Welcome Theresa Romain and her awesome books!

Readers, thanks for visiting! Today, Theresa Romain and I are chatting about our January historical romances, which both feature heiress heroines theresa romain author photo(mine: True Pretenses, and hers: Secrets of a Scandalous Heiress). But as we talked, we discovered many more things we wanted to talk about—everything from character casting to mall singers to “manflirting” as an aristocratic cultural marker.

This is part 2 of 2 of the chat. You can find the beginning on Theresa’s blog. And please stick around to comment, because we’re offering a book giveaway on each site!

When last you saw us on Theresa’s blog, Theresa was talking about the silly plans romance heroes make…


Rose: They really do! They’re like, “Okay, I’ll just do this totally ridiculous thing [like never telling anyone their secret identity or whatever] for the rest of my life and that will be fine. IT WILL BE FINE.” And it’s like, HOW DO YOU THINK THAT WILL BE FINE? IT’S OBVIOUSLY NOT FINE. “No I’m fine. Really. Fine. Back off!” But they have to think it’s fine because otherwise what is the point of life? Making a real change doesn’t seem possible.

Theresa: Right. They’re just getting by as best they can with whatever patched-together methods cover their wounds or poverties or secrets.

Rose: I think what limited Ash the most was that he really, really deeply believed the maxim he made up for Rafe: “We have to take care of ourselves, because nobody else will do it for us.” And it limited him in that he was never able to trust anyone or expect anything from them, and that he was never able to really give anything to anyone outside his family. He got really stingy with his love.

Theresa: But it just got pent up! And he had so much to give! Like I said. Adorable.

Rose: lol, yes, Ash is like a champagne bottle of love! And now I’m thinking about how phallic champagne bottles often are in movies and wishing I hadn’t said that.

Now for something completely different: I consistently really love how you write description. Your books are just a sensory experience. Does that happen naturally as you write, or do you go back and add it in? There were some descriptions of Bath in this book that were just breathtaking.

Theresa: Thank you! That is an awesome compliment. I can’t give a great answer, because the way I write is like making sausage. (Disgusting simile ahoy!) I cram bits of story together and work on them and chop them up in different way and then when I’m happy with the seasoning I move on to the next link. So I try to include as much as I can but every scene evolves before I move on to the next.

Rose: But it’s not like at the end you think, “Okay, now I have to make this not take place in a white room” and go tack on some descriptive passages. Which is what I do.

Theresa: I do have to say that to myself! “Crap. Can’t these characters just sit still in chairs and talk to each other??” The setting doesn’t come naturally to me because I am not a visual person at all. How about you? Were there any bits of True Pretenses that were really aggravating to write?

Rose: Hmm. You know, I can’t think of any! Writing this book was a weirdly smooth process. I never went through that bit in the middle where suddenly I hate everything.

Theresa: How did you manage that??

Rose: I don’t know, but I can think of a few things I did differently. For one thing, this was the first book I actually sent to my BFF bit by bit as I wrote it, and she was very excited about it. That definitely helped a lot. I think casting before I started writing was part of it, too. For the first time, I had a very clear mental picture of both Ash and Lydia. And since I’m not very visual either, that really helped me.

Theresa: I am taking notes. For real. That’s a great idea.

Rose: And the fact that I cast Ash as someone I think is crazy hot didn’t hurt either!

Theresa: Okay, you know I have to ask who.

Rose: Mark Ruffalo. 🙂

Theresa: AAAAAAAAAAAA brilliant!

Rose: Actually, the book was inspired by this con artist movie Mark Ruffalo was in, “Brothers Bloom,” because I was so displeased with the ending. And also because in that movie, Mark Ruffalo’s plan to set his brother up actually works even though the heiress he chooses is totally just like him. And I thought, “Dude, no, you are setting your brother up with the perfect woman for YOU….OH MY GOD I HAVE TO WRITE THAT BOOK.”

