Romance Authors Expand Their Story Worlds

Hi readers! It’s been a while since I’ve had a chance to write, lots of great things brewing over here. However, I received two amazing email updates from some of my favorite authors and just had to share!

Lady Bridget's DiaryThe first comes from Maya Rodale, who is launching a new series with the first book, Lady Bridget’s Diary, coming out in February. I can’t wait! I’ve written about how Rodale has incorporated transmedia elements into her writing and previous series and it looks like she’ll continue to do that with this new series. So for those of you who love to live in the world of your favorite characters, you are in for a real treat!

As part of her recent newsletter she shared the latest edition of the London Weekly, her fictional regency newspaper, which includes the juiciest tidbits teasing her new book and series. It’s a fun, quick read that will leave you rubbing your hands together in greedy anticipation of being formally introduced to Lady Bridget early next year. Remember to pre-order from Amazon to get the book delivered immediately on release day!

The Rogue Not TakenAnother author who is coming back to the romance scene with a new series is fan-favorite Sarah MacLean. Her Scandal and Scoundrel series kicks off this December with the first book, A Rogue Not Taken. This road trip romance re-introduces us to two characters who made brief appearances in her Love By The Number Series, Sophie Talbot and Kingscote, “King,” the Marquess of Eversley. If you can’t wait until December for the book release, MacLean is giving her readers a little something to whet their appetites – a romance roadmap illustration, which shows all the major stops along the way for Sophie and King. WARNING: This map does contain what I consider to be some spoilers or plot points, so if you like the surprise of not fully knowing where the characters go and encounter, you may want to wait until after you read the book. I allowed myself to read the first few bullets, but then decided to stop because I love living in-the-moment with MacLean’s characters and plot.

December Releases

Some of my favorite authors are putting out December releases that you may want to pre-order including Stephanie Laurens who is releasing a new historical adventure series with The Lady’s Command. Tessa Dare also has a new novella out, perfect for a Christmas read, Lord Dashwood Missed Out, from her Spindle Cover series.

New Favorites

The Madness of Lord Ian MackenzieEarlier this fall I decided I wanted to go on a Scottish Highlander binge. To be honest, it was inspired by Tessa Dare’s When a Scot Ties the KnotCaptain Logan MacKenzie may be one of my favorite heroes. Ever. So I highly recommend.

Back to my desire for more Highlanders in my life – I ended up doing some researching on Goodreads and rolled the dice on a new author (to me) Jennifer Ashley. She has an eight book series featuring one the most fabulous Scottish families I have ever read about, The Mackenzies. The first book, The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie, first had me a bit nervous if I was going to like the hero. Not because he is unlikeable, but because he is a very different kind of hero. That’s all I will say besides the fact that you WILL fall in love with Ian Mackenzie. The series is still going strong too, so I highly recommend you start reading now!

Happy Reading!

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Fashion Friday: Victorian Carriages

Victorian Carriages

Carriages for the rich and famous. Via Daily Mail

Carriage love scenes are some of the best. Close quarters? Check. Lush fabrics and textiles? Check. Chance of getting caught and forced into matrimony? Double check!

When you think about it, it’s really quite amazing just what physical feats can be accomplished in a carriage. And for those you (who like me) may have trouble visualizing such luxary or simply are curious as to what Victorian Carriages looked like…here you go!

The Daily Mail posted this fabulous article about a Victorian Carriage(s) auction and it includes some gorgeous photography to really paint the picture of traveling in the Victorian and Regency eras.

I don’t know about you, but that purple and fushia woven pattern is to die for. As someone who gravitates towards neutrals and little pops of color, this is a wonderful first hand example of how we’ve embraced color and patterns historically!

Victorian Carriage Interior

Gorgeous interior of a Victorian Carriage up for auction via Daily Mail.

 

 

Review: Wallflowers Series by Maya Rodale

Wallflowers

I just finished reading Maya Rodale’s Wallflowers trilogy – a historical series set (mostly) in 1820s. I love a great historical trilogy and these hit the spot. What’s interesting about this series is there is a contemporary element as Rodale has three modern day novels about the “author” of the historical Wallflowers series. I haven’t read those yet, but the concept is really interesting and also has a touch of transmedia storytelling to it (more on that below). But first, the reviews!

