Today, WinterHaven is excited to spotlight Leigh Talbert Moore by sharing a review of her new novel Rouge, as well as an interview that offers some insight into her recent release and her upcoming projects. Enjoy!!
Published: November 11, 2012
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes&Noble | Kobo | Smashwords
Trapped in the underground theater world of 1890s New Orleans, Hale Ferrer has only one goal: escape. But not without Teeny, the orphan-girl she rescued from the streets and promised to protect.
Freddie Lovel, Hale's wealthy Parisian suitor, seems to be the easy solution. If only his touch could arouse her interest like Beau's, the penniless stagehand who captures her heart.
Denying her fears, Hale is poised to choose love until an evil lurking in their cabaret-home launches a chain of events that could cost her everything.
Rouge by Leigh Talbert Moore was nothing short of fantastic!! I really enjoyed her second book, and having experienced her debut novel, I find it refreshing to learn that she has a ton of talent to share. Rouge is so completely different from her first story The Truth About Faking that you would never guess these two books were written by the same author. I find that highly inspiring when an author can deliver two completely different voices, but still maintain that element of authenticity to her writing. Loved it!!
The setting for Rouge takes place in the French Quarter of New Orleans where danger is waiting at every turn. Hale is an actress/dancer/singer for the cabaret, and she's committed to keeping thirteen year old Teeny safe from the threats that face this little girl who demonstrates no talent for the stage, and is therefore destined for the brothel. When Hale meets Freddie, a rich partisan that admires her performance and becomes infatuated with her, she clings to the hope that he can save her and Teeny from their dire situation. But as life would have it, she falls for a poor stage hand Beauregard Faire (Beau) who can only afford to offer her love and passion. Hale becomes torn between a life that would deliver her and Teeny safety and comfort versus one that her heart cannot ignore.
First off, I do have to caution that I would categorize Rouge more as New Adult (17+) rather than Young Adult due to a couple of scenes that unfolded in this book. I have to point out, however, that it was clear Moore refused to sacrifice the integrity of the storyline by softening the events that unfolded. They were clearly included to demonstrate the main character's desperate situation, so a mild warning about content seems appropriate.
Next, I have to admit that I really enjoyed the entire cast of characters that made up this story. I loved the relationship between Hale and Teeny, especially how Hale’s motives and actions solely revolved around protecting this little girl. To see the sacrifices Hale was willing to make for Teeny’s safety really pulled at my heart strings and added an emotional punch to their story. I was truly torn between Freddie and Beau because they both clearly loved Hale. However, where one can offer her and Teeny the life they’ve always craved for, the other can only afford to offer Hale his love.
The secondary characters to this book all played an integral role in bringing this story to life. Roland was probably my favorite next to the main cast. I loved the complexity of his character and most of all his willingness to sacrifice his happiness and safety for Hale. The relationship between Roland and Hale was authentic in that there were no hidden motives between these two; they simply cared for one another like family and were willing to spare their comfort for the other. Gavin and Guy were equally frightening to me, but where one simply wanted to fulfill a promise at any cost, the other was clearly out to satisfy his cruel and wicked appetite at another’s expense. They both had a disturbing creep factor, and I never let my guard down when they entered the scene.
Overall, I felt the writing was engaging and the pace never seemed to slow down, which only kept me furiously turning the pages for more of this awesome story. The ending left me craving for more and I can’t wait to see what life holds in store for Hale, Freddie and Beau. Great story that shouldn’t be missed!
Author InterviewFor those that have not had the opportunity to read Rouge quite yet, how would you describe your most recent novel in a nutshell?
Hale and Teeny are two orphan girls living in 1890s New Orleans. Hale is a singer/dancer at a theater that’s also a front for prostitution. So she’s trying to get them out of there by conning Freddie (a rich Parisian) into proposing to her. Then Beau is hired to work at the theater, and she falls in love with him. After that, it’s just problems, problems, problems... LOL!
Rouge is significantly different from your debut contemporary The Truth About Faking. Can you share with our readers what inspired you to write this novel?
I wrote TTAF about a year before I wrote Rouge, and at that time I was in more of a contemporary YA phase. So that’s what I wrote.
I started writing Rouge, I wanted to do something totally different. I wanted to write a lusher and more velvety story, something with lots of drama and heavy romance and an older main character. (At that time, New Adult didn’t exist, so I was kind of breaking new ground.)
I really liked the idea of this older girl promising to protect a younger one and then being tested on whether or not she’ll keep her promise once she falls in love. There’s bargaining, near-misses, passion… I think in addition to being a great love story, it’s also kind of a thriller, yes?
I loved the theater/historical setting you chose for this story! Just curious, what research, if any, did you conduct to make it feel so authentic?
Well, I grew up near New Orleans, so setting was the easy part. I just thought of the city and incorporated all the sights, sounds, smells, etc. New Orleans is an old city. It’s full of history, and a lot of the buildings and streets are much like they were when Napoleon lived there--! I did have to do some research on clothes and customs, though, and most of that was done online and through emailing older New Orleans friends.
If you could put yourself in the cast of Rouge, what role would you play?
Great question! Hmm… I want to say Hale, but wow. She has such a hard time. I guess Teeny has the best deal because Hale works so hard to protect her. Teeny sort of glides through it all like she’s having a fun adventure, and it’s not until about three-quarters of the way in that the curtain’s pulled back and she sees what’s really happening.
How long did it take you to complete Rouge and what was your favorite scene in this book?
I started writing Rouge in September, and it was finished around the end of November. But then I spent another three months doing revisions and fleshing out certain scenes. As for my favorite scene… it would either be the one where Hale and Beau spend the day working in the haberdashery together (I love their conversation and interaction) or their second night together. Those guys are really a great couple.
Finally, can you share with us any current projects you’re working on at the moment?
At the moment I have three projects in the works—! One’s a mature-YA light science fiction set in south Mississippi with lots of cows. The other’s a companion book to TTAF. But depending on how things go, my focus will probably be on Book 2 of this series.
Thank you Leigh for stopping by WinterHaven and chatting with us!!
Thanks so much for having me here, Arlene! And thanks for reading and reviewing Rouge!
THE TRUTH ABOUT FAKING is my debut young adult romance. It's a light, happy book with a hot guy and a little message tucked inside. ROUGE is Book 1 of my Mature YA/New Adult romance series. It's neither light nor happy, but it does have a hot guy. And a cabaret...
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