It’s the holidays!! Time for fun and food and tradition! My debut release, NEVER DESIRE A DUKE, is a Christmas themed Regency romance. In it we see the hero, Claxton, return to his childhood home, and for the first time in years, enjoy some of the traditions of his youth to include eating the housekeeper’s special sugar plums, playing a game called “Lookabout” and wondering what mischief Lord Misrule will get into. There’s also some smooching under the kissing bough.
Just a few weeks ago, my daughter brought home an assignment from school. I bet a lot of you who are parents have seen this one. She had a set of interview questions that she was supposed to ask her family, whether that was Mom or Dad or grandparents and all of of the questions were centered on the topic of family origins, culture and traditions. From which countries did our families immigrate? How do those cultures affect our lives today? What are some of the cultural traditions we continue to practice?
Hmmmm. Well, my family is…er…Germanic and Welsh…from what I’ve been told. My husband’s family is Czech/Romanian/Hungarian. As far as traditions, we…um…eat a lot of kolaches? We’ve been to the SPJST (Slovanska Podporujici Jednota Statu Texas) a couple of times, and attended some funerals where they play a lively polka at the gravesite.
Quite honestly, I felt a little embarrassed at how sketchy our responses were. We are Americans, yes, but being that we descended from immigrants, shouldn’t we preserve and identify with more of their traditions? With the holiday season approaching, I started thinking about what traditions my family observes, and the reason for that, I admit, is because of my kids. I think traditions give us all a comforting anchor in life, and ensure that no matter how crazy and unpredictable things get, there is something special we can do—even if we can’t come home, to feel like we are home, and loved and with family, even if only in spirit.
I wouldn’t call these cultural traditions, just traditions that are special to our family.
- We go to Christmas Eve services at church.
- We pass the phone from person to person to talk to relatives who are out of state, and can’t be with us for the holiday. Sometimes this is fun. Sometimes, this is torturous. You know what I mean. **wink**
- We know when Santa’s been in the house, because he always leaves a particular song playing on my dad’s old phonograph (or playing on Dad’s Mp3 player, if we’re not at Grandpa’s). Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, sung by Gene Autry.
- We recycle gift bags and gift boxes. This started with my grandmother, who has always been notoriously frugal and a recycler – a quality I admire more and more as I get older. As an example, we have some gift boxes that look like toy soldiers that have been in “family circulation” since the 70s and are now held together with tape. Someone always ends up with a gift in them, and then brings them back the next year. Their appearance is always giggle-worthy.
I could list more, but you get the idea! What are some traditions you or your family observe each year, cultural or not. Serious or silly?
The Jaunty Quills are excited to welcome back New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author Sophie Jordan. You may know Sophie from her YA series Firelight or her lush, sweeping historicals. But Sophie Jordan has dipped her toe in yet another subgenre of romance: new adult. She’s here today to chat about her upcoming release, Foreplay, which is on sale November 5th!
Keep reading to find out how to win your copy of Foreplay.
Shana: Welcome back, Sophie! You’ve written historical, paranormal, and YA. Why did you decide to write a New Adult series?
Sophie Jordan: As usual, I read a couple NAs that I really loved and I wanted to write one of my own! That’s how it always starts for me. I read historical romance … then wanted to write it. I read some great YAs … then I wanted to write it. I read some NAs … you get the gist.
Also… to me, NA is simply romance with a heroine and hero who are a little younger than the average heroine/hero in a romance. novel They’re in their early twenties. Given their age, the setting usually on a college campus. On a personal level, that was just an exciting time in my life … full of firsts. It’s where I met and fell in love with my husband.
New Adult features the first real “grown-up” relationship for the heroine/hero. I like to call it the first romantic relationship in their lives that actually “matters”. That said, everything is more intense. And in a romance novel intense = good!
Shana: I was lucky enough to read an advance copy of Foreplay, and I seriously could not put it down. It was fabulous! Readers, Sophie was generous enough to share a trailer of the book. See what you think!
