“One cannot live by Chocolate alone, right?!” by Ella Quinn

Stitched Panorama

Bolzano / Adige Valley

Thank you Melanie for having me back on your blog!! I’m really excited to be here to talk about Desiring Lady Caro!

I always have food in my books, but this one has dishes from Italy, Austria, and France. Huntley, the hero, discovered that Caro has a weakness for chocolate, and he’s bound and determined to woo her with it. But, of course, one cannot live by chocolate alone, and since Huntley is something of a foodie, each day when they stop for the evening, he consults with the hotel’s chief, ensuring that Caro not only has chocolate, but other food as well.

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Terme di Brennero

Here are two recipes, modernized. One is for chocolate cake with ground nuts from Italy, and the other is Schlutzkrapfen (ravioli with spinach and ricotta filling). Add a salad, some good rustic bread, and red wine, and you can pretend to be in the mountains of northern Italy.

SchlutzkrapfenSchlutzkrapfen

Ingredients:

400 g (4 cups) rye flour

100 g (1 cup) spinach

100 g (1 cup) wheat flour

200 g ricotta (a scant 1 cup)

1 egg

salt, pepper

salt

nutmeg, chives

3 dspn oil (6 tsp)

2 dspn parmesan cheese (4 tsp)

lukewarm water as required

1 boiled potato

Filling:

preparation

Combine the chopped, boiled spinach with the ricotta, mashed potato, parmesan cheese, chives and herbs. Knead the flour, egg, salt, oil and lukewarm water to form a smooth dough. Leave to rest for 30 minutes. Roll the dough out thinly and cut out pieces with a round cutter before placing the spinach filling on top and closing the pieces, pressing the sides together. Then cook in boiling water and serve with butter and parmesan cheese.

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Torta CapreseTorta Caprese has been around for centuries, and, although its origins have been lost, the island of Capri claims it came from there, but by 1816 it was found all over. I like this recipe because it has the measurements in American and grams.

Yield: Serves 8

Prep Time: 10 mins

Cook Time: 50 mins

Ingredients:

200g (7 Ounces) Dark Chocolate

4 Large Eggs, Separated

250g (1 1/4 Cups) Granulated Sugar

1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

250g (1 1/4 Cups) Ground Almonds

200g (7 Ounces) Butter, Melted & Cooled

Topping:

Powdered Sugar or Cocoa Powder

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 Degrees F. and lightly grease a 9 inch spring form pan.
In a food processor, process the chocolate until fine.
Beat the egg yolks with the sugar and vanilla extract until pale and thick.
Fold the chocolate, butter and almonds into the egg yolk mixture.
Use a clean bowl to beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks, then fold these into the chocolate almond mixture.

Pour the batter into your prepared pan, and bake for about 50 minutes or until set.
Cool 20 minutes, then remove from the tin.
Allow to cool to room temperature, then dust the top with powdered sugar or cocoa.

What do you like to eat when traveling?

GIVEAWAY: 1 eCopy/1Winner

eq dlcSTORY: Haunted by her past, Lady Caroline Martindale fled England for the solace of her godmother’s palazzo in Venice. But if Caro was hoping to escape the charms of marriage-minded men, she’s come to the wrong place. And she’ll resort to extreme measures to spurn the advances of a dangerously determined Venetian marquis…

Though most of his friends have married off, Gervais, Earl of Huntley, remains bent on eluding the parson’s mousetrap. But his convictions begin to falter when he arrives in Venice and meets his match in the alluring Lady Caro. What began as a hastily concocted lie to save her from the marquis may become a chance for them both to relinquish their fear - and embrace what they can no longer deny…

EXCERPT: here

Ella QuinnAUTHOR BIO: Ella Quinn lived all over the United States, the Pacific, Canada, England and Europe before finally discovering the Caribbean. She lives in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands with her wonderful husband, three bossy cats and a lovable great Dane.

Ella loves when friends connect with her on Facebook andTweeter.

Represented by the lovely Elizabeth Pomada, Larsen-Pomada Literary Agency and published by Kensington. Ella’s début novel is now available on Amazon / B&N.

Anne Gracie stops by b2b!

 

april-fools-day[1]

Happy April 1st to you all — Happy Birthday to Melanie, and happy launch day for my book ‘The Winter Bride’. I won’t hog all the celebrations, but I’ll try to entice you with a few snippets from ‘The Winter Bride’.

ag twb

Buy Links: Amazon / B&NIndieBound  / The Book DepositoryUK

The story:  To get his parents and marriage-minded muffins off his back, charming bad-boy rake Freddy Monkton-Coombes pays marriage-shy Damaris Chance to enter into a false engagement. It’s all for show; falling in love was never in the plan . . .

The Cast:

1) The hero and heroine:

          Freddy: He wasn’t contemplating marriage, dammit! Not with anything other than horror.

Damaris: “I have an abhorrence of marriage.” There was a short, shocked silence.

2) Damaris’s ‘aunt’ on Freddy:

Lady Beatrice poked him with her elegant ebony stick. “Been out on the tiles again, young tomcat?”

Freddy gave her a cool, dignified look.

Lady Beatrice grinned. “Thought so. You have that look about you.”

3) Damaris’s employer on Freddy:

          “A tomcat in gentleman’s clothing, that’s what ’e is—a rake through and through. . . Bless you, my dove, you’re too young to recognize a Wicked Seducer when you see one, and I grant you that one is an ’andsome devil, and charmin’ as an oiled snake, I have no doubt!”

