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Guest Post: Susan Higginbotham, author of The Woodvilles

Woodville small coverToday I’m thrilled to welcome Susan Higginbotham, author of such fantastic historical novels as The Traitor’s Wife and Hugh and Bess, with a guest post to celebrate the release of her first published non-fiction work! The Woodvilles is out now in the UK and on Kindle in the US; in the meantime enjoy Susan’s post below on the death of Edward Woodville.

In April 1488, Edward Woodville, the youngest brother of Elizabeth Woodville and one of the men who had shared in Henry Tudor’s victory at Bosworth three years before, was awarded the Order of the Garter. He did not enjoy it long, because on July 28 of that same year, he fell in battle attempting to aid Francis, the Duke of Brittany.

The duke, who had offered succor and support to Henry Tudor as well as to Edward Woodville during their exile, was threatened with a French invasion. Edward longed to help his old friend. As Polydore Vergil tells it:

Edward Woodville, a stout and courageous man . . . either to avoid the tedium of peace or moved by his love of the duke, earnestly beseeched King Henry that by his permission he might go to Britanny with some band of soldiers to aid his friends. And, lest the King of France could reproach Henry for this, he said he would go secretly with no supplies, which would give a show of unfeigned flight. The king, who hoped that a peace would be arranged by his ambassadors, was so far from indulging Edward’s ardor that he strictly forbade him to undertake any scheme of the kind, thinking it foreign to his dignity to offend Charles, to whom he hoped to ingratiate himself in a matter of little importance which he thought would do nothing to aid the Duke of Britanny. But Edward, when the king had forbidden him to do as he wished, decided to act without his knowledge, and quickly and secretly went to the Isle of Wight, of which he was lieutenant. And from there, having gathered a band of soldiers to the number of approximately four hundred, he crossed over to Britanny and joined with them against the French.

King Charles of France instructed his commander, General de la Trémoille, on 5 July 1488 to “make war as vigorously as you can,” an order which the general followed with enthusiasm. On 28 July, Duke Francis, after meeting with a council of war that included Edward, determined to go to the relief of Fougères and St Aubin, both under siege. Although it turned out to be too late to save the fortresses, which had surrendered, the Bretons determined, as reported by Molinet, “to engage the French . . . as best they could.”

The Marshal de Rieux was in overall command of the Breton forces, Trémoille in charge of the French. To fool the French into believing that there were a large number of English troops, the Breton army dressed 1,700 Bretons in surcoats bearing the red cross of St George, like the men of Edward’s forces.

Plaque on Isle of Wight commemorating Edward Woodville. Photograph courtesy of author Dorothy Davies"? Thanks!

Plaque on Isle of Wight commemorating Edward Woodville.
Photograph courtesy of author Dorothy Davies”? Thanks!

As reported by Edmund Hall:

When both the armies were approaching to the other, the ordinance shot so terribly and with such a violence, that it sore damaged and encumbered both the parties. When the shot was finished, both the vanguards joined together with such a force that it was marvell[ous] to behold. The Englishmen shot so fast, that the Frenchmen in the forward, were fain to recule to the battle where their horsemen were. The rearward of the Frenchmen, seeing this first discomfiture began to flee, but the captains retired their men together again, & the horsemen set fiercely on the Bretons, and slew the most part of the footmen. When the forward of the Bretons perceived that their horsemen nor the Almaines carne not forward they provided for themselves & fled, some here, and some there, where they thought to have refuge or succour. So that in conclusion the Frenchmen obtained the victory, & slew all such as wore red crosses, supposing them all to be Englishmen. In this conflict were slain almost all the Englishmen, & six thousand Bretons, Amongst whom were found dead the lord Woodville . . .

Legend has it that only one of the men who had left with Edward returned to the Isle of Wight: a page named Diccon Cheke.

When the Knights of the Garter met again in 1489, they would hold a requiem mass and offer the swords, helms, and crests of two fallen knights, one of whom was Edward. It was left for the heralds to write his epitaph: “a noble and courageous knight” who bravely fought and died for a cause not his own.

