Tag Archive | Blush Cotillion

Cynthia Moore: It’s Never Enough

Cotillion Christmas Feasts

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2014 is the final year of Ellora’s Cave’s Cotillion Christmas anthologies. Enjoy these sweet Regency Christmas tales this year while you still can!

Message From Cynthia

It all started with the theme-Christmas Feasts. I wanted to set up an opening scene showing the heroine unable to sleep because she is hungry. She convinces her maid to accompany her to the kitchen for a late night meal. I needed the heroine to encounter the hero in the kitchen unexpectedly. They should each show embarrassment as well as longing and concern for one another (an obvious hint at continued affection on both sides). Then I had to come up with a reason why they were each holding their emotions in check. That’s when I decided that there would be a misunderstanding between them the night before the hero goes to war. This mistake has festered and bothered each of them in the months the hero has been away. She is confused and heartbroken, he is full of longing for her but he believes he did the right thing to set her free so that she could be with the man she loved.

About It’s Never Enough

Lady Selina Durwood has been in love with Lord Robert Crestor since she was a young girl. As the years passed by and their relationship matured, it was assumed by all who knew them they would eventually marry.

Robert makes a decision to join the British cavalry to assist in the fight against Napoleon. While attending a ball the night before he leaves, Robert observes his best friend Justin Wexley, Marquess of Rockton, speaking to Selina. They both appear to gaze longingly into each other’s eyes while they talk. Robert assumes they are in love with each other. Later that night, he informs Selina that she is released from any expectations of marriage with him.

Invited to spend the Christmas holidays with her parents at his family’s estate, Selina agrees to attend believing Robert is still stationed with his cavalry in Brussels. Upon entering the kitchen with her maid for a late night meal, she unexpectedly encounters Robert.

Will Robert come to realize he made a very unfortunate conjecture about his friend and Selina? Can Selina forgive Robert for the heartache and pain she has lived with since he set her free and went away to battle? The true strength of their love for one another is put to the test in this holiday story.

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Excerpt

Chapter One

December 23, 1815

“Ellie! Miss Worth! Please wake up!”

“What…what? Whatever is the matter, my lady?”

“I’m famished. I can’t sleep. My stomach is growling like an angry bear with a bee in its ear! You need to accompany me to the kitchen.”

9781419993367_p0_v1_s260x420Miss Worth yawned loudly and then looked embarrassed. “I’m sorry, my lady. We were traveling all day to get here and I ate a huge meal in the servants’ quarters this evening. I’m plumb exhausted as well as stuffed. Are you sure you’re hungry, my lady?”

Selina walked back into her own room and reached for her wrapper. She tied it securely at her waist and thrust her feet into the slippers that were on the floor near the bed. “You know what has happened lately whenever I go to balls or parties and I have to sit at a table and eat food surrounded by people I don’t know. I get nervous. I worry someone will ask me a question just as I take a mouthful of meat. Or a piece of cabbage will get stuck in my teeth and it will shine like a green beacon for everyone to see when I smile. I end up taking a few small bite before the hostess rises from her seat and announces it is time for the women to leave the gentlemen to their brandy and cigars. Such a thing occurred tonight.”

Miss Worth sat up in her cot and frowned at Selina from the connecting room. “But, my lady, Lord and Lady Dunstable have been friends of your parents since before you were born. And you’ve known Lord Rockton for many years. Surely you have no trouble eating a meal around them?”

Selina began pacing across the carpet that lay in front of the hearth. She needed some sort of activity to keep her mind off her hunger pains while she waited for Ellie to get ready. “Of course I don’t. But several new acquaintances are joining us here for the holidays. A Lord John Bartley, his sisters, Miss Bartley and Miss Francis Bartley and Lord Bartley’s friend, Sir William Elsmere. They were all at the table this evening.”

Miss Worth struggled to her feet and trust her arms into her wrapper. “Oh yes. I believe I heard the butler mentioning the arrival of more guests. He seemed very upset that Lord Crestor hadn’t made an appearance, my lady.”

“Robert…um, Lord Crestor? He is busy with the Cavalry Brigade in Brussels. He can’t make time to be with us now.” Selina stopped pacing and frowned down at the glowing bits of coal in the hearth.

“But, my lady, Napoleon is safely imprisoned on Saint Helena. Surely Lord Crestor could take some time away from his duties to be here for the holidays?”

“You seem unduly concerned by his absence, Ellie.” Selina raised her eyebrows as she looked at her maid.

“I’m the one who dried your tears after he left, my lady. I know how much you love him.”

“Yes, well, Lord Crestor made it perfectly clear that any thoughts of affection I might have had were misplaced when he released me from any prior claim to him just before he left to join his regiment in April.”

“My lady, you know that he hadn’t formally asked for your hand. He wanted you to be free in case he should be killed in battle.”

“We’ve been over this before, Ellie. He obviously didn’t care for me as much as I did for him.” Selina forced a smile upon her face and picked up the lighted taper on the bedside table. “Come, my mouth is watering when I think of the roasted quail and apple tarts that are taking up space in the larder this very moment.”

They made their way down the stairs, through the darkened entryway and tiptoed past the housekeeper’s quarters at the back of the house until they reached the door leading to the kitchen. Selina put a shaky hand against the frame as a loud rumble of hunger omitted from her stomach once again. Without further ado, she turned the knob and entered the room.

“Selina…um, Lady Selina? Is that you?”

