Book Promotion, Glynnis Campbell, http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post, Indian Romance, Native Gold

Book Promo: "Native Gold" by Glynnis Campbell

Synopsis:

Mathilda Hardwicke, a rebellious artist rejected by her family and New York society, heads west to Gold Rush California as a mail-order bride. But when fate leaves her alone at the altar, she’s drawn to Sakote–a fierce Konkow warrior whose tribe is threatened by the encroaching white men–in whose arms she discovers a savage new Paradise and a forbidden love more precious than gold.

Purchase Links:  Kindle|Nook| Kobo| Trade-Size Paperback

Author links:Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest

Sakote had to return to the waterfall. As much as he wanted to put the white woman out of his thoughts, along with the place where she’d stolen his senses, he had to go back. The hunting pouch was a gift from his father, and the tools in it—the snares, the knives, the mountain hemp line—would take days to replace.
So with a pouch of dried deer meat and a promise to his mother that he’d bring back woodpecker feathers for her husband’s wahiete—his crown, Sakote set off for the waterfall.
The pouch was where he’d left it, beside the great boulder. But still his eyes searched the wet banks of the pool, looking for some sign of the woman who’d come here. There was nothing. She’d left behind no scrap of cloth, no scent, not even a footprint.
But that didn’t mean her spirit was gone. She lived here still, in the rush of water over the stones, so like her laughter, in the green depth of the pool, like her eyes, and in the heat of the sun upon his shoulder, reminding him of the warmth of her arms around him.
“Damn!” There were no words of anger in Sakote’s language, so he borrowed the curse from the white man.
It didn’t matter what the elders said, what the dream tried to tell him. He must follow the old ways, the ways of the Konkow, or they would be lost. The white woman showed him another path, a dangerous path, a path he must not take.
The sun continued to blaze upon his back, and he knew a quick swim in the pond would cool his blood and his anger. He took off his moccasins, freed his hair, and loosened the thong around his breechcloth, letting it fall to the ground. Climbing to the crest of the boulder, he took a full breath and dove into the shimmering midst of the pool.
The bracing water sizzled over his skin as he plunged deep through the waves. The cool current swept past his body, swirling his hair like the long underwater moss, washing away his thoughts.
He broke the surface and shook his hair back, then swam for the waterfall. It pounded the black rock like the kilemi, the great sycamore log drum the Konkow danced to, and made a mist that hid the small cave behind the fall. He climbed out onto the slippery ledge and stood up, easing forward into the path of the fall to let it pummel him with punishing force, driving white spears into his bent back and shoulders. But it also awakened his body and challenged him. He slowly raised his head, braced his feet, reached toward the sky with outstretched arms, and withstood the heavy fall of water with a triumphant smile.
Unfortunately, the loud thunder of the fall prevented him from hearing that he was no longer alone at the pool.
Mattie’s jaw dropped. Her breath caught.
She’d memorized the way to the waterfall, and after sketching miners all morning, decided to make a few drawings of the pool. If she’d hoped that the Indian might return there, she knew it was a foolish hope. The fact that he had indeed come back, and in such bold display, couldn’t have amazed her more.
What in God’s name was he doing? The Indian stood at the foot of the waterfall, as naked as the day he was born, letting the water beat him within an inch of his life and grinning all the while.
She thought to yell out to him, to reprimand him for such indecent behavior, such outrageous liberties, such flagrant…but then the artist came out in her. She realized that what she beheld was beautiful, that he was beautiful. It was as if she witnessed the birth of a god.
Stealthily, she perched on a rock wedged between two trees, hoping the lush foliage and her drab plaid dress helped to conceal her. She found an empty page and set to work sketching.
He couldn’t remain there long, she knew, or else he’d be pounded into the rock. She had to work quickly, penci ling in the bare bones and trusting the rest to memory.
Sure enough, just as she finished the roughest of renderings, he brought his arms down through the fall like great white wings and dove into the middle of the pool.
His naked body slicing through the water sent a rush of delicious fire through her. Her pencil hovered over the page. It was wrong, what she did, making pictures of him in his altogether without his knowledge. And yet, she thought, patting a cheek grown hot with impropriety, it felt so right.
He bobbed up and flung his hair back, spraying droplets of water across the rippling surface.
Mattie pressed her pencil against her lower lip.
He swam forward, sluicing through the water as smoothly as a trout. Then he wheeled over onto his back and floated on the surface, boldly facing the midday sun like some pagan sacrifice.
Mattie’s teeth sank into the pencil.
She could see everything—the naked sprawl of his limbs, the corona of his long ebony hair, the dark patch at the juncture of his thighs, and its manly treasure, set like a jewel on black velvet.
He was Adam. Or Adonis. He was Icarus fallen from the sky. Hera cast into the sea. As innocent as an angel. As darkly beautiful as Lucifer.
Mattie blushed to the tips of her toes. She most definitely should not be witness to this…this…she had no word for his wanton display, but she was sure it was completely indecent. Still she couldn’t tear her eyes away. He was utterly, irrefutably perfect. And looking at him left her faint with a mixture of emotions as dizzying as whiskey and as unstable as gunpowder.
With trembling fingers, Mattie slid the pencil from between her lips, flipped to a new page, and began to draw. Despite her rattled nerves, her hand seemed steady, for she captured every nuance of shade, every subtle contour, each flash of translucence, as if the water lived and moved upon the paper. And the man… He was so true to life that she half expected the figure to lazily pitch over and swim off the page.
A fern tickled her nose, and she brushed it back, then leaned forward to put the finishing touches on the portrait—a few more branches dabbling in the waves, a leaf floating by his head. She decided on the title, scribbling it at the bottom beside her signature.
Just in time. The Indian knifed under, a flash of strong tan buttocks and long legs, disappearing beneath the surface and into the green depths.
Sakote saw the movement of branches from the corner of his eye, but gave no indication. If it was a deer, he didn’t want to frighten it from its drinking place. If it was a bear, his splashing would scare it soon enough. If it was a white man, he would have to be clever. He floated a moment more, letting the waves carry him gently toward the deepest part of the pool, watching for sudden movements through the dark lashes of his eyes. Then he gulped in a great breath and dove to the bottom, where the water was cold and shadowy.
He came up silently, on the concealed side of the big granite boulder, and eased his way out of the water and around the rock until he could see what hid in the brush.
Mattie.
She wore another ugly brown dress with lines of other colors running through it like mistakes, and her hair was captured into a tight knot at the back of her head. She bit at her lower lip and leaned out dangerously far between two dogwood saplings, shielding her eyes with one hand, searching the pool.
Sakote didn’t know what he felt. Joy. Or anger. Relief. Dread. Or desire.
She leaned forward even further, worry wrinkling her brow, and Sakote bit back a shout of warning as the saplings bent almost to the breaking point.
“Oh, no,” she murmured.
The words were only a breath of a whisper on the breeze, but they carried to his ears like sad music. Mattie edged between the two trees and took three slippery steps down the slope. Meanwhile, Sakote used the mask of noise to move in the opposite direction, up the rise. While she scanned the water, he crept behind her, stopping when he found the sketchbook on the ground, frowning when he saw the figure floating on the page.
Now he knew what he felt. Fury. He glanced down at his naked body, at his man’s pride, shrunken with cold to the size of an acorn, then at its perfect duplicate drawn on the paper. And he felt as if he would explode with rage.
He must have made a sound, some strangled snarl of anger, for Mattie turned. And screamed.

