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A Romantic History by Lynne Shelby

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A Romantic History by Lynne Shelby

A boy and a girl grow up together in the country and fall in love. He is lured away by a sophisticated woman from the city, she is pursued by two other men, but eventually the young couple get back together and marry. It sounds like the plot of a romantic novel – and it is – but this particular book, ‘Daphnis and Chloe,’ was written in ancient Greece, around 1,800 years ago. Unsurprisingly, as they were written on papyrus scrolls, only five romantic novels have survived from that time, but I like to imagine that the ancient Greeks, when they weren’t inventing politics, philosophy and maths, liked nothing better than to settle down with a cup of wine and a good romance!

Daphnis & Chloe

Skip a few centuries to the Middle Ages, and people were still reading or listening to love stories, particularly tales of heroic knights rescuing damsels in distress and winning their love. The epic poems and other fiction of Medieval times aren’t ‘novels,’ as we think of them today, and they have far fewer happy endings than we might like, but they are certainly romantic, and the names of the couples whose often doomed love affairs are told by Medieval authors are still well known – think of Tristan and Isolde or Lancelot and Guinevere.

Tristan & Isolde

Another popular romance was that of Troilus and Cressida, which takes place against the background of the Trojan War. In the 14th Century, Chaucer, better known as the writer of the ‘Canterbury Tales,’ wrote a version of this story, ‘Troilus and Criseyde’ in which the hero doesn’t believe in love – until he sees the heroine. He falls for her, she falls for him, there is an exchange of love letters, a night of bliss, mistaken jealousy – all the ingredients of a romantic novel, although, sadly for a modern reader, the story does not end well.

Troilus & Criseyde

Love stories have been told and retold for centuries, but the first romantic novel in the modern sense, ‘Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded’ by Samuel Richardson, written entirely from the heroine’s POV, was published in 1740. In the novel, Pamela Andrews, a young serving maid, constantly fights off the attempts of her master, Mr B, to seduce her, and he eventually rewards her virtue when he proposes. Back in the 18th Century, marriage between a lower class maid and a landowning squire was considered shocking, and Pamela has to wait for her happy ending until Mr B’s family accept her as his wife. More shocking to modern readers is the fact that Mr B appears to be a serial sexual predator, but in its day the novel was a huge success – there were even playing cards and ladies’ fans printed with scenes from the book.

Pamela

Half a century later, in 1811, Jane Austen published ‘Sense and Sensibility,’ the first of her six books that were to ensure the continuing popularity of the romantic genre and inspire romantic novelists right up to the present day. The romance between the feisty Elizabeth Bennet and the proud Darcy, an iconic alpha hero if ever there was one, in ‘Pride and Prejudice,’ their love overcoming the obstacles of her prejudice and his pride, has surely influenced most romantic novels that have been written since.

Jane Austen
Mr Darcy & Elizabeth Bennett (BBC Pride & Prejudice Series)

Fast forward to the 20th Century, when, with mass market books readily available to all, and the publishers Mills & Boon starting to sell books in newsagents and supermarkets, the popularity of romantic fiction continued to grow.

In 1919, ‘The Sheik’ by E M Hall became a best-seller. Again, modern readers would find much of the plot, in which the hero rapes the heroine, completely horrific, but back then, the book’s extraordinary success led to it being made into a film starring heartthrob of the day, Rudolph Valentino, that broke box-office records.

The Sheik (novel)

Much more palatable to modern readers, are the books of Georgette Heyer. Her first novel, The Black Moth, published in 1921, was set in the 1750s, but she is still best known for her popular Regency romances, that with their impeccably researched historical background, essentially created and established the historical romance.

Georgette Heyer

Another book that had a lasting influence, is ‘Bridget Jones’ Diary’ by Helen Fielding. Published in 1996, this novel, inspired by ‘Pride and Prejudice,’ was one of the first books to be described as chick-lit, and with its hapless yet likeable heroine, it certainly set the tone for many rom coms written since.

Bridget Jones Diary

And no look back at 20th Century romantic fiction would be complete without mention of Dame Barbara Cartland, one of the most prolific and commercially successful romantic novelists of all time, with 723 books published between 1925 and the year 2000.

Times change, and today’s romantic novels have evolved to reflect the 21st Century lives of their readers. Sweet young innocent heroines who resist the advances of overbearing males have given way to independent women of all ages, with careers and past relationships. What hasn’t changed, is the love story at the heart of the book.

About The Author

Lynne Shelby writes contemporary women’s fiction/romance, and her new novel, The One That I Want, is published on 26 July 2018. When not writing or reading, Lynne can usually be found at the theatre or exploring a foreign city – Paris, New York, Rome, Copenhagen, Seattle, Reykjavik – writer’s notebook, camera and sketchbook in hand. She lives in London with her husband, and has three adult children who live nearby.

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What Is It About Historical Romance by Heather King

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There are many reasons why I love reading and writing historical novels. Firstly, I love history. Secondly, I am just a big softie and like nothing better than a Happy Ever After ending. I should like, therefore, to say a big thank you to Frankie for inviting me to contribute to her blog.

I began by making a list of things which draw me to my favourite era, the Regency. As it grew, just for fun I thought I would make it a Romantic Fiction ABC. Here, then, is my Top Twenty of why I love Historical Romance novels.

Architecture

I just love Georgian architecture, whether as a London town house or a beautiful country mansion. There is something hugely romantic about the arrangement and shape of windows, pediments and porticoes; of marbled floors and the symmetry of rooms around a central entrance hall; of rococo plaster work on ceilings and mantelpieces, and – far from least – the glorious richness of murals and ceiling paintings.

