Today it is my pleasure to welcome back USA Today bestselling author Lynsay Sands to HJ!
Hi Lynsay, Welcome to HJ
What would you say are the defining characteristic of your novels?
The humor of course, at least that’s what everyone else keeps telling me! LOL… I like to laugh. So, my stories, whether historicals or vamps or what have you, are usually funny. I also get bored fairly easily and if I get bored while I’m writing a story, then it gets dropped and I start afresh, so I guess they’re never boring, at least not to me.
Let’s talk about your newest release: The Switch
If you had to summarize the book for the readers here…
Twin sisters Charlotte, or Charlie, and Elizabeth have to escape the clutches of their greedy uncle who became their guardian after their parents died. Knowing it would be unwise for two ladies to travel alone, they came up with a plan. Charlie would play the part of Elizabeth’s brother, Charles. Lord Radcliffe intercepts the pair as they’re trying to escape. Cornered they tell Radcliffe about their greedy uncle and his plans to marry off Elizabeth to a man whose late wives all died under suspicious circumstances. Lord Radcliffe, concerned for their safety, decides to escort them to London. Charlie finds herself becoming more and more attracted to Radcliffe as time goes on… The only problem is she’s supposed to be Charles, the brother and fellow bachelor.
Please tell us about the characters in your book?
The Switch has a few characters and this will be a long response if I talk about them all so I’ll just have to talk about the mains.
– Charlotte Westerly or Charlie is Elizabeth’s twin sister. She tends to put plans into action and leaps before she looks.
– Lord Jeremy William Radcliffe is the twins’ unlikely travel companion. His gallantry and generous nature get him in to more than a little trouble, most of which are Charlie’s doing one way or another.
– Elizabeth Westerly is Charlie’s twin sister. Between the two of them she is the planner and plotter and always looks before she decides whether to leap or not.
– Tomas Mowbray is a potential suitor and all around decent guy that they meet in their travels.
What scene did you most enjoy writing? Why?
Because the twins and Lord Radcliffe were travelling together, it was logical that the men should share a room and let Lady Elizabeth have her own. However Charlie is an unconscious cuddler and has the unfortunate habit of wrapping herself around her bedmate, which happens to be Lord Radcliffe. I think you’ll understand why this is my favorite scene after you read it…
Radcliffe was dreaming of his last mistress, Lena. They were cuddled up in bed, wrapped in each other’s arms. She was murmuring sweetly to him, her full lips brushing kisses across his chest as she reached down with one hand to cover and caress his manhood.
Sighing pleasantly, he opened his eyes and hugged the woman a little closer, then stiffened. The woman in his arms was not a woman at all. It was a sleeping Charles Westerly. The hand he dreamt was caressing him was actually the boy’s knee thrown over him with abandon as he slept. The lad was wrapped about him like he was a warm whore on a cold night, and worse yet, Radcliffe himself was responding to the proximity in a way that no whore would. He was as hard as a poker.
Cursing roundly, he struggled out from beneath the boy in a fit of panic, gained his feet, and turned back to glare at the lad as if it were his fault.
Startled awake by the jostling and bouncing, Charlie sat up abruptly, glancing about with alarm.
“What? What is it?” the boy cried. Charlie was barely awake, but had apparently caught Radcliffe’s panic like a communicable disease and cast about for an explanation.
As you wrote your hero and heroine was there anything about them that surprised you?
I had no idea when I started writing The Switch that Charlie would be a snuggler so I was as surprised as Radcliffe to find Charlie wrapped around him in the middle of the night.
What does your hero love most about your heroine?
I think it’s a love/hate thing really… He loves her sass and generosity, but I’m sure he wanted to wring her neck because of it at times too. I believe he was close to doing so a couple of times in The Switch. Must be love!
What does your heroine love most about your hero?
We know she loves his physique, which she had the pleasure of glimpsing the first night they had to share a room, however she also loves his fairness and courage, which he displays without thought to his own safety.
If you could have given your heroine one piece of advice before the opening pages of the book, what would it be?
