Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Regan Walker's Best of the Regency with K.C. Bateman

Regan here. Welcome to the Best of the Regency! My guest today is author Kate Bateman (writing as K. C. Bateman). Kate wrote her first historical romance in response to a $1 bet with her husband who rashly claimed she'd “never finish the thing.” She gleefully proved him wrong with a historical set in the Italian Renaissance. Now, her latest Secrets & Spies Regency-era series features her trademark feisty, intelligent heroines, wickedly inappropriate banter, and heroes you want to alternately strangle and kiss—all mixed up in the intrigue and turmoil of the Napoleonic wars.

When not traveling to exotic locations “for research”, Kate leads a double life as a fine art appraiser and on-screen antiques expert for several TV shows in the UK, each of which has up to 2.5 million viewers. She splits her time between Illinois and her native England and writes despite three inexhaustible children and a husband who has flatly refused to read any of her books “unless she hits the NY Times Bestseller list.” It is—naturally—her fervent desire to force the semi-illiterate, number-loving cynic to do so. He still owes her that dollar.

And now to the Interview! (Be sure and comment for a chance to win an e-book copy of A Counterfeit Heart and remember to leave your email so we can contact you):

Why do you write Regencies?
I’ve always loved history. Before I moved to the USA and began writing Regency romances, I spent fifteen years as an antiques and fine art appraiser with my own auction house in the UK. It seemed a natural progression to combine my historical knowledge and my love of reading historical romance into writing in the genre myself.

Be honest, when reading...do you put yourself in the heroine’s role?
Of course! Who doesn’t? I think that’s one of the main reasons we as humans read stories – to ask ourselves what we would do if we were in that same situation, to experience the thrill of a different location or time, to analyze the choices the characters make, and feel the emotions evoked by a particular situation. We enjoy living vicariously by proxy. Reading allows us to have thousands of adventures without ever leaving the safety of our chair.

What’s your favorite fairy tale?
East of the Sun and West of the Moon.

Tea or Coffee? And how do you take it?
Definitely tea! (Well, I am English.) Several cups per day, (preferably hourly) taken with milk and a tiny bit of sugar, please.

What three things are, at this moment, in your heroine’s purse, satchel, reticule, weapons belt or amulet bag (whatever she carries)?
Well, Sabine is a counterfeiter, and she always likes to have a plan B, an escape route. So she’d have several of her own forged banknotes in there, for emergencies. Since she’s also a gifted artist, she’d have her box of artist’s materials; paints and pencils, so she could draw (or forge someone’s signature!). And she’d probably have slipped a little bit of cake in there, too, because she missed such things when she was penniless in Paris, so now she’s in a Viscount’s house England she’s going to indulge herself. . .

Which already filmed movie represents your writing style?
That’s tough! It would have to be something with action-adventure, humor, and romance, like The Count of Monte Cristo (the one with Jim Cavaziel), or Romancing the Stone. Plus, I love heaps of unresolved sexual tension and snarky banter, with heroes and heroines who are in opposition, so maybe a film like The Cutting Edge, or even the Kenneth Branagh version of Much Ado Abut Nothing. My main characters are often like Beatrice and Benedict: capable, witty, and utterly resistant to falling in love!

What will always make you smile, even on a bad day?
My three monsters: my children. They’re always doing something ridiculous. Last week, for example, monster number two, who is seven, decided to remove his wobbly tooth (egged on by his older brother, aged ten), by attaching the tooth to an arrow with dental floss and shooting it across the garden. I predicted tears, but it worked like a charm! (It did take a while to find the tooth to put under his pillow for the tooth fairy, though!)

What are the next five books on your “to be read” pile?
My TBR pile is huge, especially since I went to the RT conference in Atlanta and picked up a whole lot more to add to it. I love historical romances, of course, but I also like lots of other genres too. I’ll read whatever catches my interest. In no particular order, the next five books I’m looking forward to reading are:

Eloisa James – A Duke of Her Own
Valerie Bowman – Never Trust a Pirate
Susan Elizabeth Phillips - First Star I See Tonight
Sally Thorne - The Hating Game
Connie Brockway – The Other Guy’s Bride

 Kate's new book, A Counterfeit Heart:

A feisty counterfeiter and a cocky British agent clash in this sultry Secrets and Spies novel by K. C. Bateman, whose witty, intelligent, and sexy historical romances have become her signature.