She fixed Damaris with a gimlet eye. “But it don’t do for a girl like you to catch the eye of a gentleman, take it from me. He’ll soften you up with sweet words and little gifts and . . . and poetry, and you’ll think ’e’s ever such a nice fellow, then in the twinklin’ of an eye, he’ll ’ave your skirts over your ’ead, and there you’ll be, rooned forever!”

“But Mrs. Jenkins—”

“Rooned forever!” Mrs. Jenkins repeated firmly.

4) Freddy’s mother on Damaris:

          Lady Breckenridge’s pale blue eyes glittered. “Instead, here you are, a girl I’ve never met before, some connection of Lady Beatrice’s but otherwise entirely unknown to English society. And half Italian.” As if Damaris were some mongrel puppy.

5) Freddy’s father on Damaris’s suitability:

          His father hunched over his wine, and after a moment muttered, “Almeria Armthwaite is English and a bruisin’ rider to hounds. You could have had her.”

Freddy smiled. “Anyone can, I believe, as long as they enjoy the whip.”

Anne Gracie again:

I loved writing this book. Freddy is funny and charming, a lighthearted bad-boy rake. He calls Pride and Prejudice a horror story — it’s all about girls finding husbands, you see — and he’s pursued by “muffins” — ie. marriage-minded women. But he slowly reveals himself to be “an utterly to-die-for hero” (so said Mary Jo Putney.) Damaris is serious and quiet, and the secrets of her past make her vulnerable, but underneath her cool exterior she’s really something special — watch her stand up to Freddy’s b*tch of a mother, and I think you’ll love her as much as I do.

poodleCakesHappy Birthday, Melanie and thanks for letting me share it with you.

Dear Bookworms, I’ll give a copy of ‘The Winter Bride’ to someone who leaves a comment: since today is Mel’s birthday, what do you think we should serve at her party? I’m sending these little cup-cakes.

Melanie here:

Anne, I’m so happy you’re here with us today! Thanks for stopping by and helping me celebrate my 57th Birthday. I tell you, it is true, the saying ‘Time flies when you’re having fun.’  I look back on my life and wonder at all the Blessings, and thank the good Lord for each of them.

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Now, let’s party! Here’s the place we’re all at, but we need some drinks, food and how about some of my favorite ‘book boyfriends’ coming over and lending a hand in the festivities? Too bad James Alexander Malcolm Mackenzie can’t travel through stones…but maybe you could send me one of your ‘book boyfriends’? Who will it be?!

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Commenter that sends me the one I choose will get a print or eCopy of one of my all time favorite stories from Anne Gracie, and it’s ‘The Virtuous Widow’ in an anthology titled ‘Gifts of the Season’ with Miranda Jarrett and Lyn Stone.

agAUTHOR INFO: For Anne’s Bio, click on her pick. You’ll love it!

Places to find Anne Gracie:

Website / Blog / Facebook / Tweeter

 

Rose Lerner and Five Fun Facts from …

‘Sweet Disorder’

Thank you so much for having me, bookworms! This was [here] one of my favorite stops on my Lily Among Thorns blog tour and I am so thrilled to be back.

I saw Amanda Scott’s Five Fun Facts post and stole her brilliant idea. So, five fun facts about Sweet Disorder:

Chace Crawford1. The hero, Nick Dymond was originally inspired by Nate from Gossip Girl. Specifically, Nick is a character who doesn’t really know what he wants from life, he hates when his family lies to him, he’s used to acting as if everything is fine, he knows how to be the perfect thoughtful boyfriend but somehow there’s always an element of emotional distance, and he doesn’t always know how he feels.

It is hard to write a story where one of your protagonists does not have clearly defined, consistent goals that they care about very much. What usually drives a story for me is the characters wanting something very badly. That’s usually my emotional in to other writers’ stories, too. So I had to figure out ways to make Nick’s ambivalence and apathy narratively compelling. You’ll have to tell me if I succeeded! Also, visit my Pinterest board for my dream cast of ‘Sweet Disorder’ :)

He also, in my head, looks like Chace Crawford. (Seriously, click the link, you will NOT be sorry.)

2. This is the first book in my Lively St. Lemeston series, set in a small Sussex market town. The town’s name came about because…wow, I’m about to reveal just how into Gossip Girl I was when I started working on this book, aren’t I? I guess I’m cool with that.

Anyway, my BFF and I used to joke that most of the cast of Gossip Girl sounded like small quilts11960-correction[1]English towns: Leighton Meester, Blake Lively, Penn Badgley, Chace Crawford (of course you’d have to spell it “Chase” for a town). Would any of those be out of place on a map of Sussex? No, right? So I had originally named the town “Blake Lively.”

But Blake Lively is much too famous for that to not be distracting for readers, as was pointed out to me  by my critique partners right around page one (I like to think I would have figured it out myself eventually–in my defense BL was much less famous at the time and I wasn’t sure how many people would have heard of her). So I changed it to Lively St. Peter.

Then I found out that St. Leonard of Limousin is a popular saint in Sussex (although he was a French saint, folklore grew up in Sussex that his hermitage was in St. Leonard’s Forest, and also that he slew a dragon there, both of which seem about equally likely), and I saw an example or two where “Leon” as a Sussex place name prefix got changed to “Lem” over time. So it seemed plausible that “St. Leonard’s Town,” over centuries, could turn into “St. Lemeston.” Hence…Lively St. Lemeston!

