Guest Author: Sally MacKenzie & Giveaway!


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 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!


Guest Author: Sally MacKenzie & Giveaway!

Woot!  Sally is in the house!  That would be USA Today bestselling author Sally MacKenzie.  She writes funny, hot, Regency-set books for Kensington Zebra. Her Naked Nobility series concluded (at least for the time being) with The Naked King, which was named one of ALA Booklist’s top ten romances for 2011.  Sally also happens to be one of my favorite historical romance authors.

Let’s ask Sally some questions about her new series, shall we?

Your latest book is the second in your new Duchess of Love series. What’s the idea for the series, and what inspired you to come up with it?

The idea is pretty simple: The Duchess of Greycliffe was a matchmaker even back in the boring village of Little Huffington before she married her duke. Now she’s the premier matchmaker for the ton, but the only matches she can’t make or mend are those of her three sons.

As to how I came up with the idea…that’s a little more convoluted. Unlike some authors, I’m not bristling with story ideas. And I’m what romance writers like to call a “pantser”–I write by the seat of my pants, making stuff up as I go along rather than following a detailed outline. (I prefer to think of it as letting my characters lead me, but whatever.)

So, my publisher wanted a synopsis for the new series–a narrative outline of what’s going to happen over the three books. O-kay. Synopses make me break out in a cold sweat, but they’re a necessary evil, I guess–and I think (I hope) my editor realizes mine rarely bear a lot of resemblance to the finished project. So I brainstormed with my agent and pieces of a plan fell into place. I had an elaborate back story, part of which had Venus, the duchess, a widow. She was going to develop her own love interest over the course of the series.

And then we had the idea to write the novella telling the story of how the duchess met her duke. But…I couldn’t kill off the duke after getting to know him! (No Downton Abbey downers for me!) So the plan changed, but long after the synopsis was done.

I realized a few weeks ago that I needed to update things when I got a payment for delivering the first few chapters of Ash’s story, and the check stub said it was for Loving the Duke. Oops. Ash was indeed the duke when I wrote the synopsis, but he can’t be now because I didn’t kill off his dad! Historicals are like that. So we changed the title to Loving Lord Ash. Glad I caught that before anyone worked on the cover!

One aspect of the series has a little basis in reality: Each chapter starts with a quote from “Venus’s Love Notes,” a leaflet of marital advice that the duchess shares with the female members of the ton. This publication mortifies her sons–they’d rather poke their eyes out than read one word of it…much as my romance novels cause my sons to flinch and run for cover.

Surprising Lord Jack–I love the title! What’s your new book about?

It’s about Jack, the duchess’s youngest son, and it begins in the ballroom around the time Ned’s book is ending.

In writing Ned, I discovered Jack knew how to fight dirty, which told me he knew his way around the seedier sections of London. (Jack, unlike his brothers, lives in Town.) His family also considers him a bit irresponsible, a devil-may-care sort of fellow, which of course meant he was nothing of the kind. So…I decided he had a secret life. He had charities connected with the stews which he didn’t want the ton to know about; thus he pretended to be a rake as a cover for his true interests. And when someone starts slashing the lightskirts’ throats à la Jack the Ripper, Jack feels it’s his job to get to the bottom of it, since most of the ton don’t care about what they consider the dregs of society.

Miss Frances Hadley is a completely new character–she doesn’t appear in Ned. She’s extremely independent and strong willed, and she’s been running her family’s estate since she was fourteen. Her mother died when Frances was young, her father took off even before she was born, and her twin brother left as soon as he could. Now her aunt is trying to trick her into marriage. Frances is not about to stand for that, so she cuts her hair, puts on some of her brother’s castoffs, and sets off in disguise for London to demand the money she feels is hers from her family’s man of business.

Unfortunately bad roads–a result of the blizzard that occurs in Ned–force her to take refuge in an inn. The innkeeper’s wife pities the “boy” and gives Frances the only open room, the one usually saved for Jack and his brothers. But then Jack shows up. Not wanting to roust the sleeping boy and send him down to the common room, Jack decides to share the bed. It’s large enough, and the lad seems to be a quiet sleeper.

