I have finished copyedits on the The Luckiest Lady in London. And thank goodness I didn’t need to rewrite half the book during copyedits–which isn’t something I can say about every book. 🙂
So here I should officially thank Loretta Chase, who is now responsible for a quarter of my creative output in single-title historical romances. His at Night was my attempt at recreating Mr. Impossible–and like most my efforts at mimicry, ended up being quite something else.
The Luckiest Lady owes its genesis to The Lord of Scoundrels. I read the book late in the previous century and thought to myself, Hmm, what if, after a pretty horrendous childhood, instead of turning into Lord of Scoundrels, a man turned into The Ideal Gentleman instead? Two sides of the same coin, right?
And thus was born the fastest book I’d ever written, called, of course, The Ideal Gentleman. I completed it in three months, loved it, and declared to His Hawtness that I expected to produce four books a year from there on out. And then I promptly spent the next two month napping–I happened to be very pregnant with my second child and the lethargy was fearsome.
I did send the book out during my last trimester to an agent. The day I came home from the hospital, Jr. Kidlet in tow, she called and offered representation. Ah, what a happy week that was. But the book would go on to not sell, I would go on to write manuscripts the agent hated, and we would part ways several years later.
But I never stopped liking the book. After Not Quite a Husband was done, this was the book I tried to pitch as my next book–didn’t take. Summer of 2011, I’d almost decided to self-pub it, when I realized that it actually fell under my option clause, and I would be violating my contract if I didn’t offer my publisher a first look. And then, last year, when my agent said that I should not just walk away from historical romance, I said I would consider a new contract only if my publisher was interested in purchasing this one as part of a two-book contract.
And yes, my publisher was interested in the book. And no major revisions required either.
Easy peasy. I schedule the month of February 2013 for revisions and went back to working on the sequel to the YA fantasy.
Came February, however, I had a problem: I had changed since the last time I’d read the book and I didn’t like it as much anymore. In fact, I’d turned completely against it. The hero was a total wimp and the heroine far, far too smug.
Nothing to do but rewrite the book from scratch. And clearly the month of February wasn’t going to be enough. So I asked for an extension, finished the first draft of book 2 of the YA fantasy in mid-March, and then set to work again on the historical romance, now rechristened The Luckiest Lady in London.
I have to say, I don’t remember having so much fun writing a romance in a long, long time. Now, the author having fun and the reader having fun are two entirely different experiences and may or may not overlap. But I can’t help but believe that my own glee must come across somehow, somewhere.
The spine of the book is still the same, a boy with a horrendous childhood growing up into a paragon of manhood–or at least appearing to be so. But underneath he is a bit evil and when the right girl appears, all that scoundrel-ness comes to the fore. And once the girl finds her footing–after all, one usually doesn’t expect The Ideal Gentleman to be anything but–a battle of the sexes ensues.
Telescopes are deeply involved.
Gigi, Lady Tremaine, makes a guest appearance–the incident is referred to in Private Arrangements. The year is 1888, she has just run into Camden in Copenhagen, and has returned to England distraught and in need of comfort. What do you mean Lord Wrenworth, her good friend and former lover, has married in the weeks since she left to tour Scandinavia?
(Come to think of it, Lord Wrenworth and/or his estate has been mentioned in five out of my seven books. In Private Arrangements, he himself was on page. In Delicious, the secondary heroine, Lizzy, had wanted to marry him because he was so rich. In His at Night, when Freddie joins Vere at the beginning of the book, he’d just come from Huntington, his friend Lord Wrenworth’s place. And from the Fitzhugh Trilogy, when Hastings finds out about Helena’s “affair,” they were at, you guessed it, Lord Wrenworth’s country seat.)
(Lord Wrenworth is the connecting thread in all my books!)
An excerpt is up on my website. Click here to read.
And of course, there is no getting out of here seeing a couple of foreign covers.
Next up, romance-wise, the martial arts epic that had long baffled me over how to fit an enormous backstory and three effing separate timelines–and you thought my alternating timelines were bad–into the constraints of a historical romance. (No, it wouldn’t have worked as historical fiction either, since it is pure, unadulterated wuxia, closer to historical fantasy than actual, history-based fiction.) There is no doubt I have to throw out the whole coming-of-age backstory. So now the question is, do I let go of it completely, or do I beef it up into a book of its own, a prequel to the portion that functions as a historical romance?
It would be fun–and probably lots of work–figuring that out. But it’s totally work I cannot wait to do.
Overall, I am at a very good place writing-wise. Everything on my plate is something I am itching to sink my teeth into, from revising Book 2 of the YA fantasy, to figuring out how to tackle the martial arts epic.
Hope you are having a fantastic summer too.
25 thoughts on “The Luckiest Lady in London”
What a happy way to start my Friday! Lord of Scoundrels gone sideways? I’m there. Telescopes? You bet. Battle of the sexes? I feel a whole Adam’s Rib moment coming on.
Oh, I need coffee now.
Cup of cyber coffee coming right up!
Looking forward to both of your books this year.
My vote goes with the prequel – marital arts historical romance yay!
