Hi Virginia and welcome to HJ! We’re so excited to chat with you about your new release, A Warriner to Tempt Her!
Hi everyone! I’m so thrilled to be back!
Please summarize the book for the readers here:
A Warriner to Tempt Her is a Regency medical romance set during a deadly smallpox epidemic. Dr Joe Warriner is a brilliant and forward thinking physician who is suffering from a bad case of unrequited love for feted society beauty and incomparable lady Clarissa Beaumont. However, thanks to a rolling potato, it is her bookish and stand-offish sister Lady Isabella Beaumont he finds himself thrust into the company of. But Bella is harbouring a secret struggle thanks to an awful incident in Vauxhall Gardens. Is Dr Warriner the man to finally heal her?
What’s your favorite line(s) from the book?:
Bella was the bookish Beaumont. The decidedly less beautiful Beaumont and, who could forget, she was also the broken Beaumont as well.
When you sat down to start this book, what was the biggest challenge you faced? What were you most excited about?
The biggest challenge was getting the history right. Medicine in 1818 was a lot different to today and science knew less. I had to research beliefs, cures and attitudes at the time. Bizarrely, the thing that most excited me about writing this book was watching Joe fly in the face of traditional medicine. I love that he is a renegade and his forward-thinking attitude extends to women as well.
Please tell us a little about the characters in your book. As you wrote your protagonist was there anything about them that surprised you?
Bella was a fascinating character to write. Nowadays, we would describe what she was suffer as PTSD. Back then, she was a mad hysteric destined for Bedlam. Exploring her inner thoughts as well as her outward actions, watching how they changed and improved over he course of the book as she got slowly better, was quite humbling. Thank goodness we live in a world where the barbaric treatments for mental health are a thing of the past!
What have you learned about your own writing process/you as an author while writing this book?
I’ve learned to trust my instincts more. I think some of the internal musings are the best I have ever written.
The First kiss…
She risked opening her eyes to see his so close, and strangely darker than usual. He was still mere inches away, so close she could feel the warmth of his body. Her eyes dropped to his lips and she pulled them reluctantly back up. Her whole body felt odd. Heavy. Expectant. Her fingers itched to touch his face. Her lips felt swollen and hot. They wanted to be kissed even if her head wanted to run. “In the interests of science, and to help me demolish one of my irrational walls in my mind, I don’t suppose you would…” Oh good Lord, was she now begging him to kiss her? How sad and pathetic was that? She bet Clarissa had never had to resort to begging to get a man to kiss her or had ever felt terrified at the prospect of a kiss. Mortified, she turned away only to feel his palm touch her cheek and slowly turn it back. His eyes dropped to her lips and lingered. Then he dipped his head and softly pressed his mouth to hers.
Having nothing to compare it to, Bella was unprepared for the intensity of the experience. It was like tasting something delicious for the first time or the rush of excitement she had felt racing down the lane in his curricle. Her eyes fluttered closed and she sighed against his mouth, duplicating the way his lips brushed gently against hers. Her hands came to rest on his chest and she could feel the rapid beats of his heart against her fingers. Unconsciously she stepped closer and didn’t flinch when his hands came to rest on her hips.
Her breasts felt peculiar and needed to be touched, so Bella allowed herself to rest them against the hard wall of his chest, something which made him sigh too. By the time the tip his tongue brushed the seam of her mouth, she was past caring about anything except the surprising new sensations within her body. She mirrored the movement and the kiss turned from tentative to passionate. Her fingers were in his hair, his smoothed up her ribcage and over her back.
“It’s eight o’clock.” The opening door had them jumping apart and one look at Jake Warriner told her he knew exactly what they had just been doing, even though Joe was now several feet away and fiddling with the equipment on his table.
“Splendid. Splendid.” His eyes flicked to hers, he blinked, and she wished she knew what he was thinking. “I suppose we should get started then.”
Did any scene have you crying or laughing (or blushing) while writing it?
He awoke with a start when he heard the door open in the passage beyond and realised his wonderfully warm bath was now stone cold at almost the same moment he realised he was probably about to be caught sat in it. To spare his blushes, and his unsuspecting visitor’s, Joe draped the damp towel he had been using as a pillow over his privates as the footsteps turned the corner and his visitor almost blinded him with a lamp.
