Guest Author: Adrienne Basso & Giveaway!!


I’m very pleased to welcome fellow Kensington historical romance author Adrienne Basso to the blog.  Adrienne writes wonderful Highland, Victorian, and Regency-set historical romance, and she’s gotten tons of acclaim over the years.  She’s here to talk with us about her new book.

Take it away, Adrienne!

I’d first like to thank Vanessa for graciously inviting me to be a guest blogger today.   Like many other authors, in addition to my writing career, I have a rather demanding full-time job.  Consequently, I don’t get out much!  I therefore really appreciate this opportunity to connect with romance readers.

How to Be a Scottish Mistress was released in early July and I’ve been so pleased with the  response.  This book is big change in setting and time period for me – medieval Scotland.  My previous historicals have taken place in Regency England and my holiday romances are set in Victorian England. 

How to be a Scottish Mistress

Yet as I contemplated my next project, I wanted to tackle a new challenge.  Here’s what I came up with:

As Robert the Bruce struggles to unite the clans of Scotland and free his country from English rule, a newly widowed English noblewoman turns to a proud, powerful Scottish earl for sanctuary and justice.  Since the earl must marry to secure a political alliance, she offers to become his mistress.  The bargain they strike thrusts them into passionate danger – both outside and inside their bedchamber.  As treachery and vengeance loom, they must decide how far they are willing to go to fight for the survival of their forbidden love.

Interestingly, the basic premise of this plot, along with the two main characters, Fiona and Gavin, had been rolling around in my head for years.  My original idea was to set the story in England circa 1120, but when I proposed it to my editor, he asked me to consider changing the location to Scotland.  I did some research, thought it over and decided Scotland, in the time of Robert the Bruce, would be an excellent choice and further enhance the story.

There was one other aspect of this novel that I debated in my mind for weeks before making a decision – should I use any Scottish “words”?  As a reader I usually like the Scottish dialog – yet it isn’t always necessary.

How to Seduce a Sinner

What about ye, lasses?  Yay or nay to those phrases?  Please, let me know.  One commenter will win a signed copy of How to Be a Scottish Mistress. 

Regency Friday Fun And Giveaway

My next book, My Favorite Countess, is partially set in the lovely market town of Ripon, in North Yorkshire.  Ripon is also an old Cathedral City, and has been the home of monasteries since the 7th Century.  The cathedral itself was founded in the second half of the 7th Century by St. Wilfred, whose festival is celebrated every year to commemorate the event.  Usually held in August, there’s a parade with floats, bands, and mummers, all to honor the saint and his founding of the cathedral.

The saint even takes to the streets on his white horse, accompanied by his faithful monks.

Rumor has it that in days past, the procession used to take quite a long time, since St. Wilfrid and his monks made a habit of stopping by the local pubs on the parade route.  After all, processions are hard work and a little liquid refreshment just might be in order!

In My Favorite Countess, my heroine is visiting Ripon and finds herself attending the local festivities.  As she waits in the hot sun for St. Wilfrid to appear, she discovers that she has a great deal of sympathy for the tradition of hoisting a pint at various stops along the way.  Fortunately, the handsome Dr. John Blackmore soon appears and whisks Bathsheba off for some of his own special brand of rest and relaxation!

And since we’re now only a few weeks away from the release of My Favorite Countess, I’m running another ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) contest.  All you have to do is “like” my new Facebook author page.  I’ll pick a winner this weekend.  And if you’ve already “liked” my page, don’t worry.  You’ll still be eligible to win.

Also, you might want to check out my website. I’m offering a free bonus read – a prequel chapter to My Favorite Countess. Just click on the link on my home page or Books page to download the PDF chapter, or read it directly on your computer.


Regency Friday Fun And Giveaway

My next book, My Favorite Countess, will be released on May 3rd.  The hero of this book, John Blackmore, is a bit of a departure for me.  He’s a Regency physician, and you can read more about my inspiration for him here.

Like today’s doctors, Regency physicians often worked in hospitals as well as attending to their own practices.  That’s the case with John, who administers to high-born members of the ton as well as working in a large hospital in London.  In fact, I chose the oldest hospital in the city for John – St. Bartholomew’s in Smithfield.  St. Bartholomew’s or, Bart’s, is actually the oldest surviving hospital in England, and holds great historical and architectural value.

It was founded in 1123 by Rahere, an Augustinian who suffered a malarial attack while on pilgrimage to Rome and had vowed to build a hospital when he returned to England.  The picture above is of the famous King Henry VIII gateway, built in 1702 by Edward Strong.  The stone statue of Henry is by Frances Bird, and is apparently the only public statue of that monarch in the city.  On an adjoining wall is a plaque to William Wallace, who was executed nearby in 1305.

Over the years, there were a significant number of architectural and cultural beauties added to the grounds and the buildings, including the inner courtyard and the Great Hall.

The hospital was rebuilt in four blocks around this inner courtyard in the 18th century, and would have looked much like the above illustration when my hero, Dr. John, was attending to his patients.

Bart’s is also home to not one but two magnificent paintings by Hogarth, who was appointed a governor of the hospital in 1734.  Apparently, the hospital originally intended to commission art from Italy.  Hogarth, annoyed that the administrators would choose Italian painters, donated these two murals instead.  The one depicted below is called The Pool of Bethesda, and depicts Christ healing the sick.  The mural figures in a scene in my book, as the place of reconciliation between my hero John and my heroine, the fiery-tempered Bathsheba.

