Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Lady Sarah's Sinful Desires: Exclusive prologue not included in the book

Oakland Manor – 1820

“The carriages are ready,” Lady Oakland said as she entered her husband’s study. Dressed in preparation for their journey to Thorncliff Manor, she’d chosen a comfortable peach-colored gown and was presently pulling on her favorite pair of kid-skin gloves.
“And the children?” Philip, Earl of Oakland asked as he rose from his chair, closed the ledger he’d been updating and came toward her. “Are they ready as well?”
“Fiona keeps returning upstairs in order to fetch one thing or another that she claims to have forgotten,” Lady Oakland said in reference to her youngest daughter who, at the age of eighteen, was still as boisterous as ever, “so I think we should simply decide that it’s time to depart. Besides, the workers we hired are ready to begin on the renovations.”
“Alterations, you mean, considering our home is in perfect condition, save for the small detail that it’s not in the Greek style as you would prefer.”
Stepping forward with a smile, Lady Oakland allowed her husband to pull her into his arms. “You’re very good to me, Philip, there’s no denying that.”
He chuckled lightly as he kissed the top of her head. “The things men do for love…”
Leaning back a little, Lady Oakland gazed up at her husband in adoration. The corners of his eyes creased a great deal more than when they’d married thirty one years prior, and his hair now contained the occasional strand of gray, but he was still as handsome as ever.  “I dare say I only managed to convince you to accept the expense for Spencer’s benefit.”

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Modern princess and princesses - the real fairytale stories. Part 1

As a European, I grew up on photos in magazines of princesses dressed in fantastic gowns and crown jewels. They lived in impressive castles, even rode in horse-drawn carriages on occasion, and comported themselves with the utmost of grace. There were princes too, and by the time I was five, I'd selected the one whom I planned to one day marry.
Needless to say, things didn't quite turn out that way, which was probably best for everyone. Considering all the attention these people have to suffer, living in the spotlight the way they do, I don't think I would have lasted more than a second for the simple fact that I value my privacy.
After moving to America, the European royalty drifted into the background and the Oscars became the event to watch if you wanted to see a ridiculously overpriced outfit. But I digress...let me instead begin by introducing you to the royal families of Scandinavia and the fairytale magic that they represent. Stay tuned for posts on England, Belgium, Holland, Greece and Spain.


Crown Princess Mary (born in Tazmania) and Crown Prince Frederik (who will one day inherit the throne from his mother, Queen Margaret)

Princess Marie (born in France) and Frederik's younger brother, Prince Joachim


Crown Princess Mette-Marit (she was a single mother with a disadvantageous past, embodying the fairy-tale dream to perfection) and Crown Prince Haakon.

Crown Prince Haakon's younger sister, Princess Martha-Louise and her husband, Danish born Ari-Behn


Crown Princess Victoria and her husband, Prince Daniel. He was a personal trainer and gym owner before marrying Victoria.

Prince Carl Philip, currently engaged to Sofia Hellqvist (former model & reality tv contestant). The couple plans to marry on June 13th, 2015

Crown Princess Victoria's younger sister, Princess Madeleine and her husband, British/American businessman, Christopher O'Neill

Monday, April 20, 2015

Exclusive Prologue Release

I’m so excited! We are so close to hitting the preorder goal for Lady Sarah’s Sinful Desires! If we reach it within the next week, I’ll be able to release an exclusive prologue for LADY SARAH’S SINFUL DESIRES on my website! This prologue will not be available in the book! So If you’d like to help out, please preorder the book here: http://avonromance.com/book/lady-sarahs-sinful-desires-2 Click "other retailers" for a list of options. And if you’ve already done so, THANK YOU!!!

