Thursday, July 30, 2015

New Review: Heather Graham’s REBEL: Intriguing Tale of a Difficult Marriage During the Civil War

This is the third in Graham's 19th century Old Florida's McKenzies series--passionate romances that tell the stories of the men and women who shaped a great state. The first began in 1835 but with this third, the Civil War begins. Graham takes care to give us the history of the times (it's her home state after all!) as she weaves wonderful tales of love in the Eden that was the Florida Territory.

Set in 1860 at the outset of the Civil War, this is the story of Ian McKenzie, the son of Jarrett and Tara (from the first book, RUNAWAY).

The prologue begins with the Union Army Major they called the Panther, hunting silent and deadly along the southern Florida coast for the Moccasin, the Rebel spy who has taken such a great toll on the Union. Until he captured the Moccasin, Ian McKenzie didn't know (though he suspected) the spy was also his wife, Alaina...the wife he didn't want but was forced to marry for honor when he inadvertently joined her in a pool where she was swimming nude.

Ian McKenzie, though handsome and charming and an "honorable" man, treats Alaina roughly at times, even on his wedding night. Then, too, he shares his most intimate thoughts with Risa, the woman he had intended to marry. In truth, he admits he loves them both, which makes this a most unusual romance. Risa would have been happy to sleep with Ian notwithstanding her supposed friendship with Alaina (who could like Risa after that?). One had to feel sorry for Alaina. To be sure, early on she was a bit of a brat and didn't try to see Ian's point of view as a man loyal to the Union, but then she was raised a Southerner—as was most of Ian's family—and it was Federal troops that had killed her father. She was not the kind of wife who would forgo her convictions just to follow her husband. Ian never seemed to understand that about her. So Ian and Alaina were ever at odds.

This  is a well-told story and it’s a part of a great series (see list). Graham knows how to write and weaves intriguing, well-researched tales. I suggest reading the series in order.

The Florida series:

Runaway
Captive
Rebel
Surrender
Glory
Triumph


Buy on Amazon

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

New Review: Jennifer Horsman’s PASSIONS’ JOY – Love on the Underground Railroad: an Unusual English lord and an American Minx—and a bodice ripper!

This is the story of Lord Ramsey (“Ram”) Barrington and the 17-year-old New Orleans minx, Joy Claret Reubens, who is a “conductor” in the Underground Railroad in the early 19th century. Sending slaves north to freedom is a dangerous business as Joy discovers when she dresses like a boy and accompanies the slaves to the boat that will take them to freedom. While keeping watch over some bounty hunters for her accomplices, she is spotted by Ram who is taking a run in the woods. And, forever after, her life is changed.

There are many things I love about Horsman’s writing: her detailed, believable plots, her action and adventure, the realism of the historical elements, her sexy strong heroes, her winsome heroines and her secondary characters. (Each of her characters has a backstory and often we learn this from their point of view as Horsman skillfully moves between points of view.) All that makes for a richer tale. I admire her ability to do that so seamlessly.

In this one, we have a hero who is a British lord but acts more like a pirate. Often, he plays the cad. (I warn you, there is spanking, rape and the intentional taking of an unborn child’s life in this story.) He will definitely make you angry. Oh, he has a generous heart and does some really good things, but his treatment of our heroine is sometimes less than stellar. If you can handle that, it’s a worthy adventure that will definitely hold your interest.

For those of you who love Horsman’s novels, be sure and read this before VIRGIN STAR if you can, as this comes first. This one is set in 1818 in New Orleans and VIRGIN STAR is set five years later in 1823—together they tell the story of two virile and worthy heroes who consider themselves brothers. Both were raised in Ireland though only Seannesy, the hero of VIRGIN STAR, is Irish. 

Buy on Amazon

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Best American Patriotic Historical Romances

Looking for a way to celebrate America’s Independence? With a noble hero and a worthy heroine and set in times when America’s future was on the line? 

Well, here’s the list you’ll want to pick from—all good ones!

Some are a part of a trilogy or a series…and I do recommend you read all of them, as they are all good, too, even though not all may be listed here. All on the list are rated 4 or 5 stars.