When Phoebe and her friends are feeling less than thrilled with their home, they call it “Sleepy St. Lemeston.”

Melissa McCarthy3. My heroine, Phoebe Sparks (my dream casting was Melissa McCarthy), is part of the Lively St. Lemeston Society for Bettering the Condition of the Poor’s Committee for the Encouragement of Charitable Subscriptions and Bequests. (Concise naming was not considered important during the Regency.) One of their activities is to sew quilts every year for a charity auction that takes place around Christmastime.

Since Phoebe writes children’s stories or as she calls them, Improving Tales for Young People, I wanted her to make a story quilt (four scenes from Maria Edgeworth’s novel Belinda, including the famous duel between women. Last year she did Castle of Otranto, complete with giant helmet falling out of the sky and squishing someone).

But I wanted to make sure that narrative appliqué existed during the Regency. Then I found this quilt from 1799, showing George III inspecting his volunteer troops and bordered by dozens of small scenes and portraits!

To see more Regency quilts, including one sewed by Jane Austen and her mother and sister, here’s a great blog post from Austenonly.

4. Phoebe’s mother complains constantly that Phoebe and her sister are self-centered. Phoebe recalls that, “Even reading by herself had been a selfish pleasure; it was read aloud to the family or nothing. If she broke a plate while washing the dishes, it was because she was careless and didn’t think of how hard her father worked to buy those plates.”

Nowadays, many parents are pleased to see their children reading, while watching TV has taken Serena reading, 1780-85 Poster Art Print by George Romneyon many of the negative stereotypes that Regency folk associated with novel-reading. But back then, reading alone (especially by a woman) was often associated with selfishness and laziness. Reading was supposed to be a social act, again, especially for women.

I’m betting this was part of why novels were so decried during their rise to literary dominance: because they give the reader an urgent desire to know what happens next, inspiring self-focused, anti-social reading, or worse, neglecting one’s work. The lazy maid who read novels when she should be cleaning was a popular stereotype. As Jacqueline Pearson explains in Women’s Reading in Britain 1750-1835: A Dangerous Recreation:

“Only the selfish and foolish refuse to participate in social reading. In Memoirs of Modern Philosophers, Bridgetina Botherim is so intent on her own reading pleasure that she will ‘never read aloud to any one’[...S]he is contrasted with Henry Sidney, who generously reads aloud to the injured Julia, with Julia Delmond, who reads to entertain her father, and with the ‘active and judicious’ Harriet Orwell, who ‘performed every domestic task, and having completely regulated family economy for the day, was quietly seated with her aunt and sisters, listening to Hume’s History of England, as it was read to them by a little orphan girl she had herself instructed.”

What even is there to say? Except that poor children used as props to extoll the virtues of one’s heroine is pretty gross.

Grandpas-FireFork-sausage[1]5. At one point in the book, Nick tells a story about the most delicious food he ever ate. It’s a sausage someone brought back for him from Lisbon, only to have it go rotten on the journey:

“I couldn’t possibly eat it, so I threw it in the fire. I was sitting there, trying to write a letter, when a fellow officer walked by and asked what on earth that delicious smell was. When I told him, he drew his saber and plucked the sausage from the fire. Once he had, it smelled so fine none of us could wait, and we all burned our tongues.”

This actually happened to my grandfather during WWII, except it was a kosher salami someone mailed him from home, and no one involved had a saber.

Tell me a fun fact about you!

One commenter will be chosen at random to receive a free e-book of Sweet Disorder, and one commenter will be chosen from the entire blog tour to receive an awesome prize package that includes tie-in pinback buttons, bookmarks, bacon-scented candles, a bookstore gift card, and much, much more!

(You can see the full list and pictures of my fabulous swag at my blog. This drawing is open internationally–void where prohibited!)

rl sd‘Sweet Disorder’

BOOK BLURB: Nick Dymond enjoyed the rough-and-tumble military life until a bullet to the leg sent him home to his emotionally distant, politically obsessed family. For months, he’s lived alone with his depression, blockaded in his lodgings. But with his younger brother desperate to win the local election, Nick has a new set of marching orders: dust off the legendary family charm and maneuver the beautiful Phoebe Sparks into a politically advantageous marriage.

One marriage was enough for Phoebe. Under her town’s by-laws, though, she owns a vote that only a husband can cast. Much as she would love to simply ignore the unappetizing matrimonial candidate pushed at her by the handsome earl’s son, she can’t. Her teenage sister is pregnant, and Phoebe’s last-ditch defense against her sister’s ruin is her vote-and her hand.

Nick and Phoebe soon realize the only match their hearts will accept is the one society will not allow. But as election intrigue turns dark, they’ll have to cast the cruelest vote of all: loyalty…or love.

BUY LINKS: Kindle / Kobo  / Nook  / Google / iBooks / Samhain

EXCERPT: Chapter One

Rose LernerAUTHOR BIO: 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!”

Social Media: Tweeter / Facebook / Pinterest / Website

Shana Galen and Five Fun Facts from …

Sapphires Are an Earl’s Best Friend

???????????????????????????????????????1. I didn’t come up with the titles for any of the books in the Jewels of the Ton series. After When You Give a Duke a Diamond was titled I knew the other books would have gems in the titles too, but I didn’t know which gem until I’d already written all of If You Give a Rake a Ruby and most of Sapphires Are an Earl’s Best Friend. I had to go back and include the gem in the title in the story.

