Stages of Desire
by Julia Tagan
Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)
Release Date: January 5, 2015
To be or not to be—in love…
As a ward of the Duchess of Dorset, Harriet can hardly expect more from a match than the ringing endorsement of “from what I’ve heard, the man is financially secure and his teeth are quite regular.” After all, she’s only the lowly daughter of traveling actors, not the actual daughter of the duchess.
William Talbot, Earl of Abingdon is set to marry the duchess’s daughter. After his elder brother’s scandalous death, his family’s reputation is paramount, and he’ll allow nothing to damage it again. But when Harriet disappears to save her father from debtor’s prison, the scandal threatens William and his intended’s family.
The simple task of fetching the duchess’s runaway ward turns complicated when Harriet insists on traveling with her father’s acting company. William’s forced to tag along, and finds himself entranced. The stage transforms Harriet into a free-spirited, captivating beauty. But someone’s been sabotaging the theater company, and instead of facing scandal, William and Harriet discover a threat not only to their growing passion, but to their lives…
Finding the Perfect Castle
Part of the best job of writing a romance is finding the ideal setting for a particular scene. As a writer of historicals, I love to scour the web for the perfect London townhouse or country manor and imagine my hero and heroine running down the hallways or up the stairs.
For my Regency-era romance, Stages of Desire, I needed to describe a duke’s castle where my hero and heroine have their first kiss. Harriet Farley is a runaway ward determined to save her actor father from debtor’s prison, even if it means heading north to Birmingham by foot. Her guardian, a stuffy duchess, asks our hero William, Earl of Abingdon, to save her family name from scandal and bring Harriet back to London. As William’s been wooing the duchess’s daughter, he’s loath to refuse.
After several mishaps on the road, William and Harriet, along with a motley crew from her father’s theater company, spend the night at the duke’s castle. I found the perfect location in Warwick Castle, which was built in the Middle Ages on the banks of the River Avon. The building has it all: ramparts, towers, and a green courtyard where the actors perform one of Shakespeare’s comedies. Later that evening, Harriet and William find themselves on top of the highest tower looking across the starlit countryside: the perfect place for true love to blossom. Although I’ve only viewed photos of Warwick Castle online, I feel like I know the place inside and out, and I’d love to visit some day.
What places do you find to be the perfect settings for a romance? Even better, what kind of intrigue might take place there?
Bad Self Portraits - Lake Street Dive from Bad Self Portraits album
A raw, joyous sound erupts out of this band. The lyrics are all about getting over someone you love. Perfect background music when my heroine, Harriet, hits her low point.
Joyful Sounds - The Word from The Word album
No matter what mood I’m in, this track makes me feel that all is right with the world. The song would be a perfect soundtrack as Harriet and our hero William begin their journey north to Birmingham on a gorgeous English day, when the possibilities are endless. Also works for the last chapter: HEA to a tee.
Bleeding Out – The Lone Bellow from The Lone Bellow album
William is a physician who finds himself in over his head during the course of the novel, and this song embodies the panic and worry he feels during that scene. Gorgeous harmonies soar above the dark poetry.
Crack the Sky - Tina Shafer from The Good Ones album
The minor key and the singer’s pure voice get me every time. I love the line “It’s not too late to live life the way you want to … far from the old mistakes.” Sums up the theme of Stages of Desire perfectly!
Stay - Alison Krauss from Forget About It album
After a major love scene in my novel, everything falls apart (don’t they always)! This is what I imagine is going through Harriet’s mind.
Like A Fool – Keira Knightly, from the Begin Again soundtrack
More songs about being broken-hearted. Keira Knightly never appealed to me as an actress until I saw the movie Begin Again, with Mark Ruffalo. I loved the movie and immediately bought the soundtrack, and this song is one of the reasons why. It’s about wishing things were different, but trying to accept them as they are.
Harriet Farley – Lizzy Caplan
The lead from Showtime’s “Master’s of Sex” would make a perfect Harriet – headstrong, tough and not conventionally pretty. She’s gorgeous because she has such a strong life force. Of course, Harriet’s eyes are blue so we’d have to use contacts, but that’s fine with me. The key to the character is finding an actress who appears rather plain in real life, but turns into an enchanting beauty under the footlights of the stage.
William, Earl of Abingdon – Damian Lewis
I liked the idea of using Brody from “Homeland” as my hero. The Earl of Abingdon starts out as a cold and calculating sort of guy, but softens up (don’t they all). And I loved his unusual coloring – a strawberry blond with serious muscles and a strong build. Not to mention that jawline.
Sam Farley – Alan Rickman
Sam is Harriet’s father, who runs a traveling acting company but is an absolute mess and a drunk. Alan Rickman is one of my favorite actors, and has the dramatic chops to tackle Shakespearean poetry yet a rumpled demeanor that works well for Sam. And his deep, sonorous voice makes everyone stand up and take notice.
Marianne – Kristin Chenoweth
She’s a wee bit too old for Marianne, but Kristin captures the kewpie-doll beauty of the spoiled Marianne, with a tough-as-nails exterior that gets her exactly what she wants. And what she wants is William.