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Interview & Giveaway with Cecilia Grant, Author of A Lady Awakened

Updated: The winners are  1) 3beans;  2) Patti;  3) Jane A;  4) Clementine;  5) Maya S.;  6) Mia;  7) peggy h;  8) Willa;  9) Loosheesh;  10) Camilla

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Cecilia Grant’s A Lady Awakened is one of the absolute best debut romances I have come across in all my years (and they are many) of reading romances. When I was reading it I was reminded of novels like Judith Ivory’s Black Silk, Pam Rosenthal’s The Slightest Provocation and Patricia Gaffney’s Wyckerley trilogy; books that didn’t flinch from putting their characters in thorny situations; books which portrayed communities; thoughtful, often introspective books in which each word was carefully chosen.

Cecilia GrantAt the same time, I also thought A Lady Awakened was unlike any other romance I’d read before. The morning after I started reading it, I began sending Jane emails containing the following sentiments:

I only had time to read the first chapter last night but I was so wowed by it that I woke up in the middle of the night thinking about how amazing it was.

I’ve just gotten to the end of chapter five. I can’t get over how much I’m enjoying this book.

I don’t get the feeling of this author taking her cues from anyone else; it’s like she’s bringing out her own ways of seeing, voicing them in an arrangement of words that no one else could compose. Being completely true to her vision.

Such smart writing, I just admire this book so much.

Needless to say, I jumped at the opportunity to interview Ms. Grant. Below are her answers to my many questions.

Janine: Tell us a little bit about how you got started writing. Also, how did you come to write in the romance genre? What made you realize this was the genre for you?

Cecilia Grant: I have a supremely non-inspirational “How I Became a Romance Author” story. I wasn’t one of those kids who was writing from the time I could grip a pencil; nor did I spend my adolescence swiping Johanna Lindsey or Rosemary Rogers off a relative’s shelf. (Not when there were the truly eye-popping Harold Robbins and Sidney Sheldon to be swiped instead.)

The sorry truth is that well into adulthood I decided on a whim to try writing, and I picked historical romance because I figured that was as close as I could get to the sprawling, wordy 19th-century studies of domestic life that were what I really wanted to write.

After a few pompous, ill-researched, frankly godawful efforts that were stamped all over with my ignorance of the genre (I think at this point I had read maybe three actual romances in my life), it dawned on me that romance must have requirements beyond being a story in which a couple of people fall in love. So I started reading them and, maybe even more importantly, found the online community and started to really think about the genre and its place in the world of literature as well as in the culture at large.

You know that thing Jane Austen said, about working with a fine brush on a two-inch bit of ivory? I suspect that resonates with a lot of romance authors the same way it does with me. There’s something poignant, hopeful, subversive, and defiant, all at once, about choosing so small a canvas as the emotional intersection of a couple of individuals. It’s a way of asserting the importance of things that are so often dismissed as trivial. Falling in love does matter. The private dramas of the human heart do matter. People who died hundreds of years ago, and never left a mark on history – their lives matter.

Janine: What was your road to publication like? Was there a lot of rejection along the way?

Cecilia Grant: Not a lot of rejection, but not a lot of risking rejection, either. I was writing for years before my ferocious internal editor (who moonlights as a ferocious pre-emptive slush-pile gatekeeper) allowed me to send anything out, and even then it was only after I’d finaled in a contest and had some manuscript requests. Then, when four requests met with four rejections, she ordered me to scuttle that book and start writing something better. Which turned out to be A Lady Awakened.

Janine: Describe A Lady Awakened in a few sentences.

Cecilia Grant: Desperate to keep her estate, and housemaids, out of her brother-in-law’s hands, strait-laced widow Martha Russell recruits scapegrace neighbor Theo Mirkwood to help her conceive a child that she can pass off as her late husband’s. What ought to be a simple, straightforward bargain turns out to be anything but, as the two clash on everything from bedroom expectations to the importance of duty to the merits of Mrs. Edgeworth’s Belinda.

But with mandated daily proximity, they eventually begin to glimpse one another’s better qualities. And that’s when things get complicated.

A Lady Awakened Cecilia GrantJanine: What was the genesis of A Lady Awakened?

Cecilia Grant: I think it began with my love for really over-the-top romance plotlines. I’d come across a few books with the “desperate widow + virile stranger = fraudulent heir” premise, and, fabulous as it is, I couldn’t help thinking that in real life it would be a recipe for the most awkward, excruciatingly un-sexy sex you could imagine.

Then it struck me that awkward, un-sexy sex could make a great hole for a hero and heroine to have to dig themselves out of. So for maximum awkwardness I cast the story with a pair of opposites: a sober-minded woman impatient with indulgence of any kind, and a straight-up man-whore who thinks their bargain will be all his dirty dreams come true.

Janine: How long did it take you to write the book, from start to finish?

Cecilia Grant: About two years, counting time wasted due to a stupid mix-up. Someone had told me I should ignore Word’s word-count figure and just assume 250 words per page, without telling me that this rule came from the days of nonproportional fonts.

I was somewhere past 100,000 words, with a quarter of the story left to tell, when I found out my mistake. I couldn’t just cut here and there – I had to restructure the whole plot. Which ultimately I think was a good thing. But I have a boatload of deleted scenes that I can’t even put up on a “deleted scenes” page on my website because they no longer make sense.

Janine: The conflict between Martha and Theo at first appears to be a conflict between responsibility and irresponsibility, as well as between sensuality and self-denial. What is it that drew you to writing about these themes?

Cecilia Grant: My subconscious probably has a more interesting answer, but consciously, all I can say is that the themes, like pretty much everything else in my writing, came directly out of the characters. As I constructed Martha and Theo, and put them through their paces, these were the issues they kept returning to, and this was the ground on which they wanted to clash.