Her hand trembled and the candle wavered as she heard the sound of the deep, soothing voice of the man she had known and loved since childhood. She raised the candle and focused her gaze on the figure that had risen from the nearby table. She stifled a gasp when she saw him clearly. He had lost a considerable amount of weight in the months since he had gone away to battle. His black hair was still thick and wavy, brushed back off his forehead. But his cheek bones seemed more pronounced and prominent on his face. He had taken off his coat and draped it over the back of a chair. His cravat was untied and his white linen shirt hung loosely across his chest. As she looked into his hazel eyes, she had the impression that he was holding himself in check-hiding something from her. “Robert? Uh, Lord Crestor? I thought you were still in Brussels.”

Susana Says

SusanaSays3…sweet and light holiday romance: 4/5 stars

Can a gentleman be too honorable?

Robert believes his betrothed is in love with his best friend, so he releases her from the relationship before he takes off for the war on the Continent.

Selena is left heartbroken when her betrothed gives her the freedom he believes she wants and then takes off for war.

Now he is back for Christmas with his family and a party of friends that includes Selena and the man he thinks she loves. He doesn’t understand why they have not married after so much time has passed, and besides, show no partiality for each other even now.

Cute love story set among English holiday traditions and culinary delights. Short enough to finish at one setting. Enjoy!

About the Author

author_photoCynthia Moore is a native Southern California girl. At a very early age, she discovered her local library and the exciting potential of escaping the real world inside the pages of a good book. In her early teens, she became a fan of British literature. After reading most of the Victorian classics, Cynthia found English Regency romance novels in 1987. It was love at first read. Since her chance introduction to this wonderful era, Cynthia has read over three thousand fiction novels and she maintains a large collection of research books on the period. She is extremely proud to be able to say she has several published novels taking place during the English Regency.

Other Stories in the Cotillion Christmas Feasts Series

Christmas Fete by Barbara Miller

The Size of the Scandal by Jillian Chantal

Her Very Major Christmas by Saralee Etter

A Christmas Scheme by Christa Paige and Vivien Jackson

It’s Never Enough by Cynthia Moore

Christa Paige & Vivien Jackson: A Christmas Scheme

Cotillion Christmas Feasts

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2014 is the final year of Ellora’s Cave’s Cotillion Christmas anthologies. Enjoy these sweet Regency Christmas tales this year while you still can!

Message From Christa

The fun thing about co-writing is that you can come up with an idea, lob it through the ether at your writing partner and watch as she takes off with it. This is the case with the orangery in A Christmas Scheme. If I could show you my message feed with my lovely co-author, Vivien Jackson, it might make you wonder how we managed to craft an entire story with the crazy amount of idea lobbing going on. It was kind of like a fun snow ball fight. One of those ideas stuck. And, it was after we agreed on incorporating an orangery into the story that I had to actually figure out what it was beyond what I had read a long time ago in a Stephanie Laurens’ Bar Cynster novel.

There are a few interesting facts about orangeries that I found out in my research. They started in the 1600’s but became popular throughout Britain and France during the 17thcentury. Originally, they were buildings made from rudimentary supports like wooden beams and heated stoves but by the height of their incorporation in the English manor, they became architectural masterpieces with heating vents and glass-paned windows. Some famous orangeries are still around today like at Versailles in France and Kew House in England.

One of the benefits of an orangery was that it continuously offered a plethora of fruits, especially those citrus fruits that would not normally grow in the frigid temperatures of an English winter. And, that fact worked nicely for our Christmas story. At first, the orangery only had one purpose in A Christmas Scheme: the oranges. However, as the story unfolded, it turned out that this orangery was used for far more than just growing trees through the winter cold.

Vivien incorporated the orangery in Doctor Avery’s medical practice. And, I went with that and added a use for his lovely bride, Caroline. As the story continued on, we found that the orangery became a bigger aspect throughout the plot. There is a pivotal scene between Kiran and Kate in the orangery. And, though it is snowing outside and Christmas is nigh, there is a warm fire burning within the orangery, keeping things summery and tepid. It is a place of escape, a place of solitude, a place of secrets.

And, a place to grow oranges.

I’m so glad that I lobbed that idea to Vivien and that she ran with it.

So, join Miss Kate Avery and Kiran in the orangery at White Withering. There might even be a few schemes in there, too.

About A Christmas Scheme

Sequel to A Christmas Caroline, but you don’t have to read the prequel first!

With her brother’s recent marriage to the daughter of an earl, Kate Avery is no longer needed to keep his house or look after their younger sister. She’s free. But for what? Secretly she wishes for purpose and adventure, but finding it seems unlikely. Then her brother arrives home from London just in time for Christmas…with an exotic and mysterious visitor.

A displaced Bengali lord, Kiran now serves the British Crown in a covert capacity. He’s been charged to deliver a secret message to the Earl of Withering at his country estate. He feels out of place in this very English home and is eager to leave until he meets Kate, who shares his desire for adventure.

Kate and Kiran must choose between the loyalties they have long held and the unexpected affection that blooms between them.

A Blush® Regency historical romance from Ellora’s Cave

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Excerpt

Copyright © CHRISTA PAIGE & VIVIEN JACKSON, 2014

All Rights Reserved, Ellora’s Cave Publishing, Inc.

