The Bluestocking Belles
The Teatime Tattler Companion to
Holly and Hopeful Hearts
Gossip and Scandal from the Teatime Tattler and other places
about the characters in Holly and Hopeful Hearts.
Gossip and Scandal from the Teatime Tattler and other places
about the characters in Holly and Hopeful Hearts.
by Leigh Michaels
When I turned my novella, Her Wedding Wager, over to the beta readers, one of them commented, “I don’t understand this sentence: ‘My uncle was taking the waters in Tunbridge Wells last summer.’
Taking the waters meant drinking or bathing in the water from a natural mineral spring, which was thought to cure pretty much everything from heart disease to infertility.
Most readers of historical romances are familiar with Bath, where many an aristocratic family visited the natural hot springs and where Romans had established the famous baths during their occupation of England. But among the other spa towns and mineral springs prominent in England was Tunbridge Wells, located southeast of London, with relatively easy access during the Regency era via a turnpike road. Not as famous as Bath, Tunbridge Wells first gained notoriety in the 17th century when the springs were discovered.
Ailing individuals who drank the water found that it smelled foul and tasted vile. “Treatments” often included drinking several glasses throughout each day.
I’m tempted to wonder if people actually felt better after their course of treatment, or if they only talked themselves into feeling better so they could stop!
What odd treatments used in the past have you heard or read about?
Leigh will gift an ebook —Gentlemen in Waiting—to one commenter.
Celia’s best hope of finding a husband – and avoiding the marriage her uncle has in mind for her – is Lady Stone’s high-society wedding party. With two earls, a viscount, and a baron to choose from, Celia should be content. So why is she paying more attention to her distant cousin Simon Montrose? He’s not only the man her Uncle Rupert thinks she should marry, but Simon’s the one who bet her she can’t capture a titled gentleman before the party’s over.
Noting the way her mother’s lower lip trembled at the reminder, Celia changed the subject. “As I was about to say, Uncle Rupert, if a London Season is out of the question, then Lady Stone’s house party is by far your best opportunity to get me off your hands and married. You keep telling me that the young men I meet at the assemblies here are far beneath my touch.”
“And so they are. Haven’t seen any yet with ambition or good sense. And not a one with so much as a pair of coppers to rub together, either, which is why they cast their gaze toward my fortune. But the only man you need is right here.” Rupert waved his fork toward Simon.
Her cousin? Of course he wasn’t serious, to imply that she and Simon…
Celia couldn’t help it. She giggled.
Her Wedding Wager is the lead-off title in the boxed set, Magical Weddings. Leigh Michaels is the award-winning author of more than 100 books, including historical romance, contemporary romance, and non-fiction. More than 35 million copies of her books are in print in 25 languages and 120 countries. She is the author of On Writing Romance and teaches romance writing online at Gotham Writers Workshop.
Whether real or only in the hearts of the bride and groom, the magic of weddings is undeniable. And irresistible! As these 15 enchanting happily-ever-afters by bestselling and award-winning authors prove.
From sweet to spicy, the romances bundled into this set cross time and unite hearts, cast spells of laughter, battle wedding jitters and fight back tears, while weaving love’s hopeful magic throughout 1400 pages.
The boxed set includes a variety of sub-genres, lengths, and heat levels – something for everyone.
Her Wedding Wager by Leigh Michaels, National bestselling and Award-winning author. Celia’s doomed to an arranged marriage–unless she can win the most important bet of her life!
The Last Wedding at Drayhome (Breens Mist Witches) by Aileen Harkwood. Never underestimate the power of a witch and warlock in love who have nothing left to lose.
The Dress by Eve Devon. Two couples, 400 years apart. From a masquerade ball in Venice 1615 to a wedding in England 2015, can a dress laced with magic weave its spell through the fabric of time?
Second Chance Bride by Raine English, USA Today bestselling and Award-winning author. She thinks she’s marrying the man of her dreams, until a telepathic rescue dog leads her to someone else… Will this bride-to-be say “I do” to the wrong man?
Two Hearts Surrendered by Tamara Ferguson, Bestselling and Award-winning author. Will two warring hearts be strong enough to survive the ultimate battle?
Something Borrowed, Something Blue by Lynda Haviland. She has a wedding to crash–until love gets in the way!
Heart of the Secret (Witches of Lane County) by Jody A. Kessler, Bestselling and Award-winning author. A 500 year-old curse, a witch who will do anything to marry her one true love, and the heart of a secret that will either divide them or bring them together…forever.
The Jealous Love of a Scoundrel by Jane Lark, National bestselling author. How do you fight a calling that comes from your soul?
A Wedding Across the Winds of Time by Bess McBride, National bestselling author. Darius and Molly found each other Across the Winds of Time. Now, it’s time for their wedding!
Kiss This by L.L. Muir, National bestselling and Award-winning author. You never expect the florist to catch the bouquet…
Caution is a Virtue by Jennifer Gilby Roberts. How much is too much to risk for love?
Loving Lindy by Jan Romes. In order to become the bank’s new Vice President, Gunther Justin has to be “settled.” With Lindy McPherson posing as his fiancé everything is set to go off without a hitch–until real feelings get in the way.
With this Kiss by Heather Thurmeier. Does a simple kiss have enough magic to reunite lovers?
Real Magic by Elsa Winckler. She’s the bridesmaid, he’s a best man. Will the magical evening stay just that or will it turn out to be real after all?
