Posted by Donna MacMeans Jul 15 2014, 12:50 am in historical romance, Rake Patrol, Scotland, Temperance, The Whisky Laird's Bed
Can you tell I’m excited? I feel like I’ve been waiting for this for a long time.
This book is a first on many levels. First time I’ve had a “digital first” release (and I have mixed emotions about that). First time I’ve set a book in Scotland – and I hope, not the last. First time I’ve had a video trailer. For the life of me, I can’t get the video to load on this blog, but I hope you’ll visit my website – or scroll through the videos at the bottom of this page – to see it.
“Digital First” means that the story can be downloaded onto your Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Computer, tablet and smartphone – but a paperback book won’t be available until the digital sales hit a magical number according to the publisher (Penguin). I hope you’ll help me spread the word as I’d really like to see this book in print. I love my kindle, but a book I can hold makes it real to me.
This is a story where the hero and heroine are the opposite sides of the hot political issue of the time – Temperance – or Prohibition as we know it here in America. FWIW – the little burg that I live in was once the Prohibition capital of America. We have a little museum in a dedicated section of the local library about the Prohibition movement. i didn’t really need to visit that library as Temperance was a little different, but it makes me wonder if some ghosts were exerting their influence.
My English heroine, Claire Stark, is a firebrand for the Temperance movement. She is so sincere in her beliefs that others who love her for other reasons, just shake their heads and try to ignore her constant references to the evils of alcohol.
The hero, Cameron MacPherson, is a Scotch distiller. He recognizes Claire’s vulnerabiites and falls in love with her because she’s stalwart in her beliefs, she’s loyal beyond measure, and in his eyes, she’s sexy as all get out.
Finding common ground between these two wasn’t easy, but I think my solution works. Love has a way of doing that. You can find an excerpt of the book in the exclusive excerpts in the Member’s Den, or on my website http://www.donnamacmeans.com/the-whisky-lairds-bed/?action=excerpt, but here’s a different one just for the lair. Claire and Cameron have entered into a drinking contest. The stakes are high and important enough that Claire has agreed to the terms.
“I understand what’s at stake if I finish this glass. You’ll speak to Lord Lothian about the need for temperance legislation,” she said, a bit dubious. “But if this is a contest and you finish first, what do I forfeit?”
He leveled a gaze on her that made her feel as if the fiery spice of the whisky raced through her veins. Once again, her body cried in unison for something she couldn’t name.
“A kiss.” He said simply. “I will claim a kiss from my sweet Highland sprite.”
“English,” she corrected.
“I’m willing to overlook that.” He held his glass up to the candlelight. “We swirl the whisky again, but this time look for the legs.” Again he demonstrated. “Can you see how the whisky clings to the side of the glass, flowing back to the bottom in long streams? Those are the legs. The more full-bodied whiskies have longer legs.”
She followed his example and noticed the striping he described, but felt no grand appreciation from the exercise. “I don’t see that this affects the taste.”
“It’s all in the anticipation.” He contemplated a moment and she thought he might be anticipating something other than the liquid in his glass. It sent a delicious shiver down her spine.
“Now we take a sip and let the whisky sit on the tongue before we swallow.” He lifted the glass. “To Scotland.” He tipped his glass.
“God save the Queen.” She followed his example.
To celebrate the launch of their story, Claire and Cameron are holding a party in Cameron’s modern castle. Tours are offered to take guests to town to see the distillery. Plenty of Scotch is on hand for those that like to imbide. James is offering to take hunting parties out to view the countryside, or just private tours, if you prefer. Boats are available for fishing or for rowing about the loch. We have pipers, and dancers, and even some Highland games on the grounds. Kilts are everywhere you look.
So tell me, what would you do at this Highland celebration? Do you like Scotch? Would you glide about on a boat admiring the beautiful scenery? Or would you go visit the games to admire the beautiful scenery of a different nature ;-).
I’ll give away two downloads to someone leaving a comment. Let’s party!
