Jane Feather Q and A TODAY! Win a Copy of Trapped at the Altar!

Trapped at the Altar Front Cover (Pocket Books/Simon and Schuster)

Trapped at the Altar Front Cover (Pocket Books/Simon and Schuster)

I’m so excited to have been given the opportunity to do a Q and A with historical romance author Jane Feather, who has written so many fantastic series…the V series, the Charm Bracelet trilogy, the Bride trilogy, the Cavendish Square trilogy and the Blackwater Brides trilogy among others. I’ll also be giving away two copies of her newest book, Trapped at the Altar, courtesy of Pocket Books! I’ll tell you how you can enter to win below the Q and A. So without further ado, here are my questions and Jane’s responses.

Q: You’ve written about many different historical time periods, including some that are pretty unusual for romance books. How do you choose what period to use for your setting?

A: It depends on what historical hook I find when I’m thinking/researching historical plots. There’s always some fascinating fact somewhere in the past that’s crying out for a story set around it.

Q: What specifically made you choose the time period of the Monmouth rebellion for your new series?

A: I’ve always been intrigued by the historical figure of Judge Jeffries, the Hanging Judge who presided over the Bloody Assizes in the wake of Monmouth’s failed rebellion. I started out with a plot in which he and the assizes played a much larger part, only the romance had to take precedence so the timing became a bit skewed and I couldn’t get as far as Monmouth’s actual landing on English soil.

Q: Some readers are so captivated by the historical figures you portray that they research to learn more about the factual people and events. Does this surprise you? Are there any particular research resources you would suggest?

A: I think it’s wonderful that readers would be sufficiently interested in the historical background to research it for themselves. It makes me even more determined to ensure I get my own facts right. Wikipedia is, of course, a quick and easy route to research but I have always preferred books of historical research. You can’t go wrong with any one of the series Oxford History of England. I also rely on my copy of Dictionary of the Napoleonic Wars by David Chandler, if I’m setting a book at any time during that period, and I love Trevelyan’s Social Histories of England. Other than that, historical biographies are wonderful sources for material.

Q: What is your favorite time period that you’ve written about? What time periods would you still like to write about in future books?

A: I really enjoyed writing the trilogy set in 1900 England, it was so liberating to leave behind the conventional issues of regular historical periods. I would love to write more set in the early twentieth century, including World War 1.

Q: I have read about 35 of your books, and although some characters may have similarities to others, I’ve never felt like I’m reading the same character twice. How do you make sure each new character has a voice that is unique and distinct from your previous characters?

A: I confess it’s hard, but changing historical periods and adding interesting secondary characters can help with the differentiation.

Q: Do your characters sometimes take on lives of their own? For example, have you ever intended for two characters to end up as a couple, only to find out as you’re writing them that they don’t really seem suitable for each other? Has a secondary character ever become much more important than you originally intended?

A: I think they always take on a life of their own. Certainly I’ll realize that something I intended to happen would no longer make sense because the characters moved in an unexpected direction, and often I find myself enjoying writing a secondary character so much that they play a much larger part than I’d originally intended.

Q: Despite the historical settings, your female characters usually find a way to assert their own identities and an independence more commonly found in contemporary women. How important is this to you as a writer? Do you feel these characters are anachronistic or just forerunners to modern women?

A: It’s very important for me as a writer to create strong, independent female characters. There are actually plenty of real-life examples of such women throughout history from Boadicea onwards, so they’re not automatically anachronistic. I do try to build into their backgrounds some unusual factors that explain their differences from the conventional female figure.

Q: Can you reveal the title of the next book in the series? What characters will we be seeing? How will it tie in to “Trapped at the Altar?”

A: The next book is not actually connected to this one in terms of plot, period, and characters. It’s set in 1796, at the close of the French revolution and the beginning of the Napleonic Wars. However, the concept of “trapped” will certainly be a shared plot issue. It doesn’t have a title as yet.

I want to give a HUGE thank-you to Jane Feather and her Publicist, Tatiana, at Pocket Books! Now, if you’d like to win one of two free copies of Trapped at the Altar, just comment below. (Don’t worry if your comment doesn’t show up right away; I moderate comments to prevent spam.) You have until noon on Friday, July 25, to comment. On that day, I’ll randomly pick two comments to receive a free copy!

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Trapped at the Altar by Jane Feather

Trapped at the Altar is the first book in Jane Feather’s new Restoration-era series.

Trapped at the Altar Front Cover (Pocket Books/Simon and Schuster)

Trapped at the Altar Front Cover (Pocket Books/Simon and Schuster)

THE PLOT: Ariadne Daunt has lived all her sheltered life in Somerset with a family who became outlaws during the Protectorate. Now Crowell is dead, Charles II is on the throne, and the Daunts want Ari to marry her distant cousin/childhood friend Ivor Chalfont to get the Daunt family back to respectability. Rumor has it that Charles leans Catholic, and everyone know his brother and heir James is unabashedly Catholic. To tread this tightrope, the couple will head to the royal court. Ari will represent the Catholic side of the family and Ivor the Protestant, so either way the Daunts come out winners.

The only problem is that Ari is already in love with someone else, a gentle poet named Gabriel, and has no interest in marrying Ivor. When she’s forced to marry him anyway, she tells Gabriel to meet her later in London and they’ll resume their affair. She tells Ivor that she may be his wife, but she can never possibly love him when she already loves Gabriel. With Ari already planning to wreck the marriage before its begun, can these two ever become a real couple?

MY TWO CENTS: This book is reminiscent of several really good Jane Feather books (Violet, The Silver Rose) and yet doesn’t click all the way. First, Ivor seems much older than 23. (I realize to make them childhood friends, he and 20-year-old Ari had to be in the same ballpark age-wise, but that seems really young.) Second, I don’t feel that lifelong friendship between him and Ari after they’re married. I know there’s obviously friction there, but they seem like an of Feather’s other couples who married as strangers.

One thing I do like about Feather’s books is that her heroines are very rarely virginal  young debutantes. Most of her heroines have had previous lovers, or (romance taboo!) have other lovers during the course of the novel. I think this especially rings true for a country-bred hoyden like Ari. On the other hand, she may be somewhat off-putting to some readers who might find her morally challenged. After all, she was betrothed to Ivo for more than a decade, but hooked up with someone else anyway. Is that okay when the betrothal choice wasn’t hers? Does this make her less honorable? (I personally love that this heroine is flawed.)

Also, the setting is unusual for romance books: the West Country, late Restoration period, right before James II becomes king and the Monmouth Rebellion. (Eventually the action moves to London, but you have to figure that Daunt Valley will continue to play an important part in the series.)

NOTE: Ari’s family name according to the version I read is Daunt, not Carfax as advertised in the summary copy.

BOTTOM LINE: I usually find Jane Feather’s books either a solid hit or a solid miss. This one is in between, leaning more toward hit, but still with issues. And I don’t know where the rest of the series is going. I could see the entire thing being built around Ari and Ivor because I don’t really feel like their story was complete and finished…yes, they got to court and wiggled in Charles II’s inner circle, but how does their plan progress? Despite this, I’m sure we’ll see a new couple in the next book. (Maybe Madeleine Covington, the “very junior lady of the bedchamber” to the Duchess of York? You got to figure she’ll be more important once Mary of Modena becomes queen or “Queen Across the Water.”)

TEACUP RATING: Three and a half out of five teacups, with genuine interest for the next book in the series. Looking forward to reading about James II’s ascension and the Monmouth rebellion.

ON SALE DATE: The book will be available in paperback and ebook formats on July 22, 2014.

Note: Review is based on an ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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