Scandalous Desires, Elizabeth Hoyt’s third Maiden Lane romance, pairs pirate Mickey O’Connor with conservative widow Silence Hollingbrook in the slums of Victorian London.

What led you to focus on this particular odd couple?

I like the hero and heroine of my romances to challenge each other. Who better to challenge a pirate used to having his own way than a strong, morally minded woman? And who better to challenge her beliefs than a man who has never marched to society’s dictates?

How did you develop Mickey into someone Silence could emotionally connect with?

I’m interested in exploring the outer masks that sometimes conceal our inner realities. In Mickey’s case, Silence initially sees only the arrogant pirate, king of his own little corner of London. But behind that facade is the boy who had to fight tooth and nail to become the king. That inner man has his own code of conduct as rigid as any Silence knows, and he’s also deeply emotionally wounded. It’s when Silence sees that Mickey isn’t only a pirate that she starts understanding him—and falling for him.

What inspired you to use an orphanage as a primary setting for the Maiden Lane novels?

Initially the orphanage was to appear only in the first book (Wicked Intentions), but I soon realized that the orphanage had become the emotional center—the heart—of my St. Giles. It’s a necessary balance to the grimness of the poverty and addiction in the rest of St. Giles at this time.

How do you research the settings for your historical romances?

It is kind of ongoing. I did quite a bit of research on gin wars, what was going on politically and socially, for Scandalous Desires. Whenever I am traveling, I spend a lot of time just looking at portraits, what they are wearing, the expression on their faces, their hair. I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and Minneapolis Institute of Art in Minnesota. I also went to the Frick in New York, which is a small museum with a nice, intense collection. They had a few William Hogarths, which are very detailed. I got a couple of books just to look at his engravings. It is not like you ever stop researching, though the things you find don’t always end up in a book.

What are your immediate and long-term goals as a writer?

I think it is to write the best book I can. I’ve made the New York Times, PW, and USA Today bestseller lists, so now I focus on continuing to write books that are good and making sure that each book has a challenge to it. Beyond that, my goal is just to keep on enjoying writing. I am having a very good time.