Sunday, March 29, 2015

Free Romance Books available on Amazon Kindle

When I love an author, I want to own their book, not in e-book format, but in print, so that I can place it on my bookshelf like a treasure. Because of this, I've rarely bought an e-book. Most of the ones I have on my kindle are freebies written by new to me authors. I've discovered many wonderful voices in this way, some of which have become must-reads over the years. Below is a list of books currently available for free on Amazon Kindle. I've included my favorites as well as a few that I still haven't read but plan to read in the future. You can do your own search too - just enter "free regency romance kindle books" in the search criteria, or something similar specific to the types of books you're looking for. You'll be amazed with what you'll find!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Lady Sarah's Sinful Desires - Character portraits & quotes

It's March 28th and that means only one more month until the first book in my brand new series, Secrets At Thorncliff Manor, goes on sale. It's called Lady Sarah's Sinful Desires and although I haven't really kicked into promo gear just yet - I'm wrestling with another monster at the moment, namely the edits for the second book in this series - I thought I'd give you all a little sneak peak.
The first chapter is available HERE, via my website's Lady Sarah page. Here you will also find a sketch of the Thorncliff estate, as I envision it looking - I'll add another post during April with more details on that, like the history behind it and inspirational pictures that will have you drooling ;D
For now, I present the Heartly family, courtesy of artist Brittany Lounsbury: as well as a couple of quotes. Let me know what you think! 

Friday, March 27, 2015

2015 RITA Nominees

Yesterday was a big day for romance writers. It was the day that the 2015 RITA nominees were announced. For those of you who don't know what a RITA is, think of the Oscar, the Golden Globe or the Emmy. The RITA is romance's equivalent - the highest award of distinction any writer within the genre can receive, so yeah, it's a pretty big deal =)
A final round of judging will now take place and the winners will be announced at a black-tie awards ceremony during the RWA conference in NYC this coming July. Below is a list of the nominees - a truly fantastic line-up. Congratulations to everyone who made it this far!

2015 RITA Finalists
Best First Book
A Bollywood Affair
by Sonali Dev
Kensington Publishing
Martin Biro, editor
The Dress Thief
by Natalie Meg Evans
Quercus Publishing
Kathryn Taussig, editor

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

From concept to print: the making of a book

Did you ever wonder what goes into making a book? I'm not just talking about the printing part - that's just the final stage. I'm talking about how a book goes from being no more than an idea, to being an actual book in a store that you can take home with you and read.
Below are a series of really great videos presented by New York Times bestselling author Lauren Oliver, which will give you a pretty great insight into the entire process.






For more on the printing process, check out this great video featuring the Twilight novels:

Monday, March 23, 2015

Avon e-book sale

Many of my favorite romance authors write for Avon, so I always keep an eye out for when their books become available at discounted prices. Julia Quinn's The Viscount Who Loved Me and Eloisa James' Winning The Wallflower are just a couple of examples of some of the books I've acquired during 'sale time'.
Below is a list of books currently available at $0.99 from Amazon. The sale won't last forever, so I suggest you grab these books as soon as possible. Remember, summer is coming. You'll want something juicy to read wherever you plan to take your vacation =)

Fans of historical romance authors Lorraine Heath and Sophie Jordan will adore Vivienne Lorret's latest Wallflower Wedding novel.

Delaney McFarland is on the hunt for a husband—preferably one who needs her embarrassingly large dowry more than a dutiful wife. After the unspeakable incident at her debut, Delaney knows marrying for love is off the table, but a marriage of convenience—one that leaves her free to live the life she chooses—is the next best thing, never mind what that arrogant, devilishly handsome Mr. Croft thinks. Delaney plans to marry for money … or not at all.
Ever since the fiery redhead burst into his life—in a most memorable way—Griffin Croft hasn't been able to get Miss McFarland out of his mind. Now, with the maddening woman determined to hand over her fortune to a rake, Griffin knows he must step in. He must help her. He must not kiss her. But when Griffin's noble intentions flee in a moment of unexpected passion, his true course becomes clear: tame Delaney's wild heart and save her from a fate worse than death … a life without love.

A sparkling, sexy Regency romance from New York Times bestselling author Tessa Dare!

