Tag Archive | historical romance

Jude Knight: Interview with the Marquis of Aldridge (Giveaway)

Today, we are with that renowned scion of the Grenford family, the Marquis of Aldridge. As the eldest son of the Duke of Haverford whose health is understood to be failing, he has taken over much of the business of the duchy. However, he continues a vigorous social life, and is as popular on his rare appearances in a Society ballroom as he is rumoured to be in less reputable establishments.

(LC stands for Lady Correspondent. The interviewer wishes to remain anonymous, and Aldridge has sworn not to disclose her identity.)

LC: Your lordship has recently returned from Hollystone Hall, where your mother has been holding a Yuletide house party. We are informed you arrived late and left early. Do you have a particular reason for avoiding such events?

(LC blushes. She was present at both the arrival and the departure, but her questions will be printed so she cannot say so. Beyond a twitch of his eyebrows and a quirk of his lips, Aldridge does not acknowledge her deception.)

aldridge-1Aldridge: Errands for my father and other business matters kept me in town, but Her Grace my mother knew not to expect me until Christmas Eve. I would, however, have avoided the party altogether if the duchess had not required my attendance. I find that I spend such occasions avoiding debutantes with a fancy for a ducal coronet. In any house other than my mother’s, I could have discouraged them by a blatant and scandalous pursuit of a willing widow or a straying wife.

I say pursuit… But if that is not sufficient, our behaviour once I have caught the lady who has temporarily attracted my attention tends to drive away the most title-hungry of virgins and their mamas.

You would be wise to believe that my reputation is well deserved, but it is also something of a protection against all but the most ambitious.

However, as I say, I was under my mother’s roof, so the usual avenue was not open to me.

LC: So what did you do instead?

Aldridge: In the event, I had my brother with me, and we protected one another. We even shared a bed chamber, so any blushing virgin who thought to conceal herself in my bed was as much at risk of ending up with the prodigal spare, as with the disreputable heir. (Grins)

The few days I was there proved very entertaining. The duchess’s stated aim for the fortnight was to raise money for her new charity fund, but she was playing matchmaker, of course—and very successfully.

regency-fashionLC: We understand the house party was the venue for several betrothals and a marriage.

Aldridge: Yes, the Earl and Countess of Somerton married at the local church just before Christmas.

LC: Society is aghast to learn that the Earl of Somerton married the actress, Charlotte Halfpenny.

Aldridge: A magnificent actress; possibly the finest of our generation. She will, I am sure, play the part of countess to my dear friend Somerton with as much artistry as she put into her earlier roles.

Two other weddings in those weeks were associated with the house party, though they did not take place at Hollystone Hall. Lady Sophia Belvoir wed Lord Elfingham in London in a private ceremony that received, we are told, the blessing of his dying grandfather, the Duke of Winshire. And the Stanton party were delayed (with the exception of Lady Stanton), because Lord Stanton’s little sister and Frederick Woodville wished to be married in Cumbria.

LC: There is a touch of scandal in both unions, is there not? Why was Lady Stanton not at her daughter’s wedding, and what happened on that wedding journey that caused her stepson to propose to Mr Woodville’s sister?

And Lord Elfingham was made Earl of Sutton by the death of his grandfather. Or was he? The Privileges Committee will soon decide whether the new Duke of Winshire was validly married to the Persian princess who bore his large brood of children.

Aldridge: All three couples are happy. (Aldridge looks surprisingly wistful. Perhaps his mother is not the only romantic in his family.) Our sort generally look for advantage in marriage; family links, or property, or wealth. We do not, as a rule, expect to marry someone with whom we share a deep affection. They are fortunate, Lady F-Lady Correspondent.

LC: Your brother was also hopeful of a betrothal, I believe, my lord.

Aldridge: That is so. We had intended to stay to the end of the house party, but my brother received a message that recalled him to–shall we say Eastern Europe? We have not yet heard the results. I hope that he, too, is happy.

As you mentioned, though, the house party also saw several betrothals, and part of the entertainment was watching the gentlemen and their ladies stumble their way to an understanding.

Mama can take no credit for the betrothal between Mr Durand and the lovely Miss Sedgely. Their affection was fixed prior to the house party, and their fate sealed when half of Society saw them k–. Well. Never mind.

But she was, I am certain, involved in unsnarling the misperception Lord Nicholas Lacey had conceived about Lady de Courtenay. I may have helped a little myself, although flirting outrageously with the lady did not have the intended effect.

Even Mama was uncertain which of her two suitors Lady Anna Wycliffe would choose: Lord Pershore or the Duke of Barnet. But one departed early, and the other remained to be happy.

The affection between Miss Baumann and Mr Halevy also predated the house party, but Mama is undoubtedly correct that she provided the setting for its very satisfactory outcome.

And, of course, Her Grace could hardly have expected the affair between my cousin Cedrica and the chef.

Still. Nothing makes my mother happier than a courtship successfully concluded in a love match.

L.C.: And when we might expect your own betrothal, Lord Aldridge?

Aldridge: (Laughs out loud.) Did my mother put you up to asking that? All I can say is that I do not advise holding your breath.

Giveaway

bfbcover-ebook-small
revealed-in-mist-smallThe Marquis of Aldridge appears in several of the stories in Holly and Hopeful Hearts. He is one of Jude Knight’s characters, and pops up in a number of her books, including A Baron for Becky (where he is not quite the hero) and Revealed in Mist (where he is almost a villain).

To win an ecopy of A Baron for Becky or an ARC of Revealed in Mist, put your answer to the following question in the comments below. I’ll choose a commenter at random.

What did Aldridge do to try to help Lady de Courtenay?