The French and Indian War (America before Independence):

Follow the Heart by Anita Mills
Windsong by Judith E. French



The War of Independence/Revolutionary War:

Caroline, Touch the Sun and Spring Fires, from the Beauvisage series by Cynthia Wright
Devon and the sequel The Black Angel by Cordia Byers
Fortune’s Bride by Judith E. French
Love a Rebel, Love a Rogue by Shirl Henke
Love Among the Rabble by Lauren Laviolette
Love Not a Rebel by Heather Graham
Master of My Dreams and Captain of My Heart by Danelle Harmon
Mood Indigo by Parris Afton Bond
Passion’s Ransom by Betina Krahn
Ride out the Storm by Aleen Malcolm
Seaswept Abandon by Jo Goodman (#2 in McClellan Brothers)
Scarlet Ribbons by Judith E. French
Silver Storm, from the Raveneau series by Cynthia Wright
The Paradise Bargain by Betina Krahn (Whiskey Rebellion)
Under Crimson Sails by Lynna Lawton (post Revolutionary War)
Velvet Chains by Constance O’Banyon

The War of 1812:

Lady Vixen by Shirlee Busbee
Lord of the Sea by Danelle Harmon
Masque of Jade by Emma Merritt
Midnight Masquerade by Shirlee Busbee
My Love, My Enemy by Jan Cox Speas
Tainted Lilies by Becky Lee Weyrich
The Captain’s Captive by Christine Dorsey
The Windflower by Laura London (aka Sharon and Tom Curtis)
To Save a Lady by Patricia Preston

The Underground Railroad:

Passion’s Joy by Jennifer Horsman

The Civil War:

An Outlaw in Wonderland by Lori Austin
Ashes in the Wind by Kathleen Woodiwiss
Beauty and the Bounty Hunter by Lori Austin (post Civil War)
Bittersweet by Anita Mills (mostly post Civil War)
Bonds of Love by Lisa Gregory
Dark Stranger and Rides a Hero (first two books in the Slater Brothers trilogy) by Heather Graham
Lavender Blue by Parris Afton Bonds
Master of Paradise by Virginia Henley
Midnight Confessions by Candice Proctor
No Greater Glory by Cindy Nord
One Wore Blue, And One Wore Gray, And One Rode West, Cameron Civil War trilogy by Heather Graham
Rebel, Surrender, Glory and Triumph (from the Old Florida's McKenzies series) by Heather Graham
Sing My Name by Ellen O’Connell
Straight for the Heart by Marsha Canham
Summer Rose by Caroline Hartman
Surrender in Moonlight by Jennifer Blake
The Black Swan and Moss Rose, duology by Day Taylor
Tomorrow the Glory by Shannon Drake
When the Splendor Falls by Laurie McBain

I hope you will also consider my newest Georgian romance, To Tame the Wind, set in the last year of the Revolutionary War from the viewpoint of privateers and spies in England and France. And, for a story that looks back at the War of 1812, you might enjoy my Regency romance Wind Raven!

Friday, July 24, 2015

New Review: Jo Goodman’s SEASWEPT ABANDON – Slightly Improbable but At Times Exciting Story set in the time of the Revolutionary War

The story begins in New York sometime during the Revolutionary War (no date is given but it was before Yorktown so I’d estimate 1781-82). Rahab McClellan (Rahab, as in the name of the prostitute in the city of Jericho in the Bible story) is living with her brother, Salem, and his wife Ashley. Knowing Rahab wants to be involved in the war, Ashley sends her sister-in-law to a tavern to carry a message to a man working for the rebels. Rahab is delighted, no matter the danger. Which is characteristic of this heroine… she is reckless.

The only women in the tavern are whores servicing the Redcoats, which seems an unlikely place for a lady to be delivering messages. When Rahab takes on the role of a serving wench (not a part of the plan) and the bartender suggests she make her appearance more alluring for the customers, she complies. While serving customers, she knifes one who tries to grab her, killing him. When the men in the tavern threaten her, she is saved by a man named Jericho (yep, same city) Smith. Jericho is actually the guy who was waiting for the courier who he thought would be Ashley.

Jericho takes Rahab to General Washington’s schooner, which is oddly devoid of any crew. There she suddenly comes down with a case of amnesia and can’t remember who she is. She and Jericho fight like cats and dogs. Jericho tells her she is a whore and she accepts it. (Are you still with me?) Of course they are attracted to each other. And, not surprisingly, given all this, Jericho thinks he’ll have a quick tumble with her. After all, she is a whore, right? She certainly sheds her clothes like one.

About a third of the way through the story we begin to get a sense that there’s a war going and the characters get briefly involved in it. And then the story moves to England and the war is forgotten. There, we discover that Jericho is actually Goeffrey Hunter-Smythe, the Earl of Stanhope and he intends to recover his title.

