Archive for 'my books'

“With a skill even Jane Austen might appreciate”

If you’ve been following my blog, you know I’m a big Jane Austen fan. So I was thrilled to hear about these deeply flattering words of praise from the Historical Novel Society.Graphic: "Vacuity, snobbery, thoughtlessness, spitefulness, slavish adherence to convention and superficial appearance: all are neatly skewered with a skill even Jane Austen might appreciate. Definitely recommended to Regency lovers." -Historical Novel Society on You May Kiss the Bride by Lisa Berne (Avon Books)

Click here to read the full review.

Want to read more of the nice things being said about You May Kiss the Bride? Click here.

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A sneak peek at my next book!

Yesterday I shared with you the first part of my RT Book Reviews interview. Today I’m equally delighted to share the second part: an excerpt from the second book in the Penhallow Dynasty series, The Laird Takes a Bride, coming your way this August.

Here’s a snippet from Chapter 2, in which my heroine Fiona Douglass learns that she’s going to have to participate in a Bachelor-like competition.

Father came striding in, his muddy boots leaving a damp, malodorous trail behind him. In one hand he held an opened letter which he tossed at Fiona.

“You’re off to Castle Tadgh, girl,” he said.

“What? Why?” she demanded.

“Clan decree.”

Frowning, Fiona picked up the paper from the floor at her feet and scanned both sides. “This is addressed to me.”

Father shrugged, and Mother said in a high, excited voice, “What on earth is going on?”

“Alasdair Penhallow’s to choose a bride from among the eligible lasses of the Eight Clans, that’s what’s going on. I suppose I’ll have to reinstate her dowry. Although those drains in the turnip fields are clogging in a bad way.”

Penhallow, thought Fiona, her brain spinning frantically. Penhallow again! Then she seized upon one pertinent element. “I’m sure I’m too old for this, Father!”

He only gave her a wolfish smile. “Read the letter.”

She did. And glared at Father. “It says here that if I were twenty-eight, I’d be past the age of eligibility. This is ridiculous! Demeaning! I’d rather die than traipse off to Castle Tadgh to be displayed like a sheep before some reprobate!”

“Keep reading.”

In a disbelieving voice Fiona read out loud: “‘The consequence for failing to abide by sacred clan law is death. Said female to be weighted with stones and flung into the nearest loch known to have a depth greater than twenty feet. Bagpipe accompaniment optional.’”

“How romantic!” put in Cousin Isobel, wreathed in smiles. “Fiona, dear, what a wonderful opportunity for you!”

Fiona glared at her, too, wishing she could hang a millstone around that dame’s plump neck and shove her into the closest body of water.  

“You’re to leave tomorrow,” said Father.

“Tomorrow?” Mother exclaimed. “But I couldn’t possibly be ready to leave by then!”

“Oh, you’re not going,” Father told her, then looked over at Fiona, his eyes twinkling maliciously. “I’m sending Isobel as her chaperone.”

There was a stunned silence.

“No!” said Fiona with revulsion, even as Cousin Isobel gave a little shriek of delight and said:

“My dear Bruce! What an honor! You can be sure I’ll take very, very good care of dear Fiona!”

Fiona shot her a malevolent glance. Yes, just as you did in Edinburgh nine years ago, you old bat, when I came for a nice long visit. Encouraging Logan Munro’s advances to me. Leaving us alone together, when you knew it was wrong. And look what happened. I fell head over heels in love with him, and expected to marry him. Only it didn’t quite turn out that way, did it?

Mother faltered, “But surely I ought to go . . . I simply assumed —”

“My mind’s made up, madam. We’ll have no further discussion on the topic. Besides, they won’t be gone long. Penhallow will take one look at her and I reckon that’ll be that.”

A soft, incomprehensible murmur of distress came from Mother but she didn’t dare to actually say anything, and Fiona responded, with a politeness that imperfectly concealed deep irony, “Why, thank you, Father. Everyone says I take after you, after all.”

If you’d like to read this on the RT Book Reviews website, click here.

Want to learn more about The Laird Takes a Bride? Click here for more info; here to read Chapter 1; and here to preorder.

 

What do you think? Click here to comment.
My interview with RT Book Reviews

I recently had the pleasure of being interviewed by RT Book Reviews, in which I dish about You May Kiss the Bridemy writing inspirations, my favorite things to research, and more. Please enjoy. :)

Congratulations on your debut historical! Have you always been a fan of historical romance and the romance genre in general?
 
Thank you! Oh yes, I’ve loved romance novels for a long time. I can easily trace my path toward becoming a romance novelist back to when I was 14 and I read Georgette Heyer’s Lady of Quality, which my mom had gotten from her book club. I was hooked. I went on to become an English major and read voraciously in all kinds of genres, but historical romance has always held a special place in my heart.
 
Who are some authors who inspired your writing?
 
