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’.

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

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

The Cast:

1) The hero and heroine:

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

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

2) Damaris’s ‘aunt’ on Freddy:

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

Freddy gave her a cool, dignified look.

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

3) Damaris’s employer on Freddy:

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

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

“But Mrs. Jenkins—”

“Rooned forever!” Mrs. Jenkins repeated firmly.

4) Freddy’s mother on Damaris:

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

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

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

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

Anne Gracie again:

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

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

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

Melanie here:

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

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

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

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

Places to find Anne Gracie:

Website / Blog / Facebook / Tweeter

 

‘The Winter Bride’ by Anne Gracie

ag twbSTORY: Damaris Chance’s unhappy past has turned her off the idea of marriage forever. But her guardian, Lady Beatrice Davenham, convinces her to make her coming out anyway—and have a season of carefree, uncomplicated fun.

When Damaris finds herself trapped in a compromising situation with the handsome rake Freddy Monkton-Coombes, she has no choice but to agree to wed him—as long as it’s in name only. Her new husband seems to accept her terms, but Freddy has a plan of his own: to seduce his reluctant winter bride.

Will Damaris’s secrets destroy her chance at true happiness? Or can Freddy help her cast off the shackles of the past, and yield to delicious temptation?

REVIEW: Damaris Chance is living with her newly wed sister and brother-in-law, along with her younger sisters and her Aunt Beatrice. When the newly weds decide to go on their honeymoon, her brother-in-law calls upon his good friend, Freddie Monkton-Coombes to keep an eye on his sisters-in-law while they are gone.  Only a few people know about the past of the Chance “sisters” in that only two of them are actually sisters and the other two have grouped with the others to call themselves sisters.  Their pasts are not something they want people to know about.  In addition, Aunt Beatrice has simply “adopted” the girls as her nieces as they took such good care of her in the past.

Taking his responsibility seriously, Freddie drops in often and attempts to keep an eye on the girls when they are out in society. But Damaris has a secret talent and a job that helps her to save money to allow her to live independently without having to marry which she fiercely does not want to do.  All she wants is a peaceful little cottage to live out her life in.

Freddie has his own family problems.  He only sees his parents once a year for the annual ceremony marking his older brother’s death for which his parents blame Freddie.  While he is innocent, the many years he has suffered from his parents’ coldness has hardened his heart for wanting anything to do with them.  But this year, his mother has written to tell him that she is hosting a house party with a selection of eligible young women from which he is to choose a wife.  His mother has decreed that it is time he marries and settles down.

Freddie and Damaris make a plan for a marriage in name only.  Damaris will go with Freddie to his parents for the annual ceremony and, in turn, he will buy Damaris her dream cottage.  However, they haven’t counted on the fact that they might just fall in love with one another.

This was a delightful novel that I thoroughly loved!  Don’t miss this continuation story of the “sisters” and the difficult pasts that they have managed to overcome.

Connie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the author.

Rupert Perry Jones

MEL’S THOUGHTS: This is the 2nd book in Ms. Gracie’s Chance Sisters series [for the 1st book, 'The Autumn Bride', see my review here] and it’s time for our Damaris to find her happily ever after. It’s also Freddy’s turn to succumb to the parson’s noose.

Here is Freddy talking to Max [the hero from The Autumn Bride] in which Freddy tells him he’s not fond of Aunt Bea’s Literary gatherings …

“Horror from the very first line: It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife. Must he, indeed? What about the poor fellow’s wants, eh? Do they matter? No. Every female in the blasted story was plotting to hook some man for herself or her daughter or niece. If you don’t call that horror, I don’t know what is!”

 Max chuckled.

 “You can laugh, bound as you are for parson’s noose in the morning,” Freddy said bitterly, “but every single man in that story ended up married by the end of the book! Every last one.” He numbered them off on his fingers. “The main fellow, his best friend, the parson, even the soldier fellow ended up married to the silly light-skirt sister—not one single man in that story escaped unwed.” He shuddered again. “Enough to give a man nightmares. So, no literary society for me, thank you.”

