Monthly Archives: February 2016
Destitute and determined to finally be free of any man’s shackles, Lily Benedict sets out to salvage her honor. With no choice but to commit a crime that will save her from her past, she enters the home of the recluse, Derek Winters, the new Duke of Blackthorne. But entering the “Beast of Blackthorne’s” lair proves more threatening than she ever imagined.
With half a face and a mangled leg, Derek—once rugged and charming—only exists within the confines of his home. Shunned by society, Derek is leery of the hauntingly beautiful Lily Benedict. As time passes, she slips past his defenses, reminding him how to live again. But when Lily’s sordid past comes back, threatening her life, it’s up to Derek to find the strength to become the hero he once was. Can they overcome the darkness of their sins to find a life of love and redemption?
“I don’t give a bloody hell if it is the damn Queen of England for tea and biscuits, do not darken my door.”
She stared unblinking at the door. This was William’s brother? This foul-mouthed, mannerless brute? A more rational, sensible woman would be fearful of the beast who dwelled on the other side. However, she was long past fearing a snarling, petulant duke.
The butler, Harris, looked painfully at her, his expression conveying an absolute uncertainty of how to proceed. He tried once more with his employer. “I-it is about the g—”
“If you say it is about the girl, I’ll have you hung by your ballocks.”
Oh, that was really enough. Lily reached past the servant, and ignoring his shocked gasp, she pressed the handle.
She furrowed her brow. Humph. Well, she’d not anticipated that. Lily tried again.
“Harrison, if you jiggle my damn handle once more, I’ll myself remove your hand from you body.”
A small giggle cut into the end of the duke’s vile speech and Lily whipped her head to the right. A little girl in white skirts stood at the end of the hall. The widening of her cornflower blue eyes indicated shock at being discovered. Then the giggling imp ducked back behind the wall and disappeared.
Lily gave her head a shake. What manner of place was this? Angry, shouting men. Giggling, unattended children…and those same unattended children giggling at the shouting, angry men?
Poor Harris. The man appeared one more outburst from the duke away from casting up his mornings account. Alas, Lily should have learned long ago from her own experience that ordinary people were capable of extraordinary courage.
USA TODAY Bestselling author CHRISTI CALDWELL blames Judith McNaught’s “Whitney, My Love!” for luring her into the world of historical romance. While sitting in her graduate school apartment at the University of Connecticut, Christi decided to set aside her notes and pick up her laptop to try her hand at romance. She believes the most perfect heroes and heroines have imperfections, and she rather enjoys torturing them before crafting them a well-deserved happily ever after!
Christi makes her home in southern Connecticut where she spends her time writing her own enchanting historical romances, chasing around her feisty six-year-old son and caring for her twin princesses in training!
Links: Website: http://christicaldwell.com
Today we have a special treat. Historical Romance author Jenny Holiday is here with her newest book Viscountess of Vice, Book 3 in her Regency Reformers series.
Secrets and lies, scandals and spies.
All Lady Catharine, Viscountess Cranbrook, wants is a little excitement. Bored of playing the role of the ton’s favorite slightly scandalous widow, she jumps at the chance to go undercover as a courtesan to help with an espionage mission. After all, beneath her outrageously low bodice beats the heart of a patriot.
Social reformer James Burnham is conducting a study of vice in England’s capital. Driven by his own secrets, he is methodical, intelligent—and wickedly handsome. Catharine is the last sort of woman the upstanding James should want. But want her he does, though she stands for everything he opposes.
When Catharine and James are forced to band together to advance their causes, they’ll be drawn into a web of secrets and lies that endangers their lives—and their hearts.
Hi Jenny, it’s wonderful to have you here. Let’s get to know a bit about you….
Do you have a day job?
No! But I have only recently quit the day job, so it’s still a thrill to answer that way. I worked for a lot of years as a writer and PR person in the higher ed sector.
Tell us about your greatest adventure?
Moving to Canada, where I didn’t know anyone, by myself in my early 20s
What is your biggest fear in life?
Being on vacation and being in the ocean and being surrounded by fish. They don’t even have to be sharks—just a big-ass school of fish.
What is your greatest accomplishment?
I would say successfully breastfeeding my son. (It was really hard!)
