…as Time Goes By….

WE ARE ONE YEAR OLD! How cool is DAT?! We ‘huffed’ and ‘puffed’ and this ‘choo-choo’ left the Station last year and it’s still slowly huffing and puffing…

Along the way, it picked Krissie, and who knows in the future someone else might want to join us on this ride! The more the merrier!

It took one review, one blog chick and the ‘bulb’ went up in my head! Could I, would I, and the most scariest question of them all: Will anyone want to read what I have to say?

Guess what?! One year later, 49-followers later and 27, 401 hits later… someone’s coming over to read our blog!  So, to all of you that stop by, comment or not, THANK YOU for peeking in and please come back ANYTIME!

I had so many ideas in my head about how I would like to celebrate this first year, and for some reason none ‘felt’ just right. And than it hit me! I posed a question to myself. How did I start reading Romance? The answer was so simple. ZORA JAJIC! I dare you to pronounce her name! She’s my best friend and many, many years ago, she gave me a book to read. It was ‘A ROSE IN WINTER’ by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss and I was hooked, lined and sunk!

Are you ready to be ‘hooked’ ?

To celebrate our first year, I’ve decided to invite some of the very famous, best-selling authors as well as those that are just ‘wetting’ their toes into the romance world of writing. They will be stopping by every day throughout the month of November and they will be giving away BOOKS that they would like to HOOK you, either to their work, or someone else’s. Now, keep in mind, some of those books might be old, and I say, BRING IT ON! There is NOTHING better to a BOOKWORM then a musty old book :)

So, sit back… relax… get some tea or coffee… hot chocolate too… and come join us in the discussion. Tell us all about how and who ‘hooked’ you to the romance land…What book did you give away to ‘hook’ someone, and if you haven’t done that, then which book are you going to giveaway to your friend and why? If you are like us, I know that ‘book talk’ is easy, so come on over and join the party…Who knows? You just might win a giveaway and get ‘hooked’ all over again!

Before we get to celebrating in earnest, I thought we should salute those authors that are sadly not with us any more. Kathleen E. Woodiwiss passed away in 2007, but I still re-read her books. Elizabeth Thornton left us in 2010, but her work will be with me forever. Arnette Lamb has been gone awhile, but her stories still keep me entertained.

Today, let us remember all those that left their work to keep us warm, make us smile and cry, but always, always got us through to the next ‘chapter’ of our life.

Tell us about the author you’ll be remembering today…and to three of you who….

1) Subscribe to our Blog…

2) ‘LIKE’ us on Facebook!

… I’ll pass my ‘treasures’.

*All the above are required for a TRIPLE chance to win in the Giveaway!

Tomorrow we’ll start with Anna Campbell, then continue the celebration with Katharine Ash, Vanessa Kelly, Joanna Bourne, Shana Galen, Kristan Higgins, Candice Hern, Cara Elliott, Kieran Kramer, Eileen Dreyer, Rose Lerner and many, many more authors will pop in and out, so get ready to SALUTE those that have been there for us in sorrow and happiness. They truly are the heroes and heroines and deserve to be celebrated!

Now, where’s my drink?! CHEERS!

b2b will be ONE year old!

Guess what?! We’re about to celebrate our first year in the blogosphere! I ‘brain-stormed’ some ideas that were swirling in this head of mine, but none of them were ‘right’. I started to think about why and how I got to reading and loving romance novels and it hit me!

I was a ‘late bloomer’ and Romance Novels came to me when I was in my late twenties. My best friend gave me a copy of Kathleen E. Woodiwiss’ ‘A ROSE IN WINTER’ and I was hooked. I went out and stocked up on all of her books. Then my friend gave me Johanna Lindsey’s ‘GENTLE ROGUE’ and I had to read everything she wrote.

I ‘got’ what my friend tried to do. She wanted me to get ‘hooked’ on her favorite authors, so she’d pick one of their books and give them away as a gift. It worked in my case. I not only got hooked on the authors, but the genre as well. I took up the banner of the ‘pay it forward’ and started to give my friends ‘books that will hook you’ gifts.

What a better way then to celebrate our first year ‘on’ by celebrating AUTHORS as well as READERS with what connects us all – BOOKS!

Through the month of November, b2b will be honored to host Authors such as Katharine Ash, Grace Burrowes, Anna Campbell, Vicky Dreiling, Eileen Dreyer, Maureen Driscoll, Cara Elliott, Shana Galen, Kieran Kramer and last but not least Rose Lerner.

This amazing group of very talented ‘tale tellers’ have agreed to gift you, the reader, with a book that they hope will ‘hook’ you to either their own work, or the author they chose to share with you.

b2b, in return for their generosity of time and gifts to you, we’ll be celebrating them!

Won’t you join our celebration by:

1) Telling us which ‘Hook-a-Book’ did/would you likely give your friends…

2) Subscribing to our Blog…

3) ‘LIKE’ -ing us on our Facebook!

All three are required for a TRIPLE chance to win in the Giveaway!

On November 1st I will let you know my ‘Hook-a-Book’ and celebrate with you this author that had me at ‘Sin’!

Why Infidelity?

Thanks so much to bookworm2bookworm (Melanie) for having me on the blog today as I continue the celebration of my latest release, ROMANCING THE COUNTESS!

When Melanie invited me to write a post for the blog, she suggested the topic of infidelity. Specifically, why do I write about it, as it seems that each of my currently published works (SEDUCING THE DUCHESS, ROMANCING LADY CECILY, and ROMANCING THE COUNTESS) each feature infidelity in some way.

In SEDUCING THE DUCHESS, the story starts with the Duke of Rutherford abducting his wife, Charlotte, in an attempt to woo her back to loving him. However, the story behind the story is that he married her for revenge and they’ve been leading separate lives (although still living in the same house) for three years. He had a mistress before he realized he loved her, and she’s rumored to have had at least a dozen lovers in that time period.

In ROMANCING LADY CECILY, Cecily is engaged to a man she’s never met—for an arranged marriage set up by her father—and yet she can’t stay away from Baron Sedgwick, a man who seduces her heart and teaches her about her body’s desires. As a result, she is both emotionally and physically unfaithful to her betrothed.