About Holly and Hopeful Hearts

When the Duchess of Haverford sends out invitations to a Yuletide house party and a New Year’s Eve ball at her country estate, Hollystone Hall, those who respond know that Her Grace intends to raise money for her favorite cause and promote whatever marriages she can. Eight assorted heroes and heroines set out with their pocketbooks firmly clutched and hearts in protective custody. Or are they?

Valuing Vanessa, by Susana Ellis

Facing a dim future as a spinster under her mother’s thumb, Vanessa Sedgely makes a practical decision to attach an amiable gentleman who will not try to rule her life.

A Kiss for Charity, by Sherry Ewingcover-of-holly-and-hopeful-hearts-copy-2

Young widow Grace, Lady de Courtenay, has no idea how a close encounter with a rake at a masquerade ball would make her yearn for love again. Can she learn to forgive Lord Nicholas Lacey and set aside their differences to let love into her heart?

Artemis, by Jessica Cale

Actress Charlotte Halfpenny is in trouble. Pregnant, abandoned by her lover, and out of a job, Charlotte faces eviction two weeks before Christmas. When the reclusive Earl of Somerton makes her an outrageous offer, she has no choice but to accept. Could he be the man of her dreams, or is the nightmare just beginning?

The Bluestocking and the Barbarian, by Jude Knight

James must marry to please his grandfather, the duke, and to win social acceptance for himself and his father’s other foreign-born children. But only Lady Sophia Belvoir makes his heart sing, and to win her he must invite himself to spend Christmas at the home of his father’s greatest enemy. 

Christmas Kisses, by Nicole Zoltack

Louisa Wycliff, Dowager Countess of Exeter wants only for her darling daughter, Anna, to find a man she can love and marry. Appallingly, Anna has her sights on a scoundrel of a duke who chases after every skirt he sees. Anna truly thinks the dashing duke cares for her, but her mother has her doubts. 

An Open Heart, by Caroline Warfield

Esther Baumann longs for a loving husband who will help her create a home where they will teach their children to value the traditions of their people, but she wants a man who is also open to new ideas and happy to make friends outside their narrow circle. Is it so unreasonable to ask for toe curling passion as well?

Dashing Through the Snow, by Amy Rose Bennett

Headstrong bluestocking, Miss Kate Woodville, never thought her Christmas would be spent racing across England with a viscount hell-bent on vengeance. She certainly never expected to find love…

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newlogoAbout the Bluestocking Belles

The Bluestocking Belles (the “BellesInBlue”) are seven very different writers united by a love of history and a history of writing about love. From sweet to steamy, from light-hearted fun to dark tortured tales full of angst, from London ballrooms to country cottages to the sultan’s seraglio, one or more of us will have a tale to suit your tastes and mood.

Website and Home of the Teatime Tattler

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Caroline Warfield: The Renegade Wife (Giveaway)

Lieutenant-Colonel John By, Royal Engineers, 1779-1836

John By [Source: By, John, 1832. Unknown Artist, Kingston Picture Collection, Queen’s University Archives, accession number V23 P-58]

John By [Source: By, John, 1832. Unknown Artist, Kingston Picture Collection, Queen’s University Archives, accession number V23 P-58]

After a modestly successful military career, John By was given an assignment the he might well have believed would bring him promotion and renown. He came from modest origins and, while competent, had never achieved the heights of success. He is in some ways a typical professional soldier of the Napoleonic Era. He died in obscurity. So why is he remembered today?

He was assigned to design an entirely navigable waterway to serve as a supply line between Montreal and Kingston using the Rideau and Ottawa rivers. It was to be cut 126 miles through a wilderness of forest, swamps, and rocky terrain far enough removed from the Saint Lawrence River to be easily defended in case of invasion by the Americans to the south. For By, it didn’t work out as he hoped. For Canada, By’s canal is a treasure.

Born at Lambeth in 1779, to a family of watermen, By entered the Royal Military Academy, Woolrich, in 1797 and was commissioned two years later. Initially commissioned to the artillery, he transferred to the Royal Engineers later that year. He served in Plymouth for two years before being sent to Canada in 1802 where he worked on the first small locks on the Saint Lawrence and on the citadel at Quebec. Beginning in late 1810 he served under Wellington in the Peninsula but was recalled in 1812 when the Inspector General of Fortifications, Lt. General Gother Mann, appointed him commanding engineer of the new Royal Gunpowder Mills. After Waterloo, the need for engineers lessened, and By retired.

First Camp at Bytown By John By [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

First Camp at Bytown By John By [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

John By was 47 when he was called out of retirement to build the canal. There’s every reason to believe he jumped at it. The Duke of Wellington is said to have chosen him specifically, but the orders came from General Mann who had also been his commanding officer during his previous stay in Canada. Both men had confidence with him at the beginning.

Never one to take the easy or obvious way, By began making controversial decisions almost immediately upon arrival in 1826. Instead of setting up housekeeping in Kingston, which already boasted not only a fort and navy base, but also a growing town, he moved his family and set up at the mouth of the Ottawa where there were at most a half dozen households. Even as the Royal Engineers began laying out the plans for the waterway, By laid out plans for a town to be called Bytown to house his headquarters, his home, barracks, and housing for workers. His town is now called Ottawa and is the capital of Canada.

There had been earlier surveys of the country, and some recommendations for much more modest plans than those ultimately carried out. By resurveyed and determined to lay out the waterway using the Rideau River and lakes, canalizing the route where needed, building locks and dams along the way. Contract labor began clearing land that winter.