Maggie Smith as Aunt Bea from The Winter Bride by Anne GracieDamn but I loved this story! I laughed so much my eyes were full of happy tears. Let me tell you, I’ll never eat another muffin without seeing Freddy’s face and expression as he talks about the ‘muffins’ of another kind.

“Freddy stared gloomily at the plate before him. Lady Bea was convinced that muffins were the Monkton-Coombes food of choice. Max’s fault, blast him. He’d told his aunt that Freddy was obsessed with muffins, and of course the old girl didn’t realize he meant females of the reforming, marrying, pestilential sort. So she had him served with these blasted bun things each time he called. And expected him to eat them. With enthusiasm.”

And then we have secondary characters that are as vivid in my mind as the first, like Mrs. Jenkins, Damaris’ secret employer, who’s always telling her that Freddy will only take her on ‘the road to roon’

I liked its fast pace, the sweet romance, every character was vivid in my imagination and I‘ll tell you if this was a movie, there’s only one couple that can play Freddy and Damaris and they are Rupert Penry-Jones and  Sally Hawkins from my favorite Jane Austen’s adaptation of ‘Persuasion’.

Dame Maggie Smith was my perfect vision of Aunt Beatrice as she banded words and wit with everyone around her.

Please make sure you read this book. I promise you’ll love it so much.

Melanie for b2b.

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher.

2013 RITA finalists are here!

Congrats[1]

March 26th was a big day for romance authors. On that day some of them got a phone call that rivaled the one big movie stars get right before their big Oscar nomination.  RITA Awards are HUGE in the romance publishing industry and we as readers are always happy when our favorite authors and their books get nominated but especially when they win this prestigious award.

gb dI can’t tell you how thrilled, honored and humbled I was to get a message from one of my favorite authors giving me the news about her book being nominated AND telling me that she thinks I “… deserve to be among the first to post this…” news. ME?! ME?!

And to think I refused to buy her first book because it was all over the blogs with too many five stars to ‘be any good’. I did relent almost a year after ‘The Heir’ came out and thought, if this thing is still getting rave reviews after a year, it possibly is THAT good.

Guess what?! From that point on, Grace Burrowes gained a new fan for ever and ever. I’m thrilled for her, for ‘Darius’ and for the Historical Romance genre [that's mostly what I read], and this year that list is H.U.G.E. and reads as who’s who of Romance Landia!

Check it out!

HISTORICAL ROMANCE

Any Duchess Will Do by Tessa Dare

The Autumn Bride by Anne Gracie

The Chieftain’s Curse by Frances Housden

The Countess Conspiracy by Courtney Milan

Darius by Grace Burrowes

Dark Angel: A Gothic Fairy Tale by T J Bennett

Duke of Midnight by Elizabeth Hoyt

The Lady and the Laird by Nicola Cornick

Love and Other Scandals by Caroline Linden

The Luckiest Lady in London by Sherry Thomas

Never Desire a Duke by Lily Dalton

No Good Duke Goes Unpunished by Sarah MacLean

Plaid Tidings by Mia Marlowe

A Rake’s Midnight Kiss by Anna Campbell

The Rogue’s Proposal by Jennifer Haymore

Sins of a Ruthless Rogue by Anna Randol

Sonata for a Scoundrel by Anthea Lawson

The highlighted books and authors are one of my favorites and keepers all the way [oh and I read all of those too]. It looks like I need to read only four books from this list and I better get on it!

I’d like to take this opportunity on behalf of b2b and congratulate all the finalists and wish them luck at this years RWA’s national conference in San Antonio in July as the winners will be announced then. For all the nominees in all the categories, please go here, you may spot one of your favorites :)

I really, really am glad not to have to choose only ONE of these because every one is deserving of the honor to win this award [or at least the ones I've read already!], so judges, good luck! I so do not envy you this task!

Have you read any of these nominated authors and their titles? Which one and what did you think? Are you rooting for specific one? Which one?

b2b would like to celebrate this wonderful group of amazing authors by giving away a signed copy of ‘DARIUS’ by GRACE BURROWES!

