We Have Winners!

We have lots of winners today, folks.  Here goes:

The winners of Catherine Kean’s book are lori meehan and donna ann.  The winner of my book, My Favorite Countess, is Melody May.

The winner of Sally MacKenzie’s book, The Naked King, is Dalila G.

The winner of Gina Robinson’s book, The Spy Who Left Me, is Laurie G.

Congratulations, ladies!  I’ll be in touch.

Thanks to everyone for stopping by the blog.  My guest authors next week are contemporary romance writers Sophia Knightly and Patricia Sargeant.  Be sure to stop on by!

Guest Author: Sally MacKenzie & Giveaway!

I’m featuring one of my favorite historical romance authors – and people! – on the blog today.  She’s Sally MacKenzie, a USA Today bestseller who writes witty and sexy Regency-set historical romance for Kensington Zebra.  Sally blasted onto the romance novel scene with the Naked Nobility Series, which has been translated into French, Indonesian, Russian, Spanish, and a bunch of other languages.  The last book in that series, The Naked King, was named as one of the top ten romances of 2011 by Booklist, the prestigious review journal of the American Library Association.

Sally has a new series called Duchess of Love, which launched in May with the digital novella prequel, The Duchess of Love.

The series has a great high concept:  a matchmaking duchess determined to find the perfect wives for her three sons.  She, of course, is the Duchess of Love, and the prequel novella tells the story of how she met her Duke.

The first full-length book in the series, Bedding Lord Ned, is now in stores.  Not surprising to anyone who’s read Sally’s books, it received a starred review in Publisher’s Weekly and four stars from RT Book Reviews:

“A pair of red drawers, a thieving cat, enchanting characters and the match-making Duchess of Love set the tone for MacKenzie’s new series.  With capable hands, she blends a touch of poignancy with just the right amount of humor into this delightful love story.”–RT Book Reviews

Here’s the blurb for Bedding Lord Ned:

Pleasure is in her future…

Ellie Bowman is determined: during this year’s Valentine house party, she will choose one of the men the matchmaking Duchess of Greycliffe–aka the Duchess of Love–has invited for her.  Unfortunately, that man will not be Lord Ned, the duchess’s second son.  Ned is still mourning his wife and will never see “trusty” Ellie as anything other than a childhood friend.  Now if only she could convince her heart of what her head already knows–and persuade the duchess’s thieving cat to stop stealing her red silk drawers and depositing them in Ned’s bed.

Lord Ned arrives at Greycliffe Castle vowing to finally cooperate with his mother’s matchmaking efforts.  He’s been a widower for four years; it’s time to put his past behind him.  He wants a family; he needs an heir.  Ergo, he must get a wife–and this year’s candidate even looks like his lost love.  But his old friend Ellie is behaving strangely, and Reggie, Mama’s cat, keeps bringing him a pair of shocking red underwear.  This outrageous, alluring scrap of silk couldn’t be Ellie’s, could it?  Suddenly his respectable old friend is invading his dreams in an utterly scandalous manner. 

Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?  Readers, if you haven’t read Sally’s books then you must give her new series a try.  She’s a wonderful writer and her stories are funny, sexy, and full of heart.  What romance reader could ask for more?

For my readers today, Sally is giving away a copy of the last book in her previous series, The Naked King.  Let’s talk a bit about British History and pageantry.  Did any of you watch the Queen’s Jubilee this past weekend?  If so, what was your favorite part?  If you didn’t watch it, just tell me who your favorite member of the royal family is, and why.  One reader who comments will win a copy of Sally’s book.

We Have A Winner!

The winner of Sally MacKenzie’s new book, The Naked King, is Karen H in NC!  Karen, I’ll be in touch soon.  And thanks to everyone who stopped by the blog to comment.

I’ll be featuring some other great romance and women’s fiction authors  in June, and hosting giveaways.  Just take a look at this schedule!

June 13 – Mia Marlowe

June 15 – Christie Kelley

June 17 – Monica Burns

June 20 – Katherine Ashe

June 22 – Julianne MacLean

June 24 – Diana Cosby

Be sure to stop by to meet some authors who might be new to you, and for a chance to win one of their great books!

Guest Post: Sally MacKenzie & The Naked King. Giveaway!

I’m thrilled to have a special guest on my blog today – USA Today bestselling author, Sally MacKenzie.  Sally writes the acclaimed Naked series, funny, sexy, Regency-set historical for my publisher, Kensington Zebra.  Her unique blend of humor and passion has been wowing fans over the course of eight books and novellas.  Her last book in the series, The Naked King, is now in stores.  Please join me in welcoming Sally to the blog!

 Hi, Vanessa.  Thanks so much for letting me stop by your blog.

Sally, let’s talk about the Naked seriesHow did you come up with such a great high concept?