All in all I think she did fairly well. I guess the only advice I’d give her is this… If you go out with a buddy and he won’t reveal where he’s taking you then you should decline the invitation until he comes clean and tells you. There’s a reason he’s not telling you! (You’ll understand what I’m referring to when you read the story.)
What are you currently working on?
I just handed in the next book in An English Bride in Scotland series. This one is called To Marry A Scottish Laird and it’s about Jo, a young woman on a quest to deliver a message to the Laird and Lady MacKay, and Cam, a warrior who saves her from bandits and then offers his escort.
I’m currently working on the next story in the Argeneau series. This one is about Basileios Argeneau, Katricia’s father, and Sherry a newcomer to the Argeneau world. I don’t want to go into too much detail as I’m still in the middle of writing it but I will say this much… There are a lot of past characters revisiting the scene in this book.
What other releases do you have planned for 2013 into 2014?
Vampire Most Wanted, Basha Argeneau and Marcus Notte’s story, is coming out in the middle of February.
To Marry A Scottish Laird will be coming out at the end of June.
After that will be Basileios Argeneau’s story.
Where can readers get in touch with you?
They can follow me on facebook (Lynsay Sands), they can follow me on twitter (LynsaySands or Lynsay_Sands) and they can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
GIVEAWAY: A signed copy of of the new edition of the The Switch
To enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and post a comment to this Q: Charlie’s generous nature makes it hard for her to resist helping the needy or unfortunate so she has a habit of accumulating people and things that are in dire straights of one sort or another. Which one was your favorite? why? (There was Bess, Mrs. Hartshair or the puppies.)
Lord Radcliffe drew his horse to a halt and stared at the spectacle being played out before him. A young lad in the clothes of the gentry was standing under the front window of the inn, staring up the skirts of a girl hanging out of a second floor window. The lad seemed to be speaking to the lass as he tried to grab at her feet, but Radcliffe was too far away to hear what was being said.
Deciding that they were probably trying to run out on their bill, he started to urge his horse on to the stables, not really caring enough to get involved. But just then, the girl pushed herself off the ledge to dangle from her arms. Radcliffe slowed and stopped again as the boy caught the girl’s ankles to keep her from slamming into the building, then stepped under her to offer his aid the rest of the way down.
Not able to see what she was doing, she stepped on the lad’s wig with one foot, setting it askew. She nearly lost her grip and tumbled backward to the ground when the obviously irate youth jerked her foot from his head to his shoulder, directing the other foot with about as much care.
Radcliffe chuckled under his breath when the woman suddenly dropped to sit on the boy’s shoulders. Her skirts had fallen over the lad’s head as she did, blinding him, and the shift in position unbalanced him so that he stumbled backward, then to the side as he fought to push the skirt out of his view. At this point, the woman clutched at his hair for balance, forgetting it was a wig. It lifted from his head with her hands, and her upper body swung backward. The lad, already off balance, tumbled backward with her. They both hit the ground with soft thuds, hidden briefly in the shadows of the Inn.
“Damn,” Charlie muttered, staring up at the treetops above them until a pitiful moan from Beth stirred the cool night air. Sitting up, Charlie surveyed the prone girl with a worried frown. “Are you all right?”
Elizabeth sighed at the question. Her moan had been one of chagrin, but the concerned face suddenly leaning over her own told her that it had been misconstrued.
“Fine,” she said dryly as she sat up to brush grass and dirt off of her dress.
Charlie started to help, but Beth waved the attempt away.
“Your wig is gone,” she pointed out.
Sitting back, Charlie searched the shadows for the errant wig, then slapped it irritably against one leg to remove the grass clinging to it before slamming it back in place. “Is it straight?”
Beth glanced up long enough to nod, then struggled to her feet.
“Well. That wasn’t so bad,” Charlie murmured cheerfully, standing and moving to snatch up the bags they had thrown out the window before descending themselves.
Beth turned sharply, mouth open to give her opinion of the debacle, but caught the twinkle of laughter in the coal black eyes that mirrored her own and relaxed, grinning back. “A ride in the park,” she agreed dryly.
