Hello and welcome to my blog for another round of Meet the Characters! Today I am featuring a guest blogger who has graciously agreed to let me do a character interview, which is my favorite kind of interview. Join me in welcoming author, Gina Danna, and her characters from Great & Unfortunate Desires. It’s a fantastic Victorian historical romance with wonderful characters so without further ado here is the interview with Tristan, the hero from Great & Unfortunate Desires.
How did you first meet your writer?
Tristan <snort>: She ran into me when I first returned from Afghanistan. A couple chaps were over, you know, for drinks and cards. Here she comes, just barging in…truly the gall of it all!
Did you ever think that your life would end up being in a book?
No, never thought on it much. In reports to my superiors yes, but not for anyone to pick up.
What are your favorite scenes in your book: the action, the dialog or the romance?
Interesting question. I’d have to say my pursuit of Evelyn was quite the scene but she had to bring up the war. Dastardly thing, war… <shaking head>
What do you like to do when you are not being actively read somewhere?
<He laughs> I have a new bride and helping her see the brighter spot in a relationship is vastly more entertaining for me.
Do you like the way the book ended?
I believe I would have delivered a more decisive blow to it but, considering the circumstance, I’m afraid what it is is correct.
Would you be interested in a sequel, if your writer was so inclined?
That I’ll defer to my wife. She may require more time to enjoy our marital bliss before being raked over the coals again.
Do have any secret aspirations that your author doesn’t know about?
Painting. I’d like to try my hand at it. <smiles brightly>
What do you wear when you go to sleep?
<He smiles, not mouthing a word>
What are you proudest of?
I’ve served the Empire to the best of my ability. But I’d be much better to return to the East. I do believe my skills there are better utilized than here, in London, sitting in Parliament.
What is something no one knows about you? Why do you keep it a secret? And what would happen if everyone found out about it?
I found love in the East. My lovely Aatifa had a sultry beauty to surpass many English ladies, at least for me. I married her, first to immerse myself in the tribe, but I found myself deeply caring for her. It proved to be a long-lasting problem in my line of work.
What do you find most appealing in women?
The ability to stand for their beliefs. I grew so weary of many noblemen’s daughters out on the marriage mart. Most want nothing more than a title and money. Very discouraging. I want someone I can carry a conversation with, not worry about the next soiree.
What do you like most about where you live?
Frankly, I’m not sure. I’m not a fan of the Empire, truth be told. Expansion and the British attitude have pushed me to leave here once. If it weren’t for my lovely wife, I’d do so again.
What word makes you the happiest?
My family. And by that, I should state my wife and the children. Truly, to watch them all together is fascinating. It’s a world with no rules yet it is structured. And they have fun. Truly great.
What sound or noise do you love?
Quiet. Simple quiet. Novel, really – not a sound in the air.
What sound or noise do you hate?
The grating sound of lords in Parliament.
Are you a morning person or a night owl?
<He raises an eyebrow> Well, depends on the company. I get more work done in the morning, though some things are better in the evening…
Operating as a British spy, Tristan St.James, the new Marquis of Wrenworth, barely escapes Afghanistan with his life in the spring of 1869. He plans to seek vengeance against the traitor who exposed him and for the agent he’s forced to kill. Returning to England, as a lord, he must marry. Haunted by guilt from the horrors of war, he avoids love at all costs, but finds himself drawn to the only woman who is disinterested in him.
Lady Evelyn Hurstine has waited over two years for the return of her love, a man who left for war in the East. But during that time, she suffered a brutal assault, resulting in a child and fear of any man touching her except for the man she once knew. The pursuit by the marquis scares her but her excuses against his proposal dwindle.
Their marriage strengthens into love until she discovers her husband isn’t the safety she believed but the one who killed the man she once loved. Caught in a world of intrigue and mayhem, Tristan must prove his love to her before the traitor destroys them both.
After all the years he’d spent in India and Afghanistan, nothing much surprised Tristan other than English ideas on manners and morals. Relaxing in a leather cushioned chair at Brooks, trying to forget Livingston’s cautionary dismissal, Tristan sipped his brandy while other patrons debated the recent bets placed in the club’s infamous ledger. With the Season in full session, matchmaking wagers almost outnumbered the vulturous mothers of the debutantes. Tristan’s stomach roiled because he knew his name was now listed in the book.
