Posts tagged with: historical romance


BanditBootyThanks to everyone for a wonderful day’s blogging yesterday when we talked about prologues and epilogues. The winner of the signed advanced copy of WHAT A DUKE DARES (complete with prologue AND epilogue) is:


Vivien, please email me on email hidden; JavaScript is required with your snail mail details and I’ll get your book off to you. Happy reading and congratulations!


Let’s Start at the Very Beginning…

Duke low resTo prologue or not to prologue? That is the question.

Well, at least today! We can cover the meaning of life at some later date.

Not long after CLAIMING THE COURTESAN was published, I attended a one-day seminar by the legendary and wonderful Jennifer Crusie which covered many things, including her hints for how to write a great book. As a diehard admirer of her work (seriously, if you haven’t read WELCOME TO TEMPTATION, run to your nearest bookseller), I hung on every word. One thing she said categorically was no book needs either a prologue or an epilogue.

Interesting, huh? Especially as, having written my first four books without epilogues and then had numerous readers contact me asking me to write them, it’s clear that romance fans in particular ADORE epilogues.

With all those books, I felt I’d covered all the plot points in the story. They didn’t NEED an epilogue, although I think if I were writing them now, I would include epilogues. Romance readers, I think, just need that last little bit of happily ever after before they can close the book with a blissful sigh.

Days of Rakes and Roses final-72The first book I wrote with an epilogue was MY RECKLESS SURRENDER. Anyone who’s read that book knows that there was quite a complicated plot that went beyond what I could tie up in a satisfying way in the “I love you, you love me” part of the book. So, tiptoeing very carefully past Ms. Crusie, I went wild and wrote an epilogue. I know, I’m such a rebel.

Since then, all my books have had epilogues, not just for the sake of a few more kisses and vows of eternal affection, but because there were questions that needed answering beyond tying up the romantic plot.

I held off from prologues for much longer. Personally I really like a prologue when it’s well done. I think it’s a much more satisfying way of filling in important backstory than flashbacks or great wads of narrative. And because the reader sees the events on the page, it’s vivid and dramatic in a way something recounted later as a memory isn’t.

prologueInterestingly two of my favorite romances of all time both include prologues. LORD OF SCOUNDRELS by Loretta Chase breaks all the so-called romance rules in the prologue too – it’s long, it’s in omniscient point of view, it’s mainly narrative and there isn’t a whiff of a meeting between the hero and heroine. And you know what? It’s absolutely brilliant. We are so on the side of difficult, passionate, emotionally wounded Lord Dain by the time he turns up in all his cranky splendor in chapter one, thanks to that prologue, that we stick with him for the rest of the story. Lots of people obviously agree with me that this is a prologue that works a treat. LOS is regularly voted among the top three romances ever written.

Another of my favorite books, and definitely my favorite comfort read, is A COUNTESS BELOW STAIRS by Eva Ibbotson. The prologue of this one reads like a fairytale and it sets up the story of gallant, generous, lovely Anna Grazinsky who needs every ounce of her courage to face life in England after the Russian Revolution. The prologue also sets up the Cinderella element of riches to rags and underlines the poignancy of the romance with the Earl of Westerholme who owns the house where she finds work as a housemaid.  prologue 2

When it came to my Sons of Sin novella, DAYS OF RAKES AND ROSES, which is a story about childhood sweethearts separated by the heroine’s father, I wanted to show that dramatic moment in Simon and Lydia’s lives, the moment that set both of them off on divergent paths. They only come together again when Lydia is about to marry someone else. I could have covered the essentials in backstory, but it just didn’t seem to have the same impact and I wanted to show that these two, who are quite prickly when they meet again, had once shared a profound love.

Since then, ALL my book have had prologues. A RAKE’S MIDNIGHT KISS needed an inciting incident to set Richard off on his quest for the Harmsworth Jewel. Again, it seemed better to do it on the page rather than have the characters recollecting it.

Rake BDI’ve just received the advance reader copies of my next book WHAT A DUKE DARES which is out in August. And guess what? There’s a prologue in this one too!

