Monday, September 12, 2011

Scandalous Women welcomes Hope Tarr to the Blog!

Scandalous Women is pleased to welcome Hope Tarr to the blog. Hope is the author of fifteen historical and contemporary romance novels, including VANQUISHED, the launch for her “Men of Roxbury House” historical trilogy and currently offered as a free e-book download from 9-12 through 9-26. Welcome, Hope.

Thank you, Elizabeth. As a long-time fan of the blog and now the book of like name, it’s lovely to be here.

VANQUISHED, the first book in your series Men of Roxbury House Victorian trilogy, is being offered by your publisher as a free e-book across all platforms from 9-12 thru 9-26. How thrilling!

It certainly is! Set in England and Scotland in the 1890’s, The Men of Roxbury House trilogy comprises (in order) Vanquished, Enslaved and Untamed. The Vanquished e-book give-away will indeed cross all platforms, so whether you’re an Amazon Kindle user ( or other, you have two weeks to download Vanquished. For free.

No hokey contest question to answer, no information at all required. Click on the ordering link as you otherwise would and the e-book is yours. Free. Period.

Obviously our hope is that Vanquished will act as a “gateway drug” to downloading the other two series books, Enslaved and Untamed, but certainly there’s no obligation to do so.
Would you tell us a bit about The Men of Roxbury Series, especially Vanquished?

I’d love to. Roxbury House is a (fictional) Quaker orphanage in Kent, England where my three heroes (Hadrian, Gavin & Rourke) meet as orphaned boys, all rescued by then Prime Minister William Gladstone. Gladstone made regular sweeps of the London streets in search of prostitutes to help and reform, so my having him also rescue the occasional street boy doesn’t seem a too fantastical stretch of the historical record.

I’ve always been a huge fan of the “underdog,” perhaps because I’m a bit of an underdog myself, and so having heroes, and in some cases heroines, who come from humble, even struggling circumstances, rather than being born to wealth and station, is all but irresistible to me. In point, I adore writing about self made men—and women. Making those stories not only interesting but historically accurate in Victorian England, no less, is a challenge I welcome in my writing.

The particular idea for Vanquished was sparked by the 1998 film, The Governess starring Minnie Driver and Tom Wilkinson. The film focused on early photography, specifically experiments on how to permanently affix the image rather than having it fade away once exposed to light and air. (Okay, there was a passionate secret affair and hidden identities and other cool plot points as well).

In Vanquished, my hero, Hadrian St. Claire is a photographic portraitist fallen on hard times i.e., he has a tendency to drink too much and gamble poorly. It happens. To pay off his debts before his cods are claimed as repayment, he reluctantly agrees to lure women’s suffrage leader, Caledonia—Callie—Rivers to his studio and there take a risqué photograph of her. Such a photograph will discredit her and beyond her, the Women’s Suffrage Movement, ensuring that the latest Parliamentary suffrage bill will be roundly defeated. But first he must win her trust. Along the way, he grudgingly comes to like and respect and ultimately to love Callie, which is enormously inconvenient and causes all sorts of delicious…complications. ;)

Vanquished released in France this April as LA ROSE DE MAYFAIR. How exciting! The cover is very different from the original. Do you have a preference?

At the risk of sounding like a politician on the campaign trail, I like them both. Equally. I think my American publisher, Medallion Press, did a great job of branding the books as a series by using the lone female model on each of the books. My hands-down favorite of the three trilogy book covers is that for Vanquished, which is loosely based on the Sargeant portrait of Madame X, also considered quite scandalous in its time.

I also think my French publisher, J’ai lu, did a great job with the re-imagined LA ROSE DE MAYFAIR, which also features a lone heroine on the cover. (Note: The text is strictly translated from the original). I’ve since learned that they’ve also bought the French print rights to the other two trilogy books, Enslaved and Untamed. I can’t wait to see what they do with the covers for those as well.

Can you tell us a bit about the sequel novels, Enslaved and Untamed?

Enslaved is a classic second chance at love story, and second chances—at love and just about everything else—are big themes in my books. Growing up together at The Roxbury House orphanage, Gavin Carmichael and Daisy Lake are best friends, inseparable. “Through thick and thin, forever and ever, come what may, we'll stay together” is a pledge they repeat nearly every night at their attic orphans club’s secret meetings. Only Gavin is the grandson of a wealthy and respected London barrister. Swept away to begin living his birthright, he and Daisy are literally torn from one another’s arms.

