Keep Calm and Read This! ~The Matchmaking Game by Donna Hatch~

Keep Calm and Read This! ~The Matchmaking Game by Donna Hatch~

I’m honored to have best-selling author Donna Hatch visit today. She has a new novella debuting April 18th, but we get a sneak peek here … and it’s available for preorder!


Title: The Matchmaking Game
Heat level: Sweet (clean)
Genre: Regency Romance
Length: Novella ~ 126 pages

 
 
Rowena’s childhood friend, Evan, has returned home from war a handsome, but mysterious stranger. In an effort to bring happiness to her father, not to mention uncover the Evan she remembers from their youth, Rowena seeks to unite their parents. Who better to match a lonely widow and widower together than their adoring children? Her matchmaking game could help their parents find happiness and draw out her childhood friend buried beneath Evan’s new reserve … or it could break more than one heart.

With a gesture at a basket tied to the saddle, she said, “I had Cook pack plenty of those seedcakes Nurse Murray likes so well, as well as lemon tarts for you.” She made a face. “I’ll be sure to grab one before you devour them all and leave me with nothing but crumbs.”

He laughed softly. “Would I do that?”

Her impish grin filled him with sunshine. “It was your habit.”

With a flippant shrug, he teased, “It was for your own good. I didn’t want you to get too fat.”

She made a gesture to her waistline. “Do I look like I need someone to monitor my eating habits?”

He made a perusal of her, letting his gaze travel from her face downward, slowly, but forgot he was supposed to be teasing her. Instead, he took a really good look. Fourteen-year-old Rowena had been as curvy as a blade of grass. Twenty-three-year old Rowena, with her figure accentuated by her fitted riding habit—so much more flattering than the normal, high-waisted gowns of the day’s fashions—had the graceful, generous curves of a Greek statue of Aphrodite. A new tightness formed inside his chest.

Rowena looked at him as if she’d never seen him before. Surprise, and something almost smug, deepened the gray of her eyes. She put a hand on a hip. “Like what you see, Captain?”

He tugged at a suddenly strangling cravat and cleared his throat. “Forgive me. You’ve changed.”

“How kind of you to notice,” she said dryly. “Give your major a leg up?”

With a smile at her reference to the honorary rank he’d given her, Evan dismounted. He laced his fingers together so she could mount her horse. A pert smile came his way before she placed her left foot in his cupped hands. She put one hand on his shoulder to steady herself as he boosted her up. Her soft body brushed his arm and chest. Her scent, something soft and feminine he could not name, tingled his senses. Mere inches away, her smooth cheek and moist lips taunted him. His chest squeezed, and his knees wobbled. Awareness of her, of the desirable woman she had become, rendered him immobile. She glanced at him, one brow raised, and a half smile curving those luscious lips. A burning energy formed in the middle of his stomach and shot outward like sunbursts.

She parted those lips and spoke. “Am I too heavy for a big, strong man like you?”

“Er, no. Of course not.” He cleared his throat again and boosted her up with a bit too much force.

Despite his aggressive boost, she placed her right leg over the leg rest of the sidesaddle and found her balance. She settled the long, heavy skirts of her riding habit around her, while he helped position her left foot in the stirrup.

With the reins in one hand and her riding crop in the other, she eyed him with an expectant lift to her brows. “Shall we?”

He shook his head, stopped staring, and mounted Otoño. It must be all Winnie’s talk about courting Rowena that had him so rattled. He couldn’t entertain such an idea. He’d made a vow to Joseph and all but promised himself to Cynthia. Besides, as an additional benefit, Cynthia’s dowry could restore the family fortune without having to sell off some of its most precious assets and break up generations of holdings. His path was already paved. Honor and duty dictated his next move.

Click Here to Pre-order on Amazon today!

Donna Hatch, author of the best-selling “Rogue Hearts Series,” is a hopeless romantic and adventurer at heart, the force that drove her to write and publish seventeen historical romance titles, to date. She is a multi-award winner, a sought-after workshop presenter, and juggles multiple volunteer positions as well as her six children. Also a music lover, she sings and plays the harp, and she loves to ballroom dance. Donna and her family recently transplanted from her native Arizona to the Pacific Northwest where she and her husband of over twenty years are living proof that there really is a happily ever after.

Click HERE to receive the first novel in her Rogue Hearts series for free.

Click HERE to subscribe to Donna’s newsletter.

Connect with Donna on social media:

 

 

 

And don’t forget to always #ReadARegency!

Keep Calm and Read This! Tara Randel ~ A Heartwarming Christmas

Keep Calm and Read This! Tara Randel ~ A Heartwarming Christmas

I know, I know – it’s not even Halloween yet and here I go with Christmas.

Obstinate Headstrong Girl author Renée Reynolds. Guest author today - Tara Randel!

