Jenna Jaxon and …

Eight Fun Facts about Medieval Times

ma1During my extensive research for Beleaguered, and all the books of Time Enough to Love, I have come across a plethora of information regarding the times, people, and customs of the Middle Ages.  Some of these facts found their way into the books in one form or another.  But I couldn’t use everything without sounding like a history book rather than a romance novel.  So I thought I’d share some of these little know facts about Medieval Times.

  1.  During the Middle Ages people bathed a lot more than people today give them credit for. In noble households they might have private baths with servants to assist.  For the masses, there were public bath houses that often also served meals to the bathers.
  1.  Weddings were held outside the doors of the church.  No priest was needed to officiate and if there were no witness, the marriage was still deemed valid as long as the couple had spoken their vows and had given and received a token (such asma2 a ring).
  1. Marriages were usually arranged by the parents of the bride and groom, who were often very young indeed.  The age of consent during the Middle Ages was 12 years for a girl and 14 years old for a boy.
  1. The Bubonic Plague that hit Europe in 1348 was actually three strains of plague.  The bubonic plague is the classic disease of the lymphatic system, carried by fleas from rats, that manifested itself in large buboes or swollen lymph nodes in neck, armpit, and groin. The second strain was septicaemic plague was an infection of the blood and pneumonic plague was an infection of the respiratory ma3system.  The latter two strains had almost a 100% mortality rate.  The Bubonic plague was closer to 50%. During the mid-14th century pandemic nearly one third of all people in the affected areas died of it.
  1. During the Middle Ages women rode  horses astride for travel and hunting.  Sidesaddles did not become fashion until the 15th century and then only for ceremonial occasions.  Women rode astride into the 16th century.
  1. Royal banquets lasted for many hours and consisted up to six courses.  Courses consisted of such dishes as civet of hare, a quarter of stag, sturgeon cooked in parsley and vinegar covered in powdered ginger, chickens covered in yolk of eggs and sprinkled with spice.  The point was to serve many intricate dishes from whichma4 guests took only a bit and then passed it on.
  1. Archery was one of the most popular sports of the medieval period.  Also popular were bowls, colf (forerunner of golf), hurling (forerunner of hockey), horseshoes, and stoolball (a forerunner of cricket).
  1. During the Middle Ages, when a woman went into labor, she was shut into a room with the doors closed and the windows covered until a month after the baby’s birth. She was attended by a midwife, her assistants, and several of the mother-to-be’s friends and relatives.

Beleaguered3BELEAGUERED

BOOK BLURB: When death holds sway in the world, can even the greatest love survive?

Finally in France, Alyse and Thomas return to their roles as courtiers to Princess Joanna.  Their passion for one another continues to smolder hot and deep—until one fateful encounter changes everything.

During a formal banquet, Alyse must share an intimate dance with Geoffrey, her first love. His searing touch proves Alyse’s love and desire for him is as strong as when they first met. Tormented by this revelation, Alyse is bitterly torn between the love of her life and her love for her husband.

Into this agonizing situation, the disaster of the Black Death rears its head, decimating the princess’s retinue and threatening all their lives.  Alyse, Thomas and Geoffrey must try to save the princess from the ravening disease but at a dire cost to themselves.  With her world plunged into chaos, Alyse struggles with her feelings for both of the men she loves.  But which love will survive?

Buy Links: Amazon / Smashwords

TEASER: 

The men continued to talk, but she paid them no heed, caught in a private hell from which she had believed herself safe. She would have to be vigilant to ensure neither she nor Thomas were burned by the fire that had been kindled months ago between her and Geoffrey Longford. She could not trust any of them now—neither her husband to keep his jealously in check, nor Geoffrey to cease his pursuit of her, nor herself to keep him at bay.

She had believed she loved Thomas enough to lay the ghost of Geoffrey to rest in their bed. But from the moment she had seen him on deck this morning, her beloved still, she knew deep in her very core that Geoffrey had been right: it would never be over between them until they were dead and in the tomb.

This realization frightened her beyond all reason. It was as though she had been two people in one body all day, each belonging to a different man. As long as they lived that would never change. She played with fire each time she met with or spoke to Geoffrey, and one day the banked embers would flame up and consume them both.

There would be hell to pay one way or the other. The only question was how much damage would be wrought. Immortal souls hung in the balance, waiting for Judgment Day.