Entrance of the Rideau Canal at Bytown, 1839, By Ainslie, Henry Francis 1803-1879 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Entrance of the Rideau Canal at Bytown, 1839, By Ainslie, Henry Francis 1803-1879 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The single most important decision was to build the locks and canals wide and deep enough to handle the new naval steamships. The original, narrower plans were designed for typical river craft such as Durham boats. In spite of opposition in London, a compromise plan dictated only slightly smaller construction. Building for steam power is typical of By’s far-sighted approach.

In six years By, the engineers, and the contractors had managed the project, with most of the work done by hand by primarily Irish and French workers. They built approximately 50 dams, 47 locks, and blockhouses for defense. The Stone Dam at Jones Falls was the third largest dam in the world when it was built. The eight massive locks at Bytown are still a wonder, and, yes, it accommodated navel steamships. An estimated 1000 men died in the process. By himself contracted malaria, probably as a result of his insistence on inspecting work camps himself. He demanded money for a hospital and housing, and his requests were not always well received.

Lt. Colonel By statue overlooking the locks in Ottawa (my own photo)

Lt. Colonel By statue overlooking the locks in Ottawa (my own photo)

In May 1832 John By was able to sail through the locks by steamship, his work essentially finished. It appears he planned to settle permanently in Bytown, but it was not to be. Precisely at the time of his great triumph, a move was underfoot in London to remove him. He received notice in August:

My Lords further desire that Colonel By may be forthwith ordered to return to this country, that he may be called upon to afford such explanation as My Lords may consider necessary upon this important subject.

The “important subject” was cost overruns and questionable permissions. The committee that examined him grudgingly allowed that the work had been done with care and that most of the cost was unavoidable, but in the end they issued a reprimand for allegedly unauthorized expenditures, which he denied. Instead of the commendations he expected, By was forced out. He struggled to clear his name unsuccessfully. In failing health, he retired to his home in Sussex. Even as he lay ill, his wife continued to write to people begging for help removing the stigma which she believe contributed to his decline. He died, probably of malaria, in 1836.

John By artist unknown (not from life)

John By artist unknown (not from life)

And the canal? It never served the military purpose for which it was intended, but it opened Ontario to settlement and served as a commercial highway throughout the nineteenth century. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, largely used for recreation, and those pesky Americans are welcome to come up and enjoy the still functioning locks and canals.

Want to know more? Try these.

The Virtual Museum of Canada http://bit.ly/2ej9lzX

The Rideau Canal World Heritage Site http://www.rideau-info.com/canal/tales/bye-by.html

The Bytown Museum http://www.bytownmuseum.com/en/engr.html

Robert Passfield, Military Paternalism. https://books.google.com/books?id=CSTSAQAAQBAJ

Giveaway

To celebrate the launch, Caroline will give a copy of one of her Dangerous Series books to one randomly selected person who comments. The winner can choose from the books found here:

http://www.carolinewarfield.com/bookshelf/

About The Renegade Wife

therenegadewifeBetrayed by his cousin and the woman he loved, Rand Wheatly fled England, his dreams of a loving family shattered. He clings to his solitude in an isolated cabin in Upper Canada. Returning from a business trip to find a widow and two children squatting in his house, he flies into a rage. He wants her gone, but her children are sick and injured, and his heart is not as hard as he likes to pretend.

Meggy Blair harbors a secret, and she’ll do whatever it takes to keep her children safe. She’d hopes to hide with her Ojibwa grandmother, if she can find the woman and her people. She doesn’t expect to find shelter with a quiet, solitary man, a man who lowers his defensive walls enough to let Meggy and her children in.

Their idyllic interlude is shattered when Meggy’s brutal husband appears to claim his children. She isn’t a widow, but a wife, a woman who betrayed the man she was supposed to love, just as Rand’s sweetheart betrayed him. He soon discovers why Meggy is on the run, but time is running out. To save them all, Rand must return and face his demons.

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Excerpt

“Let go of her, Blair, or I’ll shoot you like the dog you are. God knows you deserve it.” For untold minutes all Rand heard was the wind in the trees, and Lena’s whimper behind Pratt’s back. Even Meggy seemed to hold her breath.

Blair let go of her arm so suddenly she stumbled before running back to her children. “The slut and her children are mine, Wheatly, and that makes you a thief.”

“Get on your horse, Blair, and get out of here before I change my mind and shoot you anyway. You too, Pratt.”

Rand kept his pistol aimed at Blair while the men mounted and turn their horses to the lane. Pratt and Martin galloped up the hill and into the woods, but Blair turned half way up and pointed back at Meggy hugging the children in Rand’s doorway.

“They’re mine, Wheatly. I have a writ. I’ll be back with the magistrate and the deputy to have you jailed for resisting. Won’t your fancy relatives like that?” He turned and galloped off.

Rand eased back the hammer of his pistol, when the men cleared the trees. He slid it into a holster, jumped down, and ran to Meggy and the children, pulling all of them into an embrace. Meggy began to weep almost as soon as his hand came around her back, pulling her close with Lena between them and Drew in the crook of his arm.

“You might have killed him, and then where would we be?” she sobbed.

“You would be safe from him.”

“And you would be in jail or worse.”

He didn’t deny it. He kissed the top of her head and down her cheek.

About the Author

Carol Roddy - Author

Award winning author Caroline Warfield has been many things: traveler, librarian, poet, raiser of children, bird watcher, Internet and Web services manager, conference speaker, indexer, tech writer, genealogist—even a nun. She reckons she is on at least her third act, happily working in an office surrounded by windows while she lets her characters lead her to adventures in England and the far-flung corners of the British Empire. She nudges them to explore the riskiest territory of all, the human heart.