Evernight Publishing, Historical Romance, http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post, Nicky Penttila

Book Promo: "A Note of Scandal" by Nicky Penttila

Reviewers Say: “Combine Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe novels with Jane Austen, add a touch of Dickens and a modern sex scene, then you’ll have the flavor of Nicky Penttila’s Note of Scandal.”–Goodreads

The Story: A desperate composer tricks a principled newspaper publisher into printing a false story, and then falls for him. How can she prove that she’s worth a second chance?

Available Now:  Amazon and Evernight (all formats) | Paperback at Createspace | Audiobook at Amazon/Audible (and via iTunes)

Contact Nicky: Nicky is chattiest on Twitter, @sunshinyday, and can also be found at nickypenttila.com.

Olivia’s face mirrored her surprise. She had lost track of him for only a moment, and yet he had snuck all the way up on her. Had he caught her surreptitiously watching him?
“The music does not inspire you?” He gestured at Rosa, but his gaze remained on her.
“It does,” she said, trying to pull on her familiar careless-girl mask. “I must ask after her tailor.”
“That sentiment isn’t worthy of you.” He whispered, but he could have spoken aloud, as little attention as anyone was paying them in the midst of Rosa’s aggressive arpeggios. “Jealous?”
Her mask faltered. “I did not mean it so.”
“Then how?” He slipped to her other side, effectively cutting her off from Mr. Mellon, who did not seem to notice. Too close. She took a step to the side, turning to face her interlocutor.
“She is part of our family now.” Her voice sounded breathy, unsure.
“I heard you arranged this performance.” He stepped closer. “That shows a spirit of generosity, despite your words.”
“She deserves the opportunity. And it is right to salute Spain.”
“Our esteemed ally.” He nodded, leaning in. “But perhaps it is difficult, to see a woman who is allowed the freedom to perform, to create? Who can let her hair down in mixed company?”
He looked away from her a moment, gazing at Rosa. Olivia did not dare look away from him. She let out the breath she didn’t realize she had been holding. Her mind was addled; she was reacting too strongly to this man, to his words. To his smell, deep and rich. Sandlewood, but hints of the flesh within.
The corner of his mouth turned up. He teased her? The thought cast out her breath again. Her ears had a buzzing in them, unrelated to the passionate rhythm of the guitar.
He could read her. He saw far too much. She reached out to touch him, no, to push him away. He turned at her movement, stepping into the path of her hand.
A thrill of power coursed through her arm. It filled her center with energy of an unfamiliar sort. Unable to stop herself, she jumped. Then quickly looked around to see if anyone saw.
She could never make a scene. Not here in public. She took another step back, pulling her hands tightly behind her, as if they were tied.
Step by step, they sidled to the side of the great room. Toward the shadows.
“Are you disappointed your fiancé found someone else?”
“It isn’t that.” She was not quite sure she could call up a vision of Richard at the moment. Her awareness was centered on the man in front of her.
They passed the seven-foot-high sterling candelabra and into the shadows, far from the crowd. Olivia would not have believed she could feel so alone in the midst of a gala. Alone, but for one other.

Book Reviews, Evernight Publishing, Historical Romance, http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post, Nicky Penttila

Book Review: "A Note of Scandal" by Nicky Penttila

Set in post-Napoleonic England, the lives of William Marsh and Olivia Delancey intertwine in unforeseen circumstances between newspaper reels, music sheets and political speeches. With 246 juicy- pages, it is another must-read for this hot-summer season to make your hearts race!
A Note of Scandal is based on the events of Summer of 1814 in England, when Napoleon has just been defeated for the second time is and he surrendered to the British. When the British economy is coming to terms with the war expenses and thousands and British men, have returned home either in coffins, decorated with a medal or broken. The future of the middle-class men seems rather bleak and many are those seeking reforms in the wake of industrialisation.
Whilst the Lords are still thinking about the Emperor or have left the city to visit their summer country houses, a newspaper battle ensues between The Register and The Beacon.
It is in the light of this scenario that Nicky Penttila succeeds to weave an interesting and consuming novel between two people with different backgrounds and different passions in life.
William Marsh is a late-twenty-something publisher of the newspaper The Beacon. His only purpose in life is to follow in his father’s footsteps whilst side-stepping his mistakes – to tell the truth at all costs. A true journalist he is always seeking a scoop and does not rely on common sources for his articles. His management of the newspaper made him successful and is highly regarded even by Lords. William Marsh knew the power of words and of the publishing industry.
Olivia Delancey on the other hand is a 24 year-old maiden lady. Her father has no male heirs and his political career has ruined the family treasures. With an almost barren house, her passion is music and her prospect to marry her cousin Richard who is bound to inherit her family’s estate. Olivia though is very intelligent and kind-hearted. She never backs away from a challenge and is always scheming. When two of her friends find themselves in trouble, she is the one that comes to their rescue with a seemingly brilliant plan.
Women at the time were considered as beautiful and were regarded enchanting enough to make small talk with; however they were not reputed ‘creative’ and the possibility of a woman writing a book or composing a piece of music was almost blasphemous. Our heroine Olivia Delancey; challenges this stoic post-Napoleonic, male-dominated society and makes her musical tunes famous by publishing them under a friend’s name. Her life becomes tangled up with the future of her friends and her new indirect boss and love interest.
However, enough with the plot as I don’t want to provide any spoilers; this book is enchanting and gripping from the very first page. Beautifully written, the reader is engulfed with the plight of the returned soldiers and their futures but also with the struggle that women face when they are continuously considered ‘less’ than men.
It is a passion driven novel that has a rather fast paced plot with various twists and array of characters and detailed descriptions. Nicky Penttila vividly portrays England of the early 18th century not so much in a ‘Dickens’ way with a focus on the poor but more on the rise of the middle class and the learnt men with no title. Immediately the discourse in the Ale House is reminiscent of a Jane Austen novel and in a similar fashion, the women of this novel are strong, yet tender and compassionate who do not aspire the impossible but work within their limits (given the social limits) to better their futures.
It is a novel of hope with three-dimensional characters that one immediately takes a likening to from the early pages. With no real villain and no specific heroes; the novel offers a variety of surprises maybe not so much in the development of the plot itself but rather in the character’s growth. In fact whilst I personally loved the story and I was also particularly captured and interested in the character developments. I was also pleased that secondary characters were given ample space to talk and to develop as well. This novel is as much about the historical context as it is about the romance. In fact I was pleased to find a manner of courtship between characters that whilst true to its time it was also very human and down to earth. The relationship between the men and women is all about passion and love with enough romanticism as there is realism both in their physical gestures as well in the speech.
If it wasn’t clear from my review yet, I given this book a 5 Crowns – Sovereign Queen of Historical Love rating as it was surprisingly interesting and I couldn’t put it down easily. It is long enough to provide you with a good amount of pleasurable reading and it is engaging instantly. I wish Nicky Penttila the best of luck and I hope to see this book on the silver screen in the future as I do think a ‘live’ rendition would be appreciated by many. 
(Reviewed by Countess Samantha)

Available Now:   
Audiobook at Amazon/Audible (and via iTunes)

Book Promo Blog, Crimson Romance, Historical Fiction, http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post, The Rogue's Prize

Book Promo: “The Rogue’s Prize” by Katherine Bone

Synopsis

Captain Henry Guffald is no ordinary captain. A member of Nelson’s Tea, he’s learned the hard way what treachery will achieve. As a result, he’s sworn an oath never to give in to his ambition. Daring, proud Henry sets out to rescue a comrade captured in Spain. But when his ship is attacked by a female pirate roving the Cornish coast, waylaying his plans, Henry is forced to make her his prize if he’s going to save a good man’s life.

