History Hoydens


Historical Romance Writers Dishing the Dirt on Research

08 August 2007

Welcome, Candice Hern!

Lady Be Bad
by Candice Hern
Available Now!

John Grayston, seventh Viscount Rochdale, has never refused a wager, especially one that involves enticing a beautiful woman into his bed. He’s willing to stake his most prized possession that there’s not a single woman in all of England immune to his charms. But when the object of the wager is the prim and proper Grace Marlowe, he has to turn on the full force of his seductive charm to woo her.

Grace, the widow of a famous bishop, finds her stalwart virtue put to the test when the infamous rake shows an unexpected interest in her. Outraged, flattered, and reluctantly attracted, she soon finds herself falling under the spell of the man behind the scandalous reputation. Rochdale, in turn, is delighted to discover a fiery passion beneath the widow’s prudish façade. But when hearts and lives become tangled in the gamble, the truth of his seduction could ruin everything ...

Library Journal says: "Exquisitely sensual, brilliantly plotted, and laced with wicked wit, this latest addition to Hern's "Merry Widows" series sparkles with rare fire as its sheltered heroine comes into her own in the arms of a charming rascal and learns just how rewarding it is to be 'bad'."

I'm really excited to be welcoming Candice here today. She's been one of my favorite romance writers since looooooong before I ever dared to attempt a novel of my own. Lady Be Bad is the final book in her Merry Widow's trilogy, and I've been waiting on tenterhooks for it to arrive.

LADY BE BAD is set in Regency England, and you’re one of the undoubted Queens of the time period when it comes to research. How did you become interested in this time period? What you love about it?

I came at the period as a collector first. I read a lot about the period so I would have context for the various things I collected, especially items related to fashion. And since I'd also been a huge Jane Austen devotee since about age 12, it all dovetailed nicely into a general interest in the Regency. By the time I discovered Georgette Heyer and Regency romances (shockingly late in life!), I was already very familiar with the period.

What do you like least about this period? Anything that constrained you or that you had to plot carefully around?

The things I like least about the Regency are those things that foreshadow the Victorian period to some. The more strait-laced propriety, for example. I always find it a challenge to make a sexual encounter work logically for a young unmarried woman in the Regency, and have kept to more experienced widows for most books. In fact, I've only ever written two unmarried heroines who had sex, and only one of them a virgin. In that one, the heroine thought she only had a short time to life and figured she might as well experience EVERYTHING before it was too late. In the other, the heroine was modeled after the politically active pre-feminist women who went to France in support of the Revolution. Those women were sexually active, and it made sense to me that my heroine was not a virgin.

But the whole sex thing in the Regency, or any historical period, is a challenge because most women did not have access to any sort of birth control. I remember once seeing a family tree of the offspring of the Duke of Clarence (later William IV) and his mistress, Mrs. Jordan, where it looked as though the poor woman was pregnant every year. Now, I figure if the mistress of a royal duke can't keep from getting pregnant, how do all our Regency heroines manage it?

What sparked this book? Was it a character? An historical event? A scene you just couldn’t get out of your head?

It's always begins with character for me. LADY BE BAD was conceived as part of the Merry Widows trilogy. From the beginning, I knew I wanted a best-friends-become-lovers story (IN THE THRILL OF THE NIGHT), an older-women-younger-man story (JUST ONE OF THOSE FLINGS), and a bad-boy-falls-for-good-girl story (LADY BE BAD). But that's all I knew. So I made sure to hint at Rochdale's badness in the two previous books, and Grace was presented as the most prim and uptight of the Merry Widows. So, when I sat down to outline the story, all I had were the two characters and no story! Plotting is always the most difficult part of writing for me. Thank God for my amazing brainstorming partners who help me figure out plots for my characters! In the end, I always keep the plots fairly simple and concentrate on character arcs.

Did you have to do any major research for his book? Did you stumble across anything really interesting that you didn’t already know?

There's always SOMETHING that needs researching, isn't there? Something that sends one off into tangents of fun, seductive research. For this book, I had a part of the story set at the races at Newmarket. Now, I know zip about horses, and zip-minus-zip about horse racing. My friend and brainstorming partner, Barbara Freethy, comes from a family who owned race horses, and she helped a lot. Her brother had made a DVD about racing that was very helpful. Then I combed the libraries for books on the history of racing in England, and on Newmarket (where I've actually been, and had some photos). The scenes at the races in my book were quite short, but I wanted the atmosphere to feel right, so I studied books and prints until I felt I understood it a little. My favorite detail, that I hadn't known about, was the little portable judges box on wheels that was moved for each race to mark the finish line.

LADY BE BAD is the last book in your Merry Widow’s Trilogy. I loved how Grace and Rochdale’s romance has been hinted at in the previous books. Did you enjoy plotting the character arcs and dropping all those little hints?

Well, I dropped all those hints before knowing what I was going to do with them! I didn't actually plot the character arcs until I sat down to write the book. I knew who Grace and Rochdale were when the book started. But I had no idea where they'd come from or where they were going. So I had to create backstories and character arcs. I discarded a couple of backstories for Rochdale before settling on the one I used. I always figure someone who lives recklessly has some deep-seeded reason for such behavior, and I went a little overboard at first in piling baggage on poor old Rochdale. My brainstorming partners convinced me to rein it in and make him less tragic, and they were right.