(novella, approximately 28,000 words)

When a girl meets a rake...
Miss Eliza Cade is a lady in waiting. And waiting. Because of a foolish mistake in her youth, she's not allowed "out" in Society until her three older sisters are wed. But while she's trying to be good, she keeps bumping elbows--and more distressingly, lips--with notorious rake Harry Wright. Every moment she spends with him, she risks complete ruin.
The sensual passions he stirs in her are so wrong...but Eliza just can't resist Mr. Wright.

Previously appeared in the e-book anthology Five Golden Rings.
USA Today bestselling author Vivienne Lorret revisits her Wallflower Wedding series with a delightful tale of friends-to-lovers, just in time for Christmas.
Penelope Rutledge longs for passion, but only with the man of her dreams: the brilliant, dashing Ethan Weatherstone. If only her longtime neighbor would open his eyes and realize how much she loves him. If only they weren’t best friends with so much at stake. Penelope knows her future—and their friendship—is in her hands, but is she willing to take the biggest risk of all on the man she loves?
If it were up to Ethan, life and love would be as predictable as the figures in his ledgers—certainly nothing like the adventures Penelope longs for. Yet his childhood friend has grown into a beautiful, feisty woman blissfully unaware of the danger she causes when near. Ethan knows he must save Penelope and her reputation … but can he save himself from the temptation of her lips?

Christmas in town has never been so steamy . . .
Handsome as sin and scandalously rakish, Cam Westfall, the Earl of Bedwyr, is every young lady's wickedest dream. Shy wallflower Princess Jacqueline of Sensaire knows this better than anyone, because her dreams are full of the breathtaking earl's kisses. And not only her dreams—her diary, too.
But when Cam discovers the maiden's not-so-maidenly diary, will her wildest Christmas wishes be fulfilled in its pages . . . or in his arms?

Let the Games Begin …
William MacKenzie has always been protective of his Scottish village. When Moraig's economy falters, he has the perfect solution to lure wealthy Londoners to this tiny hamlet: resurrect the ancient Highland Games! But for this to work, William knows he needs a reporter to showcase the town in just the right light.
A female journalist might be a tolerated oddity in Brighton, but newly minted reporter Penelope Tolbertson is discovering that finding respect in London is a far more difficult prospect. After receiving an invitation to cover Moraig's Highland Games, Penelope is determined to prove to her London editors just how valuable she can be.
Penelope instantly captures William's heart, but she is none too impressed with the gruff, broody Highlander; however, as she begins to understand his plans, Penelope discovers she may want more from him than just a story. She's only got a few days … but maybe a few days are all they need.
A lush Scottish historical romance in the vein of Karen Ranney and Karen Hawkins.
An ancient curse, a pair of meddlesome ghosts, a girl on the run, and a fateful misunderstanding make for the perfect chance at true love.
Lady Caroline Forrester is on the run from her brother's scheme to marry her off to the highest bidder. An escape to Scotland offers a chance at employment as a governess and freedom from an unhappy marriage—it's the perfect solution. But Caroline wasn't prepared for the feelings that her new employer brings out in her.
Alec McNabb, the reluctant Earl of Glenorne, never expected to return home to Scotland. But now that he's there, he realizes he has obligations that he cannot escape. Alec needs to marry well, and quickly.
When a case of mistaken identity—coupled with the sensual, magical atmosphere of Glenorne Castle—results in a passionate encounter, Caroline and Alec must decide whether their attraction is enough to overcome the problems of their pasts, or whether this one chance at true love was over before it began …

Originally appeared in the e-book anthology Royal Weddings and in The Capture of the Earl of Glencrae.
She planned every wedding of importance…but never her own.Was that now about to change?
Beautiful Lady Margaret Dawlish, the daughter of a duke, is proud to plan the ton's most important weddings—including that of a prince! But now it's Lady Margaret who falls in love, with dashing Gaston Devilliers, the Duke of Perigord. This breathtaking man always ends up where he wants to be—and, in this case, that means in Margaret's arms! And, suddenly, her best-laid plans to guard her heart come completely undone.

Claire Bannister just wants to be a good teacher so that she and the other ladies of the Governess Club can make enough money to leave their jobs and start their own school in the country. But when the new sinfully handsome and utterly distracting tutor arrives, Claire finds herself caught up in a whirlwind romance that could change the course of her future.
Jacob Knightly has a secret. He is actually the notorious Earl of Rimmel. He's just posing as a tutor to escape his reputation in the city. He never expected to fall in love with the kind and beautiful governess. She is the first person to love him for himself and not his title.
But when Jacob's true identity is revealed, Claire realizes she has risked her reputation and her heart on a man she doesn't truly know. Will Jacob be able to convince her that the Wild Earl has been tamed and that she is the true countess of his heart?

