16 November 2008

Guest Blogger: Anthea Lawson

This week we welcome husband & wife writing team Anthea Lawson as they celebrate the release of their debut from Kensington, PASSIONATE.

An award winning story and Golden Heart finalist, this debut Victorian-set historical takes the reader on a romantic adventure from the ballrooms and parlors of London through the Mediterranean to the exotic valleys of Tunisia. Fans of Julia Quinn and Connie Brockway will enjoy this witty foray into the outer edges of civilization--and propriety.

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PASSIONATE by Anthea Lawson
Before she must wed, Lily Strathmore decides upon one final adventure--a botanical expedition through the wilds of North Africa with her uncle and his family. In search of a fabled bloom, James Huntington soon joins them. Handsome to a fault and rakish to boot, he has the maddening habit of catching Lily at her most improper. And his sensual kisses are only the beginning of their passionate intimacy. Huntington finds the beautiful Miss Strathmore impossible to resist. With each passing day, their desire for each other grows. And in his wildest dreams, Lily is his--and his alone. Forever...
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"A lush, exotic tale of romance and adventure." – Sally MacKenzie, USA Today bestselling author

"An offbeat adventure romance...readers will enjoy the wordplay and intriguing characters as they search for a mysterious plant." - Romantic Times

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Your debut novel, PASSIONATE, is set in 1847. Why the Victorian era?

It's a vibrant, exciting time when boundaries were being pushed in every direction. The British were fanning out all over the globe, amateur scientists were investigating the world around them, and the industrial revolution was in full swing. So many historicals stay within the bounds of London. We wanted a fresh, interesting setting to go with the unique plot of the book, and the era lends itself to all kinds of travel possibilities.

What inspired you to take your characters on a journey to exotic Tunisia?

We wanted a blend of the familiar and the foreign, and it made more sense for our characters to organize a botanical expedition to the Mediterranean than to the Amazon. Tunisia itself was trying to hold on to its independence at the time, and it's a very romantic locale!

A botanical expedition? Tell us more.

The heroine, Lily Strathmore, is a passionate artist. She paints the botanical illustrations for her uncle's horticultural collection and accompanies him and his family into the field. The hero, James Huntington, needs to go to North Africa in search of a fabled bloom, and ends up co-opting the family's current travel plans. Sometimes travel leads to unexpected romance, whether it's a week away at summer camp, traveling around Europe for a semester, or in this case, setting out on a fabulous adventure to someplace sunny and exotic. Did we mention we live in the Pacific Northwest where the climate is anything but sunny and exotic?

What's the most interesting thing you discovered while researching this book?

One of the great joys of writing in this genre is researching the places we take our readers and searching for those authentic historical tidbits that can be worked into the story. This time around we learned about Victorian plant collecting methods, adventure botanists, ancient roman mosaics (very improper!), sailing steamships…. And did you know there's a species of orchid that closely resemble a naked man? Orchis Italica. We had fun with that little detail, too.

Speaking of unusual, how do you make the husband-wife writing team work?

It can be a challenge because writing fiction is dreaming a vivid, detailed, and very long dream--then writing it down. It is inevitable that two minds will visualize things differently, but it's great to have someone else to share in the creative process. We know that between the two of us we can solve any plot and characterization issues that come up. We both bring different strengths to the process, and it's nice to have that support. Sometimes we joke that if it were up to us as individuals that Anthea would have written a dozen unpublished books by now, and Lawson would have completed one perfect paragraph.

What's next? Do you have more exotic settings in store?

Our next book, due out in November 2009 from Kensington, opens on the Isle of Crete for more delicious fun in the Mediterranean. What is that handsome English doctor doing hiding out there anyway? After that, we've been looking into India, or the courts of Europe...so many possibilities! Keep track of what's next by visiting us at www.anthealawson.com.

Thanks for having us here at Unusual Historicals!

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Would you love a shiny new copy of PASSIONATE? Course you would! Leave a comment or questions for Anthea Lawson. A winner will be drawn a week from today!

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