One of the things a prologue does really well is create a sense of space between an important event that has later consequences, and the rest of the story. In Duke, my hero proposes unsuccessfully to my heroine in the prologue. They don’t meet again for another nine years which is when chapter one starts. Because of the prologue, you know what’s at stake for these two when he rescues her from bandits (of the non Romance Bandits kind) on her way back to England from Italy.

Again, I probably could have done it in backstory but I don’t think it would be nearly as vivid or have the emotional impact as when the reader sees the disastrous proposal in real time on the page.

Are you a fan of prologues and epilogues? Do you have any favorites where you think the prologue or the epilogue really worked well?

BanditBootyI’ve got a signed advanced reader copy of WHAT A DUKE DARES (along with its prologue!) to go to one commenter today. International. So good luck.

ARRA Award Winner!

rogue coverAt the Australian Romance Readers Association Awards dinner on Saturday, 22nd March, Anna Campbell’s “Sons of Sin” series was voted favorite romance series of 2013!

Winner of 7 Nights from the U.K.!

BanditBootyThanks so much to everyone who went all posh and tea-drinking to help me celebrate the release of the U.K. edition of SEVEN NIGHTS IN A ROGUE’S BED from Mills and Boon in London. I’m delighted now to announce that the winner of the book is:


Megan, can you please email me on anna @ with your snail mail details and I’ll get your lovely purple book off to you. Happy reading!

Going All British!

rogue britAhoy, my hearties! Feast your eyes on this purple beauty!

What’s that you say?

Is this a new release from Anna Campbell?

Hmm, the title sounds strangely familiar, yet I’ve never seen that handsome fellow and that blonde wench before. Who can they be?

Why, they’re the wicked and sexy Jonas Merrick and the brave and passionate Sidonie Forsythe from the first book in the Sons of Sin series, SEVEN NIGHTS IN A ROGUE’S BED. 

Sidonie, as you’ll notice, has had a bit of a makeover and is now a blonde, but I must say I love the tension between these two in this picture. You just know sparks are going to fly! 

Rogue from GCP siteIf you’re regular visitors to the lair, I don’t think it will be any surprise when I tell you that I’m a bit of an Anglophile (along the lines of the way that Bluebeard had a few marital issues!). But while my books have come out all over the world (we’re currently at 16 languages), I didn’t have a British publisher.

You can imagine my excitement last year when Harlequin Mills and Boon in London bought the first three Sons of Sin books for a range of European territories, including a U.K. release. Yay!

Now I’m delighted to announce for U.K. Bandita Buddies that Rogue came out as a Special Release in both print and e-book in Great Britain on 21st February. A week after Valentine’s Day strikes me as a lucky release day for a romance.

If you don’t live in the U.K., but you’d like one of these gorgeous purple books, you can order them post-free from the Book Depository: And I’m also giving one lucky person a chance to win their own lovely purple book at the end of this blog.

IMG_0012There’s a new blurb for the U.K. Rogue: 

‘I’m your payment, Mr Merrick.’

When notorious Jonas Merrick finds the wife of his greatest enemy up to her neck in debt to him, he offers her a bargain – she can work off the debt…in his bed. But Jonas is more than a little surprised when her innocent, naive sister arrives in her place, bravely offering herself to the scarred, brooding rake. Unexpectedly moved by young Sidonie’s beauty, innocence and wit, the ruthless loner finds her seduction a much more compelling prospect. Instead of a martyr in his bed, he wants seven days to make her come willingly.

IMG_0011But when the week is up and the world intrudes…will beauty claim her beast?

Works for me!

The U.K. version of SEVEN NIGHTS IN A ROGUE’S BED is available at all good booksellers including:

Amazon UK

The Book Depository

Mills and Boon

You can read an excerpt here:

IMG_0009By the way, the photos illustrating this post are from my visit to Haddon Hall which is one of my favorite stately homes. It’s one of the most romantic places I’ve ever been – no wonder it pops up as the setting for so many historical shows, including the lovely BBC JANE EYRE featuring Toby Stephens as Mr. Rochester.  When I visited in 2007, they had costumes from the series on show in the rooms where the scenes had been shot. A lovely touch!