Lady Adele Seaton has been raised in a family profited by a lucrative smuggling business. Though her parents wish otherwise, she would no sooner give up the call to rove than marry. But obtaining independence is a challenge when her brother faces a hangman’s noose. Planning to save him, she captures an English ship. But things go awry and she is dragged home in disgrace, forced to ally herself with the one man with the power to anchor more than her ship—her heart.

Review Blurbs:
“Katherine Bone’s books are a rollicking romp in the classic style. From ship deck to London ballroom, Ms. Bone’s stories are packed with intrigue, and rough and dangerous heroes that positively delight.” — Katharine Ashe, author of Captured by a Rogue Lord

“Katherine Bone is an author after my own heart! Her books are sexy, adventurous romps guaranteed to keep you reading into the wee hours of the night.” —Shana Galen author of The Rogue’s Pirate Bride

“Ms. Bone has weaved a captivating tale of cat and mouse that will keep the reader turning pages long into the night.” —Michelle Beattie, author of Romancing the Pirate

Purchase Links:     iTunes | Amazon |

Author Links:    Amazon Author PageGoodreads Author Page | Website| Blog 

Katherine Bone has been passionate about all things historical since she was an Army brat traveling all over the world. Initially, she dreamed of being an artist, but when she met and fell in love with Prince Charming, her own dashing Lieutenant vowing duty, honor, and country, she found herself saying “I do.” Not long afterward, she was whisked away to Army bases, castles, battlegrounds and cathedrals, where tales of swashbuckling characters and unforgettable adventure filled the lonely gaps of time when the Army called Charming away. No longer nomadic, Katherine set down roots in the south where she and Charming have raised four children and live with their fluffy Maine Coon.

Audio Interviews: Crimson Romance | Blog Talk Radio

Book Review Blog, Defiant Imposter, http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post, Miriam Minger, Walker Publishing

Book Review: “Defiant Imposter” by Miriam Minger

Susanna is a well-created character. She is realistic and interesting. She is trying to do her best in an impossible situation; assuming the identity of her dead mistress Camille Cary, as her dying request, to ensure she doesn’t become lost in America. Camille’s rationale being that no-one knows her on her deceased father’s plantation, and someone needs to carry on the family name. Little does Susanna know she is caught up in the middle of manipulation, lies and a consuming need for revenge.

Adam is, well, a very sexy and passionate person. He is forced to try and win Susanna into marriage by unpleasant circumstances which were once beyond his control, but with Camille’s (Susanna’s) wealth, are no longer.

I relished Susanna’s fiery narration as she competes in a game where she thinks she knows the rules. I loved watching both her and Adam fight to appear relaxed as they court each other, while knowing the game was much more complex than either realized.

At one point, both Adam and Susanna believe the other to be a simpleton in need to some reassuring so they can be manipulated to their own ends. Minger is a great writer who creates wonderful insights into each character so the reader is well informed, but not overwhelmed.

This is one of those books to which I always return. I know my favourite moments (some teasingly rated PG), and can find them effortlessly. Susanna is a delight to observe as she obstinately seeks a suitable husband. Adam is a powerful lead who drives Susanna and the reader to distraction on more than one occasion.

A well-written, heart racing, read into the night book. Full of passion and intrigue, which will have you cheering for Adam and Susanna, and often snickering behind their back as they underestimate each other’s passion, intelligence, and motivations.

 

(Reviewed by Countess Sarah – 5 Crowns – Sovereign Queen of Historical Love)
 
5
 
Book Review The Rogue's Prize, Crimson Romance, Historical Romance Authors, Historical Romance Books, http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post

Review: "The Rogue’s Prize" by Katherine Bone

Crimson Romance
Traditional Publisher
Synopsis:

Captain Henry Guffald is no ordinary captain. A member of Nelson’s Tea, he’s learned the hard way what treachery will achieve. As a result, he’s sworn an oath never to give in to his ambition. Daring, proud, Henry sets out to rescue a comrade captured in Spain. But when his ship is attacked by a female pirate roving the Cornish coast, waylaying his plans, Henry is forced to make her his prize if he’s going to save a good man’s life.

Lady Adele Seaton has been raised in a family profited by a lucrative smuggling business. Though her parents wish otherwise, she would no sooner give up the call to rove than marry. But obtaining independence is a challenge when her brother faces a hangman’s noose. Planning to save him, she captures an English ship. But things go awry and she is dragged home in disgrace, forced to ally herself with the one man with the power to anchor more than her ship – her heart.

 Author Links:  Website | Facebook | Twitter

Review:

Second book in the historical romance trilogy “Nelson’s Tea,” The Rogue’s Prize is a thrilling amorous adventure that captivates its readers from the very beginning. I’ve read only this novel by Ms. Katherine Bone, I’ll make sure to look into her other books soon.

Regardless whether you read the first book in the series or not (I haven’t), this one is a pretty standalone adventure with an array of interesting characters; from men in uniforms, double agents and a damsel in distress.
I won’t go into the details of the story (as I’ll post the summary at the end), but I was entranced by Captain Guffald and his entourage immediately. If you have a soft-spot for pirates and life at sea, this is a book I recommend.
The story has nice twists to it, good dialogue and clear descriptions. The author balances out the importance she gives to the romancing as much as she gives to the action scenes. Some hot, sensual loving wasn’t missing which, speaking frankly, we always anticipate in these novels. Lady Adele and Captain Guffald are two strong characters with as much different temperaments and characters as they are each others’ equals and even though us ladies tend to spiral in favour of the Captain (aye, aye!); you will be pleased not to be reading about a whiny lady concerned with her hair and her dress.
Whilst loving the story, it doesn’t mean I would change anything either. For starters, I would have loved to see more twists. The verbal skirmishes between the hero and heroine were interesting, and I would have liked to see them clash more rather than read their repetitive musings.
Captain Guffald whilst being a handsome navy captain, he is also a recurring character from the previous novel. Ms.Bone gives us ample information; through his thoughts to learn about his past adventures that took place in the other book, however sometimes it feels like his musings are too cumbersome for this book and for the man himself. For readers of the first book this aspect might be a bit boring and repetitive. For new ones like me; it actually helped me to get inside the man’s head but after half the book was over I felt that maybe I didn’t really need to read the first novel at all as he provided major spoilers. Nonetheless, Ms.Bone’s tactic is similar to the human mind and how some traumatic experiences are relived on a daily basis which shows also the depth of the character.
Finally my verdict would be a 4 Crowns – Princess of a Charming Story. The plot was good, the characters interesting and so is the dialogue. It is wonderfully written and for a pirate-lover like me; this novel was ideal to start my Summer reading spree with.

