Christmas at Castle Keyvnor – Claudia Dain

Christmas at Castle Keyvnor, twelve linked Regency romance novellas

Today my guest is another of the authors participating in the Christmas at Castle Keyvnor anthologies. Please welcome Claudia Dain!

Regency romance author Claudia Dain

There’s something about having a lot of time on your hands, about unending leisure time, that feels . . . wrong. Maybe that’s my middle class values showing, but for this story, I wanted my hero to have A Job. Oh, yes, he’s an aristocrat and he’s not hurting for money (because that’s more fun than being broke) but he does have Goals and Dreams and he is determined to run a profitable business venture in Regency England. He is going to own the best coach/cross-country horse breeding stable and the best hunting dog breeding kennel in England; that is his goal.

In researching horse breeds, I stumbled across the Trakehner. Originally developed to take knights into battle, by the 16th century, this horse had been refined into an elegant coach horse. It had a bold, fearless nature that made it perfect for the cavalry. Did you know any of that? I didn’t. Doesn’t that sound like the perfect horse for an elegant aristocrat in 19th century England to breed? I thought so. Trakehners are known for being highly courageous with an ideal temperament, a horse of great stamina and endurance. Just what we’d all like our heroes to be.

Of course, my hero, Charles Grimstone, Earl of Snowingham, is all of that and more. He is the inheritor of the Grimstone ring. To him, it’s just a family heirloom, with a family myth of Vikings and Valkyries to go with it. He wears the ring at all times, as family legend insists he do, but when the ruby in the ring begins to glow when he enters Castle Keyvynor, and then the power within the ring explodes when Lady Rose Hambly appears, Lord Snow begins to realize that there might be more than myth to the legend, and more fact behind the legend than he’s been willing to admit. Until he meets Lady Rose.

Writing stories with a paranormal element isn’t what I usually do. Castle Keyvnor is the setting for stories with a very definite paranormal slant. The whole place is haunted! I honestly didn’t know if I had the mindset for writing a romance set at Castle Keyvnor, and then I found out that I did. I created two ghosts in my first story (Lady Ghost and Lord Death: A Love Story) and I had a lot of fun having them spar with each other while interfering in the romantic life of the hero and heroine. When it was time to sit down and write Lady Rose and Lord Snow: A Wedding Story, I decided to give my ghostly pair something dangerous to come up against. I created the Grimstone ring and the legend behind it. Lord Snow and his ring can destroy ghosts. This time, if the ghostly pair wanted to interfere in the romance of my hero and heroine, they’d risk destruction.

I wish I could tell you where I came up with the idea for the Grimstone ring. As a writer, I normally don’t know where my ideas come from. A good idea just sort of beckons, leading me down a path that looks exciting, and I follow it. The Grimstone ring was a wonderful path into the story of Rose and Snow, and it ultimately plays a significant role in their love story. Do any ghosts pay the ultimate price of the Grimstone ring? I’m not going to ruin my story, or anyone else’s. You’ll just have to read them all to find out.

Have you ever looked at a piece of jewelry and had the feeling it had a story to tell, a past you wished you knew?

Claudia Welch/Claudia Dain graduated from the University of Southern California with a BA in English. While there she became a member of Alpha Phi, one of the oldest sororities in America. A two- time Rita finalist, she has won numerous writing awards and honors since her first novel was published in 2000. She has lived for most of her life in Los Angeles, called Connecticut home for a decade, and currently lives in North Carolina with her husband.

Visit Claudia’s website, like her Facebook page, and follow her on Twitter.