In ROMANCING THE COUNTESS, both Leah and Sebastian are victims of their respective spouses’ affair. Although Leah knew of the affair for nearly a year and hid it from everyone, Sebastian doesn’t find out until the night their spouses die. Their love story unfolds as they each try to move on with their lives in different ways, but still find themselves draw them together.

First, a few things you must know.

1) I have never cheated on my spouse, nor has my husband cheated on me.

2) As far as I know my parents never cheated on each other. (Thankfully on both accounts, and by which I mean to say, there is no psychological basis for writing about infidelity.)

3) What has been published so far are stories that were proposed to my publisher and accepted. I have had at least 3 other stories that had nothing to do with infidelity that were pitched but rejected. And in fact, my third book from NAL Penguin, MY LADY RIVAL (which releases 5/1/12), does not feature the topic of infidelity.

But obviously, I touched on infidelity in each of these three stories. What was the reason behind this and why do I seem to be drawn to telling such stories?

Let me say that when I began writing SEDUCING THE DUCHESS, I was a new-ish writer. Yes, I’ve read romance for many years, but only after I became published did I become aware of infidelity as a taboo subject in Romancelandia. Apparently, the topic is a sensitive one not only because it doesn’t seem to fit in well with the HEA, but also because many romance readers have themselves been the victim of infidelity in the past. When I began writing SD, I knew none of this; I was only interested in one thing: how could I redeem a man who seemed to the outside eye thoroughly unlikable? I’ve always liked challenges, and this seemed a terrific challenge. To be honest, the fact that Philip had a mistress during part of the three years (he dismissed her after he realized he was in love with Charlotte) didn’t seem that big of a deal to me.

1) He wasn’t in love with her when he had a mistress, so he wasn’t being emotionally careless;

2) Most men who could afford them had mistresses.

The subject of infidelity came up in Charlotte’s storyline because she was trying to force Philip’s hand in petitioning for a divorce, and she was certain that he wouldn’t be able to stand the embarrassment of a wife who had taken dozens of lovers. But in truth, these were just part of the story to me. The biggest concern was how Philip ruthlessly made Charlotte fall in love with him, married her, and then broke her heart by telling her the truth the day after their wedding. (Again, the story actually starts out three years after the wedding, so these aren’t really spoilers.) How could he win back the love of his wife after acting like such a bastard? And did he truly deserve her love? And how much had he changed? Would she truly be able to ever forgive him? These were the subjects of interest to me in SEDUCING THE DUCHESS.

In ROMANCING LADY CECILY (which is a digital short story of 15,000 words), I explored the heroine’s internal conflict of choosing the man she desires most and the man her father (whom she loves) has arranged for her to marry as a means of saving his reputation. Does she choose love or family? To me, the conflict wouldn’t have been as powerful if I didn’t show how strong of a hold the Baron Sedgwick actually held over her. I can tell you this, though: no matter whom she might have chosen, Cecily would never have cheated on her husband after their marriage, even if she didn’t love him. (Fortunately, she does have a splendid happy-ever-after.)

The idea for ROMANCING THE COUNTESS actually came to me at least a year before I started writing StD. And the idea didn’t so much as focus on the topic of infidelity as much as how the widow and widower of these unfaithful spouses would have their own romance, and whether they would try to be proper in their mourning or not care at all since they’d been betrayed and felt it their right to behave however they wished. I never got any further with the idea than this basic concept, though, and only three years later did I finally figure out where I wanted the story to go.

As you can see, it’s not that I wished to write about infidelity with each of these works; it’s only that infidelity became part of the background storyline. With that being said, I can tell you that I believe that writing and reading about infidelity has its place in romance novels, and here’s why: I believe in hope. And I believe that love gives us hope. One of the main reasons romance readers cite for reading romance (myself included) is that they want the escape and they want the HEAs. Some people believe that infidelity has no place in a romance novel, but in my opinion (and this is only my opinion), I think it does because I like to read and write about people whose emotions and conflicts could be real.

I DO think that a married couple that deals with infidelity can forgive and move on and have a wonderful HEA (though this isn’t really what StD is about).

I DO think that people are able to make mistakes (such as Cecily’s weakness for the baron in RLC) and are able to recover from those mistakes and have a great HEA.

I DO believe that love is powerful enough to help those who have been victims of infidelity to move on—and yes, perhaps one day forgive—so that they are able to find a new HEA with someone else (note, in RtC, the spouses of the hero and heroine died).

I could also tell you that while I believe in hope, and I believe in love, and I believe in forgiveness, I will also never write a romance where the hero or heroine is or has been in love with the other and then is unfaithful simply because they lust after someone else. Certainly, I believe this can happen in real life and I believe this, too, can be forgiven and the relationship repaired, but even in my mind this is not something I’m willing to write about. As powerful as love is, I also believe in its sanctity. If a hero or heroine pledges their love, it is not something to be dealt with lightly. Some readers have refused to read SEDUCING THE DUCHESS because they heard that the duke was unfaithful to the duchess. And while I realize I walk a thin line here, the most important part of this to me was that he didn’t love her. As soon as he realized he loved her, he dismissed his mistress and was faithful to her from that day on.

Will I write more romances that include infidelity—in one way or another—in the future? Perhaps. I don’t have any in my head right now, but it’s certainly a topic that is relevant to our culture today (unfortunately) and a topic which immediately involves a depth of emotion and conflict, which account for a huge romance fave: angst.

But the most important thing to me—always, no matter what sort of love story I write—is that in the end, love wins. As the tag on my website says: Choose to love. Hope in love. Believe in love. 

I promise there is no right or wrong answer, for everyone deserves an opinion.

What place (if any) do you think infidelity has in a romance novel?

One random commenter will be chosen to win a copy of my newest book, ROMANCING THE COUNTESS (open internationally)! Also, find out how to win the ROMANCING THE COUNTESS Book Tour Grand Prize of 50+ romance novels by visiting www.ashleymarch.com!  

Ashley, I’ve been looking forward to your visit for quite some time now, and I’m so glad you stopped by. As always, you’ve been such a Lady and I’ve been Blessed to have ‘met’ you! 

