Apr 27

More About Hearts Aflame

I let you know last week about an exciting new publication from Love Historicals. Hearts Aflame is a set of stories about a family heirloom passed down through generations of the Rowan family. It’s reputed to carry a deadly curse.

Many boxed sets contain previously written stories, but these tales were written expressly for this collection.

Last week I told you about Jill Hughey’s novella, Rowan’s Legacy and my story, Passion’s Fire.Hearts Aflame boxed set

The third novella is entitled A Legendary Love by Catherine Kean.

Tavis de Rowenne doesn’t believe in curses. However, when a freak accident almost causes Lady Helena Marlowe, his intended, to drown, he wonders if his ancient cloak pin just might be damned. Helena vows never to see or speak to Tavis again, but when her father falls ill, Tavis might be the only one who can save him. Does she dare to trust the roguish Scot with dangerous secrets, especially when he’s determined to win her heart?

The story comes full circle with Nancy Morse’s Love Remembers.

A woman without a past…
A man desperate to save his future…
A new crown colony struggling to find its place in the world…
Will the ancient stone she wears around her neck lead her to destruction or into the arms of the only man she has ever loved?

We know you’ll enjoy following the heirloom brooch from ninth century Paris under siege by Vikings, through medieval Scotland and England, to early twentieth century Kenya.

Hearts Aflame is exclusive to Amazon for 99 cents or read for FREE with Kindle Unlimited.

 

 

Apr 20

A New Love Historicals Collection

Hearts Aflame boxed set

Are you ready for some exciting news?

Jill Hughey, Anna Markland, Catherine Kean and Nancy Morse have combined their talents to bring you a collection of four NEVER-BEFORE-PUBLISHED stories.

HEARTS AFLAME follows the history of the Rowan family from 9th century Paris under siege by Vikings, through medieval Scotland and England to early colonial Kenya. The anthology is available for preorder now at 99 cents.

The central theme of these stories is an heirloom brooch passed from the second son of one generation to the next. It carries an inescapable legacy. Those who inherit will be consumed by fire.

For four busy, bestselling authors to collaborate successfully on new material is an achievement in itself, and we are proud of this collection.

Jill’s story, Rowan’s Legacy, sets the stage. When Vikings attack Paris and kill her father, Fia is trapped, in danger and far from home. Rowan’s rescue of her may only renew the bitterness of the betrayal that ended their friendship years ago. With no choice but to be saved by the last person she ever wanted to see, Fia is forced to confront the truth of what really happened in the past. Dare she accept Rowan’s friendship again, or is it possible an even more intimate connection awaits with the man she swore to hate forever?

Anna’s tale, Passion’s Fire continues the saga. Brigandine Lordsmith has been a boy for as long as she can remember, obliged to work in her father’s forge as his apprentice. Matthew de Rowenne burns with resentment when King Henry sends him to quell an uprising in Galloway…and expects him to marry a Scot. But Matthew can never marry because of the stone’s legacy.

More next week about Catherine’s A Legendary Love, and Nancy’s Love Remembers.

 

 

Apr 06

Heirlooms from the Past

Is there an object, either in your possession or still with the people with whom you grew up, that says “childhood” to you? Perhaps it is an heirloom that evokes your family history or a sense of your place among humanity? Maybe you remember that special item but it is lost to time or destruction or neglect, leaving a little empty spot in your heart? In my last blog here, I wrote about how a story I’d written almost a year ago and was editing for the upcoming Love Historicals boxed set, “Hearts Aflame,” was paralleling my life. It’s still happening, and now the synchronicity relates to those things from the past that we love, or maybe hate, or simply wish we didn’t have to be responsible for.

In the initial discussions of the “Hearts Aflame” set, some authors were a bit put off by the concept of following an heirloom through generations of a family because they didn’t know how they would incorporate the item into a story. My solution for not knowing what to do with the object would have been to transfer that indifference or confusion to the character. Why on earth did anybody keep this piece of junk? How is this ancient piece of crap relevant to me, today? I really don’t want to be responsible for this thing. In fact, I’m not even sure what this thing is!

I loved the heirloom idea, finding it really intriguing and a natural way to tie together stories set hundreds of years apart.

Fast forward a year. Due to this crazy thing we call life, I’m now heavily responsible for going through my parents’ home of forty-six or so years. Not only does it contain the evidence of their pasts as individuals and as a married couple, but heirlooms from the generations before them, sometimes hundreds of years old. Some are the fancy stuff that you put on display, but much of it is files, trinkets, photos, a random key to God only knows what, lace and handkerchiefs, all hidden in an excessive amount of storage space that too easily allowed things to be retained.

Of course we are disseminating what we can out to relatives. But much of it is…the best word I can think of is byproduct of lives led. (The auction guy was not nearly as impressed by some things as I thought he should be. I guess I was hoping for “Antiques Roadshow” excitement.) The artifacts are interesting, but their voluminous existence is not the most important thing. The legacy is. This is where you came from. This is who your ancestors were. A logical reduction of all these random bits is what I’m trying to capture from my parents’ house, and what four authors will create in the “Hearts Aflame” set that will be released soon, in which a single object points the direction to a family’s past. (I fantasize about sending the whole pile to one of those crematoriums to have it burned into a single cremation diamond so I could hold up this one tidy gem and say “Ta da! Here is the family history.” I wouldn’t really do that — it is sort of like when you imagine telling your boss to shove it and then moving to the beach in Mexico where your savings would last forever — but sometimes the fantasy is what gets us through the last couple hours of the day, right?)

If you’ve ever watched the movie “French Kiss,” there is a line spoken by a minor character that has stuck with me. I’m paraphrasing here, but she says, “I never want to own a house because things end up owning you.” There is a responsibility and a burden to maintaining stuff. So I’m asking myself a hundred times a day, what shall I keep to represent the major branches of the tree, and what can I prune away so that neither I nor the next generation feel overburdened by tending it?

Interestingly enough, the task has fallen to me to be the character I didn’t write in my story. I’m asking the heirlooms to justify their existences. I’m questioning the importance of objects and papers, and if I can’t see how the absence of an item will create a heartbreaking hole for my parents, or how its presence could be wildly interesting or informative to those who come after me, then I’m letting it go. It isn’t easy to release the random key, because some day I might figure out what lock it fits or how it is relevant. But each generation has to manage the heirlooms of the past in the best way they can and right now this task falls to me.