>>>>> $50 Amazon GC – RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY <<<<<

jjAUTHOR BIO: Jenna Jaxon is a multi-published author of historical  and contemporary romance.  She is currently finishing revisions to  her fifth full length novel, To Woo A Wicked Widow, set in Regency England and the first book in her five part series, The Widow’s Club.

Only Scandal Will Do is Book 1 in her Georgian  House of Pleasure series and Only Marriage Will Do, second book in the series is with the editor. Her medieval trilogy, Time Enough to Love, is being published by Rising Phoenix Publications. Book 1, Betrothal is currently available.  Book 2, Betrayal, will be available later this fall.

Jenna has been reading and writing historical romance since she was a teenager.  A romantic herself, she has always loved a dark side to the genre, a twist, suspense, a surprise.  She tries to incorporate all of these elements into her own stories. She lives in Virginia with her family and a small menagerie of pets.  When not reading or writing, she indulges her passion for the theatre, working with local theatres as a director.  She often feels she is directing her characters on their own private stage.

She has equated her writing to an addiction to chocolate because once she starts she just can’t stop.

Social Media: WebsiteTweeter / Facebook

Fan2Author Interview with … Collette Cameron!

collette cameronBookworms, please help me welcome Collette Cameron to the blog. Her books are new to me, and the one’s I’ve read so far have impressed me. I’m so happy to welcome her today and I hope you’ll join in the conversation and ask her some questions.

Collette Cameron: Thanks so much for having me here today!

b2b: Collette, before I start with the questions, how about you tell us a bit about your writing career?

CC: I haven’t been writing all that long. I sat down at my computer in February 2011 and starting tapping out my first historical, Highlander’s Hope. After rewriting it twice and cutting the novel in half, I started the whole query process.

cc hhI was very fortunate to find a publisher in a relatively short amount of time, and Highlander’s Hope released May 2013. The next two books in the series followed with the final book of the Castle Brides Series, The Earl’s Enticement, releasing in May 2014.

I’m well into my next series, The Highland Heather Romancing a Scot Series, with the first book, Triumph and Treasure, expected to release this fall. I’m also a contributing author to a Viking/Highlander anthology and a historical Valentine anthology, both of which are expected to release early 2015.

As if that won’t keep me busy enough, I’m participating in an 8 book boxed novella set with seven other Regency authors.

I’m so glad school is out Friday, and I can concentrate on writing again. I’m only working very part-time from now on!

b2b: How have your characters and their stories come to you and which one/s whispered the loudest for their story to be told?

CC: Highlander’s Hope began with a single scene that popped into my head one day. I wondered if I could write an entire story around it. Not only did I do that, I created a cast of characters I so fell in love with, most of them get their own novels or novellas.

TheViscountsVow2_850Adaira and Roark from The Earl’s Enticement pestered me and pestered me to write their story from the moment I introduced them on the page in Highlander’s Hope. But I told them they had to wait until Vangie and Ian’s story in The Viscount’s Vow was told. They’d nagged me all through writing Highlander’s Hope to get their story written. My characters aren’t known for their patience!

b2b: What was your favorite book as a child?

I loved Mother Goose’s Fairytales. I remember my dad reading them too me over and over until I could recite them with him. I was only about three at the time.

b2b: Is there a book you’re never tired of reading over and over?

CC: I don’t usually read books several times, with the exception of The Flame and The Flower. That book was the first full-length romance novel I ever read, and I think I’ve always had a special spot in my heart for it

I’ve certainly read many, many incredible stories since then, but that book was the catalyst for me falling in love with the romance genre.

b2b: Do you like reading classics and is there one that you’re embarrassed to say you’ve never read?

CC: Umm, do I dare confess this? I write Regency after all. I’m whispering here. I’ve never read any of Jane Austen’s book from start to finish. Yes, I’m hiding behind my computer screen. I’ve watched the movies. Does that count? And I adore Georgette Heyer.  Can I score any points with that?

b2b: Is there a book that you recently read that you wish you had written?