Laughing softly, Charlie handed her a bag, took the other one, and led the way to the stables.
“Is he unconscious?” Beth murmured as they entered the tottering old building and spied the stable lad slumped in a corner against a bale of hay. The bottle they had given him was still clasped to his chest.
“Seems to be. You did put the sleeping powder in there, did you not?”
Beth nodded silently, but held her breath as her twin carefully approached, then lifted the boy’s head and let it drop back to his chest. He didn’t even stir.
Shrugging, Charlie stepped back. “Out like a drunken sot.”
Her breath rushing out in relief, Beth moved quickly along the stalls until she found the one where her mount had been settled for the night. Murmuring soothingly, she stepped inside to set about quickly saddling him while Charlie did the same for the mount in the next stall.
Beth was aware at once when her twin suddenly stiffened several moments later. Going still herself, she glanced up and about, her heart nearly freezing in her chest at the sight of a figure in the shadows by the door. Charlie tossed her a warning look, then affected the accent of the servant class and asked, “Some’ing I can do fer ye, m’lord?”
One eyebrow rising at the boy’s accent, Radcliffe smiled slightly. “It is very bad manners to sneak out without paying one’s bill. And horse stealing is a crime.”
Charlie stiffened, eyes shooting to Beth’s face. The girl was as pale as the moon, her expression panicked as their gazes met.
Radcliffe noted the silent exchange and wished for better lighting in the stables. He’d bet a lot of money that the girl was a beauty. His eyes were straining to make out her features in the darkness when the lad spoke up again.
“We are not stealing. The horses are ours.”
The fake accent was gone, he noted absently, glancing at the boy. Obviously gentry as he had suspected. “And your bill?”
“Taken care of.”
Radcliffe raised one doubting eyebrow. “Then why not leave by the door like most people?” he asked, noting that the couple exchanged glances again at that.
Charlie was trying to decide just what to tell the snoopy hitch in their plans when Beth suddenly moved out of the stall and into the stream of moonlight coming through the stable doors.
Noting the look of appreciation that immediately entered the stranger’s eyes, Charlie peered at the girl now too, curious to know what he found so attractive. Beth was pretty enough. Straight nose, good teeth. Her eyes were her best feature, large and blue black, while her hair was an unremarkable brown. All of which described, Charlie as well. Not surprising since they were twins. But, it was doubtful that the man had noted that fact yet.
“We were forced to leave through the windows to escape my uncle.”
Radcliffe arched an eyebrow. “Why would you need to escape your uncle?”
Noting yet another exchange of glances between the young couple, Radcliffe smiled wryly. “Or need I ask?”
“I beg your pardon?” the girl murmured uncertainly.
“You need not explain. ‘Tis obvious you are about to head for Gretna Green.”
Charlie could have kicked Beth for her look of astonishment. If the saying were true that everyone loved a lover, they might have had a better chance of the man not interfering in their escape plans had he thought they were eloping. Instead of leaving him with that mistaken impression however, Beth gestured toward Charlie.
“Charlie is my twin-”
“Charles,” the lad corrected, stepping forward to join her in the light.
Beth blinked, then nodded slowly. “Aye. Charles is my twin brother.
Radcliffe’s eyebrows shot up as he looked the boy over. Except for the white wig, the two were identical. Well, of course there were the obvious physical differences. Where the girl’s chest was ample, the boy’s was not. After his initial surprise had past, Radcliffe’s eyes narrowed with some suspicion. “Why would the two of you need to flee your Uncle in the dead of night?”
“Our parent’s died four years ago,” the lad answered this time. “Our Uncle took over our care. He has done his best to run the family estates into the ground, and now wishes to replenish his coffers by selling Beth off into marriage. To Lord Carland.”
Radcliffe stiffened at that name, shock entering his eyes. Carland was a brutal bastard. He had been through three wives already. The first had died in child birth. It was said a beating had sent her into that labor and may have had something to do with her death as well. The second wife had killed herself. The third had plunged to her death down the stairs of the country estate. There was much speculation as to whether she had had some assistance from her husband in that plunge. Whatever the case, not one of his wives had lasted a year, and no one would even consider allowing their daughter to marry the bastard now. But from the boy’s description, their Uncle was more concerned with his coffers than his kin. If he was telling the truth.
