Archive for February, 2014

Weekly Reading Round-Up

Friday, February 28th, 2014

Finally! I have something other than Dorothy Sayers and Evelyn Waugh to report. This week, I caught up on some of the book pile, starting with:

Here I Go Again, by Jen Lancaster: a clever take on the trope of the aging prom queen, in which one aging prom queen revisits her past to try to rectify the mistakes of her youth;

— and The Secret Rooms: A True Story of a Haunted Castle, a Plotting Duchess, and a Family Secret, by Catherine Bailey: highly recommended to anyone who likes the research aspect of the Pink books. It follows the author’s researches as she tracks down a historical puzzle piece by piece. You know how they talk about police procedurals? This book is a research procedural. (I found the process by which she discovered the story more interesting than the actual secret.)

In the meantime, a pile of new books arrived for me, including Donna Thorland’s The Rebel Pirate, Susanna Kearsley’s Splendour Falls, Charles Finch’s The Last Enchantments, and an ARC of Beatriz Williams’s The Secret Life of Violet Grant.

What have you been reading this week?

Are you ready to Pinkorama?

Thursday, February 27th, 2014

It’s that time of year again…. Can’t you just smell the sugar and the marshmallow? Yes, you guessed right: it’s time for the Fourth Annual Pinkorama!

Depeeption of the Emerald Ring 7 Julie & Casey 5

(That’s really short for Pink Carnation Peep Diorama, but if I had to write that out each time, these would become very long posts.)

The rules are simple: using those sugary, marshmallowy goodies (Peeps), recreate your favorite scene from the Pink Carnation novels. Any of the Pink books, novellas, or bonus chapters are up for grabs. Even though it’s not technically Pink, I’m including The Ashford Affair among the eligible works, just in case you feel like going Edwardian Peep, 1920s Peep, or Kenya Peep. Two L and A Night at Northanger are also fair game.

And, for once, I’ve finally remembered to start this early enough so that, if you like, you can also enter your Pinkorama into Washington Post peep diorama contest.

Once your Peep creation is complete, take a picture (or pictures) of your Pinkorama and email them to me with “Pinkorama” in the subject line. I’ll post all the Pinkoramas here on the website and open it up to general voting.

The deadline for the Pinkorama is Tuesday, April 1. I’ll post the pictures and open it up to voting here on the site on Wednesday, April 2nd. (If you want to enter the Washington Post contest, their deadline is March 17.)

As for the prize…. What could be more appropriate than an ARC of The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla?


(Even though the book is not out yet, I have no objections to Sally and her stoat– or her hero– being used as the base of a Pinkorama. If you’re looking for Midnight Manzanilla inspiration, you can find excerpts here, here, and here.)

If you’re seeking Peep inspiration, check out the Pinkorama Gallery and last year’s Pinkorama winners!

Let the sugary fun begin!

Two Books and a Novella

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

Remember how I raved last year about Bee Ridgway’s The River of No Return? She now has a prequel novella out: The Time Tutor. More rollicking time travel fun!

The paperback edition of The River of No Return comes out on March 25, the same day as The Ashford Affair paperback. (It’s always nice to be in good company.)

In other news, I am very excited to announce some upcoming give aways here on the website. Next week, I’ll be giving away a copy of Donna Thorland’s latest swashbuckler, The Rebel Pirate, to be followed– drum roll, please!– by an ARC of Beatriz Williams’s latest, The Secret Life of Violet Grant.

Stay tuned!

Teaser Tuesday: Jane’s Book (Pink XII)

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

Over the years, I’ve considered several potential suitors for the Pink Carnation.

Back in the very, very beginning, I had intended to set Jane up with Geoffrey Pinchingdale-Snipe. You all know how that went. By the end of The Secret History of the Pink Carnation, it was quite clear to me that there wasn’t the least romantic spark between them. They would make wonderful business partners. Not so much romantic partners. (For which one Miss Letty Alsworthy is quite grateful.)

Then along came Lord Vaughn, the opposite of well-meaning, hard-working Geoff. Vaughn was suave, he was worldly, he was dangerously clever– and he flirted so very nicely with Jane in The Deception of the Emerald Ring. But that was all it was. Flirting. Fundamentally, their value systems just didn’t match. (Jane has a value system. Vaughn doesn’t.) Instead, Mary Alsworthy swept in and scooped Vaughn up.

What to do?

But there’s someone for everyone– even the Pink Carnation. Several books into the series, just the right character came along….

Last week, I ran an informal poll on Facebook, asking if people would rather know who Jane’s hero is, or wait until after The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla.

The result was a distinct… tie.

Some of you really want to know. Some of you really don’t want to know. And some of you suggested just dropping a few hints.

Since that seems like the easiest way to square this particular circle, I’ll go the “hints” route.


— We’ve met him before.

— He is who many of you think he will be. (How’s that for elliptical?)

— He has his own spy code name.

I’d worry that I was giving too much away… but for the fact that there are two characters in the series who meet all three of those criteria.

I’ll officially announce the identity of Jane’s hero this summer.

Happy Tuesday!

Weekly Reading Round-Up

Friday, February 21st, 2014

I will confess to being entirely boring this week– all I’ve been doing is re-reading books about, or written during, the 1920s in order to stay in the mood for the 1927 Book.