But this is a 99¢ pre-Christmas goodie set from 15 romance authors. One of the contributors, Tara Randel, stopped by today to share a bit about it.

Obstinate Headstrong Girl author Renée Reynolds. Guest author today ~ Tara Randel!

We have a few more months until holiday mania arrives, but it’s never too early to get excited. Before you know it, it’ll be Thanksgiving. Food, football and Black Friday shopping! Just as quickly, it will be time to string colorful lights outside, decorate the tree and wrap presents for loved ones. I’m one not one of those who wishes to celebrate Christmas year round. I love the anticipation, the months of excitement leading up to those special days in December. Then on to New Year’s resolutions.

What are the things I look forward to during the holiday season? Making memories tops my list. I love spending time with family, relaxing and reminiscing. Add some good food to the mix and as far as I’m concerned, the holidays are a success.

When my daughters were young, I loved shopping for presents. I actually enjoyed braving the mall and toy stores. There is nothing like the magic of a child tearing into the wrapped gifts under the tree on Christmas morning. When my daughters got older, opening presents was fun, but nowhere near as entertaining as when they still believed in Santa. I’m looking forward to the time when I have grandchildren and the magic returns.

Some folks look forward to the cold weather and hope for a white Christmas. Not me. It doesn’t snow where I live, and I can honestly say I don’t miss the cold, white stuff one little bit. Beautiful winter landscape pictures are enough for me.

In Cooking Up Christmas, Gabi Fortier, general manager of the Blue Spruce Mountain Resort can’t wait to reopen the lodge just in time for Christmas. She has big plans to decorate from top to bottom. But not if Simon Tucker, new head chef, has anything to say about it. At least in the dining room, that is. Or on the menu. The kitchen is his domain, no matter how Gabi tries to convince him otherwise. 

“Look at this.” Henry chuckled as he withdrew a stack of what looked like large Christmas cards. Gabi scooted closer as he handed her the collection.

“They’re old menus,” she said as she sifted through the lot. “From holiday dinners. Going back to…the sixties.”

“Ash’s grandmother loved cooking for the holidays. Her husband indulged her and every year had a grand menu printed up for the guests.”

“This is incredible. What a cool piece of history.” Gabi placed the menus on her lap. Fingered the edge of the one laying on top. So much love had gone into Christmas preparations here. Gabi wouldn’t let it slip away. “I have an idea.”

Simon still didn’t look thrilled. “Why do I know I won’t like it?” 

She stood. “Why not go through the old menus? Pick out a few favorites dishes and add them to the Christmas Eve feast list.”

“I have the menu planned.”

Cringing at his stubborn expression, she said, “Which is probably as far from traditional as you can get.”

“What’s wrong with new?”

“Nothing. But people love to be nostalgic over the holidays.” She spread her hand out over the room. “Just like people love decorations, reminding them of happy years. The joy and wonder of waiting for Santa when you were a kid. Or Christmas as a new parent, seeing it through your kid’s eyes. Everyone remembers something special from a Christmas gone by. So we need to offer them a glimpse of Christmas past.” 

Simon’s scowl grew deeper.

“This isn’t about your cooking skills, Simon. It’s about giving our guests an experience they’ll never forget.”

I hope you enjoy Cooking Up Christmas, one of three stories in Holiday Heroes, part of A Heartwarming Holiday, 15 connected sweet holiday stories. Find out just how Gabi and Simon wage their battle of wills over Christmas tradition. Pre-order now to make sure you have a copy just in time for the holidays. I can see a warm fire and a cup of hot cocoa calling your name!

This holiday season, warm your heart with 15 connected sweet, clean & wholesome holiday romances set in Christmas Town from 15 Harlequin Heartwarming authors who are USA Today, national bestselling, and award-winning authors.

There are five connected books in A Heartwarming Holiday. That means each set of three novellas shares characters and storylines! This collection of PG-rated holiday romances are all set in Christmas Town, Maine, a location introduced in the 2014 Harlequin Heartwarming release Christmas, Actually.

Obstinate Headstrong Girl author Renée Reynolds. Guest author today ~ Tara Randel ~ with Cooking Up Christmas

Obstinate Headstrong Girl author Renée Reynolds. Guest author today ~ Tara Randel ~ with Cooking Up Christmas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grab your copy today!

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Obstinate Headstrong Girl author Renée Reynolds

 

 

Obstinate Headstrong Girl author Renée Reynolds

Obstinate Headstrong Girl author Renée Reynolds

 

 

 

 

Guest author Tara Randel visits Obstinate Headstrong Girl author Renée Reynolds

Tara Randel is an award-winning, USA TODAY bestselling author of twelve novels. Family values, a bit of mystery and, of course, love and romance, are her favorite themes, because she believes love is the greatest gift of all. She is currently working on new stories for Harlequin Heartwarming, The Business of Weddings series, as well as books in a new series, Amish Inn Mysteries. Visit Tara at www.tararandel.com. Like her on Facebook at Tara Randel Books.

