His Highness knows what to get me for any holiday. A bookstore gift card. I always have several in my wallet, always, because I’m really weird about spending them. (And by “weird” I mean stingy.)
Now that sounds kind of like “he’s got the little woman on a short leash” stuff, doesn’t it? But that’s not it. Sure, we’re not Rockefellers, and I’d definitely have to justify budget-busting at the jewelry store. But His Highness learned long ago that if I can’t get all the books I want, when I want them, without any grief…in fact without any comment at all…I’m not much fun to live with.
Even so, I hang onto those little rectangles with a gurgling, whispering intensity. My precious gift cards…
Sometimes, though, that leads me into trouble. Like this time…
One day, I was homesteading at Barnes and Noble, wandering for ages, reading the first few pages of about a zillion books. One of them looked great. I said to myself, “When I have enough gift certificates stockpiled, I’ll come back and buy this.”
Classic rookie mistake, right?
Of course, when I finally went back to that table, everything had been rearranged. I checked my notes app on my phone, but nothing. I’d been dumb enough to assume I’d remember the title.
Nope. Not the title, not the author, not even the color of the cover. Not even whether it was a YA novel, or one for adults. All I remembered was that the story started with two sister ghosts betting about some guy dying. I couldn’t bring myself to ask the B&N guy to track it down with such pitiful info, so I went up and down the stacks, looking at everything.
Hours later, I’d found some interesting books, but not that book. I was so irritated with myself. I went onto Amazon and looked at about a thousand books with ghosts, sister ghosts, paranormal, betting. Again, lots of good ones. But not that one.
Many trips and searches later, I almost gave up, which I never do. But luckily Girlchild came up with an idea. Reddit. You know Reddit…a website about everything for everyone? I “know” it, but not well. It wouldn’t ever have occurred to me. She told her husband, who agreed it was worth a shot.
While she and I doggedly scanned the bookshelves, he got on his phone and found a subReddit called “Whatsthatbook?” He entered my pitiful information and asked for help.
I appreciated it…but I didn’t hold out much hope. Then, about two hours later, I got an email from him. Someone had answered his SOS. Could it be, they suggested, Lauren Oliver’s ROOMS?
I looked it up. It was!
How’s that for fabulous? And here’s the nuttiest part: B&N was out of all copies, so I could’ve emptied every stack in the place and never found it. I ordered it online, got it the next day, and read it that night.
And yeah. It was a really good book.
But, for me, the hero of this story is that anonymous person who popped onto that subReddit and offered her idea, just in case. I think that’s absolutely magical, don’t you? Hurray for Girlchild and her great guy! Hurray for books, book-lovers, and people who will take time to help out a total, goofy stranger.
How about you? Do you use Reddit? Do you ever forget a book’s title and have to hunt it down the hard way? I’m giving away a $10 Amazon gift certificate to one randomly chosen commenter today.
The Jaunty Quills are excited to present debut author Jessica Peterson, author of The Gentleman Jewel Thief. I was fortunate enough to read an advance copy, and it’s one of the best debut books I’ve read. The Gentleman Jewel Thief was sexy, witty, and fast-paced. Keep reading to find out how to win a copy of The Gentleman Jewel Thief, plus an ARC of The Millionaire Rogue, book 2 of The Hope Diamond Trilogy, which comes out on January 6 from Berkley Sensation!
Shana: Welcome, Jessica! Tell us about The Gentleman Jewel Thief. This is the first book in the Hope Diamond Trilogy, right?
Jessica Peterson: Hi Shana! Many thanks to you and the Jaunty Quills for hosting me today. It’s an honor to rub (virtual!) elbows with so many authors I admire.
