Trudy Brasure & Fan Fiction

AHFM TBMy novel, A Heart for Milton, is based on a movie — the most captivating love story I’ve ever watched, with a concluding scene so staggeringly beautiful that many insist it is the most romantic screen kiss of all time.

I know the date I stumbled across the BBC’s North and South: mid-October 2009. My life is divided into two stages: before I found North and South — and after.

After I had watched the four hour mini-series about an unlikely love match burgeoning amid the desolate grayness of the Victorian industrial revolution, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I soon bought the book the film was based upon — Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South (1854), and learned much more of the backstory and the characters’ inner struggles. The whole story just enthralled me. There’s a lot of angst and hero of the story, John Thornton, is a passionate, lonely, silent, sufferer — an absolute gold mine of a hero for hopeless romantics like me!

NS RA

There was a heart-rending scene in the movie that I could not stop agonizing over. “If only they could have known…” I told myself, and proceeded to spend the next several weeks of my life relentlessly conjuring a viable alternative to this scene. As the vision became clearer in my mind, I began to write it down. One scene demanded another, and my story swept on to a very fulfilling conclusion some 300 plus pages later!

EXCERPTS: here.

PART 1

The original Victorian novel is full of trials, misunderstandings, and life-altering events. The happy ending is finally found on the last two pages of the book! I wrote my novel because I wanted to see the lovers experience the joy of finding love after all the hardships they had experienced. A Heart for Milton extends the happily-ever-after portion of the story, but not without a few trials and anguished moments along the path of bliss.

PART 2

I’m not trying to sell you my book as much as I dare you to discover the love story of John Thornton and Margaret Hale for yourselves by watching the BBC’s North and South. No warm-blooded female should miss seeing this fantastic masterpiece.

PART 3

And the original classic novel by Elizabeth Gaskell? It’s my all-time favorite book, of course! (North and South is available on Netflix and on Amazon’s instant streaming. I recommend buying the DVD, however, for the complete, unedited version.)

PART 4 – THE END? No.

Which book/film that you read/saw could have used an alternate ending, or retelling? 

*One lucky Commenter will end up with book/eBook. Giveaway INTERNATIONAL!

Trudy BrasureAUTHOR BIO: This is Trudy Brasure’s first fictional work. Inspired by the BBC’s adaptation of North and South (2004), she was impelled to write an original alteration and continuation to the love story.

As a busy stay-at-home mother of three children, the author takes refuge in reading and writing about by-gone eras. A lover of history and a hopeless romantic, she enjoys reading both real and fictional accounts of love and life in times past.

She currently lives in the San Francisco bay area.

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‘A Heart for Milton’ by Trudy Brasure

AHFM TBSTORY: When Margaret Hale hastily rejected the wealthy industrialist’s fervent marriage proposal, she could not have foreseen the events that would lead her to change her mind and open her heart. But was it too late now to let the handsome, brooding mill owner know?

Set amidst the clamor of Victorian England’s Industrial Revolution, this is a tale of hope, trial, and love’s fulfillment. Based on the novel ‘North and South’ by Elizabeth Gaskell, this book weaves a change in the original plot to create a beautiful continuation of an enduring love story

REVIEW: I never read ‘North and South’ by Elizabeth Gaskell, but I did watch a four-part mini serial with Richard Armitage and Daniela Denby-Ashe, which I liked a lot.

If you’re looking for retelling of Ms. Gaskell’s novel, or the adaptation of it, you’ll be disappointed.

‘A Heart for Milton’ is a Fan Fiction; a continuation of both, novel and adaptation; it concentrates on what really happened after that memorable ‘train station kiss’.

Ms. Brasure’s tale opens with Margaret mourning her father’s passing and her public acceptance of John’s proposal.

This is a well told and very complex ending, a closure, which most fans of John and Margaret probably needed to read.

I have to admit, even though this story ‘reads’ well, I wanted to ‘feel’ it. I wanted the author to show me more, and tell me less.

Regardless, in the end I give Ms. Brasure a lot of credit for taking on this project that is so close to her heart. It takes a lot of courage to write not just a novel, but a continuation of a well-loved tale and characters from another author.

