Thank you for having me on your blog, Punya!
People often ask me how I came up with the idea for The Trouble With Misbehaving.
I have to say I can’t point to any single idea. The story evolved through research, family history, travel, and from previous stories I wrote.
TTWM uses secondary characters from one of my previous books (now comfortably collecting dust on my hard drive). C.C., the heroine in Misbehaving, was a villain in that earlier book. She was such a dynamic, interesting character and kept pacing around in my head insisting she was misunderstood and demanded I tell her story!
When I toured Marble House in Newport Rhode Island, U.S.A., it all came together.
She also had lofty social ambitions and intended to be one of New York society’s leading lights. Initially, however, as new money, she was snubbed by older factions of New York High Society.
Bullheaded, intelligent, and courageous, she challenged convention and used her husband’s vast wealth to maneuver New York society into doing her bidding.
She had Marble House (called a ‘summer cottage’) built on property right next to the summer cottage of the queen of New York High Society. And Alva spared no expense to make it the grandest around.
Later, Alva’s divorce from William Vanderbilt (in an age when divorce was rare) rendered her an outcast. She regained her social position by marrying off her beautiful daughter, Consuelo, to Charles Spencer-Churchill, 9th Duke of Marlborough.
C.C. and her mother, Delia have similarities to both Alva and Consuelo. I set the story at the end of the American Civil War (1864-1865) since that was a period of enormous struggle and strife. It was also a time when captains could demonstrate their brazen nerve, technical skill, and shameless audacity.
The backstory to TTWM: Following a horrid scandal, C.C. is sent to London to live with her father’s family with the mandate that she find and marry a titled lord. She must do this to reinstate both her own and her family’s spot in New York high society. Untimely deaths make C.C. the sole heir to her father’s fortune and with it she is determined to forge her own path.
A desperate letter from her mother begs C.C.’s help. She must find a captain who will take her to North Carolina to save her family.
With the dangerous tightening of the blockade, C.C. doesn’t want just any captain. She will only hire the best. Notorious Captain Beauford Tollier is such a man and one of the most successful blockade-runners to sail the seas. He also happens to be her cousin’s brother-in-law, and the third son of the Earl of Grancliffe. The only problem is, Captain Beau has just been released from a Union prison and is beset by battle demons. He has vowed to find a different livelihood.
C.C. must convince Captain Beau to take her through the blockade, but he will not be cajoled. With his wily, commanding stubbornness he presents a challenge she’d not bargained on. In due course, he manages to sneak past more than the Union barriers.
Captain Beau has aspects of a real captain, Augustus Charles Hobart-Hampden (later, Hobart Pasha) the third son of the 6th Earl of Buckinghamshire who was a very successful blockade-running captain during the Civil War.
The research for The Trouble With Misbehaving truly was an adventure and a very pleasurable one. I could go on and on about it. The story takes place in England, The Bahamas and North Carolina, U.S.A.
Besides doing an immense amount of book and internet research, my husband and I took trips to research details about the history, setting, and the language people used. The trips themselves were a wonderful experience.
We spent three weeks in England touring the country at the time of year when certain parts of the story take place.
We took a cruise from New York to the Bahamas in December, the time of year C.C. and Beau would have sailed. I wanted to know what it would have been like for Beau and C.C. to sail on a blockade-runner from the Bahamas to Wilmington, NC—the only Confederate port still open at the time the story takes place.
The Royal Victoria Hotel where C.C. and Beau stayed in Nassau, the Bahamas (a famous blockade-runner hotel) was a real hotel and was closed in 1971. It was a short walk from the wharf. I have a picture of what is left of its famous gardens and a memorial plaque on my website. victoriahanlen.com
We have family in North Carolina, and on visits, we took side trips to Goldsboro and Wilmington, NC to explore the towns, historical homes, plantations, forts and railroad museums.
It’s been over 150 years since the American Civil War, but the language people use to refer to it in the North vs. the South still continues to be distinct.
The Trouble With Misbehaving was a finalist in eight Romance Writers of America contests. When I entered it in Harlequin’s ‘So You Think You Can Write Contest’ I didn’t win the big prize, but I was given a two-book contract!
That’s all for now. Thank you so much for having me on your blog, Punya! I totally enjoyed it! :)
The Trouble With Misbehaving is now at your favorite ebook stores.
The Trouble With Seduction will be released April 25, 2016.
Love, Betrayal and Redemption
Calista ‘CC’ Collins is used to being the talk of the town. With her scandalous past she’s learnt the hard way that a woman needs to be strong to get what she wants in a man’s world. And what she wants is the infamous Captain Beauford Tollier—roguish son of an earl, notorious blockade-runner and all-round knave of the seas.
However, Captain Beau is not one to be cajoled—he is done with the dangerous sea life and ready to follow the life of the straight and narrow. But with many powerful forces circling around him, Beau doesn’t stand a chance…