Archive for August, 2012

Which Victoria Holt?

Friday, August 31st, 2012

I was just asked which Victoria Holt to read as an introduction to the Holt oeuvre. And since I know there are many Holt fans out there– with many strong opinions– I thought I’d fling it open to all of you….

My gateway Holt was Curse of the Kings: Victorian Egyptologists, ancient curses, all that sort of thing. But the Holts I went back to again and again were Secret for a Nightingale and The Time of the Hunter’s Moon.

Which Holt would you recommend?



Weekly Reading Round-Up

Friday, August 31st, 2012

Now that Pink X, The Passion of the Purple Plumeria, is off in the hands of my editor, I finally have a chance to catch up on some leisure reading. This week’s haul included:

— Caroline Llewellyn, The Masks of Rome.

I’d found this book in the library back in Middle School and have been looking for it ever since– but, fortunately, my college roommate is brilliant about locating these sorts of things. It’s classic romantic suspense with a first person narrator, set in Italy in the 80s. Both the setting and the tone remind me a bit of Susanna Kearsley’s Season of Storms.

— Sherry Thomas, Ravishing the Heiress.

I loved this book. I’ve always been a sucker for arranged marriage plots (among my old favorites are Georgette Heyer’s A Civil Contract, Joan Wolf’s Golden Girl, and Kasey Michaels’ The Illusions of Love) and Thomas does it beautifully, convincingly building the relationship between the two characters, so, in the end, it really becomes a friends to lovers story, so close have they become. It’s a beautiful picture of the way people can build a life together, shared experience by shared experience, against unpromising circumstances.

— Georgette Heyer, A Civil Contract.

I couldn’t read Ravishing the Heiress and not read A Civil Contract after. (It’s the same way I can’t read Colleen McCullough’s The Ladies of Missalonghi without going back and re-reading L.M. Montgomery’s The Blue Castle.) This is, perhaps, the most controversial of Heyer’s Regencies. People seem to either love or hate it. I’m firmly in the loving it camp. You can find a piece I wrote about it, “A Not So Fine Romance”, here, on the Assorted Ramblings page. Just scroll down a bit until you hit it….

I’m also a big fan of Heyer’s other, more upbeat, take on the arranged marriage, The Convenient Marriage. There’s a very different feel to that book, although part of the difference is that The Convenient Marriage is Georgian, while A Civil Contract is Regency. Heyer, as always, does a brilliant job of distinguishing between the manners, mores, and general feel of those two very different time periods.

Fortuitously, while I was struggling with the last pages of Pink X, the post office, in a moment of unusual prescience, delivered a box of research books for my next stand alone novel. So I’ll be reading about the Victorian Home, 1840s fashion, and Desperate Romantics. I’m quite looking forward to it.

What have you been reading?



Contest Ideas?

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

I have three or four advance review copies of The Ashford Affair that need good homes and a brand new Contest page to play with, but I’m fresh out of contest ideas.

Any suggestions?



Mea Culpa

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

Some of you may have noticed that content has been a bit spotty here on the website over the past few weeks. Here’s the reason I’ve been missing our Teaser Tuesdays and Writing Wednesdays:

That’s Miss Gwen’s book!

As you can imagine, she fought her happy ending kicking and screaming and slashing out with her sword parasol every step of the way. (I exaggerate with the kicking and screaming; much less exaggeration about the sword parasol.)

The Passion of the Purple Plumeria comes out on August 6, 2013. I’ve been informed that there should be a cover forthcoming shortly, so stay tuned!

As an apology for dropping all of our regular features here for so long, I’ll be sharing the first Eloise and Colin chapter for next week’s Teaser Tuesday. (You can find an excerpt from the historical portion here, on the Purple Plumeria page.)



The New Website is Here!

Sunday, August 26th, 2012

Isn’t it lovely?

