Jeannie Ruesch in The Dungeon

It’s been a while since we’ve had a guest in The Dungeon, but Mistress Heidi & I are delighted to have the incomparable Jeannie Ruesch join us today! smilie#13

Jeannie is not only a talented historical romance author, but she is also a web designer…nay, THE web designer who created out little home away from home, & WIPs and Chains.  A big round of applause, please!  After all, this is the most awesome website/blog in the web-o-sphere. smilie#8

But today, we’ll be focusing on Jeannie the writer, not Jeannie the design wizard. smilie#5

Jeannie Ruesch wrote her first story at the age of the six, prompting her to give up an illustrious, hours-long ambition of becoming a Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader and declare that writing was her destiny. The journey toward destiny held a few detours along the way, including a career in marketing and design. Her first novel was published in 2009, but the darker side of life has always captivated her. So after a dinner conversation with friends about the best way to hide a dead body, she knew she had to find a way to incorporate suspense into her writing. (The legal outlet for her fascination.) Today, she continues writing what she loves to read—stories of history, romance, and suspense. She lives in Northern California with her amazing husband (who cooks, cleans and edits!), their son, and a lab named Cooper.  You can visit Jeannie at or find her regularly on Twitter or Facebook.

So please join me in giving Jeannie a big WIPS and Chains welcome while we strap her to The Rack & ask her some of Mistress Heidi‘s most probing questions… smilie#3

What is your favorite color?  Teal blue.  It’s such a rich, gorgeous tone. Of course, I’m also a sucker for deep, dark red—there’s a wall in my living room that stands as testament.

Favorite song?  “The Way You Look Tonight,” sung by Frank Sinatra. In fact, I once proclaimed that I’d marry the man who serenaded me with that song. (And I did! smilie#29 )

Favorite movie?  My favorite movie…while I can’t explain what I love about it…is Twister with Helen Hunt. I’ve seen it probably 50 times or more and I love every line. An equal contender would be Meet Me in St. Louis with Judy Garland. My grandmother introduced me to that movie when I was a little girl, and it’s been a favorite ever since. I watch it every Christmas.

And of course, favorite book?  Whitney, My Love by Judith McNaught. I love Ms. McNaught’s ability to create such flawed, wonderful characters and weave a beautiful story around them.

What was the first book in your chosen genre that you remember reading, or that made you want to write the same?  My genre is historical romantic suspense, so it’s really a mush of books that inspire me. My first historical romances were by Kathleen Woodiwiss and Bertrice Small. Kathleen Woodiwiss’s Come Love a Stranger and A Rose in Winter had such a great mix of history, mystery, and romance, I was instantly enamored. I wanted to write like that; I wanted to evoke that mix of suspense, uncertainty, laughter, tears… I’m also a tremendous fan of Lisa Gardner, who writes the best suspense/thrillers I’ve ever read. I admire her ability to not hold back, to go where the story takes her, no matter how gritty it is.

What do you think of Heidi?  She’s great, right?  Heidi who?  Just teasing!  Heidi was one of my favorite clients when I did design work.  In fact, she was one of my very last clients because I didn’t want to stop working with her. Designing for her was so much fun!  (Intrusive note from Mistress HeidiIn fact, Jeannie is so enamored of Heidi that she remains on-call & still does the occasional bit of emergency website work when absolutely necessary.  Yes, we have that mesmerizing effect on people… smilie#10 )

How did you get started writing?  I wrote my first story when I was 6. I remember the collegiate-lined paper on my desk, the number two pencil in my hand and setting that pencil down after writing “The End.” The feeling that I had in that moment was one of the purest moments of joy I’ve ever felt. I ran down the hallway to share my story with my parents, who were wonderfully excited and supportive. From that moment on, it’s been my dream and I never gave up.

Tell us a little bit about your first (or most memorable, if you prefer) sale.  My first sale was to the small publisher, Wild Rose Press. I actually submitted to them because I had heard that they gave feedback when they rejected a manuscript. I was looking for feedback to improve my writing. Lo and behold, I got an offer instead. I was in my living room when I got the email (which showed up in my SPAM folder, of all places.) I did quite the Snoopy Happy dance. It was a lifelong dream realized.

Fill in the blank—If you like [blank], you’ll love Jeannie Ruesch!  If you like popcorn, we’ll get along famously.  But I’m guessing that’s not what Heidi means. smilie#31  Hmm…let’s go with, “If you like stories of unexpected mystery and romance, then you’ll love Jeannie Ruesch.” Now that I sound sufficiently full of myself…  I write in a genre that has one very big expectation—a happy ending for the hero/heroine—so I strive to write stories that will keep the reader guessing. I had a reviewer write that she began to question whether the hero/heroine could end up together—it was one of the best compliments I could have received.

