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
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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

Jan 06

Parallel Lives – Living Through the Hard Stuff

By SpeedyGonsales (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons

By SpeedyGonsales (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons

Because my personal life went into complete turmoil in late July, my writing life has been very quiet. I won’t go into the details, but this is my first blog post for months and I’ve been worrying for days about what I could write, what might be interesting, what can I possibly talk about that will feel relevant to me and readers.

Luckily I recently resumed work on a historical romance project, a novella for a Love Historicals boxed set I agreed to participate in before the sky fell. In another stroke of luck, way last spring, I listened to my little inner guardian angel who said, as I completed the second book in my contemporary series, “Why not take a run at the first draft of that historical novella? It will be a creative change of pace, and since yours is the first story chronologically, you’ll make a basis of discussion, at least, for the group of authors.”

Thank goodness I listened.

Fast forward to Now. Under the shadow of the approaching project deadline, I pulled the manuscript out of the mothball area of my computer’s hard drive to find what was definitely a first draft — quick email to editor to get some time on her calendar — and the revisions began.

You’d think the author of a story would have a fairly good memory of what the hell happens in it. I did, in a general sense. What has surprised me is the emotional state of my heroine, Fia. She suffers a loss. Again. She can’t believe this is happening. Again. She feels a responsibility to help her family while struggling to just keep her own head above water. She seems to be fine then bursts into tears. She’d very much like to curl up in a dark room for awhile and tell the world to go….

So, last spring, I basically wrote for a character a reality I was going to start living a few months later. Obviously, with the story being a historical romance, Fia is also confronted by Mr. Right, a man she believes betrayed her in the past but is now literally rescuing her. Though she fights it, he is the one good thing, the one bright spot that might make this life livable.

I’ve thought many times since July of 2015 that I seem to be living two parallel lives. I have the one that is almost unbearably hard and sad, and then there’s the one with my husband — who showed up decades ago, thank God — and my two teenaged sons, a life that is perking along better than I could ever have dreamed. Because of my two parallel lives, I can continue to fine-tune the hope for Fia. I see a space in her heart for love and happiness, and also know the effort it will take for her to reveal that space in the midst of her sadness.

I’ve used the word “luck” a few times in the post. Most people look at recent events and think of me as anything but lucky, but sometimes you have to look for the luck, or remember how past luck has gotten you this far, at least. You have to reach out and grab the happiness that is tucked in amidst the dark. Really, that is what romance writers and readers are all about. Trying for love. Knowing it can blossom in the driest desert. Believing in the happily ever after, and if we aren’t living it, at least escaping to it the few moments a day we can stick our nose in a book or click the power button on our ereader.

So, find a way, fake or real, to insert a little bit of happiness into every day. See it, recognize it, acknowledge it, and then move back to living in the hard stuff if you must.

 

Dec 28

Inspiration in the New Year!

Happy Holidays!

As 2015 draws to a close here at Love Historicals, we’re casting our gazes toward the New Year and all we hope to accomplish in 2016. Several of the Love Historicals authors have selected a word that they’ll be focusing on in 2016 that defines their intentions and expectations for this coming year.

Bronwen Evans (www.bronwenevas.com): My word is embrace. I have decided not to plan this year, as the last two years did not go to my plan. I love to plan so it is always a disaster when things deviate from my plans.  So in 2016 I intend to embrace anything life throws at me, throw out all my plans, and try to keep writing through it all! Here’s to a safe and happy 2016.

Nancy Morse (www.nancymorese.com): My word is Attentive.  When so much of what we see and hear every day is bad, it’s essential to focus on the good, and that means being attentive. The good is there. You don’t have to look for it. You just have to be open to it. Although it’s a concept I try to incorporate into my life, I have to admit sometimes it escapes me, so for 2016 I will make a concerted effort to be more attentive to everything around me.

champagne_glassesCynthia Woolf (www.cynthiawoolf.com): I choose consistency. I plan on publishing 6 books next year and in order to do that I have to be consistent. I have to write consistently, publish consistently, promote consistently. If I don’t do one of those things, I’m liable to fail as achieving my goal.

Anna Markland (www.annamarkland.com): My word is Optimism. There are a lot of gloom and doom predictions floating around the publishing industry, but I intend to remain optimistic that readers will continue to enjoy my stories. It is difficult to be optimistic about the future when the news media feeds us hourly doses of murder and mayhem, but there is a lot of good going on in the world and I want to celebrate the positive. If we are fearful and pessimistic, we aren’t free.