If ever you’re in Derbyshire, don’t miss it.

BanditBootySo let’s stay British with our question today. If you’ve been to Great Britain, what were some of your favorite places and why? If you’d like to go to Great Britain, what would you especially like to see?

I’ve got a signed copy of a U.K. edition of SEVEN NIGHTS IN A ROGUE’S BED up for grabs today for someone who comments. International giveaway. So good luck!

Blythe Gifford Shares Her Secrets!

Blythe 4I’m delighted today to welcome the wonderful historical romance author Blythe Gifford who is here to tell us about her new release, SECRETS AT COURT, the first of the Royal Weddings series.

RT Book Reviews really liked this story, saying, “Royals plus secrets plus impending exposure always equals drama of the highest order.”

Here’s the blurb:


Anne of Stamford has long been the keeper of her mistress’s secrets, but when Lady Joan marries the king’s son, court life becomes ever more perilous. Sir Nicholas Lovayne has arrived to uncover the truth about Lady Joan’s past, and Anne must do something—anything—to throw him off….

Longing to escape the intrigues at court, Nicholas hasn’t counted on the way Anne distracts him—her refusal to accept pity for her clubfoot touches something deep inside him. Will he be able to follow his duty when every fiber of his being tells him to protect Anne?

Blythe 1Royal Weddings

A hint of scandal this way comes!

You can find out more about Blythe and her books at her website:

Blythe, welcome to the Bandita lair!  I’m so excited about SECRETS AT COURT, your new book. What were the inspirations behind this book?

Delighted to be here!  When Prince William and Kate Middleton married, the Harlequin Historical line released a series of short stories that looked back at British royal weddings of the past.  I was invited to participate, but had too many deadlines on my plate at the time.  I loved the idea, though, and I envisioned a full-length book using the premise.  Most of my books are set amidst the backdrop of real history and the medieval court of Edward III is familiar territory for me.  Thus, I wrote a book centered on a very unusual royal wedding!

blythe 5How fascinating. Can you tell us about this story?

SECRETS AT COURT, out now, is set around the wedding of the oldest son of Edward III, also an Edward.  History knows him as the Black Prince.  (As an aside, he was the first Prince of Wales.)  His chosen bride, Joan, the Fair Maid of Kent, had a bit of a scandalous past and they, in essence, “eloped” and married without the church’s consent. 

My hero, Nicholas, is charged with untangling the mess they made and getting the Pope’s dispensation for their marriage.  My heroine, Anne, who has been with Joan all her life, is the keeper of her lady’s secrets.  Secrets that, if Nicholas discovers them, could destroy the throne of England!

SECRETS AT COURT launches a new series for you, Royal Weddings. Can you give us a sneak peak of what’s to come in the series?

Blythe 3Right now, it is a series of two.  Both of Edward III’s oldest children married for love, unheard of at that time.  The second book, WHISPERS AT COURT, will center on the marriage of Edward’s daughter Isabella.  After remaining unwed until the ripe old age of 31, she fell in love with a French nobleman who was held hostage at the English court.  Release date is to be determined, but I hope it will be yet this year.  (I’m madly wrestling with revisions.)

Can’t wait for that. Did SECRETS AT COURT present any special challenges?

Several.  First, was understanding Joan of Kent’s checkered marital past.  At one point, she was actually married to two men at once.  (Yes, this is documented!)  It was a rather risqué background for a royal bride.  But sorting out the timeline and the legal aspects of her entanglements didn’t give me as much trouble as something more mundane:  the floor plan of Windsor Castle.  The castle was undergoing massive renovations during these years and trying to figure out what wings and rooms were finished was a real challenge.  I finally found a solid source, available only in print, with color coded floor plans and filled my iPhone with pictures. 

blythe 8The use of real historical events is a trademark of yours, isn’t it?

