Posted by Anna Campbell Sep 9 2011, 4:02 am in Anna Campbell, Ashley March, Bandita Booty, great guests, historical romance, Romancing the Countess, Seducing the Duchess
by Anna Campbell
I’ve got a treat for you all today, including two wonderful prizes for you and a friend at the end.
Ashley March is one of a bunch of wonderful new historical romance writers who have hit us over the last few years. Booklist singled Ashley out as a rising star of historical romance and praised her 2010 debut SEDUCING THE DUCHESS:
“With its addictive combination of richly nuanced characters, elegant writing spiced with a soupçon of wicked wit, and abundance of sizzling sexual chemistry, March’s exceptional debut is literary gold.”
Ashley’s second book ROMANCING THE COUNTESS
came out 6th September and is already garnering widespread praise.
Here’s the blurb for ROMANCING THE COUNTESS:
Sebastian Madinger, the Earl of Wriothesly, thought he’d married the perfect woman-until a fatal accident revealed her betrayal with his best friend. After their deaths, Sebastian is determined to avoid a scandal for the sake of his son. But his best friend’s widow is just as determined to cast her mourning veil aside by hosting a party that will surely destroy both their reputations and expose all of his carefully kept secrets… Leah George has carried the painful knowledge of her husband’s affair for almost a year. All she wants now is to enjoy her independence and make a new life for herself-even if that means being ostracized by the Society whose rules she was raised to obey. Now that the rumors are flying, there’s only one thing left for Sebastian to do: silence the scandal by enticing the improper widow into becoming a proper wife. But when it comes to matters of the heart, neither Sebastian nor Leah is prepared for the passion they discover in each other’s arms….
You can find out more about Ashley and her books and read excerpts on her website: www.ashleymarch.com
Ashley, congratulations on the release of your second historical romance ROMANCING THE COUNTESS. Can you tell us about this story?
Thank you, Anna, and thank you so much for hosting me today here at The Romance Bandits! You guys always know how to have fun. ROMANCING THE COUNTESS is about an earl and his best friend’s wife who are drawn together after their spouses—who were having an affair—die in a carriage accident. The heroine Leah, who knew of the affair and kept it secret for a year, is ready to move on with her life. However, Sebastian, the Earl of Wriothesly, is shocked to discover the betrayal of both the wife he loved dearly and the best friend he considered closer than his own brother. Yet when Leah begins to engage in reckless behaviour, Sebastian has to get past his grief and anger to keep her from revealing the affair to all of Society in order to protect his son.
Goodness me, you’ve been busy! We have two novellas to talk about as well as ROMANCING THE COUNTESS. Firstly, can you please tell us about ROMANCING LADY CECILY and how it relates to your other historical romances?
I’m hoping to become busier. ROMANCING LADY CECILY actually serves as a sort of prequel to ROMANCING THE COUNTESS. In RtC, the hero’s dead wife’s name is Angela. ROMANCING LADY CECILY is the story of Angela’s best friend, Lady Cecily. RLC is an e-short of about 15,000 words and has its own HEA with Lady Cecily and her hero.
Sounds great. I also notice you have a contemporary novella coming out in November in an anthology with Bernadette Marie and Tiffany James. Can you please tell us about this story and also how it felt to leave the Victorian era and dabble in the 21st century?
Oh, thanks so much for asking! This will be my first contemporary work, so I’m very excited to see how readers respond to this different style and voice. Each of the novellas in the SWEET TALK ME anthology feature a heroine that works in an occupation related to food—and actually, they work specifically with desserts, hence the title. My novella in the anthology, titled ‘Forbidden Desserts’, is about a former ballerina turned pastry chef and the engaged owner of the restaurant who doesn’t want to face his attraction to her.
I had a lot of fun writing this contemporary novella. I tend to write emotional and sometimes angsty historical romances, so the lighter contemporary allowed me to experiment with a different type of voice. Depending on the success of the anthology and the feedback I receive, I have plans to write a series of full-length contemporaries in addition to my historicals soon. *crosses fingers*
What’s next for Ashley March?
