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Friday, July 11, 2014

Tasty Book Tours: Lady Windermere's Lover by Miranda Neville (Interview, Review + Giveaway)

I am SO glad I signed up for this tour! Now I can say I have a new author to catch up on! Today I have a quick interview with author Miranda Neville AND I'll let you know my thoughts on Lady Windermere's Lover! But first, a little about Miranda herself.

Miranda Neville grew up in England. During her misspent youth she devoured the works of Georgette Heyer, Jean Plaidy, and any other historical novels she could lay hands on. As a result she attended the University of Oxford to study history, ignoring all hints that economics might be a more practical subject. She spent several years writing catalogs of rare books and original letters and manuscripts for Sotheby’s auction house in London and New York. Much of her time in this job was spent reading the personal correspondence of the famous. This confirmed her suspicion that the most interesting thing about history is people.

Since moving to Vermont, she has worked in Special Collections at Dartmouth College and as an editor and journalist on Behind the Times, a small, idiosyncratic (and now defunct) monthly newspaper. She is the owner and editor of a weekly advertiser in the Upper Valley, a job that leaves her enough time to write fiction.

Her first book, Never Resist Temptation. was published by Avon in 2009. The first two books in the Burgundy Club series will be published in 2010.

She lives with her daughter, Becca, a college student and confirmed drama queen, and two cats who are never on the right side of any door.

Find Miranda:

Adria: Hi Miranda, thanks for taking the time to stop by and chat! I really loved Lady Windermere’s Lover so that makes me a new fan of yours!
Miranda: Hi Adria, that warms my writerly heart! Thanks so much for inviting me to visit you.

I hope you don’t mind an extra presence; he doesn’t want to move right now:

Adria: Do you have any pets Miranda? They’re a handful sometimes but I love them.
Miranda: Aw! My pet doesn’t like to move either, though he isn’t as big. His name is Ernie and he is a cat. He made a book trailer for me a couple of years ago. My daughter’s cat Emma also lives with us but we don’t mention her.

Adria: For those who aren’t familiar with your work, can you tell me a little bit about your latest book, Lady Windermere’s Lover?
Miranda: Damian, the Earl of Windermere gambled away his estate at the age of twenty-one. Disgusted with himself, he changed his wild ways and became a stick-in-the-mud diplomat. To win back his estate, he marries heiress Cynthia, whom he resents and treats badly. After a year abroad he comes home to make something of his marriage. Shy and dowdy Cynthia has bloomed in his absence. She is also apparently having an affair with Damian’s former best friend, the Duke of Denford. Just to complicate matters, Damian’s government job requires him to resume relations with Denford at the same time he is trying to win back his wife.

Damian and Cynthia both have many obstacles to reconciliation. I love convenient marriage stories in historicals. There’s a claustrophobia about sharing a house (and sometimes a bed!) with someone you are tied to. Divorce being almost unthinkable, the alternative to Happy Ever After is Misery Ever After.

Adria: I enjoyed how well Damian and Cynthia played off each other and the sparks that started to fly between them. Where did you get the inspiration for their characters?
Miranda: Cynthia had already appeared in two books so I knew her fairly well. When she moved up to heroine status I had to figure out what really makes her tick. She is a very kind and generous lady, so I decided she should be engaged in philanthropy. The story of her charitable work because entwined into the complicated relationship between her, Damian and Julian, the Duke of Denford.

Damian makes his first appearance in Lady Windermere’s Lover. Since the disaster of losing his estate, he has become rather rigid and repressed in his attitudes. It takes Cynthia to loosen him up and find the joy of his youth without the idiocy. (Wouldn’t we all like that!)

Adria: As much as I loved Damian and Cynthia’s romance I have to admit that I fell in love with Julian. He’s my kind of hero, so I can’t wait for his story! Sorry, I had to throw that out there.
Miranda: LOL. Julian has acquired quite a little fan club since he first appeared in The Importance of Being Wicked.
* runs off to purchase The Importance of Being Wicked just to get more of Julian*

Adria: Can you share any behind the scenes tid-bits about Lady Windermere’s Lover? Any cut scenes or anything like that?
Miranda: When I started this book, I wrote about Damian and Cynthia’s first meeting and wedding then decided start the story at a later stage. Here, especially for you, is part of the scene when Cynthia is sitting with her aunt, nervously waiting to discover the identity of her bridegroom.