However, there are several upcoming books I’m rather excited about, including:

— Donna Thorland’s The Rebel Pirate;

— Kristan Higgins’s Waiting On You;

— Simone St. James’s Silence for the Dead;

— and the paperback edition of Jen Lancaster’s Here I Go Again.

What have you been reading this week?

Teaser Tuesday: The Future of the Pink Series

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

It’s official. Pink XII– aka the book after The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla— will be the last book in the Pink Carnation series.

Twelve is a pretty good number for a series, don’t you think?

Here’s what I can tell you about Pink XII so far. It’s Jane’s book. It’s set in Portugal in autumn 1807. And it will presumably make its appearance at some point in 2015.

The first book in the series, The Secret History of the Pink Carnation, was published in 2005. It’s hard to believe that the Pink series has been going strong for nearly a decade– but the decade mark seemed like a good time to wrap it up, before it begins to go stale.

Wrapping up the series doesn’t mean that we’ll be leaving the world of Pink forever. I’m not ruling out the possibility of novellas or related novels. After all, there are still far too many characters who need their stories told….

More about Pink XII soon!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Friday, February 14th, 2014

Happy Valentine’s Day, gentle reader! In honor of Valentine’s Day, here are three links.

(I feel like the Count who Counts: “One! One link! Two! Two links!”)

— My traditional Valentine’s Day post, on my favorite fictional declarations of love.

— Henrietta and Miles’s first Valentine’s Day together: Bunny & Biscuits: A Very Dorrington Valentine’s Day.

— And, last but not least, a piece by the wonderful Susanna Kearsley, defending the romance novel– since Valentine’s Day always seems to bring out snarky commentary about the romance genre.

Here’s to love and love stories, of all varieties!

Weekly Reading Round-Up

Friday, February 14th, 2014

This week, I’ve mostly been reading undisclosed books for an undisclosed contest, but, in the midst of judging, I did take a break with Sherry Thomas’s The Luckiest Lady in London, which absolutely lived up to all the praise. Sherry Thomas does a lovely job of writing believable, well-rounded characters, but what I like best is the way she takes classic tropes and twists them just a bit: in this case, the impoverished young woman of good family who must marry well to save her sisters from financial ruin.

What have you been reading this week?

Teaser Tuesday: This House and That House

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

My upcoming stand alone novel, That Summer, is what I like to call a House Book– a book in which my heroine inherits an old house full of mysteries.

As all good house books should, That Summer has a house on the cover. But, just for fun– and a bit of compare and contrast– I wanted to share with you the house that I used as a model for the heroine’s home in That Summer.

That Summer (3) Ruskin House Herne Hill

The house in the picture on the right is the one in which John Ruskin lived in early childhood. (It seemed appropriate, in a book about the Preraphaelites, to co-opt a Ruskin residence.)

Here’s how Ruskin described the house in his autobiography, Praeterita:

“When I was about four years old my father found himself able to buy the lease of a house on Herne Hill, a rustic eminence four miles south of the “Standard in Cornhill”; of which the leafy seclusion remains, in all essential points of character, unchanged to this day: certain Gothic splendours, lately indulged in by our wealthier neighbours, being the only serious innovations; and these are so graciously concealed by the fine trees of their grounds, that the passing viator remains unappalled by them; and I can still walk up and down the piece of road between the Fox tavern and the Herne Hill station, imagining myself four years old.

Our house was the northernmost of a group which stand accurately on the top or dome of the hill, where the ground is for a small space level, as the snows are, (I understand,) on the dome of Mont Blanc; presently falling, however, in what may be, in the London clay formation, considered a precipitous slope, to our valley of Chamouni (or of Dulwich) on the east; and with a softer descent into Cold Harbour-lane on the west: on the south, no less beautifully declining to the dale of the Effra, (doubtless shortened from Effrena, signifying the “Unbridled” river; recently, I regret to say, bricked over for the convenience of Mr. Biffin, chemist, and others); while on the north, prolonged indeed with slight depression some half mile or so, and receiving, in the parish of Lambeth, the chivalric title of “Champion Hill,” it plunges down at last to efface itself in the plains of Peckham, and the rural barbarism of Goose Green.

The group, of which our house was the quarter, consisted of two precisely similar partner-couples of houses, gardens and all to match; still the two highest blocks of buildings seen from Norwood on the crest of the ridge; so that the house itself, three-storied, with garrets above, commanded, in those com- paratively smokeless days, a very notable view from its garret windows, of the Norwood hills on one side, and the winter sunrise over them; and of the valley of the Thames on the other, with Windsor telescopically clear in the distance, and Harrow, conspicuous always in fine weather to open vision against the summer sunset.”

Later, the Ruskins moved to a far grander house on Denmark Hill (which pops up in a scene in That Summer), but it was Ruskin’s earlier home that I had my eye on for my heroine, complete with the almond blossoms Ruskin remembers blooming in the garden.

Weekly Reading Round-Up

Friday, February 7th, 2014

I’m still on my 1920s kick in preparation for the new book, so it’s been a Brideshead Revisited week for me– although I did finally get my hands on Carlos Ruis Zafon’s The Shadow of the Wind, which I’m itching to read.

What have you been reading this week?