Today I’m interviewing the wickedly talented Gina Danna about the re-release of her Regency romance, The Wicked Bargain.
- What was your inspiration for this story? Inspiration came from reading too many courtesan stories with the hero saving her from life of ruin – and it was a safe, one-sided view of her life as in she was a courtesan but only saw him. Unrealistic. Plus made me wonder what if it was a male courtesan and she saved him?
2. What was your process for writing this book? Is this different or the same as other books you’ve written? I did a synopsis (or outline) for it. Did that for one other book too but rest, no.
3. Do you have plans for a sequel to this book? No, this is a one of a kind story. I’ve had some inquire about his co-hort in this, and would I write about her but at this time no. It’d be just another story of a female courtesan.
4. Who was the first romance author and book you read? Kathleen Woodiwiss – The Flame and the Flower
5. What is the most exciting/daredevil thing you’ve ever done? Either horseback riding (there’s a history to that) or moving to another state, away from family
Now, Lightning Round:
6. What is your favorite amusement park ride? Rollercoaster
7. Tea or coffee? Coffee
8. French manicure or color (and if color, what color)? French manicure
9. Beach or mountains? Beach
10. Chocolate or vanilla? CHOCOLATE!!!
11. Boxers, briefs or commando? Boxers
12. Blond, brunette or redhead? (preferred men’s hair color) Brunette/dark
13. Would you rather skydive or scuba dive? Um, probably neither
14. Would you rather vacation in Hawaii, Vegas or London? London
And now for something truly wicked…
The Wicked Bargain (blurb):
Haunted by a past as a sex slave, nobleman Ethan Warth returns to England as a male courtesan for rich matrons and runs a brothel for wealthy lords. Arabella Covington appears on his door, trained in the medical arts but unable to practice because of her gender. He hires her to care for his ladies but her inquisitive nature and beauty make him desire to teach her the world of seduction.
Ethan, however, never counted on falling in love…
Ethan Warth, Marquis of Blackmore, sat at his desk in the library adding the sums on the bills before him. Leaning back in the leather chair, he pinched the bridge of his nose. Damn. The amounts were excessive. His father had sold off every valuable piece of property leaving Ethan only the entailed country estate, crumbling from neglect, massive debts and no income. All to retrieve his heir.
He guessed he should be grateful.
Left in such a situation, Ethan knew he’d be dead by now. Perhaps that would have been better than this.
He groaned. How was he ever going to raise enough funds to leave this beautifully arranged hellhole and finally go home?
The door opened and a whoosh of silk filled the air.
“I knew you’d be in here still.”
He opened an eye and shut it again. “What, my dear?”
“It’s getting late, my lord. You need to consider your plans for this evening.”
The comment made him open both eyes and gaze at the smiling lady sitting before him. A beautiful woman, not yet out of her twenties, Elizabeth Chadway had the elegance and grace to fit into the ton though she couldn’t be bothered with society except as a way to make a living. And she did that admirably well. She could demand the highest price from any nobleman. Her current lover, Lord Clemson, would no doubt offer for her tonight and she dressed for the occasion. Her dark auburn hair was arranged in a jumble of pearl-pinned curls with a section hanging just behind her right ear. The emerald green dress with a white lace décolletage displayed her generous cleavage.
“You truly cannot mean to stay here all night.” Her brown eyes danced in merriment at his discomposure behind the desk.
“No.” Reaching for his brandy, he finished the smooth liquor in one gulp and rose to refill it.
“Just how bad is it?” she asked, watching him carefully.
He turned to her, running his fingers through his unruly hair. “Bad. Dr. Bender’s bill is outrageous.” Slamming his fist on the tabletop, Ethan upset the brandy decanter. He grabbed it in time before it fell. “The man is a grave robber charging those high fees.”
“Lydia was very ill,” Elizabeth said calmly. “And Mary is having a difficult confinement. I didn’t think you wanted to let them get worse.”
With a deep breath, he felt the weight of the entire house resting on his shoulders. Ethan cared for his ladies deeply. They needed him to watch out for them, to protect and keep them safe. He owed them that. “Of course not. Just find me another doctor. I can’t keep paying his prices. At this rate, I’ll be in debtor’s prison by next month.”
