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Beneath the Covers
A Romance Column

Spring Fashions, Season Quiz, and an Interview with Annette Blair

     Spring, that magical season where it is time to shed the winter clothes for exchange of bright pastels colors.  Of the four seasons, I find that Spring has always been my favorite.  The beauty of the many different plants paint a vivid picture as the new season unfolds.  I have searched the net, and found some very informative sites that will get you in the mood for Spring.  

     This spring, fashion is about imagination, creativity, fun. A thousand flowers (and ruffles, lace, and fringes) are blossoming. Individual style is in the ascendant. Celebrating that eclecticism, we've enlisted a cross-section of New Yorkers — chefs, artists, businesspeople, actresses — to make the season's looks their own

Spring in Photos!
New Yorkers in whiteDesigners you notice • What we saw on the runways

Are you Winter, Spring, Summer or Fall?  Take this fun quiz and find out.

     For the month of April, I have selected author Annette Blair.  Ms. Blair's book An Unforgettable Rogue was a pure joy to read.  Throughout the pages I knew I must seek out this special author who has touched my heart with such a moving novel.  

     In addition of being an award winning novelists, Ms. Blair is an avid Glass Slipper collector. She frequently has contests where the lucky winner is awarded a memorable slipper of their own.  To see what wonderful prizes she is featuring this month, be sure to visit her contest page.

An Unforgettable Series, An Unforgettable Author
Interview with Annette Blair

     Suzie Housley: Thank you for agreeing to take time out of your busy schedule in order to conduct this interview. We at "Beneath the Covers" are very excited that you have given us the opportunity to share the insights of what takes place behind the scenes in the creation of your exciting novels. 

Annette: I'm happy to share my experiences with you and your readers.  Thank you for asking me.


Suzie Housley: The "Rogues Club" is such an exciting series, could you give us the background on how it came to be created?

Annette:  First of all, I love marriage-of-convenience stories and always wanted to do a series with military men who were forced to marry.  The first was to be A Rake, Undeniable.  Most of the credit for the Rogues Club series, however, must be given to Amy Garvey, my former editor at Kensington.  Less than a week after I sent her A Rake, Undeniable, Amy called to say that she wanted the book, but she wanted to call it An Undeniable Rogue rakes made her think of gardening implements-and she wanted me to write a sequel called An Unmistakable Rogue, and she wanted them to be a series called the ROGUES CLUB.  She left the logistics of the club to me.  I came up with the men forming a club of sorts in a tent on the night before the Battle of Waterloo, since UNDENIABLE began with a dying officer extracting a promise on the battlefield.  Days after I turned in the first in the series, she offered me a contract for a third.


Suzie Housley: I can easily picture your "Rogues Club" to be made into a television mini-series. Have you given this any thought?

Annette:  Not until you said so in your wonderful review.  I must say, I find even the thought delightful.  What fun it would be to see the rogues brought to life.  I absolutely love the idea and I'd love to hear who readers think should play each rogue.  LOL.  


Suzie Housley: Bryceson Wakefield is a character that has really pulled at my heartstrings. You did an outstanding job turning this 'Beast' into a Prince. Are their any similar characters like Bryceson that we can look forward to in future novels?

Annette:  I think you'll like Reed Gilbride in An Unmistakable Rogue, because he's tortured as well, though in a different way.  He has never belonged anywhere, doesn't even know who he is.  Unwanted by the people forced to take him at birth, oldest in a family of fourteen, the only child not of their blood, he was made to be responsible for the rest.  Reed now wants to know who his parents were, and why they gave him away, then he wants peace and solitude-and no more children-for the rest of his days.  When a mysterious letter sends him on a search for his heritage to an estate called Sunnyledge, he finds Chastity Somers, carrying an identical letter, with her four "brigand brats," and a determination as great as his ... to claim the estate for the children.  To say that they turn his world upside down is an understatement; to say that he takes it well, is impossible.


