HEA Journey Matters by Erica Monroe [Guest Post]

ADI EMThank you so much to bookworm2bookworm for letting me come by today as part of the release tour for my début novel, A Dangerous Invitation‘. The first book in my new series, The Rookery Rogues, A Dangerous Invitation is the story of Daniel O’Reilly and Kate Morgan.

Have you ever wanted to atone so badly for a mistake that you’ll risk everything—even your life—for forgiveness? That’s what motivates Daniel to return to London after three years as a fugitive. One wretched night in 1829 sent him reeling toward destruction, when he was accused of murdering a warehouse laborer for the shipping company he worked for (and Kate’s father owned). He faced almost certain death, for he’d been caught at the scene of the crime with the victim’s mangled body. Worse, an “affidavit woman,” a 19th century term for a woman who was paid to give a false statement of evidence, claimed to have seen him commit the murder. So to survive, Daniel flees the City, thinking that he’s going to give his affianced Kate a better life without him.

But Kate doesn’t get a better life, and Daniel certainly doesn’t thrive without her. The addiction to gin that he struggled with in London runs rampant, taking hold of his body until he’s nothing more than a withered husk of the man he once was. When his drunkenness starts to affect his family, he struggles to return to sobriety. With the help of his sister Poppy, he looks at making good on his past life. He comes back to London so that he can prove to Kate that he wasn’t culpable in that murder. He doesn’t know how he ended up in the alley, but by God, he’s going to find out who did kill that warehouse laborer. He’ll get justice not only for himself, but for the man who was murdered.

Kate now lives in the rookeries, the nineteenth century version of slums. She’s a fence for stolen goods, and the company she keeps is certainly not on the up and up. While Daniel works to make her see that he’s not the same man he was before, she struggles to let go of her memories. She’s got to stop resenting him for what he did in the past and also understand that people make mistakes.

I love the idea of two people being changed by their relationship, but still, they are at their core imperfect. In my story, Kate and Daniel have a second chance at love. The relationship they had before was inherently flawed. They had to become something different entirely to be able to accept each other completely.

IYGARAR SGAGU CGIn writing A Dangerous Invitation, I thought about what love really meant to me. I’m drawn to romance genres not just because of the implicit happy ever after, but because of the journey. I want to see two people transition into a relationship that makes them much healthier and happier. By the end of the novel, they’re not who they were when they started. I love romances especially that deal with a traumatic incident in a character’s past—by the end of the novel, the character has learned to accept that event as a shaping part of who they are now. Examples of this that I can think of are Shana Galen’s If You Give a Rake a Ruby with Fallon’s thieving upbringing, and Cecilia Grant’s ‘A Gentleman Undone’ with Lydia’s big reveal to Will.

ADI EMBook Blurb: One fatal mistake cost Daniel O’Reilly the woman he loved, spiraling him toward drunken self-destruction. Now sober, he’ll have to prove he’s innocent of the murder he was accused of two years ago. But pistol-wielding Kate Morgan hasn’t forgiven his sins.

Torn from her privileged existence by her father’s death, Kate Morgan has carved out a new independent life in the Ratcliffe rookery as a fence for stolen goods. Daniel’s invitation to assist him jeopardizes her structured existence. Yet Kate can’t resist his touch, or the wicked desires he stirs within her.

As their renewed passions grow reckless, their investigation takes them through the darkest and most depraved areas of the City. To catch a killer, they’ll have to put secrets behind them and trust only their hearts.

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

[iBooks and Paperback edition coming later in the month].

The excerpt below happens when Daniel and Kate have just finished interrogating a pugilist who knew the warehouse laborer.

THEY WALKED DOWN Shadwell High Street, the street alive with a vibrancy that failed to lift Daniel’s mood. Snow crunched under his feet. The smell of gin had left his nostrils, allowing him to breathe easier again, but the heaviness in his stomach came from the knowledge of Kate’s sacrifice. She’d given up part of her livelihood, all to answer questions from a man she shouldn’t have had to speak to, let alone develop an acquaintanceship with.

“You didn’t have to do that,” he said.

“Cyrus would never have told us anything otherwise.” Kate cocked her head toward him, her voice flat.

She walked with her hands shoved into her pockets, her shorter strides two to his longer ones. He slowed to match her pace. This city, with all its grit and crime, didn’t deserve the brilliance of Kate Morgan.

Devil take it, he didn’t either.

“That doesn’t make it right.” He halted her progress down the street, gripping her thin arm. “I’ll pay you back for what that watch costs, on top of what I’ve given you for your help already.”

“That’s not necessary.” She stiffened against his touch.

He didn’t release her arm. They stood in the middle of the street, the traffic diverting around them. If he got through to her—well, he didn’t know what he’d do then.

“I don’t want you to have to pay for my mistakes.” Reaching out with his other hand, Daniel brushed his thumb against her cheek.

Her eyes closed for a half-second, transfixed by the moment. His breath caught in his throat.

Her eyes fluttered back open, chocolate abysses deadened to his attempts. Steeled against what she must believe were lies. Maybe he’d never change. Maybe he was a drunk for life, doomed to repeat the same patterns.