CC: I don’t think I’ve ever wished I had written another author’s book, but I certainly can appreciate their work and their creativity. I might think to myself, “What a great idea,” or “Why didn’t I think of that?” but I’ve never wished the story was mine.

b2b: What’s a movie adaptation of a book that you loved or that you wish it is made?cc tee

As I mentioned above, I’ve really enjoyed all the movies derived from Jane Austen’s writing. I also adore The Count of Monte Cristo, and I just read The Bride Gift by Sarah Hegger which would make a spectacular movie. I think Ella Quinn’s books would make a fabulous movie series too.

b2b: Which book we might be surprised to learn that you loved?

CC: It’s not historical or even romance, but I’ve read Wonder to my class of third graders for the last three years. That book is amazing and teaches such an amazing lesson. I never fail to be touched and more determined to be kind after reading it.

Okay, so for the reading the book over and over bit above, I would read Wonder over and over to students.

b2b: If you were given only one genre to read for the rest of your life, what would it be?

CC: Can I just say historical romance? Then I can read everything up until about 1920. Yep, that ought to do it.

b2b: What was the last book that made you laugh out loud, and what was the last one that made you cry?

CC: The Duke of Morewether’s Secret by Amylynn Bright had me giggling. All of Amy’s books are filled with humor which is why she’s one of my favorite authors.  As far as crying goes, I don’t usually cry while reading a book, but again, Wonder made me cry.

b2b: Do you read your books post-publication?

I haven’t yet, except for editing purposes for the print versions. Maybe someday I’ll sit down with one of the print books and read it. That would be a very unique experiences, I think.

b2b: During a thunderstorm – stay inside or sit on porch watching the show?

CC: Inside, under the bed, with my cowering dogs.  Yes, I’m a chicken.

The last really nasty thunderstorm we had, lightening touched down about eight feet in front of me. I was putting my chickens up. Scared the pants off me. I literally crawled the rest of the way in the house and discovered my computer modem had been fried from the surge.

cc bjb2b: Flannels or Silk?

CC: Silk of course. Pink or blue please with copious amounts of lace.

b2b: Sports car or SUV?

CC: Oh, I’ve got my eye on a lovely white Toyota Highlander.

b2b: Cats or Dogs?

CC: I have both, but I’m really more of a dog person; especially dachshunds.

b2b: Champagne or Beer?

CC: Neither. I don’t like either one or wine for that matter.cc n

b2b: Movies or TV?

CC: Movies. I watch very little television; writing all the time, you know!

b2b: What’s your favorite TV show or movie?

CC: Favorite movie is The Count of Monte Cristo.

b2b: Collette, thanks so much for stopping by b2b and we wish you great success with this series!

CC: Thank you so much!

And now it’s time for you Bookworms to be put in a hot seat!

If you had to give up your beverage of choice, comfort food of choice, or reading romance, which would you choose and why? 

GIVEAWAY! 1 eCopy of TEE/1 Winner! *US ONLY!

To learn much more about Collette, please click on her photo, or get in touch with her through her Social Media:  Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest

Spotlight on Victoria Vane and…

Hot Cowboy Nights Series!

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Hey Bookworms! I hope your summer’s going great! I have great news to share with you. My next series and its first book ‘SLOW HAND’ will be out sometime in November and it is hot contemporary cowboy series from Sourcebooks

This unique series is comprised of four connected stories (SLOW HAND, ROUGH RIDER, STRAIGHT SHOOTER and SILVER TONGUE) with an option for more. All of my heroes are true cowboys, but these are cowboys like you have never seen before. The cast of characters is unusually diverse, pairing a sassy southern girl with a Montana lawyer, a rancher/bull rider with a female stock contractor, a Marine scout sniper with a wildlife biologist and a horse whisperer with a documentary film maker. 

Although this new endeavor marks a distinct departure from historical romance, I hope you will find that my trademarks still remain—well-researched, scorching hot and emotionally compelling, character-driven stories. The first two covers are finished, and I hope you like them as much as I do. Both books are now available for pre-order as well.

Slow Hand-300SLOW HAND (Hot Cowboy Nights #1)

STORY: Wade Knowlton is a workaholic with an urge to get out. He’s close to leaving his struggling Montana law firm in the dust and going back full time to the ranch with his brothers . . . until the gorgeous Nicole Powell walks into his office in need of an attorney to settle her estranged father’s estate.

Nicole is a southern belle with a hankering for cowboys—but after a swell of bad seeds, she’s sworn off anything in boots. As their attraction flares into a passion they can’t avoid, will they discover that love can lead to greener pastures?

