Our first guest author for our “Aural Pleasures” feature is fabulous historical author, Rose Lerner! Her book A Lily Among Thorns is the scintillating story of rags-to-riches Lady Serena Ravenshaw and scorching hot Solomon Hathaway; there’s everything you want in a good Regency romance: crime, espionage, missing heirlooms, and did we mention the scorching hot Solomon Hathaway?
We asked Rose to share with us some of the songs that inspired A Lily Among Thorns, and why. Enjoy!
(And be sure to snag a copy of the book for just $0.99 through September 15th!)
I love that phase of writing a book or watching a show where suddenly every song on the radio reminds me of my hero and heroine, or my favorite TV couple. It’s like being in love: your heart gets so big the whole world starts reflecting it back at you. Sometimes a few months later you scratch your head and think “Why did I think ‘Bad Blood’ was the perfect song for Laurel and Oliver on Arrow?” but at the time, you were in it.
(I’m kidding, obviously. “Bad Blood” is a perfect song for Laurel and Oliver.)
The song that stuck for my historical romance A Lily Among Thorns (in which an embittered ex-courtesan innkeeper and a sweet, unconventional chemist have to team up to save her business—oh yeah, and England—in the weeks leading up to Waterloo) was Billy Joel’s “Don’t Ask Me Why.”
All the servants in your new hotel
Throw their roses at your feet
Fool them all but baby, I can tell
You’re no stranger to the street…
The specifics are weirdly appropriate to my plot, but it’s the tone of the song that really makes it so perfect. He sees through her—but he’s not being mean or gloaty about it. Instead, the song is suffused with acceptance, affection, and joy. When I was trying to find the balance in my story of Solomon taking Serena seriously, while still not buying into all her doom and gloom, this song kept me on track.
When I wrote the first draft of this book (back in the mid-2000s), there were a lot of Regency romances about open-hearted girls teasing brooding rakes out of their Angsty Hero drama. There were NOT a lot of open-hearted men and Angsty Heroines. Heroines didn’t lash out, or fear intimacy, or do Things They Could Never Forgive Themselves For.
In real life, everyone does those things. Not on the scale of romance protagonists, maybe, but we do. Yet songs like Meredith Brooks’s “Bitch” or Taylor Swift’s “Stay Stay Stay” (“No one else is gonna love me when I get mad mad mad”) illustrate just how strongly women get the message that ordinary feelings like sadness and anger (especially anger!) make them monstrous, or at the very least unpredictable-as-the-ocean. Because nice women don’t feel that way.
I wanted to write a Handsome and the Beast story. Instead of the fantasy of healing a broken man via total emotional acceptance of him, I wanted to offer readers (and myself) the fantasy of being healed, of finding someone who looks at the mess inside you and thinks it’s beautiful.
When I dig through my music for songs that fit the book, all my favorites fit that archetype. And yes, they’re all deliriously sappy ballads. A sprinkling of sap has no place in my iPod. Go big or go home! Y’all are just lucky I didn’t put “Bridge Over Troubled Water” on here. Because I thought about it.
Taylor Swift: “Bad Blood”
Billy Joel: “Don’t Ask Me Why”
Meredith Brooks: “Bitch”
Taylor Swift: “Stay Stay Stay”
Drake (featuring Rihanna): “Take Care”
Avril Lavigne: “Naked”
Nicki Minaj: “Right Thru Me”
Beyoncé: “Flaws and All”
Rose Lerner discovered Georgette Heyer when she was thirteen, and wrote her first historical romance a few years later. Her writing has improved since then, but her fascination with all things Regency hasn’t changed. When not reading, writing, or researching, she enjoys cooking and marathoning TV shows. She lives in Seattle with her best friend. You can find her online at her website or on Twitter,