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Tuesday Lunch Break – Stealing the Bride

It is Tuesday once again and time for a Lunch Break Read! This week, Stealing the Bride, is the featured Excerpt–which also happens to feature one of my most favorite heroes–Temple. He stole my heart the moment he stepped on the page in One Night of Passion, and he continued to pop into my books for years to come. IMG_0513

Fair warning: Temple is an irascible charmer who will steal your heart.

So enjoy your lunch, have a quick read and enjoy Stealing the Bride. And after you’ve read the excerpt, consider coming back and posting a comment below. Then you’ll be entered in this week’s drawing for a Lunch Bag prize pack.

Last week’s winner: Maryellen

This week’s question: What is your favorite thing to have for lunch? (Mine: A turkey/cran sandwich on wheat bread from Bakeman’s in downtown Seattle.)

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Tuesday Lunch Break – Along Came a Duke

I have a confession to make: I am a lunch time reader. I think I like lunch more for the chance to read than the eating part. LOL!

So for the next ten weeks, I’ll be featuring an excerpt from one of my books–the perfect sort IMG_0510of lunch break sampling. And when you are done reading (and having lunch!), come back here to leave a comment and you’ll be entered in a drawing for a new lunch bag stuffed with books and goodies.

Make sure to come back every Tuesday for a new excerpt and a new contest.

This week’s featured excerpt: Along Came a Duke. If you haven’t read Tabby and Preston’s story, here’s your chance to kick back, have some lunch and read the Excerpt. Then make sure to come back and comment so you are entered for the contest.

To enter, simply comment below–about anything: what you are currently reading, what you had for lunch, which book you’d like to see featured on Tuesday Lunch Break. That’s it, you’re entered.

Winner will be announced next Tuesday (May 24th) right here on the Blog.

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Newsletter/Facebook Contest Winners

My contest over on my Facebook page broke just about every record! I’ve never seen so many LIKES, COMMENTS, or SHARES. So thank you, one and all, who played along. And so, without further ado, the winners are:

Facebook:KnaveOfHearts_1080x1080

Sara McLaughlin

Marianna Buccafuri Clark

Diane Lucy

Bonus for Newsletter Readers:

Christie (@sixfortheroad on Twitter)

Linda Williams

Thanks to one and all for entering and if you are listed as one of the winners, please send me your mailing address via my Contact page! Thanks so much for playing along.

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Newsletter Winner!

Thanks to everyone who entered The Knave of Hearts Newsletter contest, and I apologize to everyone who had problems with the email. Still not sure what went wrong, but to those of you who sent your entries onto me directly, I made sure they were added to the rest of them.kindle-fire-logo

And so, without further ado, the winner of the box of books, goodies and a new Kindle Fire is:

Amanda S. of Laramie, WY

Amanda, I’ll get your box in the mail today and do enjoy your new Kindle!

And a special thank you to everyone who is rushing out to get their copy of The Knave of Hearts! Your kind words on Goodreads and Facebook and Amazon mean so much to me! Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

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Rhymes with Love: The Series

Counting Down to 20

So when I got to this point in my writing, I decided I wanted to write about a collection of spinsters from a small village who had no hope of ever getting married. They weren’t great beauties, they weren’t fabulously rich, or well-connected. Just ordinary girls from a village.

I could see this trio of friends so clearly: Tabitha-smart, kind and hard-working, Daphne–all full of opinions and grand aspirations, and finally, Harriet–loyal to a fault, utterly sensible and a secret romantic. Okay, maybe not so secret–but don’t tell her brothers, they would tease her to the end of her days if they knew the truth.

But for the first time in my story writing career, I couldn’t find the story for them. IMG_8051Nothing seemed to work. I dabbled with different ideas, I plotted this way and that, and yet nothing seemed right. Then a friend asked (most likely Laura Lee Guhrke) “What are you going to call this series?”

I didn’t even have a plot and now she wanted titles? She seemed rather cruel in the moment, but I decided to try putting together titles first. But I had about as much success there as I had with the story ideas. All the rifts on familiar things had been done. Song titles? Check. Movies? Check. TV shows? Check and double check. Jane Austen? I was not going to give her another spin in her grave for all the well-meaning and not-so-well-meaning things that have been done to her books and titles. Let that poor woman rest for goodness sake.

