FIVE QUESTIONS WITH MANDA COLLINS
1) What is your coolest memory?
Seeing Jeremy Northam on stage at the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1994 in the role of Berowne in Shakespeare’s Love’s Labors Lost. By far the most exciting theatrical performance I’ve ever seen and still one of my most treasured memories of my college years.
2) What’s the furthest destination you traveled to and was it worth it?
That would be the Isle of Wight off the coast of England. It was absolutely worth it—gorgeous scenery, with seascapes and lovely farmland, and Queen Victoria’s vacation home, Osborne House, which was fascinating and a far cry from what your average person would consider a vacation place! Alfred Lord Tennyson also had a house there. And there was also a house museum dedicated to the pioneering female photographer, Julia Margaret Cameron. It was wonderful and I’ve love to be able to stay there for more than a few days.
3) What’s the best thing ever you’ve “burrowed” from a hotel?
Several years ago, the Marriot hotels, where the RWA Conferences were held, had the best smelling citrusy hand lotion as part of their guest kits. I keep one in my purse for when I need a little aromatherapy on the go.
4) Whose poster did you have on your wall when you were a kid?
I wasn’t really a poster on the wall sort of kid, but I did have a Les Miserable tee-shirt that I wore until it fell apart.
5) What is the worst smell in the world?
BOOK BLURB: Who will write the book of love?
When scholarly Miss Ivy Wareham receives word that she’s one of four young ladies who have inherited Lady Celeste Beauchamp’s estate with a magnificent private library, she packs her trunks straightaway. Unfortunately, Lady Celeste’s nephew, the rakish Quill Beauchamp, Marquess of Kerr, is determined to interrupt her studies one way or another…
Bequeathing Beauchamp House to four bluestockings—no matter how lovely they are to look at—is a travesty, and Quill simply won’t have it. But Lady Celeste’s death is not quite as straightforward as it first seemed…and if Quill hopes to solve the mystery behind her demise, he’ll need Ivy’s help. Along the way, he is surprised to learn that bookish Ivy stirs a passion and longing that he has never known. This rogue believes he’s finally met his match—but can Quill convince clever, skeptical Ivy that his love is no fiction?
The Marquess of Kerr was having a very bad day.
As if breaking an axle on his ancient family traveling carriage on the most deserted portion of the drive from London to the south coast hadn’t been inconvenience enough, there was also the fact that his favorite horse was miles back, tied behind the coach carrying his baggage and valet. To compound his situation, after instructing the coachman and outriders to wait for help, he’d set out on foot for the coaching inn some three miles up the road only for the skies to open up and release a deluge of rain not felt on the Earth since the great flood, he was convinced.
If it hadn’t been for a chance meeting with his cousin the day before, he’d not have been traveling to the downs at all. But the news that his late aunt Celeste had done what she’d always threatened had meant beating a hasty path to her manor house near the village of Little Southwick before any of her hangers on arrived. At least that had been the plan when he set out. At this rate all four of the harpies would have descended upon Beauchamp House before he had a chance to so much as hide the silver.
Thus it was that when he reached the Pheasant and Fox he was not only wet, muddy and exhausted, he was also hungry. Which, as his old nanny could attest, made for a very grouchy Torquil, indeed.
Despite the rain, the inn yard was bustling with activity, as the bright yellow mail coach which had just arrived released its passengers into the already crowded doorway of the hostelry.
Cursing beneath his breath, Quill elbowed his way through the crowd until the quality of his garments seemed to register with them and despite their own fatigue, the passengers began to defer to him. All save one.
Had he been in a better mood, he might have noticed the dark haired lady’s curvy figure or her warm brown eyes behind her spectacles. But he was too annoyed by her blatant disregard for him as she shoved in front of him carrying a small, but obviously heavy trunk. And as if that weren’t enough, she had the bad manners to drop the aforementioned trunk directly onto his booted foot as he attempted to slip around her.
“Hell and the devil!” he cursed as the weighty box landed. Despite the thickness of his boots, they were no match for whatever it was she traveled with.
“Oh dear,” the woman said, crouching at once to clutch the handles of the offending thing. “I am so sorry. I should have waited for the coachman, but I was so afraid to leave them, you see. They’re quite valuable.”
But when she heaved on the trunk, it was obvious that she’d need a bit of help lifting it. Wordlessly, Quill pushed away her hand that gripped the handle and took both sides in his own grasp and lifted it.
“What are you carrying in this, madam?” he asked as he jostled it up close to his chest. “It feels as if you’ve weighted it with gold bars.”
It was only then that he took a moment to really look at her. And was intrigued despite his annoyance. She really was quite pretty despite the spectacles and the obviously dated gown.
Before she could respond to his question, however, the innkeeper rushed over. “My lord, I am so sorry you were accosted by this…” he waved his hand in the direction of the lady, as if unable to come up with a suitable description for her, finally settling upon, “person. I’ll have our finest room made up for you at once. Be gone with you, madam. His lordship has no wish to be bothered by the likes of you.”
