Covers & Sales!

How to plan a weddingroyal spy

In case you missed it on facebook or Goodreads, here’s the cover to How to Plan a Wedding for a Royal Spy, the next book in my Renegade Royals series.  Gorgeous, isn’t it?  This is book 3 in the series, and will be released in January 2014.  I’ll be adding info and excerpts from the book here on the website within the next few weeks.

And I’ve got some great sales  news!  Lost in a Royal Kiss, the digital novella that kicks off the series, is now FREE for the month of June.  Click here for the list of sites where you can download it.  And book one in the series, Secrets for Seducing a Royal Bodyguard, is on sale for only $1.99 – that’s down from $6.99!!

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Click here for a list of direct links to retailers.

And I’ve got another book on FREE!!  Fastball, the first book in my VK Sykes series of sports romances, is available for free download on Kindle and in the iTunes store.

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This is the first book in the award-winning, bestselling Philadelphia Patriots Series that I write with my hubby under the VK Sykes pen name.  If you haven’t checked them out yet, here’s your chance!

Fastball on Amazon

Fastball on iTunes

Have a great reading weekend!

 


Cover Reveal!!

On facebook today, I’m revealing the cover of Tall, Dark, and Royal, the next story in my Renegade Royals Series.  This is Dominic’s story, and it will be available in November as a digital novella.  And to celebrate the reveal I’m giving away a copy of the first book in the series, Secrets for Seducing a Royal Bodyguard!  Just click here to view the cover and enter the contest.

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Guest Author: Patricia Burroughs & Gift Card Giveaway!!

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I’m so pleased to welcome bestselling romance and epic fantasy author Patricia Borroughs to the blog today.  Pooks, as she’s called, is here to talk about her latest book, This Crumbling Pageant–which has an interesting movie-related twist.

Remembering Gigi

I never consciously thought about Gigi when I was plotting and writing This Crumbling Pageant.

I was a very small girl the first time I saw that lush, gorgeous movie musical describing a different world and a different culture from my own. I had no idea what a courtesan was, or what Gigi was being raised to be. I just knew that I fell in love with the tale and several times since have watched it again, a bewitching romance in the old school way—a young girl raised to be a courtesan, who brings the hero to his knees both figuratively and literally.

They first met when she was a young girl, and part of the fun for me was watching scenes like this one, and anticipating the moment when he would see her—really see her—for the first time as a woman.

Louis Jordan and Leslie Caron

I certainly wasn’t remembering Gigi when I was plotting the early part of my trilogy, when Persephone is smitten with Sir Robin Fitzwilliam and he sees her as a precocious young lady deserving of his protection and affection but certainly not a love interest. The plot required that moment, and that age difference. And yet, I also didn’t shrink back in dismay. Historically, matches were frequently made between young women and more mature men.

I understand being turned off by the idea of a relationship that began, innocently, when Persephone was too young, even though it didn’t progress as a love relationship until she’s old enough to be presented to the queen. But in the 21st Century few of our readers would be thrilled to have their 17-year-old daughters fall in love with thirty year-old men. I get that.

But even though This Crumbling Pageant does tell a complex and complicated—and ultimately, passionate—love story, it is first and always a fantasy. I can tell my story as it needs to be told, with the ages and situations demanded by the plot, without worrying about contemporary rules that might stand in the way if I were writing only about Persephone’s romantic story arc—an arc, I must add, that won’t end until the entire trilogy is written.

Alas, a youtube search did not turn up the moment when Louis Jordan takes a look at Gigi and realizes she is a woman, when he experiences that gut-clench of possession and realizes that she means far more to him than he ever dreamed. I guess I’ll have to watch the entire movie again. (As if that’s a sacrifice!)

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In the meantime, I will give you that moment for Persephone and Robin.

Robin stepped onto the first floor landing to realise that from below him, people were gathered, looking up. Guests who had been milling near the ballroom entrance were now turned, also looking up expectantly. He followed their gazes up the stairs.

