Please welcome author Sherri Browning to Embracing Romance. Sherri writes wonderful fiction with a twist, and if you’re a fan of Downton Abbey, then you’re in for a treat. Her newest novel, Thornbrook Park, takes you back to the elegant Edwardian era.
First, let’s learn about Sherri…
- What were your five favorite books growing up? Feel free to share why you loved these books.
A Margaret Wise Brown picture book called The Golden Egg Book was one of my earliest favorites. There’s a bunny who finds an egg and wonders what could be inside, and it turns out to be a duck who becomes his best friend. It piqued my curiosity and enchanted me.
A volume of fairy tales with beautiful medieval style illustrations. Fairy tales were probably early inspirations for all romance authors.
The Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. The idea that a girl could lose everything but still have a rich life due to her friends and her imagination appealed to me, and later actually helped me shape Thornbrook Park.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. I think almost every young woman goes through a Jane Eyre phase. Her suffering and her perseverance, and the idea of recovering a love gone so wrong… Sulky teenage perfection.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Who doesn’t remember their first dose of Darcy? I read it again every few years.
- What two things would surprise your fans the most about you?
I’ve worked hard to try to overcome painful shyness. I have a vivid online presence and a wicked sense of humor, and I make it a point to push myself outside my comfort zone at reader events. It’s important to connect with readers and other authors, so I don’t let my natural reservations stop me.
My first book was actually Duran Duran fan fiction written with friends when we were fifteen. No, I didn’t try to get it published, but I hear that it worked out well for Neil Gaiman (his first book was a 1984 biography of Duran Duran).
- Please share your process on how you developed the Thornbrook Park series.
I became a fan of Downton Abbey and wanted to do something in that time period to explore the upstairs-downstairs dynamic. The Little Princess’s Sara Crewe came to mind, someone who explored both wealth and servitude. Eve Kendal started out as a woman who lost everything when her husband died and had to support herself by becoming a maid to an old classmate she really didn’t like very much. But then I started to prefer the idea of old friends coming together again instead of enemies and Sophia, the friend who takes her in, became a character I wanted to like more and get to know better. As my editor pointed out, it was a fairly implausible scenario for Eve to serve as maid to her friend. I wasn’t sure how to reshape it, but then the characters took over for me. Marcus Thorne and Eve Kendal shared a Nick and Nora (from The Thin Man) sort of chemistry and they ended up with a mystery to solve.
- What’s interesting about Eve Kendal and Captain Marcus Thorne? (please list 3 traits each)
Eve is empathetic. In any given situation, she puts others before herself and tries to see the world from a different point of view. It’s her empathy that Marcus first responds to when he meets her. But her empathy doesn’t make her a doormat. She’s also capable and determined. She knows what she needs and no one will stop her or do for her what she needs to accomplish on her own.
Marcus is surprisingly sensitive, considering he’s a war hero and a prizefighter. His emotions are easily touched and he picks up on subtleties that other people might miss. That gift of sensitivity helps him to be the most charming man in the room, because he does notice details and won’t hesitate to use it to his advantage in telling women what they want to hear. Above all, Marcus is responsible. When he makes a promise, he will keep it, even if it costs him what he wants most.
5. What’s next up for Sheri Browning? Would you be willing to share a little about works in progress or an upcoming book(s)?
There are two more books in the Thornbrook Park series, An Affair Downstairs (Alice and Winthrop’s story) out in January 2015, and a third untitled Thornbrook book is coming in June 2015—I’m writing that now, Sophia and Gabriel’s story. I would like to expand the series to go into the 1920s with the next generation. I’m also continuing the Regency set Oxford Rogues series that I started with my very first book in 1999, The Scoundrel’s Vow, now out for ereaders. And I’m thinking of getting back into paranormal romance with a YA. But we’ll see.
- Favorite color? Pink. I used to tell my daughter it was green, like her eyes, because I didn’t want her to think that all girls had to like pink. But my favorite is pink.
- Favorite animal? Dogs.
- Favorite vacation spot? Walt Disney World.
- Favorite food? Lobster.
- Favorite holiday? Thanksgiving! It’s all about family, love, and gratitude.
Before he could protest, she fled up the stairs. She was halfway up when she heard footsteps behind her and Marcus calling out her name.
Before she turned, she wiped her eyes. “Yes, Captain Thorne?”
“Eve.” He gripped her gently by the elbows, urging her closer. “I thought I saw you crying. Are you well?”
“Of course. It’s silly, really. Please just let me go on up.”
He didn’t release her. “You can rely on me if there’s something troubling you. I want to help.”
“It’s nothing. Lack of sleep, perhaps. Excitement kept me up all night, and then I woke early for the train. Ben’s solicitor gave me reason to believe that my financial troubles may be at an end, though I dare not hope. And then…”
“And then?” He slipped a finger under her chin and tipped her face up to meet his gaze.