Tell us about A ROGUE’S DEADLY REDEMPTION and why we’ll love every word!  When I wrote A Rogue’s Deadly Redemption, one of the questions I wanted to answer was what happens if we could shed our emotional baggage? Would our experiences still define us? A Rogue’s Deadly Redemption is, at its core, a story of love redeemed. My hero and heroine are married, and the story starts with my heroine, Lily, making a bold choice to move away from her husband during an era when marriage wasn’t usually about love, and women were expected to abide by their vows.

Before she can leave, however, her bad-boy husband, Robert, is in an accident and loses all memory. This gave me a chance to explore who Robert would be without the deep, dark pains in his life that had defined his choices.

Here’s the “official” cover copy:

Scandal forced Lady Lily Melrose into an untenable decision: marry the man she wanted but who wanted someone else or leave her home for America. She gambled and stayed. Now, almost four years later, Lily is ready to gamble again—on a future that means leaving her neglectful, absent husband behind. But when a deadly adversary threatens them both, Lily realizes how little she understood about her husband—and her marriage. She’s faced with another impossible choice: leave the man she loved to face certain death or stay and fight to help him deliver on a promise he no longer remembers.

Robert Melrose was raised as the forgotten third-born son with no future—without even the label of black sheep to keep him respectable. Not content with obscurity, he cultivated his own path to power, aligning himself with London’s underworld, where betrayal is deadly. But when an accident wipes away his past, Robert can’t remember who he is or what he’s done. What he does know is that his wife, Lily, evokes a strong need inside—a need to prove he’s better than his past. But when his past becomes a present danger, Robert must choose: gain the trust and love of the woman intent on leaving or let her walk away from him and the danger that might cost both their lives.

If your plane crashed in the Andes, would you convince the other survivors to eat Heidi first or last?  Last! Is there any other answer that makes sense? Heidi would be great entertainment—and let’s face it, there wouldn’t be much entertainment to be found otherwise. smilie#9

If you could write anything—whether in the same genre/sub-genre as you’re writing now or another—what would it be?  I have a story that I’ve written the first chapter for—it’s very dark, very gritty, about a young girl who finds the strength to get through something truly horrific. I can’t wait to write that book. The curious thing is that the story hasn’t come to me yet. That first chapter I wrote in an hour, but the truth of what lives behind that chapter is hiding, waiting to show its face. I have no idea what era it’s set in, where it happens, who this young girl grows up to be…I can’t wait to learn where it’s going to go and to write it.

What are you currently working on?  The last book in my Willoughby family series—with a heroine who needs redeeming and a hero who thinks he’s beyond redeeming. Throw in a bit of smuggling, a murder mystery and mayhem, and it’s shaping up to be a very, very interesting mix with these two.  After this series, I’ll begin one set in a small town in America. Each book will touch on the lives of the residents of this town, in different eras, with a mystery about the town that binds them all. I’m excited to get started on that next!


Leather or lace?  Leather!

Devil or angel?  My husband says I have little bluebirds flying around my head, so I guess angel? (Then again, I kill people in my books, sooo)

Angel food or devil’s food?  Angel food. (I love strawberry shortcake!)

Hemlock or arsenic?  Hemlock. Seems a far more fascinating way to write a death, though not a very pleasant death. (And I’m going with the idea that I’d use it in a story…not that Heidi is asking my preferred way to die.  Then again, we are in a Dungeon…) And hey, hemlock was good enough for Socrates.

Blood, sweat, or tears?  Tears, definitely. I love a good cry. Just show me a sappy Hallmark commercial, and I’m right there.

Boxers, briefs…or commando?  I’m a sucker for boxers.

Cowgirl or missionary? (Hey, get your mind out of the gutter. I was simply asking what you wanted to be when you were growing up. smilie#22 )  Cowgirl, but of course. Nothing better than wearing cowboy boots… smilie#11

That was great, Jeannie—thank you so much! smilie#24

And now for…

THE GIVEAWAY smilie#15

Jeannie has also very generously offered to give away an autographed copy of A ROGUE’S DEADLY REDEMPTION plus a $10 Amazon gift card to one lucky visitor to today’s blog!  So the more you chat, the better your chances to win!