He let out the breath he’d been holding, let it out like he wished he could free himself of doubt. Time flowed once more, rapid and bitter.

“I’ve paid for your mistakes and I’ll pay for mine.” Her voice was full of resignation.

“It shouldn’t have to be that way. Last night, in the wool warehouse—I couldn’t think of anything else other than the fact that you were in danger because of me.” His hand tightened on her arm, holding her close to him.

She shook her head. The feather stuck into the trim of her gray straw bonnet bobbed too. “Nothing is perfect. For all we know, that man was after me for my own activities. You talk as though things will change because you wish them to. I don’t remember you being that naïve.”

“It’s not naïve to dream. You used to know that.”

Erica Monroe

AUTHOR BIO: Erica Monroe writes dark, suspenseful historical romance. Her début novel, A Dangerous Invitation, Book 1 of the Rookery Rogues series, released in December 2013. She is a member of the Romance Writers of America, Heart of Carolina, and the Beau Monde Regency Romance chapter.

Erica can also be found blogging every other Saturday at Teatime Romance. When not writing, she is a chronic TV watcher, sci-fi junkie, lover of pit bulls, and shoe fashionista. She lives in the suburbs of North Carolina with her husband, two dogs, and a cat.

Guest Post by Author C. C. Humphreys

Don’t judge a book by its cover?

TBOJA CCH4They say that, don’t they? But of course, that’s exactly what we do. I think marketing departments have commissioned studies that show the bookstore browser – and probably their online counterpart – look at a cover for perhaps seven seconds. You have to grab them, have to make them turn to the next vital item: the back cover (or fly) synopsis.

I was always lucky with my covers – I had the wonderful Henry Steadman as designer, and Henry was always keen to involve me, not always the case with designers. He and my original UK publisher had an idea: to show Jack on the front. And since the first novel in the series was ‘Jack Absolute’ and was set in 1777 when Jack was 35 they asked me to be the model. “It’s because you get me for no fee, right?” “Shut up,” they replied, “and put on the red coat.” It was quite strange posing as Jack, fifteen years after I played him on stage in ‘The Rivals’. Fun though!

This wasn’t an option with the second book, ‘The Blooding of Jack Absolute’. It is a prequel and Jack is only 16 when he goes to war. But Henry still involved me. We met in a pub to discuss his ideas over a beer – so civilized! – then he took me to the costumiers. I had done a lot of research on the British uniform in the French and Indian Wars. Knew it was more russet than scarlet, knew its trim. I then had a fascinating talk with one of the costume experts there and we enjoyed nailing down the exact shade, together with all the accouterments of crossbelt, musket, ball pouch, tricorn hat, hair sack etc. Henry then went and found a suitably dark model – Jack is a ‘black Celt’ from Cornwall. He then photographed him, then did what he did with the first novel: Photoshopped the print, making it look like a painting. I especially like the document laid under, making it out to be a memoir, a letter, a military dispatch perhaps.

The front and back covers are a lure. It’s what’s between them that’s most important.  But in order to get to that a reader must be tempted. I hope that many will be drawn enough to start reading this novel.

And, like a cover, I believe each subsequent moment must draw the reader on – from the opening line. Mine here is one of my favorites:

‘The End of Time came on a Wednesday – and Jack was missing it!’

TBOJA CCH1 TBOJA CCH3 TBOJA CCH2

Welcome past the terrific covers to Jack’s world. It’s a pretty wild time in there!

BOOK BLURB: Before he can become a man, he must first learn to kill…

London: 1759: Life is easy for Jack Absolute, a young raconteur loved by the ladies and envied by his schoolmates. With a place secured at university and a baronetcy at hand, his future seems bright—if he can just stay out of trouble. But when Jack is caught read-handed with a powerful lord’s mistress, his good fortune is destroyed, forcing him to seek a new fate in the dangerous New World during the brutal French and Indian Wars.

There, marooned amid hostile Indians and fierce colonial rivalries, the bawdy schoolboy disappears and a man emerges. Jack’s survival depends on winning the friendship and help of the natives, but those come at a high price. In order to become the man they could eventually trust, Jack Absolute must first be blooded. And in order to be blooded, he must do the unfathomable. He must learn to kill.

The gripping prequel in C.C. Humphrey’s riveting historical series, The Blooding of Jack Absolute sweeps readers into the ruthless wilds of North America and tracks the stunning transformation of a young dreamer into a daring, larger-than-life hero.

BUY LINKS: Amazon / B&N / Kobo /

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EXCERPT part one: 

Chapter Five

Ode

Jack awoke from a dream of love. Though the images vanished with the opening of his eyes, their lingering effect was clear before him. He’d thrown off the heavier coverlets in the night and only a sheet lay atop him, in the nature of a tent held up by a single pole.

AH CCH1Jack reached down and grasped the structure in both his hands. To be alone in his bedroom at Absolute House and not in the dormitory at Porten’s where he boarded, with the dozen beds shaking each morning under their occupants’ exertions, this was a rare joy and he immediately thought of taking advantage of it. Hidden in his armoire were some quite extraordinary prints that Sommers, a schoolfellow who had developed a talent for the purchase and purveying of such choice items, had supplied. It would be a matter of moments to fetch them, study and learn, lie back…

Then, an image from his dream did come back to him and it halted his motion out of the bed. A face appeared in his mind’s eye, sweet, pure, unblemished, framed with the palest of fair hair formed in corkscrew curls. Clothilde! He was to see her today. And he could not, would not sully his thoughts of her with any actions now.

