Guest Author: Julia Justiss & Giveaway!!

I’m thrilled to be hosting one of my favorite historical writers.  She’s Julia Justiss, and she writes deliciously emotional Regency-set historical romance that brings to life the customs and morals of the Regency world.  She is a truly accomplished writer.  Julia is with us to today to tell us a bit about herself and her two new books.

You’ve had an interesting and varied life, which has included time as a tour guide in your home town of Annapolis, and also time abroad doing things like writing the newsletter for the American Embassy in Tunisia.  How has your background influenced your writing?

Growing up in Annapolis fed a fascination with history—it was all around me, from “George Washington slept here” at several of the inns to the Liberty Tree, where the rebels who would launch the Annapolis version of the Boston tea party met to plan strategy.  Becoming a guide for Historical Annapolis allowed me to entertain visitors with stories about the famous—and not so famous—people who created the events that shaped the city.  So I guess I fell in love with telling stories with an historical setting while still in high school.

Living abroad and being exposed to very different cultures, both in Tunisia and in Norway, increased my appreciation for diversity and for different “worlds”—and historical fiction, like fantasy, really depends on creating a world for your reader that is different from her contemporary life, yet infused with timeless values like honor, devotion, duty and (of course!) love, values that have endured across all time.

What could be better than history with a happy ending?

You have new books out called The Rake to Redeem Her and The Rake to Ruin Her.  Both your heroes and settings seem delightfully different.  What can you tell us about the Ransleigh Rogues series?

I wanted a group of linked stories, initially a “Band of Brothers” who help each other survive the storming of the fortress of Badajos during the Peninsular War.  My editor wanted a stronger bond between the characters, so the idea of four cousins evolved.  Because I enjoyed so much working on the Silk & Scandal miniseries, where the three families intertwined in the original scandal end up in very different situations in life, I liked the idea of having one cousin be an earl’s son, another the illegimate son of the family black sheep, another a poet, another the man’s man who must reshape his life and expectations after losing an arm at Waterloo.

The first (March 2013) book, Ruin Her, features earl’s son Max Ransleigh, the natural leader of the cousins and the one whom they all expect to have a brilliant future in government.  After being implicated in an assassination plot against Lord Wellington destroys his hopes for a career in diplomacy, he retreats to his cousin Alastair’s country estate to contemplate his prospects.  There he encounters Caroline Denby, an heiress with no desire to marry who hits upon the idea of getting herself ruined, so fortune hunters will stop pestering her and she can return to running the breeding farm she helped her late father establish.  Since Max’s reputation is already tarnished, why not help her out by seeming to ruin hers?  But when well-laid plans go awry, both Caro and Max end up discovering a life—and a love—they’d never dreamed of.

The second book, Redeem Her, features illegitimate cousin Will Ransleigh.  Plucked off the streets and transported to the earl’s country estate with orders to become a “proper Ransleigh” or be sent back, the initially uncooperative Will owes his life to Max’s persistence in persuading him—or pummeling him—into shape.  When he returns from Waterloo to discover Max’s career in ruins, a furious Will vows to find the woman who entangled Max in the plot and bring her back to England to testify to his innocence.  Except when he finds her, Elodie Lefevre is nothing like the femme fatale he was expecting.  A survivor of war and revolution, Elodie has no intention of meekly doing any man’s bidding.  So begins a game of persuasion and evasion, with falling in love a result neither could have expected.

The next two Rogues should appear sometime in 2014.  Alastair, poet turned heartless rake after a humiliating betrayal, is sure he’s over Diana—until a chance encounter with his now-widowed former fiancée sets him reeling.  An affair begun out of revenge soon turns into much more, with Alastair finding the woman Diana has become even more intriguing that the girl he once loved.

Finally, “Dandy Dominic,” who could charm any lady and surpass any man at riding, shooting, and all the manly sports, returns from war maimed and disfigured.  No longer sure who he is, Dom shuns his friends and shuts himself away at his country estate.  His brooding solitude is invaded by a feisty colonel’s daughter whose pragmatism challenges him to put his losses behind him and start living—and loving–again.