Can you hear me laughing?  When I wrote my first Naked book, The Naked Duke, I wouldn’t have known a high concept if it bit me in the derriere.   Frankly, I don’t think I’d know one now, either.

The Naked series had a very low concept beginning.  I decided in grade school that I wanted to be a writer when I grew up, and I’d done some writing when my four sons were young, though I hadn’t sold any fiction.  When I entered the carpool years and took over the cub scout pack and the neighborhood swim team at the same time, writing got pushed to the side.  Finally, when our oldest son was getting ready for college, it hit me that I wasn’t getting any younger.  My hands-on mom duties were being phased out, and I needed to figure out how the next chapter of my life was going to read.  Was I finally going to seriously follow my dream of publishing?  If I wasn’t, I needed to find something else to do.

So I sat down and started writing the Duke.  I worked in fits and starts, teaching myself as I went along, but I made myself finish and revise and polish.  I think it took a couple years.  Then a friend who’d once been a NYC editor took her red pen to it.  The pages bled.  My heart sank when I got them back, but I told myself I was going to read them through with an open mind.  If I was serious about this, I needed to get over myself.  I do think that editing job was what took me to the next level.   Somewhere in there she said that my original title was sort of awful.  (And, no, I will not tell you what it was.)

So this is where maybe a glimmer of high concept came in. I thought, well, they always say sex and power sells.  My hero was a duke–that’s the power part–and he happens to meet the heroine when they are both naked.  Voila–The Naked Duke!  My friend liked it, but I had no idea it would catch on the way it has.

I sold the Duke in a two book contract, so I then had to write another book.  Yikes!  The title I came up with for that book was something lame–I don’t remember exactly, but I think it was The Reluctant Earl.  My editor was rightly unimpressed.  So then I thought, oh, what the heck, she likes Naked so much, I’ll stick with that.  The problem was that when the second book opens, the hero (Captain Charles Draysmith, one of the Naked Duke’s friends) has just inherited his brother’s title–Earl of Knightsdale.  Except I already had an earl–foolish me had decided that the other friend, Robbie, the Earl of Westbrooke, would be the hero of my as-yet-uncontracted third book.  I couldn’t have two Naked earls, so I had to “promote” Charles’s brother to marquis before killing him off–and then I had to catch that change up on the Duke page proofs.  Thus The Naked Marquis was born, and my “high concept” idea was launched.

Who are your favorite writers?

Growing up, I read mostly science fiction and fantasy–Lloyd Alexander, Edward Eager, E. Nesbit, Andre Norton, P. L. Travers–and Georgette Heyer.   I was passionate about stories–until I became an English major in college.  That was a bit of a shock.  I didn’t really “get” many of the authors I read–Vonnegut and Barth and Pynchon and Brautigan.  I think my reaction to books has always been emotional–or even spiritual–rather than intellectual, and I just didn’t feel these stories.  After I “retired” to stay home with my sons, I read tons and tons of Regencies while the kids played or while I waited in carpool line.  Some of my favorite Regency authors were Mary Balogh, Marion Chesney, Marion Devon, Edith Layton, Barbara Metzger, Joan Wolf–I could probably go on and on.  My mother and I used to go out to lunch once a month and hit the Borders, buying that month’s Signet Regencies which we shared.  Now I find I don’t read much fiction at all.  I either can’t get into a book or I get so caught up in it, I let my own writing slide.  This just happened to me with Marjorie Liu’s In the Dark of Dreams.  (Shh, don’t tell my editor!)  Not good for a girl on deadline!

What’s up after The Naked King?

I’m working on the Duchess of Love series about a duchess who’s one of the ton’s premier matchmakers–but the matches she’d really like to make involve her three sons.  I’ve written the novella which tells the duke and duchess’s story–sort of a prequel to the trilogy–and now I’m writing book 1.  I actually don’t like to talk much about a book while I’m working on it, so that’s all I’ll say for now.

Great interview, Sally!  Thank you so much!

Sally will be giving away a copy of her latest book, The Naked King, to one lucky commenter.  Just answer the following question:  If you could only take one book on vacation with you this summer, what would it be?


I’m guest blogging today at Not Another Romance Blog, doing a really fun interview and giving away a copy of My Favorite Countess.  Be sure to stop by and join the fun!

Reader alert:  I’ll be having some great authors appearing on my blog in the next few weeks, including the fabulous Kate Noble on May 27, and Sally MacKenzie on June 6.  Sally will be talking about the last book in her acclaimed Naked series, The Naked King.

And for a bit of a departure from my usual historical fare, I’ll be doing a feature on Elisabeth Naughton and her sexy new contemporary anthology, Bodyguards in Bed.  That will be on June 1, and I can already feel the heat!

The features will include a chance to win books by these wonderful authors, so don’t forget to visit on those dates.

Happy Reading, and see you out on the internet!