Monday, August 20, 2012

A Lady By Any Other Name by Jennifer Kitchens : Interview and Excerpt

A Woman in Hiding

Nicole Farrington's life had never been easy, but it had always been bearable. At least it had been until now. Faced with a horrible marriage her step-brother has contracted for her, she will do anything to get away. She’ll run…run to anyone who might be able to help her. But running blindly down an unknown path may take her to an unexpected destination.

A Man Seeking Answers

Julian Huntington, Earl of Foxley, wants nothing more than to have his carefree life back. Now he is left with a title, a child, and a future that he never expected would be his. He refuses to believe his brother's death was an accident, no matter what people say. Someone killed him and Julian plans to find out who and why. Maybe then he can go on with his life…his brother’s life. But will the answers he seeks be enough, or will he find love to be a worthier goal?

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“I have come to offer you my congratulations.”
“Congratulations?” she asked, perplexed, “For what?”
          “I have just arranged a marriage for you with Sir Josiah Pemberton.  You are a very lucky lady,” he said, sipping his drink.
          “What?”  She was on her feet before she realized what she was doing, her whole body shaking with fury.  She knew she shouldn’t yell at Roland, as it never ended well.  But she rarely acted with caution when she lost her temper.  “Isn’t it enough that I act as a servant in my own home?  I have never given you cause for complaint about taking over the work of servants.  But I will not be made to marry a man old enough to be my grandfather!  How could you do that?  You had no right!”
          “No right?  I am your guardian, after all,” he replied with a smile still lurking on his lips.  “You should be grateful I’ve let you stay here for so long.  Did you really think I’d keep you around and underfoot forever?  Did you expect a Season?  The ton doesn’t even know you exist.”  He sneered at her as if she had no right to even be in the same room as him.  There was a certain familiar glint in his eyes that warned her to try to calm herself down so as not to enrage him.  “Besides, I owe Pemberton money and this will do nicely.”
          “You plan on using me as payment for your debts?”  Her mouth hung open in disbelief.
“No, you flitwit.  But your oh-so-generous dowry will do so satisfactorily.  He’ll figure out something to do with you, I’m sure.  It’s not my problem to figure out.  In two days’ time you’ll be a pain in Pemberton’s neck, and my debt will be paid.”  He took a long drink of his brandy and smiled at her with satisfaction.
          “How did you lose so much?” She voiced the first thought that came to her mind.  He had always been gambling away his money, but she never thought that he would let things go far enough to actually run out.  How could he do something so despicable as to sell his own sister to that old lecher, no matter how much he hated her.  How dare he use her like this!
          “My affairs are none of your concern!” he snapped.  Flicking a speck of dust from his sleeve, he continued.  “Oh don’t look so surprised.  Why my father ever arranged for your outrageous dowry, I’ll never understand.  It should have been my money – why shouldn’t I use it?  Getting rid of you is simply a nice bonus, you know.”
          Her anger boiled over then.  “I won’t marry Pemberton, Roland.  I won’t.  I may act as a servant here to you and your friends.  I may put up with their leering and your tirades.  I earn my keep and much more without complaint.  But I refuse to be bartered off like a piece of furniture!”  She was nearly screaming now, something she never did.  She expected him to retaliate and braced herself for the blow, but instead he laughed.
     “You don’t have a choice.  The negotiations are complete.  You will marry and that is that.”
     “I won’t agree.  I won’t say yes.”
     “Oh, yes you will,” he growled, “You will if you know what’s good for you.  But I’m sure I could come up with much more…entertaining ways of using you to get the money.  If you’d prefer.”
     He wouldn’t.  Surely not.  Seeing the evil glint in his eyes, Nicole realized she was grasping at false hope.  He would.  Her anger melted into panic.  She knew she couldn’t marry that, that…she couldn’t even think of a word bad enough.   A cheat, and a drunkard, Pemberton had already buried three wives.  Nicole refused to be a fourth.  But how would she avoid it?  The alternative was no better.  
“But…no.  Roland, please, no.  Don’t do this,” she pled.  She didn’t expect it to do much good though, and it didn’t.
          Roland looked up at her with disgust.  “Enough.  You will marry as you’re told.  He’ll be here this evening.  Now get out of my sight!”  His face turned hard and she knew the time had come to leave before he unleashed his temper fully.  

