Uncaged welcomes Barbara Monajem
Welcome to Uncaged! You’re here to tell us about Love and the Shameless Lady, a book in your Scandalous Kisses series. Can you tell us more about this book, and what you may have coming in the near future?
Love and the Shameless Lady is one of my favorite books for two reasons: first, because the heroine, Daisy Warren, is way out of her normal environment. She’s a disgraced lady who lives in a tumbledown inn. She bakes in the kitchen, serves ale to the sailors and smugglers, and plays the piano and sings rude songs for them. The second reason is because Daisy is also a writer. In her spare time, she writes romantic adventure stories with intrepid heroines who make their own happy endings. It’s often said to write what you know. I don’t quite agree with this (I’ve never lived in Regency England, nor have I served ale to smugglers, nor do I sing worth beans, etc.), but it is fun to write about writing, one aspect of life that I do know quite well.
My upcoming book, The Infidelity Curse, will come out in late spring or early summer. The hero comes from a long line of Earls who were cursed with unfaithful wives. He tries his best not to fall in love with a lady touched by scandalous accusations. Of course, he doesn’t succeed—luckily, because the lady is just what he needs.
What is the most difficult scene for you to write? What is the easiest?
The most difficult scenes are always the ones where I don’t quite know what should happen next. Sometimes I ponder for days. Other times I just start writing and see what happens, then go back and revise until I know what’s going on. The easiest scene is the first one in a new book. I adore new beginnings, and the first scene is always clear in my mind when I start.
Do you have a favorite character you’ve written?
I rarely have a favorite anything—there are too many lovely characters, books, foods, people, etc., in the world. However, I guess I would say Daisy Warren (mentioned above) is one of my favorites, as is Bridget O’Shaughnessy Black, who falls in love with Daisy’s brother Colin in The Rake’s Irish Lady. Also, I’m very fond of Noelle de Vallon, the daring Frenchwoman in The Smuggler’s Escape, because she’s the first historical heroine I wrote.
Read the rest of the interview in the issue with the link below
USA Today bestselling author Barbara Monajem wrote her first story at eight years old about apple tree gnomes. After publishing a middle-grade fantasy, she settled on historical mysteries and romances with intrepid heroines and long-suffering heroes (or vice versa). Often there’s bit of fantasy mixed in, because she wants to avoid reality as much as possible.
Barbara used to have two items on her bucket list: to make asparagus pudding and to succeed at knitting socks. She managed the first (don’t ask) but doubts she’ll ever accomplish the second. This is not a bid for immortality but merely the dismal truth. She lives near Atlanta with an ever-shifting population of relatives, friends, and feline strays.
Disgraced lady Daisy Warren serves ale in a tumbledown inn, sings crude songs for the smugglers, and writes romantic novels in her spare time. Shunned by her own class, she’s resigned to her lowly life—until someone tries to kill her.
Gentleman spy Sir Julian Kerr noses out seditionists and traitors. When he visits the inn to investigate two suspicious Frenchmen, he meets the lovely but hostile Daisy. He doesn’t intend to get involved with her—but then he learns that someone is threatening her life.
He wants to find out more—it’s part of his investigation.
He wants to protect her—he’s a chivalrous man.
He wants her.
But will Daisy’s bitter past allow her to risk love again?
Daisy Warren set her pen down with a heartfelt sigh. The Lady’s Ruin was her best novel yet. The plot and characters were so outrageous she felt sure they resembled nothing and no one in real life.
Except perhaps Daisy herself, but she didn’t want to think about that just now. The novel was over and done with, and so was the smuggler who’d inspired it—dead, and richly he deserved it. Unfortunately, neither of these facts changed a thing about the life of a ruined lady.
She bundled the pages, wrapped and sealed them, and addressed them to her publisher. In the morning, she would have it sent on the mail coach to London. She set it aside, went down to the taproom of the ramshackle inn where she lived, and indulged in a celebratory brandy.
Tonight she would play the out-of-tune pianoforte and sing for the drunken patrons of the Diving Duck, while her mother turned in her grave. Tomorrow she would begin the sequel—The Lady’s Revenge.
~ ~ ~
Six months later…
“He’s a good-looking man,” Sally said, wiping three tankards and preparing to fill them. “And one of your sort, too.”
Daisy Warren glanced up from kneading the dough for the cottage loaves. “Not anymore.” She was a ruined woman, and therefore her ‘sort’—in other words, the gently bred—would have nothing to do with her.