HeartsAflame_BoxSet_CVR_MEDHopefully you’ll check out the “Hearts Aflame” set that will be available for pre-order soon and released in May. You can follow the single tidy heirloom, a red glass disc inscribed with…well, you’ll just have to read it to find out!

 

Mar 30

Exciting Updates for Love Historicals Authors!

Curious as to what we’ve all been so busy doing? The wait is over! Here are some updates as to what is coming up next for the Love Historicals authors!

 

Adrienne deWolfe – I’m poring over gobs of male cover model photos for my July release, DEVIL IN TEXAS (Book 1, Lady Law & The Gunslinger.) Talk about feeling like a kid in a candy store!  Whoop! In DEVIL IN TEXAS, I reunite the star-crossed lovers: Cass and Sadie.  She’s a lady Pinkerton, and he’s the outlaw lover who can blow her cover.  I had a blast writing this book, because I’ve never written a Western Whodunit before! (Come to think of it, I’ve never written a series that stars the same 2 protagonists, either!) So I’m excited about this series for lots of reasons!  Folks who want to read a sneak peek can visit my website at http://WildTexasNights.com

Christy Carlyle – I’m currently working on Rules for a Rogue, the first book in my new Victorian historical Romancing the Rules series from Avon Impulse. I’m so excited about this series, which takes a family of aspiring writers who’ve been raised on the proceeds of their father’s very popular (even Queen Victoria keeps a copy!) and extremely outdated etiquette books. In their own way, each sibling—Christopher, Sophia, and Clarissa—rebel against their father’s rules.

Rules for a Rogue is Christopher “Kit” Ruthven’s story. After escaping his father’s stifling control by running off to London to become a playwright, he’s developed a bit of a reputation in the city, as much for his rakish ways as his written words. When he discovers he’s inherited his father’s publishing company, he must choose between the freedom he craves, protecting his sisters, and making amends with the woman who’s always had his heart. My heroine, Ophelia Marsden, has learned to support herself and her brother after her father’s death, and she’s put girlish dreams aside. Especially the dream of marrying Kit Ruthven.

The first book in the series debuts in September. I can’t wait for readers to meet Kit and Ophelia!

Jill Hughey – I am finalizing Rowan’s Legacy, my contribution to the “Hearts Aflame” box set by Love Historicals authors. This story starts my next series which will be about the second generation of families I created in the Evolution Series – Charlemagne’s Heroes. I’m also working on the first draft of the novel to follow Rowan’s Legacy, which will feature Rowan’s older sister.

Sydney Jane Baily – I’m working on The Dark Knight’s Reward, Book 2 of Warriors of York series with Marliss Melton, set in mid-12th century England. I edited the first one (The Slayer’s Redemption) and am co-writing this one and the next one.

Luke of Arundel is the right-hand of King Henry II, charged with tearing down adulterine castles, those built without royal permission. Attempting to rest with his army at a priory, he saves a young novice from being burned at the stake. What will he do with her?

Merry wants to practice the art of healing but has a reputation for doing as much harm as good. Now she has a price on her head from the Church of England. A fugitive, on the run, unmarriageable, and impulsive, she might as well make the best of her time while under the protection of the dashing royal commander, nicknamed The Phoenix.

Luke’s mission is already distasteful, and it keeps him from his dying grandfather and his royal betrothed. However, this flame-haired, green-eyed so-called witch takes him farther from all three, interrupting and delaying him at every turn. Yet something about her won’t let him abandon her to her fate. Can he procure her freedom while keeping his commitments to king and country and to his heart?

Nancy Morse – The book I’m working on is RESTLESS WIND, Book 3 in my Native American Wild Wind Series following the story of trader’s daughter Katie McCabe and Lakota warrior Black Moon. Their love has survived misunderstanding, treachery, absence, abduction, and tragedy, but in 1866, the ever-increasing hostilities between the soldiers and the Sioux have planted seeds of uncertainty in Katie’s mind as to which world she belongs, the white world into which she was born, or the world of the Lakota in which she has chosen to live. As tensions erupt over the plains and Black Moon rides with Crazy Horse to rid the Powder River country of the Long Knives, Katie’s fears mount, setting into motion a series of events leading to a future as uncertain as the restless wind. I’m also putting the finishing touches on LOVE REMEMBERS, my contribution to an anthology I’m doing with Love Historicals authors Anna Markland, Jill Hughey and Catherine Kean titled HEARTS AFLAME due for release in May, centering around the legacy of an ancient palindrome.

Laurel O’Donnell – I just finished the first draft of my new series, Assassin Knights entitled A Knight For Grace.

Excommunicated for the horrible act of killing a man of the cloth, Sir William de Tracey searches for forgiveness and redemption.  Commissioned by a worried father, he attempts to save his betrothed from the hands of a kidnapper.

Lady Grace Willoughby will defy her father’s orders to save her future children from the fires of hell.  She has no intention of marrying a doomed man and has fled with a noble knight.  After discovering the knight is far from noble, Grace comes face to face with the man she is to marry.

Things are not as they seem.  And when an assassin tries to kill Lady Grace, William must choose between his soul and the woman he has come to love.

Gina Danna – Currently, I’m working on 2 manuscripts. The first one is the sequel to my Civil War novel, The Wicked North (to be released in April!). It’s title is Unconditional Surrender and deals with a Confederate officer, Charles Silvers, and a Union spy, Sarah Lawrence. The story starts in summer, 1863, in Louisiana. She is one of many spies General Grant applies to gain knowledge of the Southern forces and their strength, in this case, during the battle for Vicksburg. Sarah lost her family just before the war over sectionalism and is looking to make those responsible pay. Charles has fought from the start, an army officer prior to the war but a native Virginian so he goes with the South but by 1863, the pressure of the war and the telltale spin on the Southern freedom fading, Charles is plagued with the weight of the war on his shoulders. He’s looking for an end to the fighting; she is looking for the murderers. They are thrown together by the war and soon find the attraction to each other too hard to ignore. But neither will consider giving up their stance on the war. With her cover on the verge of dissolving before him, he is caught by a Federal patrol. He is a traitor to the US and could be imprisoned if not killed. She must save him, but to do so means she must come to grips with fact he’ll know who she is and that she used him. It is a story of passion and denial, to the point that one must Unconditionally Surrender or lose the other and their life. Who will save the other?

