Monday, January 12, 2009

Livin' La Vida Loca!

by Anna Campbell

That title seems to fit the picture of me quaffing champagne at the Queen Victoria Tea Rooms in Sydney - which are quite as glamorous as they sound.

Actually I was going to start this blog with a rather obscure '80s song by Sheila E. called The Glamorous Life. But I couldn't find the video I wanted on YouTube so we'll have to settle for Ricky Martin instead.

My third historical romance for Avon was released on 30th December. TEMPT THE DEVIL is set in the dark, decadent world of late Regency London. It was huge fun to play around with some familiar aspects of Regency high society.

My first two books were fairly rural in setting. Well, make that EXTREMELY rural in setting. CLAIMING THE COURTESAN starts in a villa just outside London but quickly moves to the wilds of the Scottish Highlands. UNTOUCHED is almost completely set on an isolated estate in Somerset.

With TEMPT THE DEVIL, I had the chance to introduce some glamorous elements to this story of the Earl of Erith and his latest mistress, the notorious courtesan Olivia Raines.

You can read an excerpt of TEMPT THE DEVIL here and please note the setting, one of those decadent salons. I think it shows I was having enormous fun with the decor!

There's a couple of events in a luxurious mansion belonging to Olivia's friend Lord Peregrine Mountjoy. I really let my imagination go wild with those scenes - it was such fun to do the over the top decoration and debauched company. There's even a ball scene where some action crucial to the plot takes place. I've never had a ball scene in one of my books before. It was wonderful to have a chance to describe the elegant crowd and the fashions and the ballroom.

I believe that one of the things that attract readers in such faithful droves to books set in the Regency period is that it's a glamorous time. Or at least it's glamorous in the way it's portrayed in historical romances. In real life, it was a time of tremendous economic upheaval and glamorous is the last word you'd use to describe most people's lives. But of course, we're talking about Romancelandia here!

Think of all those wonderful scenes at Almack's and in assorted Mayfair ballrooms in Georgette Heyer. Think of the hints of high life you get from PRIDE AND PREJUDICE. Think of all those Regency Rakes stalking those innocent little misses who adorn the season. Or the less than innocent misses, for that matter!
So do you have a favorite ball or party scene in a book? One of my favorites is the gorgeous, romantic, emotional account of Natasha's first ball in WAR AND PEACE. Another is the house party in JANE EYRE. Or who could forget Lizzie and Darcy meeting at the assembly in PRIDE AND PREJUDICE? Then there are countless scenes of high life in the thousands of historical romances I've read. I'd be hard put to pick a favorite.

My favorite answer wins a signed copy of my latest release TEMPT THE DEVIL! Choose your partners and good luck!


Helen said...

Anna you have me thinking now I have read so many wonderful regency books and there have been some wonderful balls but to pick a favourite I am going to have to think on this one.

BTW everyone I have just finished To Tempt The Devil and it is one awesome book I highly recommend it I loved it from start to finish

Have Fun

Christine Wells said...

Hi Anna! Great to see you on TBNB. Ooh, can I win? I can't wait to read Tempt the Devil again!

Ballroom scenes? Let me see...

I think one of the best was in Heyer's Sylvester where Phoebe creates a scandal by breaking from Sylvester's hold and running from the dance floor in the middle of a waltz. It was a pivotal scene, and showed that this rididly proud, controlled man simply couldn't control himself around Phoebe. Sigh.

Laurie said...

I just finished Kathryn Caskie's book "To Sin With a Stranger".

Isobel and Sterling's first encounter takes place in the middle of a fight,in the fighting ring at Gentleman Jack's. Unique!!

Second encounter is at a ball where at first their eyes lock across the crowded room...and ends when she resoundingly slaps him in front of everyone!!

Third- they're intensionally locked outside, in the garden,alone, at a ball.
I liked the book!

Sarah said...

Hi Anna! I always enjoy reading your creative blog posts (and books:) One of my favorite "scenes" is not froma book, but from my own wedding. I insisted on having dance cards for all the ladies and three formal waltzes. When it was time for the first waltz, everyone found their partner and hit the dance floor, which soon became way too crowded. Everyone bumped into everyone else and barely a soul was still sitting down.

My all-time favorite house party in a book is in Eloisa James' A Wild Pursuit. I laugh so hard I cry each time I read that book (and I must admit, I've read it many, many times.)

PJ said...

Hi Anna! First, congrats on the release of TEMPT THE DEVIL. You already know how much I love this book. It's marvelous!

What a fun topic. There are so many terrific ballroom scenes and house parties but one that comes immediately to mind is the ball near the end of SOME LIKE IT WICKED by Teresa Medeiros. I won't go into detail with spoilers but that one scene had me cheering, sighing and crying. I loved it!