History inspires me.  One of the first books on my keeper shelf was KATHERINE by Anya Seton.  It is the story of the lifelong mistress of John of Gaunt, another of King Edward’s children.  They finally married, late in life, and her children were legitimized and sat on the throne of England.  I love the idea that love can change history!

Oh, I adored KATHERINE. Speaking of great books, I read and loved your indie novel, THE WITCH FINDER. Can you tell us about that story?

THE WITCH FINDER is set on the Scottish Borders during the middle of the seventeenth century and one of the worst witch hunts in history.  I was inspired by Sandra Brown’s famous comment:  “If your heroine is an arsonist, your hero better be a firefighter.”  In this case, my hero is a witch finder, a man expert in determining whether a suspect was really a witch or falsely accused.  And my heroine, of course, is an accused witch. 

Blythe 2Such high stakes in that story. I couldn’t put it down. How did you come to self-publish?

I actually wrote the book for Harlequin, but they were afraid it was too dark for their audience.  Your enthusiasm for the story was a real boost, and I am so grateful!  It encouraged me to go ahead and release it myself.  And the reviews, I’m delighted to say, have echoed your enthusiasm.

I’m not at all surprised. As this is your first visit to the lair, we’d love to hear about your writing journey.

I started writing seriously after a corporate layoff.  Ten years and one layoff later, I sold my Golden Heart finalist manuscript to the Harlequin Historical line!  (But the behind the scenes story is that I started writing my first historical novel at age ten.  In pencil.)  I’ve now had nine books with them, one more coming soon, plus one self-published, I’m astonished to say!

Blythe 6One of the things I love about your books is that you set your stories in, for historical romance, unusual periods. If you were to persuade a diehard Regency reader to try a book set outside the first quarter of the 19th century, what would you say to them?

I think we read historical romance for two things:  to be swept away to a different time and place and for the guarantee that all will end well.  For readers who think an unfamiliar time period might be off-putting, I would assure you the happily ever after survives intact.  So why not try being whisked away to a new time and place? 

So here’s a thought starter:  Do you read historical romance outside the Regency period?  What time periods have you tried?  (Or would you like to try?)  And if you have read something “unusual,” how did you feel about that experience?  Conversely, if you adore only the Regency, what is it about the period that draws you?

BanditBootyBlythe has very generously offered one lucky commenter today a print book of their choice, either SECRETS AT COURT or THE WITCH FINDER (international). Good luck! 

All About Empires

Happy March! Well, I’m trying to be happy about it. As per usual Kentucky weather, we’ve had wisps of spring dangled in front of us and then bam! 8 in. of snow tonight. I’ll be knitting little sock hats for the robins, while my historical romances conquer the world.

Ok, well conquer in the metaphorical sense. I’ve had a wonderful debut into Indie publishing with my Roman set historicals. I’m proud to be offering stories outside the stereotypical Roman fiction plots involving lions eating Christians and gladiators. There was so much more to the era than the obvious symbols. Everyday people being impacted by the larger Empire but still trying to live and find a happy life…and a love that endures…amid the chaos.

Thanks to you, the readers, my three Patrician series books have consistently been in the top 100 on Amazon for Ancient world romance! The Patrician and Barbarian’s Soul achieved bestseller status and man, did we celebrate! Pickled dour mouse anyone? :D No, chocolate was involved.Boxed set The Patrician's Series 3D (3)

Within the next month I will release a boxed set out and hope shortly thereafter to have a connected novella out featuring the son of Jared and Bryna.

And then I’ll be taking a sharp turn to the left. My goal for 2014 is release of the first two of a paranormal series based on an alternate Irish Mythology. I’m VERY excited about this project, the first in a nine book connected arc. I hope you will be too.

After that? Well….there are more children among the Romans who grow up and….at least two other of Bran and Bryna’s clansmen who are unaccounted for. What happened to them? Hmmmmm….I wonder.

Now in honor of the new series I give you an old-fashioned Irish blessing:

“May the road rise up to meet you May the wind be always at your back May the sun shine warm upon your face And the rain fall soft upon your fields And until we meet again May God hold you in the palm of his hand”




Shana’s Winners!