The young and beautiful Lady Fairhaven is Brazen…which is why she is willing to resort to blackmail to coerce a brave, if troubled, captain into helping her rescue her endangered brother. The incomparable Margo Maguire follows the success of her Romantic Times Top Pick, Seducing the Governess, with the second in her two-book historical romance mini-series set in England’s colorful Regency Era, about the lost—and found—granddaughters of a powerful duke.  As every fan of the exciting, emotionally rich historical romance of Liz Carlyle and Julia London will be thrilled to discover, Margo Maguire’s unabashed mastery of the Regency romance is unsurpassed…and downright Brazen!

Sins of a Ruthless Rouge, the second of Anna Randol’s Sinner’s Trio books, takes readers on a journey of betrayal and passion, set against Russia’s most opulent mansions and London’s royal residences.
When Olivia Swift betrayed Clayton Campbell a decade ago, she never thought she’d see him again. Now working together to translate a cypher and uncover the mysterious exploits of a long-forgotten Russian spy ring, Clayton finds himself in grave danger. While his attraction to Olivia is undeniable, can he truly trust her with his life?
A historical romance weaved with adventure and sensuality, Sins of a Ruthless Rogue features rich characters and a suspenseful, original story that will delight fans of Loretta Chase, Sherry Thomas, and Stephanie Laurens.

Gabriel Ludlow, Viscount Everhart, will never marry, and thus is sure to win the bachelors' wager amongst his friends. Assuming, of course, that his deepest secret—a certain letter containing a marriage proposal made in a moment of passion—doesn't surface. After all, without Calliope Croft to tempt him, there's no danger of losing. Or of falling in love.
Calliope wants revenge. Five years ago, an anonymous love letter stole her heart and ultimately broke it. Now Casanova has struck again, and Calliope vows to unmask the scoundrel, stopping him from breaking any more hearts. Yet, time and again, Gabriel distracts her from her task, until she can no longer deny that something about him calls to her …
Gabriel was a fool to ignore the depth of his feelings for Calliope, but the threat that kept him from her five years ago remains. Now he must choose between two paths: break her heart all over again or finally succumb to loving her … at the risk of losing everything.

Miss Bianca Mansfield is ready for her debut. If only her older sister didn't insist on marrying first. She's doomed to wait to find love. Until she meets … him.
For Lucian Dorlingsley, Viscount Asquith, recently returned from an extended tour abroad, it is love at first sight. He's determined to meet Bianca, even if it means masquerading as a tutor to her young half-brother.
Soon Bianca is torn between love and duty and about to make a desperate decision. Can Lucian calm her fury over his betrayal when he reveals that he's not nearly as improper a match as he seems? And will they ever be able to find a match for her older sister to turn this masquerade into wedded bliss?

In all of Sussex—scratch that—in all of England, there is no one prettier than Kate Mansfield, and Peter Colburn, heir to the Duke of Orland, has known that since the age of 15. But since her vivacious nature comes with a temper to match, Peter has always masked his hunger for her behind ruthless teasing.
As far as Kate is concerned, there is no one as annoying or as incredibly handsome as Peter. So when he surprises her with a sudden and romantic courtship, Kate is sure this must be his idea of a sick joke. After all, he's the one man who knows how flawed she really is. And the only man to whom she has ever been so attracted. It's only after she rejects him that she realizes he might actually have been serious. And she just might be regretting her hasty decision.
As Kate's determination wars with her traitorous heart, it may be too late. Now she's putting everything, including her reputation, on the line to give this accidental tragedy a happy ending.

Forced to live with her enemy! Hollie Finch is horrified when the forbidding Earl of Everingham Lord Charles Stirling, places her under house arrest in his manor. Well, he may suspect her of sedition, but to her it's just freedom of the press -- and she's determined to carry on her work right under his arrogant nose! Yet that turns out to be unexpectedly difficult, with his all-too-disturbing presence disrupting her days...and memories of his passion-dark eyes troubling her nights.An Impossible Love
Lord Charles Stirling merely planned to keep a close eye on the lovely rabble-rouser -- and he's appalled when her intoxicating scent and lithe curves make him burn to have her in his bed. Even worse, her generous heart and her joyous laughter start him thinking about keeping her with him forever. But the powerful earl has a secret that could destroy him, so he dares not let Hollie into his life. Can the pride and deception separating them ever be the miracle of love?