 Ashley March in her own words:

“I was born and raised in East Texas, moved to Colorado after getting married eight years ago, and have been craving snow-free winters ever since. I have a husband who just keeps getting better and better over time and two beautiful daughters. Life is simply…fantastic.”

“The Black Hawk” by Joanna Bourne

STORY: He is her enemy. He is her lover. He is her only hope.

Someone is stalking agent Justine DeCabrillac through London’s gray streets. Under cover of the rain, the assassin strikes-and Justine staggers to the door of the one man who can save her. The man she once loved. The man she hated.  Adrian Hawkhurst.

Adrian wanted the treacherous beauty known as “Owl” back in his bed, but not wounded and clinging to life. Now, as he helps her heal, the two must learn to trust each other to confront the hidden menace that’s trying to kill them-and survive long enough to explore the passion simmering between them once again…

REVIEW: ‘The Black Hawk’ by Joanna Bourne is a tale that had to be told. I have a feeling that if Ms. Bourne never intended for it, she would have been literally mobbed by every fan of her earlier tales, until she ‘put it out there’.  

How can I relate to you my emotions while reading this tender love story?! Reading it I felt like Julia Roberts in that scene with Richard Gere from “Pretty Woman’ where he dolls her all up and takes her to see her first Opera. She is so taken by the performance that she almost leaps out of her seat over the balcony, with her eyes filled with tears and her heart so full of too many emotions to be put to words. She just sat there taking it all in. Absorbing it like a sponge, thinking it unreal, and afraid it would end too soon for her to absorb it ALL!

That’s me. That’s exactly how I felt reading this tale.

If you’ve never read a Joanna Bourne novel, then that’s what you’re missing. You are missing a trip to a time that was not so pleasant, to say the least, in the History of the French as well as the World, yet filled with uncertainty and excitement, but also with love.

Romance for each of us starts at a different time and age, and sometimes we don’t even know it until it’s way too late. Occasionally, and if we’re lucky, we might recognize it and call it love.

For Adrian and Justine that romance started at an age that some would say was too young, unless they knew that these two never had a chance to BE young. Their souls were forced to grow old at an early age. Many years will pass before they realize and admit to each other their love for one another and let their souls finally feel they’ve come home.

I will not summarize the plot for you, but I will tell you about a boy who grew up without a name (he named himself), isn’t even sure how old he is, survives the worst of the slums of London by his intelligence and wits (light fingers, cunning and a skill with a knife notwithstanding).

By providence, he gets recruited by and taken under the protective wing of William Doyle (The Forbidden Rose) to be trained as an English Spy for British Intelligence Service. We, the readers, are fortunate to watch this sprite become a most efficient and ruthless of spies, who ends up Knighted and becomes a Head of BIS.

Adrian and Justine meet for the first time in Doyle and Maggie’s story (The Forbidden Rose), and we follow Adrian through two other happily ever after of Annique and Gray (The Spymaster’s Lady) and Bastien and Jess (My Lord and Spymaster).

Justine DeCabrillac was eleven years old when her parents were killed and she taken with her two-year old sister by a family ‘friend’ to a brothel and forced into whoring. From that hell, she is rescued and given home by Madame, a head of the Secret Police in Paris. By the time she meets ‘Awker two years later, she’s become an employee and a spy for the Secret Police, and is now working for Adrian’s enemy.

Even though they worked for the opposite sides, their missions placed them in a close proximity of each other, and they gained respect for one another and became friends. Because of what she went through as a child, Adrian did his best to not even broach her on his feelings for her. If anything was to happen between them, he knew that it would have to be started by Justine.

And after she finally approaches him, ‘Awker knows that to make love to her, he would need to ‘cleanse’ her from the inside out, before he takes her on a journey that will eventually lead them to their destiny.

Adrian Hawkhurst ‘Hawker’ and Justine DeCabrillac ‘Owl’ have a mystery to solve, bad guys to catch, and big, life changing decisions to make, and I had a front row seat as I was invited to witness their life as it happened.

Ms. Bourne’s prose is legendary by now, but if you’re still not convinced at how good she can ‘spin a tale’ here’s just one of many, many favorite parts of mine in this tale.

The scene below is of Justine and Hawker in a room full of people at a fancy ball. They’re on a lookout for the enemy, and he is very worried about her as she’s not quite healed yet from her knife wound. He kept following her with his eyes, not seeing anyone but her.

“He couldn’t touch Owl, except with his eyes, so he let his imagination slide across her, planning where he’d kiss her later tonight. He liked kissing beauty and he’d done a certain amount of that over the years. With Owl, he’d start with beauty and go on to kissing ruthlessness and ideals in the lines at the corners of her eyes. Passion and practicality sitting around her mouth. Not a comfortable woman, his Owl. Not ordinary.”

So, my dear bookworm, if you like sweet romance, this book has it in spades. If you prefer intrigue, you won’t go wrong with this tale. It is chock full of it. Not convinced yet?! Well, let me put it this way.

Ms. Bourne has wrapped this story in drama, romance, plot, intrigue and sensuality and made it a one-stop-shop so I cried a little, laughed a little but I was never bored, even a little!

Fan2Author Interview: Joanna Bourne

b2b: There’s no way in Hell that I can tell you how I feel about this Author! I am truly not worthy! Her prose is awe-inspiring…

“She was a battlefield of possibilities.”

“The moment fell between them like a ripe fruit.”

“He wanted to slurp her down like she was milk and he was a starving cat.”

Ms. Bourne, how does one come up with prose that sticks to the reader’s mind years after you wrote it and they’ve read it? Holy Cow! I am so sorry! First, let me welcome you and thank you for finding the time to visit with me. This is a rare opportunity and a privilege, so I hope not to blow it! Okay, now you can answer the question…

JB: I jest use the iProse app, available through the Apple Store for $79.

But, more serious now. Story prose comes to you the same way the next sentence comes to you when you’re sitting with a cuppa coffee, chatting with your friends in a lively dialog.  You don’t think about the exact words you’re going to say.  They spill out of your mouth and later you think, “Gee, that was clever,” or, somewhat more often, “That was lame.”

I’ll add this though. Nothing is going to emerge in your writing, or your conversation either, that you haven’t put into your head sometime or other.  The bucket can only draw water that’s down in the well.