Lana Williams (www.lanawilliams.net): My word for 2016 is Now. I want to remember that what I choose to do now, in this moment, makes a difference and helps me reach my goal. That will encourage me to use my time wisely, to make the right choices as to what activities I participate in, and remember to be present in this moment and enjoy it!

We hope these words inspire you, and we invite you to share your word with us! What is your focus word for 2016?

Happy New Year!

Dec 23

Romancing the Rogue: Holiday Gift Ideas for Your Alpha Dream Mate

Happy Holidays from Adrienne deWolfeSeason’s Greetings, dear readers! Time for a little fun. No doubt you’ve been shopping up a storm to find the perfect, last-minute holiday gift for your man.

But what if you were a heroine in a Historical Romance novel? What would you buy for a pirate, a knight, a cowboy, or your beloved Regency lord?

To answer that question, I started brainstorming and came up with these fun ideas for 7 archetypal, Historical Romance heroes. Of course, you may feel inspired to add to the list — so please do! Let your imagination run wild as you share your own gift ideas in the comments section below.

The Werewolf:

Wolf-Running-in-Snow_cropped-80-pct_rightYou would give your favorite, furry Alpha the moon, if you could, but let’s face it:  you want him to be wowed by your own heavenly body.  So here’s my recommendation. Use your trusty magic wand to whisk yourself away to the Amazon River basin. While Fang is working up an appetite, tracking your exotic (steak?) scent through the jungle, you can bribe the local dwarves to hand over a cartload of a certain, luminescent gemstone.  If waving a wand breaks your – Talons? Claws? Fingernails? — ply the dwarves with Spud Ale so they’ll crush all that ore for you. Voilà!  You have a full year’s supply of moon dust — er, I mean, moonstone powder.  Apply it liberally so your skin glows like a Lunar Goddess’s. Now Fang will have something to howl about!

The Cowboy:

CowboyFor your favorite Stud in Spurs, might I suggest a licorice lariat? (Wait a minute, this is a PG column, isn’t it? Rats!) As you know, I write Western Historical Romance novels, so I am an authority on all things naughty and nice for the Sagebrush Romeo. If you are a prim-and-proper mail-order bride, you might wish to apply your expertise in the sewing arts to craft buckskin trousers. (::yawn::) However, I would recommend something more devious.  How about the gift my sheep-ranching spitfire gave her cattleman lover in Texas Wildcat?  That’s right, MOONSHINE!  Bailey pretty much drank Zack under the table. To salvage his pride, Zack scooped Bailey into his arms, carried her upstairs and well . . . You know. (Bailey reports, “Best Christmas ever!”)

The Pirate:

Photographer: Matthew Schubert Source: FreeImages.com

Photographer: Matthew Schubert
Source: FreeImages.com

What do you get the Lord of the Seas?  I vote for potable water. (Hey! I’m just being practical.) And speaking of practical, every pirate loves a galley slave. (Like to cook? You know what to do!) Now for you more imaginative sirens, I suggest you make friendly with Ursula, the Sea Witch.  For the mere cost of your voice, (you weren’t really planning on conversation after your man returns from a six-month voyage, were you?) you can procure the ultimate prize for your favorite swashbuckler’s galleon:  a cloaking device. (Watch out Flying Dutchman!) Prepare to have your treasures pillaged after such a clever gift!

The Scottish Highlander:

Photographer: Abdou Kitany Source: FreeImages.com

Photographer: Abdou Kitany
Source: FreeImages.com

A Laird is a hearty lad, who doesn’t much mind the winter chill. He’ll draw his sword in a heartbeat if he thinks his clan needs defending, and that can put a big crimp in your holiday plans. My recommendation? Help the Big Galoot take his mind (and his hands) off the freaking broadsword. If he thinks his castle is safe from marauders, he can finally kick back and suck down a tankard with you. That’s why the best holiday gift for the Highlander is a giant-sized moat, filled with Nessie. Sounds like a lot of work? Pshaw. Scotland is full of pixies, who are notoriously enthralled by good music. Now you have a pixy in your pocket, a monster in your moat, and a hunk in your bed. My hat’s off to ye, Lass!

The Knight:

Photographer: Danny Nelson Source: FreeImages.com

Photographer: Danny Nelson
Source: FreeImages.com

Let’s face it: ye olde Crusader thrives on thrills. World domination is his game. You have to compete for his attention, and that means you have to be more interesting than the Saracens. No problem! Give your Hunk of Handsome exactly one week to find seven risqué articles of your clothing, which you, of course, will “drop” in seven, naughty places around his domain. While your Knight dons his shining armor (WARNING:  This might take awhile) and prepares to do battle with the dragons and barbarians you hired to protect your kirtle, you can relax in some Medieval day spa and luxuriate in the knowledge that you have a man who is clever enough to be your mate.

