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Interview with Carolyn Miller

Hi Carolyn! Tell us about the tagline for your story. What does it mean when you say, “Her heart is her own—but her hand in marriage is another matter”?
Charlotte’s heart might be her own, but she is expected to marry according to her family’s wishes – regardless of whether she likes it or not. In today’s modern society, we often hear the line ‘follow your heart’ – especially in romance – but the Bible tells us that the heart is deceitful above all things (ouch!). I wanted to take my heroine from being led by her ‘romantical’ emotions and self-interest into someone who could see that real love requires actions of self-sacrifice, and awareness that our choices have consequences far beyond how we might ‘feel’ today.

Lady Charlotte Featherington is the heroine of your story. You’ve said that she’s “destined for great things on the marriage market.” What is it about Charlotte that makes her so marketable?

Charlotte is the daughter of a marquess, someone very high on the social scale. She’s also entitled to a very handsome dowry when she marries, and she’s considered quite attractive. Romantic ideas of marrying for love were considered ‘novel’ in Regency times, as many marriages were strategic in that they shored up family connections and estates. So, in this regard, marrying someone of a very good family, with money and good looks would be considered the trifecta. Charlotte was very eligible, indeed!

Charlotte has many options when it comes to eligible bachelors who want to date her, but her standard is true love. What lengths is she willing to go to find a man who meets her standard?
Charlotte holds a fairly typical adolescent’s idea of what ‘true love’ is: she thinks it’s about romantic feelings (think Marianne from Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility). At first she wants to wait until she can marry whom she wishes, but when her parents aren’t in favor and present her with another option, she’s forced to consider what love really is. This is further compounded by the words and actions of her cousin Lavinia (whom we met in The Elusive Miss Ellison), who offers a very different picture of what love looks like, and she eventually realizes the romantic ideal and the actual outworking of ‘real love’ can be different things. Of course, she has to have a few teenagery moments along the way!

Why does Charlotte’s dad want her to marry someone whom she finds “dull”?

The Marquess of Exeter (Charlotte’s dad) believes Charlotte should marry someone of rank and fortune. While he might not fully appreciate all of the Duke of Hartington’s excellent qualities, he does recognize him as a man of steady character. Charlotte’s wishes ran second to what was in the family’s best interests. And it certainly wouldn’t hurt to be able to boast of having a wealthy duke as a son-in-law!

Describe the man who captures Charlotte’s romantic heart. What makes him special in her eyes?

Lord Markham is your classic swoony hero: tall, dark, and ‘angelically’ handsome. His combination of charm and lively wits, and willingness to enter into Charlotte’s favored pursuits, such as dancing, poetry, and riding, make her think he is the answer to her dreams.

Let’s talk about your story’s hero, William Hartwell. How has his status as a duke affected his potential romantic relationships with women? What makes him swoon worthy? Why is Charlotte so resistant to his charms?
Being a duke, William knew he was supposed to marry to oblige his family, which he did with his first wife. Now a widower, he’s a little more free to choose a young lady to suit himself, but his status and wealth mean he’d be forever wondering whether he’d be married for himself as a man, or for what benefits such a marriage could bring (wealth, being a Duchess, etc.).

I think his thoughtfulness, his desire to improve the lives of others, and his nice sense of humor make him swoon worthy. He’s a thoughtful man, not so much an action man – although he’s forced into a number of action-man-making situations. I think his scarred-yet-still-soft heart makes him prone to self-doubt, and makes him appear a little vulnerable, which is an appealing quality – he’s definitely not arrogant. Gentleness and kindness in heroes can be underrated qualities.

I think the careful consideration William gives to things is something that Charlotte finds initially hard to understand, let alone appreciate. He seems to be the opposite of the handsome charmer, Lord Markham, and until she matures a little in her outlook and in her understanding of what real love looks like, she is resistant to William’s suit. Plus, she’s a little (okay, maybe a great deal) resistant to what her parents want her to do, so if they want her to marry the duke, she wants to hold out as long as possible against their plans. (Honestly, Charlotte, this time you really should listen to your parents!)

Describe William’s personality and outlook on life. What makes him tick?
William isn’t your classic Alpha male; he’s not all bulging biceps and stunning blue eyes – although his money and duke status might make up for that. His personality is quieter, prone to more scientific pursuits, and he holds a reserved nature, which is not quick to reveal his heart. He’s a careful man, made all the more so due to his first wife’s excesses. He’s godly, yet prone to doubts; gentle and considerate of others, yet sometimes unable to see how much he needs others to help him.

What does William see in Charlotte that makes him want to propose marriage?
Her vivacity is the opposite of his nature; he sees she cannot hide her feelings about things, such as the compassion she feels towards him and his daughter. He’s used to artifice, so her youthful vibrancy makes a refreshing change, and her willingness to grow in God and her incisive wit indicate depths beyond the superficial. And it doesn’t hurt that she is pretty!

What role does the betrayal and scandal that William’s first wife put him through play in this story? How does it affect his pursuit of Charlotte?