Chapter One

22 December 1809, Shropshire

Kate Avery crested a high point on the lane at White Withering, the grand country estate belonging to her brother’s new father-in-law, and turned in a slow circle to observe the white-cloaked park and grounds. Drat winter. Drat the country. Drat Christmas. If there was an exact opposite of joy, she was feeling it today.

A Christmas Scheme_HiRes copyA crusty scab of snow lingered from this morning, and if the leaden clouds were any indication, more bad weather was soon to come. It never snowed so unseasonably early in London. The hem of her sturdy woolen pelisse was soaked and her head felt blown up tighter than a hot-air balloon. Hydrocephalus, her brother Samuel would worry, and give her a tincture and put her to bed. Sometimes it was a burden having a physician for a brother, especially one who was so fond of her.

Thank heaven he was away in town and wasn’t expected home for another two days. He had promised Lady Caroline he would return home for the whole of Christmastide. This season was special for them; last year during the holiday had seen them wed.

For Kate, her brother’s professional obligations in town presented her with something of a reprieve. By the time he returned, her nose ought to be quite sorted. And she would have her sister Virginia in hand.

Probably.

For the last several months, since they’d moved to the country with Samuel and his Lady Caroline, nine-year-old Virginia had been playing truant of her studies. Ladies do not learn mathematics, the child would say. Ladies learn forte-piano. And Kate would hide her handed-down cyphering tables and bite her tongue. Adjusting from making do in their modest house on Dean Street, appropriate for a young physician and his family, to the opulence of Lady Caroline’s world had been difficult for Kate. Not so for her sister, apparently. Virginia had taken to grandness like the Queen to tea. Worse, the Earl of Withering, Lady Caroline’s curmudgeon of a father, encouraged such behavior.

Virginia always had been special, the youngest of the Avery siblings, an unexpected baby, the one Papa called a bonus. Kate had promised her dying mother that she would care for her wee sister, and by God she planned to do just that. Only…what if she had indeed been teaching Virginia the absolute wrong things all these years? After all, Kate herself had no formal instruction and no notion really what ladies ought to know. What if the earl and Lady Caroline had the right of it, and Virginia required more ladylike accomplishments, not Latin verbs?

Kate swiped the handkerchief once more over her face, then tucked it in her pocket, turning her head toward a copse nearby, a barrier between the lane and the formal gardens. On the thin winter wind she thought she caught voices coming from that direction, one tinny and childish. She squinted past the lace of bare branches. It took her not five moments to locate the wispish figure of her sister, flitting amongst the trees, bundled up like an overstuffed doll and singing some melody at the top of her voice. Kate gathered breath to call after the child.

But in the next instant she swallowed her shout. Choked on it. Following a short distance behind the child was Miss Blackthorne, Virginia’s new governess. New as of last week. Kate dropped her hand.

Lady Caroline had hired this governess, and her references were impeccable. She even taught deportment and watercolor. They had been in the orangery this morning, coddling saplings, and in the music room in the afternoon, chiming scales. And now here they were, the child and her teacher, heedless of the cold or gathering twilight, moving apace, and casually. Virginia’s voice came clear again, and Kate realized she was singing a song…in French.

Her sister was speaking French . Was skipping through the country woods of White Withering, in the company of her hired servant, confidently intoning—with some occasional comment on the pronunciation from Miss Blackthorne—the sounds Kate had only ever dared to read and never to speak.

“Oh, Mama,” Kate murmured, “I would you could see this.” Truth was, Virginia was growing into a fine young lady. And quite, quite without her sister’s help. The governess and her charge passed the slight hill Kate stood upon, bound for the house, without a pause in their song or a glance to the side.

A sneeze bristled the inside of Kate’s nose, but she swallowed savagely and the urge went away.

Blinking the odd brightness of the snow-clad twilight from her eyes, she began back the way she had come. Back toward the great looming house and her unnervingly aristocratic, if generous, sister-in-law and…what else? How would she now fill this evening, or tomorrow?

Virginia might be learning how a lady ought to occupy her time, but Kate flailed. Lady Caroline spent whole days in letter writing, riding her horse, visiting around the neighborhood, and tending her hothouse flowers. Did she expect Kate to amuse herself in similar pursuits? The thought was soul-blanching. Kate was more used to sorting household accounts, reading bits of broadsides her brother picked up at the coffee shops, and making certain Virginia adhered to a schedule and lessons. If those were no longer appropriate tasks for her, she needed…something. Adventure. Excitement. A place in the world. A purpose.

She stifled a sneeze against her sleeve.

She had heretofore found that purpose in helping others—quizzing her brother in his studies before he went off to school, helping her mother when Virginia was born, and then taking over care of the child after Mama succumbed. If Kate was not required to supervise Virginia now, what else was she good for?

A sound swept over the park. Such noise, which layered every moment in London, was alien out here in the country, unusual enough that she turned toward it.

The carriage was not beyond the park, as she had supposed. It turned onto the lane even as she watched, flashing the crest of the Earl of Withering. It lumbered a bit, the coachman taking his horses gingerly over fresh ice, but clearly it was coming here to White Withering. Her brother had returned early from London!

Eager to hurry back to the house before Samuel arrived, Kate picked up the hem of her pelisse and started down the hill, but a movement in the carriage arrested her momentarily. A shape leaned out the narrow window. A head. Even from this distance she could discern that it was dark. Unusually so and quite exotic. He looked straight at her.

Goodness. Of a certainty not her brother.

Kate’s breath caught up with the prickle in her throat, and for a heartbeat she could not breathe. She paused, strangling the mass of wool in her fist.

