Blog Tour: Lady in Waiting by Marie Tremayne (Review, Excerpt, Teaser, Author Q&A)

 

She wants to escape her present . . .
When Clara Mayfield helps her sister elope, she’s prepared for the scandal to seal her fate as a spinster. What she doesn’t expect is to find herself engaged to the vile Baron Rutherford as a means of salvaging her family’s reputation. Determined not to be chained to a man she loathes, Clara slips out of Essex and sheds her identity: she becomes Helen, maid at the Earl of Ashworth’s country estate. After all, below stairs is the last place anyone would think to look for an heiress . . .
He wants to forget his past . . .
William, Lord Ashworth, is attempting to rebuild his life after the devastating accident that claimed the lives of his entire family, save his beloved sister and niece. Haunted by memories of what was and determined to live up to the title he never expected to inherit, William doesn’t have time for love. What he needs is a noble and accomplished wife, one who can further the Ashworth line and keep the family name untarnished . . .
Together, can they find the perfect future?
From their first encounter, the attraction between them is undeniable. But Clara knows William is falling for Helen, a woman who doesn’t even exist. The question is, if she reveals the truth about her identity, can she trust the broken William to forgive her lie and stand by her side when scandal—and the baron—inevitably follow her to his door?

About the Book

Lady In Waiting
by Marie Tremayne
Series
The Reluctant Brides
Genre
Adult
Historical Romance
Publisher
Avon Impulse
Publication Date
March 13, 2018

 

My Review

There are some really great aspects to this book, but in a way I can tell it’s the author’s debut novel. There are just enough rough spots and abrupt shifts in mood and attitudes that I went and checked her author page to see if it was, and went “Ahh, that makes sense.” It’s not BAD in any sense, there are just some rough gear changes (as I think of it) that all together make this a 4 star read instead of a 5 star one. Things like the chapters that follow the earl switching between referring to him as William and Ashworth, and the viscount as Evanston and (Thomas?), where consistency would have been preferable. We see that with Clara/Helen – she’s referred to by the author as Clara in the sections that follow her, and called Helen in those that follow him. Small inconsistencies like that aren’t huge put-offs in a book, but they do wear away at me and cumulatively added up to make my rating 4 stars instead of 5.
 
I’ve no doubt that Marie Tremayne will be churning out books I rate 5 stars and rave about in very short order, and I’m very much looking forward to the next book in this series! I think of it kind of like taking a ride with someone learning to drive a stick shift – there are some rough spots while they shift gears, but that doesn’t mean the ride isn’t amazing with a wonderful destination. And this book is definitely an amazing ride.
Through this whole book, I kept picturing Ashworth as Matthew Crawley from Downton Abbey. I don’t normally fancast in my head, or really form a solid picture of the characters too much, but boy, reading Ashworth’s lines I could even hear his voice. I appreciate that he wants to do the right thing by his remaining family. And oh my gosh, Rosa! What a little ball of total cuteness. I also really admire Clara’s strength, both in supporting her sister and then in doing what she needed to in order to survive. I love stories about mistaken identities because of that added layer of intrigue and *drama!* they create, and Lady in Waiting sure delivers on that front.
 
This is the first book in the series, but like many romance “series” can be read as a stand alone in that Clara and Ashworth’s story has its HEA in this book. There are lots of signs that a future book will be about Ashworth’s sister Eliza and his friend Evanston, and I so look forward to reading that story. (Soon, please, Ms. Tremayne!!)

Author Q&A

What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?

I haven’t gone on a true pilgrimage yet, but I’ve stayed at the Empress Hotel in Victoria and enjoyed their lovely afternoon tea. One day I’ll be heading straight to England to soak up the history and landscapes that inspire my books!  

What is the first book that made you cry?
While I can’t remember the first book that made me tear up, I certainly recall ugly-crying as an adult at the end of Stephen King’s Cell. And I’ll never forget the look on my husband’s face when he saw which book had caused such a reaction.

What is the most unethical practice in the publishing industry?
I’ve heard about authors who are preyed upon by shady people who pass themselves off as agents. I’ve also known victims of smaller publishers who go under, taking the author’s content and royalty checks with them.

Does writing energize or exhaust you?
It depends! Writing new content is usually very exciting for me, and with the major plot points mapped out already, it’s fun to see spontaneous little things pop out onto the page. Editing existing work is draining, though. I would much rather write a shiny new scene than try to fix one.

What are common traps for aspiring writers?
I believe *the* most common trap you can fall into is not submitting your work to critique. Your book should be read by many people, and it will need lots of input and edits. Being critiqued can be tough, especially at first, but it gets easier and is such an important part of figuring out what works, and what needs work!
 
Does a big ego help or hurt writers?
A big ego is definitely harmful, and usually equates to a lack of willingness to grow or receive input. I think a healthy sense of confidence can actually help, but that’s not the same thing.