     “I’m sure anyone your uncle chooses for you will be an excellent match,” was all Aunt Lavinia had to say. “My father arranged my marriage to Mr. Chorley.” Pointing out that her aunt was completely overwhelmed if not terrified of her much older husband was pointless. “I should speak to you of your marital … duty. The most important thing is to give your husband sons.”

     “Could you tell me what happens?”

     “Oh, no! You will learn from your husband. You must never deny him, however disagreeable.”

     Cynthia was only certain that this “duty” involved sharing a bed. Considering Mr. Chorley she wasn’t surprised that his wife found it disagreeable. As for Maxwell, the very thought of him laying a finger on her made her stomach churn.

     “If I am to bear sons I think it would help to know what to do,” she persisted.

     “These things are better not spoken of. The only advice I can offer is to lie down, keep still and pray for it to be over quickly.”

     “Your cushion cover is coming along beautifully,” Cynthia said, not wishing to cause further distress.

     Mrs. Chorley looked up from the embroidery hoop, pleasure tempering the habitual anxiety of her expression. “I wish you could stay with me, Cynthia. Yet I want what’s best for you and a woman needs a husband.”

     Was marriage, any marriage, preferable to spinsterhood? Cynthia was still pondering the question when Mr. Chorley brought in his visitor, a man–a gentleman–like none she had encountered.

     It wasn’t the beauty of his countenance that struck her most, though he was certainly the handsomest man she’d ever seen, but the refinement of his person. From cropped brown hair to the shining black boots, he was impeccable. While nothing in his neat, understated attire spoke of excessive vanity, she knew that his garments were the work of a master tailor.

     He was like a gorgeous cat, perfected groomed and eternally unruffled. Sleek was the word that came to mind and stayed there. He bore absolutely no resemblance to Wilfred Maxwell.

     “Allow me to present Mrs. Chorley,” her uncle said in his gruff voice with the hint of a Midlands accent. “And my late brother’s daughter Miss Chorley. Ladies, let us welcome the Earl of Windermere.”

     An earl! What would an earl want with her, especially one so young and fair?

     He greeted them with perfect politeness. As he bowed in answer to her curtsey she felt his eyes on her and raised her own to meet them. They were a grayish blue with darker rims around the irises, watchful and unreadable. She had an impression of self-contained reserve.

     “My lord,” she murmured.

     “A pleasure to meet you, Miss Chorley.” His lips widened but the smile didn’t reach his eyes.

Adria: What was the last romance you read that you really enjoyed?
Miranda: Last week I got into a discussion online about people’s first romance novel. So many mentioned Kathleen Woodiwiss’s The Wolf and the Dove that I decided to read it. I don’t often read medievals but this one certainly kept the pages turning. Before that, I read Eloisa James’s Three Weeks with Lady X. So much fun.

Adria: What are you currently working on (Please say Julian’s book *wink*)?
Miranda: Actually I have finished Julian’s book! It’s called The Duke of Dark Desires and will be released on December 31st. That’s all I’m saying about it for now. I’m working on a couple of novellas, one for a Regency Christmas anthology and one my first attempt at a contemporary. Then I’ll move on to a new historical series but that’s very much in the planning stage.
*swoons with excitement* Adria: I know who what I want to start next year with.

Adria: Lastly, is there anything else you’d like to add?
Miranda: I love hearing from readers. Please join me on Facebook, Twitter, or contact me through my website.

Adria: Thank you so much for stopping by Miranda! I look forward to catching up on all your past work and am eagerly anticipating your next release!
Miranda: Thank you, Adria. It has been a pleasure. I’ll be sure to keep you informed about Julian!
Adria: Just in case, I've signed up for your newsletter Miranda!!!

Format: .mobi (provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review)
Release Date: June 24th, 2014

Hell hath no fury . . .

Damian, Earl of Windermere, rues the day he drunkenly gambled away his family's estate and was forced into marriage to reclaim it. Now, after hiding out from his new bride for a year, Damian is finally called home, only to discover that his modest bride has become an alluring beauty—and rumor has it that she's taken a lover. Damian vows to keep his wife from straying again, but to do so he must seduce her—and protect his heart from falling for the wife he never knew he wanted.

Lady Cynthia never aspired to be the subject of scandal.

