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Guest Author: Janet Mullany & Giveaway!

Janet

I’m very pleased to welcome Janet Mullany to the blog today for an interview.  Janet writes everything Regency–from Regency vampires to hilarious and accomplished “Raucous Regencies.”  She’s also well-versed on a number of period topics, such as the life and role of servants in the Georgian era, and the history of black and Jewish populations in Regency London.

Welcome to the blog, Janet!

You’ve written Jane Austen Vampire novels, raucous Regencies, hot historicals, and contemporary erotic romances.  How do you keep all these genres from colliding in your head?

I really don’t! I have this nasty suspicion I write the same thing all the time. There’s a certain amount of overlap–my two Austen paranormals, Jane & the Damned and Jane Austen: Blood Persuasion derived from the research I’d done on the Regency, and in the raucous Regencies I let my funny self rip. My agent persuaded me I had a contemporary voice, although I’ve never been that convinced of it. It’s certainly not an American voice, but neither is it a contemporary English voice, which is why writing hot historicals is a natural for me. As for the heat level/eroticism, I’ve never held the industry view that explicit language = erotic writing. In some ways and in some scenes I think my raucous Regencies have the greatest heat factor–with massive apologies to the readers who applauded me for my courage in not including any of that nasty sex stuff. It’s most certainly there!

Jane Austen Blood

Before you became a writer you were an archaeologist, a classical music radio announcer, worked in the arts, and you were also a bookseller and editor.  How have these other careers shaped your work as a writer?

I’ve always been one of those people who’ve never known what they want to do when they grow up. So I developed this odd skill set–being able to shovel clay ten feet (archaeology, although I don’t think I could do it now), lift 50# in high heels (the arts–it’s amazing how much time you spend hauling around boxes of stuff), and talk quite happily into a microphone (not a skill that translates into anything else, other than being able to think on your feet). But almost all of these jobs involved having to write, sometimes because no one else could or would. The other main factor in all my odd careers was that I always found time to read and that’s what made me into a writer. I discovered that I could put stories together and invent characters on a stupendously boring excavation, the last one I worked on, which was quite some time ago. We spent weeks troweling huge areas smooth in a field in the middle of nowhere, occasionally turning up a chip of pottery, and you had to do something to entertain yourself. But I didn’t do anything about it until years later. At the time I thought it was probably some sort of minor mental disorder.

You have a new book out called A Certain Latitude (I love all the implications of that title!).  What’s it about?

It’s a substantial rewrite of a book published in 2007 called Forbidden Shores which was way ahead of its time in its filth level. The book never really worked and so when I got the rights back I decided to give it another try. A Certain Latitude was my first choice of title (I love the title too!), but quite honestly it was a book the industry didn’t know how to market. It’s about sex and abolition (my shorthand): In 1800 Clarissa Onslowe seeks to redeem herself with her estranged abolitionist family by publishing an account of slavery on the island dominated by powerful estate owner “March” Lemarchand. She doesn’t anticipate falling in love with him, or becoming involved in a triangle with the restless, lusty Allen Pendale, who is on a quest for his own identity. On the island where sugar rules love isn’t always sweet and nothing’s more bitter than falling in love with the one who can’t love you back.

Compared to most Regencies, this book has an unusual setting—on the high seas and in the West Indies.  How did the setting affect the story?

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To a certain extent, it IS the story. My original plan was to set the book entirely in England, and concentrate on the conflict created by those who wanted to end the slave trade which was certainly the mainstay of the economy and created the great wealth of the Georgian era. It was a very divisive issue. My editor wanted me to set it in the Caribbean which I didn’t want to do because then I’d have to write about slavery. It wasn’t a romantic or exotic setting in this context. I didn’t want readers to anticipate a lovely romance on a pristine beach etc. The voyage out went on–and maybe still does–too long. I chopped out an entire chapter which is on my website. Naturally, heavy sigh, it was my favorite chapter. But I loved the idea of two people forced together in less than ideal circumstances and in a very confined space, learning about sex and love together.

What’s up next in your writing world?

When I was rewriting the book I began to wonder what would happen to the two main characters after having had such an adventurous sex life. It’s set seven years later and is called A Certain Proposition. (I guess I’d better finish it now!). It should come out in February if all goes to schedule.

Thanks so much for having me visit. It’s a great pleasure!

