There are moments in a TV show or a movie where your heart is swelling, swooning, and maybe even breaking all at the same time. It’s that perfect, crystalline moment — the culmination of all looks, touches, and hints where … Continue reading
Since I started writing stories, poetry, and eventually books, I have tried writing fantasy, contemporary romance, thriller, science-fiction, urban fantasy, speculative fiction, paranormal romance, and stories I haven’t even a clue as to how I would categorize them. However, I find that I keep coming back to writing historical romance. Today, I thought I’d list some of the reasons why I find myself drawn to this genre.
1. The Social Rules and Etiquette
One of my favorite time periods tends to be Regency and Victorian, particularly in London but I’m starting to expand my gaze to consider France and Italy. I haven’t looked at the U.S. during that same time period, but I think it’s because I get too many painful flashbacks of junior high American History class and I can’t write through the draining boredom and nausea. As an American, I know that horrible of me to say, but we can only hope that changes one day. But anyway…. I like the strict rules of the time period — the expectations of both the men and the women. Sure, a lot of my female characters like to break, or at least bend, those rules, but as I writer I like boundaries. When I’m given a limited space in which to work, I find it exciting because then I must find interesting and unexpected ways to surprise the reader. It’s like the old locked room murder. A dead body is discovered inside a room locked from the inside. How did the killer do it? I approach stories in which the characters live within a narrow, rule-strict society with the same enthusiasm.
2. The Slower Flow of Information Creates Opportunity
In our current society, everyone is armed with a smartphone. If we have a question about something, we grab our phones and in a matter of seconds we can look it up on the internet, call someone, or text someone. There’s no delay for anything any more. We don’t have to wait. We don’t have to come up with alternatives if we can’t get the information in time to make a decision. Say you’re trying to research something but you think some violent thugs are possibly trailing you. However, you can’t make a quick phone call to verify this information. You don’t have a smartphone that can save you … but you could quickly duck into a closet in the middle of the British Museum while you formulate a plan to escape. (Just ask Hunter and Charlotte.) The lack of quick, easy information means my characters have to be more creative and have several plans of attack if they are going to survive.
3. Horse and carriage
Don’t get me wrong. I love fast cars. I love sleek machines of steel and carbon fiber that growl when you press on the gas. But I love putting my characters on horseback to go careening through the woods at a breakneck pace. The thundering of the hooves on the earth, the pounding of the rider’s heart in time for his mount. There’s something about this chase that harkens back to our animal instincts of hunting and pursuit. And it goes without saying that there’s so much fun that can happen in the back of a close carriage on a dark night. (Just ask Drake and Cathryn.) But I think there’s also something regal in the elegant horse-drawn carriage.
4. The Parties
Speaking for myself, I’m not a party person. Actually, I live in cripple fear and dread of parties. I’m not social. I’m horrible at small talk and just generally awkward. But when I’m writing about the ton in London during the Regency or Victorian era, it’s all about the parties. People are constantly going to balls, dinners, soirees, the opera, masked balls, garden parties, house parties in the country, and more. These people are constantly finding a reason to get together, dress up, dance and drink. And all the interesting things happen at these parties. People are dancing with the wrong people, people are sneaking off into gardens to do naughty things, and people are being murdered when other people aren’t looking.
5. Stiff, Reserved Grumpy Men Falling in Love
Sure, we’ve got stiff, reserved grumpy men in present day, but these men are different. Men in present day don’t have to marry if they don’t want to. Men from the past were titled and they were expected to marry someone else who came from a titled family. They were not looking for love. In fact, they didn’t want to fall in love. They just wanted to have a legitimate heir and a wife that stayed out of his hair so he could go back to his mistress to have the kinky fun. And then it happens… She surprises him. She gets under his skin and he just can’t let her go. These men are so often cold, spoiled, and cruel, but when they fall in love… sigh … it’s a beautiful thing.
What are some reasons why you like historical romance novels?
Whether we’re watching a movie or reading a book, we find ourselves drawn back to the same couples over and over again. We love their story, their trials and their triumphs. Today I thought I would list my 10 favorite romantic couples. These are the ones that I’m drawn to again and again because they make my heart sing.
10. Benedict and Beatrice — Much Ado About Nothing
Thank you , William Shakespeare. They are the original, snarky couple. I love their smart alec remarks, their egos, and the wonderful intervention of their friends. I read the play for the first time when I was in junior high school and I fell in love.
9. Cupid and Psyche
A Classic Greek myth about a god falling in love with a beautiful woman. It’s a wonderful tale of trust and violation, love and what we will do to be worthy of that love. If you’d like to read more about Cupid and Psyche, click here.
8. Mickey and Minnie
Is there any cuter couple than Mickey and Minnie Mouse? They’ve been together forever and their love is still as strong as it ever was. As a princess, she’s loved him as a brave little tailor. As a little shop girl, she’s loved him as a lowly delivery boy.
7. Bruce Wayne and Andrea Beaumont — Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
Ahh…. this one is reaching back quite a bit into my childhood. Released in 1993, this movie showed a glimpse of a young Bruce Wayne and the one shot he’d taken at falling in love, in finding happiness after the death of his parents. This is a tragic love story that still makes me cry whenever I watch the movie.