(Review by Countess Samantha)

http://rcm-na.amazon-adsystem.com/e/cm?t=justocom-20&o=1&p=8&l=as1&asins=B00D5X05F4&ref=tf_til&fc1=F0F1EB&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=D7B838&bc1=000000&bg1=000000&f=ifr

Book Promo Blog, Brave in Hearts, Civil War Era, Crimson Romance, Emma Barry, Historical Romance, http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post

"Brave in Hearts" by Emma Barry (Book Promo)

American Civil War
Release 7-1-13

 

 

Theodore Ward is a man of deep passions and strong principles – none of which he acts on. So Margaret Hampton ends their engagement, breaking both of their hearts in the process.
Years after their estrangement, ardent but frozen Theo attempts to reconnect with Margaret. She is no longer trusting of the idea of romantic love, having become pragmatic and wary during decades alone. But with the drumbeat of the early days of the Civil War in the background, how can she refuse?
The courtship that results is hasty, reckless, and intense, fueled by contradictions between Theo’s willingness finally to change and Margaret’s fears about the future. Two smart, stubborn, fiery people will need to overcome the hesitancies of their hearts and the perils of battle if they’re ever to find happiness.

EXCERPT

 

She released Theo’s arm and walked a few paces from the willow to look out to the river. The water nipped at the narrow beach, each soft, lapping wave an enticement to the past.
How many times had they sat here? Would they ever do so again? Was it possible to stay forever like this, here and together?
He laughed too, but then his tone turned serious. “I need to know why you have been so cold.” He didn’t ask—he demanded.
She set her jaw and said through her teeth, “Nothing is wrong.”
He clicked his tongue in frustration. “If a lifetime stretched before us, I wouldn’t push. I would wait for you to tell me. But I leave in the morning, so I insist. Have I done something? Hurt you in some way?”
She turned toward him. He was sprawled out under the willow tree. In shirtsleeves with the breeze making his hair flutter, he looked quite the youth. She couldn’t let him believe he’d done something wrong.
“No,” she said, shaking her head. “You have been nothing but honest and fair with me.” It was true.
“And yet you are angry.” He wasn’t surprised. There was something rich in his eyes that she didn’t understand. She wanted to fall into them but she knew not what awaited her.
“No, not angry.”
“Not well. Not happy. You were—at least it seemed like you were at first.”
She bit her lip and took a few steps to him. “I have become…confused.”
“About why we married?”
Margaret settled herself next to him on the grass and pulled off her gloves, inspecting the blades she brushed with her hand. Each tickled her fingertips. A dappled ray of sunlight made her wedding band gleam. “Yes. I do not understand why it was necessary for us to marry. Was it only my compromised virtue?”
“Don’t make it less than it is,” he said, taking her hand. “I was selfish, very selfish, that night. But I did it because…” He trailed off. He unbuttoned her cuff and allowed his fingers to trail up inside her sleeve, tracing patterns on her wrist and forearm. Margaret’s lids drifted closed.
“Look at me,” he whispered. Margaret opened her eyes and locked onto his, afraid of what was coming but desperate to hear it all the same.

Social Media Links:

Author Emma Barry
Twitter: @AuthorEmmaBarry

Buy Links: Amazon | Goodreads

Articles, Eulogy's Secret, Grace Elliot, Historical Romance, Hope's Betrayal, http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post, King's Bedroom

Historical Tidbit: A Kerfuffle in the King’s Bedroom by Grace Elliot

The Tudor court was rife with politics and power-play – and never more so than in the bedroom. Being a gentleman of the King’s bedchamber, meant intimate contact with the monarch – and so only the most privileged and trusted were admitted to the position. This was a reflection of the closeness to the monarch’s ear and possible influence on government policy.

Keys to the bedchamber became a symbol of power. That most intimate of servants, The Groom of the Stool (the stool referred to is the Tudor equivalent of the toilet) wore as a badge of office ‘a gold key on a blue ribbon’ – and had to authority to demand that ‘no other keys for the bed-chamber be made or allowed.’ Even so the king had little privacy.

See his sheets be clean, then fold down his bed, and warm his night kerchief and see his house of office be clean, help off his clothes, and draw the curtains, make sure the fire and candles, avoid [throw out] the dogs, and shut the doors.

Henry VIII didn’t sleep with his wife unless he wanted intercourse, when he visited her chambers. However, there were always attendants in the room, either sleeping on a small wheeled bed pulled out from beneath the royal bed, or even favoured servants such as Thomas Culpepper ‘ordinarily shared [the King’s] bed’.

Henry VIII had a set of household rules about how to make up his bed. He slept on a pile of eight mattresses and each night he had a servant roll on the bed, to check for hidden enemies with daggers. After this the servant would kiss the places he had touched, sprinkle the sheets with holy water and make the sign of the cross over the bed.

But over time, even Henry became tired of this invasion of privacy. At Hampton Court he built so-called ‘secret lodgings’ with a new policy for bedchamber staff. Of his six Gentlemen of the Bedchamber, only one now had the automatic right to enter – the rest had to be invited. “The King’s express commandment is, that none other of the said six gentlemen, presume to enter of follow his Grace into the said bed chamber, or any other secret place, unless he shall be called.”

Henry I employed a ‘porter of the King’s bed’ – a man with a packhorse whose job it was to convey the king’s bed from castle to castle. A royal progress was a means by which the monarch exerted his authority over his nobles. Any aristocrat seeking to impress maintained a special bedroom for visiting sovereigns. This meant having a state-bed; a colossal constructions with a canopy fifteen foot high, hung with gorgeous and expensive tapestries. One example was the state bed at Woburn Abbey, commissioned appropriately enough by the Duke of Bedford – at a cost equivalent to today of half a million pounds.

Sumptuous as a state bed sounds, sometimes there is no substitute for comfort rather than show. Elizabeth I spent her last nights of life on a pile of cushions on the floor, rather than in her 11 foot ostrich-feather bed – proving size isn’t everything.

Grace Elliot
Grace Elliot leads a double life as a veterinarian by day and an author of historical romance by night. Grace is an avid reader and believes intelligent people need to read romance – as an antidote to the modern world. She works in a companion animal practice near London and is housekeeping staff to five demanding felines, two sons and a bearded dragon.

Learn more about Grace at her blog: Fall in Love with History

Articles, C.W. Gortner, First Person, http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post, Lost in Austen, Point of View, The Queen's Vow, Third Person

