Thursday, July 23, 2009

Janet Mullany GuestBlog: (Wo)Men (Gladly) Behaving Badly

CONTEST TODAY!!! One randomly chosen commenter wins a copy of "A Most Lamentable Comedy" courtesy of Janet!
From Michelle:
Janet Mullany writes a kind of blended genre work: a little bit romance, a teensy bit historical fiction -- what she calls "Regency Chicklit." And she gets to call it as she sees it, 'specially after the success of her "Rules of Gentility." Today she talks about a female protagonist close to the hearts of many reader chicks. Please offer Janet your warmest "We don't need them, exactly, but men sure are perty" Bella buongiorno...
From Janet: In bocca al lupa, bellas!

Literally, it’s “into the mouth of the wolf,” the operatic (and therefore Italian) equivalent of “break a leg,” and I’m saying it because today is the day "A Most Lamentable Comedy" goes on sale. I’m thrilled to be here to celebrate with everyone (and I’m also at my usual Thursday gigs at Risky Regencies and History Hoydens). The book doesn’t have US distribution but you can buy it with free shipping worldwide from the fabulous bookdepository.co.uk.

This book is, sort of, a sequel to "The Rules of Gentility." Sort of, because I didn’t plan a sequel, but when I realized I might have to come up with another Regency chicklit, I hastily changed the name of a bad girl in "Rules" from Mary to Caroline, a name fraught with all sorts of bad behavior, thanks to Lady Caroline Lamb (mad, bad, and dangerous to know).

Caroline first appeared in a compromising situation with the hero of "Rules," and after a bookful of Philomena’s breathless goofy innocence I felt I needed a bit of a change. Just as I made Philomena a woman of her times, so Caroline is a woman of hers. She enjoys drinking, gambling, and sex—all fine by our standards, but which makes her a Bad Girl by 1822 standards.

But she’s also blatantly on the lookout for a man to support her, something completely acceptable for 1822 but not a goal that would make a modern woman sympathetic to her. And I feel it’s very important to make a flawed heroine sympathetic. She does consider the possibilities of employment—as a governess (but her own education is patchy) or making decorative items. The trouble is that her clientele would be of the ton and she’s been ostracized for bad behavior. She’s already let one lover pay her rent. She’s on a downward spiral.

Historically, many Bad Girls ended up, well, badly. The society that glorified courtesans like Harriet Wilson or Mary Robinson turned against them as they aged and Regency laissez-faire morphed into Victorian respectability.

What Caroline needs, although she doesn’t realize it immediately, is not a husband or lover so much as a community, and that’s something she finds, and the method in which she redeems herself, in the book.

Do you like Bad Girl heroines? Who are your favorites?
***
Check out RWA National recap and more romance
from Michelle at Heart to Heart (H2H) @ BN.com!

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

Off the top of my head, I cannot recall reading a bad girl heroine.

Dont know if I would care for one; now bad boys, that is diff. LOL.

Pat L.

Miranda Neville said...

There aren't nearly enough bad girl heroines so thank you, Janet, for giving us one. Too many heroines sacrifice themselves for the wellbeing of their six selfish siblings, learn herbal healing from their dear old nurses, and would rather starve in the gutter then marry a completely hot earl because the sucker refuses to say I Love You.
One of Jo Beverly's early regencies had a fortune hunting heroine (though she was, I am afraid, doing it for the sake of her family...). Please tell me that your Caroline doesn't have a sister, or even a dog, that needs her.

Laurie said...

Bad Girls:

Kat Spencer in Toni Blake's book Swept Away.

I liked Sydney in Sherilyn Kenyon's BAD Agency book "BAD Attitude".

I liked The Courtesan by Nicole Cornick.

Nicole Jordan also has several heroines that push the limits. Ectasy, Desire, The Passion, The Seduction...

Suzanne Carr had a book with Bad girl Bridesmaids that was funny!

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Bad Girl Bridesmaids! I love it! Wish I'd had some but, as you can imagine, mine were mostly Nice Girls. If I'd known some really Bad Girls, perhaps I'd've been introduced to romance a little earlier? :)

Buongiorno, Bellas, and welcome, Janet! Thanks for opening with the well wishes in Italian. Good for you for knowing your audience on many counts. While I'm a huge lover of the sacrificing virgin heroine -- ok, so, maybe I'm not so keen on the giving it all up for others, but definitely love the giving it up for the first time to the mad/bad/dangerous earl who won't say 'I Love You' [grazie, Miranda!] -- many Bellas are craving more heroines with whom they more easily i.d..

Now, when I discuss heroines like yours w/history buffs, we always end up talking the price paid by famous female iconoclasts who dared to have it all, and all the men they desired along w/that 'all'. Yet we're talking fiction, so I'm very much loving the idea of your creating 'community' as the key to the heroine's HEA. Isn't that what we chicks generally find to be the most consistently supportive part of our lives, even when we're in good relationships w/someone of the opp sex?

Becke Davis said...

My favorite bad girl heroine is in Susan Elizabeth Phillips' Ain't She Sweet. I loved that, so this book is going on my shopping list, too!

Pam Rosenthal said...

I'm a huge admirer of Susan Elizabeth Phillips's Sugar Beth -- AND Janet Mullany's Caroline Elmhurst.