The Vampire:

sun_hand_magicWhat does every Vamp need? That’s right! Some soul! Help your favorite neck-nipper rock away his holiday blues: whisk him off to the Big Easy! New Orleans is the city that never sleeps. Your Vamp will feel right at home on Bourbon Street. Enjoy some great jazz, feast on fried alligator and crawfish etouffee, and get your fortune told by a real, undead Voodoo Queen. Christmas on the Bayou, chere: you’ll never miss the snow!

The Regency Lord:

heart cloudWhat do you give the aristocrat, who owns (most of) England? Hint: a bird’s eye view of his realm! Gather your team of seamstresses, m’lady, and soon you’ll have a candy-cane striped transport to the clouds. Sure, it’ll be a bit nippy in your hot-air-balloon-built-for-two, but isn’t snuggling part of your holiday plan? (Sheesh. Work with me here!) Once your balloon basket is decked out with garlands, mistletoe, and plenty of wassail to take a bite out of the Yuletide chill, you and your lover can chase rainbows under the morning star. And what could be more romantic than that?

And now, it’s your turn! If you were the heroine of your favorite Historical Romance, what would you give your man for the holidays? Inquiring minds want to know!  Feel free to dish in the comments section below.

Happy Holidays!

Swag_WTN_banner_get cowboys

Learn more about Adrienne deWolfe’s bestselling, award-winning Western Heroes here.

 

Dec 18

BENEATH AN IRON SKY by Nancy Morse

Today is my birthday, so I figured what better gift could I give to myself than the release of my newest book, and to share it with you.

Beneath an Iron Sky 200x300

BENEATH AN IRON SKY is my latest Native American historical romance.

In 1880 eleven-year-old Philadelphia (Del) Stratton meets fifteen-year-old Crow Eagle, a rebellious Lakota boy, at the Carlisle Indian School in Pennsylvania where her father is an instructor. Wrenched from his people on the reservation and brought to Carlisle to become Americanized, the reluctant but deep bond the belligerent boy forms with the idealistic young girl is severed when he returns to his people.

Nine years later they are reunited when Del’s fight for women’s suffrage takes her to Dakota Territory on the verge of statehood. There, Crow Eagle, now a strong warrior, is waging battle to retain his people’s way of life and keep their hope alive through the Ghost Dance. And the friendship that began years earlier blossoms into a forbidden love that will not be denied.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B019BGILAE

https://smashwords.com/books/view/600211

https://geo.itunes.apple.com/us/book/beneath-an-iron-sky/id1068291283?mt=11

The book will soon be available in print.

Here’s an excerpt:

Upon entering the barn, Del’s eyes immediately sought out Crow Eagle, but his place on the bed of hay was vacant. A movement from one of the stalls captured her attention. The sun slanted through the loft window, flooding the barn and catching his face in angled light. A tight trembling took hold of her as the memory of those features came back. The high cheekbones, the full, finely shaped lips, the dark eyes beneath black lashes, all were as familiar as though she had gazed upon them only yesterday. But this was no rebellious fifteen year old boy standing there. Her gaze lingered on his face and traveled down the long line of his body. No indeed. This was a man, full-grown and dangerous.

Clearing her throat, she took a step forward and said, “You should not be up.”

He looked up and saw her. “I am well enough,” he said as he stroked the neck of his Indian pony.

“I brought you something.” She held a cup out to him. “It’s only water,” she said when he eyed it with suspicion. “No medicine.”

He gave her a sideways look, his gaze raking fluidly over her.

His strong brown fingers touched hers as he took the cup from her hand. The brief brush of flesh against flesh sent an unexpected tremor coursing down her spine. She stepped back and watched him drink in long, measured swallows, unable to will her gaze away from the column of his throat and the smooth skin of his chest. To hide her nervousness, she reached for the pitchfork and began filling the hay racks in the horses’ stalls, all the while feeling the weight of his eyes upon her. “I’ll take a look at that wound now to see if it’s healing properly.”

As she followed him back to his resting place, her gaze traveled quickly but thoroughly over him, noticing that he moved with the grace and stealth of a panther, how the muscles in his broad back flexed with strength, and the way his long, black hair fell like heavy silken ribbons against the brown flesh of his shoulders.

He dropped to a cross-legged position in the hay. Kneeling behind him, Del’s fingers tangled in the thick locks as she brushed his hair aside. She removed the previous day’s dressing and examined the wound, concluding, “It is coming along nicely.”