The other one is a novella, set in Regency England. Lord Windhaven is madly in love with his wife, Eleanor. Newly married, the couple are so entwined that any separation is painful – the true story of love! But on the way to London’s shops, Eleanor is snatched by highwaymen and she escapes their hold, only to fall down a gangway onto a ship – a pirate ship, setting to sail. Knocked unconscious, Eleanor doesn’t realize what she has done and when she wakens, she finds her mind void of who she is or how she got there. She is at the mercy of a pirate, Miles Cavendish, who must protect her from his pirate crew, a group of men longing for the fairer sex.

Eleanor soon finds her past a vacant memory and her protector, the handsome swash-buckling pirate Captain Miles, is  weaving his way into her desires as they sail to distant shores, the British navy a constant hunter, looking to rid the seas of pirates. Windhaven sends out a desperate search for his beloved wife, slowy unveiling the plot that tore her from his arms. Sailing to every part of the Empire in search for her, he is hit by the knowledge of the kidnappers – a truth that will unravel everything. Can he get to her in time and convince her that she is his wife and deeply loved, over the pirate she is besotted with and will her memory return to set all right, or must he woo her again?

That’s what I’m currently attempting. 🙂

Cynthia Woolf – The book I’m working on right now is Sophia, Brides of San Francisco, Book 4. The Brides of San Francisco is probably my most popular and so I’m extending that series.

Sophia Zanetti is 26 and unmarried. She loves to cook and bake but her desire for a family is foremost in her heart. Feeling like she will never find someone at home in New York, she becomes a mail-order bride and goes to San Francisco.

Robert Langley is a ship captain. His last ship was his last. He made his fortune with the captains portion of the cargo. Now he can stay home with his children. His wife left him while he was presumed lost at sea. She left the children with their grandmother and went with a man to the east coast where they were killed in a carriage accident. Now he has four children ages 2, 5, 8 and 10 who need a mother and he does not want to spend two years courting a woman, if he could find one in San Francisco, to court. Respectable women are few and far between in the city built by the California gold fields.

His employer Annie Cartwright was a mail order bride and he decides that is the way to go.

Anna Markland – In 2013 I published a novella entitled Carried Away which starred Blythe FitzRam and Dieter von Wolfenberg in a kidnapping adventure set in medieval Germany. Dieter subsequently reappeared in Wild Viking Princess, another book in the same series. Currently I am working on a sequel series featuring Blythe and Dieter’s three children, now all grown up! Book One of The Von Wolfenberg Dynasty is entitled Loyal Heart and stars Sophia von Wolfenberg, their youngest child. This book will also include a Bonus prequel, Madly in Love, which is a short story I wrote about Dieter’s son by his first marriage, Johann.

HeartsAflame_BoxSet_CVR_MEDIn conjunction with three other Love Historicals authors I am working on an anthology to be published in May. Hearts Aflame will include stories from myself, Jill Hughey, Nancy Morse and Catherine Kean. The tales trace the history of a supposedly cursed heirloom passed from one generation to another beginning at the time of the Viking invasion of Paris and ending in 20th century Kenya.

Lana Williams – I’m editing the second full-length book in The Seven Curses of London, called CHARMING THE SCHOLAR, which will be out in April. This series is set in Victorian London and this book follows Oliver Bartley, Viscount Frost, a former commander in the Royal Navy, and Lady Julia Hopwood. Oliver has found solace in ancient books since he left the military and no longer deserves he believes happiness. Julia’s bubbly, friendly persona hides her imperfect life as she cares for her elderly father, certain she’ll never be able to have a family of her own. But fate has more in store for these two than they expect.

As you can see, more amazing stories are coming your way! Stay tuned for more information on upcoming releases! #HistoricalRomancesRock!

 

 

Mar 23

Wild West Lives on in Modern Texas

Wild Texas Nights, Devil in Texas, Texas Lover, Texas Outlaw, Texas Wildcat, Adrienne deWolfe, Bestselling Historical Western RomanceI love writing about Texas characters!

I don’t think any writer can live in the Lone Star State and not get caught up in the “romance” of the Old West. To this day, Texas legislators battle over water rights. CEOs wear cowboy boots at board meetings. Property owners get tax breaks if they graze livestock in their yards. Images of longhorns and bluebonnets dominate the walls of swanky hotels and shopping malls.

Why, just last week, while I was driving along a major four-lane street between skyscrapers in downtown Austin, I had to slam on the brakes, because a rider in Western attire was fearlessly trotting two horses across my lane. (Actually, he kind of freaked me out.) I want to ASSURE you that most Austin folks drive real cars – or real pick up trucks – in downtown traffic. (Except maybe during Rodeo season.)

As you’ve probably gathered, living in Texas is like living a part of history! It’s the perfect place for a Western Historical Romance author, like me. (Did you know that Texas is the only state in the United States that became a self-governing country?)

375_WEBSITE PROMO_Lucifire a devil with a gun

Devil in Texas is Book 1 in my upcoming series, Lady Law & The Gunslinger. Read a sneak peek.

In my July 12 release, Devil in Texas, the hero will be an outlaw who (reluctantly) goes under cover for the Texas Rangers. Researching Old West lawmen was a real hoot. I learned that Rangers adhere to a VERY strict dress code:

· They can only wear white or gray cowboy hats. (That’s right. No black Stetsons for the good guys.)

· They MUST pin their badges over their hearts. (Many a Ranger’s noble tin star has stopped a bullet and saved a lawman.)

· And — get this – modern-day Rangers still track and collar livestock rustlers! (Apparently, emu thefts have been on the rise in the Austin area.)

Now I know that rustling isn’t funny to modern-day Texas cowboys (emu boys?), who lose hundreds of thousands of U.S. dollars in livestock every year. But the idea of emu-rustling makes me snicker: can you picture a big, brawny, pistol-packing Ranger, rounding up a giant bird that looks like an ostrich with orange eyes? (Bigfoot Wallace – a famous Texas Ranger from the Old West – is probably rolling in his grave.)