Posted by Anna Campbell Jul 11 2014, 11:25 pm in A Rake's Midnight Kiss, Anna Campbell, Bandita Booty, British editions, Foreign Editions, historical romance, Mills and Boon, Regency romance, Sons of Sin
Thanks to everyone who swung by to wish my British edition of A RAKE’S MIDNIGHT KISS well on its travels. And wow, I want to have afternoon tea with all of you! I’m delighted now to announce the winner of the personalized edition of Rake:
Congratulations, Jessica. Please email me on anna @ annacampbell.info with your snail mail details and I’ll get your book off to you. Happy reading!
Posted by Anna Campbell Jul 10 2014, 12:01 am in A Rake's Midnight Kiss, Anna Campbell, Bandita Booty, Harlequin Mills and Boon, historical romance, new releases, Regency romance, Sons of Sin, UK releases
Well, shiver me timbers!
Except that well bred young British gels don’t say such things.
Unless they’re celebrating a new release in the United Kingdom. My second Sons of Sin book, A RAKE’S MIDNIGHT KISS, is out from Mills and Boon there this month.
I thought I’d celebrate in a truly British way with a wonderful afternoon tea! Not to mention giving a Bandita buddy the chance to win one of these lovely green monsters.
There’s a lovely new blurb too:
‘I’ll soften her up with a bit of flirtation, a few weeks of masculine attention, then leave her with a smile and the jewel in my pocket.’
Tired of rumours of his mother’s sin, of being the Harmsworth bastard, indolent rake Sir Richard Harmsworth decides to hunt down the jewel that will confirm his claim as the rightful heir. But the quest isn’t as easy as he expects…
The Harmsworth Jewel’s custodian is scholarly virgin Genevieve Barrett and the treasure is coveted by others as well as Sir Richard. Genevieve won’t part with the jewel easily – his only option is to seduce it from her.
Frustratingly, deceiving the innocent beauty is much tougher on his conscience than he ever imagined…
If you’re in the U.K., you can buy this gorgeous emerald beauty at all good booksellers, including:
Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Rakes-Midnight-Mills-Special-Releases-ebook/dp/B00JXN2TOA/ref=pd_sim_kinc_4?ie=UTF8&refRID=0P8V7W62BQ643QQPC43R
The Book Depository: http://www.bookdepository.com/Rakes-Midnight-Kiss-Anna-Campbell/9780263246537
W.H. Smith: http://www.whsmith.co.uk/products/a-rakes-midnight-kiss-mills-and-boon-special-releases-new-edition/product/9780263246537
You can read an excerpt here: http://annacampbell.info/rakeskiss.html
I hope you’ve noticed that I’ve baked and got out the good china for your visit! Only the best for my Banditas and Bandita Buddies. The white and gold set was my mother’s Royal Doulton. It’s a pattern called Richelieu and I love it to death (despite its complete lack of suitability for a dishwasher!). The blue and gold set was a present to me from my godfather who used to work for Doulton back in the early 1960s. Isn’t it spectacular? My mother was crazy about good English china and she passed the obsession on to me. These two sets are both very cherished possessions!
So let’s launch this green baby with a lovely English afternoon tea. What are your preferred afternoon tea treats? Share your fave sweet morsels and you’ll be in the draw to receive the U.K. edition of A RAKE’S MIDNIGHT KISS (hmm, that sounds like a sweet morsel too!), international!
Posted by Anna Campbell Jul 1 2014, 12:01 am in Anna Campbell, Exclusive Excerpts, Grand Central Forever, historical romance, Regency romance, Sons of Sin, What a Duke Dares
I’ve just posted the first few pages of WHAT A DUKE DARES (26th August 2014, Grand Central Forever) in the Members Only section of the website.
Want an exclusive sneak peek at my next release? Swing by the Members Den.
Not a member? Why on earth not? It’s really easy to sign up. Just click the Members Den button on the toolbar above and follow the prompts.
