Hi Virginia and welcome to HJ! We’re so excited to chat with you about your new release, A Warriner to Seduce Her!
Hi everyone! I’m so thrilled to be back!
Please summarize the book a la Twitter style for the readers here:
What happens when a relationship-averse rake with a secret meets a sensible school mistress immune to his charms? Danger, intrigue and fireworks- of course.
Please share the opening lines of this book:
The sea of people at Almack’s swirled by in a pastel haze, thanks to Uncle Crispin’s ridiculous insistence she leave her spectacles in the carriage. The unfamiliar place, the surging crowds and her short-sightedness made every step precarious. Already she had tripped up the short step into the high-ceilinged ballroom and nearly flattened a footman in the process.
‘Keep your head straight and glide, Felicity!’ Great- Aunt Daphne advised in her usual theatrical tone. ‘A lady should walk like a wispy cloud, floating across the sky.’
Please share a few Fun facts about this book…
- Jake Warring has a secret even his three elder brothers do no know
- I set a key action scene at a Norman church 5 miles from my house
- The banter between the hero and heroine had be laughing aloud as I wrote it
- I had to research smugglers’ hideouts in England, which involved drinking in lots of old country pubs
- I avoided writing the last chapter for a week because I didn’t want to say goodbye to my Wild Warriner brothers series.
What first attracts your Hero to the Heroine and vice versa?
Jake is immediately physically attracted to the heroine Fliss but despite his best efforts, she sees right through all of his practiced seductions and calls him on it. Despite that, the pair becomes unlikely friends. For Fliss, that friendship is what draws her to the hero. He’s wholly unsuitable as boyfriend but hugely entertaining company. She happily allows him to lead her astray- the romance is a very slow burn.
Using just 5 words, how would you describe Hero and Heroine’s love affair?
Unlikely. Dangerous. Passionate. Healing. Fate.
The First Kiss…
She giggled again. ‘You do make me smile, Jake.’
That smile rendered all the maudlin regrets temporarily forgotten and he chuckled alongside her. That smile, the warmth of her body next to him, the inexplicable lightness in his chest and the perfect feel of her beneath his arm proved to be his undoing. Lord, she was lovely. Just this innocent touch fired his body and soothed his aching heart. Made him temporarily forget all the reasons why he shouldn’t be listening to his heart.
The driver’s shout accompanied the sudden jolt as the carriage began to slow.
Reluctantly he let go of her, internally cursing the swiftness of the journey while simultaneously thankful he had resisted. Because if he hadn’t then he knew that a mere kiss would be more than a mere kiss. It would be the start of something he didn’t have the strength to stop. A path he was too terrified to go down, yet so very tempted to that denying himself hurt. Deep in his chest. Dangerously in the vicinity of his black heart. Fliss reached for her small reticule and clutched it in both hands as she turned to him. Her smile this time was wistful.
‘Thank you for today. For everything. Thank heavens you happened to be in Hyde Park this morning. You do have an uncanny knack of being in exactly the right place at exactly the right time. At times, you almost seem dependable.’
‘Perhaps fate is trying to tell us something?’ Something certainly seemed to want to tell him something. Jake was feeling decidedly off-kilter and didn’t give a damn.
‘I don’t believe in fate. Coincidence, perhaps. But even so, today has been the best fun I have had since arriving in London.’
‘It’s been the most fun I’ve had in months. Years, probably.’ As soon as he said them, he realised the words were true. Somewhere along the line he had become jaded and his profession as a seducer had become dull. Each seduction a memorised routine offering little challenge and culminating in less and less satisfaction. But then Jake usually only offered his body and kept his heart guarded. It had never beat with such purpose before, or stuttered in his chest because of a pair of wonky spectacles or a smile as bright and as therapeutic as warm summer sunshine. ‘Don’t go back to Cumbria yet.’ An odd knot formed in his throat. Jake would be bereft if she left now. Perhaps even heartbroken.
Her green eyes gazed deeply into his to see if the words were sincere and he saw the exact moment that she did. ‘Oh, Jake…’ Perhaps because it was now as necessary as breathing, his head dipped of its own accord this time. Jake had no control over it. He didn’t recall a Lord Fennimore, or a Crispin Rowley or his well-used seducer’s arsenal or his parents’ toxic love. Instead, nature and the overwhelming rightness of Fliss guided his actions. His nose gently brushed hers. He nuzzled her cheek. Then he surrendered to the uncontrollable need to taste her.
