‘Keeping the Castle ‘ by Patrice Kindl

KTC PKSTORY: Seventeen-year-old Althea is the sole support of her entire family, and she must marry well.

But there are few wealthy suitors–or suitors of any kind–in their small Yorkshire town of Lesser Hoo. Then, the young and attractive (and very rich) Lord Boring arrives, and Althea sets her plans in motion.

There’s only one problem; his friend and business manager Mr. Fredericks keeps getting in the way. And, as it turns out, Fredericks has his own set of plans . .

REVIEW: Althea is 17-years-old and the only family member responsible for caring for her twice widowed mother, younger brother and two very plain and selfish step sisters from her mother’s second marriage. They all live together in the ancient and crumbling Crawley Castle, also known as Crooked Castle, due to its haphazard construction when built by Althea’s great-grandfather.  

With very little money needed to care for her family, Althea needs to marry someone with money to help keep up the Castle and their life.  When Althea’s father died, he had no money left to leave to her and her mother. This necessitated that her mother wed another man who did not live long. When he died, what little money he left only to his two daughters. The miserly ways of the sisters meant that they did not share any of the money with the rest of the family.

While Althea is taken with a man named Lord Boring, his cousin/business manager, Mr. Fredericks keeps getting into the middle of their relationship.

This is a novel that would appeal more to younger teens. The silly names given to people and towns will make the older reader chuckle with a louder laugh from the younger ones. The plot appears a tongue-in-cheek combination of Cinderella and Jane Austen. It was obviously meant as a light and witty book and can quickly fill a couple of hours of enjoyable reading.

Connie for b2b

*Book provided by my local library.

Happy ‘P&P’ Birthday!

JAWAs I sit here and contemplate and read everything about the 200th anniversary of  Jane Austen’s writing of ‘Pride and Prejudice’  I wonder how many of us have read it or for that matter, any other of her wonderful works. Just in case you’ve never read it, now you can read it here.

Here’s what ‘Jane Austen’s Regency World’ is saying today…

“The media is awash with stories how today – Monday, January 28, 2013 – is the 200th anniversary of the first publication of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

Chawton Cottage appeared on BBC Breakfast this morning.

The P&P readathon is being streamed from the Jane Austen Centre here in Bath.

And the Pride & Prejudice special edition of Jane Austen’s Regency World magazine is still available – as is Celebrating Pride and Prejudice, by Maggie Lane and Hazel Jones, marking 200 years of Jane Austen’s ‘darling child'”.

To all of you that haven’t read Jane, I so hope you at least watched some of the mini series and movies that tried to capture her written word. Instead of writing my thoughts on everything Austen, I ‘raided’ the You Tube and here’s what I came up with….

Laurence Olivier

Colin Firth

David Rintoul

Matthew Macfadyen

Elliot Cowan

Martin Henderson

And here are some of my favorite scenes from my favorite movies/series….

Out of all her works, what did you like the best? Who is your favorite Darcy and why? To one of you, b2b will send ‘LOST IN AUSTEN’ mini series that I fell in love with the first time I saw it! *US ONLY ;(

If you’re impatient to see if you’re the winner of this series, here it is in its entirety.

Declarations of love…then & now…

From William Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Elizabeth Barrett Browning and poet himself Lord Byron, declarations of love have always made me feel so giddy!



How many of us have just sighed at Tom Cruise when he said “I love you. You complete me…” (Jerry MaGuire) or when Colin Firth said “No, I mean I like you very much. Just as you are.” (Bridget Jones’s Diary)?



Can you imagine someone looking deeply into your eyes and saying “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love thee to the depth and breadth and height my soul can reach.”?

No?! How about “You must know, surely you must know, it was all for you. You are too generous to trifle with me. I believe you spoke with my aunt last night, and it has taught me to hope as I’d scarcely allowed myself before. If your feelings are still what they were last April, tell me so at once. My affections and wishes have not changed, but one word from you will silence me forever. If, however, your feelings have changed, I would have to tell you: you have bewitched me, body and soul, and I love… I love… I love you. And I never wish to be parted from you from this day on.”

When this brave hero spoke his vow “I will love you my whole life. You and no other.”  I had tears in my eyes.

