About Beverley Eikli
Beverley Eikli was seventeen when she bundled up her first her 500+ page romance and sent it to a publisher. Unfortunately drowning her heroine on the last page was apparently not in line with the expectations of romance readers so Beverley became a journalist.
Twenty-six years later Beverley was delighted to receive her first publishing contract from Robert Hale (UK) for a romance in which she ensured her heroine was saved from drowning in the icy North Sea.
Since 2009 Beverley has written more than thirteen historical romances, mostly set in England during the Georgian, Regency and Victoria eras and filled with mystery, intrigue and adventure.
Her latest work is set in 1960 in the mountains African kingdom of Lesotho (where she spent her early years) and stars a dashing bush pilot (rather similar to the one she met in the Okavango Delta and married twenty years ago) who gets involved in illegal diamond buying (unlike her husband) and medicine murder (which her father investigated and prosecuted in his capacity as District Commissioner with magisterial duties).
Beverley lives with her husband, two daughters and a Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy the size of a pony opposite a picturesque old lunatic asylum in Victoria, Australia. She also writes steamier historicals as Beverley Oakley.
1) Could you tell my readers a bit about yourself?
Hi Suze and Anniek, Thanks for inviting me here.
I wrote my first series about a school for witches when I was seven and my first romance at seventeen so writing has always been a passion for me and something I can't not do. After heaps of rejections I thought writing fiction was going to be just a pipe dream so I became a journalist, then married a gorgeous Norwegian bush pilot I met in Botswana and had a pretty interesting life working with him around the world.
Ten years later my poor husband broke his back. This happened a couple of weeks before our second daughter was born and, it's interesting, but the other day I found my diary from this terrible time and read an entry I'd written when I was within days of giving birth and my husband was on tremendously strong pain killers, so perhaps not attending to the needs of his vastly pregnant wife as he generally was so good at doing. Clearly I felt utterly helpless and useless and I'd written reams about how I was going to get published so that I would no longer bore everyone by just talking about it, and so that my husband would be proud of me. Two years later I got my first publishing contract from Robert Hale, my husband pushed through the pain and returned to flying, our youngest is now ten years old, I've had thirteen historical intrigues and hot historicals published and I'm very happy with my life.
2) What do you like so much about historical romances?
I've always loved my historical research but, for me, writing historical romances are a nice cross between fantasy and real life because of the fact no one today ever experienced first hand the world in which my characters live. Therefore I feel I can let myself go more in imagining how people might have thought and acted in certain scenarios. One of my favourite themes is that of women having to utilise their inner qualities, and often cunning and wit, to achieve an outcome favourable to them because they didn't have the financial independence and legal resources we take for granted. My heroines are often not able to be sharp-tongued and feisty because, like most unmarried women of their day, they were entirely dependent upon their closest male relative who could decide their fates.
3) How/where did you get the idea for Wicked Wager?
I thought it would be fun to write a romance where the motivation of every major character appeared to be one thing but was in fact entirely different. So while there's obvious intrigue from the beginning, the layers are much deeper than might be expected on the surface. I wanted it to be a romantic intrigue but the more the reader delved into it, they first discovered there was a mystery, and then by the end a deeper and more complex mystery than they'd expected. It was also fun to write a Reformed Rake story. My last two books have had gorgeous heroes and flawed heroines but in Wicked Wager it's the other way round. I have a very virtuous and likeable heroine becoming attracted to a flawed hero despite her better judgement.
4) Your stories contain mysteries and intrigues, what inspires you to write them?
My husband often tells me with great fondness that I have a 'devious mind' which was what my parents used to tell me when I was seven. I was the child for whom butter wouldn't melt in her mouth while I devised complicated witch's brews of leaves and bugs in the three-cornered saucepan my mother gave me, boiling it over a small brick fireplace in the back garden and overseen by Lucette, the witch doll I carved out of wood and dressed in clothes I'd sewn. I've always loved creating, whether it's using words, fabric for historical costumes, or wool for the sweaters I learned to knit when I spent a year in Norway with my husband's family.
Beverley Eikli, far left, joins the Regency Fashion Parade of Australian authors at the Australian Romance Readers Convention, 2015
5) If you could be transported to an earlier period in time which one would it be and why?
I think it would be either 1780 with those marvellous gowns - the polonaises and saque gowns - and elaborate hair. If not, then the 1880s with those really sexy, narrow silhouettes and bustles. The bustle had two consecutive eras, the less attractive one (in my opinion) the broader, shelf-like behinds of the 1870s. I'm busy using an original 1883 pattern (from Janet Arnold's Patterns of Fashion 1: Englishwomen's Dresses and Their Construction C. 1660-1860 for those into costuming) to make a polonaise with a bustle that I'll wear for the Australian Romance Writers conference in August when hopefully I'll have the first in my romantic mystery series in which a courtesan (who was a ruined vicar's daughter) is blackmailed by a politician into solving a series of crimes which compromise British security. This is the price she must pay so that her sister (who believes her to be dead) can make a wonderful marriage and live an exemplary life.