Grace's arc was easier. One of the things I had done when mapping out the trilogy was to give each widow a different experience of marriage. In the first book, Marianne had deeply loved her husband, but the sex was somewhat pedestrian. In the second book, Beatrice had a frustrating but affectionate relationship with her husband, and great sex. I wanted something different for Grace. Her husband had been much older, and an important man of the church. I figured he could either have been a randy old goat, or an uptight moralizer who thought sex was dirty. The latter worked best for the kind of woman I wanted Grace to be. She loved her husband, and admired him greatly, but she comes to learn that he was wrong about sex.

What are you planning to work on next?

My agent is shopping a new series that I call Adventures in Matchmaking, with Beau Brummell as one of the matchmakers. I hope it sells, as I love the pages I've already written! In the meantime, I am also working on a non-fiction idea based on my fashion print collection. I hope to have a full-blown proposal, with pictures, ready for my agent in another week or so.


Blogger Caffey said...

Hi Candice!! I'm looking at this trilogy and for me I love to talk about covers too because I think its part of the whole package of the books, so I wanted to mention I love the theme (similarity in a way) of the covers for them! How you feel about the covers of these?

I love your site! Its a wealth of information and too, beautiful collection you have as well.

A couple of questions for you. Other time periods or settings in historical romances you'd like to write some day?
Besides those you mentioned (Heyer and Austen) are there other authors you enjoy reading?


6:23 AM  
Blogger Caffey said...

Oops, one quick question! Do you know if your traditional regencies will be re-issued again? Thanks.


6:23 AM  
Blogger Monica McCarty said...

Great interview Candice and Kalen! I was fortunate enough to read an ARC of LBB and I absolutely loved it. Can't wait to pick up a copy with that beautiful cover this week!

7:51 AM  
Blogger Pam Rosenthal said...

mmm, I like that matchmaker idea, Candice. I imagine it as very Olympian, with many ironies at the expense of the ton. Can you tell more about who the other matchmakers are, or do you want to keep them a secret?

10:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wonderful interview, Candice and Kalen. After the first two Merry Widows books, I'm really looking forward to this one (it's so great to set a story up over multiple books). Candice, I totally agree about the difficulty of writing young unmarried Regency heroines who have love affairs. Not only are the girls running a great risk, but the guys look like cads for risking ruining the girls. Most of my heroines have been widows (or married to the hero). Looking back, I realize I've only written three heroines who were virgins and they were traditional Regencies where the hero and heroine didn't have sex (I also wrote several traditional Regencies that did have sex scenes, but those had more experienced heroines :-).

10:36 AM  
Blogger Candice Hern said...

Just popping in briefly between stops to say that I will come back and answer all questions later today. I'm on the road all day today doing stock signings. Stay tuned ...

11:41 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I have my copy, and I have a clear path to the airport tonight and nothing to do for 13+ hours but read (I don't sleep on planes).


11:55 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Can't wait for Rochdale!

Best of luck with the Matchmaker's series. Sounds fabulous.

I have a huge confession to make. I don't enjoy Heyer's books very much. (gasp) Joan Aiken Hodge I liked better, but still, the wit apparent in the author's observation just isn't there for me like it is in Austen. Sorry to sound like a toady-ing Mr. Collins, (I swear this is unrehearsed), but your widows trilogy has that wit and immediacy on spades. No small feat considering your books are set in the past.

I shall do my very best, kids' schedules permitting, to be at Borders on Friday night.

4:32 PM  
Blogger robynl said...

Love the cover of LBB!!
Adventures in Matchmaking will indeed be a great read I'm sure with some humor along the way I assume.

6:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Haven the stalker here! Just wanted to say what a great interview...again!

Although I must admit, after this week you're most likely going to need a vacation!

9:39 PM  
Blogger Candice Hern said...

I'm back! Sorry to have been an absent guest all day.

Caffey asked if there are other settings I'd like to write about one day. Well, I absolutely LOVE the Regency and I plan to stay there for a while. If I went elsewhere it would be backward, not forward. I love the 18th century and wouldn't mind writing a book set then. But probably not earlier, as I know less about the earlier periods.

As for what authors I love ... oh, so many! My autobuys include Mary Balogh for (character and emotion), Laura Kinsale (for complex characters and unconventional stories), and Judith Ivory/Judy Cuevas (for everything). And I'm a big Pam Rosenthal fan!

As for my traditional Regencies being reissued ... I don't know. I learned from Jo Beverley in Dallas that two of her trads will be released next year by NAL in a two-in-one-volume trade paperback called LOVERS AND LADIES. Since NAL still has all the rights to my Regencies, I'd love for them to reissue a couple of them like that.

Pam, about my matchmakers ... The key matchmaker is a 30-something dowager countess who needs the money. Clients come to her for her solid gold social connections, and end up getting the benefit Brummell's influence as well. (Did I mention that he and the countess are secret lovers?) I haven't sold this series yet, so it may never happen. Keep your collective fingers crossed.

And thanks, everyone, for the kind words about my books!!!

9:48 PM  
Blogger Pam Rosenthal said...


10:50 PM  
Blogger Kathrynn Dennis said...

The races at Newmarket during the Regency, very cool! I have to read this book, Candice.

Thanks for sharing. Great interview and I am also looking forward to that non-fiction book on your fashion collection. Best of luck with that proposal!

11:18 AM  
Blogger aromagik said...

I don't have anything intelligent to say, but I had to comment because I ADORE Candice's books! (and hey, THAT'S pretty intelligent, no?)


1:00 PM  
Blogger Caffey said...

Hi Candice thanks so much for answering all my questions! I enjoy the same ones as you do. I just haven't read a Laura Kinsale yet. I do have a couple of hers. I agree about Pam's books! I love the ladies books here!

4:14 PM  

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