Who was this stranger? And why had Samuel brought him to White Withering, just in time for Christmas and with no warning whatsoever? Even were this guest quite common to look at—and Lord help her, he was not—the Earl of Withering, master still of this estate, would very well want to know about him.

Kate decided to bypass the imposing stone portico and divided stairs at the front and enter the house via the garden instead. She needed to locate the earl before meeting Sam and his guest on the steps.

As purposes went, relaying information to the earl was a simple one, but at least she had a reason to go back into that house.

SusanaSays3Susana Says

An engaging tale of two lovers finding unexpected love and purpose in life at Christmastide: 4/5 stars

Exciting things always seem to happen at Christmas at the White Withering estate. Last year, when Lady Caroline decided to make her father’s last Christmas a memorable one, she found her match. And this year, the earl is still around, and an unusual guest turns up to make her sister-in-law Kate Avery’s Christmas a special one.

A native of India and clearly a foreigner, Kiran’s ethnicity adds to his charm as he wins over the Kate and her family. His life has come to a crossroads and he feels alone and uncertain about his future. He sees that Kate, whose role in life has been usurped by Lady Caroline in the past year, is likewise feeling at loose ends, and ideas begin to form in his mind…

Add to that an insightful old earl, an impish little sister, and an unexpected episode in an orangery and you have a lovely tale of two lovers finding each other through the magic power of Christmas.

About the Authors

Vivien Jackson • Christa Paige

On our own, we write paranormal and sci-fi and fantasy and hot cops. Together, it’s all about the cravats and Hessians. Polished, of course.

Other Stories in the Cotillion Christmas Feasts Series

Christmas Fete by Barbara Miller

The Size of the Scandal by Jillian Chantal

Her Very Major Christmas by Saralee Etter

A Christmas Scheme by Christa Paige and Vivien Jackson

It’s Never Enough by Cynthia Moore

Authors in Bloom Blog Hop

Books - it is our memory concept

 

Baked Meatball Parmigiana

meatball-parm1Meatballs (if you choose to make your own)

  • 1-1/2 pounds meatloaf mix (beef, pork, veal combo)
  • 4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped, not minced
  • chopped fresh parsley (handful)
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 cup shredded Parmesan or Asiago cheese (not grated)
  • 2 eggs
  • salt to taste

Mix the above ingredients and form your meatballs (not too large). Pour 1-2 tablespoons oil on a baking pan with sides and bake at 400 for 20 minutes. Lower oven to 375.

Topper ingredients

  • spaghetti sauce of your choice (two 24-ounce jars)
  • mozzarella cheese (lots)

In a 9 x 13 pan (or ceramic dish), pour some sauce to cover the bottom. Add your meatballs. Cover with remainder of sauce and top with lots and lots of mozzarella cheese.

Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 20 minutes or until cheese has begun to brown.You might raise the temperature to 400 for the last four minutes to assist with browning.

Susana’s Giveaway*

A Lovely Treasure Box of Goodies, including

A Twelfth Knight Tale silver-plated Christmas bracelet

A Twelfth Night Tale silver-plated Christmas bracelet

  • A Twelfth Night Tale silver-plated Christmas bracelet
  • a Celtic pen from Scotland
  • a deck of Ellora’s Cave playing cards
  • a sterling silver circle necklace
  • a keychain from London
  • jeweled soap
  • two Susana Ellis pens

and whatever else she decides to put in it, such as collector cards, bookmarks, and chocolates!

*A winner from outside the U.S. will receive a $25 Amazon gift card instead of the Treasure Box.

Click here for the Rafflecopter

Before you go—

Leave a blog post comment about your favorite spring activities, and don’t forget to include your email address so that you can be contacted if you are chosen as the winner.

Authors in Bloom Prizes

Grand Prize: A Kindle or Nook e-reader ($200 value) +$25 gift card (US only)

Second Prize: $25 e-reader gift card (international)

Author Prizes will vary. Note that only visitors who leave comments at each and every stop on the tour will be eligible for the Grand Prizes and Second Prize. Winners will be posted on the first (Dianne Venetta) and last (A Cozy Reader’s Corner) stops on the tour.

Good luck to all of you! I hope you discover some fantastic new authors along the way!