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Breeches and Top-boots

Some ladies find attraction in Giorgio Armani, Gucci and Boss. Not so this romantic author. For me, men in breeches, neckcloths and elegant coats, with top-boots or Hessians, have a swoon factor the half-naked men depicted on some modern covers just don’t have (not that I don’t appreciate a manly chest, you understand!) The sight of Richard Armitage’s Mr. Thornton will always win the heart over his be-stubbled Guy of Gisburne. Although… ahem.

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Mr. Darcy’s outfit from the 1995 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice © Heather King

Carriages

There is just something about a four-in-hand and a beautifully turned out equipage that modern cars cannot emulate. Although they were nowhere near as comfortable to travel in (and I appreciate many will disagree with me), cars have nothing to compare with the jingle of harness, the stamp of a shod hoof, the snort of the proud ‘cattle’ poled up. Flying feathers, tossing manes, swinging tails; the glorious, pungent smell of sweat glistening on warm equine hides… ah, sweet bliss to the horse fan!

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The Edinburgh – London Mail, J.F. Herring Snr.

Dresses and Drawers

What can be more romantic than beautiful gowns with frills and flounces? I will confess they have never been my idea of comfortable clothing, but I love to see them and certainly wouldn’t mind possessing an elegant riding habit. I love to read a book where the author has taken the trouble to describe what characters are wearing. For me, that is part of the magic of historical fiction – to be carried away to another time, to escape reality for a while. I hope I succeed in sweeping my readers away to the world my characters inhabit.

Elegance

The Georgian era is renowned for its elegance. Georgette Heyer’s heroes appreciate a well-turned ankle, do not leer over some Page 3 girl. Beautiful porcelain, cut glass and tableware; delicate fans, with their own discreet language; pretty frills and fichus; embroidery, lace and silks; the smooth rotation of a perfect waltz… the instances are many. When I have time, reading a well-written novel or watching an historical drama takes me away from the ordinariness of everyday 21st Century life and allows me the illusion such elegant living has not gone for good.

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Brisé Fan

Furniture

Having longed for a Hygena bedroom in my youth, I now appreciate the beauty of hand-crafted wood and especially that of the Georgian age. I love most old furniture, even utility stuff made during WWII. I should love to have a big kitchen with Welsh dressers, solid oak tables and cupboards. Part of the romance of the Regency era, though, is the elegant mahogany and marquetry you find in many a National Trust property. One day, I have promised myself, I will have Georgian-style winged armchairs and elegant side-tables!

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Dining Room, Hanbury Hall © Heather King

Georgette Heyer

Georgette Heyer is the reason I am writing this blog. Had it not been for discovering her books when I was about eleven or twelve, I probably would not be where I am today. She is the Queen of Regency and although she dismissed her novels as ‘fluff’, you would be hard put to find better written romantic novels. I love her style and wit, her masterly descriptions and the sense of fun her novels convey. When you laugh out loud at a book, it can only be a winner. May I proffer humble thanks, ma’am.

HEA

I admit it. I am a sucker for a happy ending. While there can be an emotional satisfaction in a sad conclusion to a story, if that is what the plot demands, I do like to see my characters happily settled at the end of a novel and I prefer to read books with either a happy ‘ah’ ending or a witty one. Georgette Heyer was particularly adept at the latter and it always left me with a warm feeling. I try to do that with my own stories, because romantic historical fiction should be about escapism. We have enough reality in this modern world.

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Interiors

I love visiting a stately home and seeing a room decorated as it would have been in eras gone by. It is fascinating, especially when it is done in Regency style. Old buildings have an amazing atmosphere. Although a ruin, Witley Court in Worcestershire has the most wonderful feel of secrets and ghosts from times long past. Many years ago I was lucky enough to visit Salzburg in Austria, where the fortress is alive with the spirits of previous centuries. (No, I’m no madder than any other writer, honest!) I try and convey this to my readers through my writing, because for me, romance is not only about the love story.

Jane Austen

What Regency author doesn’t love Jane Austen’s works? She was, of course, writing about her own time and did not invent the Regency genre. Georgette Heyer can be credited with that. However, Jane has bequeathed us so many gems of insight, custom and historical detail. From her works we know the modern delight in contracting words in dialogue (one of my bête noirs in historical novels) is not accurate. She gave us the wicked romp in Lydia and the serene beauty in Jane. She gave us the intelligent, independently minded heroine in Elizabeth and the interfering one in Emma. She also gave us the toe-curling Mr. Collins, the wonderful Colonel Brandon and the worst marriage proposal in English literature! Thanks to Auntie Beeb and Andrew Davies, though, I can no longer read Pride and Prejudice without thinking of Colin Firth and that scene…

LOVE

Love. One of the strongest emotions, it comes in so many forms: Love of life, a subject, a place, a view; love of family, of friends, of pets… and of that one special person in your life. Love is all you need sang the Beatles and they weren’t far wrong. Love makes the world go round. Within the pages of novels from the Circulating Libraries, ladies of the Regency found solace from their humdrum lives and loveless marriages. Nowadays, we buy romance novels by the zillion, just for the sheer pleasure of that perfect, joyful connection with another person. There are few more satisfying feelings than reaching the end of a wonderful book with a happy ending. That warm, fuzzy sensation is love in itself.

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Manners and Courtesy

I am a traditionalist, and appreciate it when a gentleman holds open a door for me or a child says please and thank you. I’m aware I am a dying breed and yes, I am perfectly capable of opening my own door, but it is nice to have it done for me. It is nice when a gentleman helps you out of a car (or down from a carriage!) It is nice to be escorted on a proffered arm and treated with old-fashioned courtesy. It is particularly nice when the gentleman next door mows your front verge with his ride-on mower to save you having to struggle with your old electric one! I love that about Regency novels, that even when people were insulting each other, it was couched in such a manner as to be civil, rather than screaming abuse heavily littered with profanity.

Names

There have been lots of great names throughout the centuries which are now virtually obsolete. Joscelin, for a man, is one of my favourites and finally found its owner in the hero of Carpet of Snowdrops. There is a certain romantic beauty in many old names, I feel… although perhaps not Godfrey, Wat or Alf!

