Published by Zebra on August 30th 2016
Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo
First, Vanessa Kelly brought readers The Renegade Royals. Now, in a delightfully witty new series, she introduces The Improper Princesses—three young women descended from royalty, each bound for her own thrilling adventure . . .
Despite being the illegitimate daughter of a prince, Gillian Dryden is happily ignorant of all social graces. After growing up wild in Italy, Gillian has been ordered home to England to find a suitable husband. And Charles Valentine Penley, the excessively proper, distractingly handsome Duke of Leverton, has agreed to help transform her from a willful tomboy to a blushing debutante.
Powerful and sophisticated, Charles can make or break reputations with a well-placed word. But his new protégée, with her habit of hunting bandits and punching earls, is a walking scandal. The ton is aghast . . . but Charles is thoroughly intrigued. Tasked with taking the hoyden in hand, he longs to take her in his arms instead. Can such an outrageous attraction possibly lead to a fairytale ending? Praise for Vanessa Kelly’s Renegade Royals series
“Will definitely resonate with fans of Mary Jo Putney and Joanne Bourne.” —Booklist
“Kelly combines diverting dialogue, delightful surprises and finely tuned pacing to make this a winner.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Hi Vanessa, thank you for stopping by Buried Under Romance today! We are very happy to have you and to learn more about your Improper Princesses series, in particular My Fair Princess which will hit the shelves soon. (insert links)
My thanks to you kind ladies for hosting me today! It’s always a pleasure to be here.
First, can you tell us your inspiration for this series, and how its characters are related to those in your Renegade Royals series?
The Renegade Royals features heroes who are the illegitimate sons of England’s royal dukes. It’s an understatement to say that most of the royal men were rakes, starting with the Prince Regent and working down through his brothers. Among them, they had over 20 illegitimate children, some of them known to the historical record. But for a number of those offspring, there was only speculation—which makes them a great inspiration for fiction! I had so much fun writing about The Renegade Royals that I thought it would be entertaining to write about the female children—my Improper Princesses. As tough as it would be for the guys, life had to be way more challenging for ladies in such a position!
As for how my heroines relate to the heroes of the previous series, they are their cousins and half-sisters. Gillian, who is the heroine of MY FAIR PRINCESS, is the half-sister of Griffin Steele, the hero of CONFESSIONS OF A ROYAL BRIDEGROOM (for you Griffin lovers, he features prominently in the new book).
I am quite curious, how much of this book touches upon the famous movie, My Fair Lady?
The movie was basically a jumping off point—an idea launch pad. Gillian was a classic tomboy who was raised with very little supervision. Even though she belongs to a wealthy and aristocratic family, she’s pretty wild and has no interest in becoming a proper lady. That’s where my hero comes in. Charles, the Duke of Leverton, is the most sophisticated and courtly gentleman in the ton. Gillian’s family pretty much guilt-trips him into agreeing to polish her up and make her presentable. Gillian, however, insists on remaining true to herself. At the end of the day, I’d say Charles changes a lot more than she does!
As Gillian has experience fighting Sicilian bandits, what made you decide to pair up this improper princess with the staid Duke of Penley?
It’s always fun to put people who are complete opposites in the same physical and mental space together and see how it works out. It’s pretty much the definition of conflict! But I also needed both my hero and heroine to understand that there’s more than one successful approach to life, and that they could truly learn from each other. That process forms the backbone of the story, as both Charles and Gillian realize they’re both willing to change and adapt in order to create a lasting relationship and love.
What was your favorite scene to write in My Fair Princess?
It was the climax, when smugglers capture Gillian and Charles. Charles keeps trying to de-escalate the situation, while Gillian insists on winding it up by taunting the bad guys. But there’s a method to her madness, and in the end she’s proven right. Charles is a very noble and strong hero, but Gillian is a total badass who rarely backs down from a challenge. It was fun to let her take on the villains and prevail.
I very much enjoyed the mystery part of this novel with the bandits. Historically, how common were bandits in Regency England?
At this point in time, the age of smugglers and banditry was fading away. Legal enforcement was becoming more organized, roads were better and more heavily travelled, and the government was seriously cracking down on smuggling. Still, many wild and remote parts of England remained, so plenty of opportunities for nefarious activities, especially along the coasts. Free traders were still illegally importing goods like gin, brandy, and tobacco from the Continent, and smuggling those goods throughout England.