The Wedding Guests (A Tassamara Short Story) by Sarah Wynde. When unexpected guests attend Akira and Zane’s wedding, lives will change forever. But for better or for worse?
Release Day for A Kiss of Promise
Thank you, Susana, for hosting me. My newest novel, A Kiss of Promise, a Blush Historical Romance, is being released by Ellora’s Cave Publishers as an ebook today, April 3rd!
Researching A Kiss of Promise
It is a pleasure to tell your readers about the research behind my newest release and a bit more about the story. First, I’d like to mention that A Kiss of Promise has set me on a new road or, perhaps, I should call it a voyage. My first two books are traditional Regencies. A Kiss of Promise is released as a Historical Romance. The change occurred because I wanted my heroine to travel to America. This was a real departure from writing strictly about the rules, customs and traditions of the English Regency.
And so the voyage begins.
I became thoroughly absorbed in my research into ocean travel in the early eighteen hundreds. I learned about the first ship lines, length of travel, crew’s responsibilities and inherent dangers involved in sea travel. I learned about the animals that were kept on ships for food and drink, sea shanties sung by the sailors, and other fascinating details that I was able to include in A Kiss of Promise.
Since Martin and Alaina, my hero and heroine both travel to America, one freely, the other under duress, I needed to research life in New England in the early nineteenth century. I studied the time period as if I were traveling down a road in New York or Boston at that time, I learned about landmarks, shops, banks, social events, business dealings, and gambling halls.
I imagined what it must be like for travelers who were reaching the American shores for the first time, their fears and their hopes for the future.
Where my voyage is taking me…
I became so interested in my research that my newest manuscript takes place in New England. I’ve already spent much time researching church life, farming communities, household chores, politics and racial undertones of the time period. It’s especially interesting to read local newspapers when freed slaves and servants were often treated like chattel.
More than sweet and sensual
While romance is the ultimate hope for my heroes and heroines, all my novels present the darker side of human nature.In each of my published novels, readers meet villains without conscience. This changes in my newest manuscript but I’ll save that for a future post.
A Kiss of Promise continues the story of the Blackstone brothers, introduced in my debut novel, Regal Reward. While Regal Reward tells of York Blackstone’s struggle to regain the title lost to him when their father is falsely accused of treason, A Kiss of Promise tells of Martin Blackstone’s desire to free himself from his family scandal, escape the stuffy rituals of England and seek adventure in America. He leaves the beautiful and desirous Alaina Craymore broken hearted in order to realize his dream, rather than seek deeper reasons for his need to escape. It’s only when he discovers that she is in danger that he is forced to face his personal truth and fight to save her.
In A Kiss of Promise, characters experience not only the aristocratic life in British society with all its rules and expectations, but also the hazards of sea travel and the unruly world of gamblers and prostitutes.
I hope readers will voyage along with Martin and Alaina in A Kiss of Promise and enjoy it enough that they’ll want to read Martin’s brother, York’s story in Regal Reward.
Giveaway for two readers who order Regal Reward and read York Blackstone’s journey to love.
I am offering two free ebook copies of A Kiss of Promise. All readers of Regal Reward need to do is message me on Facebook and answer the following two questions correctly:
1) Where and under what circumstance does York meet Marielle?
2) Where does Richard Craymore go and what does he attempt to do when he learns of his father’s crimes?
About A Kiss of Promise
Adventurer Martin Blackstone escapes the stuffy rituals of England to seek his destiny in America. He leaves Alaina Craymore behind, believing she is better off without him. Suffering under the scandalous circumstances surrounding her father’s death, only Alaina’s love for Martin and the memory of their one stolen kiss have kept Alaina steady. But she hasn’t heard from Martin in far too long and cannot wait forever in the hopes that he will return from America. Just as Alaina begins to recover, one of her father’s associates emerges from the shadows with a choice—she must pose as his fiancée in America or he’ll send her brother to prison on charges of forgery. Willing to endure ruin and an uncertain future, Alaina agrees—she can do no less for the brother who’s spent his entire life protecting her. Only the man who spurned her can save her from the black mailing scoundrel and a ruined reputation.
Martin hasn’t forgotten Alaina or the kiss they shared. When word of her sacrifice reaches him, he’ll move heaven and earth to find her and make her his, no matter the cost.
A Blush® historical romance from Ellora’s Cave
About the Author
Elaine holds a BS in English Education from the University of CT and an MS in Educational Leadership from Central CT State University. When she’s not writing, she teaches public speaking part time at a local community college. She enjoys drawing, kayaking, traveling, and most of all, being with her husband Drew, her children and grandchildren. While her newest release, A Kiss of Promise, leads her characters from England to American shores, her present work, still in the manuscript stage, takes place in New England and deals with prejudice and its power over love. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, CT Romance Writers (CTRWA) and Charter Oak Romance writers (CORW). Elaine is available as a speech coach and presenter to help authors hone their public speaking skills.
Elaine’s other books mentioned above:
Regal Reward (print and ebook)
A Convenient Pretense (ebook)
Today I am pleased to welcome Elf Ahearn to Susana’s Parlour. She writes “Regency romance with a Gothic twist” and her book, A Rogue in Sheep’s Clothing is currently available (see below).
She’s giving away a free copy to the commenter who gives her the best response to her question about their favorite and/or most-hated food. (Just for the record, I detest lima beans too, Elf!)
