Before Tessa Dare's first book (GODDESS OF THE HUNT) hit the shelves, my friend and fellow Pixie Courtney Milan was all over Twitter telling everyone they simply had to read this book. Because I value Courtney's opinion, I picked up GOTH, devoured it in one gulp, and couldn't wait to get my hands on anything else Tessa Dare writes. The power of Tessa's writing lies in her astonishing ability to write authentic, funny, lovable, flawed characters who leap right off the page. Her story is charming, heartwarming and funny but with that added something that sets it apart from being just another novel about England's ton. In my opinion, that extra something is her ability to really let us inside her characters' heads and hearts. GODDESS OF THE HUNT instantly became one of my all-time favorite historical novels.
Here's a peek at GOTH:
Ever the bold adventuress, Lucy Waltham has decided to go hunting for a husband. But first she needs some target practice. So she turns to her brother’s best friend, Jeremy Trescott, the Earl of Kendall, to hone her seductive wiles on him before setting her sights on another man. But her practice kisses spark a smoldering passion—one that could send all her plans up in smoke.
Jeremy has an influential title, a vast fortune, and a painful past, full of long-buried secrets. He keeps a safe distance from his own emotions, but to distract Lucy from her reckless scheming, he must give his passions free rein. Their sensual battle of wills is as maddening as it is delicious, but the longer he succeeds in managing the headstrong temptress, the closer Jeremy comes to losing control. When scandal breaks, can he bring himself to abandon Lucy to her ruin? Or will he risk his heart, and claim her for his own?
I was thrilled when Tessa agreed to be interviewed by the Were-llama. (She does, after all, have a story about a were-stag. I may have finally met my were-match!)
Now that you know who's who, let's dive into the interview and reveal the awesome cupcake my hubby made for Tessa. Tessa (who is a prolific author with three books out last year and three books coming out this summer!) has a trilogy of books hitting the shelves this May, June, and July called The Stud Club Trilogy where the heroes—a duke, a war hero, and a low-born scoundrel—hold shares in a priceless racehorse. When the club’s founder is tragically murdered, these three unlikely associates are united by chance, divided by suspicion, and brought to their knees by love. Membership in The Stud Club is denoted by gold tokens with a horse's head on one side and a horse's ... business end on the other. Although a cupcake featuring a horse's business end would have been STUNNING, my hubby chose to do a gold token featuring the horse's head. :) Without further ado, I give you the cupcake and the interview.
1. *Were-llama would like to suggest Ms. Dare write a Stud Club trilogy about him* So, you’re a writer. I’m a super-scary shape-shifter who can command obedience with the awesome power of my glowing red eyes. What do we have in common?
Nothing. Which, as any romance reader knows, makes us perfect for one another. I am ensnared by the promise of those glowing red eyes, so lushly fringed with dark lashes. Will you come live with me? I have two children, affectionately known as the darelings, and thus far I have been unable to command their obedience with my eyes, my voice, or anything else. You could really help me out. Also, I once wrote a novella about another were-ruminant (The Legend of the Werestag, available from Samhain Publishing), so I’m in tune with your needs in a way most human women could never be. I sense a fated mates situation here.
2. Back the were-train up, lady. I'm no nanny. I like to spit at my enemies from whichever end is closest to them. Do any of your characters have cool abilities like that?
My characters, no. My children, yes!
Seriously, my upcoming hero, Spencer Dumarque, the Duke of Morland, can go you one better. He is a haughty, arrogant aristocrat who can make people feel spat upon, without even deigning to actually spit. Now that’s talent.
3. Hm. Your children can spit from both ends? *wonders if being a nanny would be akin to recruiting minions* As for Spencer, while the talent to make people feel spat upon without actually spitting is pretty good, I find for the purposes of insult and world domination, nothing gets my point across better than a face full of spit. If I had a nickname, it would be The Awesome. You?
The Awed. I have such a thing for were-ruminants. I kid you not. Look, I wrote about it here. I may be falling in love. I’m telling you, it’s the eyes. And the cud.
4. Few women can resist the cud. I hang around this blog because I love stories. What’s your story about? Bonus points if it includes a llama.
No llama, sadly, but there is a ruminant! A stud horse. See there was this guy, Leo, who owned this priceless stallion—a racehorse retired to stud. And as a way of sharing it with his Regency buddies, he created the Stud Club. There are ten brass tokens, each of which signifies membership in the club, and the tokens can never be bought or sold—only won or lost in a game of chance.
So Leo’s Stud Club becomes good fun for a few years, as the tokens change hands back and forth. Then suddenly, the reclusive Duke of Morland shows up in London, determined to win all ten tokens for himself so he can own the horse outright. Very unsporting of him, the remaining members think. What does Leo, the club’s founder think? Well, we will never know—because on the night the trilogy starts, poor Leo is murdered.
Here’s the blurb for One Dance with a Duke, releasing May 25th:
A handsome and reclusive horse breeder, Spencer Dumarque, the fourth Duke of Morland, is a member of the exclusive Stud Club, an organization so select it has only ten members — yet membership is attainable to anyone with luck. And Spencer has plenty of it, along with an obsession with a prize horse, a dark secret, and, now, a reputation as the dashing “Duke of Midnight.” Each evening he selects one lady for a breathtaking midnight waltz. But none of the women catch his interest, and nobody ever bests the duke — until Lady Amelia d’Orsay tries her luck.
