Friday, July 29, 2011

Having Fun With Donna MacMeans

My guest is Historical Romance author, Donna MacMeans. Aside from being a lot of fun in person, she writes some fabulous books which make you laugh and sigh. I'm happy to be welcoming her back to Over Coffee. Isn't her cover gorgeous?

Thanks Sia for having me here today.

I had so much fun writing this last book, I’m hoping readers will enjoy it as well.  In particular, I had great fun with my hero, Michael Rafferty, and his sidekick Phineas Connor, a secondary character who I’m guessing will have his own book one of these days.  Michael Rafferty is the muscle of the two.  He’s an Irishman who works for British Intelligence.  He’s well-acquainted with London’s underbelly.  The bad guys that live in the sewers there are well acquainted with his fists.  His best friend and associate, Phineas Connor, is a stage magician and a master of disguise.  I patterned the relationship on James West and Artemis Gordon from the Wild Wild West - the TV show, not the movie.

When I first clicked on the men’s relationship, I thought I’d watch some reruns of that show for a little character study.  Somehow I don’t remember the series being quite as campy as it is on my dvds (grin).  Memories work that way I guess.  I remember my brother and I watching the show after school.  James West was like an American James Bond for the Victorian period.  Remember their private railroad car with all the cool gadgets?  I understand that the show is now considered one of the first examples of Steampunk.
I also learned that the show was cancelled at the height of its popularity because SOMEONE decided it was too violent.  (Remember when James West punched the woman with the knife in the animated segments?)  Robert Conrad was known for doing his own stunts so I imagine the insurance costs to produce the show didn’t exactly aid its longevity.  Anyway, I don’t have to worry about either of these things in my REDEEMING THE ROGUE.  I’m not sure you can say I have a lot of violence in the book, but there are an awful lot of dead bodies.  This book definitely has a high body count.  Fortunately, the insurance cost for fictional characters is eminently affordable (grin). 

Here’s an excerpt so you can get a taste for the relationship of these two:

The vaguely annoying threat of a knife pressed to the small of his back gave Michael Rafferty pause.

“Your valuables or your life,” a guttural voice hissed.  “I reckon a couple of swanks like you two have nice fat pockets.”

Michael glanced at his associate.  Receiving his slight nod, Rafferty turned abruptly, rapping the miscreant’s hand sharply with his walking stick.  The knife fell and slid along the street.  Deprived of his weapon, the thief resorted to his fists but soon discovered he was out-classed there as well.  Rafferty had the man’s face pressed to the side of a well-appointed Mayfair townhouse with his arm twisted in a painful hold.

“Well done.”  His companion applauded.  “You didn't need my assistance at all.”

Rafferty winced, feeling the sting of a cut on his lip.  The bloody bugger had landed one lucky punch.  Blast that it had been the fist with a ring.

“Some of that famous sleight of hand would have been appreciated,” Rafferty said, shaking his hair clear from his eyes.  “Or is that only for the stage?”

His friend, the renowned Phineas Connor master of illusion, laughed.  “My performance on stage is limited to cards and doves.  You’re the one, Rafferty, known for his fists.”  He glanced at Rafferty’s captive.  “At least among the Irishmen that should know better.”

The man squirmed. “Rafferty?  Is that you?”  He swore like a seaman, which —based on his filthy rags — he could have been.  “I swear I didn’t know.”

Rafferty tugged the crook’s arm higher and heard fabric rip.  “Check his pockets.”

While Phineas rummaged through the man’s clothing, Rafferty glanced around the corner of the building to a line of hansoms in front of a stylish townhouse.  Such an elite gathering might offer temptation for the kind of criminal he held captive.  “This is a dapper neighborhood for a wharf rat like you.”

“I was minding me own business until you two came along,” the thief muttered.

Silver glinted in Phineas’s hand, the contents of the thief’s pocket.  Rafferty gave the man a shake.  “A half-crown?  Who else did you rob tonight?”
            “I didn't rob nobody.  That was for a message.  Half now and half when I brings the reply.”

              “What sort of reply did you expect to a knife in the back?” Rafferty tugged the arm, earning a squeal from the thief.

            “The message weren’t for you.  I was to hand-deliver it to a lady, I was.  I thought you two was easy pickings while I waited for her to show.”

            Phineas retrieved an envelope from the crook’s jacket.  No name or address was noted on the front but a blob of red wax sealed the back.  He bounced the letter off his fingertips.  “Nice quality stationery.  Too nice for the likes of a gutter rat.”

            “Who’s the lady?”  Rafferty asked.  When an answer wasn’t immediately forthcoming, he tugged the twisted arm higher.  “Tell me before your arm leaves its socket.”