Harry sat to Tristan’s right watching Tristan as he toyed with an unlit cigar. Finally Harry laughed.
“I fail to see the humor in this,” Tristan griped.
Harry slid to the edge of his chair. “Aren’t you curious who you’re linked with?”
“That is what is so funny. The fact that you say that, yet you sit there, smoke pouring from your ears…”
“That is simply my cigar.”
Harry’s grin spread further. “Right. Well, in case you are wondering…”
“And I’m not,” Tristan stated flatly.
“I placed money on you and the Hurstine chit.” He sat back, arms crossed, and waited for a response.
Tristan’s gaze narrowed. There was something about her, beyond her beauty, which called to him. His body registered her presence, albeit in memory only, stirring his loins to attention and inflaming his desire for her. She was fire and ice, a mystery. “Why her?”
Laughter again from Harry. “Good lord, man, haven’t you queried Debrett’s about her? Or that lovely Lady Sarah you’ve been escorting around?”
The barren environment and simple lifestyle of the East was looking better and better to Tristan. Olive-skinned women with kohl-shadowed eyes and veiled faces were far more interesting than those of his own country. Frankly, he’d prayed he would be exempt from all this, but, as Harry so annoyingly pointed out, he wasn’t. Except for the ice queen and her pretty friend, few Englishwomen attracted him. But he feared if he looked in the book, he’d discover some bettors had associated him with several others.
“All right Harry. You’ve peeked. Tell me of these ladies.”
Harry chuckled. “I truly think you should take a gander yourself, but” he leaned in, “the Winston line is long and well established, with money but no title. In the Hurstine family, though, the father is a baron and one with money. Many believe he’s gone into trade to increase his wealth.”
Tristan caught his friend’s sneer at the end of the sentence. His gaze narrowed. “Trade? What a shame. Eliminates her immediately. Oh, the audacity!”
Harry frowned, Tristan’s sarcasm lost on him. “You know your solicitors could rule out such a match as inappropriate because of that.”
Tristan laughed. “Harry, my dear boy, trade may be the only thing that’ll help the snobby nobility. Land isn’t the means to an end anymore, my boy. Not when grain from the Americas is cheaper than home grown. No, no.” But Harry still had a look about him that made Tristan push. “What else about her?”
Harry’s brow furrowed. “There is a story, rumor, but you know how they go in these areas…”
“About what?” Tristan’s voice rose, aggravated. His stomach tightened. What on God’s green earth was he rambling about? If there was something else about her supposed unsuitability, he needed to know what it was.
His friend swallowed loudly and cleared his throat. “There was an episode, or so it’s been said, that she has a bastard. Or cares for one at any rate.” He shrugged.
Tristan frowned. The Ice Queen? A child? Her? She looked half-scared, half-frozen—too much so to allow intimacy. Thoughts of another man being close to her, touching her, made his skin prickle. A feeling of possessiveness overcame him, one he fought mightily to ignore.
“That is one of the most ridiculous accusations I’ve ever heard,” he spouted. It couldn’t be true, could it?
Harry smirked. “Who knows? Her father’s title might not be as high as yours, Tris, but he does have her dowry exceedingly high, perhaps because of her indiscretion. If rumors are true, and they appear to be, about two years ago a group of noblemen with a penchant for virgins roamed London. They formed a club of sorts to entice young lasses of good birth in ‘exchange’ for money or whatnot.” He shrugged, taking a sip of his liquor. “No women we’d know, of course, but those from lesser houses. Anyway, Lady Evelyn and her sister were named in the ensuing scandal. Don’t remember much of her sister, other than she’s not been seen since. Under the circumstances, it’s a surprise to see Lady Evelyn on the mart, but if she has child, she must give it a name.”
Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Gina Danna has spent the better part of her life reading. History has been her love and she spent numerous hours devouring historical romance stories, dreaming of writing one of her own. Years later, after receiving undergraduate and graduate degrees in History, writing academic research papers and writing for museum programs and events, she finally found the time to write her own stories of historical romantic fiction.
Now, under the supervision of her three dogs and three cats, she writes amid a library of research books, with her only true break away is to spend time with her other life long dream – her Arabian horse – with him, her muse can play.
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Thank you for joining us today! I hope you enjoyed this round of Meet the Characters and will join us again next week!