The Wicked Wallflower

The Wicked Wallflower - Maya RodaleThis might have been my favorite book. The series starts out as three friends, Ladies Emma, Olivia, and Prudence despair of being the only three graduates from Lady Penelope’s Finishing School for Young Ladies of Fine Families to not have wed by their fourth season. Adding to their panic is the school’s 100th anniversary ball that is only a few weeks away. Determined to not be the outcasts on their way to securing (the most) unflattering school history record, the girls scheme and plot to land husbands. The problem? They’re known as notorious wallflowers and are labeled as London’s Least Likely.

In this first book, we watch Lady Emma announce her marriage to the Duke of Ashbrooke in the popular The London Weekly newspaper. Of course, this all comes as a surprise to Duke Ashbrooke who has never met Lady Emma nor proposed marriage. Thanks to a bit of too much sherry and her devious friends, Lady Emma faces the decision of utter humiliation when the Duke denies the marriage or of even larger humiliation of attending the school ball husband-less. To Emma’s delight (or maybe horror), the Duke plays along with Emma’s scheme for reasons of his own.

Redeemed rakes are some of my favorite heroes, and this book doesn’t disappoint. Reading Emma and Ashbrooke fall in love (and the hilarious ways they go about it) is pure entertainment and quite a delight. What I really enjoyed about Emma is that despite (or perhaps because of) being a wallflower, not only does she believe in true love, but she also has a strong mind and wit. I enjoyed her kind nature, her spirit, and her unshakeable belief in HEA for her and her friends. Additionally, I love when the hero has a purpose and passion outside of the heroine (multi-dimensional characters for the win!),which Ashbrooke does with an invention that will change the world.

This book puts the series off to a great start and builds a wonderful cast of characters that soon are the stars of their very own love stories.

Wallflower Gone Wild

Wallflower Gone Wild Maya RodaleShortly after Emma’s story wraps with a HEA, we see Olivia have her chance at marital bliss…to Lord Radcliffe, otherwise known as the Mad Baron. Rumors swirl that the Viscount murdered his first wife and has now returned to town to claim a second victim. To put off her would-be-husband, Olivia and her friends scheme once more and come up with deplorable and completely unladylike scenes to assure Lord Radcliffe that Olivia is certainly not the biddable, docile, and perfect English wife he thinks her to be.

The only problem? Lord Radcliffe is not only innocent (sort of) in his first wife’s murder, but he’s put up with far worse than Olivia’s attempts to dissuade him from the match. What we come to realize is that Lord Radcliffe feels an instant spark for Olivia, which soon ignites to full passion which is quickly followed by full-blown love. Despite not getting what he thought he had bargained for, Lord Radcliffe couldn’t imagine a more suitable wife. Which of course completely terrifies Olivia. But as Olivia roams about town wearing too much make-up, drinking too much wine, and causing tongues to wag amongst the ton, she starts to question everything she really knows about the Mad Baron…and if he is truly mad at all.

I really enjoyed Olivia’s antics because as a young lady myself once, who doesn’t want to break the rules and shake things up (even if we don’t really want to break the rules, right?).

What a Wallflower Wants

What a Wallflower Wants Maya RodaleA slightly darker turn than the previous books, as the last wallflower, Prudence gets ready to attend her school’s ball… alone…and as the only unwed lady in the school’s history. We learn quickly that there is a reason behind why Prudence so readily embraces being a wallflower…a secret that no lady should ever have to keep. However, her burden is slowly lifted and trust in men quietly repaired by Lord Castleton, who Prue meets while stranded due to a unflinchingly long storm outside of London. (How did she get there? You’ll have to read to find out!) Slowly, Lord Castleton and Prue develop feelings as he helps reclaim not only her body, but her soul. However, Lord Castleton has a secret of his own (as many of the best heroes do). One that could destroy himself and most definitely bring harm to Lady Prudence…for Lord Castleton is not who he says he is.

