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Top Ten Historical Romance Authors as of February 9, 2018

Like shifting sands on a beach, so are the top-ten historical romance authors on Amazon.  Much of the move has to do with sales, of course, having pushed them upward into higher ranks.

Okay, who are the current ladies that write the stories that make you swoon prior to Valentine’s Day?  Here are the top ten authors and their most popular books as of February 2018.  It’s interesting to note that only two authors who were on our December list remain in the top ten – Christi Caldwell and Bridget Barton.  As you can see, marketing is everything.

  1. Bridget Barton – A Damsel for the Mysterious Duke, Kind Ella and the Duke, A Beauty for the Scarred Duke, A Governness for the Brooding Duke, A Bride of the Betrayed Earl. 
  2. Caroline Fyfee – Heart of Eden, True Heart’s Desire, Montana Promise, Montana Dawn, Montana Courage. 
  3. Eleanor Meyers – A New Marquess, The Son of an Earl, The Son of a Soldier, The Son of a  Marquess, To Love a Lord of London. 
  4. Tammy Andresen – Hot Winter Nights, Earl of Sussex, Taming the Duke’s Heart, Taming a Duke’s Reckless Heart, Christmastide with My Captain 
  5. Christi Caldwell – Hell and Sin, Scandalous Seasons, A Danby Novella, The Lady Who Loved Him, The Heiress’s Deception 
  6. Kathryn LeVequeHigh Warrier, Brides of the Marches, Realm of the Angels, The Legend, Godspeed 
  7. Hazel Hunter – Lachlan, Gavin, Tharaen, Evander, Tormod 
  8. Jillian Eaton – The Winter Duchess, A Dangerous Proposal, The Christmas Widow, A Dangerous Seduction, Forgotten Fiancee 
  9. Laura Landon – Brotherhood Series, Jaded Moon, Ransomed Jewels, Silent Revenge, Dark Ruby 
  10. Emma Prince – Surrender to the Scot, The Bastard Laird’s Bride, Highlander’s Redemption, The Lady’s Protector, Highlander’s Reckoning

Happy reading,
HR Admin

Author Beverly Jenkins Delivers the Unexpected

IN THE NEWS – An interesting article and interview with author Beverly Jenkins.

Her latest romance novel, ‘Tempest,’ is about an African-American mail-order bride who heads to 1885 Wyoming to meet her future husband

Read More at Source: Author Beverly Jenkins delivers the unexpected

From USA Today Bestselling Author Beverly Jenkins comes a new novel in a mesmerizing series set in the Old West, where an arranged marriage becomes a grand passion . . .

What kind of mail-order bride greets her intended with a bullet instead of a kiss? One like Regan Carmichael—an independent spirit equally at home in denims and dresses. Shooting Dr. Colton Lee in the shoulder is an honest error, but soon Regan wonders if her entire plan to marry a man she’s never met is a mistake. Colton, who buried his heart along with his first wife, insists he only wants someone to care for his daughter. Yet Regan is drawn to the unmistakable desire in his gaze.

Regan’s far from the docile bride Colton was expecting. Still, few women would brave the wilds of Wyoming Territory for an uncertain future with a widower and his child. The thought of having a bold, forthright woman like Regan in his life—and in his arms—begins to inspire a new dream. And despite his family’s disapproval and an unseen enemy, he’ll risk all to make this match a real union of body and soul.

 

Walmart is Teaming Up With One of the World’s Biggest E-Commerce Companies  

Walmart is diving into the business of selling ereaders, ebooks, and audiobooks through a partnership with Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten.

Well, here is a bit of news – Walmart selling eBooks?  Sure, why not?  They can do so online and also sell Kobo eReaders, as well as romance books.  Frankly, Amazon’s domination is huge and retailers are starting to take bold moves against the big A.

“The deal will give Walmart access to the massive ebook market, which is largely dominated by Amazon. Amazon is responsible for roughly 83% of all ebook sales in the US…”

Source: Walmart is teaming up with one of the world’s biggest e-commerce companies to take direct aim at Amazon

The Dark Side of Historical Romance

There is a dark side in the historical romance genre.  It’s Gothic romance, which doesn’t always give the reader a happily-ever-after ending. Born centuries ago, the genre flourished in the late 18th and 19th century England. They were dark tales, often with a supernatural backdrop, set in creepy houses, castles, or ruins. Somewhere lurking in the fearful locations were mysterious men with secrets or questionable pasts who wooed unsuspecting female heroines.  Of course, in the mix, there could be ghosts, monsters, vampires, and other evils lurking beneath the bed.