My friend, a beautiful fellow-journalist named Susan Baker, and I decided to form a literary society. At our first meeting only three of us met, me, Susan and this guy named Dave. We read scraggly little fragments of our fiction to one another and offered lame criticism mostly based on good reporting skills. Susan’s piece was incredible, though. It was a story about a crabby old woman befriended by a guy who takes the time to talk to her—to find out what made her so upset.
After that first meeting Susan left the paper for a job at the front desk of a factory. The pressure to make deadlines, she said, was killing her. In fact, I’d noticed that for hours sometimes, she’d just sit and stare at an empty screen on her monitor.
Despite her move, we decided to hold another literary society meeting. When that day dawned, however, Susan couldn’t make it, and Dave had to write an article about a planning and zoning meeting. “It’s just you, Elf,” Susan said, “You have to carry the torch.”
A few weeks passed and Susan and I decided that the ideal excuse for a get-together was to celebrate our birthdays. She just couldn’t muster the energy to write for a literary society anymore, she told me. The weekend before the scheduled date, I was staying with my boyfriend, (now my wonderful husband) when my sister called. Susan had telephoned with the message that she wouldn’t be able to meet for our birthdays after all. I didn’t call her back. I figured I’d phone her Monday.
So, Monday came and I dialed Susan’s number. Her roommate picked up. Over the weekend, the roommate told me, Susan drove to the far end of a parking lot in Poughkeepsie. She aimed her car at the brick wall of a church and hit the gas. The impact killed her.
Susan’s father approached me at her memorial service. He had a package for me—a birthday present from her. When I unwrapped it I found a red journal with lined pages. At the center of its cover, delicately surrounded by a picture of a smiling sun, curling flowers and puffy clouds, were the words, “Seize the Moment.” I’m not going to say that I write for Susan or even that I write for her memory, I write because I have to and I write because, as she so permanently proved, the moment is now.
How long have you been writing?
I wanted to be a writer when I was a kid, but my spelling was atrocious. Teachers left snarky notes all over my short stories—always about the spelling. My father had an expression, “xysizzle.” That’s what most three-syllable words looked like after I got through with them. So, I was afraid to write. Then a man named Steve Jobs teamed up with another guy named Bill Gates. They invented this magical machine that made it possible for me to write without anyone knowing what a terrible speller I am. Steve, Bill—you’ve made a lot of money—but still, I owe ya.
What advice would you give to writers just starting out?
Take classes! It’s amazing how much teachers know. But, if they’re not supportive, ditch ‘em. Nobody, but nobody, needs to hear how much they stink.
What comes first: the plot or the characters?
I ascribe to the “big bang” theory of plotting. At the climax of my novels, I want gnashing of teeth and rending of clothes, fire, thunder and a whole lot of other dramatic stuff. Ergo, I usually have the end in mind before I start, but the characters push me around before I get there.
What is your work schedule like when writing?
I’m most creative at night, in bed. I don’t want to count the number of times my husband has gently pried the computer from my sleeping fingers.
What is your favorite food? Least favorite? Why?
Lima beans and creatures of the sea are the bane of my existence. Otherwise, I’m not picky.
What is something you’d like to accomplish in your writing career next year?
Naturally, I’d like to be on the New York Times Bestseller List with movie executives licking my toes for a chance to make a film of A Rogue in Sheep’s Clothing. On the off chance that that doesn’t work out, I’d like to see the last two books in the Albright Sisters series published. Crimson Romance, the publishers of Rogue, already purchased Lord Monroe’s Dark Tower. That’s the second book in the series. Hopefully, they’ll be interested in taking them all on.
Every writer dreams of getting “the call.” What were you doing when yours came? Who got to hear the good news first?
My friend, Liz Shore, got the call first and I was super excited for her because she’d been through heck in a hand basket, and she earned that contract. Then two days later, Jennifer Lawlor, my editor at Crimson Romance, sent me an email accepting Lord Monroe’s Dark Tower. I asked about A Rogue in Sheep’s Clothing and a few hours later she wrote back saying they wanted that book as well!
Strangely, the news depressed me. Weird, right? I wandered around the house for a few hours totally unnerved. At last, I called my husband. He was so thrilled that I finally allowed myself to be happy. After that, I called Liz and we screamed for like fifteen minutes.
I’d love to hear from Susana’s Parlour readers. How about telling me what your favorite/most hated foods are? The best answer gets a free digital copy of A Rogue in Sheep’s Clothing.
About A Rogue in Sheep’s Clothing
In Lord Hugh Davenport’s opinion, women of the ton perpetually hide behind a mask of deception. That’s hard for Ellie Albright, the daughter of an earl, to swallow—especially since she’s disguised herself as a stable hand to get back the prized stallion her father sold to Hugh to pay a debt. If Hugh learns her true identity she’ll lose the horse and her family will go bankrupt. Somehow, though, losing Hugh’s affection is beginning to seem even worse.
Already only a step away from being snagged in her own web of lies, Ellie’s deceit threatens to spin out of control when Hugh’s mother invites Ellie and her sisters to a house party. Now Ellie has to scramble to keep Hugh from knowing she’s the stable girl he wants to marry, while simultaneously trying to win his trust as herself. Can she keep her costumes straight long enough to save her family? And even if she does, will it be worth losing his love?
A stiff breeze swept up the massive stone edifice bringing the scent of heather, gorse, and a tinge of the dank salt sea. The beauty of it sobered her. “My God, it’s magnificent,” she said, feeling the sun’s warmth and the chill of the breeze on her cheeks. For miles around she saw only the dip and rise of the yellowed moors disappearing into soft, distant gray.