How about you? Where did you get the idea for Secrets?

Theresa: It started with the characters. I knew from the previous book, To Charm a Naughty Countess, that I wanted to pair Augusta and Joss, Secrets of a Scandalous Heiress book coverand I had this feeling (based on nothing whatsoever) that the story should be set in Bath. From there it was like, what can I throw at these two that takes advantage of the setting and also their quirks? But if I’m completely honest, my favorite scenes to write were the ones with Sutcliffe and Joss. I had never written a villain(?) like Sutcliffe before and he wound up being really fun.

Rose: Sutcliffe was great. I just felt SO BAD for him. Like, a person does not behave like that if they aren’t really unhappy.

Theresa: Right! He was a really thwarted guy, but he’d never see himself that way because he was rich and titled. He’s like a grown-up toddler. Breaks stuff, doesn’t understand consequences, desperate for attention…

Rose: Now I am imagining Lord Sutcliffe as a Justin Bieber-type teen idol. It’s pretty sad.

Theresa: He would LOVE being a teen idol. But eventually he would be reduced to the Regency equivalent of singing in malls.

Rose: I feel like Sutcliffe wouldn’t even really mind singing in malls, so long as he got enough attention from the event organizers…Ugh, but deep inside he would sense that something was wrong and would just do more coke. (Speed?) Meanwhile Joss is his long-suffering cousin/manager.

Theresa: You’re so right. Sutcliffe would be all cool with any attention, as long as he had his pouch of dried somalata.

Rose: Oh, can I also mention how much I loved “manflirting”?

Theresa: Oh, yay! Mr. R tried to get me to take that reference out, but I disagreed.

Rose: I loved it a LOT. It was a really interesting culture-clash moment, because it’s a behavior that’s quintessentially masculine and bro-ish in Joss’s world. But in Augusta’s it’s sort of frivolous and showy and that makes it seem feminine/flirty. Also it was hilarious.

Theresa: Yesss! Joss is used to being indispensable to Sutcliffe, so it’s weird for him to find something he’s not good at.

Rose: And it was another moment where you see that even though Joss doesn’t see himself as an aristocrat, he looks like one from the outside. It was a neat little counterpoint to all the times Augusta didn’t notice how rich she was being.

Theresa: I’m glad it came across that way. He feels hampered by his poverty (more so than being mixed race) but he takes social cachet for granted. He and Augusta both have reasons to side-eye each other and tell the other to check their privilege.

I like all the playful names you use to give the whole village of Lively St. Lemeston a personality. How did you choose Lydia and Ash’s names? Or did you just like them?

Rose: Well, Lydia looks like Holland Roden who plays Lydia on Teen Wolf. After I cast her I tried to pick a new name for her, but I just couldn’t find one that suited as well as Lydia, so I kept it. For Ash…I really like the name Asher, and it’s a name that can be disguised as Gentile and aristocratic very easily. It happens to be a fashionable hero name at the moment—clearly it’s something in the water because I chose it a pretty long time ago and so, presumably, did all those other writers. Name fashions are fascinating to me. I don’t understand how they work.

Theresa: That’s true, character names seem to go in and out of fashion just like real-life names. Wonder what all the heroes will be named in 2016?

Rose: Something I worried about while writing the book is that I’m not sure how many Americans would immediately realize that “Ralph” and “Rafe” are pronounced the same in England. Hopefully a lot! But I really have no idea.

Theresa: More since Ralph Fiennes played Voldemort!

Rose: Yes! Thanks, Mr. Fiennes, for everything related to that performance.

So how did you pick the name Joss? I feel like that’s one I haven’t seen a lot and I really liked it.

Theresa: Joss was the best nickname I could think of for Josiah, which is his full name. He got named before he became a hero, and then when it was clear he was going to get his own book, I wanted to call him something more casual. I can’t remember if this made it into the final draft of Secrets, but I at one point had his mother choosing his name because of its meaning—God supports, or similar depending on translation. Because she felt so alone.