The romance, however, is still a focal point of these dark tales of love intermixed with the not-so-pleasant surroundings.  A few years ago a Gothic romance by the name of Crimson Peak hit the theatres starring Tom Hiddleston, Jessica Chastain, and Mia Wasikowska.  Below is a fairly short but great description of the Victorian sexuality that became part of Gothic romance.

If you have not seen the movie, you can also read the book.

After doing a bit of Google searching, I came across another good article about the genre that is worth the read – Romance Unlaced: Authors Discuss Today’s Gothic Romances by Madeline Hunter of USA Today (July 13, 2016).

Years ago, before big, fat historical romances broke onto the scene, I would look at the mass-market racks in the drugstore and see rows of covers that had much in common. A woman in a filmy gown running down a hill in the night. In the background, cast in eerie moonlight, was a big house. Read More Here

If you haven’t read a good Gothic lately, here are a few to try out.  Caution.  Not all may have HEA.

Strike a Pose for Covers – The Reclining Lovers

From the back and neck strain to the grasping duke from behind, comes the ultimate place most aristocrats are hoping to place their heroines — on their back.

After searching through the covers of past and present, this pose seems to be the least used in the variety of physical positions.  Nonetheless, it serves to take the story to a satisfying conclusion…if you get my drift.  Here are a few goodies from the past.

…and those from the present carrying on the seductive reclining position.

Strike a Pose for Covers – The Backstrain

Yesterday, I was feeling a bit loopy looking at old historical romance book covers. Have you ever thought about the cover poses in this genre?  If you look at the older books, I can imagine an ensuing backache and neck strain sustained if a shirtless man bent me over backward, while I lifted my naked leg up against his side.  Romantic?  I laugh at the faces of these ladies who often turn their head away and looked pained rather than seduced.  Of course, the windstorm is always blowing and the hair is flying around.  Do they make you go ouch or moan at the thought of the dominant male seducing you as our spine cracks?

Have a bit of a chuckle with me on the first strike a pose for covers blog post.  More to come!

Has the pose diminished in current historical romance covers?  Not really.  Backs and necks are still out of line, however, it’s hard to find the consistent leg up these days.

Let’s Duke it Out

BS1Let’s face it, ladies.  We are drowning in dukes!  This morning when I visited the historical romance best sellers on Amazon Kindle, that’s pretty much dominated the scene in the 100 top-selling books.  Even those books that don’t have the title “duke” on the cover, doesn’t mean there isn’t one lurking between the pages.  Most of these dude dukes are bad boys with a few charming ones thrown into the mix.

Here’s a quick sampling if you don’t think I’ve gone historical romance raving mad.

Blame it on the Duke
Kind Ella and the Charming Duke
A Beauty for the Scared Duke
The Duke of Nothing
A Duke in Shining Armor
The Duke of Ruin
A Governess for the Brooding Duke
The Silent Duke
From Duke Till Dawn
The Desires of a Duke
My Wild Duke
The Lady, the Duke, and the Gentleman
Kissing the Duke
The Broken Duke…and on, and on, and on.

Once in a while, a lord, marquis, and earl sneak in the bunch, not to be confused with the many rogues of the historical romance genre.  There are even duke series like Difficult Dukes, The Disgraceful Dukes, Girl Meets Duke and many more.  I guess I’m scratching my head on why we always have to fall in love with a duke.  Is there a hidden code that only best-selling romances must be duke centric?  Is this the only peerage that can sweep us away into the fantasy land of romance?

After doing some research, I’ve found a Goodreads Listopia entitled, “Dukes…Bring ’em on!”  If you Google the term “dukes in historical romance novels,” you’ll be smacked to learn the results.  There’s an interesting article on NPR entitled, “Put Up Your Dukes: Romance’s Favorite Rank.”

Perhaps it boils down that with all these erotic romance covers, we have determined that dukes are the sexiest and most desired of the English peerage. We prefer dreaming about becoming a duchess regardless if we understand why we should address him as His Grace or where he stands in the scheme of English peerage. Whatever the reason, I’d frankly like to see more historical romances that go beyond this narrow breed of titled men and even dare to focus on a man without an aristocratic title.

