Today, author Kelli A. Wilkins is sharing something a little different—an interview with Ashton Bailey, the hero from her latest historical romance, Dangerous Indenture. Ashton is giving us an exclusive excerpt from the book. Enjoy!
Q: Greetings, Ashton. Before we get started, could you tell our readers about the book?
Certainly. Dangerous Indenture is a historical romance novel set in Colonial Pennsylvania. It blends romance with mystery and suspense. The heroine (Shauna) is an Irish indentured servant, and the hero (me) is a dashing gentleman… with more than a few problems. Here’s the official book summary:
Indentured for five years… how long can Shauna resist her master’s son?
Desperate to escape her past in Ireland, Shauna Farrow signs on to become an indentured servant to Joshua Stewart, a wealthy man in Pennsylvania Colony. But a life of servitude quickly turns to drudgery, and Shauna’s hopes for starting over and creating a better life for herself are waning—until she meets her master’s roguish son, Ashton.
Ashton needs to redeem himself in his father’s eyes and earn the respect he has always longed for. Meeting Shauna turns his life around, and he sets out to win her heart. Torn between propriety and passion, Shauna struggles against her growing attraction to Ashton as long as she can.
But amidst their flirting, something dark stirs. Shauna soon discovers why no other servants wanted to work for the strange Stewart family. Stewart House has an unsavory reputation: a previous servant died there under mysterious circumstances. When another servant goes missing in the middle of the night, Shauna is convinced that a member of the family is responsible.
Shauna’s investigation leads her close to the truth, and yet, she’s not sure who she can trust. Events take a deadly turn when she confronts the murderer and discovers the mystery of the Stewart family.
Will Shauna be rescued before time runs out, or will she meet with the same fate as the other servants?
Q: So tell us about yourself, Ashton. What got you in the crosshairs for your author?
Where do I start? I’ve been described as “a bit of a rogue” by people: I’m opinioned, have a biting wit, tend to be a bit sarcastic… and yet, I’m utterly charming… when I haven’t been drinking too much at the local tavern. (Laughs.) Of course, these “good qualities” have driven members of my stuffy family utterly mad. They referred to me as the “drunken whoremonger with no sense of responsibility”—but I had my reasons.
When Kelli was writing about me, she was kind enough to see past all of my so-called faults and realized that deep down I’m a sensitive, caring individual who just needed to find my way in the world. Meeting Shauna, the love of my life, changed me for the better.
Q: What was it that drew you to Shauna?
Shauna Farrow is feisty, clever, and pretty. Most women I’ve dealt with were dimwitted or not terribly interesting. I was intrigued by Shauna’s spirit—she came all the way from Ireland to the Colonies on her own. That takes courage and an internal strength you don’t find in many young ladies in the 1700s. Of course, Shauna did all she could to resist my charms, which made her even more endearing to me. I do love a challenge!
Q: A little naughty fun, where was the wildest place you seduced Shauna?
One night, Shauna and I had a lot of “naughty fun” on my father’s desk in his study. I was trying to do paperwork and Shauna seduced me. I didn’t resist her advances, however, and took her right then and there. My papers went flying everywhere!
We’ve also been known to take our lovemaking outside. Some nights we’ll go into the garden and make love under the stars. It’s very romantic. And once, we went on a picnic and our lust got the better of us. A group of travelers nearly caught us in the act. We do try to behave… (Sighs) but sometimes it’s much more fun not to!
Q: Dangerous Indenture features several interesting secondary characters. What can you tell us about them?
Although everyone’s family has issues, the Stewart clan is probably more dysfunctional than most. The house is always filled with conflict or some sort of drama. My father, Joshua, is rather stern and has high standards. We don’t get along very well, and he sees me as a failure. My half-brother, Colin, is a vile beast, and his long-suffering wife, Minerva, is a little off balance (to put it politely). Adding Lila (a new servant) to the mix really stirs up things around the house and sets people on edge. Kelli has created quite a unique group of individuals! (And one of them might be a killer.)
Q: What was one of the most embarrassing things Kelli did to you in Dangerous Indenture?
You mean aside from waking up hung over in bed with a whore, throwing up, and crying like a little girl? Hmm… I think that might have covered it. Kelli put me through my paces and made me stronger for it—but at the time, I didn’t appreciate it much. But I trust her, and she knows what she’s doing.
Q: Kelli has written a lot of romances in all genres in all heat levels. How does she switch back and forth so easily?
I’ve been curious about this myself, so I asked some of her other characters. Basically, each book comes to her in a different form. Sometimes an entire story “jumps” into her head, and she’ll know everything that happens to the characters. (That happened with A Deceptive Match, A Most Unusual Princess, Loving a Wild Stranger, and Four Days with Jack.)
Other times, she gets bits of the story and parts of the characters. Once in a while, she’ll have a character come first and then the other pieces of the book fall into place, like a puzzle. (That happened with Redemption from a Dark Past, Trust with Hearts, and A Secret Match.)
Before Kelli starts a book, she says she needs to know who the characters are and what’s going to happen to them. After that, she outlines the scenes and starts writing. As Kelli writes, she explores things she hadn’t considered in her outline and might add entire scenes or write scenes that are later omitted. Writing a new book is always an adventure, and she never knows where the characters or stories will take her.