Bella hadn’t been expecting to see the cause of her insomnia when she’d come down to brew some tea. She certainly hadn’t expected seeing him hair damp, blue eyes wide and naked from the waist up. He did look rather splendid if, indeed, a little startled. Those broad shoulders she had often admired looked much nicer uncovered, his skin appeared golden in the soft lamplight and the fine chest, more suited to a burly labourer than a doctor, had an intriguing dusting of dark hair which narrowed and disappeared under the water. Her eyes were positively drinking in the sight and were in no great hurry to stop.
“Hello Bella. I didn’t mean to frighten you.”
“What are you doing? It’s well past midnight.” And he still looked tired. Something which had become an increasing cause for concern in the last few days. “You promised me faithfully you would be in bed by ten.”
“I did, or I meant to be in it thereabouts, but I must have nodded off.”
He smiled weakly, making him look boyish and mischievous at the same time. Thank goodness he was not wearing his spectacles. A wet Joe was magnificent, making Bella quite dizzy and flummoxed. A wet Joe in his eyeglasses would be devastating. “I don’t suppose you could fetch me another towel, only this one is no longer fit for purpose” Her eyes followed his downwards to his lap. The linen towel across it clung translucent in places, further flustering her. He was naked from the waist down too! Of course he was. He was in the bath.
“Yes. Certainly.” She almost tripped over her own feet as she scrabbled towards the cupboard. Grabbing a huge pile of towels, she scurried back and tried and then failed not to ogle him some more.
“What are you doing up?”
“I couldn’t sleep. I came to make a cup of tea.”
“That sounds lovely. A nice cup of tea would warm me up. I’m freezing.” Words which made her notice the droplets of water on his erect nipples and the raised goosebumps on his beautifully sculpted arms. Goosebumps which made the fine dark hairs on his forearms stand up. All at once, she had the urge to run her hands all over them to see if he truly was as gloriously solid as she suspected.
“R-right. Tea for two.” Good gracious Bella felt peculiar. All hot and jerky and scandalously grateful for the splendid sight of him sat in the altogether. “Would you like something to eat as well. I think we have some fruitcake left. Would you like some fruitcake? Or I could make some toast. That might be better. The toast will warm you up.” Good lord! She was still staring at him and now he was grinning, like he knew exactly what had sent her in a tizzy. “I’ll turn around!” Bella spun so fast she knocked her elbow hard on the table, howled in pain and then cringed as he laughed.
If your book was optioned for a movie, what scene would you use for the audition of the main characters?
Bella levered herself to sit, just in case she needed to run, wincing as cuts on her hands protested at being used to lever her.
“Let me see.” He said this in a reassuringly detached and professional way as he took both her hands in his. Instantly, her silly pulse leapt even as she froze, and then continued to bounce around frenetically as he turned them palms up to examine the filthy grazes caused by her fall. Strangely, there was no urge to run at being so intimately close to him. She hoped that was more evidence of progress. “These need cleaning.”
He dropped her hands dispassionately and wandered across the room to a large washstand. After pouring water into the bowl and added a generous dash of clear liquid from a bottle next to the jug and, after tossing a clean towel aimlessly over his shoulder, he carried it towards her.
“Put your them in here please.”
Bella plunged her hands into the water and immediately snatched them out again as it stung so very badly.
“What is in there- acid?” She eyed the water warily.
“Gin. I have noticed that wounds regularly cleaned with alcohol are less susceptible to infection. Besides, it is also very cheap. And I would prefer not to waste good brandy.”
He was attempting to put her at her ease as he did the children in the infirmary. He had such a lovely voice. Deep. Kind. Yet Bella blinked back at him rather than smile at the little joke and saw his own smile slide off his face within seconds. He did not like her and who could blame him when she could stand her new self either?
A blush of shame bloomed instantly. Here he was, being nothing but nice and all she could do was blink? Once upon a time she would have responded with something appropriate. Friendly. Usually funny. She missed that girl and willed her back every single day. But the old Bella was missing, presumed dead, and the new one was not quite right in the head.
