Miss Bradshaw’s Bought Betrothal
She’d done it! Plain, invisible Evelyn had escaped…
Fed up with being a doormat to her evil stepmother, heiress Evelyn Bradshaw pays a dissolute rake to pose as her betrothed so she can secure her freedom. But then her fake fiancé leaves her with his estranged brother Finn Matlock and disappears!
Having withdrawn from the world, Finn knows the last thing he needs is the temptation of a woman, especially one like Evie. She has an irritating habit of causing chaos wherever she goes and being in places she shouldn’t…including, as he soon learns, his heart!
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I am pleased to feature and interview Harlequin Historical author Virginia Heath on the blog today. Welcome Virginia!
- Hi Virginia, welcome to Amanda Writes. Please tell readers a little about yourself.
Well, I suppose I should start by telling you I’m English and live just outside of London within a stone’s throw of the River Thames. I share the house with my long-suffering husband and 18-year-old son, my daughter is 20 and at university so she moves in and out. I also have a grumpy cat called Steve and an adorable 8-month-old Labrador called Trevor. I am a total history nerd. I did a degree in the subject and taught it to teenagers for many years, so writing it should hardly come as a shock. I love to travel, shop and drink tea. And wine.
- When did you first realize you wanted to become a writer and what inspired your first book?
I’ve always been a veracious reader, which started my great love of books. I think I’ve always wanted to write one- but was not brave enough to admit it until very recently. Perhaps it’s a mid-life crisis thing? Anyway, I quit my job as a teacher and dived right in. The inspiration for my debut novel, That Despicable Rogue, came whilst vacuuming. The title popped in my head and I thought, ‘now there’s a great title for a romance’. Once I had the title, I started to think about possible characters and the rest grew from there.
- Plotter or panster?
Total panster. I cannot plot to save my life. Half the time I have no idea what is going to happen until I write it. But it’s weird, I don’t tend to write more than one draft and it seems to work! I find my characters speak to me (not in a creepy kind of way), so that when I’m writing they direct the action- if that makes sense. I have an odd brain.
- Your latest novel is titled Miss Bradshaw’s Bought Betrothal. What influenced you to write this story and what can readers expect? Is it connected to other books? If yes, please enlighten readers about the connecting books.
Miss Bradshaw is a stand-alone story and like all my books, is what I describe as a slightly racy Regency romantic comedy. It’s my take on Cinderella, except my Cinders is tired of being a victim and my Prince Charming is not the least big charming! I love playing with old stories and finding new ways to tell them. I’ve done a variation of Taming of the Shrew/Romeo and Juliet in Her Enemy at the Altar, and created my own Mr Darcy in The Discerning Gentleman’s Guide. After Miss Bradshaw, I’m doing a series- my take on Seven Brides for Seven Brothers- The Wild Warriners. Yet despite the original influences, my stories always wander down their own, very distinct path and always end very differently. They are more of a flavor than a re-telling.
- Tell us a little about your hero and heroine in this story.
Heiress Evie Bradshaw is stuck in a life she never wanted. After spending years as the personal nursemaid to first her dying mother then her ailing father, everything has passed her by. Worse still, she has become the sole source of income to her spiteful stepmother Hyacinth and her two awful daughters, forced to watch them have fun while Evie sits forgotten with the wallflowers. If only she was not such a doormat and could find the courage to tell Hyacinth to go away, then perhaps life would improve? On a whim, Evie decides to take drastic action. She pays a man to pretend to be her fiancé so that he can whisk her away to the North to escape. Except, things don’t exactly go quite as Evie planned.
Finn Matlock is a brooding, tortured Yorkshireman who says it like it is. He is also loyal, kind and capable of great love. He has loved and lost. Finn wants to be left alone to wallow in his own personal misery, so the arrival of Evie and her aunt does not go down well. To begin with, he does his level best to get her to leave, but then fate steps in and the pair of them are forced into even closer proximity. And what does Finn do? He fights the attraction, of course…
- Do you have any favorite line/s in Miss Bradshaw’s Bought Betrothal?