The prequel, alas, would not be a romance, but sort of a coming-of-age story. It was, however, my critique partner’s favorite part of the book, when it was all one big mishmash.
So glad Ying-Ying/Catherine and Leighton’s story will see the light! I have such fond memories of it.
Yeah, though I completely understand why it has to be detached from the romance, I loved the story of the heroine’s childhood. You handled the China setting so well, I’ve always wanted to see you return to that time and place in your fiction. So of course I vote for developing that prequel into a second book, likely YA… but you knew that already, right?
And of course your vote counts for a lot. 🙂 I hope to be beefing up the prequel as I rework the romance. Time is going to be tight but it’s a project that excites me so time will be found.
What’s the martial arts epic about? I can’t find any hint about it on your website.
I just lost my dog, Rain and am in desperate need of comfort. And I turned to your blog for it because reading excerpts from The Luckiest Lady in London makes me feel better.
So sorry about Rain.
I’ve actually had an excerpt from the martial arts epic in an obscure corner of my website for ages. It’s only a quick prologue, however, and doesn’t touch on the romance, which would begin in chapter 1.
And below is from the query letter I’d written for it long ago
Thanks! I hope I find her.
Ahh, I read the prologue to Heart of Blade and it is amazing… It’s friggin’ cool!
Oh, I can’t wait for it!
Very cinematic feel..
Catherine is such a wuxia type of girl.. Like Zhang Ziyi and Maggie Cheung in the film Hero..
I hope you find her too. Fingers crossed!
*shudders* Say it isn’t so. Were you thinking along these lines because historical romance sales are lagging and publishers are looking for the next Fifty Shades? Can you elaborate or is it private between you and your agent?
Thanks for the excerpt. I really enjoyed your last trilogy, so I’m looking forward to a new Sherry Thomas production! As if you don’t have enough on your plate, have you given any further thought to finishing your contemporary? That seems like a good format to self-publish in.
Have a nice Fourth of July with your family.
Oh, nothing so dramatic went down. It was just a matter of creative exhaustion. For a while now I’d known that I had no new ideas for historical romance–amnesia and doppelganger heroes, anyone?–and I didn’t want to be forced by a contract to come up with some even wackier plots.
Even now I’m not working off new ideas, but old ones, books I’d already written once before. So yeah, down the line that might still be a problem, as I have limited number of already finished books to exploit. But for the moment, we are good.
P.S. Was reworking the contemporary just last month.
Looking forward to the YA series, of course, but as a fangirl of your historicals, I’m downright giddy to see that I’ll get to read more of them sometime soon. Yay!
LOL. My agent says the YA fantasy is the best romance I’ve ever written, if her opinion counts for anything. 🙂
Happy summer, Sherry!
I love reading about your inspirations for romance and the tributes you give to other authors. I think we have very similar tastes in romance–Lord of Scoundrels was one of the very first romances I ever read and how sad was I to learn as I went along that not all romances are created equal. That book holds up over dozens of re-reads–Loretta Chase is amazing.
How nice that you have such talent to rework these themes and come up with something totally new. I NEVER would have guessed “Mr. Impossible” was the jumping off point for His at Night! Crazy.
Looking forward to any and all of your books coming up, but hopeful that just a little time away will refresh you for historical romance. I can’t bear to think about that well going dry. 🙁
It’s a never-say-never situation with regard to the historicals. 🙂 When all the ingredients are there, I love writing historicals. Just need to have a proper conflict brewing.
And in case you hadn’t guessed earlier, NQAH was inspired by the 2008 movie version of The Painted Veil. And actually, Mr. Impossible wasn’t the only inspiration for His at Night, it was also inspired by Meredith Duran’s Written on Your Skin.
Interesting! I’ve never seen (or read) The Painted Veil. I watched the trailer on IMDB–looks beautiful. I’ll have to check it out. 🙂
It is like a Laura Kinsale book, seriously. But be forewarned that it is literary fiction…
Thus no happy ending? 😉 Laura Kinsale *barely* gives happy endings and I love her anyway. I’m listening to Flowers From the Storm on audio and enjoying every minute. Besides, I’m a recovering English major–turned my nose up at romance for years and years, not knowing what I was missing. There’s room for all kinds of books. 🙂
Just re-read Not Quite A Husband – loving every moment of it yet again! – and found myself wondering if you have considered writing about the rest of Leo’s brothers, and Bryony’s sister? I really hope another proper conflict gets brewing for you to turn your attention and truly wonderful prose skills to historical romance. Am looking forward to A Burning Sky but am practically breathless with anticipation of The Luckiest Lady in London. In the meantime, I’m going to re-read you and Meredith Duran, Courtney Milan, Cecilia Grant and Loretta Chase.
I always did kind of want to pair Charlie Marsden with Callista, and am waiting for a plot to hit me like a bus.
And as I always like to remind folks, The Burning Sky is a historical romance set in 1883. 🙂
I’m so excited for the historical fantasy/wuxia romance! sounds fun. I have absolute faith in your writing abilities, Sherry!
Thank you. Working hard here. And happy holidays!
Hi Sherry, I am big fan of your books! Greetings from Iceland 🙂
Hello and lovely to hear from you. Hope you are keeping warm in Iceland!