 

Regency Romance Turns 80

Regency Romance Turns 80

A Quiet Read by William Kay Blacklock, possibly circa 1900

A Quiet Read by William Kay Blacklock, possibly circa 1900

This week bids farewell to 2015, and the year-long commemoration of the Regency romances of Georgette Heyer by The Beau Monde chapter of Romance Writers of America.

We hope it’s been a year of meeting new book friends, revisiting old favorites, and celebrating all things Regency! From her first book, Regency Buck, to the last, Lady of Quality, Heyer introduced the world to the exciting, intriguing, and multi-faceted Regency era.

Take a peek at the offerings below to see if you missed any book profiles this year. Each author would love for you to visit their sites as well, to learn more about what and why they write.

Thanks for tottling along with these Beau Monde authors and indulging our admiration for Georgette Heyer!

The Beau Monde Celebrates the 80th Anniversary of Regency Romance

 

Keep Calm and Read This! Guest Post by Shanna Hatfield ~ The Christmas Vow

Keep Calm and Read This! Guest Post by Shanna Hatfield ~ The Christmas Vow

2015-Cowboy-Christmas-Blog-Tour

Welcome to the 2nd annual

Cowboys and Christmas

Blog Tour!

Raising funds and awareness for the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund

Ring in the Holidays with a Helping Hand

JCCF logoNovember 1 through Dec. 24, 10 percent of the net proceeds from all Shanna Hatfield book sales will be donated to the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund. The JCCF is a non-profit organization that assists rodeo athletes who’ve sustained catastrophic injuries and are unable to work for an extended period. Every book purchased during this promotional period adds to the donation total. Don’t forget to add books to your Christmas lists!

 An Interview with Three Cowboys

Today, Shanna Hatfield brings together the heroes from her sweet contemporary Rodeo Romance series.

Tate Morgan is a saddle bronc rider out to claim a championship title and the girl he loves in The Christmas Cowboy, the first book in the series. Wrestlin’ Christmas, the second installment, shares Cort McGraw’s story as a sidelined steer wrestler who falls for a widow down on her luck. In Capturing Christmas, Kash Kressley is a rodeo stock contractor who barely has time to sleep. Then he rescues a feisty rodeo photographer at a rodeo and life will never be the same.

Welcome. Tell us a little about you.

 
Tate: I live on the ranch that my grandfather started back in the early 1900s. We’re about thirty miles from Kennewick, Washington, where we primarily raise beef cattle, wheat, and hay.
Cort: I used to live near Boise, Idaho, until my sister shanghaied me and dumped me at Tate’s door. Now, I live on a ranch about fifteen minutes away from the Morgan place with my wife and son.

 
Kash: My family recently moved from Arizona to Twin Falls, Idaho, so we could expand our rodeo stock business. I don’t spend much time there, since I’m on the road most of the time, heading to the next rodeo.

 

Tells us about your involvement in the rodeo?

 
Cort: A year ago in April, I did a number on my knee when I jumped off my horse to wrestle a steer at a rodeo. I knew the moment I hit the ground I wasn’t walking out of the arena. The doctors all assured me I either stop competing or cripple myself for life. Since I like the ability to walk, I’m now happy to be a rancher.

 
Tate: It wasn’t the end of the world, man. After all, your injury is what led you to your lovely wife. As for me, I competed as a saddle bronc rider until I fell in love with a beautiful girl. Technically, I competed one year after that, and finished my career as a world champion. (Tate looks to Kash) In fact, I think it was on one of your horses.

 
Kash: Yeah, it was. You put in a great ride that night. I’m the behind the scenes guy who brings broncs, bulls and roping steers to the rodeos. My grandfather started the rodeo stock business back in the 1950s. There isn’t a single thing I’d rather be doing.

 
Cort: (Snorts) Except making calf eyes at my sister.

 

What’s your favorite holiday tradition?

 

Kash: It’s three bachelors at our house. We don’t do much of anything, except warm up the turkey dinner our housekeeper leaves in the freezer for us before she heads off to spend the holidays with her daughter.

 
Tate: (Shakes his head.) That is just pathetic, man. You have to at least string lights or something this year.

 
Cort: Watch out or the Christmas cowboy will drive all the way to your house to spread his special brand of Christmas cheer. As for me, my favorite holiday tradition is eating. (Chuckles and rubs a hand over his flat stomach.) I do enjoy all the treats that seem to accompany the holiday season, but I think Christmas Eve is my favorite part of the holiday. My family goes to church, then we sit around a crackling fire and visit before my Dad reads to us. It’s just a nice time to connect and unwind with the people I care about most. And my beautiful wife and I will celebrate our first anniversary that evening.
Tate: It’s the time spent connecting with those we love that make the holiday special – and the treats. I never turn down a good holiday cookie.