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Cover Reveal: Holly and Hopeful Hearts by the Bluestocking Belles

cover-of-holly-and-hopeful-hearts-copy

About Holly and Hopeful Hearts

When the Duchess of Haverford sends out invitations to a Yuletide house party and a New Year’s Eve ball at her country estate, Hollystone Hall, those who respond know that Her Grace intends to raise money for her favorite cause and promote whatever marriages she can. Eight assorted heroes and heroines set out with their pocketbooks firmly clutched and hearts in protective custody. Or are they?

A Suitable Husband, by Jude Knight

As the Duchess of Haverford’s companion, Cedrica Grenford is not treated as a poor relation and is encouraged to mingle with Her Grace’s guests. Surely she can find a suitable husband amongst the gentlemen gathered for the duchess’s house party. Above stairs or possibly below.

Valuing Vanessa, by Susana Ellis

Facing a dim future as a spinster under her mother’s thumb, Vanessa Sedgely makes a practical decision to attach an amiable gentleman who will not try to rule her life.

A Kiss for Charity, by Sherry Ewing

Young widow Grace, Lady de Courtenay, has no idea how a close encounter with a rake at a masquerade ball would make her yearn for love again. Can she learn to forgive Lord Nicholas Lacey and set aside their differences to let love into her heart?

Excerpt

Artemis, by Jessica Cale

Actress Charlotte Halfpenny is in trouble. Pregnant, abandoned by her lover, and out of a job, Charlotte faces eviction two weeks before Christmas. When the reclusive Earl of Somerton makes her an outrageous offer, she has no choice but to accept. Could he be the man of her dreams, or is the nightmare just beginning?

Excerpt

The Bluestocking and the Barbarian, by Jude Knight

James must marry to please his grandfather, the duke, and to win social acceptance for himself and his father’s other foreign-born children. But only Lady Sophia Belvoir makes his heart sing, and to win her he must invite himself to spend Christmas at the home of his father’s greatest enemy.

Excerpt

Christmas Kisses, by Nicole Zoltack

Louisa Wycliff, Dowager Countess of Exeter wants only for her darling daughter, Anna, to find a man she can love and marry. Appallingly, Anna has her sights on a scoundrel of a duke who chases after every skirt he sees. Anna truly thinks the dashing duke cares for her, but her mother has her doubts.

Excerpt

An Open Heart, by Caroline Warfield

Esther Baumann longs for a loving husband who will help her create a home where they will teach their children to value the traditions of their people, but she wants a man who is also open to new ideas and happy to make friends outside their narrow circle. Is it so unreasonable to ask for toe curling passion as well?

Excerpt

Dashing Through the Snow, by Amy Rose Bennett

Headstrong bluestocking, Miss Kate Woodville, never thought her Christmas would be spent racing across England with a viscount hell-bent on vengeance. She certainly never expected to find love…

Excerpt

Coming November 8.

Eight original stories, 578 pages of diverse characters,  complex relationships, and happily-ever-afters for $2.99.

Pre-order Now!

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Excerpt from Valuing Vanessa

“Are you certain it is not an imposition, Miss Sedgely? Because I shouldn’t mind showing the ladies around myself, in Mrs. Seavers’s absence.”

Vanessa’s chin rose as she directed a firm gaze at the institution’s housekeeper. “I assure you there is no imposition whatsoever, Mrs. Barnes. I shall be pleased to guide the ladies on their tour this morning, as Matron directed.”

Mrs. Barnes flushed. Obviously she considered the task her own prerogative, but Vanessa had not taken the trouble to get the hospital matron out of town just to be foiled by the housekeeper.

“But what about your class, Miss Sedgely? The children do so look forward to them! Why, they will be exceedingly disappointed to miss them today.” She leaned in closer, her eyes gleaming. “I hear that little Willie had prepared a special passage to read for you. He is quite partial to you, you know.”

Vanessa refused to allow herself to be diverted, in spite of the tiny twinge of guilt she felt deep inside. “My maid has agreed to take my classes for today. She has assisted me previously, you know, and thus is well-known to the children.”

She gave a curt nod to the housekeeper, who took it as the dismissal it was meant to be, and walked out of the room.

The Board of Governors were conducting a meeting in a quarter hour’s time, and Vanessa had taken great pains to find a reason to be lingering in the foyer as the gentlemen arrived. It was Mr. George Durand she wished to encounter, of course. During the week since the masquerade at Vauxhall, she had unearthed a great deal of information about the attractive gentleman.

George William Durand was the grandson of a viscount, his late father being the younger son, who had made law his profession. Durand’s cousin William had become the 4th Viscount Faringdon five years ago following his father’s death, and he had four healthy sons to follow him, which meant the title was unlikely to fall to George. George had followed his father into the law profession, although interestingly, he had briefly studied landscape gardening with one of Capability Brown’s former associates. That ended after his marriage, however, when young George set himself to becoming a successful solicitor like his father. His wife, Geneviève d’Aumale, was a French émigrée, the daughter of a comte who had lost his head on the Place de la Concorde at the hands of revolutionaries. She, her sister Juliette, and their mother the comtesse had lost their lives in a carriage accident which had arisen from an attack of highwaymen.

So dreadful. Life was so ephemeral. In a matter of minutes, three ladies’ lives had been snuffed out in such a horrific manner, leaving their husbands to bear the loss as best they could. And their adolescent daughters, of course. Both Durand and Lord Nicholas had daughters, approximately the same age. And perhaps not surprisingly, both had been residing with relatives since the tragedy. Men were notoriously helpless when it came to their maturing daughters. But in retrospect, Vanessa thought it rather pitiable that the girls had effectively lost both parents in that one disastrous moment.

