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Love Is Blind?!

Antoinette George
Antoinette George Author Interview

Gambling Lion follows a talented but haunted man who meets a mysterious woman that changes his life. What were some sources that informed this novels development?

Gambling Lion is Part 1 of the tale of Nicholas de Bresancourt, my main character, an impoverished French noble who has grown up in England and hates what has happened to France, and for a variety of reasons joins the British Army and is recruited to become an undercover agent for the British against his former countrymen in the interminable war that has been going on in Europe. I’m very familiar with this period of history, and have always found it particularly interesting, hence the background to this story’s prequel, Behind The Shadow, where we meet Nicky as a small boy, just escaped from the French Revolution. Also, being a closet James Bond fan, I tried to imagine what an equivalent spying department might have been like back in 1812, along with an M equivalent and his assistant – however being 1812, it wouldn’t be a Moneypenny unless it was a Mr Moneypenny!

But more seriously, I always thought the Napoleonic Wars fascinating, as is Napoleon himself, and his megalomania until he went a step too far and invaded Russia, underestimating what he would be up against there, not to mention the terrible weather in winter. Hitler never learned from history – if he had he might have thought twice about invading Russia. But there you are, another megalomaniac, except far, far worse than Napoleon of course. Also, when I visited the battlefield site of Waterloo (battle scenes referred to in Part 4 of The Pride of Lions set) I was stunned and tried to picture what went on there. Anyone who understands what historical battles were like,and the sheer carnage, will know what I mean. Men and horses alike. Terrible. But that epic battle kept Europe peaceful for decades after that… until everyone went to war again in 1914. Finally, I always think heroes who are perfect, or infallible, or one-dimensional, are boring; so depicting a man with issues, as a result of terrible abuse back in his childhood, along with PTSD from his military undercover work and interaction with the villain of the story, which compounds his already fragile mental state, makes him more interesting and realistic… well as far as anyone who is a James Bond type character can be. After all, this is a historical romance at the end of the day, just like James Bond gets the girl in the end!

Your characters are interesting, but I really enjoyed the relationship between characters. What were some driving ideals behind your characters and their relationships?

The story is very much about misplaced pride, and also, how people are often not quite how they appear. It’s about how women were still repressed at that time in history, but starting to assert themselves, and not all men believed them to be either frivolous nor brainless. Also, the hero was impoverished so has to make the best of what his attributes are to make his way in the world … eg his good looks and charm lend themselves to his line of work, and later in the series the reader gets to find out what else he has been up to in this regard. And finally, didn’t they always say that love is blind?!

What kind of research did you undertake to ensure the historical aspects in the novel are accurate?

As mentioned above, this period of history has always interested me, and I have to own up, I’ve always been a bit of a history geek, so knew a lot already about the period and subject matter, including visiting Waterloo before I even came up with the story. But I read a lot about what went on during the Peninsular campaign to check my facts, and was interested by how Napoleon left his Marshals to run most of it for him. Who knows what would have happened if he’d stayed there himself instead of leaving to sort out eastern Europe and then go into Russia. Now there’s a question! The Duke of Wellington finally came into his own in Spain, and the whole episode is fascinating to study as his battle successes during his time there ebbed and flowed and he learned a lot as a result of this, especially how the French fought and the capability of the French Marshals he came up against. Experts (not me) say he really made the most of that learning to put to use when he finally arrived at Waterloo. (Apologies for history lesson!)

This is book one in The Pride of Lions series. What can readers expect in book two?

Book 2, Undercover Lion, carries on with Nicky, our hero, deep in tracking down the villain of the piece, the clever and malicious French agent, Frederick Bernheim, son of the man who originally murdered his parents and was responsible for the horrific events of his childhood before he escaped to England. He’s now in Madrid, cut off from the British forces and on his own, but finds help from an unexpected quarter, and finally runs his enemy to earth,… but I won’t tell you any more than that, other than, being a spy story in true James Bond style, there’s a villainous woman involved along the line as well who needs dealing with….

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Soldier and secret agent during the latter part of the Napoleonic wars and present at the epic Battle of Waterloo in 1815; he was handsome, charming and lover of many women, but saddled with a wife he neither loved nor wanted. Nicholas de Bresancourt, Duc de Valenciennes, was a complex man of many talents, but also a tormented one. Memories of his horrific experiences as a small boy in France before he escaped from the Revolution continued to haunt him.
London. June 1812.
He was carrying important dispatches from the British Army HQ in the Peninsula to the War Ministry in London and hadn’t been home for a year.

While waiting for confidential and urgent documents to take back to the Army high command, Nicholas de Bresancourt is taken to meet an inscrutable gentleman in the innocuous-sounding Department of Information in Whitehall. Lord Ashcroft wants to utilize his talents to track down a dangerous French agent who has been causing trouble for those still battling Bonaparte across Europe, and has now turned up in Spain. Meanwhile, Nicky also takes the opportunity to catch up with his adoptive relations, including the dying family matriarch, the nearest thing he’s ever had to a grandmother, as well as the wife he was inveigled into marrying and now wants rid of.