6. Westley and Buttercup — The Princess Bride
As you wish. It’s a classic tale of true love, action, fencing, danger, sports. It has the most romantic kiss of all time. Sometimes, you just can’t give up on the thing your heart wants most. Sometimes you have to sacrifice to protect it. And sometimes you have to risk everything to hold it close.
5. Han Solo and Princess Leia — Star Wars
They appear to be a wonderfully mismatched pair. She’s a princess and he’s a scoundrel. But it just so happens that she likes scoundrels. The leader of a rebellion, Leia doesn’t mind getting her hands dirty. And well… Han… yeah. You understand.
4. Rapunzel and Flynn/Eugene Rider — Tangled
They are such a wonderfully fun couple. Rapunzel is a sheltered girl who is eager to experience everything she can about the world around her. Flynn is a good-hearted scoundrel who is trying to live a life of adventure while making a better life for himself. Sure, he’s a little bit of a thief, but he’s got a heart of gold.
3. Joker and Harley Quinn
You can’t find a more sinister or dysfunctional couple than Joker and Harley. He’s evil to his core, but he somehow manages to love his poo. And no matter how much abuse he dishes out, Harley will always stand by her Mister J.
They’re creepy and their cookey. And all together ookey. But Morticia and Gomez know how to keep the romance alive. They are always there for each other, showing each other how much they love each other. Sure, their expressions of love are a little strange, but it’s still a deep, beautiful love.
1. Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett — Pride and Prejudice
Ahh…. my all-time favorite couple. They are almost cliche at this point, but something about Elizabeth and Darcy make my heart sing. They are stubborn and proud, but so wonderfully matched. I could read the book and watch the movie constantly and never get enough of Darcy and Elizabeth.
So they are my favorite romantic couple. Who are your favorites? Who would you add to my list?
If you’d like to meet some new romantic couples, you can give Drake and Cathryn a try from my Stolen Kisses at Midnight novella. Or you could spend some time with Hunter and Charlotte from my What a Lady Treasures novel. It is currently on sale for $0.99 on Kindle.
Yesterday, I gave you a sneak peek at the rough draft of Dancing with a Devil, which features Archer from the Hidden London series. I’m currently torn on which book I want to look for. So today, I am giving a sneak peek at another story I’m working on. I’m not sure if this will be part of the Hidden London series or … a different book series.
Would you like to read it?
Moira stared up at the various rows of glass vials and containers that held her collection of herbs, flora, and other sundry bits that she used when mixing up her herbal remedies for the lovely ladies of London society. After a quick perusal she picked up a vial that contained dried lavender. She added several dried sprigs of it to the bowl of other herbs and proceeded to crush it with her white pestle. When it was all ground to a fine powder, she carefully poured it into a white envelope. She was closing the envelope and putting the vials back on the shelf when there was a knock at the door.
“Come in,” she called, tucking a stray auburn lock behind her ear as she slid down from the wooden stool she had been perched on. Her butler opened the door, looking displeased at the prospect of disturbing his mistress while she was working.
“Forgive me, my lady, but Mrs. Winthrop has arrived. She says she has an appointment to see you at two o’clock. I’ve placed her in the blue salon. She is quite eager to see you,” he said stiffly.
“Thank you, James. I just have to give this to Lady Barrymore in the music room, and then I will go in to see Mrs. Winthrop.”
“There is another young lady to see you as well,” he grimly said. “She wouldn’t give her name and she came by way of the kitchen door. What should I do with her? I tried to tell her that she would have to come back, but she would not be put off.”
“That’s fine. My meeting with Mrs. Winthrop should be brief. Place the young lady in the conservatory. Bring her some refreshments and tell her that I will see her as soon as I can,” Moira said as she breezed out of the room with James closing the door behind her. The butler nodded and headed off for the back staircase that led to the servants’ quarters and kitchen. Moira bit her lip in thought as she walked down the front staircase. She wondered who the young woman was and what wanted, but she knew that she would have to put it from her mind for now.
Placing a smile on her lips, she opened the door to the cheerful yellow music room where Lady Barrymore was patiently waiting, daintily sipping her tea. She hadn’t been pleased at putting the high ranking Lady Barrymore in the music room, but her two previous appointments had yet to leave when Lady Barrymore arrived. She’d had no choice if she wanted to give the woman some privacy.
“Thank you for waiting so patiently, Lady Barrymore. I have what you need,” Moira announced, as she swept into the room. Sitting in the chair beside the older woman, she handed her the white envelope.
“Just put a couple pinches of it in your bath. Make sure that the water is hot and that you soak for at least twenty minutes. It should not only relieve those leg cramps that you’ve been having, but help you relax. I use a similar mixture when I have headaches. I steep it in some hot water and let the scent fill the room.”
“Thank you so much,” the woman said, placing the envelope in her reticule. “I had to turn down a dinner engagement last week because I could hardly walk.”
Moira frowned for a moment in thought. “Are you keeping your legs elevated on cushions when you are alone at home?”
Beatrice Barrymore sighed heavily and waved a hand absently at Moira. “Dearest, you know the season has started once again. Everyone is in Town now, so I hardly know a moment’s peace to place my feet up.”