His skin jumped at her touch as she applied a cooling salve over the wound. Even if he were without sight and unable to hear, he would have known her anywhere just from the scent of her. It was the same clean, sweet smell he remembered from a long time ago, here now filling his senses with memory and longing. “How did you learn to heal wounds?”

“A Lakota boy told me which plants to use.”

“The Lakota boy, did he teach you anything else?”

“He taught me to look eastward when I want to think of him.”

His breath stilled as he shifted position and turned toward her. Looking into her blue eyes was like wading into a stream of cool, clear water, deceptively calm until it drew him in deeper and deeper and swallowed him up. “And do you?” he dared to ask.

Reluctant to admit how often she had thought of him over the years, she cast about for an appropriate answer and said evasively, “What were you doing out there watching the farm?”

He masked his disappointment. “Is it against the white man’s law to watch a woman feeding chickens?”

“You were watching me?’

“I did not know it was you.”

“And when I found you by the creek,” she said, “I did not know it was you.”

“Maybe Iktomi is playing tricks on us. Did your Lakota boy tell you about Iktomi, the trickster?”

“He was never my Lakota boy,” Del replied. “He always belonged to himself. That is why he got into so much trouble at Carlisle.”

“Do not speak of that place to me,” Crow Eagle said, his voice tightening with bitterness. “All the memories it holds are bad. Except for one,” he added, his tone softening, “I have a memory of a white girl who defied her father to be my friend.”

Just as she was defying the law now by harboring him, Del thought miserably. “You learned to write when you were at…that place. When you went away, I thought you might have written to let me know you were well.”

“That is the white man’s way,” he said. “I do not need to write words to remember a friend.”

Yes, we were friends once, she thought. Are we still? “When you are well enough to leave here, will you go to the reservation?” Del asked.

A shadow passed across his handsome face. “Never.”

“Where will you go?”

Maco sika. The place you call the badlands. Some of my people are camped there.”

It suddenly dawned on her that he was among the Sioux hiding out in the badlands and raiding throughout the Black Hills, throwing terror into the hearts of the white settlers and raising the ire of the army. She placed a hand on his arm. “Crow Eagle, you must be careful.” Her fingers tightened for emphasis. “There are men who will kill you if they catch you raiding.”

He looked down at her small white fingers encircling his forearm, and then up into troubled blue eyes. “I am not afraid to die in defense of my people. When I returned to my people from that place that caused me so much misery, I did not know what path Wakan Tanka had set before me. I listened to the words and feelings of the old men as they sat before the evening fires, and as the seasons passed, the path became clearer. It is not my place to stay at the edge of the fight. My place is to be at its center. In the days of my grandfather, men of strong action were given the bighorn shirts to wear. They were to set an example for the others. The Shirt Wearers are no more. Now we wear shirts of painted muslin.”

“The Ghost Dance is even more reason for you to be careful,” Del said on a desperate note. “The Indian agent at Pine Ridge is calling for the army to intervene. A religious movement cannot hold off his anger when it is backed up by white bullets.”

She felt his skin quiver when she placed her hands on his shoulders and turned him back around. “I’ve brought you something to eat,” she said as she covered the wound with a fresh bandage.

“Not that food the other woman brought,” he said.

“The corn soup? You didn’t like it?”

He turned his head toward her and made a face.

She reached into her pocket and drew out a little bundle which she unwrapped to reveal some biscuits left over from breakfast. “I can get you coffee. As I recall, you do like coffee.”

There were so many other things about him that she recalled, but this was not the time for reminiscing, not with Nate on the way.

No sooner did the thought of Nate enter her mind than they both heard the sound of wagon wheels approaching on the dry, dusty road.

Crow Eagle froze with a biscuit half-way to his mouth. “Someone comes.”

“It’s just a friend. We’re going for a ride. I’ll be back before the sun is down. Will you still be here?” Please don’t go, she breathed to herself. She held her breath for his reply.

“I will stay.”

Her features relaxed in a secret smile. Suppressing the urge to touch him again and bury her face in his long, dark hair, she rose and left.

When she was gone, Crow Eagle went to the big barn door she closed behind her and peered through a crack in the weathered timber. A white man was waiting for her beside a buggy. The wind blew open his coat to reveal a pair of holstered six-shooters.

He did not like the familiarity of the white man’s hands around Del’s waist as he lifted her into the buggy. With a surge of resentment he turned away. Dark thoughts attacked him. Would she give herself to that white man? Would she open her arms to him willingly? Would she joyfully spread her legs and wrap them around him? Had she already done so? Why should he care who she gave herself to? She was not his woman, no matter how many times over the years he had thought about her and wished it.