It’s great to be a member. Not only do you get exclusive excerpts like this one from WHAT A DUKE DARES. You also get our fun monthly newsletter, access to exclusive interviews and other content, and a chance at special prizes.
Sign up or be square!
Posted by Anna Campbell Jul 1 2014, 12:00 am in Anna Campbell, historical romance, Sons of Sin, What a Duke Dares
Just for the Bandita Buddies, an exclusive peek at my 26th August release, WHAT A DUKE DARES! You can read another excerpt on my website here: http://annacampbell.info/dukedares.html
Houghton Park, Lincolnshire, May 1819
Every young lady dreamed of a proposal from the heir to a dukedom. Especially when the heir was rich, feted, in possession of his wits, and still young enough to have all his teeth.
Every young lady except, apparently, Penelope Thorne.
From the center of her father’s library, Camden Rothermere, Marquess of Pembridge, eyed the girl he’d known from the cradle and wondered where the hell he’d slipped up. He straightened and summoned a smile, struggling to bridge the awkward silence extending between them.
Damn it. He never felt awkward with Pen Thorne. Until now. Until he’d spoken the fatal words.
Until, instead of radiating delight at the prospect of marrying him, Pen’s black eyes sparked with the rebellious light that always boded trouble.
“Why?” It wasn’t the first time this afternoon that she’d asked him the question.
Stupidly he couldn’t summon an adequate answer. He’d blundered into this halfcocked. It was his own fault. Knowing Pen as he did, he should have prepared a comprehensive list of reasons for their marriage before broaching the subject.
Right now, he wished he’d never broached the subject at all. But it was too late to retreat, or too late if he hoped to salvage a shred of self-respect from this dashed uncomfortable encounter.
“Devil take you, Pen, I like you,” he said impatiently. Despite her inexplicable and irritating behavior today, it was true. There wasn’t a girl alive that he liked so much as the chit currently regarding him as if he’d crawled out of a hole in the ground.
He knew her better than any other girl too, even his sister Lydia. Through their childhood, he’d rescued Pen from a thousand scrapes. She’d been a hellion, riding the wildest horses in her father’s stables, climbing the tallest trees in the park, throwing herself into brawls to defend a friend or mistreated animal. Cam had long admired her spirit, loyalty, and courage.
Those were qualities he wanted in his duchess. And if she needed some guidance in deportment, he was perfectly prepared to teach her proper behavior. She was a Thorne and Thornes weren’t renowned for their prudence, but while Pen might be impulsive, she was intelligent. Once she’d become the Duchess of Sedgemoor, he was sure she’d settle down.
Or he had been, until her unenthusiastic response to his proposal.
“I like you too,” she said steadily, regarding him with unwavering attention.
Cam wondered why her admission didn’t reassure. Inhaling deeply, he strove for forbearance. “Well, there you have it, then.”
That bitter note in her laugh was unfamiliar. He could hardly believe it, but the possibility of failure hovered. Pen was clever, determined, headstrong—he’d get that out of her soon enough—and stubbornly inclined to take a positive view of events. Or at least so he’d believed until today.
He’d also believed that she’d leap at the chance to marry him.
Clearly he’d been wrong.
He wasn’t used to being wrong. Confound her, he didn’t like it.
Her voice remained curiously flat. “I’m sorry, Cam. ‘There you have it, then’ won’t pass muster. You’ll need to do better than that.”
From where she stood before the high mullioned window, she studied him much like a schoolmistress surveyed an unpromising student. He only just resisted the urge to run a finger under his unaccountably tight neckcloth.
Good God, this was Pen. She wasn’t a female who put a man through hoops before she fell into harness. She’d never demand more than he could give. She’d never subject a fellow to emotional storms. She’d never lie and cheat and betray.
She was the absolute opposite of his late mother, in fact.