Persephone’s brothers—Dardanus and Cosmo—descended, Dardanus’s expression one of ill-masked concern that caused Robin’s heart to leap.

Cosmo, however, exuded confidence, his eyes glittering.

And why did that leave Robin uneasy?

The Duke Regent descended next, as regal as if he already bore the crown. The slight rigidity around his eyes was all that betrayed that he, too, might have concerns. It was a detail few would detect.

When the three reached the foot of the stairs, they turned as one and awaited the announcement of her name.

And finally, the slow, graceful descent of Apollo Fury and his daughter.

A soft gasp echoed through the assemblage.

And he… he could do nothing but stare up as Persephone came into view…

Wearing a dress of purple so dark, it was almost black.

Her hair was unfashionable, a sleek fall of ebony. Usually so flat in colour, it shimmered, with a silver laurel wreath its only adornment.

Her skin wasn’t the milky white of her sister, but in this light, against such a dress, it had a honeyed cast that glowed with life. The wide neck of the gown was low on her shoulders, exposing the delicacy of the joining of sinew and bone, the hollow at the base of her throat. Her mouth was wide and tinged with rose.

But it was her eyes, large and liquid, that dominated her face with their dark intensity.

Her presence was magnetic. There was no way any eye could have been on any other woman in the room.

She appeared to have stepped from a medieval portrait at Erinyes Manor, despite the fact that her dress was of the most recent fashion, with snow-white gloves that covered her from fingertip to above where sleeve met wrist—an effect obviously created by a modiste of the first stare. Down to the finest detail, it could not be faulted in any way.

Except for its hue that no young lady of fashion would ever choose.

A hue that made her glow.

The blood-draining grip at his elbow, the carefully composed expression on Electra’s face as she looked—simply looked—at Cosmo, and his return smirk told Robin everything.

This presentation was Cosmo Fury’s doing.

And Persephone’s sister Electra, the Duchess of Aubyn, was rigid with rage.

Persephone drew closer. Robin looked into her eyes, and his breath caught at the intensity of her apprehension.

Oh yes, her chin was high, her shoulders straight, her posture impeccable. Few would know that she reeked of tension, only those who knew her well.

And yes, he knew her so well.

And it hit him.

Persephone didn’t know. Electra had yet to recognise. The first shock had not worn off.

None of them with the exception of Cosmo had quite yet realised.

Persephone Fury was stunning.

Whether trope of cliché, this is one of those moments I love to read and to write, that moment when an awkward duckling appears as a swan to the man she’s been yearning for.

How does Gigi hold up today? I didn’t even address the fact that she was raised to be a courtesan here.

Can you still enjoy it as a love story, or does it squick? Is it still a fabulously romantic tale of a girl who rises above her ‘station’ and wins the world be bring the hero to submission? Or is it one of those stories best left behind to another time and place, a guilty pleasure at best and a glamorization of a dark time for women at worst?

Vanessa, here.  Readers, what do you think of Pooks’ question? I love the idea for this book and I also love Gigi, so let’s talk about it!  Pooks will give away a $10 gift card and I’ll give away a copy of my latest book, Confessions of a Royal Bridegroom, to one person who comments.

This Crumbling Pageant

Persephone Fury is the Dark daughter, the one they hide.

England, 1811. Few are aware of a hidden magical England, a people not ruled by poor mad George, but by the dying King Pellinore of the House of Pendragon.

The Furys are known for their music, their magic, and their historic role as kingmakers. When Fury ambitions demand a political marriage, Persephone is drugged and presented to Society—

Only to be abducted from the man she loves by the man she loathes.

But devious and ruthless, Persephone must defy ancient prophecy and seize her own fate.

Get swept away into the first book of a dark fantasy series combining swashbuckling adventure, heart-pounding romance, and plot-twisting suspense.

 


Guest Author: Darcy Burke & Giveaway!!

Darcy Burke

I’m so please to be hosting award-winning author Darcy Burke on the blog today.  Darcy is a lovely person, and she writes wonderful historical romance (and contemporary romance, too).  She’s here to tell us about her latest series and book, Scoundrel Ever After.