Along with Georgette Heyer, Jane Austen is also a big influence of mine. There’s so much to admire about her work, and as a writer I’m very inspired by how her heroines fight for personal happiness despite the heavy pressure of pragmatism — in an era during which most women had  few opportunities for independent choice. 
 
In Pride and Prejudice, for example, practically speaking Elizabeth Bennet really should accept Mr. Collins’ proposal for the sake of her family’s security, and as for Mansfield Park’s Fanny Price turning down Henry Crawford — how incredibly daring! So I too try to create strong female characters within the historically accurate context of their time. 
 
We love a rags-to-riches story, and Livia is in terrible need of a bit of luck. As an orphan sent to live with her Aunt and Uncle — who do not want her — Livia doesn’t have any beautiful gowns or a dowry to win over a husband. How does missing her mother, father and grandfather affect her relationships?
 
Livia sees herself as someone who’s fundamentally alone, and in a world that’s not particularly welcoming, either. This viewpoint is reinforced when she’s forcibly thrust into the Penhallow family, who initially don’t want her either … So it may seem that her luck has gone from bad to worse! 
 
It’s that very proximity, though, which permits love to blossom — love that will allow Livia to connect deeply with Gabriel Penhallow, and to finally feel that she’s a part of a family, living in a home where she truly belongs.
 
My favorite thing about Livia is her sense of humor — especially when she tricks Gabriel early in the novel! Is there anyone in your life who helped inspire Livia’s antics?
 
Yes! My friend Liz, a quick-witted actress and writer, can easily slip in and out of any persona, and she’s also blessed with a strong sense of self and a wickedly funny sense of humor. I could totally see her tricking Gabriel like that.
 
Gabriel Penhallow is very wealthy and very handsome, but he’s also nearly as stubborn as Livia! How on earth will these two find common ground?
 
Their common ground is actually their differences. I know this sounds paradoxical, but just as Mr. Darcy is intrigued by Elizabeth Bennet’s feisty personality (and fine eyes!), Gabriel Penhallow comes to realize that Livia’s strength, intelligence, and defiant spirit are precisely what he needs to shake him out of his aloof and arrogant mindset. Livia, for her part, finds in deep, steady Gabriel her rock … someone who loves and accepts her for exactly who she is.
 
Livia has good reason to fear horseback riding, but she’s urged to learn regardless. Do you have horseback riding experience?
 
I did a little bit of riding when I was a kid, but nothing that would ever put me in the category of “equestrienne.” I’ve always liked horses, though, and I certainly enjoy reading about them. In fact, I recently reread National Velvet (which I do every couple of years) and still have the same sense of awe and appreciation. Oh, that piebald! My horse hero!
 
Gabriel’s grandmother is the strict and commanding family matriarch, but she also has very sad moments. Where did you draw inspiration for her from?
 
Here again I thought about Jane Austen, and her indelible character Lady Catherine de Burgh in Pride and Prejudice. She’s a grande dame who seemingly has everything — and yet there’s also something a little empty, a little pitiful, about her. My Henrietta Penhallow is like that too; if you look hard enough, past and through her needle-sharp arrogance, you’ll see there’s a big hole in her heart. 
 
What’s your favorite thing to research when it comes to history?
 
Oh my goodness, everything. Food, fashion, manners, terminology, medicine, current events of the time, scientific breakthroughs, transportation, fads and trends, jokes and puns — I love it all. But if you were to insist that I pick one thing? The clothing. Gowns, petticoats, corsets, shoes, bonnets … Styles that are so exotic to us now, and to my mind incredibly sensual.
 
Do you have any advice for writers out there who may be struggling with their own first book?
 
Well, it’s not original, but it works for me. Keep going. Word by word, one after the other. It’s such a simple strategy and yet so profound. As E.L. Doctorow once famously remarked, “Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” So, yeah: Keep going.

 

Would you like to read this on the RT Book Reviews website? Click here.

What do you think? Click here to comment.
Word of the day: Tatterdemalion

A fantastic word for an author of historical romance.

Graphic: "tatterdemalion" and its definition, via Merriam-Webster

I used it with pleasure in You May Kiss the Bride, in a scene in which my hero’s haughty, exacting grandmother is busy orchestrating my heroine Livia Stuart’s metamorphosis from a rustic country miss into an elegant diamond of the first water.

Still smarting from a recent encounter with my hero Gabriel, Livia thinks:

She could hardly wait to show herself off to Gabriel Penhallow, and flaunt her transformation in his face. . . . But for this pleasure she had to wait. Two, then three weeks went by, and still he absented himself from his grandmother’s home. Mrs. Penhallow grumbled about his undutiful attitude, then in the very next breath added that it was just as well, for she would, she announced, forbid his presence anyway, until Miss Stuart was no longer a half-savage, unlettered, ill-spoken, maladroit, freckled tatterdemalion.

“I’m not freckled, ma’am,” was all Livia could think to answer, and then promptly felt like a fool.

