Beverley Eikli and The Reluctant Bride

Lies, spies and Traitors… Choc Lit’s Beverley Eikli talks about the darker side of The Regency in her new book The Reluctant Bride.

Beverley Eikli and her Rhodesian Ridgeback Homer
Beverley Eikli and her Rhodesian Ridgeback Homer

It’s my pleasure to welcome to Romaniac HQ, Choc Lit author, Beverly Eikli, on the launch of The Reluctant Bride.

Thanks so much, Laura, for inviting me here to talk about my Napoleonic espionage romantic suspense The Reluctant Bride.

I must say, it’s had the most colourful history of any of the eight books I’ve written. The first three chapters won the Romance Writers of New Zealand Single Title competition about six years ago, which was before I got my first publishing contract with Robert Hale in 2009. After that it went through multiple drafts, while I wrote other novels and novellas.

I just couldn’t let it go. I kept seeing potential for more ‘layering’.

Initially The Reluctant Bride focussed on my hero’s tortured past. He’d been forced into an impossible situation during the retreat to Corunna, in 1809, four years before I take up my story. Now, conscience-stricken, he seizes an opportunity to atone for the past when he finds my heroine, Emily, is in need of rescuing.

Unfortunately, the lie he tells Emily, the woman he’s loved from afar, in order to spare her pain comes back to haunt him after she becomes his ‘reluctant bride’. She believes he’s taking advantage of her desperate situation to make her his wife and considers her a ‘bargain’.

In the first drafts I’d focused on events between the Retreat to Corunna and the Battle of Waterloo.

But Emily’s past was just as important and I needed to understand the chaotic life into which she’d been born. This meant immersing myself in the extraordinary, almost stupefying events of the French Revolution. I’d studied it on a superficial level but now I had to bury myself in the details in order to understand how a so-called hero one day could be considered a traitor the next, and what passions drove people to behave with a brutality so contrary to basic human principles. I concentrated on the September Massacres of 1792 but I also had to understand the mind-set of both revolutionaries and the masses.

When I entered Choc Lit’s Search for an Australian Star competition I was intrigued by Choc Lit’s focus on the male Point of View. I’d fallen in love with my hero, Angus, after living with him over so many years so I naturally hoped the ‘tasting panel’ would see the layers behind the scarred, taciturn exterior.

And they did.  I’m thrilled that The Reluctant Bride is Choc Lit’s launch title into Australia.

Beverley Eikli Reluctant Bride Cover

It’s the most intricately plotted of all my books – yes, I love a good plot. I love the late Georgian/Regency period and I absolutely adore the challenge of creating characters whose attitudes and behaviour are true to their times.

A passive heroine doesn’t go down well with modern readers, so this is where I get creative with plot, set-up and characterisation. Women had so few legal rights they really were utterly dependant on their closest male relative – and their wits.

In the opening scene of The Reluctant Bride my heroine thinks she has it all. She’s a week short of being free of her Puritanical father who has – surprisingly – sanctioned the match of her heart. By scene two, when Angus gives Emily the bad news, she believes her life will be devoid of joy henceforth. However she doesn’t have time to brood as she’s soon caught up on a roller-coaster ride involving spies, lies, traitors.

One line from a recent review of The Reluctant Bride I liked was that ‘nothing is what it seems’ while another reviewer calls it ‘the darker side of Regency life’.

Thanks again, Laura, for inviting me. I still get a thrill when I see that beautiful cover Choc Lit’s talented Berni Stevens created for me. The whole process of taking the book from competition winning entry to its final form as a September 15th paperback release was huge fun. It was also such a blast to meet six fellow ‘Chocliteers’ at the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention in Kansas City earlier this year. I shared a room at the Crowne Plaza with my editor, Rachel Skinner who was absolutely delightful to work with. The weird thing was that we seemed to be colour coordinated with everything we wore for the six days of conference.

Beverley Eikli Conference

I hope readers enjoy Angus and Emily’s story.

Buy from: Kindle UK, Kindle US, Apple UK, Apple US, Kobo Books Barnes and Noble




Twitter: @BeverleyOakley


Beverley Eikli is the author of eight historical romances published by Pan Macmillan Momentum, Robert Hale, Ellora’s Cave and Total-e-Bound. Recently she won UK Women’s Fiction publisher Choc-Lit’s Search for an Australian Star competition with her suspenseful, Regency espionage Romance The Reluctant Bride.

She’s been shortlisted twice for a Romance Readers of Australia Award in the Favourite Historical category — in 2011 for  A Little Deception, and in 2012 for her racy Regency Romp, Rake’s Honour, written under her Beverley Oakley pseudonym.

Beverley wrote her first romance when she was seventeen. However, drowning the heroine on the last page was, she discovered, not in the spirit of the genre so her romance-writing career ground to a halt and she became a journalist.

After throwing in her job on South Australia’s metropolitan daily The Advertiser to manage a luxury safari lodge in the Okavango Delta, in Botswana, Beverley discovered a new world of romance and adventure in a thatched cottage in the middle of a mopane forest with the handsome Norwegian bush pilot she met around a camp fire.

