Lady Amelia has only known the comfort of life in mid-eighteenth century English aristocracy. But when first her mother and then her father die, she finds herself alone, grief-stricken and… not of age. Her appointed guardian, an American uncle, has ordered her travel to his plantation where she must remain for at least two years when she will come of age.
With the help of Lady Grace and Lady Sarah, Lady Amelia gets her uncle to agree to give her four weeks to settle her affairs and unbeknownst to him…find an English lord to marry so she can remain in her beloved England. Despite her mourning period she endeavors to trap one of London’s eligible bachelors in matrimony.
Lord Goldstone, Lady Grace’s nephew is devilishly handsome, but a Scottish Duke and so entirely unacceptable as a possible husband. After all Scotland is not her beloved London and environs. He also has a nasty habit of showing up at all the wrong moments and thwarting her carefully laid plans to ensnare a suitable husband. Sparks fly as the pair find themselves at odds with each other and drawn to each other at the same time. Can they find a way to stop arguing long enough to explore their growing passion? Is it strong enough to make Lady Amelia give up her English home after all? Or will Lady Amelia find a suitable English lord and avoid social exile in America? Time is running out.
Separated from her twin during the Orphan Train selection, schoolmarm Serena Sullivan searched for her brother Bill over fifteen years. Just as she gets a lead on his whereabouts, she is railroaded by a crooked sheriff and set to hang for the murder of the sheriff’s best friend.
English playwright Daman Rutledge has come to the American West on business for his brother when he witnesses a woman about to be executed. On impulse he rescues the beautiful stranger and goes on the run with her across the Kansas prairie. Along the way Daman finds the muse he’s been missing and loses his heart to the raven-haired beauty with haunting amber eyes.
As they try to escape the long arm of the law, Daman seeks to prove Serena’s innocence before it’s too late. They find love—and the truth—on a journey that changes their lives.
Lauren Linwood Author Bio and Links
As a child, Lauren Linwood gathered her neighborhood friends together and made up stories for them to act out, her first venture into creating memorable characters. Following her passion for history and love of learning, she became a teacher who began writing on the side to maintain her sanity in a sea of teenage hormones.
Lauren’s novels focus on two of her favorite eras, medieval times and the American Old West. History is the backdrop that places her characters in extraordinary circumstances, where their intense desire and yearning for one another grows into the deep, tender, treasured gift of love.
Lauren, a native Texan, lives in a Dallas suburb with her family. An avid reader, moviegoer, and sports fan, she manages stress by alternating yoga with five mile walks. She is thinking about starting a support group for Pinterest and House Hunters addicts.
Francesca Hartwell adores cats of every kind. Lions, leopards, tigers. And they all love her. Good thing she gets to see them every day since her father is their caregiver in the Tower of London’s Royal Menagerie. She’d love to find a man with whom she could share her love of animals, but so far, no one has stolen her heart. And there’s the added snag that whoever she marries must not have anything to do with nobility, as her mother had left her and her father for an earl.
John Fairgate has three rules given to him by his uncle. Inherit the title of baron upon his uncle’s death. Give up ornithology. And marry a childhood acquaintance. The first two, John will abide by, but won’t like. But the third, marrying a shrew who makes his skin crawl, he simply cannot do. Meeting Miss Francesca Hartwell at the zoo, however, has given him other ideas for a wife. But she’s not titled or wealthy. How will he be able to convince his uncle that she’s the woman of his heart?
Tainted in the eyes of Victorian society by his wife’s suicide, Doyle Flanagan turns a deaf ear to the baseless gossip and harsh rebukes. Ignoring his shattered reputation, he goes about his business, making money and enemies, and doing good works whenever his conscience gets the best of him. Arrested for murder, he is forced to rely on a feisty school administrator to solve the puzzle. As he struggles to prove his innocence, he realizes gaining the trust and loyalty of Cady Delafield may be more important than his freedom.
On a quest to locate a missing student, school matron Cady Delafield enters a stranger’s house and discovers the woman murdered. Driven to see the murderer brought to justice, she is determined to prevent any further tragedy even if it means joining forces with the very man accused of the atrocity. Against the wishes of her powerful family, she risks her job and reputation to learn the truth. But will the truth, once revealed, drive her away from the man she has come to love?
Passion and murder collide in 1880’s Chicago as they race to keep one step ahead of the police who want Doyle to pay for his crime. As the attraction between Cady and Doyle sizzles, they battle suspicions, lies and lethal actions to uncover the murderer before he destroys them both.
AUTHOR INFORMATION: Joyce Proell grew up in Minnesota and attended college and grad school in Chicago. After working in mental health, she retired at a young age to write full-time. Her first book, Eliza, was published in 2012. When she isn’t writing mysteries or historical romances, she loves to travel, walk, read, and do crossword puzzles. She and her husband make their home in rural Minnesota in her very own little house on the prairie.
It’s a risk of a lifetime loving a man you’re supposed to hate…
Betrayed by a brother she hardly trusted before the bloodthirsty Viking, Jarl Randvior Sigurdsson, attacks her home, Noelle Sinclair is conveniently bartered as a means to save her cowardly sibling’s skin. Forced to leave her homeland and accompany the petulant Viking to the untamed wilderness of central Norway, Noelle is ever-aware of the burgeoning dangers around her—including her weakening resolve to resist Randvior.
