10 April 2011

Guest Author: Mia Marlowe

This week on Unusual Historicals we're welcoming author Mia Marlowe, as she celebrates the release of her latest Kensington romance, Touch of a Thief, set in Victorian London, Paris and Hanover, available April 26. Here's the blurb:

Lady Viola Preston fully intends to give up her secret life of larceny, but when Lieutenant Greydon Quinn catches her red-handed, she has no choice but to help him with one more theft. Quinn needs the “Mayfair Jewel Thief” to steal back a fabulous red diamond. He never expected the thief to be a woman who'll steal his heart as well!

“Marlowe weaves a gentle paranormal element into this delightful 19th-century romance. Historical and paranormal readers will love this crossover tale.” ~ Publisher’s Weekly Starred Review!

Here at Unusual Historicals, we’re all about different times and places. When is Touch of a Thief set?
While I love the Regency period, it’s been done well by so many fantastic authors, I felt the need to branch out a bit. In the world of Touch of a Thief, Victoria has been on the English throne for 22 years but has not yet become a widow in perpetual mourning. As her Empire expands, the world shrinks. Telegraph makes it possible for people to communicate over long distances and while the great railways have yet to be finished, steam powers travel and industry. Hoop skirts have almost reached their widest point and the British congratulate themselves on bringing the blessing of civilization to “backward” nations. The tension and eventual exploding powder keg between England and its distant possession, India, is the backdrop for my story.

How about the geographical setting?
Touch of a Thief is a traveling story. My hero and heroine, Quinn and Viola, are on the hunt for a fabulous red diamond that’s been stolen from an Indian temple. It’s on its way to the Queen’s collection, but they hope to intercept The Blood of the Tiger and return it to its rightful place as a way to sooth rising tensions between the British Raj and the Indian peoples.

The quest begins in London. I’ve been blessed to visit that jolly old city several times and never tire of its cobbled streets, gorgeous cathedrals and fantastic museums. I only have to half-close my eyes to envision it as it would have been when Quinn and Viola strike up their uneasy partnership. Soot sometimes chokes the sky. Dray wagons crowd the narrow streets and the clomp of hooves is so constant, the inhabitants cease to hear it. The Thames is ripe on warm days, a floating miasma of industrial wastes and animal carcasses. Don’t worry. Quinn and Viola leave for Paris almost immediately, posing as newlyweds.

While I can claim to have been to Paris, I have really only seen the Charles de Gaulle Airport. We were on our way to Brussels once and, in a rolling tragic-comedy of airline errors, we were re-routed through France. Unfortunately, we didn’t know when our connecting flight would be leaving, so there I was, the Louvre so close I was salivating, but unable to leave the airport property. I do remember looking out a window at the eternal plains stretching away from the airport and thinking, “My goodness! I might as well be in Des Moines.” The view was strikingly similar.

But that didn’t stop me from imagining a Victorian Paris. Or researching it thoroughly enough to ensconce my hero and heroine in the Hotel de Crillon. It’s a grand old establishment that used to play host to Marie Antoinette and her intimate friends before she decided to let the French “eat cake.”

The next extended stop on my characters’ travels is Scloss Celle, near Hanover, Germany. Of course, it wasn’t Germany in 1859. It was the Duchy of Hanover, ruled by Queen Victoria’s relatives. When I visited the castle, I discovered a miniature of Her Royal Highness Princess Caroline Matilda, a rather scandalous royal who had the audacity to have an affair with her mad husband’s physician. She was kept a virtual prisoner till she died at the young age of 29, but in the miniature, she’s full of life, smiling vivaciously and—I kid you not—displaying her rouged nipples proudly above her extremely low-cut neckline.

What else makes Touch of a Thief unusual?
A dash of magic. My heroine has a psychometric gift. When she touches gemstones, they “speak” to her, sending her visions of their past owners. Since Viola is a jewel thief, this is something of an occupational hazard.

Where can we find Touch of a Thief?
You can pre-order a copy at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and your local bookseller. Touch of a Thief will be available everywhere on April 26th.

Thanks for having me here today. I’d love to answer reader’s questions. Leave a comment for a chance to win a signed copy of my re-issue Distracting the Duchess in beautiful tradepaper format.

Thank you, Mia for visiting today! Remember to leave a comment to be put in the drawing for a copy of Mia Marlowe's Distracting the Duchess. The winner will be drawn at random next Sunday. Void where prohibited. Best of luck!