Guest Author: Janet Mullany & Giveaway!


I’m very pleased to welcome Janet Mullany to the blog today for an interview.  Janet writes everything Regency–from Regency vampires to hilarious and accomplished “Raucous Regencies.”  She’s also well-versed on a number of period topics, such as the life and role of servants in the Georgian era, and the history of black and Jewish populations in Regency London.

Welcome to the blog, Janet!

You’ve written Jane Austen Vampire novels, raucous Regencies, hot historicals, and contemporary erotic romances.  How do you keep all these genres from colliding in your head?

I really don’t! I have this nasty suspicion I write the same thing all the time. There’s a certain amount of overlap–my two Austen paranormals, Jane & the Damned and Jane Austen: Blood Persuasion derived from the research I’d done on the Regency, and in the raucous Regencies I let my funny self rip. My agent persuaded me I had a contemporary voice, although I’ve never been that convinced of it. It’s certainly not an American voice, but neither is it a contemporary English voice, which is why writing hot historicals is a natural for me. As for the heat level/eroticism, I’ve never held the industry view that explicit language = erotic writing. In some ways and in some scenes I think my raucous Regencies have the greatest heat factor–with massive apologies to the readers who applauded me for my courage in not including any of that nasty sex stuff. It’s most certainly there!

Jane Austen Blood

Before you became a writer you were an archaeologist, a classical music radio announcer, worked in the arts, and you were also a bookseller and editor.  How have these other careers shaped your work as a writer?

I’ve always been one of those people who’ve never known what they want to do when they grow up. So I developed this odd skill set–being able to shovel clay ten feet (archaeology, although I don’t think I could do it now), lift 50# in high heels (the arts–it’s amazing how much time you spend hauling around boxes of stuff), and talk quite happily into a microphone (not a skill that translates into anything else, other than being able to think on your feet). But almost all of these jobs involved having to write, sometimes because no one else could or would. The other main factor in all my odd careers was that I always found time to read and that’s what made me into a writer. I discovered that I could put stories together and invent characters on a stupendously boring excavation, the last one I worked on, which was quite some time ago. We spent weeks troweling huge areas smooth in a field in the middle of nowhere, occasionally turning up a chip of pottery, and you had to do something to entertain yourself. But I didn’t do anything about it until years later. At the time I thought it was probably some sort of minor mental disorder.

You have a new book out called A Certain Latitude (I love all the implications of that title!).  What’s it about?

It’s a substantial rewrite of a book published in 2007 called Forbidden Shores which was way ahead of its time in its filth level. The book never really worked and so when I got the rights back I decided to give it another try. A Certain Latitude was my first choice of title (I love the title too!), but quite honestly it was a book the industry didn’t know how to market. It’s about sex and abolition (my shorthand): In 1800 Clarissa Onslowe seeks to redeem herself with her estranged abolitionist family by publishing an account of slavery on the island dominated by powerful estate owner “March” Lemarchand. She doesn’t anticipate falling in love with him, or becoming involved in a triangle with the restless, lusty Allen Pendale, who is on a quest for his own identity. On the island where sugar rules love isn’t always sweet and nothing’s more bitter than falling in love with the one who can’t love you back.

Compared to most Regencies, this book has an unusual setting—on the high seas and in the West Indies.  How did the setting affect the story?


To a certain extent, it IS the story. My original plan was to set the book entirely in England, and concentrate on the conflict created by those who wanted to end the slave trade which was certainly the mainstay of the economy and created the great wealth of the Georgian era. It was a very divisive issue. My editor wanted me to set it in the Caribbean which I didn’t want to do because then I’d have to write about slavery. It wasn’t a romantic or exotic setting in this context. I didn’t want readers to anticipate a lovely romance on a pristine beach etc. The voyage out went on–and maybe still does–too long. I chopped out an entire chapter which is on my website. Naturally, heavy sigh, it was my favorite chapter. But I loved the idea of two people forced together in less than ideal circumstances and in a very confined space, learning about sex and love together.

What’s up next in your writing world?

When I was rewriting the book I began to wonder what would happen to the two main characters after having had such an adventurous sex life. It’s set seven years later and is called A Certain Proposition. (I guess I’d better finish it now!). It should come out in February if all goes to schedule.