By his usual standards it was a clumsy kiss. A little too eager. A little too fast and too loaded with meaning, but all the sweeter for it. The kiss was innocently soft, for both his own sanity and because he was too busy glorying in the perfection of the moment to push for more. Gentle and tender somehow seemed right as this was not a seduction, it was an exploration. An overture from his foolish, wary heart to hers. To see if it might miraculously want more, too, despite both their better judgements, but the moment her lips responded he was ablaze. The simple, chaste kiss became more significant than any other before. Obliterated all previous kisses and conquests completely from his memory until there were no other kisses. Had never been any other conquests. It wasn’t the master seducer who was kissing Fliss. It was just Jake.
Heart and soul.
She tasted of ripe summer peaches, but was as intoxicating and as addictive as absinthe. Fliss melted against him, sighing into his mouth and splaying her hands on his chest to steady them as the dusty carriage shuddered to a stop. It shouldn’t have been perfect, but it was. It shouldn’t have felt right, but it did. His aching heart swelled with the knowledge that this—right here and right now—was suddenly everything.
Without revealing too much, what is your favorite scene in the book?
He gazed up at her with the hooded eyes women always found appealing, knowing the deep blue soulful depths were his best feature. ‘Although now I am very pleased I was. Else I never would have met such a rare bird of paradise in this tiresome cage full of sparrows.’
If he said so himself, Jake was rather pleased with the symbolism even if the words themselves were a tad triter than he would have liked. But a seduction was a seduction and there was no point in beating around the bush. The rakish smile he bestowed upon her was second nature. It suggested he had a poetic heart beneath the cynical irony she found so amusing. He had certainly amused her enough that she had happily confided in him. A total stranger. In his vast wealth of experience, the sensible ladies adored both a man who made them smile and one with romantic sensibilities who listened to them. A deadly combination which had served him well since the day he had turned sixteen. Being used to forthright and charmless northern men, she would doubtless find his easy, open manner disarming.
Her eyes locked with his.
And before he could kiss her hand, she snatched it away.
‘Are you flirting with me, Mr Warriner?’
‘I would certainly like to, Miss Blunt.’ His voice was low and silky, the practised tone in a timbre he knew to be his most seductive. ‘Do you mind?’
‘I most certainly do.’ Both gloved hands came to rest imperiously on her hips, giving her more of the appearance of a school mistress than an intriguing temptress. ‘I have remained lost these past thirty minutes to avoid such nonsense.’
‘Ah—in the main here at Almack’s it is reliably all nonsense, but that is because the gentlemen over at the auction block are all shamelessly on the market for a wife. It is contrived and insincere. Here in the alcove—like you—I was content to hide and had no plans to flirt with anyone until fate introduced us.’ Had he not been here at Lord Fennimore’s bequest and had she not been Miss Blunt, the woman he had been sent here to seduce, he still would have wanted to flirt with her without the interference of fate. There was something about her which called to him. ‘Do you believe in fate, Miss Blunt?’
‘Good lord! Did you really just say that?’ Her brows furrowed. ‘Do I look as green as grass, Mr Warriner?’ She was positively glaring down her nose at him in bemused outrage. And if he was not mistaken it was tinged with real outrage rather than the feigned outrage he usually encountered when he turned on the charm. Her green eyes hardened; her honey brow furrowed slightly. Tiny, physical nuances that could not be faked. There was no hint of interest on her face—only disbelief. Making him feel like a fool for flirting. That made him uncomfortable because it was so…so…unheard of. He always flirted as a matter of course and had never once felt foolish in doing so. But Miss Blunt-by-Name-and-Nature seemed to see right through him to the hard kernel of insincerity buried deep in his chest which he had never noticed before. Now that he had—well, frankly, he felt queasy. At a loss for charming words for once, Jake simply stared at her and she began to giggle at his shocked expression.
‘Do such hackneyed and slapdash endearments garner you much success with the ladies, Mr Warriner?’
