This week I’m thrilled to welcome mystery novelist Deanna Raybourn. She’ll kick off a month of posts from our guest authors, including Catherine Kean, Tera Lynn Childs, and Monica McCarty. This month, in addition to our guests’ autographed copies of their books and a $20 gift certificate from Barnes and Nobles, I’ll be putting a signed copy of my newest release, The Promise, in the gift basket, too. The Promise was a Night Owl Romance Top Pick and rated Four Stars by Romantic Times. So let’s start the fun!
The theme this month is “Dark Knights in Shining Armor,” and this is something Deanna Raybourn knows a lot about. “Sex, lies and awesome clothing descriptions” is how one reader described Deanna’s debut novel, Silent in the Grave, published in January 2007. The first in the Silent series, the book follows Lady Julia Grey as she investigates the mysterious death of her husband with the help of the enigmatic private inquiry agent Nicholas Brisbane. From the drawing rooms of the aristocracy to a Gypsy camp on Hampstead Heath, Silent in the Grave deftly captures the lush ambience of Victorian London.
The series continues with the second book, Silent in the Sanctuary (January 2008), a classic English country house murder mystery with a few twists and turns for Brisbane and Lady Julia along the way. It culminates, for now, with Silent on the Moor (March 2009).
I have to say, this is an incredibly captivating series written by an exceptional author. Personally, I knew I was in good hands when I opened Silent in the Grave and read this first line:
To say that I met Nicholas Brisbane over my husband’s dead body is not entirely accurate. Edward, it should be noted, was still twitching upon the floor.I settled in for a delicious read at the hands of a master, and never looked back. Deanna will put an autographed copy of Silent on the Moor in the “Mother May I?” gift basket.
IMHO: So tell us, Deanna, about your “Dark Knight in Shining Armor.”
DR: Oh, the dark knight in shining armor! Is there any character as forbidding or as delicious? Any character more enjoyable to read or to write? I certainly don’t think so, and I believe it is the masquerade of good boy in bad boy’s clothing that makes him so appealing. In history and in literature, the most seductive men are the ones who are “mad, bad, and dangerous to know.” Who but Lord Byron could have inspired Lady Caroline Lamb to have penned that description and then embark upon a career as a stalker, forsaking friends, family, and dignity for the hope of one of his smiles? And who but Heathcliff could make us wish we were Cathy’s restless ghost, roaming the moors with him and spurning the milquetoast Edgar Linton?
The dark knight begs for a woman to find the good in him, to polish that tarnished armor and make him better than he was, a task we are more than happy to take on. We overlook their social gaffes (Darcy’s churlishness), their willingness to bend the law (Rochester’s ease with adultery and bigamy), and even their occasional bouts of cruelty (Heathcliff hanging his wife’s dog on their wedding day). We see past all of these things to the bruised heart beneath that craves tenderness and warmth, and we identify deeply with heroines who place themselves at the mercy of such men.
My own series hero, Nicholas Brisbane, is fashioned after the dark knight model, although he would scowl at the description and probably soothe his sulks by playing the violin or engaging in a bout of vigorous fencing. He is mysterious, with a past that is hinted at, but never entirely explained. He is wounded--in ways the reader has not even begun to imagine--and he brings to his relationship with the heroine, Lady Julia Grey, a mismatched set of exotic baggage in the shape of second-sight visions, a discarded mistress, and some very questionable associations. The son of a Gypsy fortuneteller and an aristocratic black sheep, he stands with a foot in each world, not quite fitting either into polite society or the travelers’ life, and content to be different. As a private enquiry agent, he values justice above the law, and is perfectly happy not only to bend the law but shatter it if he feels the necessity. He is stubborn, enigmatic, arrogant, and upon occasion, he displays a rather magnificent temper. But he is also unfailingly loyal, unflinching in his duty, and where he loves, he loves with the whole of himself. And perhaps that is the greatest lure of the dark knights: they live, where other characters only seem to exist.
IMHO: Thanks, Deanna. I find Nicholas to be an absolutely riveting character, and because I’m very old school, whenever I see him in my head I picture a young Laurence Olivier, all dark and brooding the way he was in the noir film Rebecca. Yum. I’m glad to report that Deanna will be continuing the series and is currently at work on the fourth installment. In the meantime we can look forward to enjoying her next release slated for March 2010, a stand alone historical entitled The Dead Travel Fast.
So, readers, be sure to leave a comment for Deanna to start your eligibility for our contest gift basket (remember, you’ll need to visit our guests’ posts this month each Wednesday and leave a comment for at least two of the authors in order to be eligible to win the basket). Tell us: what is it about Dark Knights that makes women go gaa-gaa over them?