Texas Wildcat, Texas Lover, Texas Outlaw, Historical Western RomanceI get lots of email from folks about my first series, Wild Texas Nights. The biggest debate appears to be which of the heroes is more lovable: Cord Rawlins (U.S. Deputy Marshal from Texas Outlaw); Wes Rawlins (Texas Ranger from Texas Lover); or Zack Rawlins (Bull-riding Cowboy from Texas Wildcat.)

I probably shouldn’t confess that I have a favorite Rawlins brother. (I mean, they’re ALL children whom I slaved to give birth to, know what I mean?) But one of them sings. AND cooks. AND has red hair.

So I’m a goner for that one, natch.

Here’s an excerpt, featuring my favorite Rawlins brother. Hope ya’ll like it!

Excerpt

Texas Lover

Book 2, Wild Texas Nights

By Adrienne deWolfe

Historical Western Romance novel, Wild Texas Nights, Texas Outlaw, Texas WildcatAfter a resigned inspection of her patched-up calico skirt, Rorie blew out her lamp and headed down the stairs. She avoided the creaking floorboard in the dining room, more out of habit than necessity, and approached the kitchen door. She was intending to fetch the basket in which she collected eggs each morning, but the sound of voices stopped her.

“You got that batter stirred up, Topher?”

“Yeah, but…” The nine-year-old sounded mutinous. “I don’t see why we got to do it. Men don’t cook. That’s women’s work.”

Wes’s chuckle floated out to her. “And just who do you think cooks for the cattlemen, the Rangers, and the buffalo hunters when there aren’t any womenfolk on the trail?”

A traitorous smile stole across Rorie’s face.

She edged forward, her footsteps muffled by the rattle of pans, and furtively poked her head around the corner. What she saw nearly left her choking on amusement.

The kitchen was in shambles. A bucket had been overturned beneath the sink, and one of the window curtains was twisted and wrinkled as if a small hand had grabbed it, probably to haul Topher up onto the sideboard to steal cookies. That hypothesis would explain why all the jars and bottles were in disarray and why an empty cookie tin lay beneath a bench.

The picture grew more comical. On the table, nestled between little mountains of flour, were several discarded egg shells, each dripping the last of their remains into the powdery residue sprinkled across the floor.

In fact, flour seemed to be everywhere. It decorated the milk pitcher in the imprint of a large masculine hand; it trailed footsteps to the butter churn and Ginevee’s prized rack of spices; and it made Topher look like a ghost—or rather a raccoon, since his big blue eyes stared out from a pasty mask.

At the moment, Wes’s back was turned to her. But after he slipped his head into the bib of Ginevee’s apron, Rorie saw he had not been left untouched. The flour storm had blown into the crevices of his rolled-up sleeves and had rained down on his hair, giving him a sort of confectioner’s halo. She had to clap a hand over her mouth to hold back a giggle when he brushed a rakish curl off his forehead, leaving a smear of white in its place. Then he grabbed a bowl and began filling it with the flour mountains, sweeping them off the table with his forearm and into the bowl.

Topher’s brows furrowed, dribbling a few flakes of flour into the batter he was stirring. “Just what are slabberdabs, anyway?”

With a deft flick of his wrist, Wes broke an egg into his bowl. “Why, they’re my pa’s prized trail flapjacks. Pa passed the secret on to my brother, Cord, and Cord passed it on to Zack and me. Now I’m letting you in on the recipe. It’s a time-honored tradition, son, and no women can ever know about it.”

He fixed Topher with a stern stare. “You’re going to have to take a pinky oath.”

Topher’s eyes nearly bugged out. “Gee, that’s serious!”

This time, Rorie clapped both hands to her mouth as Wes nodded gravely.

“Do you hereby swear to take to your grave the Rawlins brothers’ secret slabberdab recipe?”

Topher linked his smallest finger with Wes’s. “Ain’t no woman going to pry it out of me until the worms eat out my eyeballs.”

Rorie’s mirth lodged in her throat when she heard a footstep behind her. She turned guiltily, blushing to think that one of the other orphans had caught her eavesdropping. Instead she recognized the squat, round form of Ginevee. Rorie hastily pressed a finger to her lips, grinning as she beckoned her friend closer.

Meanwhile, Topher was standing on a chair, straining to get a better view of Wes’s bowl. “Whatcha got in there? Another secret recipe?”

“Naw. Just some biscuits. I could be making huckydummy, though, if I had raisins.”

“We got raisins,” Topher said brightly. Jumping back down to the floor, he blazed a trail through the flour drifts and stood on tiptoe to haul a tin container down from the shelves. “How many raisins you need?” he called as the metal lid clattered onto the floor.

“Well,” Wes said thoughtfully, raising his spoon and watching the batter plop back into the bowl. “We got eight hungry people coming to breakfast, and I reckon they’ll want at least two biscuits each. I figure we’ll need about ten raisins per person; so how many does that make, Topher?”

The enthusiasm on Topher’s face dwindled to confusion. “I don’t know.” He scowled. “Sixteen?”

Ginevee nudged Rorie as if to say, “That boy hasn’t been doing his multiplication tables.” Rorie shrugged helplessly. Topher had known the answer to eight-times-ten two weeks ago.

“No,” Wes said gently. “Try again. Eight tens are how many?”

Topher’s chin jutted. “I ain’t any good at numbers.”

“You want to know a secret?” Wes winked. “I’m not either.”

The tenseness eased from Topher’s shoulders. “You’re not?”

“Nope. That’s why I made up a song to help me. Want to hear it?”

Topher nodded eagerly. Grinning, Wes sang:

Grisly’s in the honeycomb,

Queen bee, she’s a bawlin’,

Hound dog treed a cougar cat,

and kitty’s up there squallin’.

In spite of Wes’s total disregard for pitch, Rorie recognized the tune because it belonged to a childhood game she had played in Cincinnati. Wes had taken liberty with the lyrics, though. Either that or he was yodeling the Texas version, because she couldn’t remember singing about grizzly bears or cougars in Ohio.

Grinning from ear to ear, Topher threw back his head and helped Wes finish the refrain:

Ten times 5 is 50, ten times 6 is 60;

Ten times 7 is 70, ten times 8 is 80.

The combination of squeaky soprano and rusty baritone was so awful, so wonderfully blessed awful, that Rorie couldn’t help herself. She snickered.