And yes, The Gentleman Jewel Thief is the first book of The Hope Diamond Trilogy. I pitch it as The Thomas Crown Affair meets a (very sassy) Jane Austen. The idea first came to me while I was doing research on the Regency era. Turns out the Hope Diamond – known as the French Blue back then – shows up in 1812 London after disappearing, mysteriously, some twenty years before during the tumult of the French Revolution. I knew I had to write a series around the infamous gem; its appearance in Regency England was far too tantalizing a mystery to leave unexplored! My agent was the one who came up with the “gentleman jewel thief” idea, and I ran with it. In the process, I encountered an array of fascinating historical figures who may or may not have been involved in the French Blue’s travels – the Prince of Wales (Prinny, later King George IV) and his long suffering wife, Princess Caroline; the bourbon King Louis XVIII; the Hope family; and Napoleon Bonaparte – many of whom make cameos in The Hope Diamond Trilogy.
Book One – The Gentleman Jewel Thief – tells the tale of (you guessed it!) a bad boy gentleman jewel thief, and the alluring lady from whom he pilfers the French Blue. Book Two – The Millionaire Rogue, out in January! – follows Thomas Hope, the millionaire banker who purchased the gem under suspicious circumstances, and the debutante who may foil his plans to get it back. Book Three – The Undercover Scoundrel, available next summer – explores the inconvenient attraction that blooms between Henry Lake, the man tasked with recovering the diamond, and Lady Caroline, Dowager Duchess of Berry, our jewel thief’s widowed sister. All sorts of deliciousness ensues!
I had so much fun writing The Gentleman Jewel Thief, and am so glad you enjoyed it as well, Shana. I mean, what’s not to like about a forty five carat diamond? I wouldn’t mind wearing that thing around my neck.
Shana: I’d wear it too, but I’d feel like I needed a bodyguard. I loved your hero, Lord William Townshend. He’s so deliciously wicked. Tell us more about him.
Jessica Peterson: William is quite wicked, isn’t he? I drew enormous inspiration from both Steve McQueen and hairy-chested Pierce Brosnan in their roles as Thomas Crown in The Thomas Crown Affair. I loved the idea of a bored, wildly handsome, unimaginably wealthy playboy who steals a priceless object in front of all the world, just because he can.
It is a fine balance to strike when you’re writing a rakehell hero like William Townshend – wealthy but not entitled, bored but not aloof, intelligent but not callous. No one likes a careless, spoiled, rotten hero less than me, so it was a challenge to uncover William’s softer side; the vulnerable part of him, the part beneath the debonair, calculating exterior. I think Lady Violet, my heroine, uncovers that part of him quite nicely – along with other, rather less virtuous parts, of course.
Shana: Pierce Brosnan and Steve McQueen! Love the combo of those two. What drew you to writing about the Regency era?
Jessica Peterson: I am a huge history nerd, and I am proud of it. Growing up, I was a chunky, awkward, decidedly introverted kid, and I think I liked escaping into worlds that were very different from my own – worlds without bullies, gym class, or braces (I suffered all three). I started with Gone With the Wind, and was blown away (sorry, I couldn’t resist!) by the romance. It wasn’t long before I discovered Jane Austen, which led me to Regency Romance. I grew up on a steady diet of Princess Diana and her handsome sons; I loved England, I loved royalty, and I loved the idea of living in a palace. So I guess the Regency period is a natural fit for all the things I love – add a Benedict Cumberbatch-lookalike hero, and I am one happy camper!
Shana: Tell us a bit about your publishing journey. Is being a published author like you thought it would be?
Jessica Peterson: It’s funny – when you’re working on your first, or maybe your fifth, or fiftieth manuscript, and you’re not published yet, all you can think about is getting that publishing contract. You think, “Hey, once I sign the dotted line, I am going to live like Danielle Steel and I am going to date Benedict and all my problems will go away.”
I am here to tell you that your journey BEGINS when you get that contract. Obviously I am new to the publishing world, so this is by no means a blanket statement, but signing the dotted line brings with it a whole new host of challenges – and desires. Marketing and publicity are things I never thought twice about when I was unpublished; now they take up a decent chunk of my time, and I never seem to know what I’m doing! You want your book to sell well. You want it to get good reviews. You want to write like Shana Galen, or Sarah MacLean, or other masters of the genre.
