#Exclusive Guest Post : The Truth About Love And Dog’s; The Cover by Lilly Bartlett @MicheleGormanUK #GuestPost #TheTruthAboutLoveAndDogs
Hello my lovelies, Today I have a brilliant guest post for you to feast your eyes over, from the utterly charming Michele Gorman aka; Lilly Bartlett. Lilly is here chatting all about her new book; The Truth About Love and Dogs and the difference in US and UK covers. So, I will hand you over to Lilly…
The Cover by Lilly Bartlett.
How often do you pick up a book because of the cover? I do it all the time. It’s what makes me take the time to look at the description, read the first few paragraphs, and, if I like all that I see, decide to buy it.
So, is it any wonder that covers cause us authors so much angst? They might even make us more nervous than writing the book itself. That’s because writing is an evolutionary process. It takes months to do, plus there are many rounds of editing. But the cover is the instant, one-and-only first impression your book will make. It’s like getting ready for a first date with someone that you really really want to impress! You’ve only got one chance.
Every single author I know holds her breath when that email comes through from the publisher saying “Here’s the cover art and we hope you’ll love it as much as we do.”
So here it is: my one chance. These are the two covers we’ve chosen to make a first impression for The Truth About Love and Dogs.
What do you think? They’re very different from one another, aren’t they? That’s because tastes in romcom covers in the UK are so different from preferences in the US.
For the US cover – the basket of pups – we wanted something fun and eye-catching that conveys the book’s tone rather than the story exactly. Publishers go for the look and feel more than an image that literally tells you what the story is about (that’s the job of the title and the description). There are pugs in the book, by the way!
The UK cover might have a very different look, but its tone is the same. There, we wanted to project a cover the reader can fall into, with intriguing groupings of people that provoke curiosity.
I always ask my Facebook friends and newsletter followers for their feedback about my proposed covers, and the US readers mostly go for a photographic cover while UK readers love the illustrated ones. Does that hold true for you? Which do you like better?
Whichever cover grabs you most, I hope you’ll love the story inside!
About The Book
Four little words, uttered by her husband…
‘Oh my god,’ he gasped into her shoulder. ‘Shannon!’
There’s just one problem: her name isn’t Shannon.
Rewind six months and Scarlett and Rufus aren’t in the honeymoon stage anymore so much as the honey-should-we-bother phase. Desperate to get their sparkle back, Scarlett has plotted, planned and waxed more than any woman should have to, but none of it is working. Which makes it very hard to start the family they want.
At least her business is going strong, even if her marriage isn’t. She and her best friend spend their days tangled up in dog leads and covered in fur. Scarlett/ is the fairy dogmother, training hopeless pets like compulsive eater Barkley, impulsive Romeo Murphy and bossy Biscuit. Meanwhile, her best friend walks the dogs and pines for the man who doesn’t know she exists. Thank goodness the women have each other.
If only Scarlett could work out how to get her marriage back on track. But Rufus isn’t sharing his feelings with her. He is, though, sharing with her best friend. Her best friend, Shannon.
About The Author
Michele writes books packed with heart and humour, best friends and girl power. Call them beach books, summer reads, romantic comedy or chick lit… readers and reviewers call them “feel good”, “thought-provoking” and “laugh out loud”. She is both a Sunday Times and a USA Today bestselling author, raised in the US and living in London with her husband. She is very fond of naps, ice cream and Richard Curtis films.
Michele also writes cosy chick lit under the pen-name Lilly Bartlett. Lilly’s books are full of warmth, romance, quirky characters and guaranteed happily-ever-afters.
If you want to connect with me on Facebook or through my newsletter then you can get involved in my next cover choices!
#Review The Escape by Clare Harvey @ClareHarveyauth and #Exclusive Guest Post. #TheEscape #BlogTour #GuestPost #HistoricFiction @simonshusterUK
I have the very great pleasure to be todays stop on The Escape by Clare Harvey blog tour. I have a brilliant exclusive guest post by Clare – it is an amazing post. Plus I am sharing my review of The Escape, so grab a cup of tea and have a look.
I was born in North Devon, and lived there until just after my seventh birthday, when my family uprooted and moved to Mauritius for two years. After living overseas, we moved back to Surrey, and then later back to Devon, where I went to secondary school and took a foundation course in art and design.