If you want to write good language, you have to read good language.

I was fortunate enough to hear Deanna Raybourn speak at our local RWA Chapter.  She asked, “Does anybody here read poetry?”  And, of course, my hand went right up.  Bang.  There I was, having something in common with Deanna Raybourn.

A second way to ‘fill up’ that creative well is to live alertly. You remember how Thoreau went out to the woods so he could live deliberately? This is how a writer lives all the time.  He opens himself to the world.  He notices.

So, if you want to improve your writing, you actively look at the shape of a roof against the sky.  You add it to the photo album in your head.  You take mental notes of what’s on people’s faces when a baby starts screaming at the next table in a restaurant.

So a writer doesn’t get his words and images from watching TV or reading books.  He doesn’t walk around in a gray haze.  He looks at the world.

b2b: [scribing Thoreau] Reading any of your books is like ‘living them’…I ‘feel’ everything as I read…Instead of writing “Barely touching.” You wrote “Barely, barely touching.” (Doyle and Maggie’s story) and that made me feel that touch!

When you’re writing it, do you feel it as you’re writing it? Or do you have second thoughts and agonize about it?

JB: Generating the rough draft is a highly emotional experience for me.  I ‘live’ the scene.

It’s like being dropped bodily into the fictive world.  The scene around me is colors and shapes, sounds, smells, textures.  I feel the anger or fear. If it’s sad, I cry. So embarrassing.

The agonizing second thoughts arrive with the second draft and the third draft and the . . .

b2b: [smiling, thinking: she's just like me!] The characters in your novels, and I include secondary as well as the villains, are all multidimensional, especially Adrian. This boy, later youth and now a man has so many facets to him; it would have been a shame if we never heard his story.

Let’s talk about “The Black Hawk”. How is Adrian different from your other heroes? And speaking of, who is your favorite hero (not including your work; I’m not making you choose) from the written word (oh, and no classics either)?

JB: The biggest difference is that Adrian is not really, or not completely, a ‘good guy’.  He doesn’t have an internal moral compass the way my other heroes do.  If things had gone just a little differently, Adrian might have ended up a ruthless villain, instead of a ruthless hero.

I try to show a progression of morality in his life, something I don’t do with the other male protagonists.  Adrian had to learn ethical behavior almost from scratch.  Even as an adult, he’s still working on the fine tuning of a conscience.  His life story is, in a way, that of a man building a soul for himself.

Now, I don’t say that’s how the reader has to interpret him.  But, for me, part of the fun of writing the whole life story has been to see a madly intelligent, off-balance, feral Adrian pulled out of his niche and grappling with the alien manners, morals and ethics of the wider society.

My favorite hero in fiction?

I like many of the old YA science fiction heroes.  I’m talking Heinlein, in particular.  These are men of ingenuity, practicality, and a nonchalant acceptance of duty.  Homo habilis engineeri.  The hero MacGyver.

Good writing can make me fall in love with any sort of hero.  But, all else being equal, I’m not so much attracted to the brooding, stalking the moors with a flapping cape type man, or to men who party like frat boys into their twenties and thirties.  But I find adult men with an intelligent competence tremendously sexy.

b2b: [scribbling to look up the translation of  Homo habilis engineeri] Who surprised you more while you wrote their story, Hawker or Justine?

JB: Justine.  Definitely.  I came into the first draft of Black Hawk with a pretty good idea of Adrian’s life story.  I had a ‘voice’ for him at all the ages I was going to write about.  Thank Goodness for that.  The structure of Black Hawk was so complicated I would have gone bonkers if I hadn’t had one of the protagonists tacked down.

So Justine was the character being created in Black Hawk.  I knew almost nothing about her when I started.  My original goal was to create a woman Adrian would care about deeply.  Somebody who’d be a match for him.

The dynamic that developed between these two surprised me.  I’d originally seen Adrian as much more aggressive in  the relationship.  Turned out that wasn’t necessary.

Adrian really needed a lady with a steel spine.  He could relax and be himself with somebody as hard as he was.  So Justine turned out a little different from the way I’d originally imagined her.

b2b: I’ve been looking forward to his ‘tale’ and wanted to thank you for sending me the ARC of it, but I hadn’t finished reading it. This past week I went through all three books (The Forbidden Rose, The Spymaster’s Lady and My Lord and Spymaster) preceding Adrian’s story and it just reminded me of how truly amazing, romantic and full of excitement all the stories are!

Have you had to cut many scenes from the book and if you did, which one did you dread the most? And can we have it for the Excerpts

JB: In the past, I’ve had to discard some good writing because it just didn’t ‘fit’ the story I ended up with.  That’s a sad thing for a writer to do, believe you me.  I’ve been trying to do more outlining and scene pre-construction.

As I said, Black Hawk was a tremendously complicated story to structure.  I planned that puppy within an inch of its life.  It turns out I didn’t have to discard any big chunks of writing. I’m delighted to be so efficient, but it does leave me without any appreciable outtakes. I will say that the hardest scenes to write were the two love scenes.

b2b: [scribbling-make sure to pay attention to the love scenes] What’s up next for Joanna Bourne? Will you be sticking with the same time period (1794-1818) or will you be venturing out?

JB: The next story is Pax’s story, placed in late 1802 and early 1803.  Home gamers will recognize this as coming after the events of The Spymaster’s Lady.  This is also just after the 1802 section of Black Hawk. 1802-1803 is an interesting year in history.  That’s the one-year hiatus of peace in the middle of the twenty-year war between England and France.

b2b: Oh, now you make me so happy! Something to look forward to!

A famous author once asked this question from another, and I thought to finish this interview with the same:

What do you consider the Historical Romance canon?

JB: For a book to get into canon — for me — it has to have been around for maybe a decade; it has to have been innovative when written; it has to be re-readable.  I like it if the book had an effect on the works that came after it.

So this is not a list of books on my keeper shelf or the best books being written today.  Those are different lists. I’ve included only one book per author.  And I list books I like.  I’m not an academic or a reviewer, so I don’t have to be even-handed.

Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen; Simply Love, Mary Balogh; An Unwilling Bride, Jo Beverley; Tregaron’s Daughter, Peter O’Donnell w/a Madeleine Brent; Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte; Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte; A Woman of Virtue, Liz Carlyle; Lord of Scoundrels, Loretta Chase; The Proposition, Judy Cuevas w/a Judith Ivory; The Windflower, Tom and Sharon Curtis; Rebecca, Daphne DuMaurier; Alinor, Roberta Gellis; Angelique in Love, Serge and Anne Golon w/a Sergeanne Golon;  Outlander, Diana Gabaldon; Frederica, Georgette Heyer; The Sheik, Edith M. Hull; By Arrangement, Madeline Hunter; Flowers From the Storm, Laura Kinsale; Curse of the Pharaohs, Barbara Mertz w/a Elizabeth Peters; Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchell; The Scarlet Pimpernel, Emma Orcy; The Rake, Mary Jo Putney; Tokaido Road, Lucia St. Clair; Gaudy Night, Dorothy SayersKatherine, Anya Seton, My Brother Michael, Mary Stewart; Forever Amber, Kathleen Winsor; The Gamble, Joan Wolf; Shanna, Kathleen Woodiwiss

b2b: Holy cow! That’s some list! Just for fun, I underlined the one’s I’ve read as well…as for the rest, I’m sure that I’ll be looking into, checking them out and adding them to my wish list. After all, they come recommended by JOANNA BOURNE :)

Jo, you’ve been awesome! I had so much fun! Say the word and we’ll have you back ANYTIME!


Now, bookworms, Jo is giving away a spanking new, signed copy of THE BLACK HAWK to one commenter that answers her question (oh, and its open WORLD WIDE) and here it is:

I’ve cheated in Black Hawk and written my characters at several different stages in their lives.  Mostly, you can’t get away with that.
What age do you want your hero and heroine to be?

Rose Lerner’s Mr. Hathaway and Lady Serena visit b2b!

LilyAmongThorns_225Ms. Friedman: It is an honor to host you both and I’m truly humbled by your visit today.  Thank you for making time in your busy schedules for this interview. Please, make yourselves at home and we shall begin….

Lady Serena: You’re welcome.

Mr. Solomon Hathaway: No, thank you.  It’s so kind of you to invite us.

Ms. Friedman: [checks her notes; smiling as she looks up] Now, the questions I have are quite personal, but fun nevertheless. But before I get to them, tell me how have you both been since last I saw you? I believe it was raining and muddy that day?

Lady Serena: [blinks] I’m sorry, have we met?  I’m terrible with faces.

Mr. Solomon Hathaway: [puts an arm around Serena] We’ve been doing splendidly, haven’t we?

Lady Serena: [smiles at him] Well, yes, of course.  I think our biggest news is that my hotel, the Ravenshaw Arms, is running a promotion in honor of our marriage.  For the next six months, catering for a wedding breakfast is five pounds off on an order of twenty-five pounds or more.  Tell your friends.

Mr. Solomon Hathaway: So that’s our biggest news, is it?  Well, if you don’t want to tell them…

Lady Serena: [puts a hand protectively over her stomach] Tell them what?

Mr. Solomon Hathaway: [grinning broadly] Nothing.

Ms. Friedman: [grinning at both of her guests] That’s wonderful. Congratulations are in order, I see. My felicitations…for both… [looks up at Lady Serena and meets her stare]…to both of you. [coughs] Well, where was I? Oh, here we go. Your childhoods were vastly different, so I hoped you would share with us a childhood memory that brings a smile to your face or makes you tear up?

Lady Serena: [long pause] I can’t think of anything.

Mr. Solomon Hathaway:  My favorite story is the one about how you wouldn’t let anyone feed you.

Lady Serena: [makes a face]

Mr. Solomon Hathaway: When she was a baby, she wouldn’t let the nursemaid feed her.  If the girl tried, Serena would just spit it back out.  She would only eat things she could pick up with her hands and feed herself.

Lady Serena: [strained smile] I ate a lot of boiled peas, as you can imagine.  Oh Solomon, do tell that adorable story your mother told at our wedding breakfast, about you and Elijah and that churchwarden’s daughter?

Mr. Solomon Hathaway:  [turns bright red] We were five years old!  And it was all Elijah’s idea anyway.

Lady Serena: That wasn’t my understanding.

Mr. Solomon Hathaway: [flushes even redder]

Lady Serena: I do like a precocious child.

Ms. Friedman: [looks to one then the other, smiles at both] I was so happy to see that some of your wishes came true, but do either of you have a wish or a dream unfulfilled and what would that be?

Lady Serena: I’m hoping the Duke of Wellington will dine at the Arms when he returns to England.

Ms. Friedman: That would definitely attract the crowds…and the business will be booming afterwards, I’m sure. I would be more than willing to call in some favors…

Mr. Solomon Hathaway: That would be very kind of you.  I’m also hoping the Duke will buy some clothes from my uncle’s establishment–Hathaway’s Fine Tailoring, in Savile Row.  I don’t know if you knew this, but His Grace is called ‘the Beau’ by his officers.  Of course he didn’t have access to town tailoring while on campaign, but that only makes it more impressive that he created a defined, clean, distinctive look using only a few basic garments.

It’s true that Hathaway’s has a good reputation among gentlemen with a less conservative style, but we can do bold, plain elegance as well.  The evenness of our dyes sets us apart when it comes to a crisp silhouette; colors like gray and navy show streaking even more than bright shades.  I think the General would find much to interest him in our shop.  [blushes]  Sorry, I’m rattling on.

Lady Serena: [looks as if she could listen to him rattle on forever]

Ms. Friedman: [looks as if she could listen to him rattle on forever; then meets Lady Serena’s LOOK] No, not at all. I enjoy…Sorry; let us go to my next question. I wondered if you would be so kind to share with us your greatest accomplishments and regrets thus far….

Lady Serena: [under her breath] My greatest regret is agreeing to give this interview.