As Sabine de la Tour tosses piles of forged banknotes onto a bonfire in a Paris park, she bids a reluctant farewell to her double life as a notorious criminal. Over the course of Napoleon’s reign, her counterfeits destabilized the continent and turned scoundrels into rich men, but now she and her business partner must escape France—or face the guillotine. Her only hope of surviving in England is to strike a deal with the very spy she’s spent her career outrunning. Now after meeting the arrogant operative in the flesh, Sabine longs to throw herself upon his mercy—and into his arms.

Richard Hampden, Viscount Lovell, is prepared to take any risk to safeguard England from the horrors of the French Revolution. To lure the insurgents out from the shadows, he’s even willing to make a pact with his archenemy: Philippe Lacorte, the greatest counterfeiter in Europe. But when a cheeky, gamine-faced beauty proves herself to be Lacorte, Richard is shocked—and more than a little aroused. Unlike the debutantes who so often hurl themselves at him, this cunning minx offers a unique and irresistible challenge. Richard will help her. But in return, he wants something that even Sabine cannot fake.

See it on Amazon, B&N and Kobo. And keep up with Kate on her Website, Twitter and Facebook.

Last question: Tell us three Fun Facts about the book.

1: Sabine, my heroine, is a counterfeiter, and I unearthed some amazing real-life stories of wartime forgery during my research. Just as in A Counterfeit Heart, Napoleon really did employ a team of forgers to print fake currency to ruin his enemies. Hitler, too, tried
something very similar during the second World War, forcing prisoners to fake thousands of British banknotes in a plan called Operation Bernhart. I had a lot of fun playing with the premise of ‘what if.’

2: One of my favorite funny scenes in the book is when Sabine creates a diversion by
ordering a whole host of random purchases in Richard’s name, to be delivered at the same time, causing a huge confusion in the street outside. The things she buys are so
ridiculous—including a piano, and a foul-mouthed parrot—much to Richard’s annoyance! It makes me smile just thinking about it.

3: Richard’s scruffy, disobedient dog Argos is named after Odysseus’s faithful dog from
Homer’s Odyssey.
 
Kate’s Question for commenters:

My heroine, Sabine, blackmails our hero into employing her so she can earn enough to help her friend escape to America. She does bad things, but with good reason. Have YOU ever done something slightly naughty, but for a good reason? (e.g. I always eat some of my children’s Easter eggs, to save them from too many visits to the dentist!

And, if you'd like to read an excerpt:

 
Bois de Vincennes, Paris, March 1816.

