Saturday, August 15, 2015

All A Mistress Wants

Last November, I participated in an anthology titled Wanton Christmas Wishes with a story titled All A Mistress Wants. Well it is finally available on its own. And check out this beautiful cover by Dar Albert from Wicked Smart Designs.

Eloisa Larkin wishes for the one thing she can’t have—the love of the powerful Duke of Sterling. Being his mistress provides many luxuries but being hopelessly devoted to a man who loves another as left her feeling alone and the last thing she wants is to spend Christmastide with him and his family.

In book two, you’ll meet Joshua Forrester and the mysterious woman who’s being immortalized on a scandalous painting. Coming soon!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Wicked Affairs, Book Six: Wicked Siren Cover Reveal

Have I said this before? I love release day.

Wicked Siren, the story of Alex Preston and opera singer Viviana Love, is the sixth (can you believe it?) story in the Wicked Affairs series and will release on July 10th!

If you read Wicked Lord (#3) you probably saw the writing on the wall… Alex and Viv were destined to be together. They are true opposites – he a country gentleman and she a vivacious opera singer who thrives in London.

As a character, Viv was a fun one to write. She’s not like the other women of the Wicked Affairs series. She has scraped and fought for what she has but, seeing the twilight of her singing career, Viv must make some hard decisions.

For a Regency historical reference, the opera singer Angelica Catalani from Italy had an unrivaled career in the opera for seven years. Her singing range was nearly three octaves. While I didn’t write Viviana with the same sort of star power, she does have moments of fame.

And true hero that he is, Alex is the only man who can accept Viv as she is and recognize the torment that has haunted her past.

And you are the first to see the awesome new cover. What do you think? It is a great addition to the Wicked Affairs covers.

An unconventional woman. An inconvenient marriage. An unconditional love.

Famed diva Viviana Love will do what it takes to survive in London. Seduce titled men. Give up her child in order that he might have a better life. Hide her past so that she might have a future.

And when she makes the mistake of a lifetime a second time, she does the unthinkable and agrees to marry Baron Alexander Preston—the staid and proper country gentleman who believes life in the country is all a man needs.

Alex is confounded by the wild creature he is to escort to London. Miss Love is an indiscreet harridan who believes she can seduce him. And she succeeds royally. When she presents him with the opportunity for his heir, he does what no sane man would. He marries Viviana and finds his life turned upside down.

Alex has never felt more alive. Their nights are filled with passion, their days with conflict. When Viviana realizes she might lose her proper gentleman, the truth is the only thing that can save her.

All books in the series are stand alone but introduction of characters are best understood by reading the books in order.

Books One - Three are on sale at all the usual retail outlets.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Life in Brighton - England's royal destination

My current work in progress is set in Brighton, England (plus London) so I've been busy collecting useful and hopefully usable information.

The area, generally, had several encampments dating to around 3500 AD. "Brighthelmstone" existed before the Doomsday Book was written - that's 1086 folks! Here’s a photo of the page written in Medieval Latin and some non-Latin abbreviations. Me? I can’t make out a single word. I just find it interesting.

The Regency and Victorian period were a dazzling time for Brighton. The Prince Regent was known for his love of the area and spent much time there. However it wasn't until 1841 when the London and Brighton Railway made its first run between the two cities that things really took off. The railroad made the “day trip” possible for a mere three and six pence.

The Royal Pavilion is one of the most fascinating buildings in Brighton, which George began building in 1787. At a young age, George suffered from gout (all that rich food) and his doctor recommended he take the seawaters as treatment. The pavilion was a work in progress, extending through three major renovations but the first portion, called the Marine Pavilion, included a fantastic “Great Dome.”

George was partial to the French style which he used at Carlton House, employing French decorators, draughtsmen and craftsmen. “Something of this French influence was to manifest itself in the Prince’s new pavilion. On the ground floor of the north wing the Library was “fitted up in the French style” with a paper of brilliant yellow. The “Eating Room” adjoining was painted in yellow and maroon with a ceiling of sky-blue, and in it were four columns of “scagliola” – imitation marble. The corridors were painted “French blue”. The walls of the staircase were bright green, and the ceiling grey and white.”

