Guest Author: Katharine Ashe & Giveaway!

I’m so very thrilled to be hosting Katharine Ashe on my blog today.  Katharine is an award-winning author of historical romance who was described by Booklist in 2010 as “one of the new stars of historical romance.”  She’s both a talented writer and a truly wonderful person, and she’s here today to tell us about her new book.  How To Be A Proper Lady has already been getting phenomenal reviews, and is an Editors’ Choice for Best Book of the Month.

Without further ado, let’s talk to Katharine!

It seems we never lose our love for pirates and privateers – and no wonder, with the likes of Captain Jack Sparrow as a role model!  But How To Be A Proper Lady has several unusual twists.  Your hero is not your average English aristocrat or even your standard pirate, and your heroine is herself a privateer.  How did you come up with such an unusual idea?

It’s one of those Crazy Author things, Vanessa. The hero of How To Be a Proper Lady, Jin Seton, presented himself to me pretty much fully formed so I hadn’t much of a choice about who he was.

I’d just started writing Captured by a Rogue Lord. The hero of that book, Alex Savege, begins his story as a Robin Hood-style pirate who steals from the rich and gives to the poor. Jin was Alex’s first lieutenant, and from the moment he spoke to Alex in the opening chapter of that book he told me who he was: not fully English, but a man with a brutal history who now sought atonement for the violent deeds of his past. I loved him. And I knew within minutes who his heroine would be: a strong, adventuresome woman, Viola Carlyle, the girl that had been abducted by her smuggler father fifteen years earlier and that everyone presumed dead.

Fortunately, Jin liked that idea. A lot. He told me he would find Viola and bring her home to her noble family. Of course, he didn’t count on Viola’s stubborn determination not to do his bidding, or his desire for her. Or hers for him! And that’s where the fun began…

In addition to being a fabulous romance writer, you’re also a history professor.  Did you draw on any models from the history books in creating the characters of Jinan and Viola?

Thank you! Yes, indeedy, the histories I read definitely inform my characters. Sometimes I get ideas from history books for specific things (like the captive English brides in my In the Arms of a Marquess), and sometimes the historical places and subjects I’m reading about more generally inspire characters or plots. I’m very fortunate that my husband and his friends happen to be the world’s foremost scholars of Caribbean history in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, so I’m always reading their books and talking with them about it. It was a thrilling and dangerous time! I don’t need to invent anything; I just borrow it from history.  (Vanessa, here.  What a cool profession for your hubby–and very handy for a historical romance writer!)

Jin and Viola presented themselves to me after I’d been reading a lot about the shipping routes of the British Empire, and the movements of merchants, navies and slaves across the Atlantic and Mediterranean. Jin’s unsparing past and Viola’s profession came straight from my studies. And their sizzling romance? Well, that came from who they were in their hearts and what they each dreamed of becoming.

When you were writing this book, did anything surprise you? Any strange bits of research? Did the characters take you in unexpected directions?

Oh, yes! They took me to the Caribbean islands of Trinidad and Tobago, which admittedly I’d anticipated. But what I hadn’t understood before was they couldn’t just sail down the U.S. coast from Boston; air and ocean currents required ships to sail east first, to Bermuda, then south. Also, because Jin does manage to haul Viola back to England and return her to her aristocratic roots, I learned alongside my poor sailor heroine a whole lot about the accomplishments expected of a proper lady in that society. Poor Viola! I suffered with her through every lesson in French, watercolor painting and etiquette that she was forced to endure.

Let’s say you were kidnapped by a ravishing pirate and taken to a deserted island. What two luxury items would you beg him to let you take, to make your stay that much more enjoyable?

I will respond to this question when my heart reenters my body. I mean, really, where does a girl I begin??? Satin sheets and a refrigerator filled with champagne!

And here’s the blurb for How To Be A Proper Lady:

The rules of being a proper lady

1) Never take steps greater than six inches apart
2) Never look boldly at a gentleman
3) And never, ever kiss a man who is not your fiancé…

But beautiful, bold Viola Carlyle doesn’t care about the rules. And she desperately wants to kiss the notoriously tempting Captain Jin Seton, the man who brought her kicking and fighting back to English society. Kidnapped as a child, now she longs to return to that life of freedom where she was able to live—and love—as she wished.

Having hunted Viola for two years, Jin Seton has finally found his good luck—for by finding Viola his oldest, deepest debt will at last be paid. And although he has vowed not to let her win his heart, this very improper lady might finally be the one who tames him.

Thanks for the great interview, Katharine.  I have to say, How To Be A Proper Lady has moved to the top of my TBR pile!  Readers, be sure to check out Katharine’s website for all the details and buy links, and to read an excerpt.

Katharine is also generously giving away copies of her previous books today.  For a chance to win a copy of When A Scot Loves A Lady or Captured By A Rogue Lord, tell us what your favorite pirate movie is.  My all-time favorite is Captain Blood, but I’m partial to space pirates too, like Han Solo in Star Wars!

We Have A Winner!

The winner of Katharine Ashe’s book, Swept Away by a Kiss, is Sharyn L.  Congratulations!  I’ll be in touch soon.

Thanks to everyone who stopped by.  Don’t forget that for every copy sold of Katharine’s new book, In the Arms of a Marquess, Avon Romance will donate 25 cents to its K.I.S.S. & Teal Campaign to support research into Ovarian Cancer.