Readers might note this reads like a Regency with terms of that period (pelisse, set down, missish, sirrah, etc.). Once the story moves to England, it seems to fit.

The author writes well and the story, while a bit improbable, has many twists and turns. The heroine is at times the gentle lady and at times the curse-spewing shrew. Hard to know the real woman. 

I did not read the first book in this series. Since this story refers to other characters and the first book, I would suggest reading the series in order:

Crystal Passion
Seaswept Abandon
Tempting Torment

Thursday, July 23, 2015

And the winner is...


Thanks to all who commented on Cindy Nord's fascinating post on adding historical details to her Civil War romance.

Cindy has selected the winner of her book! Congratulations Charlotte Litton!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Guest Author Cindy Nord Talking About the Civil War


Welcome all! Today my guest is bestselling historical romance author Cindy Nord, author of Civil War and Western romances. (Her first novel, No Greater Glory, reached #1 in Civil War romances on Amazon and is reviewed below.) 
  
A member of numerous writers groups, Cindy has been a finalist or winner in many competitions, including the prestigious Romance Writers of America Golden Heart Contest. She writes stories that blend history and romance and include fast-paced action and emotionally driven characters. Today she is sharing with us some of her historical detailing, fascinating tidbits from her research.

Do comment and make sure I have your email as Cindy is giving away a copy of the ebook of No Greater Glory!


Historical Detailing by Cindy Nord

I want to thank the gracious Regan Walker for the invitation to visit her website. I am so honored to be here. July on her blog is Patriotic Month, and because I write historical romance with flair toward the military, I was tapped to share my thoughts on the research process that is the framework of these period novels we love to read. My first book, No Greater Glory (book one of my four-book The Cutteridge series) was crafted around a war-torn Virginia. I like to think that historical accuracy played a large role in the success of this novel. 

Cindy and hubby Tom

As a Victorian lecturer and historian, I appreciate the details that breathe this timeperiod into life. It’s those vibrant tidbits that immerse the reader fully into the moment. Years ago, I participated in Civil War Reenacting and learned firsthand all the pieces that comprised this era in history. Indeed, here was American history—the 1860s—in truly impressive realism. The acrid aroma of campfires. The thundering gallop of cavalry horses. Women clad in Victorian gowns sashaying across a lawn. And yes, even the pinch of a corset. All these things, and so much more, lent factuality to my first-person presentations. When I began crafting my romance novels, every intricate element of my reenacting years flowed over into my stories.

I have many books on my keeper shelf, and as I glance at them while writing this article, several stand out. They are as moving now as they were when I first read them: The Outsider by Penelope Williamson. Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell. Love & War by Patricia Hagan. In these beautifully written historical romance novels I found myself immersed in a glorious world of yesteryear. I admired the way the authors crafted them in such a way that I was not only entertained as a reader by their internal conflicts, but also educated in regards to the backdrop of their external plots.

Civil War aprons

So…let me give you an example of how I might use historical detailing in a story. Let’s take an obscure subject such as Civil War patriotic aprons. At first glance it doesn’t seem like an inspiring item to work into a scene with a heroine, but women really did make those garments during that conflict. Many even wore them as they sent their loved ones off to war. Wearing these aprons proclaimed great support for the cause. Some southern ladies made cotton cloth aprons featuring a blue bib with five-pointed stars and a skirt with alternating bars of red and white cotton. Their designs mimicked the flag adopted by the Confederacy in 1861. 

Apron of the South


Apron of the North

Whereas, many of the Union ladies’ aprons featured 34 white stars on a blue background, with 13 rows of red and white stripes on the skirt as on the United States flag. During the great rebellion, thousands of patriotic aprons were created, and years later these partisan items have become cherished family heirlooms. 


By including something as simple as an apron into a storyline, now a heroine becomes a tad more complex and readers can appreciate yet another colorful slice of history.

Saddles

And the hero in my first novel, Colonel Reece Cutteridge? Well, what kind of saddle did he use?  By researching a bit deeper, I discovered the type most preferred by the Federal cavalry was called a McClellan Saddle. By sharing this snippet of information, now I’ve added more depth and authenticity to my leading man. 


As you can tell I love researching. By integrating historical detailing into a story, an author can transport her readers back in time. And to me, that is time well spent.