In addition to the new look, you can also find updated FAQs and new pages for both The Ashford Affair and The Passion of the Purple Plumeria (aka Pink X).

As soon as I’m done with Miss Gwen’s book, I’ll be making some more updates to the site– a bibliography for Ashford, updated Behind the Scenes, and so on– so if there’s anything you’d like to see, just let me know!



The Ballroom Goes to the Country

Saturday, August 25th, 2012

This site might be down this afternoon, but you can come visit me on the Ballroom Blog, where I’m talking about August entertainments.

I’ll also be around on Facebook, as usual– and hopefully we should be back up and running here on Monday!



Website Makeover, Etc.

Friday, August 24th, 2012

As I may have mentioned here before, my website is getting a makeover. In exciting and late-breaking news, I’ve just heard that the new site may be going live this coming Monday!

I’ve seen sample pages and I really can’t wait for you all to see the new look.

On a related note, the site will be going down on Saturday afternoon as it gets switched over to the new template. It will be up and running again on Monday, with a snazzy new look, and many updates.

In the meantime, on a totally unrelated note:

— it’s Friday, which means that there’s another give-away on Austenprose;

— PBS has shared a scene from the upcoming Season Three of Downton Abbey;

— and, last but not least, look what I got yesterday? ARCs of The Ashford Affair!

Once the site is up and running again, I’ll be coming up with some contest ideas to make sure that those ARCs find good homes….



Weekly Reading Round-Up

Friday, August 24th, 2012

This has been a week of old books with crackly paper covers for me: specifically, my ancient, much read copy of Dorothy Sayers’s Busman’s Honeymoon and one of the remaining roommate care package gothics, Isabelle Holland’s Grenelle.

What have you been reading?



Teaser Tuesday: Bunny-on-the-Wold

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

I’m learning all sorts of interesting things about my characters, old and new, as I write The Passion of the Purple Plumeria.

Among other things, for the very first time, we get to see Miles in situ in his family home, not Loring House in London, but the familial seat in Hampshire. It’s situated outside the small town of Bunny-on-the-Wold.

To anyone who was wondering if that’s a thinly veiled Blackadder reference, yes, yes, it is. They don’t have any dachshunds, though, and certainly not one named Colin. That might get a little confusing.

If you think the name of the town might be related to Henrietta’s stuffed animal, you’re also right. As some of you may recall, it was Miles who gave Henrietta her beloved stuffed animal, Bunny-the-bunny. Little had I known that this was a direct result of spending his early years at Bunny-on-the-Wold, where the bunny is something of a local mascot.

Local legend has it that the village of Bunny-on-the-Wold was founded when an archer, seeking his dinner, followed a fleeing hare through the forest. The bunny led him in twists and turns, far from home, until, bursting into a clearing, he found a crystal clear stream bounded by berry bushes by which slept a lady of surpassing loveliness. The bunny hopped away unmolested, the archer married the lady, and fresh raspberry jam was enjoyed by all. (Sadly, there are no such things as ginger biscuit bushes.)

Ever since then, Bunny-on-the-Wold has celebrated its founding rabbit with carrot festivals, a bizarre local folk dance including much hopping (and some rather suggestive tail waggling), and commemorative stuffed animals.

Let it be said, however, that Henrietta has drawn the line at wearing bunny ears for the local harvest festival. Miles, however, wears his ears with pride. They help hold back that floppy lock of hair.

(Don’t worry, neither the harvest festival nor the bunny dance is in the book. These are the things I save for you guys here on the website.)



A DOWNTON Fix

Sunday, August 19th, 2012

For those of you who have been missing your weekly fix of Downton Abbey, fear not! It’s coming back in just a few short months.

You can find the newly released trailer for the third season here.

By happy coincidence, a large chunk of The Ashford Affair takes place at the exact same time and place, England in 1920, just after World War I, so I’ll be very curious to see how you all think the two compare….

Ashford should come out just in time to take the edge off having to wait for Season Four!