Then I spotted something on the very back of my bookshelf. An old copy of The Real Mother Goose. (Please don’t be fooled by imitations. This is the wonderful old edition with the beautiful illustrations, but I digress.)

So, on a lark I opened it up and read:

Along came a spider . . .

I blinked as ideas started pouring into my brain. Not a spider. A duke! ALONG CAME A DUKE. Yes, that was it. It was one of those Eureka!!! moments. And did he frighten her away? No, quite the opposite, my smart and kind heroine would stand her ground against this imposing duke. ARhymess Tabitha’s story then unfolded before my eyes, the other titles seemed to jump off the page. AND THE MISS RAN AWAY WITH THE RAKE. Because I knew in my heart the very proper Daphne Dale would NEVER run away with a rake, so it was up to me to send her down that wayward path.

And my favorite, IF WISHES WERE EARLS. Harriet, I knew, had loved a certain earl nearly her entire life, so that was one wish this writer felt must be granted.

So there it is, the birth of my current series, Rhymes with Love. If you haven’t had a chance to read them yet, you might want to catch up quickly, because these are my 16th, 17th, and 18th Avon Romances. I’ve only got one more to count until we get to #20!

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The Standon Widows

Countdown to 20

Sometimes books just belong together, and these three, HOW I MET MY COUNTESS #13, MAD ABOUT THE DUKE #14, LORD LANGLEY IS BACK IN TOWN #15, isn’t so much three separate stories but one large bit of inspiration, connected by a web of links to so many of my other books that at times it made my head swim, and at their heart, these three books are about finding friendship in the most unlikely of places.

Inspiration

As I was writing Love Letters from a Duke, I had come How I Met My Countessup with a detailed family tree for how the duke inherited–because it is a rather roundabout route that he ends up the heir. And part way through, I realized there were three widow dowagers out there who would be under his protection. But I didn’t see them as old and gray, sitting in the parlor, knitting and gossiping. I saw them as three very different, very young women, each of whom had made very disastrous first marriages. Thus came to life the Widows Standon.

But what to do with them?

So asked myself, “Self, what would Felicity do?” Because when it comes to matters of the heart, and more to the point, matchmaking, no character in my books is better suited for the task than Felicity Langley. She’s meddled and matched her way through so many of my stories, I knew she would present the perfect solution: put these three widows who loathe each other in one house, offer them an out (get married) and then let nature take its course.

Connected

I think the best part of these three books is the connectedness of them. Mad About the Duke So many characters from my other books made appearances here, helped the stories along the way (or interfered!) and characters who never had the due attention they deserved (Malcolm, anyone?!) finally found their way onstage.

I loved how I was able to let Miranda and Jack from This Rake of Mine, roast James, the Duke of Parkerton. Well, he did deserve it! Or letting the Langley sisters’ infamous nannies finally make their onstage debut and do what they do best, cause trouble for Langley.

These stories wind together and tell a far larger tale, and I think that makes them all the more fun–because readers who have read the previous books are like, “Oh, yeah! There you are!”, while new readers look upon these surprise characters like Easter Eggs to go find in other books.

And some characters I just can’t let go of to save my soul. Felicity. Mad Jack. Arabella. Nanny Jamilla. The list goes on and on.

Friendship

Lord Langley is Back in TownWhile I started the book with the idea that these three women, Lucy, Elinor, and Minerva were very different people and had no use for each other, in the writing of each story, I began to see how each of them had something to offer to the others, lessons in living, skills that came to their aid, and experiences that bound them together. The heart of the three stories became not just a romance, but about growing friendships, and how that strengthened each of them so they were ready to risk falling in love. From Lucy’s brittle heart, to Elinor’s fears, to Minerva’s cold facade, they became richer, stronger women for forging a strong bond between them.

Felicity stuck them in that house together–hoping to use their disdain for each other to drive them into new marriages and off the family dole–but what she really created was a new beginning for the trio and three very happy endings.

