Tag Archive | Georgian romance

Susanna Craig: To Kiss a Thief (Giveaway)

A Place in Time

When you turn the last page and close the book, what sticks with you? An intriguing character? A shocking plot twist?

What about the setting?

I’m a firm believer that historical romance should capture a place in time, or else it’s not really historical romance. Whether it’s Victorian London or Tang Dynasty China, a story’s setting, when done well, shapes everything the characters—and readers—experience.

For my Runaway Desires series, I chose the late Georgian period, specifically the 1790s, because I knew that tumultuous decade would offer plenty of built-in tension and conflict, including political and economic uncertainties, war, and the fight to end slavery. It’s a slightly edgier cousin of the much-beloved Regency period. It’s also when Jane Austen’s first three novels were written (and arguably set).

In To Kiss a Thief, the first book in the series, the heroine, Sarah, is suspected of infidelity and involvement in the disappearance of a priceless sapphire necklace. Rather than face the scandal, she runs away. Three years later, her husband finds her on the northern coast of Devonshire and wonders why on earth Sarah had chosen such a place to hide away… She would almost certainly have been better able to disappear in London, where one could very nearly get away with anything under cover of anonymity. But in a fishing village of a few hundred souls, her arrival would have been remarked by all.

And it has. From the baker to the apothecary’s wife, everyone in Haverhythe has an opinion about Sarah. At heart, To Kiss a Thief is a small-town romance, and as my hero and heroine reconnect with one another, they are confronted and comforted by the members of this close-knit community.

Because I wanted the place and its people to leap off the page, I was determined to ground my fictional village in reality. I chose the general location of Britain’s West Country for its proximity to Bristol, where Sarah’s parents live. I wanted the temptation to go home to be always on her horizon—literally. Then, one evening, as I idly scanned that coastal region via Google Earth looking for inspiration, I stumbled upon Clovelly.

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Clovelly harbor

From its appearance in the Domesday Book to the present day, Clovelly has enjoyed a long and interesting history. The picturesque village of fewer than 500 people has been a popular tourist destination since the Victorian period, thanks in part to one of its most famous residents, novelist Charles Kingsley. It is privately owned, and has belonged to just three different families since the thirteenth century.

I made use of several of Clovelly’s distinctive elements in constructing the fictional Haverhythe. One is its unique geography. Built into a cliff overlooking the Bristol Channel, the village consists primarily of a single, cottage-lined street that descends some 400 feet to the water. In the harbor lies another striking feature: a massive stone quay, built in in the fourteenth century. Once the ships’ cargo has been offloaded, it is transported overland via sledges drawn by donkeys.

Clovelly main street

Clovelly, main street

In To Kiss a Thief, characters travel the steep main street of Haverhythe under the watchful eye of all the village. Gossip travels “up-along” and “down-along” more quickly than the donkeys. And several memorable moments for my hero and heroine take place on the quay that curls into the harbor.

Unfortunately, I haven’t yet had the pleasure of visiting Clovelly in person. But I’ve never visited the late eighteenth century, either. Like most writers of historical fiction, I find extensive research essential to crafting the best stories I can. I read about Clovelly’s history and geography, pored over the treasure trove of pictures online, and combined that information with my own experience of another coastal town, Tenby (Wales), to create my heroine’s perfectly imperfect hiding spot.

Travel, even in the pages of a book, makes us richer. Wherever your next reading adventure takes you, I hope you enjoy your visit!

What’s the most memorable setting of a book you’ve read? Or what’s your favorite real-life travel destination? One person will be chosen at random from the comments on this post to receive an e-book of To Kiss a Thief. The giveaway ends at midnight on August 21st.

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About To Kiss a Thief

TO KISS A THIEF low res copyIn the first book of a captivating new series set in Georgian England, a disgraced woman hides from her marriage—for better or worse…

Sarah Pevensey had hoped her arranged marriage to St. John Sutliffe, Viscount Fairfax, could become something more. But almost before it began, it ended in a scandal that shocked London society. Accused of being a jewel thief, Sarah fled to a small fishing village to rebuild her life.

The last time St. John saw his new wife, she was nestled in the lap of a soldier, disheveled, and no longer in possession of his family’s heirloom sapphire necklace. Now, three years later, he has located Sarah and is determined she pay for her crimes. But the woman he finds is far from what he expected. Humble and hardworking, Sarah has nothing to hide from her husband—or so it appears. Yet as he attempts to woo her to uncover her secrets, St. John soon realizes that if he’s not careful, she’ll steal his heart…

Excerpt

About the Author

IMG_8280_2 copyA love affair with historical romances led Susanna Craig to a degree (okay, three degrees) in literature and a career as an English professor. When she’s not teaching or writing academic essays about Jane Austen and her contemporaries, she enjoys putting her fascination with words and knowledge of the period to better use: writing Regency-era romances she hopes readers will find both smart and sexy. She makes her home among the rolling hills of Kentucky horse country, along with her historian husband, their unstoppable little girl, and a genuinely grumpy cat.