Friday, April 17, 2015

OFFICIAL TRAILER Lady Sarah's SInful Desires

Last week I wrote a post about book trailers where I mentioned Book Candy Studios. They have been simply fantastic to work with, keeping me updated either by email or phone and brainstorming with me through the entire process. I'm truly impressed with what they came up with for Lady Sarah's Sinful Desires. Take a look at the result and leave a comment if you like. I'd love to know what you think =)

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Romance covers through the years

Since the publication of Kathleen E. Woodiwiss' The Flame and the Flower in 1972 by Avon Books, modern romance novels have evolved, and so have the covers. What probably surprised many, was how successful The Flame and the Flower would be, selling over 2.3 million copies in its first four years of publication. It paved the way for thousands of authors thereafter, laying the foundation for a genre that would become the top grossing one within the industry of literary fiction. But while these books once boasted domineering men and submissive women on their covers, they now seem more aware of gender equality and sensuality, with greater focus on the romantic. Because when all is said and done, aren't romance novels fairy-tales for adults? The reason we read them is in order to watch people fall in love and get that happily ever after that they deserve, no matter the odds stacked against them.
I have to admit, that I might think twice about reading a book with Fabio ravishing some woman on the cover, but I take no issue with showing off more recent romance novels. In fact, I think they're so pretty, and since many of them begin as paintings created by artists, I do feel that they deserve to be seen.

Flash back to the 80's and 90's

Some of the prettiest covers out there!

Just goes to show that not all romance novels depict a hero or a heroine on the cover.

Friday, April 10, 2015

The Mayfair Chronicle

Doing publicity for a new release is a lot of work, but it can also be creative and fun! I'm really lucky that I have some great people to work with at Avon. A publicist has been assigned to my book but that doesn't mean that I won't be doing any work myself. One of my favorite things when it comes to PR is coming up with new ways in which to advertise my book. With my new Secrets At Thorncliff Manor series, it's not just the book itself that I'm trying to promote, but the entire concept of Thorncliff and all that it has to offer.
In the past, I've done an advent story leading up to my New Year's Eve release of The Scandal In Kissing An Heir, I've created my ambassador group, ordered various kinds of swag and printed limited quantity t-shirts for my At The Kingsborough Ball series.
This time around, I've brought The Mayfair Chronicle to life. For those of you unfamiliar with my books, this is a fictional newspaper that I created for There's Something About Lady Mary, and which has since shown up whenever a newspaper was necessary, just as the Belle Anglaise has become the most popular shopping destination for all my female characters.


Wednesday, April 8, 2015


Historically, masquerade balls began as an extension of the Carnival – a festive season taking place immediately before Lent.  Traditionally, according to the Christian calendar, it was a time marked for fasting and devout behavior, during which no parties or celebrations were held.  Consequently, in the days leading up to Lent, all rich food and drink were disposed of beforehand as part of a giant party involving the whole community. During the 16th Century, this celebration evolved into public costumed festivities in Italy, particularly in Venice, where dances including masks were held for the upper classes. This practice however, was outlawed in 1779 during the King of Austria’s rule when the use of masks was completely forbidden. There were brief resurgences during the 19th Century, but it didn’t become a tradition in Venice again until it was reintroduced in 1979. Now, roughly 3 million people visit the festival each year, the most prominent event being the contest for the most beautiful mask which is held on the last weekend and judged by a panel consisting of prominent costume and fashion designers.
Masquerades were not limited to Italy though. During the early 18th Century, a Swiss count by the name of Johan Jacob Heidegger, is credited for bringing not only Venetian fashion,  but the semi-public masquerade ball to London where it made its first appearance at the Haymarket Opera House and later at pleasure gardens like Vauxhall where masked characters in fancy dress would mingle with the crowds. These events soon became reputable for unseemly behavior, unescorted women and assignations (oh my…). 
Masquerades have also been the center for political intrigue. In fact, Gustav III of Sweden was shot in the back during such an event at the Royal Opera House in 1792, and though he did survive the incident for several days, the wound eventually became infected and he died thirteen days later, his last words reportedly being, “I feel sleepy. A few moments rest would do me good.” Famously, Eugene Scribe and Daniel Auber wrote an opera about it named Gustav III, as did Giusepe Verdi, though his version was altered by censorship and named Un ballo in maschera (A Masked Ball).
During the 1770’s fashionable Londoners were invited to Carlisle House, in Soho Square, to attend masquerade balls hosted by Teresa Cornley. She was a soprano opera singer born in Venice whose numerous lovers included Cassanova, the father of Teresa’s daughter. Teresa rented the mansion for £180 a year and refurbished it with opulent furnishings. The British novelist Frances Burney wrote in 1970: The magnificence of the rooms, splendor of the illuminations and embellishments, and the brilliant appearance of the company exceeded anything I ever before saw.
The perfect setting, one would think, for a masquerade ball =)
Recently, the most notable masquerade ball was held by the multi-millionaire, Carlos de Beistegui at the Palazzo Labia in Venice in 1951. The guest list included Orson Welles, Barbara Hutton, Christian Dior and Salvador Dali (who by the way designed each other’s costumes).
The intrigue involved in guests deliberately hiding their appearances, the game of guessing who’s who, and the elaborate costumes that go with it, are elements made to lure and entice. After all, most of us are curious by nature and enjoy uncovering that which is hidden.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Lesser known romantic getaways