I read Law at the University of Leicester, but chose not to follow a legal path, deciding instead to do voluntary work in Tanzania and hitch-hike from Zanzibar to Cape Town, where I stayed for a year. After my African adventure, I worked for an overseas charity, picked up a journalism qualification, and fell in love with a soldier. Much to my parents’ dismay, a safe career as a solicitor never looked likely!
I’ve had an itinerant adulthood, working variously as a freelance journalist, radio reporter and English tutor in Nepal, Germany and Northern Ireland as the trailing spouse of a serving soldier.
I’m now settled in Nottingham, with husband, three children, a black German Shepherd dog, and a father-in-law who lives in a detached annexe in the garden – it’s a busy household. However, I haven’t given up on the wanderlust just yet. Although Nottingham’s home for now, we’ve got a camper van and a canal boat, so who knows where next…
Procrastination by Clare Harvey
Let’s talk about procrastination. No, wait, let me make a cup of tea and Google the definition of procrastination, and then we can make a start (see what I did there?)…
Procrastination is the action of delaying or postponing something. Most of us, but authors in particular, are very good at procrastination. When you work from home there are tempting lollygagging opportunities a-plenty. This morning, for example, I promised myself I’d be at my desk by 9am, but six acts of procrastination delayed the start of my working day by an hour and a half.
I was a little late back from my morning dog walk (and as there’s no boss to shout at me if I’m not at work on time, I don’t tend to rush). Then, whilst the coffee was brewing, I decided to post a photo on my Instagram feed, which meant I got sucked into social media for a while, and there was an interesting person on Desert Island Discs on Radio 4, too, so I didn’t rush drinking my coffee. Just as I was giving myself a metaphorical kick up the backside, my husband phoned, then the postman arrived with a parcel – a new hairstyling gadget, which I felt I just had to test out…I finally opened my laptop at 10.30. In any normal job this amount of shilly-shallying would surely get me the sack?
I should be stricter with myself, shouldn’t I? Shorten that dog walk, limit my use of social media before I’ve completed my to-do list, turn off the radio, ignore personal phone calls, leave the parcels unopened. In short, I should flipping well get on with things, right?
I believe that procrastination – or at least a kind of managed mindlessness – is positively beneficial to writers. Let’s go through my dilatory start to the day again, and I’ll tell you why:
1. The extended morning dog walk/run:
Writing is a sedentary occupation – we need to get out from behind our desks and move about. Exercise has been shown to boost creativity, and running to thumping bass beats increases self-confidence, both of which are essential to authors. Being outdoors is also an ideal opportunity for a spot of mindfulness. When I’m out I try to spend a few minutes internally describing my surroundings (today it was the pink vapour trails criss-crossing the powder blue skies, my breath puffing dragon-clouds in front of my face, and the slide of my boots on the muddy path, for example); this has the twin benefits both of calming me down before the day begins, and also exercising my writer’s mind by practising a bit of word painting.
2. Personal phone calls:
As I mentioned, authors lead a hermit-like existence. I’m not sure about other writers, but I spend a lot of time talking and listening to the voices of made-up people inside my head! Real life – family and friends – are critically important in keeping me grounded and sane, and I’m sure that’s true for most other authors too.
3. Dithering on social media:
For authors, social media performs two critical functions: writing is a lonely job, and social media connects you with the world. Almost all the contact I have with fellow writers is via Facebook groups and Twitter feeds, and without it I’d run the risk of feeling increasingly isolated. In addition, social media is a crucial marketing tool. I usually post something every weekday so that I’m maintaining contact with my readers. This morning I posted a photo of some old graffiti I’d spotted on my walk, which I just thought was unexpectedly beautiful. I also put a promo link on a FB group for saga readers, inviting them along to my book launch. Social media helps market my work, connects me to readers and writers, and is sometimes an outlet for creativity, too.
4. Listening to the radio:
I like having Radio 4 quietly chattering along in the background in the kitchen, and although it doesn’t usually stop me from getting to work, sometimes it’s worth allowing myself to be diverted. A couple of years ago Hillary Mantel’s Reith lectures on historical fiction were an essential listen for hist fic authors like me. And only a few weeks ago an item on the radio sparked an idea that I developed into a synopsis, and is now my current work-in-progress. You never know when an obscure radio feature might send you off down a new creative path, so it’s always worth a listen.