Janine: Let’s talk a little bit about the awakening theme. One of the things I loved about this book was that Martha’s awakening wasn’t so much an awakening to sexual pleasure, but rather an awakening to possibilities she hadn’t foreseen in both her relationship with Theo and in her other relationships. I wondered as I was reading the book if you were consciously riffing on the genre convention of the sexual awakening, and whether that convention was one of the things that made you set out to write this type of arc for Martha.

Cecilia Grant: My agent came up with the title, and it initially gave me pause because I’ve been adamant from the start that this isn’t a sexual-awakening story. (Martha knows how to have an orgasm; it’s just not about to happen through intercourse with a guy she barely knows and doesn’t think much of.)

The title grew on me, though, and took on a kind of perverse, ironic logic. Partly because it’s an acknowledgment of the fact that this story premise usually would be a set-up for a sexual awakening, and partly because Theo absolutely assumes he’s going to be presiding over one of those. And then of course the story does turn out to be about awakening – to a world beyond the narrow one she’s regulated for herself; to the validity of viewpoints that don’t happen to agree with hers, etc. – just maybe not the awakening you’d first expect.

I suppose there is some riffing, mainly in their early encounters, which I think of as a sort of skirmish between a hero who knows his role by heart and a heroine who never got the script. But too much riffing gets in the way of telling the story, so I tried not to go overboard.

Janine: I’m also fascinated by the idea of the rude awakening, and in A Lady Awakened, Theo has one of those. He has had a lot of success with women in the past, so it comes as an unpleasant surprise to him that Martha is at first underwhelmed by his lovemaking. I loved those scenes because they were so different! And I wondered where you got the courage to write them. Can you talk about where they came from?

Cecilia Grant: (Courage? Uh-oh. Is this where I find out I’m the only person in Romanceland with a thing for bad sex?)

I guess the bottom line is that I just don’t think sex has to be good in order to be compelling. And sex in romance novels tends to be so relentlessly spectacular that those rare occasions when it’s otherwise have an immediate visceral appeal to me. Think of the first encounter in Anna Campbell’s Untouched, where it’s a revelation for him and… a big fat disappointing nothing for her. Or those awful flashback scenes in Sherry Thomas’s Not Quite a Husband, where he’s doing everything he can think of for her and she’s all but physically shoving him away.

It’s a genre-fiction author’s job, isn’t it, to make her characters uncomfortable; to subject them to disappointments and disasters. Why should we let them off the hook in bed? Getting naked with someone you don’t know that well can put you in a place of extreme vulnerability – What if he’s disgusted by my mismatched breasts? What if she goes and tells all her friends I only lasted thirty seconds? – and I think we’re passing up a golden opportunity if we don’t occasionally make our characters’ worst fears come true.

Janine: On one level A Lady Awakened is the story of a severe widow and the seemingly feckless son of a baronet attempting to conceive a fraudulent heir. But on another level it is a story about community, about a community coming together, and about putting community before oneself. Did you always know that the book was going to deal with this topic, and be steeped in Regency era village life, or was that something you discovered through the process of writing it?

Cecilia Grant: I had no idea, when I started, that the story would go there. But at some point I had to get them out of the bedroom and interacting with other people, and once I did that, the community started to take shape.

Also, within a few chapters it was clear that most of Martha’s flaws, the areas in which she needed to experience growth, sprang out of the fact that she was self-reliant to a fault. She didn’t trust other people’s judgment, she had an aversion to asking for help, and she didn’t know how to make friends.

So it naturally followed that a big part of her journey would be learning to recognize the value of community, and that, at that critical moment where the protagonist typically has to leave her friends behind and face down Darth Vader on her own, she would have the opposite task: to reach out to people all up and down her spectrum of acquaintance and say, “This thing I thought I could do alone, I can’t. I need your help.”

Theo’s journey dovetailed with Martha’s. He was way ahead of her in the social-skills department, but what he needed to do was step up to the responsibilities of a landowning gentleman. And for him it made sense that he’d find his way into that through caring about the individual people who depended on him. Again, that aspect of the plot really came out of the characters.

Janine: Your characters are out of the usual mold and felt very much like real people. What is your characterization process like? How do you build these people?

Cecilia Grant: It’s odd to hear readers say that, because both these characters were very broad in the initial conception. (Theo, in particular, I first started writing with a mantra of “Part Bertie Wooster, part Beavis and Butt-head.”) If they do come off as real, I suppose it might be because I try not to skimp on their flaws, particularly the petty, un-sexy flaws. So Theo is spoiled, complacent, and inclined to screw things up, while Martha is self-righteous, withholding, and a bit of a hypocrite.

As to process, because I write in close 3rd-person POV, I like to start by finding the characters’ voices. Before I knew what Theo looked like, where Martha had grown up, or what internal motivations powered them, I knew that he had a playful and sensual appreciation for words, and that she observed a formal, impersonal tone even in her private thoughts.

Once the characters have voices, they can start talking and reflecting, and then I can figure out the rest. In general, I like to follow a guideline I once saw attributed to the agent Donald Maass – “Write a heroine whose heart opens to more than the hero” – as well as my own corollary, which is “Write a hero who’s thrown off balance by more than the heroine.”

Janine: What about your plotting process? Do you begin with an outline and a complete sense of the plot, or do you begin writing and see where the story takes you?

Cecilia Grant: I’m still in search of a plotting process. I keep reading all these craft books – Debra Dixon’s Goal, Motivation, and Conflict, Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat series – and thinking, yes, I’ve discovered the secret; now I’ll be able to plot efficiently, but so far none of those methods has worked in practice for me. I just sort of wind up the characters and set them spinning and hope they pick up enough plot-lint to sustain a book. Then I go back and try to squash it into shape, with properly spaced turning points and all that.