Original

Heroines must have something about them. They must be strong and engaging and preferably have some trait or quirk which makes them unique. That strength need not mean they are independent and headstrong, but that they can deal with whatever ‘life’ throws at them in a fashion which is enjoyable to read. They must also behave in a manner befitting the era they live in. If a Regency heroine talks and behaves in the manner of a modern miss, it throws me out of the story. It is part of the charm and romance of an historical novel to discover how the heroine can claim her hero without overstepping the bounds and mores of the time.

Posting Houses and Coaching Inns

I just love old inns, especially if they still have their original stable yards! I am fascinated by the history of them; the stories of past landlords and noble (or well-known) patrons, of smugglers and highwaymen, of ghosts and crimes. I am also fascinated by the growth of such buildings and how they became famous. Romance comes in so many forms.

Rakes and Rogues

What reader of historical romance doesn’t love a rake or a rogue? With a nod to Frankie, this article would not be complete without them! I admit I do have a soft spot for one – provided he has some redeeming features, loves his lady and is reformed (or at least faithful) by the end of the book. He must be tender as well as masterful and recognize his shortcomings. After all, a gentleman with experience is better set to please his bride! Perhaps my favourite literary rake is Damerel in Georgette Heyer’s Venetia.

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John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester, a most infamous rake.

Social History

Well-written and well-researched novels are a fascinating window on the way people lived in a previous time – and what a great way to learn! This is one of the best of the many facets of Georgette Heyer and Jane Austen novels: the historical detail. I love to know what people ate, drank, slept in, sat on, used, wore and did for recreation and entertainment. I’m just a nosey so-and-so!

Tattersall’s

As a horse lover, a visit to London isn’t complete without a look-in at Hyde Park Corner and a walk down Rotten Row. The most famous horse sales and bloodstock agency in the world began life here, founded in the 1770s by Richard Tattersall. The Duke of Kingston’s former groom and trainer rented land behind St. George’s Hospital, close to the Corner. It quickly became the place to be seen among gentlemen with an interest in equestrian matters, as well as the place to buy and sell horses. A weekly sale was held and ‘Black Monday’ became the not always humorous nomenclature for Settling Day. It meant the ruin of many an aristocratic name. Tattersall’s is one of the must-see places for young Johnny Raws from the country in any Regency novel.

Vauxhall Gardens

What can be more romantic than a trip down the river to Vauxhall for the characters in an historical novel? Picture the shadowed paths, the tree-lined walks, the music playing and figures bedecked in their finery, flitting like butterflies and chattering like sparrows. It is the perfect setting for a clandestine meeting, a risqué masquerade or an elegant concert followed by supper and a romantic walk along the lantern-lit paths. Such intrigues can be envisaged, such dastardly actions performed, and all for the stroke of pen or press of keypad… Vauxhall was made for romantic fiction!

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Entrance to Vauxhall Gardens, Thomas Rowlandson

Witty Dialogue

Of all the elements of good Regency fiction, possibly the one I like best is the witty dialogue. While Jane Austen had an acerbic wit, Georgette Heyer was the grande dame of the concept in her novels. I laugh aloud when I am reading her books and that does not happen with many authors. I love it when I find someone who writes with that same sense of humour. Of course, beside JA and GH, the rest of we poor mortals can but aspire.

This is one of my favourite quotes and comes from Faro’s Daughter, first published by Wm. Heinemann Ltd. in 1941.

“You will find it very inconvenient to keep me in your cellar indefinitely, I imagine, but I must warn you I have not the smallest intention of leaving it, except upon my own terms.”

***

“But you cannot let the race go like that!” cried Deborah, aghast.

***

“Oh, have you backed me to win?” he said mockingly. “So much the worse for you, my girl!”

© Heather King. All photographs © Heather King, Other images Public Domain

About The Author

heather KingHeather King has made up stories since she was a small child. History lessons at school were rarely dull and the discovery of Georgette Heyer’s Regency novels in her early teens set her on a lifelong love of that era. A confessed romantic and bookworm, writing gives her a chance to indulge all these passions – and call it work!

She has her own voice, but likes to follow traditional Regency precepts and pen uplifting stories with witty dialogue, engaging characters and bags of emotion.

Visiting her Dark Side as Vandalia Black, she writes Vampire and Paranormal romance. She is the author of ‘Vampires Don’t Drink Coffee and Other Stories’ which includes a novella set in the English Civil War.

When not looking after her two hairy ponies, three cats and boisterous Staffie X, or frowning over keypad or notebook, she likes nothing better than to curl up with a good book.

Website / Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Amazon / Goodreads

Comparison Between Writing Romance and Reading Romance by Jenna Hines

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Comparison between Writing Romance and Reading Romance

by Jenna Hines

Why I Love Romance:

Romance is a means of escape. It can give us hope and comfort and allows us to disappear into another world. To forget for a short time, our daily commitments. 

I have been reading Romance all my life, which spans more than sixty years. My writing of Romance, however, only covers the last fifteen of those years.

First, let me tell you why I read and write Romance. Simple, I am a born Romantic and love a happy ending. Romance is very important to me as it has always formed part of my life. I fell ‘in love’ for the first time at the tender age of fourteen and the romantic notion of being with ‘The One’ has stayed with me forever, even though sadly, my first love remained a part of my past! I have kept my romance alive with each relationship I have been involved in, but alas many times it has not been reciprocated. I still live in hope! I have learned that being romantic helps me to get through all the ups and downs life throws at us. As I said before I am a born Romantic and have a tendency to look at life through those proverbial ‘rose tinted’ spectacles!! I will continue to read and write Romance as I believe one can truly be embroiled in it!

Here are my comparisons using a chart showing, for ease of demonstration, the two main characters who are romantically involved; How I read about them and how I would write about them. Each point showing the difference.