Thank you for having me here today, Vanessa! Now that my Secrets and Scandals series is finished (sniff!), I’m reflecting on the characters and stories. I really loved the multi-book redemption arc of Ethan Jagger. Reformed bad boys are one of my favorite tropes and I especially love a series that introduces a character as a villain (or as seemingly irredeemable) and lets you see the transformation from “hell no!” to “ hell yes, please!” What surprised me, though, is that I had not one, but two, female characters who traveled a redemption arc.

The first book in this series, Her Wicked Ways, features a spoiled London debutante who’s banished to the country to reform herself. Instead of multiple books to transform her, she (hopefully!) went from immature and selfish to independent and selfless. That book took place over several months, so her evolution and that of the love story definitely had time to percolate and grow. Still, reformed heroines are harder than heroes!

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So why’d I do it again? head/desk. In the second book, His Wicked Heart, I introduced two secondary characters to befriend the heroine (Olivia). They were Lydia and Audrey, who ended up being heroines of their own books. But I didn’t introduce them with that in mind. Lydia, in fact, was more of a frenemy. She was a gossip and a bit condescending to Olivia, who was new to Society. Audrey was much softer and I knew earlier with her that she needed her own book. Lydia, on the other hand, was a tough sell. She’d been introduced as a foil and to make her into heroine material, I had to figure out why she was the way she was. I surprised myself when I paired her with Jason Lockwood, but I’m so happy with how their story turned out. It seemed natural—and exciting—that the socially vilified Jason would find love with the gossip-mongering Lydia.

I’m sure there’ll be reformation of some kind in my next series, Regency Treasure Hunters. One of the heroes, Lord Kersey, appeared very briefly in Her Wicked Ways. He had a somewhat notorious reputation he was trying to live down. We’ll find out how successful he was! I’m planning for the first book in that series (a prequel novella) to be out this summer.

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Redemption is definitely one of my favorite themes and as I said, reformed bad boys is one of my favorite romance tropes. What are your favorite themes and tropes? What do you think of reformed heroines and what are some of your favorite books that feature them? One lucky commenter will get a copy of Secrets and Scandals Volume 1, which includes the first three books in the series!

Wow!  That’s a very generous giveaway, Darcy – thank you!  Personally, I’m very fond of the reformed heroine, since my third book, My Favorite Countess, featured a heroine who had to follow a pretty steep course of redemption.  What about you, readers?  What are some of your favorite themes and tropes.  Does it include redemption?  Let us know, and I’ll also throw in a copy of My Favorite Countess for Darcy’s winner!

A native Oregonian, Darcy lives on the edge of wine country with her devoted husband, their two great kids, and two Bengal cats. Darcy writes hot, action-packed historical and sexy, emotional contemporary romance. Visit Darcy online at http://www.darcyburke.com and sign up for her new releases newsletter, follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/darcyburke, or like her Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/darcyburkefans.

 


Guest Author: Sally MacKenzie & Giveaway!

Sally

Hooray!  Sally is in the house!  Sally MacKenzie, that is, one of my favorite historical romance authors.  Sally writes USA Today Bestselling Regencies and they are funny, sexy, and just so great to read.  She’s with us today to tell us about her upcoming book, Loving Lord Ash.  Take it away, lady!

Thank you for inviting me to visit, Vanessa. And it’s so cool to be here with the Duchess of Love—er, I mean the books, not you, Vanessa ;)—on Valentine’s Day. Did you know that the Duke of Greycliffe’s family name is Valentine, and that all the boys were born on February 14? So it’s quite the special day, lol!

What fun, Sally!  So, readers are loving your Duchess of Love series.  What’s the premise for it, and how did you come up with such awesome book titles?