Ginevee, who was the county’s uncontested fiddle-playing champion, covered her ears and did the same.

The next thing Rorie knew, the two of them were howling with laughter, clutching their sides, and staggering against the wall for support.

“Uh oh,” Topher warned in a mortified whisper. “Women!”

Texas Outlaw, Texas Lover, Texas Wildcat, Austin

Feb 24

HOW I WROTE THORPE’S MAIL-ORDER BRIDE by Cynthia Woolf

510q06ig2BL._SX312_BO1,204,203,200_I love to write mail-order bride books, so that is mostly what I write. Thorpe’s Mail-Order Bride started out with a different title and then it was pointed out that my main characters were not living up to that title. So I rethought about the book and what it was actually about and changed the name.

I’m a big fan of NCIS: New Orleans and I wanted a book that had some of that flavor in it. From that primordial soup came Helena Dubois the daughter of a madam. And not just any madam, but the most celebrated and famous madam in all of New Orleans.

So I had my heroine now she needed a hero. And I needed conflict in the story. What could be better than a man, John Thorpe, blacksmith in Morgan’s Crossing, in the Montana Territory,  who wants a wife of good and moral character? What would happen when he finds that our heroine’s mother is a madam? Will he still believe our heroine is a moral person? Well of course not. What would the fun in that be?

Next I had my heroine return to New Orleans to her mother. I needed to get the flavor of New Orleans so I could put some of that in the book and into my heroines mother, who is French. I went to New Orleans, to the French Quarter, to the Monteleone hotel which I mention in the book. We went to the Garden District, where I set my heroine’s mothers’ mansion.

I like to visit the places that I set my stories. It helps me to have the flavor of the countryside or city. I know what the place looks like and can use that information to impart descriptions and a feeling for the area and then I get more information about the people who lived there from books about that period in time for that area in this case the year was 1887.

With one of my series I placed it in Golden, Colorado, which is where I grew up. I worked in the Pioneer Museum and the Railroad Museum when I was a teenager and my mother was a librarian so I knew how to do research. It was fun to go back in time and see what my town was like in the 1860’s and 70’s.

Here is an excerpt from Thorpe’s Mail-Order Bride

“I can understand your reluctance to believe me, but it is the truth. I should have let Mellisande accompany me. She wanted to, you know, but I wanted to tell you myself, vain person that I am.”

He turned his hat over and over on his lap.

“I thought sure you’d be happy about the news. Look, I’m a well-known business-man and couldn’t have my relationship with your mother known within certain circles. When you were two, we decided I should remarry and when you were six we sent you away to school to shield you from your mother’s business. One of your classmates, Eric Rappaport, is my stepson. Do you remember him?”

Lena’s breath caught in her throat at that news. She sat straighter, glad she was sitting on the chair. “That’s true,” she nodded. “I do remember Eric. He was totally obnoxious and mean to me the whole time we were at school together. Does he know about this, too? That you’re supposed to be my father.”

Robert sat forward on his chair. “I’m afraid he does. He overheard me telling my wife, his mother, of your existence. I wanted to take care of you and did the best I could. Now, though, you’re of an age that you must marry and have children of your own. I’ve found a suitable man back in New York. One of my business partners actually. Your mother’s association to you will never be known.”

Anger gave Lena strength and she stood, back straight. She would not show any softness toward him, no matter how much she wanted to have a father. He could be a complete liar. But he wouldn’t have known those things about me if he wasn’t who he said he is. “You propose to tell me that you’re my father and I must marry someone you have chosen for me, all in few minutes. Are you out of your mind?”

“No. You are an adult now and need to take on adult responsibilities.”

She couldn’t believe his arrogance and she didn’t need a stranger’s help in securing a husband. She would remain calm, just like she did when the children she taught were getting rambunctious.

“I’ll pick my own husband.”

“Listen to me Helena—”

“My name is Lena and I refuse to be dictated to by a stranger. Please leave.” She pulled the cord for Thaddeus.

The library door opened and Thaddeus entered. He was not just a butler, but also her mother’s bodyguard. Lena had no fear when he was near. “You rang, Miss Lena?”

“Yes, Thaddeus. Please show out this gentleman.”

“I’ll leave now, Helena,” Robert donned his hat. “But I’ll be back in two weeks and I expect you to be ready to come with me to New York.

“Please leave, Mr. Drummond, before I have Thaddeus hail a police officer.”

“As you wish.” Drummond was not a happy man, but he stood and left through the door that Thaddeus held open. “I can find my own way out.”

Lena shook all over. Never would she marry some man her mother, or her newly discovered father, had chosen for her. Her mother had tried before to get her to marry. Lena was shamed by Mellisande’s business and might hate herself sometimes because of that shame, but she hadn’t fallen so far that she would allow her mother to choose a husband for her. She hadn’t before when Mellisande wanted her to why would her mother think that she would now? How could they tell her all of this at once and expect her to acquiesce to their demand? First she had a father, and second, she was supposed to marry some strange man, not of her choosing. That had been the problem last time. She hadn’t chosen the man. Her mother had. This was no different and she would not stand for it.

She dropped into one of the large overstuffed chairs in front of the empty fireplace, making sure it was not the one her father had sat in. Grabbing the paper from the coffee table she flipped through the pages looking for a special advertisement. One she’d heard whispered about by her teacher friends at school when they wanted to marry.

Finally she found it and read to remind herself of the details.

Women wanted. Matchmaker & Co in Golden, Colorado is recruiting women with the object of marriage to one of their thoroughly screened bachelors. These men are farmers, ranchers, miners and of other occupations, that are desirous of marriage and family. Contact Mrs. Maggie Black, with your photograph and the type of man you are looking for.

This was perfect. She could choose a husband far away from both New York and New Orleans. Her parents would never find her and she’d finally lead her own life as she saw fit.

 

CW_04 300x400BIO

Cynthia Woolf is the award winning and best-selling author of nineteen historical western romance books and two short stories with more books on the way. She was born in Denver, Colorado and raised in the mountains west of Golden. She spent her early years running wild around the mountain side with her friends.
Their closest neighbor was about one quarter of a mile away, so her little brother was her playmate and her best friend. That fierce friendship lasted until his death in 2006.
Cynthia loves writing and reading romance. Her first western romance Tame A Wild Heart, was inspired by the story her mother told her of meeting Cynthia’s father on a ranch in Creede, Colorado. Although Tame A Wild Heart takes place in Creede that is the only similarity between the stories. Her father was a cowboy not a bounty hunter and her mother was a nursemaid (called a nanny now) not the ranch owner.