Moira suppressed a smile as she nodded. Despite the fact that Beatrice’s own two daughters had been wed for several years now, Lady Barrymore always maintained a busy social schedule as if she were making her own debut. “You might want to consider having your shoemaker tailor make something special for you; something made only of soft fabric and leather with no heels. You could just wear them around the house. It would be a great deal easier on your feet and legs and no one would ever have to know.”
“That is a splendid idea! I will have to try that,” she proclaimed with a little clap of her gloved hands.
“Please write me and tell me if what I made works. If it does, I’ll send some more over in a couple of days. I put lavender in it, but if you don’t like it I have rose, lilac, or heather that I could use.”
“Thank you again. This should be fine. I’m quite fond of lavender as you know.” Lady Barrymore set her reticule aside and picked up her tea again, but paused as if a thought suddenly struck her. “By the by, has Lady Davenport been to visit you yet?”
Moira shook her head at the nosy woman that she had known since she was a child. Beatrice was a sweet woman and had been a close friend of Moira’s mother, but she was also a known gossip and busybody. “Now you know I can’t tell you that. I have promised secrecy to all of the ladies that come to see me,” Moira chided her.
“Of course, forgive me. It’s just that she was by to see me a couple days ago and she told me that she was having trouble sleeping. I told her to just forget her doctor. They don’t know what they’re talking about. I told her we had an expert right in our midst and that she had to come see you immediately. I’d be shocked if she didn’t come right over. You are just a miracle worker, my dear.”
“Thank you. I am flattered,” she said with a light blush. The truth was that Lady Davenport had visited that morning, but Moira would never admit it.
Like her mother before her, Moira had a skill with traditional herbal remedies. She could easily craft draughts for cramps, headaches, back aches, sore feet, colds, and sleeplessness. Before her death, Anice had been the one all the ladies of London came to secretly see for all their aches and pains. Months after her sudden death, Moira stepped into the role, displaying both the same skill and delicacy her mother had shown. In less than a year, Moira had become the best-kept secret that every lady in London knew.
“Now, I must beg your pardon. I do have someone else who is waiting to speak to me. Feel free to rest here and have another cup of tea if you like,” Moira said, rising from her chair.
“Thank you, but I must be going,” Beatrice said as she placed her tea cup and saucer back on the little table before her. “I have some other errands to run today, but you will be coming to my little dinner party in three days.” It should have been a question, but from Lady Barrymore, it was a statement.
Moira tried to look sternly down at the older woman, but the corners of her mouth kept trying to quirk into a smile. “I will as long as this isn’t another matchmaking attempt on your behalf.”
“I wouldn’t dream of it,” she said, rising from the sofa. “It’s a small little dinner party. No more than thirty or forty people at most. There are several young men and women about your age who are going to be there along with members of the old guard like myself. I’ve given up on trying to find you a husband.”
“No, you haven’t, but I appreciate the effort,” Moira chuckled. “I shall see you then.” She gave a brief curtsy and swept back out of the room, smiling.
Lady Barrymore was a tall, robust woman with a strong opinion and a loud voice. She was highly regarded by the London ton. It also helped that her family was connected with the royal family and that she married a duke. She was exceedingly wealthy and was long used to getting her way. She had been close friends with Moira’s mother Anice before she died. As a result, Lady Barrymore had taken Moira under her wing, keeping her up to her ears in social gathering once she made her debut at the age of nineteen. Unfortunately, that had been four years ago and Beatrice was still determined to see Moira married despite the young woman’s efforts to avoid such a fate. She had made several less-than-subtle attempts to match Moira with a husband, but all had been met with failure. But the duchess remained optimistic and determined.
With Lady Barrymore settled, Moira hurried to her meeting with Mrs. Winthrop. It was a quick meeting as usual. Mrs. Winthrop ran a fashionable millinery on Bond Street and stopped in about once a month for an herbal draught that helped her sleep. Apparently, the woman’s husband snored very loudly, keeping her up at nights. The two women usually chatted for a couple of minutes before Mrs. Winthrop rushed off. Her shop was always busy and she loathed being away from it for any length of time, particularly during the season.
With her regular appointments out of the way, Moira walked back to the conservatory. A small stone path led to the back of the all-glass room that was currently filled with bright afternoon sunlight. The walls were lined with flowers and herbs of all kinds. Most were extremely rare and had been shipped from great distances. At the end of the path was a small waterfall that fed a stream that led to the other end of the large room. Beside the waterfall was a white wicker pair of chairs and a table. A girl sat perched on the edge of the one of the chairs. She was stuffing cakes and sandwiches into her mouth as if she had been starved most of her life. And by the look of her tattered clothes and dirt-smudged face, Moira thought that she probably was.
“Good afternoon,” Moira said brightly, startling the girl. She instantly jumped from her chair and curtsied awkwardly. She looked unsure of what she was supposed to do. Fear made her nervous and Moira had a feeling that she wanted desperately to run from that place.
“G’ afternoon, my lady,” she said softly, keeping her eyes lowered.