In a moment of desperation, the unconventional beauty claims the duke’s dance and unwittingly steals his heart. When Amelia demands that Spencer forgive her scapegrace brother’s debts, she never imagines that her game of wits and words will lead to breathless passion and a steamy proposal. Still, Spencer is a man of mystery, perhaps connected to the shocking murder of the Stud Club’s founder. Will Amelia lose her heart in this reckless wager or win everlasting love?
5. I'm disappointed by the lack of llamas and hope you'll rectify that in future books. However, you've got a nice, juicy murder in there, so it's not a complete loss. You’re making me a cake worthy of my awesome Were-llama status and decorating it to represent your story. What does it look like?
Hmm. If One Dance with a Duke were a cake, I’d hope it would be something like this: From the outside, it’s just slathered with dollops of whipped cream. All sweet, sexy froth, at first glance. Cut into it, and you’ll find a decadent chocolate cake—rich and slightly dark. And then, down in the center, there’s a thin, well-hidden layer of filling. Something with a satisfying crunch, and a hint of tartness or even bitterness to it. Almonds, perhaps. Or maybe a sort of orangey praline.
I’m suddenly so hungry.
6. Your cake offering is acceptable. Any Were-llamas in your book?
No, but there is a were-hedgehog. I’m not joking! Here, a tiny excerpt from One Dance with a Duke:
Surely one of these evenings, the gossips declared, some blushing ingénue would get a proper grip on the recalcitrant bachelor…and a legend would be born.
Legend indeed. There was no end of stories about him. Where a man of his rank and fortune were involved, there were always stories.
“I hear he was raised barefoot and heathen in the Canadian wilderness,” said the first girl.
“I hear he was barely civilized when his uncle took him in,” said the second. “And his wild behavior gave the old duke an apoplexy.”
The lady in green murmured, “My brother told me there was an incident, at Eton. Some sort of scrape or brawl… I don’t know precisely. But a boy nearly died, and Morland was expelled for it. If they sent down a duke’s heir, you know it must have been dreadful.”
“You’ll not believe what I’ve heard,” Amelia said, widening her eyes. The ladies perked, leaning in close. “I hear,” she whispered, “that by the light of the full moon, His Grace transforms into a ravening hedgehog.”
7. Were-llama approves of this book and its author. Do you have anyone in your books who might be a Were-llama and you just haven’t figured it out yet?
Well, Julian, who becomes the hero of Three Nights with a Scoundrel, is very cagey about his origins. At one point, he jokingly tells his companions he was raised by Albanian goatherds. But he’s just throwing them off the scent. Now that you mention it, I think were-llama is a very real possibility….
8. Llamas or camels and why? Think carefully.
Llamas, natch. Because you are my host and you have cake. Also, you’re cuddlier. Plus, my dareling’s favorite book right now is Llama Llama Red Pajama. And I loved you in Napoleon Dynamite.
9. Sweet! I give you a baby Were-llama as a companion. What do you name her?
Shamu, just to mess with her head. Just kidding. Hmm. Let’s go with Pearl.
10. My favorite word is “awesome” because, yanno, look at me. What’s yours?
It’s cruel to ask a writer for her favorite word. I can’t possibly choose just one! You are looking (staring, really, with those mesmerizing red eyes…) at a woman who has never handed in a novel under 100,000 actual words. Obviously, I have difficulty choosing favorites.
11. Well, I should think the word "were-llama" would be at the top of your list. As a young Were-llama, I dreamt of taking over the eastern seaboard one face full of spit at a time. What did you dream of doing when you were young?
Being a writer. And I am now living the dream! I’ll admit, it’s a bit less glam than I imagined.
12. True glamour is being a were-llama. Cake or cookies?
13. Do you share chocolate?
Depends on who’s asking. Are you asking? You know I will not refuse.
14. No one can refuse the awesome power of my glowing red eyes. The Zombie Goat invasion is upon us. How will you fight them off?
I have to confess….If there’s a ruminant I love more than the llama, stag, or stud, it’s the goat. I once wrote a whole book called Goats on a Boat. The marketing people thought Surrender of a Siren would be a better title, and they left the goats off the cover—but I swear to you, they’re there! On that little boat! Pirate goats. Arrrrgh.
So you see… *slips on sunglasses impervious to glowing red eyes* I will not fight them off at all. In fact, I am part of the Zombie Goat invasion. Just reconnaissance, though. No worries, we still have time for cake. I’ll take cake over brains any day. Make that cake OR cookies. =)
Pirate goats! Is it any wonder I adore this woman's writing? Thanks for the fun interview, Tessa. And for writing such captivating books! To learn more about Tessa, visit her website where you can find links and blurbs for each book, news, contests, and even a peek at her diary. And pick up a copy or two of Tessa's books. You'll thank me for the recommendation. Trust me.
Now for MORE FUN. Yes, it deserves all caps. Tessa has generously donated a giveaway that is full of the kind of AWESOMESAUCE worthy of the Were-llama. One lucky commenter will get all of the following:
*A signed copy of Goddess of the Hunt
*An e-copy of The Legend of the Werestag
*promotional swag: including the very first set of her new bookmarks and a coverflat of Three Nights with a Scoundrel
*A copy of the dareling-approved and thematically-appropriate picture book, Llama Llama Red Pajama.
Told you today's giveaway was HUGE. To enter, please leave a comment here for Tessa. Two additional entries can be earned by tweeting a link to this interview. Make sure you either give me the url for that tweet here in the comment trail or include @cjredwine so I see it on Twitter. Also, make sure to follow Tessa on Twitter (@TessaDare). I will close this contest Thursday evening (March 25th) at 8 p.m. Central Time and announce a winner.
Thanks, Tessa! Good luck to all of my readers!