READING |WRITING

READING

A. I lose myself in the characters who are romantically involved and build up a picture of them in my mind.

B. I automatically relate to the ‘couple’ who are romantically together.

C. I become engrossed in the couple I am reading about and wrapped up in their journey.

D. When the couple has a disagreement, I wonder why and try to understand the reason for the fallout.

E. When the couple ‘make-up’ I am engrossed in the process.

F. If one half of the couple is interested in a.n. other I read on to see what will happen.

G. For the final romantic passages. I read on enthralled.

WRITING

A. I manipulate the characters to become romantically involved. Sometimes they manipulate me! I describe each one in detail to give the reader an insight into how they look and act.

B. I ensure the ‘couple’ come together by showing/telling the reader how.

C. I develop the couple and make sure the reader is engaged in their journey together by my description.

D. If the couple has a falling out I explain why to the reader by adding dialogue; maybe in the form of an argument.

E. When the couple re-engages, I elaborate on how and why by explaining to the reader the circumstances of making up and the reasons why.

F. For the one who is unfaithful, I describe the ‘other’ person and describe how and why they got to this point.

G. A smooth ending is described by me in detail on how the characters reach the finale of their romantic journey.

***

About the Author

A born romantic, Jenna Hines has finally followed her dreams. As a child she spent all her spare time in the public library, engrossed in stories of romantic fiction that enthralled her. In her early teens she craved to write her own stories, but it was much later in life that Jenna found the opportunity to fulfil her ambition. Victorian/Edwardian history had always captivated her. She re-familiarised herself with the era and began a new career, writing romantic stories set in the periods.

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Falling in Love with Happily Ever After by Virginia Heath

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I’ve always adored romance books. Right from the moment I picked up my first one at twelve I’ve been hooked. Fabulous Harlequin Mills & Boon authors like Nora Roberts and Penny Jordan took me to imaginary places and made me best friends with the characters they created. By the time I left school, I had a secret dream to write them one day. I never dared tell anyone because I’d have been laughed at. Girls like me didn’t become authors.

However, as time went on and I read more books than I dare count, that dream became more insistent. After years working in the media I switched careers and became a history teacher. A little while later, I picked up my first regency romance and it was magical. Dashing men in boots and breaches, feisty heroines who gave them a run for their money, rich period detail- what wasn’t to love? There and then I decided if I ever wrote a book, it would be a historical romance.

Three years ago, I finally plucked up enough courage to quit my job and follow my dream, then spent the next year writing three books. Not one was good enough to be published but those stories allowed me to teach myself how to write well. My fourth attempt felt different from the outset. Special. The characters spoke to me and the story flowed. I never plotted a single paragraph, instead I listened to their voices and wrote what they wanted me to write. I finished it in just five weeks and plucked up the courage to send it to Harlequin Mills & Boon. In May 2016, That Despicable Rogue became my debut novel.

It soon became apparent that not only could I not plot to save my life, but that I am prolific. All those years of daydreaming meant my odd mind has no trouble concocting characters, and once I introduce the characters to each other, they decide the direction of each book. I am currently writing my eighth Regency for Harlequin, something which I know is mad seeing as my first book only came out eight months ago, and each has been completely different. The only similarities have been my feisty heroes, even feistier heroines and the bursts of humour which spill naturally out of my pen. I call them Regency Romantic Comedies. So far, I’ve written about kidnapping, war, family feuds, a pair of talking horses, a foolhardy wager, four gorgeous brothers and the murky world of smugglers. I’ve been inspired by Shakespeare, Grimms’ Fairy Tales, Hollywood musicals, a history documentary and a door knob. Yes, you did read that right! It was hanging by a thread on my daughter’s bedroom door because she has a tendency to flounce and slam said door. In my odd mind, in walked a tall, feisty yet sensitive heroine and Her Enemy at the Altar was born.

There’s another sibling series lurking in the queue behind the smugglers. Alongside Oscar Wilde. I’m thinking I might write that series as an homage to his genius. The first book will be my twist on The Importance of Being Earnest…

***

About the Author

When Virginia Heath was a little girl it took her ages to fall asleep, so she made up stories in her head to help pass the time while she was staring at the ceiling.

As she got older, the stories became more complicated, sometimes taking weeks to get to the happy ending. Then one day, she decided to embrace the insomnia and start writing them down.

Fortunately, Harlequin Mills and Boon saw some potential in her stories and decided they would publish them. So far, she has been commissioned to write ten books for their Harlequin Historical series. Her first Regency Romance, That Despicable Rogue, was published in May 2016, and since then she hasn’t stopped writing. Her 3rd book, The Discerning Gentleman’s Guide was shortlisted for a RONA (Romantic Novel of the Year  Award).

After the success of her Wild Warriners quartet, she is currently working on her second series for Harlequin Mills & Boon Historical- The Kings Elite- which should hit the shelves in the Summer of 2018.

She would love to hear from you on either Facebook or Twitter, especially if you love history as much as she does, and promises to try to remember to Blog about something interesting every month.

A former history teacher and enthusiastic tea drinker, Virginia lives near London with her wonderful husband and two teenagers. When she is not making up stories of her own, Virginia likes to travel to far off places, shop for things she doesn’t need, walk her beloved Labrador Trevor and read other peoples’ stories.

Despite all of that, it still takes her forever to fall asleep.

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Christmas Special With Helen J Rolfe – Exclusive Interview, Guest Post and Excerpt @HJRolfe @rararesources #Exclusives #AuthorInterview #Blogtour

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Today I have the huge pleasure of chatting with Helen J Rolfe; Author of Women’s Contemporary Romantic Fiction including, Christmas at Little Knitting Box, plus exclusive Guest Post, Spotlight, Excerpt and Giveaway.