Winner will be announced on Sunday, November 23rd, so be sure to pop back in.  (Attempts will be made to contact the winner, but it’s always smart to see for yourself that you’ve won & take the initiative to contact me on your own.  Then I’ll pass your mailing information to Jeannie & she’ll send the prize directly.)

Jeannie has also asked me to mention that she’s running another contest at her website right now:  She is giving away a Keurig machine, books, and some fantastic coffee by Rogers Family Company.  Who can resist that? smilie#21

Good luck & enjoy chatting with Jeannie! smilie#32


52 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. flchen1 says:

    ROFL! Excellent interview, Heidi and Jeannie! Great to meet you and get to know your writing side a bit more! (We already know you’re a web design goddess 😉 ) Thanks for sharing about your newest, A Rogue’s Deadly Redemption! I’ve always loved redemption stories and this one sounds like it’s definitely going on the TBR! Is this part of a series? And do you still have your first story (as penciled by your six-year-old self?) How neat!

    • Jeannie Ruesch says:

      Hi and thanks for commenting!! smilie#32

      I’ve always loved redemption stories too, and writing about characters with big, fat flaws. They are the most fun. 🙂

      Yes, this is the 3rd book in a series that gets to know the Willoughby family siblings. They do flow consecutively but I believe each book stands on its own, as well.

      And no – I wish I had that story still! I remember it was about a babysitter on Halloween. Even then, I was writing suspense. LOL

      • flchen1 says:

        Ah… I will have to check your backlist out then 🙂 Do you have more in store for the Willoughbys? Do you write full time, or do you squeeze it into the cracks? 😉 And do you work on more than one story at a time? Did you write your first in this series anticipating that it would be part of a series? (Nosy readers want to know 🙂 )

        • Jeannie Ruesch says:

          Whew! I love questions!! Here goes… 😉

          Q: Do you have more in store for the Willoughbys?
          Yes! One more book in store, and this one might prove the most fun yet. It features “that” sister — the one who is snarky, often bitchy and has a hidden reason for it all and her hero, a man who is out for revenge for the murder of his wife. Already, they are fun on the page!

          Q: Do you write full time, or do you squeeze it into the cracks? 😉
          I have a full time job (doing marketing and design), so I mostly write on weekends and evenings. Before this year, I also had a part-time design business. (Now you’re seeing why I had to give up my clients… lol)

          And do you work on more than one story at a time?
          I do. I’m a plotter, so I am usually writing one, editing another and plotting the next. The day job took over my life for the last two months, so I’m battening down on my next book. But plotting for the series to come after this one is done!

          Did you write your first in this series anticipating that it would be part of a series?
          I tend to think in series. When I decided to write SOMETHING ABOUT HER, the first book —I knew it would feature a family of siblings. I love writing family relationships. In fact, every idea in my head is the start of a series. LOL

          (Nosy readers want to know 🙂 )
          I love nosy readers! My favorite kind. 🙂 Thanks for asking. Now for YOU! What do you like to read? What are your fav TV shows? Nosy writers want to know… 😉

          • flchen1 says:

            LOL! I LOVE it! Thanks for being a nosy writer! I definitely love a good series, and sibling ones are especially appealing–something about the family dynamics really lend themselves to some great fun! As for reading, I read pretty widely, but my fave is definitely romance. I started out as a contemporaries only reader, but after stumbling into a historical by chance, I realized that it was a big world out there 😉 Now there aren’t too many subgenres I wont’ read, although I don’t prefer anything too scary (so very intense RS or horror, I tend to avoid) and I don’t love hardcore BDSM… As for TV, there’s very little time for that considering the size of my TBR 😉 Our family did enjoy some stuff together, like The Amazing Race, The Sing Off, Dancing With the Stars, etc… DH watches some dramas, which I sometimes glimpse as I pass by, but I get stressed out and also tend to ask too many questions (since I don’t know what’s going on 😉 ) so that usually doesn’t work out too well 😀

            Looking forward to catching up with your backlist, Jeannie!

  2. DebraG says:

    I loved the interview. The book sounds amazing. Just what I would like to read. Off to visit your website. smilie#32

  3. Donna A says:

    Thanks for the introduction. I am always on the look out for new to me authors. As a former network tech I can appreciate the skills needed in web design and can see how they would translate into writing. I do love a good redemption story especially around the holidays.


    • Jeannie Ruesch says:

      Hi Donna! The turn toward marketing and design was the whole “get a real job” thing that I realized in my twenties. At that time, I hadn’t realized how useful it would turn out to be for me as an author!