2. I named the hero’s friend Flynn because Flynn Rider from Tangled is my favorite Disney Tangled Rlynn Riderhero. But then I liked him so much I had to write a story for him too. It will be out in January and is titled The Viscount of Vice.

3. When Lily turns up at the end of If You Give a Rake a Ruby as a spy, I was as surprised as anyone else. I didn’t know she was a spy, and it wasn’t what I was planning for her book. Fortunately, my editor gives me a lot of leeway when I write synopses, since my books are generally nothing like the synopses I turn in.

Multi-Colored-Sapphires[1]4. I had to research sapphires when I was writing this book. I found out that sapphires come in more than just blue. They can be purple and pink and other colors too. I have some pictures of various colored sapphires on my Pinterest board for Sapphires Are an Earl’s Best Friend.

girl sidesaddle5. Lily rides a horse several times in the novel, and I had to research riding habits to make sure she was dressed appropriately. I always find it so amazing that women did everything men did on horseback, but they did it sitting sideways!

Who’s your favorite “supporting actor” in a book, movie or TV show? Does s/he deserve a story of his/her own?

Giveaway: print copies of When You Give a Duke a Diamond

&

 If You Give a Rake a Ruby. (U.S./Canada only)

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‘Sapphires Are an Earl’s Best Friend’

Careful, gentlemen—there’s more to this courtesan than meets the eye

What better disguise for a secret agent than that of a courtesan? Lily Dawson, dubbed the Countess of Charm, is a spy working for the Crown to uncover a traitor.

Andrew Booth-Payne, Earl of Darlington, wants to hate Lily for taking up with his father, but something about Lily intrigues him. When he discovers there is more to her flirtation than greed, he knows he must help her uncover a traitor. Even if that traitor is his own father…

*Connie’s review here.

*Excerpt here.

Buy Links: Amazon / B&N / iTunes

Shana GalenAuthor Bio: Shana Galen is the bestselling author of fast-paced adventurous Regency historicals, including the RT Reviewers’ Choice The Making of a Gentleman. Booklist says, “Galen expertly entwines espionage-flavored intrigue with sizzling passion,” and RT Bookreviews calls her “a grand mistress of the action/adventure subgenre.” She 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 she writes full time. She’s happily married and has a daughter who is most definitely a romance heroine in the making.

Social Media: Website

 Author AppFaceBookTwitterBloggerWordpress

Five Fun Facts from Amanda Scott!

Five Interesting Facts from ‘The Warrior’s Bride’

1. The lady Muriella MacFarlan, heroine of The Warrior’s Bride, Book 3 of my Lairds of the Loch trilogy, has an eidetic memory. She can remember verbatim anything she hears and most of what she sees, although she is not always able to connect faces with names in large groups of people. This sort of memory, as many folks with better-than-average memories can attest, can often lead to trouble, because such people remember exactly what was said in a debate, while their opponent in that debate recalls only what he or she thinks s/he said or meant to say.

2. Rob MacAulay, hero of The Warrior’s Bride, is a blunt-spoken, brutally honest fellow, and Muriella MacFarlan is a tale-spinner, so to say that they don’t always see eye-to-eye is an understatement.

3. THE WARRIOR’S BRIDE is my 59th book. MOONLIGHT RAIDER (Forever, September 2014) will be my 60th.

4. I patterned the three MacFarlan sisters in my Lairds of the Loch trilogy after the Greek Fates: Atropos (who became Andrena of The Laird’s Choice), Lachesis (Lachina “Lina” in The Knight’s Temptress), and Clotho (Muriella, the youngest sister, in THE WARRIOR’S BRIDE). Atropos carried the shears to cut the thread of life. Lachesis was the caster of lots (deciding fortunes). And Clotho was responsible for spinning the threads of life. So Muriella is the spinner, not just of threads but of stories. Her ambition in life is to become a seanachie, or clan storyteller (a position usually, but not always, held by men), so she seeks truth in repeating the tales of history as accurately as she has heard them but may occasionally spin other tales to avoid telling the truth about herself.

5. I often seek inspiration in mythology, and in the case of my Lairds of this Loch trilogy, I began with the Greek myth of Camilla, a good friend of the goddess Diana, the huntress. The opening for THE LAIRD’S CHOICE was inspired by that myth, and led to providing my heroines with gifts that many of us have but exaggerated. The family needed sanctuary, because their father, the rightful clan chief, has lost his chiefdom to a usurping cousin, who killed his sons. He has only his three daughters to help him regain his chiefdom, so his plan is to marry them to powerful warriors, but the lady Muriella of THE WARRIOR’S BRIDE wants to be a clan seanachie (historian and storyteller) and thinks the last thing she needs is a husband.

GIVEAWAY: 1eCopy/1 Winner *International

BOOK BLURB: Robert MacAulay, heir to a powerful Baron, is known for being a skilled warrior with a strong sense of duty.  His respectable reputation, along with his devotion to the king, is why Andrew MacFarlan and hope he’d agree to marry his youngest daughter, Lady Muriella. But for reasons Rob refuses to share, he turns down Andrew’s request and vows never to wed.

Lady Muriella never wanted to take a husband, but after seeing her two older sisters happily settled, she’s beginning to think marriage may have its merits. When she learns that Rob has refused her without even knowing her, she becomes determined to seduce him into changing his mind. Then she will be the one to say no to him. But when she’s captured by her father sworn enemy Dougal, both land in more trouble than either had anticipated.