After the conclusion of My Fair Princess, will we see Gillian and Charles in subsequent books of this series or the next?
Yes, you will see them in the next book, THREE WEEKS WITH A PRINCESS. Sir Dominic Hunter and his wife, Chloe, who feature in several Renegade Royals stories, will also appear in the next book.
I am sure the readers are very interested in the next book of the Improper Princesses, Three Weeks with a Princess, so can you tell us about this story and its pairing?
This story is based on the movie musical, Gigi. It features Lia Kincaid and Jack Easton, the Marquess of Lendale. Jack is introduced in MY FAIR PRINCESS, since he’s a good friend to Charles and Gillian. Lia is the daughter and granddaughter of famous courtesans, both of whom want her to follow in their footsteps and take Jack as her protector. The only problem is, Lia doesn’t wish to become a courtesan, and the situation is further complicated by the fact that Jack is her best friend. Lia’s been in love with him for years, but she knows very well that Jack could never marry someone like her. Jack also needs to find a rich wife because his estates are on the verge of ruin. To put it mildly, everything’s a mess!
Thanks so much!
Ms. Kelly is giving away the first two books in my Renegade Royals series,
SECRETS FOR SEDUCING A ROYAL BODYGUARD and CONFESSIONS OF A ROYAL BRIDEGROOM.
She is curious….
Are you a fan of movie or stage musicals? If so, what are some of your favorites?
One person will win both books (open international).
~~Reviewed by AnnMarie~~
My Fair Princess is the first book in the ‘Improper Princesses’ series by Vanessa Kelly.
This is the story of Gillian Drydan and Charles Valentine Penley, the Duke of Leverton. Gillian is an illegitimate child of the Prince, and escaping scandal, her mother, grandmother and grandfather moved to Italy where she was brought up. Not having to worry about social graces, Gillian has grown up to be a bit of a wild child, independent and not very lady like at all. Her mother marries, and her step father is a wonderful man, who happily brings Gillian up as his own. When he is murdered by bandits and the law seems to do nothing about finding them and bringing them to justice, Gillian makes that her duty. She spends 5 years tracing each and every member of the gang, and killing them!! When she gets to kill the final member, and leader of the gang, unfortunately she gets shot.. It’s then that her mother and grandmother (her grandfather has died in that time) decide it’s time to face London and the ‘ton’ and move back to England. Gillian has made a lot of enemies in search for justice and it’s not safe for her to stay there any more.
Charles Penley is as stiff and proper as the best of them in the aristocracy. He’s had his heart broken once in the past and when he marries it will not be a love match, he doesn’t ever want to be that vulnerable again. Gillian’s grandmother is friends with Charles and his family, and on their return to London, she begs him to take Gillian under his wing. Not only will that make the ‘ton’ less likely to give her the ‘cut direct’ because of being a by-blow of the Prince, but he is to make a lady of her!! Her family wants nothing more than for her to find a good husband and settle down. He grudgingly agrees although when he meets Gillian he thinks he has taken on too big of a task.
What follows is a lot of laughs, some tears, some danger, and passion. One of the funniest scenes for me was at a ball when a certain gentleman is very rude to both Gillian and the two friends she is with. It made me laugh out loud. Gillian’s relationship with Charles develops but it’s a case of one step forward and two steps back. One minute Charles thinks that Gillian will never make a good Duchess, the next, he convinces himself that doesn’t matter. As for Gillian, she thinks she will never be good enough for Charles and that although he obviously is passionate towards her, she believes that their relationship will never develop. One minute she thinks that is good because she wants to go back to Italy, but the next minute she can’t think of a life without him. Of course as a reader we have to root for them to both see sense, but at times there just doesn’t seem to be light at the end of the tunnel. As well as the romance developing we also see changes in Gillian’s mother who has been a mess since her husband was murdered. We also have to worry about Gillian who ends up putting herself in danger despite Charles and her family trying to keep her calm and safe. All in all this was a thoroughly entertaining story that I couldn’t read quickly enough to find out how it ended.
I was given a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.