It is a pleasure to welcome Charlotte Anne to my blog, Mrs B’s Book Reviews for A Tea Break with Mrs B, an author interview series. To help celebrate the release of The Unworthy Duke we sat down for a chat. Thanks Charlotte!
What is your drink of choice as we sit down for a chat about your new book?
Always tea for me, preferably Earl Grey, and the stronger the bergamot the better. (If the duke and Ellen were to join us, they would be drinking whisky and tea with sugar respectively.)
Can you give us a brief overview of your writing career?
The Unworthy Duke is my first published book, but I’ve been writing for more than ten years and have been an active member of the romance writing and reading community in Australia these last few years, including contributing a monthly column to the Australian Romance Readers Association newsletter for about five years now.
What inspired the creation of your new book, The Unworthy Duke?
As an archaeologist by training, I absolutely love history, so I think writing within the history genre is where I was always meant to be. As for romance, I believe wholeheartedly that every person is worthy of love, and the romance genre is one of the places where that idea is celebrated. Love is love, and there’s nothing more beautiful than that.
What are the main themes in The Unworthy Duke?
When I was writing The Unworthy Duke I was thinking a lot about the different types of relationships there are in the world. Romantic love is obviously the centrepiece of this book, but I also spent time exploring several other types of positive relationships people can have, including parent and child; best friends; kindly neighbours; supportive acquaintances. So the main theme of my debut ended up being found family and the importance of establishing healthy relationship with the people in your life—with, of course, a heavy dollop of feminism thrown in for good measure!
Did you have an affinity with a particular character in The Unworthy Duke and why?
I believe I’m generally thought to be quite a happy person, so naturally I’m going to have to pick the duke, in all his sulky grumpiness! There was something so special about writing his character. I was able to really fall into his ill moods, which was a wonderful change for me.
Can you tell us about the historical time period featured in The Unworthy Duke?
The Unworthy Duke is set in 1817, which was a very deliberate choice. I knew I wanted it to be a few years after the Napoleonic Wars had ended so that I could dedicate page time to exploring the lasting wounds of conflict, but I wanted to do that within peacetime. The duke, in particular, had a hard war, and I wanted to focus on his healing knowing that he wasn’t going to be thrust back into conflict. Also, 1816 is known as the year without summer, after the eruption of Mount Tambora in 1815, and I love springtime too much to have wanted my characters to suffer through a sunless season.
How long did it take you to write The Unworthy Duke?
I spent my sweet time writing The Unworthy Duke. I’d been writing for years before, but none of those books had ever been picked up for publication. So for The Unworthy Duke I gave myself two whole years to write and revise. This was an invaluable learning experience. I had the time to focus on all aspects of the story from the big structural questions right down to the individual sentences. I wrote before work, on my lunch breaks, after work and on the weekends. Barely a day went by when I wasn’t working on making the book the absolute best I could.
How will you celebrate the release of The Unworthy Duke?
We’re in lockdown where I live so all my celebrations didn’t quite go according to plan. However, my amazing editor, Rachael, and the team at Harlequin Australia sent me a huge bouquet of flowers, and one of my best friends sent me so many delicious brownies I’ve been full for a week! My family have also been amazing, celebrating with me however they can, whether that’s in person or over zoom. And because I’ve been stuck inside for so long, I’ve been posting regularly to Instagram, trying to share my happiness with the wider world.
What is one thing that you really hope readers will take away from the experience of reading The Unworthy Duke?
At its core, Regency romance is escapism, and so I really hope people sit back and enjoy the story. It does have some serious undertones, but there’s a lot of fun in there. And we all know there’s a happy ending guaranteed.
What ingredients are essential for a successful historical romance novel?
I think it’s all about finding the right balance between history and fiction. I wanted to be as historically accurate as possible, but I didn’t want to be such a stickler to historical detail that I stunted the natural flow of the story. At the end of the day, Regency romance is fiction, and the story is meant to be enjoyed as such.
What writers have inspired you along the way to publication?
This is such a hard question to answer, only because if I tried to list everyone we would be here for the rest of the year. Most recently, I’ve been loving authors who focus on inclusivity and equality in their historical romances, particularly Cat Sebastian, KJ Charles, Olivia Waite, Courtney Milan and Beverly Jenkins. These ladies are constantly proving to the world that love is love. I’ve also been loving Grace Burrowes and Mary Balogh for their beautiful writing. There have also been many Australian authors who I’ve been privileged to meet in person over the years and who’ve been so kind to me, including Anne Gracie, Alison Stuart, Kate Forsyth and Rachael Bailey to name just a few.
What book is next on your reading pile?
I’m currently reading Lord Somerton’s Heir by Alison Stuart, and after that I think I’ll be starting the newest Anne Gracie book, The Scoundrel’s Daughter. I’m also desperate to begin reading Roan Parrish’s latest, The Lights on Knockbridge Lane.
When you are not writing, what do you enjoy doing?
When I’m not writing, I’m usually talking about writing with my writer friends or about books with my book friends. I also love spending time outside and am currently watching my sweet peas begin to flower. When lockdown ends, I’ll hopefully be heading back down to the archery range for some shooting, and I’ll definitely be visiting all my grandparents.
What are you working on writing wise at present?
Currently I’m writing another Regency romance featuring two of the secondary characters from the The Unworthy Duke: the duke’s kind-of-cousin, Owen Tattershall, and Sophy Calder, who’s come to London desperately seeking her missing twin brother. Sophy is forever pragmatic, while Owen… well, Owen is a bit of a flirty mess.
Thank you for the lovely tea break and chat Charlotte. Congratulations on the release of your new book, The Unworthy Duke.
Thank you so much for having me. It’s such a wonderful pleasure to share with you and the world the unworthy duke and the love of his life.
Witty, passionate and fast-paced, this sparkling debut Regency romance is a must-read for any fan of Georgette Heyer, Julia Quinn or Loretta Chase.
‘Secrets and scars that run deep … a delightful Regency twist on Beauty and the Beast!’ –Alison Stuart, author of The Postmistress
She’s running from her past; he’s hiding from his.
Miss Ellen Burney doesn’t have a penny to her name. Determined to escape scandal, she flees to London and becomes Miss Smith: spinster and lady’s companion. London offers security in anonymity. So long as Ellen can rein in her overactive imagination and become the perfect picture of propriety.
Calum Callaghan spent ten years in the Royal Navy fighting Napoleon and has the scars to prove it. Now he’s a duke, but all of London thinks he murdered his brother. Heartbroken and battle weary, he’s locked himself away for four long years, a prisoner in his own townhouse.
That is, until Cal’s grandmother comes to stay with him for the London Season, her new lady’s companion in tow. A lady’s companion with a passion for life and love that can hardly be contained by even the most spinsterish of lace caps. She’s fooling nobody, especially not this grumpy duke.
The Unworthy Duke by Charlotte Anne was published on 29th September 2021 by Mira-AU. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
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