What are your thoughts, readers?  Don’t be shy!  Start chiming in and enjoy the discussion.

Your Admin from Historical Romance Books

P.S. If you want to learn about British peerage, here is a good article on Anglotopia, “The peerage: A primer on Understanding Lords, Ladies, Dukes, Earls, and More.”

Self-Publishing Success Story: Collette Cameron, USA Today Bestselling Historical Romance Author

A great article from Alliance of Independent Authors.

“In our interview with USA Today bestselling romance author, Collette Cameron shares some great ideas for how to achieve self-publishing success as she has done.”

SOURCE:  https://selfpublishingadvice.org/self-publishing-success-collette-cameron/

Find her latest release on Amazon.

 

The 10 Best Romance Novels of 2017

Entertainment Weekly has spoken. Here are the best in Historical Romance novels this past year all from traditional publishers.

Do you agree?

4.4 Amazon Rating – Released by Kensington March 28, 2017
4.7 Amazon Rating – Released by Avon Books August 22, 2017
4.4 Amazon Rating – Released by Avon Books January 31, 2017
4.2 Amazon Rating – Released by Avon June 27, 2017

View the link for the entire list.

Source: The 10 best romance novels of 2017

What Makes a Great Historical Romance?

If you ever get to know me personally, you will soon find out that I love to analyze just about anything.  My quest for the day is what makes a great historical romance book?

To answer that question, I turned toward one-star reviews left for books written by famous historical romance authors from the big publishers. You would think I’d be reading the five stars instead, but what is lacking in historical romance stories has my interest piqued. Here are the top-ten complaints I discovered.

Predictable Plot.  Supposedly, these are books where you already know how it’s going to end after reading a few chapters.  In other words, there isn’t a plot twist or anything else interesting in between boy meets girl and the happily ever after.  The story is supposed to reach a climax point (not the other kind of climax, ladies) before reaching the satisfying end.

Contrived Plot.  I’ve seen contrived plots on television but what’s the definition and why does it irk readers?  Frankly, there is an excess of comments if you Google the term.  They apparently stretch plausibility, such as setting up situations that are unbelievable and deliberate.  Other thoughts are that contrived plots are forced and unnatural.

No Tension – No Sizzle.  Well, this one is obvious.  Hero and heroine are a dud.  Is sexual tension always the spice of the story?  Of course, how can you believe the love if there isn’t any sizzle?

Too Much Sex or Not Enough Sex.  There doesn’t seem to be a happy medium when it comes to this complaint.  There either isn’t enough sex or there is too much sex.  I suppose a story should come in between the sheets somewhere.

Dialogue – Boy, this one rampant, of course.  Historical romances with too many modern statements don’t go over very well.  Authors must write Regency-speak or Victorian-speak, regardless if we actually lived in those eras. However, I question whether every historical romance needs to sound like Jane Austen’s writing or Charlotte Bronte’s prose.

It’s a Ghost -This is an interesting complaint aimed at well-known authors who have released multiple books. Statements like, “Makes me wonder who actually wrote it.”  “What have you done with the author?” “Someone else must have written this book.” Do you think long careers make some authors fizzle out? Do they rehash plot lines and run out of inspiration?  Food for thought.

Boring.  It’s either a boring story or boring writing.  The boring story is an obvious one — nothing to keep the reader interested in continuing the book.  Another common complaint that arises are scenes that are too descriptive. How long does it take to describe a person, a room, landscape, or even a sex scene? Too much is often termed writer’s fluff.

Poor Editing.  Surprisingly, these comments are not for independent authors.  There are plenty aimed at large traditional publishing houses.  It makes me wonder how much author support has been cut back due to financial reasons. An odd style that drives me absolutely bonkers is no quotation marks for dialogue.  And don’t get me started on sentences that start with “and” and the lack of the Oxford comma.

Unlikable Characters.  This brings me back to what is a likable hero or heroine?  Check out my former posts.  There are some personality types readers do not like in their books.

No Character Development.  Characters are made of cardboard or are fully formed.  Character development is a hot topic but also a difficult one to pinpoint.  Of course, characters need flaws, positive traits, and growth.

In conclusion, everyone reacts differently to a book.  It’s interesting to read polarized positions of the same novel, making you scratch your head if they read the same story.