Wordlessly he gestured to a footman, who rushed forward to take the trunk from Quill, wincing as he did so.
“There’s no need for rudeness, Stepney,” Quill chastised the innkeeper. “It was an accident, nothing more. Please have your man carry the lady’s trunk wherever she has need to take it.”
“Oh that is too kind of you, my lord,” the young woman said with a bright smile. “I would have left them in the coach, but one hears such tales about the mail-coach and the thievery that takes place even amongst the passengers. I simply could not risk them. My books are so necessary to my work, you understand.”
As she spoke, Quill noticed that her eyes were not actually brown behind the lenses of her spectacles but hazel. And at her confession something clicked into place. Of course. She was a governess. That would explain the spectacles and the books. She was likely on her way to a new position.
Before he could respond, however, Stepney bowed deeply and ignored the governess, “Very good, my lord. I’ll see to it at once. Now, if you’ll follow me I’ll see you to your room.”
And since the young woman was already directing the footman into the taproom where she was doubtless going to have a meal before she joined the rest of the passengers on the mail-coach again, he gave her one last look, then followed Stepney up the stairs.
Grateful he’d thought to bring a small bag with him when he left the traveling chaise, Quill was soon bathed and wearing a fresh change of clothes. If his cravat wasn’t as skillfully tied as his valet might have managed, then the clientele of the Pheasant and Fox would simply have to make do. Deciding to dine downstairs in the taproom rather than alone in his room, he was nearly at the bottom of the stairs when he heard a feminine shout. A premonition had him racing the rest of the way down and hurrying into the dining room which took up the entire width of the building. Though it was still daylight, the lack of windows made for a dimly lit room, the only light source coming from the lamps on the tables and in sconces on the walls.
But it wasn’t too dark for him to see the little governess standing defiantly before a great lummox of a man who clutched a hand against his cheek. “I’ll no’ take tha’ from the likes o’ye,” the man growled, launching himself forward and gripping the lady by her upper arms. “Who d’ye think y’are?”
In the tradition of all bystanders everywhere the rest of the taproom seemed to settle in for a spectacle. At least that’s how it seemed to Quill, who pushed his way forward, and snapped, “Unhand the lady at once, sir.”
REVIEW: Torquil (Quill) Beauchamp, the Marquess of Kerr is traveling from London to the southern coast to keep some women from taking everything from his late Aunt Celeste’s home, Beauchamp House. During his journey, his coach breaks down and he gets caught in a deluge of rain on his way to an Inn.
At the Inn, a pretty lady drops a trunk full of books at his feet. While she is obviously impoverished, he assumes she is a governess traveling to her job But when she is accosted by a ruffian, he steps in and defends her. He soon finds she is not a governess but a scholar.
Miss Aphrodite (Ivy) Wareham introduces herself and Quill soon learns she is one of the women heading to Beauchamp House. It appears that Aunt Celeste had always been interested in learning about many things and admired young women who were scholars in different areas. When Celeste died, she left her home to 4 young women scholars. The plan is a competition among the 4 women scholars who much complete a project within a year that is significant to the work of female scholars and artists. The winner will inherit Beauchamp House.
Quill is quite angry about this and lets Ivy know that he thinks it is wrong and he won’t allow it. He plans to do all he can to keep Ivy and the other young women out of the House.
Upon arrival at the House, Quill is surprised to find Ivy welcomed by Miss Sophia Hastings and her sister, Miss emma Hastings, along with Lady Daphne Forsythe. All of the women are scholars and believe they are heirs of Celeste. Quill’s cousin, Lady Serena Fanning, will stay at the House during that time. Arguably, Serena has spent more time sigh Celeste than Quill has and she feels she knows what her aunt would have wanted for the House. Thus, Quill finds he has no legal say in the matter.
When Ivy settles in for her first night in the House, she discovers a letter to her from the late Aunt Celeste saying she fears someone is trying to kill her and she trusts Ivy to find out who her murderer is. Soon, Ivy and Quill form a sort of truce so both of them can discover how his aunt died. As they work together, they become attracted to one another which soon turns to love. But danger lurks as they discover that actually two people have been murdered. Whom will be next?
I admit that I had a hard time deciding how to rate this book. Some of the story was good, although a bit far-fetched at times, and I found I was left with some unanswered questions. However, I feel that the book is meant to be a bit light-hearted so I decided to be kind in my rating. Manda Collins is a new-to-me author and I am looking forward to trying more of her novels.
Complimentary copy provided by the publisher
Connie for b2b
AUTHOR BIO: Manda Collins is the author of The Lords of Anarchy series, which includes Good Earl Gone Bad and A Good Rake is Hard to Find, as well as several other Regency-set romances.
She spent her teen years wishing she’d been born a couple of centuries earlier, preferably in the English countryside. Time travel being what it is, she resigned herself to life with electricity and indoor plumbing, and read lots of books. When she’s not writing, she’s helping other people use books, as an academic librarian.