Readers, Janet has a question for us: “returning to the topic of settings, I’d like to ask what you consider a romantic setting for a book.“  One person who answers will win a Nook or a Kindle copy of the book!  And read below for a sexy and exclusive excerpt from A Certain Latitude.

Eyes almost shut, Clarissa slowed her breathing and decided to enjoy the sight of Mr. Pendale preparing for bed.

He sat on his box of belongings, which Clarissa had asked Peter the ship’s boy to move into the cabin, along with the bootjack. He eased off his boots and tossed them onto the upper berth, stood, stretched and hit one hand against a beam. Swearing softly under his breath, he stripped off his coat and waistcoat. In his shirtsleeves, he paused, face thoughtful, and untied his neck-cloth, drawing the creamy length of cotton from his shirt, and lifted one hand to unfasten the placket. A curl of black hair, similar to the dusting of hair on his hands and forearms, became visible as he undid the buttons.

She wondered if he intended to sleep in his shirt, and her question was answered when he stripped the garment off over his head, hunching his back, arms outstretched. With a shiver of delight she saw his chest, as dark-pelted as that first curl of hair had promised, the slick of hair under one arm as he stood over her to throw his shirt onto his berth. His stockings were good, serviceable gray wool, gartered with plain black ribbon, and she shut her eyes again expecting him to bend to remove them.

Instead he moved away—she felt his warmth retreat—and through half-closed eyes, she watched him rest one foot on his box of belongings, lean over, and pull at the black ribbon, drawing the knot untied with great care. He shook the ribbon out, stuffed it into his breeches pocket, then bent again to roll the stocking down and off. He stumbled a little as the ship dipped and stood, knees slightly bent, the bone of his bared shin sharp in the lamplight, swaying with the movement. She’d never seen a gentleman’s bare foot before, and it was somewhat disappointing that his was like anyone else’s, but broad and strong like the rest of him. His skin glowed gold; he sighed and scratched his chest while his other hand lowered to the fall of his breeches. His hand lingered, resting as though pointing the way to the noticeable masculine bulge, before he unbuttoned the top button on each side, and his breeches slid a little onto his hips. More golden skin, the dark eye of his navel, were revealed as the flap fell forward.

Did he know she watched? Was he performing for her? She squeezed her thighs together, tingling and aroused.

He lifted the other leg, bent, repeated the untying, rolling down, and tossed both stockings onto his bed.  His breeches now; another button loosened, a further slide down his hips, and he paused.

He reached for the lantern as the fingers of his other hand worked the next button.  The cabin plunged into pitch darkness and his breeches slithered down—she heard the rasp of wool on skin. There was a warm gust of air from his body, scented with his musk and sweat as he hoisted himself onto the upper berth—and she took a much-needed breath.

Intrigued?  Here’s a link to a deleted scene that Janet has on her website!

Guest Author: Theresa Romain & Giveaway!!

TheresaRomain

I’m so happy to welcome the lovely and talented Theresa Romain to the blog today.  Theresa writes witty, emotional, truly beautiful Regency-set historical romance.  She’s here today to tell us about the new book in her bestselling Christmas romance series.

Your new book, Season For Scandal, is the 3rd book in your wonderful Holiday Pleasures Series.  What’s the thread that connects these stories?

Vanessa, thank you for welcoming me today!

They’re all set in the same Regency world, so there are continuing characters even though every book stands on its own. The hero and heroine of SEASON FOR SCANDAL—Edmund and Jane—both turned up in the previous Holiday Pleasures book, SEASON FOR SURRENDER. So I hope it’s fun for readers to see these secondary characters get their own chance to find love.

Your heroine Jane Tindall is one of my favorite kinds of heroines, one who must survive on her wits and courage.  What can you tell us about Jane?

Thanks! Jane is a fun character to write because she’s not quite within the bounds of polite society. She hasn’t been raised with much money or many social graces, and so she has a bit of a chip on her shoulder, and a great craving to advance herself. But she’s not a ruthless person by any means! She’s also very loyal and warm-hearted. And for most of her life, she’s given that loyalty and devotion to Edmund, who turns out not to be quite the hero she thinks…

Season

Readers are often very interested in the research we bring to our books.  Did you have to do a lot of research on Regency gambling?  Did you find any other interesting historical elements in which to ground your plot?