St. Bartholomew’s survived the Great Fire of London and The Blitz, and is a grand historical and cultural institution.  And it continues to be one of England’s best hospitals, with a medical school and a renowned international reputation.  For anyone interested in the history of London or of medicine, it is well worth the visit.

To celebrate the upcoming release of my book, I’ll be running some fun contests in March and April.  Today, I’m giving away signed cover flats of all four of my books:  Mastering The Marquess, Sex And The Single Earl, An Invitation To Sin, My Favorite Countess. Just leave a comment telling me who’s your favorite fictional doctor from either books, TV shows or movies.  Is it Dr. McDreamy from Grey’s Anatomy? Or how about one of the crew from E.R?

And don’t forget to check out the great contest I’m running all month on my website. I’m giving away ARCS of My Favorite Countess, as well as tee shirts and tote bags!

A Home For A Hero: Gravetye Manor

When it comes to inspiration for our stories, I think most historical romance writers are visually-oriented.  We take research trips to historical sites, haunt the corridors of museums and libraries, and develop terrible posture and bugged-out eyes from hours spent staring at our computer screens as we search the internet for that perfect location in which to place our characters.  In actually seeing these locations, writers can more easily imagine the details and textures that bring a scene to life.

And, frankly, it helps us to get things right.  My last book, Sex And The Single Earl, took place in Bath.  I had forgotten how hilly that charming city is, and my characters spend quite a bit of time dashing about the place like Olympic athletes.  Only when visiting Bath again did I realize my mistake.  If my characters had indeed raced around the place as I had initially visualized, I’m afraid they would have all eventually collapsed in exhausted heaps at the top of one Bath’s many hills.  I can assure you, corrections were immediately made to the manuscript.

My next Regency-set historical romance, My Favorite Countess, won’t be released until May 3 but I’m already moving ahead to my next project.  I don’t yet have a title for Book 4, but I do know where much of the action is going to take place.  It will be at a lovely manor house similar to the one pictured at the top of this post – Gravetye Manor, a beautiful Elizabethan home in Sussex, built in 1598.

I stumbled across Gravetye Manor while reading Patrick Baty’s blog.  Patrick is the owner of Papers and Paints, a London-based company that specializes in many aspects of paint and color.  He’s also one of the foremost authorities on architectural paint and color, and he’s worked on and restored an incredible number of historic buildings and structures, ranging from Queen Charlotte’s Cottage at Kew to the Tower Bridge. He’s one of my favorite sources of inspiration and research, and the slide shows of his many projects are fascinating.  If you have any interest at all in architecture or paint colors – or even just in looking at beautiful historic buildings – I recommend you add Patrick to your blog roll.

Anyway, it was on one of my regular checks of Patrick’s blog that I decided that Gravetye Manor would be the perfect setting for Book 4.  I needed an old estate, preferably a little run down and not far from London.  It had to be beautiful but neglected, and need lots of care and attention from its new lord, the hero of my book.  Gravetye is currently undergoing a major renovation and looks anything but neglected, but the weathered beauty of this Elizabethan manor really appealed to me.  And the interiors of the house are lovely, too.

Can’t you just see the lord of the manor relaxing in front of this wonderful fireplace on a cold winter’s night, his hounds snoozing at his feet?  Okay, we do need to get rid of the flowers in that grate, but you get the picture.  And how about this cozy sitting room?  I think it’s going to be a perfect retreat for my heroine when she needs a bit of a break from her handsome but moody new husband.

These lovely photos were obviously taken in the spring or summer, and everything looks positively idyllic.  My book, however, is set over the Christmas holidays, so this is where the imagination part will come in.  As much as I would love to visit Gravetye in the winter, I don’t think that’s going to happen.  But with the help of a little additional research, I know I’ll be able to imagine a Regency Christmas for my characters, all played out against a fictional setting inspired by beautiful Gravetye Manor.

Regency Friday Fun & Awesome Links

I’m guest-blogging today at Book Lovers Inc, talking about why I love the Regency period and giving away a copy of my new anthology, An Invitation To Sin. Stop by and join the fun!  I’ll also be at the Romantic Times blog later today, appearing with the other authors of Sin: Jo Beverley, Sally MacKenzie, and Kaitlin O’Riley.  It’s sure to be a great interview with a swell group of romance writers.  You don’t want to miss it!

As you can imagine, historical romance writers tend to be research geeks.  I have several blogs and websites I visit when looking for just the right bit of research, but two of my favorites are Two Nerdy History Girls and Patrick Baty. Patrick  runs a family paint business called Papers and Paints in Chelsea, London.  He’s an expert in the use of paint and color in historical buildings and has worked in some of the finest structures in England.  Although he specializes in the Georgian era, he’s consulted on projects as diverse as a Tudor garden and a 1950’s concert hall.  His work is simply fantastic and really fun to read about.  Patrick always includes lovely, lush photographs in his blogs, so have a look.

The Two Nerdy History Girls are Loretta Chase and Susan Holloway Scott.  Loretta writes Regency-set historical romance, and is one of my favorite writers of, well, anything.  And Susan writes wonderful historical fiction set in the time of Charles II.  These women know their history inside and out and talk about it in a very down-to-earth, entertaining way, bringing their respective periods to life.  Take my word for it–you’ll love this blog!

I’m heading over to my guest blogs, now.  Hope to see you there!