So, now it’s your turn… What makes an historical romance novel come to life for you?  


Keep up with Cindy at her Website, on Facebook and on Twitter!

Monday, July 20, 2015

New Review: Cindy Nord’s NO GREATER GLORY – Civil War Romance Rich in Historic Detail

A well-researched debut novel with considerable detail of the various battles around Virginia, this is a romance for those who like to savor the details and want to dive deeply into the Civil War.

Set from 1862 to 1865, it tells the story of Emaline McDaniels, a widow trying to hold onto her Virginia plantation, Shapinsay. Then Colonel Reece Cutteridge, a Union officer, shows up to requisition her home and her livestock to winter and feed his troops. Despite her disdain for the Union, Emaline finds herself assisting the Union doctor and nursing the colonel’s men, all the while fighting an attraction to their commander.

Reece has lost his wife and child and resists Emaline, but quickly finds himself falling in love with her. Separated by war, they will find themselves brought together by fate.

Nord describes what it was like to hold a plantation on the edge of war with intruding soldiers, deserters and miscreants all trying to steal what is not theirs. And in the midst of all that, a love blossoms between two people on opposite sides.

Some parts of the book will seem more like historical fiction than romance, the love story taking a back seat to the war, but romance readers who like real history dished up with the love story will love it!

Note: This is book one of The Cutteridge Series. With Open Arms is the second.

Cindy will be a guest on my blog on July 22, so be sure and come on back.

Buy on Amazon.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

New Review: Caroline Hartman’s SUMMER ROSE – Gripping Civil War Romance

The first thing I need to tell you is that Hartman is a master storyteller. And she has served up quite a saga set in the last years of the Civil War. It also reflects much research and attention to historical detail, which I so appreciate. And, lest I forget, despite are some brutal twists and turns in the 481 pages, it’s a wonderful historical romance.

The story begins on the Maryland-Pennsylvania border in 1863 as the Civil War rages and two Union scouts, Capt. Daniel Charteris and Capt. Hal St. Clair, best friends since their youth, discover a beautiful isolated lake and a boy named Kip. Kip brings them dressed fowl for dinner and tells them about the father and brothers he lost to the war. What the two officers don’t realize until later is that Kip is really a young woman named “Summer Rose”.

Both young calvary officers are in love with Summer but Daniel stakes his claim early.  For Daniel, it’s love at first sight and he can’t wait to make her his wife. Summer, it seems, loves him, too. They marry and move to Washington D.C., where Daniel and Hal are drafted into an assignment with Jack, Summer’s older brother who is working for President Lincoln to find the culprits behind a ring of child prostitution in the Capital.

Both Daniel and Hal fall in love with the valley that Summer calls “Camelann” and decide to buy the land from Summer’s brother.

In the course of rescuing a child, Summer, Daniel and Hal make an enemy, a really nasty man who vows revenge for Summer’s cutting his face when he tries to rape her. (Did I mention she is good with a knife?) There are some very exciting scenes in this story that are very well written.

Much happens as Daniel and Hal return to the warfront and Summer tries to cope with Daniel’s absence. And then Hal comes to tell her that her husband has been hanged by the Rebs. (Don’t worry… there is a happy ending.)

This is a well-written, leisurely paced story that will draw you into the world of Washington DC during the time of the Civil War and into the lives of Summer, Jack, Daniel and Hal, to name a few of the wonderful characters. Some are historical figures like President Lincoln, General Philip Sheridan, and others. At one point Summer, disguised as a boy, and with General Sheridan’s permission, takes up the role of “Lt. Ross” to be near Daniel in order to try and rebuild their relationship after it is torn asunder.

If you love Civil War romances, consider this a keeper. Highly recommended for the strong hearted.

This is the first book in Hartman’s Camelann trilogy:

Summer Rose
Sacred Ponies
Star Riders (coming in Fall 2015)

Buy on Amazon.

How I envision Camelann

Thursday, July 16, 2015

New Review: Jan Cox Speas’s MY LOVE, MY ENEMY – Exciting Love Story Brings the War of 1812 to life!

Set in 1813 in Baltimore, London, France and in the Atlantic, this is the story of an American girl and a British viscount. It is one of the wonderful historical romances that comprise the legacy of Jan Cox Speas.

