Guest Author: Donna MacMeans & Giveaway!

The fabulous Donna MacMeans burst onto the historical romance writing scene with her first book, The Education of Mrs. Brimley.  Her debut book received tons of accolades, including this one from Booklist, the review journal of the American Library Association:

“MacMeans writes with grace and wit, and her debut is certain to dazzle readers with its irresistible combination of complex characters and very sexy romance.”

I’m thrilled to have Donna guest blogging with me today, and I’m going to turn things right over to her as she tells us about her latest book.

            “Can you do it?” he asked.

            She hesitated, considering.  “Who are the Guardians?”

            “Why do you ask?”

            She lowered her voice.  “A coded message from them brought me to your library last night.  Now we’re attempting to decipher another message.  It seems to me that the two events are related.  If I’m to assist you in this, I want to know it’s for a worthy cause, or if it’s for…something not so worthy.”  As much as she wished to embark on this adventure, she needed to know the purpose was just.

            He tapped his fingers on her copy of Treasure Island.  “You wish to know if we are the pirates or the righteous crew.”

             She nodded, pleased with his analogy.  “You’ve read it?”

            “I believe I proved last night that I’m familiar with many books and many cultures.”  His finger slowly stroked the well-worn binding of the novel.  Her imagination transformed the  simple gesture into something of a more intimate nature.  A shiver slipped down her spine. 

            “While I can’t speak for the nature of the note,” Trewelyn said, “or the recipient for that matter, I can assure you that I’m not involved in any nefarious purposes.  I would think that if anything, we may have the opportunity to stop wrongdoing, not participate in it ourselves.” 

            He pulled his hand away from the book, severing that intimate connection.  Yet he seemed impervious to her thoughts.  “For all I know,” he continued, “this note could be a listing of the week’s menu prepared by my stepmother for the cook.”

            “Menus are rarely written in code, sir,” she said.  She narrowed her eyes.  “You are avoiding my question.  Who are the Guardians?”

Secret Societies abound in the Victorian Era.  Some secret societies were formed for religious purposes; others – more fraternal – were formed so members of one gender could escape the other for brief periods of time, and still others existed as threats to the political structure.

When Ashton Trewelyn, a notorious rake once known as Casanova – now reformed (or so he says), discovers a coded message in his father’s library, he wonders what sort of secret society has snared his disapproving father.  Is it a benign sort of gathering of old men in ridiculous hats, or the more dangerous sort involved in political intrigue?  For the safety of himself and his family, he decides to investigate the mystery.  Fortunately, he has recently made the acquaintance of a spirited young woman with the unusual ability to break code.

Edwina Hargrove longs for adventure.  To date, the only taste of adventure comes in the form of letters from her mischevious brothers who write in code to keep the nature of their adventures secret from their parents.  Thus Edwina dabbles in code-breaking.  A talent she uses to translate some of the coded messages that appear in the  personal ads in the paper.  Is it the promise of adventure or the temptation afforded by a rakishly handsome man that causes her to agree to translate a coded letter? And does it matter when the enigmatic code sweeps her into a nebulous web of intrigues, secret societies and Japanese art, gambling her reputation and secure future in the process…

To read an excerpt of The Casanova Code and sign up for my newsletter and an opportunity to perhaps win a cherry blossom pendant necklace from the Smithsonian (cherry blossoms play a role in the story), visit my website at

Someone leaving a comment today will receive a copy.  Just tell me if you’ve ever belonged to what you thought was a secret society or have experience with a secret language.  Pig-Latin and decoder rings discovered in the bottom of a cereal box count. 🙂

63 thoughts on “Guest Author: Donna MacMeans & Giveaway!”

  1. The only ‘secret’ language I have in my life is sign language. My son has a profound hearing loss & therefore we all sign.

    It’s a very useful skill to have. I can ‘shout’ to my children from across a noisy room. Hold a private conversation right in front of people.

    My son & his friends make up signs, think text messaging with your hands, that no one else can decipher.

    • Wahoo – I broke through the ether! Sorry for coming to the party so late.

      Mary- That is so cool! I remember two parents at my son’s soccer games who communicated with their children the same way. It truly is like a secret language. Would be difficult to do while driving a car, though (grin)

  2. No secret society. However, I think that would be fun. Pig-Latin now that would be a laugh I never got the knack of that. I tried. Oh well, I guess there is still time to join a secret society right.

  3. No real secret language unless you consider the looks between my husband and I as secret. Lol. They usually mean omg I can’t believe you said that or did that and you need to stop.
    This book sounds like one of the reasons I like to read. I can live a life of intrigue and adventure thru the book. Because really I’m a house cat that wishes she was a lion.

    • Lori – I think you would identify with my heroine who also yearns for adventure. Decoding her brother’s letters that are written in code is as close to an adventure that she thinks she’ll ever be able to achieve.

      As for those secret glances…LOL…somehow I bet they aren’t so secret if in public. I’m very familiar with the OMG expression (grin).

  4. Hi Donna. Your books sound great. Love the covers. I have never been a member of a secret society but loved pig latin as a kid. 🙂

  5. So secret society for me, yet. But codebreaking is very interesting… Sounds like a fun book and I’m surprised I’ve not read it already!! Thanks for the reminder!

  6. It’s so interesting that you pose that question this morning. It brings back something that my girlfriend and I did in junior high school. We had our own little language that we thought was so naughty and we felt as though we were getting away with murder. Of course, no one can say “bad” words in school so we combined them and threw out things like SHAMEL! SH, AM, EL which are two letters from three “bad” words. There were other words, but I don’t recall them now. Silly, huh? Of course, we used a lot of pig latin as children and don’t get me started on the fights we kids had over the prizes in the cereal boxes!! So funny! Thanks for bringing back memories!