Janine: Describe a typical writing day. How many hours do you work? How many words do you typically write in an hour?

Cecilia Grant: There’s really no such thing as a typical writing day, because my schedule varies depending on whether I’m working that day, whether it’s my turn to make dinner, whether the kids need chauffeuring someplace, etc. Of necessity I’ve learned to write ad hoc, in a notebook I always carry around, though I do dream of having my own office with a door.

My word-per-hour average is not impressive. I’m in awe of those people who can knock out a thousand words in an hour. I can spend nearly that much time writing and re-writing a single sentence.

Janine: What aspect of writing comes most easily to you, and what aspect is most challenging?

Cecilia Grant: The blank page is the most challenging. Putting something where there was nothing just daunts me to no end.

I’m not sure there’s any aspect I’d say comes easily to me, but what I enjoy most is writing moments of intimacy – which might be sex, or might be the exchange of first names – and awful, can’t-believe-this-is-happening arguments, where people are saying things they’re later going to regret.

Janine: What authors have influenced and inspired you, both in the romance genre and out?

Cecilia Grant: The writers I like best don’t tend to influence or inspire me, because they do what they do so consummately that there’s nothing for me to add in that direction, if that makes sense. The closest I come to feeling inspired is when I read certain authors – Pam Rosenthal and Alex Beecroft spring to mind – and think, “Boy, you’d better raise your game if you’re going to write in the same genre as these guys.”

Janine: Tell us a little bit about your next book, A Gentleman Undone.

Cecilia Grant: Card counting, reckless trysts, and high-octane angst, with a smattering of probability theory: Martha’s soldier brother, Will, is the hero. He’s home from Waterloo, haunted by dark secrets and debts of honor, just ripe for some determined young lady to haul him out of the darkness with the strength of her love – except instead he falls for a cold-blooded cardsharp who’s a) another man’s mistress, and b) so twisted-up and angry as to make Will look like a paragon of stability.

Here’s a mini-excerpt from an early turning point in their relationship: heroine Lydia has just shown him how she can stack a deck after a single look at all the face-up cards.

By the time he set down the king of spades he was sitting up straight, his whole face alight with such a look as Paris of Troy must have worn when those three goddesses showed up to demand he judge one of them most beautiful.

No man had ever looked at her that way. No man would likely ever do so again. But he made her insides feel like clockwork for a moment, ingenious subtle clockwork instead of fallible flesh, and it occurred to her she might stay in that moment forever, given the choice. She might bask wordless in such a transformative gaze for as many moments as remained to her life.

No. Not transformative. This was who she was, quick and gleaming and intricate. She’d known that already. Now someone else knew.

She suggests they join forces at the gaming table, and in spite of the attraction that he knows could be his undoing, he agrees. All kinds of complications ensue. Available May 29.

Janine: Do you have any more projects in the works? What can we expect in the future?

Cecilia Grant: I’m up to my elbows in the story of Martha’s and Will’s barrister brother, Nick. He’s struggling to advance his career in the wake of Will’s scandalous marriage (hope that’s not a spoiler!), while running interference in the social-climbing schemes of his mentor’s daughter, a girl who believes her rare beauty would be wasted on anything less than a viscount. I haven’t titled it yet, but it should be out in about a year.

That’s the last book of my contract, and I’m not sure yet what’s next. There’s been some talk about a prequel novella featuring the eldest Blackshear brother, and a couple of other supporting characters in the series have meanwhile been lobbying me for romances of their own. But I also have an idea for a new series, this time with a vocational instead of familial link between the books’ protagonists, so I might start on that. I’ll alert the world via Facebook, Twitter, and my blog when I know more.

Thank you so much for having me, and for the thought-provoking questions.

Janine: Thanks for answering so many questions!

A Lady Awakened is released tomorrow and Dear Author is giving away 10 copies, either print or digital to 10 random commenters.  We really believe in this book and want to get it into the homes of as many readers as possible.

 

Janine Ballard loves well-paced, character-driven books. Examples include novels by Shana Abe, Loretta Chase, Patricia Gaffney, Cecilia Grant, Judith Ivory, Carolyn Jewel, Laura Kinsale, Julie Anne Long, Alison Richardson, Nalini Singh and Pam Rosenthal. Janine also writes fiction. Her critique partners are Sherry Thomas, Meredith Duran and Bettie Sharpe. Her erotic short story, "Kiss of Life", appears in the Berkley anthology AGONY/ECSTASY under the pen name Lily Daniels. You can email Janine at janineballard at gmail dot com. or find her on Twitter @janine_ballard.

151 Comments

  1. Willa
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 05:39:57

    Oooh – interesting interview – has piqued my interest . . read the excerpt on Ms Grant’s website and am loving her voice and the language. . . and what a hook!

    Tis now on my wish list

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  2. Sally
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 05:51:21

    I’ve been interested ever since Jane and SB Sarah mentioned it in one of their podcast. I’d like for a chance to read it.

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  3. Brenda C
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 06:09:00

    This one looks good! I’ll probably get it even if I don’t win it. Thanks for the rec.

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  4. Meri
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 06:20:02

    I read AnimeJune’s review a few days ago and was quite intrigued – even more so now. Like Brenda, I’ll probably get it even if I don’t win.

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  5. LeeF
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 06:24:07

    I am amazed that people have the guts to start writing something creative, much less hang in there to see it published! This book sounds like a very interesting one.

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  6. SHZ
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 06:30:47

    Wow, what a recommendation!

