An interview with Jack’s House Author Dayna Quince!
With four books out in the Desperate and Daring Series and six more coming over the next six weeks, we thought this was a good time to catch up with Dayna and talk about the series!
Marie: We’re on week 4 of our 10-week release of your Desperate & Daring Series! I love these books. They’re so fun and funny and sexy—everything I love best about historical romance. Can you tell us about the series, what inspired you to write it and what readers can expect from the books?
Dayna: Well, to be honest, I was inspired by you, Marie. It was a few years ago on the yahoo loop that you said long series are lucrative and I was just about to finish my first series which was only four books. So I got to thinking about how I could build a longer series. I love writing about friendship and siblings so I brought a group of friends together at one event and gave them each individual obstacles toward finding love. I stretched my creative muscles with this series and pushed my own boundaries, especially with characters like Lucy who is far more extroverted than I am. I identify with all of my heroines in some way which I think is true for all authors. It’s been therapeutic to have Lucy be so confident, and Maddie so strong in the face of her bullying. Charlotte learned to speak up and Rose learned to fight for what she wants. They all are a part of me and faced a fear of mine, so it’s been quite a journey writing all of them. As I’ve grown stronger in my own life and in my writing, so have my heroines and heroes. Readers can expect more twists in the later books, deeper emotions, as well as some very naughty behavior from the main characters. As a super fan of Historical Romance myself, I strive to write the book I want to read and hope others will love it too.
Marie: That’s so awesome! I love to hear that something I said way back when inspired you. And it’s true—long series have been very good to me. I am writing Gansett Island book 20 right now with no end in sight. And I also love how you found your characters and their development therapeutic. And we do bring our own life experience to our books. Someone once asked me why I didn’t start writing sooner (I was 38 when I finished my first book) and I said it was because I didn’t have anything to say yet. I think we need to live a little before we can really put the emotion and depth into our books that readers respond to—because they’ve lived it, too. Back to your series—tell me what you love best about writing in the Regency time period and what societal norm is the most fun to defy?
Dayna: When I first started reading Historical Romance I didn’t have a clue about the period differences. My very first book, Mine, All Mine, began as a medieval, inspired by the movie King Arthur with Clive Owen and Keira Knightly. But I didn’t enjoy reading Medieval Romance’s so I started to write in the period that I loved to read most which turned out to range between late Georgian and Regency. The more I learned the more I came to love the Regency. I love the dresses. I recently went to the Historical Romance Reader Retreat and dressed up all four days. I made the dresses myself and I felt amazing in them, walking the historic halls of the Mission Inn with my fan and my shawl. I’d dress like that every day if I wasn’t sure my husband would divorce me. I love the elegance and formality of the time, but only because it’s so fun to work around it and bend or break the rules. It’s such a temptation to be told you can’t speak to someone or touch someone except in the strict confines of society rules. I would have felt rabid as a young woman and taken any opportunity to be alone with my love interest, including climbing out windows, which I have done just to be with my boyfriend as a teen. Love and passion (and hormones) don’t follow rules. I love showing that my heroines have desires of their own and are just as eager to explore them, even when the risk is high.
Marie: I know I speak for everyone reading this: I want to see pictures of your costumes! (See the attached photo of Dayna and her husband at the masquerade ball!) And I love that you actually climbed out a window to be with your boyfriend! You are perfectly suited to write Regency-era heroines who are skirting the rules. One of my favorites scenes in the series (I think it was in Belle of the Ball??) was when they get stranded in a storm without chaperones and have to spend the night in Draven’s cottage. Oh the HIJINX! I loved that! I love to read about the push-pull of desire and propriety from that era. It’s such a delicious dilemma! Do you have one favorite scene from the series? If so, can you give us a little excerpt from it? And maybe toss in an excerpt from my favorite scene too! 🙂
Dayna: There are so many to choose from! I’ll go with a scene form Anything But Innocent where Lucy uses a child’s game to be alone with Winchester. Writing it was so fun because I could just imagine the tension of that moment. She probably felt a lot like I did when climbing out my window to meet Jon and praying my mom wouldn’t come to check on me. I was a late bloomer so no one ever suspected how boy crazy I was. I looked innocent, but I wasn’t. Lucy and I have that in common. We knew what we wanted!
Thea frowned. “Why is it called Pickled?”
“Because you end up packed together like pickled fish in a jar,” Jonathan grumbled.
“It’s very fun,” Lucy put in.
“And not the least bit appropriate,” Jonathan added.
“Who is going to know? Is there anyone here you can’t trust to keep a secret?”
“Beyond you, no. But—”
“Are you afraid you will lose your head if squished behind a chair with Thea?”
“What! No—my apologies, Thea. You are lovely.” Jonathan turned to glare at his sister.
“Are you afraid Winchester will compromise me whilst hiding behind a curtain?” Lucy continued. She braved a glance at Lord Winchester, who hid a smile behind his fist.
Jonathan scowled at her. “I’m more worried about you compromising him.”
“I solemnly swear I will not compromise Lord Winchester. Is that sufficient? May we play now?”
“I’m going to play billiards. Coming, Winchester?” Jonathan pushed back his chair.
“Come on, Rigsby. It might be entertaining. I haven’t played since I was a boy.”
Jonathan froze and stared at his friend in shock. “You want to play?”