At the beginning of SEASON FOR SCANDAL, the characters play vingt-et-un, which is basically blackjack. So that didn’t take as much research as the bits of chess that come into the story later. (I am sooooo not a chess player.) But most research I did was related to social events, like how people bought ices at Gunter’s or what the punishments were for theft. I also researched a few rebellions that became part of the plot: the Irish Rebellion of 1798 and the Peterloo Massacre of 1819. On a more romantic note, I also checked out wedding traditions of the time. Jane and Edmund get married very early in the story, and so their wedding is an important story event.

You have another historical that’s recently come out.  What can you tell us about it?

Thanks for asking! Besides the Holiday Pleasures romances, I’m also working on the Matchmaker trilogy of historicals. The first Matchmaker romance, IT TAKES TWO TO TANGLE,  features a wily widow and a wounded ex-soldier in a Regency take on the Cyrano plot. ITTTT just came out in September, and the next Matchmaker book will be published in May. I’ve seen some preliminary cover art, and it’s gorgeous!

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Thanks for being with us today, Theresa!  Readers, Theresa is giving away a copy of her wonderful new book, A Season For Scandal.  For a chance to win, tell us your favorite part of the holidays–or any holiday–for a chance to win.

SEASON FOR SCANDAL

UNLADYLIKE RISK

Jane Tindall has never had money of her own or exceptional beauty. Her gifts are more subtle: a mind like an abacus, a talent for play-acting—and a daring taste for gambling. But all the daring in the world can’t help with the cards fixed against her. And when Edmund Ware, Baron Kirkpatrick, unwittingly spoils her chance to win a fortune, her reputation is ruined too. Or so she thinks, until he suggests a surprising mode of escape: a hasty marriage. To him. On the surface, their wedding would seem to satisfy all the demands of proper society, but as the Yuletide approaches, secrets and scandals turn this proper marriage into a very improper affair.

Book order links:

Print: amazon • barnes & noble • book depository • books-a-million • indiebound • kensington • posman bookspowell’s • watermark

Ebook: ibook • kensington • kindle • nook 

 

Guest Author: Sally MacKenzie & Giveaway!

Woot!  Sally is in the house!  That would be USA Today bestselling author Sally MacKenzie.  She writes funny, hot, Regency-set books for Kensington Zebra. Her Naked Nobility series concluded (at least for the time being) with The Naked King, which was named one of ALA Booklist’s top ten romances for 2011.  Sally also happens to be one of my favorite historical romance authors.

Let’s ask Sally some questions about her new series, shall we?

Your latest book is the second in your new Duchess of Love series. What’s the idea for the series, and what inspired you to come up with it?

The idea is pretty simple: The Duchess of Greycliffe was a matchmaker even back in the boring village of Little Huffington before she married her duke. Now she’s the premier matchmaker for the ton, but the only matches she can’t make or mend are those of her three sons.

As to how I came up with the idea…that’s a little more convoluted. Unlike some authors, I’m not bristling with story ideas. And I’m what romance writers like to call a “pantser”–I write by the seat of my pants, making stuff up as I go along rather than following a detailed outline. (I prefer to think of it as letting my characters lead me, but whatever.)

So, my publisher wanted a synopsis for the new series–a narrative outline of what’s going to happen over the three books. O-kay. Synopses make me break out in a cold sweat, but they’re a necessary evil, I guess–and I think (I hope) my editor realizes mine rarely bear a lot of resemblance to the finished project. So I brainstormed with my agent and pieces of a plan fell into place. I had an elaborate back story, part of which had Venus, the duchess, a widow. She was going to develop her own love interest over the course of the series.

And then we had the idea to write the novella telling the story of how the duchess met her duke. But…I couldn’t kill off the duke after getting to know him! (No Downton Abbey downers for me!) So the plan changed, but long after the synopsis was done.

I realized a few weeks ago that I needed to update things when I got a payment for delivering the first few chapters of Ash’s story, and the check stub said it was for Loving the Duke. Oops. Ash was indeed the duke when I wrote the synopsis, but he can’t be now because I didn’t kill off his dad! Historicals are like that. So we changed the title to Loving Lord Ash. Glad I caught that before anyone worked on the cover!

One aspect of the series has a little basis in reality: Each chapter starts with a quote from “Venus’s Love Notes,” a leaflet of marital advice that the duchess shares with the female members of the ton. This publication mortifies her sons–they’d rather poke their eyes out than read one word of it…much as my romance novels cause my sons to flinch and run for cover.

Surprising Lord Jack–I love the title! What’s your new book about?