5. Taking the time to brew a cup of real coffee:
Most authors probably swear by a caffeine shot to get their creative juices going, but it’s more than that. My morning cuppa is a ritual – I have a little Italian-style coffee pot that you heat on the hob, and I have to go through the rigmarole of filling the pot with water, spooning the coffee into the chamber, tamping it down with the back of the special coffee spoon, heating the milk in a separate jug, etc. Rituals give focus and structure to our lives. I might not go out to work, but making that coffee helps make my brain transition from home to job, and after I have finished drinking it, I’m ready to leave behind thoughts of shopping, washing, homework projects, and doctor’s appointments, and open my laptop, or pick up my pen.
6. Opening parcels:
Okay, I admit it, this one really does count as procrastination. I just wanted the fleeting thrill of unwrapping something, and once it was open, I couldn’t help giving my new hair styling gadget a try. I probably could have been at my desk a few minutes earlier – but at least I’m definitely not having a bad hair day today…
Five out of six ain’t bad, I’d say. Stalling, temporizing, dilly-dallying, vacillation – call it what you like, some kind of delaying tactics are an essential part of an author’s day, and for me this morning has definitely been a procrastination win!
The Escape is out now in paperback, e-book and Audible.
About The Book
A compelling wartime drama for fans of Lucinda Riley, Rachel Hore and Katherine Webb
Detta works as a translator for a Nazi-run labour camp for French workers. One winter morning in early 1945, Detta passes a group of exhausted British prisoners of war who are being force-marched westwards. The following day she receives an urgent message to contact the local priest. He is harbouring a group of escaped British prisoners of war in the manse: can she help?
London, 1989. Miranda is a 19-year old photography student in London, in thrall to her older boyfriend, a journalist called Quill. In November the fall of the Berlin Wall is all over the news. Quill asks Miranda to come with him to Germany: before they leave, Miranda’s grandmother gives her an old postcard of the village she was born in. Miranda hopes that working together in Berlin will help cement the cracks in her relationship with Quill, but one night his behaviour spills over into violence, and Miranda ends up fleeing through the rubble of the Berlin wall and into the East. As she travels further, she begins to suspect she’s being followed by the Stasi. If she goes on, she worries that she’ll be taken into custody and be accused of spying; if she turns back, it means returning to Quill.
At last her grandmother’s photograph offers the solution. She tells people that she is going to find her family in the East. The Catholic church, and the manse, opposite where her grandmother once lived, are still standing. And the secrets of the past begin to be revealed.
Wow, what a gripping and thought- provoking book. From the very first page when Detta spot’s the Russian planes flying over her office, I was hooked. I wanted to know what would happen to her and what came of Tom. I was turning the pages lightening quick, becoming more and more engrossed in a story that spans from 1945 to 1989. This is a truly thrilling and moving book, set during two unsettled and dangerous times, and centres around two women in particular.
This is the first book I have read by Clare Harvey, I didn’t know what to expect from her writing. Yes, I have read a lot of great things about her work, but I like to make my own opinions, and my opinion is that Ms Harvey has a true skill. She has a rare gift, time slip stories at times don’t always work and some can fall a little flat or become confusing the further into the story the reader gets. But not this one. Ms Harvey easily takes the reader from Detta in 1945 and jumps cleanly to Miranda in 1989, the transitions from one woman and one era to the next and then back again is perfectly timed and written.
As I said above the story is split between two era’s; in 1945, Detta lives in a little village in Germany working as a translator – which gives a real insight into what was going on at this stage in the war. The Russian are moving in, there is a quiet hostility that just jumps out at you read. The part with the mother and baby trying to get on the train and facing an onslaught of hostility was particularly moving. When she receives word from the local priest for help, she at first is uncertain as whether to assist as he is harbouring escaped British prisoners of war. Dare she help him and these poor men, while putting her own life at risk if she was ever caught?
The second part of the story set during 1989 the Berlin wall has fallen and trainee photographer is right in the thick of it. She is only in Berlin as her older boyfriend; Quill asked her to go with him, but one thing leads to another and the night ends in violence. As she flees the feeling of threats and danger is ever present, it leaped of the pages and your heart is in your mouth as your follow Miranda as she makes her way through some pretty harrowing moments, believing she is being followed she ends up using the old postcard her grandmother gave her, and says she is going to find her family in East Germany.
