Friday, December 9, 2016

Review: Nadine Crenshaw’s MOUNTAIN MISTRESS – A Keeper! Western Romance that Captivates

If you have not discovered Nadine Crenshaw, allow me to introduce you to a consistently 5-Star author of great historical romance. Alas, you may have to buy her books used in paper (as I did) or get them from the library, but you will not regret it. Every one she wrote is in my keeper bookcase. I so wish they would bring her books out in digital format.

Mountain Mistress was her first book and it won the Golden Heart Award in 1987. I can see why. You WILL NOT regret buying this one, I promise! The hero, Cougar, and the heroine, Flame, are on my Favorite Heroes & Heroines list I will publish the end of the month.

This romance is one all consuming, passionate story of the relationship between a Scottish born mountain man the Indians call "Waiting Cougar" who takes an unwilling "winter squaw"—bought with beaver pelts from the Blackfeet Indians who captured her in a raid. Innocent young Victorine Wellesley was raised in Philadelphia in the parlor rooms of elegant homes only to be forced to leave when her father died and her foolish brother took her west. Almost raped by the Blackfeet Indians who killed her brother and his wife, she is "rescued" by Cougar and forced to travel with him high into the Bitterroot Mountains to warm his bed of furs for the winter. She does not know one of Cougar’s Indian friends, a Medicine Man, predicted this was to be his woman. Cougar calls her Flame and tells her she is his “wife” but she knows better. She is not a real wife; she is only a "mountain mistress."

Victorine, who Cougar names "Flame," feels her identity slipping away as she begins to dress like a squaw, her beautiful fair skin turns brown from the sun and she falls victim to the passion he draws from her at his will. You will be inspired as her courage rises to every challenge and there are many in the wild mountains: bears, hostile Indians and evil trappers.

And there is a surprise at the end!

As she has with all her subsequent romances, Crenshaw draws you into her story and into Victorine's mind. You can literally feel the anger and frustration rise in you as your sympathy for Victorine grows with each day of the long journey into the mountains. She wants her freedom but she cannot resist the man who has led her into this life. Since she knows nothing of surviving in a wilderness, she is well and truly trapped.

It is hard to believe this was Crenshaw's first novel as it competes well with anything out there today. Her writing is superb. Her story captivates—it’s a real page-turner. She presents accurately the essence of the era (19th century American frontier), even the nuances in speech. She has the place names, history and Indian culture (Blackfeet and Salish) just right. In fact, she has it ALL just right.

It is such a good book!! I highly recommend it.

Her other books:
CAPTIVE MELODY (1988) – 19th century American West
EDIN’S EMBRACE (1989) - Viking
SPELLBOUND (1990) – 12th century England
DESTINY AND DESIRE (1992) – San Francisco 1915
THE HIGHWAYMAN (1993) – 18th century England
VIKING GOLD (1995) - Viking
FIELDS OF THE SUN (1997) – 17th century England, Morocco and Brazil

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Definitive Interview with NY Times Bestselling Author Paula Quinn!

My guest today is New York Times bestselling author Paula Quinn. Paula claims to be “a sappy romantic moved by music, beautiful words, and the sight of a really nice pen.” She lives in New York with her three beautiful children, six over-protective Chihuahuas, and three adorable parrots. She loves to read romance and science fiction and has been writing since she was eleven. She's a faithful believer in God and thanks Him daily for all the blessings in her life. She loves all things medieval, but it is her love for Scotland that pulls at her heartstrings.
Paula has graciously agreed to answer all my questions, so here goes!

1.     Do you write while listening to music? If so what kind?

Music is my muse. I can’t write without it. I’ve met some of my characters while listening to a song. It can be any kind of music, Celtic, classic, rock, anything as long as it moves me.  I think I listened to “Come What May” from the Moulin Rouge soundtrack at least three hundred times while writing Laird of the Mist.
Order on Amazon

    2. Which of your characters would you most/least invite to dinner, and why?

      I would love to invite Callum MacGregor, and not because he’s big, brooding, and gorgeous (at least, that’s what I tell myself) but because I would want to hear more about the history of the MacGregor proscription. I did so much research, but I’d still love to hear about it from the perspective of someone who actually lived it. Least would be Connor Grant because I’d end up being rude and staring at him all night. I might possibly take a bite out of him at some point, too.

