The Virgin and the Rake: Striking the Perfect Balance by Victoria Vane

February 27, 2013 Book Tour, Excerpt, Guest Post 0

The Virgin and the Rake: Striking the Perfect Balance by Victoria Vane

Writing believable romance heroines is really a tightrope act, as it takes a bit of skill to strike the perfect balance between sweet and sour, and vulnerability and strength. Employ too much of the former characteristics, and you get an insipid doormat. While too much of the latter creates a total be-atch. For readers to relate to her, we need our heroine to be a bit of the girl-next-door mixed with enough sex-appeal to inspire our hero, who in the case of historical romance, is often a jaded rake. Such is the case in my newest release, Treacherous Temptations.

My heroine, Mary Edwardes, is a nineteen-year-old heiress who has lived a happy but secluded existence in the country. When her father passes away, her life is turned upside down. While Mary desires to continue in her quiet life, her guardian is determined to see her wed, ostensibly to help Mary care for her holdings, but in truth, to promote his political advancement. Although she knows she has little choice in the matter, she still manages to stand up for herself:

Excerpt:

“But this is the place of my birth, Sir Richard,” she protested. “How can you expect me to leave the only home I have ever known? I have no desire to go to London. My life is here at Welham Grove.”

“But consider the amusements of a London season,” her guardian cajoled. “The balls, the concerts, the play houses, polite society—”

“—None of which hold the least appeal to me,” Mary said. “I much prefer simple pleasures—a good book from this library, long walks and early morning gallops across the sheep pastures. Don’t you see? Even if I desired it, which I don’t, I am neither fit, nor equipped for a London season. I have spent my entire life at Welham Grove, and have never once minded, nor suffered, for the lack of so-called polite society.”

“My dear girl, were you a few years younger, I would gladly leave you in the charge of a governess, but at nineteen you are a woman grown. You must think to your future.”

“My future? What you really mean is a husband.”

“Well, yes.” Sir Richard rewarded her with an avuncular smile. “A husband is certainly in your future.”

Realizing the fruitlessness of any further argument for independence, Mary changed tack. “But why must I go all the way to London when there are surely many eligible bachelors right here in Leicestershire?”

“What? A gentleman curate or a crude country squire? Bah! You will have no such thing! Your father desired an advantageous match for you, and so shall it be. London is the only place to contrive such an alliance.”

“But don’t you see how unfit I am? I have none of the accomplishments or sophisticated wiles that such a gentleman would desire in a wife.” Mary rose and paced the room. “I have been only once to London. I don’t know anyone there. I haven’t the clothes or the connections.” Her protests escalated to a staccato bombardment. “I don’t dance. I have no notion of their manners. How should I even know to go on? I shall be nothing more than a country frump subject to scorn at every turn!”

“Preposterous, my dear! You quite underestimate your natural charms. To many gentlemen you would be considered quite a prize.”

“A prize?” she laughed. “Then you must refer to my chief asset–my bank account. If so, perhaps you could just save us both a great deal of trouble with an advertisement in The Daily Gazetteer. How about, ‘Vast fortune awaits marriage-minded nobleman… Only those willing to overlook the dull and dowdy heiress need apply.’”

Sir Richard gaped, his red-veined jowls quivering with the soundless motion of his mouth. To Mary he resembled nothing more than a landed trout. Knowing she had already lost the war, she could only bask in the sweet satisfaction of this tiny victory.

***

Clearly, Mary is no doormat, but while her strength of character is shown in the earlier passage, her vulnerability is fully exposed when Lord Hadley enters the picture. This worldly and dissolute nobleman perceives Mary as a means to two ends: a vast fortune and revenge against his greatest enemy. Mary suspects his motives from the outset, but is still helpless against his seductive charm.

Excerpt:

Was this the course of a seduction? Is this what he had planned all along? She searched his face for the answer only to lose herself in his blue eyes. Fear gripped her. Not of him, but of her weakening will. “Don’t,” she whispered.

He muted her protest with his mouth, catching her breath and replacing it with his own. This kiss was different. Paradoxically soft and firm, it demanded a response that she was helpless to deny. Mary closed her eyes, responding and melting into him as he nipped, and licked, and suckled her lips. Like a vortex, he pulled her into the kiss, stealing the air from her lungs, along with any remaining will. His warm slick tongue teased, gently urging her to open. When she parted, just a fraction, he took command. He entered her mouth deeply, seeking, exploring with his smooth, wet tongue, the contact of which instantly sent a flood of warm moisture between her thighs.

Only a kiss?

It was staggering.