    I’ve seen this book around online in the last few weeks. This has made me more interested to look into it.

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  7. Susan Laura
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 06:35:08

    I have had this book on my “to beg, borrow or buy” list for quite some time. Thanks for the interview!

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  8. Danielle D
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 06:49:56

    This book sounds so good. I can’t wait to read it.

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  9. Mary
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 06:57:06

    I can’t wait to read it!

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  10. Bonnie Dee
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 07:11:28

    Wow, what a glowing recommendation and great interview. I’m looking forward to reading this one.

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  11. JAH
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 07:32:55

    This one is on my list to buy. Can’t wait to read it. I enjoy reading new authors.

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  12. Sonja
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 07:50:04

    I’ve heard nothing but good about this book, and I’m really looking forward to reading it!

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  13. Rosie
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 07:52:09

    Sounds like a good one! I will definitely be reading it.

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  14. donna ann
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 08:01:45

    thanks for the contest :) always nice to hear about a new author having a great debut — best of kuck to Cecelia on this and future endeavors.

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  15. peggy h
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 08:03:56

    Really looking forward to this book–it’s been on my wish list since I first read about it on DA/SBTB.

    ReplyReply

  16. Sharyn Lewis
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 08:04:25

    What a great interview! This book and the whole series sounds very interesting and very different.

    ReplyReply

  17. LoriK
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 08:16:36

    This sounds really good.

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  18. FD
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 08:20:52

    Eeeeee! Last I heard this wasn’t being released till well into next year! Yes! Even if I don’t win one at least I’ll finally be able to buy it – I’ve been waiting (impatiently!) ever since I read an excerpt on Rose Lerner’s blog – way back when before In For A Penny was released.

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  19. Stacie Mc
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 08:22:26

    I’ve never read a DA recommended book that I didn’t like. I’d love a chance to read this one as well.

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  20. mishapley
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 08:24:13

    Well this sounds interesting. I’d like to read it as well.

    Thanks for all the good works.

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  21. Carin
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 08:25:51

    I’ve been waiting for this one since I heard about it on the podcast oh so long ago! I can’t wait to read it!

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  22. Amy Kathryn
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 08:27:43

    I would like to give this book a try since I have heard so much about it. I am almost afraid that it can’t live up to the hype. That did not happen with some other books you guys championed so I am more than game!

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  23. Jill Sorenson
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 08:27:47

    Great interview, Janine. Count me in.

    ReplyReply

  24. Ali
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 08:29:33

    This sounds very intriguing! Great interview! I’d be very much interested in reading this book!

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  25. Maili
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 08:30:29

    Sounds like Grant is the new old Balogh (from her traditional Regency days, I meant).

    I’d come across a few books with the “desperate widow + virile stranger = fraudulent heir” premise, and, fabulous as it is, I couldn’t help thinking that in real life it would be a recipe for the most awkward, excruciatingly un-sexy sex you could imagine.

    Music to my ears.

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  26. Katherine
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 08:33:09

    This book sounds so amazing. The plot and writing sound different and lovely. I really hope I win a copy.

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  27. Lisa J
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 09:07:03

    I came across the blurb for this book somewhere and thought it sounded interesting. Love the interview.

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  28. Junne
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 09:07:57

    I was totally enraptured in this interview and wanted to read this book as well as the next one until the fatal ” another man’s mistress”. That’s like the number 1 turnoff for me in the historical genre. Why turn a perfectly good historical into a chick-lit contemp with a plot like this? If I want this I can read Bridget Jones and their likes.
    Historical romance is literally the only refuge for romance readers like me, who want dewy-eyed innocent heroines with vengeful rakes. It’s so hard to find these kind of books today well-written. And well-written is the emphasis in my last sentence.
    I don’t want a generic, boring Harlequin Historical. I want Meredith Duran, Courtney Milan, Loretta Chase and all these hot, talented authors to skip the courtesan/fallen woman/unwed mother/promiscuous widow fade and actually have a 18 year-old old school heroine but with a modern twist.
    Ok, rant over.

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  29. Loosheesh
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 09:16:24

    @Sally: Me too! I wrote the title down (somewhere!) after listening to the podcast, and I forgot all about it, so this interview is timely :)

    My interest was very definitely piqued from the DBSA podcast, and now even more so after reading the interview.

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  30. Mia
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 09:20:27

    Ohh, what a wonderful interview. If I hadn’t already been looking forward to this book (surely I’m not the only one longing for good portrayals of bad sex), I sure would after reading this!

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  31. Lori D
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 09:20:38

    What a great interview! I have been waiting patiently for this book and can’t wait to read it. Everything about it appeals to me. Thanks for this offer!

    ReplyReply

  32. Frekki
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 09:21:30

    This sounds really interesting, I’d love to win a copy.

    ReplyReply

  33. Patti
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 09:24:27

    You had me at reminiscent of Gaffney’s Wyckerley trilogy. I’ll definitely be reading this book. Thank you for a great interview.

    ReplyReply

  34. SandyO
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 09:24:31

    Sounds intriguing. Way a glowing recommendation.

    ReplyReply

  35. Felicia
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 09:24:46

    Sounds really interesting and I love the reference to Not Quite a Husband.

    ReplyReply

  36. Diana
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 09:27:43

    Oh yes. Please randomly pick me!

    ReplyReply

  37. Alea
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 09:42:01

    Ditto on the excellent interview compliments! The discussion of unappealing/appealing attributes (and bad sex) were intriguing. I look forward to reading the book.

    ReplyReply

  38. Annette
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 09:45:24

    Great interview. Intriguing premise. Sounds like lovely writing. I love it when a debut author gets it right. Count me in.

