Jen: Today we welcome another Historical Romance Retreat Author to Romancing the Book. Please give a warm welcome to Miranda Neville. Miranda, will you share a short bio with us?
Miranda: Miranda Neville grew up in England, loving the books of Georgette Heyer and other Regency romances. Her historical romances include the Burgundy Club series, about Regency book collectors, and The Wild Quartet. She lives in Vermont with her daughter, her cat, and a ridiculously large collection of Christmas tree ornaments. She loves to hear from readers through her website and on Facebook and Twitter.
Jen: Please tell us about your newest release and where the idea came from.
Miranda: Christmas in Duke Street is an anthology of four novellas that intersect around a book shop in Regency London. It’s my third collaboration with the team of Graces Burrowes, Carolyn Jewel, and Shana Galen. Working with these fabulous ladies is a pleasure and we never have trouble coming up with ideas. Shana wanted to set the stories in London and we all liked the idea of a book shop as a setting for romance. Who wouldn’t, right? My novella is titled The Rake Who Loved Christmas. Sir Devlyn Stratton wants to save his brother from an unprincipled adventuress, especially when he meets Oriel Sinclair and wants her for himself. Oriel won’t marry for convenience or become a rake’s mistress. But succumbing to Dev’s seduction is all too tempting.
The coach slithered through the streets to Hyde Park, stopping at the Chesterfield Gate. Why here? Descending from the carriage, Oriel beheld a dark green sleigh harnessed to a pair of horses and, best of all, Devlyn wearing a devastating smile. Lord, she’d missed the sight of him.
“Your sleigh awaits, my lady,” he said.
She shook her head in wonder. “How did you find it?”
“Not without difficulty. I’m sorry it isn’t painted gold and festooned with ribbons and bells, but beggars can’t be choosers. I also apologize for the dull chestnut of this pair, but there were no white horses to be had at short notice.”
She almost jumped up and down with glee. “I don’t care if they are donkeys. This is the most wonderful Christmas gift ever.”
He helped her onto the leather bench and climbed in next to her, covering their knees with a fur blanket. It was a snug fit, his body against hers ensuring that she wouldn’t feel the cold. The sun sat low in the icy blue sky, catching the pristine snow of the great park in a million sparkles. She laughed in sheer delight.
A few children were throwing snowballs, but the sleigh soon left them behind. They glided over the snow, the horses at an easy canter. She took in great breaths as the wind whipped her cheeks. The snow seemed to have blown away the pervasive coal dust of the capital. As they gathered speed, she clutched his arm with both hers and shrieked like the girl she had once been, more carefree than she’d been in years.
At the far end of the Serpentine, Devlyn drew the horses to a stand. “Nothing like a sleigh, is there?” His broad smile reflected her glee. Her fingers itched to trace his slanting brows, touch his generous mouth.
“We could be in the country.”
“I wanted to leave you with a good memory of London. And of me.”
That was that, then. She had his kindness, but not his love. He was leaving her. No, she was the one leaving, but he hadn’t asked her to stay. Joy seeped out of her like water from a cracked bucket. A hot tear rolled down her cold cheek.
“What is it?” He wiped away the moisture with his thumb. “What has distressed you?”
“Nothing. I am crying because I am happy.”
She looked at him through wet eyes and met his brown ones, warm and concerned, then gathering heat. She might never breathe again. In the middle of the vast city, they were alone on a white ocean, just she and Devlyn. She did not know if he initiated the kiss, or she did, or if they had the same idea at the same instant. His lips were cold and his mouth hot, taking her deep and long and so sweetly. She pulled him closer and met him more than halfway in a tangle of breath and tongue. She put all her love into this union of mouths, and passion arose, and thought fell away, leaving only a burning need she had never known.
Jen: Who is your celebrity crush?
Miranda: Currently Benedict Cumberbatch – I just went to London to see him on stage on Hamlet.
Jen: What is your favorite day of the week?
Miranda: Since I work for myself every day can be a work day and I have no favorite. They can all be good and all bad.
Jen: Favorite superhero?
Miranda: I guess Superman or Spiderman because they’re the only ones I know.
Jen: Favorite gift ever received from a fan?
Miranda: A gorgeous sachet of a perfume called Miranda.
Jen: What is one of your bad habits?
Miranda: Procrastination. I never met a deadline I couldn’t postpone.
Jen: What food couldn’t you live without?
Miranda: Is coffee a food?
Jen: What do you collect?
Miranda: Christmas tree ornaments.
Jen: What TV family would you want to be a part of?
Miranda: The Bartletts from The West Wing.
Jen: Where is your favorite place to read?
Miranda: On the patio (during the day in the summer). Bed (the rest of the time)
Jen: Coffee or tea?
Miranda: Coffee! But being a proper Brit I do like my afternoon tea.
Jen: Pool or beach?
Miranda: Pool. I like the beach for walking but I don’t like getting sand everywhere.
Jen: Warm weather or cold?
Miranda: I don’t like either extreme. I live in Vermont where it’s way too cold in the winter, but hardly ever gets too hot. I prefer that to a place where the summers are real scorchers. I sometimes dream of moving to San Francisco where it’s the same temperature year round.
Jen: What’s next for you?
Miranda: I’m working on a brand new series of three novels about a trio of ruined girls and what they do to restore their reputations and find love. Meanwhile a stand-alone novel, Secrets of a Soprano, will appear this winter. I’m super excited about this story of a Regency singer and her clash with the owner of a rival opera house, who happens to have broken her youthful heart. Tessa and Max are one of my favorite couples I’ve written. Expect lots of drama and angst in this one!