Enchanted at Christmas, a Regency romance anthology and part of the Christmas at Castle Keynor seriesEnchanted at Christmas
includes Claudia Dain’s Lady Rose & Lord Snow
The Grimstone has come to Castle Keyvnor. His name is Charles Snowingham and he is the Earl of Grimstone. Upon his right hand he wears the Grimstone ring, an ancient ring imbued with, it is said, ancient power to destroy ghosts and ghouls and otherworldly things. Snow is not the sort of man to believe in fairy tales, until he arrives in Castle Keyvnor, that is, and he meets Lady Rose Hambly. * Lady Rose is determined to escape her ancestral home, Castle Keyvor. She’s not about to admit it publicly, but there is a certain ghost at the castle who is haunting her. Since her sisters Morgan and Tamsyn are being wed on Christmas, and since the castle will be awash with eligible men, she is determined to find a husband as quickly as possible, if only to get away from Castle Keyvnor and her impossible ghost. * What Lady Rose and Lord Snow do not realize is that the ghosts of Keyvnor want them away from the castle immediately, if not sooner. The Grimstone ring spells their doom, and Rose’s ghost doesn’t want to haunt her just as fervently as she wishes not to be haunted. Will Rose take romantic advice from a ghost who does nothing but insult her? Not willingly.

Available September 26, 2017

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Christmas at Castle Keyvnor – Erica Monroe

Christmas at Castle Keyvnor, twelve linked Regency romance novellas

Today, my guest author is Erica Monroe, who has a Regency romance novella in Charmed at Christmas, one of the Christmas at Castle Keyvnor anthologies. Please welcome Erica!

Author Erica MonroeMy heroine Felicity Fields of THE DETERMINED DUCHESS (available in Charmed at Christmas) practices alchemy, a chemical and speculative philosophy that aimed at transmuting metals into their base elements. Much of alchemy focuses on transforming common substances into substances that have great value, like gold, as discussed below. While much of modern science can trace its roots back to alchemy, chemistry is probably the most notable, and in fact until the 1830’s scientists were oft called “chemists” or “natural philosophers,” regardless of what they studied. In fact, Isaac Newton’s alchemical papers have now been found and portions can be viewed online, as well as in museums.

Though alchemy has an ancient history that spans across several continents and centuries, by the Regency alchemy had fallen out of favor and was no longer viewed as a “real” science. Instead, scientific research moved more toward chemistry, galvanization, and astronomy. Alchemy began to be viewed as a form of witchcraft, and many scientists were in a hurry to distance themselves from being seen as pseudoscientists.

I had a lot of fun depicting the Regency disdain for alchemy. Felicity faces scorn on two fronts because not only is she a woman dabbing in subjects many thought were better left to men, but she is actively pursuing alchemical experiments that have now become taboo. Christy Carlyle and I got the idea that we’d both write scientists, but we’d have them at odds with each other. Septimus Locke, the hero of A LOVE FOR LADY WINTER, is pursuing galvanization, and he views Felicity’s attempts to recreate the Philosopher’s Stone as absurd and pointless. (You can read Christy’s excellent novella in Enchanted at Christmas.)

The Philosopher's Stone as pictured in Atalanta Fugiens Emblem 21The Philosopher’s Stone is perhaps the most famous and intriguing of alchemical works, and so when I wrote THE DETERMINED DUCHESS, I had to include it. To fans of Harry Potter, the Philosopher’s Stone probably sounds familiar. In J.K. Rowling’s HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE, she reinvents the work of famous alchemist Nicholas Flamel. (The British title of this book is indeed HARRY POTTER AND THE PHILOSOPHER’S STONE, off of Flamel’s work). For many alchemists, the Philosopher’s Stone represented the ultimate triumph – not only on a scientific level, but also on a spiritual level. It was thought that if one was able to take the stone through the three stages of transmutation – Black Phase, White Phase, Red Phase—you’d be able to unlock the mysteries of the universe.

The alchemical symbol for the Philosopher's Stone, 17th centuryFelicity doesn’t care about using the stone to transform simple materials into gold. She’s after the Elixir of Life that one can supposedly make from the stone. The Elixir of Life has many interpretations throughout both Eastern and Western philosophy, but I chose to focus mostly on the work done by alchemists in Europe, as that is what Felicity would have had access to. The Elixir of Life is said to have granted Flamel and his wife eternal life, and it contained healing properties as well.

