Monday, March 30, 2015

Review & Author Spotlight: The Courtesan Duchess (Wicked Deceptions #1) by Joanna Shupe

"I wonder if you truly possess the skill to back up your arrogance."
His eyes heated to liquid silver. "If you find a private alcove, I'll happily demonstrate my abilities before the end of the performance. After all, it's only fair to know what you're getting" 

Before I begin my review of Joanna Shupe's debut novel THE COURTESAN DUCHESS, I need to first say that this book is one of the best debuts of the year and I am not saying that lightly. Joanna Shupe is eloquent and entertaining and her voice is relevant. I cannot wait for more from her.

Having been tossed aside soon after her marriage at the tender age of sixteen by her equally immature husband, Julia, the Duchess of Colton isn't going to take it anymore, and with good reason. Julia is in need of conceiving an heir to the Colton dynasty and quickly, for she has her estranged husband's cousin is in hot pursuit of his title. In an effort to thwart Templeton's actions, Julia sells her jewelry and hires premiere courtesan Pearl Kelly to assist her in seducing said husband. Julia transforms herself from the quiet and forgotten Duchess of Colton into Mrs. Juliet Leighton, temptress extraordinaire who follows Nicholas Francis Seaton, the seventh Duke of Colton to Italy where he has been entertaining himself as of late.

When Nick sees the seductress he has no idea she is the wife he abandoned eight years prior. He is however fascinated by the creature and determined to have her. Colton was never destined to become Duke, but when his brother died suddenly after a scandal involving Nick, his father attempted to bring Nicholas in line and part of that control was having him marry Julia. The Depraved Duke as Nick is known by the ton, wants nothing to do with England or his wife. He would rather her find other distractions while he finds his own. 

Colt begins his chase to have Juliet, for the obvious desire they share for one another will not be dashed. At first, Julia/Juliet is clearly out of her element, even with the lessons she has prepared herself with, but soon she catches on. She must remember that Colton is a means to an end, preferably an end with her living out her existence in peace as a mother.  That means to an end could be so much more if the Duchess and the Duke just take a good look at one another inside. 

THE COURTESAN DUCHESS by Joanna Shupe is not to be missed. A wonderful story with so many twists and turns, it is clearly for the discerning reader. Watching the progression Julia and Nicholas go through to become the couple they were meant to be is a glorious challenge so brilliantly brought to light by Ms. Shupe. Having become so thoroughly captivated by THE COURTESAN DUCHESS, I am eager to dive in to the next book in the series THE HARLOT COUNTESS.


        Tell us a little bit about yourself. 
I am a historical romance author by night. By day, I am the communications coordinator for a non-profit. I live in New Jersey with my two little girls and my amazing husband.
I grew up in Ohio, went to college in Florida, and spent the first six years after college in Chicago before moving to New York City. I’m so glad I had the opportunity to live in so many different places and meet all kinds of different people. It’s made me a better writer.

         Tell us how The Courtesan Duchess came to be.
I wanted to write a reunion story, which can be tricky. There has to be a good reason that the two are not together, with transgressions that the reader can overcome in order to like the character and root for the happily ever after. But I needed the hero to be bad, just an unredeemable rake that had a long way to go before she would finally take him back. That’s why THE COURTESAN DUCHESS opens the way it does, because I wanted the first glimpse the heroine had of the hero (after 8 years of “marriage”) to be completely shocking to her.

       What are you currently working on?
I’m working on my next series, The Knickerbocker Club, which is set in 1888 New York City during the period called The Gilded Age. It’s the era of robber barons, lavish parties, giant mansions, and the explosion of technology and industry that made our country what it is today. It’s my favorite period in history, and I’m so excited for readers to take the journey with me. All four heroes will be robber barons, the bad boy billionaires of their day.
The first full-length book, MAGNATE, should be out in May 2016, but there will be an e-novella, TYCOON, sometime in early 2016.

         Did you always want to be a writer? If not, what did you want to be?
I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I went to college and received a journalism degree. My plan was to be a sports writer. That didn’t pan out, but I never stopped writing. My very first manuscript was written right after I graduated college, while I was still waiting tables.

          Who was your favorite character to write and why?
My favorite character to write was Quint, a good friend of the Duke of Colton and the hero of the third book, THE LADY HELLION. Quint is socially awkward but a genius. He refuses to have a valet, so his clothes are rumpled and mismatched. If he’s involved in a project, he goes days without eating. He also says whatever he thinks, regardless of how it might be perceived by others. I had to research a LOT for his book, because I’m nowhere near as smart as he is, but that part was fun.

       Who are your role models/favorite authors? If so, who?
I started reading historical back in the day of Johanna Lindsey and Amanda Quick, so those are some of my favorite books. Eloisa James was a revelation for me, as were Joanna Bourne and Sarah MacLean. Their stories are so well crafted.
Sabrina Jeffries is one of my favorite historical authors as well, and she is so consistently good that it’s scary. Meeting her was a lot of fun, and she was very generous with her time as well as gave me great advice.

          Where can you fans meet you?
Where can’t I be found, is the better question! My favorite place to hang out is Twitter (@joannashupe) but I can be found on Facebook (, GoodReads ( and Pinterest ( My website ( contains all kinds of goodies for readers, like character profiles, book notes, and deleted scenes. Also, you can sign up for my newsletter there. I don’t send it often, only when I have news to share, and my subscribers get special perks like advance peeks and contests.
In person, I’ll be at the RT Convention in Dallas from May 13-16, and also at the RWA Conference in New York City from July 22-25. Please, stop by and say hi if you see me!

*SIDE NOTE*  Joanna will also be at Lady Jane Salon in Lancaster, PA on May 31 and the #BOC Beach BBQ Bash on Long Island after the RWA and we are very excited to have her!  

           What are you reading?
I read all the time and usually more than one thing at a time. Right now, I just finished Annabeth Albert’s adorable debut m/m romance, SERVED HOT. I’m in the middle of Jennifer McQuiston’s HER HIGHLAND FLING novella, re-reading Edith Wharton’s THE AGE OF INNOCENCE, and critiquing a friend’s romantic suspense manuscript.

       What is next for you?
I’m not sure what I’ll do after the Knickerbocker series wraps up. A lot depends on whether readers get behind the series. If they do, I’d love to stay in that time period. I have an idea for a contemporary I’d like to write as well. So we’ll see!

       What would you like readers to know about you?

The goal for me as an author is to write a book that is like a fun-filled, fast-paced roller coaster. (But a sexy roller coaster, if there is such a thing.) Those are the kind of books I love. Also, while I love history, I’m not perfect. Any errors in the books are mine.