About the Author

Helen J Rolfe writes contemporary women’s fiction with an emphasis on relationships and love. She enjoys weaving stories about family, friendship, secrets, and characters who face challenges and fight to overcome them. Helen enjoys creating strong female lead characters and although her stories often deal with serious issues, they always have a happy ending.

Location is a big part of the adventure in Helen’s books and she enjoys setting stories in different cities and countries around the world. So far, locations have included Melbourne, Sydney, New York, Connecticut, Bath and the Cotswolds.

Born and raised in the UK, Helen graduated from University with a business degree and began working in I.T. This job took her over to Australia and it was there that she studied writing and journalism and began writing for women’s health and fitness magazines. She also volunteered with the PR department of a children’s hospital where she wrote articles and media releases. Helen began writing fiction in 2011 and hasn’t missed the I.T. world one little bit, although the I.T. skills have come in handy of course, especially when it comes to creating and maintaining a website.

After fourteen years of living in Australia, Helen returned to the UK and now lives in Hertfordshire with her husband and their children.

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Guest Post

Favourite Christmas Memories by Helen J Rolfe

I think my first favourite memory would have to be when I was little and it snowed. It was years ago but I still believed in Santa and that year he gave me a bike. I insisted I went out on it – my parents must’ve enjoyed the experience! – and I didn’t let the weather stop me at all. That year we built an igloo with our nextdoor neighbour and a snowman too, and it was completely magical.

I also remember at school, that we had a homemade postbox into which you put Christmas cards. Then every day the cards would be left on your table in class for you to open. Cards aren’t sent as much nowadays and it’s a real shame.

My next favourite Christmas memory has to be my first Christmas in Australia. I had a friend staying with me and we were in a 15th floor apartment with no air conditioning and it was so hot! But we were determined to have the full roast dinner. We went out shopping the day before but on Christmas day found we had no potatoes, so went out in search for them. We never envisaged getting stuck in a traffic jam! In the UK roads tend to be quite deserted, so this was a first. Anyway, we had a good laugh about it, but every year when I roast the potatoes it reminds me of that time.

Over the years I’ve always loved Christmas but even more so once I had my own children and they believed in Santa too. Shopping in secret was always interesting, returning to the house and hiding everything away. The problem was, I’d then forget where I’d hidden it so it would take me forever to find everything. I remember it was always a case of late nights wrapping, my husband keeping watch in case either of the children came out of their rooms and caught me, and one year we were up until well after midnight assembling a cubby house in the back garden and a toy kitchen. It’s actually far easier now they’re older, but there’s something about kids at Christmas that makes it so special.

Every year I think my favourite memory is the Christmas dinner and cooking it. It takes forever, but it’s the only time we have all the trimmings, with the pigs in blankets, the mince pies afterwards, if we have any room, and all sitting around sipping champagne.
Roll on Christmas!

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Interview

Frankie Hi Helen, Welcome to Chicks, Rogues and Scandals! Thank you for taking the time to chat with me today. Firstly, what five word’s would you use to describe yourself?

Helen Organised, curious, friendly, reliable, independent

Frankie If you could live in any era and place, When and where would it be? And Why?

Helen I think I’d love to go back to the 2000’s in Australia. It’s when I first went over there and I fell in love with the country. I was in my twenties too, with a good job and free weekends, so I’d like to do a lot more exploring!

Frankie Who was your childhood hero?

Helen Wonder Woman! I think growing up with two brothers meant I watched a lot of programs with male characters – batman, spiderman, superman. Wonder Woman was something else entirely and she was also beautiful.

Frankie What is your favourite time of the year?

Helen I would say I’m much more of a summer person than a lover of winter. When the sun shines it makes me feel so much more energetic and I love the long days and evenings too. It means we can get outside as a family which is one of my favourite things to do. I think I’m very much in love with the idea of winter rather than actual winter itself. I love photos of snow covered landscapes, log cabins, cosy fires and a small amount of that is wonderful, but not too long or I get fed up. Christmas is a fantastic time but once it’s over, I’m really, ready for the sun to come out again!

Frankie Out of all your work, who is your favourite character and why?

Helen I think I’ll always have a soft spot for Evan in Handle Me with Care. He has such a battle on his hands but he’s a gorgeous man inside and out. He’s also from Melbourne, my favourite city in the world!

Frankie Where doe’s your inspiration for your books come from?

Helen Everywhere! People I meet, places I visit, things I read. When I’m out and about I’m forever putting notes into my phone and then sending them to myself in an email. I have lots of ideas stored away in an email file so when it’s time to plan a new book I have lots of information.

Frankie What three tips would you pass on to an aspiring author?

Helen 1. Read lots. I think we learn a lot by osmosis. We widen our vocabulary, learn about character and plot development and can see how other authors put together a story.

2. Start! Sit down and get writing, and give yourself permission to write rubbish. The first draft is always messy but you can always edit a messy draft. You can’t edit a blank page!

3. Surround yourself with other authors. Writing is a lonely occupation but by talking with other writers online or in person, it can really help. It’s good to know the struggles you have are often the same as others are experiencing, and it encourages you to keep going.

Frankie If you were hosting a dinner party what three people would you invite? (They can be real/fictional, from any era)

Helen Judy Blume because I love, love, love her books. I found them to be refreshingly honest.

Nicholas Sparks, because he is a brilliant storyteller, and I would love to ask him about his writing process and where his ideas come from.

Lianne Moriarty because this woman can weave a brilliant plot! I would love to know how she does it, how she plans and finally makes a start.

Frankie Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to chat with me today, I have just one more cheeky question, just for fun . . . What is your all-time favourite naughty but nice food?

Helen Chocolate! Especially dark…

Thank you for chatting with me Helen, it was lovely having you visit.

