I'd like to welcome best-selling author Laurel McKee to One Book Shy of a Full Shelf....
TITLE: Duchess of Sin (Daughters of Erin)
AUTHOR/EDITOR: Laurel McKee
INFO: Paperback, Fiction, 370 pages
PUBLISHED: Forever Books, 2010
HOW'D I GET IT: Received from Hachette/Forever Books for Review and Giveaway
FROM GOODREADS: Blonde and beautiful Lady Anna Blacknall is in the mood for mischief. Entering Dublin's most notorious den of vice, she finds herself in the arms of a mysterious, emerald-eyed Irishman. And although he is masked, his tender kiss is hauntingly familiar.
Conlan McTeer, Duke of Adair, has come to Dublin to fight for a free Ireland. But he's suddenly reunited with the young Englishwoman who had once claimed his heart, and his passion turns from politics to pleasure. When their sizzling encounter brings danger to Anna's door, she must decide where her loyalties lie-and quickly. For someone will do whatever it takes to destroy Conlan . . . and anyone he dares to love.
MY TAKE: I was pulled into this story immediately from the very first three lines:
She really should not be doing this. It was a terrible, imprudent idea.
But that had never stopped her before.
How could I not be hooked? Anna is such a refreshing and endearing protagonist. I loved that she isn't your everyday debutante. While she's not quite the brilliant scholar that her youngest sister Caroline is, Anna is by no means an empty-headed fluff. She's bright and curious and she craves action and adventure. Of course I am very impressed that she is a fabulous equestrienne.
Sparks fly and emotions run high when Anna unexpectedly meets up again with Conlan McTeer, the Duke of Adair. Two years have passed and they still feel a connection that neither can deny or fight. Ireland and its rich history and politics provide a fabulous backdrop to this lovely story full of danger, steam and intrigue.
Conlan is mysterious and super sexy. (Be sure to read the interview below to read what actor Laurel McKee would cast as Conlan.) He wants Anna for himself, but doesn't want to put her in the danger that seems to follow him. He learns quickly that Anna is a force to be reckoned with, whether he likes it or not!
While this is the second story in the Daughters of Erin trilogy, the books easily stand alone. The author has masterfully blended the required details from the first book into this story so the reader is never lost. Of course I can't wait to get my copy of Countess of Scandal simply because I loved the story and characters.
MY RATING: 4.5/5
Visit the author at her website to learn more. In the meantime though, check out the interview I got to do. I love to get to know our favorite authors better and was thrilled when I got a chance to ask Laurel a few questions. Here's what she had to say:
ME: Welcome to One Book Shy Laurel. I've got a few questions for you today.
Who are some of the authors that have been an inspiration in your writing life?
Laurel: When I was about 9 or 10, I found a big box of Barbara Cartland paperbacks at my grandmother’s house and devoured them within days! (Recently I tried to re-read one, but—well, I couldn’t get past the second page. I guess my tastes have changed since then!). Reading those books was a huge inspiration to me, and got me started reading romances and also got me interested in history. Later I found books by authors I still love, like Laura Kinsale, Mary Balogh, and Loretta Chase and I was a romance reader for life. (I have to say, though, that these books gave me very unrealistic expectations when it came to dating as a teenager. There simply were no dark, sardonic dukes at my high school)
And like most historical writers, I adore Jane Austen and the Brontes! They’re a big inspiration to me when it comes to creating characters.
ME: I went through my mom's Cartland stash too! My first boyfriend hated me to read anything but textbooks as there was no way he could live up to the fantasy heroes I read about. Poor guy..
Do you create your characters to fit your story, or does the story follow the characters?
Laurel: Usually the characters come first. I think “What would happen if a woman like X met a man like Y?” and it takes off from there. But every story is a bit different—inspiration can come from anywhere at all.
ME: If you were told you could no longer write, what kind of creative outlet would you choose?
Laurel: Not write? Unthinkable! I’ve been writing in one form or another since I was a child and scribbled stories in my room. But I also love to paint. I’m not very good at it (the people in my scenes always end up looking like trees for some reason), but I do have fun with it.
ME: Hollywood has called and wants to turn Duchess of Sin into a blockbuster movie. Who would you pick to play Anna and Conlan and why?
Laurel: Well, first of all I would say they must get the costume designer from The Duchess! And I love this question, since I always make “character collages” when I start a new book. I find images that fit my view of the characters, scenes of houses they might live in, whatever I think I might need. For Duchess of Sin, I had a hard time finding just the right actor for Conlan, until I turned to my very favorite historical drama (which is saying a lot, since I am addicted to historical dramas), North and South. The settings are very different, but Richard Armitage was perfect for the dark, rugged, mysterious Conlan. (I also watched Phantom of the Opera, but Gerard Butler in that movie ended up as inspiration for the next book, Lady of Seduction. But that’s another story!). Anna was a tall, aristocratic blond (I sort of hated her at first, until her niceness and spirit won me over…) She’s sort of a younger Gwyneth Paltrow.
ME: Oohh, I loved the costumes on the Duchess, excellent choice. I'm getting fabulous visuals with your leading men choices as well. Richard and Gerard, yummm.
Finally, what can your fans look forward to next from your writing desk?
Laurel: The third (and final) Daughters of Erin book is coming in June 2011! It’s the story of Caroline, the youngest of the Blacknall sisters…
I'm bummed that there aren't more Blacknall sisters, maybe they'll find some they didn't know about? Hint.. Can't wait to see what is in store for Caroline and Grant!
Thanks for sharing with us Laurel, I hope you'll come back to visit when it's Caroline's turn in the spotlight.
GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED
You lucky ducks are in for a treat as Laurel and Anna from Hachette have generously provided three extra copies of Duchess of Sin for our giveaway!
- Be a public GFC follower, old or new ~ I DO check, just so you know....
- Leave a comment on this post and tell me what YOU would name the heroine in YOUR book
- Open to US and Canadian residents
- NO PO boxes
- Entries close at midnight PST on December 24th, 2010.
- Winners will be drawn randomly and notified by mail. They will then have 72 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen.
- One prize per household, even if you win this book on another blog/site.
WHERE TO BUY IT: Duchess of Sin, The Book Depository, Powell's Books, IndieBound
~~~~~ Disclaimer: All opinions expressed on this blog are 100% my own. I do not receive monetary compensation for my reviews but do utilize affiliate links. I may receive books in order to facilitate a review, but this does not guarantee a good review - only a completely honest one. Each review post denotes how I obtained the book.