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Excerpt: 1356, Bernard Cornwell

1356Bernard Cornwell’s latest novel, 1356, releases this week from Harper Collins in the UK. In honor of the release, the publisher has given me permission to share this excerpt with you – a perfect demonstration of just how excellent Cornwell is at writing battle scenes. Enjoy, and I hope you’ll return to read my review of the whole book tomorrow!

“The dauphin’s battle aimed itself at the centre of the English line. The widest gap in the hedge was there and, as the French came closer, they saw the largest banners flying above the waiting men-at-arms beyond the gap, and those banners included the impudent flag that quartered the French royal arms with England’s lions. That banner proclaimed that the Prince of Wales was there and, through the slits in their visors, the French could see the prince mounted on a horse, sitting close behind the line, and the battle anger was on them now. Not just anger, but terror, and for some men joy. Those men worked their way to the front rank. They were hungry for fighting, they were confident, and they were savagely good at their trade. Many other men were drunk, but the wine had given them bravado, and the arrows were slicing in from left and right, striking shields, crumpling on armour, sometimes finding a weak spot, but the attack flowed around the fallen men and, so very close now, the French broke into a run, screaming, and fell on the English.

That first rush was the most important. That was when the shortened lances could knock the enemy over, when the axes and hammers and maces would be given extra impetus by the charge, and so the dauphin’s men screamed at the tops of their voices as they charged, as they swung, thrust, and chopped their weapons.

And the English line went back.

They were forced back by the fierceness of the charge and by the weight of men who crammed through the gap, but though they went back, they did not break. Blades crashed on shields. Axes and maces slashed down. Lead-weighted steel crumpled helmets, shattered skulls, forced blood and brains to spurt through split metal, and men fell and in falling made obstacles, and other men tripped on them. The impact of the charge was slowed, men tried to stand and were stunned by blows, but the French had forced their way through the gap and now were widening the fight, attacking left and right as more men came through the hedge.

The English and Gascons were still being driven back, but slowly now. The initial impact had left men dead, wounded, bleeding, and moaning, but the line was not broken. The commanders, their horses close behind the dismounted men-at-arms, were shouting at them to stay closed up. To keep the line. And the French were trying to break the line, to cut and hammer their way through the shields so they could shatter the English into small groups that could be surrounded and slaughtered. Men hacked with axes, screamed obscenities, thrust with lances, swung maces, and the shields splintered, but the line held. It went backwards under the pressure, and more Frenchmen came through the gap, but the Englishmen and Gascons were fighting with the desperation of trapped men and the confidence of troops who had spent months together, men who knew and trusted each other, and who understood what waited for them if the line broke.

‘Welcome to the devil’s slaughteryard, sire,’ Sir Reginald Cobham said to the Prince of Wales.”

I received this book for free for review.

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Guest Post by Eva Stachniak, author of The Winter Palace

the winter palaceToday I’m thrilled to welcome Eva Stachniak, the author of The Winter Palace, to Medieval Bookworm, on the little things that make history come alive for novelists.

Once in a while one comes across a sentence that makes history alive in ways one hasn’t anticipated. As a writer, I find such instances priceless, for they allow me to imagine aspects of my characters’ lives in ways I might have overlooked.

In her Memoirs, which she attempted to write a few times, thus giving the posterity several versions of her early life, Catherine the Great describes a palace fire she witnessed from the safety of her carriage when she was still the Grand Duchess of Russia. The description is quite conventional at first: the burning balustrade, the furniture being hastily carried out, the servants’ desperate attempts to salvage as much as possible, the heat of the burning building becoming more and more impossible to bear. But for me the whole scene becomes truly alive at the moment Catherine writes: “Then I saw a singular thing. It was the astonishing number of rats and mice that descended the staircase in a line, without even really hurrying.”

