Welcome! Here is a recap of our author promotions for the week of March 21, 2021, that you may have missed on our website. Make sure to follow the links on our page to see the covers, read the synopsis, and peek inside. The purchase price, links to retailers, and various formats, along with the sub-genre of historical romance are listed for your review. You can also get notices of new releases via email by signing up for our newsletter.

Our first promotion was a book titled Enchanting the Earl, written by author Kathy Wheeler, independently published, that is available on Kindle, Apple Books, Nook, Kobo, and Smashwords. A brief synopsis is as follows. Having a London Season is not all it’s cracked up to be, as Lady Lorelei quickly finds when attending her first ball. The lights are too hot, the corsets too tight. It’s enough to make one faint.

Our second promotion was a book titled Held Captive, written by author Grace Johnson and published independently. It’s available on Kindle and Kindle Unlimited. It’s part of the Daughters of the Seven Seas series. A brief synopsis is as follows. Captain Rina Blackstone is the most notorious female pirate to ever plunder the Seven Seas and the fiercest captain to ever sail the Atlantic. But one thing she has never been able to handle well is change.

Our third promotion was a book titled Virtuous Intentions by Brita Addams, and is independently published, available on Kindle and Kindle Unlimited. A brief synopsis is as follows. Lured by the promise of a substantial inheritance, ne’er-do-well English aristocrat, Avery Southworth, sets sail for America.  Avery’s purpose is to revive his uncle’s war-ravaged plantation, and make it, once again, a profitable enterprise.

Our fourth promotion was a book titled Earl of Keyworth by Collette Cameron, and is part of the Wick Earls’ Club Series, published by Blue Rose Romance. It’s available on Kindle, Apple Books, Nook, Google Play, and Kobo. A brief synopsis is as follows: Celestia Tolman will never forgive Landry, Earl of Keyworth, for trying to ruin her father’s livelihood. She will, however, teach the arrogant lord a lesson he won’t soon forget. The task should be simple—if she can ignore her untimely and entirely unwanted attraction to the handsome devil.

Our fifth promotion was a book titled The Heiress and the Hellion by Patricia Barney, independently published, and available on Kindle and Kindle Unlimited. A brief synopsis is as follows: A scandal destroyed Sophie Callaway’s reputation, but it couldn’t crush her spirit. After being exiled from proper Society and condemned by her own parents, she made a new life for herself caring for her people, dodging foppish fortune hunters, and struggling to manage Glennwick Castle and a vast estate. The last thing she needs is another scandal that threatens everything she’s built.

I hope you enjoy this week’s recap. Happy searching for your next book!


Enchanting the Earl – https://amzn.to/3reBrQl

Held Captive – https://amzn.to/2MQdpwM

Virtuous Intentions – https://amzn.to/318BYcj

Earl of Keyworth – https://amzn.to/3kag2WA

The Heiress and the Hellion – https://amzn.to/3fji5aM

Lorraine Heath begins an exciting new series with a breath-taking romance about a young woman who must marry a titled gentleman to obtain her inheritance and the unsuitable man she begins to fall madly in love with…

We had the pleasure of chatting with author Lorraine Heath about her new novel Scoundrel of My Heart, writing, book recommendations, and much more!

Source: Q&A: Lorraine Heath, Author of ‘Scoundrel of My Heart’ | The Nerd Daily

This morning while surfing Amazon to check out two new books that were recommended by BuzzFeed for Spring release (The Duke of Undone and To Love and to Loathe) the page loaded with more recommendations. Each of the covers displayed the new cartoon-type artwork that seems to be a new trend being pushed by traditional publishing companies. These came from St. Martin’s Griffin (Macmillan), Berkley (Penquin), Atria Books (Simon & Shuster), and Kensington Books. (Shame on Kensington, because they used to have some of the most beautiful artwork when it came to covers.)

Is it just me disappointed with this new push? What’s behind the change from the big houses? Is it to save money? Brand themselves apart from independent authors?

What are your thoughts? Chime in on the comments.

Yea?

Nay?

Okay?

Ugh? I think it’s obvious that I’m in the “ugh” category. Give me artwork and wonderfully design covers any day.

Look at this smug eldest brother right here? As heavily foreshadowed in Season 1, the second season of “Bridgerton” will focus on the love story of Viscount Anthony Bridgerton, played by Jonathan Bailey. In the Instagram post announcing the second season, the omnipresent Lady Whistledown revealed that “Lord Anthony Bridgerton intends to dominate the social season.”

Source: ‘Bridgerton’ Season 2: Release Date, First Look, and More Details | IndieWire

I, take thee, to be my lawful wedded wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, 
for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part, according to God’s holy ordinance; and thereto I plight thee my troth.

