History Hoydens


Historical Romance Writers Dishing the Dirt on Research

31 July 2007

To Tempt a Scotsman is Finally Here! (Kind of)

To Tempt a Scotsman by Victoria Dahl

She Has Nothing Left To Lose . . .
After finding herself at the center of a very public scandal that left one man dead and another on the run, Lady Alexandra Huntington has exiled herself to her brother’s estate and is content to manage his affairs. But the arrival of darkly handsome Collin Blackburn awakens her curiosity and her desire—and the advantage of being a fallen woman is that she can be ruined only once…
Except Her Heart . . .
After a promise sworn to his father, Collin Blackburn is compelled to seek the aid of the woman who brought about his brother’s death in a senseless duel. Yet Lady Alexandra is not the shameless femme fatale he expected. In fact, Collin suspects she is guilty of nothing more than a hunger to experience passion, and the brawny Scot is certainly equipped to oblige. But the quick-witted, keenly sensual Alexandra has a few lessons of her own to impart—on life, love, and the delicious joys of succumbing to temptation…

"Dahl debuts with a sizzling love story peopled with characters you come to adore." -Kathe Robin, Romantic Times Bookreviews

"Victoria Dahl's debut novel was a sensual delight to read. I thoroughly enjoyed it and didn't want it to end... These characters grab hold of you and don't let go til you read the very last page." -January with The Mystic Castle

* * *

To Tempt a Scotsman is set in England and Scotland in 1844. How did you become interested in this setting?

Honestly, I was a bit afraid to write a Regency. As an unpublished author I’d heard frightening stories (told only on the darkest nights) of readers with eagle eyes and sharp talons waiting to eviscerate a new writer who dared to get their favorite era wrong! *g* Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but I was honestly intimidated by the Regency era.

In truth, I settled on the early Victorian because I found it fascinating to write about a transitional time period. Victoria was the queen in 1844, but she was still a young woman, not yet beset by mourning, so her influence was lighter. Society was changing, becoming a bit more rigid and strict in its ideas, but the people of the 1840’s were still emerging from the (extended) Regency.

Also, on a very superficial level (surprise!), hoop skirts hadn’t yet come into style. I just don’t find them sexy. Actually, I’m sure I could lose myself in someone else’s hoop-skirt romance, but I couldn’t write it.

Is there anything about this period that constrained your story? What do you like least about it?

Well, I liked it just fine until Kalen told me the clothing was butt ugly. Thanks, Kalen! But I felt better after I got a better look at the clothing from the 1830’s. Now that was ugly!

Other than that… My genius idea to write during a transitional period made research truly difficult. Books that spoke in any sort of generalities were useless to me. Practices that were “common” during the Victorian era were likely not yet common in the 1840’s, but I could never be sure if people were still doing things the way they had during the Regency. Urgh!

So what sparked the story idea for To Tempt a Scotsman? An historical event? A scene that haunted you? A specific character?

All my books start the same way. With one small disconnected scene. In this case, it was a love scene. Specifically, a love scene that goes wrong. Ha!

I actually started To Tempt a Scotsman years ago. Back then, love scenes in historical romances were almost always perfect. Completely unknowledgeable heroine? No problem. Untouched virgin? Watch for the spectacular orgasm! Hero with a giant staff meets untouched virgin? Don’t worry, he knows just how to use that monster. Bring on le petite mort!

Anyway, a scene popped into my head that defied almost all those stereotypes. What if the first time wasn’t perfect? And what if she told him so? Ouch! To Tempt a Scotsman was born in that moment.

What kind of major research did you have to do for this book?

As I said above, some of the information for this era was hard to pin down. Could my hero still wear a cravat? Sounds so much more romantic than a tie. Turns out he could, though others may not have. And while he wears a white cravat, many other men were branching out to bright colors and patterns. (That makes sense considering they were slowly evolving into ties.) Would the country physician still use leeches? Again, some of the more modern physicians may have moved onto more scientific treatments, but by no means all of them. Still, try finding the date when English doctors stopped bleeding patients to treat fever!

Corsets were changing too, and there was a moment of panic when I emailed Kalen to ask, "Is there any reason my heroine couldn't be wearing this type of corset? It's a new style, but she is rich." Kalen gave me the thumbs up, thank God. I was already working on the final proofs!

There were lots of little things like that. Things that I had at first assumed would be easy to pin down.

Also, I know little about horses, and my hero is a horse breeder. I pray I got all of that right. And have I mentioned that I’ve never traveled to Great Britain? More research there!

But I am lucky in one big aspect of the research arena. I tend to write “small” romances. Meaning most of the scenes are intimate, involving the hero and heroine and a few friends or enemies. People circling each other, drawing closer and closer. There is no espionage, no political machination, few business dealings. To Tempt a Scotsman takes place almost entirely in the country during the Season, and country life is more casual and seems a bit slow to change. Easier to pin down, at least before the industrial revolution!

Any favorite research tidbits you had to leave out of the finished novel?

Hmm. Probably. But I have a horrid memory. If I don’t use something, I usually lose it. There is a lot of character development that didn’t make it into the finished product. For example, Collin Blackburn is a Lowland Scotsman, but his background is much more complicated. His maternal grandmother migrated from the Highlands to the Trossachs, the hills where Lowland meets Highland. And his mother eventually migrated further south when Collin was a boy. Not sure why I know that, but I do. Some strange writer thing, I guess. Maybe my subconscious dreamed it up so I could have Collin and his best friend Fergus able to speak Scots Gaelic. ;-) So sexy! But clearly his mother has a bit of wanderlust; we never meet her in the book because she’s since moved up to Dundee.