Cam was unaccustomed to feeling like a blockhead, especially with the fairer sex. By nature he wasn’t a vain man, but he’d anticipated a better reaction to his proposal. Pen’s father Lord Wilmott had been in alt to hear that his daughter would become a duchess.
Most definitely, Pen was not in alt.
And she bloody well should be. After all, she was a mere baron’s daughter—and a ramshackle baron at that—while Cam was heir to the nation’s richest dukedom.
The Thornes were an old family, but had always had a justified reputation for trouble. In times of political unrest, they backed the wrong side. If they managed to lay their hands on any money, they lost it, usually in some disreputable pursuit. “Wine, women and song” should be the family motto instead of the much more staid and highly inappropriate “steadfast and faithful.”
The previous generation had spawned a handful of eccentrics, including an uncle who had married his housekeeper. Bigamously as it had turned out. Lord Wilmott had squandered his wife’s dowry on a succession of greedy strumpets. Pen’s aunt ran with a dissolute crowd on the Continent. Peter, Cam’s friend and the current heir, was devoted to the gaming tables and disastrous investments. If Cam’s mother hadn’t been great friends with Lady Wilmott, the families would have had little contact.
What made Pen’s tepid response to Cam’s suit even harder to understand was that she’d always worshipped the ground he walked on. Was he a fool to presume on childhood adoration?
A horrible suspicion struck him. Was he presuming on far too much? Despite his parents’ scandalous behavior and the gossip about his legitimacy, the ton lionized Cam as the future Duke of Sedgemoor. Had endless flattery turned him into a self-satisfied ass?
If Pen thought him insufferably arrogant, no wonder his proposal hadn’t bowled her over. He sighed with self-disgust and impatiently ran his hand through his hair. “I’m making a dashed mess of this, aren’t I?”
Pen’s slender body lost its rigidity as a wry smile curved her lips. Lips, he reluctantly noticed, that were pink and full and lusciously kissable.
As shock shuddered through him, he wondered why he’d never noticed before. Pen had been such a constant in his life that he hadn’t taken the time to mark how she’d changed.
Still unwilling to admit that Pen wasn’t the girl he remembered, he looked more closely. To his dismay, the coltish adolescent hovered on the brink of becoming a true beauty. Even more dismaying, he felt the unwelcome, unmistakable prickle of desire.
“Yes, you are. But it’s not totally your fault.” With a grace he hadn’t seen in her before, she gestured toward the leather chairs ranged around the unlit hearth. “Sit down, for heaven’s sake, and stop looming over me.”
Actually he wasn’t looming, although with his height, he loomed over most people. Pen had always been a long Meg, closer to a boy than a girl in his mind. But in this discomfiting instant, when for the first time he saw more than his friend Peter’s occasionally annoying younger sister, there was nothing boyish about Miss Penelope Thorne.
Since he’d last seen her—and for the life of him, he couldn’t recall when that had been, such an ardent suitor he was—she’d grown up. The thin body had gained subtle but fascinating curves. The vivid, pointed face that had always seemed too small for her decisive features had refined into striking attraction. When had she tamed her tangled mane of hair into those gleaming ebony coils?
Apprehension tasted sour on his tongue. God help him, this new Penelope was a bloody disaster. He narrowed his eyes on the siren who had mysteriously supplanted a hoyden as daring as any of his male friends. And saw that she was blossoming into a woman who made men stupid.
Categorically he didn’t want to marry a woman who made men stupid, the way his mother had made his father stupid.
Posted by Nancy Northcott Jun 20 2014, 12:23 am in Dee Davis, historical romance, paranormal romance, Romantic suspense, Time Travel Romance
My guest today is multi-award-winning author Dee Davis. Since her debut in 2000, Dee has won The Booksellers’ Best, Golden Leaf, Texas Gold, and Prism awards and has been nominated for the Holt Medallion, the National Readers Choice Award, and two Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Awards. Dee writes contemporary, historical, time travel, paranormal, and romantic suspense romance (I think I got them all), and we’re going to catch up with her today.