It’s about Jack, the duchess’s youngest son, and it begins in the ballroom around the time Ned’s book is ending.

In writing Ned, I discovered Jack knew how to fight dirty, which told me he knew his way around the seedier sections of London. (Jack, unlike his brothers, lives in Town.) His family also considers him a bit irresponsible, a devil-may-care sort of fellow, which of course meant he was nothing of the kind. So…I decided he had a secret life. He had charities connected with the stews which he didn’t want the ton to know about; thus he pretended to be a rake as a cover for his true interests. And when someone starts slashing the lightskirts’ throats à la Jack the Ripper, Jack feels it’s his job to get to the bottom of it, since most of the ton don’t care about what they consider the dregs of society.

Miss Frances Hadley is a completely new character–she doesn’t appear in Ned. She’s extremely independent and strong willed, and she’s been running her family’s estate since she was fourteen. Her mother died when Frances was young, her father took off even before she was born, and her twin brother left as soon as he could. Now her aunt is trying to trick her into marriage. Frances is not about to stand for that, so she cuts her hair, puts on some of her brother’s castoffs, and sets off in disguise for London to demand the money she feels is hers from her family’s man of business.

Unfortunately bad roads–a result of the blizzard that occurs in Ned–force her to take refuge in an inn. The innkeeper’s wife pities the “boy” and gives Frances the only open room, the one usually saved for Jack and his brothers. But then Jack shows up. Not wanting to roust the sleeping boy and send him down to the common room, Jack decides to share the bed. It’s large enough, and the lad seems to be a quiet sleeper.

When Jack finally discovers Frances’s true gender, he is not happy, but he’s resigned to do the right thing and offer marriage. Frances, however, is having no part of that–she came to London to avoid that exact fate. It takes a while–and some help from the Duchess of Love–for these two strong, independent and somewhat stubborn people to fall in love, but they do! (Are you surprised?)

Oh, and there’s a dog. Did I mention Shakespeare? He’s full of tricks and a hero in his own right.

Everyone has different reasons for loving the Regency period. What are some of yours?

I came to the Regency via Georgette Heyer. I think I was around middle school age when I first read her books. They were so funny and witty and romantic, though I confess I was young enough to think her thirty-year-old heroes really old.

And if I can be rather shallow, I’ll admit I like the ballrooms and the lavish estates and even the whole nobility thing, which seems very un-American. Of course my nobles aren’t stuffy and condescending.

What’s next in Sally’s writing life?

I’ve finished the first draft of the last book in the trilogy–Loving Lord Ash–and now I’m deep into revising and polishing. It’s scheduled to come out in Spring 2014. Once I send it off to my editor, it’s time to go back to the idea patch and pick a few good ones for a new series.

Thanks so much for being with us today, girlfriend!  Readers, Sally is graciously giving away a copy of The Naked King.  Let’s talk some more about historical romance–what are some of your favorite historicals, old school or new?  One person who comments will win a copy of Sally’s book.

 

Guest Author: Shana Galen & Giveaway!!

I’m so happy to have one of my favorite romance writers guest-blogging with me today.  Shana Galen is a bestselling author who writes fast-paced and adventurous Regency-set historicals.  Her books are published all over the world and have been featured in the Rhapsody and Doubleday Book Clubs, and she’s one darn good author.  Shana has a new book out, so I’m turning the blog over to her so we can find out all about it.

Oh, For a Muse of Fire

People always ask me about my inspiration for books. I dread this question because I don’t generally have an inspiration for a book. I honestly don’t know where my ideas come from. They just come.

But you wouldn’t believe that, would you? And that doesn’t make for a very good interview or blog or story. What makes for a good interview is dreaming a book and then waking up and writing it or having a character appear out of nowhere to inspire the authorial muse.

Yeah. I don’t have a story like that. But I will say now that If You Give a Rake a Ruby is about to release, and I’m thinking about it after a period of time away, some of the inspirations are becoming clear to me. One look at my Pinterest board tells me that Charles Dickens’s Oliver Twistinspired me. In fact, the heroine of If You Give a Rake a Ruby was based very loosely on the character of Nancy from Oliver Twist.

Rubies and gems and lush colors and fabrics also inspired me. Fallon is a courtesan, one of the glamorous Three Diamonds. She’s known as the Marchioness of Mystery. Having been denied beauty as a child, she embraces it as an adult. She’s surrounded by silks and velvets and pillows in jewel-tones.

