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Amanda McCabe Dances Into a New Favorite Era

She was a favorite among fans of the short, sweet, traditional Regencies, but when Signet closed down its Regency line, Amanda McCabe was cast adrift -- for a time. Now she's back and writing about another favorite era, the Italian Renaissance.

"I've loved the Regency era since I read Georgette Heyer's Frederica when I was 10," McCabe says. But the self-professed "history fanatic" and "study geek" does have other favorite time periods. "The Italian Renaissance is so lush and gorgeous and full of intrigue, beautiful art and danger, not to mention beautiful clothes," she notes, adding that Elizabethan England is another favorite setting.

McCabe slips into 1525 Venice in August's A Notorious Woman, which kicks off her Renaissance trilogy for Harlequin Historical. The author recently signed a three-book contract with Harlequin and also hopes to publish a new Regency-set series, The Muses of Mayfair, in 2008. But that's getting ahead of the story.

A Notorious Woman is a dark, mysterious story of forbidden love. Saying she always wanted to set a story in the Renaissance period, McCabe adds, "And what place in the world is more atmospheric and romantic than Venice? My characters have a lot to hide behind those ornate masks and curtained gondolas."

McCabe's characters do a fair amount of twirling on the dance floor as well as hiding and masquerading -- sometimes all in the same scene. "There is a masked ball in the Piazza San Marco where they dance the Volte," she says of one scene, adding that a version of the Volte can be seen in the film Shakespeare in Love. "Dance scenes are a particular favorite of mine," the hardcore fan of ABC's Dancing With the Stars says. "Characters in my Regency novels often did country dances and waltzes. I've been learning to samba lately but can't quite figure out how to work it into a book."

McCabe is currently writing the next installment in her Renaissance trilogy, which is set in the court of Henry VIII and features Nicolai, a Russian actor who appears in A Notorious Woman. "Anne Boleyn was a very enthusiastic dancer, and we get to see her dance with Henry VIII, as well as seeing my hero and heroine, Nicolai and Marguerite, dance. The year is 1527, and they perform a new Italian dance that's all the rage, the passamiento." -- Liz French

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