Also, here’s a sneak-peak of TRENTON: Lord of Loss. [out on April 1, 2014 just in time for my Birthday!]

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BOOK BLURB: After a short, troubled marriage Trenton Lindsey, heir to the Wilton earldom, finds himself a widower with three small children. His year of mourning leaves him adrift, until his brother Darius forces him to take a repairing lease in Surrey.

Social conventions require Trent to call on his recently widowed neighbor, Elegy Hampton, Lady Rammel, and as friendship develops, consolation of an intimate sort tempts them both.

Just as Trent acknowledges the joy and pleasure to be shared with Ellie, an unseen enemy threatens him and Ellie, too. Can he reach for the love Ellie offers, when someone else is trying to take his life?

EXCERPT: here.

2011-RWA-GraceBurrowes[1]Grace in her own words: I am the sixth out of seven children and was raised in the rural surrounds of central Pennsylvania. Early in life I spent a lot of time reading romance novels and riding a chubby buckskin gelding named—unimaginatively if eponymously—Buck. I also spent a lot of time practicing the piano. My first career was as a technical writer and editor, a busy profession that nonetheless left enough time to read many, many romance novels.

It also left time to grab a law degree through an evening program, produce Beloved Offspring (only one, but she is a lion), and eventually move to the lovely Maryland countryside.

While reading yet still more romance novels (there is a trend here) I opened my own law practice, acquired a master’s degree in Conflict Management (I had a teenage daughter by then) and started thinking about writing…. romance novels. This aim was realized when Beloved Offspring struck out into the Big World a few years ago. (“Mom, why doesn’t anybody tell you being a grown-up is hard?”)

I eventually got up the courage to start pitching manuscripts to agents and editors. The query letter that resulted in “the call” started out: “I am the buffoon in the bar at the RWA retreat who could not keep her heroines straight, could not look you in the eye, and could not stop blushing—and if that doesn’t narrow down the possibilities, your job is even harder than I thought.” (The dear lady bought the book anyway.)

Please feel free to contact me. I love reader mail!

Children and Animals in Books by Anne Gracie

Cute black kittenW.C. Fields said “Never work with children or animals,” and for a lot of people that holds true for romance books, too. Some readers really dislike having children or animals in books, others love them. Me? I say it’s all in the execution. Sweetly lisping precocious bratty-type children? Little saintly critters? Generally no — though I have written several books with children. Animals? Well, I’m a sucker for animals.

The reason W.C. Fields said this was that children and animals generally attract the audience’s attention away from the star — him. And it’s true. There are no children in THE AUTUMN BRIDE, but there are animals — specifically kittens. I started with my heroine’s sister rescuing a cat and a litter of young kittens from a building that was going to be demolished. That was it. It was just meant to be a slight plot complication. But kittens have a way of attracting attention…

When Abby discovers elderly aristocratic invalid, Lady Beatrice Davenham living in squalor and at the mercy of her rapacious neglectful servants,  she’s invited by the old lady to move in with her. Abby and her “sisters”, calling themselves the Misses Chance and pretending to be Lady Beatrice’s nieces, move in, sack the servants and set about improving life for Lady Bea and themselves. It all works beautifully until Lady Beatrice’s nephew Max returns from the Far East and demands to know who these impostors are. So we’re all set for a confrontation — right?

Remember how I said animals upstage the stars?

“My nieces, Max,” said Aunt Beatrice with a smile that had a lot in common with the look the little cockney had given him. Lying through her teeth and daring him to deny it.

But why? “Damn it, Aunt Bea—”

“Later, Max,” she said airily. “Thank you, girls. My nephew and I have much to catch up on. Featherby, perhaps a cup of tea in half an hour.”

Max waited with folded arms as the girls bustled about gathering things—magazines and bits of lace and fur and fabric lay scattered all over the counterpane—and examining him surreptitiously from beneath lowered eyelashes….

(snip)

Why the hell had his aunt claimed them as her nieces? Was it some kind of blackmail? Or Dreamingthreat?

The women were still fussing over the bits of fabric, sorting them in a manner calculated to annoy him.