One thing was certain, however. A well-off gentleman with a near-grown daughter was clearly in need of a wife. And Vanessa thought she might suit this one very well indeed.

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.

320px-Clovelly_-_Harbour02

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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Gina Danna: The Wicked North (Book 1 – Hearts Touched by Fire)

May I Introduce….

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By the time of the American Civil War, Victorian America followed many of Great Britain’s rules of society. Ladies looked forward to their next copy of Godey’s for the latest fashion for instance. What Queen Victoria did in London set the tide for manners and etiquette both in England and “across the pond” here in the United States. It is these actions that dictated society and guarded the sexes that give us a taste of life back then. Let us take a look at the foundation of society as set back in the mid-19th century.

Introductions: When people met back then, introductions were made based on the rules of etiquette. No man would consider simply walking up to a lady he didn’t know and say “hi”. That was considered rude and crass. If there was a lady he wished to meet, he needed to find someone who knew them both to make introductions. “Miss Smith, may I introduce Mr. Silvers of Charleston…” Now, if Mr. Silvers was of low account and totally unsuitable for the lady, this friend could deny introducing him or if it was made and she didn’t care for Silvers, she could snub him off. Really raise her nose as it were and ignore the man. This, of course, would be held against him as unworthy and the news passed quickly to avoid him.

While we are here, let us discuss names. Gentlemen and the workingman were always called Mr. Lastname while in public. Ladies were Miss if they were single or Mrs. if they were married (there was no such creature as “Ms.”). Mrs. John Smith was Mary Smith’s public name as ladies took their husband’s surname at marriage and protocol stated the first in public. If Mary was single and her father’s name was Charles Silvers, her name on invitations to her coming out ball were “Miss Charles Silvers invites…”

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At societal gatherings, like a ball, a couple was announced as Mr. Charles Silvers and lady – not even Mrs. Charles Silvers if she is his wife!

It was a gentleman’s role to protect the fairer sex. For instance, if he was with her on the boardwalk in the city, he’d place himself between the street and her to keep her away from harm if a wagon or horse got out of control and barreled into the curb or to give her another type of barrier from mud or horse dung from slinging off the road onto the curb. If she were on an outing with a servant, the maid or male servant would serve the same purpose.

If a man was courting a lady, first the man had to ask her father for permission (or her male guardian if her father was deceased). Courting had its own rules. Ladies of the lower classes could marry at age 14 – an age we writers shy from, considering today’s way of thinking. Middle to upper class ladies usually had a “coming out” at about 18 or 19 years of age. Many times this was a ball where they were introduced and they dressed in bright pastels like pink, yellow or light green, often with flowers in their hair – even if it was winter. They wore the light colors because in candle or oil light, darker color dresses blended with the walls but the light stood out.

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As they made the marriage circuit, it should be easy to find a husband in America at this time as the number of men out numbered the women prior to the War. Granted, some men headed west where land was cheap but that is another discussion. If a man wanted to court a lady, he needed to be 5 to 10 years older than her (if she was 18, he needed to be 23-28) and show he had the way and means to support her and their future children – in other words, he needed to have a job and a house, not living at home off of mom and dad.

Courting rules were simple – the couple was never allowed alone. A trusted servant or family member accompanied them – trusted by the parents, not the daughter. If she liked him enough, she might allow him to call her by her first name but it was her decision, not his. Otherwise, she was Miss Silvers.

Also, fashion had women wearing gloves whenever they were out or in formal situations. These gloves were generally white or ivory though they could match the color of her dress. Made of kid leather for the upper classes and cloth for the lower, these gloves protected her hands from the sun and other elements and from chafing. If she started to have feelings for her gentleman friend, not only would she allow him to call her by her first name, but also grant him the privilege of holding her bare hand (prior to this, only her father, brothers and lady friends could do so). And gentlemen of all classes wore gloves as well and one reason was, it was an honor and a privilege to help a lady in distress (i.e.: she fell or needed help in a carriage). If he ruined her gloves with callus on his hands, he was obligated to replace her gloves. For the workingman, kid gloves equaled more than he made in a month!

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Back to courting, there were two ways a couple could be “alone.” One was on the front porch – basically they were on display for the whole street. No hanky-panky there. The other was the front parlor. Usually the front parlor had a couple of doors to it and/or a parlor mirror. These mirrors were convex in shape and reflected EVERYTHING in the room that anyone could see as they passed the doorway. Quite a hampering device.

Rule of thumb was if they were alone anywhere else for more than fifteen minutes, she was ruined, a “soiled dove”, and no man would want her therefore the young man with her would be forced to marry her to save her reputation. The “shotgun” marriage so to speak though there no doubt was a time or two daddy stood with a loaded gun and cocked it if the man almost backed out from saying “I do.” If he was shot after the ceremony, she was a widow and in good standing. Not saying that happened but…

Divorce – unacceptable in the Victorian age. Only one ground allowed it to happen and that was infidelity, mostly by the wife. No, if you didn’t like your spouse, you might live on different floors of the house and never meet or in different houses but if invited to an event, you went together as husband and wife and put a front on for society.

If she made it to age 23 without getting a proposal (a forward lady, speaking her own thoughts or opinions and not being the demur delicate flower could steer men away), the lady was now a spinster, “put on the shelf” as it were. If she attended balls, she had to wear the darker colors of navy, dark green, etc. with no flowers in her hair and sit against the wall, resigned.

Society wasn’t designed to have ladies be “independent”. Women were under male guardianship their entire lives – first their father than husband. If a wallflower, they still were under dad and could be the mistress to their father’s home if mother was dead, the nanny to their sibling’s kids or work in a hat boutique – those were about the only options available. If they taught, they had to go out to the wild west (at this time, Kansas City represented the wild west) for lady teachers were not the norm in the 19th century and very few allowed to teach in a classroom. The west was desperate for teachers so they’d take anyone willing to travel to the sparsely settled wilderness. If in KC teaching, she meets the man of her dreams and they marry, it is expected of her to quit teaching.

Which brings us to another issue –

Work. Ladies didn’t work. The lower classes did but middle to upper were not suppose to. Even if her husband lost his job, it was unacceptable for her to work, as it’s his job to make the money to feed and support the family and hers to raise the kids and run the house (the “Spheres of Domesticity” firmly in place). Therefore, some took in mending or laundry, under the table, and kept it hidden. If discovered, it could be a problem. And as to domestic abuse, the rule was what happened behind marriage doors was no one’s business. Quite disturbing.

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This is a taste of society in Victorian America. There are plenty of etiquette books made at that time – these were for the middle and lower class and mostly for men so they’d know how to carry themselves. Upper classes were taught this as they grew up.

What time do you want to live in? Back then, it’s very polite and structured but for ladies of an independent nature, it was hell!

About The Wicked North

Bound by duty and honor to wear the Union blue, a Southern-born West Point officer fights his own desires and the need to protect the woman he abandoned, he disobeys his orders to find her, as the Army of the Potomac marches toward her family’s home near Richmond.
She has the guts and willpower to protect her home from the hated Yankee aggressors, but when that traitor to the South appears at her door, she’s torn between wanting to shoot him and to be held in his arms again. Can she forgive him for their past indiscretion or does she turn him in to be executed, a traitor to both sides? 
In the summer of 1862, her family’s plantation becomes the personal battle ground between them as deceit, betrayal and passion ignite the flames of love and hate that burn brighter than the roar of the guns and rivers of blood surrounding them.

 Excerpt

Find out where your enemy is. Get at him as soon as you can, and strike him as hard as you can. And keep moving on!

General U.S. Grant, Virginia, June 1862

Emma Silvers was not afraid to shoot Yankees.

She leveled the .57 caliber Enfield rifle at the line of blue coats standing before her porch at Rose Hill that evening. She counted ten men, fully armed and wielding torches. They reeked of wet wool, sweat and gun powder–a noxious mixture combined with the scent of pink roses surrounding the house. Bile rose in her throat. She swallowed hard.

The officer took a step forward. In the dim light, she couldn’t discern his face, though she saw him flinch as she pointed the muzzle at him.

GinaDanna_TheWIckedNorth1400 copy“I want you off my land, now,” she demanded, her voice remarkably even despite her pounding heart. At twenty-two years and virtually alone, she knew one able-bodied man could easily overwhelm her. With no able men and few slaves remaining, she only had bravado left.

“Now, ma’am,” the Union officer began. He spoke like a gentleman, but, dressed in blue, he was an imposter as far as she was concerned.

Jeremiah, just behind her right shoulder, cocked the hammer on his rifle—a welcome sound to her ears. Good boy, Emma thought. If the Yankees didn’t believe she was a threat, she hoped the armed slave boy next to her got the message across. She wasn’t allowing any soldiers on her property again.

The rifle felt heavier by the minute, making her muscles ache, and she feared she’d drop it. The weapon was foreign to her hands, but as the war raged closer to her home, she learned to use it. She wasn’t very good at it, but, as close as the Yankees were, she was bound to hit one of them. She didn’t want to pull the trigger. The gun’s recoil would knock her off her feet, throwing her aim off. With so few bullets left, she’d hate to lose the shot.

The light streamed through the open front door across the officer as he stepped onto the porch. She saw his face and the nose of the gun slipped. Jack Fontaine, that good-for-nothing traitor! How dare he come here, especially after what had happened last summer? Rage took control and gave her the added strength to pull the muzzle up to his chest as she cocked the trigger.

“Emma, please,” he said softly. He looked at her the same way he had that night months ago, his green eyes glowing like emeralds in the light. She remembered those eyes, those mesmerizing emerald eyes. They were all hers the night she had lost her heart to him. The night he had betrayed her. Her anger flared. No. Not this time. Not again, she vowed. Gritting her teeth, Emma narrowed her gaze.

“Get away from me, Jack, or I swear to God, I’ll blow a hole through you and send you straight to hell!”

Inside the house, a babe wailed. Emma instinctively turned. Jack reached for her and she panicked, squeezing the trigger. The rifle exploded, throwing her backwards, pain shooting into her shoulder. But instead of falling, she found herself in Jack’s arms as they wrapped around her, shielding her back from the impact of the wooden floor.

The patrol stormed onto the porch and into the house. Lying in his embrace, his body shielding hers as his troops marched past them, Emma couldn’t breathe. Her eyes were wide open. She felt the heat of him around her. The scent of him invaded her senses. Warm, masculine, and spicy rolled into one. She fought the heat in her belly, but it was hard as his eyes locked onto hers, his lips only inches away.

She closed her eyes. Behind her, the wailing continued, and she heard the thud of soldiers’ boots inside. Her jaw tightened as she glared at him. “Get off me, Jack.”

About the Author

AuthorPic_Great and Unfortunate Desires copyA USA Today Bestselling author, Gina Danna was born in St. Louis, Missouri, and has spent the better part of her life reading. History has always been her love and she spent numerous hours devouring historical romance stories, always dreaming of writing one of her own. After years of writing historical academic papers to achieve her undergraduate and graduate degrees in History, and then for museum programs and exhibits, she found the time to write her own historical romantic fiction novels.

Now, living in Texas,under the supervision of her three dogs, she writes amid a library of research books, with her only true break away is to spend time with her other life long dream – her Arabian horse – with him, her muse can play.

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Jessica Cale: How Royal Copenhagen Conquered Europe

Eighteenth Century Porcelain: How Royal Copenhagen Conquered Europe

13509851_263614374004128_2085781765_oThe Royal Porcelain Factory (Den Kongelige Porcelænsfabrik), better known as Royal Copenhagen, was founded in a converted post office in Copenhagen on May 1st, 1775 under the protection of Queen Juliane Marie. Although porcelain had been made in Germany since 1710, it was not produced in Denmark until chemist Frantz Heinrich Müller developed a method for its manufacture in 1774. Juliane Marie had an interest in mineralogy and porcelain was a family passion: both her brother, Charles I of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, and sister, who was married to Frederik II of Prussia, had founded porcelain factories in Germany.

The factory’s first pieces were dining sets for the royal family. Juliane Marie insisted each piece be stamped with the factory’s mark, three wavy lines that symbolized Denmark’s three straights–the Øresund, the Great Belt and the Little Belt–as well as the royal crown stamp to highlight the firm’s royal connections. Each piece is marked this way to this day.

Blue and white china became popular across Europe as early as the seventeenth century with the import of goods from the far east. The fine porcelain of China’s Ming and Qing dynasties sparked an enduring love for floral patterns in blue and white and Royal Copenhagen quickly developed their own. Blue Fluted Plain (Danish: Musselmalet) was their first pattern and at more than two hundred fifty years old, it is the world’s oldest china pattern still in production.

13467665_263614317337467_432371625_oBlue Fluted Plain was inspired by Chinese floral patterns and updated to include flowers native to Denmark. Cinquefoils were added to the stylized chrysanthemums to give the pattern a more Nordic appearance. The ultramarine blue pigment in the paint was originally purchased from the Blaafarveværket (“blue colour factory”) in Norway, a company that provided up to eighty percent of the world’s cobalt during the nineteenth century. Each piece was and continues to be hand-painted by blue painters who spend at least four years in training for the position.

Since its development in 1775, Blue Fluted Plain has appeared on more than two thousand different pieces and has inspired countless imitations. It reached the height of its popularity in the early nineteenth century and appeared on everything from tea cups to washbasins and chamber pots.

Lord Nelson brought Royal Copenhagen porcelain back for his mistress, Lady Hamilton, following the Danish defeat at the Battle of Copenhagen in 1801. While Denmark lost that particular battle, Royal Copenhagen’s invasion of Britain was a success. It qualified for London’s World Expo in 1851 and gained international fame by winning the grand prize at Paris’ World Expo in 1889.

13509748_263614310670801_2069635372_oThis pattern has also appeared in some well-researched historical films and television shows, so not only does the pattern “look right” for the period, but even newer pieces are historically accurate for any time after 1775. You can still find pieces in this pattern to this day, so if you would like to add a little eighteenth century elegance to your kitchen or a touch of the Regency to your cup of tea, look for Royal Copenhagen’s Blue Fluted Plain.

Note: For more images or shopping information, Replacements Ltd. has a spectacular assortment of pieces in this pattern here: http://www.replacements.com/webquote/rcoblfp.htm

About The Long Way Home

The Long Way Home, Book 3 in The Southwark Saga is a magical, adult fairy tale that will keep you entertained from start to finish. Find out what happens when a paranoid king, a poison plot, and hideous shoes prove… it’s not easy being Cinderella!

coverAfter saving the life of the glamorous Marquise de Harfleur, painfully shy barmaid Alice Henshawe is employed as the lady’s companion and whisked away to Versailles. There, she catches King Louis’ eye and quickly becomes a court favorite as the muse for Charles Perrault’s Cinderella. The palace appears to be heaven itself, but there is danger hidden beneath the façade and Alice soon finds herself thrust into a world of intrigue, murder, and Satanism at the heart of the French court.

Having left his apprenticeship to serve King Charles as a spy, Jack Sharpe is given a mission that may just kill him. In the midst of the Franco-Dutch war, he is to investigate rumors of a poison plot by posing as a courtier, but he has a mission of his own. His childhood friend Alice Henshawe is missing and he will stop at nothing to see her safe. When he finds her in the company of the very people he is meant to be investigating, Jack begins to wonder if the sweet girl he grew up with has a dark side.

When a careless lie finds them accidentally married, Alice and Jack must rely on one another to survive the intrigues of the court. As old affection gives way to new passion, suspicion lingers. Can they trust each other, or is the real danger closer than they suspect?

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About the Author

jessicaJessica Cale is a historical romance author, a Bluestocking Belle, and a journalist based in North Carolina. Originally from Minnesota, she lived in Wales for several years where she earned a BA in History and an MFA in Creative Writing while climbing castles and photographing mines for history magazines. She kidnapped (“married”) her very own British prince (close enough) and is enjoying her happily ever after with him in a place where no one understands his accent. You can visit her at www.authorjessicacale.com.

Her series, The Southwark Saga, is available now. You can visit her at www.dirtysexyhistory.com.

 

Amy Rose Bennett: Master of Strathburn (Giveaway)

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The Master of Strathburn is essentially a tale about Robert Grant, a wanted Jacobite. After surviving the Battle of Culloden, he escapes to France and then the Caribbean. However, after a decade of living in exile, he desperately wants to return to Scotland and reconcile with his estranged father, the Earl of Strathburn. The only problem is, there is still a price on his head—he isn’t fortunate enough to have been granted a pardon through the Act of Indemnity in 1747. Not only that, his dissolute half-brother Simon and avaricious step-mother would have him arrested by the British in the blink of an eye to prevent him from reclaiming his birthright. Of course, when Robert returns to Lochrose Castle, his long-lost Highland home, the adventures and the romance begin…

Scotland and its rich history has always fascinated me. The idea for writing a novel set around the time of the second Jacobite Rebellion, the Forty-five, came to me when I was sixteen, after I’d read a short story about Flora MacDonald, the brave young woman who helped Bonnie Prince Charlie—the Pretender to the Scottish throne and indeed, the throne of England—escape the Highlands after the rebellion failed. Of course, I’ve done a lot more research into the period since then. After reading about Culloden—the last battle of the rebellion in which the Jacobite army was resoundingly defeated—I knew I particularly wanted to write about a Jacobite hero who was present at the battle and his struggles dealing with the aftermath following the failed uprising. And hence Robert Grant’s story came to life in my mind.

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The Battle of Culloden took place at Drumossie Moor, not far from Inverness in the north-west of Scotland on April 16, 1746. I was fortunate enough to visit the site several years ago; it was actually only a few days after the anniversary of the battle and families who’d lost relatives had laid wreaths against the memorial cairn. The moor is actually classified as a war grave and there are small headstones marking the places where particular clansmen fell. It is estimated that 1500 to 2000 Jacobite soldiers were killed or wounded during the brief battle whereas the British army sustained only fifty casualties. Needless to say, visiting Culloden was a very moving experience.

About Master of Strathburn

A sweeping, sexy Highland romance about a wanted Jacobite with a wounded soul, and a spirited Scottish lass on the run.

Robert Grant has returned home to Lochrose Castle in the Highlands to reconcile with his long-estranged father, the Earl of Strathburn. But there is a price on Robert’s head, and his avaricious younger half-brother, Simon, doesn’t want him reclaiming his birthright. And it’s not only Simon and the redcoats that threaten to destroy Robert’s plans after a flame-haired complication of the feminine kind enters the scene…

Jessie Munroe is forced to flee Lochrose Castle after the dissolute Simon Grant tries to coerce her into becoming his mistress. After a fateful encounter with a mysterious and handsome hunter, Robert, in a remote Highland glen, she throws her lot in with the stranger—even though she suspects he is a fugitive. She soon realizes that this man is dangerous in an entirely different way to Simon…

Despite their searing attraction, Robert and Jessie struggle to trust each other as they both seek a place to call home. The stakes are high and only one thing is certain: Simon Grant is in pursuit of them both…

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In the following excerpt, Robert has just escaped the Battle of Culloden by the skin of his teeth. Or has he?

Excerpt

April 16, 1746

Lochrose Castle, Strathspey, Scotland

‘You’ve got a bloody nerve, Robert.’

‘Aye, I do.’ Robert Grant—the soon-to-be disinherited Master of Strathburn and Viscount Lochrose—squinted through the dark spots clustering his field of vision, trying in vain to focus on his sneering half-brother Simon. The bayonet wound across his shoulder-blade throbbed with such thought-stealing intensity, it was all he could do to stay seated upon his trembling, sweating horse. There was no way he would be able to dismount unassisted. He’d end up with his face firmly planted in the gravel of the forecourt. ‘But for the love of God, Simon …’ he continued, his voice no more than a hoarse rasp. ‘Just help me down. I’m wounded for Christ’s sake …’

He barely recalled the moment the English soldier’s blade had sliced across his back. The horror of everything else that had taken place only hours before on Drumossie Moor flooded his mind. Made the nausea rise in his gullet anew.

Simon snorted. ‘You must’ve had a blow to the head then, or else you would’ve remembered that Father forbade you to come back.’ He glanced past Robert, down the gravel drive toward Lochrose’s gates. ‘You’ve killed them all, haven’t you? It was a rout, just like Father said it would be, wasn’t it?’ His grey gaze, flint-hard with accusation and long-held resentment, returned to Robert. ‘He will never forgive you for this.’

No doubt. Twenty-six Clan Grant men dead. And I was the arrogant young cock who led them all out like lambs to the slaughter.

Robert swallowed down both the bile and bitter self-acrimony burning his throat. ‘I know,’ he croaked. ‘But please … I just need to hide until I can move on … tomorrow.’

Even though he had flagrantly disobeyed their father and had led out the clan at Culloden, Robert prayed that he would be shown a modicum of compassion. That the earl would at least grant his eldest son sanctuary for a single night before he fled Scotland to spend a life in exile in some far-flung place. Robert didn’t want to put his family at risk for harbouring a fugitive, but he just couldn’t go on any farther.

Simon smiled, the sentiment not quite reaching his eyes. ‘Of course, dear brother. I shall have a room prepared for you.’ He gripped Robert’s forearm with one hand at the same time he slapped the blood-soaked plaid sticking to his shoulder.

Bastard. Agonising, white-hot pain instantly knifed through Robert. Even as black oblivion at last rose up to claim him, he didn’t fail to notice that Simon was still smiling.

Giveaway: For a chance to win a Kindle copy of my Regency noir style romance set in Scotland, just tell me what it is you love about Highland romances.

About the Author

AuthorPic copyAmy Rose Bennett has always wanted to be a writer for as long as she can remember. An avid reader with a particular love for historical romance, it seemed only natural to write stories in her favorite genre. She has a passion for creating emotion-packed—and sometimes a little racy—stories set in the Georgian and Regency periods. Of course, her strong-willed heroines and rakish heroes always find their happily ever after.

Amy is happily married to her own Alpha male hero, has two beautiful daughters, and a rather loopy Rhodesian Ridgeback. She has been a speech pathologist for many years but is currently devoting her time to her one other true calling—writing romance.

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