Guest Author: Adrienne Basso & Giveaway!!


I’m very pleased to welcome fellow Kensington historical romance author Adrienne Basso to the blog.  Adrienne writes wonderful Highland, Victorian, and Regency-set historical romance, and she’s gotten tons of acclaim over the years.  She’s here to talk with us about her new book.

Take it away, Adrienne!

I’d first like to thank Vanessa for graciously inviting me to be a guest blogger today.   Like many other authors, in addition to my writing career, I have a rather demanding full-time job.  Consequently, I don’t get out much!  I therefore really appreciate this opportunity to connect with romance readers.

How to Be a Scottish Mistress was released in early July and I’ve been so pleased with the  response.  This book is big change in setting and time period for me – medieval Scotland.  My previous historicals have taken place in Regency England and my holiday romances are set in Victorian England. 

How to be a Scottish Mistress

Yet as I contemplated my next project, I wanted to tackle a new challenge.  Here’s what I came up with:

As Robert the Bruce struggles to unite the clans of Scotland and free his country from English rule, a newly widowed English noblewoman turns to a proud, powerful Scottish earl for sanctuary and justice.  Since the earl must marry to secure a political alliance, she offers to become his mistress.  The bargain they strike thrusts them into passionate danger – both outside and inside their bedchamber.  As treachery and vengeance loom, they must decide how far they are willing to go to fight for the survival of their forbidden love.

Interestingly, the basic premise of this plot, along with the two main characters, Fiona and Gavin, had been rolling around in my head for years.  My original idea was to set the story in England circa 1120, but when I proposed it to my editor, he asked me to consider changing the location to Scotland.  I did some research, thought it over and decided Scotland, in the time of Robert the Bruce, would be an excellent choice and further enhance the story.

There was one other aspect of this novel that I debated in my mind for weeks before making a decision – should I use any Scottish “words”?  As a reader I usually like the Scottish dialog – yet it isn’t always necessary.

How to Seduce a Sinner

What about ye, lasses?  Yay or nay to those phrases?  Please, let me know.  One commenter will win a signed copy of How to Be a Scottish Mistress. 

His Mistletoe Bride

I’m very excited that my next Regency-set historical romance, His Mistletoe Bride, to be released October 1, is now available for pre-order from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other retailers.  As you can tell by the title and the great cover, it’s a Christmas book–the first one I’ve written.  And it was a lot of fun to write because it meant doing research on Christmas during the Regency period.  Many of our most cherished holiday traditions developed during the time of Queen Victoria, but they certainly knew how to celebrate the season during the Regency, too.  I had a great time incorporating those traditions into my book.

But first and foremost, His Mistletoe Bride is a romance between two very different people:  Phoebe Linville, a young woman raised in a Quaker household in America, and Major Lucas Stanton, a soldier who must reluctantly take up the responsibilities of an earldom he never wanted.  That responsibility includes a tumbledown estate called Mistletoe Manor, a village full of smugglers, and an interfering set of relatives determined to throw Phoebe and Lucas together.  And since it’s the last book in my Stanton Family series, I had a great time bringing back characters from my earlier books, including Meredith and Silverton from Mastering The Marquess.

Here’s a short excerpt from His Mistletoe Bride:

Phoebe Linville would never see home again.

She braced herself against the roll of the sailing packet, clutching the damp wood of the ship’s railing in a hard grip.  The church spires and red brick buildings of Philadelphia receded into the early morning mist drifting across the whitecaps of the Delaware River.  A cool October morning with a salty bite to the air, hinting at the impending change of seasons.

A perfect day to start a new life.

Excitement quickened her breath.  For months her energies had been focused on this moment, despite George’s strongly worded attempts to change her mind.  She wouldn’t miss his strident lectures, but she would miss her sister-in-law, and her nieces and nephews.  And now that she was leaving, Phoebe would even miss George.  Although their relationship had been fraught with tension for so many years, her half-brother loved her and always sought to keep her footsteps on the righteous path.  To George, her decision to reject a life in America was a profound betrayal of their father’s family and their Quaker roots.

But God had shown her another path to take.


Phoebe could hardly believe she would soon be in that distant land, and with the grandfather whose letters had assured her of his welcome.  England, the land of Chaucer and Spenser, a place of legend steeped in tales of fairy queens and ancient kings, whose knights swept through the land in their quests for glory.

Not that Phoebe had ever read those tales for herself.  Such frivolity had no place in a Quaker household, even given her father’s rather lax adherence to tradition.  But her mother, still loyal in her heart to the old country, had whispered bedtime stories of fairies and sprites that roamed the copses of that green and gentle land.  Father, bless him, had never once objected to the stories knowing that Mamma, even though long estranged from her English relations, had needed the comfort of telling them as much as Phoebe had needed the excitement of hearing them.

And now that same family was calling Phoebe home.  After years of silence, her grandfather, whom she had never met, had finally acknowledged his only grandchild.