Rose: Awwwwww!

Theresa: But that would have come after he was already named and I was just trying to make it make sense in the story. Like Augusta’s parents coming from Portsmouth. Her surname was Meredith and I needed a hometown for her, so I looked up where the writer George Meredith was from. Ta da! And as it turned out, Portsmouth inspired her parents’ business AND later provided a way to kill them off.

Rose: Serendipity!

Theresa: It really is.


In Secrets of a Scandalous Heiress, a wild heroine creates a false identity for herself in Bath, where she meets her match in an Anglo-Indian hero with secrets of his own. Read the first chapter here: bit.ly/1qOjyAU

Secrets of a Scandalous Heiress is available now! Get your copy from your favorite retailer:

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It Takes Two to Tangle book cover*

And that’s all, folks! Remember, you can read part one at Theresa’s blog (and comment there to win an e-book of my True Pretenses).

Here, commenters are entered to win a copy of the first book in Theresa’s Matchmakers Trilogy, It Takes Two to Tangle (it’s so good)! The giveaway is open internationally, and the winner can choose a print copy, Kindle book, or Nook book.

What’s your favorite hero name?

21 thoughts on “Welcome Theresa Romain and her awesome books!”

  1. My favorite hero in a book is named Diaz, his full name was James Diaz.
    In other books, there was Rafe, loved the way they wrote his character.
    My hero will always be my husband, Kevin James, not the actor, he is my hero in everything.

  2. My favorite hero name is Gabe, not really from any specific book I’ve read. Funny story – a new guy joined my work virtual team and his name is Gabriel. He is tall, dark, handsome, and could be a Regency hero. And is young enough to be my kid….
    Look forward to reading both “heiress” books!

    1. Sounds like fate! 😉 I love all those archangel names–Gabriel, Raphael, Michael…well okay mostly those. Uriel is not my favorite name. Although never say never I guess! Probably the right author could sell me on it.
      Thank you!

  3. I don’t have a particular favorite name, but I have a short list of ones that I dislike. On rare occasions an author has used one and even though I like the book, it didn’t change my opinion about the name. 🙂
    You discussed above about writing a villainous character. Do either of you have any thoughts in trying to redeem a previous villain? I’m thinking about how successful Lisa Kleypas was in redeeming Sebastian, Viscount St. Vincent. There must be a real challenge in attempting that, but quite difficult to pull off.

    1. I’ve never written a villain I wanted to redeem. (René in A Lily Among Thorns is more antagonist than villain, I hope.) But I have no problems with it in theory, especially given how much I often love villains and how nasty heroes’ backstories can be (demons, assassins, vampires…). The only things I personally just don’t EVER want to see someone redeemed from are domestic violence or rape, but beyond that, for me the line between villain and hero can be pretty blurry.
      Is there a particular romance villain you’d like to see get his own book?

        Rose, what you said about villains you want/don’t want to see redeemed hits on a question I’ve had for a while now, which is how you see Tony from SD. Do you put him in the rapist/domestic violence category due to his behavior toward Helen? When I read that book, I found his depiction sympathetic enough to wonder whether you were planning to bring him back as a hero in a subsequent installment. I read him as a weakish man with some family baggage and some contemptible views about women who needed to be knocked upside the head but good … but not as someone to give up on. I felt like if you gave him some time to process the horrible callousness of his actions and a couple more wake-up calls, he might be worth the trouble (intradiegetically and to you as author). In particular, I’m wondering whether there is some way to salvage his marriage; it seems like there’s a lot of possibility embedded in their failed dynamics. I’m thinking a couple years from the events of SD–no miraculous turnarounds for Tony. He’d have to earn his redemption the hard way. But maybe when you wrote him you conceived of him as too vile for hero status. So I’m curious to know just what you think of him. Hopelessly contemptible/abusive, or potentially salvageable?