    ReplyReply

  39. Jennifer M (OR)
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 09:49:12

    Another book added to my to buy list. Great interview.

    ReplyReply

  40. Blog Tour, Stop 5: Dear Author « Cecilia Grant
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 09:55:47

    [...] talented and very patient Janine Ballard interviews me today (12/26) at Dear Author. We talk about all things writing-related, and I manage a long-winded reply to pretty much every [...]

  41. msilk
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 09:57:44

    I remember adding this to my “keep an eye out for” list when it was earlier recommended by DA, happy to hear that it’s being released tomorrow. Although I am intrigued by the idea of “A Lady Awakened” it’s the synopsis and excerpt from “A Gentleman Undone” that now has me foaming at the mouth. Card Sharks! That is my dream set up and now I have to wait until May.

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  42. ClaudiaGC
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 09:59:32

    The story sounds really interesting! I love to discover new authors. Thanks for the giveaway!

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  43. Maya S.
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 10:10:46

    Sounds fascinating! I loved hearing about the whole process of writing a book when there isn’t really a process involved haha

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  44. Amy111
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 10:28:06

    @Junne, I will stand with you and say I also miss the dewy eyed innocent breed of heroine.

    I did enjoy the perspective into the author’s writing process in the interview.

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  45. Beverly
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 10:39:19

    Thank you for this interview. The book sounds really good, just the kind of thing I like. The comparisons to Gaffney and Ivory have me really interested. Grant sounds like a writer who really cares about what she’s doing too.

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  46. Doris
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 10:41:48

    Simply fantastic interview! I really look forward to reading this book!

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  47. Kristin I.
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 10:43:52

    This sounds like a good read. Thanks for doing the giveaway.

    ReplyReply

  48. Jennifer U
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 10:45:28

    I can’t wait to read A Lady Awakened! I’ve really been looking forward to it.

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  49. Ducky
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 10:45:31

    This book sounded really interesting months ago when I first heard about it and the interview with the author makes it even more intriguing.

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  50. Maria B.
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 10:46:49

    I read a brief recommendation on this book about a month ago, and immediately wished it was already available…Can’t wait to experience it for myself.

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  51. Linda Scarchuk
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 10:49:03

    Sounds like good book. Would love to read it

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  52. MD
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 10:49:48

    I skimmed over premise (widow / fraudulent heir), thought “no way”, then read “the unsexy sex” line and did a double-take. Maybe I do want to read this book, that sounds really interesting ;-) Something I’d get more difficult to get over, though: how exactly was she planning to get around the 9-month deadline? Yeah, 7 month baby and all, still looks to be a stretch of imagination.

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  53. Kelley
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 11:36:51

    Cecilia, great interview, and many congratulations on the book! (You are not long-winded, you are *informative* :) I’ll look forward to reading.

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  54. Jane A
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 11:58:24

    Wow! What an excellent interview. I canot wait to read this book, it sounds like somthing I am going to love.

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  55. Elise
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 12:08:52

    I’m another person whose been waiting for this book since it was discussed on the podcast. The next book sounds pretty interesting as well. Thanks for the interview and giveaway!

    ReplyReply

  56. Emily
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 12:12:35

    I haven’t read any of her books but I look forward to trying her as soon as I knock a few off my TBR pile.

    ReplyReply

  57. Lynnette A.
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 12:12:47

    This looks like an interesting read. I, too am looking forward to the unsexy sex. Certainly makes it more realistic in a story line like this.

    ReplyReply

  58. TaraR
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 12:18:00

    Everyone has been raving about this book it seems! Another one for the TBR I guess.

    ReplyReply

  59. susan
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 12:22:13

    Always up for reading a new author. I am adding this to my list.

    ReplyReply

  60. HJ
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 12:27:53

    I’d love to have this on my Kindle!

    ReplyReply

  61. Na S.
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 12:34:38

    Some of my favorite romances are from the historical genre so I am definitely intrigued. Cecilia Grant is a new author to me and it looks like I should try A Lady Awakened first.

    ReplyReply

  62. Amber
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 12:35:39

    Ooh, this one looks great. I love me some awkward sex, at which Sherry Thomas excels.

    ReplyReply

  63. Kim in Hawaii
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 12:39:20

    Congrats on your debut!

    ReplyReply

  64. Eliza Evans
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 12:41:13

    I have been dying to read this book since Jane first tweeted about it. Thanks for the contest!

    ReplyReply

  65. Tamara
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 12:44:34

    I *loved* this book, and this–

    “Your characters are out of the usual mold and felt very much like real people.”

    –is the main reason why. The story is fresh and smart and fun. Lovely writing, perfect period detail, and a complicated, so-very-real pair of people who keep things interesting. This is what every historical romance should be.

    Let me add that if I hadn’t already had the pleasure of reading the book, this interview would make me want to.

    ReplyReply

  66. Christi
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 12:48:23

    I can’t wait for this release! I’ve had it in my wish list forever. And, now I’m going to have to add the next two in the series to my pre-order wish list!

    Awesome! I love “finding” new authors! Loved the interview!

    ReplyReply

  67. Syd
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 13:12:10

    I love this: ” a hero who knows his role by heart and a heroine who never got the script.”
    I always feel as if I’m missing the script.

    ReplyReply

  68. swati
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 13:15:01

    i have read a couple of books using this plot device and never really liked them. But DA has got me all excited with the glowing rec. Now i want to read it :)

    ReplyReply

  69. Barbara Elness
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 13:15:05

    I really enjoyed this interview and the descriptions and excerpts for A Lady Awakened. I can’t wait to read this book, it sounds like a fantastic read.

