Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Marriage Wager by Karla Darcy: Interview & Excerpt



If you love Downton Abbey and Jane Austen you’ll love The Marriage Wager! This is book #3 in the Sweet Deception series. Jena Christie had been kidnapped by a group of drunken gentlemen, married and deserted on her wedding night. Now her new husband, Lord Havenhurst was refusing to acknowledge their marriage! Convinced his new bride couldn't hold her own among the ton, Dev proposed a wager that Jena dared not refuse. Neither had planned on a wild card called LOVE!


Believing that after a night of drunken revelry he has married an actress, Lord Havenhurst bets that she cannot run his household properly. To ensure her failure he takes all the servants and gives her a paltry allowance. Now he has returned, assured he will find the household in disarray.
Devereaux Havenhurst smiled smugly as he stared up at the stone facade of his townhouse. Before his cane could touch the wood, the door was pulled open from within. Dev's eyebrows raised in surprise as he stepped over the threshold.
"Welcome home, Lord Havenhurst."
The harsh whispered voice came from behind Dev and he whirled to face the speaker. An enormous figure stood at attention in the marble hallway. The servant, dressed in bright yellow livery, had the body of a behemoth and the face of an unrepentant murderer. Hands the size of hams were extended for Dev's hat, gloves and cane.
"I am your new butler, milord," the man said in a voice with the rasp of sandpaper. "The name is Lamb."
"Devil, you say!" Dev blurted out.
Immediately his eyes flew to the expressionless butler but Dev could see no flash of hostility to signal an imminent attack. He was mesmerized by the eye-catching splendor of the man's livery that gave a certain justification to the thought that Dev had somehow stepped back in time. The butler was wearing elaborate court dress that was popular sometime in the early seventeenth century. From the cut of the full-skirted coat and the matching pantaloons, the "court" was most probably Russian. And yellow, by gad. Lamb looked like some great vicious canary.
Slightly flustered, Dev removed his gloves and hat. He reluctantly released the cane, only because he felt it was beneath him to tug it away from the iron grip of the butler.
"Perhaps milord would care to wait in the drawing room while I inform her ladyship of your arrival," Lamb rasped out.
"Thank you, eh, Lamb." Dev felt out of his depth, unbalanced by the calm efficiency of the butler. As he followed the stiff-backed man, he noted that the house appeared much as he had left it. Except that all the furnishings fairly gleamed with cleanliness.
At Lamb's signal, two footmen leaped to attention and flung open the drawing room doors. Though impeccably dressed in the same fanciful livery, the men's faces held the unmistakable scars of some pitched battle one would prefer not to hear about. The butler bowed in the doorway, backing into the hall as the doors closed in unison.
"What May game is the wench up to?" Dev muttered under his breath.
He had expected a household in chaos and a weeping bride, eager to admit loss of the wager. Instead he was greeted by a gang of costumed brigands whom he suspected would be more eager to relieve him of his purse than his hat and gloves. Behind him the doors were flung open and Dev whirled to face the new Lady Havenhurst.
"Welcome home, Lord Havenhurst," she said, dropping into a graceful curtsy.
Dev had only seen Jena in a rumpled brown gown, hair pulled simply to the nape of her neck. He could not believe that the vision who approached him was the same woman. She wore a simple round dress of the softest peach tones, which brought a flush of color to her skin. Her glorious black hair was piled on top of her head in a Psyche knot, artful wispy curls brushing her shell-like ears. Unconsciously he moved forward, extending his hand to raise her to her feet.
"I'm delighted to see your allowance was not wasted," Dev sneered. He dropped her hand and stepped back to survey her. "You look exceptionally well, Lady Havenhurst."
"No need for such formality," Jena said, ignoring his sarcasm. "Please call me Jena."
She crossed to the couch, spreading her skirts carefully across the white satin cushions. The furious beat of her heart sounded loud to her ears and she hoped he was not aware of her agitation. She had forgotten what a handsome man the viscount was.
"Won't you sit down, milord," Jena said, annoyed at the slightly breathless quality to her voice. "Since I'm sure after your travels you would welcome some sustenance, I have instructed Lamb to bring an early tea."
"Where in God's name did you get that man, Jena?" Dev asked. "He's obviously a murderer!"
"Softly, milord. You'll hurt his feelings."
"Feelings, my dear woman?" Dev whispered, casting a worried glance in the direction of the doors. "The only thing he'll ever feel is the hangman's rope."
"Really, milord. Lamb is an excellent butler," she defended. "Granted, he has a slightly daunting presence."
"Daunting! We'll be lucky if we're not all murdered in our beds. And what happened to his voice? Does he always whisper like that?"
"An unfortunate accident, milord," Jena admitted, busily pleating the skirt of her dress. "Apparently a friend of his tried to cut his throat."
"Good Lord! It needed only that," Dev said, slapping his forehead with the palm of his hand.
As the doors were flung open, Dev jerked around as though fearing attack. Lamb entered the room, followed by two older women, bearing silver trays. Dev blinked in disbelief at the outlandish dirndls, frothy petticoats and white, laced blouses reminiscent of waitresses in a beer hall. The dainty mobcaps added a piquant touch, emphasizing the raddled features of the old women. One of the biddies deposited the heavy silver tea tray in front of Jena and the other set a large tray covered with sandwiches and pastries beside it.
"Will there be anything else, your ladyship?" the butler grated.
"No, thank you, Lamb. This should do quite nicely." Jena smiled warmly up at the man.
Lamb snapped his fingers and the maids bobbed a curtsy and scurried from the room. As before, the butler backed from the room and the doors silently closed, cutting him off from sight.
"Does he always leave the room that way?" Dev asked curiously.
"Yes, milord," Jena answered. She was glad her hand was steady as she poured a cup of tea. She raised it and Dev took it absently, his mind clearly still on the butler. "Please help yourself, milord. I believe Cook sent along some cucumber sandwiches as well as the sweets."
"Dare I ask what idiosyncrasies Cook possesses?" Dev drawled. "A penchant for arsenic? Or is she content with the common rat poisons?"
"Truly, milord, she is nothing out of the way. She is a positive miracle worker with pastries and her fish course would make Prinny weak with envy. You will find no fault with her sauces and I promise you her pheasant presentation is something to behold. Of course, she is blind in one eye," Jena said, her eyes twinkling as Dev's hand hovered over the tray of food. "But before you ask how, I warn you the word 'gouged' might dampen your appetite."
"Good God!" Dev swore, snatching his hand back from the sandwiches.