Hugh joined her cliff-side. He settled on a patch of thin, wind-whipped grass. Ellie plopped down beside him and took a deep whiff of the heather he’d picked for her on the trail. “Ah,” she said. “It smells like England.”
Hugh broke off a branch of the plant and put it between his teeth. “Tastes like her, too,” he said. Ellie laughed.
Then they grew silent, listening to the rustle of grass, feeling the hot sun, and breathing the rich smell of sweet flowers and fecund herbs.
“This is my day,” said Hugh, lying back in the grass. “You may have a piece of it.”
Ellie swatted him with the stalk of heather. “I shall take your captain’s salute on horseback.”
“And I shall take this moment, right now,” he said, closing his eyes.
They were silent again. Ellie lay back and snuggled into the grass. The cool wind couldn’t reach her here – just the thick heat of the sun. She closed her eyes, too.
A fly tickled her forehead. She brushed it away. It came back and tickled her again. She opened her eyes in time to see Hugh leaning over her, the branch of heather in his teeth. He flicked it away from her face.
“You’re the annoying fly,” she said, lunging to pull the heather from his mouth. He caught her wrists and rolled onto his back. She struggled, enjoying the feel of his large, callused hands. “I suppose if I were really clever,” she said, giving up and leaning on his chest, “I could get that branch without using my hands.”
“Oh yes, and how would you do that?” replied Hugh, a glint in his eye.
Ellie leaned over and, bringing her face close to his mouth, pulled the heather from his teeth.
A bolt of electricity raced through her. She hadn’t meant to be so intimate—hadn’t anticipated the heat of his flesh against hers, or the soft velvet of a corner of his lips. Her heart beat fast and her face grew hot. She looked away, dropping the heather from her mouth. “I’m never getting married,” she blurted.
Hugh studied her. “Then I’m not either.”
Gently, he brushed a bit of heather from her lips.
The caress stirred a small fire. She closed her eyes and lay back down on the grass. Joy washed over her. “That’s wonderful,” she sighed. Hugh’s hand closed on hers.
About the Author
I’ve been making my way through two shelves of Joan Smith books for quite some time (guaranteed fun reads), and the other day when I found one that I felt was truly outstanding, it occurred to me that it was a shame that few young people—who may not have been born in the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s when Joan Smith was producing her delightful Regencies—have had the opportunity to read her work. (Note: Joan also wrote as Jennie Gallant; don’t overlook those titles when you come across them.)
Oh, you can find them in used bookstores, and nearly 70 of them can be found in the Kindle store for $3.99, not to mention on the Regency Reads web site for $5 a pop, but let’s face it, authors’ backlists don’t get the sort of promotion the newer titles do, and most younger people will probably never know what they missed.
So I decided to do my part in getting the word out. What sort of reader would appreciate Joan’s Regencies? Anyone who enjoys
The Virgin and the Unicorn
Miranda has known the Herscham family all her life; thus, she knows better than to set her cap for Lord Rotham, the oldest son, who has proven to be a ramshackle young man of the worst sort–not to mention the one who had played fast and loose with her older sister’s affections all those years ago. Miranda has been sent to stay with the Herschams, ostensibly because of her younger sister’s bout with the measles, but Miranda knows her parents are hoping she will make a match of it with Pavel, the younger Herscham son. It seems hopeless, though, since Pavel is only eighteen–the same as Miranda–and they’ve always been more like siblings.
Lord Rotham unexpectedly returns from his post at the Vienna Congress, and although he has a serious problem on his hands, he finds himself inexplicably drawn to Miranda, who proves to be immune from his practiced charm. It gives him pause to realize how his antics of the past have tainted him in Miranda’s eyes, and this latest escapade of his–having stolen a valuable French tapestry from a cathedral on a lark–is not showing his character in any good light either. Still, there’s no keeping secrets in that household, especially after the tapestry is stolen and the servant left guarding it seriously wounded. Since this matter is likely to cause an international incident, somehow they have got to figure out who stole it and get it back again.
Rotham knows what he wants almost from the first, and even his affectionate parents see it before Miranda does. But how can she take this rogue seriously when he was the cause of her sister Trudie’s anguish in the past? No doubt he had cut quite a swathe through the great ladies at the Vienna Congress before returning home. And hadn’t she seen the looks he’d exchanged with the beautiful comtesse who was also lodging with the Hershams? No, Miranda is far too sensible to have her head turned by a gentleman with HIS track record.
And yet…is Miranda truly so cautious and staid herself? Perhaps the truth is that she’s been waiting for an opportunity to have an adventure herself…and who better but an experienced rogue–one who is feeling seriously remorseful of his misspent youth–to accompany her?
I love the characters, the close family relationships, the witty repartee, especially Pavel’s remark about the lump on Rotham’s forehead giving him the look of a unicorn, a reference to the famous tapestry of “The Virgin and the Unicorn”. (No need to worry; it was a minor injury that soon faded.) The implication being, of course, that Miranda was the virgin who had tamed the unicorn without really trying to; he had voluntarily laid his head in her lap in a gesture of eternal surrender.
Joan Smith is a talented author; it is to be hoped that her books will be released in ebook format for the enjoyment of newer readers, who do not often get the chance to read such delightful Regencies these days.
Who is Joan Smith and What’s She Up To These Days?
This is the bio you will find at the end of most of Joan Smith’s books and on web sites. (It’s dated, as Joan hasn’t published anything since 1998, as far as I can tell.)
