Beverley Eikli wrote her first romance when she was seventeen. However, drowning the heroine on the last page (p550!) was, she discovered, not in the spirit of the genre so her romance-writing career ground to a halt and she became a journalist. â€¨â€¨After throwing in her secure job on South Australia’s metropolitan daily, The Advertiser, to manage a luxury safari lodge in the Okavango Delta, in Botswana, Beverley discovered a new world of romance and adventure in a thatched cottage in the middle of a mopane forest with the handsome Norwegian bush pilot she met around a camp fire. â€¨â€¨Eighteen years later, after exploring the world in the back of Cessna 404s and CASA 212s as an airborne geophysical survey operator during low-level sorties over the French Guyanese jungle and Greenland's ice cap, Beverley is back in Australia living a more conventional life with her husband and two daughters in a pretty country town an hour north of Melbourne. She writes Regency Historical Intrigue as Beverley Eikli and erotic historicals as Beverley Oakley.
Below is a Q & A with this author.
How would you describe your novel?
A Regency espionage with layers of mystery spanning the years between the French Revolution and the Battle of Waterloo. Angus is a war hero whose honourable, self contained exterior conceals a passionate nature. He’s resolved to protect the woman he’s loved from afar from a terrible truth. However when she becomes his reluctant bride, and secrets are exposed from both their pasts, truth becomes a potential tinder box. One their burgeoning love might not survive.
What gave you the inspiration for the story?
I wrote the first three chapters as a simple ‘Marriage of Convenience’ story to enter into the Romance Writers of New Zealand Single Title competition, which it won six years ago. Over the years I published other books but kept adding layers of intrigue and mystery to The Reluctant Bride as I researched the bloody events of Robespierre’s Reign of Terror during the French Revolution. This became the backstory for The Reluctant Bride, though the actual story starts in 1811. I was absolutely thrilled when it won Choc Lit’s Search for an Australian Star competition just before Christmas 2012.
Where and how do you write?
I’m a pilot’s wife and have lived in 12 countries in 20 years so my writing routine is always changing. When I worked as an airborne geophysical survey operator I would retreat to my tent or hotel room to tap out my romance novels on my laptop. In the Solomon Islands I had a beautiful deck overlooking the islands, which is where I started writing The Reluctant Bride. These days it’s very domestic: a writing nook designed specially for me when we remodelled the kitchen. The view is lovely as it overlooks the pool with the Macedon Ranges visible above the hedge at the bottom of the garden.
Who do you base your characters on?
I tend to write beta heroes who have many traits based on those of my own lovely, honourable husband. The characters, though, simply evolve as I write my story. They are the ones who dictate to me what they say and do. At about the halfway point I stop, take stock, and decide what my characters really want and how to help them reach an ending they deserve.
What three things would you take if you were to be stranded on a desert island?
A machete (to crack the coconuts, as I learned on the Solomons I could live a long life on coconuts alone – provided I could split them open); a hat and the Complete Volume of Dickens which I got as a graduation present and have always intended finishing.
A French Revolution romantic adventure of love, betrayal and espionage. Bullied Emily from a troubled home is vulnerable to the advances of a dashing officer. Then tragedy strikes and it seems she must make do with her lover’s good friend. As with all these books much ensues before the inevitable happy ending for here Emily’s parentage is not what it seems or her love as true as she believed so twist turns on twist in a nice, comfortable romance that delivers all you expect. Choc Lit, the publisher of this novel, was the 2012 Publisher of the Year as voted for by the Festival of Romance.
How much would you pay for a clear conscience? Adelaide Leeson wants to prove herself worthy of her husband, a man of noble aspirations who married her when she was at her lowest ebb. Lord Tristan Leeson is a model of diplomacy and self-control, even curbing the fiery impulses of his youth to preserve the calm relations deemed essential by his mother-in-law to preserve his wife's health. A visit from his boyhood friend, feted poet Lord James Dewhurst, author of the sensational Maid of Milan, persuades Tristan that leaving the countryside behind for a London season will be in everyone's interests. But as Tristan's political career rises and Adelaide revels in society's adulation, the secrets of the past are uncovered. And there's a high price to pay for a life of deception.