But I also had pictures of Seven Dials, a notorious London slum, before me as I was writing this novel. I didn’t want to forget where Fallon came from. You can take the girl from the gutter, but can you take the gutter from the girl? I don’t think you can completely.

So perhaps I am not so much uninspired as just unaware of my inspirations. I see them more clearly with time and distance.

What about you? What inspires you? Photos of beautiful gowns, landscapes, or handsome men? Maybe it’s a great book, an exciting movie, or your favorite music. One reader who comments will win a copy of If You Give a Rake a Ruby (U.S. and Canada only).

If You Give a Rake a Ruby  by Shana Galen—in stores March 2013

HER MYSTERIOUS PAST IS THE BEST REVENGE . . .

Fallon, the Marchioness of Mystery, is a celebrated courtesan with her finger on the pulse of high society. She’s adored by men, hated by their wives. No one knows anything about her past, and she plans to keep it that way.

ONLY HE CAN OFFER HER A DAZZLING FUTURE . . .

Warrick Fitzhugh will do anything to protect his compatriots in the Foreign Office, including seduce Fallon, who he thinks can lead him to the deadliest crime lord in London. He knows he’s putting his life on the line . . .

To Warrick’s shock, Fallon is not who he thinks she is, and the secrets she’s keeping are exactly what make her his heart’s desire . . .

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Vanessa, here.  I’m not kidding when I tell you how much I love Shana’s books–she’s one of my favorite authors.  So run, don’t walk to pre-order If You Give a Rake a Ruby.  And be sure to check out Shana’s website to learn about her other books.

Guest Author: Christie Kelley & Giveaway!

I’ve very happy to welcome fellow Kensington author Christie Kelley to the blog today.  Christie writes critically acclaimed, Regency-set historical romance, and her books are described by RT Book Reviews as “racy and romantic.”  Fun!  Christie has a new book out, so let’s find out all about it, shall we?

Bewitching The Duke is not your standard Regency romance, with lords and ladies cavorting about London and living the good life. What can you tell us about the book, and why you decided to write it?

After writing five books of lords and ladies cavorting in London, I needed something new to write. The idea started when watching a documentary on witches on the History channel. They had a quick blurb explaining what wise women were and how their healing abilities led to them being called witches. All it takes is a little something like that to make think…what if? What if there had been some wise women protected by their landowners and still practiced their healing ways in the Regency period. Plus the idea of writing a woman who was a free spirit and not tied down by society’s rules intrigued me. It was actually a lot of fun to write Selina.

Your heroine, Selina, is not from the same social class as the hero. Did you have fun playing with those class differences?

I loved writing Selina. She is a woman who really doesn’t care if she wears her hair unbound. She doesn’t want to cause the servants more work so she’ll take her boots off before walking around the manor. While Colin was born and raised to be a duke, he thinks she is completely mad. He doesn’t understand how a woman can act so freely. It was great fun to write! Plus writing about a woman who is hiding out in the manor under the nose of a duke made me laugh as I wrote it.

What attracts you to the Regency period, and did you come upon any interesting historical tidbits when you wrote the book?

I love writing the Regency period because I can play with the mores of the day. I can stretch those boundaries or stay strictly inside of them depending on the story or the character. And who doesn’t love the clothes! For me, learning more about the healers of the day was terribly interesting. I had to stop myself from the research so I could get the book written. Does that make me a geek? Probably.

What’s up next in your writing life?

I’m currently editing my October release, Enticing the Earl, which is Mia’s story. And writing the third book in the trilogy. After that, my editor mentioned writing some novellas for some of the secondary characters in Enticing the Earl. So, I’m keeping busy!

Vanessa, here.  Bewitching The Duke sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?  Here’s the blurb:

ONLY HER DESIRE…

After losing his wife in childbirth, Colin Barrett, Duke of Northrop, does not trust healers. So when he discovers Selina White cleansing his home, he is livid. As duke, Colin is accustomed to his charges taking orders from him. But the fiery Selina has the audacity to defy him when he asks her to leave his lands. More infuriating, he cannot stop thinking about the seductive sway of her hips when she walks.

CAN HEAL HIS HEART…

The sick tenants of Northrop Park depend on Selina, and she’s not about to let a man tell her she must leave her village—even if he is a duke. And while Selina does not fear Colin’s temper, she is afraid of the secrets she keeps from him and of the desire he sets off in her every time he is near.

