster and Bastion Club novels to date."
While Avon and Laurens will spend the next year marking their 10-year partnership, the official celebration will coincide with the release of A Taste of Innocence, a Cynster novel due out in hardcover in March 2007. Another Bastion Club title is expected to be released in September 2007 in mass market.
"It's been an eventful journey," says the author. "There's never a dull moment in this business. But after 20 books, I have complete confidence in my wonderful team at Avon, which leaves me free to concentrate on the most important aspect of all: the books. To me, that's the definition of author heaven."
Not surprisingly, the excitement doesn't stop there. "All of the upcoming books for the anniversary year," Laurens says, will "have a linkage via a single, very specific character. No, I'm not telling you who, and you haven't met him yet. But you will."
One morsel Laurens does reveal revolves around reader favorite Dalziel. After appearing in each one of her Bastion Club books, he'll headline his own story in 2009. "That book -- I already love it, but it's yet to come," Laurens says.
With characters readers have come to embrace as members of their own family, the world of Stephanie Laurens is truly, as Louis Armstrong once sang, a wonderful world.
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