Teaser Tuesday: A Bit of MANZANILLA Background
July 29th, 2014

Only one week left until The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla appears in stores!

Manzanilla Card 10

The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla, aka Pink XI, is Sally’s story. It is, however, not the story I originally intended to tell. I’d known I’d wanted to write a book about Sally, but there were two things I had decided about that book: 1) it would be a Christmas book (because if Turnip had a Christmas book, Sally had to have one, too); and 2) the hero was going to be a cousin of Lord Vaughn’s. Because, really, how amusing would it be to have Lord Vaughn forced to share holidays with Sally? For the rest of his life.

As you can imagine, Lord Vaughn didn’t like this plan.

Surprisingly, neither did Sally. Yes, Turnip had had a Christmas book… but that meant Sally wanted something entirely different. Something better. Christmas had been so done. (Do you ever get the feeling I impute a little too much agency to my characters?)

And then there was that whole Lord Vaughn relative thing…. In my original plan, Sally was, for somewhat tortuous reasons, going to be staying at a Vaughn family estate, during which time she would meet the enigmatic Vaughn cousin, who, of course, was going to be a smuggler, because it’s always rather fun to get to write about smugglers, especially if they’re of the devil may care Rhett Butler sort.

Apparently, Sally has strong feelings about smuggling. She’s really a rather law-abiding soul when it comes down to it. She wasn’t impressed; she was deeply scornful. And she really didn’t want to be related, in any way, shape or form, to Lord Vaughn.

So, by that mysterious alchemy by which ideas transform into books, the Christmas book became a Halloween one, and the hero, rather than being a smuggler, became a reclusive duke (who was not, I hasten to add, any relation to Lord Vaughn). The book does open at a party thrown by the Vaughns, who just happen to live in Belliston Square, which is dominated by the gloomy mansion of the elusive Duke of Belliston, but that’s about the extent of the overlap between the original plan and the eventual book.

Just to add some perspective on this process, way back when, when I started thinking about Turnip’s book, it was going to be set in… June. And involve a spy ring working out of a tailoring establishment (only Turnip’s in depth knowledge of men’s fashion could crack the code!).

Sometimes, it really all does feel like a sort of magic that it eventually comes out the way it does!

To learn more about The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla and read that scene at the Vaughn ball, just click here– or buy the book next Tuesday!


July 28th, 2014

For today’s Monday Give Away, we have a special treat: a copy of Susanna Kearsley’s The Splendour Falls!

Here’s the official blurb:
splendour falls
An Ancient Castle, a Tragic Love, and a Web of Secrets Begins to Unravel…

Emily Braden has stopped believing in fairy tales and happy endings. When her fascinating but unreliable cousin Harry invites her on a holiday to explore the legendary own of Chinon, and promptly disappears—well, that’s Harry for you.

As Emily makes the acquaintance of Chinon and its people, she begins to uncover dark secrets beneath the charm. Legend has it that during a thirteenth-century siege of the castle that looms over the city, Queen Isabelle, child bride of King John, hid a “treasure of great price.” And in the last days of the German occupation during World War II, another Isabelle living in Chinon, a girl whose love for an enemy soldier went tragically awry.

As the dangers of the past become disastrously real, Emily is drawn ever more deeply into a labyrinth of mystery as twisted as the streets and tunnels of the ancient town itself.

There is no author writing today who comes closer to Mary Stewart than Susanna Kearsley. (And you all know how I feel about Mary Stewart.) One of the talents both possess is bringing a foreign locale brilliantly to life– and making you wish you were there. Their heroines go on holiday (or take jobs) in remote places, only to stumble on all manner of skullduggery, ancient and modern.

So, for a copy of The Splendour Falls, here’s your question:

If you were a Mary Stewart or Susanna Kearsley heroine, where would you like to go on holiday? (Knowing, of course, that there will be mystery and intrigue and most likely a hero.)

The winner will be announced on Wednesday.


San Antonio– Today!
July 27th, 2014

If you’re in San Antonio, come join me today at the Twig Book Shop at 1:00!

I’ll be speaking about That Summer and the Pink books and pretty much anything else you’d like me to talk about it.

Here are the details:

When: July 27, 1:00
Where: The Twig Book Shop, 306 Pearl Parkway, Ste. 106

Back to our regularly scheduled give away on Monday….


Houston– Tonight!
July 24th, 2014

If you’re in the Houston area, come see me, Susan Elia MacNeal, and Beatriz Williams at Murder by the Book at 6:30.

A good time shall be had by all….

When: Thursday, July 24, 6:30
What: Talk & Signing with Susan Elia MacNeal & Beatriz Williams
Where: Murder By the Book, 2342 Bissonnet

I won’t be signing The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla, since it’s not out for another week and a half, but I will bring bookplates with me, so you can have one signed and ready for your copy.

If you’d like a signed copy of That Summer, The Ashford Affair, or any of my earlier books, but can’t make it to the event, just call the wonderful folks at Murder by the Book before tonight and they’ll see that it happens!