“Please, sit.” Moira took the seat across from the girl and smiled. While Moira poured herself some tea, she took the chance to sneak a closer look at the girl. It was hard to judge how old she was and could only guess that it was between fourteen and eighteen. She was exceedingly thin and had dark circles beneath her large, brown eyes.
Moira took her time, trying to think of some way to put the girl at ease. She sipped her tea and sat back in her chair. For a moment, she was just grateful to have a minute to herself to relax. She had been running herself ragged since the season had officially started two weeks ago with the ton having returned to Town.
“May I ask your name?”
“Betsy. Betsy Potter,” the girl mumbled, keeping her hands tucked under her legs.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Miss Potter. I’m assuming you know that I am Moira Stanhope. Please, feel free to have a sandwich. Mrs. Riley makes the best chicken salad in London, I believe.”
“Oh, yes. They’re wonderful!” the girl replied, looking up at Moira for the first time with an animated expression.
“I’m glad you like them. I’ll pass it along to Mrs. Riley. She’s complains that I am far too picky and don’t eat enough.”
Moira took another sip of tea and set the cup down. The truth was she was tired of drinking tea. She had already seen six different women and each time she had taken tea with them. Moira owned four different tea serving sets and they were rotated throughout the day to keep up with all her visitors. A pot of water was always boiling for the next woman who would walk through the door.
Moira stared at the girl, trying to discern why she had shown up on her doorstep. The vast majority of the women who sought out Moira’s herbal remedies were members of the ton with considerable social standing. There were a few, such as Mrs. Winthrop, who owned shops, but she couldn’t imagine any of those women gossiping with someone like poor Betsy Potter. It wasn’t Betsy’s lack of social standing that bothered Moira. She was determined to help her regardless because it was the right thing to do. Her worry was whether she could help her. The herbal remedies she made were for minor aches and pains.
“What is it that I can do for you, Miss Potter?”
The young woman dug into the pocket of her dress and produced a pristine white envelope.
Moira was stunned. She hesitantly accepted the letter and automatically flipped over the envelope to look at the wax seal still intact, but she didn’t recognize the symbol pressed into it.
“I didn’t read it, ‘cause I can’t read,” Betsy said quickly.
Moira smiled at her reassuringly. “I believe you,” she said, as she carefully broke the seal and opened the envelope to withdraw the single piece of paper. She expected a request for help, an invitation, anything but the dark threat that rose up from the neatly written letters.
My Dearest Moira,
Long have I watched you. I have watched you on your early morning ride through the park and know of the six different apothecaries you visit for the herbs that you do not grow in your conservatory.
Does your mother’s death still haunt you? Can you see her in your mind lying on the ground in a growing pool of her own blood? The Turtle Doves and Tawny Owls cried at her death. Did you hear them?
And you now search for me. Don’t worry, my dear. I’ll leave you a trail. I took her eyes, and, in the end, I will have your heart.
“My lady, are you ill?” Betsy demanded, snapping Moira’s attention from the horrific letter. Her hands were trembling and she was as white as the sheet of paper she clasped. Moira forced herself to nod, closing her eyes for a moment in a desperate attempt to order her scattered thoughts. She carefully folded the letter and put it back in the envelope.
“Betsy,” she said, trying to steady her voice. “Do you remember the person who gave you this letter?”’
“Not really.” Her eyes darted away for a second, dropping down to her hands tightly clenched in her lap before she looked back at Moira. “You see, he grabbed me from behind and told me to deliver the letter to Lady Stanhope. When I got away and looked back, he’d already disappeared into the crowd. I never saw him.”
Moira frowned, but then she wasn’t surprised. “What about his voice? Did he sound like a gentleman?”
“Yes, he had a deep voice like he was a big man and talked all proper like.”
“Did he have an accent? Did he sound foreign?”
“No, I’d say he was from London.”
Moira sat back in her chair and sighed. A voice. A vague description of a voice was all she had to go off of. It could be anyone. The letter was right on too many counts. She had been searching for her mother’s killer during the past five years, but she’d made so very little progress. It would have been wonderful if Betsy Potter has seen the man who gave her the letter, but Moira would not be deterred.
“Am I in trouble, my lady?” Betsy inquired, seeming to shrink in her chair.
“No, Betsy,” Moira said, trying to brighten her demeanor for the girl even though her stomach was twisting into knots. “Everything is fine. If you will excuse me, though, I have a little matter I need to take care of. But I want you to rest here. Have some more to eat and I will have my butler give you a reward for delivering this important message for me.”
“Thank you, my lady,” Betsy said, jumping from her chair and awkwardly curtsying as Moira left the room clutching the letter tightly in one hand.
She had just entered the main hall when she saw James leave the front parlor, shutting the doors behind him.
“Lady Gravely has just arrived. I told her you were in another interview, but she insisted,” James informed her.
“I didn’t think I had another appointment this afternoon,” she said, stuffing the letter into the pocket of her dress.
“My guess is that Lady Gravely has another sore throat,” James said with a slight frown.
“Probably. Hold on the tea. I may have her in and out before it is necessary. Besides, I couldn’t possibly drink another cup.”
“Yes, my lady. Has your other guest left?”
“Not yet. Please give her a few pounds out of the desk in my study and have Mrs. Riley put together some food for her in a basket.”
