The Jaunty Quills are excited to welcome New Zealand author Bronwen Evans back. She’s the USA Today bestselling author of some of my favorite historical romances. Her latest release is A Touch of Passion, book #3 Disgraced Lords series.
Keep reading to find out how to win your copy of her audio book of her best-selling Wicked Wagers the Complete Trilogy series.
Shana: Welcome, Bronwen! Tell us more about A Touch of Passion. The advance reviews have been fabulous!
Bronwen: Thanks, Shana. Yes, the readers seem to really connect with my heroine, Portia. The book is a Top Pick at Night Owl Reviews and RT Book Reviews loved it too.
Evans’ newest installment in the alluring Disgraced Lords series could easily be read as a stand-alone, which is perfect for new fans looking to jump right in without missing anything. The author’s storytelling abilities are top-notch and this book is proof. A fascinating storyline and characters who seem to linger in one’s mind long after the very last page combine in this fiercely romantic and completely enchanting novel. – RT Book Reviews.
A Touch of Passion is book #3 in my Disgraced Lords series, and features a trailblazer heroine, Lady Portia Flagstaff, and a conservative hero, Grayson Devlin, Viscount Blackwood. It’s a best friend’s sister trope.
A vivacious thrill seeker clashes with her dutiful defender—causing irresistible sparks to fly.
Lady Portia Flagstaff almost died of influenza when a child and is determined to live her life to the full. She loves apple cider, so she decides to try and make some—just a hobby—yeah, right! If she calls it a hobby she’s allowed to make it. However, it turns into a very successful business, and now society scorns her. Portia’s cider business allows her to fund an orphanage and be financially independent. She values financial independence as it gives her choices other women do not have. She feels a responsibility to ensure she uses this freedom to prove women can, and should, be able to do anything.
Portia has been in love with my hero, Grayson Devlin, Viscount Blackwood, most of her life. Grayson moved into her family home many years ago when his family died in a carriage accident. He is her brother Robert’s best friend. Grayson’s memory of his dead mother clouds his judgment regarding behavior of a suitable wife. Portia is far too modern, outspoken, and scandalous, for his tastes, even though he’s drawn to her wit and beauty.
However, when they find themselves in a compromising position, he does the honorable thing and offers marriage.
Unfortunately, that is not enough for Portia. She wants his heart or nothing. The sparks fly as Grayson realizes that to save his honor he’ll have to convince Portia to become his wife.
Shana: I love that Lady Portia Flagstaff is a thrill seeker. She’s captured and put in a harem? This seems like a real throwback to those fabulous early romances. Tell us about Portia and what motivates her to risk so much?
Bronwen: She’s a bit of a tomboy. She has five brothers and no sisters, so has been brought up as one of the boys. Her parents also influence her as they have a love match. It’s a very happy, embracing, and encouraging household. Even her brothers are proud of her desire to be more than a mere brood mare for some lord. She quite rightly assumes that she can do anything men can do.
At sixteen she has a brush with death from influenza, and it changes her perspective on life. You only get one chance at living and she won’t waste a minute of it. She takes risks yes, but considered risks. She doesn’t want to have any regrets when she finally meets her maker.
Here’s the blurb for A Touch of Passion:
Independent and high-spirited, Lady Portia Flagstaff has never been afraid to take a risk, especially if it involves excitement and danger. But this time, being kidnapped and sold into an Arab harem is the outcome of one risk too many. Now, in order to regain her freedom, she has to rely on the deliciously packaged Grayson Devlin, Viscount Blackwood, a man who despises her reckless ways—and stirs in her a thirst for passion.
After losing his mother and sister in a carriage accident years ago, Grayson Devlin promised Portia’s dying brother that he’d always watch over his wayward sister. But having to travel to Egypt to rescue the foolhardy girl has made his blood boil. Grayson already has his hands full trying to clear his best friend and fellow Libertine Scholar of a crime he didn’t commit. Worse still, his dashing rescue has unleashed an unforeseen and undesired consequence: marriage. Now it’s more than Portia he has to protect . . . it’s his battered heart.
Shana: I see you’ve also written a contemporary, The Reluctant Wife. Is there a difference in how you approach writing a contemporary novel as opposed to an historical?