Her mind was lost to time and place, as if nothing existed beyond his divine mouth. He discarded her bonnet and tangled his fingers in her hair. She whimpered, clutching at his lapels, yet he refused to relent. Mercilessly, he intensified the kiss, pulling her so far in; submerging her in so much sensation that Mary thought she would drown in the pleasure of it.

While this rake/virgin pairing is a very old and well-used trope, I feel that the nuances in my characters really make this story work. Mary is young and innocent but not insipid. Hadley, on the other hand, is well and truly debauched, which is clearly demonstrated from the opening pages. Although Hadley sets out from the beginning to despoil Mary, he soon discovers a conscience he didn’t even know he possessed. Through Mary, his vulnerability is also exposed, as he comes to desire something more from his life— something he never dared hope for.

Excerpt:

“I had designs on your fortune as a means of revenge,” he replied with brutal honesty.

Mary winced, yet she continued to press him. “If that is true, why didn’t you…when we were at Bushy Park, I was certain that you would…” Her brows drew together. “What stopped you, Hadley?”

“I don’t know,” he replied. “It was not my overdeveloped scruples, I assure you.”

“I can’t believe you are as black as you would paint yourself,” she replied.

“I am very black indeed.” He gave her a dark look. “But perhaps that awareness is what stopped me.”

“I don’t understand you.”

“You, my dear Mary, are the only thing in my life that is untainted. I think I could not bear to be the one to defile you.”

“Untainted?” she laughed. “You are quite mistaken in me, I assure you.”

There was no humor in his smile. “Compared to the company I have kept these past seven years, you are a veritable angel come to earth.” His tone softened. “And now I wonder if you came just to save me.”

TreacherousTemptation

Treacherous Temptations
Victoria Vane

A reluctant heiress resigned to her fate… Mary Elizabeth Edwardes has one of the largest fortune’s in England, but has no desire to leave her quiet country existence… and even less to acquire a husband she cannot choose for herself.

A dissolute nobleman bent on retribution… Trapped in a duplicitous existence since scandal destroyed his fortune and family name, Lord Hadley Blanchard has spent the better part of a decade posing as a disaffected exile while spying and seducing in the service of the English Crown.

A dangerous game of seduction, and intrigue… When summoned from abroad by a former lover, Lord Hadley perceives an opportunity for vengeance at last. By employing the full measure of his seductive charm, he woos the ward of the man who destroyed his life, little knowing that winning Mary’s fortune will mean risking his own treacherous heart.

 

Victoria1

ABOUT VICTORIA VANE

A lover of history and deeply romantic stories, Victoria combines these elements to craft romantic historical novels and novellas for a mature reading audience. Her writing influences are Georgette Heyer for fabulous witty dialogue and over the top characters, Robin Schone, Sylvia Day, and Charlotte Featherstone for beautifully crafted prose in stories with deep sensuality, and Lila DiPasqua for creative vision in melding history with eroticism.

 

AWARDS & ACCOLADES 2012
THE DEVIL DEVERE SERIES

Library Journal Best E-Book Romance 2012
LR Cafe Best Series Nominee 2012

A Wild Night’s Bride 
• Night Owl Reviews Top Pick
• Amazon Top 100 Best seller
The Virgin Huntress 
• Night Owl Reviews Top Pick
The Devil You Know 
• Night Owl Reviews Top Pick
• The Romance Reviews Top Pick
• LR Café Best Historical Romance nominee 2012
The Devil’s Match 
• Night Owl Reviews Top Pick
• The Romance Reviews Top Pick
• LASR Reviews Book of the Month December 2012
• Swept Away by Romance Best Historical Romance of 2012
• LR Café Best Author Nominee 2012
• Swept Away by Romance Favorite Author 2012
A Breach of Promise 
• Night Owl Reviews “Top Pick”
• Reading Romances 5 flames and “Pen Award”
• TBR Pile 5stars/Book of the month winner September 2012
• LASR Erotic Reviews 5 STAR/Book of the Month Nominee
• The Romance Studio 5 Sweetheart Nominee
• TRS CAPA Nominee 2012

CONTACT:
victoria.vane@hotmail.com
Web: http://authorvictoriavane.com
Blog: http://victoriavane.wordpress.com
Twitter: @authorvictoriav

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Shari is the Delighted Reader. Married to her Prince Charming and mother to two Princesses and one Prince. When she is not slaving away as Cinderella she loves to get lost in the pages of a good book. Never without a reading device and a few good paperback books, because she never knows when she might get 5 minutes to read!
  • http://www.suzantisdale.blogspot.com Suzan

    I love your writing style! ;o) You are correct, it is a very fine line we must walk to create a strong heroine who is both likable and believable. You always seem to master that! I’m adding this to my TBR list.

    Hugs,
    Suzan