Spotlight & Giveaway: A Matter of Grave Concern by Brenda Novak

Posted October 27th, 2014 by in Blog, Spotlight / 42 comments

Today it is my pleasure to Welcome New York Times bestselling author Brenda Novak to HJ!
Spotlight&Giveaway

Hi Brenda and welcome to HJ! We’re so excited to chat with you about your new release, A Matter of Grave Concern!

Please summarize the book for the readers here:

AmoGcWhen Maximillian Wilder hides his noble identity and joins the notorious body snatchers known as the London Supply Company, the last thing on his mind is love. He’s worried about Madeline, his vanished half sister, who was last seen in the company of Jack Hurtsill, the gang’s conscienceless leader. Raiding graveyards, stealing corpses, and selling them to medical colleges as dissection material is dirty work, but Max knows he must gain Jack’s trust. He’s determined to find out what happened to Madeline—and to bring Jack to justice if she was murdered for the coin her body could earn.

Beautiful, spirited Abigail Hale, daughter of the surgeon at Aldersgate School of Medicine, detests the challenging, hard-bargaining Max almost as much as Jack. But she must procure the necessary specimens if she is to save the college and her father’s career. She believes she is going to be successful—until Jack double-crosses her. Then she’s swept into a plot of danger and intrigue, one where Max must intervene to protect her, no matter the risk to his plan…or his heart.

Please share the opening line of this book:

It was a perfect specimen. Almost.
Abigail Hale took a steadying breath and stooped into the cool, dark alley to examine the bloodless gash on the cadaver’s high forehead. The injury was a minor flaw, really.

Please share a few Random facts about this book…

1. I got the idea when I first read about William Burke and William Hare. These two Irishmen, living in Edinburgh, murdered sixteen people in the 1820’s and sold their bodies to Robert Knox, the purveyor of a private medical school who paid them handsomely.

2. During this period of time it was often necessary to have someone stand guard over the burial site of a loved one to stop resurrection men from digging up the body and selling it to a medical college. Even with someone standing guard, there were roving gangs of resurrection men who might try to overpower the watcher and forcefully take what couldn’t be quietly stolen. Some cabinet makers (who were also coffin makers) began making “safe-like” coffins that were supposed to be impossible to break into.

3. “Burking” came into being because medical colleges could not get the subjects they needed. England wasn’t hanging as many criminals (which is where legitimate specimens came from) as they had previously and demand was far outstripping supply.

Please tell us a little about the characters in your book. As you wrote your protagonist was there anything about them that surprised you?

I usual choose my hero as my favorite character of any story, but in this novel, I’d have to go with Abby. She’s such a strong yet sympathetic character–and she was unusual for the time, because she has aspirations of becoming a surgeon, like her father.

What, in your mind, distinguishes this book from other books out there in the same genre?

I set out to create a tender love story, but I wanted a suspenseful backdrop at the same time, and I thought a situation when there is a great deal of incentive for desperate men to do something quite creepy would definitely raise the stakes. The research for this story was fascinating.

The First kiss…

“Ouch! That hurts! What are you doing?” she asked, trying to wiggle away from the roughness of his chin as he chafed it against her face and neck.
Max could feel the ridge of Miss Hale’s collarbone beneath his cheek, then more smooth skin as he slid his chin up the column of her throat. “I am leaving a few marks on you, for Jack’s edification,” he said. “He will never believe you were ravished without something to show for it.” Pausing just below her left earlobe, he began to suck on her neck.
She squirmed some more, resisting, but that soon subsided and she started to giggle. He guessed from her bossiness that she didn’t laugh often but, strangely enough considering all the trouble she had caused him, he liked the sound of it.
“Nothing in my father’s books said anything about this,” she said. “What on earth are you doing? Stop! It tickles. What could possibly be the point?”
He lifted his head only when he was satisfied that he had left a deep purple mark. “What your father’s books didn’t tell you, Miss Hale, is that much of what goes on between a man and a woman, at least in the bedroom, has no point. It is simply for the sake of pleasure, for the pure, heady passion of reveling in the opposite sex, of letting go of all inhibition long enough to enjoy giving everything and receiving everything all at the same time.”
He knew his voice sounded slightly hoarse, but she smelled so damn clean and fresh. And her skin—it had to be the softest he had ever touched.
Moonlight lit her face as she cocked a finely arched eyebrow at him. “You seem quite well-versed on the subject.”
“I have never read any bloody medical journals, that’s for damn sure. After hearing what they have to say, I think I’m glad.”
“What’s wrong with what they say?”
Max ignored her in favor of nipping at her neck again. Why did she have to feel so good? Not five minutes earlier, he had told himself he wouldn’t have any difficulty sharing a room, even a bed, with Miss Hale. He could control his “drive to mate” as she put it.
But that was before, when Miss Hale—Abigail—was at an arm’s distance. Now that she was so close and not nearly as stiff as he had expected, he found his perspective changing. And he was only rubbing his chin on her cheeks and neck. What would it feel like to part her lips and slip his tongue inside her mouth for that first sweet taste?
Under the guise of more chafing, he let their lips brush once, felt their breath mingle, and measured Miss Hale’s response. The tension in her shoulders, where he had anchored his hands, relaxed ever so slightly. Her eyelids lowered as her gaze fell to his mouth, and she kept her head tilted at just the right angle for their lips to brush again.
She’s curious, he realized.