Years later, Gavin is a successful London barrister haunted by his past—and obsessed with finding Daisy. To distract him, his other former Roxbury House friends, Hadrian and Rourke, coax him out to an East End supper club where the headlining act is the infamous nightingale of the Montmartre music halls, Delilah du Lac.

Delilah saunters onstage, creating a collective, sexually-charged hush among audience members. Gavin takes one look at her slanted green eyes, sensuous mouth, and long, slender legs and recognition floods him. Delilah and Daisy are the same girl, now woman, a woman he resolves to save from herself at all costs. He storms the stage, tosses his jacket over her, and carries her off.

Later when Daisy confides her dream to act on a proper London stage, Gavin seizes the opportunity to bind her to him. He strikes a bargain. He will see she gets a part in the upcoming run of Shakespeare’s As You Like It. In return, she must live with him for one month.

Daisy agrees. Gavin’s offer is too tempting to pass on, and the lanky boy of her memory has matured into an exceedingly handsome man. Sharing his bed for the month will be no hardship. Only as their sensual games increase in intensity, Gavin is the one in danger of being enslaved.

The trilogy closes with Untamed, a classic Battle of the Sexes tale—Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew transported to Victorian England. Despite being born an earl’s eldest daughter, life hasn’t been all “beer and skittles” for Lady Katherine—Kate. As a defense, she hides her painful, emotionally abusive past behind a termagant’s temper intended to put off suitors—most especially bluff diamond-in-the-rough Scots Irishman, Patrick O’Rourke—Rourke. Letting the sexy bare knuckles boxer, now railway magnate too close almost led to disgrace once, and Kate isn’t of a mind to repeat the risk.

In the market for a blue-blooded society wife to lend the proper pedigree and patina to his very new money, Rourke isn’t about to take no for an answer. Beyond Kate’s obvious credentials, he has been smitten with her ever since seeing her carte postale society beauty portrait displayed in his photographer friend, Hadrian’s, studio window. When her gambler father allows his marker to fall into Rourke’s calloused and oh-so-capable palm, there’s more than one debt to be repaid. Rourke makes haste to claim Kate as his own. Once wed, he carries her off to his castle in Scotland. There, with the help of a dog-eared copy of Taming of the Shrew and his East Ender con artist friend, now valet, he sets about securing her submission. But when Kate comes across the playbook, she devises a “taming” regimen of her own.

Elizabeth, thank you so much for having me as a guest. What an honor that my fictional “Scandalous Women” can keep company with the fascinating real life femmes you report on in your blog and book.

From Vanquished:

A devil’s bargain…

“The photograph must be damning, indisputably so. I mean to see Caledonia Rivers not only ruined but vanquished. Vanquished, St. Claire, I’ll settle for nothing less.”

Known as The Maid of Mayfair for her unassailable virtue, unwavering resolve, and quiet dignity, suffragette leader, Caledonia – Callie – Rivers is the perfect counter for detractors’ portrayal of the women as rabble rousers, lunatics, even whores. But a high-ranking enemy within the government will stop at nothing to ensure that the Parliamentary bill to grant the vote to females dies in the Commons – including ruining the reputation of the Movement’s chief spokeswoman.
 After a streak of disastrous luck at the gaming tables threatens to land him at the bottom of the Thames, photographer Hadrian St. Claire reluctantly agrees to seduce the beautiful suffragist leader and then use his camera to capture her fall from grace. Posing as the photographer commissioned to make her portrait for the upcoming march on Parliament, Hadrian infiltrates Callie’s inner circle. But lovely, soft-spoken Callie hardly fits his mental image of a dowdy, man-hating spinster. And as the passion between them flares from spark to full-on flame, Hadrian is the one in danger of being…vanquished.
A past nominee for a Dorothy Parker Award of Excellence and a RT BOOK Reviews Award for Best Unusual Historical, Hope Tarr is the award-winning author of fifteen historical and contemporary romance novels including her Men of Roxbury House trilogy: Vanquished, Enslaved and Untamed. She is also a co-founder and current principal of Lady Jane’s Salon (, New York City’s first—and only—monthly reading series for romance fiction. Visit Hope online at and find her on Twitter (@HopeTarr) and Facebook at

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