A Forbidden Love: Book One
By Elise de Sallier
Publication Date: Dec, 17th 2013
ISBN ebook: 978-1-61213-201-3
Forced to flee her father’s brutal heir, Miss Anneliese Barlow masquerades as Lisa Brown, a commoner, in the grand country mansion of the Duke of Worthington. Discovering the life she’d known was a virtual fairy tale, and reality a dark and forbidding place, Lisa faces danger at every turn.
Captivated by the beautiful maid, the duke’s heir, Lord Marsden, decides the only way to keep the new girl safe—and close—is by offering her his protection. With her reputation ruined and all hope of returning to her previous station seemingly lost, Lisa surrenders her virtue, finding unexpected passion in Nathaniel’s arms.
Despite her misgivings about the dubious morality of the role, she accepts the position of Nathaniel’s mistress, but the future is fraught with uncertainty. If her identity is uncovered, Lisa’s innocence won’t be the only thing that’s lost.
From Twilight to Innocence – An Interview With Elise de Sallier
Why did you choose to write a novel in Regency times?
My reasons for writing a Regency were purely accidental. I’m a huge fan of romance novels of all genres, with a soft spot for regencies and paranormals . . . and historicals, contemporaries, cowboy, sci-fi, shapeshifter, billionaire, small town, you name it, as long as there is romance and a Happily Ever After.
When my husband brought the Twilight DVD home one night, I fell in love with the world and characters. Stumbling on the world of Twilight fan fiction soon after, I was overjoyed to find a wide variety of stories by an amazing and eclectic group of writers. After making friends with some of my favorite authors, I plucked up the courage to try writing my own story, contacting Project Team Beta for help with the grammar side of things, something I knew very little about.
To my amazement, my first story, Once Bitten, attracted several thousand reviews. A canon story (which means it is set in the Twilight world) it gave me the chance to address the numerous questions I was left with after reading the series. From there, I started thinking about parallels between the human/vampire world Stephenie Meyer created and the class system of the 1800s, where commoners were considered less than the gentry, and the gentry less than the nobility and aristocracy, and women of all classes of less value than men.
I then translated my loose interpretation of the Twilight characters into a Regency setting with this theme in mind, began writing and posting A Forbidden Love, and was soon inundated with reviews – over 12,000. Being contacted by an acquisitions editor from The Writer’s Coffee Shop about submitting an original story for publication was unexpected to say the least . . . and very exciting.
I originally had no intention of reworking A Forbidden Love for publication, but whilst writing the first story of my Hearts of Honour series, Passion and Propriety, which will be published by TWCS in August 2014, I was diagnosed with a debilitating neurological disorder. It effects my voice which meant I had to give up my profession as a counselor and trainer. Faced with a drastic loss of income, I decided I couldn’t afford to be precious about ‘pulling to publish’. To my relief, TWCS said they were interested in A Forbidden Love also, though my joy would have been tempered if I’d had any idea how much work was involved reworking,rewriting, de-Twilighting, and editing a behemoth of a fanfic story (nearly 250 000 words) into something fit for publication!
I had hoped to publish it as one story, but that would have meant making enormous cuts (the minor ones were painful enough!) as virtually unknown, debut novelists do not get to publish books much over 100,000 words due to the cost of returns from the spines of larger books breaking. Consequently, A Forbidden Love is being published as two books, Innocence, which comes out on December 17th 2013, and Protection, which will be released in May 2014.
Do you only write novels in this period?
At this stage, yes. I’ve written three Regencies with several more planned. I also have plans for a Paranormal/Fantasy romance series which I am looking forward to writing when I get the chance.
Where did the vision of Nathaniel’s character come from?
I wanted to write a strong male character who is confident in his place in the world, secure in his beliefs and yet with a decidedly skewed world view (according to our modern way of thinking, at any rate). I like stories where the heroine isn’t the only one whose character grows and develops, as I think a man who is willing to recognize, admit to, and learn from his mistakes is very appealing.
Have your life experiences impacted the type of stories you write? If so what issues do you address and why?
Definitely. One of the main reasons I like reading romance stories is because relationships are very important to me. Even before becoming a counselor and family therapist, I read books on what makes relationships work, summarizing them to my non-reader husband as well as dragging him along to marriage enrichment weekends, counselling when we hit a rough patch around the seven year mark, and parenting courses when we found ourselves out of our depth with our three, now grown, children. He’s a strong, caring, ‘teachable’ type (the best kind of man in my book!) and I’m happy to be able to say that after thirty years of marriage he is my best friend and we’re still very much in love. Did I mention we met when I was sixteen and married when I was nineteen? Shocking, I know!
This is the first of three novels, give us a small hint on what is still to come.
The sequel to Innocence, the second book in the Forbidden Love series, is called Protection, and we get to see Nathaniel’s point of view as well as Lisa’s. I had hoped to show his POV in the first book, but in the interests of avoiding unnecessary repetition, and to achieve a manageable word count, those scenes were cut.
Without giving away too much of the story, Protection sees Lisa and Nathaniel facing a whole set of different obstacles to the ones they had to overcome in Innocence, and in an entirely different setting. Where Innocence follows the plot of the original fan fiction story quite closely, Protection has a number of new scenes and characters that help to give what was originally just the ending and extended HEA of A Forbidden Love a story arc all its own.
The third book in the series, Transformation, is one I have only just made a start on. It is Eleanor’s and Michael’s story, one I never intended to tell but has captured my imagination. It is also quite a challenge, as Eleanor is not a very likable character in Innocence . . . hence the title.