And yet…There was another whom he also planned on visiting this day, one whose face—­and body—­had also haunted his sleep and helped cause his by now quite painful physical display. She would be more than delighted if he used her in such a way. So long as he recounted every detail of it. Fanny liked details.

He groaned, then levered himself out of the bed. No. He knew a piss would help ease the AH CCH2strain and indeed, all the milk he’d drunk in Nance’s scullery the night before—­a fine way to prevent the morning headaches, he’d always found—­was taxing him now. He’d hidden there from his raging father until he’d given up the hunt and retired. Pulling the chamber pot from its drawer, he set to. There was relief in one sense, little in the other but, having decided, he would hold firm…or rather, not.

What he needed was to divert his thoughts, not away from the two faces of his dream but toward them in a different way. To utilize these feelings. For was that not what a poet did with his Muses? Nothing to write about, Mother? he thought. Ha!

Pulling the sheet off the bed to cover himself, he sat at the small writing table. Both his inspirations would require verse from him…but in quite different styles.

It was the labor of an hour. When the knock came at the door, he jumped and the sheet fell off him. Since he’d written Fanny’s sonnet last, the purity of his sentiments in his ode to Clothilde had been displaced by somewhat grosser thoughts. He’d returned to his waking state. And that was the moment that Nancy chose to walk in with a cheery, “Mornin’, young Master.”

He snatched up the sheet just in time. “Ah, Nance! What…ah…what time is it?”

“Straight up midday and a fine bright one it is.” She set a basin of water on the side table and dragged open the drapes. Sunshine streamed in.

“Midday?” Jack groaned. He was already late for his French lesson. Again.

“Aye. Your ma’s gone to the theater and your da’s still asleep. So quietly now, my lad, up and out.” She bustled about the room, straightened furniture, lifted the blankets from the floor, dumped them on the bed. Then she grabbed one end of the sheet still wrapped around him. C.C. Humphreys as Jack AbsoluteHe held onto it as she tugged.

“Nance! Leave go, I’m—­”

She looked down at his bare shoulders. “Nothing I haven’t seen before, young Jack.” When he’d been brought to London and before Westminster, Nance had had the care and washing of him.

You’ve never seen this, he thought, and held the sheet tighter.

“Why, Master Jack!” she said, coyly, still tugging gently. “What have you got to hide there from your Nance?”

He stopped pulling but didn’t let go of the sheet. Then with a hoot, she whipped it off him, turning away as she did, her laughter accompanying her out of the room. “There’s a note from your ma there, boy. And I’ve some cold meat and tatties in the kitchen for ye—­if you can get your breeches on!”

Her laughter disappeared with her down the stairs. Jack looked around, then saw it. Nance had laid a piece of folded paper down on his desk. As he took it up he reflected that it was just as well that she couldn’t read because his morning’s efforts were proudly on display. She might not have disapproved of his “Ode to a Merman” dedicated to Clothilde. But Fanny’s sonnet beside it, “On a Religious Conversion by Candlelight,” would have disturbed her.

His mother’s note was merely a reminder that he was expected that evening at eight sharp—­the “sharp” underlined three times—­at the Assembly Rooms in Dean Street where her play, which they’d discussed the previous night, was to be premiered. Away from the Garden, she had more chance of her satires escaping the Lord Chamberlain’s notice.

Jack sat on the edge of the bed, note in hand. He had forgotten this rendezvous with his mother, was late for his French lessons. Wasn’t there something else the day held, aside from his two poetry-­inspiring assignations?

Then memory came in a rush. The Mohocks! Tonight was the night for the Initiation. Yet the JA CCHclashing appointments did not perturb him longer than a moment; they’d agreed that most of the Rites were to take place in Soho anyway so he would have time to attend his mother’s play during them. The interlude might even help in his other plan—­to be restrained in all things despite what the other aspirant Mohocks might do. For another memory came: Craster’s challenge to billiards at noon the next day.

Jack rose and splashed his face in the basin of warm water Nance had set on the side table. He was excited, for it was to be a day of adventures. Yet there was also this need for moderation.

Yes, he thought, nodding to himself in the mirror above the basin, I will be moderate in all things.

***

Due to the lateness of the hour, he’d had a choice: breakfast or dressing. Since the former rarely delighted him and the latter always did, he spent some of his precious time in selecting suitable attire for what would be a long day. In the end, he settled on something new yet robust—­a coat so dark in its green it was nearly black but with shining buttons and gold-embroidered holes; a waistcoat of a crimson that was almost military and whose studs fastened into openings that were wreathed in gilded oak leaves. He chose black breeches and stockings, since the London streets were unforgiving to white; a pair of plain and solid square-­tipped shoes—­Nance had returned his collection, polished, while he slept—­albeit with a brace of fine silver buckles. He toyed with stocks but he had enough black on him and any other color jangled with the waistcoat. Besides, as he had discovered on his last outing into Covent Garden, people could grab you by the stock.