Q: Tell us a little more about Kelli’s writing style.
Here’s something surprising in this day and age: Kelli writes everything in longhand with paper and pen. When she gets an idea for a story, she writes an outline, lets the ideas for the characters and plot marinate for a while, and then starts writing on paper. After the first draft is complete, she types up the book, adds details, and makes edits along the way.
Q: Anything else you would like to add?
Did I mention murder? Dangerous Indenture isn’t just about Shauna and me falling in love and satisfying our lusty desires. A previous servant at Stewart House was murdered and Shauna got it in her head to solve the mystery. Of course, along the way, her life was in danger and another servant mysteriously vanished. Oh, and I was nearly killed!
Kelli did an excellent job of blending romance, mystery, and even a bit of humor into this anything-but-boring historical novel. I’d recommend it to readers everywhere. I’ve also heard that her other historical romances, such as Redemption from a Dark Past, and Loving a Wild Stranger (just to mention two), are excellent reads, as well.
Enjoy this exclusive excerpt. It’s my first appearance in the book, and it’s not at all flattering…
Ashton rolled over and winced. His head ached as if a spike had been driven into his skull. He blinked a few times. Where the hell was he? The air smelled stale. The scent of sweat combined with rum and perfume made his stomach lurch. He looked at the woman sleeping next to him. He was naked in a bed, but where? He couldn’t tell one place from another anymore.
Hazy memories from the previous night flashed back to him. He had gotten into a fight and lost the last of his money in a card game. This came on the heels of last week’s fight that had landed him three nights in jail. His father had used his influence to spare him a public flogging for drunken and indecent behavior, but then two days later, he had caused the incident at Mr. Campbell’s house.
He studied the fair-haired young woman half covered with a green quilt. In the dim morning light, she appeared ordinary and featureless. Why had he been attracted to her? Perhaps it was the wanton way she had teased him with her tongue each time she kissed him or the sinful promises she had whispered in his ear. In any case, it didn’t take long for her dress to come off once they were upstairs.
What was her name? He searched his fuzzy memory. Jane? Joan? It didn’t matter. He had nothing to pay her with.
Now what? He closed his eyes. The letter. Father’s scathing letter had arrived yesterday, ordering him to return to Stewart House before he “disgraced the family’s reputation further.” He had no choice but to go back to the Stewart madhouse for a while. He would endure the torment for a month or two, or perhaps the entire summer, if he could stand it. Then what? Repeat the pattern again?
He licked his dry lips and rubbed his eyes. Stewart House held too many memories. It always reminded him of his mother. She was in his thoughts quite often these days. She would have wanted him to be respectable and not a drunken whoremonger. He groaned. At least she was spared seeing what a failure her only child had become.
Last night, he had been tempted to go down to the docks and sign on to a ship leaving for England or Ireland. In his drunken state, he’d reasoned that if he left the colonies, he could start over and begin a new life.
But all the liquor in Boston couldn’t help him take such a bold step. Eventually, he’d admitted the truth to himself. It was easier to crawl into a bottle and ignore the world than to face reality. Besides, what did he have to look forward to?
He sat up and grimaced as a sharp pain shot through his head. Who cared about the future? Right now, he needed food and headache powder. Everything else could wait. He pulled his rumpled breeches from a pile of clothing on the floor and dressed quickly.
As he buttoned his vest, he felt something hard tucked into an inside pocket. A coin! He fished it out and ran his thumb over the edge. It was enough to buy a morning meal. He glanced at the still-sleeping girl and felt a tug at his heart. Lord knew she deserved to be paid for what she put herself through every night. He placed the coin on the edge of the dresser and slipped from the room, ignoring the rumbling in his stomach.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kelli A. Wilkins is an award-winning author who has published more than 100 short stories, 19 romance novels, 5 non-fiction books, and 2 online writing courses. Her romances span many genres and heat levels, and she’s also been known to scare readers with her horror stories.
Her historical romance, Dangerous Indenture, was released in March 2019. This full-length novel is set in Pennsylvania Colony and blends a sensual romance with mystery and suspense.
She published the second half of her flash fiction series, Cupid’s Schemes, in early 2019. These two volumes of lighthearted mini-romances are perfect reads for a quick lunchtime escape or an after-work indulgence.
Kelli released her latest Teachable mini-course, Fiction Basics: Finding Ideas in February 2019. She authored Fiction Writing for Beginners through Teachable in 2018. These courses are perfect for anyone who wants to learn how to write. Visit: https://kelliwilkins.teachable.com/ for more details.
If you like horror fiction, don’t miss her latest novella, Nightmare in the North.
Kelli posts on her Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorKelliWilkins and Twitter: www.Twitter.com/KWilkinsauthor.
Visit her website www.KelliWilkins.com and blog http://kelliwilkinsauthor.blogspot.com/ to learn more about all of her writings.
CATCH UP WITH KELLI
Here’s a full list of where you can find Kelli on the web.
Amazon Author Page: www.amazon.com/author/kelliwilkins
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorKelliWilkins
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Teachable Online Writing Courses: https://kelliwilkins.teachable.com/