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Hi Everyone! And a special ‘Thank You’ to Judy for letting me stop by Long and Short Reviews to share a few thoughts.
I’m often asked where I get the ideas for my books from. This is a difficult question to answer for two reasons. One, ideas for stories just occur to me sometimes. Actually, ideas occur to me all the time—mostly weird, unusable ideas that I don’t ever put down on paper. Secondly, when I do have a point of inspiration, the final result normally is quite warped from the original when I finally get around to writing it down. Also? It’s usually years later. That’s just the nature of publishing.
But! For my latest book, Thief of Shadows, I do remember a point of inspiration—the point, actually, for the entire Maiden Lane series—which until now I haven’t been able to report.
It started like this.
I’ve long been a fan of swashbuckling films and books. Old fashioned adventures like The Scarlet Pimpernel, Scaramouche (both the book by Rafael Sabatini and the 1952 film) and most importantly to this discussion, a little known Disney movie titled, Dr. Syn, Alias the Scarecrow. Dr. Syn starred Patrick McGoohan, looking a whole lot more sexy than I remember from his title role in the TV series, The Prisoner, despite (or perhaps because?) the fact that Dr. Syn was a preacher during the day. At night, though, staid, upright Dr. Syn threw aside his (hot!) clerical collar to become the feared Scarecrow of Romney Marsh! The Scarecrow was dressed as (duh) a scarecrow, a sinister painted hood over his face, and was a vigilante either helping smugglers or fighting the British redcoats. Maybe both. My memory fails me at this point because I was only eleven or so when I saw the film and stupid Disney won’t re-release it on DVD.
But let’s return to the salient points of Dr. Syn, Alias the Scarecrow, which are:
1. Hot, uptight, religious guy by day.
2. Hot, silly-costume-wearing, fighting-for-justice guy by night.
Sound familiar? Well, if you’ve read Thief of Shadows, it should be—sort of. The hero of Thief of Shadows is Winter Makepeace, a religious man who manages an orphanage in St. Giles, the worst slum in London, by day. By night, though, he dons the disguise of the Ghost of St. Giles—a harlequin’s costume—to fight crime and defend innocents. And while Winter isn’t actually a man of the cloth, he does have some similarities: he’s a virgin.
At least he’s a virgin at the beginning of the book. ;-)
About the Author:
Five of Elizabeth’s books have been honored as finalists for the Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA award contest. She is the recipient of two RT Book Reviews Review’s Choice Awards. Four of her books appear on All About Romance’s list of the Top 100 Romances of All Time.
Elizabeth researches extensively for her historical romances, both by reading books on topics such as history, costume, warfare, social mannerisms, and cooking, and by frequenting museums whenever she can to study portraits and the little dogs that aristocratic Georgian ladies seem to always be holding.
Elizabeth lives in central Illinois with a trio of untrained canines and a garden in constant need of weeding. She is at work on the next Maiden Lane novel.
Find the author online at:
Winter Makepeace waited for Lady Beckinhall to turn her back and then stripped off his coat and waistcoat. It was brought home with forceful memory that he’d been nude before this woman only a sennight ago.
Even if she didn’t know it.
His breeches followed and then he was in shirtsleeves and smalls. He glanced at the tailor.
“The shirt as well, sir,” Mr. Hurt said. “The fashion is for a tight-fitting waistcoat and coat.”
“Yes, indeed,” Lady Beckinhall called over her shoulder, “I want the suit to be in the first stare of fashion.”
Winter grimaced but took off his shirt.
The tailor nodded. “That shall do for now, sir.”
Winter stood with arms outstretched, feeling exceptionally silly as the tailor moved about him, wielding a measuring tape.
“Have you been practicing flattery?” Lady Beckinhall asked just as the tailor’s thumb, holding the tape, pushed up the lower edge of Winter’s smallclothes.
“As per your instructions,” Winter replied, watching as Mr. Hurt caught sight of the end of the scar revealed by the rucked smalls.
The tailor hesitated, then continued his work.
Lady Beckinhall sighed very quietly.
Winter’s attention snapped back to her. “I am in admiration of the way in which you can order tea so very…er…efficiently, my lady.”
Mr. Hurt shot him a pitying look.
There was a slight pause.
“Thank you, Mr. Makepeace.” Lady Beckinhall’s voice was choked. “I must say, you give the most imaginative compliments.”
“Your tutelage has inspired me, ma’am.”
The tailor looked doubtful.
Winter cleared his throat. “And, of course, who would not be, ah…exhilarated by the loveliness of your countenance and form.”
He arched an eyebrow at Mr. Hurt.
The tailor made a face as if to say, Not bad.
Which was probably as good as Winter was likely to get at this art.
But Lady Beckinhall wasn’t done. Her head had tilted to the side at his words, making some type of jeweled ornament in her glossy dark hair sparkle in the light. “My form, Mr. Makepeace?”
Ah, this was dangerous territory. “Yes, your form, my lady. It is a strong and feminine form, but I think you already know that.”
She chuckled, low and husky, sending shivers over his arms. “Yes, but a lady never tires of hearing compliments, sir. You must keep that fact in mind.”
Her little maid nodded vigorously in agreement.
“Indeed?” Winter stared at Lady Beckinhall’s back, wishing he could see her face. Her plump mouth would be curved slightly in amusement, her blue eyes dancing. His body reacted at the thought and he was heartily glad that Mr. Hurt had moved to his back.
“But you must be awash in a sea of compliments, my lady,” Winter said. “Every gentleman you meet must voice his admiration, his wish to make love to you. And those are only the ones who may voice such thoughts. All about you are men who cannot speak their admiration, who must remain mute from lack of social standing or fear of offending you. Only their thoughts light the air about you, following you like a trail of perfume, heady but invisible.”
He heard her startled inhale.
The maid sighed dreamily.
Mr. Hurt had stopped his quick, capable movements, but at Winter’s glance, he blinked and resumed his work.
“Thank you, Mr. Makepeace,” Lady Beckinhall said quietly. “That…that was quite wonderful.”
He shrugged, though she couldn’t see him. “I only speak the truth.”
“Do you…” She hesitated, then said throatily, “Do you think me shallow for enjoying such compliments?”
Her back was confident and straight, but her neck, bared by her upswept hair, was white and slim and held a hint of vulnerability. She was so forthright, so assured of herself that he’d not noticed the tender spot before.
“I think you sometimes like to hide behind a facade of gaiety, my lady.” He cleared his throat. “I also think that when you enter a room, all eyes turn to you. You blaze like a torch, lighting the darkest corners, brightening even those who thought they were already well lit. You bring joy and mirth and leave behind a glow that gives hope to those you’ve left.”
“And you, Mr. Makepeace? Are you one of those who thought themselves well lit?”
“I am as dark as a pit.” Now he was glad her back was turned. “Even your torch will have difficulty lighting my depths.”