Archive for the ‘Pink XI’ Category

Pinkorama #1: “The Peep of Belliston Hall,” or, “Those aren’t daisies.”

Monday, April 9th, 2018

I am delighted to present the 2018 Pinkoramae!

The first of this year’s amazing Peep creations comes from Carrie and Laura.

Without further ado, I present to you, “The Peep of Belliston Hall,” or, “Those aren’t daisies,” taken from Pink XI, The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla.

At a ball at the home of the Duke of Belliston’s uncle, rumors swirl around the reclusive duke….

Carrie the ball is in full swing

Lucien’s Aunt Winifred and Uncle Henry receive their guests. Lucien’s sister is dressed modestly, as befits a debutante, while Aunt Winifred is matronly in purple.

Carrie Uncle Henry and Aunt Winifred

As is traditional, the Vaughns snub everyone. Note Mary’s fashion-forward lace. Also, her pearls would be larger than everyone else’s. Lord Vaughn, of course, wears his customary black and silver.

Carrie the Vaugns snub everyone

But who would pay any attention to the Vaughns when the Peep of Belliston Hall emerges from his lair? After all, a duke does trump an earl, much as Lord Vaughn might prefer otherwise. And all the more so when rumor has it that the duke is a vampire….

Carrie the peep of belliston emerges

Sally Fitzhugh and the Duke find themselves in tete a tete as another dance begins (i.e. Sally feels the need to get back at the duke for having a better closing line during their last tete a tete):

Carrie another tete-a-tete

Quadrille, anyone?

Carrie another dance begins

When Sally discovers that Lucien has been invited to a secret assignation on the balcony, she can’t resist joining him there. But what awaits them is even more alarming than Lucy Ponsonby’s dress– a woman, dead, with fang marks on her throat.

Carrie midnight on the balcony

Flowers have been strewn around her– but they aren’t daisies. They’re the blooms of the manzanilla. A message? Or just what the florist had available?

Carrie those arent daisies 2

Of course, we all know what the members of the ton will think when they come upon the scene…. Has the Peep of Belliston Hall struck again?

Carrie 20180310_204257_Film1_2

So many thanks to Carrie and Laura for this tour de peep!

For your amusement, here’s a snippet from the relevant scene, from Chapters 6 and 7 of The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla.

“Hello?” said Lucien tentatively.

The woman appeared to have fallen asleep. She lay on the hard marble bench as though it were upholstered in the softest of velvet, her diaphanous white skirts falling gracefully around her legs. Her head had fallen back a little against the scrolled arm of the bench, her long, black curls partly obscuring her face.

In her lightly clasped hands rested a straggling bouquet of pale flowers.

Like a funeral wreath.

The full moon lent an uncanny clarity to the scene. Or maybe that was some long-buried, atavistic reaction, sharpening his senses, making every detail stand out with unnatural sharpness. Lucien took a step forward, his own footfall echoing in his ears.

The fabric of the woman’s dress was pathetically thin for the weather, the neckline cut low, but the woman betrayed no signs of cold. She lay entirely still, as still as the empty fountains and deserted paths of the garden. Her eyes were closed, her lips ever so slightly parted.

Lucien didn’t need to hold a mirror to those lips to know that there was no breath between them, but he held out a hand all the same. Just because.

“What is it?” There was a series of light footfalls on the flagstones. Miss Fitzhugh came to a stop behind him, her shadow touching the other woman’s tousled skirts. “Why are you….”

She broke off, her eyes widening, her mouth rounding into a silent “oh”.

In the silence, Lucien could hear the rustle of fabric as Miss Fitzhugh’s chest rose and fell, and the small, damp noise as she swallowed. Hard. “Is that…. Are those….”

“Yes,” said Lucien.

In the hollow between the lace ruffle of her dress and the dark fall of her hair, the woman’s skin was a clear, pale white.
Aside from the two red marks by the side of her throat.

“Is she—” Sally’s throat felt tight.

She stared at the woman on the marble bench, her flowing draperies arranged so carefully around her. So peaceful. So still.

The duke drew his hand back. Sally watched as he rubbed the palm against his waistcoat. “Yes.”

“Oh.” For once in her life, Sally didn’t know what to say. All she could do was stare and stare.

Dead. She had never seen a dead person before. Well, unless one counted great aunt Adelaide and one hardly did, because she had been properly in a coffin and not just lying there on a slab of marble like a princess out of a story book waiting to be awakened by true love’s kiss. Only nothing was going to wake this woman. That chest would never rise and fall, those eyes would never open. She would never wiggle herself upright on that marble bench and shake out those long, skirts.

Sally found her eye caught by those flowing folds of fabric, by the long, dark stripes and blotches that made an eccentric pattern down the sides and along the hem. She caught herself staring at it, trying to make sense of it. Anything but look at that cold, still face. And those two, red marks on her neck. It was an odd sort of pattern, with no symmetry or order to it.

