Hi Manda and welcome to HJ! We’re so excited to chat with you about your new release, Duke with Benefits!
Please summarize the book for the readers here:
Duke With Benefits follows Lady Daphne Forsyth and Dalton, the Duke of Maitland, as they fall in love while trying to find a lost treasure before it gets into the wrong hands. It’s at its essence a story about healing, and becoming comfortable in your own skin, and finding that one person who complements you—and sees you as your best self even when you’re feeling your worst. Oh, and there’s mystery and drama and kissing and all that fun stuff.
Please share a few Fun facts about this book…
- Daphne, the heroine, is a brilliant mathematician. I, sadly, am not. So, it took a bit of research to make her sound like she knows what she’s talking about. Hope I did her justice, because she’d be the first one to tell me if I made any mistakes!
- I modeled the library in the Beauchamp House after the library in the Sir John Soane museum. Obviously it’s got some differences, but I was determined that the heiresses would have a first rate library at their disposal.
- One part of the book involves searching through the belongings of a former land steward, and I spent an entire day looking at actual livestock awards for Sussex in the 1820s so I could get the wording on his old trophy just right. There were SO MANY prize winning cows and pigs that year! Who knew?
Please tell us a little about the characters in your book. As you wrote your protagonist was there anything about them that surprised you?
As I’ve said, Daphne is a mathematician, and when I first introduced her in the first book in this series, Ready Set Rogue, she was kind of a nightmare. She was rude and boastful and seemed to be oblivious to how her words made others feel. But when I looked at her from the other side, from inside her head, I saw that she was actually confused and upset about how she managed to hurt people even when she didn’t intend to. I knew she wasn’t as bad as she’d seemed, of course, but writing her gave me insight into what it must be like to misread social cues. I loved pairing her with Dalton, in part, because he’s so very good at socializing that he’s able to take her under his wing a bit. And is immune to her sometimes brusque manners.
If your book was optioned for a movie, what scene would you use for the audition of the main characters and why?
“You’re just being modest,” [Maitland] said, moving to open the uppermost of a stack of trunks against the wall.
That made [Daphne] laugh. “I believe you’re the first person ever to call me modest,” she said with a grin.
“Oh, please,’ he said with a wave of his hand. “You can be quite modest. It’s just that you’re so busy trying to prove yourself to most people that you don’t give others the chance to see your prowess for themselves.”
That stopped her in the process of lifting out a stack of books from a crate.
She’d never thought of it that way, but he was right. She did spend much of her life trying to prove herself to people.
“I suppose I don’t feel the need to do that with you,” she said, not daring to look at him. The moment made her feel vulnerable in a way she’d never experienced before. More exposed than if she were stark naked before him.
When he touched her hand, she jumped a little, startled at the touch. “I’m glad,” he said softly. “I want you to be comfortable with me. To be yourself.”
What do you want people to take away from reading this book?
I want people to enjoy the puzzle of the mystery of course, but also to come away recognizing that everyone is entitled to love regardless of their differences. And that there are different kinds of intelligence and we need need them all in this world.
What are you currently working on? What other releases do you have planned for 2017?
I just turned in a Christmas novella that should be released sometime in the fall. It features a secondary character from Good Dukes Wear Black, Lord Alex Wrotham and his ex-fiancee, Miss Merry Parks, who jilted him years ago. They’ll reconnect at Christmas when a misunderstanding over an orphaned infant brings Merry knocking at his door.
After this June 27 release of Duke with Benefits, there will be the novella as I said, and book 3 of the Studies in Scandal series, Wallflower Most Wanted, will come out in January of 2018, and it stars the artist heiress, Miss Sophia Hastings and Reverend Lord Benedick Lisle, whom readers may remember from his brothers’ books (Why Lords Lose Their Hearts, A Good Rake Is Hard to Find).
Thanks for blogging at HJ!
Giveaway: Print copy of THE DUKE WITH BENEFITS (Studies in Scandal) by Manda Collins
To enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and Post a comment to this Q: I love to read about the main couple in a romance having adventures together, whether it’s solving a mystery or just doing something fun and different—like rock climbing or stepping out of one of their comfort zones. What’s your favorite romance with a side of adventure? (It can be any subgenre).
Excerpt from Duke with Benefits:
“There you are, my dear,” said the Earl of Forsyth with a beaming smile that didn’t quite reach his eyes.
Maitland saw at once that Daphne favored him. Her green eyes were the same shade as his, though there were lines of dissipation bracketing the earl’s. And though his expertly cropped blond hair was shot through with silver, what remained of its original color was the same shade as hers. But whereas Daphne’s gaze was focused off to the left of whomever she conversed with, like a bird hovering just over a branch, Forsyth’s speared one with cold calculation. As he did to Daphne now.
“You are looking well, Daphne,” the earl continued, stepping forward to embrace his daughter, who looked as uncomfortable with the contact as Maitland had ever seen her. “The sea air agrees with you. As I knew it would.”
“The sea is very beautiful,” Daphne replied woodenly. “Why are you here, Father?”
“Is that any way to greet your Papa?” the earl chided, stepping back from her and wandering farther into the room, standing to stare out at the gardens below through the window. “I’ve traveled all the way from London to see you. And this lovely estate. I must admit that when I first learned of your inheritance, I thought it was all some sort of trick. But you would have your own way and leave the loving bosom of your family no matter what I said. Now that I’m here, though, and see it in person, I must admit that it’s a lovely spot. And your chaperone, Lady Serena, is quite beautiful, isn’t she? A widow, I take it?”