I guess you realize just how much you have to learn – and that, sadly, unless you are an A-list actress or Pippa Middleton, you are never going to date Benedict.
Shana: Aww, thanks! And how do I not know Pippa Middleton is dating Benedict?
Finally, tell us what you have coming next.
Jessica Peterson: Sure! Book 2 of The Hope Diamond Trilogy, The Millionaire Rogue, hits shelves on January 6, 2015 – perfect for all you lucky readers who receive Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift certificates over the holidays!
I’d say this book is a lot more emotional than book one – lushly so. Thomas and Sophia, my main guy and gal, have such an instant, intense connection from the moment they meet on the page. Thomas is one of those quiet, but intense and passionate, heroes. Neither Thomas nor Sophia intends, or wants (or is allowed, really) to fall in love; it’s a “one-drink-turning-into-naked-kissing-on-the-couch” type situation. The thing they share – they can’t resist it. And that’s the kind of romance I love.
Readers, now it’s your turn. Are you a fan of sexy bad boys? Could you love a gentleman jewel thief? One reader who comments will be randomly chosen to win a copy of The Gentleman Jewel Thief and an ARC of The Millionaire Rogue. U.S. and Canada only, please! The winner will be announced Sunday and contacted via email.
The Millionaire Rogue…
In a time when ladies were demure and men courtly, one priceless treasure set England’s lust ablaze and incited unimaginable scandal and passion—the Hope Diamond.
Heir to an impressive title and fortune, Lord William Townshend, Earl of Harclay, is among the most disreputable rakes in England. But, desperately bored by dull heiresses and tedious soirees, he seeks new excitement—with a dangerous scheme to steal the world’s most legendary gemstone from its owner, Alexander Hope. To his surprise, however, it’s not the robbery that sets his blood burning but the alluring lady from whom he pilfers the gem.
A string of bad luck has left the fate of Lady Violet Rutledge’s estate entirely in Hope’s scheming hands. So when his prized jewel disappears from around her neck, she has no choice but to track down the villain responsible for the theft. Only Harclay has his sights set on taking more from her than the necklace—and she’s tempted to surrender anything he desires…
Now, caught in a thrilling game of secrecy and seduction, Violet must find a way to protect her fortune—and her heart—before she loses both forever…
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 in 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.
You can find her at
The Jaunty Quills are excited to welcome historical author Victoria Roberts to the blog today. She’s the author of the new release, My Highland Spy. RT BookReviews said, “Roberts’ newest features a surprise-laden, quick-paced plot, replete with unconventional and fiercely independent characters. Her lyrical prose grabs readers’ attention, and the high level of emotional tension simply adds to the depth of the story. This book begs to be read and reread.”
Keep reading to find out how to win your copy of My Highland Spy.
Shana: Welcome, Victoria! Tell us about My Highland Spy.
Victoria: First, thank you for having me today at The Jaunty Quills. This is my first visit and I hope not the last. *waves from western PA*
My Highland Spy is the first book in my new Highland Spies series. The series is about four English sisters in the Scottish Highlands. The oldest sister is a spy for the Crown sent to the Highlands to discover machinations against the realm.
Shana: Tell us about your hero, Laird Ruairi Sutherland. First of all, how do you pronounce his first name? Secondly, is he as sexy as he sounds?
Victoria: The name is pronounced ROOR-ee, and yes, he’s as sexy as he sounds. I think it’s hard to resist a man in a kilt, eh? Ruairi would do anything for his clan, especially his son. And let’s just say he’s not very happy when the English show up on his doorstep.
Shana: Those Sassencahs! Who would be happy? (Can you tell I’ve been watching Outlander?)
I love spy books, and your heroine Ravenna Walsingham is a spy for the Crown. What’s she trying to discover?
