Archive for June, 2015

Teaser Tuesday: Simon Montfort

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

The Other DaughterWith the release of The Other Daughter only three weeks away, my hero, Simon Montfort, has been conspicuously clearing his throat and adjusting his cuffs, wondering why he hasn’t had his Teaser Tuesday spotlight yet.

How to describe Simon?

He’s the scion of an old and proud family, but his upbringing has been anything but conventional. His mother, in the parlance of the time, was a bolter. As Simon’s friend Cece confides in Rachel, “…one must admit that Simon did have the most eccentric upbringing– villas in Italy and cattle ranches in America and heaven only knows what else. Brian has such stories– most of them likely only half true. But then, there is that other half….”

Although he had originally trained as a historian, the War put paid to Simon’s plans. Now, as he tells Rachel on their first meeting, he works as a gossip columnist for the Daily Yell. He attends the glittering parties of the Bright Young People not for pleasure (or so he claims) but for crass, commercial purposes.

But is anything about Simon Montfort as it seems?

Here’s Simon as Rachel first sees him, at the worst possible moment, just as her life is falling to bits around her:

A clipped, aristocratic male voice, rich with humor, drawled, “I hate to intrude….”

There was a man. A man standing just inside the doorframe.

No, not standing. Lounging. He leaned bonelessly back against the old oak, his pale gray suit molding itself to his long form, a miracle of expert tailoring.

The man looked just as expensively constructed as his suit, along the same long, elegant lines. Beneath close-cropped, curly black hair, a pair of high cheekbones slanted down across his face. His lips were red and sensual, lips for eating strawberries with, but his black eyes were alert and all too keen.

Right now, they were focused on Rachel.

I don’t usually base my characters’ appearance off actors. They tend to pop up in my head just as they are. From the very start, Simon, however, bore a marked resemblance to Benedict Cumberbatch. I didn’t plan it. That was just how he was.

So, yesterday, I appealed to you all for a visual that might help illustrate Simon Montfort a la Cumberbatch. I never expected such riches, including my personal favorite, Cumberbatch avec otters. (Not very Simon-ian, but oh such fun. Thank you, Pam!)

It was great hardship going through them all, but one makes these sacrifices in the interest of art.

But what to choose?

Cassidy provided this image , which looks just as I imagine Simon would while remonstrating with Rachel.

Trish provided photos from Parade’s End, which beautifully captured the war experience which still haunts the seemingly unflappable Simon.

If you want to see the whole batch, just click here and go through the links in the Comments section.

They’re all wonderful, but the one that really takes the palm is this image, from Joy:

Other Daughter Cumberbatch

Thank you, Joy! I will treasure this always. There is something so gleefully meta about the idea of the character reading his own book. (And Simon so would.) Not to mention, well, Cumberbatch.

Thank you all, so much! The winner of the Cumber-Contest, chosen at random from among all the entries, is Beth F, of Comment #16. Congrats, Beth!

I was only going to pick one winner… but, Joy, there’s a mug for you, too.

Congrats, ladies! If you email me at, I’ll have those mugs winging your way.

Thank you all for the hours of amusement! More on Simon Montfort and The Other Daughter coming soon….

The Other Daughter appears in stores on Tuesday, July 21!

PURPLE PLUMERIA Ask the Author Day

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

It’s Ask the Author Day over on the Bubblebath Reader!


This month’s book was The Passion of the Purple Plumeria (can you believe the read-along is up to Pink X already?), so if you have any questions about Miss Gwen, the art of wielding a purple parasol, Colonel William Reid, the extended Reid clan, Eloise’s search for the lost jewels of Berar, or just how many black cashmere turtlenecks Jeremy actually owns, just pop by the Bubblebath Reader!

Impromptu Contest!

Monday, June 29th, 2015

In between reading more than I ever expected to know about World War I in Picardy, I’ve been typing up tomorrow’s Teaser Tuesday post about the hero of The Other Daughter, Simon Montfort.

But then I hit a snag.

Simon Montfort was– shall we say?– visually inspired by Benedict Cumberbatch. I don’t usually base characters’ appearance on actors, but there it is. The moment Simon stepped onto the page, there was no mistaking the resemblance.

I wanted a visual for the post. But there are many, many pictures of Benedict Cumberbatch in the world. And I would never go back to reading about 1914 Picardy if I tried to go through them all.

Which is where you come in.

Do you have a favorite Cumberbatch picture? Or one that you think looks particularly appropriate for a 1927 hero?

Post the link in the Comments section below! I’ll choose the best ones to use in my post tomorrow– and one winner will be chosen at random to receive an Other Daughter mug!