The image of rodents in single file leaving the burning palace made me think of life in these mice-infested dwellings. What would I see if I were there? Droppings everywhere? Mice scurrying along the walls? Hiding in shoes? Among fire logs? Rats drowning in jugs of cream? I started researching ways people tried to protect themselves from vermin: placing dried rosemary sprigs in their linen drawers, covering food in the pantry with heavy lids, placing bed legs in basins of water.

After a little bit of such digging, I was not surprised to find out that the Winter Palace was a home to over a hundred of palace cats. Catherine’s predecessor, Empress Elizabeth Petrovna, I discovered, loved cats and encouraged them to settle in the palace. Some travelers report seeing Elizabeth’s cats dressed in velvet suits, lolling about on her bed. Others complain that the imperial felines were so well-fed that they didn’t even try to catch mice. Soon I collected enough references to the palace cats to begin imagining their traces. There must have been hair on the furniture, smudges left by their whiskers on the window panes. There must have been endearing antics in their favourite spots: by the fireplaces, in the laundry room where fresh linen was kept. They must have claimed their spots on Elizabeth Petrovna’s shoes, or on her bed.

The cats made the Winter Palace vivid in my mind.

A little more about the author: Eva Stachniak was born in Wroclaw, Poland, and came to Canada in 1981. She has been a radio broadcaster and college English and Humanities lecturer. Her debut novel, Necessary Lies, won the Amazon.com/Books in Canada First Novel Award, and her second novel, Garden of Venus, has been translated into seven languages. Her third novel, The Winter Palace, has been published in Canada (Doubleday), US (Bantam) and the UK (Transworld). She lives in Toronto, where she is working on her second historical novel about Catherine the Great, The Empire of the Night.

Don’t forget to come back tomorrow for my review of the book!

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Guest Post by Laurie R. King: Meeting Holmes and Russell

I’m delighted to welcome Laurie R. King to Medieval Bookworm today! Laurie is the author of 21 bestselling crime novels, including the historical series featuring Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes. I reviewed the first in the series on Wednesday. King’s upcoming novel Pirate King is set in 1924 Lisbon, London, and Morocco.

I met Sherlock Holmes one September morning in 1987, when I sat down with a pad of paper and gave birth to his apprentice.

Strictly speaking, of course, I had encountered Holmes before that. The PBS series with Jeremy Brett was broadcasting, and no doubt I’d read one of the stories in high school, Hound of the Baskervilles, maybe, or The Speckled Band. However, I didn’t really meet the detective until the week both my kids were off at school for the first time, and I wrote the line, “I was fifteen when I first met Sherlock Holmes, fifteen years old with my nose in a book as I walked the Sussex Downs, and nearly stepped on him.”

That’s when I realized I had no clue who Sherlock Holmes was.

The next day I got my hands on a two-volume paperback of the four Holmes novels and fifty-six short stories (with small print!) Reading the Conan Doyle stories was a revelation. Sherlock Holmes is a thinking machine, right? And he’s filed in the Young Adult section of the library, because those are boy’s adventure stories, right?

What I didn’t expect were the humor and passion the stories contain.

Not that both qualities aren’t tucked securely behind the adventure. When Holmes looks at a client (The Red-Headed League) and says, “Beyond the obvious facts that he has at some time done manual labour, that he takes snuff, that he is a Freemason, that he has been in China, and that he has done a considerable amount of writing lately, I can deduce nothing,” the surface meaning at first seems to be that Holmes is demanding a great deal more of himself than normal human beings do. That his list may also be a gentle pulling of Watson’s leg tends to be set aside. But when Watson comes into their shared rooms (in Hound of the Baskervilles) and protests at the quantity of tobacco smoke in the air, Holmes’ reply is definitely snort-worthy: “It is a singular thing, but I find that a concentrated atmosphere helps a concentration of thought. I have not pushed it to the length of getting into a box to think, but that is the logical outcome of my convictions.”

Holmes passion was in the stories I read, too. Not so much a passion for women—as Watson says, “all emotions, and that one particularly, were abhorrent to his cold, precise but admirably balanced [sic] mind.” And Holmes himself clearly states (Devil’s Foot) “I have never loved, Watson.”

