Friday, December 7, 2012

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: Historical Romance Author Grace Elliot

Grace Elliot, Author
History enthusiast and author of historical romances Grace Elliot joins us today to talk about her newest novel HOPE’S BETRAYAL – a story about a heroine caught smuggling by the Captain appointed to stop it. Although the two begin to appreciate one another, the choices presented to the couple are not simple:  it is a love where either Hope betrays her own kind, or Captain Huntley is court-marshaled.

A veterinarian by day, Grace is inspired to write by the prodding of one of her five cats.  She also has two teenage sons, a husband and “bearded dragon” looking on.  She is committed to providing her readers with escape, and her addiction to history enables her to offer unique settings to enhance the romance. 

Q: What led you – a true cat aficionado-- to write historical romances? I’ve been a cat-lover all my life, and I write mysteries, which seems more in keeping with the feline mystique.

Grace Elliot: What a good question! The answer lies in that although my cats are not my direct inspiration, they encourage me to write. Let me elaborate. My house is ruled by five cats but one in particular, Widget, is my 'writer's cat.'  Whilst sitting on an old sofa with a laptop on my knee, Widget snuggles up against my leg. This does great things for my concentration because when I get up for a comfort break, she pinches the warm spot and looks hurt when I try to reclaim the seat.  As a result I've learnt not to fidget or get up unnecessarily, since a disapproving look from a cat is indeed a humbling thing.

Q:  How important is the history part of your romances? Could you have the same plots in a modern setting?

Grace Elliot: History is vital to my romances because of the tension generated by characters rebelling against the social norms of the 19th century.

It's always fascinated me to ponder how regency women reacted to the restrictions of a male dominated world. How would I react if society dictated my role was solely to please my husband and breed children? Put it this way, it wouldn’t be long before I exploded in one way or another. And that's what happens to my heroines when events push them over the edge and they realize they are as capable as their male counterparts at taking control.

So in short, no I don't think the plots would work in a modern setting - besides, it's the escapism of recreating the past that is the main motivation behind my writing. 

Q:  What do you do to make your characters compelling? What do you do to make your readers care whether your heroine and hero get together?

Grace Elliot: Characters are key. 

I aim to make my characters a bit different from those inhabiting traditional regency romances. For instance, in HOPE’S BETRAYAL the heroine is a smuggler and the hero is the naval captain sent to stamp out all illegal activity. But this doesn’t mean that Hope Tyler, as a smuggler, is a 'romantic' heroine, far from it, she is a gritty, determined character who has been forced into breaking the law in order to provide food for her family. And when Captain George Huntley captures her, she challenges his bigoted views on smuggling, pointing out that the tea his mother drinks and the lace on her dress, are all courtesy of the smuggling trade.

As to making the reader care, that lies in the simmering sexual attraction between characters with irreconcilable differences.

Q:  What makes your romances special?

Grace Elliot:  I write for escapism; this means I picture a scene and imagine myself there to soak up the sights, sounds and smells. My aim is to write the sort of page-turning historical romances that I love to read, and only readers can say if I have succeeded or not - but I live in hope of this making my romances special.

Q:  Are your books largely for entertainment, or do you also try to deliver a message?

Grace Elliot: My books have themes, for instance EULOGY’S SECRET is about not judging appearances, whilst HOPE’S BETRAYAL considers the price of morals, but that aside, the novels are meant to be absorbing historical romps with engrossing characters and addictive plots. I would equate my books to a glass of red wine; something to make you feel warm inside on a cold winter's night (with a cat on your lap, of course!)

Q: What tips would you give to others considering a career in writing?

Grace Elliot:  My attitude is encompassed by the saying; "The harder I work, the luckier I become." In other words, writing is hard work and few authors get instant success (if ever!) Only write if the thought of not doing so leaves an empty void in your soul - because if your main motivation is to become rich and famous, then frustration surely awaits.

Q: When you’re not writing, what do you do? Feed the cats? Hobbies? Sailing? Knitting? Standup comedy? Feed the cats? Favorite music?  Favorite authors? Do you have a muse? Pet the cats?

Grace Elliot: History is a big part of my life. I live a short distance from London and love visiting to explore the lesser known spots, back alleys, hidden courts and the like. It's amazing how much history there is even in something simple like a street name, or a building, and I love taking photos to find out more about them later. My current obsession is with pubs (!) named after royalty - it's amazing how many there are named after the Prince Regent …I feel a blog post coming on. That aside, my cat obsession is a big part of who I am, as is reading. I also jog short distances and am rather partial to curry.

About Grace Elliot

Grace Elliot leads a double life as a veterinarian by day and author of historical romance by night. Grace believes intelligent people need to read romance as an antidote to the modern world. As an avid reader of historicals she turned to writing as a release from the emotionally draining side of veterinary work.

Grace lives near London and is addicted to cats. The Elliot household consists of five cats, two teenage sons, one husband, a guinea pig - and the latest addition - a bearded dragon!

One wild, winter's night two worlds collide.

Known for his ruthless efficiency, Captain George Huntley is sent to stamp out smuggling on the south coast of England. On a night raid, the Captain captures a smuggler, but finds his troubles are just beginning when the lad turns out to be a lass, Hope Tyler.