 

Cynthia credits her wonderfully supportive husband Jim and the great friends she’s made at CRW for saving her sanity and allowing her to explore her creativity.

 

TITLES AVAILABLE

 

THORPE’S MAIL-ORDER BRIDE, Montana Sky Series

GENEVIEVE: Bride of Nevada, American Mail-Order Brides Series

THE HUNTER BRIDE – Hope’s Crossing, Book 1

GIDEON – The Surprise Brides

MAIL ORDER OUTLAW – The Brides of Tombstone, Book 1

MAIL ORDER DOCTOR – The Brides of Tombstone, Book 2

MAIL ORDER BARON – The Brides of Tombstone, Book 3

NELLIE – The Brides of San Francisco 1

ANNIE – The Brides of San Francisco 2

CORA – The Brides of San Francisco 3

JAKE (Book 1, Destiny in Deadwood series)

LIAM (Book 2, Destiny in Deadwood series)

ZACH (Book 3, Destiny in Deadwood series)

CAPITAL BRIDE (Book 1, Matchmaker & Co. series)

HEIRESS BRIDE (Book 2, Matchmaker & Co. series)

FIERY BRIDE (Book 3, Matchmaker & Co. series)

TAME A WILD HEART (Book 1, Tame series)

TAME A WILD WIND (Book 2, Tame series)

TAME A WILD BRIDE (Book 3, Tame series)

TAME A SUMMER HEART (short story, Tame series)

TAME A HONEYMOON HEART (novella, Tame series)

 

 

WEBSITE – www.cynthiawoolf.com

 

NEWSLETTER – http://bit.ly/1qBWhFQ

Jan 29

Two New Releases from Anna Markland

RosesHeather_CVR_200300Two new releases!

I had a lot of fun writing the third book in the Caledonia Chronicles series. I discovered that time travel leads an author in all kinds of unexpected directions! If you’re wondering what happened to Donal Ogilvie, the third of Margaret’s brothers who supposedly drowned, you might find out in this book.

Actually, this is the fourth book in the series. In between Books Two and Three I wrote 2.5, Highland Dawn for the de Wolfe World.

Unfortunately, because Highland Dawn is a Kindle Worlds book, only those who purchase from amazon dot com had access to it. Don’t worry if you weren’t able to read it. I wrote Roses Among the Heather with that in mind. I hope though that Amazon will extend its KW program internationally. I’ve also put Book One, Pride of the Clan, on sale for 99 cents for a little while.

CALEDONIA (1)

I know you will love the second of my two new releases.

My Viking novella Banished was published this week as part of the Sirens of the Northern Seas collection. These five never-before-published stories feature strong Viking heroines, and wildflowers. Yes, an unusual combination perhaps.

My co-authors are all bestselling writers-Kathryn Le Veque, Emma Prince, Elizabeth Rose and Violetta Rand. It’s a collectible. Not many anthologies feature new stories.

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Amazon
Nook
Kobo
iBooks

 

Jan 27

Great Love Affairs

Lady and the TrampStudies show that if a man meets a woman in a dangerous or controversial situation (and vice versa), he is more likely to fall in love with her than if he met her in a more mundane setting, like on the checkout line at the grocery store, for instance.

For anyone who has ever loved, or loved and lost, or been a fool for love, or done things in the name of love, you’re not alone. Here are a few of Cupid’s romantic pairings that were powerful enough to influence culture, trigger wars, and spawn international scandals.

 

Antony and Cleopatra – Cleopatra was known for her, shall we say, rambunctious love life, having been the mistress of Julius Caesar. But that didn’t deter the besotted Roman general Marc Antony. When he met the Egyptian queen in 36 BC, he was so bewitched by her brilliance and beauty that he abandoned his wife and married her, despite the protests of his countrymen. Their scandalous union proved to be their undoing, as Antony’s Roman friends turned against him and Rome erupted into a civil war in which Antony fought his former compatriots. Antony’s navy was brutally defeated and he was forced to escape to Egypt. Hearing a false report that Cleopatra was dead, Antony committed suicide. After learning of her husband’s demise, Cleopatra followed him into the great beyond with the help of an asp she kept handy for just such occasions.

John and Abigail Adams – Proving the power of the pen, John and Abigail wrote over 1,000 letters to one another during their courtship and marriage. Unwilling to follow conventional roles, Abigail ran the family farm and managed the budgeting without John’s interference. This didn’t bother the statesman one bit, and he often joked that the household seemed to run smoother in his absence. Abigail even wielded her influence during John’s term as President, but was not well received by the American public, who referred to her sarcastically as “Her Majesty.” Criticism did not diminish the love between the two, and they remained devoted until their deaths, proving the old adage that behind every great man is a woman.

Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas – Even the greatest minds can be reduced to foolishness by love. It was love at first sight when they met. Despite their silly pet names for one another, Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas made an impressive intellectual team. Besides being a well-known avant-garde writer, Stein was a brilliant eccentric with a heavy, unladylike presence. Alice B. Toklas, who worked as Stein’s secretary and cook, was a chain smoker with a slight mustache, given to exotic dress. The couple was inseparable and surrounded themselves with very distinguished company in their home in Paris,  After Stein’s death, Toklas published a book of recipes and memories of their time together, which serves as a tribute to their shared love and devotion, and proves that behind a great woman is often another great woman.

Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn – Possessing a particular affinity for separating his wives from their heads, Henry VIII was a fickle husband. Initially, he was desperate for the attention of Anne Boleyn, and even divorced his first wife to woo her. But sadly for Anne, she proved to be a passing fancy for the capricious king. Three years into their marriage, having failed to provide Henry with a male heir, her head was lopped off. But it was good while it lasted…the head, not the marriage.
Bonnie and Clyde – This dangerous duo was gunned down in Louisiana on May 23, 1934, but not before they went on a spree of murder, kidnapping, robbery and auto theft. With 130 rounds pumped into their Ford V8, you could say that the couple that steals and murders together stays together.