His thick, dark hair was, as usual, untamable. There was little chance of visiting the switzer in Half Moon Passage; the restraint of a cerise tie would have to do. Snatching up his silver-­topped stick and squeezing the tricorn on his head, he looked himself up and down. He was so glad he’d persuaded his mother to buy him this full-­length mirror. It reflected back a young man of the Town who would do. Who would do very well.

JA CCH2Then he was out onto the street. Since it was near one o’clock, it was crammed with people—­though the hour made scant difference; it seemed to Jack that Mayfair was now always crowded, day or night. It had changed even in the few years that Absolute House was bought and built. Formerly, his route to Berkeley Square would have encompassed many more gardens like Taylor’s but now every paddock sprouted a house or was in the throes of doing so. Builders scrambled up the wooden scaffolding, hammers beat in nails, bricks were slathered and slammed down, plaster slapped onto walls. Prosperous men stood about studying plans, gesticulating at the rising edifices, scarcely seeming to notice the thick dust that settled everywhere and gave them the appearance of ghosts. Jack coughed, cursing this dulling of his finery, glad every house and hostelry had a brush in the hallway. Yet, as always, it was the noise that struck him most forcefully. At Westminster, in the environs of St. Peter’s Abbey and the cloisters of the school, all was calmness, in the twinned dedications to religion and study. Here, aside from the construction, there was that dull roar that was the very sound of the Town, made up of the thousands—­hundreds of thousands—­of voices, competing to be heard. In his first hundred paces’ stride down Curzon Street, a dozen different street sellers noisily hawked their offerings. It mattered not that this was an area rising in gentility, for the offal seller pushed his barrow of neats and lights past a blind stationer and his penny-­priced memorandums; a ballad singer’s fair soprano clashed with the harsh cries of the Oyster-­and-­Eel wench; while a pudding vendor warred with a pie man in the extolling of their wares. Any who traveled in pairs—­and several who walked alone—­declared their business or opinions in bullhorn voices aimed at convincing not just the person beside them but anyone standing in Hyde Park as well! The JA CCH3scent was as assailing as the sound with the smoke gushing from the various building plots, the clashing of cooked and raw fishes and stewed meats, the horses leaving their deposits on cobbles already besmirched and steaming; while the miasma rising from hundreds of people, perfumed and unwashed and moving rapidly about their so-­important errands under the warm spring sun, was the strongest odor of all.

It was farmyard, factory, and food shop. It was the main hall at Bedlam with the inmates unrestrained. It was London…and Jack loved it.

Late as he was, he had two obligatory stops. In Berkeley Square, the Pot and Pineapple was the best confectioner’s in the town and here he purchased half a pound of crystallized fruits and four peaches in brandy. It left him little change from ten shillings but he had shared in the winnings of Westminster at the cricket and, anyway, it was money well spent. Clothilde’s outrage at his tardiness would be swept away in her delight at her especial favorite sweetmeat. And Fanny…well, Fanny loved laced peaches.

His second stop was down an alley, just where Brewer Street turned into Knaves Acre—­an apt name for an ill place. So dark and dank it was that spring’s heat and light barely penetrated. Jack had found the little shop on some ramble. Part apothecary, the extent of strange potions, liquors, and philters was extraordinary, but it was the Curiosities that had drawn Jack into the gloom. Skulls hung from the ceilings, reputedly of well-­known heroes, highwaymen, and traitors to the realm, the proprietor, a wizened Portuguese, claiming that half the Jacobite Lords from the ’45 dangled there. Artificial eyes rolled in bowls; teeth, both human and animal, were threaded like rosaries to hang from the beams. False limbs were stacked around the walls, piled up like the endeavors of a particularly drunken surgeon after a battle while the taxidermist’s pride was displayed with native animals like lynx and fox moldering beside more exotic beasts from Africa and the East. It was among these that Jack had discovered the most curious of all. A half-­crown had secured it for a week, his purse light before his prowess at sport could fill it. Now he had returned with the guinea he required to make it his and delight the heart of his own true love.

EXCERPT part two HERE.

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CCHAUTHOR BIO: C.C. Humphreys was born in Toronto, Canada, and grew up in Los Angeles and London. A third generation actor and writer on both sides of his family, he returned to Canada in the nineties and there his writing career began.

He won the inaugural playwriting competition of the New Play Centre, Vancouver with his first play, ‘A Cage Without Bars’ which was produced in Vancouver and London.

He was a schoolboy fencing champion, became a fight choreographer and thus turned his love of swashbuckling towards historical fiction. He is married and lives in Finchley, North London.

