Jude, I’m delighted to be visiting your blog so far away in geographic terms and here in electronic ones, on publication day. If any of your readers wish to leave a comment saying why they’d like a copy of Daisy’s Dilemma, then I’ll select a lucky winner from their number at the end of today’s launch celebrations. Daisy’s Dilemma is e-reader only, but most formats are available.
Anne Stenhouse writes dialogue rich historical romance with humour and a touch of thematic mystery from her Edinburgh home which she shares with her dancing partner husband.
Daisy’s Dilemma – released today, 16 June
There’s an excerpt below in the questions, here’s the blurb:
Lady Daisy Mellon should be ecstatic when her brother, the earl, allows Mr. John Brent to propose. She’s been plotting their marriage for two years. However, she is surprised to find herself underwhelmed and blames their distant cousin, Reuben, for unsettling her.
In the turmoil caused by the earl’s impending wedding, it becomes obvious that there is a hidden enemy within the family. Tensions rise as the great house in London’s Grosvenor Square fills with relatives.
Reuben Longreach wonders whether the earl understands the first thing about Daisy’s nature and her need for a life with more drama than the Season allows. It’s abundantly clear to him that Daisy and John are not suited, but the minx accepts his proposal nonetheless.
Meanwhile Daisy hatches a plan to attach Reuben to her beautiful, beleaguered Scots cousin, Elspeth. Little does she know that Elspeth is the focus of a more sinister plot that threatens Daisy too.
Will Reuben be able to thwart the forces surrounding Daisy before she is irretrievably tied to John? Will Daisy find the maturity to recognise her dilemma may be of her own making before it’s too late?
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An interview with Anne Stenhouse
When did you begin to write, and why?
Most writers will say they’ve always written or at the very least they’ve always been story tellers. I think that’s true of me. I remember having a lovely time at a school camp holding the entire dormitory in my fictional hands as I spun an oral tale about something or other. Can’t remember at this distance in time what it was. I do remember the power and pleasure of the silences and the sudden bursts of laughter or deep collective sighs. I’ve always enjoyed crafting the written word for speech and I suppose that’s why I enjoyed writing plays. I could say I think in conversations as I replay the day’s encounters and change them over and over. And now – novels like Daisy’s Dilemma in which I let rip with the dialogue.
I do think speech and the things we do while speaking create wonderfully dramatic scenes and I hope there are a few in all my books that take readers back whenever they see one of the titles come up. Of course it’s impossible to really know how they spoke in the early nineteenth century, but it’s good fun using appropriate vocabulary words and adding lots of ‘ma’ams’ and ‘your lordships’. I’m also not averse to a bit of inversion – of speech and grammatical patterns.
Why do you write in your chosen genre or genres?
I write ROMANCE because that’s the intense one-to-one relationship I’m most interested in. I may read detective fiction, but I don’t enjoy thrillers where the central relationship, hunter and hunted, is of necessity warped. This is not to say I don’t craft villains whose interest in either the Hero or Heroine might be unhealthy. I do and my villain, Sir Lucas Wellwood, in Mariah’s Marriage, remains one of my favourite created characters. Mariah’s Marriage was my debut novel and Lady Daisy of Daisy’s Dilemma, began life there.
So that might explain romance, why historical? Like many girls, I spent my teenage years reading copiously. In my case, I devoured Jean Plaidy, although today I can’t stand Tudor history and apart from the wonderful Bess of Hardwick, give them all a wide berth. Then came Jane. Austen, of course. Her work is penned at that moment when English became the modern language I recognise. The world she knew was changing so much and so fast. Women were poised to begin the fight for recognition as people, not adjuncts.
Georgette Heyer was next and I have a hardback collection. So, once you run out of the favourites – you need to roll up the sleeves and create your own.
Do you base any of your characters on real people?
Not consciously, no. However, I was approached by the clever fundraisers of St John’s Church in Edinburgh to donate the chance to be a named character in my next book. I agreed and two chances were put forward. So, look out for the Edinburgh neighbour and the Edinburgh family’s coachman in Daisy’s Dilemma.
Basing characters on real people who are alive is a no-no these days. I think in times past writers had a lot of fun, mostly harmless, picking up foibles and simply changing a letter or two in either the first or second name. I’m sure some of them also settled a few scores. Personally, I need to craft. I may recognise a person whose life really needs artistic recognition, but they won’t be interesting enough if you simple put their character traits down on paper. You need to dig a little, embroider a little (for farce, a lot) and make them not just interesting oddities, but compellingly interesting oddities.
What’s your favourite scene and why?
My favourite scene in Daisy’s Dilemma comes near the beginning of the novel and shortly after those Edinburgh relatives mentioned above arrive in the great London townhouse of Daisy’s brother, the Earl of Mellon. Daisy’s older cousin, Elspeth Howie arrives and her appearance, in dowdy tweed and acres of shawls, appals Daisy. But, she is bred to be a hostess and a hostess never makes her guest feel out of place or uncomfortable. Here’s a wee taster:
Daisy’s dilemma, Anne Stenhouse, editor Judy Roth
“Stephens, can someone assist Miss Howie.”
“Don’t worry about me, Lady Daisy,” the girl said, but relinquished a leather grip, two books, a stone hot water pig and a paper wrapper that looked to hold the remains of some bread, when the butler came closer. Daisy watched in fascinated horror while Stephens transferred the haul to a footman. She heard a step coming smartly along the garden passage behind her, Reuben, and saw the smile light Elspeth’s violet eyes when she recognised him.
“Why, it’s cousin Reuben.” Elspeth unwound a shawl from her shoulders and another from around her waist. She allowed a maid to catch them as they slid floor-wards. “I didn’t know you were staying, too.”
Reuben surged forward and enveloped Elspeth. Daisy, surprised by this show of intimacy, stepped aside. When had they met, she wondered. How had they come to know each other so well that a polite bow and curtsey was by-passed in favour of this warmth?
We’ll leave them there for the moment.