Of the seven daughters born to Samuel Bradley, gentleman of the Chesapeake, Catherine Page (“Page”) was a rebel who tried the patience of Duncan MacDougall who worked for her father. But even he could not foresee that the bored 18 year old, wanting to spend her birthday money for some new frippery, would stow away on the small sloop Duncan sailed across the Bay to Annapolis to pick up her father’s Madeira. Once there, she manages to get into further trouble when she rescues a British gentleman from a local mob who want to hang him as a spy. When she and Duncan sail back to get the British man and his servant to safety, they run right into a British warship.

Taken aboard the English frigate, Page learns that the British gentleman she rescued is Jocelyn Trevor, Viscount Hazard of London.

Lord Hazard claimed to be in America to visit his sister though Page questions that. (He was an officer on Wellington’s staff, and it seemed odd that he’d be allowed to leave the Spanish front for family business.) In fact, he is the spy the mob in Annapolis accused him of being, though Page doesn’t know it. But since Page and Duncan MacDougall end up on a British warship because of him, Hazard vows he will see her safely back to her father.

This story reminded me of the statement of Bilbo in Lord of the Rings when he says to his nephew, “It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” Page steps out of her door and is swept away on one adventure after another as she gets caught up in the War of 1812 and the life of one particular British lord.

Speas allows us to see the conflicting emotions of those on both sides of the war. Lord Hazard is shamed by the British atrocities at Hampton, and Page experiences gracious treatment at the hands of the British officers when aboard their ship. Though there were several reasons America declared war on Britain, Speas deals specifically with the impressment of merchant sailors into the Royal Navy—sailors who considered themselves Americans. We also get to witness America’s clever privateers at work with the character Mason.

I love that Speas incorporates her extensive research of the history into this endearing and charming love story. It’s a bit lighter than her others but still quite wonderful!

Buy on Amazon.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

New Review: Parris Afton Bonds’ THE MAIDENHEAD – Unique Love Story from America’s Virginia Colony

Set in 1620, this is the story of Modesty Brown who was raised an educated young woman, but fled her sanctimonious father at age 12 to live on her own on the streets of London. There, she partners with the dashing Jack Holloway, a pickpocket and thief. Modesty uses her artistic talents to alter the appearance of the stolen items to look entirely different. Both are clever, quick-witted characters.

When Modesty and Jack are caught, Modesty sails to Jamestown in the Virginia Colony as a bride-to-be in order to escape Newgate and Jack becomes an indentured servant, both in Jamestown. And both in the home of one Mad Dog Jones, a gifted barrister of the Star Chamber who is now living on the Virginia frontier. Modesty only chose Mad Dog to be her husband to avoid being burned at the stake as a witch when a villain from her past shows up to accuse her. There is little affection between her and Mad Dog to begin with and their wedding night only a grudging acceptance of what must take place. Still, oddly enough, there is passion between them.

Bonds tells this well-written story through the eyes of the women who sailed to Jamestown to escape their former lives, prepared to become brides of the bachelors in the new colony. Modesty, Rose, Annie and Clarissa each choose a man they hope will make them happy. Meanwhile, Modesty plans to return to London on a ship Jack now sails for Mad Dog. There are lots of twists and turns and a villain we can all hate. It’s a great romp in the Colonial days of America with lots of well-researched historical detail.

Buy on Amazon.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

New Review: Anita Mills’ BITTERSWEET – Post Civil War Heading West

A well-written story of two people who find love in recovering from the past and the war that tore apart a nation.

The story begins in Tennessee in 1864 as Spencer Hardin, surgeon for the Southern troops, is trying to provide medical care without supplies to do it. Meanwhile, his young wife, Lydia, sends him letters urging him to desert and come home. While he tells her to endure, he sends a friend home with a medical discharge and encourages him to take care of Lydia and help her manage until the war is over. As it turns out, the friend will help himself to Spence’s wife.

A year later, the war is over and Spence returns home only to discover his wife has run off with the other guy, taking Spence’s young son with them. Intent on recovering his son, Spence heads for San Francisco where he learns they may be. Along the way, he discovers his wife has died of cholera, but he goes on. In a railroad camp, he encounters a pregnant Laura Taylor, the widow of a man who once helped him and died working on the railroad.

Spence and Laura are the kind of people you want to know, noble, courageous and despite their own hardships, willing to help others. Life on the frontier in railroad towns is not easy but Laura decides to take in laundry. Spence, who is desperate to find his son, won’t leave her in the lurch. Each must come to terms with the shortfall in their marriages and what they want for their future.

Buy on Amazon.

