How to Marry a Royal Highlander by Vanessa Kelly: Author Interview & Spotlight

Title:  How to Marry a Royal Highlander 
Series:  The Renegade Royals Book 4  
Author: Vanessa Kelly  
Release Date/ Publisher:  June 30, 2015/ Zebra 
Pages:  352 

Book Description

Illegitimate yet thoroughly irresistible, the Renegade Royals are leaving behind their careers as daring spies for the greatest adventure of all…

At sixteen, Alasdair Gilbride, heir to a Scottish earldom, fled the Highlands and an arranged betrothal. Ten years later, Alasdair must travel home to face his responsibilities. It’s a task that would be much easier without the distracting presence of the most enticing woman he’s ever met…

After one escapade too many, Eden Whitney has been snubbed by the ton. The solution: rusticating in the Scottish wilderness, miles from all temptation. Except, of course, for brawny, charming Alasdair. The man is so exasperating she’d likely kill him before they reach the border—if someone else weren’t trying to do just that. Now Eden and Alasdair are plunging into a scandalous affair with his life and her reputation at stake—and their hearts already irreparably lost…

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Could you please tell us a little bit about yourself?

I’ve loved historical romance—and romance novels in general—since I was 13 or 14. My sister first turned me on to romance with the novels of Georgette Heyer and Mary Stewart. It did, however, take me many years to reach the point where I started writing romance. I worked, went to graduate school, taught English, and was a researcher for a public sector union. It wasn’t until my forties that I actually tackled the challenge of writing novels. And although I started with historical romance I also write contemporary romance with my husband as V.K. Sykes.

What inspired you to write your first book?

Actually, it was that famous editorial by Eloisa James in the New York Times, where she “came out” as a romance writer. I was going through a difficult period in my life and I needed something to take me out of myself and away from my problems. Reading that article inspired me to try something I’d always wanted to do—write a romance novel. I stared working on my first book, MASTERING THE MARQUESS, which was eventually published by Kensington.

Could you tell us a little about the hero, Alasdair Gilbride, and how you chose his name?

Alasdair—Alec, for short—is one of my favorite heroes. He’s big, strong, handsome, smart, funny, confident and even a bit brash, he has a lovely brogue and the ladies just love him. Alasdair also has a total marshmallow heart underneath his uber-masculine exterior. He’s kind to old ladies and shy debutants, and finds it hard to say no to anyone who needs his help. He’s also totally in love with Edie Whitney, my heroine, although he has trouble telling her that. He’s so used to being a tough guy that it’s hard for him to show his vulnerability. As for his name, I researched various Scottish names and clans and came up with Alasdair Gilbride, which just seems to fit him perfectly.

What kind of research did you do for this book?

It’s my first Highland historical romance, so I had to do a fair bit of research. I had to decide which clan Alasdair belonged to, what part of the Highlands he came from, and what his family’s castle looked like. Looking at pictures of castles was a lot of fun, and I also enjoyed researching the history of the Grahams, the clan Alasdair’s family belongs to. 

Do you have a favorite character from ‘The Renegade Royals Series’? Which one, and why?

I love, love, love Edie Whitney, the heroine of HOW TO MARRY A ROYAL HIGHLANDER. She is a truly funny person with a lot of charm and smarts. She’s a confident woman but also doesn’t take herself too seriously, which I think is a nice combination. I also love Griffin Steele, the hero of CONFESSIONS OF A ROYAL BRIDEGROOM. He’s the classic bad boy with a heart of gold, and I modeled him on Capt. Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean. Although Griffin has way better teeth and hygiene than Capt. Jack.

Do you currently have any works in progress, and if so, could you share a little with us?

I’m starting work on a new series, which is actually a spin-off of The Renegade Royals. It’s called The Improper Princesses, and it features the illegitimate daughters of England’s royal dukes. The heroines are the half-sisters and cousins of Alasdair, Griffin, and the other Renegade Royals. The first book is called My Fair Princess, and it’s partly based on the movie musical, My Fair Lady. The heroine is a tomboy who was raised in Italy and hunted bandits and must now learn to become a proper lady. Remember the Jennifer Garner character from Alias? That’s pretty much my heroine, Regency style.

Where do you write, and do you have a daily schedule or do you write when inspiration strikes?

I often write in my bedroom, with all my books and notes spread out on my bed. I usually write every day for at least a few hours. It’s the only way I can really manage it—small chunks every day instead of big pushes when inspiration strikes. The reality is, most days inspiration does NOT strike, so you have to learn to write without it. 

