Roseanna M. White is a bestselling, Christy Award-winning author who has long claimed that words are the air she breathes. She pens her novels beneath her Betsy Ross flag, with her Jane Austen action figure watching over her. When not writing fiction, she’s homeschooling her two children, editing and designing, and pretending her house will clean itself. Roseanna is the author of numerous novels, ranging from Biblical fiction to American-set romances to Edwardian British series. Roseanna lives with her family in West Virginia.
In this interview, Roseanna talks with us about the first book in her new The Imposters Series, titled A Beautiful Disguise.
FF: Can you please tell us a little bit about your new series, The Imposters?
I’d be delighted! The Imposters combines quite a few super fun elements—a glittery high-society Edwardian setting that will appeal to Downton Abbey fans…some tension, suspense, and mystery…a romance (of course)…a sibling relationship that was a real joy to write…and even some circus themes!
FF: In A Beautiful Disguise, readers are introduced to Marigold and Yates Fairfax. Is there anything else readers show know about this interesting sibling pair?
Oh my. Let’s just say that though Yates is now the earl and his sister is a London fashion icon, neither are quite what they seem. These two spend their leisure hours training on the trapeze, the high wire, and the rings and bars. They condition their bodies to do all the stunts that, rather than entertain under the Big Top, help them gather the information they need for their cases. They can get into and out of anywhere—and have fun doing it.
FF: Where did Marigold and Yates pick up the unique skills needed to open The Imposters, Ltd.?
Well, you see, the same entertainments that their father spent their entire fortune on— traveling circuses, acrobatic troupes, theater groups, and the like—were their greatest influences. As children, they literally dreamed of running off to join the circus, but when reality insisted they take on the duties of the Fairfax title and save their beloved estate, they decided to use their very particular skills to help them investigate their own. Their names get them into any event . . . and their ability to scale walls and put on any role through their closet of disguises and costumes ensures they can collect all the details they need.
FF: Many of your books include themes of espionage. What inspired you to write a novel about a sibling pair of private investigators in the upper echelons of London’s high society?
Believe it or not, this one came to me in a dream! I woke up one morning with the story of high-society investigators rolling through my mind. I knew they were called The Imposters. I knew siblings were involved…and another twist you won’t learn until Book 2. I knew they used theater tricks, and maybe some circus skills as well. Then I simply had to figure out, you know, a plot. I decided to draw on some of my usual themes when I learned that MI5, England’s first unified intelligence branch, was formed in the year I’d chosen. Reading up on what espionage was at that point convinced me that there was much room to play here.
FF: Can you share with us some historical context for the setting of the novel? What major events in world history influence the story and its characters?
England and Germany were in the middle of an arms-and-naval race that eventually led to the Great War; Germany had only recently announced a frightful warship, and England had answered with the Dreadnaught. During the months of my story, new legislature was being pushed in England for a major ramp-up of battleship production. Though England’s reigning king was the first cousin of Germany’s kaiser (and Russia’s czar), tensions had never been higher between the countries, and their politics had diverged in some key ways.
Then toss in, ahem, some literary mayhem. One of the most popular authors of the day was William Le Queux, who wrote—you guessed it—spy novels. They were all based on the idea that Germany had secret agents infiltrating England (totally untrue, in retrospect), and it caused a real mania. Every German was reported, and the authorities were flooded with claims of seeing spies at work. It was all nonsense, but it did convince the government to take all their different (and inefficient) intelligence branches—that of the army, the navy, and the police— and combine them into one group: MI5.
FF: What type of research was required to write about this time period accurately?
I’ve learned a lot of the daily life aspects through much reading and studying over the past decade for my other series, but in this one I also got to learn more about the advent of Chanel and haute couture, the formation of MI5, Edwardian circuses, and even finishing schools. I had a blast!
FF: Was there anything that you found particularly interesting in your research that you included in your book?
Something I probably should have known before but had never looked into is the Coldstream Guard. We know them as the stone-faced guards of the palaces. You know, the ones who supposedly won’t flinch or break character no matter what you do. This Guard is, in fact, the most elite of England’s army, kind of like our SEALs or Rangers. They get the palace posting because they’ve earned it through the best training and field service. I decided to make my hero, Sir Merritt Livingstone, a member of the Coldstream Guards, but then relegated him to a desk job because of a lingering bout of pneumonia. But he brought a lot of training and honor to the new position!
FF: Can you tell us what readers have to look forward to in the rest of series?
In the next book in the series, we’ll focus on two other members of the Imposters—the architect who helps them figure out how to sneak into buildings, and the society columnist who not only helped make Marigold famous as “Lady M,” but who also writes up alibis for her, even if she wasn’t really at a particular party. We’ll also still get a peek in Yates’s mind, and Marigold and Merritt are along for the ride, too, as they all work together to save a kidnapped child.
FF: What are you working on next?
I’m just finishing up the second book in this series, and am beginning to brainstorm book 3, which will be about Yates.
A Beautiful Disguise
The Imposters Series #1
Roseanna M. White
Genres: Historical Romance
Release Date: August 22, 2023
In Edwardian London, not all that glitters is gold as a lady and an intelligence officer’s secret mission take them from the city’s dazzling ballrooms to its covert intelligence offices.
Sir Merritt Livingstone has spent a decade serving the monarch in the field, but when pneumonia lands him behind a desk in the War Office Intelligence Division just as they’re creating a new secret intelligence branch, he’s intent on showing his worth. He suspects an aristocrat of leaking information to Germany as tensions mount between the two countries, but he needs someone to help him prove it, so he turns to The Imposters, Ltd. No one knows who they are, but their results are beyond compare.
Left with an estate on the brink of bankruptcy after their father’s death, Lady Marigold Fairfax and her brother open a private investigation firm for the elite to spy on the elite. Dubbed The Imposters, Ltd., their anonymous group soon becomes the go-to for the crème of society who want answers delivered surreptitiously. But the many secrets Marigold learns about her peers pale in comparison to her shock when she and her brother are hired to investigate her best friend’s father as a potential traitor.
Lady Marigold is determined to discover the truth for her friend’s sake, and she’s more determined still to keep her heart from getting involved with this enigmatic new client…who can’t possibly be as noble as he seems.
Buy A Beautiful Disguise from the FF Store HERE!
Buy A Beautiful Disguise from Amazon HERE!amazon.com/dp/0764240927/?tag=familyficti09-20″target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>HERE!