What was the inspiration behind this book?
The idea for the story came to me from my research into the betting habits of men of the aristocracy in Regency England. Men of the upper classes loved to wager and they had richly appointed clubs in which to do so. In the course of socializing, discussing politics and enjoying a brandy together, outlandish wagers were made. Those wagers were also recorded in “the book” for all the members to see. Hence, in my story the lady remains unnamed.
The Twelfth Night Wager begins one evening as Christopher St. Ives, Lord Eustace, a rake of some renown, is enjoying a brandy at his club with his friend Lord Ormond. Ormond is droning on about how happy he is in the leg-shackled state (Regency wording for marriage). With an ulterior motive in mind, Ormond suddenly challenges Eustace to a wager he cannot resist: to seduce, bed and walk away from a certain lady known to both of them. The wager is entered in the betting book (the lady described as “understood between them”), and all of London begins to speculate on who the woman might be. Little does the ton know, she is a comely young widow, Grace, Lady Leisterfield—a virtuous woman.
To which character do you most relate?
Grace’s friend, Lady Ormond, who is also the heroine in my first novel, Racing With The Wind. She is a strong willed rebel who is always pushing the envelope. Not surprisingly, she won the heart of the mysterious Lord Ormond.What is one of your favorite things about this story?
I love that it includes the pastimes of the fall season, leading up to Twelfth Night or January 5th. I am hoping that along with the love story, my readers will enjoy experiencing the Regency at that time of year. I want them to feel like they participated in all the activities: theater, house parties, pheasant shooting, fox hunting, a ball in a country estate and, of course, Christmastide and Twelfth Night.How did you conduct your research for it?
I knew from the start the wager on which the story is based would be made at White’s Club in London, one of the major gentlemen’s clubs then and now. I worked off of pictures to describe it and, of course, my research into the club itself. And since the story begins in October and the start of the theatre season, I began researching the plays and the theatres in 1818. When I discovered though the playbills that the lead play at the San Pareil Theater (later changed to the Adelphi) was Bachelor Miseries, I knew I’d found the one! And then I was off to the fall season of pheasant hunting and house parties. One cannot just leap into Christmas for a ninety-day wager! For those fall activities, I set some of the scenes in an actual estate one can visit today, Wimpole Hall. (It’s on the cover of the novella.)
I studied floor plans and the biographies of the peer living there at the time. I even studied the décor of the rooms. The same was true of the hunting lodge in which some of the scenes with Lord Eustace and Lady Leisterfield are set. I worked off an actual picture. Only after that did I work my way into Christmastide and its traditions. I had researched those before when I wrote The Holly & The Thistle. For each of my stories, I include an Author’s Note that gives my readers some interesting historical tidbits for those who love such things as I do.
What are the ingredients for a successful Regency romance?
That sounds like the subject for a book! But the basics, to my mind, would be a handsome and interesting hero with a few foibles and a heroine he very much wants, even if he does not know it. A heroine who will give him some problems. They must fit well into the era, and the setting must be historically accurate for the period (1811-1820). The language must reflect some Regency words and phrases (but not so many as to leave the reader scratching her head). The clothing and food and activities must reflect what was true for Regency England. And, lastly, the forms of address must be correct (so many get this wrong). To all this, add an interesting plot with some twists and turns, and voila, you have a successful Regency tale!Please tell us about your other published books.
In addition to my novella and two short stories, I have written three novels, the Agents of the Crown trilogy. The first story, Racing With The Wind, is set in London and Paris in 1816. It is followed by Against the Wind, set in the Midlands of England and tells of the Pentrich Rebellion of 1817. Both of those are available now. The third, my pirate Regency, Wind Raven, will be published early this spring. It begins in London but then quickly moves to the hero’s schooner and into the Caribbean before ending in Baltimore. I am very excited about it. All of my stories have actual history and real historic figures in them. (Wind Raven features a real pirate!)On what other projects are you currently working?
I’m writing a medieval romance now, The Red Wolf’s Prize. It’s a William the Conqueror romance set in 1068, two years after the Conquest. I actually started it after Racing with the Wind but left it half done to finish my trilogy. It was nagging me to finish it. So, I’m taking a break to do so (and several of my readers said they wanted to read it!) I was fascinated by the idea of one culture conquering another and wondered what a high-spirited young English woman would do under those circumstances. I had no idea of the challenge of researching life in the 11th century or knights when I began. I’ve spent hundreds of hours on the Saxon culture, what they wore, how they lived, what they ate. Then, too, I had to learn about Norman knights—the horses they rode (they did not, for example, ride their warhorses, the destriers, all over the countryside!).You used to write a lot as a child. What kinds of stories were they? Would you ever consider reworking them now in adulthood?