‘Whilst the prose might have been slapdash, the sentiment was not.’ He could save this. He was a master in the art of seduction. A maestro. ‘But usually I am not so overawed by the beauty of my companion that my tongue becomes twisted.’ Once again the rote phrases sounded hollow and unoriginal, making Jake want to wince at his own crassness. What the devil was wrong with him? ‘In the few short minutes I have spent in your company, Miss Blunt, you have made a great impression on me and—…’
‘Oh, goodness.’ She snorted and covered the offending sound with her hand. ‘I must give you credit for perseverance, but really…’ She eyed him as if expecting him to finish her sentence. He schooled his features into a look of the utmost sincerity although his toes had begun to curl uncomfortably in his boots.
‘I’m not sure I follow, Miss Blunt.’
‘Oh, Mr Warriner! You are funny. Are London ladies so daft that they do not know a philanderer when they see one? Why, I saw it the moment I first encountered you, you have the look of one. And the manner.’
‘The manner?’ Jake usually enjoyed the sparring. It was part of the game and a part he loved. However, sparring with the blunt Miss Blunt was making him uncomfortable. Especially as she had his full measure and he didn’t particularly like the label of philanderer. He was a rake. A proud one. Rakes were dashing and roguish. Philanderer sounded sordid. Cynical. Oily. Good grief! Was he oily? The urge to find a mirror and check he had not turned into a simpering toad made him self-conscious. ‘And now I suppose you are an expert on philanderers?’ Why didn’t he correct her and say rake?
‘Indeed I am. So much so I could probably write a book on the subject. The self-assurance and smug satisfaction in your own allure was as plain as the nose on my face—although while you weren’t practising your philandering on me I was prepared to overlook it.’
Blast—she could see right through him. He was confident in his allure. So confident he had made a career out of it. Obviously he had become too complacent. A new, and worrying, development Jake was ill -prepared for. He must have slipped up somewhere. He had probably bared his hand too soon to this canny northern lass because he was too used to the relative ease of the pampered society ladies. He was tired. Desperately needed leave—and, if he was honest, he had rushed things, because he was attracted to her. Very attracted to her. ‘Forgive me. In my haste, perhaps I have overstepped the bounds.’
‘There is no perhaps about it.’
‘As I said, forgive me. When I see something I want, I am inclined to listen to my heart rather than my head.’ He knew instantly he had laid the charm on too thick again, he didn’t need to witness her exasperated eye-roll or to hear her amused snort to confirm it. What on earth was the matter with him? Jake wasn’t usually this ham-fisted. He couldn’t remember the last time he had run roughshod over a seduction and she had called it correctly. Tonight he was no better than a hackneyed philanderer. Maybe there was still time to fix it? And maybe the damage was done and was probably irreparable. He stopped himself trotting out more banalities because of the inevitable humiliation which would follow. Rowley’s gorgeous niece was not the normal run-of-the-mill society miss. Judging from her incredulous scowl, he was in for another skewering for the heart and head claptrap. Miss Blunt didn’t disappoint. Those playful, inviting eyes froze again.
‘You are in danger of ruining a perfectly pleasant conversation with your contrived, insincere—and while I am being completely frank—tired, overt and practiced attempts at seduction.’
That stung. Jake was the master of subtle. ‘Hardly practised, Miss Blunt.’
‘Oh, dear. I can see I have hurt your feelings and that was not my intention. I simply wanted you to be aware that I am more than accustomed with men of your ilk. You’re not the first scoundrel to try your luck and I dare say you won’t be the last. All the clues were there right from the outset. The oh-so-casual lingering hold of my hand. The heated look. The purposefully intimate and sultry whispering. And do not get me started on the crass and unspontaneous way in which you tossed my own words back at me to try to convince me of your sincerity. Kindred spirits and birds of paradise indeed. What rot. I’m sure a handsome man like yourself is used to gullible women falling for your lies, but…’
‘I don’t lie.’ Although Jake was internally wincing at the falsehood. He lied so much nowadays he had to keep a notebook of what he said and to whom to avoid tripping up. He even lied to his own family and had done for years. Nobody had called him on it before, that was all. Because usually he was damn good at it. He forced himself to smile. Forced himself to appear amused. ‘When you walked into that palm I was charmed. I’m still charmed, despite your inaccurate and mean assassination of my character. But I can see I have inadvertently insulted you with my honest enthusiasm, which I never meant to do because the truth is…’ The gloved hand appeared palm up near his face and the lush lips were grinning behind it.