It didn't take long to burn a fortune.
“Don't throw it on like that! Fan the paper out. You need to let the air get to it.”
Sabine de la Tour sent her best friend Anton Carnaud an exasperated glance and tossed another bundle of banknotes onto the fire. It smoldered then caught with a bright flare, curling and charring to nothing in an instant. “That's all the francs. Pass me some rubles.”
Another fat wad joined the conflagration. Little spurts of green and blue jumped up as the flames consumed the ink. The intensity of the fire heated her cheeks so she stepped back and tilted her head to watch the glowing embers float up into the night sky. It was a fitting end, really. Almost like a funeral pyre, the most damning evidence of Philippe Lacorte, notorious French counterfeiter, going up in smoke. Sabine quelled the faintest twinge of regret and glanced over at Anton. “It feels strange, don’t you think? Doing the right thing for once.”
He shook his head. “It feels wrong.” He poked a pile of Austrian gulden into the fire with a stick. “Who in their right mind burns money? It's like taking a penknife to a Rembrandt.”
Sabine nudged his shoulder, well used to his grumbling. “You know I’m right. If we spend it, we'll be no better than Napoleon. This is our chance to turn over a new leaf.”
Anton added another sheaf of banknotes to the blaze with a pained expression. “I happen to like being a criminal,” he grumbled. “Besides, we made all this money. Seems only fair we should get to spend it. No one would know. Your fakes are so good nobody can tell the difference. What’s a few million francs in the grand scheme of things?”
“We'd know,” Sabine frowned at him. “‘Truth is the highest thing that man may keep.’”
Anton rolled his eyes. “Don't start quoting dead Greeks at me.”
“That’s a dead Englishman,” she smiled wryly. “Geoffrey Chaucer.”
Anton sniffed, unimpressed by anything that came from the opposite—and therefore wrong—side of the channel. He sprinkled a handful of assignats onto the flames. “You appreciate the irony of trying to be an honest forger, don't you?”
It was Sabine's turn to roll her eyes.
Anton shot her a teasing, pitying glance. “It’s because you're half-Anglais. Everyone knows the English are mad. The French half of you knows what fun we could have. Think of it, chérie—ballgowns, diamonds, banquets!” His eyes took on a dreamy, faraway glow. “Women, wine, song!” He gave a magnificent Gallic shrug. “Mais, non. You listen to the English half. The half that is boring and dull and—”
“—law-abiding?” Sabine suggested tartly. “Sensible? The half that wants to keep my neck firmly attached to my shoulders instead of in a basket in front of the guillotine?”
She bit her lip as a wave of guilt assailed her. Anton was only in danger of losing his head because of her. For years he’d protected her identity by acting as Philippe Lacorte’s public representative. He’d dealt with all the unsavory characters who’d wanted her forger’s skills while she’d remained blissfully anonymous. Even the man who'd overseen the Emperor's own counterfeiting operation, General Jean Malet, hadn't known the real name of the elusive forger he’d employed. He’d never seen Sabine as anything more than an attractive assistant at the print shop in Rue Pélican.
Now, with Napoleon exiled on St Helena and Savary, head of the Secret Police, also banished, General Malet was the only one who knew about the existence of the fake fortune the Emperor had amassed to fill his coffers.
The fortune Sabine had just liberated.
Anton frowned into the flames. The pink glow highlighted his chiseled features and Sabine studied him dispassionately. She knew him too well to harbor any romantic feelings about him, but there was no doubt he had a very handsome profile. Unfortunately, it was a profile that General Malet could recognize all too easily.
As if reading her mind he said, “Speaking of guillotines, Malet would gladly see me in a tumbril. He’s out for blood. And I'm his prime suspect.”
 “Which is why we’re getting you out of here,” Sabine said briskly. “The boat to England leaves at dawn. We have enough money to get us as far as London.”
Anton gave a frustrated huff and pointed at the fire. “In case you hadn’t noticed, we have a pile of money right—”
She shot him a warning scowl. “No. We are not using the fakes. Its high time we started doing things legally. This English lord’s been trying to engage Lacorte’s services for months. One job for him and we’ll be able to pay for your passage to Boston. You’ll be safe from Malet forever.”
 “It could be a trap,” Anton murmured darkly. “This Lovell says he wants to employ Lacorte, but we've been on opposite sides of the war for the past ten years. The English can’t be trusted."
Sabine let out a faint, frustrated sigh. It was a risk, to deliver herself into the arms of the enemy, to seek out the one man she'd spent months avoiding. Her heart beat in her throat at the thought of him. Richard Hampden, Viscount Lovell. She'd only seen him once, weeks ago, but the memory was seared upon her brain.
He, of anyone, had come closest to unmasking her. He'd followed Lacorte’s trail right to her doorstep, like a bloodhound after a fox. She’d barely had time to hide behind the back-room door and press her eye to a gap in the wood before the bell above the entrance had tinkled and he'd entered the print shop.