If you are a fan of ‘North and South’ you should check this book out, and if you’ve never heard of either the book or the serial, please watch the serial before you read the book.

I’m looking forward to reading more from this author.

*Melanie for b2b

*Book provided by the author.

Fan2Author Interview with…Charlotte Hawkins!

TBL CHWelcome back to b2b Charlotte!

It has been awhile since we had you on, so how about you let us know what you’ve been up to.

Charlotte Hawkins:  It’s been a heck of a year for me. I moved to Florida in March 2012. I started a new job, and it has kept me very, very busy. Sadly, I don’t get to devote as much time to writing as I would like, but I try to steal time when I can.

b2b: I was pleasantly surprised by Owen and Isabella. As I noted in my review of the book, their imperfections made them more down to earth, more real to me. Was that a conscious decision on your part? Tell us more about them and what inspired their story.

CH:  It started when I was writing My Lady Gisborne. Isabella was not supposed to be a major player in the Gisborne story. She was simply Rene’s lover, and not much more. But as I was writing, my imagination took over, as it usually does. I didn’t like the idea of a female character being little more than a plot device. The character kept coming back into my mind, and I started to think of her as a flesh and blood person – one with thoughts and feelings, a woman who had reasons for her actions, and ultimately, those actions had consequences. I started writing her, and the story just grew from there.

Owen was set in my mind from the start. He would be just like Guy – and yet, different. His upbringing was different, since he was raised in a loving home and never suffered the torments and disappointments his father did. Guy and Cassia brought him up to be a proper you man, which of course meant pursuing the knighthood, as most young men did in those days. Owen was raised to follow a certain code of morals. But of course, his Gisborne passions take over, and just like his father, once he sets his mind to what he wants, he will stop at nothing to have his way.

b2b: This story is parallel to My Lady Gisborne, which is no small feat, and told MLG CHmostly from Owen’s POV so I wondered what prompted the decision to tell it this way, and not continue from where the other book left off?

CH:  I had SO much to say when I was writing My Lady Gisborne, and Owen and Izzy’s story just kept growing in my mind. But I couldn’t cram it all into one story without it being extremely long and complicated. So I decided to give Owen and Isabella their own book.

b2b: I admire the risk you took by creating such a complex character as Lady Isabella. Not many writers would risk it by having her become a fallen woman before she falls in love with Owen. What made you pair young Owen with her and not someone else?

CH:  I wanted Owen to fall in love with someone who would be a challenge to him. Much like Guy, he’s stubborn and arrogant, and he needed a spirited lady to match his personality. Isabella’s passions are suppressed by her circumstances, but they’re brimming under the surface, and I like to think she and Owen would have a marriage equally as passionate as Guy and Cassia’s. As for the idea of Isabella being a “Fallen Woman,” it was my way of challenging myself as a writer. Could I create a character that readers would like and sympathize with, even though she commits adultery? Yes, her husband is a brutal beast, but the fact remains that she broke her marriage vows, possibly risking her life and perhaps losing her son in the process. As the writer, I was on her side all the way, but we shall see what readers have to say about her.

b2b: Which book of the three in this series was the hardest or the easiest to write and which couple did you like the best?

CH:  This book was certainly the most difficult to write. Going back and forth between this and My Lady Gisborne, trying to make sure the two stories gelled. That was hard enough. But in all honesty, it was hardest just finding the time to finish it. But I knew there were people who were waiting for it for a long time, so I kept pushing until it was complete.

I have to say that Evie and Simon are my favorite couple. Evelyn is my favorite female because she’s a lot like me (Sorry if that sounds conceited). I loved writing Simon because he’s my idea of the ultimate knight in shining armor (Who literally rides in on a white horse.) He’s proud, but not foolish. He’s tough as nails, but he has a tender side. And most importantly, he is completely devoted to the woman he loves.

b2b: Do you let someone read your work during your writing process? Who and why? Or do you wait ‘till it’s finished, then you let someone read it…and who?

CH:  I have several friends who read it and help me through the process. They’re a God-send.

b2b: As a writer, I’m sure you read a lot. What do you read the most and what’s on your TBR now?

