Monday, June 15, 2015

Author Notes on THE CONTRARY CONTESSA

Writing my award-winning Regency romance, THE CONTRARY CONTESSA, was a labor of love for me. I wanted to have a different setting for this Regency, so the first part of the book is set in Sicily, with the latter taking place in York, England, which, as a side note, has the reputation of being the most haunted city in Europe.

I’ve never been to Italy or Sicily, so getting the flavor of the land and surroundings was the most difficult part. I do have an Italian and English background, and I was happy to combine both heritages in this lively Regency!

This novel deals with one man's prejudice against his own family. He has a ready dislike of anything or anyone non-English, and when his father marries a lady from Sicily... well, Robert Weston is seriously displeased. Too bad, says his stepsister, Lexia Cappello, the Contessa di Fabrianni. Unaware of the Sicilian tradition of "Fortuna"--true love--Robert gave Lexia the four colors of roses--red, white, yellow, and pink. She and he are destined to marry, no matter what he thinks!

PRIDE AND PREJUDICE: Because of the Sicilian tradition of “Fortuna”, Lexia Cappello believes she is destined to marry her stepbrother, the Marquess of Rutherford. Robert Weston, however, has a ready dislike of anything or anyone non-English. Can she convince this obstinate lord that his ignoble prejudice stands in the way of his future happiness?


ALL IN THE FAMILY: At first Robert Weston is annoyed, then intrigued by his new-found Sicilian stepsister. The more he resists her, the more he finds he yearns to possess her. Can he overcome his pride to admit the error of his ways and win the Contrary Contessa’s heart?


Artist’s concept cover

I truly enjoyed “living” in Lexia Cappello’s character. Out of all the heroines in my books, I’d say she is the one most unlike me. What a saucy minx! As you’ll find out, she has Robert Weston, the Marquess of Rutherford, wrapped around her feminine, little finger. :))


Lord Rutherford has no interest in marrying a non-English matron, but how can he resist his captivating... and contrary stepsister?

THE CONTRARY CONTESSA is published by at Awe-Struck Books (Mundania Press) and has garnered an impressive list of awards and reviews. This book was chosen as finalist in the prestigious EPIC Awards (now EPIC eBook Award) for Best Historical Romance.

Also, it was a Romance Reader at Heart Top Pick Award Winner, in addition to being a #1 best seller at Fictionwise.com and earning 5 stars at The Romance Studio and Romance Junkies.

This is Lexia as a Cosmo Girl, using Cosmopolitan's Virtual Makeover software. She’s perfect, don’t you think?!


Here’s an excerpt from THE CONTRARY CONTESSA that was inspired from real life. As a child, I learned that it was a “sin” for food to grow cold. When called to dinner, you didn’t dawdle in taking your place at the table. And so, this book is dedicated to my mother “who knows pasta must always be served hot!”

In the scene below, Robert and his friend James Dutton, have just arrived in Sicily to bring Robert’s half siblings back to England. Robert is unaware that his hostess for dinner is not only the Contessa di Fabrianni, but also his stepsister, Lexia.

In the center area of the room stood an extended oblong table, made of highly polished cherrywood. Seating for twelve, however seven place settings presently were arranged on the sleek tabletop. A large ceramic bowl of pasta was already placed near the plates, along a heaping container of mouthwatering tomato sauce and small dishes of finely grated cheese.

The combination of aromas tantalized his senses, caressing him as a lover might, after a long abstinence. Robert instinctively licked his lips.

“Ah, the signori are hungry, yes?”

To the side of him, poised by a larger painting of the Venetian canals was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. As she turned from the picture to face him, he drank in the sight of her. Dressed in the finest French silk, the woman looked like the queen that he had only minutes before made fun of. Her dark, shiny hair curled in ringlets, was piled high on her head, and was set off with a gold star bandeau. A pert nose, high cheekbones, and the largest, luminous eyes in the world, the woman fluidly made her way to his side. The motion caused the soft, rounded mounds of her breasts as revealed by her modestly cut d├ęcolletage to quiver ever so slightly.

Faith, his mouth suddenly went dry. Dutton was also affected, for he too remained owl-eyed and silent.

“Does no one speak? Is the conversation all up to me?” She dimpled a smile at him.

That smile. Good Lord! She was the Contessa! Somehow she had transformed her ragtag self into a Madonna worthy of every man’s reverent worship. His wits gone begging, he struggled to hide his obvious astonishment. “With all due respect, Contessa, you are...you are...so different.”

“Ah, Marquess, what sharp eyes you have.”

Damn it all, but Dutton laughed. Leaning over, he whispered into Robert’s ear. “Street urchin, hey?”

The Contessa curved her lips into a Mona Lisa smile, evidently overhearing. “Urchin, eh? That is not what the Marquess called me earlier.”

Blast! Remembering his behavior in the kitchen, Robert flushed. This girl/woman was sharp on the uptake, as sharp as a rapier’s point, while he had displayed the rag manners of a bovine Cit. He could not blame his conduct on the wine. His boorishness was his responsibility. His alone.

With an elegant motion of her long-sleeved arm, she gestured toward Dutton. “You are Signore Dutton, yes?”

His friend made a stately bow. “James Dutton, at your service, ma’am. Thank you for your hospitality on such short notice.”

For the first time, her saucy smile seemed to reach her eyes. She glided over to the table, her assurance evident in every step. “Let us sit, signori. The pasta, it grows cold. In Sicily, there is no worse fate.”

The love of family and the love of food are very important in Lexia’s world, and I like to say this Regency is sprinkled with Sicilian cooking, giving it a special twist! If you love Regency romance, this book’s for you! I hope you enjoy Lexia and Robert’s story.

Happy reading,

Susanne Marie Knight
Read outside the box: award-winning Romance Writing With A Twist!