How I Met My Countess
Read the Excerpt or Order your copy. Or do both. It’s all cool.

Mad About the Duke
Take a peek at the scene where Elinor finds out that her lawyer is a bit of a charmer. And then you might want to see what happens next by ordering the book.

Lord Langley is Back in Town
Read a bit about how Minerva battles her false engagement to the all-too-charming Lord Langley, then discover how it all turns out by ordering Lord Langley is Back in Town.

Question

Do you have a favorite of these three? Or just a favorite Bachelor Chronicles character that you love seeing step on to the page?

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Confessions of a Little Black Gown & Memoirs of a Scandalous Red Dress

Countdown to 20

I cannot do my 11th Avon romance, Confessions of a Little Black Gown without pairing it with its back-to-back partner, my 12th Avon romance, Memoirs of a Scandalous Red Dress. Confessions of a Little Black GownI wrote these books in about nine months total without any interruption so they could be published back to back. It wasn’t easy, but the stories are so intertwined that is was the best way to write them.

Yet these stories couldn’t be more different. Confessions of a Little Black Gown takes place over the fortnight of a house party, while Memoirs is just that—the story of Pippin and Dash and the twenty plus years it takes them to find their way to each other. While I love the fast paced romance of Tally and Larken, the poignancy of Pippin and Dash is in the mistakes they make and the heartbreaking choices that leave them separated for so long.

To me, this makes their story more real than any other romance I’ve written. When Pippin makes the choices she does in Confessions, when we see the outcome in Memoirs, Memoirs of a Scandalous Red Dressit is heart wrenching. While some readers felt the pair were cheated by not having their immediate happily ever after, I will stand my ground in the firm belief that in the end, the Pippin and Dash who gain their hearts’ desire will never waste a single moment of that gift.

Besides, Memoirs is a good reminder that true love can happen at any time in our lives.

Confessions of a Little Black Gown: Read the Excerpt. Order your own copy.

Memoirs of a Scandalous Red Dress: Read the Excerpt. Order your own copy.

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Tempted by the Night

Countdown to 20

So after dishing yesterday about the covers I, u-hum, don’t like, I get to rave and rave about this one. I nearly swooned when I saw the artwork for TEMPTED BY THE NIGHT. In fact, the next thing I did was contact the artist, Jon Paul, and beg him to let me buy it for my office.

It hangs there to this day. Tempted Final Front A What I love about the full artwork that you don’t really see on the cover of the book are all the wonderful details of this night scene. The carriage, the shadowy street. And just the intimate detail in the clothes. I sort of daydream and crush on it when I look up from writing.

And as much as I love the artwork, that is nothing compared to how much I loved writing the Marlowe series (His Mistress by Morning & Tempted by the Night), from the first spark of an idea of a magic ring that grants the wearer one single wish (whether they realize it or not) just seemed filled with possibilities.

From Charlotte Wilmont’s wish to be the woman ElizBo1Viscount Trent loved, (and she wakes up the next morning exactly that, the woman he loves with all his heart, except she’s not his wife, but his mistress) to Hermione Marlowe’s wish to go about unseen so she can discover what it is the Earl of Rockhurst does at night. Spoiler: it doesn’t involve a mistress. But poor Hermoine spends a good part of the book invisible. Literally.

I actually have about 100 pages of the third book written, but the Marlowes’ stories became victims of shifting reading trends and were sent to the chopping block by a greater power than mine. AKA My Publisher. AKA the people who write the checks. But I hate leaving these stories hanging–so one of these days I am going to find a way to finish this series.

I promise. Maybe if we all make that wish on the Marlowe Family Tree Cordelia, Griffin and Viola’s stories will come to life …

Did you read the Marlowe series? Did you love or hate the paranormal elements?

Read the Excerpts from Tempted by the Night or His Mistress by Morning.

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His Mistress By Morning and Love Letters from a Duke

Countdown to 20

I’m combining #8 (HIS MISTRESS BY MORNING) and #9 (LOVE LETTERS FROM A DUKE) into one post because they actually fit into a category that I like to call: Two Covers that Make Me Cringe.