Shana: (fanning self) Sophie, without giving too much away, tell us a bit about Pepper, Reece, and Pepper’s roommates, who feature in the upcoming books, right?
Sophie Jordan: I love that trailer! It really captures the flavor of FOREPLAY!
Pepper is “hung up” on a childhood friend, Hunter … and has been ever since she was a little girl. For her, he’s the key to the future/stability she has always craved. In order to get him to notice her, she decides to get some pointers from sexy bartender, Reece. Of course, Reece is nothing like she expects. Hm. I better stop there and not give away too much. Suffice to say, she gets a thorough education on foreplay, love and how what you think you want isn’t really what you need. It brings to mind that old Garth Brooks song with the lyrics about thanking God for unanswered prayers.
Foreplay is book #1 of this series … to be followed up with Pepper’s roommates’ stories. You meet Emerson and Georgia in Foreplay. The next book is titled TEASE and it’s Emerson’s story, scheduled for release May 27, 2014. Georgia story will come next.
Readers, now it’s your turn. Have you read any New Adult books? What do you think is the appeal of a book set on a college campus? One reader who comments will be randomly chosen to win a copy of Foreplay (U.S. only).
The Jaunty Quills are excited to present debut author Lily Dalton, author of Never Desire a Duke. The buzz around this book is fabulous and the reviews are amazing! We’re talking an RT Book Reviews 4 ½ Stars and a starred Publisher’s Weekly review. I just got my copy and cannot wait to start reading it. Readers, keep reading to find out how to win your copy.
Lily Dalton: Hello there, Shana! Thanks to you and the rest of The Jaunty Quills for having me! Never Desire a Duke is indeed the first in the series of “One Scandalous Seasons”–Sophia’s being a Christmas Season! Each book tells the story of one of the three Bevington sisters, who are the Earl of Wolverton’s granddaughters. Sophia is the eldest, and is already married. In a nutshell, Duke is the story of a couple who has become estranged after a terrible tragedy, but become snowbound and as a result must confront not only their present hurts, but the past.
I’ve always loved historical romance novels, but I’m also very much a realist, and I became intrigued by the idea of telling the story of what happens after the “happily ever after”. When the novel opens, Sophia has already had her wonderful London Season, and she has won the prize…Vane Barwick, the Duke of Claxton, the most eligible bachelor in London, a handsome nobleman with a scandalous past. Ooooooh, a scandalous past! That’s not necessarily a bad thing, right? Sophia, like the rest of us who love historical romance, had found that aspect of him intriguing. Because things were going to be different once they married, and theirs was a love match. Or was it? I wanted to explore the idea of what might come after, when married to a man with a past.
Shana: I think it’s fascinating that you’re exploring what happens after marriage to a rake. For that reason alone, I want to read the book. But give us all the details about your hero, Vane Barwick, the Duke of Claxton. He sounds like a rake crossed with a tortured hero. Yummy!
Lily Dalton: Vane, on the outside, is a very cool character. He’s smart, disciplined and very much in control of his world. He is also a respected diplomat, trusted by the Crown to undertake the negotiation of treaties on its behalf. But there are rumors about his past, whispered of but hardly spoken. Vane has no memory of his father until the age of twelve, when the old duke appeared at his mother’s funeral to take him away. Life before, at the country estate of Camellia House, was a happy time. His mother loved him, and instilled within him a care for his world and the people around him. Afterward, everything changes. His father, the duke, has no such care for people, let alone his son, who he believes has been raised “soft”, so he undertakes to make him a “man”. His idea of a man. Life is so torturous that Vane runs away and joins the army under another name, preferring the miserable life of a common soldier than life with the duke. Of course, there’s more to the story, but this is the man with whom Sophia tries to make a happy future, and as a young wife, who has been raised by two loving parents, she finds herself unprepared for Vane’s complexities.