However, the rest of his statement is where a reader begins to doubt this passionless exterior: “…but if I did and if the woman I loved had met such an end, I might act as our lawless lion-hunter had done.” Similarly (Three Garridebs) when Watson is shot, Holmes’ “face set like flint as he glared at our prisoner…’By the Lord, it is as well for you. If you had killed Watson, you would not have got out of this room alive.’”

A person who admits that he would be capable of murder is no passionless thinking machine.

As later generations were to find with the Star Trek character Mr. Spock, passion under iron control (be it anger or eroticism) is far more fascinating than passion freely expressed. Reading the Conan Doyle stories knowing that the man at their center is a man seething with clamped-down passion makes for a very different vision of Sherlock Holmes.

It also opens all kinds of doors when it comes to writing about Holmes’ married life. But perhaps that is a blog post for a different day.

Laurie’s thoughts on Sherlock Holmes, including a chronology of his age, can be found on her web site.

To order a signed copy of the upcoming Pirate King, visit the Poisoned Pen.

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Guest Review: The Trinity Six, Charles Cumming

Today I’d like to welcome one of my friends, Josh, who blogs at Fortress of Solitude, with a review of The Trinity Six by Charles Cumming.

In The Trinity Six, Charles Cummings picks up on the tradition of authors such as John le Carre in the genre of Cold War British spy novel. The prime innovation is that rather than using a spy as the main character, Cummings uses a professor of Russian history named Sam Gaddis. Gaddis is an academic trope of sorts in that he is an excellent historian, but down on his luck and in his attempt to extricate himself stumbles upon a quarter century old story that could collapse a government.

But I am getting ahead of myself. One of the most famous spy rings in history was the Magnificent Five. Maclean, Burgess, Blunt, Philby and Cairncross were students at Cambridge in the 1930’s when they were recruited by a professor as spies for Russia. At the time of recruitment they were soldiers in the war against fascism in Europe. Each excelled and took posts in the British government, working against fascism, but also passing information to their Russian masters. In the 1950’s when the Americans began to break encryption patterns from World War II, they caught on to Maclean and Burgess and the ring began to collapse. The last of the Magnificent Five, Blunt was not exposed until 1979. But perhaps these five were not alone; perhaps there was a sixth, and that is the discovery from which all of Gaddis’ adventures stem. One revelation leads to another and Gaddis finds himself unravelling one Cold War mystery after another.

Despite the traditional qualifier that all characters are used fictitiously and the story is a product of the author’s imagination, the situation presented of an immensely popular Russian President who was a mid-ranking officer in the last years of the Cold War, but through brutal suppression of opponents of his reign had transformed into a dictator in all but name, smacks of reality. Perhaps incidental, but Cummings reveals a commentary on the Russian state. All the while The Trinity Six is compelling and an easy read. My only critique is that at one or two points the supposedly coincidental events seem to be a stretch. As such they make the story seem somewhat railroaded, rather than a narrative that actually could happen. But it is not the characters or anything that they do, or even the scenario that is unconvincing. Simply put, there was just one too many coincidences.

Anyone who likes thrillers or spy novels ought to give The Trinity Six a read. Cummings is not yet to the level of le Carre, however the best is yet to come and this is a good place to start.

I am an Amazon Associate.

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Review: Gawain and the Green Knight

At the beginning of Classics Month, Tasha at Truth, Beauty, Freedom, and Books and I challenged each other to read a book from our specialities.  For her I chose Gawain and the Green Knight, a fairly well-known classic of medieval literature.  To check out my review of Nadja by Andre Breton, head on over to her blog.

forest

The Hunt in the Forest by Paolo Uccello, c. 1470

I

Gather all and put much thought

to a tale of noble Camelot.

On New Year’s Eve the court did gather

With wine and beer and much blather

Ladies fair and knights bold

Plus Gweneviere and Arthur, we are told

When all at once, what should they see

But a walking, talking Christmas tree!