PJ said...

Laurie, I loved that first meeting in TO SIN WITH A STRANGER. It's wonderful!

Sarah, what a terrific idea to have dance cards at your wedding reception! I hope somebody got that first waltz on video!

Jane said...

Hi Anna,
One of my favorite ball scenes is from Jacquie D'Alessandro's "Confessions At Midnight." It was a costume ball and the hero was the only one who knew what the heroine was dressed as(Galatea.) The tension between the two during that scene was great.

Cheri2628 said...

The first ball that came to mind was from Julia Quinn's "Cinderella" story AN OFFER FROM A GENTLEMAN. Poor Sophie the servant/illegitimate daughter of an earl sneaks into the Bridgerton masquerade ball. Benedict is drawn to the masked woman because she radiates with joy. It was a lovely beginning to their story because the scene was filled with flirtation, mystery, humor, and bittersweetness.

Cheryl (akaCheri)

Raven99 said...

It's very difficult to pinpoint just one ball scene as a favorite. I have read hundreds of them. I remember loving one from Lord of Scoundrels, right before Jessica and Dain are caught in a compromising position. Also, Sabrina Jeffries opened Beware A Scot's Revenge at a costume ball where the heroine was dressed as Flora MacDonald. The hero started falling for her right away because of the costume she chose - based on a woman she admired rather than to be flashy or beautiful.

Stefanie said...

Hi Anna!!

I loved a ball scene in Jacquie D'Alessandro's Confessions at midnight. The hero tries to ignore the heroine (btw, that isn't really working), because of a book she gave him. That book describes a ball where the man ignores the woman to make her yearn for him.
So our hero does the same and what do you guess? It works!
I'm not going to tell the rest. You'll just have to read the book to know more ;-)

Btw, To Tempt The Devil sounds great!

Anna Campbell said...

Hi everyone! Sorry I'm a bit late arriving. Hey, this made me laugh - I was channel surfing in the Golden Globe awards last night and hit a music channel. Guess what was playing? I haven't seen that video for Livin' La Vida Loca for years. Seemed like a good omen!

Helen, thanks again for saying how much you enjoyed Tempt the Devil! Mwah to you!

Anna Campbell said...

Christine, I'd forgotten that scene in Sylvester. I must read it again - it's ages since I did my last Heyer blitz. Actually you've got a pretty good party scene going on at the start of The Dangerous Duke. I love the interplay between Kate and Lyle. Really sexy! Actually your description of the Sylvester scene made me think of another memorable ball scene - the one in Whitney My Love when she leaves him standing on the floor too.

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Laurie, that book sounds like a hoot. Actually in the interests of cross-promotion, I'm talking about battle of the sexes books over at Writers at Play today. Check it out if you get a chance:

Anna Campbell said...

Sarah, Eloisa does the best ball/house party scenes, doesn't she? She really has a deft hand in handling those big crowd scenes. I always find them tough - it's hard to keep a track on who's where and keeping the focus where it needs to be. I think that's one of the reasons I was so pleased with the crowd scenes in Tempt the Devil. They took a lot of work to get right! Laughed at your wedding memory! Sounds like it could have become mayhem! And thanks for those kind words about the blogs and the books.

Pat Cochran said...

Hello, Ms. Anna, I seem to find you
all over the 'net lately! I'm so
enjoying all the blogging you are

Ball scenes? I've been reading
romances since the 1950s, that's so
many I couldn't begin to make a

My favorite dance party is one that
I actually attended on January 23, 1959. It was the evening that Ken
and I met and we celebrate that
date every year. In fact, he's
already asked me out for our big
"date" on the 23rd. It's the 50th
anniversary of our meeting!

Pat Cochran

Anna Campbell said...

Ooh, PJ, I must check out that book! As you know, I think you have exquisite taste in reading ;-) Thanks so much for the wrap for TTD!

Jane, that sounds like a great scene. I love masked balls. I'm hoping to have one in the story I'm currently working on (which should be out in 2010). As you say, the whole masquerade element just builds the tension!

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Cheryl, didn't I just see you in a sandpit over at the Writers Playground? ;-)

Oh, I know that scene you're talking about. It's absolutely exquisitely done and soooooo romantic. I think that's one of my favorite of the Bridgerton books. It's so poignant and emotional even while it's still got all that wonderful trademark humor. Oh, definitely on the list of the best ball scenes EVAH!

Anna Campbell said...

Raven, the Lord of Scoundrels ball scene is hard to beat, isn't it? And I love the interlude in the garden. It's so sexy and poignant all at the same time. Sigh. When she kisses his nose... I know that sounds a bit odd, but believe me, it's wonderful in context.