‘Let me save you from further embarrassment, Mr Warriner—I wasn’t born yesterday. Save your insincere seductions for the silly girls in the ballroom. As undeniably attractive as you are, I have less interest in being seduced by a man of your ilk you than I do for this cattle market. I am only sorry that all these young ladies are not as pragmatic about men as I am.’ Her fingers went to the fan hanging from a ribbon on her wrist, and for a moment Jake experienced the forlorn hope she might snap it open and use it to flirt over the top of in the customary manner he understood so well. However, she wielded it like a broadsword aimed directly at his ribcage.
‘And for future reference should we collide again in the foreseeable future, if you are going to throw about bird analogies, I’m am neither a feeble sparrow nor an exotic bird of paradise, Mr Warriner. If I am any bird, I am an owl. Wise. Older than the rest of these foolish girls and blessed with the ability to see danger coming from all angles. And you, sir, are a hawk, circling the sky for unsuspecting prey.’
If your book was optioned for a movie, what scene would be absolutely crucial to include?
It would have to be this scene from the prologue when Jake was just a child…
‘That’s where I met your father. Without waiting for the proper introductions, he pencilled his name on my dance card. He was a wonderful dancer and so handsome.’ Two of the few positive things anyone could say about him.
Her eyes fluttered open and she noticed Jake for the first time in an hour. Her hand came up and cupped his cheek. A rare and precious moment of parental affection in a home devoid of any. ‘You’re the most like him, you know. You have his smile and his way with words.’ As his father’s words were always slurred or nonsensical from inebriation that comparison didn’t particularly please him, but Jake didn’t move or speak because at least she saw him. ‘He was a charmer, too, just like you are… I dare say you’ll grow up to be identical as well. His bad blood runs the strongest through you.’ Her hand slipped back to her side and her expression soured. Because he reminded her so much of his father she looked away in disgust. That cold, dead stare out to nothingness reserved wholly for him for disappointing her so. How he hated that look.
‘Go fetch him, Jake.’
‘Not now Mama. It’s still early.’ Two in the afternoon was practically dawn by his father’s standards. ‘Let him sleep it off a bit longer. Tell me more about your picnics in Putney.’
‘No, Jacob! Fetch him now.’
He never understood how it was possible for her to simultaneously loathe and love his horrid father at the same time. How could those opposing emotions exist together? He loved his brothers, sometimes they irritated him, but Jake never hated them. Joe reckoned this was because the love between men and women was entirely different from brotherly love. If that was true, then he wanted no part in that destructive other kind of love. Jake hated arguments. And bad moods. He preferred fun and laughter to tears and tantrums.
‘Let’s walk in the orchard instead.’ Away from the dangerous, angry water which she seemed intent on staring at.
‘I don’t want to. I want my husband. Bring him to me! Tell him I will throw myself in the river if he doesn’t come!’
And there it was, the usual threat. Mama was always threatening to end her life in whichever violent way was closest to hand to get her own way. Yesterday, she had threatened to stab her heart with her embroidery scissors, last week she was going to fling herself under a carriage. She never once tried, but his father still came running, after Jake had borne the brunt of his drunken temper at being awoken when his head still pounded. He would haul his dissolute carcass from his pit, dash to his woman and the pair of them would go at it again like vicious cats with their claws bared until they disappeared into her bedchamber.
With the threat of the customary angry punch from his hateful father and the petulant, dramatic whining he would hear from his mother if he refused, Jake nodded. Resisting was futile. This was the way of things. His parents hated each other and were addicted to each other at the same time. The emotions so powerful they blotted out and excluded everyone and everything from the personal hell they preferred to share together.
With heavy feet he trudged back towards the house and tried to fill his head with happy thoughts instead. Purposefully light and cheerful things which he would one day enjoy, but which did not exist in his miserable childhood. Parties, balls, dancing ladies in beautiful gowns, rowing boats and sunny picnics…
Instead of fetching his father he sat down to daydream, waiting long enough to ensure she believed his lie that dear Papa couldn’t be woken. Another habit which earned him censure from both his parents. Sometimes that worked, and she would march back to the house in a temper to give him what for. Other times, she scowled at Jake and called him useless like his father, then ordered him straight back, but at least he had delayed the inevitable.
It was always inevitable.
With a sigh he stood and headed back to where he’d left her. As soon as he emerged from around the trees she turned and smiled, then promptly launched herself off the bank into the swirling water.