For the only time in living memory, she fleetingly wished she was her sister. Clarissa would have replied with something witty and charming, happy to talk. Bella remained mute. Even her real self could think of nothing to say, so the silence was quite deafening. Once again the atmosphere became uncomfortable, something she was painfully aware was brought about at her doing, and she wondered if she could drown herself quickly in the shallow basin of water- putting them both out of their misery- while he continued to dab at her hands with the towel.
Satisfied that they were thoroughly clean, he then patted them dry and went to the wall of shelves at the back of the consulting room and rummaged for a pot of salve. He opened it and gently applied the ointment to the worst of the grazes.
“That smells like honey.” She willed the words out. It was a desperate and feeble attempt at normal conversation but at that moment it was all that she had. At least she was conversing with him. A man. Surely she could take heart it signalled progress?
He resealed the pot and put it to one side. “That’s because it mostly is honey. We waste it on bread but the Ancient Egyptians realised that it has exceptional healing powers. Like the gin, I have found honey acts as a barrier against infection. And is perfect on bread of course.”
He smiled briefly and it did funny things to Bella’s insides, she tried to ignore it and forced herself to stop biting her lip and reply. “The Egyptians had metal scalpels, bone saws…” This comment earned her another odd look, as if she were the most peculiar of females and made her voice trail off. “Or so I have read…”
“You pass the time by reading about surgical instruments?”
This scene is early on in the book and perfectly sets up their first proper meeting….
“I am not an empty-headed ornament.” And now she sounded snippy and defensive. Clarissa would certainly never try to engage a gentleman in discourse about bone saws! She would smile and compliment him on his superior knowledge. But then Clarissa had been born charming and Bella had lost that part of herself, and her current circumstances were particularly trying.
Readers should read this book….
Because is a broken young woman’s journey to full health, a sweet yet passionate love story and the hero is absolutely delicious!
What are you currently working on? What are your up-coming releases?
The final instalment of my Wild Warriners series- A Warriner to Seduce Her- comes out in May and follows the youngest brother Jake the rake’s rocky road to his happily ever after. Then it’s my new King’s Elite series which involves Regency smugglers and a plot to restore Napoleon to power- obviously with four new sexy love stories intertwined.
Thanks for blogging at HJ!
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Excerpt from A Warriner to Tempt Her:
Dr Joseph Warriner sat down behind his desk with an air of resignation. Despite today’s genuine attempt at resolve he realised such efforts were ultimately futile. His situation was pathetic. Worse- he was pathetic. He flipped out the dented, gold pocket watch he always wore secured to his sensible dark waistcoat and knew, before even looking at the dial, it was almost eight o’clock. The fact he had checked the stupid thing every two minutes for the last half an hour irritated him, as did the sorry realisation he had also been drawn to participate in this ridiculous ritual for almost a month now. Drawn like a sailor to the sirens.
And for what? One transient dance exactly twenty-eight days ago. A few exchanged, meaningless pleasantries whilst he had stood with her other eager admirers, tossed randomly like discarded bread crumbs to a yard full of chickens. Or like today, for a surreptitious glimpse of the cause of his torment, guiltily stolen through the heavy lace that covered the windows when he knew, deep down, his foolish heart was once again chasing a shadow.
The whole sorry situation was pathetic.
Angrily his snapped the watch closed and turned his chair towards the window and waited. Just like he had every Tuesday or Friday morning in the last few weeks, at precisely 8 o’clock, the glossy black carriage turned into the square exactly on time. It was market day in Retford and she always came to shop on market day. And the fact she was always so punctual also irritated him. Just for once he wished she would be late and he would be forced to attend to his first patient of the day, whose appointment was now timed for five past the hour on market days instead of on the dot of eight as usual. Another sign of how lamentable this folly was. It would be much better to do something worthwhile rather than waste his time engaging in this pointless ritual, especially as he already had a mountain of tasks to complete today. But no- this carriage was a creature of habit, much like its vexing occupant, and it slowed to a stop just past the window of Joe’s surgery as it always did. To torture him.
Carefully he moved the very edge of the curtain so that he could get a better view and watched as the footman opened the carriage door. After a few seconds, one surprisingly sensibly shod foot, with an intriguingly shapely ankle appeared. His breath hitched.