Joan Smith is a graduate of Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, and the Ontario College of Education. She has taught French and English in high school and English in college. When she began writing, her interest in Jane Austen and Lord Byron led to her first choice of genre, the Regency, which she especially liked for its wit and humor. She is the author of over a hundred books, including Regencies, many with a background of mystery, for Fawcett and Walker, contemporary mysteries for Berkley, historical mysteries for Fawcett and St. Martin’s, romances for Silhouette, along with a few historicals and gothics. She has had books in the Doubleday Book Club and the Literary Guild, been on Walden’s Bestseller list, had two Regencies selected for the Romantic Times ten best ever Regencies, and had one book condensed in a magazine. Her favorite travel destination is England, where she researches her books. Her hobbies are gardening, painting, sculpture and reading. She is married and has three children. A prolific writer, she is currently working on Regencies and various mysteries at her home in Georgetown, Ontario.
Update from Joan as of April 22, 2013:
The bio you have pretty well covers it. Still following the same interests, along with a keen interest in healthy cooking. I’m a widow now, enjoying time with the growing family of grandkids and great grandkids.
Have you read any of Joan’s books and if so, what do you like best about them?
Joan Smith Giveaway
In case you haven’t had the pleasure of reading any of Joan’s books lately, I’m offering one lucky commenter the following six books from my Joan Smith collection. Do make sure you leave your email address in the comment so I can contact you if you happen to be the lucky winner.
The Barefoot Baroness (1992)
After one disastrous Season, Laura Harwood had no designs for snagging a husband. She hardly felt qualified to accompany her cousin, Olivia, Baroness Pilmore, to London for her debut.
However, Olivia’s fears of social failure proved unfounded—although meeting the Season’s social lion, Lord Hyatt, whose artistic talent was rivaled only by his masculine perfection, was a bit troubling.
His interest in painting Olivia’s portrait put Laura on her guard. Was it Olivia’s aesthetic countenance or her fortune that Hyatt found so appealing? Moreover, Laura found Hyatt’s attention to herself most disturbing. Alas, she knew it was simply a matter of time until he saw her for the provincial miss that she was.
The Royal Scamp (1989)
She had her pick of dashing gentlemen, but was one among them a common thief?
Naturally, eyebrows rose when Esther Lowden, a lady of quality, turned her family estate into a country inn. But business had never been better, thanks to the notorious highwayman whose midnight escapades encouraged fearful travelers to stay the evening.
Dabbed the “Royal Scamp,” he was rumored to be quite the gentleman, bestowing kisses on his more comely victims. Indeed, Esther suspected, he might even be one of the dashing new arrivals at Lowden Arms.
Well, no proper businesswoman would harbor a criminal. But which gentleman wore the mask of a highwayman…and which wore the face of love?
No one ever dreamed that Prudence Mallow, who wrote novels and was not London’s most ravishing beauty, would ever capture the heart of the dashing Lord Dammler. The fact that he wrote poetry was, of course, a bond with his beloved. But he cherished her most for her beauty of spirit and her lively intelligence.
Alas, one day Prue unexpectedly visits her fiancé at his home only to discover his former mistress prancing about in appallingly few clothes. Naturally this leads her to believe that Dammler has renewed his erstwhile erotic relationship.
And so Prue decides to get even—in a very novel manner.
Valerie was a lioness!
Tall, sandy-haired, with golden feline eyes. What better model could her eccentric aunt find for the heroine of her latest anonymous romance novel?
But the plot of life proved far richer than fiction. For when Valerie arrived at her aunt’s country estate, she suddenly found herself in the midst of high society séances and chicanery…where secret passages hid stolen jewels, where money changed hands as fast as Val changed gowns. And where distant French cousins and dashingly attractive, if poor, scholars, turned out to be as intangible as ghosts, as flimsy as certain “famous” fortunes, and as illusive and longed-for as love.
Tea & Scandal (1996)
There was much ado about something at Wildercliffe!
Exceedingly wealthy Lord Pargeter had married his housekeeper…then expired, leaving the woman an heiress. There was something havey-cavey about the whole business, especially when the woman’s niece, Jane Lonsdale, arrived unexpectedly from her teaching position at Miss Prism’s Academy.
Across the lake, neighbors at Swann Hall were most interested. Visiting acquaintance Lord Fenwick decided to investigate…and was very intrigued by Jane, whose past hinted deliciously of scandal and whose lovely face and lively spirit fascinated him even more.
As devilishly attractive as she found Lord Fenwick, Jane kept frantically busy trying to keep her past a secret and was not gullible enough to succumb to the charms of a man too curious about her for his intentions to be nobel!
Bath Scandal (1991)
How much mischief could anyone get into in Bath?
At the insistence of his high-minded fiancéer, Lord Southam had dispatched his unruly tomboy of a sister, Gillie, to an acquaintance in Bath. Mrs. Beatrice Searle, an elegant widow, could surely smooth the girl’s rough edges.
But when rumors of Gillie running free with a reckless gambler reached Southam, he wondered if Mrs. Searle was still the unexeptionable lady he knew years ago. Determined to see how matters stood, Southam was unprepared for the charming, beautiful, and somewhat fast-living Beatrice Searl. And with his wild oat-sowing days about to end, how could he ignore the charms of a merry widow?
Sources of Joan’s Books
The Belgrave House (her non-Regency titles)
Regency Reads (Regency and Georgian titles)
Romance Wiki (Joan’s Silhouette titles)
Many thanks to Peggy, Carola Dunn, and others from the Regency Yahoo Forum and the Mary Balogh Fan Forum for the great leads they passed on, and to Neff Rotter of Belgrave House for contacting Joan and getting a brief update on her for this post.