If you need inspiration, you can read Rachel’s first meeting with Simon here. You can also find some Rachel and Simon snippets in last week’s post about Rachel, here.


Thursday, June 25th, 2015

The Ashford Affair, aka Ashford Park en français, comes out today in France as a livre de poche!

What do you think of the new paperback cover?

Ashford France paperback

There’s something rather nicely summery about it, isn’t there?

Here it is next to the French hardcover:

Ashford France Ashford France paperback

The hardcover is available from Presses de la Cité; the paperback from Pocket. You can also find both (as well as the French Kindle edition) via

Amusez-vous bien!

Colorado on Friday and Saturday!

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015

I’ll be signing books in Colorado for the first time ever this Friday and Saturday!

You can find me:

— on Friday at 7:00 at the Briargate B&N with the lovely Beatriz Williams, and

— on Saturday from 5:00 to 7:00 signing books at the Historical Novel Society Book Fair at the Denver Hyatt Regency Tech Center with many, many other historical fiction writers, including Beatriz, C.W. Gortner, Heather Webb, Diana Gabaldon, Michelle Moran, Anna Lee Huber, Gillian Bagwell, and oh so many more.

Here are the details:

Colorado Springs, CO
June 26, 7:00
Talk & Signing
with Beatriz Williams
Briargate B&N
1565 Briargate Boulevard

Denver, CO
June 27, 5:00-7:00
HNS Book Fair
Hyatt Regency Denver Tech Center
7800 East Tufts Ave

I’ve double-checked with the organizers and the HNS Book Fair is free and open to the public.

The Other Daughter and The Lure of the Moonflower aren’t out yet, but I will have bookplates with me if you want them signed in advance!


Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015

And the winner of the ARC of Beatriz Williams’s Tiny Little Thing is…

Liz D! (Of Comment #6.)

Congrats, Liz! If you email me at, I’ll pop your book in the mail to you.

Tiny Little Thing appears in stores today. Happy book release day, Beatriz!

Teaser Tuesday: Rachel Woodley

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015

The Other Daughter comes out a month from today!

The Other Daughter

Yesterday, as part of an interview, I was asked to provide a quotation with a physical description of my heroine. Simple enough, you say. But it wasn’t. Because Rachel Woodley, my heroine, goes through a number of metamorphoses over the course of the book.

Here’s Rachel in the first chapter, on her way home from France:

The train lurched and swayed; it was deathly cold in the car, the windows so fogged with her breath that she couldn’t see out. Outside, she knew, the trees were starting to sprout their first green buds, but she could see none of that, only the ghostly reflection of her own face, her unfashionable hat drawn low around her ears to keep out the chill, her cheekbones too high, her mouth too wide, her hair dark against her pale face.

There was nothing remarkable in that face, just another nursery governess, another woman in a shabby skirt, clutching a carpetbag on her lap. Nothing remarkable except to her mother, who loved her.

This is how she appears to Simon Montfort, the enigmatic gossip columnist:

“It’s quite an amusing idea, really. If I were to pass a nobody off into society . . . it would be the stunt of all stunts. The elusive and sought-after Miss Merton— Miss Vera Merton. You have the cheekbones to be a Vera.”

Absurd to feel flattered by that, but she did, just a little. Rachel could picture Vera Merton, with her long red nails, her bobbed hair, her general air of devil-may-care. Vera Merton wouldn’t stay on the wrong side of the green baize door; she would breeze merrily past the butler, greeting everyone with a breathy “Darling!”

Vera Merton would quaff cocktails with Rachel’s cousins; she would know them all by name, whisper intimately in their ears.

What would it be like to be that woman? Not earnest, hardworking Rachel Woodley— the Rachel Woodley who didn’t really exist— but someone entirely different. Someone sophisticated. Someone hard-edged.

Someone who could approach her father on his own terms.

Mr. Montfort waved a dismissive hand. “The clothes and the hair are all wrong, of course—”

“What’s wrong with my hair?” Rachel had always been rather vain about her hair, thick, dark, and so long she could nearly sit on it.

“Nursery governess hair,” said Mr. Montfort succinctly.

After that, what’s a heroine to do but get a haircut?

The hairdresser was swift. Hanks of hair fell around her. Rapunzel hair, long ropes of it. The hairdresser lifted the cloth from her shoulders, using a soft-bristled brush to sweep the last strands of hair from her back.

Rachel’s head felt strange, the back of her neck naked. She couldn’t help glancing at the hair on the floor, years and years of it, gone in an instant.

“Cheer up,” came Mr. Montfort’s voice from behind her. “You’ve hardly sold away your soul.”

“No, just my hair.” The hairdresser swirled the chair around, holding up a mirror so that Rachel could see.