“I will. Anything else?”
“Have any letters arrived today?”
“Eight invitations, I believe. The season has once again started.”
“You need not remind me. I have half a mind to rusticate in the country this year,” she grumbled. James only raised a doubtful brow, saying nothing. He had been with her since she was a child and dared a little more than most would in his position. He knew her better than any other member of her staff. Moira would stay in London as long as she thought someone needed her help.
Moira started to walk toward the front parlor and paused before turning back to James. With a motion of her head, he followed her into the rarely used front study. “I believe Stefan will be visiting soon as well,” she said as she pulled the letter from her pocket and handed it over to James.
The butler hesitated for only a second as he looked questioningly up at Moira. With a curt nod from his employer, he pulled out the letter and quickly read it. The older man’s only visible reaction was a flush to his cheeks and his eyes growing wide. He cleared his throat as he folded the letter and placed it back in the envelope. “This was delivered by the young lady?”
“Yes, but she never saw who gave it to her.”
“That is … unfortunate.”
“I have the feeling that this only the beginning. Stefan needs to know about this. My mother’s killer will not escape.”
It was on the tip of James’s tongue to say that Moira needed to be more concerned with her own neck that getting vengeance for her mother, but he swallowed back the words. “Understood. I believe we have acquired some new staff members who are not acquainted with Lord Stefan’s … eccentricities. I’ll see that they are reassigned away from the front rooms for the time being.”
Moira gave a little snort at James’s choice of words. “Yes, I’m sure Stefan will be popping in at odd times as we hunt. No need to upset anyone.”
“Very good,” he said, bowing to her.
Moira grabbed the butler’s hand as he started to turn away. “We will get him,” she fiercely whispered.
James graced her with a rare, reassuring smile. “Yes, we will,” he said, but his heart ached with worry for the young woman. He knew if she did not succeed, she would be killed like her lovely mother.
Sooooo… do you have a preference? Dancing with a Devil (you can read the first chapter here) or the paranormal historical romance? I’m sure that I’ll write both but I can’t decide which to work on next.
If you haven’t had a chance to meet Archer from Dancing with a Devil, you can get your first introduction to him in What a Lady Treasures. The novel is currently on sale for only $0.99 on Kindle.
Have you tried it?
Now is a great time to meet Drake, Cathryn, Hunter, and Charlotte! What a Lady Treasures is currently on sale for only $0.99 on Kindle. Charlotte and Hunter’s story a historical romance with a bit of mystery and a bit of action and adventure. In addition, you get to visit with Drake and Cathryn, who you first meet in their own story, Stolen Kisses at Midnight.
I had a lot of fun writing Charlotte and Hunter’s story. But a new character had caught my attention by the end of their book. Archer Greyson. He is a deliciously wicked man who refuses to be a hero for me, but I couldn’t help being drawn to him. There was just something in his grin and devilishly good looks that left me determined to find a woman who could capture his heart.
I am currently working on his book, which will be called Dancing with a Devil. The man has been such a troublemaker, but so darn fun. Would you like to read the first chapter of Archer’s book?
As you wish.
A breeze stirred, carrying with it a hint of lilac from the newly blooming bushes near the end of the stone patio. Archer closed his eyes, enjoying the soothing cool air after the stifling heat of the crowded ballroom. While the thought of escaping to the card room was tempting, it was unlikely that the trapped air would be any less oppressive. A walk through the gardens would be far more comfortable, and judging by the sound of the approaching footsteps, he was going to have company on his stroll.
Opening his eyes, he was greeted with the sight of the lovely Lady Beatrice Downing as she walked toward him with a very determined expression. Shadows slid across her voluptuous form, accentuating her curves while her full lips were already positioned in an enticing pout. But then this experienced lady was well aware of what she needed to do to bend a man to her will. Archer was simply amused that the woman thought any of it would work on him.
“I’ve been looking for you, Lord Greyson. You promised me a waltz,” she chastised. She folded her arms under her breasts so that they were nearly tumbling out of her dangerously low-cut gown.
“I found the heat of the ballroom tiresome,” he said. Lifting his left hand, he lightly ran his fingers along the edge of the material, skimming across the tops of her breasts. A shiver ran through the woman and he smiled. “I was thinking of walking through the gardens to enjoy the cool night air. Would you care to join me?”
Beatrice’s pout was instantly replaced with a seductive smile. “I would love to. Maybe I will be able to help relieve you of your discomfort.” Slipping her hand into the crook of his arm, Beatrice snuggled close before they started across the stone patio toward the gravel path that disappeared into the thickening darkness.
They had barely gotten a few steps when a woman softly called out to him. Archer looked up to see Lady Iris Neely hurrying toward him, also with a very determined expression. Lady Iris had been his bed companion last night and he had been sure she understood that last night had no bearing upon tonight. Iris had been entertaining but Beatrice was finally giving up her coy games and appeared more than willing to take Iris’s place in his bed.
“There you are, Archer,” Iris purred as she latched onto his free arm. “I thought we were going to stroll through the portrait gallery this evening.”
Archer raised one eyebrow at the young woman. “Yes, well considering last night’s diversion, I didn’t think the stroll was necessary.”