BanditBootyWow, what a huge day we had in the lair yesterday when Shana Galen visited to talk about her March release SAPPHIRES ARE AN EARL’S BEST FRIEND!

Thanks to Shana and to everyone who swung by to say hello. There were two great prizes up for grabs and I’m delighted now to announce the winners:

LAURIE G won the U.S./Canada prize which is a complete set of the Jewels of the Ton books plus a beautiful rose quartz necklace.

MARY PRESTON won the international prize which is a complete set of the Jewels of the Ton books.

Congratulations, girls. Please email Shana on shana @ (no spaces) with your address and she’ll arrange your prizes for you. Happy reading!


Shana Galen Glitters!

Shana 2I’m delighted to bring back to the lair sparkling Jewel of the Romance World, Shana Galen!

Shana’s here to give us a sneak peek (well, not that sneak, frankly!) at her latest sparkling romantic adventure SAPPHIRES ARE AN EARL’S BEST FRIEND which is out from Sourcebooks Casablanca on 4th March. This is the last instalment in her glittering, bestselling Jewels of the Ton series. SAPPHIRES ARE AN EARL’S BEST FRIEND is already creating a lot of buzz, including a Top Pick review from RT Book reviews.

Shana 1Here’s the blurb:

Careful, gentlemen—there is more to this courtesan than meets the eye…

What better disguise for a secret agent than that of a courtesan? Lily Dawson, dubbed the Countess of Charm, is a spy working for the Crown to uncover a traitor. Andrew Booth-Payne, Earl of Darlington, wants to hate Lily for taking up with his father, but something about Lily intrigues him. When he discovers there is more to her flirtation than greed, he knows he must help her uncover a traitor. Even if that traitor is his own father…

You can find out more about Shana and her books on her website:

So without further ado, here’s Shana:


As an author, I never know what life experiences will make it into my books. You’d think very few, considering I write books set in the early 1800s, and I live in 2014. But though I don’t put cell phones or cars in my books, human interaction hasn’t changed much in 200 years.

Shana 3When Princess Galen was a baby—she used to be Baby Galen, but now that she’s four, she informed me she would like to be called Princess Galen—she did not like to sleep. In fact, I don’t think she liked being a baby because she didn’t like to do any of the typical things babies do—you know, sleep or eat or sit in her car seat. You’d never know she was the Fussiest Baby in the World now because she’s super happy and smiling all the time. But when she was a baby and it was naptime or bedtime, I really wanted to pull my hair out. It was just torture to get her to go to sleep, and it was torture if she stayed up too because either way she was screaming her head off.

Those of you who are moms or aunts or babysitters know that when you are stuck with a crying kid day in and day out, you’ll try just about anything. One thing that worked for me was telling her a story. I’d use this singsong voice, and she probably liked the voice more than the story, but the story was for me. It was all about this little girl who had a closet full of magic dresses in all the colors of the rainbow. Each dress had a magical property. It was a great story because I could embellish if I was feeling creative, but I also knew it so well, I could say it in my sleep—and probably did!

shana 5Gradually, bedtime became easier, and I could do normal things, like read a book or rub her back to get her settled down. But then one night when she was three, she had a nightmare and was having trouble going back to sleep. I started telling her the story again, and believe it or not, she remembered it. Now she still requests it sometimes, and it’s a special bond we have from those rough early days.

About the time of Princess Galen’s nightmare, I had started working on SAPPHIRES ARE AN EARL’S BEST FRIEND. I wanted readers to know where the heroine, Lily, had come from. She’s a courtesan and a spy, but she didn’t start out that way. She started out as a little girl with a family and a mother who told her bedtime stories. The book is about how Lily became who she was, and, of course, how she falls in love with the Earl of Darlington and defeats the villain Lucifer. But today I wanted to share one of my favorite scenes in the book, the scene with Lily as a little girl. See if you can catch anything from real life in it.

shana 6“Once upon a time, there was a little girl named Lily.”