Suzie Housley: Congratulations on your recent Blue Boa Award. Could you tell us more about this wonderful award?

Annette:  What I find particularly special about the Blue Boa Award of Excellence is that the books are judged by reviewers from across the country.  Oddly enough, this isn't the first time I win a Blue Boa Award.  Thee, I Love was a Blue Boa Award Honorable Mention in the Historical Category in 1999, and in 2003 An Unforgettable Rogue took second place.


Suzie Housley: The highly anticipated An Unmistakable Rogue is due to be released November 2003. Could you tell us more about the characters that we have patiently been waiting to arrive?

Annette:  Good news:  It's now due to be released in October 2003.   In An Unmistakable Rogue, the main characters: Reed Gilbride and Chastity Somers, and the secondary characters, orphans: Matthew, Mark, Luke and Bekah, all have in something in common with the Sunnyledge Estate itself: they have all been abandoned.  More than searching for the past, these characters are searching for a place to belong, and someone to belong to.  They will all discover that the past is unimportant compared to the present, and the future, and that home is not a building, but the people we love.


Suzie Housley: You are known to have a wonderful collection of glass slippers. How long have you been collecting these treasures? Approximately how many do you currently have in your menagerie?

Annette:  I have been collecting glass slippers for more than ten years.  Favorites are my antique slippers, made as early as 1876, but there are later designs, from glass companies that have gone out of business, that I really love, like Degenhart's mini slipper and Westmoreland's granny slipper.  In the Fenton line, I collect only hobnail.  Among my favorites are the advertising slippers made in the 1880's by Duncan & Sons and Bryce Brothers, with company names molded into the bottoms of the shoes.  I have approximately 200 slippers and boots from the 19th and early 20th centuries, ranging in size from two to five inches long and two to six inches high.  


Suzie Housley: Are you a part-time or full time writer? How do you include writing into your daily living habits? 

Annette:  Are you sure you have room for this answer?  LOL.  I am a full time Development Director, and a part-time Journalism Advisor, for a private New England Prep School.  I also consider myself a full-time writer.  I am either obsessed or possessed; I'm never sure which.  I write every day, morning and evening.  I can write around the clock on weekends.  Working for a school, I have several 'breaks' and four weeks in the summer, so seven weeks in a year to write like a fiend.  When I'm on deadline, I often get up at three or four a.m. and write for a few hours before I go to school.  I have to be at school for 7:30 a.m. but I'm home by 3:30 p.m.  Usually I edit in the morning when I'm bright.  Evenings I just fix what I red-marked in the morning and never try to second-guess morning decisions, because I'm brain dead by the time school is over.  Writing fresh is for weekends and school breaks.  My husband is supportive, and understanding, and he will even bring me food on a tray if I don't emerge from my "cave" for long periods.


Suzie Housley: When did you discover that you wanted to be an author? Was it difficult getting your first novel published? 

Annette:  I wrote romance stories about my friends and their boyfriends in high school, so I suppose that should have been a tip-off, then I spent years jotting plot ideas down on odd pieces of paper and stashing them in my nightstand.  But ultimately, it took my teenage daughter to challenge me to write a romance of my own that sat me down at the computer to begin.  Was it difficult?  LOL.  The New England Chapter calls me their poster child for perseverance.  It took me 12 years, 112 rejections, and three golden heart finalist standings--1996, 1997, 1998--before Kate Duffy at Kensington called to buy my first three books.  Was it difficult?  Yes.  Do I know why?  Yes.  I had a lot to learn.  Am I stubborn?  YES.


Suzie Housley: What mistakes have you experienced as a writer that you can pass on a lesson learned to someone who is trying to break into the business?

Annette:  Don't be afraid to submit; just do it.  Don't be afraid to fail; you will, but it won't kill you.  You almost have to fall as far as you can, before you succeed and sell.  Some people sell fast, but most don't.  It's almost as if there's dues to be paid.  Work hard and don't give up, and it'll happen.  Give up, and it never will. 