“That will do,” Max snapped. “Collect it later.” He moved to sit on his aunt’s bed.

As he did so, five women and a butler shrieked.

“What the—”

Lady Beatrice snatched up a tiny white kitten from the spot where Max had been about to sit and cradled it to her bosom. “Max, you could have killed her.”

“Well, how was I to know you’d taken to keeping cats? I thought it was a bit of fur.”

“It is—attached to a kitten. This is Snowflake, and over there is his brother, Marmaduke.” A small tortoiseshell kitten emerged from under a magazine, regarded Max and yawned extravagantly.

See? They upstage. But Max, being a hero, rallies, of course, and takes the kittens in his stride…

He reached out to pat the white ball of fluff, and a small black missile flew out and attached itself to the fabric of his sleeve. It clung determinedly, growling.

“What the—” Max picked his assailant off his sleeve. Black as soot, black as sin, the tiny piece of fluff sat on his palm and stared back at him, undaunted, then clamped needle-sharp teeth down on his thumb.

“Ouch!”

“This is Max,” his aunt said. And then, bewilderingly, “Stop it, Max! That’s a very bad habit.”

Max frowned at her. “I beg your pardon?”

friends kittens[1]Mischance, repressing—not very successfully—a smile, came forward and removed the kitten from his grasp. “Yes, Max,” she said sternly addressing the kitten, face-to-face. “A very bad habit.” The kitten gave her nose a few exploratory pats.

“You named that kitten Max?” Max said.

“Yes.” His aunt beamed up at him.

“Why?” He looked at the small, scruffy kitten, now resting against the soft bosom of a deceitful woman. The creature was too young to know the dangers of that.

“Because he is bold and dashing and handsome, of course,” said his aunt.

“Because he is always off adventuring and never where he ought to be,” said Miss Abigail Chance at the same time. With a pointed look, damn her cheek. What did she know of his business?

She held the small black kitten against her bosom, caressing it behind the ears. Max the kitten purred blissfully, like a rusty little coffee grinder.

Max the man glowered.

See? The poor man hasn’t a chance. Not only are there five women to deal with — all of them lying in their pearly white teeth — there are kittens. . .

W.C Fields would sympathize.

So what about you? Are animals in books a problem for you? Or are you an animal lover? And if so, what’s your favorite animal? Tell us for a chance to win one copy of my book!

*INTERNATIONAL Giveaway

Anne Gracie

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

Places to find Anne Gracie:

WebsiteBlog / Facebook / Tweeter /

THE AUTUMN BRIDE available now at: Amazon /  B&N

‘The Autumn Bride’ by Anne Gracie

TAB AGSTORY: Governess Abigail Chantry will do anything to save her sister and two dearest friends from destitution, even if it means breaking into an empty mansion in the hope of finding something to sell. Instead of treasures, though, she finds the owner, Lady Beatrice Davenham, bedridden and neglected. Appalled, Abby rousts Lady Beatrice’s predatory servants and—with Lady Beatrice’s eager cooperation—the four young ladies become her “nieces,” neatly eliminating the threat of disaster for all concerned!

It’s the perfect situation, until Lady Beatrice’s dashing and arrogant nephew, Max, Lord Davenham, returns from the Orient—and discovers an impostor running his household…

A romantic entanglement was never the plan for these stubborn, passionate opponents—but falling in love may be as inevitable as the falling of autumn leaves…

REVIEW: This story opens up in 1805 with our young hero Max finding out that he’s come up in the world and is to inherit a title of Lord Davenham from his uncle. That however wasn’t the worst of it. Along with that title, he is informed that not is he only broke, but he is in so much debt that the only option left to this young man was to get himself off to India and work hard at amassing wealth so that he can pay-off all of those creditors and have enough left over to reestablish and restore his own name.

Before he embarks on this trip and in order to accomplish this personal goal, he now must offer a pound of flesh to only one man who is shrewd and smart enough to accept it as a bargain and for the future benefit to both of them. As he leaves England, he makes sure that his solicitors will be taking care of his elderly Aunt, Lady Bea, who is residing in one of the property’s he refused to sell because it has been her home for many years.

