Though there are lines he will not cross, Darius Lindsey has become the favored plaything of bored, titled society ladies. He contracts one final engagement with the pretty, sweet, Lady Vivian Longstreet, hoping that meeting his obligations to Vivian will free him from the financial constraints making his life hell. Darius finds instead that the bargain he thought would cost him the last of his self-respect instead resurrects both his honor and his heart.
Darius pushed aside pity—burying two sons merited pity—and focused on practicalities, something he was good at. “So you seek somebody not only to bed your lady, but also to get her with child? If so, then I am assuredly not your man.”
“That would be part of the bargain.” Longstreet’s voice did not betray a hint of shame about this proposition. “Hear my reasons before you make an old man face that bitter wind.”
A lady’s honor was to be compromised, but an old man was to be spared the nippy weather. This was what Darius’s life had come to.
“Make your words count, my lord. While I am sensible of the dilemma you face, surely there must be cousins or nephews somewhere who can solve the problem by inheritance and spare your lady this unseemly contrivance you contemplate.”
“There are none. If I die without legitimate male issue, then the entire estate reverts to the Crown.”
Spare me from titled old men and their petty conceits. “This has happened in many a family, and you will be dead, so what does it matter to you?”
Longstreet shifted again in his chair, though Darius suspected that was a seasoned parliamentarian’s delaying tactic.
“Were it simply a question of my needs, young man, you’d be absolutely right. However, upon close examination, I find the Crown could make a credible argument that there is virtually no personal estate. My wealth is significant, but the Crown’s lawyers will twist matters such that none of that wealth is personal, but rather, all attached to the title. The regent would get everything, and Vivian would be literally a charity case.”
“Your wife has no dower portion?”
“None worth the name. I am pained on her behalf to be so honest, but ours was not a romantic match. She needed marrying rather desperately, and I could not abide to see her taken advantage of by those who prey on women in such circumstances. I suppose I needed a bit of marrying too.”
Darius sipped his drink, angling for time to absorb his guest’s words. Usually, a woman desperately in need of marrying had conceived a child desperately in need of legitimacy. Lady Longstreet’s difficulty was the absence of children.
I am the sixth out of seven children and was raised in the rural surrounds of central Pennsylvania. Early in life I spent a lot of time reading romance novels and riding a chubby buckskin gelding named—unimaginatively if eponymously—Buck. I also spent a lot of time practicing the piano. My first career was as a technical writer and editor, a busy profession that nonetheless left enough time to read many, many romance novels.
It also left time to grab a law degree through an evening program, produce Beloved Offspring (only one, but she is a lion), and eventually move to the lovely Maryland countryside.
While reading yet still more romance novels (there is a trend here) I opened my own law practice, acquired a master’s degree in Conflict Management (I had a teenage daughter by then) and started thinking about writing.... romance novels. This aim was realized when Beloved Offspring struck out into the Big World a few years ago. (“Mom, why doesn’t anybody tell you being a grown-up is hard?”)
I eventually got up the courage to start pitching manuscripts to agents and editors. The query letter that resulted in “the call” started out: “I am the buffoon in the bar at the RWA retreat who could not keep her heroines straight, could not look you in the eye, and could not stop blushing—and if that doesn’t narrow down the possibilities, your job is even harder than I thought.” (The dear lady bought the book anyway.)
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
There was never a moment of realization. I started keeping a journal before I could write cursive, and the habit of writing (and journaling) has never left.
How long did it take you to write your book?
The answer to that question is not as simple as you’d think. I can finish a rough draft in about six or seven weeks. This does not mean I write eight books a year, because that rough draft has to sit for a few weeks, and then I take it out for a first polishing. Most of my drafts need several polishings, and they all need incubation time between iterations. It’s probably more accurate to say that to generate a submittable draft, I need at least several months.
What genre is your book? What made you choose to write in that category?
“Darius” is a Regency historical romance, and I started writing there because I’ve read thousands of them.
What was your work schedule like when you were writing?
My works schedule? I’m a child welfare attorney, so there’s that schedule, but early mornings, evenings, weekends, snow days, holidays, etc., I’m at my computer and happy to be there.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
ARGH. I never read my published books? On the one hand, I don’t have time, but on the other, I’m afraid all I’ll see is what’s wrong, and not what’s right.
Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
The ideas come from all over--period sources, my life, the news, books I did not like (so I write something more satisfying to me), but to come up with these ideas, my life needs mental white space. I’m most likely to come up with a viable book idea when I’m driving a familiar route, walking a familiar road, and I otherwise have the deflector shields down.
My favorite place to get period-specific information is original sources--diaries, letters, news paper articles. Biographies are also a lot of fun, particularly if they have a good bibliography.
How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
I’ve written thirty some novels, and of those... twenty-five are under contract, “Darius” is the ninth full length novel to hit the shelves.
Are you currently working on another book?
If so, is it part of a series or something different?
I’m ALWAYS working on another book. If it isn’t galleys and copy edits, it’s my Work In Progress. I’m halfway through a book that’s the third story in a Regency trilogy about soldiers coming home from the Peninsular campaign, each of whom has been held captive in some regard--by a garrison, a belief, or an obligation.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
READ! And there’s so much good stuff out there to read these days, it’s hard to choose.
What does your family think of your writing?
When I became published, they were not surprised, while I was--still am.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned about yourself in creating your books?
The dots are still connecting. By that I mean, I thought I’d closed the book on my musical aspirations thirty years ago and not looked back, then I ended up writing a lovely book, (“The Virtuoso”), about a talented pianist who could longer spend his life at the keyboard. For thirty years, my musical experience went dormant, but when I needed it for a book, it was at my fingertips. Fun!
Do you have any suggestions to help others become a better writer? If so, what are they?
WRITE more than you aspire to write. Do not be bamboozled by the people who are always foghorning about their work in progress and to whom they’ve pitched, and how many words they added to their manuscript in the last fifteen minutes. While they’re foghorning, and pitching, and word counting, you WRITE.
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
I do hear from readers, and it’s an unlooked for perk of publication. A few times, I’ve been chided for not squashing a villain like a bug, but mostly, readers let me know they’re enjoying the books.
What do you think makes a good story?
A good romance is a complicated undertaking. It needs the character arc of a tragedy, the happy ending of a comedy, the lovely prose of literary fiction, the external conflict of a mystery, and the pacing of a thriller--all times two, if you can pull it off.
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
Be married to a handsome farmer and raise twelve kids. I recall that dream clearly, and should probably be grateful to have been spared it. Farming is hard enough, but twelve kids?!
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