Bronwen: Yes and no.
Character development might be different. A hero still has the same underlying traits – honor, kindness, strength, compassion, loyalty etc. but the way they live and how they behave is set by the social norms of the period you write in. For instance, having a mistress, going to ‘gentlemen’ clubs (brothels), is not considered out of place for a Regency hero. However, I don’t think it’s particularly hero type behavior in modern day.
Language is also a huge difference. Speech was more formal in Regency times. Certain words weren’t even in use. For example, I couldn’t say, “His touch was like accidently touching an electric fence.” There was no electricity in the early 1800’s.
As to the writing process, it’s exactly the same for either historical or contemporary books. I’m a plotter and I use Michael Hauge’s Six Act Story Structure. It’s very adaptable as it uses turning points at certain percentages of the story. For example, the Set Up of the book is usually 10%. If a book is 90,000 then I know a turning point has to come at around 9,000 words, if the book is 50,000 the turning point is around 5,000 words. A very useful road map for writers like me who love to plot.
Shana: You’ve done a lot of traveling. Do your travels influence your novels?
Bronwen: Many years ago, I lived in England for almost eight years, and I traveled extensively round the world. It’s a ‘kiwi’s’ right of passage. Most kiwi’s under the age of 28 can live and work in England for 2 years. We use London as a base to work and travel from because NZ is so far from the rest of the world. I’ve been to Russia, America, Canada, Europe, Africa, Asia, South America…. What I particularly loved about traveling to so many countries, experiencing different languages, varying levels of wealth, and interesting cultures, is, I learned we are all the same when it comes to wanting love and having healthy and happy families. The human condition is the same the world over. That is probably why romance stories are translated into many different languages.
Travel has certainly allowed me to be able to visualize places and settings for my books. How do you describe the Rockies and the ski resorts for instance, if you haven’t been to one? You probably can from a picture but it makes it easier when you have actually been there and experienced the culture and people—the sights, smells, and nuances are more vivid.
Shana: Finally, tell us what you have coming next.
Bronwen: I’m finishing writing A Whisper of Desire book #4 and A Taste of Seduction book #5, and A Night of Forever book #6, in the Disgraced Lords series. I’m also writing a Christmas novella, Invitation To Pleasure, part of my Invitation To series. I’m pretty busy!
Readers, now it’s your turn. Portia is such a spunky heroine. Whose your favorite feisty female–fictional or real life! One reader who comments will be randomly chosen to win the audio book of the Wicked Wagers trilogy [eBook can be substituted if the winner prefers eBook over audio book]. Winner announced and contacted Sunday.
USA Today bestselling author, Bronwen Evans grew up loving books. She writes both historical and contemporary sexy romances for the modern woman who likes intelligent, spirited heroines, and compassionate alpha heroes. Evans is a two-time winner of the RomCon Readers’ Crown and has been nominated for an RT Reviewers’ Choice Award. She lives in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand with her dog Brandy.
Or Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bronwenevansauthor
Or Twitter: https://twitter.com/bronwenevans_NZ
Buy Links for A Touch of Passion $2.99
Amazon Canada http://amzn.to/1yUMOfv
Amazon UK http://amzn.to/1ucWygI
Amazon Australia http://bit.ly/1zEw2lG
Amazon Germany http://amzn.to/1AkEo57
Jaunties, welcome back Sharon Cullen! I read an advance copy of her new release SEBASTIAN’S LADY SPY, and I had to invite her to come and chat about it. I’ve loved all of Sharon’s books. She writes adventurous romance with lots of passion and wit. In the past she wrote swashbuckling pirate books, but now she’s tackled spies! Keep reading to find out how to win a digital copy of SEBASTIAN’S LADY SPY.
Shana Galen: Hi Sharon. Tell us about SEBASTIAN’S LADY SPY. Is this is the first book in a series or a stand-alone?
Sharon Cullen: First of all, thank you so much for having me, and thank you for the kind words about my books. I’m thrilled to be here!
SEBASTIAN’S LADY SPY is the third book in the series but it can also be a stand alone. I promise you won’t get confused reading it if you haven’t read the other books.
