Please welcome special guest Grace Burrowes to the virtual offices this morning! Grace has a guest post to share, and then you can enter for a chance to win The Traitor!
The Impossible Heroine by Grace Burrowes
The baroness used silver tongs to put a flaky golden croissant on a plate. “So you are a lady fallen on hard times?”
Milly was a lady who’d blundered, for the baroness shared with her nephew surgical skill with seemingly innocent question.
“My mother was a lady fallen on hard times. I am a poor relation who would make her own way rather than burden my cousins any further.”
“Kicked you out, did they?” Her ladyship’s tone suggested she did not approve of such cousins. “Or perhaps they realized that underneath all that red hair, you’re quite pretty, though brown eyes are not quite the rage. One hopes you aren’t delicate?”
She passed Milly the pastry and shifted the butter a few inches closer to Milly’s side of the table.
“I enjoy excellent health, thank you, your ladyship.” Excellent physical health, anyway. “I prefer to call my hair auburn.”
The baroness snorted at that gambit, then poured herself more tea. “Will these cousins come around to plague you?”
They would have to bother to find Milly first. “I doubt it.”
“You wouldn’t be married to one of them, would you?”
I set myself two significant challenges when I sat down to write The Traitor, though I’d only bargained for one. I knew that my hero, Sebastian St. Clair, had appeared in the predecessor story, The Captive, as a (mostly) bad guy. Redeeming Sebastian was great fun, for me, and for our heroine, Milly Danforth.
What I came to realize is that an unusual hero needs an unusual heroine. Milly Danforth wasn’t wealthy, titled, or remarkably pretty. She wasn’t brilliant, had no virtuosic artistic talent, and came from humble antecedents. Milly wasn’t even very well educated.
What was she doing in my book?
Sebastian liked her, that’s what. Milly had common sense to go with her common origins, and she’d learned far more in the school of hard knocks than many higher-born ladies learned in finishing school. Sebastian could understand and respect her, and even, though it took a lot of courage on both of their parts, trust her.
Then too, Milly shared with Sebastian a certain orphaned status. He was rejected by both his French mother’s and his English father’s societies, while Milly was literally orphaned, and treated poorly by the relations charged with taking care of her.
Both Sebastian and Milly were reduced to relying on their wits to navigate an untrustworthy world, and both, by the time the book opens are darned sick of having to be so self-sufficient.
Milly was also a joy to write, simply for herself. I could be less concerned with the ballrooms, conventions and fashions that typically characterize tales of the Beau Monde, and focus more closely with the love story—which, after all, the point of a romance.
I liked Milly, too. For her pragmatism, for her tenacity, for her courage.
The more I wrote, the more I could see that Milly was, in other words, perfect for a man tired of war and rejection, tired of being judged, and more than ready to be accepted, not as a villain or a hero, but simply as a man.
Milly was the right lady for that job, and all the more a heroine for winning Sebastian’s love without a lot of wealth, power, or external trappings of attractiveness.
Title: The Traitor
Author: Grace Burrowes
Release Date: August 5, 2014
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Genre: Historical Romance
As a young boy, British-born Sebastian St. Clair was abandoned in France and forced to join the French army to survive. Now that the war is over, he has returned to his beloved England and is determined to live a quiet life as a country gentleman. He’s struggling to make that wish come true when he falls for his elderly aunt’s practical and unpretentious companion, Miss Millicent Danforth. But an old enemy threatens this new love, and plots to destroy everything Sebastian holds dear. Sebastian will have to use all of his wits if he’s to hang on to his life, his honor…and Milly’s love.
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New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Grace Burrowes’ bestsellers include The Heir, The Soldier, Lady Maggie’s Secret Scandal, Lady Sophie’s Christmas Wish and Lady Eve’s Indiscretion. Her Regency romances have received extensive praise, including starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Booklist. Grace is branching out into short stories and Scotland-set Victorian romance with Sourcebooks. She is a practicing family law attorney and lives in rural Maryland.
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