02 October 2011

Guest Blog: Carrie Lofty

This week we're welcoming our founder Carrie Lofty back to celebrate the release of her latest unusual historical romance, Flawless, set in colonial South Africa. This exciting new Victorian series is available from from Pocket Books. Carrie's here to answer questions, and give away copies. Here's the blurb:

A passion this seductive is more precious than diamonds. . . .

Sir William Christie, ruthless tycoon and notorious ladies' man, is dead. Now his four grown children have gathered for the reading of his will. What lies in store for half-siblings Vivienne, Alexander, and twins Gareth and Gwyneth? Stunning challenges that will test their fortitude across a royal empire...and lead them to the marvelously passionate adventures of their lives.

Lady Vivienne Bancroft fled England for New York, hoping to shed the confines of her arranged marriage to unrepentant rogue Miles Durham, Viscount Bancroft--though she never forgot the fiery desire he unleashed with his slightest touch. And when the gambling man arrives on her doorstep for a little sensual revenge for her desertion, he is met with Vivienne's dilemma: she must earn her father's inheritance by profitably running a diamond business worth millions in colonial South Africa.

Swept together in an exotic undertaking filled with heated passion and hungry temptation, will Vivienne and Miles discover that the marriage vows they once made are the greatest snare--or the most treasured reward?

Carrie's here to share more about the new release. Remember, leave your comment to a copy of Flawless. Carrie's giving away two copies!

Welcome back, Carrie! The obvious question everyone has probably asked at one point: Why South Africa?

Initially, my idea for the Christie family series had each of the four siblings heading to different gold/precious gem areas of the world. The 19th century was a time of massive colonial expansion. Gold mines were established in Australia and the Americas, while diamonds became the prime export of Cape Colony. Eventually, through more research, I learned how improbable it would be to have all those strikes happen at the same time. It just seemed...hoaky, when the actual topic of historic mining is anything but. I wanted to do the period and the topic justice.

Thus FLAWLESS became the only of the planned books to draw from that initial idea. The rest of the siblings will venture far and wide, but their industries will be very different. That saves the repetition of subject matter as well. So there you have it: a nearly good idea planted this series in South Africa to start!

What challenges did you face in setting a romance in South Africa?

The history of that nation is as bloody and nasty as any other, but the topic of blood diamonds and apartheid is still fresh in the memories of most people who'd be reading romance. I had to take into account an awareness of those realities and preconceived notions while acknowledging the optimism of the 1880s. Settlers literally packed up their families and sailed south in the hopes of becoming diamond millionaires. It was no different than '49ers heading west to pan for gold in California. For once in their otherwise staid lives, ordinary folks had the chance to change their destinies with just the right strike. How is that not an invigorating, romantic moment in history?

In addition, the wealthy pretty much transplanted their society to Cape Town and Kimberley. Mansions, cigar clubs, the most elegant dressmakers--they all flourished! So in writing FLAWLESS, I actually discovered the best of both: a wild frontier town with lots of grit and unexpected potential, as well as a haven for the extremely wealthy. I loved the challenge of striking just the right balance.

After what you’ve researched, would you like to visit South Africa?

Yes! I always want to visit the places I’ve researched for my books. Salzburg, Segovia, Sorrento, South Africa, Scotland—maybe I just have a fascination with places that start with S??? But in all seriousness, Kimberley would be incredible to see. The Big Hole, for example, is the man-made crater dug rock by rock out of the earth. It’s the largest crater ever dug by hand, at a depth of 790 feet and a surface area of 42 acres. More than 6,000lbs of diamonds were excavated between 1871-1914. How could I not want to stand at the edge of something so magnificent?
And as always, I would love to actually smell the smells, see the sights, feel the weather—all the little details that make a place unique. There’s no substitute for actually being there first hand, so I hope I at least got close!

Tell us about Viv, Miles, and their romance.

Viv has a childhood she keeps secret from almost everyone, and which makes her fixated on matters of propriety. Miles, by contrast, is a viscount whose rakish behavior is stimulated by boredom. She sees him as reckless, while he sees her as being entirely too stuck up. They married out of financial necessity and social advancement, but their love comes about because of the trials they face together in South Africa. Turns out Viv has quite the imagination hen given the right incentives, and to become a hero, Miles was only in need of a worthy challenge.

Will there be more to come from the Christie family? More exotic places to come?

Absolutely! Big brother Alex, a studious astronomer, is up next. He’ll meet his match in Glasgow when confronted by a stubborn, fun-loving union leader named Polly Gowan. Their story is STARLIGHT , due out in July from Pocket. A short story featuring the siblings’ robber baron father, Sir William, will also be released next year. Look for “A Little More Scandal” in June. As for the other stories, we’ll just have to wait and see!
Thanks so much for having me back! To I have two copies of FLAWLESS to give away. Just tell me if you enjoy stories of romance born out of marriages of convenience, and what your favorites have been. I’d love to hear recommendations, both of books and films.

Thank you, Carrie, and best of luck with Flawless