Friday, July 10, 2015

New Review: Betina Krahn’s THE PARADISE BARGAIN – Superb Storytelling in This Tale of the post American Revolution Whiskey Rebellion!

Krahn has written a superb romance, even more, she has developed winning characters, people you would really want to know, and she has served up a clever plot with twists and turns in an interesting time of American history (just after the American Revolution when the young government is trying to establish its authority). The place is Rapture Valley in Western Pennsylvania and the bargain is for paradise. This unique story will draw you in, I promise. I was captivated from the beginning and could not put it down.

Despite her desire to remain a Peter Pan-like youth forever, Whitney Daniels body has betrayed her—while the men were away fighting the War of Independence, she grew into a woman. Oh, she still wears breeches and boots, but men have started to notice her curves and it’s most annoying. While the whiskey-distilling father she loves is gone to Pittsburgh to protest the burdensome federal tax that is crippling the farmers (who make whiskey from their surplus grain), Whitney is left in charge and must fend off the federal troops who come to ferret out the rogue stills. Their leader, one Major Garner Townsend (of the Boston Townsends, he is quick to point out), has drawn this despicable duty due to the jealousy of a superior officer.

Garner has no desire to take on the troublemakers. But when he encounters their leader, Whitney Daniels, who both bites and kicks in fending off unwanted advances, he is overwhelmed by his attraction to the slip of a girl with the lush curves. In Rapture Valley, the currency is not cash; everyone bargains for what they need. Whitney is the best bargainer of all, and as she well knows, every man has his price.


Great storytelling at its finest. You won’t regret getting this one!

Note: this was previously released as LOVE’S BRAZEN FIRE.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

New Review: Day Taylor’s THE BLACK SWAN – Civil War Saga and a Bodice Ripper Classic

Most of this book is “keeper” material, but as you’ll see from my comments, there were also some questionable parts.

Set in the Civil War between the years 1850 and 1865, it’s a sweeping saga of the South and the love between two people who grew up on opposite sides of the slavery issue but with similar views: noble hero, Adam Tremain, a blockade running captain, who moved the Underground Railroad to the sea, and Dulcie Moran, the only daughter of Savannah's most prosperous slave-breeder.

It is divided into three “books”: Adam (1852-59); Dulcie (1850-1862); and The Black Swan (1862-1865). While he was still a teenager, Adam experienced the hatred of the white slave owners for any who cavorted with the slaves, and he wanted no part of it. He vowed to become one who sent the slaves north to freedom. Dulcie, raised as an indulged young woman in the genteel Southern society by a father who considered the slaves mere animals, couldn’t understand why the slaves she loved weren’t treated like family.

The characters were well developed and the imagery vivid. We know exactly what motivated Dulcie and what moves Adam. We experience their young loves and are not surprised when they are attracted to each other. They are not so different really; each believes the slaves should be treated as people, and they lament a society in which they are not. Each has the courage to fight Southern Society for what they believe is right.

There are some wonderful secondary characters, including Tom, the aristocrat from New Orleans who married Ullah, a light colored slave, because he loved her, the families of Adam and Dulcie, and Adam’s two childhood friends, Beau and Ben, who join him as fellow captains.

Until the 3rd “book” I was thinking I’d stumbled across a keeper. Then the story took a bizarre twist with a shipwreck, a voodoo island and a twisted family that holds Dulcie captive. Adam and Dulcie are separated and both partnered (willingly or unwillingly) with others. The story finally comes back around for a great close, but you should be aware of this detour.

For more of Adam and Dulcie’s romance you have to read the second in the duology, MOSS ROSE, set in the Reconstruction Period after the end of the Civil War. 

Buy on Amazon.

Monday, July 6, 2015

New Review: Patricia Preston’s TO SAVE A LADY – Intriguing Story set in New Orleans During the War of 1812

Set in 1814 in New Orleans, this is the story of Elisa Plaisance, a lady’s maid, who turns messenger for the Americans, feeding information to Capt. Jesse Cross, an aid to General Jackson. She does this as a part of a bargain she made with a man named Louis Beauvais, who agrees to search for her mistress’ missing son. Her mistress, having lost her husband and her other children is pining away for her son.

