Fan2Author Interview with Erica Monroe!

 

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Melanie: Welcome to the blog, Erica! Today we’re doing something a little different: we are answering questions that Erica’s readers sent in through her Facebook page. But first, tell me a little about your new book, Secrets in Scarlet.

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Erica Monroe: Secrets in Scarlet is the second book in my Rookery Rogues series, which is about thieves, scoundrels, and fallen women in the rookeries (poorer neighborhoods) in 1830’s London. Each book serves as a standalone romance, but the secondary characters and the locations connect them.

It’s the story of Poppy “Corrigan” O’Reilly and Thaddeus Knight, who meet when Thaddeus is investigating the murder of another girl at the factory where Poppy works. Being a very cerebral man himself, Thaddeus is attracted to Poppy’s quiet passion, her logical mind, and of course her love of books! But Poppy has a secret she’ll do anything to protect: she’s pretending to be a war widow in order to pass off her young daughter as legitimate. Back then in England, it was considered a huge, huge deal for a woman to have sex outside of marriage, and so Poppy is basically driven from her hometown to London—and she’s determined her daughter won’t pay the price for her mistake. Thaddeus is the one man who could put together her lies, yet she can’t stay away from him.

MF: One thing I’ve noticed about your books is that there’s a lot of detail that goes into the historical settings. How do you research your books?

EM: A lot of different ways. Mostly, I google A LOT of things, LOL! My Internet search Tom-all-alonehistory is probably going to make me end up on a watch list somewhere. Because I write romantic suspense, I’m always like “how can I fracture this bone in this way to cause this effect…” (I actually have a book called Body Trauma that answers a lot of these questions, and I want to give a shout-out to two of my friends, Jennelle Holland and Kristine Wyllys, who help me with my fight scenes). I’m very, very, very fortunate to know lovely people, who are veritable encyclopedias of historical knowledge,  so when I come up against something I’m banging my head against the wall for, I turn to them. But a lot of my research is done through various books. My favorite for rookery research is Henry Mayhew’s London Labor and the London Poor (which is 1850’s, but a lot of it applies to the 1830’s as well). My husband purchased an amazing book for me called England’s First Detectives about the Bow Street Runners, and I used the section on founding the Metropolitan Police for SIS.

But a lot of the resources I use are free too. Google Books is amazing for searching old texts—I got a book written in 1850 or so which actually details most of the rookeries, and I used Google books when figuring out what the factory might look like. I also highly recommend the Old Bailey website, because it has transcripts of various criminal trials, etc. It is invaluable and my favorite thing in the whole wide research world.

MF: Are there any places in your series that are true to history?

Victorian_slumsEM: I draw a lot of my story from the various rookery settings. I’ll find a certain location, and then I’ll want to build a story around it. I set the first book in the Rookery Rogues, in Ratcliffe because it was close to the London Docks and there was also an infamous bar that the resurrection men (graverobbers who sold corpses to surgeons for anatomization) used to frequent nearby, called the Fortune of War. I love incorporating those details.

For Secrets in Scarlet, I wanted to use Spitalfields because it’s a very old community of Huguenot weavers that came over during the eighteenth century. I found a map from the late end of the nineteenth century that marked out the Ripper murders, but it was interesting to me because it had clearly labelled all the various streets in Spitalfields and Whitechapel. On this map was an indication that a factory was on “White Lion Street,” so I chose to set the Larker factory in my book on this street as well. Poppy and Thaddeus are married in Christ Church, also indicated on this map. I used this map for a lot of the layout in my version of Spitalfields, crosschecking the street names with various online historical records to make sure they would be here in 1832. While I can never guarantee 100% accuracy—as the story must take precedence—I try and really use these details to add atmosphere to the story.

MF: And now we’ve got an excerpt from Secrets in Scarlet!

EM: Since we discussed the factory, I thought I’d share a bit of an excerpt from when Thaddeus visits the Larker factory and sees Poppy.

Workers labored at looms that spanned the full length of the room, stationed not more than a few paces apart. The looms formed three rows, with approximately ten in each row from front to back. The building had unusually high ceilings to accommodate for the sheer height of the looms, which reached far above his head. Children picked through the scraps of silk to sell in the market on Crispin Street.

He scanned the room for Mrs. Corrigan, eventually locating her toward the front. Mrs. Corrigan’s loom was positioned two to the left of the blond girl he remembered her exiting with the other day.

If he’d thought Mrs. Corrigan beautiful the day before in the light of the sun streaming through the library windows, here she was in her element. Perched on a tall stool, she leaned over the loom, her hands in constant motion. She’d bound her red hair in a tight top knot, and she wore no apron.