Do you have any unique talents or hobbies? (besides writing
Breastfeeding? No, I am kidding. That ended a lot time ago. I am freakishly good at remembering long strings of numbers (really).
Who is/are your biggest supporter(s)?
My dad. I grew up in the US midwest, where We Do Not Talk About Things. I *told* my dad not to read my first book, but he did. We didn’t talk about those parts, thankfully, but he had a lot to say about things like the wall color in some of the scenes. He also used to print out my Amazon reviews and hand them out in his town.
If you could live in any time period which would you choose and why?
Right now! Though I love the world of Regency romance, really I love other things more—women’s sufferage, antibiotics, indoor plumbing, etc!
Do you ever experience writer’s block?
No. I mean, some parts of some books are harder than others—heck, some parts of some books are like pulling teeth—but I don’t stop. I firmly embrace the “butt in chair” philosophy. You just have to push your way through.
Do you work with an outline, or just write?
Left to my own devices, I don’t outline per se. I do plan books in the sense that I know what the characters want and how they are going to come into conflict with each other. I actually spend quite a bit of time thinking about that stuff before I start. I might know some of the plot, but I don’t sit down and outline the whole thing …unless it’s the first book in a series and I have to sell it to a publisher. Publishers, even ones you’ve worked with before, won’t buy anything without a synopsis. So in those cases, yes, I do outline the book, but only because I have no choice!
What process do you use to research for your book?
With this book, I read about the earliest social reform movements in England. Mostly, we associate these movements with the Victorians, but many of them had their roots in the Regency period in which the book is set. I also read a lot about gun manufacturing! I would not have been able to write this book without the amazing efforts of the interlibrary loan department at my local university. They got their hands on lots of cool stuff for me!
Who has been your favorite character thus far?
Of all my books? I think it’s Rose Verma, the heroine of my contemporary novel The Engagement Game. Rose was a goofball with a spine of steel.
Who has been the hardest character to write about? What character has given you the most trouble?
I actually think it might be Catharine, the heroine of Viscountess of Vice. She is so wounded and has built up such emotional armor. Sometimes it is hard to write a character like that and then come down from it in a way that is credible. It doesn’t work to just stick a hero in there and, viola, everything is fixed!
What project are you working on now?
A trilogy of novellas I’m calling New Wave Newsroom. They are set in the 1980s and each book is inspired by a song from the decade. The characters work on their college newspaper.
Your life is being made into a movie and you get to choose any actor/actress to play you, who would it be and why?
I would choose Mindy Kaling, not because we have anything in common but because I think she is genius (I may be a wee bit obsessed with her, actually), and I want to meet her!
Tell me about your book/release, (title).
Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?
Fans of Regency romance will enjoy the intrigue in this book and a few unexpected twists it throws at them.
How did you come up with the title of your book or series?
I was writing about ahead of their time social reformers in the Regency era, so it was a natural progression to call the series Regency Reformers.
Tell me about your Hero and Heroine?
Catharine is a slightly scandalous widow (she enjoys the company of men, let’s just say) who is moonlighting as a spy. She is posted in a house of ill repute, trying to ensnare an enemy of the crown. James is a social reformer who doesn’t approve of anything about Catharine.
How do you come up with your characters names?
I just pick names I like that seem to fit the characters, and in this case, are consistent with the historical setting. With contemporaries, sometimes use internet-based random name generators if I need inspiration. Sometimes I’m stuck because I have a secondary character in one book that I’ve already named, without giving it much thought, and then that character ends up getting his or her own book!
Are your Characters modeled after any one in your life?
Nope! My life is not that exciting!
Who is your favorite character from your book and why?
I think James. He tries so very hard to do what is good and right, but he can’t see the forest for the trees.
What was your favorite chapter to write? Scene? Why?
There is a scene in which the heroine has to do something that goes against her code of ethics (I don’t want to be too specific because I don’t want to give it away). That was tough for me to write, but also tough because I didn’t want readers to turn on her.
Do you have a least favorite character? What makes them your least favorite character?
Well, the villain—that one is easy! Again, I can’t say exactly why, but he is a baddie! He also wears ugly hats!
Give us an interesting fun fact or a few about your book or series:
I wrote most of it in one-hour chunks. I was still working a day job, and I would write over my lunch hour and then again for an hour after my kid went to bed.