Shana: What about your heroine, Sophia? I love writing books with married characters and reading them. They can be complex, though, because the couple already has emotional backstory.
Lily Dalton: Sophia is a confident and self-assured young woman. Unlike Vane, she enjoyed a happy childhood, and was raised by a mother and father who remained deeply in love, although tragedy has since taken her father. She understands the society in which she lives, where marriage is more about furthering familial wealth and connections, than love. But she wants more. She demands more. And if Vane can’t give her his heart completely, she doesn’t want the rest of him either.
Shana: Never Desire a Duke is a Christmas book. Did you have to do some research into Regency holiday traditions?
Lily Dalton: I did! And let me tell you, in Regency times there wasn’t a Wal Mart or Hobby Lobby selling Christmas decorations starting in September. The holiday was celebrated in a much more subdued manner than what we put ourselves through now. Christmas was a religious observance, and the day was spent with family, perhaps enjoying some games and a nicer than usual meal. At this time in history, the Christmas tree wasn’t really an English tradition, although there is a small tree in Wolverton’s house in honor of Sophia’s Hanoverian grandmother–Germany being a country where Christmas trees were enjoyed. My favorite tradition, that I’ve included in this book, is the kissing bough.
Shana: Tell us about Lord Tango and Sir Oscar.
Lily Dalton: Those two rascally fellows! I see their reputation precedes them. Lord Tango, my flame point Siamese, is my feline business manager and Sir Oscar, a big ginger cat, is in charge of my research library. They are my constant companions as I write my books, and keep me laughing and feeling loved. Both are adoptions from the local shelter, and despite their continued destruction of my leather furniture and area carpets, I can’t imagine my family without them.
Shana: Finally, tell us what you have coming next.
Lily Dalton: Duke is all snowbound splendor! But my April release, Never Entice an Earl is set in springtime London, in the middle of all the activity and romance of the Season. This book tells the story of Daphne, the “middle” Bevington sister. Daphne’s one of those friends we’d all be blessed to have, in that she’ll do anything for someone she loves. Which not only gets her into big trouble, but throws her into the path of an earl who has come to town for the sole purpose of revenge against a man who may—or may not–be very close to her.
NEVER DESIRE A DUKE by Lily Dalton
The magic of Christmas reunites an estranged husband and wife in the debut of this charming and sexy, new regency romance trilogy from Lily Dalton
A MARRIAGE BEYOND HOPE
The Duchess Sophia has long been estranged from her husband, His Grace, Vane Barwick, the Duke of Claxton, whose rumored list of amorous conquests includes almost every beautiful woman of the ton. Yet a shocking encounter with him in a crowded ballroom—and a single touch—are all it takes to reawaken her furious passion for him. But how can she trust the man who crushed her dreams and took away the one thing she wanted most?
A LOVE BEYOND REASON
Claxton has never forgiven himself for the youthful mistake that ruined his marriage to Sophia. Now, after nearly a year abroad, the reformed rogue vows to win back the only woman he’s ever truly loved. He’ll do whatever it takes to prove he can be the honorable husband she deserves—and the passionate lover she desires. As the snowdrifts deepen outside their ancestral home, can they rekindle the flame that burned so bright and find a new path to forever?
Readers, now it’s your turn. Have you ever wondered what life for your favorite hero and heroine is like after the book ends? Do they go on to live happily ever after? One reader who comments will be randomly chosen to win a copy of Never Desire a Duke. Open internationally! The winner will be announced in the wee hours Monday morning and contacted via email.
The Jaunty Quills are excited to welcome historical romance author Ella Quinn to the blog! Ella’s historical romance The Seduction of Lady Phoebe is on sale September 19. Keep reading to find out how to win a copy.
Shana: Welcome, Ella. We’re excited to feature you at The Sisterhood of the Jaunty Quills.
Ella Quinn: Thank you for having me. I’m thrilled to be here.