Mr. Solomon Hathaway: [gives her an admonitory glance] My greatest accomplishment?  Convincing Lady Serena to marry me.  My greatest regret… [his expression turns somber] Can anyone really choose just one?  I wish…I wish I had seen things more clearly, earlier.  I wish I had seen myself more clearly: the advantages I had, that others didn’t.  I wish…

Lady Serena:  [squeezing his arm] [dryly] You may have noticed that Solomon is a perfectionist.   My greatest accomplishment is undoubtedly convincing him to stop worrying for a quarter of an hour and eat a solid meal. [looks horrified] Not–not that I–I don’t–

Mr. Solomon Hathaway: [laughing] Lady Serena’s best-kept secret is her motherly side.

Lady Serena: [looking daggers at him] Solomon.  I do not have a motherly side.  [to Ms. Friedman] I don’t.

Ms. Friedman: [looks at one then the other] Oh, my dear [pats Lady Serena’s hand] it shall remain our little secret… [quickly removes hand]

Mr. Solomon Hathaway: [smiles all over his face]

Ms. Friedman: Now, let’s have some fun, shall we? Mr. Hathaway, you are a genius when it comes to colors, so tell us which color is in, and which is out?

Mr. Solomon Hathaway: Well, I hesitate to describe any color as “out.”  In the right ensemble, any shade can look smart and fresh.  But I do see a renaissance for scarlet, just at the moment.  People mistakenly believe that one needs striking features, coloring, or figure to carry off such a dramatic shade.  But it’s surprisingly versatile, and accords with almost any complexion.  [glances at Lady Serena] Striking doesn’t hurt, though.

Ms. Friedman: Oh how interesting. [smiles at Lady Serena] Lady Serena, do you have a favorite scent?

Lady Serena:  Fresh-baked pear-almond tartlets.

Ms. Friedman: Speaking of, won’t you have some? This was my Aunt’s recipe [hands her guests plates and points to the napkins] My next question is for both of you. What is your favorite mode of transportation?

Serena & Solomon taking a walk

Lady Serena:  I prefer to walk.  I used to be fond of riding, but I don’t have much opportunity anymore.

Mr. Solomon Hathaway: [lets the silence drag out]

Lady Serena: [glares at him]

Ms. Friedman: [looks from one to the other]

Mr. Solomon Hathaway: I like walking best, too.  Fortunately in London it’s often practical.  I don’t do too well with horses, I’m afraid.

Ms. Friedman: Actually that is what Mr. Friedman and I like the best. We take long walks together, and …never mind [blushes and pats her hair] Here are some questions that would make all young debutantes blush, but never the less all want to know:

Silk or cotton? Outdoors or indoors? Top or bottom?

Lady Serena: [rolling her eyes] I’m sure I don’t know what you’re referring to.

Mr. Solomon Hathaway: [with a look of false innocence] It entirely depends on context.  I don’t think silk will ever really go out of style for formal occasions, but cotton has a greater durability and washes better.  Add to that the ease with which it can be dyed or printed on, and I think we’ll see cotton’s role expanding.  It might even replace linen for underclothes, bedding, and the like.  [smiles apologetically] I hope I don’t offend you or your readers by mentioning such personal matters.

Lady Serena:  Solomon–American cotton.

Mr. Solomon Hathaway: Oh yes, thank you for reminding me.  My uncle’s shop prefers to use Indian muslins and other cottons, and I would encourage any of you to do the same.  American cotton is tended by slaves, and we are firm supporters of Abolition.

Lady Serena: Who knows if it’s any better in India, of course?

Mr. Solomon Hathaway: [sighing] “All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes: but the Lord weigheth the spirits.” [to Ms. Friedman] Well, does that answer your question?

[long pause]

Ms. Friedman: Never mind.  I would like to thank Ms. Lerner for making the introductions and to both of you for being so gracious to indulge me with this visit. Please be sure to convey my regards to that rascal Rene and let him know that he is welcome to stop by my At Homes any time.

Lady Serena: [in freezing accents] I hope you don’t mean to suggest that I keep up a correspondence with a known traitor.

Ms. Friedman: [looking crestfallen] Not at all. I just thought…

Mr. Solomon Hathaway: Thank you so much for having us, ma’am.  It’s been a pleasure.  We must do it again sometime.

Ms. Friedman: That would be lovely. [looks at Lady Serena’s stomach] Maybe…

Lady Serena: [insincerely] Yes, indeed we must.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ * * * ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

For all you bookworms out there,

Ms. Rose Lerner has a Giveaway of her new book

‘A Lily Among Thorns’ for one lucky commenter.

Rose Lerner in her own words: “I discovered Georgette Heyer when I was thirteen, and wrote my first historical romance a few years later. My writing has improved since then, but my fascination with all things Regency hasn’t changed. When not reading, writing, or researching, I enjoy cooking and marathoning old TV shows. I live in Seattle.

I would love to hear from you–about my books, about my blog, about my website, or about anything else you think I might want to know. My e-mail address is rose@roselerner.com. If you e-mail me directly, please put something specific in the subject line so my e-mail knows your message isn’t spam. Thanks!”

Shana Galen’s Lady Smythe Visits b2b!

Ms. Friedman: I’m humbled by your visit today and would like to thank you for finding the time in your busy schedule to do so, Lady Smythe.

Lady Smythe: Thank you so much for inviting me, Ms. Friedman. I don’t usually have time for social calls. It’s so lovely to chat.

Ms. Friedman: Now, the questions I have are quite personal. Oh my, I just noticed you scratching the tip of your nose…Let me hasten and say, in no way are you obligated to answer them if you choose not to. However, you do like danger, so may I go ahead?

Lady Smythe: Oh, you know about the scratching my nose thing, do you? It’s my intuition. I suppose I like a good bit of danger now and then. You may go ahead.

Ms. Friedman: What childhood memory brings a smile to your face or makes you tear up?

Lady Smythe: Climbing trees with my dear older brother Henry. We were so close when we were children, and I was a bit of a tomboy. He’s dead now—killed by a double agent—so all of my memories of Henry are very dear. And double agents should watch out (twirls knife).

Ms. Friedman: Do you have a wish or a dream unfulfilled and what is it?

Lady Smythe: I would love to be a mother. I’ve not been able to carry a child to term, and I desperately want a baby of my own. I wouldn’t mind a hiatus from dodging rival agents and pistol shots if it meant I could spend time holding a sweet baby boy or girl. I do have hope for the future.

Ms. Friedman: Your greatest accomplishment and regret thus far is….