When Jack finally discovers Frances’s true gender, he is not happy, but he’s resigned to do the right thing and offer marriage. Frances, however, is having no part of that–she came to London to avoid that exact fate. It takes a while–and some help from the Duchess of Love–for these two strong, independent and somewhat stubborn people to fall in love, but they do! (Are you surprised?)

Oh, and there’s a dog. Did I mention Shakespeare? He’s full of tricks and a hero in his own right.

Everyone has different reasons for loving the Regency period. What are some of yours?

I came to the Regency via Georgette Heyer. I think I was around middle school age when I first read her books. They were so funny and witty and romantic, though I confess I was young enough to think her thirty-year-old heroes really old.

And if I can be rather shallow, I’ll admit I like the ballrooms and the lavish estates and even the whole nobility thing, which seems very un-American. Of course my nobles aren’t stuffy and condescending.

What’s next in Sally’s writing life?

I’ve finished the first draft of the last book in the trilogy–Loving Lord Ash–and now I’m deep into revising and polishing. It’s scheduled to come out in Spring 2014. Once I send it off to my editor, it’s time to go back to the idea patch and pick a few good ones for a new series.

Thanks so much for being with us today, girlfriend!  Readers, Sally is graciously giving away a copy of The Naked King.  Let’s talk some more about historical romance–what are some of your favorite historicals, old school or new?  One person who comments will win a copy of Sally’s book.


Guest Author: Sally MacKenzie & Giveaway!

I’m featuring one of my favorite historical romance authors – and people! – on the blog today.  She’s Sally MacKenzie, a USA Today bestseller who writes witty and sexy Regency-set historical romance for Kensington Zebra.  Sally blasted onto the romance novel scene with the Naked Nobility Series, which has been translated into French, Indonesian, Russian, Spanish, and a bunch of other languages.  The last book in that series, The Naked King, was named as one of the top ten romances of 2011 by Booklist, the prestigious review journal of the American Library Association.

Sally has a new series called Duchess of Love, which launched in May with the digital novella prequel, The Duchess of Love.

The series has a great high concept:  a matchmaking duchess determined to find the perfect wives for her three sons.  She, of course, is the Duchess of Love, and the prequel novella tells the story of how she met her Duke.

The first full-length book in the series, Bedding Lord Ned, is now in stores.  Not surprising to anyone who’s read Sally’s books, it received a starred review in Publisher’s Weekly and four stars from RT Book Reviews:

“A pair of red drawers, a thieving cat, enchanting characters and the match-making Duchess of Love set the tone for MacKenzie’s new series.  With capable hands, she blends a touch of poignancy with just the right amount of humor into this delightful love story.”–RT Book Reviews

Here’s the blurb for Bedding Lord Ned:

Pleasure is in her future…

Ellie Bowman is determined: during this year’s Valentine house party, she will choose one of the men the matchmaking Duchess of Greycliffe–aka the Duchess of Love–has invited for her.  Unfortunately, that man will not be Lord Ned, the duchess’s second son.  Ned is still mourning his wife and will never see “trusty” Ellie as anything other than a childhood friend.  Now if only she could convince her heart of what her head already knows–and persuade the duchess’s thieving cat to stop stealing her red silk drawers and depositing them in Ned’s bed.

Lord Ned arrives at Greycliffe Castle vowing to finally cooperate with his mother’s matchmaking efforts.  He’s been a widower for four years; it’s time to put his past behind him.  He wants a family; he needs an heir.  Ergo, he must get a wife–and this year’s candidate even looks like his lost love.  But his old friend Ellie is behaving strangely, and Reggie, Mama’s cat, keeps bringing him a pair of shocking red underwear.  This outrageous, alluring scrap of silk couldn’t be Ellie’s, could it?  Suddenly his respectable old friend is invading his dreams in an utterly scandalous manner. 

Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?  Readers, if you haven’t read Sally’s books then you must give her new series a try.  She’s a wonderful writer and her stories are funny, sexy, and full of heart.  What romance reader could ask for more?

For my readers today, Sally is giving away a copy of the last book in her previous series, The Naked King.  Let’s talk a bit about British History and pageantry.  Did any of you watch the Queen’s Jubilee this past weekend?  If so, what was your favorite part?  If you didn’t watch it, just tell me who your favorite member of the royal family is, and why.  One reader who comments will win a copy of Sally’s book.