Because of the Elixir of Life’s special properties, Felicity hopes to use the stone to bring back her beloved guardian from the dead. (THE DETERMINED DUCHESS is my take on Mary Shelley’s FRANKENSTEIN, make of that what you will). It was a challenge to balance Felicity’s alchemical experiments with her very real grief over her guardian’s death—science has always been her touchstone, so she sees it as a way to make sure that she is never abandoned again, and she thinks she owes her guardian a second chance at life.

Will she succeed? You’ll have to read CHARMED AT CHRISTMAS to find out. 😉

For more information on alchemy, you can check out my story board on Pinterest.

Erica Monroe is a USA Today Bestselling Author of dark, suspenseful historical romance. She was a finalist in the published historical category for the prestigious Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Romantic Suspense, and her books have been recommended reads at Fresh Fiction, Smexy Books, SBTB, and All About Romance. When not writing, she is a chronic TV watcher, sci-fi junkie, and comic book fanatic. She lives in the suburbs of North Carolina with her husband, two dogs, and a cat. Visit Erica online at ericamonroe.com and sign up for her new release newsletter at: bit.ly/mlem4.

Charmed at Christmas, one of the Christmas at Castle Keyvnor anthologies of Regency romances, including one by Claire DelacroixCharmed at Christmas
includes Erica Monroe’s The Determined Duchess
After the death of her beloved guardian, Miss Felicity Fields is left alone with an uncertain future. But this blunt bluestocking has a secret: she’s determined to resurrect her guardian through the ancient art of alchemy. The last thing she needs is the return of Nicholas Harding, the Duke of Wycliffe and rightful owner of her home on the wild coast of Cornwall. He stirs an unexpected passion within her, and Felicity has had enough change in her life.
When they were children, Nicholas never understood his aunt’s brilliant but unemotional ward, or her many scientific studies. Now, he’s determined to bring Felicity to London so that she may make a match within society–except he can’t stop thinking about her. But with the line between life and death blurred by Felicity’s experiments, can he convince her that she’s no longer alone, and her proper place is by his side?

Available September 26, 2017

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Christmas at Castle Keyvnor – Claire Delacroix

Christmas at Castle Keyvnor, twelve linked Regency romance novellas

I’m starting off a series of posts from the authors of the Regency romance novellas in the Christmas at Castle Keyvnor collection. We’ll each talk a little bit about our research and our story.

As most of you know, I don’t usually write stories set in the Regency period, although it is an era that fascinates me. I read a lot of Regency romance written by contemporary authors, but what is particularly fun about the Regency era is how much fiction was published within that period. Reading the same stories that my characters might have read is consistently a favorite research avenue of mine. Technically, the Regency era is from 1811 to 1820, but Wiki notes that the period is often entended to 1795 to 1837. I like the broader parameter for finding books.

Let’s look today at a few authors and books from that period.

Jane Austen by Cassandra AustenThe most obvious author to read, of course, is Jane Austen, particularly if you’re interested in social conventions and romance. Her books – Sense and Sensibility (1811), Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814), Emma (1815), Northanger Abbey (1818) and Persuasion (1818) – are must-reads for all Regency romance fans. I really enjoy her wit and it’s hard to pick a favorite. If pressed, I have to say P&P, because I like how Elizabeth challenges Mr. Darcy’s expectations, prompting him to take a second look. On the other side of the coin, his criticism provokes Elizabeth to reconsider her own actions. They change each other, and I like that.

Within Austen’s books, however, there are references to other authors who were her contemporaries (or close to it) whose works were popular with young women. In Emma, Harriet Smith is disappointed that her beau, Mr. Martin, forgets to read the book she has recommended to him – The Romance of the Forest, which is by Ann Radcliffe. In Northanger Abbey, the protagonist Catherine Morland loves Gothic novels, particularly Mysteries of Udolpho, also by Ann Radcliffe.