That didn’t stop her from taking a good long look at the newcomer, plainly visible through the doorway from the kitchen to the coffee room of the Diving Duck. Slouched in a chair, he was entirely at ease, his station in the world assured. A man would practically have to commit murder before being ostracized, whilst a woman had merely to—
She stopped that thought before it had a chance to grow into full-blown fury. Anger did no good at all. It changed nothing, except to make her feel ill.
Sally rolled her eyes. “The gentry can’t all be prigs.” With practiced ease, she operated the tap with one hand and held the three tankards in the other.
“Most of them are,” Daisy said, punching the dough hard. His fairish hair was a little too long, curling over his cravat. His other clothing was fashionable without being ostentatious, his only jewelry a ruby ring on his left hand. She thought his eyes were blue, but she couldn’t tell from this distance.
God only knew why she found him so interesting. Perhaps because he brought a little culture, a little education, a little worldliness into this godforsaken inn.
Mostly, Daisy was content with her life at the Diving Duck. The smugglers who frequented the place knew by now to treat her with friendly respect, and whenever she wanted to play a proper pianoforte or go for a bruising ride, her brother Colin’s estate wasn’t far away. She would never marry, never have children, but all in all—
Drat, the newcomer had noticed her watching him. She glared and returned to kneading the dough.
“Maybe this one ain’t so bad. I wonder why he’s here.” Sally headed for the coffee room.
“I don’t care.” Daisy was tempted to close the door so she couldn’t see him and therefore he couldn’t see her, but no, she wouldn’t let any man’s appraisal discomfit her. She no longer minded the bold stares of some of the smugglers. They meant nothing by it.
Daisy covered the dough with a cloth and set it aside to rise. The only true advantage to being ruined—and to leaving her brother’s home to live at a disreputable inn—was that she was learning how to cook and bake. A Warren doing menial labor! Her mother’s shroud must be twisted into knots by now.
Sally returned with several empty tankards. “He’s on a riding tour, visiting Roman ruins.”
“Is that so,” Daisy said flatly. A scholar, was he? Thanks to her late father, she had a soft spot for those studying the ancient world, but she knew better than to let nostalgia affect her. He might seem appealing, he might even be knowledgeable, but when it came right down to it, he was just another man.
Sally never stopped moving. Already she was wiping the tankards preparatory to filling them again. A group of locals, most of whom were involved in smuggling to some degree, had come in for their customary darts and ale. “Finished with the dough, have you? Then if you don’t mind, Miss Daisy, I think those rock buns are about done.”
It had taken Sally months to get used to Daisy in her kitchen, and only recently she’d begun to ask for help rather than waiting for Daisy to volunteer. She would never have done so if Daisy hadn’t proposed writing a cookery book, and said she needed to learn how to do things herself, not just watch how they were done.
Daisy opened the oven and shoveled the little cakes out. They were likely to cool as hard as their names indicated, but tasty all the same.
“They don’t look bad,” Sally said, “but what we really need is that recipe from Mr. Warren’s cook.”
At least they weren’t burned, which they would have been if Sally hadn’t prompted her. Yet another reason why Daisy shouldn’t dwell on handsome men. The real reason, though—the most important one—was that if she let her thoughts wander in that direction, she might consider dallying with one of them again.
No, she wasn’t that much of a fool. Once was enough.
“Haven’t really tried, have you?”
Daisy started. “Tried . . .?” She certainly had tried, and . . . Oh, Sally was still talking about rock buns. “Yes, I did my best to pry the recipe from my brother’s cook, but she says she’s never written it down. She won’t want me in her kitchen watching her make them.”
“Tell her she has no choice,” Sally said. “If I was gentry-born, it would be do as I say, or else.”
“I daresay, but she’s not my cook, and she’s been with the family for eons, so I couldn’t sack her even if I wanted to. Which I don’t. We’ll find a recipe elsewhere, or we’ll adjust yours until we get them just right.” Nothing like a nice, safe conversation about food to take one’s mind off a man.
How could she be interested in men after what she’d gone through? It made no sense at all, and yet she kept on noticing them—their teasing grins, their powerful arms and thighs . . .
She must be mad, but she couldn’t help it.
“He’s not staying at the inn,” Sally said, “so you needn’t worry he’ll try tiptoeing to your bedchamber at midnight.”
“I’m not worried about that,” Daisy scoffed.
“The way he’s eyeing you, maybe you should be,” Sally said.
~ ~ ~
Read the rest of the excerpt in the issue below