Winchester shrugged lazily. “It might be a good opportunity to compromise your sister…or Miss Manton.”
“That isn’t the least bit funny, and I’d be worried about your intentions if I didn’t know you so well,” Jonathan retorted.
“There you have it. Let’s relive some of our childhood magic,” Lucy coaxed. Internally, she was vibrating with excitement. “I’ll go first.”
Her brother finally relented. “Fine. Stay on this floor.”
She hurried from the room while Jonathan counted. She knew exactly where she wanted to hide. She fervently hoped that only one person would find her.
She counted to herself so she knew when to expect the others to begin searching for her. Tucked behind the Chinese screen in her father’s study, she eagerly anticipated the sounds of approaching steps. She didn’t have to wait long before hearing the muffled slide of Thea’s slippers. They paused at the entry to the study and then entered.
Lucy cursed in her head when Thea popped her head around the screen.
“Oh!” she squeaked.
Lucy sighed. “Would it be awful if I asked you not to find me so that someone else could?”
“Do you think that is a good idea?”
“I think it’s a splendid idea.”
“What should I do?”
“Pretend you didn’t find me.”
Thea sighed and backed out from behind the screen. Lucy listened to her steps retreat from the study. Then it was silent.
After a time, she felt him in the room, but she didn’t hear him.
“If I was a bored young woman, where would I hide?” Then he came around the corner of the screen.
“Are you going to compromise me, or did you already compromise Thea?”
“I can’t compromise two women in one night?” He filled in the small space behind the screen, crowding her against the wall.
Lucy moved to make room for him, their clothing brushing every time they moved.
“I will make you marry her. Her family is terrible to her,” Lucy whispered.
“Even if I have to hold a gun to your back.”
He held a finger to his lips.
Jonathan’s muttering echoed from the hall.
“I already looked in there,” Thea said to him
They both moved on. Lucy studied Lord Winchester, not sure what to do next. Would he kiss her? This was a complete turnaround from his earlier behavior, and she wasn’t sure she believed it yet.
Then he bent forward, bringing his mouth close to her ear. “Alone at last.”
Lucy licked her lips. “For the moment.”
“What shall I do with you?”
She bit her lip. He towered over her, shadowing her in the protection of his body. She wanted to snuggle closer and breathe in more of his scent, but she resisted. She wanted to see exactly what he planned to do.
“What happened during your walk? You seem…different.”
He was silent for a moment. “I changed my mind. I had intended to leave you alone for the sake of my friendship with your brother, but why deny myself? I’ve had so many women. What’s one more?”
Lucy steeled herself. “I’m only one more woman to you?”
“One more conquest,” he clarified.
She scanned his shadowed, unreadable expression.
“And my brother?”
“I can make more friends.”
Lucy didn’t believe him for a second, not when it came to his friendship with her brother. She’d seen too much of his kindness in her short acquaintance with him to believe he could be so callous. She held her tongue while she marshaled her thoughts.
He brought his hand to her hip.
“Carpe diem, oui?”
She felt the hand on her hip tighten.
“Aren’t you afraid?”
“Of you? Never.”
“I see the goodness in your heart. You won’t hurt me.”
“You don’t know me at all. I’ve been callous with many hearts.”
“There is always time to start anew. You could start with mine, for instance.”
He blinked slowly. “How about I start with your breasts? Such ripe fruit, begging for attention.” He trailed one finger along the edge of her bodice, teasing her bare skin. “Have you ever been touched here by a man?”
Lucy swallowed and nodded.
“You have?” He sounded surprised.
“You are not my first rake.”
“I won’t be your last, either. You’ve a penchant for trouble.”
“I’d rather risk trouble than live a boring life of safe unhappiness.”
“You are naïve.”
His finger explored the valley of her breasts.
“What libertine defiled your tender flesh?” he asked gruffly.
Lucy took a shallow breath, aware of the fiery trail of his finger. She’d never understood why men fell over themselves for a pair of breasts. They were bothersome at times, useful at others, and ornamental at best. She’d been groped before, and while the experience was distasteful, it hadn’t been horrible. She had made sure Sir Granger regretted taking such a liberty with her.
“Why do you wish to know?”
He didn’t answer. He just pressed his palm to her chest, over her heart.
She tried to sense the direction of his thoughts. He must feel the pounding of her heart.
“Are you afraid?” he asked.
“Why not?” His voice was harsh.
“I want you to touch me,” Lucy whispered breathlessly.
He pulled his hand away and let go of her hip. “You don’t know what you’re saying.”
“I won’t be gentle. I won’t be kind. I’m not a good man.”
“I don’t believe you.”
“I know, but it doesn’t matter what you believe in that fool head of yours. I will simply take what I want.”
“So will I.” Lucy lifted her chin defiantly.
“Sorry to intrude.” Thea tapped on the screen. “I really must join you now.” She edged around the corner into the small space. Lucy pressed against the wall, and Lord Winchester squeezed himself tightly into a corner. “Your brother isn’t very agreeable this evening. I tried to give you as much time as I could to, um…sort this out.” She looked back and forth between them.
Lord Winchester didn’t answer. Lucy could see his face now that he wasn’t towering over her. His lips were pressed tightly together.
“Thank you, Thea.”
Marie: I love it! Thanks for sharing your insights about the series with us and thank you again for entrusting your amazing series to Jack’s House. We love it!