SEBASTIAN’S LADY SPY is about two obstinate spies who think they know best, who believe they don’t need each other, and who fight each other and their feelings every step of the way. It was such a fun book to write because both characters are so stubborn. I enjoyed watching their barriers crack, then fall. And of course there’s the evil villain who must be stopped at all cost :-), not to mention the very strong attraction that Sebastian and Gabrielle have for each other.
Shana Galen: That cover is really smokin’! Did you have any say in it? Is the model how you pictured Sebastian (because I could totally picture him that way!).
Sharon Cullen: I love this cover! I did have somewhat of a say in the cover. I wanted it to just be the hero because those are my favorite kind of covers. His smoldering look just adds to it, don’t you think? In my opinion the cover art department got this one perfectly.
Shana Galen: I agree 100% Favorite cover of yours so far! One thing I loved about the book was that both Sebastian and Gabrielle were spies. Gabrielle could take care of herself, but they worked best as a pair. It reminded me a bit of one of my favorite movies, Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Did the movie inspire you at all?
Sharon Cullen: Although I’ve seen Mr. and Mrs. Smith, the story line didn’t inspire me. Sebastian makes an appearance in the previous books in this series and while I knew him pretty well during those books, I didn’t have a clear idea of who his soul mate should be. When I started plotting Sebastian’s story I knew his heroine needed to be very strong in her own right and that she didn’t need to “need” him to survive but clearly “needed” him to complete her life. She also had to be able to push him out of his comfort zone. Gabrielle’s own story formed slowly after that.
Shana Galen: Tell us about your writing process. Are you a plotter? Do you write to music? Any favorite writing rituals?
Sharon Cullen: I never used to be a plotter. I loved sitting down and discovering the story as it happened. But as you know, once you start selling on proposal you have to have a complete plot before your editor will give you the green light. So I learned how to plot and I have to say, I really, really like plotting. It makes the actual writing much easier. That’s not to say that I don’t sometimes wander off the plotted path because I do but I usually come back to the original plot.
I have a very different writing schedule than most people. I’m a night person and NOT a morning person. So I do most of my writing between 9pm and 1am. In the mornings (and when I say morning I mean anytime after 11am) I do all of that business stuff that comes with writing.
I don’t listen to music because it distracts me, however, I can write in front of the TV. I’m not sure why music distracts me but the TV doesn’t. I think it’s a self-defense mechanism in trying to write with three noisy kids in the house.
Shana Galen: Finally, tell us what you have coming next.
Sharon Cullen: Well, in November The Reluctant Duchess releases. If you’ve read His Saving Grace, you’ll recognize Lady Sara in The Reluctant Duchess. And I’m so excited to announce that I just signed a three book deal with Random House for a Scottish trilogy that takes place in the 1740s. All three books of the Highland Pride trilogy will release in 2016.
Shana Galen: Congrats on the new series! I can’t wait to read it. It sounds awesome.
Seduction abounds in Sharon Cullen’s steamy historical romance! For the Crown’s top agents, love is a hazard best avoided—until an unforgettable affair exposes their undercover hearts.
Sebastian Addison has a powerful secret. To society he is the Earl of Claybrook, the patriarch who raised his siblings after the death of their parents. But to the king, Sebastian is Britain’s top spy—a position that has taken an emotional toll on him. Contessa Gabrielle Marciano has also been living a lie, her title a cover devised by the Office of Intelligence. The femme fatale was plucked from a life of crime and prostitution and trained to restrain her passionate nature. Until she meets the earl.
For three deeply sensual days and nights, Sebastian and Gabrielle drop their masks, indulging in pleasures that seem too good to be true. Then the lovers go their separate ways. Seven months later they reunite when inside sources report that an English aristocrat has been aiding France in a plot to topple the Crown. Their objective: to find the turncoat. Their greatest challenge: to keep their wild, wounded hearts from derailing a mission of life and death.
Want to win an eBook of of Sebastian’s Lady Spy? Tell us your favorite kind of cover–smokin’ hero, heroine in a gorgeous dress, or a couple? The winner will be chosen randomly from all comments. I’ll announce the winner and contact her on Sunday!