She laughed. “They’d never throw a lord into a cell.”
He glared at her. “Oh, my dear, can you be so sure?” With a snort, he reached for the decanter. “If they strip me of the title, it would be short work, considering.”
Elizabeth stood to walk over to him. Taking the glass from his hands, she sat it down to pull him closer to her. She cupped his face in her palms.
“It will be fine,” she murmured. Her eyes wandered downward. He had discarded his jacket and neck cloth, leaving his snowy white shirt agape at the throat exposing a bit of his chest. He didn’t even flinch at her appraisal. Long ago, her sweet scent and roving eyes set his blood on fire and drove him to take her in his arms. But those days had ended. She remained his friend and confidante over his sordid past. Considering how quickly those fiery impulses had died, he wondered if he was dead inside.
Tugging his shirt together, she looked into his eyes. “You should go out this evening.”
“I have work to do,” he countered.
“Yes, but Countess St. John cancelled tonight. So you should go out, to the opera or your club even.”
Slave driver. He was more than familiar with those….He raised an eyebrow at her. “Elizabeth, sweeting, are you trying to get rid of me?”
“Shhh,” she whispered, stroking his cheek. The smell of lavender filled his nostrils. “Perhaps you should go to your friends.”
“Friends,” he scoffed, giving her a gentle push to move her back a step. He filled his snifter with the amber liquor. Downing a large swallow, he welcomed its burn down his throat. He went back to the desk.
“Yes, surely some are in need of an indulgence or two.” She paused. Her lips curved slightly. “And you need to find a bride.”
He sputtered brandy out of his mouth. “What?”
“You are titled, are you not, my lord?” Her calm words were the soothing tone to tame the beast that dwelled beneath his surface. Her formality added to her argument, an argument he had to face with her and the others almost daily. “You’ll need an heir.”
“No,” he snarled, his lips curling in distaste. “I have to find a way to pay off those damn creditors before taking a wife.”
“We have done well,” she said, sitting across from his desk. “You should be able to leave us.”
“Elizabeth, sweeting,” he sighed, leaning back in the chair. “I wasn’t lying. Yes, I hoped to go home, but the bills outweigh most of what we bring in.” He took another gulp from his glass. “Have you failed to notice that despicable lot waiting for me outside? They’re not paying clients, sweeting, they want to be paid. By me. And with what, might I ask? Damn!” He stood, pushing the chair back and pacing behind the desk, running his hand through his hair. “What I need is another enticement, another lure.”
“You need an heir,” she continued. “Ethan, go, find some rich heiress to marry then you won’t have to worry.”
He looked at her and guffawed loudly. “And who would marry me? Outside the damn title, I am not the sort of man any family would want.”
That flicker in her eyes meant she’d push him until he relented. Fine. He’d go to his club and, perhaps, there he might find a few men in need of female companionship.
Elizabeth smiled broadly at him. “My darling.” Her skirts swished from the sway of her hips as she sauntered to him. “You are the most handsome man in all of London. You could have any woman you wanted.”
He snorted. Oh, he knew he was handsome. Every day he eyed himself in the looking glass, assessing himself, not because of vanity but because of his trade. He stood tall, a chiseled statue of muscle, his tawny hair and light brown eyes attracted many women’s attention. In fact, he had used his looks to save his life on a couple of occasions. Ethan Warth’s awareness of his self-worth gave him the confidence he needed to live and thrive in London Society. His income relied on his good health. He excelled in physical prowess, athletic to a fault, finding exercise one method to combat demons that pursued him. His physique, coupled with his flirtatious ways, could lure any woman into his bed. Oh yes, he knew he had the looks. They’d also chained and enslaved him for five years. He hardly called that a blessing.
“Are you telling me I have no other appointments arranged for tonight?”
Her smile turned crooked. “No.”
He downed the rest of his brandy. Resignation filled his voice as he gave in. “Fine, I’ll go.”
“My lord,” she bowed slightly, mocking his station as he passed.
“And you, sweeting….” He paused with his hand on the doorknob, casting a glance over his shoulder. “Secure your wayward lord tonight or find another. I’ll not spend another coin for you to waste in pursuit of that arse.”