Would you like a chance to win a print copy of The Laird Takes a Bride? Click here.
On Saturday I stopped by the Davenport Hotel in downtown Spokane, WA, where the 2017 Historical Romance Retreat was being held. If you’re an historical romance person like I am, it’s paradise! The gorgeous setting, the costumes, the contagiously high enthusiasm levels, and books EVERYWHERE! I had fun chatting with a bunch of the attendees, and also I got to say hello to fellow Avon authors Cathy Maxwell, Julia Quinn, Vivienne Lorret, Eloisa James, Lenora Bell, and Jade Lee. (I scored some nifty swag, too; more about that later.) Here are a couple of photos from Cathy’s Facebook page.
For more of Cathy’s photos, click here.
More about the Historical Romance Retreat here.
Did you know? You can order signed, personalized copies of The Laird Takes a Bride from my local indie bookseller, Auntie’s Bookstore, in beautiful Spokane, Washington. Included with each book will be a special gift from me, just for you! Click here for more info, and to order.
An excellent word! I used it with pleasure in The Bride Takes a Groom, the third book in my Penhallow Dynasty series, coming your way next spring.
It appears toward the end of Chapter 1, in a scene in which my hero, Captain Hugo Penhallow, has just returned home, unannounced, after an eight-year absence during which he’s served in the Army. In the entry-hall he says to the servant Eliza:
“Tell Robinson to set another place for me, would you? I’ll go in directly.”
“Oh, sir, but Mr. Robinson’s not here.”
“Egad, not dead, is he?” Hugo hoped not, as he had been very fond of their old butler; he’d loyally stayed on after Father had died, despite having his wages drastically reduced.
“Oh no, sir, he’s alive, but his palsy got so bad that the mistress pensioned him off, you see, and he’s living with his daughter Nancy and her family, up on Roper Street. Very happy he is, sir. Takes a pint every day at the pub, and sings in the choir on Sundays.”
Hugo was pulling off his greatcoat and hanging it on a peg. “Well, that’s excellent news. I’ll go see him later this week. See here, Eliza, I’m hungry as a bear. Can you set a place for me?”
“To be sure I can, sir! But — but — if you’ll forgive me asking — who are you, sir?”
“Good God, didn’t my mother tell any of you I was coming? No wonder poor old Hoyt looked as if he’d seen a ghost.” He laughed. “Never mind. I’m the prodigal son, Eliza! The eldest, you know — Hugo.”
Eliza looked astonished. “Oh! Sir! You’re Mr. Hugo? We was all afeared you was dead!”
“Because the mistress said you’d been shot by a Frenchy, Mr. Hugo, and that you was laid up in your cousin’s house — and then there wasn’t any more letters from you! Cook says them French bullets have a special poison in them, sir, that drains the life right out of a person!”
Blast it all, he’d deliberately trivialized the nature of his illness when writing home, not wishing to worry them — and why hadn’t Mama gotten the letter he’d written from Gabriel’s house a fortnight ago, informing her that he was fine, and would soon be on his way? Well, he could allay their anxieties right now.
“I was shot,” he said to Eliza, “but it would take more than some beastly Frenchman to kill me, that’s for certain! Go on, now, and bring me some supper, that’s a good girl.”
She bobbed a curtsy and Hugo, favoring his left leg ever so slightly, went down the long, familiar hallway, the dogs trotting behind with the same pliant obedience the children of Hamelin might well have displayed while following the Pied Piper. He came to a pair of oak-framed double doors, brought them open, and strolled into the dining-parlor. “I say, I’m home.”
Five golden-blond heads swiveled in his direction, five pairs of wide blue eyes displayed shocked surprise, and then pandemonium erupted.
Really enjoyed this recent post on Shondaland.com featuring the inimitable Julia Quinn. Here are some of my favorite bits.
SL: What do you think takes a romance novel from good to great?
JQ: There’s a joke romance writers like to make when we’re talking about our books. We’ll be talking about the plot, and then we’ll say in a confidential tone, “Okay, spoiler alert. They get together in the end.” This pretty much always gets a laugh, because if there is one thing we all know about romance novels, and indeed, if there is one thing that defines a romance novel, it’s the happy ending.
This isn’t to say, however, that romance novels are formulaic. Far from it. You open with two protagonists who meet (or re-meet) and you finish with a happy ending. How you get from point A to point B is wide open. But no matter how varied the plots may be, they all end in fundamentally the same place. Which is why I think that if you want to take a romance novel from good to great, it’s all about the characters.
If the reader doesn’t care about the characters, if she doesn’t have a hollow spot in the pit of her stomach when things look bleak, or she doesn’t feel a thrill as they tumble into love, the book will fall flat. A romance novel is all about the emotional journey, and a reader’s emotions must be engaged. I’m known for writing humorous books, and I’m often asked for advice on how to be funny. (Short answer: I have no idea. It’s just the way I’m wired.) I always caution writers not to forsake the emotion in the pursuit of humor. A funny book will make you laugh, but a funny book that grabs your heart at the same time will stay with you forever.
SL: What do you most hope people take away from your work?
JQ: I’ve said many times that I’m not going to change the world with my writing, but I can change someone’s afternoon. There is a time and a place for the Great American Novel, and there is a time and a place for clever, well-written entertainment. I love writing the latter, and I love reading it, too.
But lately I’ve been thinking that there is more to it than that. I often hear from readers who tell me that my books have shown them that they deserve better in their lives, that they deserve a partner who treats them well. And maybe that’s why my heroes aren’t typical bad boys. (Seriously, every time I try to write a bad boy hero he turns around and does something decent and nice.) I don’t want a guy who treats women like dirt, and I don’t want to write about guys who do that, either. Then it occurred to me — in some ways, portraying a healthy relationship in literature is the most revolutionary thing you can do.
SL: Going off of that, what makes a male character sexy in a romance novel?
JQ: There are really two parts to what makes a male character sexy. The first is focused just on him. There is the physical — he doesn’t need to be classically handsome, but he needs to be attractive to the heroine. He also needs, in my opinion, a stellar sense of humor and the ability to — at least some of the time — not take himself too seriously. But I also think that a vital component of his sexiness comes in how he sees the heroine. A guy simply cannot be sexy if he doesn’t respect women. If you want to be a hero in one of my books, you have to believe in the heroine and respect and cherish her strengths and abilities. It doesn’t mean he can’t get all protective and macho from time to time — I mean, who doesn’t love that? But ultimately, he’s got to think she’s the bomb, and not just because he likes the way she looks on his arm. And of course, it doesn’t hurt if he gets down on one knee and declares that she’s the missing piece to his soul.
To read the full interview, click here.
More about Julia Quinn here.
I first met Sophie at the Romance Writers of America’s annual conference in 2016 — at the Avon Books party, to be precise. I’ll always remember her big smile, warm greeting, and how she pulled up on her phone the cover of her next historical romance, While the Duke Was Sleeping . . . and we ooh’ed and aah’ed over its gorgeousness. I invite you to feast your eyes!
Now the wonderful Sophie’s offering a giveaway of The Laird Takes a Bride on her Facebook page! Would you like to enter? Click here. And good luck!
A Goodreads giveaway for The Laird Takes a Bride wraps up on Tuesday. If you haven’t already, would you like to enter for a chance to win a signed copy? If so, click here.