 
Cort: Or cake, or pie. Or…

(Tate slugs his arm)

 

Can you tell us a little about the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund?

 
Tate: It’s an amazing organization that steps in to help injured rodeo athletes when they’ll be out of work for while and are facing financial hardship.

 
Cort: Both of us were fortunate not to require assistance, but the JCCF is a lifesaver for some rodeo families.

 
Kash: I see cowboys injured all the time. JCCF really is a blessing for the athletes who face a long recovery time.

 

Thank you for joining us. Any parting words for our readers?

 
Tate: If you enjoy, sweet western romances, I hope you’ll consider reading our stories in The Christmas Cowboy, Wrestlin Christmas, and Capturing Christmas.

Here’s an excerpt from The Christmas Cowboy
“Dewdrop, I didn’t think you’d be able to make it.” He took her hand in his and squeezed her fingers. The warmth in her eyes as she gazed at him made his heartbeat kick into overdrive. Maybe she cared about him more than she wanted to admit.

The jubilant smile on his face made her glad she raced through her presentation, ran through the hotel as if the building was aflame, and pleaded with the taxi driver to put some hustle in it so she’d arrive at the rodeo on time.

Wrestlin-Christmas-promo-Amazon-1

From Wrestlin’ Christmas
Tall and brawny, Cort McGraw happened to be one of the most handsome men she’d ever seen. From his silvery-gray eyes rimmed with black eyelashes to the dimple in his all-too-attractive chin, she wished Kenzie had given her some warning. If she’d known what he looked like, that he was so young, rugged, and hunky, she would have told Tate not to bother sending Cort to her place.

Mercy, he smelled good, too. Even now, his manly, musky fragrance filled her senses. Annoyed with herself for savoring his heady scent, she brushed at her nose, hoping to chase away the lingering aroma of his aftershave. 

Capturing Christmas 1

 
And from Capturing Christmas
Kash Kressley was a fine male specimen in his cowboy gear, but dressed in a black tuxedo, he looked like he belonged on a movie screen. The simple lines of the tux outlined his broad shoulders and chest while highlighting the length of his legs. Without a hat on his head, she took in his thick brown hair, cut short with a tousle of finger-tempting waves on top.

His scent infiltrated her senses, scattering her thoughts in the direction of crisp mountain air, soft snowfall, and a winter fire. There wasn’t a man alive she found half as handsome and appealing as Kash Kressley.

~*~

New Releases

To kick off the second annual Cowboys and Christmas Blog Tour and the JCCF campaign,
two brand new holiday romances will release Nov. 12!

 

Capturing Christmas Cover Capturing Christmas is the third installment in the sweet holiday western Rodeo Romance series.

Life is hectic on a good day for rodeo stock contractor Kash Kressley. Between dodging flying hooves and babying cranky bulls, he barely has time to sleep. The last thing Kash needs is the entanglement of a sweet romance, especially with a woman as full of fire and sass as the redheaded photographer he rescues at a rodeo.

Determined to capture the best images possible, rodeo photographer Celia McGraw is fearless and feisty. Not one to back down from a challenge, her biggest risk isn’t in her work. Danger lurks in the way her heart responds to one incredibly handsome stock contractor. Will Kash and Celia capture the spirit of the season?
Pre-order your copy today! http://amzn.to/1FC8ZQj

Rodeo-Romance-Block-for-web
Get all three books in the Rodeo Romance series!

 

The Christmas Vow CoverThe Christmas Vow is the fourth book in the Hardman Holidays sweet Victorian romance series.

Columbia River Pilot Adam Guthry returns to his hometown of Hardman, Oregon, after the sudden death of his best friend. Emotions he can’t contain bubble to the surface the moment he sees the girl who shattered his heart eleven years ago.

Widow Tia Devereux escapes her restrictive life in Portland, returning to the home she knew and adored as a girl in Hardman. She and her four-year-old son, Toby, settle into the small Eastern Oregon community, eager for the holiday season. Unfortunately, the only man she’s ever loved shows up, stirring the embers of a long-dead romance into a blazing flame. When her former father-in-law, a corrupt judge, decides he wants to raise Toby, Adam may be the only hope she has of keeping her son.
You can pre-order your copy today for only $2.99! http://amzn.to/1KQHhvI

Hardman-Holidays-block for web
Don’t miss out on the Hardman Holidays series!

 

Guest Author Sign

You’re Invited to PARTY!

You’re invited to join in the online Cowboys & Christmas Facebook Party, Thursday, Nov. 12 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (PST). Drop in anytime during those four hours to enter to win great prizes, chat with guest authors, and more (many of the giveaways will stay open until the following morning)!