BTW, Joan: I was a French/English teacher also for a lot of years!
Today my guest is Shereen Vedam, author of A Beastly Scandal, a sweet Regency romance. Shereen is giving away a free ebook of A Beastly Scandal to one lucky commenter.
Welcome to Susana’s Parlour, Shereen!
What inspired you to write this story, Shereen?
In coming up with a concept for my first Regency novel, I decided to do one based on a fairy tale. One of my favorite fairytales is Beauty and the Beast so it was easy to dream up an isolated mansion, a brooding alienated hero and a good-hearted heroine, from which evolved A Beastly Scandal.
How long did it take you to write?
I was terrified I would fail to do this wonderful genre justice. It took me a year to write the book, and several months after that to edit. Then, although it was picked as a finalist in RWA’s Golden Heart® contest, the book wasn’t published. By the time fairytales became popular enough for this story to catch a publisher’s interest, I had finished six other Regencies and able to apply all that I had learned into this book’s final edits. It also helped to have a great editor to work with. Thanks to her guidance, I learned so much about adding tension at the end of scenes, being clearer about a character’s thoughts and feelings and adding specificity to my descriptions.
What is your favorite thing about writing?
I used to love writing the first draft. Now I love the editing process even more. Editing gives me the opportunity to add in layers and polish. A bit like dressing up for a ball. It’s not enough to simply put on a pretty gown. We need to choose the right jewelry, apply makeup skillfully and dress our hair in a pleasing style, never mind choosing the perfect pair of shoes to match the gown. All these extra touches are what allow us to wear that pretty gown with confidence. It’s the same when it comes to getting a novel ready for the public eye. The world building has to be right, then we need to strip away excess words and ensure the historical detail is correct. I believe editing is what helps to ensure a book become an enjoyable experience for a reader.
What is your least favorite thing about writing?
The need to hold down a full-time job in order to pay for the privilege of being able to write in my spare time.
Tell us something about A Beastly Scandal that is NOT in the blurb?
A game this couple plays is one of my favorite parts of the book. Showed me that sometimes when you win, you’re actually losing, and when you think you’re losing, you might actually be winning.
Are you working on something at present that you would like to tell us about?
My next three fairytale-inspired Regency romances to be released by ImaJinn Books starts of a new series called The Rue Alliance:
I find that Regencies often incorporate elements of fairytales. For instance, I’ve always thought that Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice has a certain flavor of Beauty and the Beast. Can you think of any others?
About A Beastly Scandal
A BELLE OF THE BALL…
Lady Annabelle Marchant was a belle of the ball in London until she used her psychical senses to save a man’s life. She failed miserably, leaving him dead and her disgraced. All she wants now is a chance to comfort his widow by cleansing the woman’s home of her husband’s restless spirit. But the widow’s son, the beastly Lord of the Manor, accuses her of coming to the wilds of Cheshire to snag him as a husband. Thoroughly disgusted, she is bent on proving him wrong.
…BECOMES PERSONA NON-GRATA…
Lord Rufus Marlesbury, the Earl of Terrance, is suspected of murdering his father. He has come home to clear his name by finding the real killer before the new year or the king has promised that Rufus will be called in front of the House of Lords to answer for the crime. He does not have time to waste fending off a marriage-minded miss who has inveigled an invitation to his home by playing on his grief-stricken mother’s worst fears.
…WHEN A MURDERER IS ON THE RAMPAGE
With an unruly manor ghost terrorizing the occupants and corpses piling up in the village, Belle must find a way to see the man beneath the beast and Rufus must learn to believe in the love of a woman who has no reason to trust him. Only by working together can they stop a vengeful ghost before it torments the guests or before the killer strikes again.
Lord Terrance may have forbidden her from coming to his manor house, but she was determined to clear his country home of its resident ghost.
“That is a desolate looking house, is it not?” Winfield said. “I would have it torn down and rebuilt in a more flattering style, but Terrance seems fond of this monstrosity. So what brings you so far north, my lady?”
She faced the gentleman. “I have come for a visit with Lady Terrance. She is my grandfather’s friend.”
“I had heard the countess still wore dark colors.”
Before she could respond, a loud crack sounded. She sensed danger stab from above. With a shouted warning, she pulled Mr. Winfield out of harm’s way just as an icicle crashed and shattered where they had stood. She protected her face as splinters flew in all directions.
Mendal screamed. The owl fluttered its one good wing and screeched. The dog barked ferociously.
Mr. MacBride spoke first, his voice quivering and eyes wide with terror. “It is an omen, ah tell ye.”
“He is right,” Mendal said, sounding unusually timorous as she crossed herself. “We should leave. Bad luck comes from going where we are not wanted.”
The front doors opened then, and a footman descended. Immediately, the dog raced up the stairs and inside.
“Dog!” Belle called out in alarm. The animal might wreck the place. This was not how she had hoped to introduce herself to the countess.
An older woman, dressed in black, moved to the open doorway. Belle recognized her from a drawing her grandfather had shown her. This was Lady Terrance. She gave off waves of fear as she looked toward the roofline.
Belle’s worries drowned beneath the lady’s emotional assault, leaving her head pounding with a headache. Through that onslaught, Belle’s purpose became crystal clear. This is why she had come here. Lady Terrance needed her.