Thanks so much for having me visit. It’s a great pleasure!

Readers, Janet has a question for us: “returning to the topic of settings, I’d like to ask what you consider a romantic setting for a book.”  One person who answers will win a Nook or a Kindle copy of the book!  And read below for a sexy and exclusive excerpt from A Certain Latitude.

Eyes almost shut, Clarissa slowed her breathing and decided to enjoy the sight of Mr. Pendale preparing for bed.

He sat on his box of belongings, which Clarissa had asked Peter the ship’s boy to move into the cabin, along with the bootjack. He eased off his boots and tossed them onto the upper berth, stood, stretched and hit one hand against a beam. Swearing softly under his breath, he stripped off his coat and waistcoat. In his shirtsleeves, he paused, face thoughtful, and untied his neck-cloth, drawing the creamy length of cotton from his shirt, and lifted one hand to unfasten the placket. A curl of black hair, similar to the dusting of hair on his hands and forearms, became visible as he undid the buttons.

She wondered if he intended to sleep in his shirt, and her question was answered when he stripped the garment off over his head, hunching his back, arms outstretched. With a shiver of delight she saw his chest, as dark-pelted as that first curl of hair had promised, the slick of hair under one arm as he stood over her to throw his shirt onto his berth. His stockings were good, serviceable gray wool, gartered with plain black ribbon, and she shut her eyes again expecting him to bend to remove them.

Instead he moved away—she felt his warmth retreat—and through half-closed eyes, she watched him rest one foot on his box of belongings, lean over, and pull at the black ribbon, drawing the knot untied with great care. He shook the ribbon out, stuffed it into his breeches pocket, then bent again to roll the stocking down and off. He stumbled a little as the ship dipped and stood, knees slightly bent, the bone of his bared shin sharp in the lamplight, swaying with the movement. She’d never seen a gentleman’s bare foot before, and it was somewhat disappointing that his was like anyone else’s, but broad and strong like the rest of him. His skin glowed gold; he sighed and scratched his chest while his other hand lowered to the fall of his breeches. His hand lingered, resting as though pointing the way to the noticeable masculine bulge, before he unbuttoned the top button on each side, and his breeches slid a little onto his hips. More golden skin, the dark eye of his navel, were revealed as the flap fell forward.

Did he know she watched? Was he performing for her? She squeezed her thighs together, tingling and aroused.

He lifted the other leg, bent, repeated the untying, rolling down, and tossed both stockings onto his bed.  His breeches now; another button loosened, a further slide down his hips, and he paused.

He reached for the lantern as the fingers of his other hand worked the next button.  The cabin plunged into pitch darkness and his breeches slithered down—she heard the rasp of wool on skin. There was a warm gust of air from his body, scented with his musk and sweat as he hoisted himself onto the upper berth—and she took a much-needed breath.

Intrigued?  Here’s a link to a deleted scene that Janet has on her website!

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!


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.


New Regency Historical Series!

I’ve been hinting about my new Regency historical series with Kensington Publishing for a few months now, so I’m really thrilled to be able to announce titles and release dates.  The series will be called Renegade Royals, and it’s about four sexy alpha males who also happen to be the illegitimate offspring of Britain’s royal princes.  These four roguish cousins will get into all kinds of scrapes and adventures as work they claim their rightful place in society, and win the hands of the strong-willed women who love them.

There will be two novellas and four books released in a two year period. 

Lost in a Royal Kiss will be released in December, 2013, and is a digital novella that will introduce some of the main characters and set up the premise for the series.

A Royal’s Rules for Love is book one in the series, and will be released in both print and digital in January, 2014.

Confessions of a Royal Bridegroom is book two in the series, and will be released in both print and digital in April, 2014.

The second digital novella will be released in December 2014, and books three and four will follow early in 2015.

My editor and I are very excited about this series, and I can’t wait to share covers, excerpts, and lots of other fun details with you.  If you want to keep up with all the latest news on the Renegade Royals series, please sign up for my newsletter.  And you might also want to check out my Pinterest board, my collection of pictures and various inspirations for the new books.  I really have fun brainstorming on Pinterest and I’d love it if you joined me – I also have a great Cupcakes and Cakes Pinterest board, for those of you with a sweet tooth!

Happy reading!


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!