I know I’m more likely to believe these lines “…I love you. Not like they told you love is, and I didn’t know this either — but love don’t make things nice. It ruins everything. It breaks your heart. It makes things a mess. We aren’t here to make things perfect. The snowflakes are perfect. The stars are perfect. Not us. Not us! We are here to ruin ourselves, and to break our hearts, and love the wrong people, and die. The storybooks are bullshit! Now I want you to come upstairs with me and get in my bed!”

I’m sure most of you romantics out there just went nuts over the scene that needed no words spoken aloud, but a simple poster board was quiet sufficient in helping this man’s declaration of love.

And then, just a simple “Ditto!” can accomplish and convey this man’s love that went beyond life…

We’ll be happy to giveaway THREE books to three winners who can ID the recipients of these declarations of love.

Tell us about your favorite declarations of love and you’re welcome (ENCOURAGED) to include yours as well!

‘To be or not to be’ self published…by Charlotte Hawkins

In general, I have great respect for authors that pen the stories I read, but I’ve developed a soft spot in particular, for authors who are self-published.

One of those is Charlotte Hawkins whose novel ‘THE TEMPEST: A GUY OF GISBORNE STORY’  impressed, intrigued and prompted me to find out more about the author and her work. So, without further ado, here’s someone I think you might like as much as I do, Charlotte Hawkins and her journey, in her own words…

“I’m a hopeless romantic, I love history, and yes, I am a fan of Richard Armitage. But contrary to popular belief, his Guy of Gisborne wasn’t the first one I loved. When I was growing up, I always rooted for the bad guys, and one of my favorites has always been Sir Guy of Gisborne as portrayed by Basil Rathbone. Seriously, compared to him, Errol Flynn was a wimp. Even as a kid, I was attracted to Rathbone’s smooth, dashing Sir Guy. It wasn’t until Richard Armitage that my heart went astray. If loving a bad Guy is wrong, I don’t want to be right. :)

I write novels under two names. One is my real name Sarah Pawleyand one is my pen name Charlote Hawkins.

‘Oh, That I Had Wings’ and ‘Finding Grace’ are my two historical fiction/love stories. They are written under my ‘Sarah Pawley’ name and are available online. Both are linked together as part of a family saga, set from WW1 through the late 1920’s in America. I’m currently working on the third book in the series.
‘The Tempest’ and ‘My Lady Gisborne’ are romance novels, written under my ‘Charlotte Hawkins’ name. Both are available online. They have adult content, which is why I put them under a pen name. They’re very different from my other novels, and I wanted to differentiate the two styles of writing.

For all the would-be writers out there, I’m offering the story of my experience with self-publishing, and why I chose it. Hopefully, this will provide some information for those who are new to the publishing business.

I started out blind when it came to knowing anything about publishing. I was a freshman in high school when I wrote my first full-length novel. All I knew was that I had written a book, and I wanted to publish it. I had NO idea how to go about it, so I went to the library and did some research. It was there that I found a very thick book called The Novel and Short Story Writer’s Market.’ I opened the book, and my mouth fell open in shock. I could not believe the number of agents, publishing companies, etc. that were out there! In my naiveté, I said to myself…

‘Surely, one of these agencies or publishers will want my work.’

In reading the first pages of the guide, I first learned the words ‘Query Letter.’ It would soon become a hated turn of phrase, but I digress…

According to the guide, it was up to me to query agencies and seek representation, as nearly all publishing houses require their writers to have representation. So, I followed the example in the guide and wrote query letters. LOTS of them, to as many agencies as I could find in the book that represented my type of fiction. This was in the mid-nineties, when email was still in its early stages, and printed letters were still the norm. I bought boxes of envelopes, put my queries in them, and…along with sample chapters…I sent them on their way.

I was soon to learn a painful lesson about the publishing industry. Specifically, I became familiar with a very painful word: REJECTION.

Every query I sent came back with what is commonly known as a form letter. Typically, they say something along the lines of:

‘Dear Author,

Thank you for your query. We were pleased that you expressed interest in our agency. However, we feel that your work does not meet our needs at this time. We wish you luck in your writing career.’

These letters piled up quickly. And as they did, my frustration and anger grew. I wondered if it was my writing that was keeping me from getting published. So, I found an editor. As it turned out, my manuscript needed a lot of work, and I was glad to have someone who could teach me to be a better writer. I polished it up, and sent out my queries and sample chapters again.