Mr. Montfort was right; the short cut did highlight her cheekbones. You have the cheekbones to be a Vera.

Rachel didn’t know who the woman in the mirror was, but she rather liked her.

She looked up at Mr. Montfort, who stood, frowning down at her.

“Well? What do you think?” Rachel demanded cheekily.

“You’ll do,” he said curtly.

But it takes a new frock before Rachel’s ready to be launched in the glittery, shadow society of the nightclubs:

In the end, she’d succumbed to sheer lust and chosen a dress of flame-colored chiffon, glittering with a subtle pattern of beads on the bodice, the skirt falling in uneven layers around her legs.

Wearing it, she felt like a Vera, like a woman of the world, the sort of woman who went out at ten at night, who drank and danced, without another care in the world.

And from the look in Simon’s eyes, he clearly agreed.

Which quote would you have chosen? And which Rachel do you most relate to– pre or post transformation?

The Other Daughter— with Rachel in all her guises– appears in stores on July 21!


Monday, June 22nd, 2015

My friend Beatriz Williams’s new book, Tiny Little Thing, comes out tomorrow! And it’s wonderful.

Since it would be selfish of me not to share the joy, one person who comments on this post today will receive an ARC of Tiny Little Thing.

Here’s the official blurb:

tiny little thingIn the summer of 1966, Christina Hardcastle—“Tiny” to her illustrious family—stands on the brink of a breathtaking future. Of the three Schuyler sisters, she’s the one raised to marry a man destined for leadership, and with her elegance and impeccable style, she presents a perfect camera-ready image in the dawning age of television politics. Together she and her husband, Frank, make the ultimate power couple: intelligent, rich, and impossibly attractive. It seems nothing can stop Frank from rising to national office, and he’s got his sights set on a senate seat in November.

But as the season gets underway at the family estate on Cape Cod, three unwelcome visitors appear in Tiny’s perfect life: her volatile sister Pepper, an envelope containing incriminating photograph, and the intimidating figure of Frank’s cousin Vietnam-war hero Caspian, who knows more about Tiny’s rich inner life than anyone else. As she struggles to maintain the glossy façade on which the Hardcastle family’s ambitions are built, Tiny begins to suspect that Frank is hiding a reckless entanglement of his own…one that may unravel both her own ordered life and her husband’s promising career.

One of the joys of the book is watching the interaction between Tiny, the well-behaved sister, and Pepper, the wild child, as they learn to understand each other better. So, for a copy of Tiny Little Thing, here’s your question:

— Are you more Tiny or Pepper?

One person will be chosen at random to receive an ARC of Tiny Little Thing. The winner will be announced tomorrow– the same day Tiny Little Thing appears in stores!

If you’d like your copy signed, you can find me and Beatriz in Colorado Springs this Friday at the Briargate B&N and on Saturday in Denver at the Historical Novel Society Book Fair.

New York Romance Festival– this Saturday!

Friday, June 19th, 2015

Are you looking for something to do this Saturday? Head over to the Morris-Jumel Mansion for the second annual New York Romance Festival!

LW5 (1)

The event runs from 1:00 to 4:00, with a jam-packed day of talks, panels, and signings. I’ll be speaking around 1:00, and the insightful Maya Rodale (author of Dangerous Books For Girls: The Bad Reputation of Romance Novels, Explained) will be taking the podium later in the day. In between, you’ll find panels on various sub-genres of romance: historical, contemporary, paranormal, and erotic.

The romance festival is free and open to the public.

I won’t have books for sale, but I’m happy to sign as many as you’d like to bring from home! It seemed like too much bother to sell books, but I will have a few books that I’ll be giving away on a first come, first served basis to people who stop by Maya’s and my table.

I’ll also have bookplates with me, to sign for your copies of The Other Daughter (coming out July 21) and The Lure of the Moonflower (August 4). So if you’d like a bookplate (or four or five), just ask!

See you on Saturday!

Weekly Reading Round-Up

Friday, June 19th, 2015

As those of you who follow me on Facebook know, it’s been a heavy research week for the next stand alone novel. But I did manage to sneak in one novel this week: Donna Thorland’s third American Revolution-set swashbuckler, Mistress Firebrand. It features an intelligent and daring heroine– an aspiring playwright– trying to make her way in a world of Rebel and Loyalist intrigues where loyalties aren’t always clear, especially when love gets in the way. Highly recommended– especially with the fourth of July coming up!

Next up, I have piles of new books waiting for me, but I have a hankering to re-read some Josephine Tey. Because sometimes you just need a little The Franchise Affair or The Daughter of Time.

What have you been reading this week?