What’s up next in your writing world? 

First I need to finish the next two Rogue books.  After that…I may revisit some of the secondary characters from my Wellingford family books.  There’s the youngest sister of my very first heroine and a scrappy orphan sponsored by a family friend who becomes a Parliamentary reformer.  Then there’s a “Regency urban fantasy” series idea tugging at me.  There’s never a shortage of things to write about, only time to write in!

Thank you, Julia!  Readers, I just finished reading The Rake To Ruin Her last night, and I loved it.  Julia is graciously giving away two copies of that book to my readers today.  Just tell us what your favorite type of historical hero is for a chance to win!  And don’t forget to follow Julia on facebook and Pinterest!


Guest Author: Kristina McMorris & Letters From Home


I’m featuring someone a bit different on the blog today, and something very cool:  author Kristina McMorris and her moving historical fiction novel, Letters From Home.

This is Kristina’s debut novel, set during World War II.  It’s the story of a lonely serviceman stationed overseas, who falls in love over the course of a year through the exchange of letters with a young woman back Stateside.  That’s the main thread of the novel, but it’s so much more than that:  it’s also the story of three young women, friends who must all face challenges and make difficult choices during a time of sweeping change and upheaval.

One of the things that fascinates me about Letters From Home is that it does take place during WW II.  The most popular historical fiction these days is usually set much earlier, often in the Elizabethan, Tudor, or Georgian periods.  Just as interesting is Kristina’s inspiration for this book.  In 2000, she began gathering hundreds of her grandmother’s favorite recipes to compile in a cookbook, which she indie published as Grandma Jean’s Rainy Day Recipes (all proceeds benefiting the Food Bank).  While gathering information for the biographical section of the cookbook, Kristina came across a letter from her grandfather to a girlfriend during his wartime naval service.  It was this letter that later served as inspiration for Letters From Home.

Kristina’s novel has received fantastic reviews and garnered significant critical acclaim.  It was a 2007 Golden Heart Finalist, and to date has won a dozen national literary awards.  The book got wonderful reviews from both Publishers Weekly and RT Book Reviews, and authors have been quick to rave about it too.  New York Times bestselling author Susan Wiggs called it:  “wholly original…and tender and heartfelt.”  And Jill Barnett, also a NY Times bestselling author, called the novel an “intimate, touching, and romantic story of the Greatest Generation.”

But my favorite accolade comes from Buck Compton, author and one of the famed Band of Brothers WW II veterans:  “Skillfully written…sweeps the reader away.  The research and attention to detail commendably honors veterans of WWII.”

You can read all about Kristina’s reviews and awards on her website.

Here’s the blurb for Letters From Home:

In love and war, nothing is as it seems…

Chicago, 1944. Liz Stephens has little interest in attending a USO club dance with her friends Betty and Julia. She doesn’t need a flirtation with a lonely serviceman when she’s set to marry her childhood sweetheart. Yet something happens the moment Liz glimpses Morgan McClain. They share only a brief conversation – cut short by the soldier’s evident interest in Betty – but Liz can’t forget him. Thus, when Betty asks her to ghostwrite a letter to Morgan, stationed overseas, Liz reluctantly agrees.

Thousands of miles away, Morgan struggles to adjust to the brutality of war. His letters from “Betty” are a comfort, their soul-baring correspondence a revelation to them both. While Liz is torn by her feelings for a man who doesn’t know her true identity, Betty and Julia each become immersed in their own romantic entanglements. And as the war draws to a close, all three will face heart-wrenching choices, painful losses, and the bittersweet joy of new beginnings.

Just reading the blurb makes me want to choke up!  For readers who love historical and women’s fiction, and just an all around great story, I think you’ll love Letters From Home.  To find out more about this truly lovely novel, visit Kristina’s website for more details and to read an excerpt.

And to those who stop by the blog today, Kristina has very graciously donated a copy of Letters From Home for a giveaway.  Just tell me what your favorite period of history is to study or read about.  If you’re so inclined, tell us why!  One person who comments will win the book.