His mouth went dry as his eyes roamed down her frame. Her green dress was fitted so that she ran no risk of getting caught in the machinery, but it had the added appeal of displaying her luscious hips to full advantage. She moved with finesse and speed, each slide of the shuttle and weft an intricate dance. This was her world, the constant advancement of the punch cards, the click and clack of many looms employed in tandem.

As he walked past her station, their eyes locked. His breath caught in his throat. First, there was a flash of curiosity in her eyes, then fear. She missed a beat in the weaving.

Thaddeus couldn’t tarry to watch her. The guards had already progressed three looms past him. He hurried to catch up, following the guards into the office holed in the center of the right back wall.

 

sis emSTORY: When a girl is murdered at a factory in one of London’s rookeries, Sergeant Thaddeus Knight of the Metropolitan Police comes in to investigate. But it’s not just the factory owners that Thaddeus wants information on–the devilishly intriguing Poppy O’Reilly is a puzzle he’d like nothing more than to solve.

Protecting her young daughter is the most important thing to Poppy, and Thaddeus threatens the false identity she’s carefully constructed. The last thing she should do is allow Thaddeus close to her family, yet she can’t stay away from him. With danger around the corner, will the secrets of a scarlet woman lead to their undoing?

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Connie’s review here.

Erica MonroeAuthor Bio: Erica Monroe is a USA Today Bestselling Author of emotional, suspenseful romance. Her debut novel, A Dangerous Invitation, was nominated in the published historical category for the prestigious 2014 Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Romantic Suspense. When not writing, she is a chronic TV watcher, sci-fi junkie, lover of pit bulls, and shoe fashionista. She lives in the suburbs of North Carolina with her husband, two dogs, and a cat.

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‘Secrets in Scarlet’ by Erica Monroe

sis emSTORY: When a girl is murdered at a factory in one of London’s rookeries, Sergeant Thaddeus Knight of the Metropolitan Police comes in to investigate. But it’s not just the factory owners that Thaddeus wants information on–the devilishly intriguing Poppy O’Reilly is a puzzle he’d like nothing more than to solve.

Protecting her young daughter is the most important thing to Poppy, and Thaddeus threatens the false identity she’s carefully constructed. The last thing she should do is allow Thaddeus close to her family, yet she can’t stay away from him. With danger around the corner, will the secrets of a scarlet woman lead to their undoing?

REVIEW: April 1832, Spitalfields London

When Sergeant Thaddeus Knight with the Metropolitan Police finds a young girl who had been beaten severely and stabbed, he rushes to get her to the hospital.  She refuses to say who did that to her but sketches the letter “L” just before she dies in his arms.  This is reminiscent of another young woman seven years earlier who died in the same way.  This second death only heightens Thaddeus’s determination to find the murderer.  However, his boss, Inspector Whiting, is not supportive of his work and says that it is not worth their time.  Whiting thinks that crimes such as one Thaddeus solved when he found some jewels stolen from a countess are more important that the murders of young girls from Spitalfields.  Furious at Whiting, Thaddeus is still determined to find the murderer.

Thaddeus loves his job much to the chagrin of his family.  As the second son of a second son of a Duke and a very well-educated man, he could have a much better and safer job but will not leave his job with the Police.

Poppaea (Poppy) O’Reilly works on a loom at the Larker Textile Factory.  Her hours are very long – from early morning to late at night.  However, she is determined to do whatever it takes to give her baby daughter a good life and, hopefully, send her to a finishing school one day.  When she found herself pregnant and unmarried, Poppy changed her last name and moved to London.    The father would have nothing to do with her and she was ostracized by her townspeople.  She is very ashamed about what happened to her.

While Thaddeus is investigating the murder of the women who had worked at the Larker Textile Factory, he meets Poppy and is intrigued by her beauty, her spirit and her positive attitude toward life.  They find that they have a love of books so when she sees the wonderful library he has in his home, she is enthralled.

When Poppy and her friend, Abigail, discover some questionable activities at the Textile Factory that the Larkers are doing, life becomes very perilous for her.  Knowing what Poppy has uncovered and their growing attraction to one another finds Thaddeus doing all he can to solve this mystery.

It was very enlightening to read about the difficult life that people in this rough area of London had lived and their determination to make the best of their lives was inspiring.  I think readers will enjoy both the romance and the mystery combined in this novel.

Connie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the author

‘In Bed with a Rogue’ by Samantha Grace

sg ibwarSTORY: He’s the Talk of the Town

The whole town is tittering about Baron Sebastian Thorne having been jilted at the altar. Every move he makes ends up in the gossip columns. Tired of being the butt of everyone’s jokes, Sebastian vows to restore his family’s reputation no matter what it takes.

