Archive for June 18th, 2010

Love & Scandal

By Donna Lea Simpson

Nothing sells like love & scandal…

Collette Jardiniere writes of passion and seduction, but has experienced neither. Her pseudonymous novel, The Last Days of a Rake, has shocked Victorian society and become a runaway bestseller. Infamous rouge, Charles Jameson is “revealed” as the author, and Collette is outraged when the cad does little to curtail the gossip.

Intrigued by the book the tabloids claim is his thinly veiled autobiography, Jameson tries to find the real author. Returning to London after an unsuccessful hunt, he is pleasantly distracted by a plain country miss reading the wicked book.

Collette is dismayed when she learns the identity of the devastatingly handsome man who kissed her senseless. And Jameson cannot believe that she wrote The Last Days of a Rake. As Collette tries to convince him of the truth, their mutual attraction reaches a fever pitch, and soon they find themselves in a real-life scandal!


The Last Days of a Rake

In Love & Scandal, Collette Jardiniere is outraged when notorious roué Charles Jameson appears to take credit for The Last Days of a Rake, a novel she wrote under the pseudonym Colin Jenkins to satisfy Victorian convention.

Can a rake be true to himself, yet remain free from sin?

Albert Lankin has lived the life of rake, a man who cares for nothing but the pleasures of the flesh. But it is the seduction – and abandonment – of a gentle maiden that turns him from mere gadabout to immoral cad. Too late, Lankin realizes his self-centered ways have left him incapable of finding enjoyment in anything. Now on his deathbed, he relates the shocking tale of his wasted life to John Hamilton, a school chum who chose a different path.

In telling his story, can Lankin find redemption for the trail of ruined lives he leaves behind?

Companion piece to Love & Scandal by Donna Lea Simpson


Love & Scandal (Carina Press – June 21st, 2010) lived as a story long before it was accepted for publication by Carina Press. I know other authors have this same scenario; you have a story in your heart, and it demands that you write it. But once you’re done, it doesn’t really ‘fit’ with the rest of your career, so it languishes on the hard drive. Every once in a while you return to it, polish it, admire it, and then sigh about how great it is, but it just doesn’t fit!

I was in that situation with Love & Scandal. You see, I’ve spent most of my years as a published author writing (at first) traditional Regency romances, and then paranormal Georgian-era romances. Love & Scandal is neither! It is a Victorian-set romance novel that takes place in the mid-eighteen hundreds, the golden era of novel publishing, when books by the Brontës, Thackeray, Dickens, and (within a few years), the inimitable George Eliot, were being written and published.

I’ve always been fascinated by the time frame because of the eloquence of the writing, but I often wondered why it was considered unthinkable that a woman not only write a novel, but put her name on it. Writing was considered a scandalous career choice for a woman; not quite as bad as being an actress, perhaps, but almost! Women weren’t supposed to think deeply, and their reasoning was considered just superior to that of a pretty pet pug. Women of deep intelligence existed, of course, but they were regarded with resentment and some hostility. It was antithetical to womanhood and even dangerous for women to involve themselves in the wider world when their sphere was the home and bearing children, or so said most men.

I wondered, too, what would happen if a woman wrote a book using a male pseudonym, only to have some man claim to be the fellow who wrote her novel. What would Charlotte Brontë have done if a fellow popped up, claiming to be Currer Bell? Charlotte was no one’s pushover; I believe she would have marched to London, tracked him down, and given him a piece of her mind.

So Love & Scandal is the result of that game of ‘what if’. I had a grand time writing it, but I thought it was doomed never to see the light of day. Then I heard about Carina Press, (Harlequin’s new all-digital imprint) and how as an electronic publisher they were open to different sub-genres of romance, and different time periods for historical romances. So I sent Love & Scandal in and kept my fingers crossed.

And something wonderful happened; I got an enthusiastic email from Carina Press’s editor Angela James telling me they wanted the book. I was ecstatic! Then, as we began to go through the editing process, something else wonderful happened. They came to me with an idea; what if I were to write the scandalous book, The Last Days of a Rake, that Collette Jardiniere is supposed to have written in Love & Scandal? They wanted to offer it as a free companion book to Love & Scandal. I jumped on the idea! I already knew quite a bit about the book because Collette discusses it throughout Love & Scandal. And so wrote The Last Days of a Rake, a supposedly Victorian-written novella about a rake in Regency England. It was so much fun!

Beyond adding to the reading experience for those who buy Love & Scandal, I think it serves another purpose, too; if readers have been wondering if they’ll enjoy eBooks, or if they’d like to see one before buying, they can download The Last Days of a Rake and see what a Carina Press book looks like!

But I’ve been warning everyone: when you read The Last Days of a Rake, don’t expect a romance; it is intended to be a serious Victorian novel with a moral at the heart of it. However, when you read Love & Scandal do expect a romance! Collette and Charles make a charming and quarrelsome pair, and I hope readers enjoy them!


I do hope you enjoy the books!

Check out my webpage: http://www.donnaleasimpson.com

Check out my blog at: http://donnaleasimpson.wordpress.com

Best regards to all,

Donna Lea Simpson


Many thanks to Donna for being our guest today. Leave a comment for the chance to win a download of Love & Scandal. For an excerpt of the book, you can find it here.

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