Giveaways Galore!!

American Duchess

I’m hosting historical romance author Sharon Page over at The Jaunty Quills today. Her new book, An American Duchess, hit the stores a few weeks ago. If you’re a Downton Abbey fan, you will love this book. Sharon is giving away a copy at The JQs, along with a FREE prequel  novella to anyone who comments! Just click here to join us.

And have you entered my Goodreads giveaway to win an ARC of How To Plan a Wedding for a Royal Spy?

How to plan a weddingroyal spy

I’m giving away 10 copies! Just click here for a chance to enter the contest.

Finally, I’m running a great website contest with my pal Theresa Romain. We’re giving away a really cute tee shirt and ARCs of our next books to two winners!


Just click on my Contest Page for rules and entry!



On The Road Again!


I’m doing my regular gig at The Jaunty Quills today, trash-talking the latest season of Downton Abbey and giving away a copy of my latest book, Secrets for Seducing a Royal Bodyguard. Click here to join me!


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: 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: Heather Snow & Giveaway!

One of the best things about reading romance is the opportunity to discover debut authors–writers who bring something fresh to the game, and who take some of those tired old tropes and stand them on end.  I have one such debut author featured on the blog today:  historical romance writer Heather Snow.

Heather, interestingly enough, has a degree in Chemistry, but she discovered she much prefers creating chemistry on the page rather than in the lab.  I love that!  She also says it’s a challenge to wrangle her left and right brain to work together, but she fortunately loves challenges…she just goes about solving them analytically.  Well, the results of her experiments in developing chemistry between her hero and heroine have certainly paid off in her debut book, Sweet Enemy.

Heather’s book has only been out for a few weeks, but it’s already garnered an impressive list of reviews, including this one from BookPage:

Sweet Enemy pairs a strong, independent heroine with a compassionate, politically active hero. The heroine’s unique knowledge of chemistry provides for some interesting twists, which combine with a solid plot, well-developed characters and deftly drawn setting to make an excellent first novel. Readers will be delighted to add Ms. Snow to their list of must-read authors.”

And how about this one from The Book Reading Gals?

“Whenever I read a debut book from an author I go into it a bit excited and a little hopeful that I will have found a new favorite, only to be disappointed too many times to count when it did not quite hit the spot for me. Well I am happy to say this is not one of those times! I picked up Sweet Enemy and at first thought it sounded a little familiar but that feeling ended after page 3, the next thing I know I am almost done with the book, could not put it down!”

Here’s the book blurb for Sweet Enemy:

Geoffrey Wentworth, a war hero and rising political star, never wanted to be the Earl, but when his brother dies, he knows his duty—take up the responsibility for his family’s estates.  His mother’s definition of duty differs from his, however, and can be summed up in one word—heirs.  When Geoffrey rushes home to answer her urgent summons, he finds himself host to a house full of women, all vying to become the next Countess of Stratford.  But his love is Parliament, where he wields his influence and reputation to better the lives of ex-soldiers, until a tempting houseguest and a secret from his past threaten his freedom…and his heart.

Liliana Claremont, a brilliant chemist, doesn’t want to be any man’s wife, much less a countess.  If she had tuppence for every time she’d been told her place was filling the nursery, not experimenting in the laboratory, she could buy the Tower Bridge.  However, when she receives a coveted invitation to the Earl’s house party, she trades in her beakers for ball gowns and gladly takes on the guise of husband hunter—for the chance to uncover what the Earl had to do with the murder of her father.

Liliana believes the best way to get the answers she needs is to keep her enemy close, though romance is not part of her formula.  But it only takes one kiss to start a reaction she can’t control…

Doesn’t that sound fabulous?  I love the fact that Heather’s heroine is a chemist!  To read an excerpt of Sweet Enemy just hop on over to Heather’s website, where you can also watch her book trailer.  While you’re there, be sure to check out the other stops on her blog tour.  Heather is a lovely person, and I think you’ll enjoy spending time with her!

For my readers today, Heather is giving away a copy of Sweet Enemy.  After watching the conclusion of Downton Abbey last night, I’m definitely in the mood to talk about historical clothing.  Didn’t you just love the outfits on the women of Downton?  So, tell me what your favorite period is for clothing–one person who comments will win a copy of Sweet Enemy.