According to Wiki, Ann Radcliffe was a “pioneer of the Gothic novel”. Her works certainly were popular in her time and she was comparatively well paid for her work. The Romance of the Forest (1791), The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794), The Italian (1797) are several of her books that I’ve read. They have a lot of description of the landscape and the pacing is slow. They are long books and the heroines weep a lot. (They are not very active protagonists.) It’s easy to see how people found Radcliffe’s depiction of supernatural elements to be compelling (although I am skeptical that Mr. Martin read Forest so very quickly once he did get a copy!)

I haven’t read Catherine Cuthbertson, although she is said to be an author who was influenced by Radcliffe. Her works include Romance of the Pyrenees (1803), Forest of Montalbano (1810), and The Hut and the Castle: a Romance (1823).

Sir Walter Scott’s fiction is also considered to be Regency era literature and much of it is romantic in tone. The Lady of the Lake (1810), The Bride of Lammermoor (1819) and Ivanhoe (1820) would be good choices for their glimpse of Regency-era romance. I also use Scott’s Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border (1802-3), in which he recorded oral stories of Scotland, as a reference when I write Scottish romances.

Lord Byron was a romantic poet, but also an influence over romantic fiction both during his life and after his death. His excesses, moodiness, periodic charm, good looks and tragic ending have been captivating to many – even now, we talk of Byronic heroes – and that his only daughter, Ada, was so clever has inspired many a ‘bluestocking’ Regency heroine. Of his own work, the narrative poem Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage (1812-1818) is probably the best known.

Mary Shelly by Richard RothwellOne Regency-era author often forgotten or overlooked is Mary Shelley, whose work Frankenstein (1818) was published in the period. Her husband Percy Boyd Shelley was one of the romantic poets as well as a friend of Byron’s. I love that this story resulted from a challenge between writers: Mary, her future husband Percy, Lord Byron and John Polidori competed to discover who among them could write the best horror story. Mary’s idea of a doctor creating a living creature then being horrified by the result has become a cornerstone of the horror genre. It remains a great read and a classic book. Polidori’s story, btw, was The Vampyre (1819). I still need to read that one.

There are also stories written after the Regency which portray the era. One of the things I always notice about Regency characters is their obsession with appearances and their frank discussions about money. Mr. Darcy is  interesting at dances and social events because of his annual income, which the various ambitious mamas seem to know down to the shilling. As a result, I’ve always enjoyed William Thackeray’s Vanity Fair, which takes a dim view of this obsession with the physical realm, and his cunning heroine Becky Sharp. It was published in 1848 and is often considered the first Victorian novel, partly because Becky isn’t very sympathetic, partly because of its social criticism. It gives good insight into what people were prepared to do to maintain those appearances, though.

The Brontë sisters were published later than the Regency era, although their work is romantic and I think it contributed a great deal to the romance genre and reader expectations. Jane Eyre (1847) by Charlotte Brontë has definite commonalities with Ann Radcliffe’s work, given that the heroine is left with nothing and needs to conquer obstacles to win love and her happy ending. Wuthering Heights (1847) by Emily Brontë is another Gothic classic, albeit with a more tragic twist, while Anne Brontë’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1848) has been called the first feminist novel.

Oscar Wilde’s work was published well after the Regency, but I love his wit. His dialogue is just wonderful and his social commentary is cutting. Lady Windemere’s Fan (1892), An Ideal Husband (1895) and, of course, The Importance of Being Earnest (1895) are wonderful and inspiring reads for all writers.

Another great favourite of mine when it comes to Regency romance is Georgette Heyer. Her sparkling dialogue, wit and sense of humor are unrivalled in the genre. One of her books that I revisit over and over again is The Grand Sophy (1950) with its practical, problem-solving heroine, squaring off with a hero who has learned to worry only about himself.