Both of whom, btw, need and find community as well as love, sex, and money (such a smart observation, Janet).

Charlotte Featherstone said...

I'd love to read a book with a historical bad girl, because I don't believe I've ever come across one.

Are they tricky to write?

Suzanne Welsh said...

Ah, Becke, I have to agree with you, Sugar Beth from Ain't She Sweet was the first one to pop into my mind. Even my daughters fell in love with her in that book.

Maureen said...

Congratulations on the new book. I can't think of a bad girl heroine right now. I know I've read a couple but most heroines that I read appear to be good girls even if they are also a bit bad underneath.

Vanessa Kelly said...

I loved Sugar Beth, too! One of my fav bad girl heroines is Francesca Bonnard from Loretta Chase's Your Scandalous Ways. She chose to be a successful courtesan rather than live a life of genteel poverty. Having been disgraced by her husband, she embraced that disgrace, subverted it, and made a good life for herself.

I love the virgin heroine, too, but think bad girls can be a lot of fun!

Miranda Neville said...

Vanessa, you are so right about Francesca (we could start another LC swoonfest)

EmilyBryan said...

When I read MY LADY SCANDALOUS by Jo Manning, I was entranced. It's a biography of Grace Dalrymple Elliot. This fascinating woman was a courtesan to kings and even saved a man from the guillotine in France by hiding him between her mattresses. She was imprisoned in revolutionary France, but was later released with her lovely head still attached to her shoulders.

I think the reason we see so few truly "bad girls" as historical heroines is that realistically, an HEA was fairly impossible for them. A few married their patrons--Charles James Foxx (noted Whig politician) married his mistress, but their marriage was kept secret for 10 years.

Kudos, Janet, for bucking the trend with your bad girl!

Emily Bryan

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Ashamed to admit I've still not read Ms. Sugar Beth! Yes, yes; I know.

One of my fave BGs is Madeline Hunter's Phaedra Blair of "Lessons of Desire" whose community ended up being her husband's family, as well as her chosen friends. This is very realistic to me, as well. Yet her 'badness' was awfully cerebral and intellectual -- also shocking in her day.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

well, yes, miranda and nessa, I loved her, too.

emily, you make a great point about the strength of the BG. What used to be called her "heart of gold' (remember the character in GWTW?) now can be revered as character, I guess, having learned to roll w/the punches of gong after what she wants -- or simply wantingn to roll w/the punches.

Vanessa Kelly said...

Miranda, I still haven't picked myself up from the floor from Tuesday!

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

maureeen, that is a nice part to the 'good girl,' when she lets out her inner bad girl. not all heroines -- or readers -- have the courage to go for that on their own. I like that romance allows them the fantasy and that so often it empowers them in their real lives.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Ah, Anny, the Bad Boys. If you head to Janet's site, you can read about how you can have your fill of a nice Bad Boy in this new novel, as well!

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Laurie, that's a great list. Thanks very much!

Virginia said...

This books sounds like a fantastic read. You don't read to much about bad girls, its always the bad boys and I do so love them. Please count me in on this one.

lead[at]hotsheet[dot]com

etirv said...

Sabine, the Queen of Illusions in Kresley Cole's Kiss of a Demon King!

Count me in!

delilah0180(at)yahoo(dot)com

Mitzi said...

I’m a sucker for stories where the Lord falls in love with the courtesan. I recently read Tempt The Devil by Anna Campbell and enjoyed it very much.

I also loved Scandalous Lovers and Cry of Passion by Robin Schone. Although the women are not (bad girls), they have the courage to go after what they want and buck the legal system at a time when women had no legal rights.

I’d love a copy of this book, count me in too.

Mitzihinkey at sbcglobal dot com

Lois said...

Sure, bad girl heroines, I'll take them! :) I like anything in books that I enjoy the story -- and since I just so loved the first book, The Rules of Gentility, so sure hope to get the second one as soon as I can! :)

Lois

Portia Da Costa said...

I think what I like are basically goodish girls who walk on the wild side a bit and aren't afraid to break the rules now and again.

Caroline's story sounds wonderful!

M. said...

I guess it depends how 'bad girl' is defined.
I enjoyed Loretta Chase's historical heroine in 'Your Scandolous Ways', and Diana Holquist's contemporary heroine in 'Hungry for More'.
I have no doubt I'll be very fond of Caroline!

Janet Mullany said...

Belatedly! So, so sorry not to have been here on the day--I was on vacation with a gaggle of Mullanys and became a card-carrying member of the Virginia Beach public library after the hotel wi-fi wouldn't play with my mac, My comment didn't post (which may have had something to do with the library's very bizarre viewing screens that I could see only when I sat bent double).

I'm glad to see there's such interest in a historical Bad Girl.

Miranda, you'll be glad to know there are no siblings, dogs, or any noble motivations; I too love "Aint She Sweet" and Sugar Beth; and I loved hearing about the fictional and real-life bad girls. Thanks so much for visiting with me. I assure you I was here in spirit!

robynl said...

Suzanne Carr's Bad Girl Bridesmaids; I like the bad girl heroine who is just above the 'bad' line- none of this 'overboard' stuff for me.

Terisa Wilcox said...

Can't think of any bad girl heroines at the moment, but I have read so many books over the years, I'm sure there's one or two in there somewhere.