Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Regan Walker’s Best of the Regency with Cheryl Bolen

Today my guest is Cheryl Bolen, author of more than twenty novels, including some great Regencies! She has been in the top five on the New York Times bestselling list and is also a USA Today bestselling author. Her novel One Golden Ring won Best Historical for the Holt Medallion and her novel My Lord Wicked won Best Historical in the International Digital Awards, the same year her Christmas novella was Best Novella. Her books have been translated into a dozen languages.

She holds a bachelor's degree in Journalism and English from the University of Texas and a master's degree from the University of Houston. Her favorite pursuits are reading diaries of dead English women, traveling to England, and watching the Texas Longhorns play football and basketball. She and her professor husband are the parents of two sons. One is an attorney, the other a journalist.

I invited Cheryl to answer some of my questions I thought her readers might be interested in, and she graciously agreed to the interview.

Be sure and leave a comment with your email as Cheryl is giving away an autographed copy of Counterfeit Countess (Book 1 of the Brazen Brides) if the winner is in the U.S. If international, the winner gets her choice of any of Cheryl’s ebooks (except for boxed sets).

What made you want to write romances set in the Regency period?

You might say I came into Regency through the back door, but it turned out to be a great fit. I'm embarrassed to say none of the first six books I wrote—and never sold—was a Regency. Number 5 was a World War II love story that placed in every writing contest I entered. Editors kept telling me, "World War II doesn't sell." (They were right.) Finally, the senior editor at Harlequin Historical liked my writing in that WW II book and told the contest coordinator to tell me that if I ever wrote anything set before 1900, she would like to see it. The only historicals I enjoyed reading were Georgette Heyer books. I'd read every one, and when I ran out of hers, I started reading the Regencies being published in the 90s by Signet and Zebra. I thought, "I can write one of those." I wrote three chapters of A Duke Deceived  (one the few of my titles that my publishers kept) and entered three contests to gauge how it was working. It placed in all three contests. So I finished the book and submitted it to Harlequin Historical, and it sold. Admittedly, in those first couple of books I wrote, I was far from being an expert on the Regency, but for the past twenty years I've enjoyed immersing myself in the era, and now I've come to believe the gods were smiling upon me that day when I told myself, "I can write one of those books."

What’s your favorite movie of all time?

Glad you asked. My favorite movie has many of the elements I've come to employ in my books. The movie is Charade. It has suspense, plot twists, romance, and above all, humor. (It doesn't hurt that it's also got Paris, Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn—not to mention killer clothes by Givenchy.) When I first started writing historicals a couple of decade ago I was into tortured heroes, but as I've grown older I've come to understand my own tastes, and whether it be in books or movies, humor is an ingredient I must have.

What’s your favorite kind of story to get lost in?

I think everyone has a guilty pleasure read. For me it's British mysteries written by female authors, primarily between 1920 and 1950. My favorite author is Josephine Tey, who unfortunately wrote very few books. I enjoy Agatha Christie, adore Dorothy L. Sayers, and I like the mysteries written by M. M. Kaye. Another favorite is a British author whose best romantic suspense was written in the 1960s, and that is Mary Stewart. Her prose just blows me away.

Is writing or storytelling easier for you?

Writing. I love playing with words and have always written with facility. I have a degree in journalism and for two decades worked as a reporter. So the writing was incredibly easy. It took me much longer to learn the techniques of good storytelling. In fact, the first book I ever sold (A Duke Deceived) was the seventh book I wrote.

If you were given a chance to travel to the past where would you go and specifically why?

Surprisingly, since I've written a couple a dozen Regency-set historicals, the time period I'd love to drop into is not Regency England but 1930s Hollywood. Watching those wonderful old comedies and musicals of the era is another guilty pleasure. I've read tons of books on old Hollywood and the stars of the Golden Age of cinema and spent my post-World War II childhood in L. A. before it had a gazillion freeways. I would love to see what Sunset Boulevard looked like in the 30s, would love to drive along the coast highway before it became bumper to bumper with luxury cars.

Cheryl’s latest novel is Oh What a (Wedding) Night (Book 3 of the Brazen Brides). It releases April 19. 

The short description:

As Lady Sophia Beresford (recently Lady Finkel) passes through the gates of her new bridegroom’s country estate and he begins to whisper in her ear of the delights that await her in his bed, Lady Sophia realizes she has made a most dreadful mistake.  There’s only one thing to do. She must bolt.