Not everyone loved the Royal Pavilion. One critic, Anthony Pasquin, said, “The room in which the Prince usually dines may be compared to a sort of oven; when the fire is lighted the Inmates are nearly baked or encrusted.”

Years later, John Nash, completed additional enhancements to the Pavilion. The look of the structure is one that reflects Indian touches, including battlements and eaves of the Indian chujahs design. The last portions were completed in 1821 which including a new north face and the development of the King’s private apartments.

About the time the Pavilion was completed, there was talk of a railway between London and Brighton. During the 1830’s there were several steam-driven coaches and omnibuses running short distances but in 1833 a fourteen-seater Hancock coach began running between the two cities in eight and a half hours. An improvement but nothing like the efficiency the rail would bring. The approve was novel and appealing but was limited by the number of passengers it could haul along with the coal and water needed to power the coaches.

Finally, in 1840, the Shoreham branch of the railway was operational. It wasn't until the following September, 1841, that the main line opened. The rail was dependent on the Ouse viaduct being completed. At the same time the Merstham and Balcombe tunnels were finished, completing the most difficult part of the line. The project took three years and 2,000,000 pounds to complete.

 The Ouse viaduct was designed by the architect David Mocatta. It is considered one of the finest examples of railroad architecture. The viaduct included “thirty-seven tall arches and eight charming Italiante pavilions, four at each end of the viaduct, and the delightful stone balustrades.”

The first voyage began at 7:00 a.m., with nearly the entire population of Brighton there to watch, and the train arrived in London a little after nine. One hour and fifteen minutes (or longer depending upon the class of train – first class, mixed and “Parliamentary” trains.) Quite a change from the days of horse and carriage.

Both the pavilion and the railway are important to my heroine in 1841. Imogene, a child of the streets, is an observer of London, growing and changing with the times.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Imogene's World

Greetings, friends. The days pass quickly especially when time must be spent between an EDJ and writing... And the one thing that always seems to get neglected is the blog.

So what have I been doing?

I'm spending my allocated television time obsessing over Outlander, re-watching Part One of Season One. Only twenty days to go until we get new episodes. There have been some great interviews with the Outlander cast and crew. I hope you haven't missed them. This is the sort of epic I dream of writing.

Well I am working on an interesting project at the moment. Needless to say it is a historical novel but with this one, I am straddling the Regency/Victorian eras. I'm calling it my Dickensian novel. It is a four part story with two parts per book - the total word count is going to push 180,000 words so, for me, it will be a pretty big undertaking. I am currently writing Part Four, the final, glorious phase of my heroine's life.

Let me tell you about Imogene. In my mind, I see her as "Olivia" Twist. A street urchin with three brothers who manage to get by on the streets of London. She is on the cusp of womanhood and a certain madame wants Imogene to whore for her - a situation Imogene is resigned to. She has also met a certain gentleman who has taken an interest in her.

Imogene falls in love with Jack, knowing they will never be together. But he is fun and he is willing to pay her well for a few months of her time. Needless to say she is left heartbroken.

In Part Two, we find out what Imogene has been up to. She is a new woman, the widow of a respected Parisian merchant. And upon her return to London, she runs into the love of her life.

Will Jack break her heart all over again?

The setting in the first part of the novel is London but the second part is set in Brighton so I'm getting to know the town and its amazing Royal Pavilion, Chain Pier and other locales. Plus the Brighton and London Railway.

 I'm hoping Imogene will be available for sale sometime this summer with back to back releases.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Wicked Indiscretions

It's here: Book Five in the Wicked Affairs series. Release day is February 18th!

Marriage is fraught with emotion and I love writing about this bond. This is Book Five in the Wicked Affairs series and in it, we meet David and Juliana Abernathy. David is the strong, silent type and a reluctant marquess, titled after his brother died. He is married to the beautiful Juliana (sister to Clarissa Dunnaway from Wicked Desires and sister to Audrina Paquin that you met in Wicked Secrets) Juliana is vivacious and chatty, the perfect foil to David's seriousness. And his dogs love her.

They are madly in love and welcome their first child - only he dies in his infancy. David and Juliana are heartbroken and grief destroys their loving relationship.

Grief is a dark, debilitating emotion and has many facets, affecting one physically, socially and spiritually. It tears David and Juliana apart. This might be the most moving story I've written.

So here's the blurb:

David and Juliana Abernathy’s marriage is unique in the ton—they have real love. That is, until the loss of their only child shatters their short-lived happiness. Despair and anger drives David into the arms of countless paramours and Juliana into the arms of a notorious Italian Lothario.

When David realizes what he has lost, he arrives in Italy with one goal and snatches his wife from the bed of her lover, intending to bring her home. Could their situation be worse?

They are no longer the innocent, loving fools of their first year of marriage and they demonstrate that each night they are alone together. Beneath the hurt and betrayal, they can hide their love but their passion burns hotter than ever.

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Trouble With Scots - Release Day January 20th

I love this story.

And I lie yet again. I love every story.

Let's see, here is the order for why it's so great to write and publish.

First, there is the idea and the wonder whether you can pull it off. It works in your head. Will it translate on paper?

Next is the title. You've played around with a couple of options. You've tinkered. You've asked your friends. And then it hits you.

But you have to have a cover to go with that title. Yes, a Scot. Of course, a castle. When you get your perfect cover, you hope the story is worthy of the cover. It's that good!

Your story is dragging. Oh, what to do? Barrel through it? Or stop and work on something else for a bit? Then you get over the hump and it is so wonderful to write THE END.

Then off to your editor while you set up your pre-order at Amazon and B&N and everywhere else people might buy. And then at Goodreads, hoping you'll see your fans and some new readers click the I WANNA READ button.

And when my editor gives a thumbs up. A WOW! But you can't breathe easy yet.

The book still has to sell. Yes, RELEASE DAY! Ta Da! On January 20th!

Here it is The Trouble With Scots, Book Three in the Body of Knowledge series. Check out the Body of Knowledge page to see all about the other books in the series.

Here's a blurb:

Normally his visions were through his eyes. This one as if he looked on outside himself at the events unfolding.

Eadan fought to keep the vision alive. For once he did not want the vision to end.

One thing stood out besides the beautiful, laughing woman. He was wearing his clan blue-and-black kilt and a white linen shirt covered by his black jacket and waistcoat with silver buttons and buckles. His sporran was about his waist. The clothes were distinctive because they were the clothes he wore now, including the new broach he had just purchased in London.

When the carriage came to a stop, Eadan glanced out the window. A flash of lightning pierced the sky but it was a storm without rain—the kind one expects to produce a deluge but expends itself in the drama of threatening thunder and perilous streaks of blue-white light.

The inn yard was busy. Several carriages filled the space as the inn filled for the night, all worried about the hazard of road travel when the ground beneath the wheels would be unsteady. The noise was deafening and would have been crippling if his headache had remained.

But a certain excitement stirred in his heart and in his loins, for it couldn’t be denied the visionary miss had held his interest for far too long and without relief. He could almost believe she was a ghost, a figment of his imagination, except his visions were specific. He had watched her mature into a woman—a disturbing, uncomfortable result at times.

He strolled through the courtyard, entered the inn and made arrangements for a room. Glancing about, he was supremely disappointed to see there wasn't a single woman in the main hall, only several boisterous men well into their cups.

His valet, a proper stiff who made sure Eadan was turned out appropriately when he was on English soil, also made sure his luggage was carried in. Eadan requested a room at the back of the inn where, he hoped, the cacophony would be minimized.