The threads that start to appear which link the two women makes for compelling and intriguing reading. The way Ms Harvey has entwined raw history throughout the story is beautifully done. There is a real sense of not knowing what’s to come, at not letting anything slip through your fingers as you never know if you will ever get the chance or see the person again. There are moments which had shivers running down my back and tears in my eyes; such as the march of the concentration camp workers, wearing nothing but rags and skeletal thin as they lumbered past Tom’s prisoner of war camp is harrowing.
This is an absolute stunning piece of writing, it’s sensitive, poignant, engaging, compelling, beautifully written, rich in historic detail, a thrilling story which will grab you and not let you go. Really this is a perfect book for all those who love historic fiction, if you love the likes of Pam Jenoff, Alison Richman or Kate Mosse then read this book.
It is in one word; Perfection! – Honestly, I can’t say any more it is really is.
This was a complimentary copy via the publisher in exchange for a honest review as apart of this blog tour, thank you so much Jess.
The Escape can be found at Amazon, do buy it, I cannot recommend it enough.
Cadenza by Stella Riley (@RileyStella) #BlogTour #Historical #Saga #RockliffeSeries #HistoricalFiction #BlogTour #HFVBTBlogTours #Giveaway via @hfvbt
I have the great pleasure to be hosting Stella Riley’s Blog Tour for her latest novel, Cadenza.
I haven’t read any of Ms Riley’s books yet, but I have heard so many great things about her work . You can read all about her new book; Cadenza below, plus there is a chance to enter our giveaway! Are you ready to meet the Rockliffes?
Cadenza by Stella Riley
Publication Date: November 22, 2018
eBook; 380 Pages
Genre: Historical Romance
The performance finished in a flourish of technical brilliance and the young man rose from the harpsichord to a storm of applause.
Julian Langham was poised on the brink of a dazzling career when the lawyers lured him into making a catastrophic mistake. Now, instead of the concert platform, he has a title he doesn’t want, an estate verging on bankruptcy … and bewildering responsibilities for which he is totally unfitted.
And yet the wreckage of Julian’s life is not a completely ill wind. For Tom, Rob and Ellie it brings something that is almost a miracle … if they dare believe in it.
Meanwhile, first-cousins Arabella Brandon and Elizabeth Marsden embark on a daring escapade which will provide each of them with a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The adventure will last only a few weeks, after which everything will be the way it was before. Or so they think. What neither of them expects is for it to change a number of lives … most notably, their own.
And there is an additional complication of which they are wholly unaware.
The famed omniscience of the Duke of Rockliffe.
Amazon US | Amazon UK | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | Smashwords
About the Author
Readers’ Favorite award-winning author and B.R.A.G. Medallion honoree Stella Riley trained as a teacher in London and now lives in Kent. She enjoys Amateur Dramatics, dancing, reading and travel. She is fascinated by the English Civil Wars and has written six books set in that period. She loves the extravagant fashions of the mid-Georgian period, likes men with long hair and her current passion is for Baroque harpsichord music.
The first 5 books of the Rockliffe series (recommended in The Times newspaper!) are also available in audio, narrated by Alex Wyndham. And Rockliffe Book Six – CADENZA – is currently available for pre-order and will be released on November 22nd.
Blog Tour Schedule
Make sure you keep following this great blog tour as there are some great blog stops.
Sunday, November 25
Excerpt at Old Timey Books
Monday, November 26
Feature at Donna’s Book Blog
Tuesday, November 27
Excerpt at Maiden of the Pages
Thursday, November 29
Excerpt at Among the Reads
Monday, December 3
Guest Post at Chicks, Rogues and Scandals
Monday, December 17
Review at Coffee and Ink
Tuesday, December 18
Feature at CelticLady’s Reviews
Wednesday, December 19
Interview at Passages to the Past
During the Blog Tour we will be giving away eBooks from Stella Riley’s Rockliffe series – The Parfit Knight, The Mésalliance, The Player, The Wicked Cousin, or Hazard! 5 eBooks are up for grabs!
To enter, click on the ‘Cadenza’ link below to be taken to the gleam form.
– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on December 19th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US residents only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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!
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 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.
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
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.