Welcome, Dee! What’s your latest project?
I’m currently working on two projects. The first, Cottage in the Mist, is a sequel to my very first novel Everything in its Time. Also a time travel set in fifteenth century Scotland, Cottage is a story about a woman who loses everything and then finds it all again—this time in the long ago past. And of course Iain, Katherine, Jeff and Elaine, the main characters from EIT, will be there to help her on her journey.
I’m also working on a new romantic suspense novel, Line of Fire, that will tie into the rerelease of my Liar’s Game books; Chain Reaction, Eye of the Storm and an updated Still of the Night.
Would you like to share an excerpt?
From Cottage in the Mist:
Scotland – 1468
There was danger. Bram could feel it all around him. Fire raced up the wooden steps that lead up to the door leading into the tower. And he could see more flames thrusting out of the windows, black smoke spiraling into the night sky. Throwing his plaid over his face, he ran up the steps, but was stopped by one of the tower’s guards.
The man raised his claymore, his eyes narrowed as the deadly blade began its descent. Bram pivoted, and then swung his own weapon, confused as to where he was and why he was fighting. The man fell, only to be replaced by another. Bram called to him, some part of him recognizing a face that still seemed a stranger, but this man, too, seemed intent only on stopping him.
His mind argued that nothing made sense, even as his heart screamed that he must get inside. If he did not then that which was most precious to him would be lost. He knew this as surely as he drew breath.
With a twist and a parry he drew the man off, and then made quick work of him, dashing through the opening of the tower, down the hallway and into the great hall. A place meant for comfort it offered only danger now. It too was full of flame, and lined with enemies.
Again the thought brought him up short. But there was no time to try and understand. Fear pushed him forward. He surged into the fray, moving toward the stairway at the far end of the room. It gave access to the chambers above and it was there he knew he would find her.
His brain recoiled. Find who? But his heart urged him forward, and he fought his way to the bottom of the steps, then ran up them, taking them two at a time, knowing the other swordsmen were fast on his heels.
At the top he froze for a moment, the thick smoke disorienting him. The fire was much worse here. Pushing forward, he breathed through the heavy wool of his plaid, keeping sword at the ready. The first chamber was empty. As was the solar and the chamber beyond it. But then from down the narrow hallway he heard a cry.
Heart thundering in his ears, he ran through the flames and smoke. A timber fell, glancing off of his shoulder, and he hardly felt it, the need to find her overriding everything else.
He called for her, his voice swallowed by the raging fire. Another timber fell, and a wall collapsed. He jumped across a gaping hole in the floor, landing hard, but still moving. The doorway ahead was edged in flames, the smoke and fire roiling like some kind of evil spirit.
Ignoring the danger, he sprinted forward, through the opening, again calling her name.
And then, through the shimmering heat, he saw her, tied to the bedframe, her long hair unbound, her green eyes wide with fear.
“Go back,” she screamed.
But he pushed onward, stumbling as still more of the burning tower fell. “I’ll no’ leave you.” His words were whipped away by the inferno surrounding them. But he knew that she had heard him.
There were only a few feet between them now. There was bruising on her face, and a trickle of blood at the corner of her beautiful mouth, and he swore there would be hell to pay.
But first, he had to free her.
He reached out a hand, but as he did so, the ceiling above him crashed to the ground. One moment he was looking into her eyes—and the next, she was gone.
With the release of Dire Distraction, it feels as though the A-Tac series is over. Have we seen the last of them, or are there further adventures in store?
I think the team is ready for a well-deserved vacation. That said, never say never, and I do expect at least one of them to turn up in a new romantic suspense series that will debuting late next year. It’s hard to keep a good team down! And they have friends…
You’ve also been doing novellas in your Last Chance, Inc. series. What led you to start those, and will there be more?