Only it wasn’t a pattern at all. That was blood. Lots of blood. Long ribbons of blood, staining the woman’s dress and marking her shoes, twisting down her sides and caking her hem.

There was bile at the back of Sally’s throat and a ringing in her ears; her hands felt cold and damp, but she couldn’t look away. All she could see was those long ribbons of blood, twisting and twining towards her….

The duke caught Sally around the shoulders. “Where’s that vinaigrette?” he said roughly.

Sally wiggled in his grasp. “I’m not swooning.” She wasn’t really. The world had just gone a bit hazy for a moment. “I just—tripped on my own hem.”

The duke looked skeptical, but he removed his arm all the same. Sally rather wished he hadn’t. Without the warmth of his body, the night air crawled along her bare arms like a cold, dead hand.

Like the hand of the woman, dangling by her side, the fingers small, smaller than Sally’s, fine-boned and white.

“I had never—” Sally caught herself, saying wonderingly. “She looks asleep.” Asleep and peaceful.

But for the blood staining her skirt.

Sally swallowed, hard.

“I should get you inside,” said the duke.

Sally drew herself up. “No. No. I’m quite all right. Really.”

She wasn’t going to swoon, not in front of the duke. She could feel her nails making sharp half-circles in her palms and forced herself to relax her hands, finger by finger.

Didn’t she pride herself on her cool head in a crisis? Of course, in the past, her crises had been limited to propping up falling scenery in amateur theatricals and coolly talking her way out of French exercises. For all that she thought herself a woman of the world, she had really lived a rather sheltered existence.

Someone had placed flowers in the woman’s hands. It wasn’t an elegant bouquet. The stems were uneven, bound untidily in a trailing yellow ribbon. The flowers themselves were simple white flowers with a yellow dot in the center.

“Daisies,” said Sally. “She’s holding daisies.”

There was something poignantly sad about those simple flowers in the woman’s still, white hand. They were meant to be plucked in sun-washed summer meadows and twisted into chains. They didn’t belong here in the chill autumn night any more than the woman, with her inappropriately light dress, belonged here, cold and dead on a marble bench.

The duke’s voice seemed to come from a long way away. “Those aren’t daisies.”

Stayed tuned for Pinkorama #2, coming your way tomorrow!


Thursday, July 10th, 2014

In which we meet Lucien….

Manzanilla Card 2

In which Miss Gwen still thinks this book is about her….

Manzanilla Card 7

And in which, for Sally, a kiss is never just a kiss….

Manzanilla Card 5

Only a little over three weeks until The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla appears in stores!


Monday, July 7th, 2014

With less than a month to go until Pink XI, The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla, appears in stores… it’s time to put my final advance copy up for grabs!

Here’s the official blurb:

manzanillaIn the latest Pink Carnation novel from national bestselling author Lauren Willig, rumors spreading among the ton turn deadly as a young couple unites to solve a mystery….

In October of 1806, the Little Season is in full swing, and Sally Fitzhugh has had enough of the endless parties and balls. With a rampant vampire craze sparked by the novel The Convent of Orsino, it seems no one can speak of anything else. But when Sally hears a rumor that the reclusive Duke of Belliston is an actual vampire, she cannot resist the challenge of proving such nonsense false. At a ball in Belliston Square, she ventures across the gardens and encounters the mysterious Duke.

Lucien, Duke of Belliston, is well versed in the trouble gossip can bring. He’s returned home to dispel the rumors of scandal surrounding his parents’ deaths, which hint at everything from treason to dark sorcery. While he searches for the truth, he welcomes his fearsome reputation—until a woman is found dead in Richmond. Her blood drained from her throat.

Lucien and Sally join forces to stop the so-called vampire from killing again. Someone managed to get away with killing the last Duke of Belliston. But they won’t kill this duke—not if Sally has anything to say about it.

There have been several waves of vampire craze that I can recall: Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire and all its imitations during my teen years, J.R. Ward’s urban vampires, and, of course, the most spoofed of them all, Twilight, which came out the same year as the first of the Pink Carnation novels. I’ve been wanting to write a vampire spoof for years, and Miss Gwen’s novel provided me with the perfect opportunity.

As much fun as it is to spoof, I will confess, I’ve always been a little bit fascinated with vampire lore, from Bram Stoker’s iconic Dracula (one of my favorite books as a pre-teen) to the many, many more modern permutations. I remember, years ago, being terribly excited upon finding a Regency about a vampire viscount, and happily devouring Teresa Medeiros’s After Midnight and The Vampire Who Loved Me. (The former of which provided a great deal of inspiration for Midnight Manzanilla.)

So, for a copy of The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla, here’s your question:

Vampires: intriguing or irritating? (Or just plain icky?) And which is your favorite vampire novel or movie?