Did any scene have you crying or laughing while writing it?

Definitely! I can’t share this scene (but traded you for a snippet of their first kiss above) because it wouldn’t be nearly as effective out of context, but there is a passage between the hero and heroine where the heroine shares everything she’s learned as a student at the medical college about sex. It’s a very clinical approach, and he finds it quite amusing. I found myself chuckling as I wrote it.

If your book was optioned for a movie, what scene would you use for the audition of the main characters and why?

I would use the scene where the hero and heroine first meet. It’s a pivotal scene that sets the stage for everything that comes after:

“Make that fifteen.” A deep voice interrupted, and for the first time, Abigail looked directly at the man standing to the side and slightly behind Big Jack. His clothes bore as much dirt and his face as much beard growth as the rest of the group, but he was different. Not only was he significantly taller, he carried himself with a certain…authority.
How had she not noticed him before?
She’d been doing her best to block him and the others from her consciousness, she reminded herself.
Her gaze locked with an intense pair of sea-green eyes. “Why, that’s highway robbery! My father has never paid a resurrectionist more than nine guineas, six shillings. I’ve got it all in a book, right here.” She tapped the top of the desk to convince him.
When he smiled, his teeth looked clean and mostly straight, another detail that set him apart from his companions. “Evidently, you’re not a pupil of economics, or not a very good one, Miss Hale. Short supply, high demand, prices go up. Sometimes significantly. Fifteen guineas. No less.”
Those short, clipped sentences bore no Cockney accent and revealed a definite culture to his voice, causing Abigail to wonder if she had been dealing with the wrong man all along. She couldn’t imagine this stranger taking orders from anyone, much less the likes of Jack Hurtsill.
“Blimey, Max,” one of the other men muttered.
Drawing herself up to her fullest height, which was at least ten inches shy of this Max’s six feet something, Abigail clung tenaciously to her composure. “At this point, I would rather you take your ‘large’ and go.” Surely, there had to be other resurrection men she could contact; she hadn’t gone through all the names she heard muttered about the halls of the college and St. Bart’s Hospital next door. “I have seen naught but the head, and that small sample revealed a nasty wound.”
“There’s not a mark on the rest of him,” Max responded coolly. “We offered to show you, but you refused.”
Abigail had no intention of letting this body-snatcher tempt her into dumping the body out onto the rug as she had almost let them do before. “Mr. Hurtsill—I mean, Big Jack, here, was about to say ten guineas. I will go that high.”
“I’m afraid it’s not high enough,” Max countered.
“You’re a fast study, mate.” Jack slapped him on the back but didn’t interfere. Instead, he turned a challenging smile on Abigail and waited for her response.
“Then go,” she said, shooing them away. “Take Mr. Whoever He Is and leave. I will not let you rob me. Not if I can help it.”
“And what if you can’t?” Insolence lit the eyes of the man identified as Max. “Perhaps we should wait here for your father. No doubt he will have better sense of what a corpse is worth at the present time, although I doubt he would want us loitering about the place. What’s it been…eighteen months or so since those two surgeons were prosecuted for receiving and dissecting stolen bodies? With a possible knighthood on the horizon, and such a close tie to Sir Astley Cooper—the sergeant surgeon of the late king himself, no less—it would be quite unfortunate if your father were to be found dealing with the likes of us, wouldn’t you say?”
Abigail’s jaw dropped at the not-so-subtle threat. Perhaps she had underestimated these sack ’em up men. This man, anyway. “If what you have brought is worth so much Mr.…Max, is it?”
He gave her a mocking bow and added his last name, as if to prove he feared nothing from her. “Wilder. Maximillian Wilder at your service, Miss.”

What are you currently working on? 

I’m currently working on a women’s fiction/romance novel titles THE SECRET SISTER, which will be out from MIRA Books next August. This isn’t part of my Whiskey Creek series, so it’s been fun to create a new setting and get to know a whole new cast of characters.

After A MATTER OF GRAVE CONCERN, I have THE HEART OF CHRISTMAS, my latest addition to my popular Whiskey Creek series, coming out in just a few weeks (on October 28th)–and I’m excited to report that it just received a starred review from Library Journal. Yay!

Thanks for blogging at HJ!

Giveaway: An autographed copy of A MATTER OF GRAVE CONCERN and THE HEART OF CHRISTMAS to two separate winners, along with a Brenda Novak mini-tote for each. (US only) – Ebooks for International Winners!

To enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and Post a comment to this Q: Do you think the backdrop of the hero posing as a resurrection man makes it too difficult to see him in a positive light?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Book Info:

Bestselling author Brenda Novak unearths love in the darkest of places.

When Maximillian Wilder hides his noble identity and joins the notorious body snatchers known as the London Supply Company, the last thing on his mind is love. He’s worried about Madeline, his vanished half sister, who was last seen in the company of Jack Hurtsill, the gang’s conscienceless leader. Raiding graveyards, stealing corpses, and selling them to medical colleges as dissection material is dirty work, but Max knows he must gain Jack’s trust. He’s determined to find out what happened to Madeline—and to bring Jack to justice if she was murdered for the coin her body could earn.

Beautiful, spirited Abigail Hale, daughter of the surgeon at Aldersgate School of Medicine, detests the challenging, hard-bargaining Max almost as much as Jack. But she must procure the necessary specimens if she is to save the college and her father’s career. She believes she is going to be successful—until Jack double-crosses her. Then she’s swept into a plot of danger and intrigue, one where Max must intervene to protect her, no matter the risk to his plan…or his heart.

Buy Links:

Digital: http://smile.amazon.com/Matter-Grave-Concern-Brenda-Novak-ebook/dp/B00INCFT6W/ref=sr_1_4?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1412592694&sr=1-4&keywords=Brenda+Novak

Print: http://smile.amazon.com/Matter-Grave-Concern-Brenda-Novak/dp/1477824529/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1412592694&sr=1-4

Audio: http://smile.amazon.com/A-Matter-of-Grave-Concern/dp/B00NMRE4JQ/ref=tmm_aud_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=1-4&qid=1412592694

Author Bio

Brenda-NovakNew York Times & USA Today Bestselling Author Brenda Novak is the author of more than fifty books. A four-time Rita nominee, she has won many awards, including the National Reader’s Choice, the Bookseller’s Best, the Book Buyer’s Best, the Daphne, and the Holt Medallion. She also runs an annual on-line auction for diabetes research every May at www.brendanovak.com (her youngest son has this disease). To date, she’s raised $2.4 million. For more about Brenda, please visit www.brendanovak.com.
https://www.facebook.com/BrendaNovakAuthor
https://twitter.com/Brenda_Novak

 

 

 

42 Responses to “Spotlight & Giveaway: A Matter of Grave Concern by Brenda Novak”

  1. Connie Saunders

    I wasn’t familiar with the concept of a resurectionist But I think That this will.provide an interesting twist!
    Connie

  2. martha lawson

    Don’t believe I’ve ever read (or heard) about this before!! I don’t think it detract from the hero.

  3. kateivan

    Sometimes a hero has to undertake ghastly action in order to attain justice, as seems to be the case with the hero in question. There are times when one simply has to get one’s hands dirty.

  4. Christine Woinich

    I do not think that it takes away from the hero. It makes him more human and easier to identify with.

  5. Glenda

    No. In this case he is doing what he has to in order to find his sister. That shows he’s not a horrible person.

  6. Rachael

    I don’t think that the backdrop of the hero posing as a resurrection man makes it too difficult to see him in a positive light. I love Brenda Novak’s Whiskey Creek series and would love to read A Matter of Grave Concern. I believe I would love any book that she writes!

  7. Terri Shortell

    I’ve never heard of this concept but it sounds interesting. I’m curious to see how the hero resurrects his reputation and gets the girl. Can’t wait to read it. Thanks for the review and giveaway.

  8. Janie McGaugh

    If we know that he is the hero, then we would be willing to wait to find out why he is a resurrection man.

  9. lavendersbluegreen

    No, not at all! Gosh, what a fascinating story! The idea that he is going into a line of work like that to find out what happened to his sister makes him even more appealing!

  10. ELF

    I think that if it is done well, most things can be forgiven! Looks like a compelling story, thanks for the giveaway.

  11. Taswmom

    I’ve never read of this situation before, but it sounds really great. I’m sure we’ll get over it, and it’ll be an interesting ride, I’m sure! Thank you for this chance to win it!

  12. Jean White

    Portraying a Resurrectionist definitely puts the hero in a pour light. He needs to overcome his deception.

  13. Vicki Clevinger

    I hadn’t ever heard of this before. As far as Max I don’t think it detracts as you know he is undercover.

  14. darholley1

    No I don’t think so. He is undercover and doing his job by getting on the inside of the operation. It is no different than the undercover cops nowadays that act like drug pushers to get on the inside. I feel that it adds more excitement and makes him a better hero by getting right into the action.

  15. Inga

    No, I don’t because he is trying to find his half sister. His intentions are noble and this is the way he can get close to finding out what happened to her.

  16. Kai W.

    I don’t think it changes the story or the hero. I read a few of these stories but I have never knew about the terminology.

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