Sharon’s Social Media Links
The Jaunty Quills are excited to present USA Today bestselling historical romance author Christi Caldwell, author of a dozen historical romances. She’s consistently on the Hot New Release list and a bestseller. It’s past time we had her as a guest here.
Readers, keep reading to find out how to win your copy of Once a Wallflower, At Last His Love.
Shana: Welcome, Christi! Tell us about Once a Wallflower, At Last His Love, the newest in the Scandalous Seasons series.
Christi Caldwell: Thank you so much for the warm introduction and for having me visit at the Jaunty Quills!
“Once a Wallflower, At Last His Love” is special to me; for very personal reasons. After a series of tragedies befall her family, the heroine, Miss Hermione Rogers takes on the responsibility of caring for her two younger siblings and her eldest sister who has special needs. In order to do so, she writes gothic novels for some meager coins. She’s been tasked with writing the tale of a dark, brooding duke. But the problem (among many) is that she’s never met a duke and is wholly uninspired—until she meets, Sebastian Fitzhugh the 5th Duke of Mallen.
This story is really about those familial bonds and the lengths we go to protect and care for those we love.
Shana: Tell us all about your hero, Sebastian Fitzhugh. I do love a duke hero, and Sebastian sounds delish!
Christi Caldwell: Thanks, Shana! Well, Sebastian is everything that Miss Hermione Rogers’ story doesn’t call for! He’s charming and clever and kind. For years he’s watched all those around him manage to make love matches. Tired of being desired for his title and nothing more, he’s bewitched by Hermione’s total lack of interest in his ducal status.
Shana: I love reading your Facebook posts about your three adorable kids. How do you juggle writing and family?
Christi Caldwell: I’ve had to become very organized and efficient in how I use my time while my son is off at school. My twins take 2 long naps still during the day and in that time, I write uninterrupted. Through the years, I’ve honed my typing skills and can write about 2000 words an hour. But the real secret of how I juggle writing with family is with the support of my husband and parents who give me the additional time I need at night and on weekends. I’ve been blessed.
Shana: What drew you to writing books set in the Regency era?
Christi Caldwell: I began reading Regency romance novels when I was 13 years old. I picked up a Jude Deveraux book and finished everything she’d written and moved on to Julie Garwood and then I found Judith McNaught. I was a voracious reader and something about the era just spoke to me.
Shana: My first historical romance was also by Jude Devereaux and then I quickly fell in love with Julie Garwood’s books too! Finally, tell us what you have coming next.
Christi Caldwell: I have several releases planned in the near future!
Kathryn Le Veque and I are releasing “Dark Deceptions” which is a collection of our darkest pieces on March 15th. My story is titled “My Lady of Deception” and prior to this has only been available in the Limited Edition USA Today Bestselling Box set “From the Ballroom and Beyond” and the “Romancing the Rogue” collection.
I’ll also be releasing Book 3, in my “Heart of a Duke” series. The $0.99 novella “The Love of a Rogue” will be available March 29th, with Book 4 a full-length titled “Loved By a Duke” coming in May!
Readers, now it’s your turn. What author started you reading historical romance (or any romance!). One reader who comments will be randomly chosen to win Once a Wallflower, At Last His Love. The winner will be announced Sunday and contacted via email.
Please join me in welcoming the fabulously talented Tracy Solheim, who has a new must-see book, BACK TO BEFORE!
Fictional Jobs vs. Everyday Jobs
One of the best things about writing fiction novels is that I can give my characters interesting and unique occupations. A lot of us read for escape and we don’t mind if our hero and heroines are billionaires, super-star athletes or actresses. Or do we? In my first couple of books, my protagonists are professional football players, one paired up with a rich media darling and the other finding his happily ever after with a famous fashion designer. Exciting and glamorous, right?
Well, I got a little risky with the characters in my next few books. I went for normal careers.
In one of my novellas, my heroine is an accountant. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against accountants. In fact two of my dearest friends are pencil-skirt-wearing number-crunchers. But let’s face it, there’s not a lot of glamour in the profession, right? I have another heroine who’s a PhD candidate—in nutrition of all things. Yeah, who wants to be friends with some smarty-pants who tells us what we can and can’t eat? I probably should have made her the antagonist of the story.
