Wednesday, May 06, 2009

IMHO welcomes Deanna Raybourn!



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?

43 comments:

host said...

Hi TJ and Deanna! This is my first post her because I've only discovered TJ's books. But know that I've read the first line form Silent in the Grave and couldn't stop laughing Deanna's books are going on my TBR list :)
To answer your question about the knights, I agree with Deanna it's about good boy who only looks bad from the outside. I think that we as ladies can’t resist the urge to be the one who will help them :)
Fran

Margay said...

I also think that it's our belief that we can be the ones to help them, to make them better, to make them want to be better people. But I also think it might have something to do with our need to see the good in all people.
Margay

Eileen said...

But I think that in helping the dark knight, the lady becomes stronger as well. Certainly, in Deanna's books, Lady Julia becomes stronger and more "herself" as Brisbane become more "himself."

housemouse88 said...

Women want a bad boy in bed but a good boy to take home to mama. We want a little of both. However, women like the idea of taming the bad boy or so we think. Personally, I don't think you can tame a bad boy unless he wants to be tamed. Have a great day.

Christine Trent said...

Deanna, I had the pleasure of meeting you at the VRW meeting a few months ago. Afterwards, I devoured all three of your books.

I think what is so attractive about Brisbane is not so much that he appears to be a bad boy, but that he is so complex and human, yet he just exudes "I'll protect you" whenever he's in the room. He really is one of the most interesting heroes I've read in a long time.

Looking forward to more Julia Grey adventures.

deanna said...

Glad you enjoyed them, Christine! It was such a pleasure to speak to your group.

Eileen, that's a great point--Julia is definitely coming into her own as she unravels the many enigmas of Nicholas' character.

I think y'all are absolutely correct in that no bad boy is ever reformed without his consent!

Colleen Thompson said...

I loved SILENT IN THE GRAVE. That first line drew me in, but the story and characters kept me hooked. Will be looking for more. Thanks for visiting the blog!

Christine Ashworth said...

Hi, TJ and Deanna! I had to stop by when I saw you were guest blogging here, Deanna. I found Silent in the Sanctuary first, devoured it, and went back to get Grave. Your books are on my keeper shelf, right next to Georgette Heyer and of course, TJ!

The good boy in bad boy clothes is my favorite of all heroes, and you've created two captivating characters in Brisbane and Lady Julia. Well done!

jcp said...

I've never read your books but I'll look for them.

At Home Mommy Knits said...

I love the Silent series! Just reread them all and love them even more. I am very much looking forward to the next Julia Grey book an The Dead Travel Fast.

kerribookwriter said...

Deanna,

First I have to comment on what a great photo of you that is...you are so photogenic! Ever consider modeling? :-)

Could you tell me your biggest challenge as an author?

Thanks for a great interview.

tetewa said...

Sounds like a great series glad you could be here today!

chey said...

Hi,
I think we want to see the dark knight redeemed.

rachel said...

For me, the keyword is "masquerading." I don't want a truly baad boy...just one that has a little edge. But for Brisbane...I might break my rule for him. :)

JeanP said...

Can't wait to read this one.
The idea of a bad boy that we think we can save, the one that has us living on the edge, that darkness in them. Of course we know deep down we can't rescue them, because they don't want to be rescued.

Tina from Cali. said...

Hello! I love the Dark Knights because I have one. He came to my rescue after my first marrage crashed and burned. He left a trail of broken hearts but has been my Rock for 25 years. Every Dark Knight I read has his face in my head!

Kim said...

I just finished the SILENT series and thoroughly enjoyed them. I look forward the the fourth installment. I'm glad Nicholas and Julia eventually got their HEA, but I have a feeling you have more in store for them.

I think the Dark Knight concept is so appealing because even though the man has flaws, he puts everything on the line to save the heroine.

Blythe Gifford said...

Deanna: Just popped into say hello! Silent on the Moor is on my TBR pile - just as soon as I wrestle my current Dark Knight into shape. (Facing a May 31 deadline.) IMHO (to steal from TJ!), there is only one kind of hero: a wounded one. And it's love that offers all of us the promise, or the possibility, of happiness.

deanna said...

Blythe--just saw a picture of you online last week and you looked divine as usual!

So glad to see all the readers--and new ones--here!

Aw, thanks, Kerri. The biggest challenge for me is the one my editor warned me about before my first book was published. She told me never to let the business of being an author interfere with the business of being a writer, and she was absolutely correct that it would be a difficult juggling act. But my priorities are my family and my writing, always. For instance, TJ invited me to blog over here in April, and I hated that I had to put it off until May, but I had a deadline and that had to come first. Fortunately, TJ is very gracious and kindly offered me a May spot instead!

Bektold said...

I read Silent in the Grave over the weekend, and it's been on my nightstand so I can reread favorite scenes ever since. It's due back at the library tomorrow, but I don't want to let it go! I think I'm going to have to break out my very carefully rationed B&N Christmas gift card and buy my own copy.

After reading SITG I tracked down Deanna's blog, and where does it lead me? To TJ, who I know (sort of) from WHRWA. Small world!

I absolutely love Brisbane. Part of the fascination is the sense of mystery. We've learned a lot about the character so far, but we also get the sense that there is much, much more to learn. And part of the overall attraction of the bad boy is that he doesn't trust easily. When he shares those secrets with us, we're getting a view few are allowed to see. It makes us feel special. And then there's the urge to make those secret hurts all better....

TJ Bennett said...

Argh. Now you've got me wondering who "Bektold" is...