            “I don’t know her name,” the cutpurse bellowed, his eyes squeezed shut.  “All I know is she’s dressed in green and she’s going to that party of swells.”  He slid his face on the limestone to point the way with his chin.

            “Barnell said…” His eyes widened and his mouth clamped shut. 

You might notice that Rafferty is a little rough around the edges.  As he’s about to be assigned a mission to masquerade as a British diplomat assigned to Washington DC, he’s going to need some sprucing up.  That’s where my heroine comes in.  Lady Arianne Chambers is the  sister to a duke who agrees to transform the rogue into something more convincing for his mission.  It’s sort of a reverse Pygmalion.  All to solve a mystery and catch a killer.

Publishers Weekly neatly summed up the story this way:  Irish rebellion, smuggled guns, and the assassination of American president James Garfield form a lively backdrop for this sweet, sexy, and smartly told Victorian romance.

Romantic Times gave REDEEMING THE ROGUE a 4.5 Top Pick with the comment: [Redeeming the Rogue] is pure joy; funny, sexy and exciting.”

I hope you will give it a try.  I’m running a contest with a Kindle as a prize.  You can find the details at

Plus I’ll give a copy of REDEEMING THE ROGUE to someone leaving a comment that tells me their favorite character(s) from an old TV show.  (Old of course being relative - grin).

Buy: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, IndieBound, Powells 


Before beginning her writing career in earnest, Donna MacMeans kept books of a different nature. A certified public accountant, she recently abandoned the exciting world of debits and credits to return to her passion: writing witty and sensuous romances. Her debut novel, The Education of Mrs. Brimley, won the 2006 Golden Heart for Best Long Historical. Her second book, The Trouble with Moonlight, won the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice award for historical love and laughter. Originally from Towson, Maryland, she now resides in central Ohio with my husband, two adult children and her kitty keyboard companion, Shadow.
Visit her website at


~Sia McKye~ said...

Donna, welcome back to Over Coffee. Pull up a chair, grab some fab coffee and a choice of homemade goodies.

I'm going to have to follow your tour so I can get into that drawing for Redeeming the Rogue.

Donna MacMeans said...

Hi Sia - Loved the pic of Daniel on your site. Love a properly turned out man - no matter the culture. I wonder what's up with that? Is it the image of authority and confidence that's such a turn-on? Hmmm...

Love to see you as I hit the blog tour. I'm frantically trying to get this current WIP out the door so I can focus on Redeeming the Rogue. It's difficult struggling with two totally different storylines at the same time. I need to learn how to multitask!

Susan Gee Heino said...

Great excerpt! I love the gritty feel and the fun banter between the guys. I remember watching The Wild, Wild West as a kid and finding parts of it to be kind of scary. Seeing episodes today is really funny--you're right, Donna, it's campy and fun! What a great place to take inspiration. Maybe I ought to come up with a Regency Gilligan's Island--that was always one of my favorite shows from way back when.

Great interview, Sia and Donna!

Caroline said...

Hey, Donna, great post. Redeeming the Rouge sounds like such a fun read. Can't wait for August 2nd!!

Don't laugh, but one of my very favorite ol' time stars is Little Joe from Bonanza. I always had the biggest crush on him. Yea, that's right. LOL Guess that's why I like to write westerns.

Also wanted to say I love your new website! It's gorgeous!

Cheers! (Hope I win RtR)

Laurie said...

Hi, Donna --

Loved the excerpt! The Wild Wild West was one of my favorite TV shows while I was growing up, and you've captured the banter very well.

Will definitely look for it Aug. 2!

Thanks for putting a few smiles in my day.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hey Donna! Hey Sia!

(Aunty swings by from the Bandit Lair, rooster in tow)

GREAT Excerpt! I'm so excited to have a new Donna MacMeans book to read!

As for old TV shows, Star Trek all the way! The original, of course. ;-) But I'm sure the GR preferred Green Acres.


Nancy said...

Sia and Donna, great post!

Donna, you know I was looking forward to this book, and this excerpt just reinforces that. I love buddy stories (like White Collar, which is wrapping up its summer run on USA Network). I remember The Wild, Wild West. Our family watched it faithfully.

Favorite character from an old TV show? Hmm. Det. Mick Belker from Hill Street Blues, a rough, sometimes crude, but always effective and secretly kind cop. He was brilliantly portrayed by Bruce Weitz.

Or MacGuyver, the improvisational genius and spy who made Richard Dean Anderson famous (and Anderson was pretty cool as Jack O'Neill on Stargate SG-1).

Lt. Col. Samantha Carter, USAF, the scientific genius of SG-1.

As a TV addict, I could go on for a while. But that's three anyway. :-)

VA said...

Yummm...I like my men just a bit uncivilized. This is getting immediately added to my Goodreads list before I forget its awesomeness.