It’s now 1816 and while Max is still in India getting rich, our heroine Abigail Chantry has been putting up with a lot of abuse in a few positions she’s had as a governess and the only reason she did, was that she loved their children.

In her latest position, she gets some disturbing news about her only sibling and her request to be allowed to offer aid to her younger sister falls on deaf ears of her employers and is threatened with eviction if she disobeys them. Abby is left with no choice but to ignore the uppity couple she’s working for, secretly rescuing her sibling and a couple of young girls that were helping her with that task. Not long after her employer kicks her out and now all four girls are dependent on Abby’s skill and wits for their survival and that’s when she meets Lady Bea, alone and woofly neglected in her town house, wishing for death to take her.

Anne Gracie does it yet again! She created a wonderful story of a unique, strong willed and very witty heroine. She then sets out to play a matchmaker for her with a man who is duty bound to marry another and tries to ignore his desire for Abby. Add to the story a motley crew of supporting characters that are given smart, witty and frankly brilliant dialogue, and what you have is a heartwarming and funny, romantic and sexy, memorable love story.

I promise you, the pacing is such that by the time you come to that last sentence at the end of the book, you’ll be surprised and sad it’s over. This promises to be another of her wonderful series and I for one can’t wait for the second book to come out!

*Book provided by publisher through NetGalley.

Time for some old Christmas reads…

Merry Christmas to all

Can you believe it?! December is here! That means whatever I’m reading that’s not a Christmas story, it needs to be abandoned for everything that is Christmas story.

Before I get to them though, I’d like to thank you all for making our second anniversary a huge success.To all the authors that have participated and to those that have been busy in their ‘writing caves’ and couldn’t stop by this year [and who I'll certainly accost next year], I want to send my heartfelt thanks. You are a bunch of unbelievably generous people that make me appreciate and love your work and you that much more.

My thanks go to all of my new and old subscribers who’ve faithfully followed and made comments [and made my days so much fun just by reading them all], I send my big, huge, humongous Serbian hug and a kiss! Without you, there wouldn’t be bookworm2bookworm. Period.

I also want to thank you all, authors and readers alike, for your patience with me on the contests that ran with every post [thirty-five in total for the month of November], as I procrastinated ’till the very last. I promise that by the end of this weekend many of you will be pleasantly surprised to find your names on our Contest page, and by the end of next weekend, we will have the Grand Prize announced and given away!

This month I’d like to dedicate to Christmas stories and will be recommending some that I’ve read before as well as some newly published. I hope you’ll stop by and join me in the coming weeks to find out which one’s I’m recommending and maybe recommend some of your own… I love this time of year and there’s nothing better than finding that perfect Christmas story that touches your heart, makes you sigh and cry…

Let me start with one of my all time favorites, and that is a story from Anne Gracie from an anthology I read a couple of years ago, Gifts of the Season. If you asked me about the other two stories in that book, I would have to probably think a bit to recollect them, but if you asked me about Anne’s, I’d tell you that I just cried and cried and smiled and smiled, that’s how much I loved the story and highly recommend you pick it up.

Gifts of the Season Anthology 

BOOK BLURB: The Virtuous Widow by Anne Gracie

Ellie was afraid she had no future. Left to her own devices now that her husband had passed away, she worried for her daughter’s welfare as well as her own. But her world changed when a stranger landed on her doorstep.

A Gift Most Rare by Miranda Jarrett 

Sara had never thought to see her precious Rev ever again. Yet here he was, come to stay for the holidays in the very home where she was a governess…and bringing up the painful memories of their shared past.

Christmas Charade by Lyn Stone

Beth didn’t want a husband. But when she agreed to marry handsome Jack as part of a scheme, she didn’t expect to be playing with her heart.

My next two recommends are from Mary Balogh. She never fails to give me one of the most touching Christmas stories and here are the two I think you’ll love.

ACP MBA Christmas Promise

BOOK BLURB: A love that cannot be bought or sold proves to be the greatest gift of all, in this heartwarming classic that demonstrates once again why New York Times bestselling author Mary Balogh is among the most celebrated authors of historical romance.