He had never seen her ankles before and was staggered a common formation of bones would affect him so. How many ankles had he seen in his career? Hundreds? Thousands probably, yet the sight of hers made his heart beat faster.
The glorious ankle was closely followed by a bonnet covered head. Without even seeing it, he knew her golden hair would be arranged in a becoming and fashionable style but that already several of the silky strands, the colour of which he had often considered to be the exact shade of wheat freshly harvested and kissed by the sun, would resent being tamed and begun escaping its pins. True to form, these would frame her bewitching face in tiny spiral curls he yearned to wind around his fingers.
Of course, he could never do that. If he did- well then he would probably have to remove every single pin so he could enjoy watching that mass of curls tumble over her shoulders and down her back. Especially now he had seen those ankles. He closed his eyes and savoured the fantasy for a moment.
Lady Clarissa Beaumont.
Joe exhaled slowly and watched her gather herself together. For a fleeting moment she turned and he saw just her cheek- perfect peaches and cream skin but cruelly denied the sight of her wide, almond shaped blue eyes in a shade so glorious that it would have made even the Caribbean Sea jealous. He caught a fleeting glimpse of her plump pink lips as she smiled at the footman and a bolt of ridiculous jealousy surged through him at the innocent exchange.
Because the delectable Clarissa, feted society beauty, was largely ignorant of the fact he even existed. Thank Heavens the ethereal Clarissa was blissfully unaware the man currently hidden behind the curtain of his office was suffering from a terminal case of unrequited love. More painful this morning, for some reason, than it had ever been before. Probably because of those ankles, he realised. A few inches of silk covered leg and he was already burning with lust. The lust was a new sensation. Up until today his love had been pure, the courtly kind of old and not sullied with that base, human emotion. But up until today he had been denied the sight of those magnificent ankles, so he supposed his sudden physical reaction was to be expected. What was love without passion anyway?
She turned and his heart soared- then promptly plummeted to his toes. She was quite the wrong sister. Not Lady Clarissa Beaumont at all; charming, blonde and effervescent. But Lady Isabella Beaumont. Pretty yes, and clearly in possession of a damn fine pair of legs, but rather a serious, unsociable individual. And very definitely a brunette. Her ruler straight dark locks suited her dour personality. She took the basket the footman offered her, stood and regarded the marketplace with obvious disdain and strode away purposefully. Hardly a surprise when Lady Isabella did everything with purpose, whether that be blatantly reading a book during an assembly when every other girl was dancing or doing good deeds.
Whilst she always accompanied the beautiful Clarissa on market days, until this week Joe and the scary Lady Isabella had only collided briefly. Once at the monthly assembly held in the village hall where she was stood next to her lovely sister. For the duration of the festivities, as far as Joe could ascertain, she had worn what he suspected was a permanent expression of complete disgust, as if the provincial society of dankest Nottinghamshire was quite beneath her. Fortunately, she tended to fade into the background stood next to her sparkling sister, so Joe rarely noticed her.
That wasn’t completely true. He always noticed her, just wished he hadn’t. Why would he waste time staring at the darkness when he could gaze at sunshine? Yet something about those dark, serious eyes always drew him never the less and he found himself frowning. A little bewildered. A little irritated yet oddly curious. Goodness knew why. It was almost as irritating as yearning for her unobtainable sister.
Excerpts. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
A shy innocent
She’s wary of all men.
In this The Wild Warriners story, shy Lady Isabella Beaumont is perfectly happy to stay in the background and let her sister get all the attention from handsome suitors following a shocking incident. However working with Dr Joseph Warriner to help the sick and needy pushes her closer to a man than she’s ever been before. Is this a man worth trusting with her deepest of desires…?
Meet the Author:
When Virginia Heath was a little girl it took her ages to fall asleep, so she made up stories in her head to help pass the time while she was staring at the ceiling. As she got older, the stories became more complicated, sometimes taking weeks to get to the happy ending. Then one day, she decided to embrace the insomnia and start writing them down. Fortunately, the lovely people at Harlequin Mills & Boon took pity on her and decided to publish her romances, but it still takes her forever to fall asleep.
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