Anne Gracie stops by b2b!

 

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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.

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:

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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.

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!!!