1. Dianne Venetta ~ Cozy Mystery/Romance (US) 41. Stacey Joy Netzel
2. Rose Anderson 42. Deb Sanders
3. Alexa Grace 43. Janette Harjo
4. Katharina Gerlach, YA Fantasy author 44. Donna Marie Rogers
5. Jennifer Lowery 45. J.L. Campbell
6. Catheirne Chant (US) 46. Lorraine Paton (INTL)
7. S.D. Bancroft 47. Amy Saunders, Chick-Lit Mysteries (US)
8. J.D. Faver ~ Bad Girls Need Love Too…(Intl) 48. Jencey Gortney
9. Tara Manderino (Intl) 49. Sandra Cox
10. Judy Baker, Cowboys and Indian Romances 50. Alisia Compton
11. Sharon Kleve 51. Cate Dean
12. Sara Walter Ellwood (US) 52. Lisa Lickel
13. Anna Patterson 53. Iyana Jenna
14. Karl Fields (Intl) 54. Jesse Kimmel-Freeman (INT)
15. LENA HART 55. Sheila Seabrook
16. Janice Seagraves, author 56. Rose Cooper
17. Lakisha Spletzer 57. Halimah bint David
18. Gemma Juliana 58. Grace Peterson
19. Victoria Adams 59. Nancy Pi-Sunyer
20. Daryl Devore 60. Elena Williams
21. Jeana E. Mann, New Adult Romance 61. Scandalous Stories
22. Not Neccesarily In That Order 62. Lisa Orgler
23. Brenda Maxfield\’s Smart and Sassy Teen Reads (INT) 63. L.A. Sartor
24. Elizabeth McKenna 64. BloominThyme
25. H. A. Somerled 65. Margarita Matos (UF & Romance)
26. Susana Ellis 66. Lisa Chalmers
27. Aileen Fish 67. Diane Burton
28. Cheryl Bolen 68. Rebecca J. Clark
29. Elizabeth Rose 69. Victoria Pinder
30. L. Alison Heller 70. Zelda Benjamin
31. Eleanor Moran 71. Liz Allen (US)
32. K C Maguire 72. Stacy Juba\’s Characters at a Crossroads
33. Patricia W. Fischer 73. Jennifer Conner Romance Author
34. Mindy Hardwick, Author 74. I Am A Reader
35. Melanie Macek 75. Darcy Flynn (US)
36. Karen McCullough 76. Joanne Jaytanie
37. Michelle Abbott 77. Cassandra L Shaw
38. Mary Laudien 78. Janette Harjo
39. Aubrey Wynne 79. Louisa Mack
40. Kimberly K. Comeau 80. Tiffany Schlarman

treasuringtheresa_1.75

Treasuring Theresa

a sweet Regency short story

She’s a country lady. He’s a London swell. They have nothing in common. Or have they?

Lady Theresa despises London society. What’s worse is that she has to attend the betrothal ball of the young man she expected to marry. To deflect all the pitiful glances from the other guests, she makes a play for the most striking gentleman there—who happens to be her Cousin Damian, who is everything she despises.

Damian, Lord Clinton sees a desperate young lady with no social graces, and it solidifies his opinion that country folk are beneath him. But it so happens that he is the heir to that young lady’s father’s title and estate, and the time comes when he finds himself obliged to spend some time there.

Thrown together, both Damian and Theresa discover each other’s hidden depths. But are their differences too much to overcome to make a successful match?

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Cotillion Christmas Traditions: Kate Dolan and “Sense of the Season”

Christmas Traditions is the theme of this year’s Ellora’s Cave Blush Cotillion Christmas series. Eight stories focusing on Christmas traditions during the Regency will be released digitally, and then in print version as two anthologies.

The eight stories in the series are:

10/10/13: Twelve Days of Christmas, Barbara Miller

10/17/13: A Christmas Caroline, Christa Paige and Vivien Jackson

10/24/13: Festive Persuasion, Charlene Roberts

10/31/13: Lydia’s Christmas Charade, Saralee Etter

11/7/13: Snug in a Snowstorm, Cynthia Moore

11/14/13: Helena’s Christmas Beau, Aileen Fish

11/21/13: A Twelfth Night Tale, Susana Ellis

11/28/13: Sense of the Season, Kate Dolan

The inspiration for this story came from searching for a place to stay in England for the first night of our summer trip. Looking for someplace not far from Dover, I found a B&B called “Centuries” in the town of Hythe, right on the coast. It’s situated in an old ragstone building that served as an almshouse from the 13th Century up until the 20th Century. The pictures on the website looked so cool that knew I just had to stay there. Fortunately the rates were quite reasonable, they had vacancy (since this was several months in advance) and the owners love history as much (or more) than I do. Even though I hadn’t set foot in the place yet, I knew I wanted to use the building as the setting for a story.

It didn’t  fit my original idea for a “Christmas Traditions” story, so I picked a different tradition—giving alms to the poor.  Of course, then I had to write the story and submit it before I actually had the pleasure of staying at “Centuries,” but I knew I would have the chance to make some revisions before publication to add details about the place. I also used another historic home about ten miles away, Godinton House, and I incorporated as characters some members of the family who lived there at the time the story was set. And then during revisions, I decided I needed another site in the northern part of the county and was able to use another really cool house (with it’s own moat and clock tower) Igtham Mote.

senseoftheseason_msr low resBefore this trip, it had been over 20 years since I’d been to England, and it might be another 20 before I get to go again, so I was trying to soak up every detail and visit as many historic houses as I could to use in future tales. I can’t tell you how many times I made my husband stop the car so I could take a picture of something that caught my eye. Eventually I just started taking pictures through the windshield. They’re not exactly frame-worthy, but they will help me remember potentially useful details.

I would love to set another story in Hythe at an earlier period when the town was in its heyday as a medieval  port. Many pilgrims from the Continent landed at Hythe on their way to Canterbury Cathedral. Maybe someday I’ll write my version of Canterbury Tales. Who knows?

To learn more about “Centuries” including the archaeology work done on the site, visit http://www.hythekentarchaeology.com/.

About Sense of the Season

There are many people William Fletcher would prefer to never again encounter in life, but if forced to rank them, he just might put Matilda Blakethorn at the top of the list. She humiliated him at the age of nine, and truth be told, scared the wits out of him for years after.

So now, waking up after a night of heavy drinking to find her looming over him is a bit of an unpleasant surprise. Especially since he has no place else to go.