Speaking of old TV show characters, so hard to choose. There's the Man from Atlantis, but honestly, I loved Lee Majors character in the Fall Guy. Hard working, getting banged up and no credit. Top favorite though, and talk about campy, Beau and Luke Duke from the Dukes of Hazzard. All sorts of shenanigans and hearts of gold, they were "just two good old boys never meaning no harm". Probably why even today I have a soft spot for southern men even though my family is definitely Yankee.

Kat Sheridan said...

Oooo, can not WAIT to get my paws on this one! I loved Wild Wild West (I had such a crush on Artemis!) I also had some mad love for Man From UNCLE's Illya Kuryakin. Your rogue sounds very well worth redeeming indeed!

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

Hey, Donna! This book sounds great. You had me at Irishman. :)

Like Nancy, I'm a bit of a TV fan, so I could go on for a bit. But I'll control myself and go with Hickok, The Kid and Lou from The Young Riders, and of course Buffy and Angel from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Donna MacMeans said...

Susan - LOL on a Regency Gilligan's Island - but wait - isn't that sort of like a Regency house party? You know - you could seriously write a book like that. You know I'd line up to read it!

Donna MacMeans said...

Caroline - I LOVED Bonanza!! I had a crush on Little Joe, he was so cute, here's serious laughing...Hoss - he was just so nice!!! One of my favorite episodes is when he falls in love. I got to follow Little Joe to Little House on the Praire (why are all his shows "little"... Hmmmm) but I'm not sure what happened to Hoss.

I did not like Adam. He was too much like my oldest brother - too close to home. But then I modeled my hero in Seduction of a Duke on my oldest brother - so it all works out.

Donna MacMeans said...

Laurie - Thanks so much. I hope you have as much fun reading Redeeming the Rogue as I had writing it!

Donna MacMeans said...

Hey AC (and companion) - thanks for coming by. Did you see that I found the GR's ancestor immortalized at the Metropolitan Museum of Art? Yes, an 18th century golden rooster ala incense burner.

I'm a huge fan of Star Trek. Hmmm...wonder if I should rip my hero's shirt at the shoulder in tribute. My dh and I thought it woud be a great drinking game to watch old episodes and drink when Kirk's shirt got ripped. LOL

Donna MacMeans said...

Hey Nancy - I thought McGuyver was pretty neat. He'd be a great character to put in a book. I'm a Stargate fan as well - and Firefly!

Now there's some great characters to inspire a book or two.

Donna MacMeans said...

VA - I never saw Man from Atlantis - but I remember Man from U.N.C.L.E. Loved Ilya -major hearttrob. He had that vulnerability, you know? Don't think I saw Lee Majors in Fall Guy -- but I do know him from the bionic man! Not sure I could use him in a Victorian - but maybe steampunk LOL. "The Steam Man" Hae to give that one some thought (grin).

Donna MacMeans said...

Kat -

Yay! Another Ilya fan! What was it about him that was so endearing? His accent? His blond locks framing soulful eyes? Hmmm...I'll have to find a photo of him for inspiration purposes.

Donna MacMeans said...

Trish - Oh Buffy the Vampire Slayer!! Loved the movie and TV series. I'm sure that relationship inspired quite a few romantic characters.

Kat Sheridan said...

Donna, I'm not usually fan of blonds, but I do make exceptions. I think it was the accent. Same reason I love Sean Connery and Russel Crowe and Louis Jourdan. And oh yeah, loved McGuyver as well. It was definitely the hair.

Donna MacMeans said...

Kat - LOL on the mullet. I think the attraction was his competency, his ability to concoct a solution with the natural materials on hand. Have you seen the spoofs of the show on Saturday Night Live? Ah, the memories....

~Sia McKye~ said...

I had a crush on Little Joe from Bonanza when I was 7 or 8.

Genie, on I Dream of Gennie. Magnum PI, Loved Thomas. Hawk on Spenser for Hire. Worf and Deanna Troy on Star trek the Next Generation.

To name a few....

Kat Sheridan said...

Oh Sia, how could I have forgetten Thomas Magnum? I almost didn't go on my first date with hubs because he asked me out for a Thurday, and that was mu night to curl up with Magmum PI! (Obviously, hubs did win, but it was close!) And Donna, I love those spoofs. Yes, McGuver was smart, and I liked that about him, but mostly I just wanted to run my fingers through that hair! LOL!

Libby said...

Hi, Donna!
I can't wait to read Rafferty's story b/c I LOVE spy stories. The excerpt is great!

And b/c of that love of spies, my favorite old TV character is, well, two: Ilya Kuryakin from The Man From U.N.C.L.E. I fantasized about him for years! And Emma Peele from The Avengers. I wanted to BE her.