As always, chime in!  What are your complaints?  I love to hear from our followers.

Your Admin for Historical Romance Books

 

Different Flavors of Authors

Untitled designSo who are these women (and occasional males) that write historical romance novels?  As a reader, if you haven’t been following the ever-changing landscape in the publishing world, authors come in a variety pack.  From young to old, these are the people who pen your stories that you rate from one to five stars.  We all have favorite sub-genres.  We all have favorite eras.  We all have the likable type of hero and heroine.  However, with such a variety of authors, it may be hard to weed through the inundated market of romance these days.

The Traditional

These are the ones who have chosen the traditional publishing world.  They traveled the rough trail of submissions and rejections and paid their dues.  They were proficient in writing great query letters to hook agents. Others were persistent, knocking on doors of publishers that accept direct submissions.  Whatever gateway they have been fortunate enough to open, it has provided them support from big-named publishers and smaller publishing houses on the road to release. These authors have a unique experience with their publishers who do it all – editing, cover design, distribution, in addition to bearing the majority of costs associated with publishing a book.

The Indie

Once coined the vanity writers, self-published authors or “indies” as many call them, are an entirely different breed.  At first, they came out of the gate with a less than warm welcome or reputation, often coined as the slush pile rejects or wood-be, mediocre writers.  However, as the years have passed, the indies have taken over a large portion of the market, including reaching the USA Today and NYT best-seller lists. They have gained great strides in gaining respect and earnings. Supposedly, indies are control freaks. They enjoy full engagement in their artistic endeavors.  The smart ones seek out good editors to tone their content and talented graphic artists to do their covers. It’s a learning experience in ISBN’s, eBook formatting, printing, distribution, marketing, etc., because they immerse themselves in the publishing world in order to succeed.  They are the independent ones who bear the cost of getting their books into print.

The Hybrid

What in the world is a hybrid?  No, it’s not a new dinosaur about to hatch that will grow up to eat you or your book.  It’s an author who enjoys both worlds – the traditional and the self-published.    It’s a path that some individuals pursue in a variety of ways.  It’s not unusual for a traditionally published author to take a book when the rights have reverted back to her or him and self-published it afterward.  Frankly, it’s a sweet spot for many because they are well known as traditional authors who already have a fan base.  However, this route may take negotiation because some publishers insist on a non-compete clause that prevents authors from self-publishing while under contract.

In the end, I like to think that all three author varieties have one common goal — to spread the romance together.  At Historical Romance Books, whatever path to print you have chosen, you are welcome on our pages.

Historical Romance Books Admin

Once Upon a Christmas Eve by Elizabeth Hoyt

Once Upon A ChristmasAdam Rutledge, Viscount d’Arque, really rather loathes Christmas. The banal cheerfulness. The asinine party games. And, worst of all, the obligatory trip to the countryside. His grandmother, however, loves the holiday—and Adam loves his grandmother, so he’ll brave the fiercest snowstorm to please her. But when their carriage wheel snaps, they’re forced to seek shelter at the home of the most maddening, infuriating, and utterly beguiling woman he’s ever met . . .

Release Date December 5, 2017

Hachette Book Group

 

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The Perfect Hero

Lamina WaterhouseThe perfect hero in historical romance. Is there one? What fantasy do readers want?

In reality, as much as we are filled with fanciful and romantic thoughts, there probably isn’t a perfect man. Of course, it depends on how you define perfection. Like the variety of readers and their various tastes over heroines, there is no absence of criticism over the perfect male. Once again, I’ve strolled through the reviews of some best selling authors to find out what women are thinking.

There are the usual complaints of women who dislike emotionally scared men (except for Fifty Shades, apparently), along with arrogant aristocrats and walking cardboard characters (boy that term gets used a lot). Frankly, I think women who look for the perfect hero want a type of man they can fall in love with during the story. Women are looking for romance and ways to live vicariously through storytelling, no doubt to soothe our lack of it in real life. If you love historical romance, then no doubt you want a swoon-worthy, good-looking chap in breaches, boots, with a ruffled shirt, and white cravat.

So what is the perfect hero? If we look at the typical male stereotypes in works of centuries past, we can categorize them in a variety of ways.