  It had been dark outside; the flickering street lamps had cast long shadows along Rue Pélican. Sabine had squinted, trying to make out his features, but all she could see was that he was tall; he ducked to enter the low doorway. She raised her eyebrows. So this was the relentless Lord Lovell.
Not for the first time she cursed her short-sightedness. Too many hours of close-work meant that anything over ten feet was frustratingly blurry. He moved closer, further into the shop—and into knee-weakening, stomach-flipping focus.
Sabine caught her breath. All the information she'd gleaned about her foe from Anton's vague, typically male attempts at description had in no way prepared her for the heart-stopping, visceral reality.
Technically, Anton had been correct. Richard Hampden was over six feet tall with mid-brown hair. But those basic facts failed to convey the sheer magnetic presence of his lean, broad-shouldered frame. There was no spare fat around his lean hips, no unhealthy pallor to his skin. He moved like water, with a liquid grace that suggested quietly restrained power, an animal at the very peak of fitness.
Anton had guessed his age as between twenty-eight and thirty-five. Certainly, Hampden was no young puppy; his face held the hard lines and sharp angles of experience rather than the rounded look of boyhood.
Sabine studied the elegant severity of his dark blue coat, the pale knee breeches outlining long, muscular legs. There was nothing remarkable in the clothes themselves to make him stand out in a crowd, and yet there was something about him that commanded attention. That drew the eye, and held it.
Her life often hinged on the ability to correctly identify dangerous men. Every sense she possessed told her that the man talking with Anton was very dangerous indeed.
Sabine pressed her forehead to the rough planks and swore softly. The Englishman turned, almost as if he sensed her lurking behind the door, and everything inside her stilled. Something—an instant of awareness, almost of recognition—shot through her as she saw his face in full. Of all the things she'd been prepared for, she hadn't envisaged this: Viscount Lovell was magnificent.
And then he’d turned his attention back to Anton, and she’d let out a shaky breath of relief.
She'd dreamed of him ever since. Disturbing, jumbled dreams in which she was always running, he pursuing. She’d wake the very instant she was caught, her heart pounding in a curious mix of panic and knotted desire.
Sabine shook her head at her own foolishness. It was just her luck to conceive an instant attraction to the least suitable man in Europe. The thought of facing him again made her shiver with equal parts anticipation and dread, but he was the obvious answer to her current dilemma. He had money; she needed funds. Voilà tout.
At least now she was prepared. One of the basic tenets of warfare was ‘know thine enemy,’ after all. Sabine drew her cloak more securely around her shoulders and watched Anton feed the rest of the money to the flames. The embers fluttered upwards like a cloud of glowing butterflies.
When this was all over she would be like a phoenix. Philippe Lacorte would disappear and Sabine de la Tour would emerge from the ashes to reclaim the identity she'd abandoned eight years ago. She would live a normal life. But not yet. There was still too much to do.
Sabine brushed off her skirts and picked up the bag she'd packed for traveling. There was something rather pathetic in the fact that her whole life fit into one single valise, but she squared her shoulders and glanced over at Anton. “Come on, let's go. Before someone sees the smoke and decides to investigate.”
They couldn't go home, to the print shop on Rue Pélican. Malet had already ripped the place apart looking for ‘his’ money. Her stomach had given a sickening lurch as she’d taken in the carnage. Books pulled from the shelves, paintings ripped from the walls, canvases torn. Old maps shredded, drawers pulled out and upended. Their home, her sanctuary for the past eight years, had been utterly ransacked.
But there had been triumph amid the loss. Malet had found neither Anton nor the money. And if Sabine had anything to do with it, he never would.
Anton hefted the two bags of English banknotes that had been spared the flames as Sabine turned her back on Paris. For the first time in eight long years she was free.
It was time to track down Lord Lovell.

8 comments:

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  2. Hi, Kate. Welcome to the Best of the Regency on Get Lost in a Story!

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  3. Enjoyed reading the Q&A! Thanks for sharing! :) greenshamrock atcox dotnet

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    1. Colleen, thanks so much for commenting!

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  4. Congratulations to Colleen C.... you have won Kat's novel. She'll be in touch!

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  5. Awesome interview .. and I love Branagh's version of Much Ado About Nothing. Looking forward to reading this novel and more :-)

    Priscilla Johnson

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