(Actually it’s a man)

Yes, ’twas a man, but green

hair green, skin green, tongue green

Of great stature and much mass

Even his horse was the color of grass

Everything green, but eyes that were red

Even an idiot could guess where this led

But not Arthur and his patriotic knights

Who thought the green man rather nice

(How stupid are they?)
The Christmas Tree spoke, and offered a game

To anyone brave enough to issue his name

Strike a blow against the green man, and when the time came

A year from the next day, the green man would do the same.

What’s in it for the knights, one might wonder

But Sir Gawain this did not ponder.

He accepted the ax, and the green man knelt

Then to his neck, a fatal blow Wawain dealt.

(He chopped the Christmas Tree’s head off)

The head rolled about, the court watching whence it should land

Dismissing the Green Man, and thinking the matter at an end

Green blood spurted out from the tree

And Gawain anticipated congratulations there’d be

But the Christmas Tree rose from where he sat

And calmly collected his body’s hat

Holding his head, he told Gawain the way to his home

To meet a year from then, and to come alone

After which he left.

II

Despite that Gawain was not too bright,

Even he knew to do what was right

Honor and chivalry demanded

He meet the Christmas Tree and be beheaded

Thus he set out in the morning

Uncertain about where he was going

A year later, and with much apprehension

For a view of reaching the Green Man’s mansion

(Which I’m guessing is in a forest)

But alas our knight knew not left from right

(re: none too bright)

Far and wide our hero did bumble

Searching for Green Man’s Green Chapel.

He was cold, and hungry, and sad to boot

When what should he spy: a moat!

Connected to a grand castle with turrets and flags

And the friendliest host Gawain’d ever had.

Almost TOO friendly.

The man himself was handsome and wealthy

With two others in residence: an old woman quite stealthy,

And a wife so beautiful she left Gawain nonplussed;

They took one look at each other and fell into lust.

Then with Gawain, a bargain the host assayed

That he would go hunting during the day

Upon his return, his catch he would giveth

And Gawain his daily claims would returneth.

Sounds like another sketchy deal to me.

But Gawain, like an idiot, pronounced his agreement

And into more trouble our hero descendeth.

But I shall say no more of Wawain’s toil

For fear that his tale I will spoil

At first I thought this story difficult to read

I did not comprehend the why of the characters’ deeds

But then Gawain met the lady, sorely tempting

And things got MUCH more entertaining.

But who doesn’t like a little romance, right?

Tis clear that this tale is all about pursuit:

of animals, women, and bravery to salute.

For while the host was hunting game,

The hostess was chasing down Gawain

Quite a dilemma for him to be thinking about

But of course not much thinking is done by that clout

Still, there’s a twist that I thought was grand

For in everything, a famous woman has a hand.

Highly recommended!

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Au Currant: 3 Great Classic Books That Are Readable, Relatable & Enjoyable (Even Today!)

classicsbuttonPlease welcome Nicole from Linus’s Blanket today as she shares a few of the classics that she loves, and why you can enjoy them too!

When Meghan mentioned that she was going to be delving into the classics this month with Tasha from Heidenkind’s Hideaway, I was very excited. Classics are often pushed as bearing a standard among books. They can be used in order to judge whether a person is well-read, and as a means of learning life lessons, problem solving and being able to navigate in the world. I didn’t feel like it helped me accomplish any of those things when I read them as a teen. After having mixed results reading classics in high school and in college, I have been dipping into them a little bit more over the past couple of years.

I have grappled with the issues of whether I find them pleasurable to read, and worthwhile in the sense that they pose relevant thoughts on issues still being examined and debated today, and if they shed any light into issues that I have encountered in my life. While some classics have threads of relevant social issues, others were a far cry from interesting me or readily accessible to read (Frankenstein, Silas Marner, The Scarlett Letter – I’m looking at you). In my search for the good ones, I have found a few that have hit the trifecta for me in terms of being readable, relatable and just plain enjoyable.