Sounds like a fairytale, doesn’t it?  Historical romance authors, if they follow the rules, end books in similar ways giving a happily-ever-after ending to readers.  Who wants to read about divorce in a romance novel?  However, I’m a diehard researcher that always looks at a situation from every angle, so I took the time to discover the truth about marriage and divorce.

My research regarding divorce laws in France and England reminded me of that phrase we often say, but don’t really adhere to in the 21st century – “until death us do part.”  Let’s move the romance aside for a moment and take a look at the reality of 19th-century marriage and divorce.  I discovered the following in my hours of researching the topic from a moral, religious, and civil law perspective.

Marriages in the Victorian era fell into three categories: (1) those contracted for convenience; (2) those produced by sympathy or love; and (3) those entered into from duty. The aristocracy put great importance on the background and nobility of the families they married into, as well as marrying for money. Though love in marriage might be ideal, it was not a practical reality, and people were told not to expect too much from marriage. If you found an ounce of happiness in your union, rejoice.

So what about unhappy marriages? Divorce was not easily obtained. Extramarital sexual relations were a normal feature of life in troubled relationships. After marriage, adultery was almost inevitable. Adultery, believe it or not, was preferred to divorce, mainly because divorce was difficult and expensive to obtain. Men had sex with their wives for children and bedded their mistresses for love and pleasure. A wife had the duty to obey her husband and produce heirs, and in return for her obedience, the husband owed her protection and security.

Divorce in England and France evolved over the years, coupled with Catholic and Anglican restrictions. A married woman in France needed two causes for divorce – adultery and physical cruelty. Adultery alone was not grounds for divorce for a woman. However, a man could divorce his wife for adultery only.  

To file for divorce in France, a petition had to be brought before the president of the chambers, and there had to be two attempts before the court to reconcile the marriage. If the marriage failed to reconcile, then court proceedings would continue. Upon the divorce, the children would go to the custody of the husband.  After 1886, custody was left at the discretion of the court. The wife had to take back her maiden name and was forbidden to keep her husband’s name. The husband could remarry immediately after the divorce became final, but the wife had to wait ten months after the dissolution before she was allowed to marry again.

In Victorian England, the rules were similar. “The husband could obtain a divorce for adultery, the wife could obtain a divorce for adultery coupled with cruelty or desertion for two or more years, and also for incestuous or bigamous adultery, or rape, or unnatural offenses.” (Quoted from The Encyclopedia Britannica: Volume 3, Google Books)  Divorce could be a lengthy and costly process that only the rich could afford.

Of course, civil laws did not govern church laws.  Catholics could not divorce and remain in good graces with the church, and surely Anglican and other protestant branches held the same views.  Holy matrimony was just that – a holy union not to be broken. The alternative of adultery to divorce was a matter of sin and one’s conscience.  Even though France was predominantly Catholic, the church turned a blind eye to the infidelity of the male Frenchman.

Our modern-day divorces are much easier to obtain.  Though we may utter those words “until death do us part,” they don’t really carry the serious consequences of marriages long ago.  Perhaps that is why readers insist on a happily ever after as a prerequisite to a good historical romance.  The reality of being chained to a marriage without love for the sake of convenience, law, or religious conscience must have been an unhappy existence.  As Jane Austen would say: “Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance.

While writing my award-winning novel, Dark Persuasion, I spent a fair amount of time researching Victorian courting, wedding preparations, weddings, and honeymoons.  The entire process felt so romantic to me that I focused quite a bit on the wedding between my heroine and hero. Below are a few excerpts from previous blogs that I’ve written regarding that research.  I hope you enjoy!

The Wedding Trousseau

The French word trousseau refers, of course, to a bride’s bundle of personal possessions amassed prior to the wedding that include undergarments and clothing. Late in the 19th and early 20th century, a collection of household wares (tablecloths, towels, linens, etc.) were also included.

Below is an excerpt from a website entitled the Vintage Connection describing a typical trousseau around 1884. It would include the following: “… a dozen chemises trimmed with embroidery or insertions, a dozen nightdresses, six well-trimmed combinations, a dozen drawers, nine trimmed petticoats, one French petticoat, nine camisoles, six vests, five flannel petticoats, two dressing gowns, three-bed jackets, a dozen pairs of fine-quality Lisle stockings, three pairs of silk stockings, two dozen handkerchiefs, a pair of French corsets, a bustle, a satin nightdress and a lace-trimmed sachet.”

The Wedding

Everything in the Victorian era seemed to be dictated by proper etiquette. Weddings were no different. There were rules about fashion, the time to wed, and the reception. Here are a few short, but interesting facts.

If the bride married in a church, a gown with a long train and a veil of the same length was the style of the era. The veil remained over the bride’s face until after the wedding ceremony. I’ve read conflicting statements regarding kissing at the altar, but I allowed a smooch anyway for my characters.