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Elyse Huntington: My Dark Duke

Elyse Huntington Interviews

the Duke and Duchess of Trent

As the clock in the hall chimes, I try not to fidget. The most famous couple in the beau monde had finally agreed to be interviewed and they had chosen me over all the other publications; most of whom had many scores more readers than my modest ladies’ magazine. I could scarce believe my good fortune. Yet the expensive furnishings in the room do much to convince me that this is in truth reality, and not just a dream.

The door opens and I leap to my feet as the Duke and Duchess of Trent enter. It is difficult not to stare. They are an extraordinarily handsome couple, both possessing dark hair and eyes, both tall and lean. The duchess smiles at me as I curtsy and waves for me to sit. Trent is more reserved; however, I detect nothing but good humour in his eyes.

We exchange greetings and after we have settled on our respective sofas, I compliment Her Grace on the magnificence of her cream-coloured silk gown which is heavily adorned with lace. She laughs. “Why, thank you. It is one of James’ favourites. It brings back a fond memory for both of us.”

Intrigued, I ask what that memory is.

“Why don’t you tell the tale, darling?” says the duchess.

Untitled“I met Alethea in a library at a ball her godfather was hosting.” The duke’s voice is a baritone, silkily rich and smooth. I could have listened to him for hours. He chuckles, surprising me. The smile softens the severity of his features, making him appear even more attractive. I am beginning to see why the duchess had married him after previously refusing six offers of marriage. “Actually,” says the duke, “it would be more accurate to say that she fell upon me as I was trying to save her.”

“He was most heroic,” teases the duchess while her husband shakes his head, looking amused.

“What was it about His Grace that attracted you?” I ask.

“Hmm . . . He is a very handsome man, as you can clearly see.”

I hear the duke clearing his throat somewhat uncomfortably and bite back a smile.

The duchess continues. “It is hard to say. There was something between us from the start, what I do not know. James has this presence that makes it difficult for you to concentrate on anything other than him. And he can be very charming. Indeed I found I could not say no to him.”

“I beg to differ,” interrupts Trent, arching an eyebrow at his wife. “You could say no, and you did.”

I can’t help but smile when the duchess sighs and gives me a look as if to say ‘men’.

“I saw that,” drawls the duke and she flashes him an impudent smile in reply. The obvious love in the look they exchange makes my heart contract.

I turn to Trent. “And you, Your Grace, what drew you to Her Grace?”

“Her independent spirit, her intelligence, her skill in fencing, her love of reading. Everything about her made me want to spend more and more time with her until I realised that I wanted nothing more than to spend every minute of the rest of my life with her at my side.”

“James,” whispers the duchess, tears in her eyes.

He takes her hand and kisses it before turning back to me. He looks faintly embarrassed. “I am not normally so expressive.”

It is enormously sweet and I feel privileged at being able to witness this intimacy between them. I remind myself to continue. “Would you care to address the rumour that you were forced to marry?”

It is the duchess who replies. “I will neither confirm nor deny that rumour, but as you can see, we are blissfully happy.”

“And what about His Grace’s past,” I venture, wondering if the duchess would even deign to answer my impertinent question. “Did that not give you pause?”

“Yes, of course it did,” she replied, surprising me with her candidness. “But I knew that James was not guilty of what he had been accused of. And I was right.”

“I see.” I wanted to ask the next question, but from the duke gives me a speaking look and I know my time with them has come to an end. As I thank them for their time and take my leave, I can’t help wondering if I will ever find the kind of love that the Dark Duke has found with his duchess.

About My Dark Duke

A steamy Georgian romance about desire, the importance of staying true to yourself and the power of the past to cast a shadow on the present.

Since his notorious wife died in mysterious circumstances, rumours about James, the handsome Duke of Trent, have scandalized society. Now, he must marry again—but finding an eligible woman willing to overlook his past won’t be easy.

Defiantly single, Lady Alethea Sinclair has already turned down six offers of marriage. She prefers living on her own terms and refuses to answer to any man. Yet when Alethea meets the seductive and enigmatic Duke she finds herself strangely drawn to him.

Intrigued by Alethea’s defiance of society’s expectations, James is instantly taken with the willful beauty and soon they are enjoying a playful flirtation. And when circumstances force them into a comprising situation, he does the honourable thing and marries her.