Matty Blakethorn doesn’t recognize the bedraggled stranger sleeping on the floor of the St. Bartholomew’s Almshouse. But when he unwittingly ends up staying to help with repairs, the old acquaintance is renewed.  And while neither Matty or William is anxious to admit the troubles that have driven them to such a humble place, Christmas is a time of sharing and giving and reconciliation. When William finally reveals his greatest failing, Matty must decide whether she can again face the demon that already destroyed her life once before.

Available

Ellora’s Cave • Barnes & Noble AmazonKobo

About the Author

headshotgoldjackethairstickingoutKate Dolan was a terrible lawyer, so her decision to turn her back on the corporate world was a great relief to everyone, especially those in the corporate world. Since leaving the rat race, she has worked as a newspaper columnist, preschool teacher, bookkeeper and jump rope coach. A self-proclaimed “history nut,” she volunteers as a living history interpreter at historical sites near her home outside Baltimore and loves to share facts about the past, especially the gross ones.  When she grows up, she hopes to become a professional roller coaster rider with her daughter. She writes historical fiction and romance under her own name and contemporary Christian mysteries and children’s books under the name K.D. Hays.  Connect with her on Facebook  or at www.katedolan.com.

Cotillion Christmas Traditions: Aileen Fish and “Helena’s Christmas Beau”

Christmas Traditions is the theme of this year’s Ellora’s Cave Blush Cotillion Christmas series. Eight stories focusing on Christmas traditions during the Regency will be released digitally, and then in print version as two anthologies.

The eight stories in the series are:

10/10/13: Twelve Days of Christmas, Barbara Miller

10/17/13: A Christmas Caroline, Christa Paige and Vivien Jackson

10/24/13: Festive Persuasion, Charlene Roberts

10/31/13: Lydia’s Christmas Charade, Saralee Etter

11/7/13: Snug in a Snowstorm, Cynthia Moore

11/14/13: Helena’s Christmas Beau, Aileen Fish

11/21/13: A Twelfth Night Tale, Susana Ellis

11/28/13: Sense of the Season, Kate Dolan

Christmas Traditions

Christmas traditions can cover the gamut from big events to the little things like hanging the stockings year after year. In Helena’s Christmas Beau, Helena is a stickler for making certain some things are done—and done right. Her Christmas season begins with “stir up day”, when the puddings are made, giving them time to ripen properly before the holiday meal. And there is a ritual to the day that involves everyone in the household, lest it bring bad luck to the family. Traditions and rituals are all well and good, until you run into someone who can’t see the purpose in them!

What inspired you to start writing?

helenaschristmasbeau_msr smallI was always writing when I was a child, and by eight or nine I had announced I wanted to do it when I grew up. When I was twelve, I heard S.E. Hinton wrote The Outsiders at the age of seventeen, so I started my first novel. I think I got three chapters in. It took a lot of spurts of starting and stopping before I submitted my first novel anywhere, and finally came down to seeing everyone else succeed to make me push hard enough to sell my first novella.

What advice would you give to writers just starting out?

Don’t be afraid to change critique groups until you find a group you can work with. Feedback is necessary to improving your writing, but don’t let them change your voice! Write, rewrite, polish then submit.

What comes first: the plot or the characters?

Each story is different. Sometimes I come up with a plot idea or a trope, then think about who would work best in this setting. My main focus at the start is the conflict. What will make it difficult for them to get together at the end? That line of thought finalizes the plot and characterization.

About Helena’s Christmas Beau

Blush sensuality level This is a sweet romance (kisses only, no sexual content).

Facing her second Christmas since the loss of her fiancé, Helena relies on her favorite traditions to bring back the joy of the season. Yet from stir-up day to bringing in the greenery on Christmas Eve, her cousin’s brother-in-law, Duncan, is underfoot, questioning her every action.

As Duncan plays along with the outdated rites, he realizes how much he’s missed Helena’s laughter. When he hears she plans to re-enter the Marriage Mart next spring, he is struck with jealousy. Is he falling in love, or simply under the spell of the holiday season?

A Blush® Regency romance from Ellora’s Cave

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About the Author

aileenWhen Aileen Fish was eight or nine, she told the mom next door that she wanted to be a writer, but she hated writing her stories down. At twelve, she wrote her first novel after reading The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. Well, she wrote most of it. That writing it down part got in the way again.

Aileen’s early works as an adult included a parallel-world Young Adult fantasy based on Native American mythology, which she wrote with the help of Ray Faraday Nelson in the Writer’s Digest Novel Writing Workshop. Her short fiction at that time was primarily dark fantasy, and her first sale was “Saturday Night” in the Summer 1991 issue of After Hours Magazine.

Obviously, Aileen has trouble remaining in the real world. Even as she ventured into romance, there was always a paranormal twist. She has tamed the inner beasts and demons into short periods of submission, which allow traditional historical romances to escape onto the page. Oh, and she no longer has that problem with finishing a story. Now, it’s a matter of finishing fast enough for the next hero to get his turn.

Guest Author: Hetty St. James

me-puccini-1aHetty St. James is the perfect embodiment of an Irish-German Aries. Hard-headed, opinionated, stubborn—all those good things! But for the most part when I latch on to an idea, there is some basis in fact to bear it out. For instance: I have a NOOK (with a Kindle app on it, thanks to Google!) but I much prefer print books. Fortunately, I don’t yet need large print, but at those book signings where I’ve had both regular and large print versions, the latter have always sold more copies than the former!