The Darcy Type – Prideful and arrogant but humbled in the presence of one woman. His good sense and social class tell him to walk away. Instead, he bemoans his tortured and bewitched existence as if he’s helpless to resist. “In vain have I struggled, it will not do. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”

The Knightly Type – A soulful, kindhearted, and wise man who is your friend. He supports you, chides you when needed, admires you silently, and gradually falls in love. He cares deeply about your well-being and sacrifices his own happiness to ensure your own. When his outward motives reveal a deeper love, he declares the obvious. “Marry me, my wonderful darling friend.”

The Captain Wentworth Type – He suffers in silence over a love lost but clings to the hope that he may regain what he desires. As he quietly watches from the sidelines the love of his life, he waits for the opportune time to once again profess his love. “You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone forever…I have loved none but you.” Who can deny such a plea?

The Mr. Rochester Type – The tortured soul, who is moody and cynical about life. He has a dark secret, that binds him to another, while in the meantime he lures the innocent and young Jane into marrying him. Even though the Rochester type of hero should contain a warning label, women are drawn to his brooding character. His words of love are filled with desperation. “My very soul demands you: it will be satisfied: or it will take deadly vengeance on its frame.” It’s not until the ultimate tragedy plays out that happy ever after arrives.

The Mr. Thornton Type – A successful man of determination in his business and family life. A bit too close to his mother, annoyed by his sister, but nonetheless respected by his peers. He is drawn to a woman of strong character, like himself, and they clash repeatedly like a stormy sea. “He shrank from hearing Margaret’s very name mentioned; he, while he blamed her–while he was jealous of her–while he renounced her–he loved her sorely, in spite of himself.”

The men above are just a small sampling, and I bet you can think of more.

The Edward Ferrars Type
The Willoughby Type
The Colonel Brandon Type
The Mr. Bingley Type

It’s an endless list of possible men who can make you swoon.

I don’t know that there is necessarily a perfect hero by any means because I believe women are drawn to types and situations when they think of falling in love between the pages of a book. Whether they be an arrogant male, steadfast friend, silent sufferer, tortured soul, or irritating sod, they possess alluring and attractive qualities. Every woman has their type. Of course, that makes it difficult for authors to consistently write the perfect hero!

Do you have a particular type of man that you like to read about in historical romance? Frankly, I like the silent suffering male who cannot live without me, like Captain Wentworth.

All our best from Historical Romance Books!

 

The Perfect Heroine

In the past seven years, I have had the opportunity to craft female characters by the names of Suzette, Desiree, Charlotte, Angelique, Rachel, Ann, Mary, and Caroline.  Each woman is unique so that their character fits the theme of the story that I pen.

However, it’s been interesting to learn that crafting a female character who pleases the vast array of preferences that exist among readers, is a unique challenge. It’s safe to say that each one of my imaginary leading ladies has been a victim of harsh criticism, but a few have been lauded as brilliant. The ratings appear to hang upon whether the reader likes or dislikes the personality of the heroine. Since historical romance books are inherently written for the fantasies of the female audience, it makes perfect sense that female readers can be harsh critics. As I have said before, writing romance is a tough gig.

What I find utterly fascinating is that female readers appear to be more critical of their heroines than heroes. The damaged or flawed character of a handsome man is easily forgiven, rather than the shortcomings of a woman. The heartless rake who seduces a virgin in a passionate love scene is given absolution. His less than honorable motives are overlooked as well as his reputation. As long as he’s a good lover, is portrayed handsomely on the cover in a kilt or frock coat, all is well.
After all, ladies want to fall in love with the hero of the book for many reasons. We wouldn’t be reading them if we didn’t feel there was a void to be filled in our fantasies of what love should really be like. That is why we read historical romance to take us back to another time we blindly believe to be much better than the sneaker and blue jean society of our day. However, if the heroine doesn’t fit our preconceived idea of what we envision ourselves to be in her shoes, there could be trouble brewing in the ratings.
Why are we so critical of heroines? What is it about women who are harsh on other women – even if it’s just a make-believe character with no flesh, bones or soul?  Is it because women relate more closely with their gender than they do with men?  I think it boils down to what I believe I’m learning about this phenomenon – the men or heroes are fantasies in the mind of a female reader, while on the other hand heroines tend to be more personal as we walk that path of romance with them page by page vicariously.
Any author, who has taken a course or read a book on character building, will tell you that it takes talent to craft a hero or heroine and bring them to life.  We’ve all read complaints about cardboard characters (no depth) or characters that are run-of-the-mill remakes with no individuality.  The law of character building includes the pros and cons of that imaginary person. Can an evil person experience a pang of guilt or a saint have a sinful thought? Of course they can, because without dimension, they are not human. It’s the things we love and despise about people that make for good characters.  By the end of the story, the fictional individual should have grown in some way or changed for the better in spite of their flaws while conquering that obstacle that looms between them and their happy ending.  Let’s be honest – not every living being is perfect – so why do readers sometimes expect our characters to be as well?