But all the while I’m deep into the 11th century, scenes are already coming to me for the prequel to my Agents of the Crown trilogy, To Tame the Wind. It will be set in 1783 in France and England, and the waters around them. It’s the story of English privateer Captain Simon Powell and the wild Claire Donet, the convent-raised daughter of a French pirate—the parents of my heroes in the last two books of the trilogy. It will be an exciting one, I think.
I don’t remember a lot of them. But I do remember one about a courageous girl who I dubbed a 20th century Pollyanna. She was brave and had adventures, not unlike the heroines in my stories today. So, in some ways I have reworked them for my novels, at least in spirit.You used to be a lawyer. Do you ever miss it? Would you ever go back to it?
One is always a lawyer once decades have been dedicated to the profession. I think like a lawyer and solve problems like a lawyer. I am not currently practicing now but I might again one day though I do not miss the practice. However, I do miss helping people solve their problems, and helping them to make the best business decisions. Now that I’ve discovered romance writing, which is my passion, if I ever practice law again, it would likely be only part time.You love to read. What are some of your favorite books?
Ah, now that is a question. Well, first they would all be historical romances. The deep ones, the keepers. I have a blog, Regan’s Romance Reviews dedicated to lovers of historical romance. I have a dozen “best” lists (a new Best Bodice Rippers list is coming this month!)—books that I’ve rated 4 and 5 stars by subgenre: Scottish/Highlander, Irish, Medieval, Pirates/Privateers, Vikings, Trilogies, etc. As for my personal favorites, you can see my Top 10 them here. Perhaps my favorite might be Bride of the MacHugh by Jan Cox Speas. She puts together language and emotions as few do. Simply wonderful.What is something readers may be surprised to learn about you?
I’ve had some very serious jobs in my career, none of which I shall mention. I like to think these have made me better at my craft as a romance writer, certainly better at writing action and adventure. It would have surprised my business colleagues to know I am deeply romantic, but I daresay it would not surprise my readers.Is there anything else you would like to add?
I love to hear from readers! They can reach me through my blog and my website and I am very active on Goodreads.Thank you so much for your time!
Thanks for having me, Andi!
by Regan Walker
On a dull day at White’s, the Redheaded Rake agreed to a wager: seduce and abandon the lovely Lady Leisterfield by Twelfth Night. After one taste of her virtue, he will stop at nothing less than complete possession.
Read an excerpt:
Soon he was escorted into the gilded green dining room and to his place. The other guests had already been seated. Across from him sat Alvanley and Lady Ormond, and on either side of him a lady new to him. Neither, he reflected sadly, was the beautiful blonde who occupied his thoughts.
A few places down the table he saw her sitting next to Ormond. There was a gallant on her other side with whom she was conversing. The shimmering coral gown she wore embraced her curves, modestly revealing the creamy mounds of her full breasts. Would that she was close enough he could speak to her. Close enough he could inhale her delicate scent. Memories of their morning ride assailed him—
Perhaps it was just as well she was not so close. His fervent interest in the lady might be too apparent, which would not do.
Lord Ormond, seeing the direction of Christopher’s gaze, raised an eyebrow. Christopher forced a smile and dipped his head in greeting, just as Lady Ormond sitting across from him drew his attention.
“Good eve to you, Lord Eustace.”
“And to you, my lady. And you, Alvanley.”
Introducing himself briefly to the two brunettes on either side of him, Christopher attempted to keep the conversation moving along through dinner. One was the daughter of a fellow Whig and companion of the other, who was young and apparently unattached by the way she was flirting with him. Carrying on with many women while desiring only one was proving to be exhausting. Generally he took women on one at a time. Not so this game. He was forced to at least appear to pursue several at once.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
As a child Regan Walker loved to write stories, particularly about adventure-loving girls, but by the time she got to college more serious pursuits took priority. One of her professors thought her suited to the profession of law, and Regan realized it would be better to be a hammer than a nail. Years of serving clients in private practice and several stints in high levels of government gave her a love of international travel and a feel for the demands of the “Crown” on its subjects. Hence her romance novels often involve a demanding Prince Regent who thinks of his subjects as his private talent pool.