What is your writing Kryptonite?
Loss of routine will mess me up every time. I rely on the predictable patterns throughout the day where I can carve out time to get into my creative space.

Have you ever gotten reader’s block?
For sure. Although more often it’s a self-imposed ban, especially when I’m working on a new book.

Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
Why yes. In fact, I’m doing it right now!

Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
With any luck, I hope to do both.

Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?
Yes, but we often write better about the things with which we are familiar, and emotions are no exception. Recognizing and playing to our own individual strengths is an important part of writing well.

What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
I’m lucky to have many author friends through my local writing chapters, but I am very close to Samantha Saxon and L.E. Wilson. They’ve helped me in so many ways, from cheering me on, to helping me learn about the business, to having plotting parties where we brainstorm on each other’s next books.

Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
My goal is to weave overarching connections throughout, while still allowing each book to stand on its own.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
I would tell her that doing something, even if it’s not perfect, is better than doing nothing at all. When I started writing seriously and had moments of doubt, I had this written down as a reminder!

How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
Before being published, I approached my writing as more of a hobby and wrote when the mood struck me. Now, I’ve established a routine that I need to adhere to in order to meet my deadlines.

What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
Membership in my local writing chapters and attending writers’ conferences. It’s the best way to meet so many amazing people with so much useful information to share.

What authors did you dislike at first but grew into?
I used to have mixed feelings about Thomas Hardy. I admired his skill and was blown away by his portrayal of Victorian realism, but working through his books almost felt like a punishment. How some of his characters suffered! I’m able to appreciate his writing now more as the social criticism it was intended as, even if I still read Tess of the d’Urbervilles through my fingers.

What did you do with your first advance?
Haven’t gotten an advance yet, although I do have plans for my royalty checks. A trip to see England in person is at the top of my list!
 
What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
Honestly, I think going head-to-head with my twin brother as a kid provided some valuable insight into the power of words. He is articulate and intelligent and could debate me into a corner!

What are the most important magazines for writers to subscribe to?
I’ve found a lot of value in Writer’s Digest, which has so many resources for both new and established authors. And as a member of the Romance Writers of America, I love receiving The Romance Writers Report, which has a lot of industry information and tips.

What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
Charlotte Brontë’s final book, Villette, is a beautifully written story that is often overlooked in favor of her more known classic, Jane Eyre.
How do you balance making demands on the reader with taking care of the reader?
In romance, it is a constant negotiation of opposing forces. Give and take, good and bad, truth and lies…these are all necessary contrasts that make certain demands of the reader. Conflict is necessary and can be pushed to varying degrees, but in romance especially, there are expectations that should be met.

As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
A squirrel! They are sweet-natured and mischievous and I just love them (even the one that ran off with my lunch that one time). I find they show up in my books sometimes, too.

What do you owe the real people upon whom you base your characters?
I give them my heartfelt gratitude for inspiring me, either wholly or in part, to create a character I think readers will love.

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
As of right now, books one and two of The Reluctant Brides trilogy have been written, and I’m busy plotting out the third book. I started writing seriously in 2014 and my first book went on to be published, so I don’t have any manuscripts hiding under the bed…yet!

 

 
 