The Power of Point of View

A week ago, I started reading The Queen’s Vow by C. W. Gortner about Isabella of Castille.  If you’re not sure who she is, it’s time to dust off your history books or turn to Google.  In any event, I’m enjoying it immensely and am reminded, as I read the story, about how powerful point of view can be in a novel.  Point of view is that decision an author makes before pounding out 80,000 plus words — through whose eyes shall I tell the tale?
As a reader, you probably have a preference when it comes to your own books.  C. W. Gortner writes The Queen’s Vow in the first person — that is through the eyes of Isabella alone. It’s the “I” and “me” take on life.  I’ve only written one story with this point of view, which happened to be my recent contemporary, Conflicting Hearts.  All of my historical fiction and historical romance novels are written in the third-person limited point of view.  In my books I tend to flip in and out of minds with one person at a time switching in scenes and chapters.  I prefer that take rather than the omniscient view of the all knowing god-type author, which takes a bit of skill I think I lack. Third-person works well in a complex story, because it’s here you can tell the tale from everyone’s point of view.  It makes the story richer in certain circumstances.
As I read The Queen’s Vow, I am reminded that first person can be a powerful tool in a novel. In this instance, the author is writing about the life of Isabella from her childhood to adulthood.  Frankly, I don’t think I’d want someone telling me what she’s thinking, because I’m enjoying too much being inside the head of a young woman destined for greatness. Her thoughts and emotions are richly described, as well as her growth process into the woman she is to become. I don’t think any other point of view would make the book as powerful.
Take the picture up above. It’s a scene from Lost in Austen. There is Darcy, Bingley, and snooty Caroline, his sister standing together. Each are gazing at Amanda Price, and all of them at this moment have a distinct thought about the individual who is central to the story.  In this instance, a writer could say that Darcy frowned disapprovingly narrowing his eyes; Caroline gazed pathetically at Amanda making a fool of herself; and Bingley feels quite perplexed not knowing what to think of this woman visiting the Bennett’s household. 
If we crawl into the head of one person, however, let’s say Darcy, we know that something more is brewing inside of him besides the disapproving frown on his face.  He’s going through an inward struggle at this point wondering why he is attracted to a woman who he also despises.  You could write the scene telling your readers what he’s thinking in the third-person point of view, but then you could also crawl into his head, look through his eyes, and exploit his emotions to such an extent it will make a lasting imprint upon your mind as a reader.
Once again, Miss Price has managed to make a spectacle of herself amongst our guests. Her style and mannerisms are so unladylike that I find her disgusting on many levels.  She obviously lacks the genteel character of a demure woman that I seek in a wife. I find her outspoken, boisterous, and brazen behavior a chilling reminder of our difference in class. Even my peers avert her presence as if she is carrying the plague. On the other hand, I struggle with an odd attraction toward her, which I find deeply perplexing.  

What could I possibly find alluring in this creature that I deem so vulgar in speech and conduct?  It cannot be physical attraction, for she is but a plain woman compared to the well-dressed, beautiful ladies that fill this hall.  These carnal inklings cause me to question my sound judgment that I pride. Has she bewitched me?  If I succumb to this demonic temptation, I shall become the laughing stock of society. My status as a respectable aristocrat will come to a ruinous end.

Nevertheless, there she stands. My soul aches with each breath that I take. My heart is laden with heaviness. For at this moment, I earnestly desire to take Miss Price into my arms and silence her wagging tongue with the power of my lips. Surely, it will be a bittersweet taste. Oh wretched woman, what have you done to me? 

Well, we may never know what the wretched woman has done to Mr. Darcy. However, I think you get the drift between the various points of views.  As a reader, do you have a preference?  Do you love the minds of many, or do you prefer the intimate voice of the hero or heroine instead?  I’m beginning to think after I finish my current third-person book, I’ll be back in the first-person mode.


Warm regards,
Vicki

Book Promo Blog, Highlander Romance, Historical Romance Authors, http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post, Lily Baldwin, To Bewitch a Highlander

Book Promo: “To Bewtich a Highlander” by Lily Baldwin

Tiger Lily Collaborative Publishing, LLC

Synopsis

Historical Era: To Bewitch a Highlander winds through the misty forests and across the moonlit moors of the Isle of Mull, Scotland, in the year,1263.

She will protect her identity with her very life if necessary. Who will protect her from herself?

Shoney’s lightning speed with a bow captures Ronan by surprise, and their chance meeting ends with him lying unconscious at the bottom of a ravine.

When he awakens, he cannot rid his mind of her startling beauty, her valor, or the secret fear he glimpsed in her steel eyes. He vows to find her, but as the mysteries of her identity unfold, his courage and heart are tested as never before.

 

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Website:  Tiger Lily Collaborative Publishing
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Boroughs Publishing Group, http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post, Jillian Leigh, Regency Romance

Book Promo – "The Rules of Engagement" by Jillian Leigh

Regency Romance
 Boroughs Publishing Group (May 21, 2013)
Synopsis

Long ago, Hugh Trevalyn invented a fiancée to fend off marriage-minded females. Now he must procure the perfect girl to play the part.
Who better than Amelia Grant, his oldest and dearest friend? She alone might understand—and forgive—his moment of madness upon beholding the beautiful Lucy Meriwether, a moment that resulted in Hugh’s first real proposal of marriage and Lucy’s vow to meet his ex-fiancée in the flesh.

However, as the proposed conversation snowballs into an elaborate charade involving Hugh’s rakish cousin, scandal, and inappropriate kisses, as Hugh risks Amelia’s friendship to win Lucy’s hand, a wise reader has to wonder: What exactly are the rules of engagement? And, after the battle, whose heart will be won?
 

(Hugh Trevalyn has just proposed to the beautiful Lucy Meriwether. But now she has decided she must meet his former fiancée…)
“If you love me, you will want to put my mind at ease. You must arrange a meeting.”
“Why, it is quite impossible,” he said, fervently hoping, but not expecting, that she would take him at his word.
“All things are possible when a man desires to make them so,” she whispered, her hands curling around his back and coming to rest lightly on his buttocks. Any exasperation he’d felt now evaporated in a dreamy haze of imagining all the ways he would make love to her if he only had the chance. “Do you desire to make this possible?” she went on in a husky voice. “Do you desire me?”
“God, yes,” he said on a groan.
“Then promise me,” she whispered throatily. “Promise me this, and I promise I will give you whatever you want of me.”
“I promise,” he said, and set about caressing every inch of skin he came across and pressing himself against her so she could feel the effect she was having on him.
Lucy giggled as he stopped to nuzzle at her throat once more. “What is her name?”
The twin scents of rose and female drifted into his nostrils. “Her name? Who? Whose name?”
“Her name.”
He would have this girl. Perhaps even tonight. She was his. All he had to do was give her a name. “Amelia,” he said. After all, what difference did it make—wait, had he made a promise?
No matter. Back he went to kissing the sweet, fragrant crevice between her breasts.
“Amelia,” Lucy repeated. “I’m going to meet Amelia.”
“Yes, my darling,” he said. “Whatever you say.”
She was his, tonight and every night after.
“My dearest Mr. Trevalyn, you can have no idea how relieved I am by your promises.” Lucy stepped back, clapped her hands and, unless the darkness was causing him to see things, actually bounced up and down on the spot. “How enjoyable this is going to be. I am going to meet Amelia. Oh, we must return to our party. I must tell Miss Percy all about it.”
“What? No, you must not tell your chaperone.”
“Not Miss Pratt-Stanley, silly,” she gurgled. “My dearest friend in all the world, Miss Percy. She would never divulge one of my confidences.”
“I must forbid—”
But Lucy had already turned and disappeared into the darkness.
Hugh called her name in a furious whisper but she seemed to be gone. Back to bloody Miss Percy, no doubt.
What had he just done?
Had he really made a promise to let her meet His Betrothed? Had he really been so driven by his own lust that he’d lost his senses?
These were questions he would have the leisure to contemplate in the darkness, on his own, seeing that he would have to spend the next few minutes furiously thinking about anything other than the effects his unfulfilled desire was having on the tightness of his breeches. Multiplication tables, perhaps, or the unfortunately horse-like face of his least favorite aunt…
…or a non-existent woman whom he had promised to introduce to the lady he was hoping would relieve his trouser-borne anguish.
“Bugger me,” he said to no one in particular.
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Book Review Blog, Book Reviews, http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post, Regency Romance, Regina Scott, The Courting Campaign

Book Review: “The Courting Campaign” by Regina Scott

“The Courting Campaign” by Regina Scott came to me from Net Galley for review. It is a Love Inspired Historical from Harlequin due to be released August 6, 2013, so put it on your squeaky-clean shelf if you’re only looking for a few kisses. Set in the Regency era, it’s an interesting read with all the right elements of historical romance.