Readers should read this book …
Because it’s funny. Filled with suspense. Has great leads, awful bad guys and some memorable side characters, two of whom are always drunk. Because it’s about family, duty, the weight of the past and the promise of the future. And most importantly, because it has a beautifully happy ending.
What are you currently working on? What other releases do you have planned?
I became so attached to my Wild Warriners, saying good-bye was impossible. So I didn’t! My new four-book King’s Elite series starts where A Warriner to Seduce Her leaves off. The first book, The Mysterious Lord Millcroft, comes out at the end of August and the second (tentatively titled The Vexing Lord Flint) should come out in early 2019. I’m currently writing the third King’s Elite book, which I hope will be called The Disgraceful Lord Gray. All of my King’s Elite Lords are spies, working for the Home Office and alongside the Excise Men catching ruthless smugglers. It’s been fun to plunge into the murky world of Regency crime and master criminals. Once I’ve written the final book, I have this idea involving more siblings- sisters this time…
Thanks for blogging at HJ!
Giveaway: 3 signed paperback copies of A Warriner to Seduce Her
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Excerpt from A Warriner to Seduce Her:
Somewhere in the distance a clock chimed the hour, reminding Fliss it was now three in the morning, but she was still nowhere near ready to sleep. How could she when her mind was still whirring with images of the evening? The provincial plays she had seen paled into insignificance when compared to the splendour of the opera. Everything about it had been breath-taking, from the sumptuous and vivid costumes to the aching purity of the soprano’s beautiful voice. And watching the audience had been equally as thrilling. The Prime Minster had been there and so had the famous Duke of Wellington. Aunt Cressida had pointed out both men in their private boxes just a few feet away from Uncle Crispin’s, although even if she hadn’t, Fliss’s eyes would have soon been drawn to the spots were everyone else was staring.
All around them had been a sea of people dressed in their finery, and, thanks to the opera glasses she had been given upon entering the box, Fliss was able to see every tiny detail despite her lack of spectacles. Spectacles she had been politely banned from wearing in public by her stand-offish uncle and which her new maid, Kitty, had already mislaid twice the moment Fliss dared to put them down.
During the interval, she had drunk champagne for the first time. It had been brought to their box perfectly chilled and served in crystal glasses; the delicious bubbles tickled her nose and the alcohol went straight to her head, making everything sharper and brighter than before. She allowed herself a second glass. Her great-great- aunts smartly finished the second bottle while Uncle Crispin discussed business with an older gentleman who had joined them. The Earl of Redditch was a portly man who creaked when he moved, thanks to the corset he was squashed into beneath his evening coat. A coat which bore the stain of recently spilled food on one lapel. He had a profusion of wiry grey hair which grew at right angles out of his head and sprouted out of his ears. He also smelled a little musty and had a habit of spitting slighting each time he talked. Fliss was painfully aware of both things because he had been placed next to her during the first half, but as soon as the orchestra began to warm up, signalling the interval was over, she cleverly sandwiched herself between her aunts to watch the second act.
Just before the lights dimmed, she experienced the oddest sense someone was watching her and instinctively dropped her eyes to the stalls below where they locked with the intense blue gaze of Mr Jacob Warriner. There was a wry smile on his outrageously handsome face that did peculiar things to her insides. They heated. As did her flesh, while her tummy fizzed with unwanted bubbles of excitement which were surprisingly reminiscent of those in the heady champagne. Then the lights had faded, casting him in silhouette, and the odd, yet special moment was gone.
As much as she adored the second half of the opera, she was constantly aware of him. Every time she glanced down, he was gazing back at her in the darkness. Flirting with his eyes in a more tempting way than he had with his practised words two nights before. She made a half-hearted attempt at ignoring him when the performance ended, but that stare drew her like a moth to a flame. A secret smile played at the corners of his mouth when their gazes briefly met, and, before she could turn away, he pressed a kiss on the tips of his fingers and then blew it towards her.
Excerpts. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
A sensible schoolmistress… Awakened by the notorious rake!
In this The Wild Warriners story, schoolmistress Felicity Blunt feels old beyond her years—and desperately dull. Meeting confirmed rake Jacob Warriner brings her gloriously to life, yet no matter his allure, she must remain immune to his obvious charms and unashamed flirtation. But is Jacob merely a mischievous scoundrel, or is there much more to this Warriner than meets the eye?
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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. But it still takes her ages to fall asleep.
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