This week (on September 6th) I just started a fun new reader-interactive experiment where readers get to help me write a novella on my website at www.ashleymarch.com! Over the next 10 weeks, readers will vote on how the chapter for the next week develops, and will get to read the chapter based upon their vote after I write it. At the end of the experiment (which hopefully readers will find as much fun as I believe it will be!), I plan to edit the novella and self-publish it. The idea behind this is a preface to a new project of mine I plan to start in 2012 called Romance with Heart, which I’m calling right now a reader-interactive romance charity adventure.
Ooh, sounds intriguing. Can you tell us about your writing journey?
Oh, boy. I’ll give you the short (or somewhat short) version. After finishing my first romance in 2006 and realizing it was truly horrific, I gave up the idea of writing and resigned myself to working a 9-to-5 for the rest of my life. Then in 2008, after reading a wonderful romance written by someone else I was inspired to try again. I finished my second manuscript that year, then completed my third manuscript, which later became SEDUCING THE DUCHESS, my debut, in 2009. I sold SD in a three-book contract to NAL Penguin in December 2009 and SD was published as my first book in October 2010. I have been very, very fortunate.
I know you have two young children. How do you fit your writing around your family commitments? Any hints for time management?
I used to work full-time, but fortunately I’m now able to be a SAHM, which has always been a dream of mine. Funnily enough, I find I have less time to write now than when I was working (as I could write during my lunch break, etc.) Right now I mostly write in the evenings after the girls have gone to bed—usually from 7 or 8—and stay up to somewhere between 12am or 2. If I didn’t love what I do so much, not just the writing but also interacting with readers, I honestly don’t think I’d be able to do this day in and day out. I love sleep. Unfortunately, I don’t have any hints for time management. I’m trying to figure out a way to inject enough caffeine into my veins directly so I NEVER have to sleep.
Ashley, do you have anything to ask the Banditas and Bandita Buddies?
As you can see, I obviously need help with time management, especially with two young children in the house (mine are currently 27mo and 10mo). What tips would you give for either making the most of your free time or, if you’re already as bad at it as I am, figuring out how to stay awake longer?
One random commenter will be chosen to win a copy of my newest book, ROMANCING THE COUNTESS, and will get a chance to send a copy of my debut, SEDUCING THE DUCHESS, to a friend (open internationally, of course)! Also, find out how to win the ROMANCING THE COUNTESS Book Tour Grand Prize of 50+ romance novels by visiting www.ashleymarch.com!
Oh, I love this phone a friend contest. How cool is this? Spreading the good oil is always, uh…GOOD. (Hmm, maybe I should become a writer. I clearly have a gift for description.) Get commenting, people, and good luck!
Posted by Anna Campbell Aug 5 2011, 4:02 am in Anna Campbell, Bandita Booty, great guests, Harlequin Superrohttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifmance, Helen Brenna, Her Sure Thing, Mirabelle Island, The Pursuit of Jesse
by Anna Campbell
Oh, be still my beating heart!
Well, not that still. Because then I’d be dead, right?
We have a saying in Oz that you wouldn’t be dead for quids (quids is an old slang term for a pound note). And today, I have such a wonderful guest for you all that you wouldn’t be dead for quids either!
I’ve come fairly recently to Helen Brenna’s books – via a recommendation to read her RITA-nominated NASCAR story FROM THE OUTSIDE. I’m not that into racing cars but man, I got seriously into tortured and sexy racing car driver Roberto Castillo.
Since then I’ve read everything from Helen that I can lay my hands on. I’ve fallen in love with her wonderful series about a resort island in the Great Lakes called Mirabelle. As I said to her when I closed her fabulous THE PURSUIT OF JESSE a few days ago, I finish her books wanting to go to Mirabelle and then there’s that cruel moment when I realize it’s not REAL!!! Boo hoo.
Helen’s books are unforgettable emotional reads about forgiveness and redemption and finding one’s rightful place in the world. She has won an impressive number of prestigious awards including that most prestigious award of all, the Romance Writers of America RITA Award for THE MOON THAT NIGHT.
We’re very lucky this year – in July, August and September, we get THREE Mirabelle books released back to back. THE PURSUIT OF JESSE, HER SURE THING and REDEMPTION AT MIRABELLE.
Here’s the back cover blurb for HER SURE THING, Helen’s August release:
Grace Andersen Kahill, the pastor’s trouble-making daughter, left Mirabelle Island at seventeen and never looked back. When a devastating accident ruins not only her successful modeling career but also her marriage, she comes home to Mirabelle. She never expected to rediscover herself not through the lens of a camera, but through the eyes of Sean Griffin.