I spent nearly three years trying to sell my first novel. By the time I had finished High School, I had pretty much given up. I still wrote, of course. I have always loved to create stories. But I had put aside my aspirations of being a professional writer.

It was many years before I got back into the game, and that was a unique story all on its own.

It was late 2006. By then, the internet had become very familiar to me. I had also discovered a website called ‘C19,’ dedicated to all things Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, and the like. I quickly became a member and a frequent visitor, and it was there that I learned about something called ‘Fan-Fiction.’ Being a Jane Eyre fanatic, I rediscovered my love of writing as I wrote my own JE stories. My old ambitions soon blossomed, and I began writing my own tales. I also took the chance on trying to find representation, and this time, I was able to query through email. But, as before, I found only rejection.

Needless to say, I was discouraged. But then I learned of an emerging phenomenon in the publishing world: Self-publishing.

Still being a bit of a newbie to publishing, I was lured in by the ads of a company called ‘IUniverse.’ At the time, I did not know the difference between a vanity press and a POD publisher. Unfortunately for me, I went with a vanity press. I soon learned that the goal of a vanity press is not to help an author succeed, but to take advantage of new writers who are hungry to see their work in print. I was one those writers, and I trusted the wrong people. Yes, I got a printed book, and it was thrilling to see my words in printed form. But…

I had no say in the cover design. They chose it for me. They did not provide me with an editor, unless I paid an extra fee. Once my work was in print, there was no changing it. The price of the book, once it was available, was ridiculously high. And they offered me marketing help only if I was willing to pay a high price. I was learning another brutal truth about the publishing business: there are a lot of crooks out there, and they will take your money without remorse.

As you can imagine, I was fed up with publishing altogether. But then, through some stroke of luck, I began hearing about other writers who had gone through a similar experience. One of these writers introduced me to a company called ‘Create Space.’ I was wary, of course. I did my homework. I asked as many questions as I could. I talked to other writers about their experiences with this company. They had only good things to say about it. So, I gave it a try.

‘Create Space’ has been a godsend. It has given me everything I need to succeed as an author. There are, however, some things I have learned, and here they are:

#1. Edit your work, and then edit it again. And don’t rely on your eyes only. Find a professional if need be, and if you can’t afford a pro, find yourself a beta reader. Beta readers, in case you didn’t know, are readers who volunteer their time to look over your work and tell you where they think you need to make corrections. You can find them on writers websites, like Wattpad. And something else about beta readers: If you can, find a ‘Simon Cowell‘ type. Find someone who will tell you the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you’re the next big thing, because if you are lulled into complacency, it will be heartbreaking to discover that your work is not the masterpiece you thought it was.

In short: Put your work through the ringer. Make it the absolute best it can be before you put it in front of the public eye. In the long run, you will reap the rewards for your effort.

#2. You do not have to pay for a press release. Repeat: You do NOT have to pay for a press release. I learned this wonderful bit of information through a friend, and it saved me a ton of money. Publishing companies, including ‘Create Space,’ will offer this service for a price, usually costing between $250 to $500 dollars. But in my opinion, it is foolish to pay for a PR. They are so simple to create and distribute. For more information, feel free to email me…

#3. Get yourself an author account on Goodreads. Once there, participate in their author giveaways. You will be amazed at how quickly people flock at the chance for a free book. But be prepared for honest reviews in return. In my experience, the readers at Goodreads do not hold back with their opinions. Some will enjoy your work, but some may not. Whatever reviews you get, learn from them. It will make you a better author in the long run.

My hope is that someone benefits from reading this post about my experience. Self-Publishing has not made me rich. Not by a long shot. But it has allowed me to have my work in print, and I am in control of all the business aspects.The readers dictate what works and what does not, and it is the reader that matters to me…

If you have any questions for me, that I haven’t answered so far, feel free to ask  me here or contact me through my website.

To b2b, thanks so much for this opportunity!”

Charlotte, it has been my pleasure to host you! Your journey and determination are awe-inspiring. I wish you many years of success!

And now, how about a giveaway?!

One commenter will win


…so don’t be shy, comment away!

RRAH August reviews

Well, now with my son’s wedding behind us, I’m relieved all went with a minor hitch (DJ never showed up, but replacement did from another firm 30 minutes into the wedding reception) and the newlyweds are now back from their Honeymoon to enjoy life together.

