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A Conversation with Kathleen Bittner Roth, Author of A DUKE’S WICKED KISS (Her Majesty’s Gentleman Spies)

Spies. A duke. Wicked kissing. And apple tarts. Really, what more do you need? 😉


Thanks so much for agreeing to be with us today, Kathleen!

It’s a pleasure to be here, Becky. I’m presently spending six months traveling around the country, and I just left a quilter’s home. I am in awe of you quilters. What beauty you create!

Thank you 🙂


What 5 things should readers know about you?

  1. Right after completing A Duke’s Wicked Kiss, a freak accident left me nearly blind with less than a 50% chance of recovery. Four surgeries later, I have perfect vision, thanks to a miracle worker of a surgeon in Budapest, Hungary. With horribly impaired vision, I revised and edited A Duke’s Wicked Kiss, and managed to write four more books. All but one of them are to be released in 2014.
  2. I landed in Budapest under dire circumstances but ended up falling in love with the city and remained.
  3. I’m a pantser, meaning I do not plot my books. Instead, I get quiet and centered, and let my characters create the story. In between having them dictate to me, I thoroughly research the setting and era. A Duke’s Wicked Kiss takes place in India and England in 1857 so a great deal of research was required.
  4. I like to spend time at the New York Café in Budapest. It’s where Michael Korda hung out with other artists before he escaped the Nazis and fled to America. He wrote and produced the film Casablanca which was based on his experiences in the New York Café. Give yourself a treat and google the images. What an outstanding coffee house. A visit never fails to stir up my creative juices.
  5. If I ever return to the U.S., I want to write all my books surrounded by animals in a wonderful rescue preserve that I develop.

I did Google it, and it is amazing! Anyone who hasn’t seen it yet, check out their website here and even more pictures here.


Tell us all about your main characters—who are they? What makes them tick? Most importantly, what one thing would they need to have with them if stranded on a desert isle? 😉

Miss Suri Thurston is an illegitimate daughter of a duke and high-caste Indian royal who, despite having been raised under the best circumstances alongside her titled half-sister, is nonetheless an outcast who intends never to marry. Upon her father’s death, she travels from England to her birthplace in India, ostensibly to visit her married sister, but Suri has secret plans. Before she can help others, she feels she must validate her self-worth by confronting her maternal grandmother who’d tossed untouchable infantSurito hungry lions. Suri’s plans are upended when she arrives in Delhi and encounters the man who, ten years prior, left an indelible imprint on her soul with a single, wicked kiss, stolen in her father’s stables. Now himself a duke, he is beyond reach of even her dreams.

The Duke of Ravenswood’s title does not stop this trained spy from completing his mission for Queen Victoria. Or from being riddled with guilt. He blames himself for his wife’s death, for his elder brother’s demise, and for leaving his younger brother in the hands of a brutal father. He dedicates himself to the duty of preventing an uprising of sepoys against the British East India Company, but when Suri appears in a Delhi ballroom with a mission of her own, all his well-intentioned plans run afoul.

As for what they must take on a desert isle if stranded, Suri and the duke would definitely need to have apple tarts with them. Once a reader has read the book she’ll understand why. 😉

Oooh! Now I’m going to have to read it—soon! You had me at “spy” and then added in “apple tarts”. The heck with the rest of the TBR!


Where did the inspiration for this book come from?

I was in Budapest, Hungary when a sudden illness took my husband’s life. As a way of dealing with grief, and all the legalities of losing someone in a foreign country, I would walk the frozen streets of that historic, beautiful city. Three months later, I returned to my flat, set my fingers on the keyboard, looked to the heavens and started writing. All I knew was that I needed to write something historical, far removed from what I had to deal with on a day-to-day basis. I also needed a happy ending. A Duke’s Wicked Kiss is what flowed out of me like warm honey off a spoon. What a healing balm that was!