    Barbed1951 at aol dot com

    ReplyReply

  70. ruth
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 13:29:27

    This one looks good! I’m putting it on my list.

    ReplyReply

  71. Diana
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 13:30:08

    I’ve been hearing lots of good things about this book but I have to say, your enthusiasm has sold me on the book. Now I’m really excited to read it. Thanks for the awesome interview as well!

    ReplyReply

  72. Erin L
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 13:42:01

    This book sounds fantastic. Thank you for bringing it to my attention.

    ReplyReply

  73. MarieC
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 13:52:07

    What a great interview!

    ReplyReply

  74. Gabrielle
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 13:53:02

    Sounds intriguing, even more so because there is a series to savor if it turns out well.

    ReplyReply

  75. Amy P.
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 14:00:11

    Sounds like a great book ! Will be adding it to my January list – looks like I will be using those gift cards from Santa!

    ReplyReply

  76. RebeLovesBooks
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 14:05:57

    I’ve been hearing wonderful things about this book – thanks so much for the interview and giveaway!

    ReplyReply

  77. Turtle
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 14:08:26

    I have been anxiously waiting for this book since Jane and Sarah raved about it in their podcast. Great interview ! Can’t wait to read it and the next ones !

    ReplyReply

  78. Andra
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 14:11:57

    Count me in! Love the writing and that cover is so sumptuous, too.

    ReplyReply

  79. E.D. Walker
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 14:31:10

    My interest is piqued. Put my name in the hat.

    ReplyReply

  80. Julie M.
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 14:40:43

    I’m not entering the contest for a book. I ordered from my favorite book store based on the comments I read earlier this month on this web site. The book should be in tomorrow. Looking forward to it!

    ReplyReply

  81. Elaine K
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 15:02:55

    This sounds like a book I would hesitate to try without a strong recommendation–and your recommendation could hardly be stronger! I’m game to give it a go and hope I’[m one of the lucky winners.

    ReplyReply

  82. Charity
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 15:03:29

    This sounds like an unusual – and wonderful – read. I’d love to win, but will definitely put on my to-read list if I don’t!

    ReplyReply

  83. cyclops8
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 15:06:36

    Congrats to Cecilia on her debut release.

    ReplyReply

  84. Jennifer
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 15:10:00

    I’ve also been waiting for this one since hearing about it on the podcast. Cross my fingers that I’m a lucky winner….

    ReplyReply

  85. LSUReader
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 15:10:17

    What a wonderful interview. Thanks so much for reminding me of why I need to read this book soon! Please count me in for the giveaway.

    ReplyReply

  86. Tin Ong
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 15:16:20

    Wonderful interview!

    I loved it when Cecilia said: “… it dawned on me that romance must have requirements beyond being a story in which a couple of people fall in love.”

    Looking forward to reading your book! Congratulations on the stellar debut!

    ReplyReply

  87. rlynn
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 15:32:24

    Always excited when a debut author gets this much buzz!!

    ReplyReply

  88. Author on Vacation
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 15:33:41

    Dear Ms. Grant: I have read the info on “A Lady Awakened” and pre-ordered it at Barnes & Noble. I wish you the best luck with this offering and I will review the novel at Goodreads.

    (Please do not count me on the giveaway option.)

    ReplyReply

  89. Kaetrin
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 15:39:10

    I’ve been looking forward to reading this book since I first heard about it on the podcast. I can’t wait to read it. Please count me in.

    ReplyReply

  90. Lindsey
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 15:45:04

    All the talking that’s been done about this one makes me really anticipate its release day! I normally waffle back and forth on whether or not to try debut authors, but this interview, coupled with the buzz this book has been getting makes me want to break my rule and get it.

    ReplyReply

  91. Ridley
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 15:58:15

    Interestingly, a line from a 1* review at Amazon has me wanting this. She quotes the heroine as saying “I’ve told you I don’t want it. My mind rules my body. You’re depraved beyond my worst conjectures.” I need to meet this woman. Willing to screw a stranger to steal an estate, but too “moral” to let herself enjoy it? If the book acknowledges this contradiction in her personality and makes something of it, it sounds like a great read.

    Count me in. With my rigid agency boycott, winning it is the only way I’ll read it any time soon.

    ReplyReply

  92. Julie
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 16:53:23

    Thanks again for bringing a new author to my attention! I really enjoyed reading the interview.

    ReplyReply

  93. Laura P
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 16:54:45

    I’m impressed after reading this article and can’t wait to read A Lady Awakened.
    Thanks for the opportunity to win.

    ReplyReply

  94. Owen Kennedy
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 17:06:55

    This sounds interesting! Count me please!

    Thanks for the give-away…I love free books. ;o)

    ReplyReply

  95. Turophile
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 17:32:54

    I’ve been waiting for this to come out ever since it was mentioned on the SB/DA podcast. Can’t wait to read it.

    ReplyReply

  96. KC
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 18:07:59

    Wonderful interview! Sounds like a great read; thanks for the opportunity.

    ReplyReply

  97. Kim
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 18:25:49

    Congratulations on your debut book. The second book in this series sounds good, too.

    ReplyReply

  98. galena
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 18:27:44

    looks good!

    ReplyReply

  99. Ruth (CO)
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 18:43:02

    I would love to get a chance to read this book. Thanks for the opportunity.

    ReplyReply

  100. srs
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 18:45:13

    You’ve all definitely piqued my interest in this one. I’ll be checking it out.

    ReplyReply

  101. Mel
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 19:13:29

    This sounds interesting. I’ll get the kindle sample and check it out.

    ReplyReply

  102. Liz
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 19:14:08

    I’m in! And I haven’t read a historical in ages. I’ve put it on my wishlist and if I don’t win (I’d love to win!), I’ll be ordering it.