Sean, Mirabelle’s doctor, has orchestrated for himself the perfect life. That is, until two new arrivals on Mirabelle upset his proverbial apple cart. A son he never knew existed and … Grace.
The son, he’ll deal with. Somehow. The woman, on the other hand, might just end up breaking his heart.
And don’t forget, if you click on the covers in the blog, it takes you right to that book on Amazon.
For more information on Helen and her wonderful books, check out her website:
Without more ado, here’s Helen! And she’s got some news for us!
I’m so excited I can hardly stand it. Today is the day I’m unveiling an illustration of my very own fictitious Mirabelle Island!
But let’s back up for a sec. Actually, let’s back up five whole years to when Mirabelle was born in my mind.
It all started, as so many books start, with a “what if?” What if two people, childhood sweethearts, were torn apart by something as simple as he couldn’t stay in the small town in which they’d grown up together and she couldn’t leave?
A lot of things had to come together to make this a compelling story. I needed a place with a strong sense of community, with history, maybe even a place the heroine’s ancestors had settled, all of which bound her to home. I needed a place that a reader could love, but I also needed that reader to empathize with the hero and the intolerable sense of confinement he felt while growing up. Mind you, none of this was conscious or purposeful. My writer’s brain was just doing its thing when it dawned on me that I needed an island. Not a sand, surf and palm trees kind of place. I needed something different. I needed Mackinac Island, Michigan.
Ever heard of The Grand Hotel? Mackinac is the place where the movie SOMEWHERE IN TIME was filmed. With cobblestone streets, Victorian B & Bs and horse drawn carriages, it’s a place filled with history, a place I could easily imagine Sophie, my heroine.
The only problem is that I couldn’t imagine Noah, my alpha hero living there and I wasn’t entirely sure how their story was going to end. Were they staying or leaving? Then, too, I don’t write quaint and quiet stories set in tearooms and grand hotels. I write contemporary romances with alpha heroes and strong heroines, so I needed some reality.
What I needed was a little bit of Madeline Island, the largest of the Apostle Islands chain located on Lake Superior just off Wisconsin’s northern shore. Madeline is bigger than Mackinac, so there’s space for log cabins, horse ranches, secluded bays and lighthouses, acres of untouched forest, and even a few brew pubs.
That’s how Mirabelle Island was born. A place of stark contrasts. Cold, brutal and isolated in the winter. Sunny and idyllic in the summer. Old virgin forests on one end and homemade fudge shops on the other. The Mirabelle Island Inn with its classic French restaurant a few blocks from the Rusty Nail, a bar that has seen better days. This is, basically, a picture of what’s been on the white board in my office for the last five years. The bare bones of Mirabelle Island …
Well, that one book about Noah and Sophie led to six more stand alone Mirabelle stories, and just as my books have evolved and grown so has my vision of the island. I wanted readers to see what I see in my mind, and so I commissioned an artist to illustrate Mirabelle.
To coincide with THE PURSUIT OF JESSE, HER SURE THING and REDEMPTION AT MIRABELLE, three new Mirabelle Island books releasing July, August and September, I’m “unveiling” the illustrated map here and on my web site. Voila!
It still needs a legend and some geographic titles, but what do you think? Does Mirabelle Island look like some place you’d like to live? Read about, I hope?
To celebrate my back to back releases, I’d like to give away three copies from my backlist today, so check out my website at helenbrenna.com to see which title you’d like. And stop by my website again in another week or so to see the finished map.
Many thanks to Anna and all the Bandits for having me here today!
You heard right, Bandita Buddies. That’s THREE people to win their choice from Helen’s backlist! Hmm, wonder if she’ll let me enter. There’s a couple of older titles I still haven’t managed to find. Perhaps I can enter under an alias…
OK, OK, I won’t cheat (mainly because you’d find me out, you’re all so clever!).
Good luck and get commenting, people!
Posted by Anna Campbell Jul 21 2011, 4:02 am in Anna Campbell, Annie West, Bandita Booty, great guests, Harlequin Presents, Marriage of Convenience, Prince of Scandal, Rafe's Redemption
by Anna Campbell
Annie West is one of our lair favorites and I’m delighted to have her back again to talk about not just one, but TWO new releases. Oh, lucky Romancelandia!
