Today, our guest blogger is Louise Allen, award-winning author of historical romances set in the Regency period and creator of many a gorgeous romantic hero. But she’s also written books set in the 17th and 18th centuries, plus one set back in AD410! She’s clearly been bitten by the history bug, big time, and her many fans are more than happy to follow her into any period she chooses.
Louise writes non-fiction about her historical interests, most recently the story of the first tourists to the Waterloo battlefield, in their own words. There is also a fascinating guide to walks in Jane Austen’s London — a boon for visitors and much recommended.
Given Louise’s very wide interests, we did wonder what she would choose to blog about…
Louise Allen finds her Hero
Where does a story come from? As a novelist I’m often asked that question and usually the answer is, “I have no idea, it just arrived.”
For one book, however, The Dangerous Mr Ryder, I am very clear where it came from, although the origins of the hero still elude me.
The Dangerous Mr Ryder
‘Jack Ryder’ (not his real name) sauntered into another book altogether – No Place For a Lady – when Max Dysart, the hero, was expecting the arrival of a portly Bow Street Runner. What he got instead was Jack — dark, mysterious and edgy — who promptly tried to take over the book and who had to be spoken to very severely indeed before the heroine got a glimpse of him. (Never mind the heroine, I was having to reach for the smelling salts and fan whenever he appeared on the page…)
So Jack was lurking, demanding his own book with thinly veiled menaces, not helped by the fact that I had no idea at all what his real name was or what he was being so mysterious about.
Then, on a long winter’s evening drive up to Norfolk, I was listening to a programme about Bob Marley which told how, despite the numerous death threats he received because of his political involvement, he always refused a bodyguard. I began to wonder who else might do such a thing when they were in danger. When we got home, I switched on the TV and there was a programme about the first James Bond film with Daniel Craig, Casino Royale, and a shot of the preposterous fairy tale castle of Lichtenstein.
Obviously, I thought, a grand duchess lives there and she needs a bodyguard but for some reason doesn’t want one and then Jack Ryder turns up…
And that became the start of six novels about Jack’s extended family – Those Scandalous Ravenhursts – always referred to by my dear husband as the Sexology.
Here’s a picture of the castle in question. The book opens with Jack dangling on the end of a rope over that appalling drop on the right. I do like torturing my heroes.
I enjoyed playing with different themes and settings for the six novels – adventure (Jack), Liberated Lady (with polar bear and bathing hut), Society (with a scandal), Gothic (with a dungeon and a chalice of poison), theatre (by gaslight) and pirates (all of them thoroughly unpleasant, except for the hero, of course).
Now I’m delighted that the first four Ravenhursts are coming out in 2-in-1 volumes in the UK with Jack (The Dangerous Mr Ryder) and his sister Bel (The Outrageous Lady Felsham) out this month and their very respectable cousin Gareth becoming The Scandalous Lord Standon and wicked cousin Theo, who is definitely The Disgraceful Mr Ravenhurst, ending up in chains in a Burgundian dungeon next month in Volume 2.
And finally, for the well-dressed hero…
Who doesn’t like a Regency gentleman in tail coat and skin-tight pantaloons? These knitted ones are from Costume Parisien in 1817 but are definitely not as worn by Jack Ryder while shinning down castle walls.
Many Thanks to Louise Allen for sharing her Romantic Hero
And if any readers of this blog have not yet read about The Dangerous Mr Ryder, we do strongly suggest that you do. He’s one of the most fanciable heroes you will ever meet on the page, even if he doesn’t shin down a rope wearing those amazing skin-tight pantaloons. He does do just about everything else!
Contact Louise Allen
The first 2-in-1 volume of Those Scandalous Ravenhursts is available in UK only (sadly) but does include the enigmatic Jack Ryder. It may be wise to read with a fan handy. Click to see the book on Amazon UK.
You can find out about Louise’s other books, both fiction and non-fiction, on her Louise Allen Regency website.
You can also follow Louise on Twitter @LouiseRegency
We’re not at all sure how she finds the time, but in addition to having a drool-worthy collection of Regency prints like the one shown above, Louise also runs a fascinating blog about Jane Austen’s London where recent topics have ranged from Londoners Take to Their Skates, through Guy Fawkes, to Electrical Sparks & Pendulous Parts (yes, it probably is what you think — have a read and judge for yourself).
Ah, Jack. I remember him well. New readers are SO in for a treat.
So funny! Loved your battle with Jack before his story came along. Heroes, eh? Completely autocratic sometimes, never mind what the author wants.
So now I know where Jack came from and which castle he dangled from. That image has stayed with me. I loved all the Ravenhurst books. But I have a confession to make. I bought the first story with the enigmatic Jack Ryder at the Penrith RNA Conference and skipped the afternoon session because there was no way I could put the book down. Emerged for dinner, then went back and read it again.
Thank you so much! You couldn’t have said anything better to make an author happy I have to confess that in over 50 books Jack is still my favourite hero.
Mmm. Jack is lovely! I think the Ravenhurts are my favourites of your books.