For my readers today, Christie is giving away a copy of Bewitching The Duke.  Since Christie’s heroine is not your usual Regency lady, let’s talk about that.  What kind of heroine do you like to see in your historicals?  The gently bred lady, the sexy widow, a free spirited commoner, or all types?  One person who comments will win a copy of Christie’s book!

 

New Regency Historical Series!

I’ve been hinting about my new Regency historical series with Kensington Publishing for a few months now, so I’m really thrilled to be able to announce titles and release dates.  The series will be called Renegade Royals, and it’s about four sexy alpha males who also happen to be the illegitimate offspring of Britain’s royal princes.  These four roguish cousins will get into all kinds of scrapes and adventures as work they claim their rightful place in society, and win the hands of the strong-willed women who love them.

There will be two novellas and four books released in a two year period. 

Lost in a Royal Kiss will be released in December, 2013, and is a digital novella that will introduce some of the main characters and set up the premise for the series.

A Royal’s Rules for Love is book one in the series, and will be released in both print and digital in January, 2014.

Confessions of a Royal Bridegroom is book two in the series, and will be released in both print and digital in April, 2014.

The second digital novella will be released in December 2014, and books three and four will follow early in 2015.

My editor and I are very excited about this series, and I can’t wait to share covers, excerpts, and lots of other fun details with you.  If you want to keep up with all the latest news on the Renegade Royals series, please sign up for my newsletter.  And you might also want to check out my Pinterest board, my collection of pictures and various inspirations for the new books.  I really have fun brainstorming on Pinterest and I’d love it if you joined me – I also have a great Cupcakes and Cakes Pinterest board, for those of you with a sweet tooth!

Happy reading!

 

We Have Winners!!

 

The winner of Juliana Stone’s contemporary romance, Offside, is Teresa Salyers.  And the winner of Colleen Gleason’s medieval historical romance, A Whisper of Rosemary, is Jeanne Sheats.  Congratulations!  I’ll be in touch.

Thanks to everyone for stopping by the blog.  My next guest will be fabulous historical romance writer Manda Collins.  She’ll be here this Thursday, so please stop back!

Guest Author: Colleen Gleason & Giveaway!

One of the really cool things about many writers today is how capable they are of moving between genres. Used to be that authors who wrote historical romance only wrote historical romance, and authors who wrote romantic suspense stuck to romantic suspense. Not anymore. Authors have kicked down the genre barriers, moving easily from historical to paranormal to urban fantasy, and back again, all while building loyal audiences of readers and crafting wonderful books.

I’m featuring someone today who excels at blasting through the genre barriers. She’s international bestselling author Colleen Gleason, and she writes luscious medieval historical romance, Regency vampire romances, and futuristic urban fantasy as Joss Ware. And in all three of those genres she’s gotten great reviews, including this one from Smart Bitches Read Trashy Books:

“Above all, the writing is what recommends this book most. Gleason’s writing is sharp and taut, which makes for excellent action sequences, and a plot that travels quickly from the start. The writing strength alone gives me ample reassurance that this potentially plot-heavy series is in the right hands. I’m definitely looking forward to the next installment.”

Today, we’re looking at A Lily on the Heath, book four in Colleen’s Medieval Herb Garden Series.

This series is all about passionate romance and court intrigue, lords and ladies, and knights and castles. Sounds fantastic, doesn’t it? Here’s the blurb for A Lily on the Heath.

Passion and deception in the turbulent court of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II.

An honorable man: Malcolm de Monde, Lord of Warwick needs a wife. He reluctantly journeys to the royal court where his plan is simple: find a dutiful woman, gain the king’s approval for his choice and return to Warwick with his chosen lady wedded, bedded, and carrying his heir—all before winter.

An independent woman: Judith of Kentworth, Royal Falconer and lady-in-waiting, is a woman from Malcolm’s past. Although she is a confidante of the queen, Judith’s beauty and vivacity attract the unwanted attentions of the king—and thus the woman who commands winged predators becomes prey herself.

A simple plan that goes awry when Malcolm is reacquainted with Judith, once betrothed to his friend—and a woman who is nothing like the meek wife he seeks…but who may be exactly the type of woman he needs.

An impossible choice: Malcolm offers Judith a chance to escape her predicament…But can she risk entangling her own personal white knight in a dangerous web of royal intrigue?

Yum! I love a meaty historical romance, set in an era where the stakes were very high. If you haven’t tried Colleen’s books yet, this is the place to start. You won’t regret it!

