Dear Friends, a marvelous Monday to you all! Lady B. is so pleased to be holding our first At-Home Week here at the Ballroom Blog. The creme de la creme of Regency Society will be gracing us with their presence this week, and it is my great honor to present to you all my dear friend, the tres magnifique Alexandra Hawkins!
Alexandra Hawkins is renowned for the red-hot rakehells in her USA Today bestselling Lord of Vice series (St. Martin’s Press). Trust me, she has a particular genius for the care and handling of bad boys. For those who haven’t read them yet, the four titles in this series so far hint at the intensity and sensuality to be found inside the gorgeous covers: All Night with a Rogue, Till Dawn with the Devil, After Dark with a Scoundrel, and the latest installment, her brand-new January 2012 release, Sunrise With a Notorious Lord. Take a peek!Back cover blurb:
Dashing, decadent, and deliciously seductive, the notorious Lords of Vice indulge their every desire—from dusk until dawn…
Christopher Courtland, Earl of Vanewright—known around London as “Vane”—is the very picture of a rich, handsome ladies’ man. Why shackle himself to just one lady when he’s free to sample them all? In spite of his own mother’s attempts at matchmaking, Vane has sworn to stay single. Until he has a chance run-in with Miss Isabel Thorne…
A modest and refined beauty, Isabel is a lot more brazen than she appears. When a pickpocket tries to make away with Vane’s bejeweled snuffbox, Isabel attempts to thwart his escape…and manages to steal Vane’s heart. But the harder he tries to seduce the sharp-tongued, strong-willed Isabel, the more she resists. Now it’s up to this tried-and-true bachelor to find a new way to play the game…or risk losing the one woman who’s ever captured his heart.
Gaelen: Alexandra, thank you so much for coming to be with us for our first At Home week! Congrats on the grand success of your new book. I see the Lords of Vice are once more heating up the USA Today list! Congrats!
So, one of the things that grabbed me right away when I read the blurb on the new one–aside from your latest sexy bad boy hero–was when I noted that this story has one of those types of characters we so love in Regency novels – the classic matchmaking Mama.
Indeed, I see you were very fortunate to be accompanied (chaperoned?) to the Ballroom today by Lady Netherley herself, Vane’s mother. Lady B, I believe you and Lady Netherley have been acquainted for years, is that correct?
Lady B: We have. Lady Netherley has always had a knack for determining who among Society’s young people would make a suitable match.
Lady Netherley: My dear Heliotrope, you are too kind. (sniffs into her handkerchief) I knew the moment I met Isabel that she was the perfect lady for my son. But it was a herculean task, since he had the foolish notion of attempting to remain single.
Gaelen: What a trial that must have been for you, Lady Netherley. Do tell us about it! But wait, your son is here, is he not? WOW, is that Lord Vainwright? I daresay. Hubba, hubba.
Lady B: (Awfully nice calves on this young fellow, what?) Lord Vanewright, my dear young man, you are new to our company. Do come overe here, and bring your young lady with you (if you can manage her! – spirited gel, I hear). Tell us a little more about yourselves. If you’re not too reticent as so many gentlemen are in speaking in matters of the heart, perhaps you would tell us where you first met your lovely Isabel.
Vane (visibly uncomfortable): London.
Alexandra: I believe Lady B is pressing for a few more details.
Isabel: We met in a dressmaker’s shop.
Vane: From her ladyship’s expression, you might as well have confessed that we met in a brothel.
Isabel: Rubbish! Lady B is an excellent judge of character. (turning to address Lady B) You see, there was an unfortunate incident with a pickpocket—
Vane (sighs): She also has sharp ears, love. I’m certain she has heard a few wild tales about the Lords of Vice.
Isabel (dismisses his words with a careless wave): Malicious gossip.
Alexandra: No, actually, most of it is true. (ignores Vane’s gesture to remain silent)
Isabel: Regardless, it was at Lady Netherley’s insistence that my sister, Delia and I were in the shop on that particular day. It all began with a letter that I had received from the elderly marchioness. We had called on Lady Netherley several times during her stay at her cousin’s house in Cotersage and she seemed to enjoy our afternoons together. Needless to say, I was thrilled when she encouraged my sister and I to come toLondon.
Alexandra: You were desperate, Isabel.
Isabel: Obviously. It was a difficult time for our family.
Vane: Just one more thing my mother failed to mention upon her return toLondon.
<Squawk! Any means necessary! Squawk!> Albert circles overhead, showing off his plumage to the new guests, to now avail. Vane and Isabel can’t take their eyes off each other.
Isabel: And who in this room would blame her? You were being rather difficult about this matchmaking business.
Vane: Difficult? Isabel, my mother was conspiring with everyone from my former mistress to you! I had every right to feel unsettled by her latest mischief! (Vane glares at Alexandra)
Isabel: Anything that sweet woman did, she did out of love for her only surviving son. You are remarkably blessed to have a mother who frets and thinks only of your happiness.
Lady B (nodding somberly): This is quite true.
Vane: You failed to mention to Lady B that my mother told you that your sister Delia was the perfect lady for me.
Isabel (frowning): Well, it’s true that Delia had a role in Lady Netherley’s grand scheme.
Vane: Do not allow my mother’s guileless expression to fool you, Lady B. Lady Netherley is a cunning opponent.
Lady B: Ha! Woe to the man who underestimates a lady. Or a mother doing what she thinks best for her young. Even if they are all grown up (with wonderful limbs, I daresay)
Gaelen: Sooo, was it love at first sight?