PRINCE OF SCANDAL is a luscious royal romance with touches of Pygmalion – you’ll love these two characters right from their first meeting which is an absolute doozy.
RAFE’S REDEMPTION was originally published in the U.K. as THE BILLIONAIRE’S BOUGHT MISTRESS. It’s one of Annie’s sexiest and most compelling love stories, full of drama and emotion.
You can find out more about Annie and her wonderful books on her website: www.annie-west.com And don’t forget if you click on the covers, it takes you right to Amazon. We make it so easy for our Bandita Buddies!
Annie has very generously offered two prizes today so two lucky commenters will win either RAFE’S REDEMPTION or PRINCE OF SCANDAL. Good luck!
So without more ado, here’s ANNIE!!!!
Annie, delighted to have you as my guest again on the Romance Bandits.
You’ve been really busy lately with not one, but TWO U.S. releases in the last few weeks. Let’s start with your wonderful PRINCE OF SCANDAL featuring the gorgeous and very tortured Prince Raul (that’s RRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRROWL to any red-blooded woman). Can you tell us about this story?
Hi Anna, it’s fantastic to be here with the Banditas again. Thanks for slipping me into the packed schedule! Waving here to all the Banditas and guests. I feel I’ve been missing in action for a while due to a recent tough schedule and severely limited time online (advice to all other computer users – NEVER neglect a back problem – it won’t magically fix itself, as I’m learning to my cost).
Ooh Anna, I’m so pleased you like Raul (I can hear that RRRRROWL from here!). But of course, as he’s tortured he’s right up your alley. I know you have a fondness for wounded heroes. I suspected you’d like him even while he gave me a difficult time as I wrote. What is it with princes wanting things to go their own way?
Ahem, OK – that question again? Well, no prizes for guessing it’s a royal story. Plus it’s a Marriage of Convenience story (no, I wasn’t ticking off themes – it’s just the way the story worked out). Take one serious, and seriously gorgeous prince who must marry (not just anyone but the woman specified in a dynastic marriage contract) before he can inherit the throne he’s spent his whole life preparing for. Ensure his past and present circumstances make it imperative he do his duty by inheriting. Mix with an independent business woman who wants nothing to do with her mother’s long lost aristocratic family or the perks of royalty (she’d seen the negative side of that world of privilege and position as a kid). Stand back and enjoy the sparks.
I have to admit (and Anna will bear me out on this) that I snickered with anticipation over this story from the moment I imagined Raul and Luisa meeting on her farm. He’s all Armani tailoring, serious shoulders and lean, dark looks. Luisa’s in dungarees, a battered hat and head to toe mud after an altercation between a cow and a flooded creek. He’s expecting a princess. She doesn’t own a dress. He’s come looking for his bride to be, expecting excitement and gratitude. Being ordered off the property comes as something of a shock. But being a true alpha hero he recovers quickly and sets about getting what he wants.
There’s a touch of Cinderella to the story but Luisa isn’t a woman to be ‘made over’ and quietly defer to other people’s expectations of how she should look and behave. That was part of the fun of this story – watching Luisa do things her way, not taking the tried and true route expected of her. She takes the wind out of Raul’s sails more than once, which is fair since he plays havoc with her expectations of a buttoned up royal. She’s never sure what to expect next. There’s a fair bit of sizzle in this story and reader feedback so far has been very nice indeed.
I’m not surprised. It’s a brilliant classic love story. American readers have a bonus Annie West available now in your wonderful RAFE’S REDEMPTION which was originally released as THE BILLIONAIRE’S BOUGHT MISTRESS. Can you tell us about this story?
Oh, I’m so very pleased Rafe and Antonia are finally crossing the Atlantic to visit North America. This book was written in response to a request from my editor for a three story anthology to showcase new authors. It was one of my favorites to write – it kept me on the edge of me seat all the way through – I think that’s a good thing. Speaking of sizzle, this one has it in spades. It’s available now from the eHarlequin site but don’t look for it in other bookstores as it’s a limited release.