“Not freckled, you say? You are free to delude yourself, Miss Stuart, if you choose,” frostily replied Mrs. Penhallow. “The Penhallows never have freckles. Have Flye apply the Milk of Almonds twice today. Now! Suppose you have just been introduced to — let us say — the Duke of Egremont. How do you greet him?”

This snippet appears in Chapter 5, but you can read all of Chapter 1 here.

Would you like to order your copy of You May Kiss the Bride? Click here to see your various options in print, ebook, and audio, as well as the gift-with-purchase option offered through my local indie bookstore Auntie’s.

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On visual images for Livia & Gabriel

I’ve been asked if I had a visual impression of my protagonists while writing You May Kiss the Bride. I was pretty clear about Gabriel Penhallow. I was sure that he’s really good-looking, but not perfectly handsome. I had in mind somebody rather like the dashing singer Justin Currie:Photo: singer Justin Currie

As for Livia Stuart, I was less sure. I knew she would have a fiery personality, and because I had recently finished rereading Anne of Green Gables, I may have had an image like this in my head (at least in terms of hair color):

Photo: Anne of Green Gables

And here’s what the brilliant art department at Avon Books came up with:

Cover for YOU MAY KISS THE BRIDE by Lisa Berne (Avon/HarperCollins)

And I couldn’t be any happier. Aren’t my Gabriel and Livia a georgeous couple?

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Have you signed up for my newsletter?

My newsletter’s going out soon, and along with tidbits of this and that, I’m giving away a signed print copy of You May Kiss the Bride as well as this pretty charm necklace (which has a special meaning when you read Chapter 5) and a couple of these gorgeous postcards. The rumpled bedsheet, however, isn’t included. ;)photo: gift with purchase: You May Kiss the Bride by Lisa Berne (Avon Books), available through the Ripped Bodice bookstore

There’s an easy-peasy signup form on my website, and also on my Facebook page. If you haven’t already, feel free to sign up!

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“Heralds a bright new voice in the genre”

So pleased to share with you this lovely review for You May Kiss the Bride from RT Reviews!

Graphic: Praise for Lisa Berne's You May Kiss the Bride (Avon Books) from RT Reviews

 

Click here to see more of the nice things that are being said about You May Kiss the Bride.

What do you think? Click here to comment.
Word of the day: Sarcasm

An excellent word for a writer. It can be a lot of fun having one (or more) of your characters be sarcastic.

Graphic: "sarcasm" and its definition, via Merriam-Webster

 

I used it in You May Kiss the Bride, when my hero, Gabriel Penhallow, is discussing travel plans with his strong-willed grandmother. Although on the surface they’re rather tetchy, there’s a quiet little subtext here which shows how they’ve moved beyond the cool formality which for many years has kept them all too detached from each other. My heroine, Livia, perceives this with joy.

Grandmama jumped again into the fray. “I suppose,” she said to Gabriel, “you wish to stay at the Swan.”

“As it’s the only other establishment in Wells where I’d even consider stabling the horses, yes.”

“The sheets are always damp.”

“And how would you know that? You’ve just said you exclusively patronize the Royal Hart.”

“It is the common report,” answered Grandmama coldly.

“Fine! You stay at the Royal Hart, and I’ll stay at the Swan.”

“Don’t be absurd.”

“It’s not absurd. It seems to me an eminently practical plan.”

“Need I remind you that we travel under your protection?” Grandmama smiled triumphantly, and it was to be seen that she had clinched the argument, for Gabriel glared but added:

“Don’t blame me when we all emerge from the Hart infested with fleas.”

“We shan’t,” she answered, with maddening serenity. “I won’t allow it. Dear me, you’re quite peevish today! Go and ride your horse until your temper cools. That’s what Richard always did. Not that he was ever as snappish as you are.”

“It grieves me to inform you that it’s raining today. Again.”

“Have you no other occupation? Surely you have something better to do than badger a helpless old woman.”

He visibly ground his teeth, his eyes flashing even more magnificently. “Yes,” he said with heavy sarcasm, “extremely helpless.”

There was, Livia mused, something vivifying about a good brangle. Grandmama had a nice healthy flush of color in her cheeks. And Gabriel looked so handsome that she wished she could go over and take hold of him in a brazen way and kiss him for a good long time.

This snippet appears in Chapter 12, but if you like, you can read all of Chapter 1 here.

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“To change her own story”

One of my favorite quotes from You May Kiss the Bride. I must say, I’m very fond of my spunky heroine Livia.

Graphic: "It was time to take action," a quote from You May Kiss the Bride by Lisa Berne (Avon Books)

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My Tasty Q&A

The virtual blog tour celebrating the publication of You May Kiss the Bride has just ended — congratulations to the lucky winner of the gift card! — and I thought I’d share with you my Q&A if you hadn’t already seen it.

Graphic: Avon Books and Tasty Book Tours' Q&A with Lisa Berne, author of You May Kiss the Bride

Here’s a little more about me here, too.

 

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