William’s first wife betrayed their marriage vows, which means he finds it hard to fully trust Charlotte, especially knowing she has been interested in another man. He’s very keen to avoid gossip, so takes things slowly in showing her his feelings – which Charlotte doesn’t necessarily understand.

What was the most challenging part of writing and researching this story?
It was challenging to find some of the historical details, particularly about places like Vauxhall Gardens, which have been long demolished. I wanted to present historical accuracy without too many details readers might find dull – just because I find such things interesting doesn’t mean everyone will!

Why do you love to write Inspirational Regency romance? How many books under this genre have you written? Which one would you say is your favorite?

I love to write Inspirational Regency because that’s what I like to read – I enjoy the witty banter, the vivid historic details, the contrast between the public manners and the true feelings beneath the social façade. The Regency period (1811-1820, when the Prince Regent ruled in place of his mentally ill father, King George III) was a time of great invention, exploration and the advent of social upheaval and war – all of which can be great topics to touch upon in my novels.

I have three novels published in this genre (The Elusive Miss Ellison, The Captivating Lady Charlotte, and The Dishonorable Miss DeLancey), with another three being released next year. My favorite would be a toss up between Miss Ellison and Winning Miss Winthrop (out early next year) – although I really love the hero in Miss DeLancey, too!

Why is your passion creating story worlds where “flawed people can grow in faith, hope and love?” Describe how your latest release, The Captivating Lady Charlotte, achieves that goal.
None of us are perfect, but sometimes it can seem we expect Christians to be. I’m trying to write stories that people can recognize parts of themselves in the characters, and recognize that we might struggle with different aspects of life – of faith – at times, but God is our Redeemer and healer, even when it feels like He is far away. I really want my readers, including not-yet Christians, to feel a sense of hope after reading my novels, and (I pray) grow a step closer in trusting God and living love.

The Captivating Lady Charlotte has two characters who are both learning what true love means. That it’s deeper than initial attraction, that it involves recognizing and appreciating those deeper qualities (like compassion, patience, faithfulness, etc) that are the glue that keep a marriage together. Neither Charlotte nor William get everything right, but then, who does? I hope people will read this book and be encouraged to persevere in relationships, and grow in love that protects, hopes and trusts – love that doesn’t fail.

How do you like living in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales, Australia? What is your favorite feature of your real-life setting that surrounds you in Australia?
I really enjoy (and feel privileged to be) living in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales, which is about halfway between Sydney and Canberra. It’s the ‘high lands’ a place where the NSW governors used to retreat from the heat of Sydney summers, so it’s a place with many gracious old homes and gardens. I love the fact that we have four distinct seasons – we’re high enough to (very occasionally) get snow, which means we have beautiful autumn color and lovely flowers in Spring. We’re only an hour to the beach and an hour and a half to Sydney, yet we live without the hustle and bustle of city life (we even have chooks – chickens – in our back yard). So, I love the convenience and the local beauty of this area.

What is your favorite family time activity that you like to do with your husband and four children?

We all enjoy watching movies (I’ve got my daughters enjoying various Jane Austen adaptations) and travelling (we recently enjoyed a trip to New Zealand where they have the BEST ice cream in the world!), but the activity we most love is playing Rummikub. Thanks to a Becky Wade novel which first alerted me to this great game (and the fact my mother-in-law owned a copy). We found this to be a game that all the family could enjoy, especially as it’s not so devastatingly competitive like some (ahem, Monopoly) which can lead to tears, not family bonding! The best place to play? My in-laws by the beach, where the Tasman Sea glistens through the windows.

Why are Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer two of your favorite authors?

I love the insights both writers give into people and why people act the way they do. I also enjoy their sharp wit, and the depictions of a world very different to our modern society.

What do you do in your free time? Or do you have any free time?
I love to read! (I find I like to read Regency-era novels – like Georgette Heyer – when I’m writing, so I don’t get too ‘modern’ in my thinking) I also enjoy watching films (bring on the next James Bond!), and I’m trying to get better at going for walks. (It’s really windy today, with a wind that feels like it’s come straight from Antarctica, which is why I must stay inside and eat chocolate). In real free time, I love to be away, exploring new places, and eating interesting things (which is why I need to do that walking thing more…).

Thanks for the interview, Carolyn! Would you like to share closing thoughts?
I’d like to give a big shout-out to all those who have helped this little Australian’s dream of being published in the US come true. For years I entered various ACFW-sponsored contests before eventually finaling in a few, and I truly appreciate those people who were kind enough to take the time to judge with consideration. That eventually helped me to gain the notice of Tamela Hancock Murray, then later Kregel Publications. Every so often (when I’m not writing or editing or marketing!) I’m taken aback by the bigness of this – and the blessing of God in enabling this dream to come true. God is good, He is faithful, and these experiences (and so many more) have proved that I – that we – can trust Him.

Thanks for having me! (Waving at you all from Australia!)

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Alexis A. Goring is a passionate writer with a degree in Print Journalism and an MFA in Creative Writing. She loves the art of storytelling and hopes that her stories will connect readers with the enduring, forever love of Jesus Christ.






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