Lady Smythe: My greatest accomplishment is becoming an agent for the Barbican group. It’s an élite group of spies for the Crown, and I’m honored to be one of the few, if not the only, female agent. I do regret keeping my identity as Agent Saint a secret from my husband, Lord Smythe. Living a secret life does tend to cause marital problems.

Ms. Friedman: Your favorite scent and mode of transportation?

Lady Smythe: My favorite scent is citrus. I adore oranges. The smell is so refreshing. As far as transportation, I prefer a sporty gig or a flashy phaeton. I like to drive fast!

Ms. Friedman: And now a question that would make all young debutantes blush, but never the less all want to know: Silk or cotton? Outdoors or indoors? Top or bottom?

Lady Smythe: Oh, my! Those are very personal questions. But I like you, Ms. Friedman, so I am going to answer.

Silk, of course.

Outdoors. If you’ve read Lord and Lady Spy, you know Lord Smythe and I have a rather racy scene in his brother’s garden.

Why not top and then bottom? Or bottom and then top? I do tend to enjoy my lovemaking a little bit wild.

Ms. Friedman: Lady Smythe, it was an honor to have made your acquaintance through Mrs. Galen and I’m looking forward to many years of Mrs. Galen’s retelling of your adventures. Please be sure to convey my regards to your husband, Lord Smythe.

Lady Smythe: I will, of course. Thank you so much for having me. I will have Mrs. Galen stop by later today. I believe she is offering a signed copy of Lord and Lady Spy to one person who comments today.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~   *   *   *  ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

For all you bookworms out there, please enjoy the book trailer and I’d like to know:

Would you like it if Lord and Lady Smythe’s Adventure’s were serialized?



Shana Galen in her own words::

“I’m the author of numerous adventurous, romantic Regency historicals, including the Rita-nominated Blackthorne’s Bride. My books have been sold in Brazil, Russia, and the Netherlands and featured in the Rhapsody and Doubleday Book Clubs. I taught English at the middle and high school level off and on for eleven years. Most of those years were spent working in Houston’s inner city.

Now I write full-time. I’m happily married to an incredibly supportive man I like to call Ultimate Sportsfan, and I have a beautiful daughter and a very spoiled cat.”

To contact the author, please email to: shana@shanagalen.com


This is one of the Seasons that I look forward to. Early Fall, with its colors changing daily makes me feel all warm inside and always brings fond memories back from way, way back….

This one brought me some news that made me happy and sad.

My son and his lovely wife are taking the opportunity that presented itself, to move to the Grand Canyon state. And while I’m sad that they won’t be close by for me to ‘bug’, I’m very happy to see their love and support of each other for this major move. On the one hand my mother’s mind is happy, on the other, my mother’s heart sometimes wishes he were still a little boy…I am so glad that our dear Lord in His infinite wisdom had put Heather in his path…

Okay, before I start crying, I’ll tell you my second news…READY?!

You all know that I do some of my reviews for ROMANCE READER AT HEART website, and Nancy has been and continues to be my inspiration and someone I’ll always look up to. She has welcomed me into her fold like a mother hen and I love and respect her dearly; always will.  I love reviewing books for her site and will continue to do so as long as she’ll put up with me!

Now, Christine S. Morehouse from the ROMANTIC CRUSH JUNKIES website was on a ‘proul’ for some new ‘blood’ (love that metaphor) for her brand new e zine site. I applied, NEVER thinking she might come-a-knocking on my door.

When she did, I jumped at a chance and as with RRAH, I’m still pinching myself!

Both Nancy and Christine are giving me a oportunity to indulge my love for reading and writing and for that I am forever in their debt.

Both of them make me feel a part of this vast romance community and it makes my heart sing! 

If any of you think you might like to join her team, please send her an email at: csmorehouse@hotmail.com and good luck to all of you :)

The video above conveys my feelings every time I talk to them and all the wonderful authors, bloggers and fellow reviewers :)

I also have a mini-news, of sorts, but never the less important to both Krissie and I. We have now created an Facebook page for b2b and would love it if you’ll spread the word, but don’t forget to stop by it and LIKE us too!

…and just a bit of a heads-up…Our one year blogoversary is coming up in November and we mean to do something very special, so keep an eye on us! More info to come ;)

And now, get going and LIKE us!

My Heroes and Spies

At least the spies in my series Drake’s Rakes. Think of it this way. It is 1815. For the last twenty years, England has been at war, with France, with the US, at times with Spain, Portugal and Russia. Everything else that happens in England, be it prices or employment or loyalties, has something to do with the war. In fact, the entire south coast lives each day braced for invasion. The fate of the country, of everything you know.

          So, you’re an aristocratic man. You and many of your friends are forbidden to go fight because you stand as heir to an old title. So instead, while relatives and classmates risk their lives, you waste yours on gambling, drinking and whoring. I hate to be rude, but just how heroic is that?

          But what if that behavior is only a cover? What if, instead of putting on a uniform, you don evening attire, lift a champagne glass and wander the ballrooms of the rich, watching for less obvious warfare?

          All battle does not take place on a muddy field. All I have to say is Tudor Court and you’ll understand what I mean. More war was waged in the halls of Hampshire Court than any battlefield. The same could be said about the Congress of Vienna. The negotiations didn’t just involve treaty terms. They involved secrets.

Seductions, concessions.

          Not only that, but even beyond the rooms where power is wielded, treason can be committed. My Rakes might not currently be waging a physical battle, but they can prevent state secrets from being stolen, keep great men from being assassinated, protect those who wage the war on the continent.

          Each of my Rakes has a special task, a special talent. Each has, as his basic motto, the conviction expressed so well by Lovelace. “I could not love you, dear, so well, loved I not loved honor more.” Especially Diccan in NEVER A GENTLEMAN, who suffered so much vitriol from some of his readers, found himself caught between a rock and a hard place; his estimable wife, Grace, and the knowledge that if he didn’t act a certain way, disaster would strike Britain.

          As for Harry Lidge, in ALWAYS A TEMPTRESS, he has served. He’s survived terrible battles, and all he wants is to quit and go home. And yet, he has one more mission that might keep the Duke of Wellington himself safe from assassination. Even when Harry realizes that the woman he has to kidnap for her secrets is Lady Kate Seaton, the woman who loved and then betrayed him, he knows he has no choice.

