>Today I’d like to welcome fellow Berkley author, Evangeline Collins. I’ve not yet had the pleasure of reading one her books, but after reading the excerpts on her website, let me tell you…I’m putting them on order. Her books have unusual story lines and that’s right up my alley! I’m sure you’ll enjoy her blog post as well. Please welcome Evangeline Collins for today’s Pleasure Me With Romance guest post.
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Thank you, Monica, for having me as a guest as part of your Please Me With Romance blog
Research is a given when writing a historical romance book, but sometimes the need for a research dive yields unexpected results. The idea for HER LADYSHIP’S COMPANION started with a high concept – married lady falls in love with a male prostitute. From there I went about fleshing out the plot and characters.
As I developed the characters, I realized I needed to give the heroine something ‘to do’ all day. She’d been banished by her husband to a remote Scottish estate. She has one family member who visits every few months. Otherwise it’s just her and her servants and the occasional visit from a neighbor. Pretty boring. And while she has her reasons for staying in Scotland, she couldn’t just sit in a drawing room and stare out the window all day. She needed something to occupy her time. A hobby appropriate for an aristocratic married woman in 1816.
Her Ladyships Companion
In the Scottish countryside of Selkirk, Lady Isabella Stirling resides at Bowhill Park, serving penance for a sin that nearly ruined her family. For five years she has been condemned to a loveless marriage and confined to the estate where she does little more than tend her rose garden. With her husband absent for months at a time and few visitors, Bella lives a lonely existence, denying the passions that burn within her very soul.
An artist? No, wouldn’t fit her, but…it would work well with the hero. I made a note for him to show his artistic abilities somewhere in the book and went back to the heroine. Music? No. Gardening? Yes, and she’ll grow roses. She’ll have a beautiful rose garden behind the house and…the book starts in April. Rather early for roses to bloom. A hothouse, perhaps? *insert research dive* Yes, she would have a hothouse and an outdoor garden.
The thing about being an author is that sometimes characters know about things that I, as the author, know nothing about. I do not garden, nor possess anything close to a green thumb. Since my heroine was an expert on roses that meant I would need to do some research on the subject. I figured it couldn’t be too complex. My mother’s into roses and I could also mine her for info.
I quickly found that roses are not a simple subject. The roses that most people recognize today were not around during the Regency either. Most major advances in rose cross-breeding and hybridization didn’t occur until the Victorian era. So over the course of an undefined number of hours, I learned all about Old World roses.
What was originally intended as a pastime to give my heroine, more of an off-the-page sort of hobby, ended up becoming a backdrop for a few scenes in the book. The woman had a hothouse – of course, she and the hero would need to get up to something ‘hot’ in there. But more than that, I learned a lot about her through her hobby and so did the hero. The impeccably manicured and extensive gardens not only told the hero that she was a kind, caring soul who had a love of things vibrant and beautiful, but also revealed the full extent of her loneliness and isolation.
What’s your favorite hobby and what do you think it says about you?
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