Lady Audley’s Secret, by Mary Elizabeth Braddon – Lady Audley’s Secret made quite a splash by exploring the idea that a woman could be a serious threat to domesticity and a happy home. Lady Audley has secrets from her husband, and his son Robert Audley suspects her of being a murderess, which was unheard of for women of her social standing at the time. I found this book to be very easy to get into, and I loved the whole who dunnit aspect of the novel. Lady Audley is invested in her happiness and seizes the life that she wants by her own power, even if by nefarious means. It was an interesting to see a plausible rendition of a woman doing this in Victorian times, and even more so being that it was penned by a female author. There is more that I could say about this wonderful novel, but I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who wants to read it.

The Great Gatsby – I remember reading this in high school, and even with the teacher giving his spiel, I still really had no idea what it was about. The most that I remembered about it was that we watched the movie in class and everyone wore that crazy flapper gear. Reading Gatsby as an adult, I was really able to appreciate the intricacies of the storyline- the class distinctions, the recklessness of the wealthy, and the love that fuels one man’s goals to become wealthy and powerful not understanding that he can never be as his beloved would wish. Even though there were no innocents in this timely story, I have to admit that I felt for Gatsby and the fact that no matter what he did he already wasn’t good enough and would never belong. He went to great lengths to get the love of his life, and it pretty much wrecked his life. This is a great read and it’s easy to relate to unrequited love, and past traumas providing the drive for great achievement.

Pride & Prejudice – I almost didn’t put this on my list because it is such an obvious choice for me (and for many!), but I also felt that to have left it off would be disingenuous. I don’t think that I have read any other book as much as I have read this one. Over the years my readings have changed and whom my sympathies lie with now are different than what they once were (right now I seem to be in Darcy’s camp, and think that Elizabeth was too hard him), but the conversational tone of the novel is so engaging and the themes so absolutely timeless that it is hard to not come back to this again and again. Who can’t sympathize with an overbearing mother, insufferable relatives, and falling in love with someone who doesn’t fit with all of your expectations, much less your families? I think it’s fortunate that in this lovely novel, everything works out in the end (as we all hope that it might in our own lives when we are facing similar situations). Pride and Prejudice is so good, that each time I read it it, I get all caught up again, even though I know exactly what will happen. Isn’t that a riot?

So how about you? Do you agree with any of my choices? What classics do you find to be readable, relatable and enjoyable?

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Guest Post: Amelia Grey, author of A Marquis to Marry

marquis coverFor today’s guest post, I’ve asked Amelia Grey to share with us how she manages to build the relationship between her hero and heroine.  I hope you find her answer as interesting as I do.  Stay tuned for giveaway info at the end of the post!

Every writer has a different way to develop the relationship between the hero and heroine.  Some plan out the development from start to finish and they know exactly everything that will happen between them before they write the first word of the book.  Others allow the relationship to grow spontaneously from the start and never write a word of synopsis or plan any of the story in advance.  When I think about this concerning my books, I realize that most of the time I actually do a little of both.

I always start by writing a master plan, which is actually my synopsis, and the development of the romance is a big part of that.  Writing a synopsis allows me the time to think through the major events in the hero and heroine’s relationship.  To me those major events are the meetingthe first love scenethe break up, and then the makeup.  Everything that comes between the meeting and the makeup is what I like to call the courtship.

To me the courtship of the relationship is the part that is spontaneous as I write.  That is what I allow to grow and develop as I write the story, and sometimes, I’m astounded at what comes up during the courtship.  Let me give you an example from my current book A Marquis To Marry, which is the second book in The Rogues’ Dynasty Series.

First I’ll give you a short, word-for-word excerpt from the original synopsis that I sent to my editor.  This will show you how from the beginning how I set up what I call the major events to love story.

The meeting: But then the duchess shows up at his door.  She’s not old and she’s not ugly.  Susannah Brookfield is Race’s age.  She’s beautiful, enchanting and has the most tempting lips he’s ever seen.  With her intelligence and wit she intrigues him as no other woman ever has.