Rafe Benton is planning revenge against the man he’s grown up hating – his estranged father. He will do whatever it takes to succeed, including using a stranger as a pawn in his plans. He sees Antonia as his father’s latest favorite and decides to steal her from under his nose, flaunting her as his mistress while he brings down his father’s business empire. Antonia is between a rock and a hard place, not because of what she’s done, but because of her beloved, recently dead father. Why else would she even consider accepting a position as a rich man’s mistress? It’s a story about redemption and the power of love.
This book was a real challenge to write and I’m so glad I did. The clash between these two is so strong, as are their feelings. Frankly I was a little scared about whether I could do Antonia justice as it would be too easy to write her into a situation where she was simply a victim. I needn’t have worried though as I discovered the more difficult her position the stronger she grew, finding new and inventive ways to assert her independence even when Rafe thought he was the one in control. It’s had a few reviews already including “Sizzling, emotional and poignant…” Pink Heart Society (5 stars) and “will keep you turning the pages late into the night with its captivating blend of drama, passion, intrigue and romance”(CataRomance 4.5 stars).
Congratulations on the wonderful reviews. It has to be asked – what is it with you and heroes whose names start with ‘R’? Was your first boyfriend a Rasputin or a Rattlepate?
If only my first boyfriend had been anything like so interesting! No, I wasn’t going through an R phase. The books were written a couple of years apart so it’s coincidence. But I do like R, I have to say. Just think about Rupert Carsington or RRRRichard Armitage.
What’s next for you?
I’m putting the finishing touches (fingers crossed) to what I hope will be my first Beauty and the Beast story. In the meantime, my next release is for those who enjoy a sultry hot sheikh romance. GIRL IN THE BEDOUIN TENT begins with my heroine being given as an unwilling sex slave to a visiting prince. Again, Anna will confirm I couldn’t wait to get started on that one – it was a treat to write.
GIRL IN THE BEDOUIN TENT is up for pre-order at the Book Depository at a bargain price – check out this link: http://www.bookdepository.com/Girl-Bedouin-Tent-Annie-West/9780263886900
I don’t know when the North American release will be but I’ve seen the UK edition (it’s out in September) and the cover is my fave so far. Here’s a link if you want to check it out. My next American release is THE SAVAKIS MERGER in November – about a clash between two very passionate Greek lovers. The opening scene from this story is one my writing group will never let me forget (in a good way!).
Ooh, I remember that steamy opening scene! A little bird (well, you, actually!) tells me you’re about to embark on another wonderful European trip. Given the last one inspired your beautiful fairytale romances PROTECTED BY THE PRINCE and PRINCE OF SCANDAL, we avidly await the fruits of the inspiration you’ll find from your journeyings. Can you tell us about your travel plans?
Try to stop me, Anna! We’re away a little over a month. During that time I’ll be in London catching up with my editor and some other authors (can’t wait!). I’m hoping for time to visit the Faberge collection at Buckingham Palace as well as see some other sights. There’ll be a week in a tiny Parisian apartment with, I hope, lots of strolling and window shopping and café sitting while I people watch. Did I mention tasting the marvellous food and wine? A short stay in the Loire Valley learning about Chateaux, a longer stay in the Dordogne which I think will be a real highlight, and a quick visit to Germany where my daughter will be studying. Jealous yet? Yes, I’m already thinking of using some of this in an upcoming story or two. How could I not be inspired?
Ooh, I’m envious! Have a wonderful time. So do you have a question for the Bandits and Bandita Buddies?
Thanks so much, Anna. I’m looking forward to chatting with everyone.
I’m giving away two books so maybe I should combine two questions to give people a chance to win.
Since I’ve been spending so much time lately thinking about fantastic heroes, and just a little time looking forward to my next vacation, how about telling me your perfect match – who you’d feature as the hero of your perfect romance and where they’d be.
Since the letter R was mentioned I’ll venture an example – Anna’s personal fave, RRRichard Armitage in a castle in Romania, surrounded of course by dark woods that harbour wolves and at least one daredevil heroine. Of course it would have to be a gothic romance.
How about you? What combination of hero and location match. Of course you can throw in the heroine too if you like.
A signed copy of PRINCE OF SCANDAL and a signed copy of RAFE’S REDEMPTION are up for grabs today. So let’s get this party started!
Posted by Jeanne Adams Feb 1 2011, 5:10 am in American Heart Association, February Coming Attractions, great guests
by Jeanne Adams
It’s RED HOT February!