About the Author
Shereen Vedam was born on a tiny paradise island called Ceylon, later renamed Sri Lanka. Since then she arrived in Canada and moved across the provinces until she landed in British Columbia where she found a new paradise all her own, filled with people and pets and plants (including an awesome giant Weeping Sequoia) that nurture her love of reading, writing and dreaming.
Today my guest is Debra Glass, who, like me, writes historicals for Ellora’s Cave, although hers are quite a bit more steamy than mine! Last year I loved her ménage book, Scarlet Widow, so I’m eager to hear about her latest release, Lover For Ransom. Welcome to Susana’s Parlour, Debra!
Thank you very much for hosting me in the Parlour today.
A Yankee Teacher Comes South in Lover for Ransom
Cathleen Ryan is one of my favorite heroines. She’s feisty and no nonsense and has a firm grip on everyone and everything—except herself. I thoroughly enjoyed writing her interaction with Southern hero, Ransom Byrne, who found he was far more intrigued with the Yankee hired help than he wanted to admit.
Leave me a comment and be sure to include your email address. One lucky commenter will receive a copy of Lover for Ransom!
Byrne’s End, Thompson’s Station, Tennessee
June 3, 1866
Mr. John A. Bennett
I have arrived in Tennessee in one piece, though at times, I highly doubted that would be the case. Once my train crossed the Mason Dixon line, there was a marked change in the land. Many once grand dwellings are now but burned out shells, skeletal remains of the bastions of slavery I so fervently fought against during my tenure as an abolitionist prior to the war. I must admit, however, this area referred to as Middle Tennessee by its inhabitants is, for the most part, unscathed by the ravages of the war.
Upon my arrival, I was met at the station by Mr. Ransom Byrne who, I’m given to understand, contracted my service with the Perkins School for the Blind. Though pleasant enough, Mr. Byrne embodies all the qualities I would have heretofore ascribed to a former officer in the Rebel Army. With his easy and overly familiar manner of speech, he seeks to dazzle and woo, but I assure you, Mr. Bennett, those cavalier charms are lost on an affirmed spinster such as I, but not, as I so shockingly observed, on the local maidens.
Mr. Byrne took it upon himself to confide in me that, during the war, he had been brought home to convalesce during an illness which he unwittingly spread to members of the Byrne family, including my charge, his younger sister, Jenny. The illness resulted in her blindness, and I have clearly determined that my work with the sixteen-year-old has been cut out for me. Like many who have been robbed of sight in the bloom of life, Miss Byrne is disillusioned and bitter. I have no doubts I shall be able to rectify that and teach her that the blind can indeed live full lives.
It is obvious to me that Mr. Byrne feels beholden to his family and their business of horse breeding. In fact, the Byrnes and their servants alike, put far too much stock and trust in the wiles of the beasts, as I unfortunately learned firsthand after a mishap with a wagon and its novice driver, seven-year-old Charles Hunt.
I imagine a lesser woman would be intimidated by the Southern aristocracy, but not I. I fully intend to not only adhere to the standards I have adopted from my friends and mentors, Mrs. Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Miss Susan B. Anthony, but to instruct these Southern women, long repressed by their menfolk, the way to equality both in the home and at the voting poll.
As soon as I begin my instruction with Miss Byrne, I will write to you and inform you of my progress. Again, I appreciate the opportunity you have afforded me to travel from my hometown of Boston to this godforsaken land where I might not only help this young woman, but also enlighten my Southern sisters.
Very Truly Yours,
Cathleen M. Ryan
Ransom Byrne has been ravaged by guilt since an illness rendered his little sister blind. The former Confederate cavalry officer has resolved to make amends by hiring a Yankee tutor who’ll hopefully restore order to his sister’s life. Once accomplished, he’ll be free to leave Byrne’s End.
From the moment she steps off the train in Tennessee, Cathleen Ryan makes a startling first impression. With her feminist ideas, the irrepressible Bostonian quickly outrages everyone—especially Ransom. He deems the bespectacled teacher too uptight and prim for his tastes. Appearances, however, are deceiving. She tenders decadent proposals that shock and intrigue him, and sultry nights spent submitting to his every illicit request offer them both love and redemption.
But when her steadfast convictions attract the attention of dangerous men, Cathleen risks losing her chance of becoming more than just a lover for Ransom.
Inside Scoop: This 19th-century tale contains mild violence, spanking, sloppy puppy kisses, more spanking, fiery suffragette speeches and an attitudinal horse named String Bean.
A Romantica® historical erotic romance from Ellora’s Cave
Excerpt From: LOVER FOR RANSOM
Copyright © DEBRA GLASS, 2013
All Rights Reserved, Ellora’s Cave Publishing, Inc.
“Don’t you ever read anything for pleasure?”
She toyed with the earpieces of her glasses, her mind fixed on the way his velvety drawl had played havoc with the word pleasure. She cleared her throat. “There are far too many important things to read to waste my poor eyesight on frivolities, Mr. Byrne.”
He closed her book, set it on the table and stood. Cathleen flinched as his leg brushed hers when he passed on his way to the bookcase. He opened it and pressed his fingertip to his lips in thought as he perused its contents.
Cathleen studied his casual stance. His weight shifted to one leg and his head cocked to the side. He looked back at her, stared so long it made her insides quiver and then turned back to the collection and removed a slender book from the shelf.
“I shall read to you then,” he said with a smile and he returned to his chair. “To protect your poor eyesight from…frivolities.”
