We caught up with author Eliza Redgold for a bit of a chat ahead of Enticing Benedict Cole. This is her first in the Mills and Boon Historical Romance series to be published in the UK and we’re very excited to have her on board. We learnt a thing or two about cameos, old artist’s tricks, and a guilty secret…
What was the inspiration for Enticing Benedict Cole?
Enticing Benedict Cole is inspired by the desperately romantic Pre-Raphaelite artists and models of Victorian England. The beautiful Pre-Raphaelite paintings are some of the most familiar artworks in the world today (you’ll have your favourite! Do get in touch and let me know what it is!) Just like Benedict Cole, the art and love lives of the Pre-Raphaelite painters, a group of brilliant, free-thinking young men, were considered scandalous.
Their bohemian, artistic world was in complete contrast with the strict conventions of the Victorian upper classes. Ladies like Cameo, the Lady Catherine Mary St Clair, lived in a controlled, stifling world. It would have been considered unthinkable for a young aristocratic woman such as Cameo to want to pursue art seriously, and even more unthinkable to be an artist’s model. Cameo’s story celebrates every woman who ever challenged convention for the sake of art, and for the sake of love.
How much of yourself is reflected in the book, and how?
I love Pre-Raphaelite paintings and I would love to have met a gorgeous painter like Benedict Cole! (One of the M&B editors calls him a Victorian rock star. We’ve all fallen for him). I also love Pinterest and made a board celebrating the beautiful paintings of the Pre-Raphaelites.
My guilty secret? Even though I’m an art lover – I can’t paint or draw!
The first thing that draws me to a book is its cover. Can you tell us what you love about yours?
What I love about the cover of Enticing Benedict Cole is that the hero is gorgeous! It’s a cover that is provocative yet has an artistic mood – the portrait in the background is lovely. I like how Benedict Cole is holding his paintbrushes (he is rather adventurous with them). I also like the flash of red that Cameo is wearing – it’s an old artist’s trick to use a splash of scarlet in a painting to catch the eye.
Can you tell us something quirky about the book / story/ characters? (for example, were the characters named after something or someone in particular)
The heroine of Enticing Benedict Cole is called Cameo. It really is a girl’s name. A cameo is a small carving in relief of a semi-precious stone. The lighter-coloured layer is chipped away to reveal a darker background. In the 19th century, when this story is set, cameo jewellery was popularised by Queen Victoria. At that time small cameo portraits were often painted of well-to-do young women to adorn jewellery, for a keepsake, or to give to a lover. The word cameo has an original Greek meaning of ‘shadow portrait’ – which became part of the story.
I collected quite a few cameos while writing the book – and even this cameo bag! Any excuse will do – right? J
What is in store for your readers next?
My next Mills & Boon Historical Romance is also set in mid-Victorian London. It’s inspired by daring actresses who took to the stage and the men who loved them. Historically, ladies of the stage were considered not much better than ladies of the night and being an actress was scandalous, if not dangerous. However, during the first half of the 19th century an ‘epidemic’ of actresses married into the aristocracy and the theatre soon became viewed as a marriage market. Many actresses had to contend with being seen as title-hunters – as Darius Carlyle, the Duke of Albury, initially suspects actress Calista Fairmont to be. But not every actress wants a coronet …
Get ready for the sparks to fly!
for a bit of a chat