How can we contact you or find out more about your books?
My website is jennyholiday.com, or you can find me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/jenny.holiday or Twitter (where I am more than I’m on Facebook) @jennyholi
Historical romance author Lily Maxton is here today with a fantastic interview. She is here to discuss her newest release from the Sisters of Scandal series, The Improper Bride. Please help me make her feel welcome.
Lily Maxton will be giving away a $5 Amazon gift card. Be sure to leave a COMMENT in order to be entered into the random drawing. A winner will be drawn and announced on February 14, 2016 @ 5pm. There is also a rafflecoptor link below to enter.
Before we get into your book, let us talk about you.
Lily Maxton grew up in the Midwest, reading, writing, and daydreaming amidst cornfields. After graduating with a degree in English, she decided to put her natural inclinations to good use and embark on a career as a writer.
When she’s not working on a new story, she likes to tour old houses, add to her tea stash, and think of reasons to avoid housework.
- What is your favorite color?
It was blue for the longest time, but now I’m really loving purple! (Which I’ve been using a lot…on my website, Twitter, etc, etc…)
- What is your biggest fear in life?
Currently, that my writing career will come tumbling down because of writer’s block or low sales or any reason, really. We writers tend to be anxious creatures.
- If you weren’t an author what would you be?
Could I get paid for just reading books? That would be awesome. I also really love museums and historical artifacts…maybe a curator?
- When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?
I started writing stories pretty much when I learned to write. When I was about seven I wrote my first “book” about a wolf pack (a lot of random things happen, and it was fairly violent for a seven year old—I drew pictures, too!). I wrote my first novel-length romance in high school, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t very good.
- Is there a genre/subgenre that you haven’t written that you would like to try?
I really love fantasy/romance, especially YA. Maybe someday…
- What project are you working on now?
I’m working on a new historical romance series, centered around a family of your basic damaged misfits. Hopefully I’ll be able to talk more about it soon.
- What is the best way to celebrate after a book release?
Release day and even release week tend to be fairly busy. Sometimes the weekend after I’ll reward myself with champagne, or my husband and I will go out to dinner. I really do think it’s a good idea to take some time to stop and relax and celebrate your accomplishments.
Tell me about your book/release, The Improper Bride.
Give us a 30-word or less tagline: A Beauty and the Beast style story with a little Cinderella thrown in for fun.
How did you come up with the title of your book or series?
I have to confess that I’m horrible at titles. My working title for this was Sisters of Scandal #5 for a very long time, and then I came up with The Secret, which wasn’t bad but not great either. Thankfully someone at Entangled thought of The Improper Bride!
3. Tell us a little bit about your cover art. Who designed it? Why did you go with that particular image/artwork?
I love this cover, designed by LJ Anderson. I really have no say in the final image that gets used; the people at Entangled decide that. But I love the brightness of it, and the heroine’s dress, and the embrace, which I think is sensual without going overboard. I was really pleased.
4. Tell me about your Hero and Heroine?
Henry is a marquess, and to be honest, initially he’s an ass. But he’s injured in a fire and slowly starts to change and become a better man. Cassandra is Henry’s housekeeper— she’s occupied with her work and happy with her life just as it is… or so she thinks. These two are kindred spirits who have lived in the same household for years but have never really recognized each other because of the class boundaries. But the aftermath of the fire changes their relationship in unexpected ways.
5. How do you come up with your characters names?
I usually stick to names that were common in the Regency era, but I tend to like it best when I find a name that was around back then but maybe wasn’t as common. The heroine’s name is Cassandra, which is an example of this… I don’t think it was very popular during the Regency, but Jane Austen’s sister’s name was Cassandra, so we know it was used at least occasionally. On a side note, Jane Austen’s aunt was named Philadelphia! I’d love to name one of my characters that! I don’t know what the nickname would be, though. Phil? Del?
6. Who is your favorite character from your book and why?
I love both of my main characters, but Lady Margaret, the hero’s sister, was so much fun to write! She’s very independent and opinionated and a bit of a troublemaker. I’d love to write her book someday… I just have to think of a hero who can match her!
7. How can we contact you or find out more about your books?
You can go to my website, www.lilymaxton.com. And I’m also on Facebook and Twitter (facebook.com/lilymaxton and @LilyMaxton).