      Although, I will say that for all the effort you end up putting into client sites, my own site is always the last thing I focus on. I’m in the process of changing the design now (great timing, right?). lol Heidi was much easier. smilie#26

      • Heidi says:

        My site was only easier because you “get” me so very well. And I’m also clearly quirky to the nth degree…anything that makes me flail around with Kermit arms is a go! smilie#19

        • Jeannie Ruesch says:

          You were easy to get, Heidi. 🙂 I wonder if that means I’m quirky… lol smilie#10

          • Heidi says:

            I think you might be, though you do seem to hide it a little better than I do. smilie#16 To paraphrase what Howard said about Sheldon on “The Big Bang Theory”—I’m looking at quirky in the rearview mirror. smilie#3

            Seriously, tho, I was SO lucky to find you. From the moment we hooked up, you totally got me. It was like you were inside my head, taking out my wishes for a website/blog & slapping them up in full Technicolor. Thank goodness I found you & worked you like a dog before you decided to switch gears. smilie#1

            • Jeannie Ruesch says:

              Well, your website is still one of my favorite designs. 🙂 (I’m sure it has nothing to do with the fact that you were one of my favorite clients….


            • Heidi says:

              But of course—how could it not be? smilie#31

              And I’m flattered. smilie#29 Especially considering I’m usually people’s *least* favorite client/patient, etc. I tend to be a bit…quirky, over the top, annoying… smilie#10

  4. Pamela Cayne says:

    Excellent interview (as always!)! I don’t mean to be all stalker-y on you, Jeannie, but teal blue? Twister? McNaught? It’s like we’re related! 😉

    Seriously, your book sounds so very awesome and will be downloaded ASAP! May many more follow! Happy book birthday! smilie#31

    • Heidi says:

      FYI, Jeannie~ That’s pretty much how Darling Pam began stalking me, so beware… smilie#27

      Just kidding! You know I luvs ya, Pamela! smilie#32 smilie#32 smilie#32 And having so much in common means we can talk endlessly & never get bored. smilie#13

      • Jeannie Ruesch says:

        Anyone who stalks you Heidi must have great taste, so I’m totally on board! smilie#19

        • Pamela Cayne says:

          Well, to be truthful, I actually purchased Heidi. (Novak auction, if the authorities are reading this… 😉 ) smilie#32

          • Heidi says:

            She did; I was her bought & paid for…um, author. Yeah, let’s go with that.

            And I still think of Pam as a stalker in only the best ways. Like Rose on “Two & a Half Men;” sure, Charlie complained about her, but when she stopped hanging around, he went crazy missing her. smilie#5

          • Jeannie Ruesch says:

            The auction is amazing, isn’t it? I was happy to work on that auction for a few years, and participate (both as an author offering up and a buyer!) quite a few years. Brenda is amazing.

            So..uhmm…I don’t remember seeing authors up for bid? 😉

            • Heidi says:

              LOL I volunteered to sell myself for that very good cause. It was a one-on-one lunch at RWA, & I have to tell you, I was SO LUCKY to have Pam win me. It could very easily have gone the other way, you know smilie#27 , but she’s fabulous. From the moment we started chatting, even before our RWA lunch, I knew we were going to hit it off. smilie#29

    • Jeannie Ruesch says:

      Another Twister fan!?!? It’s the little movie that everyone loves–and only those of us brave souls admit it! 🙂

      And hey, I haven’t had a good stalker in a while. Welcome! 🙂

      McNaught fan, too? She truly was one of my favorite authors. I’m always on the lookout for others like her.

  5. Fiona Marsden says:

    I don’t drink tea or coffee but I do read books so this competition here is much more to my taste (no pun intended…or maybe a little). Looks like a great story. I love marriage in trouble romances.

    • Heidi says:

      Okay, Fiona, I must know—if you don’t drink coffee or tea…what *do* you drink? smilie#20

      • Fiona Marsden says:

        Soft drink…soda…or water. I have been known to drink hot chocolate to be sociable. smilie#7

        • Heidi says:

          LOL “Hot chocolate to be sociable”—that’s so cute. smilie#14

          So what’s your favorite soft drink? I am crazy for Diet Cherry Coke, but it’s really hard to find these days. Will sometimes settle for Wild Cherry Pepsi, but I *am* a tea drinker, so if I can’t have my #1 choice, I’d rather just stick with iced tea. smilie#25

          • Jeannie Ruesch says:

            I LOVE Diet Cherry Coke. Okay, actually I love Cherry Coke but can’t drink that anymore, so I pretend that Diet Cherry Coke tastes just as good. 🙂

            • Heidi says:

              Same here! Unfortunately, I can’t find Diet Cherry Coke around here anymore. You should see me when I happen to find some—I swear, people around me probably think I’m having an epileptic fit. smilie#19

          • Fiona Marsden says:

            Ginger Beer is my favourite, followed by Sarsparilla. When I’m travelling I drink coke.