Pocahontas and John Rolfe – Despite the romantic accounts of Pocahontas saving John Smith’s life, which may or may not have happened, the real love of her life was the English colonist John Rolfe. Their marriage in 1614 forged a diplomatic peace between the foreign settlers and the indigenous people of the Virginia colony. Though Pocahontas died just three years after marrying Rolfe, during their union, she had a son and worked to garner interest and financial support for the American colonies. Which just goes to show what can be accomplished when a woman is in charge.

Edward, Prince of Wales, and Wallis Simpson – Not only was she an American and a commoner, but she was married to her second husband when she met Edward in 1931. Their affair rocked Britain to its core, but he didn’t care. To him she was “the perfect woman”. Unwilling to give her up, he abdicated the throne, uttering those immortal words, “I have found it impossible to carry the heavy burden of responsibility and to discharge my duties as King as I would wish to do without the help and support of the woman I love.” So Edward and his perfect woman married, were given the titles of Duke and Duchess of Windsor, and lived in exile in France where they became fixtures of café society. No, they weren’t nice people, but that didn’t diminish the love they had for each other.

Paris and Helen – She was the most beautiful woman in the world. He was a Trojan prince. He fell for her like a ton of bricks, but unfortunately, she was already married to Menelaus, King of Sparta. So, he did the only thing he could do. He abducted her and took her to Troy, triggering the Trojan War.

Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton – They met on the set of the movie Cleopatra when they were both married to other people. Their affair made headlines. Their marriage was built on alcohol and passion. After divorcing, they found it impossible to stay apart and remarried, only to break up four months later. I guess theirs was a case of ‘can’t live without-can’t live with-can’t live without,-can’t live with’.

Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal – Shah Jahan sported the enviable title “King of the World”. The favorite of his three wives was Mumtaz Mahal or “Chosen One of the Palace”. When she died giving in childbirth, the grieving husband ordered construction of his beloved queen’s mausoleum, the Taj Mahal, one of the most beautiful symbols of love in the world. Come on, it was the least he could do for a woman who pumped out 14 kids.

Henry Plantaganet and Eleanor of Aquitaine – What a woman! That’s what 18 year old Henry must have thought when he met 30 year old bold and beautiful Eleanor. Already queen to the meek and mild King Louis VII of France, she married the brash young Henry, the future king of England, and had a ton of kids with him. Apparently, not even Henry’s love affair with another woman and his imprisonment of Eleanor could dim the sparks that flew between those two. Eleanor was a cougar ahead of her time.

Uther and Igraine –  King Uther coveted Igraine, wife of the Duke of Cornwall. So Merlin cast a spell to make Uther look like Cornwall, and while the real duke was out fighting, Uther slipped into the castle and into Igraine. Cornwall died in battle, and nine months later the future King Arthur was born. It never hurts to have a wizard on the payroll.

And finally, my favorite love story of all:

Lady and the Tramp – Who said true love is only for humans? This Disney tale about Tramp, a mutt from the wrong side of the tracks with a heart of gold and a thing for Lady, a beloved cocker spaniel, is one of the best love stories of all time. When those two pups’ lips meet over a strand of spaghetti to the tune of Bella Notte, I don’t know about you, but my heart just melts. This is doggie love at its finest.

If these stories of love prove anything at all, it’s that nothing – a husband or a wife, a national scandal, controversy, war, a throne, an asp, divorce, imprisonment, adultery, the dog catcher, not even death – stands in the way of true love.

Do you have a favorite pair of historical lovers?

And never underestimate the power of the grocery store. It may not be a castle or a movie set or an Egyptian barge, but there’s no telling who you’ll meet in the frozen food aisle. After all, unattached people have to eat, too.

Jan 20

Medieval Scottish Wedding Traditions

Anna Markland here. I had a lot of fun researching medieval Scottish wedding traditions for my latest book. Here are a few.

  1. Rocking

DistaffSideThe unattached young folks gathered in a local barn or cottage. Each lass brought her rock and reel (ie her distaff and spindle) for spinning yarn, thus they called the meeting a rocking.

While the lasses spun wool and flax, the lads would visit. Everyone sang and made merry. When it was time to go home, the lads gallantly carried the lass’s rocks home. The lads and lasses were discovering who they liked. They were learning who warranted a more serious relationship.

  1. Bundling

As the lads and lasses paired off and began getting serious, he would come to her home in the evening after the day‘s work was done. Night-time was the only time available for courting and the only privacy within the home was the lass’s bedchamber ~ or the great outdoors, where there was no parental supervision.

To protect her daughter’s chastity, the mother would bind her daughter’s legs securely. The lad was then allowed to join her in bed …where they visited and became better acquainted. (I found this on the web so it must be true!!)

  1. Making him Sweat

If the lass agreed to marry a lad, her father had to give his permission. This led to a somewhat humorous wedding tradition. Upon being asked, the father would feign displeasure, causing the lad to sweat it out, while he awaited the father’s answer.

  1. The Fede Ring

Since the Book of Genesis, rings have been given as pledges. A wedding tradition of the Romans was to give a betrothal ring. In the Middle Ages, the Scots began the wedding tradition of giving a silver fede ring. This ring was consigned to the kirk, or church, when arranging for their proclamation of marriage.

  1. The Luckenbooth Broochsterling_silver_luckenbooth_brooch_j-m-qjb89

Silversmiths and goldsmiths sold their wares from open market stalls along the Royal Mile, adjacent to Edinburgh Castle. In the early 1700’s, these stalls were replaced with booths that could be locked at night ~ thus luckenbooth.

The jewelers created a brooch that’s become a wedding tradition. They used intertwining hearts, topped with a crown that was symbolic of Mary Queen of Scots. The hearts often formed a stylized “M”, as the original Luckenbooth’s were styled after Mary’s royal monogram.

Another wedding tradition was to engrave the inside with a pledge of love. These were treasured by the bride ~ worn at her wedding, then carefully stored away. When their first child was christened, the brooch was pinned on the christening gown. Then it was put away again, to be brought out for the eldest child’s betrothal.

  1. Claddagh Rings

There is a tradition that a young fisherman, named Richard Joyce, was captured by Algerian Corsican pirates ~ a week before his wedding.