Buy links: Amazon / Barnes and Noble / iTunes

amanda scottAUTHOR BIO: Amanda Scott is the author of over 60 romance novels and the recipient of the Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA Award.

She lives in Folsom, California, outside of Sacramento.  She is a fourth-generation Californian.

Social Media: WebSiteFacebook

Five Fun Facts from Cara Elliott!

Top Five Books Cara Elliott would want if she were stranded on a desert island!

  1. The Complete Works of Jane Austen. (Okay, okay, I know that’s cheating a little, but hey, I might be there for a while.)
  2. Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters (Because it always makes me laugh.)
  3. The Birth of the Modern by Paul Johnson. (It’s such a fascinating, sweeping history of the world in the early 1800s)
  4. Art by Andrew Graham-Dixon (Because I have an art background and love visual as well as written creativity.)
  5. Harry Potter-Years 1 through 7 (Yes, yes, I’m cheating again!)

What are your 5 books? Or do you have more (it’s ok to cheat!)

1 eCopy/1 Winner *International!

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BOOK BLURB: After an eventful Season, Anna Sloane longs for some peace and quiet to pursue her writing. Though her plots might be full of harrowing adventure and heated passion, she’d much prefer to leave such exploits on the page rather than experience them in real life. Or so she thinks until she encounters the darkly dissolute-and gorgeously charming-Marquess of Davenport.

Davenport has a reputation as a notorious rake whose only forte is wanton seduction. However the real reason he’s a guest at the same remote Scottish castle has nothing to do with Anna . . . until a series of mysterious threats leave him no choice but to turn to her for help in stopping a dangerous conspiracy.

As desire erupts between them, Davenport soon learns he’s not the only one using a carefully crafted image to hide his true talents. And he’s more than ready to show Anna that sometimes reality can be even better than her wildest imaginings . . .

Buy Links: Amazon / Barnes and Noble / iTunes

Cara ElliottAUTHOR BIO: Cara Elliott started writing Western novels at the age of five.  Later she changed her genre to Regency romance after reading Pride and Prejudice.

She graduated from Yale University, and she now lives and works in New York City.

Social Media: WebSiteTwitter / Facebook

‘Sun & Moon’ a companion book series by Lee Strauss

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Sun & Moon – the first book in a companion book series. (What is that, anyway?) Everyone is familiar with the book series: Twilight, Harry Potter, Pretty Little Liars, for example. These types of series involve the same set of characters, the same setting and often complete a story arc from book 1 to the final book. Some like Pretty Little Liars can go indefinitely but usually revolve around the lives of a set of characters introduced in the first book.

A companion book series is a “series” that is basically stand-alone books linked by overlapping characters and settings. Some authors are finding huge success with this type of series. Belle Andre is probably the current leader in this category, with her ongoing Sullivan family series. Each book features a new Sullivan family member and each is a complete story on its own. Belle Andre was recently interviewed by Bookbub and is worth reading (link). Other authors finding success writing linking stand alone books are Melinda Leigh and her She Can Series (link) (romantic thriller/suspense), and Stephanie Perkins (Anna and the French Kiss).

(A friend of mine added these authors to the list of examples as well: “Diana Wynne Jones, Terry Pratchett, Ursula LeGuin, Madeleine L’Engle. Even L.M. Montgomery did some of that, with a lot of her stories set in PEI that feature some of the same characters without necessarily being connected. And then of course all of the detective novels – dozens of standalone stories with Poirot in it.”)

More readers are turning to companion book series because they find they’re suffering from series fatigue – a malady resulting from the recent trend of series and trilogies.

The other side of this is the stand-alone book, which can provide a quicker resolution to the story, but readers often find it sad to say good-bye to characters and new worlds they’ve spent several hours investing in. The companion books series is a reasonable answer to both issues. Story arcs resolved without having to say goodbye completely.

This is why I’m loving The Minstrel Series project so much. It’s a collection of stand-alone books set in the singer-songwriter world, a world I’m familiar with after being married to one for almost 27 years. Plus, the first few books are set in Germany, primarily Dresden, where I live six months of the year, so if you like European settings, it’s a bonus!

The regular e-edition has links to all the songs – the remake versions for the book, and the original versions by the songwriters – plus a link to the music video of the title song. The print book has QR codes to scan with a smart phone that will open the links. An enhanced book is in the works and eventually it will be available in audio.

Book 2, Flesh & Bone is scheduled for a spring/summer release.

SAMBOOK BLURB: Katja Stoltz is a risk-taking singer-songwriter hoping to make it in the indie music scene in Dresden, Germany. Micah Sturm’s a brooding uptown banker on a quest.

Driven to the streets, Katja is picked up by Micah – but he doesn’t want what she thinks he does. There’s an undeniable attraction between them, a gravitational pull they both struggle to resist. Katja knows she mustn’t fall in love with this handsome enigma. There’s something dark lurking beneath the surface. He could be dangerous.

And even if her life isn’t on the line, her heart most definitely is.

Buy Links: Amazon / B&N / Kobo / iTunes

Lee StraussAUTHOR BIO: Lee Strauss writes romantic mixed genres set in the past, present and future for YA and adult readers. She also writes light and fun stuff as Elle Strauss.