    That’s the power of this kind of DA recommendation.

    ReplyReply

  103. Amber E.
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 20:05:09

    Great interview. After reading your post and the summary of A LADY AWAKENED, I can’t wait to read it!

    ReplyReply

  104. Dawn
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 20:07:14

    I can’t wait to read this book!

    ReplyReply

  105. willaful
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 20:23:30

    You had me at Ivory and Gaffney. Can’t wait to read this.

    ReplyReply

  106. Jacqueline Cook
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 20:27:26

    I’ve been looking forward to reading this since Jane and Sarah mentioned it their podcast a while back. The interview just reinforces my desire. Thanks for the giveaway!

    ReplyReply

  107. Clementine
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 20:33:48

    I love this site. You’ve led me to some of my favorite books. This sounds like a winner!

    ReplyReply

  108. 3beans
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 20:43:32

    definitely interested now – this is the second review I caught that is absolutely glowing! Can’t wait to read!

    ReplyReply

  109. Erin K.
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 21:14:10

    Ever since Sarah and Jane gushed about this book on the podcast several months ago, I have been patiently waiting to read A Lady Awakened. Ms. Grant’s interview only makes me want to read it even more. Marked as a must read for me!

    ReplyReply

  110. kathy cole
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 21:21:08

    great interview – thanks for the reminder about the book, and how much you loved it. Haven’t ordered it yet, so please consider me for the giveaway

    ReplyReply

  111. Tiffany M.
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 21:38:26

    I am so excited for this book!!! Great interview. I’m already excited for the next one, too!!! :)

    ReplyReply

  112. SeaGrace
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 21:49:27

    I’ve had this book on my wish list since I saw Jane tweeting about it months ago! Can’t wait to read it.

    ReplyReply

  113. Camilla
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 22:17:12

    I went to the store to buy it and it is not released till tomorrow….so bummed. This sounds great….

    ReplyReply

  114. Lennette Daniels
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 22:48:23

    This book looks great. I can’t wait to read it.

    ReplyReply

  115. JenM
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 23:07:17

    I get so tired of the same old, same old plots in Regencies. I can’t wait to read this. And, if the sex scenes are realistic, that’s a huge plus in my opinion.

    ReplyReply

  116. Pam P
    Dec 27, 2011 @ 00:05:39

    This definitely sounds like my type of story, like the premise and the interview has me even more interested in trying another new author. Congrats on your release.

    ReplyReply

  117. Lynn
    Dec 27, 2011 @ 03:36:09

    This book sounds compelling enough for me to submit a first-time comment. I’m putting it on my own list even if I don’t win it here. Thanks.

    ReplyReply

  118. Rosario
    Dec 27, 2011 @ 03:55:59

    This sounds amazing, I’d love a copy!

    ReplyReply

  119. Rosie
    Dec 27, 2011 @ 04:24:13

    I adored this book, and am anxious for Cecilia’s next release. I had read so many romances that A Lady Awakened was a breath of fresh air. I agree that the most un-sexy sex scenes are the most compelling, whether they may be crass ;) or odd and awkward.

    ReplyReply

  120. EmilyW
    Dec 27, 2011 @ 07:38:49

    Sounds wonderful! So many talented historical romance authors these days. I feel so lucky as a reader!

    ReplyReply

  121. Victoria Zumbrum
    Dec 27, 2011 @ 08:22:14

  122. Eva M
    Dec 27, 2011 @ 08:25:36

    Have read the excerpt and the book is definitely on the TBR list!
    Thanks for a great interview!
    Happy New Year!

    ReplyReply

  123. Angela
    Dec 27, 2011 @ 08:28:33

    Hmm. I was really interested until the author said the heroine is “self-righteous, withholding, and a bit of a hypocrite” – which are three of my most hated personality traits in anyone.

    I’m still fairly intrigued by the story line and the reaction that you had Janine. Can you (or someone) tell me if the heroine grows out of the hypocritical, self-righteousness?

    ReplyReply

  124. Jane
    Dec 27, 2011 @ 08:47:17

    @Angela My review is going up shortly but Martha undergoes a character transformation as does Theo. My interpretation of Martha (which is probably completely different than other readers because each reader is likely to come away with something different) is that she has become this way because she can’t make friends. Whether she is shy or uncomfortable with people, I’m not entirely sure, but she’s withdrawn inside herself. But she wants and needs and believes it is important to help those around her. You couple the desire to help those less fortunate with a rather cold demeanor and you get “self righteous”. When Theo comes along, she looks down at him for being so irresponsible but overtime appreciates what Grant describes as Theo’s extravagant emotional way of living. She’s a hypocrite because she’s defrauding this Bad Man (or attempting to) while maintaining that there is a certain way of life that is more appropriate than others. But her self righteous and hypocritical features are subtle and more inferred than blatant. Most of the book is spent watching both Martha and Theo move from their extreme emotional spectrums toward each other.

    ReplyReply

  125. Maureen
    Dec 27, 2011 @ 09:00:01

    I will be checking this out because it looks like an interesting take on a plot line I’ve read before.

    ReplyReply

  126. Lobo
    Dec 27, 2011 @ 09:28:45

    This sounds like a really good book. Thanks for recommending it.

    ReplyReply

  127. Sarah Porter
    Dec 27, 2011 @ 10:25:22

    Sounds like a great read!! I would love to win a copy of the book.

    ReplyReply

  128. Angela
    Dec 27, 2011 @ 10:30:34

    @Jane: Thanks so much Jane! That helps a lot. I’ll go read your review now :)

    ReplyReply

  129. DianeN
    Dec 27, 2011 @ 10:31:04

    Been waiting for this one ever since Jane and SBSarah raved about it in one of their podcasts. I’d love to win a copy!