“But of course it is. You know how I adore your company,” she said with a pout that wasn’t quite as enticing as Beatrice’s. But then Iris was still young, working on her first husband and third affair. She would learn, which only put a wicked thought into his head.
“Lady Downing and I were about to take a walk in the gardens. Would you care to join us?” he offered.
Iris smiled coldly up at Beatrice, tightening her hand on his arm. “I’m not intruding, am I Lady Downing? A walk would be so refreshing.”
“Of course not,” Archer quickly answered with a wicked grin. “I’m sure the good lady wouldn’t mind your assistance. She was going to get on her knees and give me some blessed relief with her lovely mouth. I think it would only enhance the moment if you were to use your lovely mouth on her breasts.”
Iris blushed bright red while Beatrice snickered at the woman. “You wish to have both of us … at the same time?” Iris demanded in a scandalized whisper. “Can…you…do that?”
“Yes. Why? Do you think we should add another?” Archer asked, trying to keep from laughing but it was becoming difficult now that she was opening and closing her mouth without making a sound, looking like some poor fish pulled from the Thames. “If you don’t mind waiting, we could go hunting for your husband. Then we could all compare and contrast.”
Iris jerked away from Archer, an outraged gasp jumping from her. Turning sharply on heel, she marched back into the ballroom, disappearing into the crowd.
Lady Downing’s laughter rang across the patio as she tightened her hand on Archer’s arm, claiming her prize. He turned his gaze to the remaining woman, feigning confusion. “That’s a shame. I was also going to offer to find your husband, but last I saw, he was on his knees in the library with his head under Lady Dunnsbury’s dress.” His wicked grin returned when the lady flushed and her laughter abruptly ended. “You must consider yourself the luckiest woman in all of London considering how she was screaming under his tender ministrations.”
The loud crack of her palm landing against his cheek echoed through the silence. Archer’s grin never wavered as he watched Beatrice march back into the ballroom with his spine ramrod straight and her head held high. It was widely whispered about London that Lord Downing didn’t touch his wife; not that estrangement between a husband and wife was an unusual thing in the ton. Archer had been curious as to how Beatrice felt about it despite the fact that she engaged in one affair after another with careless abandon. That certainly answered his question.
With a sigh of relief, Archer stepped off the patio and wandered along the gravel path in the darkness, grateful to finally have a moment alone. The house party thrown by the Wilkinsons had been a debauched affair, as he expected, but he’d quickly gotten bored with the entire thing. Unfortunately, it was well after midnight, making it too late to start for London safely. While the party was to go on for another several days, he was eager to be away, back in his own townhouse. Though he’d never admit it aloud, he was growing tired of women like Beatrice and Iris. He was tired of the predictability of it all.
London wasn’t much more enticing. It was more of the same, particularly now that Drake and Hunter were blissfully wed. Bastards. How dare they leave him alone to rot in the summer heat surrounded by bored wives, simpering maidens, and scheming mothers? Not that he could truly begrudge his two closest friends their happiness since they seemed to have found the only two interesting and honorable women in all of England.
But what was he to do now? Marry? Absolutely not. A shudder swept through Archer and he sighed. Marriage was not for him. There had to be something else.
Reaching up as he passed under the low branch of an oak tree, he broke off a leaf and twirled it about by the stem. There was only one answer to his boredom.
He would simply have to start a scandal.
….what do you think? Does Archer sound like fun? I’ve been having a lot of fun working with him and the woman he will fall in love with, but he’s been fighting me most of the way.
However, I’ve been tempted by another story I’m working on. It’s a historical romance but it has a slight paranormal bent to it. Later this week, I’ll give you a sneak peek at that story and you can tell me which is your favorite.
If you want to read more about Archer before his book comes out, check out What a Lady Treasures.
While wandering around Amazon recently, I stumbled across a series of historical romance novels with an interesting twist that had me absolutely hooked. Let me tell you about them…
On a whim, I purchased Shelly Thacker’s Forever His. This was labeled a time-travel romance. Now I love historical romance and I love books with a paranormal element, but I’ll admit that I’m not a big lover of time travel books. I think it’s because I struggle to believe someone from present day (with our dependence on smart phones, internet, and anything electrical) would be able to survive in any era that’s pre-1900s. But … I thought I’d give it a try.
You know what? I loved it! Ms. Thacker’s writing was superb and I was constantly on edge wondering “How in the world is she going to bring these people to a happy ending?”
Here is the back cover description:
On New Year’s Eve, she tumbles 700 years back in time–and into the bed of a darkly dangerous knight.
Sir Gaston de Varennes wanted a docile bride who would fit into his plans for vengeance and justice, but a trick of time finds him married to a thoroughly modern American lady who turns his castle, his life, and his heart upside down. Will her desperate secret tear them apart after only a few bittersweet weeks of stolen passion–or will they conquer mistrust, treachery, and time itself to discover a love that spans the centuries?
The hero and heroine are fighting time in an interesting way. You want to hit the hero over the head with a chamber pot half the time, but that’s what makes it fun.