She divides her time between BC, Canada and Dresden, Germany, and enjoys drinking coffee and eating chocolate in both places.

Social Media Links: Blog The Minstrel Series FacebookFacebook /  Twitter / Pinterest

*GIVEAWAY click >>>> Rafflecopter <<<<

*Note from Melanie - You’re welcome to check this author with her FREE download of Ambition’ (A Perception Series short story prequel).

‘Song Of the Fireflies’ Blitz Tour with …

J.A. Redmerski!

sotf jarBOOK BLURB: The Truth Will Set Them Free
Brayelle Bates has always been a force of nature. Even as a child, Bray’s wild and carefree spirit intimidated everyone around her. The only person who’s ever truly understood her is her best friend, Elias Kline. Though every fiber of her being wants to stay with Elias forever, Bray can’t bear the thought of him discovering her agonizing history. She’s done everything she can to keep him at arm’s length, including moving away. But their undying bond was too strong a pull to deny, and Bray couldn’t survive without him. Now she’s back home with Elias, and things have never felt more right-until one night changes everything.

Elias vowed never to be separated from Bray again. So when she decides to flee in a desperate attempt to escape her fate, Elias knows he must go with her. As the two try to make the most of their circumstance, taking up with a reckless group of new friends, Elias soon realizes there’s a darkness driving Bray he can’t ignore. Now in order to save her, he’ll have to convince Bray to accept the consequences of their reality-even if it means losing her.

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Song-of-the-Fireflies-Pre-Launch-Blitz

EXCERPT:

Thunder rumbled in the sky and the thick, dark clouds lit up in the distance, revealing what the tops of the trees looked like painted against the black backdrop that had shrouded them. The crawling branches that reached upward along the infinite dark looked ominous as the flash of light faded.

I felt a drop of rain. And then another.

“So much for a quiet walk together,” Bray said.

And just then, the sky opened up and it began to pour. Bray shrieked and tried to cover herself unsuccessfully with her arms and then the screaming turned into laughter. We were both drenched in under five seconds. The rain pounded down so fast and so hard that we had to shout over the noise to hear each other; each drop like a million nails being thrust into the dirt on the baseball field.

“It’s a long walk back!” I said.

Bray started spinning like a ballerina in the middle of the field. She laughed and raised her arms above her and turned her face upward toward the sky and just let the rain wash over her. She opened her mouth and spun around and around. I watched her for a moment, mesmerized by her innocence. I saw that little girl I met so long ago, running with me through that pasture without a worry in the world. Just seeing her like that, it made me smile, but deep down it also crushed me. I knew that she would never be that innocent again, that our life together would never be as carefree as it was when we were children.

“Dance with me!” she shouted.

“What?”

“Dance with me!”

I had heard her right the first time. I just didn’t understand why here, why now.

“There’s no music!” I said over the rain.

She grabbed my hand. “You don’t hear that?!” she said, motioning to the patter of rain and thunder around us.

She started spinning around me and I stood in the same spot following her until she grabbed both of my hands and pulled on them. Next thing I knew, we were spinning together, holding each other’s hands tightly and distributing equal weight on our arms. At first, I felt like an idiot and hoped Tate wasn’t spying, or worse, Caleb. But I was quickly lost in Bray’s laughter and her smile and her beautiful blue eyes. The thunder got louder, the lightning more intense. I was beginning to worry about us being out in the open like this, in the center of a baseball field just asking to be struck down by the finger of God. But soon, I didn’t care. We were those two innocent children again, living free and loving life. And not even lightning could ruin this moment. It wouldn’t dare.

We stopped spinning, and I twirled her around by her hands as I stood in place, and then I dipped her. Leaning over her body, I pressed my wet lips between her breasts as her white shirt was weighted down by the endless rain.

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JR EdmerskAUTHOR BIO: J.A. Redmerski, New York TimesUSA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author lives in North Little Rock, Arkansas with her three children, two cats and a Maltese.

She is a lover of television and books that push boundaries and is a huge fan of AMC’s The Walking Dead.

Social Media Links: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads

On Writing Series Romances by Cheryl Bolen

tbwb cb bob1Series. Nancy Drew. Miss Marple. Sam Spade. All these series of books have two things in common: their hero/heroine is a continuing character and they are mystery novels.

What I fail to understand is why in the heck romance series are so crazy popular right now. You can’t have as your hero/heroine the same continuing character (except in rare cases, like the Real Vampire series by Gerry Bartlett). A romance writer’s promise to the reader is a happily ever after for her hero/heroine. Sure, I understand the readers love to revisit characters they’ve come to love.

My first two published books were both stand-alone romance novels set in Regency England whr cb bob2(1998′s A Duke Deceived and A Lady by Chance, 2000). These books are still among my readers’ favorites, and I believe it’s because of the rich secondary romance subplots these books offered the reader. Most authors nowdays hold off on secondary romances for subsequent books in their series.

In 2002 I made the move into series with my Brides of Bath. Originally, the series was to be a trilogy. Then after those three books were successfully published by Kensington Zebra (only in mass market paperback in those days), my publisher came back and asked for a fourth book. Unfortunately, I killed off a popular character from one of my subplot romances in the first book, The Bride Wore Blue, in order tbs cb bob4to come up with a fresh new plot. That fourth book is now titled To Take This Lord. (It was originally titled An Improper Proposal, which had nothing to do with the story.)

I won’t be killing off any more popular characters again.