Suzie Housley: Approximately how many hours do you spend researching each novel? Do you enjoy this aspect of creating novel?

Annette:  I honestly can't tell you how long I spend researching.  I don't put in a chunk of solitary time researching before I start.  I start by writing-always a good place to begin I think-and fill in the historical details later, though I do devour the historical information and often have to remind myself to get back to the writing.  I like the historical research to be a lush background to the story, but not one that overshadows the characters or the romance.


Suzie Housley: What do you find is the most rewarding part of being a writer? What part could you live without if given a choice? 

Annette:  I could live without the rejections, of course, though I've survived a great many of them.  I could live without the paperwork too, seriously.  I have a secretary at school, and if I ever leave to write full time, I just might try to take her with me.  The most rewarding part about writing is hearing from readers.  One recently wrote and said, "There is so much joy in reading your books."  Giving my readers joy--what could be more rewarding than that?  Another awesome reward is the writer friends you make along the way.  I honestly cannot imagine my life without them.  


Suzie Housley: Is there anything that we haven't covered in this interview that you might like to mention? 

Annette:  I'd just like to give my family credit for putting up with me in my writing mode.  They miss talking to me; they miss eating meals together.  They cheer the good times and console me in the bad.  I have my own special hero for inspiration, the boy I sat beside in seventh grade, and who is beside me still, many, many, many years later.  Romance is a celebration of life, and I have been fortunate enough to enjoy the celebration.  For that, I will be eternally grateful.


Suzie Housley: How can fans contact you? 

Annette:  I can be reached at or at PO Box 302, Manville RI 02838.  I love hearing from readers.

Thank you so much for taking the time to share with us and answer the questions I have directed to you. I wish you much success in your up and coming book and any other future novels that you have to offer.


An Unforgettable Rogue
By Annette Blair
Kensington Publishing - October 2002

ISBN: 0821773844 - Paperback
Regency Romance 

Buy it at Amazon
Read an Excerpt

Beauty resides where gentleness and love are the wondrous of gifts . . .

     Alexander ‘Alex’ Huntington was moving on with her life; she stood before the altar to pledge herself to another. A year had passed since she had been widowed when her husband died on the battlefields of Waterloo. Her thoughts were haunted by the love she felt for her first husband, who she had loved since childhood—a love that was never returned. She was shocked when she saw a limping stranger slowly making his way towards the altar. There was something familiar about the newcomer that made her heart beat faster. When she heard a voice from the past declare that he was her husband come back to her from the dead, she felt herself go faint. Had her thoughts of her beloved been turned into a reality?

    Bryceson Wakefield, Duke of Hawksworth had returned from the war a changed man. No longer did he possess the golden looks that had once made him the catch of London’s elite society. His face and body exhibited hideous scars that were a daily reminder of what he had suffered that ill-fated day when he was given up for dead. He felt that his scars make him unworthy to claim his husband’s rights to his beautiful wife. Although he felt he was not worthy of his wife, he refused to allow her to marry an enemy, the Viscount Chesterfield. Stopping the wedding ceremony was his only option. Seeing the beautiful swan his wife Alex has become in the year they had been apart only heightened his awareness of how beastly he must appear to her. Secretly he vowed to one day release her from the commitment that bound them together. Only his heart knew of the magnitude of his love for her, a love that did not become apparent to him until he lay so close to death. Such a love could not be forced to live with the beast that he had become.

    As a reader/reviewer I have made it a point to seek out and read every Beauty/Beast theme reads that I can lay my hands upon. Since childhood, this theme has been one of my all time favorites. I can honestly say that Annette Blair has written the best Regency I have found in this genre. Annette Blair’s characters magically wrapped their way around my heart. My tears of sorrow quickly changed to joy as I finished the last heart-wrenching page. To say that I was impressed with the first book that I have read by this author is an understatement. I am thrilled that there are other sequels to come from this book. I can easily see this memorable series being made into a mini-series for television. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

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