Guest Author: Elise Rome & Giveaway!

I’m always happy when historical romance authors are guests on my blog.  And I’ve got a really good one on today–she’s Elise Rome, and she writes lush and lovely Victorian romances.  Elise has written a very, very interesting blog about some of the things she’s learned since she starting writing romance novels, and how she creates her heroines.

Take it away, Elise!

Thanks so much to Vanessa for welcoming me back on the blog! As I count down to the release of my first book as Elise Rome (THE SINNING HOUR, due out late June), I realized that I wanted to share a self-discovery I’ve made since becoming a romance writer.

In the past I never thought of myself as being a feminist. Raised in East Texas, there was a definite bias against the word. In my mind, feminists were loud, brash, rude—and yes, even braless; the opposite of my mother, who was hard-working, quiet, respectful toward others (and always wore a bra). Women’s rights never concerned me much growing up, probably because the issue had a “been there, done that” feel to it. I was born after the suffrage movement, after women wearing pants in public became normal, and grew up during a time when it was status quo for women to work rather than stay at home raising children. I didn’t understand what else there was to fight for, and it often seemed that women who were termed “feminists” were people who just liked to stir up trouble by making a big deal out of nothing.

Ignorant, I know. I don’t think there’s any better word for it.

Two things happened when I began writing romance, though. One, I became part of an international community where women (for the most part) write love stories for women (again, for the most part). If any group of people could rightly be called feminists, it’s romance readers and writers… and yet, despite the stereotype I grew up believing, they’re some of the nicest, most generous, caring people I know. Through them, I’ve learned that being a feminist is something to be proud of. Modern romance espouses the idea that men and women should have equal footing in intimate relationships and, in turn, in every other arena where men and women interact. I’ve learned that being a feminist doesn’t mean that I want to beat down men or show myself to be superior to them; it means that I insist on being treated with the same respect and right of personhood that every human being should expect.

Part of my understanding of what feminism means and who I am as a feminist came from my participation in the romance community, and there are hundreds of fellow romance lovers to whom I am grateful as a result.

The second part, however, came from the actual writing of romance novels. As I hinted above, I think my entire (erroneous) perception of feminism can be attributed to social stereotyping. In truth, I think I’ve been a feminist all along. This truth continues to emerge in the heroines I write. Since I write historical romance novels—currently set in Victorian England, and soon also in the 1920s—my heroines have even less rights and privileges than we do today. Yet despite these boundaries, I’ve always been drawn to write heroines who refuse to settle for what’s expected of them; they know they are worth more, they know they deserve more. They want more, and they go after it, even if there are disastrous consequences to bear.

When I began toying with the idea of a new series, my first thought wasn’t how I could promote feminism by giving five heroines a chance at complete independence in a time when other women were constrained by the wills of their fathers, brothers, husbands, and other male relatives. No, I began with who the heroines were individually—both internally and externally—the type of respective heroes they each should have, and a general premise for their love stories. Then, at the end, I finally put together the idea of the women knowing one another because they’re all co-owners of a gaming hell.

To be honest, I don’t think I would have come up with that idea if I’d started by asking myself for a great hook for a new romance series. As a writer, to me every story begins with individual characterization. But once the idea evolved and the premise came of five women owning a gaming hell together, it resonated with me as a reader. And that’s when I realized how well the label “feminist” truly fits me; I want to read and write about strong women (this also helps me understand why Scarlett O’Hara has always been a particular favorite of mine).

Some may be beautiful, some may be plain; some may be rocket-scientist smart, some may be of average intelligence; all of them are vulnerable in one way or another, but that doesn’t mean they’re inferior because of their gender, just that they’re human. Most importantly, each heroine either knows who she is or discovers who she is through the course of the book, and while they may all long for an intimate, meaningful relationship with the hero of their dreams, they would never see themselves as unworthy or incomplete because they’re not attached to a man.

Yes, I’ve finally discovered what a feminist is, and what being a feminist means. It’s opened my eyes to see how much prejudice against women still exists, and it enrages me when I hear that a woman is raped every 26 seconds in South Africa, when I wonder why there is any rape at all.

Upon this realization, I’m more proud than ever to be a part of the romance community where we give hope to women who, possibly unlike our heroines, aren’t able to be strong at this very moment…but who grow more cognizant of their inner strength with each happily-ever-after ending.

The world that scoffs at the romance genre does so because they believe it’s all about sex and women who are dependent on men; they have no idea that while a committed relationship between two equal and loving partners is essential to our HEAs, a woman who will fight for herself with self-possession and intelligence is just as important.

Obviously, they’ve never met one of my heroines.

Elise Rome has never forgiven Margaret Mitchell for making her fall in love with Scarlett and Rhett in Gone with the Wind and then not giving them a happy ending. She likes to think that she makes up for this injustice with each romance novel she writes. When she isn’t telling stories about sexy, headstrong heroes and intelligent, independent heroines, Elise stays busy chasing after her two young daughters, semi-attempting to do housework, and hiking in the beautiful foothills of Colorado.

THE SINNING HOUR is Elise’s first book in her new Victorian Unmaskedseries, in which five masked women claim their independence by creating the most exclusive gaming hell in London. The book is scheduled to be published in late June 2012.

For more information about Elise, please visit her website at or connect with her through Facebook and Twitter.

What does the romance genre mean to you as a female reader or writer? One random commenter will win a digital copy of THE SINNING HOUR upon its release.