Victoria: When Ruairi refuses to send his only son to the Lowlands to learn English, King James sends Ravenna to Ruairi’s home in the Highlands. Ravenna masquerades as a governess and her mission is to discover whether or not Ruairi and other Highland lairds conspire to raise arms against the Crown. Ravenna’s not thrilled to be that far away from her sisters for so long and she’s even more flustered by the fact that Ruairi is not the man she expected him to be.
Shana: Tell us what drew you to Scotland. Other than kilted men, that is
Victoria: I was drawn to Scotland the moment I read my first Scottish historical romance. The book was one of Hannah Howell’s Murray brothers. After that, I read every Scottish historical romance I could get my hands on. I fell in love with the genre, and I fell in love with Scotland.
Shana: Do you have a day job? I know from our conversations at conference you have two children and a husband. How do you manage to write and do everything else?
Victoria: Yes, I haven’t quit the day job. I work as a Business Analyst. My job allows me to work from home so I write before and after work and in between family functions. At times, it’s a wee bit hectic in the Roberts’ household to say the least.
Shana: Finally, tell us what you have coming next.
Victoria: I’m working on a Scottish historical anthology will bestselling authors Willa Blair, Eliza Knight, Vonda Sinclair and Terry Spear. Readers can look for Kissing the Highlander Valentine’s Day 2015.
Thank you so much for having me today, Shana. It’s been great fun.
Readers, now it’s your turn. What’s so sexy about Scotland? One reader who comments will win a copy of My Highland Spy.
“An exciting Highland tale of intrigue, betrayal, and love.”
—Hannah Howell, New York Times bestselling author of Highland Master
“Roberts’ newest features a surprise-laden, quick-paced plot, replete with unconventional and fiercely independent characters. Her lyrical prose grabs readers’ attention, and the high level of emotional tension simply adds to the depth of the story. This book begs to be read and reread.”
—RT Book Reviews
This Highland Laird won’t bow to the Crown
Laird Ruairi Sutherland refuses to send his only son away to be educated by the English. And he most definitely will not appear in Edinburgh to pay homage to a liege who has no respect for Scotland. So he does what any laird would do-he lies to the king. The last thing Ruairi expects is a beautiful English governess to appear on his doorstep.
But this lady spy might make him…
Lady Ravenna Walsingham is a seasoned spy who is sent to the savage Highlands to uncover a nefarious plot against the Crown. Playing the part of an English governess—a job easier said than done—she infiltrates the home of Laird Sutherland, a suspected conspirator.
If she doesn’t betray him first
Ravenna soon discovers that the only real threat Sutherland poses is to her heart. But will the proud Highland laird ever forgive her when he discovers the woman he loves in an English spy?
Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/1l4KJa5
Award-winning author Victoria Roberts writes Scottish historical romances about kilted heroes and warriors from the past. She was named by RT Book Reviews as “one of the most promising debut authors across the genres” and was also a 2013 RT Reviewers’ Choice award winner for X Marks the Scot.
Represented by Jill Marsal of the Marsal Lyon Literary Agency, Victoria is a member of Romance Writers of America® and several local chapters, as well as a contributing author to the online magazine Celtic Guide.
Victoria lives in western Pennsylvania with her husband of twenty one years and their two beautiful children—not to mention one spoiled dog. When she is not plotting her next Scottish adventure, she’s dragging her clan to every Scottish festival under the sun.
I’m a writer, so obviously I’d love to be able to pose as a language prodigy and tell everyone I was born with a copy of Hamlet in my hand, delighting my parents with my fluid crib readings of the Bard.
Unfortunately, that’s not the real story. In the real story, I’m a second child, and, as so often happens, my mother had already purged all that maternal “must teach daughter to read ASAP or will be failure as parent” anxiety from her psyche with my older sister. Mom adopted a far more laissez faire attitude with me. She read TO me, but she obviously figured hey, the nuns can handle the phonics-reading thing… the tuition is high enough, for heaven’s sake.