You can read a longer excerpt right here on my website, and find order links to your favorite retailers.

Have a great Sunday, everyone!

Guest Author: Mia Marlowe & Giveaway!

I’m so pleased to have my pal and super-talented author Mia Marlowe visiting with us on the blog today.  Mia writes passionate and wonderfully evocative historical romance.  In fact, Publishers Weekly recently named her latest book, Touch Of A Rogue, as one of the Top Ten Romances for Spring 2012.  Congratulations, lady!

Like many authors these days (including moi), Mia has branched out into indie publishing.  Let’s find out all about that, shall we?

Mia, you have a very successful career in traditional print publishing, yet you’ve recently branched out into indie publishing. Why did you go this route? 

It all started in 2010 when I began to write a serialized novella on my website called A DUKE FOR ALL SEASONS. Each month I added another chapter and invited readers to send in suggestions for which way the story should turn. About 6 months in, I found myself under contract to deliver 6 novels to 2 different publishing houses (Kensington and Sourcebooks) in a 15 month period. All extraneous writing had to go by the wayside.

But I always felt guilty about not finishing A DUKE FOR ALL SEASONS. I felt I owed it to my readers to let them know what happened to Sebastian and Arabella. So when I was able, I wrote the rest of the story and offered it as an eNovella last fall. No one was more surprised than I when it hit the Top 10 in historical romance on Amazon and stayed there for weeks.

Then when my agent negotiated the reversion of rights to several of my books from Dorchester, it seemed only natural to epublish those stories as well. I love writing for my NY editors at Kensington and Sourcebooks and am very happy to have one foot in tradition publishing and another in the brave new world of indie.

Two of your books, Erinsong and MaidenSong take place during the Viking period, but your other historicals are set during the 19th Century. Why such a spread?

I’ve always had a passion for history that isn’t limited to Regency England. I wanted to write some dramatic, epic stories of seduction, betrayal and redemption. The world of the vikings is just the kind of broad canvas I wanted for a backdrop. Readers who enjoy my Dark Ages romances will be pleased to hear that a third “song” book is coming this fall—DRAGONSONG, my never-before-published finale to the viking series.

I’ve also written stories set in 16th century Scotland (SINS OF THE HIGHLANDER, Sourcebooks, Jan. 2012 with New York Times bestseller  Connie Mason) and Victorian era London-Paris-Hanover (TOUCH OF A THIEF, Kensington, May 2011). I love the historical research that goes into my books, but it’s the story that’s most important to me. That’s why I’m not married to one particular setting.

What can you tell us about your upcoming book, How To Distract A Duchess?

In HOW TO DISTRACT THE DUCHESS, an artistic widowed duchess mistakes Her Majesty’s covert agent for her next nude model. Since my Victorian ‘James Bond’ needs the information he believes the duchess possesses, what else can he do? He blithely strips down, whistling ‘Rule Britannia’ through his teeth.

It’s funny, sexy and was a delight to write.

This story was first published in 2009 as Distracting the Duchess, but has been vigorously revised since then.  I hope to have HOW TO DISTRACT A DUCHESS ready for your ereader in a few weeks.  😉

What’s this fab new indie publishing venture you’re involved in?

I’m so excited about this and it’s been so hard to keep mum about it, but now the cat is about to scratch its way out of the bag. I’ve been lucky enough to be included in a very talented group of NY published authors (included the fabulous Miss Vanessa Kelly!) who are also branching out into indie publishing. The list of authors reads like a “Who’s Who” of romance—bestsellers, award winners, and exceptional storytellers all! Ok, I’ll give. Here they all are: Monica Burns, Pamela Clare, Lila DiPasqua, Cheryl Holt, Vanessa Kelly, Kris Kennedy, Margo Maguire, Elisabeth Naughton, Sharon Page, Joan Swan and little ol’ me.

We’ve banded together to form Rock*It Reads, an eBook brand that offers readers a sort of “Good Reading Seal of Approval.” We’re committed to bringing the same high standards of writing, editing, and cover art to our indie works that we provide for our NY publishers. Check out what we offer at our website.

But that’s not all. There has been an explosion of self-pubbed works into the marketplace. We’re going to help you navigate the minefield of indie romances and find some real gems in our bi-monthly column for B& The kick off article is April 23rd! Hope to see you there.

Thanks for having me here today, Vanessa. I’d like to offer a random commenter their choice from among my Rock*It Reads eBooks.  Just answer the following question to be entered in the drawing.  Is there a time period/setting that would cause you to absolutely refuse to read a story that lives there? What unique venue do you wish an author would choose?

Find Mia online at , at Facebook and Twitter

Great interview, Mia!  Thank you so much.  And I can’t tell you how happy I am to be included with so many talented writers in Rock*It Reads!

Guest Author: Theresa Romain & Giveaway!