    ReplyReply

  130. JB Hunt
    Dec 27, 2011 @ 10:52:52

    I am looking forward to reading this fresh take on historical romance.

    I’ve fallen in love with the author’s writing just from her interview responses!

    I appreciated Grant’s comments on “bad sex” and its narrative potential. This reminded me of some of the scenes in Jennifer Crusie’s WELCOME TO TEMPTATION and FAKING IT. Awkward sex can be a great beginning to a relationship.

    ReplyReply

  131. hapax
    Dec 27, 2011 @ 11:36:53

    Bertie Wooster crossed with Beavis and Butthead. In the *hero*.

    I am so there.

    ReplyReply

  132. Susan Saxx
    Dec 27, 2011 @ 11:50:28

    Thank you for this interview and all of the insight into this story and how it came about!

    I really enjoyed the excerpts, both on Amazon and on Cecilia’s website. I very much like the heroine already. Moral, but pushed into a spot in life that she can’t abide. And not just for herself — more for others.

    And sex scenes that aren’t spectacular? Gah…bring them on! LOL

    Thanks again for this review and for a story that could actually have happened. :) I can’t wait to read it!

    ReplyReply

  133. erinf1
    Dec 27, 2011 @ 12:47:08

    Thanks for the wonderful interview and giveaway! I purchased this book for my Kindle, but I would love to get a paperback version. I collect paperbacks of those books I love and want to reread (as I don’t entirely trust having my entire book collection in the interweb unseen universe) and I’m already half in love with this book and I haven’t read it yet! ;)

    Thanks again and I hope that everyone had a wonderful holiday!

    ReplyReply

  134. Dee Feagin
    Dec 27, 2011 @ 13:50:25

    Fascinating interview! I want this book and her next book and what the heck–the one she hasn’t even written yet! I get the idea that her books will be thought provoking and addictive. My favorite kind…thanks for the chance to win a copy.

    ReplyReply

  135. Tabs
    Dec 27, 2011 @ 15:11:37

    This sounds really intriguing. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for it.

    ReplyReply

  136. Lorraine from CA
    Dec 27, 2011 @ 19:20:55

    Thanks for a great interview. This book is definitely going on my TBR list.

    ReplyReply

  137. Susan/DC
    Dec 27, 2011 @ 20:16:07

    The description reminds me a bit of the heroine of Diana Norman’s “Taking Liberties” in that it is about a woman who, after her husband’s death, awakens to a larger world emotionally, physically, and politically. The character arc is not always easy, as fear and convention and questions of what is truly the moral choice present formidable obstacles to change, but it was such a joy to see the heroine take those steps forward to achieve her personal liberty, even if there was the occasional step back. I loved TL and very much look forward to reading “A Lady Awakened”.

    ReplyReply

  138. kanch
    Dec 27, 2011 @ 23:01:21

    Oh wow! looking forward to reading this book!

    ReplyReply

  139. Shannon Winslow
    Dec 28, 2011 @ 02:17:35

    Congratulations, Cecilia! I enjoyed the interview, and seeing how our writing journeys have taken different paths to the same end. Although I don’t spend much time in this genre, I definitely want to read A Lady Awakened!

    ReplyReply

  140. Amy
    Dec 28, 2011 @ 02:45:46

    I enjoyed this interview and I’m leaning toward trying this book (after reading this and Jane’s review).

    ReplyReply

  141. Lawless
    Dec 28, 2011 @ 02:59:06

    Thanks for this. I like the idea that it’s a realistic novel with real conflict between characters who are complementary rather than similar.

    ReplyReply

  142. Michelle
    Dec 28, 2011 @ 09:19:40

    I have just added this to my TBR list!

    ReplyReply

  143. Robyn B.
    Dec 28, 2011 @ 22:23:07

    Sounds good! Great interview.

    ReplyReply

  144. Mae
    Dec 29, 2011 @ 15:57:16

    Really looking forward to reading this book!

    ReplyReply

  145. Natasha
    Jan 05, 2012 @ 06:18:42

    The buzz on this book has been fabulous. Really looking forward to spending some quality time with it!

    ReplyReply

  146. Jane A
    Jan 05, 2012 @ 08:59:05

    Thank you so much! This book sounds so good it’s going right to the top of my TBR file.

    ReplyReply

  147. Loosheesh
    Jan 05, 2012 @ 11:04:05

    Thanks so very much!! And congrats to the other winners :)

    ReplyReply

  148. Karen
    Jan 05, 2012 @ 17:47:39

    It’s too late to be a winner but let me add that I loved this book! Beautifully written and it’s certainly a keeper for me. This is how I know: when I finished it, I would have gladly turned back to Chapter One and read it again! It’s that good. That happens maybe twice in a good year. Looking forward to the next book!

    ReplyReply

  149. msilk
    Jan 06, 2012 @ 17:59:34

    I just finished this book last night and it was great. I was really nervous at first that all the excitement and positive reviews would have my expectations to high for the the book to actually meet. I found it a little difficult to connect with the characters at first but as the book unfolded and the characters “awakened” I found myself doing the same with them. Definitely auto-buying the next especially since it’s about card players!

    ReplyReply

  150. Jane
    Jan 06, 2012 @ 22:23:15

    @msilk So glad our raving about it didn’t ruin the experience for you. I worry about overhyping a book.

    ReplyReply

  151. A Lady Awakened interviews & guest spots « Cecilia Grant
    Mar 10, 2012 @ 12:13:05

    [...] Dear Author – My journey to publication, a little bit about A Gentleman Undone, and lots of detail about my writing process. [...]

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