Guest Author: Shana Galen & Givaway!

I’m so pleased to be hosting one of my favorite historical romance authors on the blog today.  She’s Shana Galen, and she writes bestselling, Regency-set historical romance that’s both adventurous and sexy.  One of my most enjoyable reads this year was Lord and Lady Spy, which is a great caper story and a wonderful romance with a huge amount of heart.  I loved it!

Shana has a new book out, and she’s here to tell us about it.

Of Dukes and Downton Abbey

Like most of America and the UK, I fell in love with Downton Abbey last year. I’m not much of a TV-watcher, and my husband was so intrigued by my sudden interest, he took watched and was hooked. He’s not a writer, so when the weekly episode was over, it was over for him.

Not so for me. The cast—or at least their images—stayed in my mind. I was writing my September release, When You Give a Duke a Diamond at the time, and some of the actors provided perfect inspiration for my novel’s characters. You can see a few of my choices on my When You Give a Duke a Diamond Pinterest board.

The Duke

I chose Dan Stevens, who plays Matthew Crawley on Downton, as the model in appearance for William, the sixth Duke of Pelham. Matthew and Will have almost nothing in common personality-wise. Matthew actually seems to enjoy some leisure on the weekends. Pelham does not know the meaning of the word leisure and does not care to. He’s rigid, staid, and adheres to his routine almost as though it were a lifeline. He has many secrets and a dark past.

And when he meets the Duchess of Dalliance, his routine will never be the same again.

The Diamond

Robin Wright Penn, who played Buttercup in The Princess Bride, has the look of my spontaneous, fun-loving heroine Juliette. Juliette has been dubbed the Duchess of Dalliance, and she’s one of three glamorous courtesans known as The Three Diamonds. She cannot afford to be cut by the powerful Dangerous Duke, but that’s exactly what happens at the Prince Regent’s ball. And then to make matters worse, Juliette witnesses a murder at the ball.

The apparent murder of the Duke of Pelham’s fiancée.

The Jewels

When You Give a Duke a Diamond is the first in a new series, and I introduce several characters who feature prominently in future books. The Countess of Sinclair is one such character. She’s the much pitied wife of the Earl of Sin, the protector (read: lover) of The Three Diamonds. But take one look at my choice for the countess—Maggie Smith in her role as the Dowager Countess of Grantham in Downton Abbey—and you’ll know there’s more to the countess than it seems.

You’ll have to visit my other Pinterest boards for pictures of Juliette’s friends Fallon and Lily. They’ll each get their own books, filled with dangerous diamonds and dangerous men.

Do you like to picture “celebrities” as the characters in books? Who are some of your favorites?

 He had a perfectly orderly life…

William, the sixth Duke of Pelham, enjoys his punctual, securely structured life. Orderly and predictable—that’s the way he likes it. But he’s in the public eye, and the scandal sheets will make up anything to sell papers. When the gossip papers link him to Juliette, one of the most beautiful and celebrated courtesans in London, chaos doesn’t begin to describe what happens next…

Until she came along…

Juliette is nicknamed the Duchess of Dalliance and has the cream of the nobility at her beck and call. It’s disruptive to have the duke who is the biggest catch on the Marriage Mart scaring her other suitors away. Then she discovers William’s darkest secret and decides what he needs in his life is the kind of excitement only she can provide…

There you have it, folks!  The first book in Shana’s new series.  For my readers today, Shana is giving away a copy of When You Give a Duke a Diamond to those of you in the U.S. or Canada.  Just answer her question about celebrity inspired characters for a chance to win.  And don’t forget to visit her website for more info about her books, and also check out her group blog, The Sisterhood of the Jaunty Quills.


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!


 

 


ARC Giveaway of Season For Surrender!

I’m doing something really fun today – an excerpt and ARC exchange with my fellow Kensington Zebra author, Theresa Romain.  You see, we both write Regency-set historical romance and we both have Christmas-themed books coming out on Oct. 2.  So we thought it would be fun to post some exclusive excerpts and also give our readers a chance to win Advanced Reader Copies of our books.  Just think, you have the chance to read either His Mistletoe Bride or Season for Surrender two months before anyone else!

And now for the good stuff – an excerpt from Theresa’s truly lovely book, Season for Surrender.

When Alexander, Lord Xavier, hosts a country house party, he never expects his own reputation will come into question. For years, the ton has known him as a scandalous rogue, always up for a naughty wager. So what could possibly go wrong?

Well. His cousin forces a wager that Xavier can’t get a proper bluestocking, Louisa, to stay for the length of the house party. Louisa has every reason to hate Xavier, but she’s intrigued by his home’s fine library—and by the chance to mix with the impolite sector of the polite world.

In this early scene, Louisa has begun to suspect that her host’s reputation is a façade. What does it hide, though? When he finds her in the library, she’s willing to forge a truce so she can find out more.

*          *          *

 “Are you suggesting I’ve been difficult?” Again, the expression of elaborate shock.

Louisa mirrored his posture, folding her arms. “Come now, my lord. I’ve promised not to be shrewish with you, so you can’t expect me to pick up that thread of conversation. I’m only asking you to treat me with the same respect you would one of your male associates.”

Gray eyes met hers. “They rarely wear such fetching frocks, Miss Oliver. I would find the pretense difficult to sustain.”

She shook her head. “Honesty, please, my lord. You don’t have to say things like fetching to me. I’m not going to leave if I’m not complimented every two minutes. In fact, I’d much rather receive no compliment at all than an insincere one.”

She gestured at her patterned muslin day dress. “This is clothing, my lord. It covers my body. It doesn’t have anything to do with my real self.”

When he studied her without replying, she made an impatient gesture and laid the play on the nearest shelf. “Excuse me, please.”