She’s the Toast of the Ton

Feted by the crème of society, the beautiful widow Lady Prestwick is a vision of all that is proper. But Helena is no angel, and when Sebastian uncovers her dark secret, he’s quick to press his advantage. In order to keep her hard-won good name, Helen will have to make a deal with the devil. But she’s got some tricks up her sleeves to keep this notorious rogue on his toes…

REVIEW: May 1819.

Baron Sebastian Thorne is not a happy man.  The woman he planned to marry has been “stolen” by his best friend, the Earl of Ellis.  In order to drown his sorrows, he is deep in his cups from drinking.  Having sent his driver home earlier, he decides to walk home.  Bad decision!  He is immediately attacked, beaten and robbed in the streets of Whitechapel by footpads and left unconscious.

Lady Helena Prestwick a widow from Aldmist Fell in Scotland, is in London searching for her four sisters, Cora, Pearl, Gracie and Lavinia.  Helena and her sisters were very young when their mother died and their father turned to drink.  As the oldest, Helena did all she could to care for her sisters until the day her father literally sold her to her husband so her father could get money for his needs.  Now, that Helena is a widow, she is determined to find her sisters and get the family back together.  She fears that they are working in a brothel.  So, she and her trusted friend, Fergus, are out most nights searching the brothels.

Lucky for Sebastian, Helena happens upon him the night he is beaten and takes him home to nurse his wounds.  Grateful for her help and attracted to her as well, he agrees to aid her in her search for her sisters.

She soon finds her sister, Lavinia, who lives as the courtesan of a wealthy and kind man who loves her and wants to marry her.  Her youngest sister, Gracie, is living with Lavinia.  Cora is married to a butcher and the mother of several children.  Pearl has not been found.

As Sebastian and Helena become more enmeshed into one another’s lives, their attraction grows and romance blossoms.

The family members and other characters in the story are all so very well written.  I could just picture each of them perfectly.  I think readers will truly enjoy this story of strength, love and determination.

Connie for b2b

Book provided by the publisher

‘The Once and Future Duchess’ by Sophia Nash

sn toafdSTORY: A duchess in time saves a noble line…

In theory, the Duke of Candover is the most eligible peer in the realm. But in truth, he has a deep aversion to the merest hint of marriage, not to mention two botched engagements which have marked his jaded soul. Now, after a debauched bachelor party that causes public outcry, the Prince Regent is demanding that it’s Candover’s turn to be brought to heel. And Prinny secretly believes that Isabelle Tremont, the Duchess of March, is precisely the lady up to the challenge.

Isabelle must marry, but a day of reckoning with the man she’s loved for years is her greatest fear. If Candover insists she’s too young and innocent for a seasoned world-weary man like him, there’s no shortage of other candidates. Gentlemen of prestige and position. Gentlemen whose attentions are driving Candover to jealous distraction. Yet one abandoned moment under the stars hints that if they can put aside pride and duty, then a love once denied might just be their destiny.

REVIEW: Isabelle Tremont, the Duchess of March, lost her parents some years before leaving no other heir but her.  While only 18-years-old, she is a very intelligent and self-assured young woman with every ability to run her estate.

James is the Duke of Candover is a handsome, wealthy and extremely confident man running his estate with utter perfection.  At age 31, he is not interested in getting married. He was engaged twice, both with disastrous results.  
The Prince Regent has decided that it is time that both James and Isabelle find spouses. While James tends to somewhat ignore this directive, Isabelle is certainly feeling the pressure.  She decides to propose to James only to be rebuffed due to her young age. Little did she know that James was also following her father’s request that he never marry her.  Hurt, but still determined to accept the Prince’s edict, she continues with her search for a husband.
The romance is sweet even though it’s hard to believe that an 18-year-old can be as mature as Isabelle is portrayed.  In addition, James needed a swift kick to crack his too-cool and too-perfect exterior.
This was the fourth book in the Irresistible Royal Entourage Series and, unfortunately, I often find myself grabbing a book in the middle of a series with which I am unfamiliar.  I understand that many authors like to write series, however, I wish each book was clearly designated as such so the reader doesn’t end up jumping into confusion.  I would suggest readers start this series with the books in succession, which an be found on the author’s website here.
Connie for b2b
Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘A Most Naked Solution’ by Anna Randol

ar amnsSTORY: Sometimes the best solution is found in bed…

Lady Sophia Harding: beautiful, blond, and…capable of murder? That’s what Lord Camden Grey intends to find out. It is Camden’s duty to uphold the laws of the land. His neighbor’s pale beauty and winsome grace don’t make her the most likely suspect, but is the innocent and altogether beguiling look in her eyes the truth, or is she secretly a scheming seductress?

