I’ve gotten to know Sally over the last several years and love her wonderful sense of humor, so I wasn’t surprised when Deb Werksman from Sourcebooks took an interest in her manuscript that was a 2013 Golden Heart® finalist and the next two books in the series as well. Sally’s website describes her writing as “Romping Regency-Era Romance” — yup, a match well-made!
London’s most notorious rake—the man who wrote The Rake’s Handbook, Including Field Guide—vows to behave like a proper gentleman to save his family. When the fetching widow next door refuses his business proposal, Ross Thornbury tries to change her mind using words alone from his handbook.
Spirited widow Elinor Colton fears his business will destroy her home, a cherished gift from her beloved late husband. Other gentlemen have tried seductive words on the wealthy Elinor before, so Ross’s rakish charms fail, and her refusal stands.
With each chapter Ross reads of The Rake’s Handbook, he finds it harder to be a proper gentleman, and Elinor finds it harder to be a dignified widow. When scandal looms, Ross discovers her laughter opened his heart. So to prove his love, he’ll have to forego words and unleash all of his rakish skills.
“You really are a rake,” she whispered, the sight and feel of their joined hands warming her cheeks.
“A proper gentleman would never hold a lady thus. I have been warned about your charms. Perhaps I too should write everything down. Pen a handbook to instruct my widowed sisters what to expect upon attempted seduction and how to fight it.”
“Factual or satirical?”
She bit her lower lip to stop an indelicate reply.
“I could write that handbook too.”
His boast made her smile. “I seem to have found another trait of a rake.”
“Humph. I’d be delighted to show you all of my traits. Perhaps start with chapter one?” The determination in his voice indicated he was quite willing to comply.
“Please do, sir,” she replied in a facetious tone, tugging her hand free. “But I can already tell that I’ll stop reading your book after the table of contents. You know, all of those funny pages in the front of the book numbered v and i.”
He chuckled softly, then stared at her until he captured her gaze. “My handbook starts with fine eyes.” He reached up and swept back a ringlet that had fallen over her eye and carefully tucked the curl under her bonnet.
Her heartbeat raced.
“The eyes are followed by a notable vee.” His gaze lowered to the upper edge of her bodice and lingered in the center.
“Oh my, if that’s the table of contents, I don’t dare read chapter one.”
“I’d be pleased to read you all of the chapters. There are a total of . . .” He glanced at her leisurely, from the top of her leghorn bonnet down to her sensible half boots. His focus returned up to her neck—almost. His chest broadened as he inhaled. “Ten.”
He gave her a smoldering look from under heavy lashes. “Ten in volume one,” he continued in a silky baritone. “Let’s start with chapter one.”
I love introducing new authors and their books to people, so I hope you enjoyed that peek at THE RAKE’S HANDBOOK: INCLUDING FIELD GUIDE and are ready to learn a bit about Sally Orr the author as she answers some tough questions below. (I know they’re tough because I recently had to answer a bunch of them myself for an historical author panel I was on. And I thought I was being smart submitting my own questions! HA! Should planned answers for them too. So, thank you, Sally for taking the time to answer them!)
1. What drew you to writing Historical Romances in general and specifically to setting stories during the Regency Era?
Yes, my books are not technically a Regency romance. Instead, as you point out, they fall under the greater “Regency-era.” The formal Regency is when Prince George ruled by proxy (1811-1820). So the expected Regency romance should take place during these years. However, if you look up Regency-era on Wikipedia, it is defined as a distinct time in British culture and civilization (1795-1837). This era is before the railroads covered the country and before Victoria took the throne.
I find this era exciting, because it falls within the industrial revolution (1760-1840). A time of progress in transportation, steam power, chemicals, gas lighting, manufacture, and standards of living. Also I have many heroes from that time, so that’s why I set my books during these years.
2. What’s the strangest bit of historical trivia you’ve picked up in your research?
That’s a great question. You would not believe the odd things they believed in. Most of the shocking ones have to do with medical research. They were mostly clueless and their ideas were dangerous and sometimes fatal, like syphilis and Gonorrhea being the same disease.
3. These next few questions assume that time travel is possible. What modern conveniences would you miss most? What would you miss least?
Miss the most? That is an easy question to answer, Penicillin.
Miss the least, not having information at my fingertips from a computer or phone.
4. What would be the hardest for you to adapt to in the Regency Era?
The hardest would be the use of a privy. Eww.
5. Where would you fit into the society? Where would you like to visit most?
Life was only easy and pleasurable for aristocrats, so I’d choose that. I’d love to visit The Royal Institute and hear a lecture by Michael Faraday. Heaven.
6. How long have you been writing and what was the first huge leap of faith you took? What advice would you go back and give yourself as a beginning novelist if you could? Would this advice differ from what you’d say to an aspiring author now?
I’ve been writing for seven years, and I wouldn’t change a thing. Except for sending out my ms. once before it was revised. That editor has now forgiven me, thank heavens. My only advice is that you have two choices: write the book or live with regrets. I don’t like regrets.
7. Are you reader? What are some of your favorites (books and/or authors)?
No, I’m a poor reader. But I love sea stories, so Patrick O’Brian and the Hornblower books, as long as I get to go to sea in a British man-o-war.
My favorite authors are P.G. Wodehouse, Jane Austen, and Dorothy L. Sayers.
8. With your background in medical research, will we ever see medical topics come up in your books?
Research will appear in most of my books, but it may or may not be medical research.
9. The Rake’s Handbook was a 2013 Golden Heart® finalist and sold to Sourcebooks in a 3-book deal in September 2013. Your motto from your local sports car club is: “Life is not around the curve. Life is the curve.” Do you find that describes your writing journey as well?
Yes, life is about the journey, so enjoy it.
10. What is the most challenging part of being a writer?
Getting bad reviews. It took awhile to adjust to that and accept the bad reviews, but I’m pretty thick-skinned by now. Besides, sometimes the review is more about the reviewer than the book.
About the Author
Sally Orr worked for thirty years in medical research, specializing in the discovery of gene function. After joining an English history message board, she posted many, many examples of absolute tomfoolery. As a result, a cyber-friend challenged her to write a novel. Since she is a hopeless Anglophile, it’s not surprising that her first book is a Regency-era romance. Sally lives with her husband in San Diego, surrounded by too many nonfiction books and not enough old English cars.