Now, all these years later those four Brides of Bath books have been selling very well in new packaging as print and ebooks, and readers have been asking for more connected stories. The earlier books featured a pair of twin brothers in a secondary role tttl cb bob3as friends of the hero(es). The elder of the Steffington twins is a baronet. His minutes-younger brother is a scholar of some repute.

It is the scholar who has become the hero of my new Brides of Bath book, Love in the Library. He’s my first nerd hero. And I’ve had so much fun awakening his sexual desires. I’m hoping that the mystery and characters from the previous books, along with one sexy scholar, will make for a pleasant read.

Are you a fan of the series? Which one is your favorite and why?

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litl cb bob5

EXCERPT:

“Now we’re stuck in this room together,” Mr. Steffington said. “Why could you not have been my sister as we were at the Duke’s Arms last night?”

“But you are mistaken, Airy. I wasn’t actually your sister at Duke’s Arms.”

“You know what I mean.” Her gave her an I’d-like-to-gag-your-mouth-with-a-used-handkerchief look.

Catherine attempted to out stare him.

Mumbling something incoherent beneath his breath, he looked away. Her gaze followed his to the four-poster bed.

Oh, dear.

“Of course, I shall sleep on the floor,” he said.

“Of course.” She shrugged. “It does look softer than most floors. And I shall insist you take the counterpane to fold into a little mattress.”

“Can’t take your blanket.”

“Oh, yes. I shall have the bed curtains closed to hold in the warmth.”

“They will also give you privacy.”

“True.  I shouldn’t like you to see me sleeping. What if my mouth gapes open like a moron—meaning no disparagement to those poor afflicted souls.”

“I cannot imagine you ever looking anything but ladylike.”

“Oh, Airy, that is so kind of you.” That he was incapable of staying angry with her, endeared him to her. The girl who would one day capture his heart would be very fortunate. Very fortunate, indeed.

As she directed a smile at him, his lashes lowered. She was certain his compliment now embarrassed him. He was not the smooth-talking, bed hopper she’d wager his twin brother was. She rather pitied the girl who married that twin. Reflecting over her own smooth-talking, bed-hopping late husband, she was now happy that he’d been possessed of those traits. Otherwise, his demise would have been too, too painful.

She sighed. Yes, the girl who married Mr. Steffington would be most fortunate.

“You must allow me to make your bed,” she said. “I am ever so experienced. Whenever my little nephews visit me, I make them a pallet on the floor of my bedchamber.” She set about to remove the quilt from the bed, fold it lengthwise, and place it on the floor beside her own bed.

Then her gaze traveled over him from head to toe. “I fear you may be too tall.”

“My feet won’t mind hanging off.”

She started to giggle.

He cracked a smile. “Allow me to guess. You are now imagining my feet talking.”

Still giggling, she nodded.

“You are possessed of the silliest sense of humor.” He eyed the pallet. “Perhaps you shouldn’t put it so close to your bed. What if I snore?”

“I am accustomed to men snoring.” Her hand clapped around her mouth. “I didn’t mean to imply I’ve slept with multiple men. Only one, actually.”

His dark eyes flashed with mirth.

And they both laughed.

“Why did you not warm to Lord Seacrest?” she asked. “I thought he was charming.”

Mr. Steffington frowned. “You would. He shamelessly flirted with a married woman!”

“Well. . .I’m not actually a married woman.”

“He doesn’t know that!”

Mr. Steffington’s deep sense of morality touched her. She gave him a puzzled look. “I hadn’t noticed Lord Seacrest flirting. He was merely being friendly.”

“Only to you. He was jealous of me.”

“Why would he be jealous of you?”

“Because I had the good fortune to marry you.” He shrugged. “At least, that’s what the man thinks.”

“Oh, Airy, that is so sweet that you think being married to me is a good thing.”

“I didn’t say that.”

“Oh.”

Seconds later, she feigned a yawn. “I suppose I am rather tired.”

His glance flicked to her valise, then to his beside it. He cleared his throat. She was coming to learn that he cleared his throat every time he was about to say something he thought might be construed as too intimate. “Would you like me to leave the room whilst you dress for bed?” He was unable to meet her gaze.

“You don’t have to leave the room.”

His gaze absently lowered to her bodice, then whipped away. “Then I vow to turn my back and close and my eyes whilst you . . . ah, remove your. . . well, you know.”

“You don’t have to close your eyes.”

Those dark eyes of his rounded. “Oh, but I must. You’re a lady, and I’m a gentleman.”

She stood. “That won’t be necessary. I’ll pull the curtains around my bed and then disrobe.”

“Capital idea!” He looked exceedingly relieved.

She went to her valise, removed her night shift, then crossed the room and climbed on top the big bed.

“Here,” he said. “I’ll close the bed curtains for you.” It was much easier for him because of his height.

When he finished, she sat on the side of the bed and listened to his footsteps move away.”Thank you, Airy. Good night, sleep tight—”

“And don’t let the bedbugs bite,” he finished.

Once she had changed into her night shift and got beneath the covers she called out to him. “I’m decent now, but I find I don’t like the dark. If you weren’t in the chamber with me, I would be terrified.”

“Should you like for me to crack open your bed curtains?”

“Please.”

“I, ah, shall need to restore my shirt first.”

How she would love to see him without his shirt. “Don’t bother. I’ll close my eyes.”

“Are you sure?”

He needn’t know if she peeked. After all, it was quite dark within the cubicle of her bed. “Certainly!”