Welcome Jennifer!  I'm so happy to have this opportunity to visit with you and find out a little bit about you and your books.  Say your publisher has offered to fly you anywhere in the world to do research on an upcoming book, where would you most likely want to go?
Either England or Scotland.  Hey, if someone else is paying – why not both?  I thoroughly enjoy writing regency romances, which are often inherently set in England.  I would love to visit London, and perhaps Bath and Dover.  Not only would it be awesome, but it would be great to actually see the places I’ve only researched and read about.  Along the same lines, Scotland would be great as well.  With a Scottish husband, the place has enchanted me for a long time.  I would love to write a Scottish romance – there’s just something about a man in a kilt, J and actually going there would be wonderful. 
Have you ever read or seen yourself as a character in a book or movie?
Yes.  This is kind of embarrassing, but while I often associate with the shy girls in movies and books, there is one exception.  If you’ve ever seen the show Firefly (or the movie Serenity) then I would have to say I was Inara.  Aside from the whole “companion” thing, that’s me.  I love all her clothes and her classiness.  Her relationship with the captain, Mal, reminds me of my husband.  We love each other completely, but are in many ways complete opposites.  My Southern husband’s upbringing was very different from my Californian one.  And yet, when it comes down to it, we temper each other and understand each other despite our differences.  Isn’t that what great love and romance is all about?
Do you have a Website or Blog?
While I have an author page, I haven’t had much time to put more on it than the basic book information so far.  I hope to improve it soon.  I do have another site that I run called, Clean Romance Reviews.  There I do just as it says…review clean romance novels.  I love reading romance novels – always have and probably always will.  After years of frustration of checking books out of the library only to have to put them down half-way through, I decided that people needed a place to find out if a book was clean before picking it up.  I mean, we can look up how may swear words are in a movie, but you have to gamble with a book.  With my husband’s encouragement, I started reviewing and have been doing it for almost two years now.  I love reading great new books and helping other authors get noticed as well as providing my readers with a resource of hundreds of clean romance books to pick up and not worry about how steamy it would get.
Do you have critique partners or beta readers?
Absolutely!  I started with friends and family.  My husband, my mom, my sister, a couple of old friends.  I tend to give it to some of them first to make sure my story makes sense and doesn’t contradict itself or have large holes in the plot.  Then I turn to my author and aspiring-author friends for help.  I found a forum where I have met many great authors and we exchange partial or whole manuscripts for editing and critiquing.  Then, the story goes back to remaining family and friends to make sure that it still sounds good to a reader in its entirety.  I think this is an essential step – often when writing I get so involved in the world in my head that I forget that no one else knows all the intricate details rattling around in my head.
What do you think makes a good story?
I think a good story is a practice in balance between believability and fantasy.  People don’t read fiction for the reality or blatant truth of their lives to be reflected back at them.  If they want that, they can read non-fiction…or watch the news…or face the piles of dishes and laundry waiting for them.  I believe most people read as an escape – a chance to enjoy some adventure, romance or mystery from the safety of their living room.  So a good story needs to embrace that idea and give the reader a full world to delve into – whether it’s made up, transported through time, or just down the block.  Characters and settings should establish and flesh out this escapism.  However, no matter if a person is exploring outer space, moving to New York, or sieging a castle, people are people.  They cry when they are sad, laugh when happy, and want revenge against the unjust.  No matter the setting or situation, characters must be and act in a way that resonates in all of us.  This balance is what creates enough reality to get the reader emotionally engaged while slipping into a world where stinky socks and boring meetings aren’t required.
What are your hero and heroine of the story like?
I love my hero and heroine.  Nicole is lightly based on myself, so obviously I can relate.  She has learned to quietly accept the disappointments and problems in her life.  That is until the last straw of her step-brother’s proposed marriage for her.  Driven by fear she sets out on her adventure, desperate to find a way to avoid a life that is worse than what she has lived with thus far.  Her sweet disposition and acceptance of life serves as a calming influence on others.  Julian, however, has no such inclination to accept what life has unfairly dealt him.  A military man, he never wanted the grand life that his brother’s death has left him with.  The title, the lands, the responsibility…the little girl.  In his pain and frustration he focuses his efforts on solving his brother’s death, even if he’s the only one convinced it wasn’t an accident.  It’s easier than accepting his situation and moving on.  If he had someone else to blame, it would be easier to accept. 
Use no more than two sentences. Why should we read your book?
It’s a delightfully fun read that throws you back in time and combines excitement, romance and adventure all into one.  Characters are faced with what life has dealt them and must decide what the most important things in life are, and just what they are willing to do to get it.

Jennifer Kitchens is a life-long lover of romance novels.  She started reading Regency romances as a teenager and hasn’t stopped.  She is the founder and sole reviewer for Clean Romance Reviews.  When she isn’t writing and reading, she is raising her young children and dating her husband. 
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