The bride-on-the-run is rescued by the exceedingly handsome William Birmingham who thinks she’s a woman named Isadore, and though he’s the richest man in England, she mistakes him for a common (but well-to-do) criminal. Since she’d rather be dead than wed to Finkel, Sophia pretends to be Isadore and take her chances with the provocative Mr. Birmingham. But how could she have known that her ruse would bring the gallant Mr. Birmingham into such peril from the wicked man she married? And how could she have known her enigmatic rescuer would ignite passions she’d never known she possessed?

Preorder on Amazon

An Excerpt

“I’d rather be dead than wed.” Lady Sophia glanced down at the solid earth some forty feet below and was sickeningly aware of how close she was to fulfilling her statement. She prayed the ledge upon which she stood would not give way.
“But ye are wed, milady!”
Depend on her pragmatic maid to take things so utterly literally. “Wed, but not bed—and I believe that is a vastly important distinction.”
Her maid snorted.
Flattening herself against the wall, Lady Sophia inched toward the corner of the building.
“I’m shaking so hard I fear I’ll tumble to me death,” Dottie said. “Ye know how fearful I am of heights.”
“No one held a pistol to your head and forced you to come out that window with me.” Why must she always speak so flippantly in grave situations? Seriously, Sophia wouldn’t at all like to see her trusted servant splattered on the gravel simply because she herself had made the dreadful mistake of marrying Lord Finkel that very afternoon.
“I’ve been with ye since the day ye was born, and I’ll not leave ye now. Besides, I didn’t want to be around when yer bridegroom discovers ye’ve fled. The servants say Lord Finkel has a fierce temper.”
Finkie? A fierce temper? Sophia could hardly credit it. An affable baboon was closer to the mark. Why oh why had she ever consented to wed the bore? Perhaps because he was titled, terribly handsome, paid uncommon homage to her beauty—and had protected her sister’s reputation. In what was undoubtedly the most moronic moment of her life she had decided that being Finkie’s marchioness was preferable to being a spinster of the advanced age of seven and twenty.
That was before he kissed her. The only physical reaction his most unsatisfactory kiss elicited in her was nausea. Because of the kippers. Lord Finkel’s breath smelled—and tasted—distinctly of kippers.
And that bit of knowledge added to the tusk business sent her packing her bags before he had the opportunity to offend any more of her senses.
In all fairness to Lord Finkel, it wasn’t his fault about the tusk business. It only happened that once—the day his valet was abed with fever and had been unable to shave the tufts of nasal hair that protruded from each of Finkie’s nostrils like a pair of elephant tusks. But still, whenever she thought of Lord Finkel after that she had been unable to dispel the vision of those dark brown tusks jutting from his nose.
All of this made her seem excessively shallow and unduly affected by sensory assaults. Which she really couldn’t deny. But there was something else about Finkie that put her off, though she could not express it any more than she understood it. She supposed it all boiled down to the fact that—try as she might—she could not admire the man. He was even more shallow than she!
If she and Dottie could just make it to the corner of the building, they could lower themselves onto the steep roof of the orangery and from there could shimmy down to the shrubs. “Should you like me to hold your hand?” Sophia offered.
Dottie sucked in her breath. “No, please. I beg you, don’t touch me!” Her maid’s voice quivered with terror.
Curling her toes and gripping the stone wall, Sophia ever so slightly swiveled her head to face Dottie, but the night was so inky black she could not see her. “Then allow me to take your valise—or should I say, Lord Finkel’s valise. Then I’ll be balanced with a valise in each hand.”
“I ’av a better idea.”
Her maid’s utterance was followed by the distant thump of the valise hitting the ground.
“A very good idea.” Lady Sophia let go of her own valise. “Oh, dear,” she whispered, “I do hope no one heard the noise.”
“If they did look out the window,” Dottie said in a low voice, “they’d likely not see anything to rouse suspicion.”
Of course. Dottie was always right. (A pity Sophia had not listened to her when she disparaged Lord Finkel.) Anyone who may have heard the noise would be looking for people, which they wouldn’t see because these people were still flapping against a wall three floors up.
“You don’t suppose his lordship will ’av me arrested for stealing his valise?” Dottie asked.