💜💜💜

New York Ever After Series

Christmas at the Little Knitting Box; Book 1

Christmas is coming and New York is in full swing for the snowy season. But at The Little Knitting Box in the West Village, things are about to change …

The Little Knitting Box has been in Cleo’s family for nearly four decades, and since she arrived fresh off the plane from the Cotswolds four years ago, Cleo has been doing a stellar job of running the store. But instead of an early Christmas card in the mail this year, she gets a letter that tips her world on its axis.

Dylan has had a tumultuous few years. His marriage broke down, his mother passed away and he’s been trying to pick up the pieces as a stay-at-home dad. All he wants this Christmas is to give his kids the home and stability they need. But when he meets Cleo at a party one night, he begins to see it’s not always so easy to move on and pick up the pieces, especially when his ex seems determined to win him back.

When the snow starts to fall in New York City, both Cleo and Dylan realise life is rarely so black and white and both of them have choices to make. Will Dylan follow his heart or his head? And will Cleo ever allow herself to be a part of another family when her own fell apart at the seams?

Full of snow, love and the true meaning of Christmas, this novel will have you hooked until the final page.

Purchase From Amazon UK / Amazon US

Snowflakes and Mistletoe at the Inglenook Inn; Book 2

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…but is it the time to fall in love?

As the flames on the log fire flicker and the snowflakes swirl above the New York streets, maybe this Christmas could be the one that changes everything…

When Darcy returns to Manhattan, she’s put in charge of the Inglenook Inn, a cosy boutique hotel in the heart of Greenwich Village. The Inn needs a boost in bookings if it’s to survive the competition, so Darcy is convinced that hosting Christmas this year is the answer. What she doesn’t expect is to meet a face from the past, which can only spell trouble.

Myles left England behind and took a job in New York. It’s a step forwards in his career, and has the added bonus of being nowhere near his family. He’s also hoping to avoid Christmas, the worst time of the year. But when his company puts him up at the Inglenook Inn and he recognises Darcy, it isn’t long before they clash.

When disaster strikes, can Myles and Darcy put their differences aside to make Christmas at the Inglenook Inn a success?

Purchase from Amazon

Spotlight Post of Daughters of Ireland by Santa Montefiore

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I am very pleased to have been asked to host an Exclusive Spotlight on Best Selling  Author; Santa Montifiore and her newest release Daughters of Ireland, so sit back and enjoy.

About the Author

Santa Montefiore has written fourteen bestselling novels, which are translated into thirty languages. She is a fascinating person herself, as sister of Tara Palmer-Tomkinson, the former British Socialite, and personal friend of the Royal Family.

Santa grew up on a farm in Hampshire and was educated at Sherborne School for Girls. She read Spanish and Italian at Exeter University and spent much of the 90s in Buenos Aires, where her mother grew up. She converted to Judaism in 1998 and married historian Simon Sebag Montefiore in the Liberal Jewish Synagogue in London. They live with their two children, Lily and Sasha in London.

With my novels, I hope to carry you away to sunnier shores, while at the same time remind you of all that is wonderful about England. Above all, they are love stories, because love is more important to me than anything else. I hope you laugh and cry in equal measure, but most vitally, escape for a while. Santa x

You can find it more about Santa by following the links

Website | Facebook | Amazon | Goodreads

About the Book

In Ireland 1925, the Anglo-Irish war is long over, but life will never be the same. Castle Deverill has been home to the Deverill family in West Cork for hundreds of years, until it fell prey to a devastating attack during the war. Young Celia (Deverill) Mayberry and her husband bought the estate, determined to restore it to its former glory. But not everyone is elated. Although Kitty is grateful to her cousin for ensuring the castle will remain in the family, she cannot help but be wistful for the days when she was the mistress of Castle Deverill. While she is content in her new life, her heart still yearns for Jack O’Leary. As Kitty struggles with her choices, she must make a heartbreaking decision that could hurt those closest to her.

Wealthy and the toast of the town in New York City, Bridie Doyle has come a long way since she was the daughter of one of the cooks at Castle Deverill. But all her money cannot ease the pain over having given away her baby or from seeking revenge upon the woman who wronged her all those years ago.

As Celia wastes no time, or expense, in hiring workers to renovate Castle Deverill, dark shadows are gathering once more, as the financial markets begin to shake. Now everything that felt so certain is cast into doubt as this daughter of Ireland must find the inner strength to build a new future.

Exclusive Excerpt

At last the castle came into view. The western tower where her grandmother had set up residence until her death was intact but the rest of it resembled the bones of a great beast gradually decaying into the forest. Ivy and bindweed pulled on the remaining walls, crept in through the empty windows and endeavored to claim every last stone. And yet, for Kitty, the castle still held a mesmeric allure.

She trotted across the ground that had once been the croquet lawn but was now covered in long grasses and weeds. She dismounted and led her horse around to the front, where her cousin was waiting for her beside a shiny black car. Celia Mayberry stood alone, dressed in an elegant cloche hat beneath which her blond hair was tied into a neat chignon, and a long black coat that almost reached the ground. When she saw Kitty her face broke into a wide, excited smile.

“Oh my darling Kitty!” she gushed, striding up and throwing her arms around her. She smelled strongly of tuberose and money and Kitty embraced her fiercely.

“This is a lovely surprise,” Kitty exclaimed truthfully, for Celia loved Castle Deverill almost as much as she did, having spent every summer of her childhood there with the rest of the “London Deverills,” as their English cousins had been known. Kitty felt the need to cling to her with the same ferocity with which she clung to her memories, for Celia was one of the few people in her life who hadn’t changed, and as she grew older and further away from the past, Kitty felt ever more grateful for that. “Why didn’t you tell me you were coming? You could have stayed with us.”

“I wanted to surprise you,” said Celia, who looked like a child about to burst with a secret.

“Well, you certainly did that.” Kitty looked up at the facade. “It’s like a ghost, isn’t it? A ghost of our childhood.”

“But it will be rebuilt,” said Celia firmly.

