06 February 2011

Guest Author: Beth Elliott

This week on Unusual Historicals, we're welcoming Robert Hale author Beth Elliott, whose latest Regency romance, APRIL AND MAY, is set in Constantinople. Here's the blurb:

In Constantinople, 1804 Rose Charteris comes face to face with Tom Hawkesleigh, who broke her heart four years earlier. And now she is forced to work with him on a secret mission for the Ottoman Sultan.

The tension rises further when Kerim Pasha, the Sultan's chief and very handsome minister, falls for Rose's English beauty. A spirited heroine, two handsome suitors, danger everywhere...

'Plenty of wit, gusto, flair, charm and warmth! An unmissable treat for Regency fans everywhere!' ~ Single Titles

'An enjoyable read.' ~ The Historical Novels Review

' A sparkling romance.... Dive in and enjoy.' ~ Myshelf


A "yali", a waterside mansion where wealthy Turks spent the summer months.

Can you explain what the title APRIL AND MAY refers to?

Rose, the heroine, has her early romance cut off short, so her April comes to a frosty end. Later, she gets a second chance to blossom and we leave her as she reaches her May.

Tell us why you set this story in Constantinople.

Constantinople is a fascinating city, a blend of Eastern and Western elements. It has many exotic buildings and a long and rich history so it makes a wonderful setting for a story in any period. I also love the fact that the city is divided into three parts by the sea. Each part has a very distinct character yet they are tightly interlinked.

When I researched the history of the late Eighteenth Century I found that both the British and the French were desperate to have the Ottoman Sultan as their ally. Selim III, the Sultan at that time, knew that to save his empire from being swallowed up by the Russians, he had to modernise his army, even though his generals wanted to carry on in the traditional way. He was very pro-European and was seeking help either from Napoleon's French officers or from the British. That gave me a suitable reason for Tom to be in Constantinople in 1804. He is the secret agent advising on modern methods.

On a personal level, having a Turkish husband, I experienced much Turkish hospitality and came to understand their way of life. It is incredible how honoured a Turkish family is to receive a guest. I wanted to convey that in the story. My husband had worked as a tourist guide in his student days so he loved taking me to visit important historical sites. And when he showed me round these famous places, including the Harem in Topkapi Palace, he was always full of anecdotes to make the visit even more colourful.

The newly restored Fruit Room in the Harem.

So is this story based on your own life?

Only in showing Turkish customs from an outsider's point of view. Rose, the heroine, is interested in the Ottoman way of life, but not even the powerful and handsome Kerim Pasha, the Sultan's chief minister, can tempt her to stay in Constantinople. I like my heroines to have a choice of men but the truth is that Rose and Tom have never resolved the issues from their earlier romance. Until she can do that, she is not interested in any relationship.

I also turn the idea of being an outsider on its head, when Kerim Pasha comes to London and we see him observing the English way of life with eager curiosity. Rose and Tom have to unite their efforts to look after him, which draws them together again.

Are you planning any more stories with exotic settings?

THE RAKE'S CHALLENGE, which comes out in July, is set in Brighton. The Royal Pavilion there is about as exotic as you can get! And the hero is fascinating…

And I'm currently working on another Regency-set novel which opens the door onto the Eastern side of life in Constantinople. There are feasts in exotic palaces and festivals of Ottoman style events--and a drop-dead gorgeous oriental hero.


Thanks for stopping by today, Beth! Readers, Beth is giving away signed books to two winners. Just tell us which qualities you like to see in a hero. I'll draw the winner next Sunday. Void where prohibited. Best of luck!