“Would you like me to arrange supper in a private room, my lord?”

“Have the food sent up, Mr. Terry. I believe I will turn in after.”

“An early start in the morning?”

“Ten should be soon enough.”

“Headache, sir?”

“Remnants. Nothing a good meal and good sleep won’t cure. If ye could arrange for a bath also.”

“As you wish.” Mr. Terry gathered Eadan’s belongings and headed to the assigned room.
Eadan worked a coin from his pocket and tapped it on the wooden counter.

“My lord.” The chubby woman working at the inn rubbed her hands on a dirty apron, glancing only at the coin she was about to earn.

“Is there a woman here, about so high?” He held his hand to his shoulder. “Auburn hair.”

“Her name, my lord?”

He cleared his throat. “I dinna ken. She smiles—”

Eadan realized how ridiculous he sounded. The only thing more ridiculous would have been to tell the mistress of the establishment he had only seen the auburn-haired woman in a vision. “Never ye mind.” He tapped the coin one last time before placing it on the counter.

Eurydice. Where are you, Eurydice?

The trouble was no one else seemed to know where she was either. Or who. Was he going to have to go to Hell to find her?

He strolled to the main dining hall and glanced about the dimly lit room. A few of the inhabitants stared back, examining him over their pewter mugs of ale. Their shuttered looks reminded him he was more at home in Scotland. Then again, perhaps he ought not wear his kilt while on English soil. Even if it wasn't illegal.

Another burst of thunder sounded and another party of travelers stumbled into the inn.

The throaty laughter of women caused Eadan to turn toward the commotion.

His chest constricted painfully, nearly stopping his breath.

She used both hands to throw back the hood of her swirling cape and laughed again. “My goodness, we've only just made it in time.”

Her smile was brighter than a thousand suns and her dark eyes sparkled with mischief. He knew from a hundred visions her eyes were green.

Eadan stared, the realization heady and warming. His heart thumped with a steady beat and he heaved a sigh as if he’d been relieved of a great weight. And then he understood why he had never met the striking beauty. She was a Colonist. An American.

“Good evening, your ladyship,” the innkeeper’s wife said.

“Three rooms, my good madam,” she said.

“Of course. Right away, mum. Oh, and mum, there was a gentleman looking for you earlier.”

“For me? Goodness, I can’t imagine why.”

Her laughter filled the lighted foyer and she tossed a glance in his direction. Her smiled faded at the sight of him. The edge of her brows creased inward and her eyes closed slightly, taking his measure.
Visions of her had been consistent—always the laughing, sensual creature who came to him willingly.

There was a palpable tension between them now. Aye, she knew.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

She doesn't believe in curses...until after the ball

Was the rapid beating of her heart a mere symptom of disloyalty? Or a greater excitement? The ball, her scandalous dress—the mysterious and desirable man before her?

So why hadn’t she determinedly said no? The idea should have been dismissed with an arrogant wave of her hand and a haughty lift of her brow.

The skin at his neck was tanned but not overly so, as if he might spend time out of doors. His hands were roughened but not unpleasantly. His cologne, what she could smell, was light, fresh and not overbearing. Underneath the costume and faux accent, he was a gentleman in language and manner but he was not a dandy. His behavior was that of a cautious rake, subtly testing her will and resistance to determine if she had either. Was he playing a part too?

With little willful intent, just a natural curiosity to know who this man was, she stroked her finger over the skin of his neck. Contemplation of his question was a surprise. What was she worth? And was she really considering such a shocking—outrageous—proposal?

“I know a private place,” he said, assuming her lack of response was acquiescence. Maybe it was.

Was sin only about circumstance, she wondered? Here, at this ball, dancing with a stranger, he presented an unthinkable opportunity. What a strange word to describe something so inherently wrong. And something so foolishly dangerous.

An occasion to sin, that’s what this was.

An occasion to do something delightfully wicked, scandalous in magnitude and unforgivable if discovered.