Lord Camden Grey is entirely too distracting and too smart. Sophia knows that to keep her family’s secrets, she must avoid any entanglements with the powerful and brutally handsome man. But the pull of their mutual desire is all-consuming. Can Sophia trust Camden with the truth when she knows it might kill the love that has grown between them?

REVIEW: This short novella is a sequel to ‘A Secret in Her Kiss’ which I really liked. The hero of that novel has a sister, and this is her story.

I liked the leads, and the plot was good. The pace was perfect, considering that this is a short story, but then something just went wrong.

How does one explain and reconcile a great premise with a decent plot and good, solid characterization of the characters, with the story told?

What in tarnation happened?

To someone that reads a lot, this was fairly obvious. I blame not the author. She can tell a tale. I read all of her books, and after her début, which I loved [here], I keep bumping into this obstacle of enjoying her work to the fullest in all of her other books. What went wrong? I know that it takes a village to produce a product, but are the villagers still the same ones who helped her produce that first book I liked so much? Or does she need to repopulate her village with new editors and beta readers [I’m free!].

Am I recommending it?! Yes, to all of you that read the first book, only because you’ll get some answers about Sophia. To everyone else?! Yes again, because you might want to ‘sample’ this author and little novellas are best for that purpose.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘Sins of a Virgin’ by Anna Randol

ar soavSTORY: There is improper, there is scandalous… and then there is Madeline Valdan.

To the world, Madeline Valdan is a scandalous courtesan, with society’s most eligible gentlemen at her feet. But no one knows her shocking secret: she has never experienced the most intimate touch of any man. So she astonishes the ton by telling them the truth . . . and by announcing the auction of her virginity to the highest bidder.

Handsome and disciplined, Gabriel Huntford knows his time is best spent hunting down criminals from the darkest corners of London. As a Bow Street Runner investigating his sister’s death, he has no desire to join London’s strutting peacocks in this competition when there are more important tasks at hand.

Now, his quest leads him to one of Madeline’s “suitors,” so he agrees to help this sinful woman. But what begins as a business arrangement quickly turns into something more . . . and love blooms with a passion neither one expected.

REVIEW: This book has been on my TBR for a long time and I finally got around to reading it. This is a beginning of the Sinners Trio, about three ex-spies: Cipher, Wrath and La Petit and first up we have La Petit’s story or Madeline, as she is called outside of her spy world.

I did like the hero Gabriel Huntford, a Bow Street Runner turned our heroine’s bodyguard. He was flawed and yet I found him likable. Both characters carry some interesting baggage from their background and that made the story a somewhat interesting for me.

Here’s a story for you, if you can believe it: an ex-spy turned most alluring courtesan decides to auction her most prized possession. Her virginity. Are you buying it? I tried, but in the end, it was really hard to suspend my imagination that far up.

Most of the story focused on the mystery of who wants our heroine dead and is that the same villain that killed our hero’s sister some years ago, pushing the romance to the background. Don’t despair though, you still have some nice tension between the leads, albeit they don’t end up ‘canoodling’ until later in the book.

So if you’re leaning more toward a good mystery and suspense with some romance thrown in, I think you’ll like it. Me? It was okay …

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘Sins of a Ruthless Rogue’ by Anna Randol

ar soarrSTORY: Revenge never tasted so sweet…

When Clayton Campbell shows up on her doorstep, Olivia Swift is stunned. For long ago, Clayton was the boy who stole her heart. He’s also the man her betrayal had sent to the gallows. A man she believed dead, now standing before her, looking leaner, harder, more powerful than ever, his haunted eyes filled with a lust she had never seen—for vengeance…

Or burned so hot…

He’s a Crown spy who once faced death and escaped unscathed. Yet Clayton Campbell cannot deny that the sight of Olivia rouses in him something more than a thirst for revenge. Or that the bold beauty would lure him once more into a dangerous game. Only this time, Clayton plans to be the victor—with the tempting Olivia in his bed as his prize. But once passion ignites between them, the hard-hearted agent will face his greatest battle yet—for his heart…

REVIEW: In this second book of Anna Randol’s Sinners Trio series it is Clayton/Cipher’s turn at happily ever after.

Now I know this author can tell a good story, but it’s her plots so far that I’ve been having a hard time with.  If I had a hard time suspending belief in the first book of this series, this one made even harder.

I would love to tell you more, but I really don’t want to put forth any ‘spoilers’ so here’s what I did like.

The characters were strong and compelling with enough of emotional depth for me to like them, but it’s their past that I had a hard time finding credible, and in the end it all sounded unrealistic.

I do recommend it on the writing and characterization alone, but plot wise, be ready to take a leap. If you can do that, and you like betrayal stories with some adventure and intrigue, you’re good to go with this one.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher