Posted by Anna Campbell Dec 10 2013, 12:01 am in A Grosvenor Square Christmas, Anna Campbell, anthologies, Christmas Romance, e-books, free books, historical romance, holiday romance, Kate Noble, Regency romance, Shana Galen, vanessa kelly
It’s Christmas time!
Yeah, flash news announcement! It’s not like we haven’t been listening to Christmas carols for weeks – at least down here in Australia where there’s no Thanksgiving to distract people from the fat man in red and white.
One of the things I love about Christmas is giving gifts. And this year I got together with three wonderful writers to give our readers a gift for the festive season.
A GROSVENOR SQUARE CHRISTMAS is free everywhere so you can download it on Amazon or at Barnes and Noble without paying one brass razoo.
Here’s the blurb:
Four breathtakingly romantic tales of a Regency Christmas from four bestselling romance authors.
Down through the years, enchantment touches a tall gray house in Grosvenor Square. The legend of Lady Winterson’s Christmas ball promises true love and happiness to one lucky couple. Who will feel the magic this winter?
1803 – The Seduction of a Duchess by Shana Galen
Rowena Harcourt, the Duchess of Valere, never forgot the handsome footman who helped her escape the French Revolution. For fourteen years, Gabriel Lamarque has loved Rowena-now at Lady Winterson’s Christmas ball, has fate finally delivered a chance to win her hand?
1818 – One Kiss for Christmas by Vanessa Kelly
Nigel Dash is London’s most reliable gentleman, a reputation he never minded until he fell in love with beautiful Amelia Easton. Unfortunately, Amelia sees Nigel as a dependable friend, not a dashing suitor. At Lady Winterson’s famous Christmas ball, Nigel vows to change Amelia’s mind-by sweeping her off her feet.
1825 – His Christmas Cinderella by Anna Campbell
At the season’s most glittering ball, a girl who has never dared to dream of forever after discovers a Christmas miracle.
1830 - The Last First Kiss by Kate Noble
Susannah Westforth has always loved Sebastian Beckett – but he’s only ever seen her as a friend. When Sebastian takes his Grand Tour, Susannah transforms herself into a woman he’ll notice. Now Sebastian is back, just in time for Lady Winterson’s Christmas ball – but the last thing he expects to see is his little Susie, all grown up…
You’re invited to join the whirling dance at Lady Winterson’s sparkling Christmas ball, where miracles happen and true love shines forever. How can you resist?
I don’t think it’s any mystery that my story is based very firmly on a fairytale! Hmm, I wonder which one! I went over the top romantic for His Christmas Cinderella and had wonderful fun doing so. Poor Campion really needs a Prince Charming and she finds him in the dashing Earl of Ravenglass. Ah, I love a Scottish hero, don’t you? You can read an excerpt from my story on my website here: http://annacampbell.info/xmascinderella.html
I thought it might be fun asking the other girls about the inspirations behind their lovely stories.
SHANA: When I finished the Sons of the Revolution series, which was about three brothers who were separated as children during the French Revolution and reunited in England as adults, I received quite a few emails from readers asking for Rowena’s story. She was the mother of the heroes and her husband had been guillotined. By the time the series ended, she was about 46 or 47 and had been a widow for 14 years. I hadn’t written an “older” heroine before, but I definitely thought Rowena deserved her happily ever after. I decided to pair her with a younger hero who had been a footman in her house when she was a duchess in France. Gabriel had been in love with her for years, and he’s finally found her again at Lady Winterson’s Christmas ball. He has some secrets to reveal, and Rowena has a few reservations of her own. It was certainly an adventure to watch the two of them come together in The Seduction of a Duchess.
You can read an excerpt from The Seduction of a Duchess here: http://www.shanagalen.com/seduction-of-a-duchess1.php
VANESSA: I really enjoy creating my secondary characters. The hero of One Kiss for Christmas is Nigel Dash, one of my favorite characters in the Stanton Family Series. Nigel is the proverbial good guy, always ready to lend a hand, kind to everyone, and a master at smoothing over the stormy waters of the beau monde. In fact, he’s known as the Most Dependable Man in London, a label he’s come to loathe because he sees it as synonymous with boring. Since he’s in love with the most popular, vivacious girl in London, boring is a problem.
Romance writers often give their heroes and heroines some distinctly opposing characteristics and personalities—it’s a great way to get the sparks flying. But I wanted to pair up two very nice, splendidly accommodating people—too accommodating for their own good—and see what happened. My heroine, Amelia Easton, is just as good-hearted as Nigel, and has just as much trouble standing up for herself. Both tend to put everyone else’s needs ahead of their own, and I thought it might be fun to see how they learn to fight for want they truly want—each other!
You can read an excerpt from One Kiss for Christmas here: http://www.vanessakellyauthor.com/books/one-kiss-for-christmas/one-kiss-for-christmas-excerpt/
KATE: When I think about the holidays, I think about the reunion with old friends, and seeing just how much time and life has changed everyone — if at all. The Last First Kiss centers around one such pair of friends. Susannah Westforth has been in love with her neighbor Sebastian Beckett ever since they moved in next door. But he’s only ever seen her as a little girl that follows him around. When Sebastian goes on his grand tour, Susannah is determined that when he comes back, he’ll see her as a woman grown, and one worth his attention. They finally meet at Lady Winterson’s Christmas Ball, and with the help of Philbert the butler, Susannah might just get her last first kiss.
You can read an excerpt from The Last First Kiss here: http://katenoble.com/books/grosvenor.php#excerpt
At this time of year, something short and sweet really fits the bill so why not download A GROSVENOR SQUARE CHRISTMAS, especially when it won’t blow the Christmas budget! To download:
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-grosvenor-square-christmas-vanessa-kelly/1117251695?ean=2940045347853
And may all your Christmas parties be full of magic! And Scotsmen!
On the subject of Christmas parties, don’t miss out on the 12 Days of Bandita Christmas which starts right here this week! It’s a prize-a-palooza!
So speaking of Christmas carols, do you have a favorite? Do you have one you’d happily never hear again? I must say AWAY IN A MANGER always sets my teeth on edge! Let’s kick up our heels and fa-la-la-la through the carol repertoire!
Posted by Anna Campbell Aug 2 2013, 12:03 am in Anna Campbell, Anne Mather, Annie West, anthologies, Australian Authors, Baby out of the Blue, Bandita Booty, Forgotten Mistress Secret Love-Child, Harlequin Presents, Imprisoned by a Vow, interviews, Mills and Boon Modern, Mills and Boon Sexy, Undone by His Touch
It’s always fun to have the wonderful Annie West in the lair. Today, Annie’s visiting us to talk about her great new release IMPRISONED BY A VOW (check out those covers! Aren’t they gorgeous?).
This book is already garnering rave reviews. RT Book Reviews called it “an emotionally charged drama.” This one really tugs at the heartstrings and you’ll be cheering for Joss and Leila’s happy ending!
Here’s the blurb:
Being sold into marriage by her stepfather is Leila’s one chance to escape. But instead of freedom, Leila finds herself bound by deep passions ignited by her inscrutable new husband.
Australian billionaire Joss Carmody knows the rules of this game-he’ll shower his new wife with diamonds and in return he’ll use her land to expand his business. That’s all he ever wanted from this exchange, but he hadn’t banked on the attraction Leila awakens.
Then the one night that was supposed to slake their desire binds them beyond the signatures on their marriage contract.…
You can find out more about Annie’s books and read an excerpt of IMPRISONED BY A VOW
on her website: www.annie-west.com
Annie, welcome back to the lair. Congratulations on your new release for Harlequin Presents, IMPRISONED BY A VOW. Can you tell us about this book?
Anna, thank you for inviting me over. The lair feels like a second home and I’m so glad you’re all still willing to have me visit! I’m waving hi and looking out for a celebratory glass of something.
I’ll let you in on a secret. IMPRISONED is a book I thought I wouldn’t get to write. I imagined this story a couple of years ago and started writing in a rush of enthusiasm that had me well through the manuscript before my then editor told me she had problems with it. Eventually I set the book aside (how painful that was) and wrote something else instead. But Leila’s story kept niggling at me and I had to write it. I revisited the story, decided Leila needed a different hero (the original one, too good to be ignored, is currently getting his own story) and went from there. Once I started again I couldn’t stop.
IMPRISONED is a marriage of convenience story. Marriage will get both Joss and Leila what they want – which definitely doesn’t include any emotional entanglement with their spouse. Joss wants the land Leila will inherit so he can exploit its riches. Leila wants marriage to escape the domineering control of her extremely unpleasant guardian. Previous escape attempts have resulted in her living under a form of house arrest for years.
The catch comes after the wedding and they discover life as married strangers isn’t so easy. For a start there is the sizzle of attraction that bubbles up despite their best intentions. Worse, Leila discovers that after so long locked away, just stepping out the door of her new home is a challenge she can barely face. Joss is intrigued by his new wife who hides her problems behind a haughty façade. When he inadvertently discovers the truth he finds that, despite his determination not to get involved, he can’t walk away. In the process of helping Leila, he finds his own salvation.
If that sounds too heavy, I’ll just add that the story is very intense, sexy and glamorous!
It sure is! Tssssss! What were the inspirations behind this book?
Inspiration came from Leila, one of the most feisty, determined yet vulnerable heroines I’ve ever written. This is a story about strength that doesn’t shout itself from the rooftops but is the sort of strength so many people (especially women) exhibit daily, just by getting on with their lives in difficult circumstances. I think it was inspired by stories I’ve heard over the years of people who’ve endured and triumphed in their own quiet way. I loved the chance to give Leila her own happy ending.
Other inspirations include the down to earth men for all seasons we Aussie women seem to appreciate so much – you know the ones who can tackle the outback but still brush up well in company? That’s Joss – Capable with a capital C.
There’s the touch of Beauty and the Beast in there too, for though Joss is gorgeous to look at, he’s rather like a wounded beast who wants to stay undisturbed in his lair, cut off from everyone else. Leila unwittingly, and unwillingly, wakes him…
What’s coming up next for you?
Squee! I’ve got another book coming out in October. So soon! AN ENTICING DEBT TO PAY is a real change of pace. Well, it’s sexy and intense, but the characters and story are very different. It’s about revenge but it’s a boss/housekeeper story too.
Jonas hates the woman who seduced his father. When his father dies and he discovers she’s stolen a huge amount from the estate, he vows she’ll pay with a prison sentence. Ravenna steps in to save her mother by taking the blame but finds herself paying off the debt, and dealing with Joss’s fury, as his servant. Strangely though, things don’t go the way Jonas planned. I love it when that happens! Here’s a link if you want to read the back cover copy. http://www.amazon.com/Enticing-Debt-Pay-Service-ebook/dp/B00CFX3C46/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1375303836&sr=1-1&keywords=annie+west+an+enticing+debt+to+pay
Sounds delicious! There’s a hint of Rapunzel in IMPRISONED, the princess locked in a tower rescued by a man daring enough to brave the thorns surrounding her. You often include fairytale elements in your romances – what do you think is the enduring attraction of fairytale themes?
Anna, you make it sound as if I deliberately set out to use these themes. It’s true I did once decide to write a Beauty and the Beast book (UNDONE BY HIS TOUCH) but really, the fairytale elements find me. I think it’s that there are ideas within those old tales that resonate strongly with all of us and keep cropping up for that reason. IMPRISONED definitely has a touch of Rapunzel, because Leila’s imprisoned. On the other hand, she works to free herself rather than waits for someone else to do it. Just as well for her, Jonas is there to lend a hand. I think most writers can look back at particular stories and find hints of the fairytale within them.
IMPRISONED BY A VOW is a classic marriage of convenience story. Why do marriage of convenience stories appeal to you? You’ve written a few in your time! What particular twist did you put on this popular trope?
Anna, I wish I knew. MoC stories for some reason speak to me. In fact they yell at me from the bookshelves to be picked up. Something in my hard wiring responds to the idea of them. If I have to analyse it I suppose at heart it’s because I LOVE stories where hero and heroine are confronted by love, even when they don’t want it, especially when they don’t want it, but they can’t get away.
You know those stories where hero and heroine are stuck together with the tension building as they’re forced to confront the things they’ve tried to hide from, and worse, the person who makes them feel far more than they want? Well, that’s what I love about MoC stories. You put the pair together, lock them up, don’t let them out and then apply heat and watch them squirm. (Romance authors can be mean to their characters – it’s allowed, it’s in our job description).
As for a twist on this theme – this time it’s not just the marriage locking them together, it’s what’s inside them, holding them back, forcing them to face the future together.
I noticed that your wonderful FORGOTTEN MISTRESS, SECRET LOVE-CHILD was recently included in an anthology with a story by romance goddess Anne Mather. When I was a teenager, Anne Mather’s books were better than chocolate to me so I’m thrilled on your behalf. Can you share some of the books that inspired you to become a lifelong romance fan?
Anna, I love you calling it ‘wonderful’. Can you see my grin from here? I read Anne Mather too, and never, ever imagined having a story of mine published with hers. Wow! In my teens I read so many Mills and Boon books that most of them blurred into a delicious romantic haze.
There were plenty of titles by Anne Hampson and Violet Winspear (who to me sounded like a romance writer). At the same time I was snaffling old copies of Georgette Heyer, Mary Stewart and Victoria Holt from the library, which opened up all sorts of new worlds. I love the sense that you can open a romance and dive into a new world that might be in contemporary Venice, Montana or Botswana, or Regency England or even Tsarist Russia. Or maybe it will be in a very familiar world but with a whole new perspective because of the characters coming to life before your eyes.
Do you have question for the Bandits and Bandita buddies?
Sure do. Which authors set you on the road to reading romance and what was it about their writing that hooked you?
Oh, look forward to your answers to this, although I suspect my TBR pile will be groaning by the end of it.
Annie has very generously offered two prizes today – 1 signed copy of IMPRISONED BY A VOW and 1 signed copy of a book from her backlist (bascially any of her titles except IMPRISONED!). Giveaway is international! Good luck, people. Get commenting!
Posted by Anna Campbell Jun 10 2012, 12:02 am in Anna Campbell, anthologies, Bandita Booty, Caulke Abbey, Ghost stories, Launch, Mammoth Books, National Trust, novellas, Secondary romances, Short Stories, The Chinese Bed, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, The Mammoth Book of Ghost Romance
by Anna Campbell
Hey, Banditas and Buddies!
Today is kind of a mini launch for a mini Anna Campbell.
Well, not that mini. It’s 13,000 words which translates to about 50 pages of a mass market paperback. Certainly enough to get your teeth into.
My long short story “The Chinese Bed” appears in the anthology THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF GHOST ROMANCE which is out on 7th June in print and digital format in the U.K., and as an e-book in North America. American readers can buy the print version on 7th August. But I’m pretty sure American Banditas can order it from the Book Depository who will post books without charging posting and packing anywhere in the world. I KNOW non-North American Banditas can order this great collection of supernatural love stories right now.
The Book Depository link is: http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/Mammoth-Ghost-Romance-Trisha-Telep/9781849014687 If you click on the cover at the top of this post, it will take you to Amazon.
Here’s a short excerpt to whet your ghostly appetites:
Marston Hall, Norfolk, 1818
Josiah heard the door open behind him. Odd how his senses remained so attuned to the world when he no longer existed as a physical entity. Then all thoughts but one fled his mind.
Isabella stared at him from the doorway.
“My love…” he choked out, stepping forward and reaching for her.
During their courtship, he’d inundated her with extravagant endearments. It had been a laughing game, how wildly he could compliment this woman he loved more than his life. He’d called her his treasure of Trebizond, his glorious angel of heaven, his exquisite diamond of Ind, his shining pearl of the Orient.
But all his playful words had meant only one thing. She was his love and he’d lay down his life for her.
Joy exploded with painful force. Surely he could touch her. If he could lift a book or open a door, surely he could touch this woman who turned his world to sunlight.
Still she didn’t speak.
He stepped closer, wondering at her silence, at her lack of movement toward him. She’d so rarely been still. It was part of the quicksilver brilliance of her character. She’d been endlessly fascinating, flashing like a jewel, his darling Isabella.
His darling Isabella who stared at him as though she beheld a monster.
Her expression made him pause before he reached for her. “Isabella?”
She was trembling and pale as she’d never been in life. He couldn’t mistake the terror in her beautiful black eyes. “Stay…stay away from me.”
Of all the shocks of the day, this was the worst. What the hell had happened on his wedding day? What the hell had he done?
“I don’t understand,” he said dully, lowering his hands to his sides.
“Don’t come near me.”
She sounded so frightened, his lovely girl who had never been frightened of anything in her whole life. This was the woman who galloped hell for leather at the most dangerous fences. This was the woman who faced down her ambitious father and insisted she’d marry no man but the Earl of Stansfield.
The Earl of Stansfield whom apparently she now loathed.
Questions jammed in his throat. Very carefully he stepped back, giving her space. He had to find out what was going on, but first he had to banish the dread from her expression. Her quivering fear struck him with painful force. He abhorred seeing it.
“I won’t touch you.” The words cut at him like razors. “Trust me, Isabella.”
A disbelieving huff of laughter escaped her as she retreated, preparing to flee.
“No…” He surged toward her again before he remembered she didn’t want him to touch her. Quickly he lowered his arm but not before he caught another flash of terror in her eyes.
Whatever he’d done, it set his intrepid bride quaking with fear. Good God, what was going on here?
She lifted her chin, a poignant echo of the woman who had led him such a dance. She still wore the beautiful dress of blue French silk she’d had made for the wedding. Delicate pearls and summer flowers twined in her coils of shining black hair. “You can’t hurt me anymore.”
He frowned. “Hurt you? I don’t want to hurt you.”
“Don’t lie to me, Josiah.” She backed off surreptitiously as if afraid he’d pounce on her if he guessed she tried to escape.
“I’d never lie to you.”
Bitter cynicism tightened her expression, although at least she stopped edging away. “Of course you would.”
With every moment, he understood less. Foolishly he’d imagined he’d understand everything if he could just find Isabella. Well, he’d found her and the mysteries became more bewildering than ever. “Tell me what I did, Isabella.”
Something in his tone must have convinced her to take his question seriously. A series of emotions crossed her face, fugitive as summer lightning. Puzzlement. Anger. Then a deep sadness that matched the stabbing grief he’d felt waking without her and realizing he and his beloved were both dead.
Grim premonition gripped him. “Isabella?”
Her black gaze settled upon him, somber and lightless as he’d never seen it. “You murdered me, Josiah.”
I had great fun writing this story. I got to play a bit outside my usual sandpit. There are paranormal elements (well, d’uh!) and two romances rather than my usual one. The first couple, Josiah and Isabella, were parted in dramatic circumstances on their wedding day in 1749 (they’re the ghosts) and the second couple, Calista and Miles, are alive and kicking but facing difficulties before their wedding day in 1818. Each find themselves under the malign and magical influence of a cursed Chinese bed, hence the title.
The Chinese bed is based on a real piece of furniture although I’m not sure if it was ever cursed. In 2007, I visited Calke Abbey, a National Trust property in Derbyshire, and saw this magnificent bed with its beautiful hand-embroidered Chinese silk hangings. When the Trust took over the house in 1984, they had no idea the bed was even there (the house was a junk fest – the family never threw anything out and would have probably appeared on HOARDERS if the TV show had been around at the time).
It seems the bed was a gift in 1743 from the royal family to the Harpurs but they never even unpacked it. Which given how glorious it is rather blew my mind. Because the hangings have been safely locked away in their cedar presentation cases since they were made, they are as bright and fresh as if they’d been sewn yesterday. The image of this spectacular, unused bed with its gorgeous embroideries played on my imagination and eventually turned into the Chinese bed in this story.
This is a slightly skew-wiff photo of Calke Abbey, a house that is definitely worth visiting. The other photos near the excerpt are also of Calke Abbey, the dome above the ruined orangerie and the beautiful peonies in the walled garden.
It’s a sad place in many ways (the family dwindled away from one of the richest in the kingdom to the point where the last owner lived in two dingy rooms while the building fell down about his ears) but haunting and extremely interesting. Here’s the website if you’d like to find out more: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/main/w-vh/w-visits/w-findaplace/w-calkeabbey.htm
I’m giving away three copies of THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF GHOST ROMANCE in my website contest right now so swing by and enter. Here’s the link: http://annacampbell.info/contest.html
Because I’m talking about ghosts, I couldn’t resist including a photo of my favorite ghost romance, THE GHOST AND MRS. MUIR. Captain Gregg, you can come and haunt me anytime!
So do you have a favorite ghost romance? Have you ever had a ghostly encounter? Let’s talk about things that go bump in the night (hmm, bumping with Rex is kinda appealing – yeah, I’ll stop now!).
To celebrate the release of THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF GHOST ROMANCE, I’m holding a mammoth giveaway. Well, a giveaway anyway. One commenter today will win a copy of THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF GHOST ROMANCE, which includes my story “The Chinese Bed.” Ghost romances never die!
Posted by Anna Campbell Jul 10 2010, 4:02 am in Anna Campbell, anthologies, Bandita Booty, Short Stories, The Mammoth Book of Regency Romance, Upon a Midnight Clear
by Anna Campbell
This is a bit of a launch party!
Whooo-hooo, drag out the cabana boys! Fill up the margarita glasses! Get Sven massaging! And tie up that rooster, he’s nothing but trouble!
On 24th June (U.K.) and 27th July (U.S.), THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF REGENCY ROMANCE hits the shelves. Some of the biggest names in historical romance have contributed to this anthology – Eloisa James, Loretta Chase, Mary Balogh and Mary Jo Putney. Not to mention our very own Christie Kelley.
Oh, and MEEEEEEEE!
I have a short story in this collection called Upon a Midnight Clear. Although as it’s about 50 pages (I haven’t seen a final copy of the book yet so I’m not sure exactly), calling it a short story seems a bit ridiculous. That’s half the size of your average novella!
I was delighted when Trisha Telep, the editor of the Mammoth books, invited me to contribute. I was doubly delighted when I had 13,000 words to play with and a chance to experiment with an idea I’d had for a while but which didn’t really fit the books.
This is my first reunion story. I love that theme in romance – you know, they got it so wrong the first time but fate offers them a second chance. All that lovely redemption and forgiveness and love overcoming the bitterness of the past! Sounds right up my alley.
Upon a Midnight Clear is set in the depths of winter on the snowy Yorkshire moors where the lovely Countess of Kinvarra, Alicia Sinclair, suffers a carriage accident while she’s running away with the man she hopes will become her lover. Imagine her humiliation when the only person who passes the wreck in this lonely location is her estranged husband, Sebastian, the Earl of Kinvarra.
Eleven years ago when both were very young, Alicia and Sebastian were joined in an arranged marriage. Immaturity and misunderstandings drove them apart and Alicia has been living in chaste limbo in London ever since.
Here’s an excerpt:
“Well, this is awkward,” Kinvarra said flatly, although she saw in his taut, dark face that his anger hadn’t abated one whit.
“I don’t see why,” Alicia snapped.
It wasn’t just her husband who tried her temper. There was her lily-livered lover and the perishing cold. The temperature must have dropped ten degrees in the last five minutes. She shivered, then silently cursed that Kinvarra noticed and Harold didn’t. Harold was too busy staring at her husband the way a mouse stared at an adder.
“Do you imagine I’m so sophisticated, I’ll ignore discovering you in the arms of another man? My dear, you do me too much credit.”
She stifled the urge to consign him to Hades. “If you’ll put aside your bruised vanity for the moment, you’ll see we merely require you to ride to the nearest habitation and request help. Then you and I can return to acting like complete strangers, my lord.”
He laughed and she struggled to suppress the shiver of sensual awareness that rippled down her spine at that soft, deep sound. “Some things haven’t changed, I see. You’re still dishing out orders. And I’m still damned if I’ll play your obedient lapdog.”
“Can you see another solution?” she asked sweetly.
“Yes,” he said with a snap of his straight white teeth. “I can leave you to freeze. Not that you’d probably notice.”
Her pride insisted that she sent him on his way with a flea in his ear. The weather—and what common sense she retained under the anger that always flared in Kinvarra’s vicinity—prompted her to be conciliatory.
It was late. She and Harold hadn’t passed anyone on this isolated road. The grim truth was that if Kinvarra didn’t help, they were stranded until morning. And while she was dressed in good thick wool, she wasn’t prepared to endure a snowy night in the open. The chill of the road seeped through her fur-lined boots and she shifted, trying to revive feeling in her frozen feet.
“My lord…” During the year they’d lived together, she’d called him Sebastian. During their few meetings since, she’d clung to formality as a barrier. “My lord, there’s no point in quarreling. Basic charity compels your assistance. I would consider myself in your debt if you fetch aid as quickly as possible.”
He arched one black eyebrow in a superior fashion that made her want to clout him. Not a new sensation. “Now that’s something I’d like to see.”
He knew he had her at a disadvantage and he wasn’t likely to rise above that fact. She gritted her teeth. “It’s all I can offer.”
The smile that curved his lips was pure devilry. Another shiver ran through her. Like the last one, it was a shiver with no connection to the cold. “Your imagination fails you, my dear countess.”
The working title for this story wasn’t Upon a Midnight Clear (although I wrote it around Christmas so this second title was in the air!). It was Ill-Met by Moonlight, the first words Oberon speaks to Titania in A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM. At last I got some use out of all that English lit at uni, snork! AMND is at its most basic level a story about two haughty and beautiful creatures who are estranged in their marriage and who, after a series of dramatic events, reconcile at the end.
Perhaps I should have called my story A Midwinter Night’s Dream instead!
You can buy THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF REGENCY ROMANCE right now from the Book Depository and have it sent anywhere in the world post free. http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/book/9781849010153/The-Mammoth-Book-of-Regency-Romance
Or if you click on the cover at the top of the blog, you can pre-order it from Amazon. We make life easy for you in the lair!
To celebrate the release of THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF REGENCY ROMANCE, including my short story Upon a Midnight Clear, I’m giving away a signed copy today. Just tell me your favorite reunion story and why you picked it!
By the way, I’m traveling right now so I’m not sure how much I’ll be around but I’ve got my spies to tell me that everyone’s kicking up their heels appropriately!
Posted by Anna Campbell May 5 2009, 5:00 am in Amanda McCabe, anthologies, Bandita Booty, Deb Marlowe, Diane Gaston, Harlequin Historicals, The Diamonds of Welbourne Manor
by Anna Campbell
It’s always fun to have Bandita favorites back. And today, I’ve got two faves and a wonderful new guest for you all to meet. Let the festivities begin!
Amanda McCabe, Deb Marlowe and Diane Gaston are launching their new anthology for Harlequin Historicals, THE DIAMONDS OF WELBOURNE MANOR. Here’s the blurb for what sounds like a really intriguing trio of stories:
JUSTINE AND THE NOBLE VISCOUNT by Diane Gaston
Guardian to the unconventional and newly orphaned Fitzmannings is not a role that brooding Gerald Brenner relishes. But Justine, the illegitimate daughter who strives to hide her shame, calls powerfully to something deep within him….
ANNALISE AND THE SCANDALOUS RAKE by Deb Marlowe
House party guest Ned Milford can see the inner passion and beauty that Annalise Fitzmanning hides. But how close should they become when his reason for being at Welbourne Manor would prompt a society scandal, not a society marriage!
CHARLOTTE AND THE WICKED LORD by Amanda McCabe
Charlotte may be the youngest Fitzmanning girl, but she knows her own mind—and she wants Lord Andrew Bassington! Drew requires an eminently proper bride, something free-spirited Charlotte has never been. So how can she make him see the beautiful woman she has become…?
Now it’s my great pleasure to introduce the heroines from all three books, Annalise, Charlotte and Justine, as they enjoy a very elegant Regency afternoon tea together.
Charlotte Fitzmanning, who had only been Lady Andrew Derrington for a few weeks, surveyed the drawing room of her new London home in nervous excitement. Everything seemed to be quite in order—the new furnishings, the stylish silk draperies, her sister Annalise’s paintings on the walls, the vases of hothouse roses, the polished silver tea service that was a wedding gift laid out on the table with her mother’s Wedgwood.
But was it perfect?
It had to be, for not just any guests were soon to arrive for her first tea as a married lady. She expected her sisters, Justine and Annalise. She wanted so much for them to see she was happy and settled, that she was a fashionable lady and not just their wild little sister! That she and Drew had a lovely life together.
“No, Oliver!” she cried, grabbing up the pug just as he lunged for a cake. Just in time, too, for the butler announced her first guest—Justine.
Justine entered the room and immediately enveloped Charlotte in a big hug. “Oh, Charlotte! It is so good to see you. I’ve missed you so.”
“I’ve missed you, too.” Even though her life with Drew was like a dream come true, Charlotte did miss her sisters and brothers and their carefree days at Welbourne Manor.
Justine surveyed the room. “Why this is lovely, Charlotte. I must get some decorating ideas from you. Our townhouse is no longer gloomy, but you’ve achieved the very latest in fashion.” She spied the Wedgewood. “Oh, your mother’s tea set. How pretty it looks here.” Justine and Brenner lived with Brenner and his father, who was once married to Charlotte’s mother, who, of course was Brenner’s mother, too, but not Justine’s. So Brenner was Charlotte’s half-brother, but, then, so were Nicky and Stephen, but that was because the duke was their father, as well as hers, Annalise’s, Leo’s, and Justine’s. But not Brenner’s.
Charlotte pressed her fingers to her temple. Sorting out their family always gave her a headache. “How is baby Catherine?” she asked Justine.
Justine smiled. “She grows by the day! And she is so clever. You should see her shake her rattle and I would swear she is trying to talk with the sounds she makes.”
The butler returned to announce that Annalise had arrived. Justine and Charlotte immediately turned to greet her.
“Good afternoon, you two!” Annalise’s wide smile spoke volumes as she entered. Justine stood closest, so she got the first hug. “Where is my niece? I was hoping to see her today.”
“She is at home, charming her father away from his accounts and his estate matters, I hope.”
Charlotte loved to see the tenderness that softened Justine’s face when she spoke of her husband and daughter. “Today is just for us.”
“Well, I shall just have to make do with Oliver, then.” Annalise laughed as she scooped the pug up from another sneak attack on the teacakes. Her other arm looped around Charlotte’s waist and she gazed around the room with satisfaction. “I don’t have to ask what you have been doing, little sister. I can see you’ve been hard at work—and how lovely it has all turned out!”
Charlotte flushed with pleasure. “Thank you, Annalise.”
“And what of you, Annalise?” Justine asked. “Have you been sequestered in your studio? Brenner ran into Ned yesterday and he said that the gallery is nearly ready for its first showing.”
“I have been painting like mad. My new husband, my new studio, my new life, it’s all been perfect.”
Charlotte heard the trembling note in her sister’s voice and squeezed her tighter. “Come,” she said to distract her.“Everything is ready. I’ll pour and it will be just as if we were girls again at Welbourne, playing tea party.”
“Hardly girls.” Annalise took her seat with a sigh, Oliver still in her lap. “Look at us! Brenner and Justine have worked hard until his estates are flourishing. I saw a mention of the pair of you in the papers, too! You’ve become an exemplary young society couple. Ned and I are so happy together, and he’s about to open his gallery at last.”
Charlotte leaned in to hand her a cup and saucer and Annalise took it with a grin. “Even our wild little Charlotte is a respectable married lady.”
“Who would have thought it would turn out this way,” Justine said quietly, “That day when Brenner first came to Welbourne with such terrible news?”
They sat quietly a moment, reflecting on all the highs and lows that had led to this moment of happiness.
Finally Charlotte could take the solemnity no more. “Do you know, as I was preparing for this afternoon, I had a thought. The three of us are settled so happily . . .” She let her voice trail away suggestively. “But what of the boys?”
Justine grinned. “I’ve entertained the same notion.”
“Surely, working together, the three of us could contrive something,” Annalise said with an evil grin.
Oh, dear, sounds like the boys in the family are facing their collective Waterloo! As a long-time reader of Regency romance, I know that when sisters unite to matchmake, the poor male in question hasn’t got a hope! I can’t wait to see what happens.
The girls have a couple of questions for the Banditas and Bandita buddies. They want to know whether you like linked anthologies. They also want to know whether your own families are candidates for starring in an anthology. Wow, that’s an interesting thought! Diane, Amanda and Deb have very generously donated a copy of their latest anthology THE DIAMONDS OF WELBOURNE MANOR to one lucky commenter today. Good luck!