Kitty looked anxiously at her cousin. “Do you know who bought it? I’m not sure I can bear to know.”

Celia laughed. “Me!” she exclaimed. “I have bought it. Isn’t that wonderful? I’m going to bring back the ghosts of the past and you and I can relive the glorious moments all over again through our children.

“You, Celia?” Kitty gasped in astonishment. “You bought Castle Deverill?”
“Well, technically Archie bought it. What a generous husband he is!” She beamed with happiness. “Isn’t it a riot, Kitty? Well, I’m a Deverill too! I have just as much right as anyone else in the family. Say you’re happy, do!”

“Of course I’m happy. I’m relieved it’s you and not a stranger, but I admit I’m a little jealous too,” Kitty said sheepishly.

Celia flung her arms around her cousin again. “Please don’t hate me. I did it for us. For the family. The castle couldn’t possibly go to a stranger. It would be like giving away one’s own child. I couldn’t bear to think of someone else building over our memories. This way we can all enjoy it

You can continue to live in the White House, Uncle Bertie in the Hunting Lodge if he so wishes and we can all be terribly happy again. After everything we’ve suffered we deserve to find happiness, don’t you think?”

Kitty laughed affectionately at her cousin’s fondness of the dramatic. “You’re so right, Celia. It will be wonderful to see the castle brought back to life and by a Deverill no less. It’s the way it should be. I only wish it were me.”

Celia put a gloved hand on her stomach. “I’m going to have a baby, Kitty,” she announced, smiling.

“Goodness, Celia, how many more surprises have you in store for me?”
“Just that and the castle. How about you? Do hurry up. I pray we are both blessed with girls so that they can grow up here at Castle Deverill just like we did.” And Kitty realized then that Celia had placed herself here within these castle walls for more than merely the annual month of August.

She was one of those shallow people who rewrote their own history and believed in the absolute truth of their version. “Come on,” Celia continued, taking Kitty’s hand and pulling her through the doorframe into the space where once the great hall had been. “Let’s explore. I have grand plans, you know. I want it to be just the same as it was when we were girls, but better. Do you remember the last Summer Ball? Wasn’t it marvelous?”

Kitty and Celia waded through the weeds that grew up to their knees, marveling at the small trees that had seeded themselves among the thistles and thorns and stretched their spindly branches toward the light

The ground was soft against their boots as they moved from room to room, disturbing the odd rook and magpie that flew indignantly into the air. Celia chattered on, reliving the past in colorful anecdotes and fond reminiscences, while Kitty was unable to stop the desolation of her ruined home falling upon her like a heavy black veil. With a leaden heart she remembered her grandfather Hubert, killed in the fire, and her grandmother Adeline who had died alone in the western tower only a month ago

She thought of Bridie’s brother, Michael Doyle, who had set the castle ablaze, and her own foolish thirst for recrimination, which had only led to her shame in his farmhouse where no one had heard her cries. Her thoughts drifted to her lover, Jack O’Leary, and their meeting at the wall where he had held her tightly and begged her to flee with him to America, then later, on the station platform, when he had been arrested and dragged away. Her head began to spin

Her heart contracted with fear as the monsters of the past were roused from sleep.

Full book list can be found on Santa’s website, link above.

*The Excerpt, Author Photo and Cover were provided by Publisher Harper Collins for exclusive use by Chick’s Rogue’s and Scandal’s Blog for this post.

Release Day Blitz of Hell Hath No Fury by Annabelle Anders

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The Hell Hath No Fury by Annabelle Anders, Release Day Blitz
Read on for an exclusive to the Blitz Tour Except, Get to know Annabelle  and an exclusive to the Blitz Giveaway and my Review of her debut Historical Romance, Hell Hath No Fury.

 

Title: Hell Hath No Fury
Author: Annabelle Anders
Genre: Regency
Publisher: Blue Tulip Publishing

Amazon 
iBooks
Barnes and Nobles
To keep the money, he has to keep her as well…

Cecily Nottingham has made a huge mistake.

The marriage bed was still warm when the earl she thought she loved crawled out of it and announced that he loved someone else.

Loves. Someone else.

All he saw in Cecily was her dowry.

But he’s in for the shock of his life, because in order to keep the money, he has to keep her.

With nothing to lose, in an attempt to goad the earl into divorcing her, Cecily sets out to seduce her husband’s cousin, Stephen Nottingham.

Little does she realize that Stephen would turn out to be everything her husband was not: Honorable, loyal, trustworthy…

Handsome as sin.

Stephen returned to England for one reason. Save his cousin’s estate from financial ruin. Instead, he finds himself tempted by his cousins beautiful and scorned wife.

He isn’t sure what to do first, strangle his cousin, or kiss his wife. His honor is put to the test, right along with his self-control.

Amid snakes, duels and a good catfight, Cecily realizes the game she’s playing has high stakes indeed.

There are only a few ways for a marriage to end in Regency England and none of them come without a high price. Is she willing to pay it? Is Stephen?

A ‘Happily Ever After’ hangs in the balance, because, yes, love can conquer all, but sometimes it needs a little bit of help.

💜💜💜

Exclusive Excerpt

“Stephen!” she gasped, shocked by what he seemed intent upon doing. “What on earth are you doing?”
He looked up at her, smiling lustily. “Nothing.”
And then he went about his business.
Not in a million years had she ever imagined allowing a man to do… this!
And with his mouth no less!
“Oh, my God! Stephen, you are wicked,” she said, feeling quite wicked herself as she grasped the sides
of his head.
He was not to be deterred. His tongue stroked and sucked in much the same way he’d done with her
mouth, causing a new multitude of sensations to spiral inside of her.
He paused only a moment to look up at her.
“Surrender, Cecily.” He said. Giving her a lazy, sensual smile, “And prepare to die.”