          As for how it works out, if you think Diccan and Grace were caught between a rock and a hard place, Harry is the rock and Kate the hard place. You know that sparks will fly as they try and negotiate the compromises each must make in order to survive, to triumph, to save not only Britain but each other.

          What about you? Do you think gentleman spies are feasible? What would you do if you were caught up in that kind of life?

For a chance to win one of three of Eileen’s Rakes, all you need do is answer the question, subscribe to the blog or spread the word!

Eileen, thank you so much for stopping by and for this exciting behind the series look at your Rakes ;)

New York Times bestselling, award-winning  author Eileen Dreyer, known as Kathleen Korbel to her Silhouette readers, has published 28 romance novels, 8 medico-forensic suspenses, and 7 short stories.

2010 saw Eileen  extend her range into historical romance. BARELY A LADY, the first book in her DRAKE’S RAKES series for Grand Central, garnered a place on multiple ‘best of’ lists. With 2011’s NEVER A GENTLEMAN, she continues to follow the lives of a group of British aristocrats who are willing to sacrifice everything to keep their country safe. Eileen spent time not only in England and Italy, but India to research the series (it’s a filthy job, but somebody has to do it).

A retired trauma nurse, Eileen lives in her native St. Louis with her husband, children, and large and noisy Irish family, of which she is the reluctant matriarch. She has animals but refuses to subject them to the limelight.

Dreyer won her first publishing award in 1987, being named the best new Contemporary Romance Author by RT Bookclub. Since that time she has also garnered not only five other writing awards from RT, but five RITA Awards from Romance Writers of America, which secures her only the fourth place in the Romance Writers of America prestigious Hall of Fame. Since extending her reach to suspense, she has also garnered a coveted Anthony Award nomination.
A frequent speaker at conferences, she maintains membership in Romance Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and, just in case things go wrong, Emergency Nurses Association and International Association of Forensic Nurses.

Eileen is an addicted traveler, having sung in some of the best Irish pubs in the world, and admits she sees research as a handy way to salve her insatiable curiosity. She counts film producers, police detectives and Olympic athletes as some of her sources and friends. She’s also trained in forensic nursing and death investigation, although she doesn’t see herself actively working in the field, unless this writing thing doesn’t pan out.

Get in touch: eileendreyer@eileendreyer.com

“Always A Temptress” by Eileen Dreyer

STORY: His greatest battle is just beginning . . .

Captain Harry Lidge has done his duty. After losing too many good men on the battlefield, he’s ready to put his responsibilities behind him and live a life free of care. But first he has one last mission: find out what the most outrageous woman in London, the same woman who betrayed him nearly a decade earlier, is concealing, before her secrets take down the crown.

Her heart is the only thing she won’t risk . . .

Surrounded by ardent admirers and a few loyal friends, Lady Kate Seaton glides through the ton on a confection of couture gowns and bon mots. No one suspects that beneath her lighthearted façade Kate hides a sorrow so scandalous she’ll do anything to keep it hidden. But only when she trusts Harry with the truth and only when he trusts her with his heart can they stop the villains all too willing to kill Kate to attain their ultimate goal: destroy England.

REVIEW: In 2010 Eileen Dreyer introduced us to her Drake’s Rakes and to three of them, she gave a Grace for their very own.

In ‘Barely a Lady’, Jack found his Grace, Olivia Grace that is and in ‘Never a Gentleman’, Diccan couldn’t outrun his Grace, Grace Fairchild. And then Harry confronts Her Grace, the Dowager Duchess of Murther in ’Always a Temptress’ and their story, as the earlier two, had me spellbound and on the edge of my seat.

How can I do this novel justice AND keep the ‘spoilers’ out?! I want to shout it out loud and let you know all the why’s and what for’s…but I’ll contain my enthusiasm, and tell you why I loved Kate and Harry’s love story.

We met this flamboyant woman in the first book, and she was someone you couldn’t help but like from the start. She was a daughter, sister and a wife of a Duke; fearless, hated, envied and admired. She surrounded herself with friends from all walks of life; aristocrats, soldiers and a motley crew of misfits in her employ made up an eclectic ‘bouquet’ of friends that kept the darkness away and Kate’s life content.

Until the day that greed and secrets, kept by her and from her, shattered, battered and forced her to face all her fears she carefully and methodically hid, in the dark corners of her soul.

Major Sir Harry Lidge we met in the previous book and we knew from his interactions with Kate that the past they shared would one day come to haunt both, and once it did, both would have ‘some splainin’ to do’.

Harry’s life ten years ago was filled with dreams of travel and love for a girl of a Duke, and as a second son of a squire, that was a dream a bit too high, even for him. That however didn’t stop him and the love he felt for his ‘Katie’ came crashing down all around him, like the famous buildings he dreamed one day of building. Being brought up by loving parents, in a home that buzzed with activity and happiness, Harry’s decision to accept the Duke’s offer of a commission was the right thing to do. He knew that his dreams, if ever he survived the war, might be rebuilt and hopes for that dream kept him alive; kept him moving even when the nightmares of the battles fought tried to keep him down.

Upon finishing this novel, I truly couldn’t decide who was more the hero of this piece, Kate or Harry. Both had major hurdles to overcome, but the strength that Kate displayed was ferocious!

The story opens with Kate’s abduction for her protection and continues with her brother’s attempts to commit her to an asylum for her outrageous behavior. In the middle of it all, Drake’s Rakes are still in pursuit of the cursed verse and assassin’s attempts at killing our hero and heroine almost succeed. To some, this might be too much happening all at once, but trust me, none is, and all is important to the story that is fast paced, and every character we meet has depth, but none so like our Kate and Harry. Their road back to each other despite of all the hardships they lived through was destined to end with love and passion winning the day!

‘Always a Temptress’ had me smile, cry and sigh, but it never, EVER had me bored! Ms. Dreyer, I hear that you’ll be writing more of Drake’s Rakes, so BRING THEM ON! I refuse to think that Ian is dead!

*To buy this book, click on the cover*

*To learn more about the author, click on her name*

* I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*