     3.  Do you read reviews of your books? If so, do you pay attention to them, or let them influence your writing?

Yes, I read them. We all want to know how our “children” are being perceived. Bad reviews don’t bother me. I don’t pay attention to the overly critical reviews. You can’t please everyone and I realize that. I do try to learn from constructive criticism though. If some of my faithful readers aren’t happy with something, I try to fix it in future books.

4.     What color would you make the sky if it weren’t going to be blue anymore, and why?

Wow! What a great question! I’d like the sky to be crimson or dark pink. I think it’s so soothing. Just think how good we’d all look in such warm tones. Besides, pink is my favorite color!

 5.     What will always make you smile, even on a bad day?

Praising God always takes away my worry and makes me happy. Also, I find great joy in my dogs. Their love is all consuming and unconditional.

6.     What was the first story you remember writing?

Embarrassing, but okay. My mom had gotten me an ADAM (that’s right, not Apple) computer with a dot matrix printer. Oh, how I loved it. I had a little desk in my bedroom and a corkboard nailed to the wall with pictures of Jack Scalia pinned to it for character inspiration. I sat down and wrote Eternally Yours, a book you will never read about a demon named Jerry who falls in love with a woman who has already been claimed by God. It was so bad, but I was so proud of myself. I printed it up and still have it. I’d written some short fantasies before that. All bad but I knew that I wanted to be a writer. Numerous jobs, a marriage and three kids later, I returned to a newer model computer and was back at it again. The rest, as they say, is history.

7.     What sound or noise do you love?

Birds chirping. Oh, I love it. I try to make a point of going to the park everyday to feed the sparrows. I love how busy they are and always wonder what they’re saying to each other. J I also love the sound of the chipmunks voice from Alvin and the Chipmunks LOL.

    8.     What drew you to write the genre(s) you write?

I grew up reading sci-fi/fantasy, which was a very small genre way back then. No paranormals back then. Not one. I loved everything from David Eddings and Raymond E. Feist, Marion Zimmer Bradley, and my all time favorite, Guy Gavriel Kay. I was a romantic kid and as much as I loved these authors (and still do), I yearned for some romance. I switched over to authors like Rosemary Rogers (Sweet Savage Love, baby!) and Johanna Lindsey. My first published books were medieval romances set in the time of William the Conqueror. I’d toyed with the idea of writing Scottish romance, but my affinity for Scotland scared me. I didn’t think my emotions would hold up. Seriously, bagpipes make me cry. Research on the MacGregors made me a weepy mess, but their story needed to be told and I got through it and finally wrote Laird of the Mist. And yes, I cried through most of it. [Regan's note: You and I, Paula, have the same affinity for Scotland!]

After eleven Scottish romances and two novellas, I decided it might be time to go back to my first love, fantasy, which I write under as my alter ego, Genevra Thorne.

9.     What is your favorite book of your various series?

Ah, I love them all. If I had to choose one from my Scottish series, Laird of the Mist takes the lead by a slight margin. [Regan’s note: Laird of the Mist is my favorite by Paula.] From my fantasy series, A Faerie Tale, I probably favor The Beloved a little more because of the meaning of the book. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

     10. In what time period do you most like to set a story?

Anywhere from the eleventh to the seventeenth century. I love history!

11.  What’s coming next?

   I’m working on Book 6 of my Highland Heirs series and also something new in paranormal will be coming soon! Can’t say just yet, but it will be good!

Paula's question to the readers: 

What is the most important element in a book you want to read (wounded hero, reformed rake, danger, sex, etc.)? 

One commenter will win a signed print copy of Paula’s latest release, A Highlander's Christmas Kiss and a digital copy of either The Enchanted or The Beloved (your choice).