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Exclusive Trailer

A little about the music in the trailer by Annabelle Anders

The song for the trailer was written by myself and my sister, Marcie Stanley. Marcie’s beautiful voice is
featured while she plays the piano… Due to illness, Marcie doesn’t perform much anymore so it was
very special for me to be able to use the song that we wrote together, over twenty years ago.
The Song is titled “Disposable Relationship.” I have a few tweeks for the lyrics to fit Stephen and
Cecily’s situation. Next time Marcie is up to recording I’ll change them to this:

For you, I would have done anything.
For you, can NOT have my soul.
For once you looked at me with empty eyes, the consequences… began to roll…
You’re a disposable relationship, damn the ton I’ll see your body gone. I’m throwing away a piece of
my heart with you.
with the ash and the chamber pots of my life… you’re going down and I won’t cry… anymore…

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My Review

There is nothing more frightening then a woman scorned, and this really showcases just how far women will go for the revenge they so desperately want.

And that is exactly what Cecily wants. Revenge…

I have come across real bad egg before, but Flavian Nottingham is one real nasty piece of work. He is egotistical, self righteous pain in the backside, who unfortunately can charm the bird out of the trees with his golden looks and manners. But in actual fact he is anything but, he is exactly how Cecily describes him; as a toad! The way he treats Cecily is really terrible and this guy deserves everything that’s coming to him!

Cecily wasn’t born an aristocrat her father is a Merchant/Business man, who has built up his Empire from scratch h she grew up learning the ropes and ways of business, she knows her ways around the books and banking and even legal documents. There is nothing that she cannot have she has everything a girl would want, the only thing her father can’t seem to purchase for her is respect and social standing, he cannot buy her someone to love her.

Then came along handsome, charming Flavian Nottingham. This god took an interest her, he charming her and made her fall in love with him and she thought he loved her too. So contracts were signed, the marriage was sealed and then he told her the awful truth …that he only married her for her !money and he didn’t love or feel anything for her.

Obviously Cecily was devastated but the hurt from her husband wasn’t finished there, he goes out of his way again and again to ostracize her from society and humiliate by flaunting his mistress about adorned in Jewels he had bought with Cecily’s dowry.

This really is the last straw for her so she decided that she needs to rid of him, now this is where her fabulous three friends come in and basically tell her, she needs to bump him off and live as a lavish widow, but she isn’t keen on that idea so with help of her toadish husband’s cousin Stephen she comes up with a plan that will force him to divorce her.

There is only two issues, one that someone is trying their damdest to murder her and secondly she falls head over heals for the cousin.

Cecily is in her own right an intelligent, strong-minded women but I felt as soon as she married Flavian and learnt the horrible truth she did loose s lot of her spark. She returned into some kind of simpering mouse who cries and whines – a lot! But once she has got over that and her friends start coming up with hilarious ways to get rid of him she really comes into her own.

I like the fact that she is from a normal background, it is so refreshing to have a working class woman as the lead but this is what Anders has done perfectly, the social divide between then is as clear as a bell, the way she gets ostracized just for her back ground really is quote appalling and true for the time.

Stephen is an enigma he keeps his emotions and the thoughts under wraps, he is a powerful man in his own right as handsome as sin but what I like about him is he respects her and takes as she is. Being business man and one of her father’s competitors he has a good solid intelligent head on those impossibly wide shoulders.

The two of them as much as they try to keep those feeling under wraps and under control the atmosphere sizzles with a built up tension. I especially like when they are plotting both their revenge on Flavian and it is highly entertaining watching as Cecily plot revenge on him and when Stephen asks her what she wants the fist it me she says is her husband’s head on a silver platter is very funny.

I adore this it is by far the funniest Historical Romance I have read, the plot is enjoyable very fun and I can see some really good things coming from this author. Her writing flows she has created a story that has you laughing out loud, gripped to edge of your seat and shouting at the book wanting to know what comes next.

This is highly recommended, really very good and a fabulous debut.

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About the author

Married to the same man for over 25 years, Annabelle Anders is mother to three children and two
Miniature Wiener dogs. After owning a business and experiencing considerable success, she and
her husband got caught in the financial crisis and lost everything; their business, their home, even
their car.

At this point, she put her B.A. in Poly Sci to use and took work as a waitress and bartender.

Unwilling to give up on a professional life, she simultaneously went back to college and obtained a degree in Energy Management.

And then the energy market dropped off.
And then her dog died.
We can only be grateful for this series of unfortunate events, for, with nothing to lose and completely demoralized, she sat down and began to write the romance novels which had until then, existed only in her imagination.

She is happy to have found her place in life.

Finally.

You can find out more about Annabelle via the following links Website / Facebook / Instagram

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Giveaway

Annabelle is generously giving away some of her tasselled Hell Hath No Fury, Bookmarks. So to be in for a chance of winning one answer the question that Annabelle has set and follow the instructions… Over to Annabelle..

“I write under the name ANNABELLE ANDERS and my first book, Hell Hath No Fury released on 7-7-17. I love the date!

Anyway, my novel is an edgy Regency Romance. I say ‘ edgy’, because it’s a little off the beaten path. Whereas most heroines in Regency Romances begin the story NEEDING a husband, my character, Cecily, needs to get rid of one. The man she married (an earl) turned out to be a
complete and utter toad (not literally! LOL)”

To be in for a chance of winning a bookmark answer the following Question :

Does it bother you that the hero is not the man she is married to in the beginning?

E-mail your comment to andersannabelle@gmail.com along with your address and I’ll send you a Hell Hath No Fury tasselled Bookmark. (First 20 Respondents) Please include the name of the group or blog you are responding from ☺

I look forward to discovering your thoughts on this concept!

* I received this ARC copy from Love Affair With Fiction via the author in return of an honest review.

* The Promo including; Excerpt, Trailer and Author information were provided to Chick’s Rogue’s and Scandal’s exclusively for this Release Blitz.