I will raise my hand and admit that I tend to write prickly people because conflict is the spice of my stories. After reading other popular authors in the historical romance genre, I’m finding that I often dare to stray from the regulated norms. You will no doubt find more amiable and agreeable ladies elsewhere. An interesting exercise is to stroll through one-star reviews on best-selling historical romance books, and you’ll get a feel for how readers really view the heroine.  It’s usually a love/hate relationship based on personal preferences when it comes to romantic encounters between the pages.
From my own experience and reading the thoughts of other readers, here are some of the negatives that women do not like in their heroines:

  • Prickly women who come across as bitches.
  • Weak women who can’t stand up for themselves.
  • Disabled women who don’t match the standards of beauty or perfection.
  • Gullible women who swallow men’s lies and have no good sense.
  • Arrogant women who are snobs.
  • Unforgettable and uninteresting women with bland personalities.
  • Women with poor self-esteem.
I am sure the list could be expanded, but those complaints are the most obvious. It makes me wonder though if readers have placed twenty-first-century expectations of behavior upon women of the Regency and Victorian eras. I wouldn’t be surprised if our thought processes actually wish for stronger women, which may not have been the case until the later part of the 19th century and early 20th century when women found a voice due to the suffrage movement.
Frankly, I think it is impossible to please every reader all of the time when it comes to historical romance. Each reader, like each character, is frankly unique in what they are looking for in a story. They have their perfect hero and heroine already in mind, and it’s the journey that the two must traverse to find an everlasting love that is the entertainment readers seek. I would only caution that sometimes a character can possess negative characteristics early in the story, but the author has plans to mellow them out or heal their flaws. Unfortunately, tales that instantly irritate are often discarded before the best is yet to come.So is there a perfect heroine?  I sincerely doubt it.  If one existed, every historical romance writer would be a New York Times best-selling author because they didn’t irritate a reader with a less-than-stellar heroine.
Now as far as heroes?  Well, that’s an entirely different topic that I may tackle in another post.

Book Promo: “His Captive Princess” by Sandra Jones

SYNOPSIS

Earned respect is sweet…but deserved revenge is sweeter.
Warren de Tracy was assured the Welsh village of Dinefwr would be an easy conquest, as would the widow of its fallen prince. Wedding her will appease the locals and win the respect of his liege, the usurper King Stephen.
Instead, Warren is ambushed, taken prisoner by a hooded Welshwoman with skin that glows like moonlight. If he must die at her hands, at least his honorable death will silence the whispers of disloyalty hanging over his name.
Princess Eleri has never seen a knight as stoic—and as eager to die—as Warren. She’d love to oblige the bastard, but something in his ocean-blue eyes stays her hand. Plus, suspicion nags at her, for the arrows that wounded him and killed his men are Norman, not Welsh.
A ghostly prophecy portends danger that thrusts the enemies closer together, where hate explodes into passion that won’t allow Eleri to surrender Warren to her vengeful clan. But returning him to his king breaks more than it mends…and for Warren, retaliation will be sweet, indeed.

Warning: Contains a Norman warrior with a thirst for justice, a Welsh rebel princess with second sight and a steady bow hand, magical prophecies, and a plot of royal proportions.

Buy Links: Amazon | Nooks B&N

Author Links:  Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter

Book Promo: “The Shield Maiden’s Revenge” by Bibi Rizer

Synopsis

Katla Grímsdóttir has lived with her Viking father’s anger and abuse for all of her eighteen years. And she has watched him mistreat the two people she loves most in the world – her twin sister Gull and their slave “milk brother” Freyvior – until her heart is nothing but fire and steel. When Gull is sold in marriage to one of their father’s brutish warlords, Katla turns that fire and steel into the strength of fury.
She can no longer deny that her love for her beautiful slave Freyvior has changed, nor can she resist her desire to be owned by him, body and soul. But while together they awaken a fierce storm of passion between them, they must also face a violent destiny as they set out to rescue Gull. And first, those who have betrayed and abused them will be made to face the young shield maiden’s long repressed wrath.
 Buy Links:  Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA
Author Links:  Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter

"The Baron and the Mistress" by Karyn Gerrard

Synopsis

Forget the Horrors. Remember…me.