“Forgive me. I didn’t mean to imply. . .”

“Of course you wouldn’t.”

He quietly moved across the carpet. “Where should you like the sliver of light?”

“The foot of the bed will do nicely, thank you.” And would afford a glimpse of him.

Seconds later, a buttery vertical light striped the foot of her bed, and she watched as he moved back to his pallet with the powerful majesty of a panther. Firelight glanced along the tawny length of his long, lean, and wonderfully bare torso.

Yes, she thought to herself, her breath a bit ragged, the girl who snared dear Mr. Steffington would indeed be fortunate.

Cheryl BolenAUTHOR BIO: A former journalist and English teacher, Cheryl Bolen sold her first book to Harlequin Historical in 1997. That book, A Duke Deceived, was a finalist for the Holt Medallion for Best First Book, and it netted her the title Notable New Author. Since then she has published more than 20 books with Kensington/Zebra, Montlake, Love Inspired Historical and independently.

Her 2005 book One Golden Ring won the Holt Medallion for Best Historical, and her 2011 gothic historical My Lord Wicked was awarded Best Historical in the International Digital Awards, the same year one of her Christmas novellas was chosen as Best Historical Novella by Hearts Through History. Her books have been finalists for other awards, including the Daphne du Maurier, and have been translated into seven languages. 

Social Media: Blog / Website / Facebook

Ella Quinn and …

Debutants – Past and Present

debutantes[1]

Thank you so much for having me back on bookworm2bookworm. I’m thrilled to be here.

TTOLS EQIn preparation for my third release, ‘The Temptation of Lady Serena’, I’ve been writing a lot of blog post lately, and reading a great many of them as well. One topic I never see discussed is debutants.

Now the word itself is not that old. It originally meant a new actress or actor.  During the Regency there was no one term for a young lady’s come out. Though a great many Regencies use debutant because a young man who was in Paris around 1816 wrote a factious letter to a friend calling young ladies “debutants.” This was more than likely not used in a kind way.

In any event, the letter made its way into the public venue. The first time after that the word refers to a young lady is in an Edinburgh newspaper in the mid-19th century.

Except in very few places now, and one prestigious ball called the International Debutante’s Ball, to which it is all but impossible to be invited to, the practice of a young woman debuts to society has gone by the way side. Dying out sometime in the late 20th century.

Debutantes readying to meet royalty[1]

During the Regency, and indeed up until at least the first part of the 20th century, ladies were trained most of their lives for their debut. That was when a young woman put up her hair, and was finally allowed to cast around for a husband—because that’s what it was all about. Women were expected to marry as well as they could. When during a time when it was very difficult for a single lady to support herself, or a widow to support children, it gave a woman financial security.

debutantes[2]

Now the ideal time to make a come out was around eighteen. By then a lady’s education was considered complete, and she was deemed ready to take on the role of wife and mother. By then she would be able to paint a bit with water colors, have an understand of French and possibly Italian, and know how to dance and pay either a harp or a pianoforte. But what happened when a debut was delayed by several years, almost to the point where a lady could be considered on the shelf? Well that is what happened to Lady Serena Weir when at the ripe old age of six and twenty, she’s sent to make her come out.

Debutante Jacqueline Bouvier 1947[1]

Mary, Serena’s lady’s maid, was still unpacking her trunk, when her aunt entered the bedchamber.

“Let me see what you’ve brought with you,” Aunt Catherine said.

Serena tried to smile, but tears filled her eyes. Aunt Catherine was her mother’s twin and Serena wished her mother was here to reassure her. In answer to her aunt’s question, she replied, “I’m afraid none of it is fashionable.”

“You’ve had no reason to think about being fashionable, have you?”

Serena shook her head.

“Will it hurt your feelings if I told you I’d suspected that?”

She was still too numb to feel much of anything. “No.”

Mary stood aside as Aunt Catherine sorted through the clothes, discarding most of them. She held up Serena’s riding habit. “Well, this, at least, seems to be in good condition and not too out of date.”

Serena grimaced. “It’s probably the newest piece of clothing I own.”

“No matter at all, my child. I knew you would need a new wardrobe. It will be much easier to toss everything and begin anew. A visit to a good modiste in York will start you. When we arrive in London, we shall visit Madame Lisette on Bruton Street.” Aunt Catherine paused. “Have you danced at all?”

“I had a dancing master when Papa was well.”

“When was that? No, don’t tell me. It was too long ago to have mattered. We’ll hire one in London.” Aunt Catherine made a face at the pile of clothes on the floor. “Other than your riding habit, is there anything you wish to keep?”

Serena glanced at the now-empty trunks and shook her head. “No, only something to wear until I have new gowns to replace the old.”

Her aunt’s kind, patient gaze stayed on Serena for a few moments. “Good. I am glad to hear it. There is nothing more unfortunate than being attached to a gown that is quite out of style and in no way useful.”

debutantes[5]

What do you think? Would you like to be a debutant?

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Ella QuinnAUTHOR BIO: Ella Quinn lived all over the United States, the Pacific, Canada, England and Europe before finally discovering the Caribbean. She lives in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands with her wonderful husband, three bossy cats and a lovable great Dane.

Ella loves when friends connect with her on Facebook andTweeter.

Represented by the lovely Elizabeth Pomada, Larsen-Pomada Literary Agency and published by Kensington. Ella’s début novel is now available on Amazon / B&N.