          Anne, the categories I drew were not “hopelessly contemptible/abusive, or potentially salvageable.” They were “hero I’d like to read about or hero I wouldn’t.” Do I actually think that rape is a “worse” crime than, say, murdering hundreds of people? That would be silly. But personally (and this is all just my personal preferences, everyone has to draw their own lines) I’m willing to read about assassin heroes, or vampire heroes, or watch Eliot Spencer on TV, and I’m not interested in reading about a rapist hero. Because I find rape and domestic violence much more personally threatening; after all, I’m much more likely to meet a rapist or abuser than I am to meet an assassin. In fact, given the statistics on rape and abuse, I must already have met quite a few.
          When I wrote Tony, I wanted him to be likeable and in some ways sympathetic. I’m even fond of him. Because rape isn’t a crime that’s only committed by hopelessly contemptible, unsalvageable human beings, you know? If that’s the portrait of a rapist we all agree on, then only guys who think of themselves as hopelessly contemptible and unsalvageable will feel any need to examine their own behavior towards women. Demonizing a behavior is rarely a good way of rooting it out.
          Tony might appear again as a minor character in my books. He might even turn his life around (or not, I don’t know yet). But I don’t think, for me, that he’s hero material. Or maybe I should say, I think it’s pretty unlikely that I’m going to want to devote 300 pages to living in his head and letting him share his story.
          If I did write him, I don’t think his heroine would be his wife, who he also pressured into sex. I always feel kind of squicked by romances about an abuse/rape/bullying survivor where the h/h is the person who abused/raped/bullied them. Even if the behavior is something a character can be redeemed from, something about forcing their victim to forgive them just…it really upsets me. Again, I’m not making a statement about the moral value of such stories, but it’s a squick for me.
          (I have thought about writing a story about Ada. Not sure what the story would be or how I’d deal with her already being married, but it’s simmering away on the back burner.)

  4. This chat was so much fun! Thanks, Rose for the fabulous conversation.
    Callie, those real-life heroes’ names are not to be ignored! Our daughter notices every time someone has the same name as my husband and gets really excited. (No one ever seems to be named Theresa.)
    Laurie, I love the way your mind went right to a romance-hero place!
    Kim, the closest I’ve come to redeeming a villain is giving Xavier–who seemed villainous in my first book–his own side of the story and romance in my second book. I think a character has to be fundamentally decent for them to be hero material (at least for me to write the character), so there’d be some villains I’d consider not redeemable. But there are some villains that definitely are.

  5. I really like the name Ash, because it reminds me of the first book I read using that name for the hero. It was The Far Pavilions, by M.M. Kaye. Her Ash was brought up by an Indian woman after his parents are killed and Ash is short for his Indian name, Ashok. I love that Ash works as a nickname for someone who can be non-Anglo or non-Gentile. Plus there’s something sexy about saying it: that open-mouthed vowel followed by the ‘ssshh’ sound.

    1. Thanks! I agree, there’s just something sexy about the name. I love your point that it doesn’t have an unambiguous origin–I feel like when characters have it, it’s usually (but not always) short for something, but it’s short for about fifty different things. Have you read Courtney Milan’s Unveiled, where it turns out the poor hero’s mother named him “And ye shall tread down the wicked, for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet”?
      M.M. Kaye, didn’t she write The Ordinary Princess? I LOVED that book!

      1. Wow, an MM Kaye book I’ve never heard of? I thought I had read everything she wrote back in the day. Yes, I read Unveiled and I love Milan’s Ash too.

  6. My favourite name for a hero? That’s a tough question. Maybe the classic: Fitzwilliam. If it was good enough for Mr. Darcy, it’s got to be a great hero’s name.
    Loved these blog posts so much. Now, off to read!

  7. Hmmm since I just finished reading two books: my latest new favorites for today are Black Niall and Jack Sinclair. And of course, Rhett Butler is always a favorite!! I guess I am a little fickle!!

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