Filled with espionage and intrigue, Stefanie Sloane’s witty and sexy debut is a Regency historical—the first novel in a back-to-back Regency Rogues trilogy that features seductive spies and the ladies they must protect.
Lord William Randall, the Duke of Clairemont, is a rake with little regard for society—a most unlikely suitor for Lady Lucinda Grey. But his latest assignment for the Young Corinthians, an elite spy organization, involves protecting her from a kidnapping plot. To do this, the notorious “Iron Will” must use his devilish charm to seduce Lucinda and convince her he’s worthy of her attention. William never planned to become enthralled by the lovely Lady Grey—or to lose his own heart in the bargain.
Beautiful and fiercely intelligent, Lucinda has managed to gracefully sidestep even the most persistent suitors. Until the Duke of Clairemont, that is. She’s tempted by his sinfully sensuous mouth and piercing eyes, and finds it hard to resist the champion thoroughbred he offers her in exchange for the honor of courting her. Can she keep him at arm’s length when his touch begs her to let him so much closer?
A recent inductee into the Romance Writers of America Hall of Fame, Julia Quinn is the bestselling author of over twenty novels, including the beloved Bridgerton series. Julia Quinn: Hooray! My best friend has written a book! Oh, Lord, my best friend has written a book? Now what? Two things cross your mind when you find out that your best friend is writing a book. The first is: "That's great!" The second is: "Oh, crap. I hope it's good." Because really, how completely awkward would it be for me if my best friend wrote a regency historical romance (which happens to be what I write) and it sucked? Stefanie Sloane: Are you trying to tell me something? JQ: Seriously, what would I do? Tell all my readers: "Oh… yeah.. you should maybe try this book. It's… uh… got a duke in it. Everyone loves a duke." SS: Well, everybody does love a duke. JQ: True. It's a known fact that any title with "duke" in it doubles its sales. SS: And you didn't tell me this? I could have named my book The Duke in Disguise. JQ: Viscounts give a 25% boost. SS: Coalminers? JQ: Not so much. But getting back to what I was saying--when I started the manuscript for The Devil in Disguise, I was terrified. SS: And when you finished it? JQ: Once again, two things crossed my mind. The first was: "That was great!" The second was: "Thank GOD." SS: Pretty much my reaction, too. I know I told you to be brutally honest, but it's scary to hand off your manuscript to a bestselling author, no matter how close a friend she is. JQ: And then you handed me a red pencil. SS: I did. I went to a speech of yours years back where you said, "I don't care how good a writer you are. Everyone needs an editor." I took you at your word. JQ: I'm not part of a critique group. I'd never actually edited a book before. But it turned out to be a really enriching experience for me, too. Going through your manuscript, seeing how the pieces fit together, and then how they might fit together more neatly--it made me examine my own writing process more closely. SS: This is where I get to say that I taught Julia Quinn everything she knows. JQ: This is where I roll my eyes. SS: But in all seriousness, it was a fascinating process for me, too. I'd reworked my manuscript countless times, and of course I had an editor when I was writing book reviews for Amazon, but I'd never had anyone dig into my fiction before. And I have to say, when Julia Quinn says, "I think you need to show this scene, not just have a character think about it after the fact," you listen!" JQ: Thanks! SS: And--pay attention JQ fans--there were even a couple of spots where you couldn't help yourself and you rewrote a sentence here and there. JQ: I tried to keep a light touch, but as a writer, it's almost impossible to resist the urge to tinker with the prose. SS: Don't apologize! You had one or two of the best lines in the book! JQ: Do you think readers can spot them? SS: We'll see…
Author One on One: Julia Quinn and Stefanie Sloane
How Janet Evanovich Saved My Life, by Stefanie Sloane
Let me warn you: This post starts out on the depressing side. Never fear. I’ll turn things around with some clever phrasing and an “aha” moment that resonates. That’s the plan, anyway.
My father was dying. Diagnosed in May 2005 with stage four pancreatic cancer, there was, quite literally, no hope. By the end of July, my mom, brother, and I found ourselves huddled around his hospital bed, watching as his life slowly and painfully slipped away.
It was, in a word, heartbreaking. And yet, there really aren’t enough words to explain what such an experience feels like. Looks like. Even sounds like. Excruciating. Horrifying. Mind-blowingly awful. All of the above and more. We played his favorite Bob Dylan albums. Talked to him though he was in a drug-induced haze and could not respond. Fielded calls and visits from family and friends. And in the deepest, darkest moments, attempted to come to terms with what was going on.
Ground, on every front, was being lost.
We took turns sleeping at the hospital so that he would never feel alone. One morning, after waking from a fitful night spent in the hospital-issue recliner, I awoke to find my mom had returned, her arms laden with books. She’d brought the entire Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich. I’d heard of it, of course, but for whatever reason had not gotten around to reading any of the volumes despite their reputation for being excellent on every front. Even so, I was hesitant. How could a book help at this point? Oh, they’d helped in the past and seen me through plenty of missteps and disappointments. But this? I had my doubts.
My mom set the pile on the windowsill, then handed me the first volume, One for the Money. “Read,” she urged in that quiet, resolute way that only a mother can. And then she picked up the second volume, Two for the Dough, sat down in a folding chair, and settled in.
I didn’t brush my teeth that day. Nor my hair. But I did do as my mom told me to and started to read. And laugh, though I hadn’t done so in weeks. Soon, the two of us fell into a habit of reciting particularly hilarious passages, most often attributable to Lula, the endearing full-size ex-ho who always has a knack for landing smack dab in the middle of, well, everything.
Lula kept us sane. As did Morelli and Ranger, and Stephanie too. We needed to know that life would have light in it again. And hope. This is what a romance novel is capable of delivering. Escapism? You bet. Delicious, satisfying, skillful escapism that allows you to breathe and relax at the end of a very long day--or in my case, a very long series of very long days. Pretty remarkable, when you think about it.
Now, when someone asks what I do for a living, I answer, absorb the condescending stare, then I tell them about Janet Evanovich and what her romantic, addictive books did for me, and what romance novels do for countless people across the globe every single day. It’s a gift, really. A gift to be cherished, and worth its weight in gold, just like Lula--and that’s saying something.