Today, were’ doing something a little different. If you remember, we interviewed Diana Rubino’s character on May 21st and it was so fun that I thought we may as well make an occasional habit of it. I had the pleasure of meeting Nina Mason, the author of The Duke’s Bedeviled Bride, on my author journey and I asked her if she’d let me borrow one of her main characters, Robert Armstrong, from the book. We’ll get a chance to talk to Nina in a bit, but now we have on stage…Robert!
Marie Lavender: Hello, Robert. Please have a seat.
Character Robert Armstrong, the Duke of Dunwoody: Hello. Thank you for having me. It’s a pleasure to be here.
Marie: We’re going to start out with some simple questions, all right?
Robert: Of course.
Marie: What is your occupation? Are you any good at it? Do you like it?
Robert: I am the Duke of Dunwoody, which entails overseeing a duchy in the border shires of Scotland. Am I any good at it? How does one measure the success of a duke? I do well enough to keep food on the table, pay the wages of my servants, and earn the loyalty of my tenants—those who are not plotting my demise, leastwise. Do I like my lot? Not overmuch. Since inheriting, my life is drudgery apart from the amusements I derive from my wife and my vices. I much preferred my devil-may-care days in the court of King Charles II, though I could do without the back-biting vipers and intrigues.
Marie: Okay. So, what is your family like?
Robert: My parents and siblings are all dead. My mother died after falling from her horse during a hunt—a heartbreaking loss that plagues me to this day; my father and sister were taken a few years ago by Yellow Fever; and my younger brother—erm, half-brother, I recently discovered—was killed in a duel by my own hand. For he had committed unforgiveable atrocities against myself and my beloved wife.
Marie: I see. What did your childhood home look like?
Robert: I grew up in a castle, which might sound like a fairytale, but, believe me, such was not the case. Balloch is dark, dank, smoky, drafty, and hopelessly out of date. Since inheriting, I have done my best to make improvements, but my meager income only stretches so far.
Marie: Do you have any hobbies? What do you enjoy doing?
Robert: If by “hobbies” you mean “vices,” I confess I do—one some of my peers might consider “debauched.” I enjoy erotic flagellation, you see, as both giver and receiver.
Marie: (Clears throat.) Right, whipping. So, what is your greatest dream, Robert?
Robert: For many years past, my greatest dream was to marry the young woman I adored in secret—my father’s ward and companion to my sister. Maggie York, a convent-raised foundling who was so beautiful and so good I felt sure she’d been sent by God Himself to save my blackened soul. The day she consented to be my wife, albeit with notable reluctance, was my happiest on earth. Having realized the dream of my heart, I should like to see the prejudices held against Catholics by Protestants melt away.
Marie: So, what kind of person do you wish you could be? What is stopping you?
Robert: I should like to be a man worthy of my angelic wife. What is stopping me? My devilish nature.
Marie: All right, so I’m going to throw another random question at you now. Who was your first love?
Robert: My mother. If we are talking of romantic love, my heart has only ever belonged to my Maggie.
Marie: (Sighs.) I love a good love story.
Let’s try a different question, shall we?
So, what’s the most terrible thing that ever happened to you?
Robert: Many terrible things have happened to me. The deaths of my mother and sister were difficult to bear. As were my wife’s many miscarriages. A few years back, I was attacked by a mob who believed me a Catholic spy. The injuries they inflicted caused me to lose my memory and whilst I convalesced, my brother enslaved my wife and plotted my murder. And now, having survived all of that, I lay near death from the smallpox at this very moment.
Marie: How terrible! I’m so sorry. 😦
Let’s move on to something a bit lighter.
What was your dream growing up? Did you achieve that dream? If so, in what ways was it not what you expected? If you never achieved the dream, why not?
Robert: Dreams are for those whose course is not set. My die was cast the moment I emerged from my mother’s womb. As the eldest son of the First Duke of Dunwoody, I would inherit the estate upon my father’s death and all that came with it, good and bad.
Marie: So, who is your role model, Robert?