She crouched again, intending to continue her survey of this long-neglected collection of books. Determined to ignore the tall man lurking behind her, she scrutinized the bindings for some clue as to where to begin. The old, cord-banded spines on this shelf were not marked. Anything could be here, waiting to surprise her.

Xavier loomed over her, and the hair at the nape of her neck stirred in the eddy of his slight movements. Then he sank to the floor, leaning against the very shelf she was looking at, and stretched out his long legs.

“You’re wrong, Miss Oliver. When you choose your clothing, you do reveal something about yourself.”

He looked at her aslant. “Your gown is simple, yet it follows fashion. This shows that you care about practicality but do not wish to do yourself a disservice by appearing a frump. In the same way, your hair is coiled back from your face, yet its twists have been carefully arranged. In your every choice, you balance the demands of the world with the demands of your own self.”

Louisa sank from her crouch to a seat on the floor, an arm’s length away. “Oh.” She stopped; shook her head. “Thank you?”

She smoothed her skirt, wondering at all he’d read into the floral-patterned fabric. One hand reached up to touch her hair, as though it had altered when spoken of. “I’d never thought of it all that way. You surprise me, my lord.”

He lifted his chin and looked at her directly. “Likewise. Please, Miss Oliver, don’t assume that every compliment I give is insincere. I might candy my words, but they do have real substance.” His expression turned wry. “Well, sometimes they do.”

A knot of something tense between her shoulders began to relax. “That’s more than many in the ton could say. Certainly more than most would admit.”

She leaned against the shelf next to him, feeling an odd tug of companionship. It came from the informality, maybe; sitting not on furniture with her back straight as a yardstick, but on the floor, her legs folded up like a child’s.

There was nothing improper, exactly, about sitting like this, yet she felt as though she’d left propriety behind her at long last. She sat close enough to the infamous Lord Xavier to breathe in his clean scents of starch and spice; close enough to judge the span of his biceps beneath his coat. Would her two hands meet around it? She felt an almost irresistible urge to try, to wrap her fingers around some part of him and clutch this moment close.

HONOR AMONG ROGUES
Alexander Edgware, Lord Xavier, has quite a reputation—for daring, wagering, and wickedness in all its delightful forms. But the wager before him is hardly his preferred sport: Xavier must persuade a proper young lady to attend his famously naughty Christmas house party—and stay the full, ruinous two weeks. Worse, the lady is Louisa Oliver, a doe-eyed bookworm Xavier finds quite charming. Yet to refuse the challenge is impossible—he will simply have to appoint himself Miss Oliver’s protector…

MISCHIEF AMONG MISSES
Louisa knows her chance for a husband has passed. But she has no desire to retire into spinsterhood without enjoying a few grand adventures first. When Lord Xavier’s invitation arrives, Louisa is more intrigued than insulted. And once inside the rogues’ gallery, she just may have a thing or two to teach her gentlemen friends about daring…

Pre-order: amazonbarnes & noble • book depositorybooks-a-millionchapters indigo indiebound • powell’s

Pre-order e-book: kindlenook

Vanessa, here.  Didn’t that excerpt whet your appetite?  I had the pleasure of reading Season for Surrender a few weeks ago and I just loved it.  It’s witty and warm, with a wonderful hero and a smart and appealing heroine.  Theresa is a very talented writer and the person who wins this ARC will be very lucky!  So, for a chance to win the ARC Season for Surrender, just leave me a comment about something you really look forward to during the holiday season.  Yeah, it’s the middle of summer, but let’s spread a little holiday cheer a few months early!

The ARC contest on my blog will be open until August 8.  And don’t forget to check out Theresa’s blog and her website for the excerpt from my book, His Mistletoe Bride, and for a chance to win the ARC!

 


Guest Author: Darcy Burke & Giveaway!

I’m so happy that the lovely and talented Darcy Burke is back on the blog today.  Darcy writes sexy and very romantic Regency-set historical romance, and she’s here to talk about her new book, To Seduce A Scoundrel.  Specifically, she’s going to introduce us to her latest hero – a hero with an intriguing twist!

The Celibate Hero and Why He’s Sexy

When I first conceived of the character of Lord Sevrin (he didn’t have a first name for a very long time), he was simply a rake with a truly horrendous reputation. However, I knew almost right away that I didn’t want him to be a typical rake. So I wondered, what if everyone assumed he was a womanizer but, in fact, he was celibate? That’s when Sevrin became incredibly interesting to me…and sexy.

Celibacy is sexy because it means the hero’s been holding out for some reason. That takes a lot of control (especially for a romance hero!) and control is sexy. Put that together with the heroine that will bring him to his knees and end his celibacy (because it’s, yanno, a romance), and you have (I hope!) an irresistible love story.

The whys of Sevrin’s celibacy were a bit difficult to unravel, and hopefully it works in the context of his character. He’s a hero with strong beliefs and holds himself to the highest possible standards. His celibacy is a means of functioning after some rather disreputable deeds.

I’ve read virgin heroes before and have a couple I’m excited to read in the very near future, but I couldn’t think of a celibate hero off the top of my head. I checked out Goodreads and found six pages of them! Have you read any celibate heroes? If so, is there one you recommend? Do you think celibate heroes are sexy? One commenter will receive an ebook copy of His Wicked Heart in the format of their choice!

Vanessa, here.  Doesn’t Sevrin sound intriguing?  Darcy is a wonderful writer, and I can’t wait to read her latest book.  She’s gotten great reviews for her first two books, and I know this one will be equally delicious.

So, readers, what do you think about celibate heroes?  Have you read any before?  Tell us about it for a chance to win His Wicked Heart.  And be sure to drop by Darcy’s lovely website to get the details on all her books and to read an excerpt of To Seduce A Scoundrel.


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