I was asked to participate in Lunch Hour Love Stories. And couldn’t think of a better character to write about than Tracy from Last Chance. As to more stories, nothing on the burner at the moment. But Andrew (Nigel’s brother) seems to find himself in constant trouble, so it wouldn’t surprise me if he needed rescuing and Last Chance would be the first people he’d call.
You started out writing time travel romance, and I see that those are available again. Could you tell us a bit about them?
Everything in its Time was my first novel, debuting back in 2000. And it’s been really heart-warming to see how well it (and the other two time travels) have been received upon rerelease. The three novels are only loosely related (in the dark recesses of my mind) but feature characters from the same families. Both EIT and Wild Highland Rose take place in medieval Scotland about a year apart.
And The Promise takes place in the 1880’s during the silver rush in Colorado. Michael, the hero is related to both Iain and Marjory from the other two books. The Promise is especially dear to my heart because although Silverthread is a fictional town, it’s based on Creede where I spent my summers growing up.
All three time travels are tales of impossible love reaching beyond the boundaries of time. And of course, being me, there’s a good dose of suspense as well.
What’s the next thing we should look for from you, and when?
Cottage in the Mist will be out this winter. And just after that, Line of Fire.
And in the meantime, I’ve just rereleased two novellas (along with two of Julie Kenner’s) in our Devil May Care Series. Hell Fire and Hell’s Fury.
Readers can connect with Dee via social media on these sites:
website: www.deedavis.com; Twitter @deedavis
Dee is giving one commenter today a trade paperback of Dire Distraction (US only).
So tell us what your favorite contemporary or historical setting is and why.
Tell us what you like best about romantic suspense or paranormal romance.
Posted by Anna Campbell Jun 10 2014, 12:02 am in Anna Campbell, ARCs, Bandita Booty, Claiming the Courtesan, Dukes, Eloisa James, Georgette Heyer, historical romance, Judith McNaught, Laura Lee Guhrke, Regency romance, Sons of Sin, What a Duke Dares
I’m getting mighty excited. It’s only a bit over two months until the release of WHAT A DUKE DARES, my third Sons of Sin historical romance. Duke is out 26th August and I just can’t wait!
Asking an author to pick their favorite out of their books is like asking a parent to pick their favorite child. But I have to say that I just love Camden Rothermere, the Duke of Sedgemoor, and Penelope Thorne, his wayward bride. I hope you will too.
In fact, today someone gets the chance to win an advance look at Duke because I’m giving away an ARC (international). I think it’s worth winning for that beautiful red cover alone! Details of the giveaway are at the end of the post, but basically leave a comment and you’re in the draw.
This month on my website, I put up the excerpt from the book too. I never like that to go up too early because it can feel a bit stale to people who check back often.
You can find it at: http://annacampbell.info/dukedares.html
This excerpt is the lead-up to the first kiss. That’s always one of my favorite scenes in a romance novel, whether I’ve written it or not. By the time they sleep together,things are pretty much on the way. But the first kiss has that delicious uncertainty about it. And it’s the moment when the hero and heroine have to admit that their desire for one another outweighs any of their usually perfectly valid misgivings about getting involved with the other person. Sigh.
Dukes are da biz in historical romance. Did you know that? They’re the equivalent of the billionaire and the vampire king. Duke is the highest ranking English title under royalty. He’s the top of the tree, the king of the beasts (although Cam, unlike some of my heroes isn’t at all beastly). If you scan the shelves of the bookshops, you’ll see dukes to the left of them, dukes to the right of them.
People who want to be snide often point out that there were only ever a handful of dukes in the real world, fewer if you discount the children of the king who were often given a duke’s title as a courtesy. But this is historical romance and we want the top dog for our heroines. Not to mention that Julia Quinn world is different from Eloisa James world and from Anna Campbell world, so none of these dukes actually get to meet each other in the same room!