His jaw clenched at the man’s mention of Serena, and Maitland thought perhaps it was time to announce himself. Daphne seemed not to realize he’d followed her in, and the earl was too busy waxing rhapsodic over the beauties of Beauchamp House.
“I don’t believe we’ve met, Forsyth,” he said forcefully, stepping up to stand side by side with Daphne. He gave a slight bow, perhaps not quite as deep as was warranted, but not caring. “The Duke of Maitland. I am a friend of your daughter’s, you might say.”
What he meant by that last, he could not say, but the man made every bit of protective instinct within him go on the alert. He was her father, but all the same Maitland knew that Daphne was no safer with him than she would have been with Sommersby if he still lived.
At the sound of the duke’s voice, Lord Forsyth turned with almost comical haste from the window and stared. For the barest flicker, he looked angry. Well, if he were upset at the knowledge that his daughter was not without friends, then he would simply have to swallow it. Because Maitland was damned if he’d leave her alone with the fellow.
“Duke,” Lord Forsyth said with a tilt of his head, “I am pleased to make your acquaintance. I was a friend of your father’s, and had little notion I’d be meeting you here. He was a good man, your father.”
His father had been nothing of the sort, but Maitland was hardly going to discuss it with Forsyth.
“I am here visiting my sister, Lady Serena,” Maitland said coolly, letting the other man know in tone rather than words that he had not appreciated the older man’s speculative words about her earlier. “And of course my cousin, Kerr. He only recently married another of the heiresses here, and resides here with her.”
Forsyth’s eyes narrowed at the implication that Daphne was well protected should her father wish to cause trouble. At least that was the message Maitland was endeavoring to send. And by the looks of it, Forsyth read him loud and clear.
“Capital, capital,” the earl said with false cheer. “A merry party you must all make here. I had no idea you were in such fine company here, Daphne. No notion at all.”
“Because we have not spoken since I left,” Daphne said, looking from her father to Maitland then back again, as if wondering what went on between them. “And now, father, I really must ask you to leave. I have a great deal of work to do and . . .”
“Don’t be absurd, Daphne,” her father said with a shake of his head. “I only just arrived. And there is something very important I must speak to you about.” He turned to Maitland with a raised brow. “I’m sure you’ll excuse us, Duke. I’m afraid what I need to tell my daughter is private family business.”
Maitland was opening his mouth to tell the man he would leave Daphne alone with him when hell froze over, when Daphne did it for him.
“Maitland stays,” she said, reaching out to grasp him by the arm. It was as much of a cry for help as he’d ever thought he’d see from her. Wordlessly, he slipped her arm into his, as if they were about to promenade round the room. He covered her hand with his, keenly aware of the thread of tension in her.
Once more, the earl’s eyes narrowed, and he turned an assessing gaze on Maitland, perhaps realizing for the first time the threat coming at him from that direction.
His jaw clenched, Forsyth said grimly, “Very well. If you wish your friend to witness our dirty linen, so be it.” As if needing to be in motion in order to speak, the earl began to pace the area between the window and the fireplace. “You know, Daphne, you left me without any obvious means of recouping what I lost from years of paying that tutor of yours, old man Sommersby.”
“You agreed to pay him,” Daphne said tightly. “After I threatened to expose . . .”
Hastily, Forsyth continued, “And I am currently in need of funds. As such, I must insist you return to London with me for the time being and meet a particular gentleman who has expressed interest in marrying you. Though his birth is not as high as yours, he’s quite wealthy and will make you a good husband, I trust. He’s assured me he has no concern about your odd ways, if you’re as beautiful as your portrait.”
Before Maitland could burst out with the string of invectives the other man’s pronouncement inspired in him, Daphne said, “I cannot marry this person. I’ve never even met him. You promised me that I would not have to marry someone for money as long as I won enough at the tables. I did so. You promised me, father.”
“I never actually promised, Daphne.” Forsyth said with a shake of his head. “If you chose to interpret it as such, that is not my fault. Now, go pack your things.”
Daphne’s hand on Maitland’s arm gripped him tightly. And before he even knew what he was doing, he said, “I’m afraid that’s impossible, Forsyth. Daphne is staying here.”
“I don’t know who you think you are, Maitland,” said the earl through clenched teeth, “but I am her father, and I am well within my rights to take her back to London. Now, kindly take your hands off of her and let her go pack.”
“It might once have been your right, Forsyth,” Maitland said coldly, “but Lady Daphne is my betrothed now and as such, she will remain here. With me.”
Copyright © 2017 by Manda Collins and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Press.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
LADY + DUKE = TRUE LOVE?
Lady Daphne Forsyth is a brilliant mathematician with a burning passion for puzzles. When she learns that the library belonging to her benefactress houses the legendary Cameron Cipher—an encrypted message that, once solved, holds the key to great riches—Daphne is on the case. Unfortunately, her race to unlock the cipher’s code is continually thwarted by a deliciously handsome distraction she hadn’t counted on. . .and cannot resist.
Dalton Beauchamp, the Duke of Maitland, is curious as to why Daphne is spending so much time snooping around his aunt’s bookshelves. He’s even more intrigued by her bold yet calculating manner: She is unapologetic about her secret quest. . .and the fiery attraction that develops between them both. But how can they concentrate on solving a perplexing enigma once the prospect of true love enters the equation?
Meet the Author:
Manda Collins spent her teen years wishing she’d been born a couple of centuries earlier, preferably in the English countryside. She’s the author of fifteen titles from St. Martin’s Press and is a past winner of the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence for her novella “The Perks of Being a Beauty”. A native of coastal Alabama, Manda lives in the house her mother grew up in with three cats, sometimes a dog, sometimes her sister, and more books than strictly necessary. www.mandacollins.com
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