TTGOGS CHCH:  These days, I hardly get to read at all. My job often keeps me running six days a week, so my free time is usually spent catching up on sleep. But when I do read, I enjoy mostly non-fiction work. I am a big history buff, and I love biographies of historical figures, so that’s what I usually pick to read.

b2b:  And that concludes our ‘professional’ part of the interview. Are you willing to share a bit of your ‘personal’ side with our bookworms?

CH:  Sure!

b2b: So, tell us a bit about yourself, something personal that you’d like us to know…anything that makes you comfortable…or not…like how many times did you fall in love?

CH:  In my life, I’ve been in love many times. I’m just a romantic at heart. I can’t say if anyone’s ever been in love with me, though. If my true love is out there, he’s hiding himself pretty well. But I’m sure there’s someone for everyone.

b2b: What’s your favorite meal of the day (food)?

CH:  Breakfast. I love eggs, especially omelettes.

b2b: Flannels or Silk?

CH:  Silk. I’m warm-natured, so I have to be cool to sleep.

b2b: Do you like to cook?

CH:  I love to cook. And my roots are country roots, so we learn early. I think I’m pretty good at it, too.

b2b: What’s your favorite spot in the house?

CH:  The recliner in the living room

b2b: Cats or Dogs?

CH:  Dogs. I love all animals, but I never had cats around me when I was growing up. Our family was all about the canines.

b2b: Champagne or Beer? 

CH:  I don’t like beer at all, and champagne is OK. But I prefer wine, either white or rose.

b2b: Your favorite time of the year?

CH:  I live in Florida, so we don’t really have a change of seasons. But I like autumn the best. Halloween is my favorite holiday.

b2b: Movies or TV?

CH:  Both.

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

CH:  The Godfather is my favorite movie. At the moment, I don’t care for much that’s on TV. (I despise reality shows. Ugh!) But my favorite sitcom of all time is “The Cosby Show.”

b2b: Charlotte, you’ve been such a good sport! Thanks so much for stopping by and good luck with the new book. I really liked it a lot!

CH:  Thank you so much for featuring me, and I’m so happy you enjoyed the story.

And here’s the man who inspired the story….

I will give away a copy of “The Baron’s Lady” on Kindle. (US or INTERNATIONAL). I’ll use a random number generator to choose from the names entered. To enter, I want readers to tell me who their favorite member of the Gisborne family is and why.

RA GOGAUTHOR BIO: I was born in the Chicago suburb of Romeoville, Illinois. I grew up in the Midwest, but my family roots are in Kentucky. My parents were very old school, but everyone else around me was more contemporary in their thinking, so I was a bit of an oddball as a child. I was also an extreme introvert, which made it difficult for me to make friends.

That, however, led me to have a very great imagination. I became a writer out of necessity – no one wanted to hear my mind’s ramblings, so I started writing my stories down for my own entertainment. Lucky for me, I eventually found a small but loyal audience (Thanks, in no small part, to a certain lovely Brit actor) I love and appreciate all of my fans, and I hope I can continue writing stories that people will enjoy.

I moved to Florida in early 2012, and on top of being a writer, I’m a proud cast member at Walt Disney World. A dreamer like me couldn’t ask for a better job.

You can find me on Blog / Tweeter / Facebook

‘The Baron’s Lady’ by Charlotte Hawkins

TBL CHSTORY: Owen Gisborne is a knight in training. He vows not to lose his heart to a woman, but only to dedicate himself to the prestige of his warrior’s class. But to be a Gisborne is to love with a great passion, even if it goes against the rules…

Lady Isabella is a woman with a heart that is desperate for love. Denied the happiness that she sees in so many others, she makes a choice that changes the course of her life…and puts her very existence in danger…

Can love survive the adversity of an unforgiving world? Or will the mistakes of the past destroy any hope of happiness?

REVIEW: In this, her third book of the Gisborne saga, [The Tempest, My Lady Gisborne] Ms. Hawkins tells the tale of Guy of Gisborne’s son, Owen. However, this is not a story that comes after the last book, but rather a parallel to it, and told mostly from Owen’s point of view.