Regency England just got real(ity)
Episode 3: Annabelle and the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad rumor
Annabelle, Marchioness of Tattingstong, always thought she was a good wife. She’s put up with all thetitters and stares in the ballroom that go along withbeing a rich American married only for her wealth andlooks. But, when it’s rumored that her husbandhas a secret family, one he is using her money to keep,Annabelle may have finally had enough. A properEnglish wife would grin and bear it, but playing bysociety’s rules hasn’t worked for her so far.Will revenge be as sweet as American pie?

Thursday, March 19, 2015

What is love? Scientifically speaking.

As a romance writer, it's impossible to ignore the symptoms of falling in love, for the simple reason that they need to be described from both my hero's and my heroine's points of view. It's important therefore to know what these symptoms are and to have a wide variety of ways in which to bring them to life so the reader isn't always faced with yet another 'racing heart'. And yet, scientifically, a racing heart (when you're not under physical stress or experiencing some other powerful emotion, like fear - but in the presence of the opposite sex), is one of the prime indicators that you want to...well, there's really no delicate way of putting this... We're not talking about long term commitment yet, but the primal instinct to populate the planet with someone that your body - miracle machine that it is - believes will make a fine match for your genes, has kicked into action. That's right! Your brain will quickly determine the suitability of the other person (potential mate) by deciding whether or not they contain attributes that you would like to be passed on to your children. Nobody has necessarily asked anyone out on a date yet, but your mind is already leaping ahead and contemplating the result of a long term commitment, albeit on a subconscious level.
But there's more than genes at play when determining who your eventual life partner will be. In fact, according to Helen Fisher of Rutgers University in New Jersey, there are three stages to falling in love.
The first happens to be lust, driven by the sex hormones testosterone and oestrogen. These are the hormones that will make your subconscious forget about looking for that ideal gene match in favor of just 'looking for anything.'
After lust comes attraction. This is that 'new love' feeling complete with butterflies in your stomach, the inability to eat and sleep and that sense of panic that comes over you when the guy you like doesn't call. This is because of a group of neuro-transmitters called 'monoamines.' They include dopamine, (which is also activated by cocaine and nicotine) norepinephrine, otherwise known as adrenalin (this is what causes that racing heart), and serotonin, a chemical capable of making us go temporarily insane. Remember that crazy ex-boyfriend/girlfriend? Now you have an explanation =) Since it isn't practical for the attraction stage to last forever, it gradually evolves into the attachment stage, provided that there's enough compatibility for the relationship to last. During this stage, two hormones intended to bind couples together, are produced. They are oxytocin and vasopressin.
Now, this is where it gets really interesting. You see, monogamy/faithfulness toward your partner, isn't just encouraged because it's believed to be the correct behavior. It's actually enforced through sex. Yes. So Cool! That's because oxytocin, a hormone released by the hypothalamus gland during child birth which helps the breasts express milk and forms a strong bond between mother and child, is also released by both men and women during orgasm. Fascinating stuff, right? So, to clarify, oxytocin is thought to promote bonding between adults who are intimate. In other words, the more sex a couple has, the greater their attachment becomes. 
Vasopressin is also important to long-term commitment. In an experiment with prairie voles who also form long term attachment by mating more than necessary for the sake of reproduction, the male voles in which vasopressin was suppressed, lost interest in their partners and allowed them to seek other suitors.
Below is a really fun diagram illustrating the entire process. Thanks for sticking around and feel free to comment =)

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Mary Fairfax Somerville - Where There's A Will, There's A Way

This remarkable Scotswoman, born on December 26th, 1780, was the daughter of Vice-Admiral, Sir William George Fairfax, and since he was mostly away at sea, Mary was raised primarily by her mother who instilled few restrictions on Mary and made little effort to educate her. Consequently, Mary's father considered his 10-year-old daughter too wild when he returned from sea and made immediate plans to send her to boarding school.  She attended Musselburgh for the duration of one year during which she learned how to read and write. She was also introduced to simple arithmetic while there and was taught a little French. Beyond that, however, she wasn't really encouraged to educate herself since doing so was not considered essential for a girl during the 19th Century. Even so, she still managed to become a renowned and respected mathematician. She also lived to be 91 years old, which I think is absolutely marvelous! Below is a painting of her from the Regency period, and further down you'll find a photograph of her from the Victorian period.

