Letter From A Rake
Copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley
Miss Millie Ashton has just arrived in England after spending her whole life growing up in India where her father worked. She finds London in March chilly and depressing and her sapphire nose ring and curvaceous figure draw the disdain and ridicule of the lithe London debutantes and she comes to dislike having to attend society events.
But then Millie meets Lucy Radley, a kindred spirit and through her, Lucy’s two older brothers, Alex the Marquis of Brooke and David. Millie is drawn by Alex’s blonde perfection but he humiliates her on the dance floor in front of everyone at a ball, just one more slight that she’s had to face since she came to England. However Alex apologises, more than once and Millie finds herself enjoying a friendship with one of London’s most eligible bachelors. The two of them spend more time together until a careless lack of judgement on both their parts nearly leads to Millie’s social ruin.
Alex knows that he must make amends – he realises that Millie believes that he doesn’t care for her when that simply isn’t the case. And so he decides he will write her a love letter, something that shows her beyond all shadow of a doubt how he feels. But Alex has a secret and so he must enlist some help…and that sets in motion and chain of disastrous events that tears him and Millie further apart than ever and also has the potential to greatly hurt innocent bystanders.
Having always relied upon people to help get him out of trouble, Alex is now on his own to fix this big mess and win the hand of the woman he loves.
Letter From A Rake is one of the latest Destiny Romance digital first titles and it’s a refreshing type of historical romance. Millie was born in India, her father having gone there to help restore the family fortune. She spent 20 years there before her father was posted back to London and she immediately finds herself a fish out of water. She doesn’t make friends, she doesn’t enjoy the stilted, social situations that come with the requisite backstabbing and nastiness and she wants nothing more than to return to India. Millie is also generously proportioned – it’s never stated exactly how much, but she’s described as “chubby” in the book and seems to have an hourglass type of figure, which is definitely out of fashion. She’s ridiculed, called an “elephant” so that she can hear and embarrassed by people that snub her. Meeting Lucy Radley is a blessing – the two of them are very similar and it gives Millie her first London friend and allows her to meet Alex. Despite their rocky beginning, she develops a crush on him and accepts his apology.
I never used to read much in the way of historical romance – I never found them spicy enough for my liking but then I realised that I was just reading the wrong ones! I read a lot more now and I enjoy a good story set among the ton. This one really caught my attention because of the character of Millie. She’s so interesting – a woman with a nose ring in society London! She’s also an avid reader and owns not one but two copies of the Kama Sutra. She and Alex made an interesting pair and I thought that Alex was quite a different hero to the type I’m used to reading too. Although he’s a bit of a rake (his reputation alludes to this anyway) from the moment he first spots Millie, he’s smitten with her looks and her attitude. What he likes about her is the very thing that others have snubbed her for – her generous curves, the sapphire in her nose that matches the brilliant blue of her eyes. He’s drawn to everything that makes her Millie. He probably is thrown into the path of many debutantes, all looking to snare themselves a titled and wealthy husband. Millie doesn’t have much of an interest in this, in fact the most she’s looking for in a husband is someone that will take her back to her beloved India. I found the real reason he snubbed her on the dance floor hilarious and not really what I was expecting. It was amusing to read of his incapacitation. The author also gifts him with something I’ve never before seen in a historical romance, which really seeks to complicate the plot. That was a clever addition, something definitely unexpected and something that humanised Alex, made him sympathetic and less remote. Often the heroes in romance, of any type, are very aloof and it’s hard to crack past that exterior. That can be attractive in its own right but Alex was different and he matched up well with Millie, who was also different. I appreciated that, it really felt like they went well together.
I really enjoyed this and I’m looking forward to more from Sasha Cottman – I have a sneaking suspicion (hope) what her next book might be about!
Book #188 of 2013
This book #74 of my Australian Women Writers Challenge
Q1. Hi Sasha and welcome to my blog. Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions for me. How long did it take you to complete Letter from a Rake from first draft to publication?
Thanks for having me Bree, it is nice to visit your blog. Letter from a Rake took approximately 18 months from the very first words to publication. Millie the heroine was actually a secondary character in another novel which I abandoned in late 2011. She was too strong for the poor heroine of that book, who is quietly waiting in a drawer for her chance.
Q2. Share a little about your writing routine: do you write to schedule or whenever the mood takes you? Do you have a favourite place to write (ie study, café) and is there anything you consider necessary, like coffee or music?
I am an accountant by trade, so I am a very disciplined writer. I work fulltime, so I have to schedule my writing to fit in a career and a family. I usually write in the evening, a chai and some secret chocolate is always on hand. I do have a proper writing space, which doubles as a homework desk for my daughter. It is a big old wooden kitchen table, so there is lots of room to spread out.
I have never been able to write with music playing, mostly because I am acting out the scene I am writing in my head. There is a reason why the door to the writing room is closed.
Q3. Are you an extensive plotter or do you just wing it and see where the story takes you?
Did I mention I was an accountant? Plotter to the end. I even had a spreadsheet for Letter from a Rake so I could work out how long it would take for various letters to travel back and forth between Scotland and London.
Q4. Where did inspiration come from for the character of Millie, a curvaceous avid reader with a nose ring in high London society?
She just appeared on the page and demanded I write her story. Anyone who knows me will tell you that they know exactly where her feisty nature comes from. I liked the idea of the curvaceous girl who takes the golden boy of the ton by surprise. The nose ring is very much a part of Millie’s Indian heritage, as is her refusal to eat beef. I have a number of Indian work colleagues and I felt I had to be true to the sort of person who has spent their whole life on the subcontinent.
Q5. The book leaves the fate of some minor characters unresolved, particularly that of Alex’s brother David. Do you plan to write a book that tells us his story and lets us know what occurs after the close of this novel?
I am currently working on a novel which takes up from where Letter from a Rake ends.
Q6. What is it about this particular time period that drew you to using it as a setting for your novel?
I have always been a history buff, so when romance reading suddenly found its way into my life a couple of years ago, it was no surprise that I was drawn to Regency. Being born in England I had a wealth of English history books, (including Horrible Histories which I have used for research at times).
I don’t know if anyone can completely put a finger on the attraction of the Regency period. It is a period we know a great deal about through books and the newspapers which existed at the time. It had amazing people like Napoleon, Wellington and the Prince of Wales. The United States had only just been formed and the French had been through a bloody revolution. It is a period full of intrigue, war and scandal.
Q7. Share 5 of your favourite books and/or authors
- Mastered by Love…Stephanie Laurens. I love the hero and heroine in this book.
- Romancing Mr Bridgerton…Julia Quinn. A flawed but highly intelligent heroine.
- Taming the Duke…Eloisa James. A hero with a major character flaw who wants to be happy.
- Taming the Courtesan…Anna Campbell. The scene at the end gets me every time.
- One Unashamed Night…Sophia James. A brilliantly written hero.
Q8. And lastly…where do you see yourself in 5 years from now?
Working less hours, writing more and getting closer to the 205 books that Nora Roberts has written.
Thanks for your time Sasha! Best of luck with your future novels, I especially look forward to hearing about what happens to Alex’s brother David!