Robert: Jesus Christ and all the saints who flogged themselves so they might experience his suffering first hand. Jean Marie Baptiste, Francis of Assisi, Teresa of Avila, and Alphonsus, among others. All claimed the practice brought on an altered state of spiritual joy, clarity, and communion, so I decided to try it for myself. At first, the blows were extremely painful, but I carried on month after month until, at last, the pain gave way to euphoria. Thereafter, self-mortification became a daily devotion from which I derived tremendous physical gratification. I only realized in adolescence my pleasure was far more erotic than religious.
Marie: I see.
Well…you’ll probably think I’m digging for dirt on the next question.
Is there someone you pretend to like but really dislike?
Robert: Would you like a list? The court at Whitehall Palace is akin to a pit of vipers and one would not get far by treating those in a position of influence with evident disdain. More specifically, I did not care much for the late king, who, truth be told, was a bit of a hypocrite. For there is nothing I can abide so little as a person who professes to believe a thing and then does its opposite.
Marie: That makes sense. So, what is your deepest desire?
Robert: That my wife should always love me as I love her.
Marie: What is your greatest fear?
Robert: That she’ll find reason not to.
Marie: I see.
Well, I hate to say it, but we’ve run out of time. Thank you for visiting us today, Robert. (Waves goodbye to her guest.)
Now, let’s shift over and get the author’s perspective. We have Nina Mason on the stage today. Hi, Nina!
Author Nina Mason: Hi. Thank you so much for having me here, Marie! 🙂
Marie: My pleasure!
As you know, we just got to talk to the hero of your story, Robert. Quite an interesting character. Can you tell us a little about him?
Nina: When the Royal Pains series begins, Robert is 30, devastatingly handsome, and a reputed libertine who has spent most of his adult life at the court of King Charles II. Despite his flaws, he is a good man at heart and enlightened for his times, especially pertaining to the intelligence of women. He also has a dark side. He enjoys what the French called in his time “le vice Anglais”—the English vice. Today, we call it BDSM.
Marie: Okay. So, what are your character’s greatest strengths?
Nina: He loves his wife, sees people for what they are, and strives to do what he believes to be right and to overcome his flaws.
Marie: Great. Now let’s take the opposition on that.
What, do you feel, is his greatest weakness?
Nina: This is a tough one. What some of my readers might define as weaknesses are, in fact, the attitudes of the times. In my historicals, erotic though they are, I try to paint an accurate picture of the times in which my characters live. In 1680, men of Robert’s class were not faithful to their wives. Many, including the king, moved their mistresses into the same house where they lived with their wife and children. Also, “sex” was defined only as “intercourse between a man and a woman.” In book one, Robert takes part in a threesome at court, but does not have intercourse. Maggie, being a voyeur, sees this and accuses him of infidelity. He insists he was faithful, because he refrained from penetrating the courtesan who also took part. His attitude and definition of fidelity is accurate to the times, while hers is more modern. And yet, a few readers were so incensed by his behavior, they gave the book one star.
Marie: So, what are some of his favorite foods?
Nina: In book two, I describe the diet he must endure in Scotland, which he despises. Gruel, bannocks, and stringy meat, mostly. He’s used to the food at the royal palace by now, which he vastly prefers. Fresh fish, fowl, meat, cheese, tarts, pies, oysters and other shellfish, etc.
Marie: Let’s try something else.
What’s a positive quality that your character is unaware that he or she has?
Nina: The strengths I mentioned above. Robert does not see himself through a flattering lens.
Marie: Will readers like or dislike this character, and why?
Nina: Those who like a tortured hero who doesn’t always behave heroically will love him. Those who expect him to be perfect and always conduct himself by modern standards of romantic heroism will be disappointed in him in book one, though I do believe he more than redeems himself in book two.
Marie: Now that we have a real taste of Robert, we have a few questions for you as well as the author.
What first gave you the idea for this series?
Nina: I love historical romance and have always wanted to try writing one, but lacked a fresh idea. I decided to write an erotic series that started on the couple’s wedding night and would feature BDSM. Only after I started writing did I decide upon the time period in which I would set the series. Since there were so many books already in Regency and medieval, I chose the Restoration period and started researching like a fiend. I really didn’t know anything about that time in history until I started the Royal Pains series, and now I’m completely fascinated!
Marie: Great! It’s interesting how writing turns out that way. 😉
So, Nina, what is your writing style like? Are you a pantster or a plotter?