Miss Emma Pyrmont has been hired as a nanny to a precocious four-year old girl in the household of Sir Nicholas Rotherford, run by his sister-in-law, Mrs. Dunworthy.  Emma is a sweet lady, with a sad childhood, who is happy to begin a new chapter in her life. She reminds me of another Emma – outspoken, a mind of her own, and scheming to bring two people together.  She’s a matchmaker in another sense.

Upon early observation in her position, she discovers that Sir Nicholas is unable to connect with his daughter.  He’s a philosopher and scientist driven by a mission to invent a lamp for coal miners that is safe and useful.  His mind is set upon a singular path, and the world spins around him unnoticed while he hides away working.  Emma, of course, finds his behavior unacceptable. She doesn’t want to see Alice, her charge, growing up feeling neglected and unloved as she once did.  Her mission is one of the same, only on an emotional level. Emma’s task isn’t easy, as she also deals with  the difficult Mrs. Dunworthy and a past that won’t seem to let her go.

The setting is 1815 near the Peak District, Derbyshire, England. The book is a good read.  Regina Scott is a talented writer that keeps the interest of her readers. With a background in real life as a technical writer for scientists, she apparently used her knowledge to build Sir Nicholas’ character. He’s a complex man who analyzes everything around him, with a habit of tapping his finger on his thigh.  At times I wanted to grab his hand and hold it still. The author goes into great length building his character and does an equally fine job with Emma.  There is quite a bit of text, however, about Sir Nicholas’ quest to build a lamp that is safe for workers in the mines. Be prepared not only for his male mindset but his inventive one as well.  Depending on your level of 19th century scientific interest in this area, you may find it a bit tedious.

“The Courting Campaign” has its usual plot twists that you may or may not see coming.  They are there, of course, to add the conflict needed to push the story along to its intended end.  Emma and Sir Nicholas’ relationship as a romantic pair develops slowly. Emma believes she wouldn’t want to marry a man like Nicholas because of his neglect of family, and Nicholas believes he would make a terrible husband because of past mistakes in a previous marriage.  In the end, like all romances, they come to realize they love one another.

Though my past two books have been on the squeaky-clean side, I still hoped for a bit more.  Since this is a Love Inspired Historical, it is once again sprinkled with Christian values and silent prayers uttered throughout the book. Emotional intimacy rather than sexual are the guidelines for this genre on the publisher’s submission page.

In my opinion, though, men and women who fall in love still have an attraction that goes beyond those confines. In this genre, those emotions are never expressed, which I find making the “falling-in-love” part somewhat bland. Attraction begins at many levels and not with just a meeting of the minds. You can keep a story clean, but be honest about the deep human emotions, yearnings, and temptations we all experience – even as Christians.  As Marianne Dashwood declared in the movie version of Sense & Sensibility:

“To love is to burn – to be on fire, like Juliet or Guinevere or Eloise.”

“The Courting Campaign” is a slow burn rather than a story of blazing adoration. Over all, I’d give it 4 Crowns – Princess of a Charming Story for the writing, character development, and plot.

One last comment, the formatting on Kindle was terribly inconsistent.  Not sure what happened but the font size changed to extremely big on some pages and then back to normal on others.  The basic paragraph formatting was inconsistent throughout, as well as an obvious area of “hard” returns (not good in eBooks) that screwed a few pages up entirely.  Hopefully, they will correct before release. (Reviewed by Countess Victoria)

 4

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Amylynn Bright, Book Promo Blog, Historical Romance Novels, http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post, Long Ago Love, Miss Goldsleigh's Secret, Regency

Book Promo – "Miss Goldsleigh’s Secret" by Amylynn Bright

Regency Romantic Comedy
Independent  (May 22, 2013)

Synopsis

When Henry Cavendish, Marquess of Dalton, leaped to catch the fainting woman before she hit the cobblestone, he never thought that one chivalrous act would set his well-ordered life on end. His ingrained need to protect her has every bit as much to do with her enchanting beauty as it does his desire to wipe the hunted look from her startling blue eyes. He thinks he has everything in hand, but the lady has secrets that put everything he loves at risk.

Olivia Goldsleigh just wants to live without terror, but a gunshot in the night proves things can always get worse. The beautiful and god-like Lord Dalton swears to protect her, to make the danger go away. She wants the man, the life, the family, the bliss he promises, but her secrets are certain to destroy them all.

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Website:  AmyLynn Bright  – Regency Romantic Comedy
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Historical Romance Books, http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post, Jimmy Thomas, Jon Paul Artist, Love Long Ago, Robin Ludwig

Those Abs! That Bodice! That Pose! The Joys of Romance Covers

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 moves 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.  Darkness behind the man who can see; 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 breathtaking 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, Fotolio, 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.
Jimmy Thomas is a model who understands the industry and what authors are looking for in cover choices. He regularly does photo shoots in all eras from Renaissance, Regency, Highlander, Roaring 20’s, and others. However, just 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 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.
Sigh…
Vicki
Charity Wakfield, Emma Thompson, Hattie Morahan, http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post, Jane Austen, Kate Winslet, Sense and Sensibility, Sense and Sensibility 1995, Sense and Sensibility 2008

The Dashwood Sisters – The Women of Jane Austen – Part I

The Dashwood Sisters.  Could there be anything more entertaining than these two women?  They are as different as night and day and both on a pursuit for husbands. Elinor bears everything with quiet decorum and sense. Marianne is outspoken and seeks the thrills of romantic fellowship with no sense at all.

Okay, I’ll confess.  Sense and Sensibility is my favorite of Austen’s works. It was her first novel written in 1795 at the age of 19 and was accepted by a publisher and put into print in 1811 (at her own expense, I might add for all you indies out there) .  Though I’m not an Austen expert by any means, I’m thankful for the many resources available online about her life and works from people who are.  Unfortunately, I missed my trip to the London Library in 2011 to see one of her manuscripts on display.

I’m not quite sure what it is about this story. Perhaps it’s all that yearning for love and silent pining inside the hearts of women that draws me so strongly to their characters.  As women, we probably all have a bit of Elinor and Marianne in each of us.

Elinor, who loves the steady, kindhearted, humble man in the form of Edward Ferrars, is the sensible sister of the two.  She bears her love and disappointment with quiet restraint, while dealing with her sister’s outward and passionate emotions regarding Willoughby.

Though I’ve never had a sister, the fact that they are so different as night and day is entertaining. Austen does a wonderful job with each of them telling the other about their own exasperation’s over the other’s personality.

“I do not attempt to deny,” said she, “that I think very highly of him—
that I greatly esteem, that I like him.”
Marianne here burst forth with indignation—
“Esteem him! Like him! Cold-hearted Elinor! Oh! worse than cold-hearted! Ashamed of being otherwise. Use those words again, and I will leave the room this moment.”