Here’s the link to the party: http://tinyurl.com/cowboychristmasparty2
 

The talented guest authors joining in the celebration include: 
10 a.m. – Carmen Peone 
10:30 – Kayla Dawn Thomas 
12:30 – Rachel Rossano 
1 p.m. – Author Kristin Holt 
1:30 – Dani Harper
Grand Prize Photo

Enter to Win Prizes!

To enter the drawing for an Amazon gift card, Wrangler Tote Bag, Rock & Roll Cowgirl T-shirt, autographed books, chocolates, and more fun goodies, fill out this form. Winners will be randomly drawn and announced Nov. 16. http://tinyurl.com/cowboychristmasprizes2

Where to Find The Books

The Christmas Cowboy Cover
Start the Rodeo Romance Series with The Christmas Cowboy.
 
christmas bargain cover
Travel back to a time of grandeur in the old west
with the Hardman Holidays series.
The Christmas Bargain begins the popular series
and is available free for a very limited time!

 

About Shanna Hatfield

Shanna Hatfield 2Convinced everyone deserves a happy ending, hopeless romantic Shanna Hatfield is out to make it happen, one story at a time. Her sweet historical and contemporary romances combine humor and heart-pumping moments with characters that seem incredibly real.
When she isn’t writing or indulging in chocolate (dark and decadent, please), Shanna hangs out with her husband, lovingly known as Captain Cavedweller.
This USA Today bestselling author is a member of Western Writers of America, Women Writing the West, Romance Writers of America, Sweet Romance Reads, and Pioneer Hearts.

Find Shanna’s books at:

Amazon | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords | Apple

 

Shanna loves to hear from readers! Follow her online:

ShannaHatfield | Facebook | Pinterest | Goodreads | You Tube | Twitter
Make sure you sign up for her newsletter to get the latest on new releases and exclusive giveaways!

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Frivolous Friday ~ The Persuasion of Captain Wentworth

Frivolous Friday ~ The Persuasion of Captain Wentworth

I readily admit to being easily amused, and GIFs are a delightful diversion. What better way to usher in the weekend than with a completely frivolous, utterly unnecessary, and probably insipid post telling the story of Persuasion via quotes and Captain Wentworth GIFs.

“We live at home, quiet, confined, and our feelings prey upon us.” Chapter 23

 

 

 

 

 

 

“No: the years which had destroyed her youth and bloom had only given him a more glowing, manly, open look, in no respect lessening his personal advantages. She had seen the same Frederick Wentworth.” Chapter 7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“His cold politeness, his ceremonious grace, were worse than anything.” Chapter 8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“She had thought only of avoiding Captain Wentworth… ” Chapter 9

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Now they were as strangers; nay worse than strangers, for they could never become acquainted.” Chapter 8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“The evening ended with dancing. On its being proposed, Anne offered her services, as usual, and though her eyes would sometimes fill with tears as she sat at the instrument, she was extremely glad to be employed, and desired nothing in return but to be unobserved.” Chapter 8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“You pierce my soul.” Chapter 23

 

 

 

 

 

“I am half agony, half hope.” Chapter 23

 

 

 

 

 

“Thus much indeed he was obliged to acknowledge – that he had been constant unconsciously, nay unintentionally; that he had meant to forget her, and believed it to be done.” Chapter 23

 

“He had imagined himself indifferent, when he had only been angry; and he had been unjust to her merits, because he had been a sufferer from them.” Chapter 23

 

“What! Would I be turned back from doing a thing that I had determined to do, and that I knew to be right, by the airs and interference of such a person, or any person I may say?” Chapter 23

 

"No, I have no idea of being so easily persuaded. When I have made up my mind, I have made it.”

“No, I have no idea of being so easily persuaded. When I have made up my mind, I have made it.” Chapter 10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Dare not say that a man forgets sooner than a woman, that his love has an earlier death.” Chapter 23

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“There could have never been two hearts so open, no tastes so similar, no feelings so in unison, no countenances so beloved.” Chapter 8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“…when pain is over, the remembrance of it often becomes a pleasure.” Chapter 20

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“There, he had seen every thing to exalt in his estimation the woman he had lost, and there begun to deplore the pride, the folly, the madness of resentment, which had kept him from trying to regain her when thrown in his way.” Chapter 23

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“You alone have brought me to Bath. For you alone, I think and plan. Have you not seen this?” Chapter 23

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“A word, a look, will be enough to decide whether I enter your father’s house this evening or never.” Chapter 23

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Who can be in doubt of what followed? When any two young people take it into their heads to marry, they are pretty sure by perseverance to carry their point, be they ever so poor, or ever so imprudent, or ever so little likely to be necessary to each other’s ultimate comfort.” Chapter 24

Keep Calm and Read This! Jude Knight ~ A Baron for Becky

It’s my pleasure to welcome Jude Knight, author of Candle’s Christmas Chair and Farewell to Kindness. She’s also one of the fabulous Bluestocking Belles. I’ve asked Jude to give us some insight into the history behind her new release, A Baron for Becky. She sent along an informative peek into the role of women during the Regency, and has a gift for one lucky commenter!