Weddings are supposed to be joyous occasions—especially when a couple seems as well matched as Randolph Pierce, Earl of Falloden, and his bride-to-be, Eleanor Transome. Ellie brings to the marriage a vast dowry, while Falloden, though distant, is handsome, tremendously desirable, and possessed of a title most young ladies can only dream of sharing.

Yet Ellie is not most young ladies. She knows that she must honor her dear father’s dying wish for her to wed the proud earl, but she dreads a lifetime in a union without love—and how can Falloden claim to love her when he married her only for her fortune? As Christmas descends upon the Falloden manor, the warmth of the season may yet melt away the trappings of duty and wealth, leaving behind only a man and a woman destined for each other’s arms.

UTM MBUnder the Mistletoe Collection

BOOK BLURB: In this collection of five Christmas-themed stories, beloved author Mary Balogh brings together tales of love, marriage, friendship, loneliness, and healing.

Includes four Balogh holiday classics, The Star of BethlehemThe Best GiftPlaying House, and No Room At the Inn, as well as A Family Christmas, which is only available in this anthology.

A Christmas Scandal by Jane Goodger

ACS JGBOOK BLURB: In her latest romance, Jane Goodger weaves an unforgettable tale of a woman who thinks she’s lost everything–until a little Christmas magic reunites her with the one man she could never forget. . .

Dashing, debonair, and completely irresistible, Edward Hollings has all of Newport buzzing–and to Maggie Pierce’s surprise, she alone has caught his eye. But when the handsome earl returns to England without proposing, a devastated Maggie knows she must forget him. Life only gets worse for Maggie, as all her dreams of happiness and love come crashing down around her. When Maggie receives an invitation to go to England for the Christmas birth of her dear friend’s baby, she accepts–vowing to keep her devastating lies and shameful secrets from the one man she has ever loved.

Edward vowed he’d never marry, but he came dangerously close with Maggie. She’s beautiful, witty, indescribably desirable–and Edward can’t forget her. When Maggie visits mutual friends for Christmas, Edward can’t stay away. In fact, he finds himself more attracted to her than ever–a desire fueled even more by Maggie’s repeated snubs. With the love he never thought he’d find slipping away, Edward is determined to make Maggie his own, no matter what the cost. . .

The Present by Johanna Lindsey

TP JLBOOK BLURB: As the entire Malory family gathers at Haverston to celebrate the season, a mysterious present arrives anonymously. The gift is an old journal — a tender and tempestuous account of the love affair between the second Marquis, Christopher Malory, and a dark gypsy beauty named Anastasia, who seeks a love match with a non-gypsy in order to save herself from a prearranged marriage to a brute.

Though the dashing English lord Anastasia sets her sight upon burns for the exquisite, exotic miss, Christopher could never consent to wed such a lowborn lady. But miracles have been known to happen in this season of peace and giving and love, as two extraordinary people separated by circumstance of birth begin a passionate dance of will and wiles.

And in the miraculous blossoming of a glorious romance at a long ago Christmastime, there are wise and well-learned lessons that will enrich the hearts of the Malory descendants — and, indeed, of everyone who has ever dreamed.

Forbidden Magic by Jo Beverly

FM JBBOOK BLURB: Left penniless after her parents’ death, Meg Gillingham was in dire straits. Her cruel landlord threatened to turn her and her siblings out of their home by the New Year—unless she surrendered her sister to his lecherous whims. Only a miracle could save her: a magic statue that granted wishes—for a price.

Meg never expected the statue to bring her a marriage proposal, especially from the handsome Earl of Saxonhurst, who needed a bride to keep his fortune. Her heart raced wildly, for she was held spellbound by her desire for this man. But a villain was determined to destroy their union with mistrust, and see them dead. Now Meg had to put her faith in a more powerful magic—the magic of love.

