Sabrina Jeffries, the author of 36 romances and two anthology appearances, will be appearing at the Tucson Festival of Books in March. She is also a frequent contributor to The Goddess Blogs website. Escape Between the Pages described Ms. Jeffries’ book list as,
[Her] work should be considered a staple among historical romance novels and should be on every avid reader’s bookshelf.
This week, Ms. Jeffries is enjoying her latest release, How to Woo a Reluctant Lady by Pocket, as number six on the New York Times Best Seller List. Her previous book, A Hellion in Her Bed, the second in the Hellions of Halstead Hall series, was listed on the Amazon Top 10 Romance books of 2010. That book spent two weeks on the NYT Best Seller List.
This kind of recognition is not new for Ms. Jeffries. Her list of awards is astounding. Besides multiple appearances on both the NYT and USA Today best seller lists, she has received the Holt Medallion Award, the Maggie, the Bookseller’s Best Award and is a member of the Romance Writers of America Honor Roll.
How to Woo a Reluctant Lady has received excellent reviews. Bookaholics Reviewer said,
Delightfully charming and filled with intrigue and mystery, this is a guaranteed winner. Do not miss this book. I simply loved it.
How To Woo A Reluctant Lady
Lady Minerva Sharpe has the perfect plan to thwart her grandmother’s demands: become engaged to a rogue! Surely Gran would rather release her inheritance than see her wed a scoundrel. And who better to play the part of Minerva’s would-be husband than wild barrister Giles Masters, the very inspiration for the handsome spy in the popular Gothic novels she writes? The memory of his passionate kiss on her nineteenth birthday has lingered in Minerva’s imagination, though she has no intention of really falling for such a rakehell, much less marrying him. Little does she know, he really is a covert government operative. When they team up to investigate the mystery behind her parents’ deaths, their fake betrothal leads to red-hot desire. Then Minerva discovers Giles’s secret double life, and he must use all the cunning tricks of his trade to find his way back into her heart.
Sabrina took a break from her deadlines and answered a few questions.
Q. In your School for Heiresses Series, you introduced a character – Lord Stoneville – that became the anchor in your Hellions of Hallstead Hall Series. Was this your plan all along or did he just emerge as a personality you wanted to learn more about?
It was definitely not my plan all along. He was supposed to be a red herring in the School for Heiresses series. But after he leaped onto the page full-blown (from out of who knows where) and captured the attention of a lot of my readers, many of whom expected him to be Cousin Michael, I felt I had to write a book for him, both for me and for them. So why not make it a series?
Q. Your novels carry a very sensual cadence throughout, one that fits with the story and still leaves the reader satisfied. Which romance authors inspired you the most? Did their level of ‘heat’ inspire you or was that a creation of your own?
I was most influenced by Judith McNaught, Johanna Lindsey, Amanda Quick, Rexanne Becnel, Mary Jo Putney, and Meagan McKinney. Judith McNaught writes the alpha heroes I love and her sexual tension is intense. Meagan, Rexanne, and Mary Jo were the first people to show me how important it was to have sympathetic characters, ones you could love with all their flaws. They also do sexual tension well. And Amanda Quick and Johanna Lindsey had the banter I enjoyed, but with great sexual tension, too.
So when I first started writing romance, I tried to write strong sexual tensions. That’s the part that I read romance for—not the sex, mind you, although the sex is part of it, but the sexual tension.
Q. You have a unique ability to bring non-romance inspired research into your novels that enrich the story. Often you note the research at the end of your books. Do you begin with the historical perspective and build characters from there or do you begin with the characters and create their personalities by more fervent research?
Sometimes I start with the research, and sometimes I start with the characters. For example, the Hellions of Halstead Hall series was inspired by an actual historical family from the Georgian period: the Earl of Barrymore and his siblings. The Earl of Barrymore’s parents died when he was very young (he was 4 years old at his father’s death, 11 at his mother’s), leaving him and three siblings to grow up spoiled by their grandmother. All four were quite wild. I stole a few details from the facts about this interesting family, made my guy Oliver the oldest sibling, and, voila, another noble family emerged—the Sharpes. So you could say that I started with the research, but I also made sure that the characters I created out of that research were my own.
But in the case of Jarret’s book, I started out knowing that he was a gambler and what he was like and that he wanted to be in the brewery business. Then I did research to find how that could work with his heroine. In that case, the character came first and then the research.
Q. You so easily carry previous heroes/heroines into your current novel, especially in the Heiresses and Halstead Hall series. Is it an effort to do so or are these characters just so naturally a part of each other’s lives that it would seem unnatural to leave them out?
I’d say it’s more the latter. I do NOT try to cram the characters just for the sake of putting them there. If I’m in a scene where I need a ball (as in Stoneville’s book), I just decide which old character should have it, and there you go. If I need a confidante, I decide which one works best and put him or her in. It’s more a matter of not wanting to create new characters every time I need someone. With its being one big happy world, every time I add a new character, it gets more crowded. Much simpler (and more fun) to revisit an old character. It doesn’t always work, though. New secondary characters in the three Hellion books include Freddy, Mr. Croft, all of Annabel’s family… They’re coming in all the time!
Q. You’re on some interesting panels at the Festival this year. One that I can’t wait to sit in on: Not Your Mother’s Romance: The Evolution of the Romance Novel your doing with Mary Jo Putney and your Goddess Blogs mates, Julia London and Karen Hawkins . Tell us what you plan to bring to the discussion.
Well, we haven’t started talking yet about who’s doing what, but I know we’ll want to address the issue of how the heroes have changed through the years—become more mature and less offensive. We’ll probably talk about the changes in the treatment of sex, too. The older books had more “forced seductions.” Those aren’t popular now, thank God, but there was a reason they were popular in the beginning, and we’ll probably talk about that. And of course, more heroines have careers or ambitions in more recent romances. It should be an interesting discussion, since although we all write English historicals, we have very different styles.
Sabrina Jeffries will appear on two panels at the Tucson Festival of Books: Not Your Mother’s Romance: The Evolution of the Romance Novel on Saturday, March 12 in Koffler Room 218 at 2:30 and Toning Up a Sagging Middle with Susan Wiggs on Sunday, March 13 in Koffler Room 218 at 1:00.