Next up on the blog?  My pal Lena Diaz, whose debut book, He Kills Me, He Kills Me Not, was just released by Avon Impulse.  Lena will be hear tomorrow!

Guest Author: Katharine Ashe & Giveaway!

I’m so happy to have the fabulous Katharine Ashe on the blog today.  Katharine writes gorgeous, critically acclaimed historical romances full of adventure and sensuality.  Her new book, In the Arms of a Marquess, will be released on August 30.  It’s already getting fantastic buzz and reviews, which doesn’t surprise me one bit!  I’ll turn the blog over to Katharine now, as she tells us about her secret cravings…

Indulging in the Exotic

I am a homebody. I love my cozy family room, my sink-into-it couch with fuzzy pillows (I bought on sale!), sun shining through the leaves of my potted palm, my pups napping on the floor. Sometimes when I write I sit at my kitchen table, coffee mug and a little plate of cookies beside me, or on the back deck where a hummingbird occasionally visits and I can hear boys playing basketball in the park through the woods. I love my quiet little street, my friendly neighborhood, my local café, the grocery store where I know everybody, and the laundromat where I chat each week with Millie about our latest romance reads.

I am a homebody.

But sometimes… I crave the exotic.


I’ve had this craving for years. I haven’t tried to curb it. Instead, I indulge it. In the 70’s, my mother learned from a dieting guru that “humming foods” – foods you crave while dieting – can be the ruination of your diet if you don’t hum back to them, i.e. nibble them occasionally. I like this theory.

But I don’t nibble. I feast.

Usually my feast is a book, a delectable novel about some far-off place I’ve only seen in pictures and dreams… deserts where the heat rises in waves off the sand while caravans of bejeweled camels march along… glittering island seas where the water is so blue it hurts the eye with its perfection… golden pyramids that rise into the heavens… towering pinnacles on sparkling temples… fortress walls that stretch hundreds of miles across windswept mountaintops… the sumptuous sprawl of palaces built entirely for luxury and pleasure. It’s all the better if it’s a historical novel, especially a romance. When I read one of these I can sit in the comfort of my cozy house and, for a handful of hours, live a very different life. A life of fantastic adventure. It’s magical.

Sometimes, though, I answer the “humming” by writing. From the delicious comfort of Regency England, I take a step into the exotic, then another, and another into the vast, magnificent British Empire of the early nineteenth century. I don’t go for long! I adore the flirtations of London ballrooms, the witty banter of drawing rooms, romantic drives in the park and scandalous gossip around the tea table. I never stray far from those. In fact, what I love to do most is bring the exotic home to enjoy.

So that’s what I’ve done in my next book, IN THE ARMS OF A MARQUESS, coming on August 30. Sensible, shockingly honest Miss Octavia Pierce has a taste for the exotic, and the daring to go after it. Dark-eyed and delectably handsome Lord Ben Doreé, a man of mystery—raised like any English nobleman but not fully English, on the edge of society but never fully within it—has secrets Octavia is determined to discover. And he may just let her, but only if she agrees to a shocking proposition…

She had never forgotten him…

Miss Octavia Pierce is witty, well off, and shockingly unwed. Still, she is far too successful in society to remain on the shelf forever, and her family has hopes that Octavia will finally make the perfect match. What they do not know is that years earlier Octavia was scandalously tempted by the one man capable of sweeping her off her feet—the man now known as the Marquess of Doreé.

A third son, never meant to inherit, Lord Ben Doreé has abandoned his past and grown accustomed to his illustrious new position of wealth and power. But he has never forgotten Octavia, and now she desperately needs his help in a most dangerous, clandestine matter. Although she claims she has put the memories of the passion they shared behind her, Ben is determined to once again have her in his arms—and in his bed.

Vanessa, here.  Just for us, Katharine is a giving away a copy of Swept Away by a Kiss, the first book in her critically acclaimed Rogues of the Sea series.

Here’s the question she wants you to answer:  do you ever allow yourself to indulge in the exotic? Whether it’s adding a dash of cinnamon to your morning coffee or haring off on a trip around the world, how do you feed your cravings?  One reader who shares her secret craving (mine is chocolate cupcakes!) will win a copy of this marvelous book.

And don’t forget – as part of its K.I.S.S. and Teal campaign, Avon Romance is donating 25c from the sale of each copy of IN THE ARMS OF A MARQUESS (print or e-book) to support Ovarian Cancer research and support for victims and families.

Katharine Ashe & The K.I.S.S. & Teal Campaign

I’m thrilled to announce that the fabulous Katharine Ashe will be kicking off the blog tour for her latest book, In the Arms of a Marquess, right here on my blog!

She’ll be here all day tomorrow, so please make sure to drop by.  It’s sure to be a lot of fun, but we’ll also be doing something else that’s very important.  Did you notice the white and teal badge on Katharine’s book cover?  That’s the official emblem of Avon Romance’s K.I.S.S. and Teal Campaign, which supports research for Ovarian Cancer and also helps victims and their families.  Avon is donating 25 cents from the sale of each copy (print or digital) of In the Arms of a Marquess to support this campaign.  What an absolutely terrific thing to do!

So stop by tomorrow – we’ll be chatting with Katharine and helping put the boots to this dreaded disease.  Win/win!