A Rake's Progress, William Hogarth

A Rake’s Progress, William Hogarth

Sex and the City

Life in the real Regency wasn’t all Almack’s, balls, and house parties. Even in the households of the rich and titled, a woman’s comfort and happiness depended very much on the character of whatever man headed her household—father, brother, husband. And a highly structured society where women were expected to be chaste and modest, and men to have broad experience, meant an ever-present potential for disaster.

In the lesser ranks of society, a woman might be valued for her skills, her personality, her knowledge, or whatever underpinned the economic contribution she could make to her family. A slip from chastity could be forgiven. Even a child out of wedlock was not necessarily an irretrievable disaster. An extra pair of hands was, after all, an extra pair of hands.

For ladies of the gentry, any smudge on the character threatened the wellbeing of the family. Ladies were decorative rather than useful; educated for little beyond amusing themselves and running a household. Their economic value lay in the family connections created through their marriage, in the children, or more particularly the sons, they would bring into the world.

English landowners practiced primogeniture, a form of inheritance designed to keep an estate unified. Primogeniture meant that lands, titles, and rights were passed intact to the deceased lord’s eldest son. If the right to rule will be passed from father to son, then a family has a great deal invested in making sure that a wife sleeps with no one but, and certainly no one before, her husband. Virginity became a necessary precondition for a good marriage.

Assuring a potential husband of the virginity of a particular maiden meant—as we who read historical romances set in those times know—setting all kinds of restrictions around young ladies. It wasn’t enough to be a virgin; a marriageable girl of gentry class must never be in circumstances that allowed gossips to speculate about what she might, or might not, have done. Reputation was everything. The loss of reputation was the end of a girl’s (and her families) hope of a ‘good’ marriage.

Our romances offer many paths to those who fall from grace. Her family might rally round to prove our heroine’s innocence. An angry father or brother might force a marriage which becomes a love affair, or the other party to the offence might volunteer. Exile to the country might lead to her true virtue being discovered by a neighbour, or she might be pursued by her seducer who has finally realised that he truly loves her.

In some books, the heroine becomes one of the tens of thousands of women earning her living from the sex trade in Georgian London. Generally a mistress of a man or a succession of men. More rarely, a prostitute in a brothel or in the streets.

That’s the premise for my character, Becky. In the novel, we meet her nine or ten years after her father threw her out. Just think of it. A gently-born girl, raised with few skills beyond flower arranging and embroidery, always treated with courtesy and respect, taught nothing about her own sexuality, suddenly cast into the streets to make her own way. What must that have been like?

In historical romance, our heroines survive the horror and the abuse (or, in some books, manage to bypass it all together) to eventually find the mandatory happy-ever-after. In real life, few were so fortunate. An early death was more likely: from sexually transmitted diseases, complications of pregnancy or abortion, drink and drugs taken to dull the senses, or all of these together.

A Baron for Becky has a happy ending, though not (I hope) an entirely predictable one. In the end, I found myself writing about marriage rather than prostitution. Becky has had a hard life, and it has left scars. Her happy ending does not come easily. But then, that’s life.

About the Book ballerina script

She was a fallen woman when she met them. How can they help her fall on her feet?

Becky is the envy of the courtesans of the demi-monde – the indulged mistress of the wealthy and charismatic Marquis of Aldridge. But she dreams of a normal life; one in which her daughter can have a future that does not depend on beauty, sex, and the whims of a man.

Finding herself with child, she hesitates to tell Aldridge. Will he cast her off, send her away, or keep her and condemn another child to this uncertain shadow world?

The devil-may-care face Hugh shows to the world hides a desperate sorrow; a sorrow he tries to drown with drink and riotous living. His years at war haunt him, but even more, he doesn’t want to think about the illness that robbed him of the ability to father a son. When he dies, his barony will die with him. His title will fall into abeyance, and his estate will be scooped up by the Crown.

When Aldridge surprises them both with a daring proposition, they do not expect love to be part of the bargain.

A Baron for Becky is rated R for implied sexual content, 2 out of 5 flames.

BfB cover final small

 

Aldridge was early. She crossed to the sideboard where she kept his favourite brandy, and was pouring him a glass by the time she heard his steps in the hall. Two sets of steps? Who did Aldridge have with him?

The other man was as tall as Aldridge, but dark to his fair. He must once have been stunningly handsome, and one side of his face was still carved by a master; subtle curves and strong planes combining in a harmonious whole that spoke of strength and, in the almost invisible network of lines at the corners of his eyes, suffering.