Elise’s one desire is to avoid her mother’s fate, ending up as the neglected mistress of a married man. Yet she falls in love with Jesse and is the one to suggest they make love—without benefit of marriage. Jesse seems to have only honorable intentions but it takes him a while to get around to that. And then there is the war…

Preston brings to life the time at the end of the War of 1812 when, unaware that a peace treaty had been reached, the Americans and British in New Orleans fought on. She obviously did much research to get the events correct. Her fight scenes are exciting and the fictional intrigue believable. Elise is a sympathetic figure though at times she does seem a bit confused about her goals. Still, she is unselfish and wants only the best for her mistress, who saved her from a fate worse than death. Jesse is honorable in all things and his cousin is a worthy character (who will be a hero in an upcoming book).

It’s a great start to her French Quarter Brides series and I recommend it:

To Save a Lady
To Lose a Lady (coming)

Buy on Amazon.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

America's Independence: The Friendship that Made it Happen


My newest historical romance, To Tame the Wind, is set in 1782, the last year of the American Revolution, however, it does not take place in America. Rather, it takes place in Paris and London and the waters of the English Channel. As such, it brings to the fore a part of the war not often focused on: the incredible contribution of a relationship between two men who gave America victory.

At the beginning of the American War of Independence in 1776, America needed money, ships and arms. The young country looked to France that was still smarting from its defeat to the British in the Seven Years’ War that took place between 1754 and 1763. When Benjamin Franklin came to Paris to call on the French Foreign Minister, Charles Gravier, comte de Vergennes, a friendship was born that led to France’s aid and support.

Benjamin Franklin

Vergennes was eager to thwart Britain’s imperial ambitions and, in arguing America’s case to King Louis XIV, he drew upon the widespread sympathy in France for America’s desire for liberty and self-determination. The American Revolution was perceived as the incarnation of the Enlightenment against “English tyranny.” After all, it would not be long before France would have its own revolution.

All this contributed to the fast friendship that formed between Vergennes and Franklin, a friendship that endured many trials through the war.

Living in Passy, just outside of Paris, Franklin learned the language and displayed an uncanny knack at politics and persuasion, which led scholar Leo Lemay to call Franklin "the most essential and successful American diplomat of all time." He and Vergennes met frequently and shared a mutual respect.

Charles Gravier, comte de Vergennes
The alliance between France and America, negotiated by Franklin, was signed on February 6, 1778, following the American victory at the Battle of Saratoga. It was titled the Franco-American Treaty of Amity and Commerce. By its terms, France openly supported America’s claim of independence. Vergennes had three goals in mind: to help the Americans win their independence; to expel the British from the West Indies where France held many profitable, sugar-producing islands; and to compel the British to concentrate the majority of their naval strength in the English Channel. (The latter fact comes into play in To Tame the Wind.)

The result of the alliance was that in March of 1778, Britain declared war on France.
 
Vergennes persuaded King Louis to give the America money, soldiers (most notably Lafayette, who became an aide to Washington and a combat general), sailors, ships and supplies. At first, France’s support was covert. French agents sent America military aid, predominantly gunpowder, through the legitimate French company Rodrigue Hortalez et Compagnie, beginning in 1776. But by 1777, over five million livres of aid had been sent to the Americans.

French Navy ships of the line in the Battle of the Chesapeake
 During the American Revolutionary War the French Navy played a decisive role in supporting the Americans. 
 
In all, France contributed about 1.3 billion livres (in modern currency, approximately thirteen billion U.S. dollars) to support the Americans, and this didn’t include what France spent fighting Britain on land and sea outside America.

While there were other American commissioners in Paris, it was Franklin and his friendship with Vergennes that were responsible for obtaining France's financial and military aid. Without that aid, America might not have won.

That all of France admired and loved Franklin is clear. When the news of his death reached Paris in 1790, the French admiration for the American statesman was such that in the middle of the French Revolution, the National Assembly decided to adjourn for the day.

As you celebrate today, remember the men and women who gave so much for our freedom… And remember the friendship of two men who worked together to make it happen.

For a love story that will sweep you away to that time... consider To Tame the Wind. Both Franklin and Vergennes are characters! It's a great summer read!

Paris 1782…AN INNOCENT IS TAKEN

All Claire Donet knew was the world inside the convent walls in Saint-Denis. She had no idea her beloved papa was a pirate. But when he seized Simon Powell's schooner, the English privateer decided to take the one thing his enemy held most dear... her.

A BATTLE IS JOINED

The waters between France and England roil with the clashes of Claire's father and her captor as the last year of the American Revolution rages on the sea, spies lurk in Paris and Claire’s passion for the English captain rises. 

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