Guest Author: Deborah Hale & Giveaway!!



I’m very pleased to have Deborah Hale visiting the blog today.  Since winning the prestigious Golden Heart Award in 1997, she’s written more than thirty books in the genres of historical romance, historical fiction, otherworld fantasy and inspirational romance. Her work has been translated into more than a dozen languages with over two million copies sold worldwide.  Quite a pedigree, don’t you think?  Let’s find out what’s going on in Deb’s writing world.

You’ve written something like twenty historical romances.  Do you have a favorite period to write in?

I love both the Regency and Georgian periods for their elegance.  They are far enough back in history to have an enchanted quality yet they have enough in common with the modern world that readers can identify with them. 

Tell us about your Glass Slipper Brides series, and your latest book.

Glass Slipper Brides is a series of inspirational Regencies about a group of governesses who met and bonded at a horrible charity school like the one the Bronte sisters attended.  After leaving school they go to work in households throughout England and keep in touch by letter.  Because of this, each story can easily be read on its own, though I do mention the other friends and sometimes bring them briefly into each others’  stories.

The Earl’s Honorable Intentions is the fourth story of six (the first one is a novella). It’s about career cavalry officer who inherited his title after the death of his elder brother. He returns home, wounded, after Waterloo determined to make sure Napoleon doesn’t return to power for a third time. His children’s governess wants him to leave that mission to others and instead become a devoted father to his three motherless children. That is a role the earl doesn’t believe he’s cut out for.

You also have a “new” Civil War romance out.  What can you tell us about that.

That’s right! I was thrilled to get back the rights to one of my backlist books. I gave it a new title, In A Stranger’s Arms and commissioned a new cover from Kim Killion that took my breath away.

This story was inspired by the film Sommersby, which I loved, except for the ending. It’s about a proud Confederate widow who has to marry a former Union soldier in order to hang onto her family’s plantation. Her new husband is very secretive about his past and bears an unsettling resemblance to her first husband. It’s a story about the healing, redemptive power of love. One of my favorite characters is my heroine’s feisty little daughter who was inspired by a picture of my husband’s great-grandmother!  Her picture is posted below.

What’s up next in Deborah’s writing life?

In November the next Glass Slipper Brides book comes out, The Duke’s Marriage Mission and I’m currently working on the last one, which will have a hero who’s a mill-owner/philanthropist rather than a nobleman. After that, I’m trying to decide which of a number of new projects I’d like to pursue!

Vanessa, here.  Sounds like you’ll be busy, Deb!  For my readers, Deb is graciously giving away a copy of His Compromised Countess.  Let’s talk covers, because Deb’s are really beautiful.  Just tell us which one of her covers you like the best and why for a chance to win her book!


What I’m Reading This Week

For some bizarre yet wonderful reason, I’ve actually been able to carve out some reading time the last few weeks.  Historical romance has really been on my radar and I’ve been reading some darn good ones.

The first is Meredith Duran’s latest release, At Your Pleasure.  One word – phenomenal.  Duran’s books are always beautifully crafted, with gorgeous prose, fascinating characters, and cool settings.  And her men are to die for.  The hero of At Your Pleasure, Lord Rivenham, is dark, dangerous, and sexy.  Smart, too – way smart.  It’s a killer combination.  And two thumbs up for the setting, which is the early Georgian period.  It was a dramatic, intriguing, and dangerous time, and I wish we’d see more historical romances set in this era.

Shifting now to the American West and the books of Jo Goodman.  I used to read cowboy romances quite a bit when I was younger, but I’d drifted away from them to the Regency period.  Well, Goodman could pull anyone back to cowboy country in no time flat.  The Last Renegade is a character driven romance with a particularly engaging hero and heroine. Goodman has a way of taking old tropes and making them fresh, and writing strong, fairly silent heroes who are very masculine but always smart and thoughtful (again with the smart heroes!).

The beauty of Goodman’s writing is often best realized in the quiet moments between the hero and heroine, and The Last Renegade dishes up plenty of those moments.  A very romantic, lovely book with great dialogue and even a bit of a mystery plot.

My third pick this week is The Dragon and the Pearl, by Jeannie Lin.  Set during the Tang Dynasty in China, this book sucked me in from page one.  I was riveted by the setting and the history, and how Lin made it such an integral part of the story. The Dragon and the Pearl was the opposite of a wallpaper historical and, as a writer, I was blown away by Lin’s skill and level of craft.  The Dragon and the Pearl is a beautifully written story with deep, heart-wrenching emotion and a spectacular hero and heroine.  One of the best books I’ve read in 2012.