A shivering young woman leans against a lamppost in the most notorious street of ill repute in all London. For Asher Colborne, Baron of Wenlock, this is a haunting vision of beauty and wretchedness. Uncharacteristically halting his carriage, he is shocked to discover the thin, dressed-in-rags creature is none other than Chastity Armitage, a beautiful angel who captured his heart at a grand ball more than two years past. For Colborne, her circumstance is a mystery he feels honor bound to unravel.

Chastity and her siblings have been on the run for more than two years. Desperate for food and lodging money, she is forced to sell herself. She never expected a tall, handsome man to appear as if from mist and change her life forever. She is given a choice, continue down the path of never-ending poverty or become the baron’s mistress.

Though they are both determined the arrangement remain an emotionless business transaction, the attraction between them is scorching. Many barriers and obstacles lay in Chastity and Ash’s path. Can the baron and the mistress embrace true love?

“Breach of Promise of Marriage” Guest Post by Vicki Hopkins

One of my hobbies is researching my British ancestry on my mother’s side of the family. Part of that process includes reading British newspapers in search of articles on my ancestors. My second great uncle was a Justice of the Peace, Alderman, and successful businessman, so I’m always looking for articles regarding his life and have found quite a few (over thirty thus far).

While doing so, I stumbled across another fascinating area in the lives of men and women from 1800-1850 in regards to lawsuits for the “breach of promise of marriage.” My search has uncovered over 6,000 links to articles in newspapers across England regarding such cases.

I thought I would share with you what I noted but must do so in generic terms. Unfortunately, I cannot quote any of the articles due to copyright restrictions.  I imagine, however, the situations were common.  What I love most about reading these articles is the language used that is so “Jane Austen” in prose. In addition, the evidence of love letters are printed in the newspapers sometimes just referencing the content but other times printing the entire letter. Juicy indeed!

As far as jury settlements, the poor received much less, while the wealthy were assessed large sums of money.  The jury deliberations were usually under an hour. The highest I have discovered out of a sampling of ten articles is £4,000 and the smallest £60.  Surprisingly, not only women filed cases, but also men sued women for breach of marriage. Marriage was big business, and both parties had much to lose if one broke the engagement. Losses did not involve mere matters of the heart but the promise of fortunes gained and lost.

Here are few generalizations of what I have read:

  • The ages of the parties varied. Girls as young as eighteen accepted proposals from men over the age of fifty.
  • First cousins married, sometimes knowing each other from infancy and later forming attachments. This scenario reminded me of Mr. Knightly and Emma since he was sixteen years of age when she was born.
  • Men courted for the purpose of seduction. Tsk. Tsk. And yes, once they got what they wanted, they abandoned the young lady breaking their promise of marriage. The court, apparently, did not look kindly upon such instances. Unfortunately, the inevitable pregnancy happened, too, and the lady was left without support.
  • Men or women could be of humble means or possess considerable property being independently wealthy. It appeared the men pursued women for money (think Willoughby), and when the engagement fell through, they sued for damages.
  • Those in service together with the same employer (think Downton Abbey) fell in love but broke engagements.
  • The few reasons I noted for the “breach of promise of marriage” were as follows:  a) the family objected to the match (seemed to be common); b) inability to provide for both immediate family (parents) and wives at the same time; c) immoral gain of seduction without love; and d) change of heart with no other particular reason given. Solicitors painted pictures of ruined ladies who were downcast, depressed, and in ill-health both physically and mentally due to abandonment.
These articles are a goldmine of fascinating reading. The language used is priceless, and the situations typical of those in want of a wife or husband in the early 19th century. It’s a soap opera of epic proportions that I will probably enjoy reading for months to come. No doubt, they will inspire a few stories.