  7. Secret society or language? ha I am notorious for being the worst at keeping secrets (I can’t help it and I can’t lie to save my life). Everyone around me could probably be apart of a secret society and I’d be the only one left out and with good cause lol

    I do find it interesting to read or watch documentaries on the Illuminati and Masons and Knights Templar. Makes you wonder in what capacity they’re still around or if their just men sitting around with a secret handshake and beer.

    • Sharon – We’d make a great pair. I swear my nose grows when i tell a lie. I can never pull it off.

      I love reading about the knights templar and all those secret images imbedded in the dollar bill – or in old buildings. Hey – maybe I’ll hide a stash of romances and we can start a secret society that puts out clues to find the goods. Anyone in?

      Hope you give Casanova Code a try, Sharon. I think you’ll enjoy deciphering the secret messages along with my heroine.

  8. No secret language for me, but it sounds like it would be fun. I like Mary Preston’s idea about being able to shout at your kids with sign language and no one knowing that you are doing it. Would love to win your book!

    • Hi Mary –

      I’m afraid the sort of hands signals I give my kids (hand planted firmly on the hip, glare fixed sternly in the eye) could have been interpreted by any parent alive – LOL.

      I used to remember the secret signals given by the baseball coach though to swing away or run, run, run. Not sure they were all that secret though

  9. Hi Donna and Vanessa!

    Your new series, The Rake Patrol, sounds like they will be fun and exciting reads, looking forward to reading them. Mystery and romance great combination!

    I read your book, THE SEDUCTION OF A DUKE, later found out it was from a set. Off I went to track down the rest of your books, lucky me!

    Unfortunately, I never was involved with any secret codes or hands shakes. When I was young all we did was shout at each other when we were playing. My friends believed in ‘not’ getting our signals crossed! LOL!! We basically did facial expressions. You know, a wink here, a frown there, raising of the eyebrows….LOL…not very creative of us. We always thought we were smarter than our parents and that they had no idea what we were doing. As always, we were wrong. 🙂

    Thank you for the chance to win your book!

    Have a wonderful day ladies!

  10. Hello ladies! My secret language is latin – not pig-latin, but the language spoken in Ancient Rome. Learned it in University, while doing a bachelor’s degree in ancient history. I can’t speak it, because it way too complicated, but I can read easily.
    Thanks for the chance to win! This book sounds aweasome!
    Kanya 😉

    • Hi Kanya! Well my hat is off to you! Ancient languages are so cool – not that I ever appreciated them in high school. There is a bit of secrecy of having that knowledge of an ancient language that isn’t available to just anyone.

      Hope you give Casanova Code a try – I just LOVE this book!

  11. The cover is great. I actually read a book where there was a big monetary prize if you could break the codes in the novel. I was able to break some, but not enough to win the grand prize.

    • Kim – in my research about secret codes, I read this “true” story about gold buried in a small town in Virginia. There are three pages written in code about the where the gold is hidden. Someone was able to transcribe the first page – it was tied to lines from the Declaration of Independence – but not the other two. People still dig random holes in Virginia looking for the buried gold. LOL.

      Thanks for the cover love. (Mwah) Berkley has been good to me.

  12. I just love the cover so pretty,congrats on the release. The only secret society I have ever “belonged” is the one with my son,we have little sayings and doings that only we know and understand like special words when saying goodnight etc.

    I know it must not sound very exciting but to me it means alot.Thank you so very much for the very lovely giveaway.

  13. Definitely! When I was young us neighborhood kids formed a Beatles fan club, and it was an secret and exclusive club. Of course we thought we were the only ones doing so. 😀

    • Barbara – So what did you do in this club? I’m thinking you kissed a lot of photographs of the Beatles. I know that’s what we did but not in a club LOL.

      Thanks for stopping by. Hope you give CASANOVA CODE a try.

  14. I remember speaking pig latin with best friend Nancy Scheer in grade school — but I wasn’t very good at it. lol I do have my female FBI character use sign language to tell the hero to meet her in the bathroom when they run into each other unexpectedly in the 2nd novel planned for my Bad Karma Spec Ops series.

    • Is this actual sign language? Or points at him, points at herself, and makes a sign to mean bathroom. In that case – what sign means bathroom – a squat (grin). Love the title of your series! I’m a believer in Karma. So will, I suppose the bad guys once you’re through with them. Thanks for stopping by!

    • Sheila – Somehow I doubt that. Any woman who reads romance is far, far from boring. We have great imaginations because we’re able to put ourselves in a story and experience different worlds and different places. Hope you put Casanova Code on your list of books to read!

  15. Donna, great blog! I love the secret language in The Casanova Code (which I read and thought was terrific, so no need to put me in the giveaway). That was very clever.

    Vanessa, you have a beautiful site.

  16. Ooops, not sure what happened to my comment, so I will try again. 🙂

    Yes Donna, I did read REDEEMING THE ROGUE, wonderful book!
    I really liked Phineas, plus I like that name a lot!
    Your book was a sexy/fun/romance with a dash of mystery.
    Thank you for giving me many wonderful hours of reading pleasure.

    Wishing you the best!

    • Glad you liked it! I.had planned to do Phineas’s book…but then I came up with the idea for this series and decided to go forward with that.

      But one of these days, I’ll do Phineas’s story.

  17. alas no patience for secret societies (wouldn’t be able remember the handshakes or would mix up the passwords) 🙂 enjoyed the excerpt

    • Hi Donna (great name!)

      I’d have a hard time remembering anything myself LOL. It’s a good thing I write fiction. My characters have the excellent memory that I lack.

      Thanks for stopping by. I hope you give Casanova Code a try.

  18. No secret society or language for me. Just a few family phrases that have a double meaning. My sister and I came up with them and they took on with the other members of our family.


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