Vanessa, here.  Thanks so much for visiting with us today, Elise, and for writing such a thoughtful blog!  Now, readers, have at it.  What does the romance genre mean to you?  One person who comments will win a copy of Elise’s upcoming release.

Guest Author: Leigh LaValle

I have a debut author guest blogging with me today, and that’s always an exciting event.  She’s historical romance writer Leigh LaValle, and her first book, The Runaway Countess is now out.  This is the book that USA Today bestselling author Tessa Dare called “an enchanting tale of passion and deception, laced with charm and wit.”  Hooray!

Without any further ado, I’ll turn the blog over to Leigh.

Virtual Shopping Historical Style

It’s Friday! Time to kick up our feet and do something fun and extravagant, like virtual shopping historical style.

Empire waists, corseted waists, drop waists… there is much to explore. Let’s begin with a little fashion show, shall we? Unfortunately, I have to limit my selections to the 19th century; otherwise we would be here all weekend!

To begin, the classic early Regency muslin that molded to the natural female form.

 1802 Morning Dress

Look at those lovely legs!

1808 Evening Dress

Some daring Regency cleavage. Always good for the heroine.

 1815 Walking Dress

I love this walking dress! I am going to ditch my fleece and spandex and go for this style on my next outing.

  1820 Evening Dress

My debut novel, THE RUNAWAY COUNTESS, takes place during the late Regency (1821 to be exact). My heroine, Mazie, might dress in something like this. Notice the waist is dropping and sleeves are puffing out for an exaggerated figure.

 1831 Ball Gown

The 1830’s were a crazy time in fashion. Let’s call it the 1980’s and move on before someone gets hurt, shall we?

  A toned down hourglass figure is all the rage during the Victorian era.

 1849 Ball Gown

Waist courtesy of the Victorian corset.

 Fashions keep getting narrower and wider at once.

 Ball Gown 1865

Scarlett O’Hara would shop from this fashion plate.

 Later in the Victorian Era, gowns take a new shape.

Skirts come in, patootie’s stay out.

 Always a favorite. The infamous bustle:

1876 Dinner Dress


1880 Ball Gown

I love these dresses myself. The hairstyles, too.

 We shall end our fashion show today with the beginning of La Belle Epoque:

 1893 Ball Gown


What about you, Dear Reader, which is your favorite style? Comment and enter to win a digital copy of THE RUNAWAY COUNTESS, which features lots of interesting fashion choices!



“Exciting and action packed, with a hero and heroine who play well off each other.”RT Book Reviews 4 stars

“The characters are, indeed, so empathetic, with shifting first-person throughout the story, that you honestly feel like you are watching your two best friends fall in love.” TOP PICK Night Owl Reviews

Once the darling of high society, Mazie Chetwyn knows firsthand how quickly the rich and powerful turn their backs on the less fortunate. Orphaned, penniless and determined to defy their ruthless whims, she joins forces with a local highwayman who steals from the rich to give to the poor.

Then the pawn broker snitches, and Mazie is captured by the Lord Lieutenant of Nottinghamshire. A man who is far too handsome, far too observant…and surely as corrupt as his father once was.

Sensible, rule-driven Trent Carthwick, twelfth Earl of Radford, is certain the threat of the gallows will prompt the villagers’ beloved Angel of Kindness to reveal the highwayman’s identity. But his bewitching captive volunteers nothing—except a sultry, bewildering kiss.

And so the games begin. Trent feints, Mazie parries. He threatens, she pretends nonchalance. He cajoles, she rebuffs. Thwarted at every turn, Trent probes deep into her one vulnerability—her past. There he finds the leverage he needs and a searing truth that challenges all he believes about right and wrong.

Leigh, Thanks so much for joining us.  Your book sounds fantastic, and I can’t wait to read it!  Readers, you can find Leigh at Facebook and Twitter, or visit her website at

And which is your favorite style of the 19th century?  Tell us which picture appeals to you the most.  One person who comments will win a copy of Leigh’s debut.


On The Road Again

Today I’ll be participating in Joyfully Reviewed’s Author Chat Days, which is just what it sounds like – a chance to chat with me, and ask any questions you might have about my books or my writing.  I’ll be on from 2pm to 3pm, U.S. Eastern Standard Time.  The yahoo link for the chat group is here.

But you might want to check in earlier than 2pm, because there’s a great line-up of authors all day, including New York Times bestselling author, Kat Martin.  Rumor also has it that there might be some prizes given away!  Please stop by and join in the fun.

As you might know, my next Regency-set historical romance, My Favorite Countess, is set to be released on May 3rd.

The reviews for MFC are starting to come on, and I received two fabulous ones this week.  The first was from RT Book Reviews, the premier romance and mass market review publication.  RT gave MFC 4-1/2 stars – one of their highest ratings!  The reviewer had this to say:

Kelly’s well-written and powerful love story will keep readers entertained with a captivating plot. The strong protagonists, deep emotional intensity and rising sexual tension all make the fast-paced romance memorable.

Wow!  Pretty cool, right?

The other review came from Booklist, the review journal of the prestigious American Library Association.  The reviewer gave MFC a starred review, and had this to say:

In her latest sublimely sensual Regency historical, Kelly delivers wit, a tightly knit plot, a refreshingly different hero, and a realistically complicated heroine, who could give Scarlett O’Hara a good run for her money.

Scarlett O’Hara, no less!  Needless to say, I was pretty thrilled by both reviews.

If you want to talk about My Favorite Countess, please join me today at the Author Chat – 2pm!