“What are your names?” he asked abruptly.
There was a pause as the two exchanged glances again.
“Charles and Elizabeth Westerly.”
Radcliffe searched his memory briefly, then nodded as he found the information he sought. Nora and Robert Westerly. Happy couple. Had had twins, though he had thought they were girls. Spent most of their time on their country estate. Not fussy about town life. Died four years ago in a carriage accident. Robert’s brother Henry Westerly took over the care of the twins and the running of the estates. There had been some rumors of late that he was running through the money quickly in gambling, and from what the boy had just said, he had, and intended on making it up by selling his niece to her death.
Radcliffe wasn’t at all surprised to hear that Carland was willing to pay for a bride. The man needed an heir, else his estate would be left to some distant nephew or something. His gaze slid over the girl and he sighed. She was a delicate little thing. Other than her over-endowed chest, she was thin to the point of frailty every where else. He did not think she would last a month with Carland.
“Where are you going?” he asked abruptly, gesturing impatiently when the boy stiffened at the question, suspicion tightening his mouth. “I am not going to tell on you. I would not wish to see your lovely sister in Carland’s hands either. She would be dead in a week.”
There was no doubting his sincerity. There was loathing in the man’s eyes even as he said Carland’s name. Still, Charlie hesitated to tell the truth, that they were going to their cousin Ralphy, a relative on their mother’s side that Uncle Henry did not know existed. Lies were the only alternative. Oddly enough, the plan that came tripping out, wasn’t half bad.
Radcliffe’s eyebrows rose yet again. “Relatives there?”
“It takes money to live in London.”
Charlie grinned. “Uncle Henry went through our father’s family fortune, but our mother turned her fortune into jewels years ago. She left them to us in her will.”
“And your Uncle did not try to cash them in or-?”
“He would have if he could have found them,” the lad interrupted smugly. “But he couldn’t. Mother and father hid them years ago, in case of an emergency. Other than them, only Elizabeth and I knew where they were and we conveniently forgot to mention that they had told us.”
Radcliffe’s mouth quirked at that, then he sobered. “He will find you in London.”
“Eventually,” Charlie agreed. “But by then Beth will be married off to someone in the ton.”
“I shall be living well off of investments made once I have sold my share of the jewels,” Charlie lied idly.
“You intend on giving your sister a season by selling some of the jewels?”
The boy nodded.
Radcliffe frowned. “If you give her a season, your Uncle shall hear about it and know where to find you.”
“As I said, eventually, but he will not look in London first. He shall head back to the family estates, then check with relatives on my father’s side.”
“Why would he not look in London first?”
“Because that is where he was taking us. He would hardly think we had run off in the middle of the night to beat him there.”
Radcliffe nodded at the sense in those words. Even Beth looked impressed with the reasoning and Charlie grimaced at her slightly. She was suppose to already know of this plan. If she was not careful, Radcliffe would see it for the lie it was.
“What of Carland?”
Charlie glanced toward the man at that. “Carland does not go to London. Most of the ton refuses him admittance. My Uncle was taking us to London to purchase a trousseau for Beth, then we were to continue on to Carland’s estates.”
It was a sound plan for the most part, Radcliffe decided. What the boy lacked in brawn, he more than made up for in brains it seemed. However, there were weak points in every plan and this one was no exception. For instance, if they planned on living off of a treasure of jewels, they obviously had them with them. Probably in the bags, he decided, remembering the way they had carried them; one each, two handed, as if they were heavy. All it took was a highway robbery to turn them into paupers at their Uncle’s mercy again, and the foolish boy was unarmed. Aside from that, there were all sorts of complications that could arise in London. Theft, of course, or a jeweler could cheat them if they went to the wrong one. And that was only the start of it.