Eighteen years later, after exploring the world in the back of Cessna 404s and CASA 212s as an airborne geophysical survey operator during low-level sorties over the French Guyanese jungle and Greenland’s ice cap, Beverley is back in Australia teaching in the Department of Professional Writing & Editing at Victoria University, as well as teaching Short Courses for the Centre of Adult Education and Macedon Ranges Further Education.


29 thoughts on “Beverley Eikli and The Reluctant Bride

  1. Lovely interview. Interesting what you say about a passive heroine not going down well with today’s readers and how you had to deal with this in light of the period the novel is set in. I’ve not read anything from this era before, but now am very tempted.

    Wishing you every success.

    • Yes, it’s always a conundrum in historicals, I think, Sue. A passive heroine doesn’t ‘work’ for me but nor does a story where the heroine’s behaviour seems too liberal for her times. It’s so easy to take for granted the rights our forebears fought for so I like to create stories of romance and adventure that also remind the modern reader of that.

    • Thanks, Liz. I think the life history comes out unconsciously in the reactions of one’s characters to certain situations. As a writer you think, “Oh, I know exactly what that feels like”.

  2. The success of The Reluctant Bride is a great example of how to make a story you loved and lived with work. Many people would have given up, but you hung on in there and kept coming up with ways to bring your idea to fruition – it just goes to show how hard work and determination pay dividends!

    • Thank you, Chris. This story went through so many transformations, and I’ve had such wonderful family support. My 12-year-old daughter came up with the name. I’d called it The Reluctant Wife. ‘Bride’ is much better.

    • Absolutely, Margaret! This one has been with me for many, many years – and is all the better for it:)

  3. Thanks so much Sue, Liz, Laura and Chris, for your comments. I’ve so enjoyed the whole process and have absolutely loved the support from everyone at Choc Lit. Today is one year and five days since I just scraped in by the midnight deadline for the Search for an Australian Star competition. In fact, I had to use the UK/Aussie time difference to my advantage and sent it 3am Aussie time, knowing it was still a few hours until midnight in the UK.

  4. Great interview, and how fascinating to hear of this particular novel’s long and bumpy ride to publication! Some books are like that, aren’t they, others just breeze through.

    • You’re right, Henriette. It’s funny how the books one writes involve one in a totally different experience each time – and I’m not talking about the book’s storyline.

  5. Great interview. The Reluctant Bride sounds fascinating. I’ll have to keep an eye out for it.
    It’s also nice to get to know more about you Beverley.

    • Thanks, Rhoda. It certainly was fun to write. My husband is off to LA in the morning and in the old days when he went away for a few days I used to have Angus, my hero of The Reluctant Bride, to keep me company. But Angus went and married my heroine 🙂 It’s definitely time to get stuck into a new book.

  6. Wow, Beverley – you really know how to sell a story (as well as write one!). When you put your heart and soul into your characters, it really shows, as in this case. Definitely worth all that effort!

    • How interesting you should say that, Kate. Thank you – but I consider myself such a slow learner – both when it comes to writing AND selling a story. It took me 23 years to get published after writing my first novel, and now 5 years after selling that novel I feel I’m only *just* getting the hang of promoting.

    • Thanks Mandy. One of the benefits of being sick for a couple of days was that I did masses of reading – 2 books! – and ASIT is now on my kindle.

  7. Love the sound of your book and looking forward to reading it – have to love those tortured heroes! I’ve a story which I’ve come back to several times but has never seen the light of day yet – something about the hero won’t quite let go.

  8. I’m always a sucker for a tortured hero – and that’s not meant to be a pun because I’m a vampire fan!

    I loved The Reluctant Bride – I’m very fortunate in that I get to read the manuscripts before I design the covers, and the Choc Lit authors are just amazing. The Reluctant Bride is a real page-turner, the pace rarely lets up, and when Emily suddenly comes into her own, I almost cheered aloud!
    Thank you Beverley!

    • Maybe that tortured hero you have lurking beneath his bushel will unexpectedly spring to life in your next new work 🙂

      • Sorry – the tortured hero comment was for Angela.

        Berni, that means you’d have a huge reading component to your work but, my goodness, it shows in the final product. With my other publishers the artist has just a high concept to go on.

        Thank you so much for your kind words about The Reluctant Bride. You’ve made my day 🙂

  9. You had me at Napoleonic espionage romantic suspense ….
    I am not usually a big fan of books set in the Regency era – because many seem too concerned with a comedy of manners when, as you so rightly point out, there was so much turmoil in the world at large. And I too am not a big fan of passive heroines.
    But … Napoleonic espionage romantic suspense … That phrase has lodged itself in my mind — Amazon here I come!

    • Thank you, Janet. Your comment really had me thinking, as I commented earlier that I feel I’m only just coming to grips how I approach my marketing. Maybe, in all my previous Regencies, that’s what I’m doing wrong: I’m not correcting sufficiently the assumption that they’re a comedy of manners, so that those who buy it solely on that basis are disappointed when they find it starting off as a romance and ending with a mystery/action (which seems to be the pattern with a lot of my books).

      This discussion today has been really valuable for me.

      Thank you!

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