He was sold to a Moorish goldsmith who apprenticed young Joyce and taught him goldsmithing. In 1689, he was released as part of a general amnesty agreed upon by William III of England and the Moors. Returning home, Joyce found his bride awaited his return.claddagh

As a token of her faithfulness, he fashioned a special ring, of three symbols ~ the hands signifying friendship, holding the hearts signifying love, topped with a crown signifying loyalty.

Since they lived in the village of Claddagh, we now have the wedding tradition of the Claddagh ring. But apparently the village no longer exists.

In Gaelic, Grá, Dílseacht agus Cairdeas (pronounced ‘graw, dealshocked ogis cordiss’) means a trinity of “Love, Loyalty, and Friendship”.

The hands are for friendship, The heart is for love. For loyalty throughout the year, the crown is raised above.

Other folklore correlates the Claddagh ring and the shamrock as one of the oldest symbols of the Holy Trinity among the Celts. This interpretation describes the crown as a symbol of the Father, the left hand as the Son, and the right hand as the Holy Ghost, all caring for the heart in the center, symbolizing humanity.

The Claddagh symbol is popular as a gift for the tryste, as a token of unfailing love, and as a wedding decoration.

  1. Fairings

Love tokens were small gifts given by the groom to the bride. In this wedding tradition, to show his affection, he gave her tokens ~ sweets, hair ribbons, jewelry trinkets.

  1. Foot washing

In the original wedding tradition of foot washing, the bride was gently treated to a cleansing of her feet, which probably needed it. The groom and his friends crowded around the door to watch this wedding tradition.

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2 unfortunate modern-day grooms

When the groom’s turn came, his treatment wasn’t so gentle. After wetting his feet, soot and feathers were smeared wherever they would stick. As a wedding tradition, the soot was a symbol of home and hearth, while feathers came from a food source. This tradition is carried on today in some regions.

  1. Chantie Jumping

The chantie, or chamber pot, had salt in it, symbolizing prosperity and plenty. As a wedding tradition, at intersections or busy areas, the chantie was placed on the street and the bride would jump over the pot. People passing by dropped in money and articles associated with the wedding traditions, in exchange for kisses.

RosesHeather_CVR_200300

I used some of these medieval traditions in my latest release, ROSES AMONG THE HEATHER, but I’m not revealing which ones. Read the book and join in the fun.

Jan 15

New Release – Loving the Hawke

I’m celebrating a new release this week and am excited to share it with you!

LOVING THE HAWKE is a historical romantic suspense set in Victorian London. It’s on sale for only $.99 for a limited time. This is the first full-length book in my new series, The Seven Curses of London, and follows the novella, TRUSTING THE WOLFE.

I love the challenge of creating empathetic characters and hope I’ve done that with both Lettie and Nathaniel.

Here’s a little more about it:

LanaWilliams_LovingTheHawke_200pxAfter five seasons as a wallflower, Lettie Fairchild is resigned to spinsterhood. Mostly. Determined to claim more meaning for her life than seeing her younger sisters married, she seeks a purpose. She finds what she’s looking for when she happens upon a book describing seven curses that plague London.

Nathaniel Hawke is attempting to adjust to civilian life after retiring from the military, but his injured leg and memories of his time in the service prevent an easy transition. On his long walks during London’s darkest hours, Nathaniel is appalled by what he sees taking place on the dirty streets and alleyways. He is determined to take action. Coming upon a proper, if rebellious, lady in the desolate area both intrigues and frustrates him.

Nathaniel’s disregard for his personal safety infuriates Lettie even as her heart is touched by his determination to aid the city’s neglected children.

As the two wounded souls stumble upon each other time and again in slums and ballrooms, they realize they fight a common cause—and share an unbridled passion.

Will the curse they fight be their downfall? Or will love win the day?

Excerpt:

“You must realize how dangerous it is to venture into those areas,” Nathaniel said.

Lettie raised her chin. “One must take certain risks in order to make progress towards one’s goal.”

He lifted a finger to tap the hint of a dimple in her chin. He’d been wanting to do that since he first saw her. “Only those risks which one truly understands.”

Her eyes widened at his touch even as her lips parted ever so slightly. “I believe I understand the risks.”

Awareness curled through him. It was almost as if she no longer spoke of trips to Blackfriars Bridge. He couldn’t resist testing the water. “Have you ventured there before?”

“No. I have not. But I would like to. With the proper escort, of course.”

Good Christ. She couldn’t possibly be saying what he thought she was saying. Yet he found himself easing nearer to take her gloved hand in his. “One must be equally careful when selecting one’s escort.”

“Excellent point.” Her gaze dropped to his mouth.

He could hardly breathe. What on earth was she about? Longing to taste her again overcame commonsense. He captured her lips with his.

The tiny moan that escaped her lips echoed his own. He released her hand to draw her into his arms, the feel of her against him heating him in places he hadn’t realized were so cold.

Her hand touched his cheek, then his shoulder, resting there for a moment as they kissed. Her tongue danced with his, unloosening a tightness deep inside him.

The odd sensation had him pulling back to stare at her, perplexed at his reaction. She threatened to unleash emotions he’d carefully buried and hoped were dead. That was not worth a kiss, nor even a night of passion. Those feelings needed to stay buried, never to surface again.

His sanity depended on it.

“Forgive me,” he said as he drew back. “I had no right to take such liberties.”

The stunned look on her face gave him pause. Was it because of the kiss or his withdrawal?

He clenched his teeth, reminding himself it didn’t matter. She was not for him. He had no intention of marrying, and a lady’s sole purpose was to find a husband. Far more important missions were in his future than indulging in a heated kiss.

The neglected children of London needed him. And he had no intention of letting them down.

“You must stay away from Blackfriars Bridge. It’s no place for a lady.”

“But I—”

“No. Stay away.” Did she understand that he meant himself as well?

He stepped back, noting how the shadows cast her gown into a deep shade of amber that caused her skin to glow with warmth. She would make someone a wonderful wife some day. But not him.

With a deep breath and an attempt to firm his resolve, he turned away and left through the garden, unwilling to wade through the ballroom.

 

 

 

Now available on Amazon.

Thank you for letting me for share the story with you! I’d love to hear what you think if you have a chance to read it.

Wishing you the best!

Lana

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