Unsurprisingly, being Nicky, he decides to take a few hours off for a bit of personal R&R, away from the stresses of family matters and work. Good looking, charismatic and a consummate lothario, he heads out on the Town with a few regimental friends and they take him to a new gambling salon in Mayfair which is all the rage: Le Lion D’Or, owned by a mysterious masked woman who calls herself La Lionesse. Inexplicably fascinated by the lady, who in turn seems very taken with the handsome soldier, she asks him up to her private quarters to continue their game of cards and he accepts, and that’s when she raises the stakes…

Gambling Lion

Gambling Lion: Part One of The Pride of Lions by [Antoinette George]

Antoinette George’s novel Gambling Lion tells a riveting historical fiction story set during Napoleon Bonaparte’s conflict from 1799 to 1804. The novel gets increasingly exciting as the story progresses, as it includes romance, adventure, mystery, against a detailed historical background.

This is a historical romance story full of adventure, political intrigue, danger, and dramatic twists. The narrative begins with an aristocrat who was a destitute refugee of the brutal French Revolution and lost everything as a result of it, including his family, land, and wealth. The character of Nicholas de Bresancourt is so wonderfully portrayed that it entices and enchants the reader; I wanted to keep reading just to see what would happen with him next. Nicholas’ tale is captivating, from his childhood to his adulthood, and the depiction of his bond with his adoptive family is heart-warming.

Antoinette George has presented the tangled love story of Nicholas and Bella in an enthralling way that I just could not get enough of. The sharp dialogue and amusing flirtation between Lionesse and Nicholas is engaging and entertaining.

While I enjoyed the detailed historical aspects of the story, this is really a character driven story as the personalities within are so fascinating. I particularly love the character and storyline of the dowager duchess of Firle and her bond with Francis and Nicholas. The story explores the difficulties and hazards of being a spy while serving in the army in times of war; which I thought added a unique level of intrigue and history to the story. The author also shows how agonizing it is for individuals to wait for their loved ones who have gone to fight in the war, especially back then but the focus on the emotional turmoil in the story is enthralling.

This riveting historical drama reminds me of the Netflix ‘Outlander’ series season 2 where they are in Paris and must deal with the political and social turmoil of the 1800’s.

Gambling Lion offers readers some of the best character development in the historical romance genre and I really enjoyed how historical facts were used to color the story rather than being the centerpiece. This is a fantastic start to what is sure to be a compelling series that will appeal to readers who enjoy historical fiction novels and military romance stories with a keen eye for details and a focus on characters.

Pages: 361 | ASIN: B09GHHXZ1K

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Sparks Will Inevitably Fly

Antoinette George
Antoinette George Author Interview

The Elusive Smuggler follows two people determined not to give into one another while a diabolical enemy plots revenge. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

Well, of course, the story line is nothing new, but what is under the sun?! Anyone who loves swashbuckling heroes full of ‘je ne sais quoi’, feisty heroines and evil villains, and a good romance never runs smooth or it’s boring, will tell you that! However, to delve a bit deeper…outward appearances can be very deceptive, and people’s characters in reality are often very different from the face they put on to the world. Also, a lot of people have events in their past that have made them what they are… either one wrong decision has changed the direction of their life, or the way they were brought up has coloured their personality, ambitions and view of life and, sometimes, the opposite sex. Those themes figure a lot in all my stories, historical and contemporary.

In addition, I suppose that particular period of history has always fascinated me. Enormous social upheaval – radical in France – and the repercussions it had across Europe as new discoveries and inventions went hand in hand with radical thought. I just looked at it all, especially the anarchic situation in France, and it was just perfect as background for someone clever, unscrupulous and brutal to take advantage for personal gain, knowing there was little in the way of law and order to pay much attention and interfere. As for the hero and heroine in The Elusive Smuggler… they were influenced by their pasts in different ways, and their families, and when you have two very strong willed, determined and passionate people, sparks will inevitably fly.

Your characters are intriguing and well developed. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

No one is perfect, we all have our faults… but being able to see one’s failings and try to improve them, is a challenge, and not everyone succeeds… as is the ability to admit one is wrong and apologise. Just because someone is headstrong, brave and determined doesn’t mean to say they can’t be humble too. I just think people with complex personalities are so much more interesting. It allows them to make mistakes, take wrong decisions, and that creates twists and turns in the storylines.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

To be perfectly honest, I never really set out to have any theme or ideas for characters when I first started writing, nor a plotline. It all just evolved the more I wrote and got involved in each story, and I chose this period of history as it was familiar to me so I didn’t have to do too much research. Given I started writing on a long daily train commute to work and home again, that was quite important! However, as I wrote I always thought about what I would do, or feel, or how I would react if I was in that situation, if I was that character. And I wanted characters with depth, who would make mistakes, but come through adversity somehow, rising to the challenge. Not only that, I wanted other interesting characters threading through each story other than the hero and heroine and the villain, so there were more side plotlines and other people involved in them, to give the whole tale more breadth and interest. I always enjoyed reading stories like that in my youth and loved escaping into them, keeping me engrossed for days, unable to tear myself away I was so involved in the story, full of suspense and impassioned romance… and that’s what I wanted to reproduce when I started writing. Most of us secretly yearn to be something we’re not in some ways… slimmer, fitter, better looking, cleverer or more accomplished at something… fantasy is a great escape from the dreariness or struggle with everyday life and we all do it one way or another at some point. So my stories are simply escapism for romantics!