She took a breath and found that she was able to laugh off her fear. “Then, I thought someone was following me around London. I suppose I dare not allow myself even that brief glimpse of hope before my imagination rips it straightaway. Who would follow me? Ridiculous.”
His amber eyes clouded over, glinting gold in the dim light of the stairway. “And yet you don’t strike me as a hysterical female. You seem very level-headed to me. What did you see?”
“A man in a black coat and bowler hat behind me, and then passing again and again by the tearoom where I spent an hour or so. But don’t half the men in London fit such a description? I convinced myself that I kept seeing the same one. On further consideration, it had to have been different men, many different men. As I said, lack of sleep.”
“Hmm.” He pursed his lips. “Perhaps. But I mean to stay by your side tomorrow, just in case.”
“It’s not necessary. I have another meeting with the solicitor.”
“I have no pressing business. I’ll go with you.”
“All right.” As much as she craved independence, she had to admit that she felt more comfortable having a companion, and spending more time at Captain Thorne’s side definitely appealed. “Thank you.”
Curse it if her eyes weren’t welling up again.
“What now?” His voice sounded far more concerned than annoyed.
“I’m embarrassed by my weakness. I’d been so determined to handle my business all on my own, and now you think I need a bodyguard. Not that I mind having one, but I mean to stand on my own two feet, no need to be looked after like a fragile female. Exactly what I must appear to you when I resort to tears. I might not even be in such a spot if Ben had relied on me. He wanted to do everything for me, to look after me.”
He placed a finger to her lips. “You can still be independent and rely on friends now and then. Do you know how remarkable you are? You stayed strong when other women left alone in India might have crumbled. You moved out of your house and back to England. Of course, you can take care of yourself, Eve. Who would doubt it?”
Did he really see her that way?
“I wish I had been more insistent with Ben. If only I had demanded to be aware of all of our business instead of letting him think he was protecting me from big decisions.” She couldn’t hide the surprise in her voice, and she met Marcus’s gaze without thinking. “The entire time I was married, I wasn’t quite myself. What can it mean? I loved him. I did. But I wasn’t me.”
“Love makes us do foolish things.” He stroked her face and moved closer. “Foolish, foolish things.”
Her eyes met his, seeing the sudden fire of determination in them, then strayed to his lush lips that he nibbled briefly before he said the one word that would set her over the edge.
One word, and she was lost. All fight and sense went out of her. She wasn’t sure if he had kissed her or she had kissed him, but their mouths were together, meeting hungrily. He slipped his tongue between her lips, and she drew on it, pulling him deeper. Somewhere, a service bell rang, an angry tinkling, but she was breathless in his arms, pressed up against the banister, his hands on her backside. What if Mr. Sutton came along? Or Brandon?
She pushed him away. “I must go. I must. I’m sorry.”
Before she could be persuaded to stay, she ran up the stairs and left Marcus standing there alone.
Where to find Thornbrook Park?
Fans of Downton Abbey will adore this brand-new Edwardian-period romance series set at the grand estate of Thornbrook Park, seat of the Earl of Averford.
In a world poised for epic change…
Disowned for marrying beneath her, Eve Kendal has returned to England destitute after her husband’s death and the mysterious disappearance of their savings. She’s looking for survival, not romance. But from London to the Yorkshire countryside to the elegant estate of Thornbrook Park, Eve’s path seems destined to cross that of the dashing but violent Captain Marcus Thorne.
Anything can happen
For Marcus, a return home means facing the demons that drove him to war in the first place. As he and Eve begin a steamy affair, tensions that had been simmering just beneath the surface threaten to explode and shake the very foundations of Thornbrook Park.
Praise for Sherri Browning:
“Browning gives the reader a most beguiling story and a classic plotline while capturing the atmosphere of the era.” —RT Book Reviews
Sherri Browning Erwin, best known for critically acclaimed classic mash-ups Jane Slayre and Grave Expectations, also writes paranormal romance and historical romance as Sherri Browning. A graduate of Mount Holyoke College, Sherri has lived in Massachusetts and Michigan, but is now settled with her family in Simsbury, Connecticut. Watch for her return to historical romance with the upcoming Thornbrook Park series.
Where to find Sherri?
Now’s your chance to answer Embracing Romance’s daily trivia question: Which character from a classic book served as an early inspiration for Thornbrook Park’s Eve Kendal? Find the answer in the blog.
Please use the answer form at the top of the blog page. Do NOT answer in the comment field.
Want to win a free copy of Sherri’s new book Thornbrook Park? Tell her which character from Downton Abbey is your favorite and why? Leave your answer (with your email) in the comment section below.