Josie and Mayne in the Hot Seat

Mayne (answering questions BEFORE Pleasure for Pleasure begins!)

1. What do you consider to be the most significant event in your life? Why?

The day I met my fiancée, Sylvie de la Broderie. The moment I saw her, my heart knew – to the very core of me – that she was the woman for me. I can’t explain it…it was everything from the way she looked at it, with a kind of amused disdain that only a very beautiful woman can master, to the way she speaks in French.

2. When’s your birthday?

February 14, 1782.

3. Do you ever feel lonely?

I did before I met, before I loved, Sylvie. Now I simply feel that I am waiting for the life we will share – and I will never be lonely again.

4. How long has it been since you took a lover? Why?

Several years – and may I point out that this is truly none of your business?

6. What is the allure of married women? Do you like knowing that they are unattainable or do you fear commitment?

I can’t imagine why you think I would answer these questions. For one thing, you sound like Griselda. It’s absurdly bad manners to sound like one’s sisters.

7. When did you lose your virginity? Where? With Whom? Why?

I wish you Good Day, Madam.


1. What are your feelings about your father?

It hurts a bit to think about him. Sometimes I think I loved him more than any of my three sisters. I know he could be quite sharp sometimes. Even now I – well, I wince when I think about things he said to me. He couldn’t help calling me his pet names, you know, and they all seemed to involve me being a plumpy partridge and things like that. Of course, he didn’t realize how much I felt—well – awkward about my lack of slimness. Men aren’t very sensitive to that sort of thing. I miss him. Sometimes I miss him so much my chest actually feels pinched.

2. If you could trade your life with the life of one of your sisters, which would it be and why?

Oh, any of them. Truly! All three of them are loved and married, and will have babies and a life. If I think about it…I’d like to be Imogen. She’s never had to think about her figure – not even once! When we were all children, we used to tease her for being a long-legged giraffe. *Sigh*

3. Do you have a childlike attitude about fairies?

No. Why do you ask? That’s an odd question.

4. Josie, since you like romance novels, what makes your ideal hero? Would you want to marry that type of man?

I love reading about rakes. Honestly, I don’t think I’d want to marry one. I’m going on the market next week, you know, and I’m planning to look for a nice, simple man. Definitely someone my age or perhaps a little older. I don’t want anyone with more experience than I have – it would be too awkward for both of us. And then, just think: if he had had liaisons with all sorts of beautiful women, he would never want to be with me.

9. What are your requirements for a husband?

Young. Handsome would be lovely, but not necessary. Rich. Devoted to me, naturally, but I may have to forego that.

Frankly, I’m feeling very practical these days. I have a whole new wardrobe, but somehow…I just don’t feel confident about my debut ball next week. I can’t explain it. I may have to accept a man who’s not at – at the same level as my sisters found. That’s all right. I understand the world, and I know that very beautiful women end up with very wonderful men. And I’m not – well, I’m not in the same rank as my sisters. I – I don’t mind. I just want someone!

10. Given a choice, would you choose to marry–

A) A man like Rafe. (Not Rafe, simply someone of similar character.
This goes for all other choices.)

B) A man like Lucius.

C) A man like Ewan.

Oh, I would definitely choose to marry Ewan. He’s lovely, he’s tall, and do you know that he didn’t mind at all when Annabel became rather plump as a result of carrying a child? I even had the sneaking suspicion that he rather liked it. That’s impossible, of course. He must be putting on a good face. But he…well…he’s very unlike other men.

D) A man like Crogan.

E) A man like Darlington.

F) A man like Mayne.

12. Do you have a favorite food?

I wish I didn’t. *gloomily*

14. When did you last cry? Really, really cry?

Last night.

15. Who are the most important people in your life? Why?

My sisters.

16. Where do you see yourself ten years from now?

In my dreams: married. In my nightmares: living with one of my sisters and learning to love her babies, rather than my own. I really think I’d rather not talk any more now, if you don’t mind. *sniffle*

On Creating a Less-than-Perfect Heroine

Enjoy this look back at Eloisa’s thoughts while she was working on the final Essex Sisters novel, Pleasure for Pleasure

I’m working on Josie’s story right now. So if you’ve read Much Ado About You, you know that Josie is plump. Plump, wonderful and as sharp-tongued as a Regency private detective from the ’30s. I absolutely adore her. But she’s definitely not your average golden-haired, big-breasted, tiny-waisted heroine. She’s a young woman with a lush, curvy figure — even if she thinks, as she says, that her figure just curves out and out.

One of the interesting things about writing this story is that I just finished reading the memoir, Fat Girl, and it made me realize that I wanted to change Josie’s experience of being plump in Regency England. I don’t want to depict simply a curvier curvy woman, if that makes sense.

What woman hasn’t struggled with her weight, at least in America? I’ve been lucky as an adult, but weight marks all my adolescent memories. Sometimes it’s depressing to realize that my most clear memory from high school is a boy hissing “fat dog” at me. For Christ’s sake! In retrospect, he was likely a pimply, disgusting little squirt who ended up working at the Dairy Queen (Eloisa takes a moment to calm herself…)

Never mind the pimply squirt. I wanted Josie’s story to reflect some of the real misery that millions of women encounter every day, due to the casual prejudices about size that are evident in our culture. And they certainly were evident in Regency culture, when every woman was supposed to wear those tiny little dresses with minuscule bodices. So I started the book when Josie has already been on the season for a few weeks and she’s earned a nickname.

A horrible nickname

The Scottish Sausage.

Originally published October 2005.