Excerpt

“My lord, are you well?”
Ashworth’s hand slowly dropped from the doorknob and he stared openly at her, his expression unreadable. Clara guessed it could have been weeks or months since he’d had a loved one or a friend ask him that question.
He cocked his head to the side, eyeing her curiously. “Do I appear to be unwell?”
Clara bit her lip. Of course, he appeared very well indeed. She couldn’t stop her eyes from scanning over him and felt herself flush hotly in response.
“Yes…no…that is, you look distressed. As if something is wrong.”
Ashworth stepped forward. “I am in charge of an earldom. There could be many things wrong.” He paused. “And this concerns you because…?”
“Well, I am aware it shouldn’t concern me,” she answered nervously. “But—I find it does.”
He mulled this over in silence as his restless gaze roamed over her, starting at her cap, alightin
g on her face, moving down the dark rose-colored fabric of her morning dress, skimming over her apron, and landing on her sturdy black shoes. His eyes snapped back up to hold hers in their sway.
“I appreciate your concern, but rest assured, it is misplaced.” The earl took another step in her direction. “However, since we’re on the subject of appearances, I would tell you that you seem tired today.” The corner of his mouth lifted in the barest hint of a smile. “Is there something amiss?”
Clara’s lips parted in surprise. “That was neatly done, my lord. You managed to avoid answering my question while directing one at me instead.” She hesitated. “Well if you must know, I am tired. My room is like an icebox at night.”
He blinked. This time he really did look concerned. “Is it?”
“Yes,” she replied. “But that’s really beside the point. You are under no obligation to confide in me, I only thought perhaps—”
“And I told you,” he said, cutting her off, “that I appreciate the concern. But you and I both know it’s against all proprieties to discuss personal matters—”
“Have you always been so set on adhering to the proprieties, my lord?”
The earl straightened, eyes widening in disbelief, and she immediately knew the conversation had been taken too far.
Clara lowered her head and tried to avoid him, skirting around the edge of the room toward the door. “Forgive my intrusion. It was wrong of me to insert myself where I do not belong.”
She passed Ashworth and his hand shot out, securing her wrist in his hold before she could flee.
“Was that an insult? Or simply an observation?” he inquired.
She swallowed, weighing her response with caution. “No, my lord. On the contrary, I think it an admirable quality in a peer to be willing to break with tradition.” Ashworth’s gaze drifted from her face to the place where his fingers were wrapped around her arm. After a moment, he gently released her. Disappointment flooded through her as the heat of his hand evaporated off her skin.
Stepping backward, he spread his arms wide in mock invitation.
“Since we are ignoring decorum, is there anything else you wish to ask?” Then he added wisely, “I may or may not choose to answer.”
She considered this in silence, her hand moving to cover the wrist that still tingled from his touch. This game had already started. Why stop now?
“Yes, my lord. There is one thing.” Clara took a deep breath. “Has your steward much experience with flooded farmlands?”
“Pardon me?” His voice was low. Possibly annoyed.
“My lord, your land steward is another servant, regardless of his accomplishments. I’d wager your tenants would value a visit from you, the Earl of Ashworth, along with the opportunity to discuss their thoughts on resolving the flooding.”
She had managed to say the words, but she had also begun to tremble uncontrollably. She clenched her hands into fists and held them tightly at her sides to conceal her shaking.
Lord Ashworth stood stock still. He simply stared at her as if she had spontaneously recited the Russian alphabet. When he did speak, he sounded calm, but his voice was hoarse.
“What do you know of flooded farmlands, Helen?”
A trickle of sweat raced down her back.
Ashworth stepped closer to her, his face expectant. Clara’s breath came in gulps as she attempted to maintain her composure. “I–my father had experience in such matters.”
“Your father?” he asked, intrigued.
“Yes, my lord,” she responded hastily, hoping to change the subject. “I’ve no wish to interfere, but I was thinking a meeting might help connect you more closely to your townsfolk.”
The earl’s eyebrows arched. “Why do you take such an interest in my affairs?”
“I’m not. I don’t,” she stammered. “I’m only thinking as a commoner. Speaking as a commoner…”
“Speaking as a commoner,” he interrupted thoughtfully, taking another step forward. “A commoner would know when to hold her tongue, and yet you, somehow, do not.” Another step. The alarm bells she had chosen to ignore earlier were now clanging again, more insistently.
His words were true. She was being Clara Mayfield right now, and she needed to correct her course immediately. Before he was close enough to touch her.
“Of course, you are right, my lord,” she forced out, hoping to put an end to the conversation. “I only meant to help. I can see now that I’ve overstepped my bounds.”
A huff of amusement escaped him. “A habit of yours.” Then softly, “And how can you possibly help me?”  
The earl took one last step in her direction, and it wasn’t until Clara felt her back collide with the far wall that she realized she
had also been retreating. He was only inches away, so close she could feel the heat radiating off his body. Being at eye level with his broad chest, he suddenly seemed far too large, far too close.
Ashworth had an incomparable sensual grace, unmatched by any man she’d ever seen. Without thinking, Clara reached out and placed her fingertips on his chest—whether a defensive reflex or an invitation, she couldn’t be sure. At her touch, he tensed and closed his eyes, a small gasp hissing through his teeth.
Any lingering doubts melted away as she witnessed his reaction. He wanted her hands on him. She flattened her palms across the lawn of his shirt, feeling the contrast of hard muscle to soft fabric.
Clara had always believed her inexperience had caused her to be shy with men, but now it was apparent part of the problem had been that she had not yet been with the right man. Here, with Ashworth, fire flowed through her veins as she allowed her hands to roam. His clenched jaw and fists were an indication of resistance, but his refusal to halt her caresses challenged her to continue.
What could she possibly do to help him?
He had asked, and now she burned to find out.
Her fingers traced along the length of his blue satin cravat, and he made a sound low in his throat.
The sound raced through Clara like wildfire. Disregarding everything…the woman she was, and the woman she was pretending to be…she rose high up on her tiptoes and brushed her lips against his.

 

About Marie Tremayne

MARIE TREMAYNE graduated from the University of Washington with a B.A. in English Language and Literature. While there, a copy of Pride and Prejudice ended up changing her life. She decided to study the great books of the Regency and Victorian eras, and now enjoys writing her own tales set in the historical period she loves. Marie lives with her family in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

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One comment

  1. Oh, wow. I didn't know about people posing as fake agents until I read this interview. That's horrible! I can't imagine people wanting to trick hardworking authors like that. 😦 Using paychecks to head to England–divine! I would love to visit too, someday. <3- Aimee @ Aimee, Always

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