Its going to be an amazing month around the Lair, folks. We have a line up that you just won’t believe.
Along with all the usual wonderfulness of the Bandita’s, one of the coolest things this month is that we’re partnering with the American Heart Association to highlight the dangers of heart disease.
Did you know that heart disease is the number one killer of women, rather than breast cancer as most people would guess? Well, it is! So, to help all our wonderful Bandita Buddies and any of our male Bandita Buddies lady friends, we’ll be giving a tip-a-day every day this month to help improve heart health. Some of these tips will get you moving, and others will give you something to think about.
So be sure to stick with us and check back every day, especially if your heart’s acting up. Grins. In the meantime, check it out at:
Oh, and today’s tip from the AHA: Rather than tempting your beloved with chocolates, consider a gift that has more permanence. Search for a poem that describes your feelings and write it on beautiful paper for a handmade Valentine.
(Although dark chocolate CAN be good for you….and if you look at the 14th you’ll see that we’re ALL about poems!)
We kick off the Fabulosity of February with the red-hot Jessica Anderson’s return to the Lair.
Bandita Nancy and Jessica will talk about Jessica’s latest novella, set in the NIGHTKEEPER’S Universe, CRYSTAL SKULL. This romantic jungle adventure features two of the winnikin, the Nightkeepers aides.
Enjoy the discussion with Jessica as they talk about Jessica’s part of the ON THE HUNT paranormal romance anthology.
On February 3, Jana Oliver makes her first appearance in the Lair. She’ll talk with Bandita Nancy about her YA Urban Fantasy, The Demon Trapper’s Daughter, which frankly looks absolutely fabulous.
On February 4, Bandita Nancy, our resident guest-hosting mavin, is back again with the ever-popular Laura Anne Gilman.
Laura Anne will pop in to chat about PACK OF LIES, the second installment in her Paranormal Scene Investigations her urban fantasy series.
On February 6th, the wonderfully witty Janet Mullaney will be back with Bandita Christie to talk about her latest release, MR. BISHOP AND THE ACTRESS.
Feburary 7th The fabulous, historical romance author extraordinaire Tiffany Clare (http://www.tiffanyclare.com/) returns as Bandita Anna Campbell’s guest to talk about her second book, THE SEDUCTION OF HIS WIFE!
And on February 8th, put on your dancing shoes for the Romance Bandits Absolutely Fabulous Valentine’s Ball! There will be fun, dancing, prizes, and a revelry beyond compare.
On February 9th join us for the return of Mr. Romance, when the inimitable Brad Parks returns to the Lair.
He’s sure to woo all our regulars and lurkers with his fabulous brand of Brad Parks wit. Oh, and he has a new book out too….
On February 11th, we’re thrilled to have Regency historical romance writer and Word Wench Cara Elliott visit with Bandita Christine to chat about her sexy new release, TO TEMPT A RAKE.
There will be no stopping the terrific trio that will be invading the Lair on Saturday, February 12th. Join Bandita Christie Kelly as she hosts Sally Mackenzie, Vanessa Kelley and Kaitlin O’Riley for a rousing, what-a-red-month, good time.
Ahhhh, Valentine’s Day! On THE RED DAY, February 14 the we’ll have a very special gues in the esteemed heart doctor, Dr. Robertson, Chief Cardiologist from American Heart Association. For a barrel of fun and frivolity along with some seriously wicked good tips for keeping your heart healthy, we’ll have the Terribly Heartfelt, Amazingly Unstable Wacky Love Poems Day.
Dr. Robertson will be with us not only to discuss heart health, but to judge the poetry, limericks, and haiku for 5 prizes along with a heartfelt basket of something or another from AHA and from the Banditas
On February 25th mystery author Linda O. Johnston will be Bandita Kate’s guest on to launch her fabulous new Pet Rescue mystery series, starting with BEAGLEMANIA! We’ll all be going to the dogs in very best way!
Which, of course fits right in with our whole Go Red, Valentines theme since the Amazing, Annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show is on TV starting with four groups on Valentine’s Day, the 14th, and finishing with three groups and Best in Show on the 15th. It’s a ton of fun to watch, and may the best dog win!
(I’ll be rooting for the Dalmatian and the Irish Water Spaniel, how ’bout you?)