Her woman’s scent was gone now, leaving only the smell of horse dung and sour milk, and the blue eyes in which he’d felt himself drowning were shining on another man’s face. He felt his temper rise. He was sorry now that he said he would stay. He should get on his pony and leave this place and never come back. Looking down at the half-eaten biscuit still in his hand, he flung it across the barn.

Dec 11

Trusting The Wolfe by Lana Williams

I’m excited to share a new Victorian novella that starts a brand new series for me! The series is set in Victorian London and is called “The Seven Curses of London”. It’s based on a book published in 1869 by James Greenwood which outlined seven of the problems London faced.

This novella (Book .5 in the series) and the next book (Book 1 in the series) focus on chapter one of The Seven Curses, Neglected Children. Zon Image w KW logo

“It is a startling fact that, in England and Wales alone, at the present time, the number of children under the age of sixteen, dependent more or less on the parochial authorities for maintenance, amounts to three hundred and fifty thousand.”

~The Seven Curses of London, I. Neglected Children

By James Greenwood, 1869

Here’s a little more about Trusting the Wolfe:

Stabbed and left for dead in one of London’s most dangerous neighborhoods, Marcus de Wolfe is astounded when a woman resembling the angel from the famous family legend saves him. Once recovered, he shoves aside his angel’s captivating image to focus on his goal of stopping whoever is smuggling cargo on his ships.

Left penniless by her wastrel father, seamstress Tessa Maycroft doesn’t trust men, especially not the handsome earl with the golden eyes she saved. To keep others from facing the fate she barely escaped, she offers seamstress apprenticeships for impoverished girls, giving them a chance for a better life.

But when Marcus appears in her shop and insists there’s a terrible connection between her girls and his ships, she agrees to help him once more. He tempts her to believe there might be more to life than she’s dared to hope.

Marcus soon realizes Tessa is anything but a simple seamstress. His angel shows him he’s not as dead inside as he believed. Can the passion they find in each other’s arms unite these lonely souls or will the plot they uncover threaten not only their new-found love but their lives?

Now available on Amazon

 

The next book in this series, LOVING THE HAWKE, releases January 14 and is available on Preorder now for only $.99.

LanaWilliams_LovingTheHawke_200pxAfter three 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, Viscount Adair, 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?

Preorder on Amazon

I hope you have a chance to read them!

Lana

 

Dec 09

Victorian Christmas Traditions

Did you know that many of the traditions that are associated with Christmas today became popular during the Victorian era?

As an author of Victorian historical romance, I find the history of the period fascinating. Each venture down the rabbit hole of research always seems to turn up interesting tidbits.

Recently, when researching Victorian holiday traditions, I was intrigued to learn just how much of what my own family considered essential to celebrating the season can be traced back to the 19th century.

christmas-past_2092008cChristmas trees, for example, became popular in Victorian England after the Illustrated News and other periodicals detailed the royal family’s celebrations around a decorated pine tree in their residence. Though historians debate which English monarch first started the tradition (some ascribe it to Queen Charlotte, wife of King George III, in 1800), there’s no doubt that Queen Victoria and her husband, Prince Albert, who’d adopted the tradition from his native Germany, made the practice widely popular in the mid-1800s and beyond.

FirstchristmascardDo you love sending and receiving Christmas cards? Aside from baking holiday cookies and buying gifts, it’s one of my favorite items on my holiday To Do list. That tradition can also be traced back to the Victorian era. An enterprising gentleman by the name of Sir Henry Cole had two thousand cards printed in 1843. A few years previously, Cole had worked for the implementation of the Uniform Penny Post, a postal reform that led to the development of the first English postage stamp and the cheap, safe conveyance of mail. Cole’s inexpensive Christmas cards, combined with the new economical postage system, caused the sending of holiday cards to soar in popularity.

c5889539145c4498e52db2d64ea4c4e9Another Victorian innovator, confectioner Tom Smith, developed a ubiquitous aspect of the modern British holiday tradition in 1848—the Christmas cracker. After a trip to Paris where he observed sweets wrapped in twists of paper, Smith came up with the notion of a container that pops when pulled apart and contains a tasty treat inside. Nowadays, most crackers contain small toys and trinkets, but they all started with Smith’s colorful paper twists containing delicious sweet treats.

Though caroling has a long history and tradition, the notion of singing carols at Christmas time became particularly popular during the Victorian era. Some of the same carols sung today were written during the 19th century, including “O Come All Ye Faithful” in 1843, “Little Town of Bethlehem” in 1868, and “Away in a Manger” in 1883.

Do you include any of these Victorian traditions and innovations in your family’s holiday celebrations?

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