There are so many fantastic places to visit in the world. Below are some of my favorite holiday locations - ones that would also serve as romantic getaways with that special someone. They're in no particular order, but if you still haven't decided on where to go this summer, maybe this will help =)

Mallorca - Spain

Beautiful island with everything located within a 1 hour drive - I recommend renting a car. Lots of rustic villages for you to stroll through. Have a seat at a small intimate cafe or restaurant and enjoy the scenery. There are caves to be explored and white sandy beaches for swimming. If you have kids that you'd like to bring along, Mallorca is a really family friendly place.

Carcassonne - France

A medieval fortress city, this town is perfect for romantic strolls through cobblestone streets lined with cute boutiques, cafes and restaurants. Go for a boat-ride on the river outside the city wall, visit the majestic cathedral or take a tour of the castle.

Bornholm - Denmark

This island in the Baltic is a popular holiday spot for Danes and Swedes alike. Surrounded by steep cliffs and beeches, it offers many opportunities for nature walks and swimming. The villages offer colorful cottages with climbing roses and cobblestone streets, or if you'd like something completely different, check out the round Templar churches - the only ones of their kind in the world.

Prague - Czech Republic

Prague is just beautiful. It offers plenty of romantic walking opportunities and outdoor dining. The castle looks as though it's taken straight out of a fairytale. Enjoy the view of the city from one of the bridges or go for a quiet boat-ride on the river.

Die romantische strasse - Germany

The romantic route. You'll need to rent a car for this, but the drive is totally worth it. You'll see some of the most beautiful scenery that Europe has to offer while visiting some very cute and romantic towns on the way. Take a week and just enjoy!

The Alps - Swizerland

Here's another driving opportunity. Stop along the way to enjoy the splendid mountain views, go for a hike or take a stop in one of the mountain towns on your way. If you feel like a larger city, head over to Zurich. Here you'll find old churches and lots of dining opportunities - fondue is a Swizz dish, perfect for a romantic evening.

Salzburg - Austria

If you'd like to enjoy an evening of classical music, this is the place. It's a lovely town with lots of historic buildings, including the house where Mozart was born. Many opportunities for quiet strolls through quaint little streets. Visit the castle or the magnificent cathedral.

Luxemburg - Luxemburg

Another gem that will take your breath away. Filled with historic buildings, this picturesque city is well worth a visit. Enjoy a boat ride on the river, stroll through the historic center, visit the cathedral, the ducal palace or the Sunday market.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Author Publicity - The Book Trailer

I think most authors agree that once the book has been written, there's still a lot of work to be done raising awareness about it and getting people to buy it. Writing for a large publishing house like Harper Collins, definitely helps, because there's always a publicist ready to assist. She writes the press release that goes out to major reviewers, helps set up my blog tour and even brainstorms blog post ideas with me. But there are many other PR things that I do by myself. One tool that I like to use for publicity purposes, is a book trailer. I've made one for most of my books so far, using either stock photos or parts of the book covers that I've cut segments from, pasted into Windows Movie Maker and added text and music to. It wasn't hard, but it was time consuming. However, it still allows for an interesting way in which to pitch your book idea/vibe to readers without spending any money.
Here's an example of a couple I've made:

Starting out as a new author, I wanted to save all of my earnings, which meant that I did everything - and I do mean EVERYTHING - by myself, from my website, to my author pictures, to the book trailers and whatever lies in between. I can't say that I've made it rich since then, but I am at a point where I can afford to outsource a few things in order to make my life easier and allow for more time with my family. When I stumbled across the book trailer for The School For Good And Evil, I fell in love and immediately contacted the creators behind it. Turns out that something like this would cost me as much as a brand new sedan - maybe not a Benz or an Audi, but you get the picture. Yes, it's expensive, but it's also pretty amazing - check it out:

Anyways, it was completely out of the question for me so I decided to look at other options. Turns out there's a really awesome company called Book Candy Studios who makes stunning trailers at really affordable prices. They're extremely professional and lovely to work with. In fact, they're making a trailer for Lady Sarah's Sinful Desires right now & I am so utterly excited about it!!! (Will post as soon as it's ready =D)
For an example of their work, check out the trailer they made for Alexandra Hawkins. In my opinion, it's absolutely perfect and so indicative of her style:

To find out more about Book Candy Studios, check out their website at: http://www.bookcandystudios.com/

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The Inspiration behind Thorncliff Manor

World building is one of my favorite things when it comes to writing, and in my new series, Secrets At Thorncliff Manor, I've had so many opportunities to be creative. For inspiration, I started out with the general idea of Las Vegas having themed hotels, and then converted this idea into an estate with themed salons. I've looked at numerous pictures of British castles and interesting locations throughout Europe and other parts of the world, combining all of my favorite elements. The result, is the most magnificent guesthouse England has ever seen.
I present to you, Thorncliff Manor.

Owned by Lady Duncaster, an eccentric widow with a penchant for cake, Thorncliff sits firmly upon the English countryside, located between Bournemouth and Portsmouth. Though little of the original structure remains visible, Thorncliff was initially built during the twelfth century by a knight named William Holden. Since then, each generation has expanded on it, creating a vast edifice with a total of 187 rooms, fifty of which are bedchambers. There are eight themed salons decorated in unique styles that pay tribute to some of the wonderful places Lady Duncaster visited with her late husband, like India and China.

The conservatory is quite possibly the finest one in Europe, modeled after the orangerie at the Versailles Palace, albeit with more glass to allow for a more outdoors feel. The impressive library, housing a vast variety of books that have been collected over the centuries, is 180 feet in length with comfortable seating arrangements located throughout in order to encourage reading or simply a bit of quiet conversation in good company.

Other notable rooms include the smoking room, the dining room (with space for one hundred guests), the gaming room, the ballroom, the music room and the exercise room.

Heading outside onto a sprawling terrace, tables and chairs set amidst potted plants and climbing roses, provide the guests with a wonderfully relaxing environment in which to enjoy their afternoon tea. Seated here, one has a direct view of the front lawn and the lake that lies beyond it. A frigate, now used for outdoor dining, can be seen – it is named The Endurance and was purchased many years ago by the late Lord Duncaster as gift for his wife – a memento since they once traveled aboard it together. To the right of this, is a Chinese pavilion, perfect for enjoying a quiet talk, a cup of tea or a midnight kiss.

Following the lake to the left, one will find the rose garden, and beyond it, an elaborate maze that can take a fair amount of time to get through. On the opposite side of the lake lies the forest, along with other lawns belonging to the estate, the chapel, and a path leading toward a grotto. Of course, no estate of this size and history would be complete without hidden tunnels and passageways, so Thorncliff does have several of those as well, many of which have not yet been explored.
Rumor does have it that a treasure can be found on the estate, but Lady Duncaster isn’t convinced, even though some of her guests are quite determined to find it. Who knows how lucky they’ll be?

If you'd like to know more, please visit my website at www.sophiebarnes.com
The first book in the series, Lady Sarah's Sinful Desires, goes on sale April 28th and is available now for pre-order