Pure white had not yet become the standard of choice in wedding dresses even though Queen Victoria started the rage. Colors varied. Bridesmaids often wore the same color of dress as the bride.

Superstitions abounded. There were rhymes about what day of the week was best to wed, the color of a bride’s dress, and, of course, the famous saying: “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, and a lucky sixpence in your shoe.”  Each item had a meaning and purpose like the sixpence, which was meant to bless the wedding with wealth and prosperity.  No one married on Sunday, but the other days all had meaning:

Marry on Monday for health
 Tuesday for wealth
 Wednesday the best day of all
 Thursday for crosses
 Friday for losses
Saturday for no luck at all.

(Obtained from the website The Victorian Wedding)

After the service, the tossing of rice, grain, or birdseed was used for good luck when it came to fertility. If it were a wealthy couple, a carriage drawn by four white horses waited for the bride and groom after the service to take them to the reception. The reception was usually held at the bride’s home. Weddings took place in the morning around 11 o’clock, and the reception consisted of a wedding breakfast.

An area for a receiving line would have been set up for the bride and groom at the reception. Brides were addressed first, unless the guest only knew the groom. In that instance, the groom would introduce the bride. I must laugh when I discovered that the bride was never congratulated, as the honor of marriage was conferred upon her already for agreeing to marry the groom. (Lucky spinster finally finds a husband, I guess.)

Guests enjoyed their breakfast, but there was no entertainment at the reception. Evening receptions, with dancing, only occurred at lavish wedding affairs. After the reception, the bride changed into another dress for her honeymoon journey. Only the groom and the best man knew the location, which by tradition was a well-kept secret.

There are many websites regarding Victorian-era weddings. The link in this post has quite a bit of detail. However, the Victorian era spanned many years, as you know, so traditions changed somewhat as the years progressed.

Such is the romance of the Victorian ages.

Contributed by Vicki Hopkins, Author

Sales of the Penguin edition of Miss Austen’s Pride and Prejudice shot up by 22 per cent last year, according to analysts Nielsen BookScan

Source: Jane Austen takes Pride of place for book sales in lockdown as sales of her famous novel soar  | Daily Mail Online

Welcome! Here is a recap of our author promotions for the week of March 15, 2021, that you may have missed on our website. Make sure to follow the links on our page to see the covers, read the synopsis, and peek inside. The purchase price, links to retailers, and various formats, along with the sub-genre of historical romance are listed for your review. You can also get notices of new releases via email by signing up for our newsletter.

Our first promotion was a book titled Aaron, from The Pirate Lords Series written by author Elizabeth Rose published by RoseScribe Media, is available on Kindle and Kindle Unlimited. A brief synopsis is as follows. Pirate lord Aaron Fisher carries on the search for his late father’s hidden treasure. His newfound grandmother, Nairnie, is still aboard, refusing to leave his ship. Even so, Aaron vows not to bring any more wenches aboard because they only seem to bring bad luck. He never meant to fall in love with his rival’s granddaughter!

Our second promotion was a book titled Revealing a Rogue, a steamy regency romance part of the Hadfield Series, written by author Rachel Ann Smith and published by Penford Publishing. It’s available on Kindle, Apple Books, Nook, and Kobo. A brief synopsis is as follows. For years she worked for him and was loyal to a fault. Why did she let herself yearn for a man with whom she had no future? Would she follow her mind or her heart?

Our third promotion was a book titled The Knot of a Knight by Linda Rae Sande, is part of the Holidays of the Aristocracy series, published by Twisted Teacup Publishing, is available on Kindle and Kindle Unlimited. A brief synopsis is as follows. Horse trainer by day and agent of the Crown at night, when Sir Randolph receives an offer to help a baroness train a timid filly, he’s happy to oblige. But with no horse in sight and the sneaking suspicion he’s been set up for love, he and the beautiful young widow Lady Xenobia hit it off immediately.

Our fourth promotion was a book titled Convenient Arrangements: A Regency Romance Collection by Rose Pearson published by the Landon Hill Media. It’s a box set of six books – A Broken Betrothal, In Search of Love, Wed in Disgrace, Betrayal and Lies, a Past to Forget, and Engaged to a Friend. These six books are on sale for 99 cents in a box set on Kindle and free with your Kindle Unlimited subscription.

I hope you enjoy this week’s recap. Happy searching for your next book!


Aaron – https://amzn.to/3pTm2Es

Revealing a Rogue – https://amzn.to/3tfbUrR

The Knot of a Knight – https://amzn.to/3b2dpTZ

Convenient Arrangements – https://amzn.to/3uyIVAH

It appears Julia Quinn has new covers for her books. Curious where these photos were sourced? If you read my recent post, “Judging a Book by the Cover,” you’ll find these at Fine Art America. The is a particular photographer based in Manchester, UK by the name of Lee Avison. It’s worth checking out the site for his fabulous period images.