On the other side, dozens of scars pitted and ridged the skin, as if it had been torn and chewed by an animal; an animal with jaws of flame by the tell-tale burn puckers. Thankfully, whatever it was had spared his eye, which, she suddenly realised, was glaring at her.

“Well,” he demanded, and she was shaken anew by his voice, rich and mellow. She had been staring. How rude. But for some reason, she didn’t apologise as she should, but instead blurted, “I was just feeling glad that what injured you spared your eye.”

He looked startled, and suddenly a lot friendlier. “Thank you. I am glad too.”

That voice! That voice! He could read a linen inventory and she would listen for hours.

“An unusual approach to an introduction,” Aldridge observed. Becky collected herself and smiled at her protector. “No one is more important than the man who keeps you,” a mentor had once told her. “When he is present, you notice no one else except as it reflects well on him.”

And Becky had never before had her attention so focused on a guest that she had been unaware of presenting her cheek to Aldridge for his kiss, giving him the expected squeal in return for his squeeze, and returning the kiss.

“An introduction would be polite, Aldridge,” she said.

“My dear, you have heard me speak of my friend, Baron Overton.”

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About the Author ballerina script

 

 

 

Jude Knight writes strong determined heroines, heroes who can appreciate a clever capable woman, villains you’ll love to loathe, and all with a leavening of humour.

Jude KnightJude Knight is the pen name of Judy Knighton. After a career in commercial writing, editing, and publishing, Jude is returning to her first love, fiction. Her novella, Candle’s Christmas Chair, was released in December 2014, and is in the top ten on several Amazon bestseller lists in the US and UK. Her first novel Farewell to Kindness, was released on 1 April, and is first in a series: The Golden Redepennings.

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Jude will give an ARC copy of A Baron for Becky to a commenter chosen at random from those who comment by 25 July. Don’t forget to leave your contact information when you comment below! ↓↓↓

My Top Ten Clankers in Regency Romance

My Top Ten Clankers in Regency Romance

via Reddit.com

via Reddit.com

Earlier this week, I wrote of the terrific slang term clanker, meaning “a great lie.” The imminently quotable philosopher Barney Stinson once said of clankers:

A lie is just a great story that someone ruined with the truth.

For real.

As an author of Historical Regency Romance, there are few things as frustrating as writing what you think is a terrific scene only to find out through research that your situation could not have happened for another fifty years. Or that the words you think made your dialogue Oscar-worthy weren’t even thought of for another five generations.

Pffft.

I love history and I love research, so it’s no chore for me to dig deeply into archives and contemporaneous resources to find the meat for my stories…but this does not make me hung up on being 100% historically accurate 100% of the time. Care should be taken to be as authentic as possible, but there is room for creativity and invention without completely disregarding archival facts. I like characters with independent, curious natures and sparkling wit, but they can still be properly attired and mannered when in Society (though not necessarily in private!). As an author, I have to set up my narrative in a way that makes the anachronism plausible and thus acceptable in my story.

credit: Trevor Hudgins http://tinyurl.com/pcc9ygm

Abe Lincoln. Word. Credit: Trevor Hudgins http://tinyurl.com/pcc9ygm

If we can all find some common ground and agree to the premise that Regency romance is fiction and that some artistic license is allowed, can there still be errors that bump readers out of our time period, and thus out of our stories? Most definitely.

Some errors – whether accidental or purposeful – are so egregious that readers say they have to physically restrain themselves from throwing their Kindles against the wall. When accidental, we authors have a responsibility to learn from and vow not to repeat those mistakes. When purposeful, we authors need to support our choices: by explanation in the notes at the end of the story, by context in the anachronistic scene, or by consistent narrative that makes the error necessary and relatable to our entire plot. It’s a fine line to walk, and care must be exercised to make sure the historical embellishment (such as the educated and politically-minded heroine) doesn’t stray into the implausible (said heroine decides to stand for her deceased father’s seat in Commons because she must fight for her neighbors’ rights).

It’s a gamble to play fast and loose with historical fact. When successful, it’s wonderful (“I love this book!” gushes one reviewer). When it fails (“This book needs to be burned with fire!” raves a reviewer)…well…it just fails.

Just as it’s unreasonable to have doctors shock patients back to life with a MRI or cars maneuvered by gear sticks rather than steering wheels, I think there are some clankers in Regency romance that need to be phased out. I’ve made a list of the ones that bother me enough to eliminate.

So much anachronism, so little time. Austenland (Sony Pictures Classics and Stage 6 Films).

So much anachronism, so little time. Austenland, Sony Pictures Classics and Stage 6 Films

My Top Ten Clankers in Regency Romance:
(in no particular order)

1. The engagement notice to the newspapers. Some marriages had notices placed, but never betrothals.

2. The threat or bargain of a simple annulment or divorce. Annulments occurred due to ineligibility of the participants (someone was too young or the guardian’s permission was not granted) or inability of the male (ahem). Divorce was even more difficult. Both were ugly, drawn-out, and expensive. See Nancy Mayer’s thorough explanation on Dissolving a Marriage.