Social Media: WebsiteBlog / Facebook / Tweeter /

Sew on! Female Accomplishments and Female Friendships by Sandra Schwab

A Life Well Spent by James West CopeIn early 2009 I stumbled across Jane Brocket’s The Gentle Art of Domesticity: Stitching, Baking, Nature, Art & the Comforts of Home. It’s not a crafting book per se, but more a book in praise of “old-fashioned” things — baking, stitching, quilting, pineapple upside-down cakes, tea cosies, domesticlavendar-sachet1 novels, retro tablecloths, and granny blankets — well, you get the picture. In several chapters she also talks about paintings of domestic scenes, and one of the paintings she discusses is James West Cope’s A Life Well Spent (1878), showing a Victorian woman surrounded by her children. She is knitting socks while listening to her son repeat some lesson he has just learnt, and on the carpet at her feet sits her older daughter and reads. Brocket calls A Life Well Spent

“a favorite painting. I don’t care that it’s not great feminist thinking and that many women would be appalled by this portrayal of the mid-Victorian feminine ideal, because I believe that for some women this has been and still is, indeed, a life well spent. […] I wrote about A Life Well Spent for an MA essay, bringing out all the usual theories and arguments about this type of Victorian painting. And yet, despite this cleverness, my true regency era1response was to see that this mother was doing something incredibly valuable and enjoyable. Although the painting is loaded with symbols and evidence of Illustration_04[1]Victorian thinking, I see past those to a pivotal maternal figure, a relaxed but attentive son, a daughter who is already multitasking and just a little touch of happy disorder with books and yarn left on the carpet. And I reckon that any mother who knits red-and-white-striped socks while listening to her son’s catechism must have hidden depths.”

This passage completely changed the way I think about nineteenth-century domesticity. Yes, women didn’t have much of a choice in the nineteenth century; they didn’t have the same access to education as men; they couldn’t get a proper job; and most middle- and upper-class women were forced into a life of domesticity. Certainly, many of them would have felt that they were leading a circumscribed life and yearned to break free from the domestic ideal, to receive a proper education beyond taking care of the household, playing the piano, singing, watercolours, and regency era3needlework. But, as Brocket points out, there must have been just as many women who liked this kind of life, who liked needlework and taking care of the household, and found a deep satisfaction in what they did.

Exhibitions like the V&A’s Quilts 1700-2010 show that many women usedquilt2 needlework as a creative outlet. For example, in 1820 Annie West made a stunning patchwork quilt with fine appliqués depicting scenes from the Bible, and later in the century when scrap quilts became all the rage, fabric scraps were not just swapped between family and friends, but there also scrap exchanges organised via newspaper ads.

For women in the past, just as for women today, needlework clearly was also a means to form friendships and to strengthen friendships. This becomes apparent in Elizabeth Gaskell’s Cranford, a series of stories that first appeared in Charles Dickens’s magazine Household Words between 18515491314009_028ab8a59e_z[1] and 1853. Cranford is set in a small village filled with middle-aged and elderly spinsters and widows. Most of the characters are rather poor; lavendar-sachet2many of them are charmingly eccentric. They exchange small, homemade gifts: an apple stuck with cloves “to be heated and smell pleasantly” in an invalid’s room or dried rose leaves made “into a pot-pourri for some one who had no garden.” And needlework, too, is used as a way to build and maintain friendships: thus, when one of the ladies of Cranford, Miss Pole, is bit by the crochet bug, she asks Mary, the narrator, who lives in a larger town, to find crochet-related things for her. A few months later, Miss Pole invites Mary for a visit, which offers Gaskell the chance to stress the communal aspect of needlework, too:

Friendship in Regency Era“There was all the more time for me to hear old-world stories from Miss Pole, while she sat knitting, and I making my father’s shirts. I always took a quantity of plain sewing to Cranford; for, as we did not read much, or walk much, I found it a capital time to get through my work.”

I was very much enchanted by these descriptions, and I was determined that in Springtime Pleasures, my next novel, I would give greater room to needlework as well as other domestic details, and that I would create a heroine who was strong and adventurous, but who also liked needlework. Enter Charlie (short for Carlotta) and her best friend Emma-Louise, who know many interesting things about wild boars and gutting fish, but have also been instructed on the Importance Of Carrying Your Needlework With You At All Times:

The stagecoach rumbled along the turnpike road. Outside, the brownish-green landscape flew by,regency era4 while inside Carlotta and Emma-Louise sat squeezed between a shopkeeper from Berwick, a woman with a basket filled with cabbage heads, and a gentleman who was involved in demolishing a rather strong-smelling sausage. Unperturbed by the stench of the sausage, Emma-Lee was knitting. Click-clack, her needles flew as she created quiltblock after block of the blanket for her new baby niece. Charlie almost envied her best friend—at least Emma-Lee had something to keep her hands busy! She, by contrast… Knitting had never been her forte, and she had no wish to attempt some embroidery in the coach. She would probably end up with the needle stuck in her eye. Or, at the very least, with her fingers all pricked and sore.

Stifling a sigh, she lifted her carpet bag to her lap and rummaged around in it. “Good Dr Johnson,” she murmured as her gaze fell on her teacher’s goodbye present.

“Oh yes, good Dr Johnson, who even included some lines from our school song in his immortal poem.” Emma-Lee peered into Charlie’s bag. “Do you think we will ever actually use his dictionary, Charlie?” Click-clack, her needles went.

“We-hell…” Charlie tried to imagine some useful employment for Dr Johnson’s dictionary. “If your husband has very large feet, you can use it as a darning egg for his socks.”