EXCERPT:

He went to work on his shirt buttons. His collar was soon wide open revealing a generous show of muscular chest that make her hands itch to rip it off him. She diverted her gaze and curled her itchy hands by her sides.

“Have no fear, cowboy,” Nikki replied in a tone meant to disguise the warm flush that had come over her. “I corralled all my wild impulses long ago.”

“Did you, now?” He still stood in doorway, head cocked. “Somehow, I think you may have missed a few strays.”

“Maybe I need to make myself clearer. I have an aversion to cocky cowboys.”

Just keep telling yourself that, Nikki. Maybe if you repeat it often enough it’ll become true.

“Is that so?” His brows flew upward. “I can’t say I ever met a woman with an actual aversion to me.”

“Don’t take it personally. It’s nothing against you in particular, but to your type.”

“And what do you think you know about my type?”

“Since I don’t have a pole handy, enough to keep you at arms-length. Besides that, this whole line of conversation is entirely inappropriate in light of professional ethics, don’t you think? You are my attorney, after all.”

“Well, darlin’,” he scratched his unshaven jaw, “there’s a little hitch to that.”

“What do you mean? You said you’d help me.”

“And I will, but you can’t engage my professional services until I know who you are.”

“I’ve told you who I am!” she insisted.

“Sweetheart, I’m a lawyer, and according to the law, your claim don’t weigh without authentication.”

“Authentication?”

“Proof.”

“So what are you saying? That you don’t believe me?”

“I’m not saying that at all. Only that our professional relationship will commence once you get your I.D. In the interim,” His gaze slid over her in a way that threatened to melt her insides, “you’d best find yourself a nice, long, sturdy pole.”

Pre-order: Amazon / November 2014

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Pre-order: ROUGH RIDER, Amazon / February 2015

GIVEAWAY 1: 1 Winner/Choice of any e-book title from my backlist!

GIVEAWAY 2: >>>  Rafflecopter <<<

Victoria VaneAUTHOR BIO: Victoria Vane is an multiple award-winning romance novelist and history junkie whose collective works of fiction range from wildly comedic romps to emotionally compelling and intensely erotic romance. Look for Victoria’s sexy new contemporary cowboy series coming in summer 2014.

A lover of history and deeply romantic stories, Victoria Vane combines these elements to craft novels and novellas for a mature reading audience. Her writing influences are Georgette Heyer for fabulous witty dialogue and over the top characters, Robin Schone , Sylvia Day, and Charlotte Featherstone for beautifully crafted prose in stories with deep sensuality, and Lila DiPasqua for creative vision in melding history with eroticism.

Victoria also writes historical fiction as Emery Lee and is the founder of Goodreads Romantic Historical Fiction Lovers and the Romantic Historical Lovers book review blog.

Social Media: Web Site / Blog / Facebook / Tweeter Goodreads / DeVere Fan Site

Jennifer Haymore’s Top Five …

 … Favorite Book Heroes & Heroines are …

Claire and Jamie (2)

1. Jamie and Claire (Outlander)

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2. Sebastian and Jessica (Lord of Scoundrels)

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3. Lizzy and Mr. Darcy (Pride & Prejudice)

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4. Rhett and Scarlett (Gone with the Wind)

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5. Peeta and Katniss (Hunger Games)

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jh tss‘The Scoundrel’s Seduction’

BOOK BLURB: Temptation Knows No Bounds . . .

Undercover agent Sam Hawkins has devoted his life to protecting king and country. So when he receives orders to assassinate a ruthless traitor, he doesn’t question his mission. But Sam didn’t know his deed had a witness–the beautiful and mysterious betrayer’s wife. Now he has no choice but to take her as his prisoner-one he can neither trust . . . nor resist.

 

Élise, Lady Dunthorpe, will do anything to escape her powerful captor–including seducing him senseless. She didn’t know of her miserable husband’s crimes, but she has secrets of her own, secrets that threaten everything she holds dear. With his piercing dark eyes and gentle touch, Sam inflames Élise’s deepest desires, but how could she ever trust a man who won’t let her go? Caught between the crown he’s sworn to serve and the woman he’s come to love, Sam will risk his heart–and his very life–to keep her safe.

BUY LINKS: Amazon / B&N / iTunes

MINI REVIEW: Ms. Haymore pens another character driven story in her House of Trent series, third and my favorite of the three, or six, as there are three novella’s that are a part of this series too.