After finishing the book, I immediately jumped back onto Amazon (who is currently loving my impulsive book shopping recently) and purchased His Captive Bride. Also part of the Stolen Bride series, this one isn’t time travel but it does have an interesting paranormal aspect. In fact, it’s an idea I can’t recall seeing used before. What also had me hooked was the that heroine in this book appeared as a side character in Forever His.
Here is the book description if you’re curious:
She’s swept away to a hidden island paradise filled with pleasures… and secrets.
Abducted from a trade fair by a mysterious warrior, Lady Avril de Varennes awakens on Asgard Island, an enchanted paradise cloaked in mists and mystery, kept secret from the world for centuries. Against her will, Avril weds her arrogant captor, Hauk Valbrand–even as she vows to escape. Hauk believes himself beyond the reach of love, until his fiery captive bride begins to melt his heart of ice. But soon he must reveal the stunning truth about Asgard and its people–and Hauk and Avril must choose between love and honor, duty and desire… now and forever.
I didn’t think I’d like this one because I’m struggle with kidnapped heroines falling in love with their captors, but I withheld judgment since Ms. Thacker so won me over with the first book. You know what? I loved this one too! So I bought the final book in the series, His Forbidden Touch, which is technically the second book in the series. However, this proves an important point — you don’t have to read the books in order to understand what’s going on.
His Forbidden Touch fits the Stolen Bride series, but I can’t recall any kind of paranormal elements. Regardless, it was a fantastic book, just as strong as the others, though I wish one of the other characters from the previous books had made a little appearance . The book description follows:
She may never reach her royal wedding if she can’t resist the rugged mercenary assigned to protect her.
Disgraced ex-knight Royce Saint-Michel was banished from his homeland because of an impulsive act that cost him all he held dear. Now, he has the chance to reclaim his birthright–if he agrees to protect a princess on a journey that may prove deadly to them both.
Royce must escort the lovely Princess Ciara across a war-torn land to her royal wedding… and ensure that she arrives untouched. The two set off alone on a treacherous journey through snowy mountain passes, but forbidden desire soon proves even more dangerous than the assassins on their trail. With the fate of two kingdoms hanging in the balance, will Royce and Ciara do as honor and duty demand… or surrender to the longing in their hearts?
I haven’t started any of Ms. Thacker’s other books yet, but then I’m trying to work on some of my own projects at the moment.
And do you know why I tried Forever His? Because it just happened to be on sale for only $0.99. (And it’s still on sale). So, in the hope of getting other people to give my historical romance stories a try, I have put What A Lady Treasures on sale for $0.99 for the next week.
And if you find that you enjoy that book, you can try out the prequel novella Stolen Kisses at Midnight. I would also greatly appreciate it if you would consider leaving a brief review or ranking if you like the book. Of course, if you don’t like the book, you can review or ranking as well.
I hope you like these reading suggestions.
We made it!
Ok… Technically we made it a while ago, but we’ve been unpacking and fighting with the movers and trying to find random things, etc. This is one of the first random, quiet moments I’ve had in a while, and I thought I would spend it with you.
Here’s the scoop:
My husband, dog, cat, and I packed up the house. Mover arrived and loaded it all into their big truck except for what I could cram into my little car. A day later, we began what became a very long drive south. The first day was 18 hours in the car and we got just south of Atlanta. On the second day, we were in the car about 10 hours. Our poor puppy was such a good trooper but I could tell that he was getting really tired of being trapped in the car.
At about 5pm on Friday, we pulled into the apartment complex and sighed with relief. The place is beautiful, the sun was shining, and the air was blissfully warm after too much cold and snow. Our new apartment is soooo big and our patio looks out onto a lake. Before work, I’ve been sitting on the patio, watching the fountain as I eat cereal. It’s a peaceful way to start the day. Even my cat Demona has been spending time out on the patio. She loves watching the squirrels and wading birds as they pass by.
After a week, we haven’t done a lot of exploring but we’ve found some of the basics such as pizza, grocery, Target, the mall, bookstore, GameStop – you know, the important things in life.
The first weekend, we unpacked more boxes, but the stuff we brought down is pretty much settled. We’ve got a number of things to repurchase, but it can wait for now. This weekend is about exploring and writing … er… rather editing. We’re going to visit one of the local beaches this weekend and do a little shopping. Then I am settling down behind the computer to write.
I’ve been traveling frequently due to work and the multiple flights have caused me to pick up some random things for reading recently. On a whim, I started reading The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. It’s a book I’ve read in the past, but this time around I find myself highlighting some of my favorite chunks.
Today, I wanted to share this quote:
“When I like people immensely, I never tell their names to anyone. It is like surrendering a part of them. I have grown to love secrecy. It seems to be the one thing that can make modern life mysterious or marvelous to us.”
This quote stood out to me because we keep so little secret now. With Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and all the other social media outlets, we are constantly updating the world on where we are, what we’re doing, who we’re with, and what we’re thinking. There’s no mystery left in our lives and I can’t bring myself to understand this need to share every little bit of ourselves.
My fear is that we’ve reached this point as a people that we can only receive validation for our live through an external locus. And at worst, that validation is coming from a total stranger — not someone we respect and admire. We rarely look in the mirror or to a trusted person to come to the realization that we’ve done something wonderful or laudable. We turn to the faceless masses to be our moral compass and gauge of self-worth.