Should Noelle surrender to his resplendent charms and seduction, or fight with every ounce of strength she possesses to get home?
Dark clouds always gathered in Noelle Sinclair’s dreams. Hundreds of nightmares had played out in her mind since childhood. Why should tonight be any different?
The smell of burning wood invaded her sleep. Smoke snatched her breath and she tried to purge her lungs by taking deep breaths. She ran for the great hall and all she could see were scorched rafters and floorboards. Guards scrambled to the battlements, while women and children fled the castle. She searched for her sisters among the people migrating outside …
Noelle’s eyes snapped open at the sound of dire warning. By God, this was no dream! She flung blankets aside and rolled over, shook her older sister awake, and jumped out of bed.
“What’s wrong?” Margaret asked sleepily.
“The castle’s on fire. Get up, now!”
Margaret scurried from bed and ran with Noelle to the windows overlooking the eastern edge of the castle. Through the swirling fog, Noelle could make out a tangle of men with torches and weapons in the courtyard below. She further scanned the shoreline where the North Sea pounded against the rocks and dunes. The castle was under siege and poorly defended. Most of the soldiers and her father were in Ireland, leaving only her brother and a skeleton army behind.
Her gaze still locked on the beach, Noelle caught sight of three, silvery-white longships anchored beyond the walls. Their blood-red sails snapped in the wind. She stared in horror as the pattern on the sails came into focus—the shape of a dragon.
About the Author
Violetta Rand holds a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Policy and a master’s degree in Environmental Management. Serving as an environmental scientist in the state of Alaska for over seven years, she enjoys the privilege of traveling to remote places few people have the opportunity to see.
Violetta has been “in love” with writing since childhood. Struck with an entrepreneurial spirit at a young age, at five, she wrote short stories illustrated by her best friend and sold them in her neighborhood. The only thing she loves more than writing is her wonderful relationship with her husband, Jeff. She enjoys outdoor activities, reading whatever she can get her hands on, music, and losing herself in the ancient worlds she enjoys bringing to life in the pages of her stories.
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 about 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
In Dark Persuasion, because my heroine is blind, her sister is actively involved in preparations for the wedding. One task is helping prepare Charlotte’s 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.
My story is set roughly around the 1885-1890, so Charlotte’s collection of personal items deal mainly with fine undergarments and clothing. Below is an excerpt from 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.”
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. It was quite an interesting read doing research about the subject. I tried to incorporate as much as I could within my text in hopes of ducking any criticism about getting it all wrong. 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. Colors varied. The dress pictured in this post is from roughly 1890. I like to visualize it as Charlotte’s dress, my blind heroine, in the story. I love the detailed bodice, the fabric, and the long train (not shown here). 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.
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.
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.
The historical romance genre bombards readers with bare-chested, muscular males, who have shirts falling off their backs, toned physiques, and six-pack abs. The heroines are women with unbuttoned or unlaced dresses in the back, overflowing breasts from low necklines, and passionate scenes of kissing in provocative poses. They set the stage for the forthcoming sexual tension between the characters and build the reader’s anticipation of what is to come between the sheets . . . I mean pages.
The old adage you can’t judge a book by its cover is really only a half-truth, because I dare say most books are sold in the romance genre by what is on the cover. The cover sets the scene, tempts us with what’s inside, and reveals the type of book we’re about to read, or at least it should.
As an author myself, I always try and pick my covers to relate to one of the scenes in my book. The cover picture above was designed by my graphic artist, Robin Ludwig for my awarding-winning romance Dark Persuasion. I purchased the stock photograph of Jimmy Thomas, a well-known and popular model who is now on over 4,000 covers. The cover above is actually two photographs. The picture I chose of Jimmy and the female model tells a story. The darkness behind the man who can see; the light behind the woman who is blind. When I saw the pose, I envisioned a scene in my book. Jimmy loved the final cover and was kind enough to showcase it on his website for a while.
Of course, there are many talented cover designers and graphic artists that produce fantastic work 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 Studios. I love the fact that when you hit his website you hear the beautiful song, “Somewhere in Time.” Check out his gallery and get lost in his works of art that are breathtakingly beautiful. He also has a Facebook page where he posts his most recent creations. The cover art to the right is a Jon Paul creation.
Many indie authors and traditional publishers are also turning toward stock photography on sites such as Dreamstime, iStockPhoto, Getty Images, Shutterstock, Fotolia, and many more. 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 of such photographs on the market.
Purchasing a photograph isn’t the end of the design process. The real artistry, of course, comes when a picture is chosen and then it’s turned into a cover story that is unique. Authors, however, 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. We now have new models and artists on the scene and the advent of advanced design techniques to tickle our fantasies with background scenes. I have noticed, though, a distinct difference between historical romance and historical fiction covers. Historical fiction uses less exposed flesh it appears than the historical romance genre, as you can see by the slideshow below.
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 bookshelves like works of art. Now, we enjoy them our high definition digital readers. Wherever they meet our eyes, on print or screen, the effect remains the same — you wish you were the heroine in the arms of the hero about to enjoy the fleshly pleasures that await.