Order A Highlander's Christmas Kiss and The Beloved on Amazon. And keep up with  Paula on her Website, Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads

Monday, December 5, 2016

Writing a Christmas Regency Romance by Regan Walker

I have written two Christmas Regency novellas, The Twelfth Night Wager and The Holly & The Thistle, both set in Regency London in 1818. What's important to keep in mind when writing a Christmas Regency story? The important thing when setting a story during a holiday is to capture the traditions of that special time, be Christmastide or Twelfth Night, without taking the romance from center stage. The reader wants to experience the love story and love the characters while also experiencing the holiday. And if you are like me, you also want to include the history of the period and enough of the speech and customs to make it real

So when Lord Eustace is invited to a house party in November of 1818, I had to know that he’d expect to be shooting pheasant and riding to hounds (fox hunting) in the countryside. And, as an added touch, I made sure the flowers blooming in the gardens of Wimpole Hall (an actual estate in Cambridgeshire where the party took place) would really have been blooming then.

And when the heir to the throne became a great concern in England and the royal dukes were scrambling to wed and bed new wives to create that heir, it was the talk over dinner in The Twelfth Night Wager.

In Regency England, they celebrated the seasons a bit differently that we do. The folks in Regency England decorated their homes with Christmas greenery but not Christmas trees (mostly a Victorian tradition, though the German spouse of George III had one). They put up the greenery beginning on Christmas Eve and took it all down on Epiphany (the day after Twelfth Night) when the greens would be burned in the fireplace.
It’s also important in a holiday romance to capture the sights, sounds and smells of the season. When my characters walked into the parlour in my Christmas stories, I wanted them to hear the crackling fire, smell the wassail’s aromatic and spicy fragrance and see the red velvet bows on the candle-lighted chandelier. And, I want the reader’s mouth to water when I’m describing the Christmas feast. (One reader told me I sent her to the kitchen looking for something to eat she got so hungry reading my story!). 

 I put recipes on my website from my stories just so my readers can cook them up at home. You can see some of the Regency ones here, including plum pudding and hot wassail.

When I write a holiday romance, I like to get in the mood to experience the holiday as if I was there. My favorite music to listen to as I was writing my Regency Christmas stories was the choir of Clare College.
In my story, when the characters go to church on Christmas Day, I’m hoping you can hear the hymns they are singing.

I want my readers to feel like they are in Regency England during Christmas!

See the Pinterest Board for The Twelfth Night Wager

And pick up a copy of the novellas. During December 5-10, The Twelfth Night Wager is on sale for 99¢!  On Amazon US & UK

Since the stories go together and The Holly & The Thistle follows The Twelfth Night Wager, you might want to pick it up, too, to see what happens to Lady Emily Picton when she stumbles over a very handsome Scot in Berry's Wine Shop. On Amazon US & UK.


Saturday, December 3, 2016

Review: Paula Quinn’s A HIGHLANDER’S CHRISTMAS KISS – Celebrate Christmas in the Highlands with a Worthy Hero!

The story begins as Christmas draws near in 1711 in Linavar, Scotland. As Temperance Menzie prepares for Christmas Day with her family, their celebrations are suddenly cut short when the gang of Black Riders storm into their land and falsely accuse her father of shooting an arrow through into one of their men. Temperance’s father is innocent, but Cailean Grant, who now rides with the Black Riders as a warrior for hire, doesn’t know that. And so he allows one of the Black Riders to kill him.

After the killing, Cailean begins to get a conscious and, having witnessed Temperance’s grief, comes looking for her. They exchange a few words and later, she finds him in the woods, unconscious and stabbed in the back. She has no idea the wounded man she nurses back to life was one of the Black Riders who killed her father.

Cailean’s guilt grows as Christmas draws near and his identity is revealed. As well, Cailean has an enemy among the Black Riders and must him and his own demons. Meanwhile the man Cailean hates wants Temperance for his bride. It’s a muddle for a while until Cailean begins to set things straight.

A well-told story that will warm your heart on a cold winter’s night, it tells of scars from the past and second chances, of marrying for love and not for duty.