3. The overnight elopement to Gretna Green. Only if you begin the trip in Yorkshire.

4. The heroine must marry by age 20 or be “on the shelf.” I admit I’m torn about this one. A simple check of parish registers reveals marriage of the extremely young to be the exception rather than the rule among the peerage…but I do love a good “almost a spinster” storyline!

5. The threat of disinheritance of the heir apparent by the parent/guardian. This clanker is usually tied to the main plot of why the hero marries the heroine (i.e., the hero is threatened with the loss of peerage unless he produces an heir, nabs a respectable wife, changes his rakehell ways, etc.). The heir’s title cannot be withheld or given away; parents and peerages were stuck with the firstborn. In book three of my Lords of Oxford series, Earl Crazy, the earl grandfather petitions parliament to amend the Letters Patent of the Aylesford Earldom to change the line of succession. Change could take place, but not via threats, just arduous and slow parliamentary procedure. Better to just blackmail and bully the heir with penury; parents didn’t have to send along enough of the ready to run the peerage.

6. The heroine is alone with the hero (or any unrelated male) and thus compromised. This situation alone didn’t force marriage. Extenuating circumstances were called for: her skirts up around her waist; traveling alone, especially overnight; those discovering the twosome demand satisfaction (through duel, marriage, etc.). If all parties agreed to just let it lie (or let it lay; I can never remember the grammar here), there was no scandal.

7. The Upper Ten Thousand. Not until the Edwardian era. The Regency featured the ton, beau monde, and Society (to name a few).

8. The necessity of permission from Almack’s patronesses to waltz. There is zero/zilch/nada contemporaneous documentation for this entrenched clanker. The earliest documentation of the concept occurs in the novels of Georgette Heyer. Several reputable research sites still list this myth as fact, which only strengthens the truth behind the adage of always going to the source. In a review dated 16 July 1816, a writer from the London Times reported:  “We remarked with pain that the indecent foreign dance called the Waltz was introduced (we believe for the first time) at the English court on Friday last.” This was the King’s Birthday Ball. Although the waltz had been danced in England much earlier than this (privately, and especially in the country and by the lower orders), the writer notes that inclusion at the Kings Birthday Ball will make the popularity of the waltz spread like disease. Despite this writer’s near apoplexy over the dance, no mention was made of permission nor patronesses. It seems were there a way to stem the tide of its unfettered acceptance, this writer would have stressed any restrictions.

“So long as this obscene display was confined to prostitutes and adulteresses, we did not think it deserving of notice; but now that it is attempted to be forced on the respectable classes of society by the civil examples of their superiors, we feel it a duty to warn every parent against exposing his daughter to so fatal a contagion.”

9. The legitimization of a bastard. Never. Ever. A natural child could be included in a will to receive money or unentailed property, and they could be acknowledged openly by the family, but they could never claim legitimacy nor be put in the line of inheritance.

10. The concept of adoption. Much like a bastard, an orphan or foundling could be taken in and receive money or property in a will, but there was no concept of adoption as we know it. This can be confusing because bringing an orphan or foundling into the home was called adoption – but it’s not a legal term, just a familial one.

His Royal Highness George, The Prince of Wales, in Blackadder the Third.

His Royal Highness George, The Prince of Wales, in Blackadder the Third.

🌟 11. BONUS: The misuse of titles. I’m going all-in on this clanker, which probably deserves a rant post of its own. When writing about the aristocracy,  there’s just no escaping the necessity of proper address and use of titles. Could a reader ever take seriously a story set in a hospital where the doctor was always addressed “Mr. Randall?” Likewise, would it pull a reader out of the story if nurse Stephanie Smith was addressed as Doctor Smith in her scenes? That’s a contemporary example of the misuse of titles. I’d love to declare a universal embargo on lordly dukes and baronets (His Grace and Sir FirstName, if you please), married ladies going by their first names, and unmarried ladies sporting title names. Does anyone else hear nails on a chalkboard? To be in the know, reference Nancy Mayer, Laura Ann Wallace (Chinet), or venerable Debrett’s.

I write Regency romance and will be the first one to admit that I make multiple mistakes; some are discovered before publishing, and some slip through the editing net and go live. It is a difficult job to keep everything straight all the time. But guess what?! It’s my genre and I’m sticking with it. With great power comes great responsibility – the responsibility to do all that I can to thoroughly research and produce an authentic product.

So what do you think? Did I miss some big clankers? Are any of these lovelies too delightful to stop using? Is clanker too harsh a word – would you prefer “trope?” Am I too nitpicky? Tell me what you think in the comments below!