For my readers today, Colleen is giving away a copy of A Whisper of Rosemary, book three in her series.

Since these books are in the Medeival Herb Garden series, let’s talk flowers and herbs. What’s your favorite herb to cook with, or flower to pick from a garden? One person who comments will win a copy of A Whisper of Rosemary. And be sure to check out Colleen’s website for the latest news on all her books.

 

Guest Author: Anna Campbell & Giveaway!

Woot!!  Anna Campbell is in the house!  I’m so thrilled to have one of my favorite authors visiting the blog today.  Anna writes the most fabulous, passionate and smart Regency-set historical romance, and she’s got the reviews, awards and reader accolades to prove it.  And luckily for us, she has a new book out – hooray!!  Let’s turn the blog over to Anna to hear all about it.

Stormy Weather in SEVEN NIGHTS IN A ROGUE’S BED

Hi Vanessa! It’s great to be back here on your blog! Thank you for having me as your guest today to talk about SEVEN NIGHTS IN A ROGUE’S BED (out 25th September).

So let’s talk about including that telling detail that makes a setting come alive. Sometimes there’s no substitute for visiting the place where a book is set. Even if you’ve forgotten that you’ve been there!

Most of the events in my latest historical romance, SEVEN NIGHTS IN A ROGUE’S BED, the first installment in the “Sons of Sin” series, take place on the Devon Coast in November, 1826.

I picked Devon because I wanted somewhere rugged and untamed and dangerous, a little like Jonas Merrick, the hero of the book. I needed a location a long way from the civilized environs of London. And I had a vivid picture in my mind of half-ruined Castle Craven where my scarred and tortured hero barricades himself away from the world. It was rambling and craggy and perched on jagged cliffs over a crashing sea.

Castle Craven is actually based on a ruined castle I visited on the Northumberland coast in the north-east of England. If any of you are Anya Seton fans, Dunstanburgh Castle was a stronghold for John of Gaunt, the hero of that wonderful historical romance KATHERINE. Dunstanburgh is at the opposite end of England to Devon, but one of the joys of writing historical romance is that you can pick up any random old house and plop it wherever you like. The power can be quite intoxicating!

The weather forms an essential part of this wild and stormy tale. You know, it’s wild and, uh, stormy.

The funny thing is that until I sat down to write this piece on some of the research behind SEVEN NIGHTS, I’d forgotten that my only visit to Devon was in November 1986. It was just before I flew back to Australia after two years living in England and I was returning home with very mixed feelings indeed. And would you believe the weather mirrored my turbulent emotions? Much as the tempestuous weather in SEVEN NIGHTS mirrors the conflicting, powerful emotions of Sidonie and Jonas. How strange to discover that the memories from that rather bleak holiday have lurked in my subconscious all this time, ready to pop up when I wrote SEVEN NIGHTS.

Devon in England’s south-west is unusually sunny for the U.K. (which in Australian terms is still not very sunny, but that’s another discussion!), so much so that it’s earned the nickname of the English Riviera. When I visited the county this particular November, it was more like the English Siberia. Howling, icy winds. Seas that looked like they wanted to devour you whole. Horizontal rain. Not very Riviera-like. Brrrr!

It wasn’t a great holiday – aside from the meteorological horrors, I didn’t have a voice. And as anyone who knows me will testify, not talking is the ultimate torture! But I now realize that vivid images and atmosphere from that trip lodged in my brain to stew for twenty-six years, resulting in the dramatic, gothic setting for dramatic, gothic SEVEN NIGHTS IN A ROGUE’S BED.

You can read an excerpt of SEVEN NIGHTS IN A ROGUE’S BEDon my website.

Isn’t the mind a strange thing? Have you ever realized that something you thought you’d forgotten is influencing current thoughts or behavior? Do you have a favorite stormy weather scene in a romance? One of mine is in FLOWERS FROM THE STORM by Laura Kinsale where, you guessed it, the hero gives the heroine flowers. In a storm. Yup, pretty much gave that one away in the title. Anyway, if you like stormy weather in a book, I’m hoping you’ll enjoy SEVEN NIGHTS IN A ROGUE’S BED. To put my money where my mouth is, I’m giving away a signed copy to a commenter today. Good luck!