Cathleen gulped as his long fingers opened the book and he thumbed through the pages. It looked like a child’s volume in his hands and she couldn’t help but wonder what he’d chosen.
“Ah, here,” he said, placing his elbow casually on the armrest of his chair to hold the book at a comfortable height. “It was many and many a year ago, in a kingdom by the sea, that a maiden lived there that you may know by the name of Annabel Lee.”
Edgar Allan Poe. Of course she was familiar with the famed Baltimore author. But she’d read his works in braille, and certainly had never heard them read aloud by a man with such a hauntingly husky voice. This night—this moment, with the clock’s pendulum ticking off the seconds in time with the poem’s meter and the flickering glow of the lamp—seemed to be made for the dark, beautifully macabre poem about a woman who’d died before her time.
“For the moon never beams without bringing me dreams of the beautiful Annabel Lee,” Ransom continued.
Cathleen closed her eyes, picturing a pair of young lovers walking hand in hand on a stormy beach. Ransom’s voice transported her and she felt the anguish of the author who’d lost his love only to find himself frequented by her ghost.
“And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side, of my darling—my darling—my life and my bride, in the sepulcher there by the sea, in her tomb by the sounding sea.”
Eyes still closed, Cathleen sat in the stillness, absorbing the song contained in the words. When her lashes fluttered open, she was surprised at the tear that traced down her cheek. Blushing, she swept it away. “Very nice, Mr. Byrne.”
He raised his eyebrows in mock warning.
She giggled. She actually giggled. Closing her eyes for a split second, she struggled to compose herself. She was acting like a bashful schoolgirl. “Ransom,” she corrected, her voice but a breath.
In that instant, something had suddenly changed between them and she was at a loss to decipher it.
Staring, he inhaled. “With your hair loose, you reminded me of the woman in that poem.”
Her eyes widened. “Dead?”
He chuckled without mirth. “No. Wild and windswept.”
This time, Cathleen did begin to smooth her hair down.
“No,” he said. “No. Don’t touch it. It’s perfect the way it is.” He must have realized he’d said too much. “I mean, it’s only you and me. There’s no need for pretense.”
Cathleen nodded. Her gaze fell to the brown leather covered book in his hand. “Do you believe such love exists?”
He snorted and closed the book. “This was the fancy of a man who imbibed too much and who thought too much. Love like that is for the young and foolish—for people who haven’t experienced the things I have.”
Cathleen gnawed her bottom lip. “Are you referring to your time during the war?”
He suddenly looked uncomfortable. His big and masculine exterior seemed incongruous with his sudden unease. “Yeah,” he admitted. “I saw and did things no living human being should ever have to see or do. Things that’ll make you hate yourself.”
Cathleen didn’t know how to respond. Newspapers told of the hardships and combat. She’d seen soldiers boarding trains to join the fighting. She’d watched neighbors don their widow’s weeds. She herself had received a telegram informing her that her brother had been killed. But even when the war had come into her very home, it had always seemed a distant thing. But these Tennesseans had lived the war. This man had fought it. Federal troops had occupied their home. While on the train, she’d overheard tales about frightening guerilla raids from both sides, about men who didn’t live by any code of decency, who took what they wanted and killed indiscriminately. These families had lived day to day, wondering if their hard-earned food stores, their homes or even their very lives would be taken from them.
“No,” Ransom continued. “The war was anything but glory.”
Still, Cathleen remained uncharacteristically silent. While she pitied the plight of these people, in her eyes, the war had been a necessary evil, a vehicle through which an entire race had broken the bonds of slavery and declared themselves free. And yet, she didn’t feel free to admit her thoughts on the matter to Ransom Byrne. Not tonight.
“What about you, Cathleen?” he asked, his gaze finding and holding hers, daring her to correct him. “Do you believe in that kind of love?” His tone was almost mocking.
Realizing he’d shifted the conversation back to the poem, she let out a laugh. “Of course not. In fact, I don’t agree with marriage at all and I shall never marry.”
“How did you come to this conclusion?”
“Contrary to what you might think, I haven’t chosen a life of spinsterhood because I am bookish and outspoken, not to mention plain.” She straightened, confused at the way a belief she’d always maintained with pride, now hurt. “No. I simply do not accept as true that a woman should have to marry and live out her days in subjugation.”
“Subjugation?” he asked and then laughed. “I’ve always thought that was the other way around. All the married men I know are pretty beholden to their wives.”
“That’s but a puerile joke. We all know that marriage gives husbands rights to a woman’s livelihood and even her body, if he so chooses to claim them. For a woman, marriage is nothing but legalized…rape.”
This time, both his eyebrows shot up. “That’s a mighty strong word.”
“A married man can demand his rights anytime he chooses. Therefore, if a woman is forced into coitus with him, it is legalized rape.” Cathleen lifted her chin, awaiting an argument. It was a strong word. But he needed to know how she felt about subjugation. She needed him to know it.
Instead, he surprised her. “Don’t you ever feel desire?”
Yes, I’m feeling it this very instant.
Can’t wait for the drawing? Buy Lover for Ransom (available in all ereader formats ) at Ellora’s Cave today! http://www.ellorascave.com/lover-for-ransom.html
DEBRA GLASS is the author of over thirty-five books of historical and paranormal romance, non-fiction, young adult romance, and folklore. She is a member of Romance Writers of America and the Professional Authors’ Network as well as RWA’s Heart of Dixie and Southern Magic Chapters.
She lives in Alabama with her real life hero, a couple of smart-aleck ghosts, and a diabolical black cat.