The corners of Emma-Lee’s mouth quirked. “I hadn’t planned to wed a giant, you know. All Dr Johnson’s mighty tome has done, so far, is squish my knitting flat.”

‘Springtime Pleasures’ is now available on Amazon

You can listen to me reading an excerpt from the novel on YouTube: 

Book video:

Sandra SchwabAUTHOR BIO: Sandra Schwab has been enchanting readers with her unusual historicals since 2005, when her first novel The Lily Brand was published.

“These days I live in a small town near Frankfurt on the Main, Germany, with altogether too many books (have you ever heard of books procreating? I believe mine do!) and a neurotic cat. In my “other life” I hold a PhD from Mainz University, where I teach English Literature. When not writing, cuddling cats, preparing class, or correcting student papers – ah, yes, and the litter trays, let’s not forget cleaning the litter trays! (all my friends know that the litter trays are the bane of my life) – I work on my next academic book project about the famous British magazine Punch.”

You can find Sandra on her Website / Facebook / Twitter:

Help save “Copper” on BBCA by Carla Ives

BBCA

Good Monday my bookworms!

Mel here….

This post is a bit personal for me. I’ve actually never done this before…try to bring back a TV show…but I do feel strongly about it, so here goes.

I really don’t watch TV much. I’d rather read a book However, there are some shows that are worthy of me lighting my tube and “COPPER” is just such a show that I thought was well written and executed.

Well, you could have knocked me over with a feather when last month, just before the cliffhanger of the second season, I find out the show had been canceled…WTH?! I mean, really?! In the midst of all these reality shows that we’re inundated with, we finally get a decent show that even men like, and BBCA just yanks it off…I don’t get it! Check out these videos and tell me what you think of the show….

Well, I found like minded people on Facebook and they’re not taking this ‘laying down’ and are willing to try and get the show back on the air….so, I thought to give them a spot today to appeal to some of my faithful readers and followers who either saw the show, or would like to see it, once they bring it back. Please help us sign as many people as we can to these groups so we can bring back this show….

Without further ado, I’d like to welcome Carla and her guest post!

It’s 1865. President Lincoln has been assassinated and John Wilkes Booth, the assassin, is dead. Loyal union soldiers Kevin Corcoran and Major Robert Morehouse, along with former slave Dr. Matthew Freeman, did their part to help bring Booth to justice. They’re back in Five Points and Detective Corcoran gets word that he’s wanted to replace the late General Brendan Donovan in Tammany Hall.

Normally, I would be excited over this type of a season ending. Sadly, for fans of the BBCA show “Copper,” it turned out to be a series ender. The network unexpectedly cancelled this very popular show with little to no reason.

“Copper” has a loyal following and they are very disappointed. Fans want the show brought back and are willing to work at it. Groups have been started to try to sway the producers to bring the show back, if not on BBCA then maybe on another network. Rumor has it that a movie is in the works, but diehard “Copper” fans want their weekly fix of the show that details the life of Irish immigrants in the mid-19th century.

If you loved the show, you can help. Get involved! Here are a number of ways you can do just that. Click on the blue links to access the information.

Email: Write to Tom Fontana. He is on the side of the fans and looking at doing the movie. Let him know you want the show back.

Sign: There is a petition at Change.org, among others. To sign this petition, click HERE.

Tweet: If you have a Twitter account, follow Save Copper TV HERE.

Facebook and Google +: There are many pages set up to save “Copper.”

Bring Back Copper

Copperholics Anonymous

Google+

One of the best things you can do is make a fan video. The video can be as simple as talking about why you love the show and think it should have been renewed. You can do this with your phone, a camera or even by creating a Power Point presentation with voiceover. Upload it to You Tube and then use the link to with your emails and page comments for added emphasis. You can upload the video to You Tube HERE.

If enough of us band together, the producers and powers that be have to take notice. The phrase, “There is strength in numbers,” has never been more applicable. If enough of us care, we can get Corky, Francis, Andrew, Major Morehouse and Dr. Freeman back where they belong!

PLEASE JOIN OUR CAUSE!

GIVEAWAY by b2b!

“COPPER” Season One DVD to one commenter who signs up the most names to 

Bring Back Copper Facebook page!

*Make sure your friends mention you when they join the group. 

*Contest open until 10/12/13 

*US ONLY

??????????????????????Carla Ives is the owner of the Ms. Atlantic City web site and Facebook page, the ultimate guides to casinos, entertainment, restaurants and hotels in Atlantic City, New Jersey. She is sort of a Jill of All Trades, master of a few.

She’s also a ghostwriter, freelance writer, editor and history lover. You can find her strolling on the Boardwalk, sitting on the beach or over at Ms. Atlantic City madly scribbling away. Please contact her HERE with comments, questions and suggestions.

Behind the Scenes: Winn and Elinor from True Spies

TS SGHi, I’m Shana Galen, and I write fast-paced, adventurous Regency romances. My latest is the follow-up to Lord and Lady Spy, and I’m here with Winn and Elinor to talk more about the book. Let’s start with Elinor. Elinor, you’re a mom of two girls. How do you find the time to plan Society functions, attend soirees—all the duties required of a baroness—and still spend time with your husband and kids?