Vanessa, here.  Anna, you know I love ALL your books, and I can’t wait to read this one!  So, let’s talk stormy weather – can you think of a great stormy weather scene in a book, movie or TV show that you particularly liked or remember?  Just comment for a chance to win Anna’s new book.

And don’t forget to stop by Anna’s website to read about her other books and to find some great excerpts

 

Guest Author: Manda Collins & Giveaway!

I’m thrilled to have my good friend and talented historical romance author Manda Collins on the blog today.  Mandy writes witty and charming Regency-set historical romance with a dash of mystery. Her first book, How to Dance With a Duke, debuted to great reviews and spent several weeks on the Bookscan bestseller list.  Let’s have a chat with Manda, and see what she’s up to with her latest book, How To Romance A Rake.

Your series is called The Ugly Ducklings. Can you tell us a little bit about it and what inspired the premise?

The concept of three cousins who are considered ugly compared to their glamorous mothers grew out of a story I read somewhere about the famous Gunning Sisters. They were real life Regency characters who came from no-one knows where and took the ton by storm with their beauty and married very, very well. I did a “what if” and wondered what it would be like to be the daughter of such a famed beauty–especially a daughter who suffers by comparison. I came up with the Fabulous Featherstone sisters and out of that grew their daughters, the Ugly Ducklings.

The heroine of How to Romance a Rake, a tremendously appealing character, is not your conventional Regency miss. Can you tell us a little bit about her?

Juliet Shelby is the daughter of Rose, Viscountess Shelby, who is, unfortunately, the vainest of the Featherstone sisters. And when Juliet suffers a disfiguring accident in her teens, Rose thinks not of how awful it must be for Juliet, instead she thinks of how having a daughter who is less than perfect will reflect upon her. So she does her best to make sure that Juliet gets very little notice from the ton. Along with her cousins, Cecily and Maddie, Juliet spends a lot of time sitting out dances with the other wallflowers. But despite her mother’s restrictions, Juliet has managed to become an accomplished pianist. And when her music teacher goes missing Juliet joins forces with swoony Lord Deveril to search for her.

Your stories often revolve around a mystery element. What do you like about combining mystery and romance?

I really like having a strong external conflict for my hero and heroine to work together to solve. My favorite romances are the ones where there is teamwork between the main couple, and what better way to put them to work than in solving a mystery in which the stakes are high for one or both of them?

You’ve recently ventured into the realm of indie publishing. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

In May, I self-published a contemporary novella called LEGALLY YOURS. It’s a reunited lovers story about two former law school classmates who meet again years later. One is a corporate lawyer and the other, who didn’t finish law school is working as a paralegal. Sparks fly, and one thing leads to another and…well, you get the idea. I hope to publish a follow up story in the coming months but it depends on my historical writing schedule. I’ll keep you posted!

What’s up next for Manda?

In January, the third and final Ugly Ducklings story, HOW TO ENTICE AN EARL will be released. It’s Maddie and Monteith’s story and I think readers are really going to love seeing these two together. I know I had a lot of fun writing them!

Thanks so much for being with us today, girlfriend! And here’s the blurb for How to Romance a Rake:

Dancing with Danger

What’s a nice girl like Miss Juliet Shelby doing in a place like Lord Deveril’s ballroom? With her shy demeanor, she’s a total stranger to the dance floor and a source of mockery for the ton. So imagine her surprise when Deveril gallantly comes to her defense—and offers to teach her to dance! Juliet can hardly believe the most handsome bachelor in London would notice her, until he takes her in his arms and sets her heart ablaze…

Playing with Fire

Lord Alec Deveril has never felt such a spark of attraction for an unmarried lady before. Unlike the “fashionable” women he’s accustomed to, Juliet possesses a generous spirit, a fiery intelligence—and an explosive secret. Deep in the London underworld, a dear friend has vanished, and Juliet fears the worst. Deveril insists on helping, escorting her through the darkest alleys in town. But he too is hiding a shocking secret—and the only way he can defeat the devil in his past is to seduce the angel in his arms …

Sounds great, doesn’t it?  I had the good fortune to read this book in advance, and I can tell you it’s a tremendously charming and heartfelt book.  If you enjoy Amanda Quick’s historical mysteries, you’ll love Manda’s books.  And for my readers today, Manda is giving away a copy of her first book, How to Dance With a Duke to one person who comments.  Just tell us about one of your favorite mystery or suspense books for a chance to win.

And don’t forget to check out Manda’s website for excerpts and more interesting stuff!