I applaud Rodale for taking on such a serious topic that many ladies of the time faced and for having Prue learn to love herself and another despite over coming a terrible thing in her young life. It was delightful to watch Prue grow and conquer her fears because fighting for love is the worthiest fight of them all.

I really enjoyed this entire series and was a little sad to have them end…the good news? Rodale has expanded her story world through the use of transmedia storytelling, which I teased at the beginning of this post. Stay tuned because a full exploration of The Wallflowers as a transmedia experience is coming soon!

I’m Taking a Selfie of Me Judging Your Selfie

I’ve recently made a commitment to get back to writing. I used to be really good at it. I also used to be more modest. 

Here’s the deal…I’m going to attempt to write something every day. It might be interesting or funny, it may be an answer to a question or an observation. It may be completely irrelevant and uninteresting to you. But that’s why it’s my blog, right? So, here we go.

Today I wore dark lipstick.

Well, a lip stain/stick/gloss. I don’t know what it is. But it has the word cashmere in the title. Sounds expensive (it was) and luxurious (not really) and fancy (define fancy…). It’s the kind of product that would be in one of those monthly make-up subscription boxes. I can say and this and judge because I used to subscribe to one. Totally ok.

Anyway, I digress.

I’m wearing a burgundy lip shade, which is something I never do. I like neutrals and light pinks and quite frankly, I think they look better on me. But I was looking something different, something daring, something to help me forget I live in the ‘burbs now and a not a city. Burgundy seems like the shade up for the challenge.

Then it hit me. Outside of a few co-workers and the possibly of me going to get my car inspected at Jiffy Lube on my lunch hour, no one was even going to see it. In fact, no one would probably even notice.

So, I did what any woman would do. I documented via a selfie. 

Selfie: a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.

I am not big on the selfie’s. They come off as self-centered and over indulgent…and tacky. I love hate scrolling through my Instagram feed and just seeing finger swipe after finger swipe of people taking selfies.

“New hair!”
“New shirt!”
“Look I’m at the beach!”
“Look at my boyfriend and me!”
“Look at this strategically planned moment that is suppose to look spontaneous and like this is my everyday life!”

#UhNoThankYou. 

Be here I am, 9am, in my place of work no less, angling my head to look just right and practicing my “shy but sexy” smile (yes it’s a thing, ok) and taking repeated shots of myself. Because I had to. Someone needed to know that I stepped out of my comfort zone this morning and painted my lips a very unnatural shade of red. Someone!

Now, the definition above defines a selfie as a photo that gets uploaded to social media. I couldn’t do it. I logged into my Instagram, I played with multiple filters, I thought about taking a new selfie to make sure I had gotten it right. But I couldn’t hit the post button. 

Why?

Because I am, clearly, the person who judges other people taking and posting selfies. I am one among many that finds the selfie-taking-craze to be ridiculous. At least, publicly. Privately, I snap those damn pictures like it’s nobody’s business. 

I won’t lie and say that posting a selfie doesn’t make me feel vulnerable. What if no one likes it? What if my burgundy lips are not a big deal? What if my face looks stupid? (A byproduct of taking selfies.)

So what did I do? I texted it to my husband. The one person I know will like it, no matter how weird, stupid, or glamorous (remember, it’s name is cashmere) I may look with my painted lips. The one person who will always say I look beautiful and who always likes me to send selfies (yes, I’ve done this more than once. I am a repeat offender and I feel no shame).

Because here’s the truth: When you take a selfie, I’m going to judge you. I’m going to think that you want attention and that you are seeking likes and comments and validation for whatever your motive is. And I’m probably right. But in the back of my head, I’m also going to give you a high-five, because you probably are in the midst of something you’re really excited about and want to share that with the world. Something like a new destination, a fabulous meal, or maybe a brand new lip shade that makes you feel like you’ve shaken things up…even if it’s just a little bit.

So, go forth and angle your head just right, take several pictures, and plan your photo like it’s a Vogue photo shoot – because why the hell not?