Message From The Author
A Seductive New Regency-set Series from the Queen of Medieval Romance
By Lauren Spielberg
For Madeline Hunter fans, it's been an unusually long
wait between the release of her last medieval romance, Stealing Heaven (Aug. '02), and the first in her Regency-set series starring some highly intoxicating men! After six of her novels were jetted out to bookstores in just over two years, the 14-month lapse in Hunter's production schedule raised questions from fans. There was a reason for this delay, however.
This fall, Bantam introduces a new, full-length, four-book series from Hunter, to be published in succeeding months—THE SEDUCER (Oct.), THE SAINT (Nov.), THE CHARMER (Dec.) and THE SINNER (Jan., '04). The heroes of Hunter's series are all friends and members of The Hampstead Dueling Society—although these men are the sort who regularly practice their swords and pistols on one another! By the end of each book, however, their practice proves more than handy.
Though in the midst of final edits for The Seducer series, Hunter found time to talk to us about her heroes and what fans can expect in each book of this scintillating series.
Q: First and foremost, let's fill the readers in on these
simply seductive heroes in your new back-to-back series.
Well, it's called The Seducer series for a reason! Each hero is distinctive, but all of them are sexy and very alluring. THE SEDUCER's Daniel St. John is a dark and dangerous man of mystery. He has seduced his way into high society and is in the process of seducing—to ruin—an old enemy. The heroine comes under his magnetic charisma and fears that his kindness to her is a prelude to seduction as well.
Everyone thinks Vergil Duclaric is a paragon of propriety. When the heroine turns his world upside down and interferes with his long-laid plans, she learns that THE SAINT is anything but.
Adrian Burchard, THE CHARMER, is all smooth, cool charm, but also lethal when the circumstances warrant. His confident strength lures the heroine into trusting him with her deepest fears.
Then there's Dante Duclairc, THE SINNER. Readers of the series will have met him in each book before he has his own story. He is a rake and wastrel who unexpectedly finds himself in the role of knight in shining armor when he agrees to protect a woman who is at the center of a mystery.
Q: The Regency and post-Regency settings in this series are radically different from those of your bestselling medieval romances. Why the shift in settings?
I've always written in other periods. I had written two of these [Seducer] books before I ever sold a medieval romance. During the lulls between writing my medievals, I continued working on the 19th-century [Regency and post-Regency] books, so I had most of the series written or plotted out when Stealing Heaven, my most recent medieval, was handed in. When I told my editor that there was this other series well underway but set in a different time period, she asked to see all of it. My publisher then decided to include the series in a major promotion of historical romance they were planning. Bantam's Get Connected program has featured back-to-back books in series all through 2003. For the readers, it means having the connected stories available all at once, without the usual wait.
Q: How much polishing was necessary once the books were sold?
The connections had to be tightened throughout the series, although each book stands on its own. For example, I like to have the repeating characters active in each book. After THE SEDUCER, Daniel St. John remains an important secondary character who plays a part in each story. Readers will see him and the heroine and their lives continue. And all of the other members of the Dueling Society are important players in his story as well. Balancing that was tricky. It meant that in every book there were these four compelling, sexy men wanting the spotlight. There was other work to be done too. I still had two of the books to complete, and one to radically rewrite because I decided I did not care for the intrigue. So I was pretty busy the last couple of years.
Q: Other than juggling those connections, what was the hardest part about writing this series?
I did not appreciate that four back-to-back books also meant four sets
of copyedits and galleys back-to-back. During April and May, while
I completed THE SINNER, I dreaded the sound of the delivery trucks
coming up my street. I'd cringe, listening for the thump that said
yet another must-do-now job had landed at my front door.
Also, and this is going to sound silly, I ran into a block in naming
the secondary characters. With four books, you need a lot of names.
I got to the point where I was "named out." There is an online listserv
of my fans, and I asked for help. In a day or two they had given me a whole list of names to choose from. I liked their ideas so much that I changed a couple major characters' names late in the game.
Q: Despite the change in setting, do you think your fans will still recognize your style, voice and storytelling?
I think readers will quickly recognize these as Madeline Hunter stories.
The plotting and characterization are similar, even if the setting has changed. For example, each novel has a rich plot, with high-stakes intrigue and adventure braiding with the love story to create a fast-paced "big book" experience. The stories include mysteries, secrets and surprises, like I've always used. The heroes are to die for, and the heroines show depth and growth too. My frequent theme of mismatched lovers, from different stations, classes or worlds, also continues in these books.
Contest Information: From October through January, Madeline Hunter is awarding one $25 bookstore certificate per month at www.madelinehunter.com. In a special contest for RT readers, she's also giving away a "spa box" of lotions, soaps, candles and other items for pampering yourself. To enter, send your name and address to Madeline Hunter, P.O. Box 112691, Pittsburgh,
PA 15241, postmarked by December 1.
Excerpt From THE SEDUCER
The Devil Man had come.
Madame Leblanc had threatened to send for him, and it appeared she had done so.
Diane watched the carriage slow to a stop in front of the school's entrance. Green and gold, with abundant carving, it was drawn by four white steeds. A prince might use such a carriage.
He had not always come in such grand style. There were times he rode a horse, and once he walked. One year he had not visited at all. Madame Leblanc had come close to sending her to the Dominican orphanage for the poor before a woman had arrived instead and paid for her keep for a while longer.
A bilious sensation churned in Diane's stomach. A guardian who only visited annually out of duty would not appreciate being summoned because of a disaster.
The brave plan she had hatched suddenly struck her as hopeless. Facing the inevitable, she had concluded that fate decreed a future that she had been too cowardly to embrace on her own. Watching the carriage, her fragile courage abandoned her. The sanctuary of this school might be lonely and small, but it was safe. The quest that beckoned her could wait.
The Devil Man stepped out of the carriage, resplendent in a midnight-blue cloak and high boots. The wind blew through his dark hair…
He had not always looked so rich. She vaguely remembered years when he had appeared almost rustic… . Rich or poor, their meetings always followed the same pattern. He would glance at her, barely, and ask his questions.
Are you being treated well? Do you have any complaints? Are you learning your school lessons? How old are you now?
He did not care for the answers. She told him what he wanted to hear. Except once. She had been whipped for a transgression she had not committed and the humiliation was very raw when he visited. She impulsively
complained to him.... Before he
left he forbade it, much to Madame Leblanc's frustration. From then on
she could not be physically punished without his permission.
Which was why he had been summoned today.
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