What’s more, our reaction to someone who shun all social media is frightening. What’s your immediate reaction to the idea of a twentysomething who doesn’t have a Facebook account? Confusion? Horror? Disbelief? Revulsion? Distrust? A person without a Facebook account must obviously be hiding something horrible, right? A person can’t be trusted if you can’t instantly pull up a webpage that lists all their likes, dislikes, interests, friends, political affiliations, etc.
We’ve abandoned the art of conversation for quick 140 character comments and forgotten the thrill of discovery, preferring the immediate gratification of a single web profile. I don’t want to live in a world where people believe that all the wonderful facets of a person’s identity can be summed up by social media. But by posting everything we see, eat, do, and think, we’re trying to make it so. Are we being reduced to a series of sound bytes and witty memes?
What if we became selective about what we shared about our lives and who we shared that information with? The value of that information would rise significantly. Consider an experiment. You can share only one piece of personal information via social media per day. That’s only one tweet or comment, or Like or Share, or Repin per day. Think about how selective you’ve just become. You’ve got only one.
What if you were permitted only one per week?
The value of that information just shot through the roof.
Here’s another angle: Think of the person receiving that information. They know you’re permitted only one tweet, post, Like, etc. per day or week. Don’t you think the receiver suddenly feels more valued because you sent them the information. That sense of worth and respect goes up when they realize that the information wasn’t sent to the entire world but to a small group of carefully selected individuals.
Of course, you’re probably thinking: Joy, you’re an author. Isn’t your goal to reach as many people as possible with your books? No, not really. I write romance novels so that genre limits my audience to lovers of romance. Within that, I write historical romance, narrowing the field even further. While the information is open to the world, the message has been tailored. And even still, I’m cautious about revealing personal information. Readers are here for the writing — not what I had for breakfast.
I guess what I’m wondering here is that if we are more careful about what we post on social media, wouldn’t it be that much easier to cut through the morass of crap to reach the true gems of wisdom. And by using caution, won’t we also show more respect for our audience?
Maybe I just miss the pleasure of asking a person about their day without having read about it already on the Internet.
Do you miss the mystery?
Don’t worry. I’m still alive. I am in the middle of a large move. I’m packing up the house and Lady D so that we can move a little farther south for a new job. I haven’t been able to get a lot of writing done recently as I become accustomed to the new job, pack up the house, and find a new place to live. It’s been a little crazy, but I’m trusting that my subconscious has been working on the story while I’ve been busy trying to figure out what I need to get rid of and what needs to be packed.
Since I’m up to my eyeballs in boxes and cleaning supplies, I’ve got something to keep you busy as well. The first full-length novel in the Hidden London series, WHAT A LADY TREASURES, is on sale for only $0.99. Yep, for only a dollar you can get a full-length historical romance. What’s it about? A secret baby, Egyptian treasure, murder, disguises, and true love. It’s a Regency roller-coaster ride.
1825 – Coventry, England
London believed Hunter had killed a man for treasure.
Charlotte Worthington has returned to England after five years of travel to find a baby on her doorstep and a note from his frightened mother. Yet, Charlotte’s quest to help the poor woman becomes more complicated as it will also mean unraveling the mystery of a lost Egyptian treasure. But can she trust known Egyptologist Hunter Beckett when London whispers of murders and betrayal surrounding the keys to the treasure?
Charlotte was his strength.
Hunter had endured the cold shoulder of London for far too long to care about the rumors that circulate about him. He thought he could be happy with his work and his few close friends, but his world changes when a stubborn hazel-eyed beauty requests his help searching for answers to a lost treasure. Now he’s willing to risk everything to keep her safe from the cutthroat villains hunting for a treasure tied to a baby and his mother.
For more information, please click here to see WHAT A LADY TREASURES for Kindle.
And if you find that you need a little more of the characters in the Hidden London series, you can also pick up the novella, STOLEN KISSES AT MIDNIGHT. It’s only $2.99 and it’s the story of how Drake and Cathryn fell in love.
Thanks for trying my stories! Happy reading!
Just in time for Cyber Monday! Stolen Kisses at Midnight is on sale for Kindle for only $0.99 for the next week. (Sale ends on Sunday!) If you’ve been on the fence about trying my novella and starting the series, this is a great time. It’s only a dollar! When I wrote the story, it was just over 100 pages long, so that comes up to spending less than a penny a page for entertainment.
Stolen Kisses is the love story of Cathryn and Drake. Drake fell in love with Cathryn three years ago, just as she announced her engagement to another man. Yet before Cathryn could marry, her fiance died while away in India, leaving her to fall into a period of deep depression. Now she’s trying to climb back into the world of the living and Drake is there to show her all the things worth living for — and he’s hoping that he can prove to her than he’s one of them.
The novella also introduces you to Hunter, who is the hero of the first Hidden London novel, What a Lady Treasures. Hunter helps Drake when Cathryn find herself in danger and at risk of scandal. Hunter’s story is also now available for Kindle.
After you’ve finished shopping for your family and friends, treat yourself this Cyber Monday to a Christmas story of love and adventure.