Hello Karla.  Thanks for being here today and taking time out to answer a few of my questions.  How did you start your writing career?


I started out as a storyteller.  My best friend and I were big into dolls and when we got together we would tell elaborate stories using our dolls. Lots of wardrobe changes and tons of drama. Prime storylines were the dolls being captured by pirates and rescued by swashbuckling heroes. I don’t know if there’s any cause and effect here but now I’m a writer of love stories and my friend is a nun. So at an early age I realized how important it was to have a beginning, middle and end. Eventually I learned the writing mechanics to get the story down on paper. That happened when I joined a chapter of the Romance Writers of America. These generous women were the ones who taught me how to write.


When in the day/night do you write?


Night is my time to write. I was working in an ad agency when I decided to try writing. I was single so I’d come home from work on Monday and then I’d write all night long and on Tuesday I’d go to work and then come home and sleep straight through. Wednesday I’d write all night and then go to work on Thursday. That night I’d sleep through and then repeat on Friday. Saturday and Sunday were for social life. I did that for six months and by then I’d finished my first book that was an appallingly bad mystery. The trouble with being a history major is that you don’t have a clue about the mechanics of book writing. However this set the pattern for when I do my best writing. I was young then. Now I can’t work past 2am or I really pay for it the next day.


What was one of the most surprising things you learned while writing your books?


Although I’m always writing about a great love affair, I discovered that the friendship between the couple was paramount.  No matter the situation in the book the hero and the heroine must find a deep friendship before they build a lasting relationship. Lust and attraction might bring them close but unless they could find an intellectual connection I couldn’t get them to fall in love. They needed to be able to talk and laugh and spend time together. I’ve always felt that friendship of all kinds is important but for true love you need to find respect and joy in each other’s company.


What was the scariest moment in your life?


Three years ago I had a heart attack. I was giving a speech about writing to my church guild when I sensed that something was happening. No chest pains or pressure.  A little discomfort in my right wrist and a slight pain in my right shoulders. I knew something was wrong but refused to believe it was serious. My mom had died of a heart attack and her only symptom was jaw pain which I now know is a classic sign for women. But because her symptoms were unusual I decided to listen to my body. I drove to the hospital and it was the most frightened I’d ever been. There I was told I had had a heart attack. So now I urge every woman to check out the symptoms for heart attacks in women and listen to your body. It could save your life.


What hobbies to you actively pursue?


Swimming and golf.  I’ve always loved being in water.  There’s a freedom that I don’t find anywhere else. I’m a great swimmer and used to be pretty good on a boogie board. Nowadays it’s golf.  My husband and I play about once a week. For a writer it’s perfect because you have to empty your mind in order to play well.  So no matter what scene is giving me trouble I have to focus on the golf and usually when I’m done with the game, the answer magically comes to me.  I think it’s because I’m not gnawing on the problem all day so I come to it fresh. I can’t beat Bill at the game but I can usually win one or two holes from him and that’s totally satisfying.


How do you remain sane as a writer?


Find balance in your life. You can’t write all the time. You need to have a support group of friends, family and other writers because it’s not an easy job and you’ll go nuts if you try to go it alone. Read everything you can. You’ll learn how successful writers craft a story and you’ll grow both as a person and as a writer.
Karla Darcy lives with her husband, several tame geckos and an occasional friendly snake on the Treasure Coast on the east side of Florida. She has always felt she lived in the Regency period in a past life. Her early writings were musical comedies and humor columns so it was an easy transition to the romantic and humorous style of Regencies. Lovely dresses, masked balls and witty conversations, which contained saucy double entendres, were the perfect cup of tea for this author.

Karla discovered years ago that you don't have to be a bitch to write a Regency but it helps. Tone is everything in the era of witty repartee. Dialogue has to have that snap that makes Regency conversations sparkle.

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Giveaway ends November 17th 11:59 PM Central Time.


Sandy said...

I'm reading the marriage wager now and loving it. Your theme of friendship in marriage really shines through in your stories and because it is important to me, is one of the reason I enjoy your stories. Good luck with the series. BTW love the excerpt you chose.


Karla Darcy said...

Thank you so much for having me on your blog. I thought your questions were great fun to answer!

Karla Darcy said...

Thanks for stopping by and especially thank you for the kind words. This is one of my favorite books.

Karen Arrowood said...

I couldn't stop smiling while I was reading the except from The Marriage Wager! I bet I would be grinning the whole way through this book. I can't wait to find out what else Jena has up her sleeve...

Karla Darcy said...

Thanks so much for grinning at the Marriage Wager. This is one of my favorite book because I had such a fun time writing it. You'll love the butler. Enjoy

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