How much research on the Regency period did you have to do to write this novel?
A lot! As I wrote the original version of this story purely as an exercise in escapism, I wasn’t overly worried about historical accuracy and relied on what I had gleaned from reading countless Regency and historical romances. The issues I raise about the age of consent and the battle to abolish slavery were researched, but the impediment to Nathaniel marrying whomever he wanted and the character of the King in my story were fictional. You can imagine my panic when I realized I needed to tie my fantasy world to the real one! To my relief, I discovered that by shifting my story forward in time to 1831, I was able to solve all my problems. King William IV, who reigned for just a few years between the Regency era and Queen Victoria, fit my story perfectly, as did the Royal Marriage Act of 1772. I found the story of the King’s mistress, Mrs Jordan, quite heartbreaking, and the woman who eventually became his queen, Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen, a fascinating character.
Does your background in counselling and family therapy impact your stories? If so how?
Absolutely! I’ve learned so much from my clients over the years, as well as from running numerous parenting relationship and life skill courses. While I try not to get ‘preachy’ (my editors pounce on it, believe me!) that knowledge both motivates and permeate my writing.
From my experience as a foster carer and working as a school counselor, I became very aware of the sexualisation of young girls through the Internet, TV, and the pressure they face via social media. With girls as young as eleven and twelve coming to me quite traumatized after being exposed to hard core and deviant pornography, often by older boys pressurizing the girls to act out their Internet porn addiction fantasies, (picture an eleven year old sobbing her heart out because she doesn’t want to have sex with animals, even though she now ‘knows’ that’s what all adults do!) I found myself wishing for the “good old days”. That, in turn, got me thinking about the opposite end of the spectrum, where girls and women were kept (and still are in some places) in ignorance, powerless and with very little rights or protection. Needless to say, this was the motivation for
addressing this theme in Innocence and Protection, one I foresee arising again
in my stories.
Put yourself in Lisa’s shoes, would you have done what she did after her father died or would you have taken a different path?
If you’re asking whether I would have accepted Nathaniel’s offer if I’d been in her boat . . . only nineteen, sheltered, and having been put through what, for her, would have been unimaginable trials . . . the answer is yes! Not wanting my hero to appear quite so controlling as he did in the fanfic (my very mild nod to MOTU at the time) I have him give Lisa some alternatives that some readers may think she should have accepted. But she was in love for the very first time, in a seemingly hopeless situation, and had lost everything, so I don’t blame her one bit.
I have received a lot of criticism for making Lisa too innocent, unbelievably so in some people’s minds, but funnily enough that aspect of my story is based on the real life experiences of my mother and grandmothers. Intelligent, educated women, they married without having any idea what to expect when it came to sex.
My mother was an artist and teacher, and she told me she was six months pregnant when she plucked up the courage to ask the doctor how they were going to get the baby out of her belly button. That level of ignorance seems ludicrous to us today where answers to just about any question we can think of are at our finger tips. To my mind, if it was possible to be kept so thoroughly in the dark in the 1930s and 1960s, then it’s not implausible for a young woman to be quite ignorant in the 1800s when society worked so hard to keep them that way.
It can be difficult for us to relate to, but young women in this era had very few options and hardly any rights. I’ve actually made Lisa quite modern in her thinking and a lot more independent and resilient for one of her class and upbringing than would have been typical.
What is the most important message you want your readers to get out of your novel?
This question is a little more high brow than my intentions, as all I set out to do was write a fun, romantic, escapist story! Once I started researching information about the truly deplorable exploitation of young girls in the 1800s (and throughout history) I became quite passionate about helping girls and young women who are being sexually exploited in the world today. Consequently, I have decided to donate 10 percent of anything I earn from my writing to World Vision Child Rescue and hope I might inspire some of my readers to support them or similar causes. Other than that, my main message is that loving, respectful, balanced relationships take work . . . but they are worth it!
Who was your favorite character to write and why?
Ugh! This is like asking me to choose between my children! I would have to say, for the first book, that I found Lisa’s journey from an innocent and quite ignorant young woman, to one determined to take charge of her life regardless of the difficulties she faces, captivating. Nathaniel, on the other hand, makes me weak at the knees while occasionally wanting to clip him over the ear. In many ways, I think his journey of self discovery and character growth is even greater than Lisa’s.
Elise met the love of her life when she was only sixteen, married him three years later, and recently celebrated her thirtieth wedding anniversary. Needless to say, she is a big believer in living Happily Ever After. With a lifetime’s worth of experience behind her, Elise also believes great relationships don’t just happen, they take work . . . which doesn’t mean writing about them can’t be a whole lot of fun. After surviving all manner of health obstacles while raising a family and nursing her elderly grandmother—her writing namesake, though she’d have been shocked by her granddaughter’s steamy love scenes—Elise established a career as a counselor and family therapist. Seeking an escape from the stresses of her work, she discovered the world of fan fiction, and her timid writer’s muse began to make its voice heard. Two point three million hits, twelve and a half thousand reviews, and an email from an acquisitions editor at The Writer’s Coffee Shop later, and Elise’s life found a new and fascinating direction. A romantic fiction addict from way back, writing her own historical and paranormal romances—and having others read and fall in love with her characters and the worlds she creates—is a dream come true. Elise likes to see her characters grow, experience passion and adventure, tackle some difficult issues, and find lasting love . . . eventually.
- Hello from Elise (elisedesallier.wordpress.com)