Vicki

"Willoughby" by Sadie Montgomery

Synopsis:
Willoughby is the story, taken from the pages of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, of the ill-fated lovers, Marianne and Willoughby.
Foolish and impetuous, Willoughby becomes involved in a reckless affair, the consequences of which he won’t fully know until it’s too late. Only when he meets and falls in love with Marianne Dashwood does he understand and regret the consequences of his rash behavior.
Cast aside, her romantic illusions broken, Marianne must teach her heart to love more wisely. Despite their separate paths, Willoughby’s and Marianne’s stories are intertwined, and fate brings them together, with unexpected consequences, at critical moments in their lives.
Faithful to the events in the original, Sadie Montgomery integrates new material into Austen’s text and spins a tale of missteps and their consequences, partial truths and revelations, transgressions and redemption. Taking the plot well beyond the final pages of Sense and Sensibility, we follow Marianne and Willoughby into their separate marriages, through joys and sorrows, through battles at home and abroad, to discover that passion does not always fade and that reason alone cannot fulfill us.

 

Historical Romance Books Coming to Life

Okay, so I’ve been watching on Facebook and hearing everyone else talk about the “highly anticipated” Outlander television series on Starz. On the other side of the camp, all the Poldark lovers are going crazy over that series being redone by Masterpiece Theater.
Because, I knew very little about Outlander, written by Diana Gabaldon, except for what I’ve read in multiple blog posts and reader comments, I finally downloaded the first book. From what I’ve gathered in searching the net and reading reviews, there is a lot of polarization regarding the story. The disagreeable readers say this — they liked the beginning and the premise, but as the story continued were appalled by scenes that turned them off (mainly, the supposed marital rape of Claire, Jamie beating Claire for disobedience, and Jamie’s rape by Captain Randall).  I will stay clear of that hot debate.

What makes a story extremely popular is uniqueness. Outlander is apparently one of those novels (a long series), as it takes the reader back in time from the 1940’s into 1700’s Scotland. It contains all of the right elements – mystery, danger, surprise, handsome Scottish hunk, bodice ripping, passionate lovemaking, and a difficult decision for the heroine to make.  To keep abreast of the story, I added Starz for $10 a month to my Comcast account.  Though I have read the first book, I will rely on the television series for the remainder.  As an author myself, it’s impossible for me to sit down and read the entire tale without sacrificing my own time that I need writing.
After watching the first two episodes, I am very impressed with the quality of the production.  Starz has brought the story to life through costumes, location, and cast.  They have put a huge amount of money into marketing this series and it shows.  The frenzy of fans are highly emotional, as well.  Just spend a few hours in the Facebook Fan Group with 29,000 plus ladies talking about what is under the kilt.

Now, let’s go to the heartthrob. Pictures of Sam Heughan, who plays Jamie, have been clogging my timeline on Facebook for months. Jamie is quite the hunk–young, virile, strong, and well-endowed, no doubt, as women think about what’s under that kilt. With his thick Scottish brogue, you just want to kiss him to shut him up, if you don’t mind the sweat and blood on his face to get there.

Claire is played by an equally talented and very beautiful Caitriona Balfe.  The others in the production are well casted and doing a fantastic job in their respective roles.  Tobias Menzies, who plays two roles in the show (Frank and Captain Randall), will make you cringe as the evil Redcoat after the Scots.

Since the Scots have been garnishing a huge amount of attraction from Outlander, the English have been feverishly working on their own series. 
Poldark on BBC Masterpiece Theater is slated for 2015 release, based on the books of Winston Graham.  It first aired on television in the 1970’s and became a hugely successful series garnishing it’s own swooning group of women over the main character, the dashing Ross Poldark, who will be played by Aidan Turner this time around.  
Set on the rocky coast of Cornwall, a former Redcoat who fought in the war of independence in 1776, returns home to resume his life and love only to find things have changed.
 
Needless to say that those who love to read historical romance, enjoy watching the stories come alive.  Of course, adaptations on television or the big screen do not always follow the books.  Already, there have been some comments regarding Outlander straying, and it will be interesting to see if Poldark is kept like the 1970’s series or morphed into something entirely new.  
Frankly, it doesn’t bother me if an adaptation isn’t religiously tied word for word to the original book.  I think that the author of Outlander is extremely blessed to see her work come alive on screen as are the readers of the series.  It’s frankly an experience that every historical author probably dreams about–I know that I do.

P.S.  If you are one of the unfortunate individuals who cannot get Starz; or if your country is not able to get the series, you can follow my weekly reviews on each episode at the following websites: