I've been a fan of romance novels since 4th grade when I used to get in trouble with Mrs. North at Page Elementary for sneaking Harlequins during class. I mean who could resist characters named Jason Steele and Miranda Meek, for goodness sakes? I later graduated to Rosemary Rogers (Wicked Loving Lies) and Johanna Lindsay (who taught me nearly everything I know about English life in the Middle Ages) and found that I really loved historical romances the most because I enjoy history and reading stories that allowed me to escape into the past.
Back in 1996, I was disgusted by all the fake reviews of romances and founded a website called The Romance Reader in 1996 which offered the very first objective reviews. I had previously pitched the idea of seriously reviewing romances to several newspapers and they all sneered at me. Ah, the satisfaction when the mighty Washington Post began running romance reviews. Ah but I digress...
After the birth of my second child my job began to heat up and I handed over TRR to Dede Anderson, who ran it for many years before closing up shop recently. I never gave up on my desire to write my own novel and noodled with a number of different ideas before I hit upon the idea of Seven Days. Hot guy, wild sex, remote castle. What's not to like???
Midway through writing the book, 50 Shades of Gray was released. It was then I decided there had to be an audience for very sensual stories set in the "olden days" with characters who had experienced life a bit. (Enough with the 18-year-old virgins please!!!) I can't say for sure, but I suspect that Penelope in Twenty-One Nights may be the first romance novel heroine in history to have given birth to six children before she connects with the hero. She may have stretch marks and saggy breasts, but she's still very much the object of William Lindsay's desire.
And have you met Laurence Heath yet? I began writing The Mysterious Mr. Heath at the suggestion of my publisher, who said short stories about minor characters would help promote my main book. As it turned out, Laurence was never going to be a minor character. Heath and Hastings demanded a full-on book of their own and would not let me alone until they had it. The story hits on some serious topics, but is much lighter and less wicked than Seven Days. Still it's a steamy read that takes risks. Would love to get your thoughts on it!
In general, I set my books in England's Regency period which was a famously decadent and fabulously romantic era with no cell phones or Facebook updates to distract passionate lovers. It was the precursor to the Victorian era when things got very boring and stuffy indeed. (I blame that on Albert by the way...)
I am an ardent fan of weekends in the country, fine wine and the starting line-up of the Washington Nationals baseball team. In my next life, I aspire to be more like Freya, the Norse goddess of love, lust, beauty, and sorcery, who was renowned for her ability to herd cats and for whom the day Friday was named.
I live in a Victorian farmhouse in Washington DC with my husband of more than 20 years, two nearly grown children, one charming dog and two cantankerous cats.
Thank you for visiting my page and taking a chance on my books. I love hearing from readers, so please don't hesitate to drop me a line to say hello at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And no matter what, stay passionate!
Want more insight into Ariel Atwell? Read a couple of my other confessions here.