Elinor: As you know, Shana, it has not been easy. The girls are older now and do not need me as much as they did when they were young. I miss that, actually. Winn travels quite a bit, and I find myself rather lonely and seeking a bit of adventure.

Winn: Is that why you’re contemplating an affair?

Elinor: I have no idea what you are referring to, my lord.

Shana: Baron Keating, you have a few secrets of your own. What’s it like being a spy for the Barbican group.

Winn: I’m rather tired of it, if the truth be known. I’d like to spend more time at home. I feel as though I looked around and my wife and my children have all changed and moved on without me.

Shana: That can happen even in my time when men become too wrapped up in work.

Winn: In my defense, I was out there saving the country from the diabolical plan of one of the most sadistic criminal underlords ever known. It was rather important work.

Elinor: And can you believe he kept that from me? I feel like I don’t even know him. We’re virtual strangers.

Winn: I can remedy that. Give me a half hour in your bed chamber, madam. We can very quickly become reacquainted.

Shana: Right, so let’s chat about something else. Readers have been asking about Adrian and Sophia from Lord and Lady Spy.

Winn: Wolf and Saint. They’re some of the best spies in the Barbican group, but they’ve retired.

Shana: Didn’t you meet with Wolf about the case mentioned in True Spies?

Winn: I might have met with him about…something.

Elinor: And I consulted with Sophia. She’s lovely.

Shana: I think the one thing many readers want to know is whether Sophia is indeed pregnant. Can you answer that?

Elinor: Shana, that’s simply not an appropriate topic for mixed company. Your readers will have to read the book to discover that (or a review with a spoiler).

Shana: I wanted to mention this book is based on the film True Lies. Elinor, at one point you have to perform a strip tease. Do you think you measure up to Jamie Lee Curtis’s performance in the film?

Winn: I haven’t seen the film—what is a film?—but personally, I was impressed.

Elinor: No comment.

Shana: Last question. Do you think there’s a chance for the two of you to reconcile? It seems there’s a pretty big chasm separating you.

Elinor: No. I think we must go on living separate lives. I don’t love Winn any more.

Winn: I don’t accept that response. She does still love me, and before the end of the book, I’ll win her back.

Shana: Thanks both of you. I wish you a wonderful happily ever after!

Melanie, thanks for hosting us. Readers, are there any movies you think would make good inspiration for a book? One reader who comments will win a copy of Lord and Lady Spy (U.S. and Canadian residents).

Warning! This agent’s secret identity—and his heart—have been compromised!

Winslow, an elite spy in Regency England, has managed to keep his identity secret from everyone—including his beloved wife Elinor. But his success with these covert affairs has taken a toll on their marriage, leaving Elinor to entertain the idea of a secret liaison with a rakish spy.

She believes she will finally have the danger and excitement her marriage has never afforded her—until things get too dangerous, and she ends up being kidnapped. In this world of intrigue, Elinor discovers that no one is who they seem to be—not even her own husband.

TRUE SPIES BY SHANA GALEN – IN STORES NOW!

To Purchase True Spies:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Books-a-Million
IndieBound
Chapters/Indigo
iBookstore
Sourcebooks

Shana GalenABOUT THE AUTHOR: Shana Galen is the author of fast-paced adventurous Regency historicals, including the Lord and Lady Spy Series, the Jewels of the Ton Series, as well as the Sons of the Revolution Trilogy. A former English teacher in Houston’s inner city, Shana now writes full time, and is working on more regency romance novels! She’s happily married to the Ultimate Sportsfan and has a daughter who is most definitely a romance heroine in the making. Shana loves to hear from readers: visit her website, or see what she’s up to daily on Facebook and Twitter.

The Makeover by Caroline Linden

Adele beforeAnyone who’s ever seen those photos of celebrities in casual mode, wearing their sweats with their hair in a ponytail and no makeup on, knows how much difference a stylist can make in a person’s appearance. It makes you wonder how many ordinary people would look just as good on the cover of all those magazines if they had someone to do their makeup just right, to blow dry their hair so that even that cowlick lies flat, and dress them in designer clothes that fit perfectly.

In LOVE AND OTHER SCANDALS, my heroine, Joan Bennet, is like the “before” side of What Not to Wear. She’s not unattractive, but she doesn’t know how to look her best. The fashions of her day were designed with—as usual—slim women in mind. On a slender, petite woman, the trend towards ruffles and trimmings looked fine. But Joan is tall and curvy, and all those flourishes make her look…well, here’s what the hero thinks when he meets her for the first time in years:

Ruffles“It made her look … fat, he thought unkindly.”

And Joan knows all this. She knows she’s not attractive to men, and that nothing she does seems to make her look lovely (although she’s willing to try just about anything). When the hero, Tristan, begins paying her attention, she knows it’s not because he’s swept away by her looks.

Like many a person on What Not to Wear, Joan has no idea what will make her look good. Even worse,70th Annual Golden Globe Awards - Arrivals in 1822 there was a lot less tolerance for individual style. Cutting off all her hair and wearing pencil skirts was not an option. As an unmarried woman still living with her parents, Joan also has no money of her own; her wardrobe is dependent on her mother, who wants her to be fashionable and steers her toward the clothes are very much in style, even if they aren’t what make the most of Joan’s features and figure.