My current release, BACK TO BEFORE continues that trend of normalcy—sort of. Our hero, Gavin, is an architect—a.k.a., a sexy smart guy with a pretty straight forward career. On the other hand, Ginger, our heroine, is constantly reinventing herself with a series of different career choices—although none of them were really her “choice”. She spent her life training to be a prima ballerina until a freak accident leaves her injured. Then she gets a break on a television soap opera, only to play the wicked teenager who all of America hates. When that career abruptly ends—her character falls down an elevator shaft—she finds herself working as an assistant for a friend who’s producing a home renovation show. Except her friend wants her to be the show’s makeup artist. No problem, if Ginger had a middle name it would be Pollyanna. To make things more interesting, I throw them both into a small, quirky, Southern coastal town where everyone has their own definition of “normal”.
What comes about is a fun romance with two characters who readers can relate to. Sure, we all aren’t going to appear on a television reality show—but Gavin and Ginger’s issues are very real. Both are banking on the crazy restoration show landing them back to where they were before fate messed with their lives—and their careers. Haven’t we all wanted a second chance at something? I write romance, so despite whether I choose to give my characters professions that are glamorous or more pedestrian, the books always end the same: with a happily ever after. BACK TO BEFORE is no exception.
And neither is my own life.
I’ve finally arrived at my happily ever after—the one that allows me to be a published author. But I went through my own series of crazy jobs to get here. My first job was at Manny Moon’s Pizzarant. I was a bus girl. Funny, at sixteen with two brothers and two working parents, that was pretty much my job at home. Next came Bonnie’s bakery. You’d think after working in such an aromatic environment, I’d blanch at the smell of pastries. Not so. There isn’t much I wouldn’t do for a smear of buttercream icing.
In college, I worked in the library checking in the periodicals. Seriously, they paid me ten bucks an hour to read magazines! Could it get any better? I also worked at the World’s Fair selling corn dogs and cotton candy. The downside was our booth was beside the Tilt-A-Wheel operated by a guy name Mickey who played his song twenty-four seven. I DO blanch when I hear Toni Basil belt out those first few lines of Mickey.
Real life brought a great career working for Congress and the ultimate Walter Mitty experience working for NBC Sports. But I’m happiest now, writing down the stories ricocheting around in my head. Where else can I spend eight hours with a chocolate maker and call it research?
So tell me about the fun or crazy jobs you’ve had. One person who comments will receive a signed copy of my book Back to Before.
Chances Inlet, North Carolina, has an infamous power for second chances. But its charms are lost on the town’s favorite son—until she comes along…
When his father’s sudden death puts his family’s construction business in serious debt, architect Gavin McAlister is forced to put his dream career in New York on hold. Making matters worse, his fiancée calls it quits. Desperate to return to his big-city life, he discovers an opportunity to save his family, one that has him reluctantly starring in a home restoration TV show.
Former soap star Ginger Walsh hopes this job as a TV makeup artist will lead to better things. So far it’s only brought her to a hamlet full of people who don’t like her—except Gavin. After a wild night out leads to Ginger waking up in Gavin’s loft—and the rest of town talking—the two of them soon wonder if getting back to before is what they want. Because being in each other’s arms certainly feels like what they need.
Buy it here:
Where to find Tracy:
Facebook: Tracy Solheim Books
After years of writing reports and testimony for Congress, Tracy Solheim decided to put her fiction writing talents to better use. Tracy is the international bestselling author of the Out of Bounds series for Berkley and southern novellas for Tule Publishing. She lives in the heart of SEC country, also known as the suburbs of Atlanta, with her husband and their two works-in-progress. When she’s not at the barn with her daughter or working out with friends (i.e. lifting heavy bottles of wine), she’s writing. Except for when she’s reading, but according to her, that’s just necessary research.
“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” – e.e. cummings
Hello all! Many, many thanks for having me back on the blog today; a special thanks to the inimitable Shana Galen for hosting me a second time around!
