08 March 2009

Guest Author: Emily Bryan

Our guest blogger today is Emily Bryan! Though she writes light-hearted romps for Leisure Books now, some of you may remember this award-winning author from her Diana Groe titles. Her newest release is VEXING THE VISCOUNT.


Daisy Drake is leading a double life! By day, she's Lucian Beaumont's unwanted assistant and by night, she masquerades as the masked courtesan, Blanche La Tour, a Frenchwoman who agreed to give Lucian lessons in sensual love! There's only one problem. Daisy speaks fluent French and can read ancient Latin without moving her lips, but she doesn't know the first thing about the pleasures of the flesh!

Good thing she has the real Blanch La Tour's very explicit memoirs for guidance.

Lucian Beaumont, Viscount Rutland, longs to see his family's standing returned to its glory days, before his father lost their fortune. And he thinks he can manage it, if he can only discover the hiding place of an ancient Roman payroll. Daisy never forgot her girlhood fascination with Lucian, even though his father has a score to settle with her uncle. Now that they're all grown up, she's determined to help the viscount find his Roman treasure.

Whether he wants her help or not!

Your Diana Groe books were set in the Dark Ages in Scandinavia, Ireland and Constantinople. What was it like to write your Emily Bryan tales in a more conventional setting?

First, thanks for inviting me here to Unusual Historicals! Actually, I haven't succumbed to the pressure to write a true Regency (1790-1829, if you take the extended Regency view of things). My DISTRACTING THE DUCHESS (which was just nominated for a Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award for BEST HISTORICAL K.I.S.S.) is set in 1851, early in the reign of Queen Victoria. PLEASURING THE PIRATE takes place in 1720, firmly in the Georgian era. And my newest release, VEXING THE VISCOUNT, is actually two intertwined stories--one in London of 1731 and the other Londinium of 405 AD, Roman Britain. I may eventually write in the Regency era, but there is something in me that rebels against the expected. I'm guessing that's a chord that rings true with you here at Unusual Historicals.

Still, there is a difference in tone between your Diana Groe and Emily Bryan books?

Absolutely. My Diana Groe books are dramatic epics. The Emily Bryan stories are funnier and, 'scuse me while I blush, sexier.

I loved writing about my big hairy Vikings and they are doing very well in the European market. My Diana Groe books have been translated into German, Dutch, Italian and Russian. For who knows what reason, they were less well received in the American market.

When my debut title MAIDENSONG came out in 2006, New York Times bestseller Bobbi Smith gave me this advice: "Stay published." If I need to shift my focus to a little more accessible time period to accomplish that, I'm happy to do it. VEXING THE VISCOUNT is my 6th title with Leisure Books.

But just because I'm setting my Emily Bryan books in a time that's familiar to more readers, that doesn't mean they are "usual" historicals. I work to make my characters out of the ordinary. VEXING THE VISCOUNT's heroine Daisy Drake was raised by a pirate and now as an adult, her mentor is a former courtesan (and Daisy's inspiration when she decides to masquerade as a "woman of pleasure"). My hero Lucian is not your typical Regency rake. In fact, he's a virgin (but an incredibly quick study!)

Now that you write in a time period more readers know something about, has that changed how you research your stories?

Not really. I had to be just as thorough for my Viking stories as for my Victorian and Georgian. The historical readership is very sophisticated. The main difference is that there is so much more information for me to wade through for the more recent time periods. Writers can't use every bit of research we uncover. We have to cherry-pick the most evocative tidbits to suggest our setting and let our readers bring something to the experience. Since they have so much to bring to my Emily Bryan settings that means my details have to be doubly fresh in order to have impact.

You mentioned that VEXING THE VISCOUNT is really two intertwined stories. Tell us more about that.

The two stories are tied by virtue of place.

Lucian discovers some Roman ruins on his father's failing estate along with clues to the location of a lost Roman payroll. Daisy has the funds necessary to help him, but because of his father's grudge against Daisy's uncle, Lucian refuses. So she masquerades as Blanche la Tour, a French courtesan who offers to give him "lessons in love" in exchange for a partnership in his venture--oh! and he must accept Blanche's agent, who is of course, Daisy! They search for the treasure together and along the way, thwart a Jacobite plot and discover love they never expected.

The secondary story, which takes place in 405 AD is the romance between Caius Meritus, the ancient thief, and a Celtic slave girl named Deirdre. It explains why the missing payroll went missing in the first place.

The two stories converge on a mist-shrouded Druid island.

In many ways, VEXING THE VISCOUNT is a melding of my two writing styles. Daisy and Lucian's story is all Emily Bryan--full of froth and fun. Caius and Deirdre's tale is much darker, as befits a darker time--pure Diana Groe.

VEXING THE VISCOUNT is in bookstores now, but what's next for you?

Coming September 29th, A CHRISTMAS BALL will hit the shelves. I'll be joined by USA Today bestseller Jennifer Ashley and exciting new author Alissa Johnson for a holiday anthology. All our characters are attending the same Christmas Ball on December 19, 1822 (I know, I know, it's Regency, but technically it's two years after the Prince of Wales became George IV, so if you're a purist, the Regency is over!)

At any rate, my heroine is not the typical Regency lady. She's "born-on-the-wrong-side-of-the-blanket" plain Jane Tate. Every party worthy of the name needs at least one party crasher!

Where can readers find out more about you and your books?

There are excerpts of all my books on my websites and I've just started a joint webhunt with Night Owl Romance and several other authors. Please visit my website to learn how to enter to win a boatload of goodies. I love hearing from readers, so please pop by my blog. I still maintain a website for my Diana Groe books as well. All my books are still in print and most are available electronically for those who prefer ebooks.

Readers can buy VEXING THE VISCOUNT at their local bookstore or online at Amazon or B&N.com.

Is there anything you'd like ask Unusual Historical's readers?

Yes! I'm seeing a trend of adding paranormal elements in historicals--mythical beings, magic, alternate histories. What do you think? Do you like this cross-genre trend or would you prefer we "stick to the facts, ma'am"?

Please leave a comment or question because I'm pleased to be able to give away a VEXING THE VISCOUNT to one lucky commenter!

Thanks again for having me, Unusual Historicals!


You heard the lady! Free book! Answer her question or leave another of your own. I'm curious about your take on the paranormal historical trend too! A winner will be drawn next Sunday, so good luck! Thanks for stopping by, Emily!