But then her mother falls ill and has to leave town for the healthier air of Bath. To chaperon Joan, Aunt Evangeline comes to stay. Evangeline is also tall, also curvy, and just unconventional enough to wear what suits her. Her dresses fill Joan with envy: Evangeline looks sleek and voluptuous, not fat and fussy. A change in hairstyle and wardrobe do what Joan once thought impossible. They make her look lovely, and any doubts she had about her new dresses are wiped away by the new way Tristan looks at her—not with amusement, but desire.

Adele b a

A makeover isn’t about changing the way she looks; it changes the way she thinks of herself. Confidence in herself is what Joan really needs, to stand up to her parents and wear what she likes and dance with the man she loves, even if her parents aren’t so keen on him. And it doesn’t have to be a radical makeover; a pair of jeans that makes you feel sexy and hip can work wonders.

Caroline Linden

AUTHOR BIO: This is Caroline Linden’s short version of her biography: Caroline Linden earned a math degree from Harvard University before turning to writing fiction. Ten years, nine books, two Red Sox championships, and one dog later, she has never been happier with her decision.

Once upon a time, there was a little girl who wanted nothing more than to be an astronaut. Or a fashion designer. Possibly both; pink spacesuits would look so much better than white ones. But it turned out those were difficult careers to combine, and eventually the fashion designing fell by the wayside.

To continue reading this longer and very interesting version of Caroline Linden’s biography, please visit her website here.

You can find Caroline on her Website / Facebook / Tweeter

Behind The Scenes of ‘What a Wicked Earl Wants’ by Vicky Dreiling

WAWEW VDWhen Melanie contacted me to blog, she mentioned that WHAT A WICKED EARL WANTS differs from many Regency historical romances in that the story features two mature adults. To be honest, I never thought about it that way. However, I realized that Melanie was right. Since I love to discuss the behind the scenes aspects of my books, I’m thrilled to blog about the book.

The first thing I must confess is that I did not plan Andrew Carrington, the Earl of Bellingham. He first showed up as a minor character in HOW TO RAVISH A RAKE. When he stepped on the metaphorical stage, my arms actually tingled. Bellingham had so much presence that I knew immediately that he would star in my next book. Interestingly, my editor had the same reaction. Some characters just leap to life immediately, and he certainly did.

But, there is another interesting tidbit that goes all the way back to 1996, when I HTRAR VDwrote a Regency historical romance that actually won a lot of contests and finaled in the Golden Heart. Alas, that book, THE DUKE BY DEFAULT, didn’t sell (I was heartbroken). But I salvaged something from that buried treasure: a name. Yes, I decided to metaphorically recycle the name ‘Bellingham.’

Something else you might find interesting is that I am a pantser. That means I do very little plotting. It’s a bit scary to write that way, but it also energizes you, because you’re learning about the characters and the story as you write. I knew Bellingham was a total rake, and I also knew a little bit about his background. He had an early tragedy in his life, one that he buried deep inside. Bellingham is a wounded hero who, to use a modern term, compensates for what he refuses to acknowledge and overcome—that he’s never properly mourned. I knew that an alpha male with these issues would need a special heroine who would stand up to him. That meant the heroine not only had to be mature (age 28), but she also needed wisdom gained from her own experiences with grief.

ASTS VDSo I created Laura Davenport, a widow and vicar’s daughter with a rebellious teenage son. Why a widow and teenage son? Well, all of these characteristics add built-in conflict between Bell and Laura. His values as a rake and ruthless politician are miles apart from Laura’s values. Yet, in so many ways, she is the perfect woman for him, because she had to overcome her own grief after her husband’s death.

Her son, however, is a source of worry and conflict for Laura. She’s in the sprawling metropolis of London for the first time, and her son is associating with wild young men. I thought that many readers would identify with a mother who was having difficulties with her son.

Justin’s character is something of a catalyst in the book in that his rebellious actions actually lead Bellingham to Laura’s townhouse for the first time. I won’t spoil what happens for readers, but I will say that I had an enormous amount of fun writing that scene and many others in the book.

Bellingham has a keen sense about others, but like many of us, not necessarily about himself.  That makes sense, given his issues. He’s an über alpha male who takes over any situation, because he’s so confident of how to resolve problems—for everyone else.  Bell was a fascinating character to write, but he and his friends were also a great source of hilarity. The second book in The Sinful Scoundrels series features Bellingham’s friend, Colin Brockhurst, Earl of Ravenshire and Lady Angeline Brenham.  Their story is loads of fun and is set to publish in March 2014.  Cheers!

Vicky DreilingAUTHOR BIO: Triple Rita®-finalist Vick Dreiling is a confirmed historical romance junkie and Anglophile. Frequent business trips to the UK allowed her to indulge her passion for all things Regency England. Bath, Stonehenge, and Spencer House are among her favorite places. She is, however, truly sorry for accidentally setting off a security alarm in Windsor Castle. That unfortunate incident led her British colleagues to nickname her “Trouble”.  A native Texan, she holds degrees in English literature and marketing.

You can find Vicky on: Website / Twitter / Facebook / Pinterest / Goodreads