I’ve only written one duke before, the Duke of Kylemore in my debut CLAIMING THE COURTESAN. He was a much crankier fellow than Cam, although he was no less ducal! I counted up my guys and so far, I’ve had a knight, a baronet, a viscount, two earls and two marquesses in the novels, and two earls and a mere mister in the novellas. So earls are definitely way ahead in the Campbell stakes.
I’ve read a lot of dukes in my years of devouring historical romance. Laura Lee Guhrke has done a couple of humdingers (humdukers?) and so has our very own Bandita Christina Brooke. Don’t miss her THE DANGEROUS DUKE (in her Christine Wells persona) or A DUCHESS TO REMEMBER.
A couple of favorites from older reads are the Duke of Claymore from Judith McNaught’s classic WHITNEY, MY LOVE. It’s a long time since I read this one but I read it so often back in the day, I still remember it well.
And there’s no getting away from Georgette Heyer’s wonderful dukes. The two I’ve singled out today are the Duke of Avon from THESE OLD SHADES and the Duke of Salford in SYLVESTER. Both are undoubtedly alpha dogs and both find themselves turned completely upside down when they fall in love with the last woman they ever expected to capture their heart. It’s always fun when you write a duke to bring him down a peg or two!
So do you have a favorite duke in a historical romance? Have you read any of the books I’ve mentioned in today’s post? What did you think? Is there something that puts a duke in a class of his own when it comes to playing the hero in a romance?
As promised, I have an ARC of WHAT A DUKE DARES up for grabs today. Just leave a comment to be in the draw. Giveaway is international!
Posted by Anna Campbell May 27 2014, 12:02 am in Alison Stuart, Anna Campbell, Australian Authors, ebooks, Escape Publishing, Gather the Bones, Historical Fiction, historical romance, Lord Somerton's Heir, mysteries, reading, writer's life
I’m delighted to welcome back to the lair my friend, Aussie historical romance writer Alison Stuart. Alison’s here to tell us about her latest release, the Regency mystery-romance LORD SOMERTON’S HEIR. Here’s the blurb:
Can the love of an honourable man save her from the memory of a desolate marriage?
From the battlefield of Waterloo to the drawing rooms of Brantstone Hall, Sebastian Alder’s elevation from penniless army captain to Viscount Somerton is the stuff of dreams. But the cold reality of an inherited estate in wretched condition, and the suspicious circumstances surrounding his cousin’s death, provide Sebastian with no time for dreams, only a mystery to solve and a murderer to bring to justice.
Isabel, widow of the late Lord Somerton, is desperate to bury the memory of her unhappy marriage by founding the charity school she has always dreamed of. But, her dreams are shattered, as she is taunted from the grave, discovering not only has she been left penniless, but she is once more bound to the whims of a Somerton.
But this Somerton is unlike any man she has met. Can the love of an honourable man heal her broken heart or will suspicion tear them apart?
To find out more about Alison and her books, please visit her website: www.alisonstuart.com
LORD SOMERTON’S HEIR is available from AMAZON, Barnes & Noble and all good ebook stores.
For the month of May, Alison is offering a Rafflecopter contest with the prize of an author goody bag. You can enter HERE.
I was very sad to hear of the death this month of Mary Stewart (although to be honest, I didn’t know she was still alive so I shouldn’t have been taken aback by the announcement of her death). Anyway, it got me thinking about the authors who have most influenced me in my writing.
I actually haven’t read many of Stewart’s mystery stories for which she was best known in the early part of her career. The books that grabbed me by the throat and which sit on my ‘keeper’ shelf battered and thumbed and reread are her three Merlin stories beginning with THE CRYSTAL CAVE. What set them apart for me from the hundreds and hundreds of Arthurian reinterpretations (MISTS OF AVALON is another fave), was the humanity she invested in Merlin. Instead of a mystical being in a tall pointy hat, Merlin starts out as a boy in a Romano British household and comes to his position of power and influence in a thoroughly human way. Along the way he loves, he loses, he is betrayed… It is not, as has been described in some reports, a “romance”… there’s not a happy ever after for Merlin but there is a satisfactory conclusion and when you close THE LAST ENCHANTMENT you have the feeling of a life well lived. I had great pleasure in introducing my teenage son to these books and watching him devour them as I had done.