  6. Dee says:

    Thank you for visiting the dungeon! The new release sounds very interesting and I will definitely look into your back list. How did you come to choose the historical period? Top 10 favorite books?

    Thank you again!

    smilie#13 smilie#12

    • Jeannie Ruesch says:

      Hi Dee! Thanks for stopping in to visit!

      The new release sounds very interesting and I will definitely look into your back list.
      Thanks! I hope you enjoy. 🙂

      Q: How did you come to choose the historical period?
      I’ve always loved history. It was my favorite topic in high school, I love reading historical nonfiction and of course, historical romance. There are so many eras that I want to write in, but when I thought about what made sense for this particular series, the Regency era fit. Partially because of Judith McNaught and how she wrote the era. I loved her take on it.

      Q: Top 10 favorite books?
      Oh, wow.. hmmm..
      Judith McNaught – Whitney My Love
      Kristin Hannah – Magic Hour
      Lisa Gardner – Hide
      Bertrice Small – Skye OMalley
      Kathleen Woodiwiss – Come Love a Stranger

      Those are 5 off the top of my head… I’ll keep thinking. 😉

  7. Dee says:

    Thank you for the answers! Yeah, it is fun learning about history and imagining what life might have been like centuries ago in a certain place. 🙂

  8. Brooke C says:

    Thanks for the interview, it was so fun to read! smilie#12
    I can’t really handle mystery/suspense, but your book sounds so good that I might have to check it out anyways. smilie#22
    Plus, I LOVE popcorn (too much probably) and strawberry shortcake, so clearly I’ll love your writing too smilie#15

  9. Mary Kirkland says:

    Oh very nice interview! Loved hearing about a new to me author and your book sounds great. I also love what you did with the design of this site, it looks great!


  10. flchen1 says:

    SO true, Jeannie! If we could figure out how to make Hermione’s Time Turner a reality, we’d be sitting pretty 😉 Thanks for hanging out! BTW, I know you mentioned killing off folks in your stories… do you base your characters on real-life inspirations (good or bad 😉 )? Has anyone ever claimed to recognize him/herself in one of your books? (As an aside, are you “out” to your family and friends? If yes, do they read your writing?)

    • Jeannie Ruesch says:

      Howdy 🙂 Oh a Time machine would be so cool, wouldn’t it? As long as we took the mechanic along with us. LOL Where would you go first?

      Q: BTW, I know you mentioned killing off folks in your stories… do you base your characters on real-life inspirations (good or bad 😉 )?
      Weellllll…. I will admit that the villains in my first two books were named after boys I had crushes on in my school years. LOL (but shh, that’s our secret. Thomas and Patrick never need to know.)

      Q: Has anyone ever claimed to recognize him/herself in one of your books?
      Nope. If anything, my characters (including the aforementioned villains) are amalgamations. They might contain a piece of essence of someone, but not usually patterned after them.

      Q: (As an aside, are you “out” to your family and friends? If yes, do they read your writing?)
      Yep! Family, coworkers, all of them. In fact, I went to a parent teacher conference tonight for my eight year old, and his teacher said, so I understand congrats are in order. My son was telling his teachers. So cute! 🙂

      Then there’s the mention that my father was listening to the audio version of my latest book… cue the horror to realize he’d be listening to the love scene, too. smilie#25

  11. Michelle T says:

    Thank you Jeannie for sharing your stories with us! I have old copies of both Whitney, My Love and Come Love a Stranger (among others from each author). I’ll read each once about once a year – have to be careful with the older paper & book spines! I’m so grateful to Mistress Heidi for introducing you to us! A Rouge’s Deadly Redemption sounds A-MAZ-ING – I can’t wait to explore your website smilie#12

    • Jeannie Ruesch says:

      Hi Michelle! Yes, I believe I’ve gone through at least 10 copies of Whitney my Love and Come Love a Stranger. 🙂

      And believe it or not, my website is still a work in progress. LOL One of these days, it will be just right! 🙂

      Thanks for visiting with me! 🙂 Can I just say that Heidi’s buds are AWESOME? smilie#12

  12. Colleen says:

    Enjoyed the post… loved seeing your answers to the Q&A! Going to go visit your site and look around… thanks for sharing! smilie#10

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