Introduce yourself at the WHRWA meeting if you're going on Saturday, Bektold. I'll be there!

And Deanna, you were the gracious one for not telling a near-total stranger to go pound salt when she showed up at your virtual door begging for an audience. :-) That's Texas hospitality for you (even if you are a transplant now). Thanks! Loving your posts, btw.

TJB

deanna said...

Absolutely my pleasure, TJ!

Virginia said...

Great interview, myself of love the Dark Knoghts. I really enjoy reading about them. We all want to have our bad boys but we know we really need the good boys. So I guess you could say we need a little of both. I married a good boy but still dream of what it would be like with the bad boy.

Debby said...

Hi, I have not read one of your books yet but they sound very interesting. There is nothing better than the bad boy who is not.

TJ Bennett said...

Let's all say a big "THANK YOU" to Deanna for being our guest today. I've enjoyed her immensely. Be sure to come back next Wednesday, as we have another talented author, medieval historical romance writer Catherine Kean, as our guest on May 13.

I'll have more details about the gift basket, too (those previously unnamed "other goodies") as I'm working out an arrangement with a local Houstan artisan who hand crafts her own jewelry and has agreed to put a little somethin' somethin' in the "Mother May I?" gift basket for the winner.

And in between, who knows! Maybe another copy of THE PROMISE will be given away...

See you soon!

TJB

Patricia said...

Deanna - have started Silent in the Grave, but am not getting far - end of school year, get ready for summer reading at our library, preview teen books. Anyway, I think the female urge to rescue, save, nurture is probably behind the attraction to Dark Knights. We just know there is a heart in there that just needs us to warm it and give it a home. He is a challenge and that is all we need.

RubyD said...

Women have this need to nuture and try to find the good boy hidden behind the image they project in their bad boy guise. And haven't women always been drawn to the forbidden ....
I'm looking forward to reading your books.

Tai Shan said...

I'm sad that I showed up here late; the job, the job, the job! But I have to say that Deanna's books are an absolute revelation! I also loved the opening line... I read it and my first thought, after laughing, was that I was going to love that heroine, because she had such a droll sense of life. I also instantly felt that I was in the hands of a master, and that there was a new sheriff in town :).

Brisbane.....*sigh*.... yes, I am ever in love with the bad boy with a strong sense of honor. I never really want to redeem them, though I do want to unwrap them down to their gooey centers, layer by layer. I love the contradictions you've written for him, he is truly a complex man.

Lady Julia Grey is also a complex woman, and it's been a joy to watch her want more out of life than just the life of the ton; to matter in the world. It's something we all want (although to have her funds to be able to do so wouldn't hurt either!)

Thank you for your series; it is at once a joyful, educational, humorous, and intense experience.

Carol L. said...

Hi Deanna and TJ,
I have never read any of your books Deanna but I certainly will now. I love the idea of Nick. Bad boys with a heart are always a draw.Thanks for the interview. And thank you Tj.
Carol Luciano
Lucky4750@aol.com

LuAnn said...

Dark knights ... mysterious, brave, ambitious, romantic. Gosh, so many wonderful things about them!

reading_frenzy@yahoo.com

Deborah said...

Hi, Deanna and TJ! Ah, the bad boy! The one we all love and are drawn to. I don't think we want to reform him. I think we want to know he has a tender heart inside and we'll get the good with the bad! It makes life a lot more interesting!

Judy said...

Deanna, after reading your blog I want to go out and buy your books. They sound very interesting, especially after reading everyone's comments. I love Dark Knights that only need a little polishing to become White Knights.

Minna said...

Looks like I need to add more books on my TBB list.

Pam P said...

Great post about dark knights and why we love them, Deanna, I agree with everything you said. I do like a Victorian mystery and several friends have recommended this series, so I finally have one in the TBR, with more to come.

Jody F. said...

We like our Dark Knights because we think we can fix them. We now there's a softer side to them and we enjoy looking for that side.

Lisa said...

I think we all want to see the good side that escapes notice at first glance. It makes it a secret to discover. It also helps if they are really good looking :O)

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed reading the comments and the book sounds good.
Just curious-What did the knights shine their armour with and was it a status mark to have a shinier one than their enemy? Wonder if they had someone just to follow them around and shine it up?
Anyway, I have added it to my summer reading list which has gotten so long I am going to have to extend my vacation.
JOYE
JWIsleyATaol.com

Jackie said...

I like knights in armor because you have to think that under all that heavy metal there has got to be a great, muscular, hunky guy to be able to wear all that stuff and still slay the dragon.

Maureen said...

I do enjoy a dark knight hero since he seems so tough and doesn't seem to need anyone at the beginning of the story but then you slowly begin to see the softer side of him.

Mardel said...

We like to think that the bad boy will be good only to us. We will be the one to pull out the good in the bad boy, and the bad boy is - let's face it - exciting, cause it's exciting to be in a little danger (all the while knowing you're safe).

Babyblue22 said...

Your Book sounds great Deanna!
I haven't read any of your work, but I'm definitely looking forward to it.

Bad boys....who doesn't want one,and We all secretly yearn for them to be all warm and sweet on the inside, but stay hard and dangerous on the outside.
And in my opinion I need to start looking for mine right now before there aren't any left out there.
~Afshan

bridget3420 said...

The first line is awesome!

gaby317 said...

This sounds like a great read! I love that type of hero - good boy in bad boy clothing!

great interview - she captures exactly what draws us to these bad boys!

gaby317nyc AT gmail DOT com