For some fifteen years, I was a volunteer reader at the Cleveland Sight Center, and taped books of all kinds for their closed-circuit radio station, and a few for the Library of Congress Talking Books program. This led me to learn more about large-print books, and why they’re so important to the readers I most want to cultivate. I’ve worked (and volunteered) with senior citizens who do not have e-readers or computers, so the world of Kindle and/or NOOK is a foreign one to them. They do, however, like to read, and value large-print above other media.

Thanks to Georgette Heyer, I love the Regency era, and it is my first choice to write about. I didn’t know, however that her books were commonly known as ‘romance’ novels, until I wrote my first book in 1988. It’s a Regency titled Bertie’s Golden Treasure and it was only then that I discovered the genre of ‘romance’. It came as a big surprise to me. Of course it took eighteen years to find a home for the poor girl, because it’s told in first-person. But finally, the Cotillion imprint of Ellora’s Cave liked it enough to publish it, in both e-book and print in 2007.

Two years ago, they acquired a novella titled Wagered Kiss, which is also part of that year’s anthology, Christmas Kisses.  Most of the people I know do not have e-readers, so they were happy to hear of the print versions of each of these stories. A goodly number inquired about the possibility of large print.

cover-collectionSo, when I decided to self-publish, I naturally thought first about print and large-print as well as e-books. So my current project is a combination of the three: each of the three stories is available individually in Kindle format, while the three together form A Regency Christmas Collection in regular or large print.

These three stories are about as different from each other as it’s possible to be. The first was written in 1989, because I wanted to contribute to Signet’s Christmas Regency anthology! Hah! I was so new to it all that I didn’t realize that would never be able to happen, as I was not a Signet author. But I still liked my story—The Duke’s Christmas Gift—even if it didn’t quite fit the category requirements. Actually, almost none of my books fit well, because they tend to go off in their own direction.

But it’s those detours that can enliven one’s journey, don’t you think? A Castle Cramlye Christmas is  about a family with the centuries-old tradition of everyone gathering for the holidays, until they don’t. This particular year, circumstances intervene, and most of the family are unable to gather with their matriarch. It’s a sort of slice-of-life story with a happy ending, although there’s not a lot of excitement there.

But that’s okay. The final story, Pongo Finds Love, has enough excitement for several stories, with masques, hidden identities, all swirling around the outrageous fop, Pongo (whose real name is Oswald) and his search for his own Pongerella.

The Elegant Runaways is a novelette. In an era when marriages may be determined by guardians rather than the two persons most involved, one young heiress rebels when told she’ll marry a Duke. She’d prefer to find her own husband, thank you very much. So she sets out to find one.

  The  Duke correct cover  Pongo-cover  A Castle CramlyeCover  Elegant Runaways - cover

There are other incomplete novels and novellas and even a mystery series in my computer, all set in the Regency period. I find myself drawn to this period of history because of the inherent civility of the time. My formative years were spent with my grandparents, who were 60 years older than me, and of a strong religious bent. Good manners and language habits were pounded into me on a daily basis. Therefore, I’ve always been drawn to history, and especially that of the British Isles. There was no profanity or violence in my world as a youngster, and I much prefer books that avoid those elements, even now. This explains my love for the traditional Regency novels.

I’ve been writing for more years than I care to think about, and have no plans to ever quit! I’m also addicted to photography and classical music, especially opera. This photo was taken at the premiere of a script I wrote for an operatic production titled Puccini: The Man and His Music in January 2008.

Website

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The Duke’s Christmas Gift • A Castle Cramlye Christmas

Pongo Guthridge Finds Love • The Elegant Runaways

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Cotillion Christmas Traditions: Cynthia Moore and “Snug in a Snowstorm”

Christmas Traditions is the theme of this year’s Ellora’s Cave Blush Cotillion Christmas series. Eight stories focusing on Christmas traditions during the Regency will be released digitally, and then in print version as two anthologies.

The eight stories in the series are:

10/10/13: Twelve Days of Christmas, Barbara Miller

10/17/13: A Christmas Caroline, Christa Paige and Vivien Jackson

10/24/13: Festive Persuasion, Charlene Roberts

10/31/13: Lydia’s Christmas Charade, Saralee Etter

11/7/13: Snug in a Snowstorm, Cynthia Moore

11/14/13: Helena’s Christmas Beau, Aileen Fish

11/21/13: A Twelfth Night Tale, Susana Ellis

11/28/13: Sense of the Season, Kate Dolan

An Author’s Reflections: Cynthia Moore

What inspired you to start writing? My favorite books when I was a child were Nancy Drew mysteries, Cherry Ames nurse stories and Charles Dickens novels. I remember immersing myself in these books to the point that I felt I was living the life described inside the pages. I thought about how wonderful it would be to write my own story filled with characters and situations from my own imagination.

What advice would you give to writers just starting out?  When I first started writing novels, I would be very concerned that every sentence I put down on the page was perfect. This caused me to worry so much about the content that very little of the story was ever written down. Instead, I kept deliberating the pros and cons in my head. Now I have found that if I write what I’m thinking without worrying about the structure, I can always go back later and fine tune the words and the sentences. At least I have something to work with and it’s not just floating around inside my brain.

What comes first: the plot or the characters? When I come up with an idea for a story, the characters and their personalities drive the plot. In other words, if my heroine is fiercely independent, the plot will involve an equally strong-willed hero who vows to change her attitude so that she realizes she needs him in her life. From there, I set up the circumstances and the entanglements of their journey until they reach the ‘happily ever after’ ending.