“I daresay he won’t even miss it. Had he need of it, it wouldn’t have been just sitting there quite empty in his library. You must own, it looks a bit tawdry for a man of Lord Finkel’s extravagant taste.”
“Aye, that it does.”
Soon Sophia reached the corner of the edifice and negotiated a turn, relieved to see the silvery looking top of the orangery. She drew a deep breath and lowered herself until she was sitting upon its roof. A moment later, a trembling Dottie joined her. “What now, milady?”
“We’re going to scoot to the lowest part, then climb down those yews.”
“Ye’ll get yer cape filthy -- if ye don’t break yer lovely neck.”
“Don’t be so pessimistic. The hardest part’s behind us,” Sophia called over her shoulder as she pushed off. Somewhere between the apex of the glass building and the yew trees which skimmed its side, she wondered how long a bridegroom would wait for his bride to prepare for bed. Would Finkie be pounding upon her door yet? Or worse still, would he be using his considerable strength to tear it down? She needed no greater impetus than the vision of her exceedingly strong bridegroom—enraged—to send her sprawling into the yew branches. Rip. She winced at the damage to her silk dress but scurried down the tree, grateful her gloves protected her hands.
While Dottie gathered up her courage to follow her mistress, Sophia collected the two valises, but when she returned, Dottie just sat atop the glass building whimpering. “I can’t.”
Sophia drew an impatient breath. “If I can do it, you can. I assure you, this is a most sturdy tree.”
“But it don’t have limbs like a proper tree. I fear I’ll topple on me head.”
“You put your feet first,” Sophia said through clenched teeth. “And I beg that you hurry. We really must be away from Upton Manor when Lord Finkel discovers me gone.”
The maid eased each dangling leg over the roofline. “I can’t.”
“Just leap onto the tree and slide down. That tree’s not going anywhere. Besides, I’ll be right here to catch you if you fail.” Sophia came to stand directly beneath her maid.
That seemed to ease Dottie’s fears.
A moment later, amid a great deal of whining and gasping, the maid’s feet touched solid ground, and the two women began to tread across the frosty grass of Upton Manor.
Sophia sighed, her breath forming a cloud in the frigid air. “A pity I didn’t get married in the summer.”
“Why do you say that, milady?” Dottie asked, breathlessly.
“Because tonight must be the coldest night of the year.”
“Aye, it’s blustery, all right, but at least it’s not snowing.”
“A good thing, too. Our tracks would be devilishly hard to erase in the snow, and I shouldn’t like for Lord Finkel to find me and bring me back.”
“He’s sure to go to the posting inn in Knotworth.”
“That is why we shall go to the posting inn north of Knotworth. He will, quite naturally, be expecting me to return to London.”
“We aren’t going to Lunnon?”
“Of course we’re going to London.”
“Yer too clever for me. Clever ye were, too, to ’av us dress in black so we’ll blend in with the night, but why did you insist on me wearing one of yer lovely gowns?”
“Because Lord Finkel is sure to send servants searching for me, and they will quite naturally be seeking a well-born lady traveling with her maid. I have therefore decided that we will travel as sisters, and I shan’t wish for anyone to suspect that I’m anything other than a genteel lady of middle class.”
“I won’t tell anyone yer a fine lady.”
“Of course you won’t. You’re to be a mute.”

Question: What is your favorite setting for historical romances?

Keep up with Cheryl on her Website, Blog and Facebook.


  1. Welcome to Get Lost in a Story, Cheryl. I have to admit that my favorite place is the wilds of the Highlands....any time period.

  2. Welcome Cheryl! So glad you are here...

  3. Fav Historical setting... I just love being taken to another time and place and experiencing things along with the characters! Thank you so much for sharing with us today! greenshamrock ATcox DOTnet :)

  4. no fav setting

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

  5. I've read a couple Georgette Heyer books and always mean to go back and see if there are more available! I think the Regency period lends itself so well to romance! Thanks!

    1. Thanks for stopping by. And, congratulations; you won!

  6. Medieval Scotland I just cannot resist the plains of the Highland with rolling hills, green lush grasses or tiny waterfalls and lakes and those Scots make me hot lol

    1. Natasha, thanks so much for commenting. And I might add, if you love medieval Scotland, I think you will like my new release coming in May, Rebel Warrior. You can see the Pinterest board for the story here: https://www.pinterest.com/reganwalker123/rebel-warrior-by-regan-walker/.

  7. We have a winner! Julia Holden. Congratulations, Julia, and thanks to all who stopped by and left comments.