Susannah doesn’t care how fast her heart beats when she encounters the Marquis.  She can’t allow him to intimidate her with his commanding words or enthrall her with his chiseled good looks and charming smile.

The love scene: Race and Susannah meet again at a party, and Race asks Susannah to dance.  The minute their hands touch he knows he wants her in his bed.  And he has no doubts he’ll get her there.  He senses she is as drawn to him as he is to her, and being a widow she has the freedom to accept him as a lover.

Even though Susannah believes Race is trying to trick her into giving up her claim on the pearls by charming her into his bed, she finds his kisses too persuasive to resist.  She surrenders to his skilled seduction and they become lovers.

The break-up: But later, things take a decided turn for the worse when Race discovers the ropes of pearls have been stolen from his home.  He automatically assumes Susannah had someone steal them while he was at her house making love to her. With distrust between them, separately they search for the pearls.

The makeup: Race and Susannah’s attraction to each other is maddening and irresistible.  Before too long they end up back in each other’s arms.

All of the above was written before I wrote the first sentence of the book.  But that gave me a fairly good outline of where in the book I needed the major scenes of the loves story.   I had no idea what would happen during what I call the courtship.  That is where I let the characters take over and show me what they want to do and say to build their relationship.

When I started writing A Marquis To Marry, I had no idea that in the beginning Race and Susannah would be competitive with each other, but they are.  I had no idea that throughout the book Race was going to write Susannah short, informal notes that makes her heart pound with excitement every time she gets one.  I had no idea that Race would have to cut a hole through a seven-foot high and three-foot wide hedge to get to Susannah’s house, or that they would attend a boxing match together.   I hadn’t planned out any of the little things that would make their relationship grow and thrive.

So now that I’ve shown you how I develop the relationship between the hero and heroine, why don’t you tell me if, when reading a book you can tell what is planned from the beginning, developed spontaneously, or do you think all authors are like me and do a little of both?

A Marquis to Marry, Book Two in the Rogues’ Dynasty Trilogy, In Stores October 2009amelia-grey-photo

Alexander Mitchell Raceworth, the dashing fourth Marquis of Raceworth, is shocked when the alluring young Duchess of Brookfield accuses him of stealing pricelesspearls belonging to her family. Susannah Brookfield is the most beautiful, enchanting woman he has ever met, but despite his attraction, he’s not about to hand over the pearls.

Though suspicion and mistrust drive them apart when the pearls are stolen, Race suggests they pool their resources to recover them. If they do find them, will they finally be able to give in to love, or will the truth of the elusive necklace tear them apart once and for all?

About the Author

Amelia Grey’s awards include the Booksellers Best and the Aspen Gold, and as Gloria Dale Skinner, the coveted Romantic Times Award for Love and Laughter and the prestigious Maggie Award. Her books have been featured in Doubleday and Rhapsody Book Clubs. Happily married for twenty-five years, she lives in Panama City Beach, Florida.

Giveaway Info

Sourcebooks is sponsoring a giveaway for one reader to win a set of Amelia’s current romances in this trilogy, A Duke to Die For (which I reviewed here) and A Marquis to Marry. To enter, leave a comment on this post with an answer to Amelia’s question above before midnight on Monday October 26th.  US and Canada only.  Good luck! The winner of this contest according to random.org is commenter number twelve, Anita Yancey.

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Guest Blog: Why I Love Historical Romance

Keira runs a book review blog for readers by readers on romance novels at Love Romance Passion. She’s been reading romance since she was a teenager and began blogging about romance so she could share her passion for her favorite genre. She loves reading paranormal, Regency, historical America, and highlander most of all and completely adores blind and wounded heroes.  She’s celebrating her birthday, so give her some love!