Nina: My style has been described as “lyrical” by others and I tend to earn high marks for descriptive writing. As for being a pantster or plotter, I would have said I was a plotter until this series. With the first two books, I just started writing. When I reached the mid-point arc, I worked out a plot to get me from where I was to the end. That approached has worked well, probably because these are shorter novels. I’ll probably still spend time plotting my longer books. But, even so, the plotting tends to fall by the wayside in the writing process.
Marie: Yes, I know what you mean. Every project is different, and the characters tend to have minds of their own. (Laughs.)
So…I’m throwing this one in for our aspiring writers. Did you come across any specific challenges in writing Devil in Duke’s Clothing/The Duke’s Bedeviled Bride or publishing it? What would you do differently the next time?
Nina: I did not come across any specific challenges. I set out to write a series of novellas to fill the gap between my releases with publishers. My next series—a PNR/UF series titled The Knights of Avalon—isn’t coming out until August—a full year since my last book was published by Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly. I couldn’t wait a whole year to give my fans something new, so I decided to write Royal Pains, knowing I’d have to self-publish the series in order to have it come out in the interim. What would I do differently? I might have taken out the menage in book one, since so many readers had a problem with it, but I did my best at the time. Next time, I might tone down the eroticism, because the marketing channels are limited for more erotic books. You can’t advertise on Amazon, for example, or some of the other affordable blast services, and I think that’s hurting my efforts to build an audience. At present, I depend largely on Facebook, which isn’t giving my books as much exposure as I’d like. The competition is fierce and it’s a constant challenge to get noticed or stand out.
I agree; marketing can be a challenge.
Well, it was such a pleasure having you here on the I Love Romance Blog. And how apropos is that, considering what a great story The Duke’s Bedeviled Bride appears to be. Readers, you will just have to pick up a copy of this awesome new release by Nina Mason, a very talented author! 🙂
Here is the blurb for The Duke’s Bedeviled Bride.
The tawdry tale of the Duke and Duchess of Dunwoody continues…
Maggie Armstrong, the long-lost illegitimate daughter of the heir presumptive to the throne, is bedeviled by her husband’s limited definition of fidelity. After observing him in a ménage à trois at the court of King Charles II, she is determined to bring him around to her way of thinking— by any means necessary.
Robert doesn’t mind being punished for his transgressions. Rather, he enjoys being whipped, especially by his beloved bride. Unfortunately, her heart might not belong to him alone. His younger brother, who he’d sent abroad to clear the way for himself, is coming home sooner than expected, and Maggie’s feelings for Hugh may not be as dead as her husband had hoped.
Both duke and duchess soon learn, to their peril, Hugh Armstrong is not the honorable man they’d been led to believe. Insanely jealous of his brother’s situation, Hugh will stop at nothing to strip Robert of all he holds dear—including his life.
But the real danger for Robert and Maggie is not the villainous Marquess, but the growing friction betwixt Catholics and Protestants in Restoration Era Great Britain.
Can their love survive the trials that await them?
Universal Amazon link: http://bookgoodies.com/a/B00UUKBL4Y
Rafflecopter Giveaway: https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/3b1680a85/
About Nina Mason
Nina Mason is a hopeful romantic with strong affinities for history, mythology, and the metaphysical. She strives to write the same kind of books she loves to read: those that entertain, edify, educate, and enlighten.
She is the author of The Queen of Swords, a darkly erotic Scottish paranormal romance/urban fantasy; The Tin Man, a political thriller; Devil in Duke’s Clothing, an erotic historical set in 1680 Scotland; The Duke’s Bedeviled Bride, the follow-up to Devil in Duke’s Clothing; Starry Knight, the first book in a new PNR/UF series; and Dark and Stormy Knight, book two in The Knights of Avalon series.
Born and raised in Orange County, California, Ms. Mason currently lives in Woodstock, Georgia.
Coming August 4th:
And, if you want to know how to connect with the amazing Nina Mason, here are some of her author links:
Amazon Author Central: http://www.amazon.com/Nina-Mason/e/B00J5N2PX8/
Once again, I want to thank both of our guests, Robert, the male main character of The Duke’s Bedeviled Bride, and Nina Mason, the brilliant author of the novel, for stopping by! It was so fun to have you here! Readers, don’t forget to check out Nina’s latest release! 🙂