Lady Cynthia never aspired to be the subject of scandal. But with her husband off gallivanting across Persia, what was a lady to do? Flirting shamelessly with his former best friend seemed like the perfect revenge . . . except no matter how little Damian deserves her loyalty, Cynthia can't bring herself to be unfaithful. But now that the scoundrel has returned home, Cynthia isn't about to forgive his absence so easily—even if his presence stirs something in her she'd long thought dead and buried. He might win her heart . . . if he can earn her forgiveness!

I’ve never read Miranda Neville’s books before so I was excited and more than a little nervous about reading Lady Windermere’s Lover since I’ve been suffering a bit of a HR burnout lately. Plus, it’s the second book in a series and I’m a little OCD about starting a series from anywhere but the beginning. So what did I think of it?

Well, as far as historical romances go, Lady Windermere’s Lover is an exceptional read. It was like finding a small treasure in a sandbox you’ve been to a hundred times.

Damian, Lord Windermere has finally come home to England, only to find the mousy, unsophisticated wife he abandoned so hastily a year ago has transformed into a graceful, educated woman. Having only married Cynthia for her dowry, an estate he foolishly gambled away when he was younger, Damian is unprepared for the feelings of jealousy brought on by his wife’s constant companion, Julian, the Duke of Denford, Damian’s former friend and current enemy.

As rumors swirl that the Duke is Cynthia’s lover, Damian sets out to win his wife’s affection, but Cynthia is unwilling to forgive her neglectful husband so easily. With so many misunderstandings and a determined Duke in the way, Damian has his work cut out for him!

Sure, there are tons of marriage of convenience romances out there and I do have my favorites but what made Lady Windermere’s Lover stand out for me was mostly Cynthia. It was difficult to put my finger on just what made her stick in my mind, then it hit me: Cynthia has just enough of a modern emancipated woman in her to make her different to the women of her time, but not too much to where she seemed more like a time traveler.

She was flawed and prone to female dramatics but that’s what kept her from being boring or having men walk all over her. There isn’t much about the early days of her marriage but there was enough to show how lost and alone she felt when her brand new husband walked away from her and ignored her for the better part of a year. She had a right to her anger and a right to her plan for revenge. She isn’t so far gone as to be unfaithful (though I wouldn’t have blamed her if she had been), but she shows an incredibly realistic side to her when she admits that she was and is tempted to take the Duke of Denford up on his offer of an affair. She’s a lonely woman who had her hopes crushed and I understood where she was coming from. In those times a marriage was definitely forever and more often than not, made the woman miserable.

Now Damian I had a little trouble with at the beginning. He was just so full of himself, so pompous and arrogant that he couldn’t even conceive of a scenario where everything he believed about his wife was wrong. I had a hard time liking the cold, unfeeling personality that he wore as a cloak. I even caught myself hoping he’d lose Cynthia to Julian. When Damian finally did start to win me over I found myself anticipating the moment when he realized just how wrong he was about his wife. It was a very satisfying moment to see him so humbled by the knowledge that his wife wasn’t what he thought she was.

As much as Lady Windermere’s Lover is about Damian and Cynthia’s road to redemption and forgiveness, I have to admit it was the dashing and mysterious Julian that caught my eye. At first glance he seems like he’s only using Cynthia to get back at Damian, but it soon becomes clear that he truly cares for her, enough to make Damian an outrageous proposition for that time period. Author Miranda Neville doesn’t reveal much about Julian except that he was once Damian’s best friend and how that friendship came to a bitter end, but the bits and pieces she does reveal have me halfway in love with the lonely Duke. Enough to ask, can I have Julian for my own?

There’s no real resolution between Damian and Julian, which is something I would like to see happen since it’s obvious the two men miss their former friendship. Hopefully that will happen in Julian’s book (Yay!).

Final Verdict: Lady Windermere’s Lover was a good time for me. Good enough in fact, that I had to buy the first book in the series and hopefully I’ll get caught up with Miranda Neville’s books soon!

Book Rating:

Heat Rating:

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  1. I love Miranda's books! Really looking forward to this one although I'm still catching up with this series.

  2. Hi Ada thanks for stopping by. What books have you read of Miranda's? This one was my first.

  3. I've read a few from her Burgandy Club series. The Dangerous Viscount (book #2) is really good! I haven't started this series but there's just not enough time in the day :)


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