Radcliffe tried to shrug his growing concern for the pair away, but it would not budge. He would have to help them he supposed, but couldn’t for the life of him figure out why he felt the compulsion. His gaze rested on the girl briefly, but he mentally shook his head. No, it was not that he was enamored especially of the girl. Oddly enough, he suspected he was going to do it because of the boy. There was a certain stiffness to the lad that spoke of fear, pride and courage all mixed in together as he stood protectively by his sister. He was taking a lot on himself to rescue her, trying very hard to be a man, though Radcliffe doubted that the pair was more than 15 or 16.
“You had best finish saddling up. Time is passing. You will wish to be far and away from here come the morning.” With that, the man turned and left the stables.
“Do you think he will tell?” Beth asked anxiously as they listened to his fading footsteps.
Shrugging, Charlie walked back into the stall to finish saddling the mount. “It does not matter. It might be good if he does, since the plan I gave him was a lie. But mount up quickly anyway. If he wakes everyone up, I do not wish to be here.”
Nodding, Beth hurried back to her mount, then giggled nervously. “Where did you come up with those lies?”
“They were not all lies,” Charlie pointed out grimly and Beth’s smile faded.
“No. The part about Uncle Henry losing all and trying to get it back through marriage was true enough. But I am not to marry Carland. I am to marry Seguin. Why-”
“He would hardly be sympathetic to the fact that you are being married off to a fat old, goat,” Charlie pointed out dryly. “It happens every day. Carland is another kettle of fish all together.”
“Aye. Besides, it was not really much of a lie, was it? After all, Uncle Henry was selling you in marriage to Carland,” Beth murmured quietly, her gaze moving over her twin sister. She still found it a little startling to see her in men’s clothes. Especially with her breasts bound so tight they seemed nonexistent. She wondered suddenly if it hurt Charlie to have them all squashed up like that.
It had been Charlie’s idea to dress as a man. A brother and sister traveling alone would not be noticed. Twin sisters traveling alone would have. She supposed they could have traveled as two boys, but Charlie had not mentioned the suggestion, and truth to tell, Beth had not even thought of it until now. Besides, twin brothers might have been just as memorable as twin sisters. Nay, she decided. ‘Twas better this way. She as herself, and Charlie masquerading as her brother.
It was just the adventurous sort of thing Charlie liked to do. She was the braver, more wild one of the two. Beth wasn’t very adventurous at all. She was the sedate one. Well behaved, obedient, well mannered, doing what was expected. Until she found out about Seguin. But she probably would have obediently married the great cow if not for Charlie. Charlie simply couldn’t marry Cartland. As the stranger had said, she’d be dead in a month, or in gaol for killing him in self-defense. Whatever the case, Charlie had decided to run away to cousin Ralph to seek protection. And where Charlie went, Beth followed. They were twins after all. They’d never been separated in all their twenty years as far as Beth could remember.
Beth glanced up at her sister’s question and nodded as she hooked the bag with her half of their mother’s jewels onto the saddle.
“Good. Let us go.” Charlie led her horse out of his stall and Beth followed suit, trailing her out of the stable. The pair walked their horses silently around the inn. Beth was staring at the darkened windows, wondering where the stranger had gone when Charlie suddenly slowed and cursed. Glancing forward, she noted the man standing by a horse on the lane in front of the inn. “What do you think he is doing?”
Charlie was silent for a moment, then sighed. “I suppose we shall have to ask to find out.”
Radcliffe smiled to himself as the pair approached. The girl wasn’t bothering to hide her anxiety and confusion about his presence. The boy was hiding both staunchly behind a stiff exterior.
“I have decided to travel with you to London,” he announced when they stopped before him, then nearly laughed at their blank expressions. They obviously hadn’t thought to be so lucky. Deciding to give them a moment to recapture their thoughts so that they could then thank him properly, he continued, “It is a three day journey from here to London. The way is littered with highwaymen and perils of every nature. Since I am headed that way anyway, I thought to avail you of my protection.”