Obviously the last few weeks have provided me with some great reading, but how about you?  I’d like to continue my streak – any books that you’d particularly recommend?  And if you’d like more of my book recommendations, please join me on goodreads!


Guest Author: Elizabeth Essex & Giveaway!

As you might have guessed by now, I love Regency-set historical romance. But there’s another period that’s dear to my heartand that’s the Georgian period, which immediately preceded the Regency.  It’s a wonderful setting for historical romance, lending itself to swashbuckling adventure and intrigue, and some truly spectacular clothing.

Elizabeth Essex, my guest author today, writes adventurous and sexy historical romance set during the Georgian period.  Her debut book was The Pursuit of Pleasure, which got great reviews:

“Elizabeth Essex’s The Pursuit of Pleasure is elegant, evocative, and absolutely dangerous to a good night’s sleep. Once you pick this book up, you won’t be able to set it aside until you’ve learned the last of its very satisfying secrets.” NYT bestselling author, Courtney Milan

Her last book, The Danger of Desire, was nominated for the prestigious RITA Award.

You’ll be happy to know that Elizabeth has a brand new series called The Reckless Brides, released by St. Martin’s Press:

Bold, brazen and beautiful, the reckless brides refuse to play by society’s rules of courtship. But—come hell or high water—they always get their man.

She’s always ready for adventure. He’s almost ready for love

The first book in the series, Almost a Scandal, is available now.  Here’s what USA Today bestselling author Julianne MacLean had to say about it:

“Elizabeth Essex will dazzle you with her sophisticated blend of vivid historical detail, exquisite characterization and delicious sexual tension. Almost a Scandal is a breath-taking tale of rapturous romance and awe-inspiring adventure!”

Zounds!  Is that not a gorgeous cover?  Here’s the blurb:


For generations, the Kents have served proudly with the British Royal Navy. So when her younger brother refuses to report for duty, Sally Kent slips into uniform and takes his place—at least until he comes to his senses. Boldly climbing aboard H.M.S. Audacious, Sally is as able-bodied as any sailor there. But one man is making her feel tantalizingly aware of the full-bodied woman beneath her navy blues…


Dedicated to his ship, sworn to his duty—and distractingly gorgeous—Lieutenant David Colyear sees through Sally’s charade, and he’s furious. But he must admit she’s the best midshipman on board—and a woman who tempts him like no other. With his own secrets to hide and his career at stake, Col agrees to keep her on. But can the passion they hide survive the perils of battle at sea? Soon, their love and devotion will be put to the test…

I told you, right?  Swashbuckling, adventurous, and sexy!  What’s not to like?  If you’ve never read any of Elizabeth’s books, this series is a great place to start.

For my readers today, Elizabeth is generously giving away two copies of Almost a Scandal.  Wow!  Since Elizabeth has such great covers, let’s talk about that.  What do you like to see on a romance cover?  Do you like the traditional clinch, the elegant lady, or the more discrete hearts and flowers? Two people who comment will win Almost a Scandal.

And don’t forget to check out Elizabeth’s website to read excerpts and find out about all her books!



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.

Regency Friday Fun

It’s Friday so it’s time for some Regency fun, this time of the fashion kind.  I love the clothing from the Regency period, although styles did change considerably from the end of the Georgian period to the end of the extended Regency.  Here’s a formal portrait of Georgiana, the Duchess of Devonshire, who was a leader of both society and fashion during the 18th century.

As you can tell, there’s a lot of fabric and elaborate draping in this beautiful dress, and the headress is very structured.  During the Regency the fashions were greatly influenced by Classical Greece, leading to an era of great simplicity in dress.  Waists moved higher in the Empire Style, and thin, flowing fabrics like muslin were used.  Here are a few lovely dresses I came across in my internet searches, from the Digital Collections of the University of Washington Libraries.  I love this white day dress from 1812:

And here’s a gorgeous, straw-colored evening dress from 1813, although I’m not totally sold on the lace trim for the shoulders:

And I’m always a sucker for a good riding habit:

Things did start to get a little crazy around the end of the Regency period, though, as you can see with these walking dresses from 1828:

These dresses are so elaborately insane they make Georgiana’s dress look like a simple nightgown!  Even worse, take a look at what happened to some of the men’s clothing toward the end of the Regency period:

Can you imagine your average Regency hero decked out in that?  No, thank you.  I’ll stick with the breeches and cool leather boots instead!