I hope everyone’s enjoying Venus and her boys! Venus is the Duchess of Greycliffe, but English society calls her the Duchess of Love because she’s the ton’s premier matchmaker—and, much to her husband’s and sons’ embarrassment, she writes Venus’s Love Notes, pamphlets of marital advice for women. The prequel novella, “The Duchess of Love,” tells how Venus met her duke; the three books—Bedding Lord Ned, Surprising Lord Jack, and Loving Lord Ash—are about her three sons.

Lord Jack

I’m glad you like the book titles. I wanted them to sound like they were part of a series, of course, so I first came up with a pattern they could all follow: a verb and then the son’s name that the book was about. Bed rhymes with Ned, but it also so happens that a bed plays an important role in the story—and not in that way! Or not exactly in that way. Reggie, the duchess’s cat, likes to hide things under Ned’s bed. So that’s how Bedding Lord Ned came about—and the pattern was set.

Darling Mr. M, who is a bit of a jokester, told me I should title Ash’s book Kissing My Ash. Ahem. Mr. M is quite amusing in his own way, but I do not let him near my titles, for obvious reasons.

LOL!  I love Mr. M!  What can you tell us about Loving Lord Ash?

Here’s the back cover blurb:

A Little Misunderstanding…

Kit, the Marquis of Ashton, is in a sticky wicket. He married young and for love—how naïve. He discovered his mistake the very day of his wedding, but he is saddled now with a wife he’s reluctant to trust. And however much evidence he gathers against faithless Jess, he can’t seem to prove her guilt to the final judge—his foolish heart.

Jess knows she’s bobbled her marriage, however innocently. A fairytale wedding makes no difference if she hasn’t got the marquis charmed to show for it. Well, she’s had enough of accidental encounters with naked gentlemen and near misses explaining things to her husband. It’s time to buck up and go win her man back—even if she has to fight very dirty indeed.

LOVING LORD ASH cover

Loving Lord Ash is the concluding book in the Duchess of Love series which includes the RITA nominated novella, “The Duchess of Love.” The first two books, Bedding Lord Ned and Surprising Lord Jack, both received starred reviews from Booklist, and Bedding Lord Ned was one of Booklists’ Top Ten Romances of 2012. AND the earlier books should be on sale NOW. Until February 25, the novella should be FREE and Ned’s and Jack’s book only $2.99 each at all major eBook retailers!

Wow!  That’s a great deal, Sally!  So, tell us what’s your favorite thing about the Regency era, especially in terms of writing?

When I was young, I read science fiction and fantasy books—and Georgette Heyer’s Regency-set stories. I guess I was never one for living in the real world 😉 So for me, the Regency is my fantasy world, where the men are mostly titled, wealthy, and in need of a wife. And I’ve always been a bit of a word geek—I love my Oxford English Dictionary. Writing Regencies lets me use words like namby-pamby, brangle, and ninnyhammer. Fun!

Have you ever considered writing in another genre or historical period?

When my kids were very young, I wrote picture book texts. I got some “good” rejections on those and even went through some revisions with one publisher, but nothing came of it. And when my first book, The Naked Duke, sold, I was working on a science fiction romance. Actually, one of my very first manuscripts, pre-kids, was a science fiction romance, now that I think about it. But at least for the foreseeable future, I expect to stay in the Regency.

What’s up next for Sally?

I’m very excited to say I’ve just agreed to do a new series based on our visit to England last September! The stories are set in a small village, Loves Bridge, and revolve around a Spinster House. But I’m just starting book one, so everything is subject to change.

I can’t wait to read your new series!  Thanks so much for joining us today, Sally.  Readers, Sally is giving away one copy of Bedding Lord Ned, and because it’s Valentine’s Day I’m giving away a book, too!  One person who comments today will win both Sally’s book and my latest book, Secrets for Seducing a Royal Bodyguard.  Just tell us what you most like (or hate) about Valentine’s Day for a chance to win!

Breaking News!!! Valentine’s Day special on my facebook page.  I’m giving away TWO copies of Secrets for Seducing a Royal Bodyguard. So be sure to leave a comment for Sally, and then visit me on my facebook page!

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