Shana: Your novel comes out in less than a week. Can you tell us about The Seduction of Lady Phoebe? I’ve read the book, and it’s fabulous. Forgiveness and redemption stand out to me as themes.
Ella Quinn: Thank you. Marcus and Phoebe meet when they are quite young, just before he is banished to the West Indies for bad behavior. He falls in love with her and wants her to go with him, but he gets drunk and while trying to make her listen to him, gropes her and tries to kiss her. Phoebe was fancying herself in love, but when Marcus attacks her, she punches him. Eight years later, Phoebe still doesn’t trust herself to fall in love, and Marcus returns determined to marry her.
Shana: How much time do you put into research? Do you have any go-to sources?
Ella Quinn: I don’t know how much time I take researching because I do it as I go along. I have books on historic houses, it also helped that I lived in England for a couple of years and have seen them. I rely heavily on the on-line version of the OED, the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, The Regency Companion, and Georgette Heyer’s Regency World as well as several of the Jane Austen blogs for social customs and manners. To me it’s really important to understand the culture of the era.
Shana: You have a great presence on social media. Where do you hang out most of the time?
Ella Quinn: I like Facebook the best, but I end up spending a lot of time on twitter. I also like going to friends’ blogs and helping them promote.
Shana: Who inspires you as a writer?
Ella Quinn: Georgette Heyer. I love her wit and the amazing amount detail in her books.
Shana: I know you live in The Virgin Islands, and I love the pictures you post. I’m picturing you writing on the beach or the verandah. Do you have a favorite place to write?
Ella Quinn: LOL, I’ve tried writing outside, but the sun is too bright. My house is made up of sliding glass doors. So I put my desk in front of one where I have a view over a hill to the Atlantic Ocean. I love being able to look out and see the color of the water.
Shana: A lot of readers like to know what authors are really like. What do you do when you’re not writing? What other passions do you have?
Ella Quinn: I think I’m actually pretty boring. I read, a lot. I’m not much of a TV watcher. I paddle board, I’m involved in the local yacht cl
ub’s sailing program. During Rolex I can always be found on a committee boat. If I ever have money again, I’d like to revisit Europe.
Shana: Finally, tell us what you have coming up next.
Ella Quinn: I have another book, The Secret Life of Miss Anna Marsh, releasing on November 4th, then the Temptation of Lady Serena releases on January 14th, the forth in the series, Desiring Lady Caro, releases in April. There are seven books total, I just sent book 5 to my editor and I’ve started on book 7.
Readers, now it’s your turn. What’s your favorite romance theme? Forgiveness? Second chance at love? Marriage of convenience? Or another? One person who comments and says they want the book will win a copy of The Seduction of Lady Phoebe.
“Lady Phoebe is a heroine Georgette Heyer would adore—plucky, pretty, and well worth the devotion of the dashing Lord Marcus. A marvelous find for Regency romance readers.” —Grace Burrowes, New York Times bestselling author
Polite society has its rules for marriage. But for Ella Quinn’s eligible bachelors, their brides will show them that rules are for the weak of heart…
Phoebe Stanhope is not a typical Lady. As feisty as she is quick witted, no one can catch her, especially when she is driving her dashing phaeton with its perfectly matched horses. And unlike her peers, experience has guarded her against a growing list of would-be suitors. But when she encounters Marcus Finley, what she fears most burns deep within his blue-eyed gaze…
For Lord Marcus, the spark of recognition is but a moment in the love he has held these many years. Now that he’s returned to England, all the happiness he desires rests on Lady Phoebe never finding out that he was the one who turned her heart so cold and distant. He must work fast to gain the advantage—to convince her what she wants is exactly what she denies—but in order to seduce her into his arms, he must be willing to give up more than he can control…
“A passionate tale full of humor, romance, and poignancy. Quinn writes classic Regency romance at its best!” —Shana Galen, author of If You Give a Rake a Ruby