Sometimes the cover goddesses are overly generous (think The Knave of Hearts, Along Came a Duke, Memoirs of a Scandalous Red Dress, or Tempted by the Night)-I must admit, I’ve been mostly lucky in the covers that have found their way onto my books.

With the exception of these two:

Love Letters from a DukeHis Mistress By Morning

ARRRRRGH!!!

Now, I know there are lots of you who will protest and say that you LOVE these covers, and that is perfectly ok. But the author has such a personal relationship with their book and when the cover doesn’t fit that vision, it is like wearing the wrong color. You know, the yellow or orange that makes you look like an alien.

These are my aliens.

Cover Faux Pas No. 1

LoveLettersFromADukeLet’s start with Love Letters from a Duke. When I got the first pass at this cover, the carriage was all painted up like some fancy stage coach from a cheap western. While they toned that all down, (including adding more of her dress so we weren’t looking entirely up her skirt) all I see when I look at that this cover is the title I secretly have for it:

MISS MARY’S WHORISH RETURN TO THE WILD WEST SHOW.

I suppose that isn’t so secret now.

Cover Faux Pas No. 2

ElizBo2Someone on one of the blogs very publicly pointed out this white hot mess: My Regency era heroine has a tan line. So I have to assert categorically that there was a very secret and not well publicized tanning salon on Bond Street in 1812. That’s my story and I am sticking with it.

More to the point, my dismay with this cover is that while the title is “His Mistess by Morning“, why does my very shy, wallflower, respectable heroine have to be posed with her hand on her hip like she’s trolling for her next John? I would have preferred not.

‘Nuff said.

Still . . ..

The funny thing is, I love these books. Writing His Mistress by Morning was like a gift from the story gods. The story just poured out. And Love Letters a Duke, well, I’ve never laughed so hard when writing. Felicity Langley is one of my most hilarious heroines–all because she takes herself so seriously. So you decide, wretched covers aside, which is your favorite?

HIS MISTRESS BY MORNING


LOVE LETTERS FROM A DUKE

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This Rake of Mine

Countdown to 20

From the light hearted fare of SOMETHING ABOUT EMMALINE came my 7th Avon Romance, THIS RAKE OF MINE and my next hero, Mad Jack Tremont. #20thAvonRomance Countdown(6)(Yet another exit sign hero–read about that here) But Jack’s story was no comedy and suddenly I found myself writing a very gothic adventure about the dark and mysterious house on the cliff that one shouldn’t go calling at.

But knocking on the door is exactly what my heroine does. Miss Jane Porter, (aka Miranda Mabberly) a teacher from the very prestigious Miss Emery’s school is escorting home three students, when inclement weather traps them at Jack’s house, and the arrival uncovers a grand mystery.

Behind the scenes facts

I used the name of my good friend and great author, Jane Porter as a place holder of sorts for Miranda Mabberly’s alias. I often do that when I need a quick name and can’t think of just the right one–I pull the name of a friend or family member out of This Rake of Minethin air and stick it in the manuscript with the intention of changing it later. But in this case, Jane Porter stuck, and it wasn’t until it was too late (the book was about to go to print) that I realized what I had done–or rather forgotten to do, which was rename the alias. So the name stuck and it was, in my humble opinion, a happy accident.

THIS RAKE OF MINE introduces Mad Jack’s older brother, the Duke of Parkerton. He eventually returns for his own story, MAD ABOUT THE DUKE, but here we find him to the only straight laced and normal member of the infamously “Mad” Tremonts. The duke is a bit bowled over by Jack’s houseguest/bride-to-be and says,

“A more formidable, sharp-witted woman I have never met.”

The Duke of Parkerton has that right. At least until he meets his own match.

THIS RAKE OF MINE was lampooned in the Economist with a warning to gardeners that this was not a story of yard implements. It was also nominated for the Romance Writer’s of America RITA award. And it perennially tops out as one of reader’s favorite reads.

Decide for yourself by ordering THIS RAKE OF MINE here. Or just take a quick peek inside at the Excerpt.

Don’t miss some of the other stories behind my Countdown to My 20th Avon Romance!

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