A Duke by Any Other Name, book #2 of the Brides of North Barrows series of Regency romances by Claire DelacroixI found my inspiration for A Duke by Any Other Name in a work of fiction that depicts an era a little earlier than the Regency—I love Baroness Orczy’s Scarlet Pimpernel (1903). I love a hero in disguise, and particularly enjoy that this Sir Percy is consistently dismissed as a fop and a fool, even as he is orchestrating the escape of aristrocrats from Paris and cheating Lady Guillotine. In my story, Alexander, Duke of Inverfyre, is hunting a jewel thief, one who has ruined his sister’s reputation. He does so in disguise, but Daphne isn’t fooled—and Alexander is tempted. Will Daphne’s curiosity win the duke? Or will she jeopardize his quest, right before it is fulfilled? I had a lot of fun with this story and hope you enjoy it, too.

A Duke by Any Other Name is included in the anthology Charmed at Christmas and will be available in a solo digital edition (with the cover at left) in March 2018.

Charmed at Christmas, one of the Christmas at Castle Keyvnor anthologies of Regency romances, including one by Claire DelacroixCharmed at Christmas includes

Claire Delacroix’s A Duke by Any Other Name
Daphne Goodenham has always been determined to wed a duke—not just because she loves fine dresses and parties, but because she wants to guarantee that she and her sister are never destitute again. When she meets the Duke of Inverfyre, a notorious fop, she immediately notices intriguing inconsistencies. Is there more to the duke than meets the eye? Why would he hide the truth if he were handsome, young, rich and a duke? Alexander, the Duke of Inverfyre, is bent on catching a notorious thief who injured his sister, no matter what the cost. But when the lovely Miss Goodenham is bent on charming him, Alexander’s disguise proves to be no defense against her curiosity—and he has no resistance to her kiss. Will Daphne inadvertently foil Alexander’s plan? Will he have to sacrifice her interest to avenge his sister? Or can Daphne ensure Alexander’s triumph and make her own Christmas wish come true?

Available September 26, 2017

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The Brides of North Barrows

I reorganized one corner of the website this week, bringing this series out onto the main menu for my historicals. This means that if you had the page for the Brides of North Barrows bookmarked before (or if you had the page for Something Wicked This Way Comes bookmarked before) the link might not work any more.

Of course, I did this because we have a series going on. 🙂 When the series is complete, there will be a digital and print bundle of the entire series.

Something Wicked This Way Comes, a Regency romance novella by Claire Delacroix and #1 of the Brides of North BarrowsSomething Wicked This Way Comes is Sophie and Lucien’s story. When Octavia and her grand-daughters Daphne and Eurydice travel to Castle Keyvnor for the reading of a will, the girls’ governess encounters her lost beloved, who has made a wicked bargain to defend her.  A demon is due to collect Lucien’s soul on Samhain, but Sophie can’t stand by to watch the man she loves be lost forever.

This Regency romance novella is available on its own in a digital edition, and also in Spellbound, one of the Haunting of Castle Keyvnor anthologies.

A Duke by Any Other Name, book #2 of the Brides of North Barrows series of Regency romances by Claire DelacroixA Duke By Any Other Name is Daphne’s story. When the family return to Castle Keyvnor at for a Christmas wedding, they meet Alexander, Duke of Inverfyre, en route. Alexander isn’t particularly looking for a wife—in fact, he’s in disguise as part of a trap to foil a jewel thief and means to see that quest completed and his sister avenged first. But Daphne is both tempting and perceptive—when she’s targeted by the villain, will she inadvertently foil his plan? Or will Alexander see another beauty’s reputation ruined by this same thief?

This Regency romance novella is included in Charmed at Christmas, one of the Christmas at Castle Keyvnor anthologies which go on sale September 19. It will be available in its own digital edition in March 2018.

A Baron for All Seasons, book #3 of the Brides of North Barrows series of Regency romances by Claire DelacroixA Baron for All Seasons is book #3 and will be the story of Alexander’s sister, Anthea and Alexander’s friend, Rupert. I’m hoping to publish this story in the spring of 2o18.

Book #4 will be Eurydice’s story but it doesn’t have a title or a cover yet.

 

Quiet at the Château

When I was a kid, moms everywhere interpreted silence as a sign that trouble was brewing. As much as I’d like to be making trouble, silence here on the blog usually means that I’m working. A lot. There are a lot of things in progress behind the scenes, so I thought today I’d give you a peek.