It’s wonderful that you could channel your grief into something so productive. Now that I reflect on it, I guess I did something similar—I started a quilt on my husband’s birthday, the year that he died. I did hardly anything else until it was done, and it’s still one of my best, I think.


How long have you been writing, and what (or who) inspired you to start?

I’ve been completing actual manuscripts since 2009, but as a child, I used to write and tell stories to my siblings to lull them to sleep. My mother was my inspiration. She and I were the readers in the family. One day, she shoved a book across the table and said here, you should write these. I know you can do it. The book was by Lavyrle Spencer.

That’s fantastic! (Although I’m ashamed to say I haven’t read any Lavyrle Spencer—yet!)


What do you like best about being a writer? What is the most challenging part?

I love that stories pop into my mind and roll around like water in an eddy, with new and unexpected characters and circumstances showing up all the time. The most challenging aspect for me is that I am dyslexic. Thankfully, I am a fast and good typist so I generally write with my eyes focused on a wall somewhere.



What are you working on right now? What can readers look for from you in the next year?

I’m writing two books at once (three if I can get away with it). The Seduction of Sarah Marks that released in June is book one of Those Magnificent Malverns. Each member of this quirky, fun family deserves a book of his or her own. Book two should emerge in late winter or early spring. A Duke’s Wicked Kiss is book one of Her Majesty’s Gentlemen Spies. I am currently on chapter three of book two. I am also working on a WWII story. I wish I didn’t have to sleep!

Tell me about it! Sleep is so overrated…a lot to look forward to. Can’t wait!


What authors and/or books have inspired you?

I love the classics. From a young age, I was in awe of the mere construction of those authors’ works. I was eight-years-old when my sister gave me two leather-bound books for Christmas: Pride and Prejudice and Wuthering Heights. I stepped back in time with those two books (I still have them) and have loved historical novels ever since.

What a fantastic present!


What are you currently reading? What are your thoughts about it so far?

Like writing more than one book at a time, I am reading two books at once: The Bloodletter’s Daughter (A Novel of Old Bohemia) by Linda Lafferty. It’s a gritty, gripping novel based on a true story of the Hapsburgs and a wildly insane prince. I am also reading No Good Duke Goes Unpunished, this year’s Rita winner in the historical category by Sarah MacLean. It, too, is rather gritty. Both the heroine and hero are rather dark as well, but the story is good.

I read Sarah MacLean’s! I agree—great characters 🙂


If you had to “sell” this book in a single Tweet, what would you say?

5 star review says it should be a classic.#historicalrom. On a secret mission, a proper duke falls for an improper daughter of an Indian royal and British noble.

Great job! I’m so glad you could be with us today, Kathleen!


About the author:

Kathleen Bittner Roth creates passionate stories featuring characters faced with difficult choices, and who are forced to draw on their strength of spirit to overcome adversity and find unending love. Her own fairy tale wedding in a Scottish castle led her to her current residence in Budapest, Hungary, considered one of Europe’s most romantic cities. However, she still keeps one boot firmly in Texas and the other in her home state of Minnesota. A member of Romance Writers of America®, she was a 2012 Golden Heart® finalist.


About the book:

Miss Suri Thurston knows the pain of abandonment. Intent on confronting the grandmother who tossed her to the lions, she travels from England to her birthplace in India. Her plans run afoul when she encounters the man who, ten years prior, left a mark on her soul with one stolen kiss. But he is a duke, and far beyond the reach of even her dreams.

The Duke of Ravenswood, secret head of the British Foreign Service, has no time for relationships. His one goal is to locate and eliminate key insurgents involved in an uprising against the British East India Company before it’s too late. But when Suri appears in Delhi, his resolve is tested as he finds his heart forever bound to her by the one haunting kiss they shared once upon a time.

With Suri’s vengeful Indian family looking for her death, and insurgents intent on mutiny tearing their world apart, can their love rise above the scandal of the marriage they both desperately want?

Goodreads link

Entangled Publishing link

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