Like most writers, I was a voracious reader from an early age. However my taste was for action and adventure and although I cut my teeth on Enid Blyton, it was not the namby pamby FAR AWAY TREE, I was straight into the Famous Five and the Secret Seven, the shenanigans of Mallory Towers. Other childhood favourites included:
- Horsey stories such as the MY FRIEND FLICKA stories by O’Hara
- The fantasy stories of Alan Garner such as ELIDOR
- The Laura Ingalls Wilder stories which I read and reread until I could practically repeat them and were probably the most “girly” books I read.
But my overwhelming favourites were the stories of Rosemary Sutcliff and Ronald Welch and the English Civil War stories of Barbara Softly – strong historicals written for young adults with plenty of action and adventure and a good dose of romance but not necessarily romance stories. I devoured these books and there is no doubt that they had the strongest influence on the stories I write. I think I damaged my eyesight reading EAGLE OF THE NINTH under the covers by torchlight after my light was supposed to be out.
Has anyone out there read Ronald Welch? They were boys own adventures revolving around the “Carey” family – wherever there was a war or an interesting period of history, there you would find a Carey. Of course my favourite was FOR THE KING – the English Civil War story. I graduated to the stories of Jean Plaidy and Robert Neill by the time I was fifteen I had pretty much exhausted every historical book that the Parkdale Library had to offer.
My passion for all things English Civil War began with THE KING’S GENERAL by Daphne DuMaurier. On Sunday afternoons my father would read to my brother and I but he loathed reading “children’s books” so the choice of book tended to be his and he, of course, chose the books he liked which is how I came to have THE KING’S GENERAL read aloud to me when I was only eight. The love affair between Honor and Richard Grenville and the derring do of the period really struck a cord with me and inspired a life long interest in both the period and books that encompassed a strong relationship between a man and a woman within the context of a historical period.
My other great love was Agatha Christie. Every year my family holidayed at a guest house in Marysville (sadly destroyed in the 2009 bushfires) and my overwhelming association with that guest house are the books of Agatha Christie which I would purchase from the one shop in the town and read either curled up in front of the fire or in one of the chairs on the wide, wooden verandah.
On the other hand, I was a Georgette Heyer fail. I think I might have read THE BLACK MOTH and I know I read THE ROYAL ESCAPE (because it was about the English Civil War) but her regency romances held no interest for me whatsoever. However, I hasten to add, I have come to Georgette in more recent years and as an adult (and a writer) I love her books (although am I the only who find THESE OLD SHADES just a bit creepy?). While I am making my confession, I wasn’t all that fond of Jane Austen either. As for Harlequin Mills and Boon, I read my first one on the plane home from my very first Romance Writers of Australia conference (a gorgeous Marion Lennox story which I still have on my keeper shelf). To be honest I didn’t even know the first book I wrote (later published as BY THE SWORD) was a romance. I was, in short, a romance fail.
So I suppose it is little wonder that my own writing cuts across all these influences – romantic action adventures with action, mystery, murder, ghosts, time travel – sometimes all in the same book. Even with my latest story LORD SOMERTON’S HEIR, which is my first venture into the world of the Regency, the romance is bounded by a murder mystery that must be solved before the hero and heroine approach anything like a happy ever after. I think I can quite safely describe my style of writing as cross genre!
Just recently I started trawling Ebay looking for copies of my childhood favourites. Having them back on my bookshelf with the familiar covers, is like being reunited with old friends.
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE CHILDHOOD BOOKS?
Thanks, Alison, that was fascinating. And yeah, I get you on THESE OLD SHADES, although as a pre-teen when I first read it, the age difference didn’t strike me the way it does now. Good luck with Lord Somerton. I loved GATHER THE BONES and this looks like another winner!