Charmed at Christmas, one of the Christmas at Castle Keyvnor anthologies of Regency romances, including one by Claire DelacroixFirst up, I’m finishing my novella for Charmed at Christmas. Right now, my Regency romance novella is called A Duke by Any Other Name, but that might change. It features Lady Daphne Goodenham, who we met in Something Wicked This Way Comes—she’s headed to Castle Keyvnor for a double wedding at Christmas. Daphne, as you might recall, is determined to marry a duke. Her sister thinks that’s because she’s frivolous and superficial, but Daphne has a better reason than that. (And I think it’s sweet.) On the way south, they meet a duke, also en route to Cornwall. He’s eligible, at least on paper, according to Lady Octavia, the girls’ grandmother. The thing is though that Alexander, Duke of Inverfyre, is a fop. Lady Octavia is certain he’s not the kind of man to make Daphne happy, even if he is a duke. But is Alexander truly what he seems to be? From their first meeting, Daphne notices details that don’t add up and is the only one to look closer…a tendency that the duke finds very beguiling.

Daphne’s story is book #2 in the Brides of North Barrows series. It will be available exclusively in Charmed at Christmas until next March, then it will be available in its own edition.

You might have noticed that Alexander is the Duke of Inverfyre. This is the first of my stories to bring my various fictional worlds together. (See my blog post When Worlds Collide.) Inverfyre is, of course, a holding in the Scottish highlands featured in my Rogues of Ravensmuir, Jewels of Kinfairlie, True Love Brides and upcoming Brides of Inverfyre series. These are all medieval series, but Alexander and Daphne’s story is set in the Regency. In five or six hundred years, a lot can happen!

Just to entwine things a little more, Alexander’s castle is Airdfinnan, the legacy of Alasdair in The Beauty. Alexander’s sister gives him the seed of a vine that grows on Airdfinnan’s walls which is said to be linked to the laird of the estate finding his true love—you can read about that vine’s first appearance at Airdfinnan in  The Temptress. How did Airdfinnan become part of the estate of Inverfyre? That detail is yet to be revealed.

Charmed at Christmas is available for pre-order now at all portals and goes on sale September 26, along with all of the Christmas at Castle Keyvnor anthologies.

Pre-order Charmed at Christmas here:

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Christmas at Castle Keyvnor, twelve linked Regency romance novellas

Christmas at Castle Keyvnor Anthologies

In September 2017, we return to Castle Keyvnor for a wedding! There are twelve never-before-published Regency romance novellas from your favorite authors included in this collection of anthologies.

The Earl and Countess of Banfield cordially request your attendance at the wedding for their daughters:
Lady Tamsyn Hambly
to Mr. Gryffyn Cardew,
&
Lady Morgan Hambly
to Harold Mort, Viscount Blackwater,
on the 24th day of December, 1811, at Castle Keyvnor, Bocka Morrow, Cornwall.

Tempted at Christmas, one of the Christmas at Castle Keyvnor anthologies of Regency romances
Tempted at Christmas

Including Regency romance novellas by Kate Pearce, Jane Charles and Elizabeth Essex.

Available September 26, 2017

Pre-order now at:

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Kissed at Christmas, a Regency romance anthology and part of the Christmas at Castle Keynor series

Kissed at Christmas

Including Regency romance novellas by Christina McKnight, Ava Stone and Michelle Willingham.

Available September 26, 2017

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Enchanted at Christmas, a Regency romance anthology and part of the Christmas at Castle Keynor seriesEnchanted at Christmas

Including Regency romance novellas by Christy Carlyle, Jerrica Knight-Catania and Claudia Dain.

Available September 26, 2017

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Charmed at Christmas, one of the Christmas at Castle Keyvnor anthologies of Regency romances, including one by Claire Delacroix

Charmed at Christmas

Including Regency romance novellas by Claire Delacroix, Deb Marlowe and Erica Monroe.

Available September 26, 2017

Pre-order now at:

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