Then there is Marianne — brokenhearted Marianne whose life nearly ends because she cannot have the man she loves.  Marianne, of course, is  undoubtedly the romantic at heart in this story compared to her sister Elinor who keeps everything hidden for the sake of propriety.  She’s lost all good sense when it comes to her infatuation with Willoughby.  Gregarious, passionate, and handsome Willoughby fits perfectly into her idealist qualifications of what a gentleman should be. 

“Mama, the more I know of the world, the more am I convinced that I shall never see a man whom I can really love. I require so much! He must have all Edward’s virtues, and his person and manners must ornament his goodness with every possible charm.”
Though Marrianne is happy for her sister’s budding relationship with Edward, she clearly expresses her thoughts of the deficits of his personality in her eyes.

“Oh! mama, how spiritless, how tame was Edward’s manner in reading to us last night! I felt for my sister most severely. Yet she bore it with so much composure, she seemed scarcely to notice it. I could hardly keep my seat. To hear those beautiful lines which have frequently almost driven me wild, pronounced with such impenetrable calmness, such dreadful indifference!” 
For me, Marianne represents all of the girlish and hopeful feelings we possess at 16 years of age regarding love.  Our hearts are filled with romantic notions of being swept off our feet by the most amiable of men, who can recite to us poetry with heartfelt enunciation that brings tears to our eyes. They rescue us when in distress, are attentive, offer flowers, cut locks of our hair to keep with them, and promise to adore us for all eternity. 
Elinor, on the other hand, is the more mature young woman who sees the wonder of what love can be, but also recognizes the cruel hurt and devastation it can bring to a female’s heart.  She not only sees its terrible effects of a broken heart nearly bringing her dearest sister to death’s door, but she also bears the heartache of love lost to another. 
As far as modern adaptations on screen, we have been blessed with two beautiful renditions of Sense and Sensibility in film and television.  The 1995 movie version with Kate Winslet and Emma Thompson is a wonderful condensed version. My favorite, however, probably because it is much longer is the 2008 BBC version staring Hattie Morahan and Charity Wakefield.  The choice of characters for Edward and Col. Brandon excited me a bit more, as well as the cinematography.
Choose for yourself who are your favorites to play these parts?  Who do you imagine when you read Sense and Sensibility?
I give you a challenge to any of my readers, if you wish to write about any of the men in this story who vie for the love of these women’s hearts, be my guest blogger.  Just shoot me an email and let me know what you think of Edward, Willoughby, and Brandon.

1995 Movie 2008 BBC TV

Emma Thompson

Hattie Morahan
Kate Winslet
Charity Wakefield

I had thought seriously about leaving the men off this post. But, who can resist? Here you go ladies!

1995 Movie 2008 BBC TV

Hugh Grant

Dan Stevens

Greg Wise

Dominic Connor

Alan Rickman

David Morrissey

Seriously, if you’d like to guest post about any of Austen’s works or characters, drop me an email.

Warmest regards,
Vicki

Book Reviews, Book Tours, Goodreads, http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post, Jane Austen Quotes, Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility

Speak to Me of Love

I’m happy to report that we are registered with six book tour sites.  It is disappointing to see the lack of historical romances being promoted.  :wipes away tear:  I have put in for one novel for promo for the end of July. Of course, we have authors contacting us directly as well. Our reviewers are going to begin picking up titles on their own. If I can squeeze it in, I’m curious to read The Heiress of Winterwood.
I’ve been working on our Goodreads page, too, and visiting groups, collecting friends, and telling authors about our site.  While I was clicking from here to there, I glanced at my one lonely quote I had tagged on my page spoken by Marianne in the movie Sense and Sensibility:
 “Can he love her? Can the soul really be satisfied with such polite affections? To love is to burn – to be on fire, like Juliet or Guinevere or Eloise…”
Hmm…I pondered.  I know that there are many more quotes that move my heart, so I flipped over to the quote section and starting tagging all sorts of wonderful words. Goodreads has a nifty widget that I added to the sidebar that will rotate all sorts of great lines and quotes.
Of course, I favored Jane Austen’s work, only because her lines are so memorable and moving.  I think it might be fun as we start reviewing books if we take our favorite words of love and post them from the books we read.  I’ll have to put up that idea to my team.
Nevertheless, here are the quotes I so love from Austen’s work.  I hope you enjoy and feel free to comment with a few of your own memorable quotes from books!  Now, if we could only get the men in our lives to whisper such glorious words to melt our hearts.  

 “Dare not say that man forgets sooner than a woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you.” 
(Captain Wentworth – Persuasion)
“You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. 
Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever.”
(Captain Wentworth – Persuasion)
  “In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. 
You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.” 
(Mr. Darcy – Pride & Prejudice)
“I cannot make speeches, Emma,” he soon resumed; and in a tone of such sincere, decided, intelligible tenderness as was tolerably convincing.
“If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more.”
(Mr. Knightly – Emma)
“I come here with no expectations, only to profess, now that I am at liberty to do so, 
that my heart is and always will be yours.”
(Edward Ferrars – Sense & Sensibility)
 
Come back soon for more fun things before we start dissecting romance novels.
Your amiable host,
Vicki
Articles, Colin Firth, Darcy, Elliot Cowan, Fitzwilliam Darcy, http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post, Jane Austen, Matthew MacFayden, Pride and Prejudice

Jane Austen’s Leading Men – Part I – Fitzwilliam Darcy

Fitzwilliam Darcy. When he was conceived by Jane Austen and read by women everywhere before movies came along, I wonder how he was pictured in the minds of ladies. Of course, I’m sure that propriety forbade them to speak openly of such private imaginations. Well, let’s face it, as Jane said, a “lady’s imagination is very rapid” and who knows where it will lead besides matrimony.
As modern women, we are blessed with the advent of movies that have cast Darcy in the bodies of handsome actors. It’s here in our 21st century world when we read Pride & Prejudice, we’re no doubt picturing one of these men wearing a cravat and looking quite dashing in their period clothing.
I think it’s safe to say that most ladies love Colin Firth as the Darcy of their dreams. My tastes lean toward Elliot Cowan as my swoon-worthy Darcy. (Who you say? He played Darcy in the fictional world of “Lost in Austen.”) There was something about his appearance, characterization, and voice that made we go weak in the knees.
Perhaps, you enjoyed Matthew MacFadyen in the role, and our mothers and grandmothers kept their eyes on Laurence Olivier who moved women in 1940. There were others who made it on film to play the role in various adaptations.  No matter who your mind wanders to as Fitzwilliam, he’s still the arrogant aristocrat we find utterly fascinating.
However, our beloved Darcy does have his flaws. Before Elizabeth finally humbles him and puts him in his place, he really is annoying. The man never smiles. Of course, if you like aristocratic snobs and are one yourself, I’m sure you think he’s well behaved in his treatment of others. Wonderful Jane Austen pens the most powerful scene after Darcy declares his love for Elizabeth. After all, his love is a sacrificial gift in spite of Miss Bennet’s status in life.
“From the very beginning— from the first moment, I may almost say— of my acquaintance with you, your manners, impressing me with the fullest belief of your arrogance, your conceit, and your selfish disdain of the feelings of others, were such as to form the groundwork of disapprobation on which succeeding events have built so immovable a dislike; and I had not known you a month before I felt that you were the last man in the world whom I could ever be prevailed on to marry.” 
Jane Austen’s colorful characters are worth their weight in gold.  Darcy, of course, is just one of the many leading men we can fantasize about in Austen’s works.  Is he my favorite among all of Jane’s creations?  No. Now that I’ve shocked you, you’ll just have to wait and see which man moves my heart or “floats my boat” as Amanda Price would say in Lost in Austen.