Mary's mathematical expertise would develop by chance. Upon her return from Musselburgh, she began reading every book she could find in her home in an effort to continue her education. Yes, she was pretty much self-taught, which makes her achievements even more impressive! As was common at the time, her family criticized her for her efforts, which were not considered appropriate for a young lady. So, to counterbalance this desire she had for learning, she was sent to a school in Burntisland where she was taught needlework - so much more useful, wouldn't you agree?
Thankfully, she did manage to gain support from her uncle in whom she confided that she'd been teaching herself Latin. Rather than scold her for it, he encouraged her, and while visiting him in Jedburgh, he and Mary would read Latin together before breakfast.
When Mary was about thirteen, she moved to Edinburgh for the winter months and continued to socialize in the manner appropriate to a young lady. She learned to play the piano and was also taught to paint by the artist Alexander Nasmyth,
In fact, her painting lessons would introduce her to Euclid's Elements since she happened to overhear the artist explaining how essential it was to understanding perspective in painting to another student. More than that, she was intrigued to discover that it formed the basis for understanding science and astronomy. This was all Mary needed to know in order to embark on her own study of Euclid's Elements, which she did with the help of her younger brother's tutor. She became so engrossed in her studies that her parents worried about her health due to Mary's propensity for studying late at night. They insisted that she discontinue and that she should focus her energy of social functions instead. While Mary maintained a sweet and polite demeanor and was even nicknamed the "Rose of Jedburgh", she did not give up on her mathematical pursuits, but continued her studies in secret.
In 1804, at the age of 24, she married naval officer, Samuel Greig, who did not understand her love of learning and held intellectual women in low esteem. However, to his credit, he made no attempt to interfere with her pursuits.
Following his death in 1807, Mary continued educating herself and surrounded herself with friends who supported her studies. She read many mathematical and astronomical texts, including Newton's Principia and Laplace's Mécanique Céleste. In 1811, she received a silver medal for her solution to a mathematical problem presented in the Mathematical Repository.
In 812, she married her cousin, William Somerville - son of the uncle who'd helped her learn Latin. Unsurprisingly, William was just as supportive of Mary as his father had been and encouraged her to continue. Furthermore, he was also interested in science and the two studied geology together. During this time, Mary's circle of scientific friends expanded and she even met Laplace on a visit to Paris with her husband.
In 1826, Mary published her first paper with the Royal Society, entitled, The magnetic properties of the violet rays of the solar spectrum, and although refuted, the paper was considered to show great promise and attracted much attention at the time. It also lead to a proposal, made by Lord Brougham in 1827 on behalf of the Society, for Mary to translate Laplace's Mécanique Céleste into English.
Mary, however, was unsure of her capabilities, so although she accepted the challenge, she asked that it be kept secret and the work destroyed in the event that it failed to meet expectation.

As it turned out, Mary's concerns were unfounded. Her translation was published as a book in 1831, titled, The Mechanism of the Heavens, and was an immediate success!
Her second book, The connection of the physical sciences, was published in 1834, and it was in the sixth edition of this work that Mary would hypothesize the existence of a planet beyond Uranus, leading John Couch Adams to his discovery of Neptune.
In 1835, Mary and Caroline Herschel were the first women elected as members of the Royal Astronomical Society. She was also elected honorary member of the Société de Physique et d'Histoire Naturelle de Genève in 1834 and to the Royal Irish Academy, testimonies to her rising acclaim.
In 1838, she and her husband moved to Italy where Mary would spend most of the rest of her life. Here, she would write the most important of her publications: Physical Geography, which was published in 1848 and would be studied at schools and universities until the beginning of the 20th Century. As a result of this publication, she was elected to the American Geographical and Statistical Society in 1857 as well as to the Italian Geographical Society in 1870. In 1870, she was awarded the Victoria Gold Medal of the Royal Geographical Society. 

Given her background and her struggle to receive an education that would enable her to accomplish what she did, it's hardly surprising that she was also a strong supporter of women's education and women's suffrage, and her signature at the top of the petition presented to parliament by British philosopher & economist John Stuart Mill, requesting women's right to vote.
This lady, who earned the respect of so many notable people during her lifetime and who managed to pursue her dreams even when many of those closest to her were unsupportive, died in Naples, Italy, in 1872, and was buried there in the English cemetery.