Please welcome historical romance author Madeline Martin!
The best part of doing research for Deception of a Highlander was my trip to Scotland where I got to stay overnight in castles, see plenty of beautiful ruins and explore, explore, explore! I could fill up an entire blog on all my adventures from that two week trip.
Today, however, I’m just going to talk about my stay on the Isle of Skye where Deception of a Highlander is set.
The Isle of Skye is on the Eastern side of Scotland, set in the Highlands. It’s a beautiful, magical place where lochs mirror the endless sky and tender, lush grass splits to reveal craggy rock beneath. The winds there are so strong, they make the waterfalls on the cliffs flow backward and billow up into the air in a spray of steamy white. It’s absolutely incredible.
While there, I did two really cool things:
1. I went to my hero’s castle, Caisteal Camus (now called Knock Castle). It was quite an adventure getting there at all. After driving up and down the road several times. (I saw the sign…but I didn’t see the castle, then I saw the sign…but didn’t see the castle, then I saw the sign…yeah, you get it….) I finally just parked and hiked a ways and then I saw it!! On the other side of a five foot stream. It was RIGHT THERE. I could have chucked a rock and hit it. Don’t worry, I didn’t. Nor did I give in to the temptation to wade across it since the middle of October is pretty chilly in Scotland. But I was determined. I marched back up and found a new way to go through a path set by a nearby hotel. I reached the end of the path and there was the castle…just about 12 feet above me. Seeing no denoted path, I began to climb over rocks. They were black and wet and so, so slippery. It’s here I confess (shamelessly) I fell. Hard. Truthfully though, it really isn’t a vacation unless I come away with a war wound – CHECK!
It was when I finally got to the top that I noticed a gentle sloping walkway I could have leisurely strolled up. (But then I wouldn’t have this story, now would I?) The view was worth the effort (and mild contusion) because it was breath-taking the way it overlooked the water. There’s one part that holds the remains of a window facing out to the sea and I could just imagine some lady staring wistfully out as she waited for her love to return (yes, that’s hopelessly romantic, I know.) There wasn’t much left of the castle to explore, but I have enough of an imagination to make Caisteal Camus hit the top ten list of my Scotland trip highlights.
2. The most interesting man in the world is not the Dos Equis guy – he’s actually a blacksmith from the Isle of Skye who still uses an anvil (passed down through his family) and has stacks of books all around his house that he’s memorized and can pinpoint knowledge from by page number. He was in the middle of making a historic dagger/sword collection for a history demonstration somewhere in Scotland and showed me everything from fancy eating daggers to wicked blades. He even made targes by hand and demonstrated how they were used in combat. The biggest influence he had on my writing was in a black-purple opalescent blade on his desk. I asked what it was and he said it just hadn’t been finished yet. Apparently forged steel is that way when it first comes out, before its ground clean to the shiny silver we know. If the black-purple is left as is, it eventually gets silvered with nicks and scratches, but for the most part remains that awesome color. I just had to put that in a book! So, Alec, my hero of Enchantment of a Highlander (introduced in Deception of a Highlander), has a black sword.
There was so much more about my trip to Scotland than just the short, two day visit to the Isle of Skye, but those memories are for other posts…and other books.
For the opportunity to win a signed copy of Deception of a Highlander, please tell me your favorite vacation war wound (or memory if you have the good fortune to not be so clumsy).
Vanessa, here. You can find out more about Madeline and her books on her website!
I’m so pleased to welcome historical (and contemporary) romance author Darcy Burke to the blog today. She’s here to tell us about her new book!
Hi! I’m so excited to be here at the Jaunty Quills today!! I’ve been following the Quills for an eon (I refuse to say how long), and I’m delighted Vanessa asked me to stop by. I write historical and contemporary romance, and my latest release, ROMANCING THE EARL, is Book Two in my Regency Treasure Hunters series. The series title says it all: these books are about treasure hunters during the Regency! I love treasure hunts and mysteries, especially when they’re wrapped up in history and legend. I also love action adventure movies in that vein, and of course, I love the Regency. Melding all of these things together has been so much fun, and I’m only halfway through the series!
I won’t lie, mapping out the mysteries and the treasure hunt can be a bit complicated. All of the treasure hunts have to do with Arthurian-related artifacts, which meant researching King Arthur, the “treasures” associated with him, and other historical information that could be worked into the legends. I decided to go with King Arthur because it’s an enduring and fascinating legend. Some believe he’s myth, other argue he’s history. I find the truth is usually something in between, and so I sort of ran with that.
The treasures are based around the Thirteen Treasures of Britain, which are “real.” (Real in that they appear in many stories. Not real in that no one has ever found them, and I think we’d know if someone found a food hamper that produces food for everyone who needs it!) The other main component of the series is the fictional Order of the Round Table, a secret, centuries-old order charged with protecting the secrets of the Knights of the Round Table, including the thirteen treasures. (Or are they . . . duh duh duh!) Actually, now that I think about it, there could be an Order-esque society that maybe found the treasures and kept them hidden, so maybe they do exist . . . Or maybe I’ve just started thinking my books are real! (Hey, that happens, right?) I have to admit, I adore the idea of a centuries-old anything, especially a secret society. To think that something has been around for so long and withstood the test of time gives me a little shiver. How about you?
One of the great things about having a treasure hunt/road romance is all the sexy banter that happens between the hero and the heroine. Here’s an excerpt to give you an idea of how Elijah and Cate interact:
His eyes widened. “Pardon?”
She cast him a disbelieving look. “Oh, you heard me.” Catching an unsettling amount of his unfortunately delicious scent of sandalwood and pine, she took a small step back.
“Maybe I just wanted to hear you say it again.”
“That I believe.” She lifted her chin and gave him an unflinching stare. “You didn’t respond to my offer of five hundred pounds.”
“You don’t have five hundred pounds.”
“You don’t know that,” she said crossly.
He glanced up at the ceiling as if he were trying to find some patience from on high, but he’d given her the impression he was somewhat of a heathen, so she really had no idea what he was doing. When he looked at her again, his eyes were fierce and frigid. “I’d stake the tapestry on it.”
“The tapestry you don’t have,” she said testily.
“The tapestry you’ll likely never have.”
She sucked in a breath. “Now you’re just being cruel.
“Still being pragmatic, actually.”
I hope you’ll find me on Facebook—I give away a backlist book each week to one random commenter.
And be sure to sign up for my newsletter to hear about my latest release and learn insider information. http://www.darcyburke.com/newsletter/
One random commenter will win a signed copy of THE DE VALERY CODE, Regency Treasure Hunters Book One (contest is open to North America). My question for you is what sort of treasure would you most like to find?
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.