Are you working on something at present that you would like to tell us about? A few months ago, I was asked to submit a work of poetry or a short story into a gothic-themed art show.  I had never written anything in the gothic genre before but I did manage to produce what I felt was a very moving two page story. I have taken that short piece and made it into a prologue for a full-length novel. I hope to be finished with the story before the end of the year.

What are you reading now? My maternal grandmother was an avid reader. She discovered Betty Neels stories in the early eighties. She gave me a few of her books and I was immediately hooked on them. Her novels are of the few works that I am able to read over and over again without ever losing interest. I’m presently reading her story Tangled Autumn for the fifth time.

About Snug in a Snowstorm

Lady Isabella Porter and Lord Gerard Malden have known each other since they were children. Isabella thinks of Gerard as someone who teased her unmercifully and made her feel inadequate as a young girl. This is a very unfortunate state of affairs for Gerard because he has loved Isabella for many years.

A sudden, fierce snowstorm and misplaced notes informing both of a change of plan mean Isabella and Gerard are forced to spend the Christmas holidays together in very unusual circumstances. Gerard realizes he must use the time he has been given with Isabella to change the opinions she formed as a girl so she may look upon him with favor and, if he is fortunate, lasting affection.

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Excerpt

An Excerpt From: SNUG IN A SNOWSTORM

Copyright © CYNTHIA MOORE, 2013

All Rights Reserved, Ellora’s Cave Publishing, Inc.

“Open up, Jasper!”

snuginastormIsabella hastily opened the door. “May I be of…Gerard?”

“Yes, it’s me.” He moved past her and shut the door. A dusting of powdery snow fell from the collar of his heavy coat. He stared at Isabella with obvious exasperation. “What in blazes is going on? The front porch is covered with bags of all sizes, Jasper is not here to answer the door and you greet me wearing the cook’s apron.”

“It appears the note that informed you of the change in plans never reached either.” Isabella made a point to hide her feelings of relief when she realized Gerard would be on hand to assist her with this rather astounding state of affairs. For some reason that she would think about later, she was hesitant to be in a position of obligation to him.

“What note?” Gerard shook the frozen slush from his caped coat and placed the garment on top of her recently discarded pelisse.

“It seems that your sister’s baby decided to arrive early. Your parents were informed of the fact and they left for London yesterday. Apparently a missive was dispatched to each of us telling of their intentions. I never received anything and obviously neither did you. I arrived here a short time ago to find only a caretaker in residence, his wife who is sick with a bad cough, and a groom to take care of the horses. We are all tired, cold and hungry. I plan to fix a meal for us tonight and will return to my home tomorrow morning.”

“Quentin is in charge?” Gerard reached up to loosen his cravat and then he removed his other garments, leaving on only his shirt, breeches and boots.

“Yes. What…whatever are you doing?” Isabella glanced at him and then could feel herself begin to blush as she noticed the outline of Gerard’s muscular chest clearly visible through his shirt. She hastily looked toward the floor and in doing so got a glimpse of his firm thighs encased in formfitting breeches. She quickly refocused her gaze and attempted to study the frieze of dancing cherubs that decorated the domed ceiling above them.

“The snow is coming down quite heavily, no one is going anywhere for a few days. It’s obvious you need assistance. I’ll bring the bags up to your rooms. My valet has gone with my coachman to the stables. He should join me momentarily.” He turned toward the door.

“Wait.” Isabella’s voice shook as she realized she was stuck in close quarters with Gerard for an extended period of time. Well, she wouldn’t concern herself with the awkward situation now. There were many things to be seen to first. “I need my herbal supplies to fix a special tea for Mrs. Quentin’s cough.”

Gerard held the door open and indicated that she should precede him. “Take whatever you need.”

Isabella was momentarily astounded as she observed the pile of bags that were gathered on the porch. Equally surprising was the sight of the thick white blanket of snow that was rapidly covering everything outside. She refocused on the bags and glimpsed the black leather handle of the satchel she required. She hastily moved forward to pick it up. “My groom should also be available to help you.”

Xmas, Arizona 065Gerard bent over to grab a few of the cases. “Don’t concern yourself, Isabella. Because of the scarcity of servants, I’m sure all of us are going to have to pitch in and do things we normally don’t do while we are here.”

Still, Isabella hesitated, somewhat unsure of how to act with Gerard at present when their roles were changed in such an extreme manner. “Well, I’ll be in the kitchen if you need me.”

Gerard followed her into the house. “I know where to find you. Let’s try to make the most out of this Christmas together.”

“Yes, yes, that would be wise.” Turning away to make her way down the hallway, Isabella frowned in confusion as she replayed Gerard’s last words in her mind. Was he planning some kind of mischief to make the holiday more memorable? She certainly wouldn’t put it past him to do something to put her in an embarrassing position once again. Perhaps that was why she was hesitant to be under any obligation to him. She took a deep breath as she entered the kitchen. There was no time to worry about Gerard and what his plans were at present.

About the Author

I’m a native Southern Californian. When I was very young, I discovered my local library and the exciting potential of escaping the real world inside the pages of a good book. As a teenager, I became a huge fan of British literature. After reading most of the Victorian classics, I came upon Regency period novels in 1987. It was love at first read. Since my chance introduction to this wonderful era in time, I have read over three thousand fiction novels and own a large collection of research books on the period.