Owen is only seventeen when he gets infatuated by Lady Isabella, a beautiful young and married woman who is clearly out of his reach. As he gets to know her and her story better, he gives into his feelings more and more, finally admitting to himself that his heart belongs to this woman and no other.

Charlotte Hawkins manages to paint a picture of two people that are not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. Both make many mistakes before their love is given a chance to blossom, and that’s what made them more real to me. Their imperfections were dealt with as they grew closer together and it’s what made them come to life.

As in her earlier books, Ms. Hawkins takes the bones of a TV show ‘Robin Hood’ and gives it her own muscle and sinew to bring the Gisborn’s to life as we’ve never seen or read about before.

Each story is an original, well told tale of love found, lost and then found yet again.

The women in her medieval tales are strong and are not much relying on their knights in shining armor to rescue them, but are willing to work hard and sometimes rescue their knights instead.

But most of all, her books are about a family that loves one another through thick and thin.

The Baron’s Lady is one medieval story you should try to read this summer, especially now that’s FREE on Amazon. I hope you’ll like it as much as I did.

*Book purchased from Amazon.

‘A Heart for Milton: A Tale from North and South’ by Trudy Brasure

BOOK BLURB: When Margaret Hale hastily rejected the wealthy industrialist’s fervent marriage proposal, she could not have foreseen the events that would lead her to change her mind and open her heart. But was it too late now to let the handsome, brooding mill owner know? Set amidst the clamor of Victorian England’s Industrial Revolution, this is a tale of hope, trial, and love’s fulfillment.

Based on the novel North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell, this book weaves a change in the original plot to create a beautiful continuation of an enduring love story.

EXCERPT:

“What are you doing here?” he asked, finding his voice first. His pulse hammered as he took in the sight of her in her thin nightclothes. She looked like a goddess in her flowing white dressing gown, her auburn hair spilling down her back, laying in long tendrils around her shoulders.

“I…I was going to get some water, but saw a light here,” she managed to say as a way of explaining herself, feeling a little out of breath to be standing so close to him. “What are you doing here?” she asked him in turn, casting her eyes downward to stare at the fabric of his waistcoat.

“I could not sleep and thought I might read,” he explained in a soft, low voice that stupefied her. His eyes raptly traveled the length of her. Margaret stood in the dim shadow of his towering form; the candle flickering in her hand cast a warm glow on her face and illuminated the draping cloth that covered her body, revealing a tantalizing outline of her waist and hips.

“Do you often have trouble sleeping?” Margaret inquired curiously, her speech wavering as she cautiously lifted her face to meet his heated gaze.

“Lately, yes – when I cannot stop thinking of you,” Mr. Thornton intoned breathlessly, his blue eyes blazing with ardor. He felt himself perilously close to certain danger. He knew he should disengage himself from her, allow her to recover her modesty and flee from his presumptuous gaze. But he could not tear his eyes from her for fear that she would indeed escape from him.

“Oh,” Margaret uttered, transfixed by the intensity of his stare and the play of candlelight dancing across the chiseled features of his face. He was so close to her that she could smell the clean scent of sandalwood emanating from his body.

Wordlessly, Mr. Thornton reached out a trembling hand to grasp a long lock of her hair, watching in fascination as the silken tress passed languidly through his fingers. Margaret felt her knees weaken in response to this intimate gesture, and her heart pounded in her ears.

“I should go,” she breathed, weakly attempting to recover her sensibility; however, she lifted her eyes to his and was drawn to him like a moth to the flame.

“Yes…you should,” he whispered, bringing his face closer to hers, unable to resist the beguiling sight of her parted lips.”

***   ***   ***

***   ***   ***

“Miles Apart

He studied in reverent fascination every object within that had held communion with her: the rose-colored curtains, the elegant marble-topped vanity, the glass-framed pressed flowers hanging on the wall, and the simple chest of drawers with a lace overlay. The trunks Dixon had packed lay opened on the floor, bulging with all the delicate finery of a lady’s wardrobe.

