Monday, July 8, 2019

Blog Tour Q&A: The Portrait by Cassandra Austen

Please join me in welcoming Cassandra Austen to Let Them Read Books! Cassandra is touring the blogosphere with her new historical romance, The Portrait, and I recently had the chance to ask her a few questions about her inspiration and the challenges and rewards of writing. Read on and enter to win a copy of The Portrait!

Lady Catherine, banished to the countryside as a useless girl with a lame leg, got her revenge by playing a dangerous game. And now it will ruin her.

When the old earl dies, his only child feels no sorrow. The earldom will now revert to the crown and Lady Catherine will continue to live life exactly as she pleases. But when she learns that she is the heir to a secret family title, everything changes. Marriage had once seemed unnecessary and out of the question; now it is the only thing she wants. The two men in her life both need her influence and wealth. Whom shall she choose? The kind but secretive Captain Avebury? Or the notorious Sir Lyle, the handsome smuggler? Both men deal very differently with honor. And when Catherine’s secret self-destructs, which man can be trusted to save her?

The Portrait is about a strong woman, foolish decisions, trust, and the definition of honor. Fans of Jane Austen’s independent women will recognize in Catherine a voice which will not be silenced.


Hi Cassandra! Thank you so much for visiting Let Them Read Books! What inspired you to write historical romance?

I’ve loved history and historical fiction ever since I was a kid. The first story I ever wrote was set in the French Revolution! I must have been seven years old, writing on a yellow pad with a pencil. My favorite television shows were historicals. I ended up studying medieval Japanese history in graduate school. So when I finally got back to writing fiction, I knew I wanted to eventually write a historical novel. The Regency period is one of my favorite eras, not only because of Jane Austen, but because it’s a fascinating period full of political and social tension. I didn’t dwell on politics in The Portrait, but I thought a lot about the fate of women during the period, especially women who were for one reason or another judged to be “not enough” by the men in their lives. As painful as it is to think about, it was the reality of the time, and I try to be faithful to the historical period when I write, even if I’m writing fiction. And I wanted to write a romance because a novel that is all about manipulative men just isn’t a fun read.

What were the most challenging and rewarding aspects of writing The Portrait?

The most challenging thing about writing The Portrait was trying to get the “feel” of the novel right. I love reading Georgette Heyer Regency novels and wanted to give the reader a sense of really “being there” the way that she does. But I am American and not British, so I knew I couldn’t just rely on what I imagined to be the right usage and phrasing for my characters. I had an amazing British beta reader with deep knowledge of the Regency era, and she went through The Portrait carefully, looking for anything that wouldn’t make sense in the early 1800s (like which roads one would take to which towns, and whether one would walk or ride to a certain destination). After that I hired a British copy editor to fix my writing on a line-by-line level. We worked really hard, removing historical anachronisms and Americanisms. As far as the most rewarding aspect of writing The Portrait, I would say that it has been hearing Alex Wyndham narrate the audiobook version. When I wrote The Portrait, I never imagined that a trained professional actor would be speaking those words some day! It was quite a thrill, and I still have a hard time believing it!

What does a typical day in your writing life look like?

I simply have to have my coffee first thing in the morning! So I relax and ease into my day with coffee, meditation, and my planning calendar. Sometimes I’ll read or take notes on a nonfiction book, if I want to make sure I get around to it. I’ve found that if I don’t make deliberate space for reading in my day, I get frazzled. So I make sure to read, each and every day. I try to work on my current writing project for a few hours before I head into the zone of email and admin chores, especially since I have an open-door policy with my kids. They’re allowed to interrupt me at any time, for any reason—it’s the homeschool mom in me, my kids are always priority number one. And because they’re competitive swimmers, we’re at the pool every evening, and I take that opportunity to work out and listen to audiobooks and podcasts. I used to follow up with more work in the evenings but I’ve found that leaving more space around my workday leads to better quality creative time the next morning.

What are you working on now?

I have a new book coming out in the fall. It’s called Coming Home to Greenleigh and is a contemporary romance/women’s fiction novel set in New England, where I live. My heroine is a young woman trying to gather up the courage to figure out who she really is and wants to become, even while her ties to her hometown weigh her down. There’s an old flame who returns to town and wants to start things up again, and a new flame who thinks she ought to ditch her old connections and leave. This book is about the pain that we feel every time we are faced with a difficult decision that we know is good for us, and the ties that bind us to old lives that we know can’t last forever. It’s a slow-burn, quiet romantic novel with a lot of New England detail. And I’m current writing the next Regency historical! It’s not a sequel to The Portrait but it’s similar in style and content. I sent a chunk of the middle bit out to my email list and got a really good response; if you’d like to give it a read, feel free to sign up for my email list and I’ll send it out to you!

About the Author:

Cassandra Austen writes historical and contemporary fiction set in both old and New England. She is the author of The Portrait, a historical romance that takes place during the Regency period in England, and Coming Home to Greenleigh, a contemporary New England romance. She lives and works in her 1700s farmhouse in northern New England, but you are welcome to visit her at her virtual home: You can also find Cassandra on FacebookInstagram, and Goodreads.


During the Blog Tour, we are giving away two copies of The Portrait! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules:

– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on July 15th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open internationally.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.
The Portrait


  1. What a great interview! Thank you for hosting The Portrait blog tour, Jenny!

    HF Virtual Book Tours


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