There you go. Lots of useless information that (with good reason, clearly) did not make it into the book!

What do you have planned for your next book?

The next book in this series has already been written and will be out in 2008. (Tentatively named A Rake’s Guide to Ruin, but that may change.) This book is the story of Alexandra’s brother, the Duke of Somerhart. Yes, I wrote about a duke. I get a free pass, because Collin Blackburn is a Scottish baron born on the wrong side of the sheets. ;-)

A Rake’s Guide took a ton of research! The heroine is a recent widow, so there was research into early Victorian mourning (much more like the Regency era, and bound to upset some readers). She’s got a gambling problem, so there was lots of reading about period gaming. One character is an opponent of the ways of the Church of England at the time. Can you hear me groaning yet? And they travel all over the damned country, those pesky characters!

Oh, and another bit of work I just finished up. I wrote a short story for Amazon about two of the secondary characters from Scotsman. I fell in love with Jeannie Kirkland (poor girl has eight older brothers), and I wanted to tell the story of what happens the night of her family ball after Collin and Alexandra leave the scene.

Anything else you'd like to add?

Just a big thank you to the wonderful Hoydens!

It's an honor to be here with such amazing women. And a humbling experience, I can assure you. Almost everything I got right in this book is do to my friendship with writers who know much more than I do. (Thanks, Kalen! *g*) And thank you so much to all of the wonderful posters here! Again, a humbling experience to read all the amazing information you guys have to pass on.

To Tempt a Scotsman is onsale now at BN.com, and is slowly trickling into stores everywhere. Official release date is August 7th, so keep your eyes peeled!


Blogger Kathrynn Dennis said...

"Bring on le petite mort!" AND "the clothing was butt ugly..."

You crack me up, Vicki!

Congrats on a great debut book and a lovely, lovely cover.

Ahhh, red satin sheets...after my kids go off to school in 10 years or so, I'm gonna buy those sheets. ;-)

11:00 AM  
Blogger Victoria Dahl said...

Yes, they're very popular in nineteenth-century Scotland! Recreate YOUR favorite historical fantasy with your very own set of red satin sheets!

11:04 AM  
Blogger Doreen DeSalvo said...

Congratulations, Victoria! I can't wait to get my copy. I have made a vow to only add books to my teetering TBR pile that I really really want to read, and this one is totally in that category.


11:47 AM  
Blogger Pam Rosenthal said...

(blush, looking up from manuscript pages of Perfect First-time Sex I've been concocting this morning) -- oh dear, you got me there, Vicki.

Congrats on what sounds like a terrific book.

11:47 AM  
Blogger Jennifer Echols said...

Vicki, this is a terrific description and preview of what people will find in this wonderful, sexy book. And may I just say that when I first read the manuscript, one of my very few suggestions to Vicki was that she add the sex scene that starts on page 225. You're welcome, everyone!

--Vicki's CP

12:08 PM  
Blogger Victoria Dahl said...

Aw, thanks, Doreen! I just downloaded Bedding the Beast! I've been looking for it in bookstores, and just recently realized I could only get it online. Duh. I can't wait!

And, Pam... LOL! No worries. I've written plenty of those myself. Scene from the next book: virgin heroine meets totally drunk hero = perfection! HAHAHA

I was really just looking for a little first-time variety in Scotsman.

12:08 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth Kerri Mahon said...

Congratulations Victoria, I can't wait to read the book, and the Amazon short. How clever of you to think of doing something like that. Sort of whet the reader's appetite in between books!

12:08 PM  
Blogger Victoria Dahl said...

Jennifer, p. 225+ is dedicated to you. It's your claim to fame in the historical genre!!! *snicker*

12:09 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Ooooooo, how did I miss this going up yesterday . . . Oh, it's because I was off with my friends Monica McCarty (Highlander Untamed) and Tracy Grant (Secrets of a Lady) who both had books out yesterday. LOL! Can't wait to find yours, Vicki. I've been dying to read it since you leaked the first chapter to our Golden Heart loop back in 2005!

9:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations, Victoria! Having your first book released is such a wonderful milestone, though the excitement of seeing your book on the shelves never goes away (thanks for the nice mention, Kalen, and for helping Monica and me celebrate yesterday!). "To Tempt a Scotman" sounds wonderful. I love the descriptons of the characters. And I so sympathize with the trials and tribultions of researching a "transitional period". When I was first writing the Regnecy era, it seems like there were fewer Regency-focused research books and sometimes the Regency would fall between "Georgian" and "Victorian" particularly in books that covered a wide swath of time about changing attitudes and practices.

10:22 AM  
Blogger Victoria Dahl said...

Elizabeth, when I heard about the Amazon Shorts program, I thought, "What a great way to let people try out your writing for 49 cents! Too bad I don't have anything."

It didn't occur to me for a while that it would be the perfect venue for Jeannie and Fergus's story. Jeannie's absolutely one of my favorite characters ever. Not sure why. But even I had no idea what happened that night, and I was happy to have an excuse to find out. *wink*

Thanks for your support, Kalen, as always. And thank you to Tracy Grant for your research sympathy!!!

5:02 PM  
Blogger Keira Soleore said...

Ahhhhh that cover! I was lucky enough to meet Victoria (while chatting with the Smart Bitches and Kalen on that couch in Dallas) and snag a bookmark and a coverflat. So very cool!

Congratulations, congratulations. I'm waiting to lay my hands on the book!

9:37 AM  

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