Enjoy your daydreams of Darcy; and do tell, who is your favorite!

Feeling most agreeable,
Vicki 

Articles, Fashions, Historical Romance, http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post

Romancing the Hat

Fashion in France 1908
I’m in love with outrageously large hats from long ago.  I’ve been watching Mr. Selfridge on Masterpiece Theater recently.  I’m enthralled with Lady Mae wearing her fashionable dresses and hats of early 1900’s.  

In my book The Price of Deception, I had a few passages about hats.

“Robert curiously viewed his wife as she donned her latest flashy, Parisian monstrosity on her head.” 

I also mentioned that his mother became overly excited when her daughter-in-law brought a gift back from Paris.

Jacquelyn hugged her mother-in-law tightly and immediately brought her attention to the newest purchase perched upon her head. She twirled around and flashed a smile. “What do you think? Isn’t it gorgeous?” 
Mary gave the purple silk, netting, lace, feathers, and flowers resting on top of her golden locks a keen inspection. “Gorgeous,” she complimented, with jealousy. 

I often ponder about how large hats must have messed up women’s hair when they took them off, or how in the world a man ever ducked underneath a large brimmed hat to steal a kiss without getting popped in the nose. Perhaps hats were a tactic of propriety to keep men away from the lips of women during certain eras. A hat like the one to the right reminds me of blinders on a horse so a woman’s eyes wouldn’t wander where they shouldn’t.  
There is a wonderful website on Tumblr entitled, “Hats From History” that you might want to visit.  It’s filled with a variety of hats from various eras if you’d like to check out the fashions.

My mother was born in 1912, so she grew up in an era of hats.  I remember even in the 50’s the little pill-box hats she would wear with netting over her eyes. In fact, I still have two of her old square hat boxes.  I frankly cannot remember the last time I saw a woman where I live wear a hat, unless it was a brave one on Easter Sunday morning in church.

Credit: Mark Cuthbert/UK Press/Abaca

In contrast to our practice in the United States, I’m very happy that the British monarchy and women of the realm have kept the hat alive and well.  Half the fun for me during some important British occasion, is to check out the variety of hats worn by the aristocracy. Kate Middleton was named “Hat Person of the Year” in 2012 by The Headwear Association.  You must admit, she wears hats very well. Kate even works with her milliner to help design the hats she wears.

As authors of historical romance, we probably write more about the love affairs of rogues, knights, or men in kilts than we do about the love of fashionable hats.  Even though I see a lot of romance covers with men in britches, boots, and naked chests, along with women in low necklines and dresses with low backs, I rarely see one on the cover of a book donning a hat. Why is that? I think all of period clothing, including what has perched upon the head of a woman, is part of the wonder of long ago love and the stories we tell. After all, fashion makes the woman, doesn’t it? (As I look at my jeans and tee-shirt, I realize I need help.)
 
Fondly,
Vicki

Tidbit:  Do you know where the term “mad as a hatter” came from?  The process of making felt involved toxic mercury that drove hat makers to madness. (From The Hat Museum – Portland, Oregon)

Articles, Divorce Laws 19th Century, Happily Ever After, Historical Romance Novels, http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post, Marriage

And They Lived Happily Ever After

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 the “HEA” ending to readers.  Who wants to read about divorce in a romance novel?  However, I’m a diehard researcher that always has to look 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.” (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 perquisite 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.

Happily Ever After,
Vicki
Articles, Henry VIII Armor, Historical Romance Authors, Historical Romance Readers, Historical Tidbits, http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post, Knights in Shining Armor, Long Ago Love, Pre-Raphaelite Painters

Knights in Shining Armor

As readers of historical romance, we probably all have our favorite eras that we love to read about.  For me, it is the late Victorian era up through the Edwardian era (1870 to 1910).  I’m fascinated mostly because of the fashions, etiquette, and way of life of the upper class.  Though I’ve written about the struggles of the poor and some of the unseemly points of existence during those years, I guess like most other readers I’d rather bask in the class of privilege.

However, one era that draws readers of historical romance is the Middle Ages, where we are surrounded by knights in shining armor.  When I think of that time, I instantly think of Lancelot, that cute Frenchman that stole the heart of Guinevere.  Visions of the Knights of the Roundtable, chivalry, amour, jousting, and the crusades fill my mind. This era spans from the 5th to the 15th centuries and leaves for authors a vast time period in which to weave historical novels of love.

Many years ago, I was swept up in curiosity regarding knighthood, and in particular the Knights Templar.  I wanted to learn more about knights in general, how they came to be, what their code of honor entailed, how they fought, how they loved, etc.  I stumbled across a book at Borders (let us have a moment of silence) entitled, The Knight in History, by France Gies, published by Harper & Row back in 1984.  It’s actually available in Kindle form now.  Here is the LINK.  It’s a fantastic read, and if you’re an author or reader who loves this time period, you might pick it up.

One particularly good chapter is The Troubadours and the Literature of Knighthood, which talks about the love poems and songs written by knights. Below is a short quote from a work that has survived the test of time.

 

I am blind to others and their retort.  I hear not.  In her alone, I see, move, wonder…and jest not.  And the words dilate not truth; but mouth speaks not the heart outright. I could not walk roads, flats, dales, hills, by chance, to find charm’s sum within one single frame, as God hath set her . . .

While in London, I actually saw quite a few suits of armor, including those worn by Henry VIII.  Not only were the males adorned in shining metal, but their horses as well.  Below is a picture of Henry’s armor, which was quite larger than other examples. For some reason, I was shocked at the size.  No doubt I had Jonathan Rhys Meyers on my mind, rather than the hefty English king of reality.  If you enlarge the picture by clicking on it, you note the prominent area of protection around his manhood.

Let us fast forward to the Pre-Raphaelite painters during the mid-19th century who gave us inspiring works of knights in shining armor associated with beautiful women they loved, honored, or rescued.  A few of these great artists (Harper, Millais, Waterhouse) have created beautiful scenes of knights and ladies that surely give rise to inspirational stories in all of us.  Below is a small sample of some of those gorgeous works of art.

In any event, if you’re a lover of this era, our pages are open to authors who write stories about knights in shining armor.  As for me, I’ll stick with the more gentile gentlemen of the Victorian era, rather than men of steel and brawn.

Cheers,

Vicki

“Where are the simple joys of maidenhood? Where are all those adoring daring boys? Where’s the knight pining so for me he leaps to death in woe for me? Oh where are a maiden’s simple joys? Shan’t I have the normal life a maiden should? Shall I never be rescued in the wood? Shall two knights never tilt for me and let their blood be spilt for me? Oh where are the simple joys of maidenhood?”   Camelot by Alan Jay Lerner (book and lyrics) and Frederick Loewe