8. What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?
Getting the word out is really important. If you love a book, consider writing a review, and/or recommending it to other people you think might like it!
9. Do you have any tips for readers or advice for other writers trying to get published?
I’m sure every aspiring writer has heard it before, but it’s true—persistence is key. You’re going to work really hard and you’ll probably still get rejected. You might get rejected fifty times. But if you love it, you keep at it.
10. And now, before you go, how about a snippet from your book that is meant to intrigue and tantalize us:
His hand swept along her jaw—he knew the curve so well in his mind—it felt the same as it looked—strong, a little stubborn, with a teasing hint of feminine softness. Everything about her was like that, a mark of contrasts—strong and soft, firm and yielding. He could have touched her forever, studied those contrasts forever.
Cold, arrogant, and demanding Henry Eldridge, Marquess of Riverton, would never dally with a mere servant. But when Henry is injured in a horrible fire, his pretty housekeeper Cassandra nurses him back to health, throwing them together day and night. As he slowly heals from his burns, their friendship blossoms, and the class walls between them start to crumble. Cassandra is surprised by glimpses of a kind and thoughtful man beneath her employer’s hard façade—and even more surprised when she develops tender feelings for him. But anything between lord and servant is impossible…and besides, as a widow, she knows love only leads to heartbreak.
Henry is changing, as well. His close brush with death has opened his eyes to his self-imposed emotional isolation…and has urgently reminded him of his duty to marry a well-bred lady and produce an heir. Determined to do right by his family name, he immediately begins searching for a suitable bride. But Cassandra is the only woman who is never far from his mind or his heart. Contrary to everything he’s been taught to believe, he realizes his lovely housekeeper might just be his perfect match. Now, if only he could convince everyone else of that. Especially Cassandra…
“Oh, indeed?” he said softly, in a tone that scared her with its evenness. “What you feel for me is mere…servitude?”
No! Good Lord, there was nothing subservient in the way she’d pressed into his body in the snow, or when she’d cradled his face in her palms, or slept spooned up against him on the library floor. But admitting that would only make a complicated situation even more tangled. “Yes, I suppose, if that is what you wish to call it.”
He took a step toward her. “And when I recognized you even blindfolded, and your body trembled as I whispered in your ear, that was merely lord and housekeeper?”
She swallowed, her face heating. “I…” She cleared her throat. “That was a misunderstanding.”
He took her hand in his and tugged. She stumbled forward, nearly colliding with him. She would have, if she hadn’t braced her hand on his chest. She had to tilt her head back to look him in the eyes and she was very aware that he hadn’t removed his fingers from her wrist. Each one was distinct, burning her like brands.
“In that case, touch me,” he growled.
“What? No, I—”
“If you’re not affected by my presence, man to woman, I want you to prove it.” His eyes blazed with challenge.
“You are being ridiculous,” she said, her voice quaking as much as her heart.
He untied his cravat with one hand and let it drop to the floor, revealing his throat and his collarbone—smooth, pale skin, unmarred by the fire. She saw the pulse in his throat, saw that it was beating faster than normal.
“Touch me,” he ordered. Like Satan whispering temptation in her ear… Do you want the apple? Take it. Taste it. Her hand was still on his chest. Take it.
She wanted to so much, with a yearning that left her weak. She slid her hand up, her fingertips brushing his shoulder. He was tense. When she touched skin, he sucked in a quick breath.
A heady feeling, to know a simple touch could affect him so strongly. Heady and hot, and not at all servile.
It occurred to her, she was playing right into the scoundrel’s hands.
She didn’t care. The contact, the warmth of him, the way his pulse trembled under her fingers, had a similar effect to the whisky. It was like flame dancing along her limbs. Her nerves tingled, surging and alive. She let her thumb brush his collarbone, memorizing the contour of the graceful, jutting sweep, and paused at the hollow of his throat where she could feel the pounding of his heart.
No, she couldn’t… But she was already letting her head fall forward, her willpower succumbing to the hard, harsh rhythm of her body. Her lips grazed the hollow and his fingers tightened around her wrist, almost hurting her but not quite. She breathed him in, salt and spice and skin.
And licked him.