The winner will be announced on Friday.

The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla appears in stores on Tuesday, August 5th!

Teaser Tuesday: MANZANILLA Snippets

Tuesday, July 1st, 2014

For those of you who aren’t on Facebook, here are some of my favorite snippets from The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla, which the talented Sharlene made into e-cards for me:

In which Sally encounters Lucien, Duke of Belliston at a ball:

Manzanilla Card 3

In which Sally receives the gift of a stoat:

Manzanilla Card 4

Just for the record, in that last line, Sally is speaking to the stoat, not to Lucien.

More Midnight Manzanilla, aka Pink XI, coming up soon!

The Publication Schedule

Thursday, May 16th, 2013

Since I’ve switched from one book a year to two books a year, what’s coming out when has grown a little more confusing.

Here’s the publication schedule for both Pinks and stand alones for the near future:

The Ashford Affair (hardcover): available now!

(UK edition available now, Spanish edition appearing May 28, Polish edition June 11, Italian edition in July, German edition September 20, and French edition TBA);

The Passion of the Purple Plumeria, aka Pink X (trade paperback): August 6, 2013;

The Victorian Book, aka Stand Alone Novel #2, untitled (hardcover): spring 2014;

The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla, aka Pink XI (trade paperback): August 2014.

The two new Pinks, The Passion of the Purple Plumeria and The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla, are coming out as trade paperback originals– which means that it’s just coming out in trade paperback, no hardcover. On the plus side, it means everyone gets to read the book at the same time, no waiting for the paperback to come out a year later!

I don’t have an exact publication date for The Ashford Affair paperback yet, but I’ve been told it will be early 2014 (before Stand Alone Novel #2 comes out).

Pink XI has a title!

Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

For today’s Teaser Tuesday… Pink XI has a title! Sally’s story will henceforth be known as:

The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla.

Huge thanks to everyone who contributed ideas for a flower for Sally! Kudos go to Alexandra and Eirene, who suggested, respectively, “The Mystery of the Midnight Manzanilla” and “The Mark of the Moonlit Manzanita”, which, when put together, became “The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla”.

My editor informs me that the manzanilla flower in fact looks rather daisy-like (despite its deadly properties)– so for all those who suggested daisy titles for Sally, this one is for you, too!

Pink XI, aka The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla, is currently slated for publication in August of 2014, exactly a year after The Passion of the Purple Plumeria.

More about Pink XI coming soon, including a teaser chapter from Pink XI in the back of The Passion of the Purple Plumeria (coming to a bookshelf near you in less than three months!)

A Flower for Sally

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

It’s that time again: time to pick a flower for the title of the next Pink book.

Sometimes, a flower presents itself naturally from the narrative. (For example, The Masque of the Black Tulip). Other times, the endeavor becomes somewhat more symbolic.

Pink XI definitely falls on the symbolic side. There is a plant involved called, variously, the manzanilla, the manchineel, or the death apple, but everyone over at my publisher agreed that The Dance of the Death Apple sounded a little too macabre, even for a book set in late October. And there was some concern that calling it Miss Sally Fitzhugh’s Guide to the Care and Feeding of Stoats might cause it to wind up in the “Pets” section of the bookstore.

Help! Do you have any suggestions for a flower/title for Sally Fitzhugh’s book?

Here’s a brief, thumbnail sketch of the plot:

It’s October of 1806: the Little Season is in full swing, “The Convent of Orsino” (by a Lady) is the smash hit of the season, and Sally Fitzhugh is fed up. It’s not easy being the younger sister of a man known popularly as “Turnip”. Sally has had it with the men on offer and the rampant vampire craze sparked by “The Convent of Orsino”. Can’t anyone talk about anything but vampires?

People are beginning to speculate that the vampire in “The Convent of Orsino” was based on the mysterious Duke of Belliston, a noted recluse who has recently returned to his abandoned mansion at the heart of Belliston Square. What red-blooded Fitzhugh could resist a challenge like that? At a ball at Lord Vaughn’s house in Belliston Square, Sally ventures across the gardens and encounters the mysterious duke. He’s certainly playing his role… but is he really what everyone claims? Sally doesn’t believe in vampires. Not even when a woman is found dead in Belliston Square the next morning, with suspicious marks on her neck….

Any and all suggestions much appreciated….

Also, stay tuned for a teaser chapter from Pink XI in the back of the upcoming Pink book, Pink X, The Passion of the Purple Plumeria!

Name That Stoat!

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

As some of you may know, I’m starting work on Pink XI, Sally Fitzhugh’s book, right around now. Last month, it came to my attention that Sally is in possession of a rather unusual pet. Because, yes, Sally would have to be original.

The pet? Is a stoat.

So far, I have resisted entreaties to name Sally’s pet stoat Pulchritudinous Oblong (long story), but the poor little stoat still needs a name.

Any suggestions?