A great Christmas read!

On Amazon

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Review: Kresley Cole’s IF YOU DECEIVE – A Scarred Soul and a Broken Lady Will Capture Your Heart!

December is Favorite Heroes and Heroes month on my blog. All month long, I’ll be featuring reviews of the ones that I cannot forget. I’m starting out with book 3 in a great trilogy. It can be read as a stand alone.

Set in the mid 19th century, in the Victorian era, this is the story of Ethan MacCarrick, the oldest of three brothers, Scots who live under a 500-year old curse that promises death if any of them marries. Of course, the curse was not all readable so they don’t know the whole of it...

Ethan, the oldest MacCarrick was a heartbreakingly handsome rake until a powerful nobleman ordered him brutally beaten and his face scarred for a crime he didn't commit. In revenge, Ethan bankrupted the nobleman. Ten years later, a haughty, mysterious beauty captures Ethan’s attention one night at a masquerade ball. When he learns she is the daughter of his enemy, he decides to complete his revenge: he'll promise her marriage, seduce her, then cast her aside.

Madeleine (“Maddy”) van Rowen has had a hard life. She comes to London hoping her cousins can help her find a new path, but alas, an encounter with a man who takes her virtue has her returning in shame to the slums of Paris where she ekes out a living. When that same man, Ethan, comes to Paris to find her, he is shocked at her living conditions and awed by her courage and kind heart toward others.

I fell in love with Ethan and Maddie and their story (introduced in the second book, If You Desire). There is something about love healing a scarred man and a curse to overcome that melted me. The characters are well developed and the plot moves at a good pace. Cole does her homework on the historical setting—it feels authentic—and she makes you fall in love with Scotland and it's men. These three Scottish brothers are sexy and strong and love their women with a passion that is compelling. They will draw you in, I promise. And Maddie is, well, one of the most endearing characters I have ever met.

I couldn’t put this trilogy down. I read one a day for three days, and then promptly re-read them. They are simply absorbing. And, to me, this third one is the best.

If You Deceive on Amazon

The MacCarrick Brothers Trilogy

If You Dare
If You Desire
If You Deceive

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Best Victorian Romances!

This is a brand new list this year and the list will continue to grow. The Victorian era generally began in 1837 (the year Victoria became Queen) and ended in 1901 (the year of her death). The common perception of the period is the Victorians were “prudish, hypocritical, stuffy and narrow-minded”.  But these perceptions were not always accurate, as you will see in the romances on this list that, while fiction, do tend to give you the flavor of the Victorian era.

All of those listed here have been rated 4, 4 and ½ or 5 stars by me:

A Lady’s Lesson in Scandal by Meredith Duran
Bound by Your Touch by Meredith Duran
Bride of Pendorric by Victoria Holt
From Fields of Gold by Alexandra Ripley
Fool Me Twice by Meredith Duran
Gentle From the Night by Meagan McKinney
Gypsy Jewel by Patricia McAllister
Harcourt’s Mountain by Elaine Dodge
Lady Sophia’s Lover and Worth Any Price, the Bow Street Runners by Lisa Kleypas
Lord of the Far Island by Victoria Holt
Mine Till Midnight, Seduce Me at Sunrise, Tempt Me at Twilight, Married by Morning and Love in the Afternoon, Hathaway Series, by Lisa Kleypas
Mistress of Mellyn by Victoria Holt
On the Night of the Seventh Moon by Victoria Holt
Scarlett by Alexandra Ripley
Silk and Shadows, Silk and Secrets and Veils of Silk, the Silk Trilogy by Mary Jo Putney
Song for Sophia by Moriah Densley
Surrender the Night by Christine Monson
The Book of the Seven Delights and The Book of True Desires by Betina Krahn
The Duke of Shadows by Meredith Duran
The Last Bachelor by Betina Krahn
The Pride of the Peacock by Victoria Holt
The Scarlet Thread by Beck Lee Weyrich
The Secret Woman by Victoria Holt
This Fiery Splendor by Christine Monson
Where the Horses Run by Kaki Warner