Vane and Isabel: No.
Alexandra: Yes. They were just too stubborn to realize it.
Isabel: A bold statement, considering the man was fondling his mistress behind the closed curtains at the back of the shop.
Vane (a pained expression on his face): I was trying to get rid of her!
Isabel: She was giggling, and I believe you growled several times.
Vane: Christ! (silently appealing to Alexandra for assistance) I was suffering from indigestion.
Alexandra: No, he was just being a Lord of Vice. (she leans over and pinches him on the arm)
Vane (mumbled curse): What the devil was that for?
Alexandra: For lying. Isabel is correct. You were fondling Miss Corsar and contemplating much worse.
Vane: Enough about Miss Corsar! I never gave the silly woman another thought after meeting Isabel.
Alexandra: I know. Like I said—It was love at first sight!
Gaelen: Perhaps we should pause and contemplate this…
Gaelen: Alexandra, I cannot wait to read this book. This series has been flying by and earning rave reviews. Now, most people don’t know this, but you were the first friend I ever made in the romance world back in the day, when we were both unpublished and gazing at all those “goddesses” (the published authors at the Georgia Romance Writers conference) and going, “Wowwww, do you think that could ever be us??” And generally laughing at what seemed like a pie-in-the-sky goal back then, but hey, ya work hard enough and throw in a little luck, and have good friends to help you keep your sanity along the way, and you never know what you can accomplish, right??
So, because I’ve known Mz. Hawkins for QUITE some time, I know a thing or two about her that doesn’t show up in her bio. Such as: Alexandra Hawkins is a woman of many talents, most of them in a creative direction. For example, she is a FABULOUS cook. Not that you’ll ever hear her brag. But Oh. My. God. I have seen birthday cakes she has made for her kids over the years that look like they should be on the Food Channel. She is also a talented artist/painter, with a green thumb, who was a serious trained dancer in high-school, and is one of the most disciplined writers in the field. Even better, she is one of those No Excuses people who never whined about not having the time to write, boo hoo hoo, but stayed up til 3 in the bloody morning after putting her kids to bed when they were younger in order to MAKE the time to write. For crying out loud, woman, is there anything you can’t do?? LOL
Alexandra: Oh stop—You’re going to have me blushing like one of my heroines! I’ll admit that I have a strong creative drive and have a tendency to hold nothing back when I take on a project. LOL, and those cakes were incredible!
How long has it been since that first GRW conference? Eighteen years? Back then, the notion of becoming a published author did seem like pie-in-the-sky. I had just moved from Illinois to Georgia with my husband and eighteen-month-old daughter and the conference was another sign that I was committed to writing a romance novel. How lucky that I had a future NYT’s bestselling author practically living across the street from me!
Oh, and for the record, I might have been disciplined, but I was moving at a turtle’s pace. Gael wrote her first manuscript and was sending out query letters long before I finished mine. When she sold her first book, her phenomenal success gave me hope that I might become a published author one day. I’d break out into a rendition of Bette Midler’s “Wind Beneath my Wings” but that song always makes me cry. You know I love you!
Gaelen: Awww! Well, I could rave on about how much I love this gal (and her books!) but what else should our Ballroomies know about you?
Alexandra: I live in northern Georgia with my husband and three teenagers. Hmm . . . One of my goals is to master Photoshop. I like to create my own promo materials so when I’m not working on a manuscript, I’m playing with art software. Historicals are my first love, but I could see myself writing a paranormal or fantasy. World building sounds like my kind of fun.
Gaelen: No wonder you’re so good at it! I can totally see you doing that, btw. And how long have you been writing, my dear?
Alexandra: Since I was a child. I’ve always loved creating short stories and poems. It wasn’t until I was in my twenties that I considered writing a novel.
Gaelen: When did you first discover romance novels?
Alexandra: My senior year in high school. A friend brought her sister’s romances novels to school and I was hooked. Traditional Regencies were my favorite.
Gaelen: You really have a knack for tapping into the classic Regency vibe that is getting rarer these days. You’ve always been accurate about the language and the clothing, in particular, and I always notice, reading you, that your other creative outlets must get channeled into your writing, like the very specific, artist-eye details with which you nuance your descriptions. It’s very cool. So, what inspired you to create the Lords of Vice?
Alexandra: The idea for the series originated from the seven deadly sins. While I was working on the proposal, I switched from sins to vices, but kept the number seven. I’m having a blast writing stories for my Regency bad boys!
Gaelen: And it shows!! So, what’s next for you?
Alexandra: Saint’s book is scheduled to be released this summer.
Gaelen: Awesome! Everybody, I have super news…Alexandra is going to be giving away three autographed copies of her Lord of Vice books. Yaaaayyy!! So, leave a comment and you’ll be entered into the computer-randomizer drawing.
In the meanwhile, I just wanted to say that along with your bad boys (which I know we are always happy to discuss at length. cough cough, pun intended – woot!) I love the matchmaking angle in this book. Matchmaking is alive and well these days, not so much from meddling mammas, but matchmaker websites! (OK, fess up, has anyone here ever tried one of those? Details, people. What did you think?)
If not, have you ever played matchmaker, or benefited from an introduction by someone else who was matchmaking for you? (Whether you liked it or not! LOL.) The Ballroom loves “deliciously juicy gossip” so come on, spill, spill, your matchmaking stories!!