- I had great fun writing Sirius, Richard’s mixed-breed dog, who’s definitely the cleverest character in the book. In personality (if not in looks – Sirius is very scruffy!), he’s based on my dog when I was growing up on an avocado farm on the Queensland coast. Astro the collie is still the smartest critter I’ve ever had the privilege to know. He didn’t actually NEED to talk!
- When I was a teenager, I had a taste for the Tudors (interesting to notice that Henry VIII and his offspring are still top of the hit parade when it comes to books about British royalty). As a result at university, I did an awful lot of 16th century English history, including the dissolving of the monasteries after Henry broke with the Pope. In A RAKE’S MIDNIGHT KISS, I got to use a little bit of this in the scenes at the ruined abbey. In the second draft, those scenes needed major pruning (I’m talking pages!). Clearly all that early enthusiasm was dying to make itself heard!
He shrugged. “Even master criminals make the occasional mistake, Miss Barrett.”
Her belly knotted with dread. This time not even her strongest efforts steadied her voice. “How do you know my name?”
The lips below the mask twitched and he stepped closer.
“Stay back!” she snapped. Her heart banged so hard against her ribs, surely he must hear it.
Ignoring her pistol with insulting ease, he lifted the candle and subjected her to a lengthy and unnerving inspection. Genevieve’s sense of unreality built. Everything around her was familiar. The shabby comfort of her favorite room. The jumbled items on the desk. The pile of pages covered in her writing. All was as it should be, except for the tall masked man with his indefinable air of elegance and his smile of indulgent amusement. She had an irritating intuition that the reprobate played with her.
Bracing under that assessing regard, she made herself study him like she’d study an artifact, although with his face covered she would never be able to describe him to the authorities. Candlelight glinted on rich gold hair and found fascinating shadows under the open neck of his white shirt. He wore breeches and boots. Despite this basic clothing, his manner screamed privilege. And while she couldn’t see his face, something about the way he carried himself indicated he was a handsome man.
A most bizarre burglar indeed.
“A good thief does his research.” He answered the question that she’d forgotten she’d asked. “Although research occasionally lets one down. For example, village gossip indicated that you attended a soiree at Leighton Court tonight.”
“I wanted to—” She realized she responded as if to any polite enquiry. The hand holding the gun showed a lamentable tendency to droop, pointing the barrel harmlessly at the floor. She bit her lip and hoisted the gun in what she prayed was a convincing gesture. “Get out of this house.”
“But I haven’t got what I came for.”