Please welcome fellow Dreamspinner Press author Rebecca Cohen. Rebecca is one of my favorite writers of historical MM — I love the way she lets me just step into the past and enjoy a great romance without even thinking about how different the world she writes about is from my own. It’s not that she doesn’t know her history — she does and it’s amazing how she incorporates it into her plots. But it’s her characters who always draw me in and help me relate to a different universe from my own. The main characters in her stories are wonderfully human: flawed and loveable, even when you want to hit them over the head and pound some sense into them. I’ve been honored to beta read both of her Elizabethan romps, The Actor and the Earl and the brand-new sequel, Duty to the Crown. I know I’ll be reading them both again and again.
If you haven’t already read The Actor and the Earl, now’s the perfect time, since you can read straight through both books and enjoy two HEAs in one sitting (okay, so that’s something I would totally do – I love, love sequels and series!). So without further ado, here’s Rebecca! -Shira
As a reader, there is nothing more I love than to find there’s a sequel available for a story I adored, to get to see how the characters I’ve invested in have grown and developed and immerse myself in their new adventure; however, for writer me the sequel is not so joyful a prospect.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love my characters and the worlds I’ve created, but when it comes to continuing their stories, there’s a big yellow streak running through me and I always think I’m going to mess it all up and not do them justice. This could be reason why Idolatry, the sequel to Servitude my first novel, is stuck at 30K words and I’m avoiding opening the beast as if it’s contagious.
My problems start with judging how much back story to include – too little detail and it’s confusing, too much and I’ve rehashed the original. I also believe it is important to make sure the sequel can stand on its own if someone hasn’t read the one before. Once that’s sorted, it’s time to tackle the new storyline but make sure the characters are consistent while, at the same time, still developing. No wonder I have trouble – I talk myself out of writing before I even start!
My next release, Duty to the Crown (due to be published 4th March by Dreamspinner Press), is a sequel to The Actor and the Earl, and is another romp through Tudor England with my boys Sebastian and Anthony. But this sequel was different. I didn’t walk away from the characters to write something else and have a break. No these two novels were written back to back and, somehow, I was able to put away my innate paranoia about follow-on stories. Actually, the plot for the sequel was already in place before I’d finished writing the original and I was able to keep back some of my research in order to use later.
So instead of the sequel slump, I had the same enjoyment of writing Duty to the Crown as I did for The Actor and the Earl. Mind you, Anthony and Sebastian are two of my favorite characters and some of the situations I’ve put them in the sequel were incredibly good fun to write (anyone fancy a duel?). So here’s hoping that my readers enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Blurb (The Actor and the Earl): Elizabethan actor Sebastian Hewel takes his bow at the proscenium only to embark on the role of a lifetime. When his twin sister, Bronwyn, reneges on the arrangement to marry Earl Anthony Crofton, Sebastian reluctantly takes her place. At nineteen, Sebastian knows his days as a leading lady are numbered, but with this last performance, he hopes to restore his family’s name and pay off his late father’s debts. Never mind the danger of losing his head should he be discovered.
He didn’t expect Anthony to be so charming and alluring—not to mention shrewd. While he applauds Sebastian’s plan, Anthony offers a mutually beneficial arrangement instead. Sebastian will need every drop of talent he has to survive with both his head and his heart intact, because this is the best part he’s ever had.
Extract from Duty to the Crown
Sebastian was off the bed. He grabbed his shift and pulled it on over his head.
Anthony’s hand shot out to stop him leaving. “Listen, please, I have no choice.”
“And I do not have to like your decision. I am positive you could’ve come up with a viable excuse not to or have found a way to get the information that does not involve you seducing a twenty-year-old woman!”
“I will not seduce her, Sebastian, I swear. Merely court her,” said Anthony as he clung to Sebastian, trying to lead him back to the bed.
“And that is meant to make me feel better? When you’re off in London courting a woman, but your wife remains in the country to be made a laughing stock of.”
“I won’t be at court,” said Anthony carefully, and if anything, Anthony appeared even more sheepish. “The Queen has asked me to invite Marie here for my birthday feast.”
“And did you not think to refuse that? She might not think your wife capable of satisfying the marvelous Anthony Crofton, but to have her suggest that you take a mistress under my nose is too much.”
“Refuse the Queen? And how should I do that, Sebastian? You know nothing of the politics of court and the dangerous line her courtiers tread. One wrong move could result in an extended stay at the Tower!”
“You could’ve tried,” shouted Sebastian. “You’re good with soft words, why not use them?”
“Do you see that I cannot win this argument? Whether I did this in London or at Crofton Hall, you would be displeased. At least at home you can be assured of my actions.”
“Assured of your actions? How? Because I will see you with my own eyes rather than rely on hearing the gossip of court?”
Anthony reached out to him. “Please consider the position I am in.”
“And what about me, Anthony? What would you have me do? Be happy that you have to play a lovesick fool to another?”
“Of course not. But some support and understanding would be welcome.”
Sebastian let out a frustrated yell and pushed Anthony away so hard he landed back on the bed. “Listen to me, Anthony Crofton. While I accept that you cannot refuse the Queen, do not think you can come near me until you have worked out a way to complete this request without me having to contain the desire to punch you!”
He stormed across the room and through the dividing door between their rooms, bolting it shut behind him. Anthony banged on the closed door. “Anthony, go away. Talk to me in the morning when there is a slight possibility I may be in a more amenable mood, and you will have had the chance to think through your options.”
The Actor and the Earl: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=3429
Duty to the Crown: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=3637