But adjusting to the constraints of marriage doesn’t come easily to the rebellious Alethea and, despite their growing feelings for each other, the Duke’s troubled past keeps getting in the way. Can they learn to trust each other and give love a chance before it’s too late?

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Also available on iBooks and Google Play.

About the Author

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Elyse spent her childhood years in Borneo. She moved to Australia when she was a teenager and was an avid reader of romances. It was her love of historical romance that led her to write My Dark Duke, which finaled in the Romance Writers of Australia Emerald Award contest in 2014.

A lawyer by profession, Elyse is a self-confessed compulsive buyer of any books featuring dukes. She also loves reading stories featuring alpha billionaires—undoubtedly because they are the embodiment of modern-day dukes. Elyse spends her free time (and perhaps a little too much of her not-so-free time) fantasising about wickedly handsome heroes and the strong heroines who ultimately tame them.

Elyse loves to hear from her readers. You can contact her via:

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Check out the bonus epilogue for My Dark Duke at her website.

Elizabeth Bailey and “Adoring Isadora”

Don’t put your daughter on the stage, Mrs Worthington.

When Noel Coward wrote that song, the profession of acting had acquired a certain cachet of glamour. Actresses, however, were still not respectable, and the stage-door Johnnies could still hope for the ultimate reward if they wined and dined their favourites.

Society had become much more integrated by then, but the middle classes were offended by theatrical morals and the bohemian lifestyle. This attitude did not much affect the male of the species, of course, although the well-born young man about town would encounter strong opposition if he attempted to take to the stage. An actor, however, might be accepted into exclusive circles, where his female counterpart would be firmly kept out.

Even when I trod the boards in the late sixties and seventies, there was a faint whiff of disapproval and suspicion. I remember my grandmother, on hearing I was an actress, saying to me, “But wouldn’t you rather be a secretary?” to which the short answer was “No!” What she meant was that I really ought to be doing something rather more respectable.

As the 19th century wore on, some actresses made the successful jump from stage to respectability, burying the past as “Lady” Someone or Other, but these were few and far between.

However, in the 18th century, my historical period, any female who set foot on the boards could kiss goodbye to any hope of respectability. All actresses then either got married or assumed married names, because that gave them a slight advantage and room for doubt. Sarah Siddons was probably one of the few actresses who were genuinely respectable and did not fall victim to “vice”.

To be honest, Society was not really to be blamed. The acting lifestyle provided endless opportunities for dalliance, secret assignations, intimate moments and the opportunity to enrich oneself at the expense of a generous protector. The temptation to stray was endemic, as the famous Perdita Robinson bore witness with her affair with the Prince of Wales, later Prince Regent.

Adoring Isadora3a reduced 700 x 500My heroine from Adoring Isadora knows full well what it would mean to plunge into a theatrical career, but this does not prevent her from hankering after the professional stage and making secret plans to take up a theatrical career. Isadora is hopelessly naïve, however, for she has no real idea of what such a life would mean, weaving dreams of success as a tragedienne taking the Ton by storm.

When the new head of the family, Viscount Roborough, appears, she is brought swiftly down to earth. Not that Isadora gives up easily. But questions concerning the probable earnings of an actress daunt her; nor can she ignore the potential for scandal that would come back on the family should she carry out her design.

I have to wonder if the taint of wickedness has an appeal in terms of glamour. Despite all these disadvantages, ever since women were at last allowed to appear in the theatre, replacing the young boys who had played female roles in Shakespeare’s time, the lure of the stage has always drawn the naïve, the reckless, the rebellious and the ambitious, as well as the genuinely talented.

About Adoring Isadora

Isadora’s secret plan to save her family is frustrated by the arrival of the Errant Heir, with plans of his own. As Isadora prepares to thwart him, Lord Roborough’s friendliness and warmth undermines her determination—until she discovers he is a hardened gamester.

As Roborough struggles to recover a wasted inheritance and counter Isadora’s attempts at sabotage, he is both intrigued and infuriated by her mercurial temperament. Bitterly hurt by her lack of trust, he despairs of a happy outcome.

Will the truth serve to effect a reconciliation? Or will Isadora’s outrageous plot signal the end of all hope?

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About the Author

Elizabeth Bailey close-up reducedElizabeth Bailey grew up in Africa with unconventional parents, where she loved reading and drama. On returning to England, she developed her career in acting, theatre directing and finally writing. Elizabeth has 18 novels published by Harlequin Mills & Boon and recently began a Georgian historical crime series of which the first two books were published by Berkley (Penguin US). But since she still loves romance, Elizabeth is delighted with the opportunity to publish her work independently.

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