Who designs your book covers?

The incredible art department at Kensington Publishing.

Is there a question you have you always wanted to be asked in an interview?  If so, what is the question, and what is the answer?

Oh, dear. Not really, because I’m a very private person. It’s actually hard for me to share things about my life and how I feel about my work. I have to push a bit to open up.

Just for fun:  If you were stranded on a deserted island, and could pick only 3 necessities to have with you, what would they be?

Antibiotics (I’m kind of paranoid), water (so I can survive until I’m rescued), and a good bottle of wine (to keep me company until I’m rescued). And IF I could have a fourth item, it would be a good historical romance book!

Thank You, Vanessa Kelly!


Alec wasn’t surprised she’d gotten herself into trouble. As far as he was concerned, she was an accident waiting to happen. But it startled him to hear that Lady Reese was unhappy with her. The woman adored her daughter and, according to Wolf, was convinced that Edie could do no wrong.

“Would I be correct in assuming this trouble involved a man?”
There was that faint wash of pink again. This time, though, Alec wasn’t charmed. The idea of Edie getting into trouble with a man had him clenching a fist against his thigh.
“Who was he?” he asked sharply when she remained silent.
She seemed perplexed by his tone. “Sir Malcolm Bannister, though it really isn’t any business of yours.”
Now both his fists were clenched against his thighs. “Bannister? Are you mad? The man is a notorious rake.”
Edie set her teacup down on his desk with a loud click. Then she crossed her arms over her impressive bosom and gave him an ironic stare. That she was silently but clearly commenting on his reputation as a rake did not improve Alec’s mood. Yes, he liked women, but he never tampered with virgins or innocents.
“Never mind,” he growled. “Just tell me exactly what happened.”
“Nothing. That’s what I’ve been trying to tell everyone.” 
“Then why the need for such drastic measures?” 
“Well, almost nothing,” she grudgingly admitted. “I’d almost escaped from him when Lady Charlfort and her witch of a mother stumbled upon us.”
Alec closed his eyes, trying to ignore the fury turning his vision blood red. When he opened them, she was eyeing him like he was the one who’d lost touch with reality. And perhaps he had. The notion of Edie in another man’s arms made him want to commit several acts of  mayhem.
“Did he hurt you?” he growled.
She blinked as if surprised by the question, then waved an insouciant hand. “As if I couldn’t handle a cad like Bannister. You can be sure he’ll never come within ten feet of me again.”
Her naïveté and reckless self-confidence bordered on criminal. Still, there was little to be gained in pursuing that point. The sooner he got the image of Edie in Bannister’s lecherous embrace out of his head, the better.
“As a result of this unfortunate encounter with one of the ton’s most notorious rakes,” he said, “you now find yourself in an awkward situation. Lady Reese is no doubt focused on the gossip.”
She was obviously irritated by his characterization. “Yes, Mamma is convinced the damage to my reputation will be quite severe. It’s an assessment I don’t agree with, by the way.”
“Imagine my surprise. And yet, your parents want you to rusticate. To Maywood Manor, I assume?” But what did any of this have to do with him?
She pressed her full lips into a grim line.
“Miss Whitney?” he prompted when she remained silent.
“Actually, Wolf suggested another alternative, something you’ll find as displeasing as I do, I’m sure.”
The familiar sense of premonition Alec never ignored prickled along his nerves. “Which is?”
“They want me to go to Scotland with you,” she blurted out. “For the entire winter. Can you imagine? I’d probably kill myself by leaping off the nearest Highland peak. Or we’d kill each other, which is, I suppose, the likeliest scenario.”
About Vanessa Kelly
Vanessa Kelly is an award-winning author who was named by Booklist, the review journal of the American Library Association, as one of the “New Stars of Historical Romance.” Her Regency-set historical romances have been nominated for awards in a number of contests, and her second book, Sex and The Single Earl, won the prestigious Maggie Medallion for Best Historical Romance. Her current series, The Renegade Royals is a national bestseller. Vanessa also writes USA Today bestselling contemporary romance with her husband, under the pen name of VK Sykes.
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  1. June 23, 2015    

    Thank you for hosting HOW TO MARRY A ROYAL HIGHLANDER!

  2. June 23, 2015    

    Thanks so much for hosting me!

  3. June 24, 2015    

    You're very welcome! Thanks for the interview.

  4. June 24, 2015    

    You're welcome. 🙂

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