My love for historical romances started a little over a decade ago when I found a box of romances in a cabinet in the laundry room. I figured they were hidden back there because I was not suppose to read them so I took just one and carefully closed the doors and raced back to my bedroom where I deposited my treasure under my pillow.

thegambleThat book was Gamble by LaVryle Spencer. It took place during the Temperance Movement in the United States. I proceeded to read every novel in that cabinet. Some were Harlequin Presents but a majority of them were full length stand alones by LaVryle Spencer and I loved them best. She wrote some contemporary but my true favorites were the ones set in the past.

I love romance historicals because of Spencer’s writings, but I did not stay with American historicals. I strayed from American historicals because English historical romances were prevalent and easy to find. They still are today!

Go to any book store and you can easily find a Georgian-Victorian period romance. Most of them are Regency, but the three eras are back to back and the transition is not always easily seen. Highlander romance is also very popular right now too and a new favorite of mine. Can you believe that I only started reading them a year ago? I know! Me neither!

I’ve read classics like Pride and Prejudice and Wuthering Heights. I’ve a new love for Georgette Heyer romances and the Jane Austen variations that are dominating the market right now. I could go on but simply put: I just love historicals! Why? Three reasons!

Reason #1 – Historical romance opens a window into the past.

I will never live during the time of American expansion to the mid-west, but I can read about it. I will never dance at Almack’s wearing a glittering gown or be presented for a London Season, but I can read about it. Nor will I ever be in a Viking raid, but once again I can read about it and imagine it.

Reason #2 – The element of fantasy.

Not only are historicals filled with facts and information but they also share an element of fantasy. Contemporary romance rarely holds that same element of pure fantasy though both types of romances must start with the big “what if?” Medieval romances for instance are a natural outgrowth of fairy tales. Variations of Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast are plenteous in historical romance… contemporary too.

Reason #3 – The passion exposed under the reserved manners.

This is a glorious combination and not something readily found in contemporary romances. Compare the social mores back then to ours today. I love immersing myself in the manners of the past where the smallest touch was worth so much.

But enough about me and why I love historical romances! It’s your turn… tell me why you love historical romances! Which type is your favorite?

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Guest Review: Beach Trip, Cathy Holton

When we first heard about Beach Trip, my mom knew she wanted to read it right away.  So she had the first crack at the review copy and here are Carolyn’s thoughts!

Beach Trip is a story of four girls: Mel, a mystery writer living in New York, Sara, an Atlanta attorney, Annie, a successful Nashville businesswoman, and Lola, sweet-tempered and absentminded, who all went to college together. After 23 years they agree to go on a week vacation to Lola’s lavish North Carolina beach house. They go here in an attempt to relive the carefree days of their college years. But as the week wears on and each woman’s hidden story is gradually revealed, these four friends learn that they must inevitably confront their shared past: a failed love affair, a discarded suitor, a betrayal, and a secret that threatens to change their bond, and their lives, forever.

I found Beach Trip to be the kind of book that once you start reading it you don’t want to put it down. All the characters in the book are so real and likeable. I would like to be friends with these woman. Mel, with her strength and her inability to have a lasting relationship probably caused by her dysfunctional childhood. Sara, who is struggling with her son’s autism. Annie, who is struggling with her inappropriate affair with a professor in her college years. Lola, whose her sad life has led to her being kept away from her true love and being controlled by her mother and husband. That’s just to name a few of the many things that happen in these woman’s lives told to us by this wonderful author.

Cathy Holton wrote a terrific book. She gives us so much information about each of these woman. She tells us about them from their childhood up to present time. They all have very complicated and very real lives. In so many books you read, everyone is beautiful and has perfect lives. These women could be any one of us. Their parents weren’t perfect and they themselves all made plenty of mistakes. The all survived through the good and the bad.

The only part I didn’t like about this book was I felt that there was excessive drinking of alcohol. I don’t think you need to get drunk to have a good time or to reconnect with your friends.

I would recommend this book, it is a wonderful read. It is a book about real woman and real lives. Read it with a friend because you will want to discuss it with someone as you’re reading it. It also had a shocking ending, which I loved and never saw coming.

IndieBound | Powell’s | Amazon

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