I’ve also had some time to turn some of my reviews to Romance Reader At Heart  website and I’ll briefly let you know which books are worth reading and which you just might postpone for later or skip altogether. To read my full review just click on the title, and to find out about the author of the book, please click on their name.

TOO WICKED TO LOVE  by Debra Mullins was a very quick read and I liked it a lot. As soon as I started reading this book, I had a feeling that I should have read the first book of this trilogy. I’m sure that I would have appreciated the story more. It really had all the elements of what a historical romance should—a very handsome and likeable hero and an untrusting heroine. As for the villain, this dude was off the charts! I gave it Four Roses and if you haven’t read it, you should, but do get the first one too. I think you might get the better picture of our hero.

JUST LIKE HEAVEN by Julia Quinn was just that. Heaven. By now if you haven’t read this author GET THEE TO THE BOOKSTORE! Any book you pick by her, you’ll end up a winner! I’ve yet to read one that’s bad. This chick knows her craft and NEVER disappoints. Period. Most of us that are her fans, were hoping sooner or later she’d gift us with this series and now that I’ve got my first story of Smythe-Smith’s sisters, I’m just itching for more. I believe the book stands on its own, but if you want to get the full impact of this family, you should scour the used book stores or get her earlier books from Amazon.

NOTORIOUS by Nicola Cornick was one of those well written books with a wrotten heroine. Boy, oh boy! This woman was some piece of work. I didn’t like her one bit. Talk about a manipulator! I’m not going to give the story away, but I warn you. If you like your heroines meek, sweet and virginal, you’ll not like this one. However if you like them pathetic, manipulative and plain bitchy, then you’ll love her! I gave this book Four Roses ONLY because it engaged my emotions to an umpteenth degree. It also made me want to read WHISPER OF SCANDAL, which is the first book in ‘Scandalous Women of the Ton’ series. I did like the fact that it’s a stand alone regardless of being a fourth book in the series.

THE BED AND THE BACHELOR by Tracy Anne Warren ends her Byrons of Braebourne series. TEMPTED BY HIS KISS was the first one and Cade Byron’s story. Jack Byron’s story was in SEDUCED BY HIS TOUCH, followed by AT THE DUKE’S PLEASURE. All of them were exceptionally good, well written and very interesting.

WICKED DELIGHTS OF A BRIDAL BED was their sister Mallory’s story, and I thought it fell short. I just didn’t think it was as good as it should or could have been. THE BED AND THE BACHELOR, which is Drake’s story, was a let down as well. What the hell happened to Drake?! I liked him better in the earlier book. As for our heroine, once she commits the unthinkable, I lost all compassion for her. There must have been a better way to accomplish her ‘mission’. If you’ve never read this author, don’t start with this book. I fell in love with Ms. Warren’s work through her ‘Trap’ series in which she displayed her awesome sense of humor. I’ve all her ‘Mistress’ trylogy, but they’re still on my TBR. I’m hoping to get to them by the end of the year.

DANCING WITH MR. DARCY actually has twenty authors but has introductions from Sarah Waters and Rebecca Smith, the great-great-great-great-great niece of Jane Austen. This quick and witty read is a must for all Jane Austen fans. You’ll really appreciate the range in talent in this book. All of the stories were fun, well written and just a joy to read. I also urge you to read the biographies of those that have had too much fun in penning their stories. I’m thinking, just for the pure joy and fun, maybe I should penn one?  How cool it would be. Just for mayself, mind you:)

SEVEN YEARS TO SIN by Sylvia Day I saved for last. This was an ARC that I bid on eBay as a donation towards a friend in need. Ms. Day signed it and sent me a bag full of goodies with it, and for that I’m forever grateful to her.

What can I tell you about this book that will convince you to get out there and get it as soon as it hits the bookstores?! It has one of the hottest Prologues I’ve EVER read! I truly couldn’t put it down once I started to read it. Thank God it’s summer and my DH loves BBQ! Everything about this story was perfection. My heart went to both hero and heroine. These two waited a long time for their happily ever after and in Ms. Day’s hands they thrived. She also has a secondary love story that was just as well done as the main. I promise you, without a doubt that you’ll love this book. Worth every penny and more!

So there you have it my bookworms:) That’s it for August from me and RRAH! I would like to remind you all that Jenny Brown, Tiffany Clare, Joanna Bourne and a slew of other authors will be stopping by very soon and you’re welcome to stop by, comment and enter our contests:)