I’m so thrilled to be hosting Kensington debut author Theresa Romain.  Theresa’s Christmas-themed book, Season For Temptation, has been getting great reviews. I’m here to tell you that they’re very well deserved!  I’m going to turn the blog over to Theresa now, as she tells us about Christmas traditions during the Regency era.

It’s Not Over Till the Wassail Flows

It’s no surprise that life has changed a great deal since England’s Regency (1811-1820). For the most part, the differences between us and them are clear-cut:



Mad king? Not usually Yes
Indoor plumbing? Yes Not usually

But the social differences between our societies extend beyond lunacy and cleanliness. And this becomes very apparent during the Christmas season:



Christmas trees? Ubiquitous Fringe fad from Germans
Roasted animal eaten? Turkey or pig (or goose if very fancy) Goose (or peacock if very fancy)
Gifts given to children? Electronic and/or expensive Edible and/or cheap
Joygasm of celebration September 15-December 25 December 24-January 6

See that last line? That’s what we’re going to focus on. (Though if you want to learn more about roasted peacocks—and who doesn’t?—you can read it here.)

Regency England (1811-1820) didn’t heap a lot of trimmings onto Christmas Day itself. They put up greenery in their homes, but not until the day before Christmas. On Christmas Day, family members went to church together. Adults might exchange gifts, or they might not. They’d give a little something to children for a “Christmas box.” Probably the closest equivalent would be the way we use stockings now for those little extras.

That was that.

But then came the Twelve Days of Christmas, and that’s when the REAL fun started. Let’s travel through a few of those post-Christmas milestones:

Boxing Day (December 26)

Note to self: if leaving the house on Boxing Day in Regency England, bring along a purse full of coins. On Boxing Day, shoppers could plan on giving a tip (financial, not informational) to anyone who served them that day. Employers and landlords also gave gifts to their employees or tenants on this day—perhaps some food, or a small amount of money for Christmas boxes.

New Year’s Eve/Day (December 31/January 1)

New Year’s was sometimes celebrated with fireworks—yes, even two hundred years ago! Regency fireworks had a beautiful range of colors. Other traditions included bonfires, the placement of good-luck charms outside the house (such as a silver coin, to bring in prosperity), and the concept of “first footing.”

The “first-foot,” or “qualtagh” (you’ll be using that word all the time now), is the first person to enter a house upon the new year. A tall, dark-haired man was considered to be the luckiest sort of qualtagh. But then again, when is it not nice to have one of those around?

Twelfth Night (January 5)

The Christmas fun culminated on Twelfth Night, which historically was celebrated on January 5, the day before Epiphany. (Today, Twelfth Night and Epiphany are sometimes considered interchangeable. It just depends on when you start counting off those twelve days.)

Twelfth Night was much more riotous than the celebrations of Christmas Day. It featured masquerades, at which guests might choose their own costumes or be assigned a character. There was wassail aplenty—a hot punch featuring ale, apples, spices, and eggs (yes, eggs) (really)—and amidst all these costumes and adult beverages, everyone took down the Christmas decorations.

In my historical romance debut, SEASON FOR TEMPTATION, my heroine, Julia, experiences the Christmas season in London for the first time. Christmas day itself is not all that heartwarming, as she has to deal with unrequited love (oops) and evil sort-of-in-laws (argh).


Twelfth Night is a new beginning, as she decides to let her hair down—or pin it up under a garish turban, as the case may be. But the best gifts come late, and most unexpectedly. A wassail-like beverage may or may not be involved.

What do you all have going on for the 12 Days of Christmas? Who will be your qualtagh? Share something fun about your post-Christmas plans, and be entered for a chance to win a signed copy of SEASON FOR TEMPTATION!

Theresa Romain holds degrees in psychology, English literature, and history, an impractical education that allowed her to read everything she could get her hands on.  Her historical romance debut, SEASON FOR TEMPTATION, was published in October 2011. She is currently at work on the sequel, SEASON FOR SURRENDER, which will be published in October 2012.

Theresa lives with her family in the Midwest and lives online at You can also find her on Facebook,  Twitter, and Goodreads.



Julia Herington is overjoyed when her stepsister, Louisa, becomes engaged—to a viscount, no less. Louisa’s only hesitation is living a life under the ton’s critical gaze. But with his wry wit and unconventional ideas, Julia feels James is perfect for Louisa. She can only hope to find a man like him for herself. Exactly like him, in fact…


As the new Viscount Matheson, James wished to marry quickly and secure his title. Kind, intelligent Louisa seemed a suitable bride… Until he met her stepsister. Julia is impetuous—and irresistible. Pledged to one sister, yet captivated by another, what is he to do? As Christmas and the whirl of the London season approach, James may be caught in a most scandalous conundrum, one that only true love, a bit of spiritous punch—and a twist of fate—will solve…

Vanessa, here.  Doesn’t that sound like a great story?  Be sure to check out Theresa’s website for all the details and buy links.  And be sure to answer her question if you want the chance to win Season For Temptation for yourself!