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

The Elusive Smuggler is only the first part of the whole story of Francis and Cat – Behind The Shadow.

The remaining three parts of Behind The Shadow are available now. 2: An Unusual Courtship, 3: The Determined Duchess, 4: The Dangerous Harlot. They’re full of drama, suspense and plot twists until all the threads of the tale finally resolve themselves in part 4.

Then, there is the 5 part sequel, Pride of Lions, set some twenty years later during the latter part of the Napoleonic Wars in Europe. Its central character is someone who appears in Behind The Shadow (part 2 onwards) an aristocratic French refugee who has grown up in England and is now an undercover agent working for the Duke of Wellington in his campaign against Napoleon…. a sort of James Bond in every way… except he hasn’t got an Aston Martin, just a black horse called Shadow (of course!) The action moves from London to Spain and to France, and includes action at the epic Battle of Waterloo, and finally a thrilling climax with another crazed villain. And a lot of the characters from the first book reappear in this sequel so you get to find out what has happened in their lives… and The Shadow has his final hurrah. It’s all compelling and engrossing stuff!

Pride of Lions, parts 1 and 2 are due to be published at the beginning of November with the remainder in December and January.

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The Elusive Smuggler: Part One of Behind The Shadow by [Antoinette George]

Compelling romance and swashbuckling thrills. The dramatic and gripping story of one man with two lives and the woman he craves, but cannot have. He was the handsome aristocrat and charismatic adventurer who created a dynasty and she was the feisty, unconventional woman he loved. He was English and she was French, two strong-willed people determined never to give in to each other, and a devious, diabolical enemy determined to exact revenge on the smuggler who had constantly evaded him and thwarted his nefarious plans.
Set at the end of the 18th century when France was on the cusp of a bloodthirsty Revolution, this is an exciting and unputdownable tale of daring escapes, broken promises, distrust and misunderstandings, all threaded through by a passionate and turbulent love affair, a scorching romance that wouldn’t be denied.
Part One: The Elusive SmugglerFrance 1790. A country in turmoil and you’re desperate. Your family has been unjustly thrown into a fortress prison for reasons nothing to do with the Revolution and it’s down to you to rescue them, if you can, before they meet a grim fate. So what to do when you only have a crippled brother to aid you? With law and order breaking down and justice gone missing, you decide only someone with a ruthless reputation can help, a devious and cunning criminal, if you can find the man you’ve heard about. The brutal and corrupt Regional Governor has been trying for years without success, but that won’t discourage you because you’re an exceedingly determined woman, wilful and somewhat eccentric, and you’ll pay or do anything if this man can help facilitate an escape from the fortress and get your family out of France.
Marie-Catherine de Mornay had always got her way and done what she wanted, and succeeded, but that was before she met The Shadow. However, Edgar Bernheim, the venal Governor, had his own private agenda, for which the Revolution was merely a front, and was an exceedingly vengeful man people took on at their peril…

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The Elusive Smuggler

The Elusive Smuggler: Part One of Behind The Shadow by [Antoinette George]

The Elusive Smuggler (Behind The Shadow, #1), by Antoinette George, tells the story of a handsome rake, known as The Shadow. The Shadow is a successful smuggler and the only hope Marie-Catherine and Edouard de Mornay, sister and brother, have of rescuing their parents and restoring the family. But first, they’ll have to track him down and convince him to help them. This search takes the siblings to meet Carlotta, a dancer who sometimes lives and travels with the Romani, but has her own story and her own dreams.

This riveting historical novel is set in the late 1700’s, mostly in France near the coast, but with connections across the channel in England, too. The French Revolution is brewing, with dangerous implications for everyone, from the titled upper-class down to poor workers caught up in the wrong place, and Antoinette George is able to capture it all with fine details that transports readers to the era.

The author’s research shows in the descriptions without slowing down the action. Since most people at this time would be conscious of social class and birth, our characters are constantly aware when someone they meet has well-educated speech or a cultured accent.  Of course, that doesn’t mean that all the ladies in The Elusive Smuggler are ladylike, or that all the travelers are of low birth…

These four characters are well developed, complete with their own flaws, making them feel authentic and grounded. The dialogue is always lively, with constant cheerful banter between the friends, and constant arguing between a certain couple. Our protagonists will need to apply fast actions, clever thinking and cooperation to accomplish their goals. But with political unrest and corruption around them, it’s very hard to know who is trustworthy, and this instills a consistently high level of intrigue throughout the novel.

Fans of thrilling historical romance and stories of enemies-to-lovers will just eat this one up. The end of the novel makes it clear that the story of The Shadow, as well as Cat, Eddie, and Carlotta, is far from over, and there are three more novels planned in Antoinette George’s dramatic historical romance series Behind the Shadow.

Pages: 348 | ASIN: B08P81PZ7H

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