His eyes narrowed with interest as his gaze rested upon the garment that lay at the top of the pile. It was the elegant gown she had worn at the dinner party those many months ago. He stepped forward and crouched down to examine it. Touching the silk fabric gingerly, he recalled how stunningly beautiful she had appeared that evening. Amazement washed over him once more at the realization that she had accepted him. He had not thought such a lady of refinement could ever be his.

It remained a wonder to him that he had somehow won her regard. Of old, she had always spoken to him with harsh disdain, never more so than when he had first told her of his love.

Crouched there, in the middle of her room, he become aware of the faint fragrance of jasmine. He closed his eyes to better concentrate on the scent, which instantly brought to mind the tremulous moment when he had nearly brushed against her as he had secured the door behind her on that fateful morning. She had seemed so fragile and beautiful. He had yearned to feel the smooth skin of her face; to draw her to him and claim her as his own in some presumptuous way.

He brushed his fingers reverently along the folded silk for a lingering moment before slowly straightening himself to stand.”

FEATURED AUTHOR: Trudy Brasure

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Happy International Kissing Day!

What?! You didn’t know this? Well, now that you do, grab your ‘significant other, or in my case my ‘better half’ and give them a kiss they’ll remember!

To get you in a mood, here’s my choice of three best kissing scenes I’ve seen on the screen.

Here at b2b we’ll celebrate today by giving away some  books that need a new home ;D Tell us about the best kiss you had or seen it on the screen!

(*open only for US) 

“The Tempest: A Guy of Gisborne Story (The Gisbornes) by Charlotte Hawkins

STORY: Guy of Gisborne is a fierce, brooding knight. He is both feared and scorned by those under his command. But under his harsh exterior is a tormented soul, haunted by his many sins…

Cassia is a peasant with a gift for healing, and a secret longing for the feared lord Gisborne. When fate thrusts him into her hands, she quickly finds that he lives up to his dark reputation. But she also learns there is more to him than meets the eye…

Soon they are drawn into a passionate affair, discovering that love is a power that can overcome all things.

REVIEW: I’m sure that this take on Robin Hood’s nemesis will not appeal to diehard Prince of Thieves fans, but if you’ve had a chance to watch BBC series (which lasted only three seasons), you will gobble this book and revel in it. I did. I loved every word this author wrote, and then some!

First, because of the said series, I knew what to expect, or I thought I did. It actually went a bit further then the series in giving us depth to Guy’s character that helped me understand his dark and brooding nature. As the title states, this tale is all about Sir Guy and if you’re expecting this to be your run-of-the-mill ‘hero worship’ tale, you’re in for a big surprise. Ms. Hawkins doesn’t shy away from painting her hero with multiple flaws and that’s what gave this story a very real, human element that kept my attention.

Cassia is one of those heroines that can be strong yet at the same time very vulnerable. I think that her strength and abundance of patience was what attracted Guy to her. No matter how hard he tried to ‘manage’ her, she never gave into him nor did she allow him to turn her into a meek, withering female. The attraction, chemistry and the tension between the two was built with perfect pace and allowed us to watch Guy slowly show to Cassia his good side, without losing his ‘bad boy’ edge.

As a Guy of Gisborne fan, this story was ‘up my alley’ and I loved it so much that I’m now in the middle of the second book in the series ‘My Lady Gisborne: A Love Story’ and without a doubt I would recommend both. The author continues where she left off and I was happy to catch up with now older couple and their children. William, Theodora, Owen and Evelyn are all a mix of both of their parents and it was so much fun watching their different personalities.

This last year I’ve read so many new and good authors that the element of surprise in how well this book was written, by an unknown, is lost on me by now. I haven’t done much research on Charlotte Hawkins, but I can tell you this: Both her books are better than Catherine Coulter’s last one ‘The Valcourt Heiress’ and that, my bookworms, says it all.

If you’d like to step out of your comfort zone as I did, I promise that both of these books will keep you well entertained with its good writing, quick pace and sharp dialogue. And I would be remiss in not letting you know that sensuality in the first book is OFF the charts and it will definitely appeal to many romance lovers. Highly recommended!

Here’s just a little clip of BBC’s show that I fell in love with:

…as much as I loved the first and second season, the third left me baffled and stunned.