Charlie glanced at Beth’s nonplused expression, her own face stiff with fury. Why the Devil hadn’t she considered that the oaf might decide to join them? Why did he even want to? The jolthead was going to ruin everything. She did not for one moment think that he really wanted to help. So, what was he after, she wondered and the answer came to her almost immediately. It wasn’t that hard to figure out really. She should not have mentioned the jewels. He must realize that they carried them with them and most like intended on robbing them somewhere down the road.
Straightening her shoulders, she glared at him coldly and announced, “Your offer is kind, I am sure, but I am quite capable of protecting my sister.”
Radcliffe frowned at the boy’s reaction, then realized that he had pinched his male pride. The pride of young men was a most fragile thing and while Radcliffe normally would have done his most to protect such tender feelings, now was not the time for it. Not when the boy’s pride might very well see he and his sister dead. “You are not even carrying a weapon, lad,” he pointed out sternly. “If I had been a thief, I could have killed you both and taken your jewels in the stables.”
Charlie blinked, wondering if the man had read her thoughts as regarding his motives, then shrugged such worries aside. She had more important concerns. Such as finding some way to refuse his offer and not raise his suspicions at the same time. “Who are you?”
Radcliffe blinked. “What?”
“Your name, Sirrah?”
He stiffened at the insulting address, then arched one eyebrow rather superciliously and reached into his pocket to withdraw a small card which he presented to Charlie.
Stepping forward, she took the card and frowned as she read the name out loud. “Lord Jeremy William Richards. The Earl of Radcliffe.”
He gave an ironic little bow, then relaxed as he saw the recognition on their faces and the way the brother and sister exchanged glances again. “You know the name.”
“You knew our father,” Charlie countered.
“I never met him,” Radcliffe corrected. “But we did correspond on occasion. We were partners in several ventures.”
Charlie nodded solemnly and did not correct his polite phrasing. Partners was a bit of an ambitious word to use for the investors who threw in with Radcliffe. The man was a genius according to what her father had always told her. He had the Midas touch. Any investment he made paid back in at least triplicate. Everyone knew this and everyone wished to invest with him, but he was a choosy fellow. Very few people were invited to invest with him and if you were not invited, you did not invest. As for it being a partnership, there really was none. The investors often had no idea what they invested in and fewer still really cared so long as it paid off. Radcliffe did all the thinking in these investments, those investors he invited along, simply rode on the coat tails of his genius.
She turned the card over in her hand thoughtfully. Lord Radcliffe would hardly need the jewels they carried with them. While they were a small fortune, they were nothing compared to the wealth he enjoyed. “Why would you trouble yourself to help us?”
Radcliffe raised an eyebrow at the blunt question. “As I said before, you are not even carrying a weapon, lad. But, if I am right, you are carrying your mother’s jewels.” He grinned when the boy stiffened grimly. “As I thought. One highwayman and the two of you are paupers at your Uncle’s mercy.”
Noting the wince that truth brought to the lad, Radcliffe softened. “I am headed that way anyway. I see no harm in offering my company as a deterrent to thieves.”
Charlie hesitated a moment, then grabbed Beth’s hand and urged her a safe distance away, dragging their horses behind them.
“What are we going to do?” Beth hissed as soon as Charlie stopped and faced her.
“We go with him.”
“He is right, Beth. We could be robbed on the road. I did not think of taking a pistol.” Sighing, she shrugged. “He is protection. It is one thing to go to Ralphy with our inheritance. It is quite another to show up penniless.”
“But he is heading the wrong way,” Beth pointed out after a hesitation.
“I know.” Charlie thought for a moment, then grinned suddenly. “That might be to our advantage though. As I pointed out earlier, Uncle will hardly look to London, or even in that direction for us.” A soft laugh slipped from her lips. “We shall go that way with him, then when he stops to rest, I shall steal his pistol and we will head for Ralphy’s.”
Beth looked uncertain. “But Charlie, he is offering to help. I can not like the idea of stealing his pistol as repayment. He-”
“I shall leave one of mother’s bracelets. That should pay for the pistol three times over.” Her gaze slid back to the man in question. “He must have been on the road most of the day and this evening. He shall probably stop at the next inn, or the one after. That will still give us most of the night to travel still.”