I’m turning the big 3-0 this month, and I’ve been thinking a lot about the things I’ve learned over the past decade. The things I’ve learned about career, about passion, about relationships; the things I’ve learned about other people, my friends, my family; but mostly, the things I’ve learned about myself.
My twenties were, as Taylor Swift (love ya girl) so aptly put, “miserable and magical”; like T. Swift I was “happy, free, confused, and lonely at the same time.” After I graduated from college, I went to work at an investment bank, thinking the “big” career with the “big” salary were the things I wanted – the things that would make me happy. I was going to be the ambitious, career-oriented gal I’d always dreamed of becoming.
Turns out, working at the bank was hardly a dream come true. I met lovely people there; I made great money and better friends; I worked hard, learned a lot, and traveled widely.
I was also miserable. Like, burned-a-hole-through-my-stomach unhappy. It wasn’t the job itself that was so bad; it was the fact that the job wasn’t me. I was a super sensitive, super creative introvert working on a loud, intense, raucous trading floor.
Needless to say, I cried in the women’s bathroom, quietly, a lot during those years. But I learned a very important lesson working at the bank: that no matter how much I wanted to be that girl with the big corporate job (and big paycheck), that wasn’t who I was; that job and that money weren’t going to make me happy.
I fought that lesson. I was terrified of falling behind my peers, most of whom were becoming doctors and lawyers, savvy investment bankers and advertising executives. I wanted to keep up.
But I also wanted to write. Badly. It had always been my secret dream (after dominating the corporate world) to write romance. I fought this dream, too. It didn’t jive with who I thought I should be; what I thought I should be doing with my life, my time. I would fantasize about my writing career, but I was too scared to take the leap, and make it happen.
Until one day I couldn’t fight it anymore; I could no longer fake it. I couldn’t fight who I was, and what I really wanted, apart from what everyone else was doing. I was unhappy, my stomach hurt, and I had had enough.
I was going to be me, for the first time ever. “You do you,” as my friend Janice wisely counseled.
And I did. I did me. I wrote. I still cried (turns out being who you really are is really hard!) but my stomach stopped hurting and I was, for the first time in what felt like forever, a pretty happy gal.
I explored this theme – of accepting who you really are, versus who or what you think you should be – in my latest release, THE MILLIONAIRE ROGUE. Lady Sophia Blaise, our heroine, thinks she wants “to make a brilliant match with the season’s most eligible bachelor, and a suitably large castle to go with him.” She believes trumping her fellow debutantes in the hunt for husbands will make her happy. She has, after all, been raised on Debrett’s; what greater joy than to land a Marquess with ten thousand a year?
But the hunt proves rather less exciting than Sophia had hoped. And those Marquesses – they are not exactly scintillating company.
Enter Thomas Hope – banker, orphan, foreigner – everything, in short, that Sophia doesn’t want.
Only she ends up wanting him, quite ardently. He is witty and smart and good Lord those wicked blue eyes of his. He makes her laugh; he makes her feel alive; he makes her feel all sorts of confusing, delicious, maddening things.
But unlike Sophia’s beau, the Marquess of Withington, Thomas does not have a title. Or a castle. Or, after an infamous diamond is thieved from his ballroom, much of a fortune. Which means Sophia must choose between what she thinks she wants – the man she should marry – and what she really wants – the man who makes her happy.
I think I had so much fun writing Sophia’s story, exploring this theme of accepting who you are and what makes you happy, because I know that struggle so well myself. And I think choosing your own happiness above all else makes for the happiest of happy endings, don’t you?
So tell me, friends – have you struggled to accept who you are? What have you learned about yourself in the past year, the past five years, the past decade? Comment for a chance to win a copy of THE MILLIONAIRE ROGUE!
Jessica Peterson began reading romance to escape the decidedly unromantic awkwardness of her teenage years. Having found solace in the likes of Rhett Butler and Mr. Darcy, it wasn’t long before she began creating tall, dark, and handsome heroes of her own.
A graduate of Duke University, Jessica worked at an investment bank before leaving to pursue her writerly dreams. She lives with her husband, the tall, dark, and handsome Mr. Peterson, in Charlotte, North Carolina. Check her out at www.jessicapeterson.com.