This comes quite early in the book but I think it sums up Evie’s mindset and low self-esteem perfectly:
- What’s the most fascinating thing a reader has said to you regarding your books?
I’ve had some lovely compliments from readers, but I suppose the fascinating came in an email a few weeks ago regarding The Discerning Gentleman’s Guide. It said “Your book was given to me as a gift. When I saw the cover my heart sank, I do not normally read historical romances, and I was convinced I would hate it. However, two pages in and I was hooked. Your characters are so believable and the picture you paint of that time was so evocative, I finished it in a day… and loved it.” That email was from a man.
- What book is on top of your TBR pile?
Do You Want to Start a Scandal by Tessa Dare. I adore Tessa’s books and she has rapidly become one of my favourite historical authors since I discovered one of her stories two years ago. Another author friend, Laurie Benson, met her at a writing conference and got me a signed copy. As soon as I finish the book I am writing, I’m going to dive in. I can’t read book when I’m writing. I get too confused!
- What are you currently working on and what other projects can readers expect from you in the near future?
My first series, The Wild Warriners, begins coming out this April. It is about four down-on-their-luck brothers and the women who capture their hearts. The first book, A Warriner to Protect Her follows Jack Warriner. He finds a woman bound and gagged in the woods, and ends up having to hide her in his house. Jack is proud and used to being in charge. Letty is feisty and refuses to follow instructions…
The Second book, A Warriner to Rescue Her, comes out in June and is the second brother Jamie’s story. I am currently working on Dr Joe Warriner’s story for book 3, although I don’t have a release date for that one yet. Harlequin also asked me to write a Christmas book for them, so I wrote another stand-alone story which will be out in November 2017 set in Regency London during Christmas and New Year’s 1820. It is sort of a sequel to Her Enemy at the Altar, so readers will get to see Connie and Aaron five years on, but it doesn’t matter if they haven’t read that book. This one follows Connie’s brother Hal, an heiress called Lizzie and a foolhardy bet involving a sprig of mistletoe…
- Any advice for aspiring writers?
Simple. Just write. So many people, myself included, go on and on about writing a book one day. Until you actually put pen to paper and make time to write, nothing will happen. Two years ago I finally took that advice, and look at me now. Book four has just come out, books five and six are on pre-order and I’m writing book eight! Just write. It’s worth it.
Excerpt from Miss Bradshaw’s Bought Betrothal:
Finn was seething as he crested the hill, an emotion that he did not experience often but one that his brother almost always managed to rouse. Why did Fergus always do exactly as he wanted without any thought to the consequences? And how wonderful must it feel to selfishly skip through life without the burden of even a modicum of guilt for the chaos that you left in your wake? Once again Fergus had made a mess and left Finn to clear it up. What he expected him to do with his new fiancée, Finn had no clue. The small, loyal part of him wanted to make excuses for his brother, but his conscience would never allow that. It would be the kindest thing all around if he told her the truth. Yes, it would break her heart in the short term, but in the long term she would be spared the awful reality of being shackled to Fergus for all eternity. Nobody deserved that. The sooner he appraised Miss Bradshaw of the truth, the better. With her gone, life would return to normal and he would have peace and quiet again.
Horatio, his favourite horse, meandered towards the stream. They usually stopped there on their way back from the village so that the old boy could take a drink and a rest, and despite his bad mood, Finn could not quite bring himself to deprive the animal of that tiny pleasure. It was hardly Horatio’s fault that Finn’s brother was a scoundrel of the first order. Besides, the longer it took him to get back to Matlock House, the longer he could delay having to tell his brother’s future bride that the reliably unreliable Fergus had disappeared.
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. Fortunately, the lovely people at Harlequin took pity on her and decided to publish her romances, but despite having an outlet for her stories, it still takes her forever to fall asleep.