Let me tell you, out of all the heroes from each book that Ms. Haymore wrote, Sam will forever be my all-time favorite. He was everything we readers desire in an Alpha hero: good-looking, brave, protective of his family, dedicated to his country and a spy to boot!

Elise was one of those ‘older’ heroines [if you can be called that at 28] and I liked her as her story progressed more than I did at the start of the story.

If you like your romances with an aspect of an action-adventure, than you’re in luck, this book has it.

The fast pace, a very intriguing plot that waves through all the books, made this an enjoyable read for me. I do recommend you read them in order though.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

>>> RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY <<<

jhAUTHOR BIO: As a child, Jennifer Haymore traveled the South Pacific with her family on their homebuilt sailboat. The months spent on the sometimes quiet, sometimes raging seas sparked her love of adventure and grand romance. Since then, she’s earned degrees in computer science and education and held various jobs ranging from bookselling to teaching inner-city children to acting, but she’s never stopped writing.

You can find Jennifer in Southern California trying to talk her husband into yet another trip to England, helping her three children with homework while brainstorming a new five-minute dinner menu, or crouched in a corner of the local bookstore writing her next novel.

SOCIAL MEDIA:

    

Theresa Romain and Five Fun Facts from …

TO CHARM A NAUGHTY COUNTESS

Hello, bookworms—thank you for hosting me today! My newest historical romance, TO CHARM A NAUGHTY COUNTESS, just came out last week. It’s a Pygmalion story with an anxiety-prone virgin duke hero on a bride hunt, a rakish widow who has no plans to marry again, and lots of Regency gadgets.

That’s the nutshell version! And today I’m happy to share…

Five Fun Facts About TO CHARM A NAUGHTY COUNTESS

1816 cold summer1. My working title for this book was “A Lady of Affairs,” but my editor (wisely) asked for suggestions that had a little more to do with history and romance. I came up with a list of 20 other possibilities, including the gem “These Aren’t the Brides You’re Looking For.” (Clearly I was no help at all.) My editor decided she did NOT want to evoke Star Wars and came up with the much more romantic final title.

2. The plot of TO CHARM A NAUGHTY COUNTESS is driven by a real-life historical event, the brutal cold of The Year Without a Summer.” A huge volcanic eruption caused ash to spread through the atmosphere, dropping temperatures during the year 1816. As you might expect with snow in summer, crop failures were common. My fictional duke lost a fortune in agricultural investments in this way—thus his bride hunt.

3. The hero of this book is named Michael, Duke of Wyverne. When I started writing this book, I didn’tWYVERN know what a “wyvern” was, or that it was anything at all. Turns out it’s a very specific kind of dragon: Huh.

When I learned that, I decided to leave it as Michael’s title. First of all, it’s not spelled quite the same. And second—it’s a DRAGON.

4. A pair of minor characters in the story are named Lord and Lady Kettleburn. I borrowed their name from an even more minor character in the world of Harry Potter: Silvanus Kettleburn, the Care of Magical Creatures professor replaced by Hagrid. What can I say? The name just made me grin.

5. TO CHARM A NAUGHTY COUNTESS begins on June 14, 1816. The story needed to kick off in early summer, and I chose that date because June 14 is my daughter’s birthday.  ;)

There you have it: five secret behind-the-scenes facts!

Thanks for stopping by, and please feel free to ask me anything else about the story that you like. I’m giving away a copy of TO CHARM A NAUGHTY COUNTESS to one random commenter with a US or Canada address.

 

tr tcancBOOK BLURB: Can A Reclusive Duke…

Brilliant but rumored mad, Michael Layward, the impoverished Duke of Wyverne, has no success courting heiresses until widowed Lady Stratton takes up his cause–after first refusing his suit.

Win London’s Most Powerful Countess?

Caroline Graves, the popular Countess of Stratton, sits alone at the pinnacle of London society and has vowed never to remarry. When Michael–her counterpart in an old scandal–returns to town after a long absence, she finds herself as enthralled with him as ever. As she guides the anxiety-ridden duke through the trials of society, Caroline realizes that she’s lost her heart . But if she gives herself to the only man she’s ever loved, she’ll lose the hard-won independence she prizes above all.

