Archive for 'inspiration'

“How Jane Austen Continues to Inspire Romance Authors”

In honor of one my all-time favorite authors, whose birthday is today, I’m reupping a little think-piece I wrote with great pleasure for Bookish. Hope you enjoy it!

How Jane Austen Continues to Inspire Romance Authors

More than 200 years after their publication, Jane Austen’s books still speak to us — still make us think, laugh, and swoon a little, too. The novels themes of love and marriage also continue to inspire historical romance novelists everywhere. What is it, exactly, that keeps her work so relevant to us writers, as well as to the romance community at large? I suggest it’s because Austen embeds her stories with enduringly powerful ideas and motifs. Here are a few of them.

Intelligence is a game-changer
Set in an era during which women were all too often viewed as decorative objects, Austen’s heroines — despite intense familial and social pressure to conform — think their way through things. For Mansfield Park‘s Fanny Price to reject Henry Crawford? Astonishing! Today’s historical romance readers expect heroines to make self-affirming choices too, whether it’s through book smarts, emotional intelligence, business acumen, or any of the other various qualities that denote solid brainpower.

Appearances can be deceiving
Oh, that dashing John Willoughby in Sense and Sensibility, literally sweeping Marianne Dashwood off her feet. But, alas, he’s got a rotten core. And what about cold, condescending Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice? Turns out he’s hiding a good heart and a passionate nature. In the high-stakes game of love, people can go to great lengths to conceal their flaws, fears, and desires. Our historical heroines often struggle with the same dilemma — how to sort out the real from the false — as they fight for what they want and deserve.

Laughter is sexy
Among Austen’s wide range of characters, those who deploy humor are often cited as favorites. Consider witty, playful Elizabeth Bennet in P&P who famously declares, “I dearly love a laugh,” and Northanger Abbey‘s adorable Henry Tilney. As “Advice Goddess” Amy Alkon says, we’re instinctively drawn to people who make us laugh: “Humor is a reliable, hard-to-fake sign of genetic quality.” Today we still love a laugh, as the many fans of Julia Quinn, Eloisa James, and Tessa Dare — three of the best-known purveyors of fun historical romps — will attest.

People can change
Austen herself said that Emma Woodhouse was “a heroine whom no one but myself will much like.” Emma is a tough sell. She’s annoyingly smug and bossy. But not only does Emma learn some hard lessons about herself, she’s able to take this information and become a kinder, wiser person — leaving us confident that she really has earned her happy ending. And that’s what we want from our historical characters too. We love seeing them change, grow, and flourish, both as individuals and as a firmly bonded couple.

Still waters run deep
My two favorite Austen heroines — Persuasion‘s Anne Elliot and Mansfield Park‘s Fanny Price — are quiet, sensitive, and deeply emotional. Others may think they’re pushovers or take them for granted, but it’s their unwavering moral compass, their steadfast inner strength, which ultimately gains them their hearts’ desires. This trope is an eternally popular one, and for good reason: Who doesn’t root for the wallflower, the introvert, the underdog? There’s something very special about the against-the-odds happily-ever-after.

Happiness matters
In Austen’s day, marriage was often a woman’s only bulwark against deprivation, degradation, or worse. That her books are wedding-obsessed reflects a very real and practical response to her world. Yet she also, radically, makes the case for personal happiness over pragmatism. Elizabeth Bennet really should accept icky Mr. Collins’ proposal for the sake of her family’s security. But she doesn’t, and that is a stunning act of subversion. This bold championing of happiness over every other consideration is why romance novels continue to not only outsell other genres, but also to joyfully illuminate the human heart and mind.

These images via Wikimedia commons.

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“Rules for happiness”

While writing The Redemption of Philip Thane, I came across a quote which I found so beautiful and inspiring — and also so very much at the heart of the story — that ultimately it found its way into the book:

Graphic: "Rules for happiness"

It acts as a kind of beacon for my hero, lighting his way out of darkness . . .

Graphic: Lisa Berne - The Redemption of Philip Thane - Avon BooksWant to learn more about The Redemption of Philip Thane, including your preorder options in print, ebook and audio? Click here.

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This may well be . . .

. . . my favorite plant in our garden.

Photo by Lisa Berne: a volunteer flower

It showed up unexpectedly in a rather inhospitable part of our backyard. The life force at work!

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Some inspiration . . .

. . . in creating my hero in The Redemption of Philip Thane. :)

Illustration: Bugs Bunny

More info, and preorder links, here.

Graphic: "How many times can a rake get it wrong," shared via LisaBerne.com

Coming your way December 28!

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The dark moment . . .

Like this one, this gorgeous illustration evokes for me the interval in The Worst Duke in the World when it seems that Jane and Anthony may be parted forever. (Spoiler alert: they won’t be!) There’s something about her expression here — with its fierce intelligence and determination — which is very Jane-like. :)

Illustration: the dark moment

The gifted artist is Caroline Garcia; more about her and her work here.

To learn more about The Worst Duke in the World, read Chapter 1, listen to an audiobook sample, and check out some of the nice things people are saying about it, click here.

The Worst Duke in the World by Lisa Berne (Avon Books)

“Enchanting . . . Champagne in book form — bubbly, fun, and intoxicating.” —Entertainment Weekly

Want to see its Pinterest board, filled with inspirations, allusions, Easter eggs and assorted amusements? Click here.

 

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The smoldering glance

This is how my heroes look at my heroines.

Photo: Paul and Joanne, shared via LisaBerne.com

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“Evening Reading”

Isn’t this a lovely (and possibly perfect) image for Feelgood Friday?

Image: "Evening Reading" by Georg Vilhelm Pauli, shared via LisaBerne.com

via Helen Warlow on Twitter

The painting is Evening Reading by the Swedish painter Georg Vilhelm Pauli, 1884.

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Inside scoop: Wakefield!

In my upcoming The Worst Duke in the World, I feature — for the first time in my Penhallow Dynasty series — a protagonist who’s a single parent. In this case, Anthony Farr, the Duke of Radcliffe. It was so much fun writing his son, the bright, lively, 8-year-old Wakefield! I rather fancy that he looks a bit like this charming lad . . .

Image: painting of a young Regency-era boy, shared via LisaBerne.com

Do you enjoy single-parent romances?

* * *

Want to see all of my Pinterest board, filled with inspirations, allusions, Easter eggs and assorted amusements? Click here.

Cover image: The Worst Duke in the World by Lisa Berne (Avon Books)

Coming your way January 12!

For more info and to preorder The Worst Duke in the World, click here. (The ebook is available for $4.99!)

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Inside scoop: Evans!

Why, yes, I *did* name a character in The Worst Duke in the World “Evans,” as a little tip of the hat to the delightful Shaun Evans, who is so incredibly watchable as the brilliant, moody Detective Morse in Endeavour.

Photo: Shaun Evans, shared via LisaBerne.com

Want to see all of my Pinterest board, filled with inspirations, allusions, Easter eggs and assorted amusements? Click here.

For more info and to preorder The Worst Duke in the World, click here. (The ebook is available for $4.99!)Cover image: The Worst Duke in the World by Lisa Berne (Avon Books)

To save it on Goodreads, click here.

P.S. If you’re a Morse fan, like me, let’s not even talk about that mustache!

 

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Disney princess inspiration!

A little something for Feelgood Friday.

 

Graphic: "Care for others . . ."

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