Actually another favorite ball scene for me is the big engagement party ball (the hero's getting engaged to the WRONG girl) in Eva Ibbotson's A Countess Below Stairs. If you haven't read this, grab it. It's such a treat and it's recently been reissued. It's one of the most beautiful stories I've ever read and I re-read it at least once a year. I never fail to finish it without a smile on my face.

LJ White said...

Hi Anna, congrats on your new release.

I do have a favourite ballroom scene but my mind has gone blank on the title and author(I know it's on one of my bookshelves somewhere). The heroine is deaf and doesn't attend many social functions, but while at a ball she is up in the balconey listening/feeling the music, the hero spots her and goes up and asks her to dance. They end up dancing in the balconey and it is her first real dance.

flchen1 said...

Hi, Anna! I do enjoy reading regencies for the glamour (just like I like reading in general for the "Calgon, take me away!" effect ;)) Hmm... favorite ball or party scene? There are so many ball scenes! Possibly the one with Colin and Penelope and the fabulously outspoken Lady Danbury in Romancing Mister Bridgerton? I don't have my copy in front of me, but there's nothing that enhances my enjoyment more than someone deserving getting his/her comeuppance at a fancy shindig :)

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Stefanie, another vote for Jacquie's latest! Clearly I HAVE to read it. It sounds great - I love those games in a romance novel. Thanks for the congrats!

Hey, Pat, I was hoping I'd see you here. Is this where we 'met'? I've got a feeling it might be! Anyway, it's always lovely to see you turn up when I'm having a rave about something or other ;-)

Oh, what a romantic story about meeting at a dance! My parents met at a dance too - Mum was a new nurse way out in western Queensland (real outback stuff) and the hospital put on a dance so that all the locals could meet the new nurses. My dad came very reluctantly (he'd had a broken engagement and was avoiding women at the time) and just fell for her like a ton of bricks. Always thought that was an amazingly romantic story!

Anna Campbell said...

Oh, LJ, that sounds lovely! Didn't Mary Balogh do a book with a Deaf heroine? I can remember it getting mentioned when I've been talking about favorite romances recently. It sounds like a wonderful story so it could very well be the one you're talking about. Thanks for the congrats!

Julia Quinn sure does those ball scenes well, Fedora, doesn't she? It's a long time since I read it, but don't Daphne and the Duke meet at a ball in the first Bridgerton story? I remember it's a hoot of a scene!

Actually Gone with the Wind, the movie, features a pretty stunning ball scene too when she's in black and Rhett whisks her off for that amazing waltz.

Cheri2628 said...

Hi again, Anna! Yes, I am finding lots of places to play today. I really SHOULD be cleaning the house, but oh well...

Another great party scene that I thought of is in Julie Garwood's Ransom. It is a rowdy Scottish Highlander celebration filled with humor and lots of possessive Alpha males! It was great fun to read.


Anna Campbell said...

Cheryl, that does sound fun! Julie Garwood's Scottish books are lovely, aren't they? I can't blame you for avoiding cleaning the house ;-)

Virginia said...

Hi Anna, I have been reading for a lot of years and it is hard to pick one ballroom dancing scene. I can't think of one that just stands out in my head. There was one in GWTW that was awesome.

I keep thinking about the dance scene at the end of Dirty Dancing where nobody puts baby in the corner. That was not even ballroom dancing, but one of my favorite movies.

I can't wait to read your new book. I went to the small bookstore in the town near where I lived today and it was closed. It had a going out of business sigh out front and it is the only bookstore in town. I guess I will have to start ordering everything from Amazon.

Anna Campbell said...

Virginia, I hope I'm not spoiling the surprise if I tell you that maybe you should hold off buying the book until Amanda McCabe announces the winners of the Risky Regencies blog I did yesterday...

Anna, being not particularly mysterious.

Anna Campbell said...

OK, I've picked my winner. It was a really hard choice to make but my favorite party scene was the real-life one of Sarah's waltz from her wedding!

Sarah, congratulations, you've won a copy of TEMPT THE DEVIL. Please email me on with your snail mail details and I'll get your book off to you. Huzzah!

And thank you to everyone else who chipped in to share their favorite ball and party scenes. It's been great fun!

blackroze37 said...

anna and the king,
jodies foster,, wheere thy are dacing across the dace floor, and then the next monring,m she wlakin to the store and said, why it seem just yesterday, i was scared of the place, and the nannie, said IT WAS just yetreday

Anna Campbell said...

Blackroze, I haven't seen Anna and the King but my parents loved Rodgers and Hammerstein so I have very fond memories of the King and I. That's a wonderful dance scene in that too when they sing 'Shall We Dance' and she's in that gorgeous ballgown. Sigh! Thanks for popping over!