BUY LINKS: Print: amazon • barnes & noble • book depository • books-a-million • chapters indigoindiebound • powell’s • posman • sourcebooks • walmart • watermark

Ebook: kindle • nook • ibook

trAUTHOR BIO: Historical romance author Theresa Romain pursued an impractical education that allowed her to read everything she could get her hands on. She then worked for universities and libraries, where she got to read even more. Eventually she started writing, too. She lives with her family in the Midwest, where she is working on her next book.

Social Media: Website / Facebook / Twitter

Robyn DeHart stops by b2b …

rdh ttoajEveryone loves the hero. It’s why most of us pick up the book, something in the hook, a rogue FBI agent or a dashing, but deadly duke and we’re entranced waiting to see how the heroine is going to civilize that bad boy and bring him to his knees. I know for myself when I think of many of my favorite books, those that are on my keeper shelf, it’s because I loved the hero. We read romance for a variety of reasons, but one of the main ones is to fall in love again. We love that rush of emotion that we got when we met and fell in love with our husbands. Reading about wonderful heroes reminds us of those reasons and we get to feel all gooey again.

But what about the heroine? It’s a question I ponder a lot primarily because in this hero-driven genre, I happen to be a heroine-driven writer. That doesn’t mean I don’t do a ton of work creating my heroes, I do but even in writing a hero focused series like the Legend Hunters, the core of the story is found in the heart of the heroine and her emotional journey. It’s just part of the way I approach writing, just the way I’m made as a writer, I suppose. Even if the idea I get is hero-focused, the book doesn’t come into view, doesn’t come together for me until I know who his lady love is and what makes her tick. The way I look at it, no matter how amazing he is, if she’s not worthy of his time, then he looks a bit of his attractiveness.

Consider the movie Kate and Leopold, it was charming and cute, but the prime reason I don’t own thismovies-kate-and-leopard[1] movie and that I don’t stop my channel surfing when I run across it is because of Kate. Now I love Meg Ryan, so that’s not the problem. No, the problem is in her character, she’s not likeable, there’s nothing I see in her that makes me care about her so it’s unbelievable to me that the Hugh Jackman character would actually fall in love with her. I think this is the same reason I’m not a huge fan of the Twilight series, as yummy as the guys are in those books, I just don’t find Bella compelling enough to buy having those hot guys so totally devoted to her.

In The Temptations of Anna Jacobs we have Drew Foster, the brother of the Duke of Carrington from The Secrets of Mia Danvers. Now for those of you who’ve read that first book in the series may be asking yourself how in the world is Drew going to become a hero. He’s pretty nasty in book one. He’s a drunkard, he’s crude, he’s inappropriate to the heroine, Mia, and he’s ultimately arrested for the Jack the Ripper crimes. I never really set out to write one of those heroes that you have to redeem. Those kinds of heroes are awesome to read about, but that’s not really something I’d be drawn too as a writer. Perhaps the notion of redemption is too intimidating.

But there I was stuck with Drew, the alcoholic and murder suspect. How do you fix that? Well, my answer came in the form of Anna Jacobs, a kind-hearted girl bucking the system (or society’s expectations) by going to medical school. She brings the light back into Drew’s world and he falls hard and when he does it’s a pure and strong love that you have no doubt will last forever.

So how about you, as a reader do you pay much attention to the heroines or are you just in it for the hot hero? Name a villain redeemed that you accepted as a hero.

 BUY The Temptations of Anna Jacobs here:

Kindle | Nook | iBooks | Kobo | 

 

Robyn DeHartAUTHOR BIO: A life-long love of stories and adventure, it was either become a stuntwoman for the movies or live out those adventures from the safety of her PJ’s and computer. Award-winning author, Robyn DeHart chose the latter and couldn’t be happier for doing so.

Known for her unique plotlines and authentic characters, Robyn is a favorite among readers and reviewers. Publishers’ Weekly claims her writing to be “comical and sexy” while the Chicago Tribune dubs her “wonderfully entertaining.”

Robyn is an award-winning author as well as being a four-time RT Bookclub Reviewers’ Choice award nominee, and a three-time RomCon Reader’s Crown nominee. Robyn lives in Texas with her brainy husband, two precocious little girls and two spoiled cats. You can find Robyn on-line at her website or at one of her group blogs, the Jaunty Quills or Peanut Butter on the Keyboard.

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

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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.

State-Dining-Room_jpg_920x920_q85

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?!

sh gif

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