Next stop? San Antonio on Sunday (Twig Book Shop, 1:00, July 27).


July 23rd, 2014

The winner of the copy of The Passion of the Purple Plumeria is…

Beth! (Of Comment #19.)

Congrats, Beth! If you contact me with your details, I’ll pop your copy in the mail to you as soon as I get back from Texas next week.

Thanks so much to everyone for participating– and especially to Sharlene for all the lovely Purple Plumeria e-cards!


Texas Tomorrow!
July 23rd, 2014

If you’re in the Houston area, come see me, Beatriz Williams and Susan Elia MacNeal at Murder by the Book tomorrow (Thursday) night at 6:30.

After Houston, I’ll be heading on to San Antonio where you can find me at the Twig Book Shop at 1:00 on Sunday.

The details are:

Houston, TX

When: Thursday, July 24, 6:30
What: Talk & Signing with Susan Elia MacNeal & Beatriz Williams
Where: Murder By the Book, 2342 Bissonnet

San Antonio, TX
When: Sunday, July 27, 1:00
What: Talk & Signing
Where: Twig Book Shop, 306 Pearl Parkway, Ste. 106

No Dallas this trip, I’m afraid– but I’m very excited to be making my first ever visit to San Antonio!

Since The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla isn’t out yet, I’ll be bringing bookplates to sign.

If you’d like a signed copy of That Summer, The Ashford Affair, or any of my earlier books, but can’t make it to the event, just call the wonderful folks at Murder by the Book before tomorrow evening….


Teaser Tuesday: Colin & Eloise
July 22nd, 2014

Only two weeks to go until The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla… and it just dawned on me that I haven’t shared a scrap of the Colin and Eloise portion of the book!

Here, with just two weeks to go, is the entire, unabridged Prologue (aka the first Colin and Eloise chapter) of The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla….


Read the rest of this entry »


July 21st, 2014

Pink XI, The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla, comes out in just two weeks!

So, for this week’s Monday Give Away, we have a flashback to the previous book in the series, The Passion of the Purple Plumeria. (Just to remind Miss Gwen which book is actually about her.)

Here’s the official blurb:

PlumeriaColonel William Reid has returned home from India to retire near his children, who are safely stowed in an academy in Bath. Upon his return to the Isles, however, he finds that one of his daughters has vanished, along with one of her classmates.

Having served as second-in-command to the Pink Carnation, one of England’s most intrepid spies, it would be impossible for Gwendolyn Meadows to give up the intrigue of Paris for a quiet life in the English countryside—especially when she’s just overheard news of an alliance forming between Napoleon and an Ottoman Sultan. But, when the Pink Carnation’s little sister goes missing from her English boarding school, Gwen reluctantly returns home to investigate the girl’s disappearance.

Thrown together by circumstance, Gwen and William must cooperate to track down the young ladies before others with nefarious intent get their hands on them. But Gwen’s partnership with quick-tongued, roguish William may prove to be even more of an adventure for her than finding the lost girls…

Throughout The Passion of the Purple Plumeria, Miss Gwen is hard at work on her magnum opus, The Convent of Orsino (which those of you who have followed the series from the beginning may remember her starting way back in Pink I!). As you can tell from the title, it is the most gothic of the gothic, with more than a little bit of The Castle of Otranto about it. (Although Miss Gwen resents the implication that her work is in any way derivative.) Miss Gwen’s Convent of Orsino, the smash hit of 1806, plays a major role in Sally’s book, The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla….

Here, for your amusement, are some e-cards that Graphics by Sharlene made up for me to celebrate the release of The Passion of the Purple Plumeria last year.

For a chance to win a copy of The Passion of the Purple Plumeria, here’s your question:

Which of these e-cards do you like best?

The winner will be announced on Wednesday….

LW11 (3)

LW3 (2)

LW2 (2)


LW5 (3)

LW6 (2)




LW9 (1)





Blogger Bash!
July 19th, 2014

Thank so much to Debbie Bookstaber and Elements Associates for having me at Blogger Bash yesterday!

And, of course, huge thanks to the wonderful folks at St. Martin’s Press and Penguin, who generously donated all of the books you see below. (Not to mention the immense Midnight Manzanilla sign.)

Here’s the table at four o’clock, before the signing;

Blogger Bash 1

And here’s the same spot twenty minutes later:

Blogger Bash 2

It was such fun getting to meet and chat with so many lovely people. Thanks, Blogger Bashers! I now have many new blogs to read.


Weekly Reading Round-Up
July 19th, 2014

What with one thing and another, this is a slightly belated Weekly Reading Round-Up this week! I’ve been revisiting old favorites, Nancy Mitford’s Love in a Cold Climate and Dorothy Sayers’s second Harriet Vane mystery, Have His Carcase.

I also– moment of gloat!– have a very, very advance copy of the new Susanna Kearsley to read. It’s called A Desperate Fortune and it comes out in spring of next year.

What have you been reading this week?