Following the success of the “Bridgerton” television series, the “Bridgerton” novels are getting a revamp.

William Marrow has revealed exclusively to “Good Morning America” that it is releasing new covers for each of Julia Quinn’s “Bridgerton” novels.

Source: EXCLUSIVE FIRST LOOK: New covers of the Bridgerton novels released – ABC News

Jon

They say men are stimulated visually. It’s not what they hear whispered in their ears – it’s what they see with their eyes that move them toward sex and romance. For the most part, I do think that men are wired that way. However, when it comes to reading steamy historical romance novels, women are not only moved by the story, but by the covers that give us a glimpse of the hero and heroine in a passionate embrace.

Historically, the genre bombarded readers with bare-chested, muscular males, with shirts falling off their backs, toned physiques, and six-pack abs. The heroines were women with unbuttoned or unlaced dresses in the back, overflowing breasts from low necklines, and lustful scenes of kissing in provocative poses. These scenes set the stage for the forthcoming sexual tension between the characters and build the reader’s anticipation of what is to come between the pages.

The old adage you can’t judge a book by its cover is really only a half-truth because I dare say historical romance covers set the scene, tempts us with what’s inside, and reveals the type of book we’re about to read, or at least it should.  Personally, I’m drawn to the covers either positively or negatively.

Over the years, the amount of steamy covers has diminished somewhat. I believe this is due partially to the strict guidelines set by some platforms such as Facebook where authors routinely advertise their books.  If the cover pose is too provocative, they will refuse to run the advertisement.  Even I have had a cover rejected because a female was on top of the hero who had an unbuttoned shirt!  She was fully clothed.  I ended up changing the cover because I couldn’t advertise the book.

Many covers nowadays have a sole character on the front, either the hero or heroine.  There is definitely a proliferation of women in flowing dresses as the norm.  Men can be either fully dressed or with open shirts.  You will notice a lot of similarities in covers with authors adopting stylistic features such as fonts as part of an author’s branding. Books in a series often carry the same thematic designs.

There are many talented graphic artists that produce fantastic covers in the industry. Large publishing houses can afford the best artists and highly paid models to grace their covers. One artist, in particular, is Jon Paul. You will recognize his work on many covers coming from traditional publishing houses. I have reposted one cover in the blog post created by Jon Paul with his permission.

Many indie authors and traditional publishers are also turning toward stock photography on sites such as Dreamstime, iStockPhoto, Getty Images, Shutterstock, and Adobe.  Some higher-end photography sites such as Fine Art America and Trevillion are used by publishers, but usage rights are extremely expensive. There are also romance cover sites, such as Period Images, which I highly recommend, as well as Romance Novel Covers. The prices are reasonable and licensing terms are fairly straightforward. Frankly, I’ve thought for many years that photographers have a goldmine of opportunity if they would focus more on historical era shots with men and women in the fashions of the time. I’m happy to see an increase in such photographs on the market.

However, just purchasing a photograph isn’t the end of the design process. The real artistry, of course, comes when a picture is chosen, as well as a background, and then it’s turned into a cover story that is unique. There are many graphic artists who design covers for authors.  Some independent authors, if they are savvy enough, do their own covers if they are professional in appearance.  Poor cover art does not sell books.  Authors are wise to learn the rules about license usage rights, model releases, and copyright law when dealing with photography. Better to be safe than sued for damages in a court of law for infringement.

Since Fabio’s earlier days of book cover shots, with his long hair, chiseled face, and body, it seems the standard for romance covers hasn’t changed very much until recently. We now have new models and artists on the scene and the advent of advanced design techniques not available in the past.

Last fall, however, quite a few books released by traditional publishing houses such as Berkley, Kensington, Hachette, and Zebra were bright-colored cartoon-type covers, which are not my favorite. I wondered if this was an attempt to save money during the Covid lock-down months.  They remind me of contemporary books along the line of cozy mysteries rather than steamy romance.  Here are the titles if you want to take a look.  A Rogue of One’s Own by Evie Dunmore, Notorious by Minerva Spencer, Mr. Malcome’s List by Suzanne Allain, A Lady’s Guide to Mischief and Mayhem by Manda Collins, and A Duke, The Lady, and a Baby by Vanessa Riley.  Frankly, I hope this is a short-lived trend because the joy of historical romance covers is the gorgeous works of art that inspire readers.

In any event, a well-designed cover does the trick. It will either entice us to purchase or not. Frankly, I remember the days when I loved to buy novels with beautiful covers and keep them on my bookshelf like works of art. Now, we enjoy them on high definition digital readers. Wherever they meet our eyes, in print or on-screen, the cover should be an enticing introduction to the story we are about to read.

As a reader, do you judge a book by the cover?  Do you pass on books with poorly design covers, even though the story inside might be terrific?  I’m curious to know.