With Hope as bait, the Captain sets a trap to catch the rest of the gang. But in a battle of wills, with his reputation at stake, George Huntley starts to respect feisty, independent Hope. Challenged by her sea-green eyes and stubborn loyalty Huntley now faces a new threat - his growing attraction to a sworn enemy. But a love where either Hope betrays her own kind, or Captain Huntley is court-marshaled, is not an easy destiny to follow.

Buy Links
HOPE’S BETRAYAL is FREE on Amazon Kindle until 9th December 2012!


Lass Not a Lad.- Captain Huntley Makes a Discovery About his Prisoner.

Alone with his prisoner the Captain set to work, his face all harsh angles in the lamplight. First to stem the bleeding. Working with deft hands, he pulled the bloodstained scarf from the felon's head. Surprise registered, as he noted the delicate ears and elegant neck. The boy’s hair gleamed like polished-coal in the lamplight; tied back in a pony tail, black-as-the-devil’s  heart.
Huntley reached for a rag to wipe blood from the boy's eyes and cheek. Soft skin emerged from beneath the clotted mess. The boy was young…a round face with pointed chin, a tipped nose …and lips, softly parted and provocatively plump….just ripe for kissing. A flush of heat warmed Huntley's cheeks. What was he thinking?
Wiping his sleeve across his eyes he forced himself to continue. He bathed the laceration, cleaning away sand and blood. Something about this lad had stirred deep emotions and the captain didn’t like it one little bit. He glanced toward the door, not wanting to be alone with the smuggler and these strange feelings he stirred.
“What the devil's taking that wench so long?”
The fire was crackling nicely now, steam rising from the lad's clothes. But it wasn’t warm enough; cold could kill every bit as much as blood loss.
"Hell's teeth, do I have to do everything myself?”
With rising irritation, Huntley set to stripping the lad of his wet clothes.
He peeled back the patched jacket, twice its weight with water, and dropped it to the floor. A patched and frayed shirt, sticky with blood, clung to the lad’s lean frame. Huntley tugged the shirt-tail free of the lad’s sodden breeches and off over his head, with the result that the Captain's pulse raced alarmingly.
“Get a grip, man.” Huntley muttered.
The lad had unexpectedly slim shoulders, a silver stiletto strapped to his thin upper arm.
Unsheathing the knife he held the elegant blade toward the firelight; a finely crafted weapon of silver filigree over an ivory handle— a lady’s weapon, and obviously expensive.
“Who did you steal this from, then?”
Placing the stiletto safely out of reach, he turned back to the table. Stripped of his shirt, it seemed the lad had broken ribs, for his chest was strapped. The bindings were soaked and must come off. Shifting the unconscious lad into a sitting position, balancing him against his shoulder, Huntley unwound the bandages.
As he lay the lad back down on the table, Huntley was suddenly struck by the peculiar shadows playing across the boy’s chest. A flush of blood heated his cheeks. That explained a lot!  Huntley’s mouth dropped open; he threw back his head and laughed aloud with relief.
“Tis not a lad….but a lass!"
Alone in the scullery with a half-naked girl…no, not a girl, for she had the soft curves of a woman. Huntley took a step back. The sense of relief was overwhelming, that it was a woman who had excited his body so. He looked around for someone to share his astonishment, but the maid had not yet returned.
In his experience women were tiresome, wearisome creatures that sapped the spirit and drained the mind, but he studied this one with interest. Dark lashes lay brushed against her cheek, an almost catlike tilt to her closed eyes. Her skin was clear, fresh, and unblemished. Her face was wide, round even, but with a pointed chin and a nose turned up at the end. In all he decided, she was beautiful with the stubbornness of a mule and fragility of a china doll. She had been a worthy advisory on the dunes; agile, brave and resourceful and it thrilled him to the core. Lost in thought, Huntley shrugged off his outer coat and covered her over, then removed himself to a respectable distance.
Nothing had changed, he told himself. She was a felon and would pay the penalty demanded by law. And if Huntley felt uneasy at the prospect he suppressed the emotion, it was just that he had to get used to the notion of interrogating a woman.

Other Works by Grace Elliot

Greed, prejudice and a stolen identity. In the four weeks since her guardians’ death, Eulogy Foster has lost everything. Penniless and alone she seeks the help of her estranged brother, Lord Lucien Devlin. But Devlin throws Eulogy onto the streets and the mercy of a passing stranger, Jack Huntley, who becomes an unlikely ally. As Eulogy seeks the truth behind her birth, she is drawn into the world of art and artists, where her morals are challenged and nothing is as it seems.

A story of blackmail, duty and an unexpected love.

After publically humiliating a suitor, Miss Celeste Armitage is sent from the Ton in disgrace and resolves never to marry. But when she finds a sketch book of nude studies and discovers the artist is her hostess's eldest son, Lord Ranulf Charing, she finds herself dangerously attracted to exactly the sort of rogue she is sworn to avoid. Nothing is as it seems. Lord Ranulf's life is a facade and he is being blackmailed over his late brother's debts.

A series of short essays on feline historical trivia (non-fiction) 

Did the Victorian's really eat cat pies?
Who invented the cat flap?
Do black cats bring good or bad luck?
Why did Victorian veterinarians have such a bad reputation?
Is cat-gut really made from cats?
How did cats win a battle?


Twitter: @Grace_Elliot

Amazon author           


  1. Thank you so much for hosting me, Joyce. It's always a pleasure to chat to a fellow cat lover.
    Grace x

  2. Intriguing excerpt. I can imagine there's lots to be discovered in pub names. But can cats visit pubs?

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