Lily snuggled under her covers and listened to her mother’s singsong voice. She heard the rain pattering outside on the roof and the clip-clop of horses’ hooves as a hackney passed her family’s modest home in London. On the floor below her, the low rumble of her father’s voice reverberated as he spoke to the man who’d arrived shortly after supper. Her father entertained more and more unexpected visitors of late. When she pressed her ear to the door to listen, she heard names like Napoleon and Fishguard and La Légion Noire whispered in furtive voices. Until Mamma told her to come away.

Sometimes she was scared, even though she didn’t know what she was scared of. But here, in her cozy room with the low-sloped ceiling, lying in her soft bed with her baby doll and her mamma beside her, she felt safe. Lily yawned. “What about the little girl, Mamma?”

anthology“She was in possession of several very special dresses. There was a green dress that glittered with emeralds, and when she wore the green dress, she could fly.”

Lily closed her eyes, imagining flying.

“There was a purple dress with a velvet bodice and ruffles on the skirt, and when she wore the purple dress, she was a princess. There was a pink dress covered with spangles, and when she wore the pink dress, she could dance like a ballerina. There was a red dress that radiated with rubies, and when she wore the red dress, she was so strong.”

“As strong as Papa?”

“Yes. That strong. Now, close your eyes and listen.”

But Lily knew her favorite dress was coming, and it was so hard not to bounce with excitement.

shana 7“There was a white dress that dazzled with diamonds, and when she wore the white dress, she could swim like a fish. And there was a blue dress, and that was her favorite because it sparkled with sapphires. When she wore the blue dress, she was invisible.”

“And no one could see her.”

“That’s right, Lily Bea.”

Her name was Lillian Beatrice Dawson, and sometimes her mother called her Lily Bea. Mamma had pet names for all of her children—names like Robert Bear for her big brother and Lottie for Charlotte, who was only a year older than Lily—but Lily liked her special name best.

shana 8Mamma tucked the coverlet in snugly, and Lily yawned again. “Lily,” her mother asked, “why do you like the blue dress best? Is it because blue is your favorite color?”

“No.” Green was her favorite color, but it was all right that Mamma didn’t remember that. She had a lot to remember. “It’s because I want to be inbisible.”

“Invisible? Why?”

“Like Papa. He says his job is to be in-vis-i-ble.”

“Hmm.” Her mother huffed, and Lily opened her eyes to see Mamma’s expression. Sometimes Lily said things that made her mother unhappy. Usually they were statements related to Papa. Mamma smoothed Lily’s hair off her brow, and Lily closed her eyes again.

“And lastly there was a black dress,” Mamma said, “as long and black as midnight, and when she wore the black dress, she could sleep for hours and hours. So let’s put on our black dress, and go to sleep.”

“Good night, Mamma.”

“Good night. Sweet dreams.”

Lily closed her eyes and dreamed of jewels and ball gowns.

Shana 4What was your favorite story as a child or your favorite to read to your child?

I have 2 (TWO!) prizes to give away! The first is only for readers in US/Canada–win the complete set of the Jewels of the Ton books, WHEN YOU GIVE A DUKE A DIAMOND, IF YOU GIVE A RAKE A RUBY, and SAPPHIRES ARE AN EARL’S BEST FRIEND, plus a fabulous rose quartz necklace. The other giveaway is open to everyone not in the US/Canada, and it’s another complete set of the books in the series.

BanditBootyShana, what a lovely generous set of prizes. People will be clamoring at the gates of the lair to win this one.

Good luck, everyone! Get commenting!

Vanessa Kelly’s Winner!

BanditBootyThanks so much to Vanessa Kelly and everyone who swung by to say hello yesterday. I’m delighted now to announce the winner of the advanced reader copy of SECRETS FOR SEDUCING A ROYAL BODYGUARD:

Patty L!

Congratulations, Patty. Please email Vanessa on vanessakelly @ (no spaces) with your snail mail details and she’ll get your ARC off to you. Happy reading!

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