A Wallflower Christmas by Lisa Kleypas

AWC LKBOOK BLURB: Rafe Bowman has just arrived from America for his arranged meeting with Natalie, the very proper and beautiful daughter of Lady and Lord Blandford. His chiseled good looks and imposing physique are sure to impress the lady-in-waiting, and if it weren’t for his shocking American ways and wild reputation, her hand would already be guaranteed. Before the courtship can begin, Rafe realizes he must learn the rules of London society. But when four former Wallflowers try their hand at matchmaking, no one knows what will happen…

Winning a bride turns out to be more complicated than Rafe Bowman anticipated, especially for a man accustomed to getting anything he wants. However, Christmas works in the most unexpected ways, changing a cynic to a romantic…and inspiring passion in the most timid of hearts.

That’s just a handful of books that I really enjoyed in the past and I hope you’d give them a try, unless you already read them, in which case I would love to know what you thought of them. I usually look for short Christmas stories, often found in Anthologies  at this time of the year. They are the best because they give me the feel for the authors that I haven’t read before.

Speaking of, do you like Anthologies and why? If you have any good Christmas recommendations for me please let me know. This month should be fun as we talk Christmas books…and giveaway a few of those…

Fan2Author Interview with…Anne Gracie

Kristal:  Hello Anne!  I’d like to welcome you to b2b and thank you very much for taking time out of your busy day to visit with us!  Feel free to chatter as little or as much as you would like with our readers throughout the day!

Anne Gracie:  Thanks so much for inviting me, Kristal. I’m so pleased to be here. Hi Everyone!

K:  So, I’ve been digging around a little on your website being nosey and I am truly in awe of your childhood!  All the places you traveled, all the experiences you must have had, all the ANIMALS!  What was that like for you, having such a full childhood?  Did you have a favorite place?  How about a favorite animal?

AG:  Well, it was great for me — I don’t know how it was for my parents with all those animals. <g> But I kept adding to the menagerie. I used to bring them home just on dusk, knowing my parents wouldn’t make me go out in the dark to return them. And my mother would carry on, “You’re taking that creature back first thing in the morning, missie. I’m not having another animal in the house. It’s always me who has to feed them and clean up after them and — oh, look at that poor little creature, it’s starving, poor little mite.” And she’d be feeding the kitten or whatever it was, and all the time raving on about how it was going back and she wasn’t having another animal in the house… and by evening, she’d be sitting down after dinner, trying to knit with a kitten purring on her lap or fighting with her wool, and muttering about too many animals… And they always stayed. I even brought home a white cockatoo once that I found down the swamp —  a tamed bird who wouldn’t have survived in the wild. He was a beautiful, cunning bird with an evil sense of humor.

As for a favorite place — we lived in so many places, I have favorite places everywhere. In one town I used to love going down with my dog to what we called the swamp — a big lake, surrounded by grass and reeds taller than me. I’d spend all day there sometimes. And when we lived in Scotland I used to wander along the ‘burn’ — a little stream that ran through the woods.

Also in Scotland we had an attic, which I thought was very romantic. I’d read about them in books all the time, but we generally don’t have attics in Australia. I loved looking out of the sloping window set into the roof of the attic, gazing out over the rooftops of the village where we lived. From that window I could see the ancient Pictish tower, one of only three remaining in Scotland. I’ve been thinking about that attic a lot lately, as the heroine in my current story was looking out of an attic window when she got a bold idea that changed her life. She’s in London, though, not Scotland.

K:  I love the premise for ‘Bride by Mistake’.  I am all about a war-torn hero and I certainly worship at the altar of Isabella’s pluckiness.  Was it difficult to write such intense characters with the amount of depth they both brought to the story?  Did they kind of lead you along and write their own story or was it one that you had decided upon without their help?

AG:  Thanks, I’m glad you enjoyed it. My characters always lead me along, though normally it’s a bit of a wrestling match and involved a lot of rewriting.  It might sound a bit weird, but for me, as if my characters actually exist and discovering them is a kind of archaeology — I have to dig around to find out what makes them tick, and they’ll often surprise me. To mix my metaphors, it’s a bit like tuning a musical instrument — you know when you’ve hit a wrong note, and have to rewrite and rewrite until it rings true to the character.