Here's a bonus: The voice over from The Avengers, which I still know by heart: "Extraordinary crimes against the people must be avenged by agents extraordinary. Two such people are John Steed, top professional, and his partner Emma Peele, talented amateur, otherwise known as...The Avengers."

Libby McCord

Dana Fredsti said...

Hmm... the first character that comes to mind is Chekov on the original Star Trek. Hey, I was six or something and he was the non-threatening kid with the Beatles 'do! :-) I also LOVED Wild Wild West!

Donna, your book(s) are must reads now!

Dana Fredsti said...

Libby, Ilya!!! Yes! I forgot about him... He was a honey... and Patrick McGoohan in Secret Agent Man and The Prisoner.

Anna Campbell said...

Waving madly at Donna and Sia! Can I have a cappuccino, please? Although given delicious Irishman Michael, perhaps that should be an Irish coffee. Donna, huge congratulations on the buzz for the book. A Top Pick? Wow! How cool is that?

Donna MacMeans said...

Libby and Dana - I'm loving the nostalgia on the British shows. Loved, loved, loved Emma Peel on the Avengers. Wouldn't you love to be able to wear black leather like that? Well maybe you can, but I can't - LOL
And Patrick McGoohan from The Prisoner. He was a sweetie. I'm not sure I ever really understood that show but I faithfully watched it. I still remember those huge bubbles that would chase Patrick.

Checkov? He was cute but after Kirk I think I was enamored with Bones.

When I was in high school, my best friend and I started a comic strip to alleviate the boredom of history in summer session. We'd take turns drawing the panels. It was a competition about how we (drawn as two gorgeous chicks) were traveling on the Starship Enterprise, Kirk and company would routinely fall in love with us as we once again saved the universe!

Donna MacMeans said...

Speaking of John Steed, does anyone still remember Remington Steele? (big sigh) Now he's a hero to inspire a novel. Even what's-his-face was moonlighting was cool - loved the banter.

LOL now I want to track down DVDs of those shows. One never knows when they might morph into Victorian characters.

Donna MacMeans said...

Hi Anna!

Thanks for stopping by! Yea - that TOP PICK from Romantic Times was a delightful surprise, as well as the Publisher's Weekly review.

You know how it is, it takes so long to get a book out on the shelf, you've forgotten if the book was good or not - Or if you can trust your own suspicions. Good to have it well-received.

Donna MacMeans said...

Sia - I dream of Jeannie - that's a fun one. And Magnum P.I. - Oh Lord that man can wear a mustache!

C.J. Chase said...

Donna, congrats on the release and all the great reviews. May they lead to great sales numbers.

I never watched Wild Wild West. I'd like to think I was too young. But considering we lived in a remote place without cable, before satellite, and with limited (1 channel) antenna reception, it may be I'm too old! I see someone mentioned Dukes of Hazzard, which was on the one channel (CBS) we DID get. It was my brother's favorite, so we watched it every week. (I'm not sure whether my brother -- who grew up to be a rifle-in-the-pickup good old boy himself -- liked the cars or Catherine Bach's short shorts best.) About 10 years ago, dh and I were in NYC and got tickets to see 42nd Street on Broadway. Tom Wopat (Luke Duke) played in the lead role of Julian Marsh. Who knew that guy could sing!

Kat Sheridan said...

Donna, no wonder I like you. We have similar tastes. I swooned over Pierce Brosan (Remington Steele) and Bruce Willis (Moonlighting). I've told my bald hubby that he owes a lot to Bruce Willis for showing me just how sexy bald is (well, him and Patrick Stewart. AGAIN with the accents!)

Jo Robertson said...

Whooo hoooo, Donna! You know I've been waiting for Redeeming the Rogue for quite a while now. I adore Phineas as a secondary character (in the little bit of the book that I was lucky enough to take a look at). I'm glad you're considering giving him his own story.

Oh, and to answer the question, I loved the old TV Maverick, can sing all the lyrics of the theme song and adored both Bart and Brett Maverick!

Donna MacMeans said...

CJ -
Didn't Tom Wopat play in the musical North South? I heard he had a great voice. Dukes of Hazard hit the TV screen in the 80s I believe. I don't think I ever saw a full episode - too busy with babies at the time. The Wild Wild West was on the air in the 60s...way before cable (grin). I'm guessing you were in diapers at the time or maybe really short shorts (grin).

Donna MacMeans said...

Hi Jo - You are a part of this book! I wish i was a fast enough and well-organized enough writer to have gotten your feedback on more than those first seven or eight chapters. Love you bandita!

Donna MacMeans said...

Ah Kat - we have similar tastes in men - sexy, smart, with really good scriptwriters behind them. (grin).

Jo said...

Hey Donna, we Brits don't say bloody bugger, more like bloody sod.

Donna MacMeans said...

Ah well, Jo - You win some, you lose some. Good thing I write fiction (grin).