6) You've travelled a lot. What's the most impressive thing/place you've seen?
Watching the last Ariane 4 rocket launch from Kourou Beach in French Guiana when I was in the midst of a three-month airborne geophysical survey contract was pretty exciting. So was seeing the quizzical expressions of three bat-eared foxed standing on an ant-hill in the Okavango Delta when we flew over in my husband's microlight. They were used to light planes but looked thoroughly confused by us. :)
7) What's the best part of Australia and why?
My family and friends are here, I enjoy a relaxed lifestyle and I'm really happy living here having lived in more than 12 cities and countries during the past 20 years.
8) In Wicked Wager the dresses are incredible, what kind of dress would you choose if you could wear anything you like?
Yes, the dresses are gorgeous, aren't they? I made the dress I would like to wear though I quickly realised I had to find a pattern for a 1780's corset and panniers, then make those, to make the dress look authentic. But the dress is beautiful. It's a 1780s polonaise made from a pair of russet silk curtains I found in a charity shop.
9) What's the most romantic thing you can think of?
Oh, there's romance in so many things, both mundane or highly organised. I think it just depends on where you're at and how you're feeling. Eating fish and chips on the Glenelg Jetty in Adelaide when my husband came out from Botswana to woo me was just as romantic as the surprise cruise he whisked me off on.
10) What do you like so much about writing romantic stories?
I love giving deserving characters their passport to happiness. It makes me feel like a Power for Good or a Fairy Godmother. Of course, I know I created these characters but it's as if they are real people whose lives I happen to be writing about such as in my days as a journalist.
11) You've already written a lot of books, does that mean you've achieved everything you've ever wanted or is there still something you're dreaming of?
There will always be more books to write, especially in series, because each subsequent books builds on what's gone before. Because I like to write lots of intrigue into my books, many of my characters are involved in plots or events that originate in an earlier book but aren't resolved until later books. I can't stop writing because I'm caught in the web of having to play out the story as much as my characters are :) .
12) What are your plans for the future?
I've just written a romantic suspense set in 1960 in Lesotho, where I spent my early years and where my father was a district commissioner in a remote, mountainous region. My hero is a bush pilot, like my husband who becomes involved in illegal diamond buying in a rash bid to save the reputation of the district commissioner's daughter whom he loves but who has rejected him because she has her sights set on a glittering society wedding. I'm really hoping my Colonial-Africa set books such as this one, Diamond Mountain, and my work-in-progress, a murder mystery set in a luxury safari camp in the Okavango Delta where I worked in the 90s and met my husband, go somewhere.
Thank you so much for having me here today, Suze and Anniek!
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Review by Suze
It's 1780 and women are supposed to behave in an exemplary way. Celeste will be a married woman soon. She has to marry her cousin Raphael, but there's no spark. They don't have much in common and she doesn't like him very much either, but she has no say in the matter. Raphael likes spending time with his friends more than spending time with his fiancée. His good friend Harry is supposedly rich, but there's something not right in his life. He disappears and there are rumors that Celeste was involved with him.
Lord Peregrine agrees to take on a wager that might make things difficult for Celeste. His sister was supposed to marry Harry, so he wants to take revenge for her sake. Celeste is easy on the eye and he doesn't mind getting involved with her at all. Only when he gets to know her a little he thinks she's far too kind and innocent to have done something so terrible. Celeste is interested in him and he plays a dangerous game with her. Only when things are becoming serious he doesn't know if he can really trust her or not and that while she wasn't supposed to be able to trust him. What really happened to Harry and which part did Celeste play in his disappearance?
Wicked Wager is a great novel about a lord who is bored and likes playing games, especially when there are women involved. Celeste is sweet and a little bit naïve. She's in the middle of a situation that she doesn't understand at all, but she stands up for herself and tries to change her destiny. Lord Peregrine doesn't have any good intentions at first. I liked him from the start though as he isn't all evil. He has a heart, only he's hiding it, that made him an interesting character. The game playing is fun and the romantic aspect is great, it's a combination that works really well.
I enjoyed reading Wicked Wager very much. The story is unusual, there's an element of mystery that I loved and there are plenty of fascinating characters. I think Beverley Eikli knows how to tell a romantic story with a great twist. I loved how not everything is as it seems. It was also nice to read about society life in 1780. I liked this story a lot and if you love the genre this is definitely a book you should read.
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