K:  I truly felt the emotions, the love, the transformation of these characters over the length of the book.  Along similar lines to my last questions, what was that writing experience like for you?  I know how it felt as a reader but I can’t even imagine as an author what it is like writing these characters as they change and evolve into the characters that they are meant to be.

AG:  Thank you. For me, digging deep into a character’s past and psyche is what stories are all about. I take a while to get started on a book, fiddling and writing and rewriting, trying to get the right angle to start the book. Once I do, I’m off and running, but all the way through I’m asking myself, why did he do that, why did she think that? What does she really want? etc. And that involved going deep.

By about half way in, I’m obsessed by the story and it’s quite hard to pull my head out of that time and place and those characters. I’ll even wake up with a scene rolling in my head like a movie, and I have to write it down by hand before I get up, otherwise I’ll forget it.

My friends know now that when I’m in the zone  I’m no fun and won’t come out to play until the book is done.

K:  Your history, education and professional endeavors certainly lend themselves nicely to your career choice as an author.  Was it always that way?  Did you always want to be an author?

AG:  No, it always amazes me that with parents who were teachers, nobody ever suggested to me I should write stories – not even when I was a kid and made up stories to tell the pets. Not even when I drove people crazy whining about having nothing to read. I was a huge bookworm and read constantly, and my best presents were always books, but I don’t remember ever thinking of being a writer. I think I imagined that writers were special people, far beyond my reach.

I remember saying once to a friend in high school that I  could write a book, but it wasn’t a serious thing.  You know how you say stuff at that age? Writing fiction wasn’t even an option at high school or university, though we did do creative writing sometimes, but I never understood what that was. We did all these weird writing exercises. If someone had ever said, “write a story” I would have loved it.

Writing a book only became a real possibility in my mind when a couple of people I knew got published, and I thought, “I want to do that.” And then, when I was overseas, traveling on my own, I had the time to think and to write — I wrote a whole novel by hand in exercise books. And that’s when the possibility became a plan.

K:  Is there any one heroine or hero who is reminiscent of your own character?  Is there one that you found to have traits similar to your own as you write?  Or maybe one that you relate to more than the others?

AG:  No, not really. I suppose the admirable things in my heroes and heroines are things I value in people — kindness, honor, loyalty, sense of humor, etc. but if I even suspected I was writing someone like me, or even like a friend of mine, I think I’d freeze.  My characters have to be free to be themselves.

I’m fond of all my characters, maybe some more than others. For instance, Harry,  in HIS CAPTIVE LADY is a hero I’m very fond of — he’s not a man for speeches, Harry. He’s the quiet, deep kind of hero, and when he committed himself to the heroine, he gave himself wholly. Bella in BRIDE BY MISTAKE was a heroine I was fond of, too — she was gutsy and loving and led with her heart. Ayisha in TO CATCH A BRIDE was also a heroine I loved — a little spitfire, but she was justified. But I pretty much love them all — I couldn’t write them if I didn’t love them.

K:  So, you’ve written many books and received many wonderful awards for your talent!  What wonderful accomplishments you have made in your career this far!  What are your plans?  What happens next? What can ours readers expect from you in the coming year or two?

AG:  Thanks, Kristal, I feel pretty fortunate to be able to continue writing. It’s a magic job, to be allowed to spin stories and to have other people read them — it’s the kind of thing I used to get into trouble for in school — daydreaming. <g>

I’ve just signed a contract for a new series, about four “sisters” in London — a Bride series — though only one of the four girls expects to be a bride. I’m working on the first of them now and I have to say, I’m enjoying the sparks that fly between the hero and the heroine. And I’ve just written a scene where some of the characters from my first Berkley book, THE PERFECT RAKE, appear, which was fun.

K:  Anne, thank you so much for stopping by and sharing a little of yourself with b2b and our readers.  We are simply tickled to have you here with us!

AG:  And I’m delighted to be here, too, Kristal and the other b2bers. Thanks so much for inviting me.

Kristal here- Anne has graciously agreed to give away a copy of one of her books to one very lucky commenter!!!