Even at six, it really nettled me that my sister could read, and I couldn’t. But for some reason I accepted that we had to wait till I started first grade. Word is, I was like a horse fidgeting at the starting gate. When the school bell went off, and the gate opened, I picked up a book, and from that moment until I conquered reading, no one saw my face. They saw only an open book with my convent-school uniform extending below it.
I ate with one hand, walked around bumping into things, bathed holding the pages above the water. It took me forever to put on my socks, because I had to dangle them out with my free hand, then wiggle my toes around like blind newborn kittens until they found the opening and wormed their way in.
Maybe because I waited so long, or because it was so exciting to teach myself, the books I read back then will always be extra special to me. Or maybe they were just terrific books. I made a point of buying as many of them as I could for my own kids—either vintage or reprints—and they loved the stories, too.
Here are a few I’ll never outgrow:
The Story of Ferdinand, by Munro Leaf, illustrated by Robert Lawson. This, I’m sure, is the book I’m holding in this picture, taken when I had just turned seven. I don’t know if Ferdinand made me a peace-maker personality, or if I loved Ferdinand because I already had that personality, but it felt as if this book had been written specifically for me.
The Golden Egg Book, by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Leonard Wisegard. The bunny trying to figure out what will hatch from an egg he discovers enchanted me, because both he and the duck are so uninhibited and natural. They kick each other and roll each other down hills. They get impatient, and then get bored. It’s childhood in a nutshell…I mean, eggshell.
I Can Fly, by Ruth Krauss, illustrated by Mary Blair. Though I didn’t know it, this book introduced us to all kinds of poetic tricks, like rhyme and onomatopoeia. And we always acted it out, which was awesome.
The Bumper Book, a collection of stories and poems. Mostly, I adored the colorful pictures. The stories were too hard for me that year, but I’d heard the poems so often I learned to read the letters by matching them to the words I knew by heart. I remember reading aloud the lines “Hush! Hush! Whisper who dares! Christopher Robin is saying his prayers” with exactly the same intonation my mom had always used. Very grave, very reverent.
McElligot’s Pool, by Dr. Seuss. To this day, the opening line of this darling book is one of my favorites in all fiction. “Young man,” laughed the farmer, “you’re sort of a fool! You’ll never catch fish in McElligot’s Pool!” What kid doesn’t love to see the grumpy old pessimist realize he might be the fool?
What about you? Do you remember learning to read? Do you still own any of your favorite childhood books? Did you read any of them with your own children? I’m giving away a ten dollar gift certificate to Amazon.com to one randomly chosen poster today, so I hope you’ll take a minute so share!
When College Girl was in high school, she made some great friends. Wonderful, smart, talented girls I was happy for her to call friends. What was even better was her friends had great moms who became my friends. When the girls graduated and went off to different colleges, the moms made a pact to keep in touch. That can be difficult as we’re all busy career women. Barb is a journalist; Debbie is a financial guru for an international company, and, of course, I’m always in “the cave” writing. Since we love reading, we decided each month we would read a book and then get together for dinner and discuss it. Whoever hosts the dinner gets to choose the next book. It’s been great fun. I’m so happy to maintain and nurture a friendship with these women.
Next time, it’s Barb’s turn to choose. She asked me what I would consider the best contemporary romance novel. It’s a question I should be able to answer. I could name several. In fact, many of the books on my best-loved list are written by my sister Jaunty Quills. But name just one? Wow. That’s difficult.
Still, I was so happy she wanted to read a contemporary romance. As you can imagine, that’s near and dear to my heart. I immediately thought of turning to you for help, dear readers. I told Barb I would pose the question to you and see what you said. Then I would compile a list and let her choose what sounded best to her.
So what say you? What is THE BEST contemporary romance novel? Or if that is too difficult to answer, which contemporary romance novels should be on the best contemporary romance novel list?
I will give away FIVE copies of my May release FALLING FOR FORTUNE, book five in the 2014 Fortunes of Texas series, to five people who make suggestions.
I can’t wait to hear what you have to say!