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Archive for August 20th, 2012

Alexandra, Lady Morley, an alluring widow, is on holiday to escape her creditors and devise a plan to reverse her fortunes. Distracted by the arrival of Phineas “Finn” Burke, a brilliant inventor with a shocking past, she despairs of ever getting what she needs…until they kiss. 

Finn, naïve to the female species and intent only on perfecting his “horseless carriage” engine for an exhibition in Rome, never dreamed he’d meet a woman like Alexandra, who is as maddening as she is comely. Finn longs to make Alexandra his wife, but his own vows stand in the way…unless Alexandra can sacrifice everything she knows to realize her deepest desires.

 

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Like most courting couples, my husband and I tortured each other in the early days with forced viewings of our respective favorite films. I sat valiantly through all testosterone-drenched parts of The Godfather, leaving guns and taking cannoli, and in return, I gave him Flambards.

 

“I don’t get it,” he said, as the opening credits rolled by in a montage of galloping fox-hunters and soaring early Bleriots, accompanied by increasingly frantic music and a woman’s voice humming mum…mum…mum…mum. “What’s with the horses and airplanes?”

 

“That’s the whole point,” I told him. “It’s the juxtaposition of ancient and modern, the clash of romantic and scientific that ends in the great conflagration of the First World War. It’s the centuries-old British aristocratic tradition giving way to the relentless juggernaut of technological and social progress.”

 

My husband replied with something unprintable.

 

“There are also cars,” I said. “And a love story. It’s about this orphaned girl who’s sent to live with her distant cousins in the countryside, and she has to choose between the older foxhunting one and the younger one who’s busy designing airplanes. It’s like she’s choosing between the old and the new.”

 

“Oh, I get it.” He nodded sagely. “It’s a chick flick.”

 

Years later, when we were living in London, we happened upon Hyde Park on a foggy November morning, just as some hundred or so antique cars were lining up for the annual London-to-Brighton race. “Oh my God,” my husband said, “it’s like that movie you made me watch, with the airplanes and horses.”

 

“And the cars,” I said. But he was right. All those ancient automobiles, all those men in tweed suits and duster coats and goggles: to me, it was unspeakably romantic. Like Christina, the heroine of Flambards, I loved the was these men so single-mindedly pursued mechanical perfection. I loved the flashes of genius as they solved each problem. I loved the mastery over machine, the smell of oil and the foggy air, the woolen caps and the potent male energy. I watched the drivers rattle away at last in their shining vanguards of automotive technology, circa 1900, and I felt as if I were watching another age.

 

I took a more circuitous route myself, when it came to my own life’s work of writing novels. Still, I knew even before I started that I wanted to write about this period, from perhaps 1890 until 1914, when the wheels of change were whirling furiously through the Western world, powered by geniuses of every stripe. I wanted to write about men who strode forth from their centuries of British tradition to take all the old pillars and shake them soundly; I wanted to write about women who saw all this and made up their minds to seek their own adventure and freedom. I wanted to write about what happened when these men and these women came together, with their traditional ways and their modern energy, equal companions as well as passionate lovers.

 

My husband wasn’t surprised that my debut historical romance, A Lady Never Lies, takes place in 1890 during the run-up to a (fictional) early automobile exposition. He shook his head at my hero, Phineas Burke, a genius inventor with an aristocratic background, and raised his eyebrow at my witty and independent heroine, Alexandra Morley.

 

“So it’s like that movie you made me watch, with the horses and the airplanes,” he said.

 

“And the cars.” I patted his hand. “You know, I think you may be right.”

 

 

 

Juliana Gray’s debut historical romance, A Lady Never Lies, won the RT Book Reviews Seal of Excellence for August. She has not yet taken up Mr. Gray on his offer to ask him just one time about his business, though she did name one of her heroines Kate.

 

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To find out more about Juliana Gray, visit www.julianagray.com. And for a chance to win A LADY NEVER LIES, just leave a comment below. Good luck! 😀

 

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