Christmas at Castle Keyvnor – Deb Marlowe

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 Deb Marlowe!

romance author Deb MarloweI was so excited when many of the authors of the Haunting of Castle Keyvnor decided to go Back to the Castle for Christmas! We had a lot of fun intertwining our haunted stories and I loved exploring Cornwall as a setting. I’m a big lover of Regency Christmas stories and Christmas traditions, too, so combining them all sounded just up my alley!

One of the first things I did was to explore Christmas traditions in Cornwall—and boy, did I hit the mother lode! Christmas traditions have always been strongly held to in Cornwall, even when political considerations had much of England avoiding them. Nadelik, as it is known, has its own special Cornish flavor.

Lady Gwyn Hambly heroine of Deb Marlowe's Regency romance novella in Charmed at ChristmasChristmas carols are a favorite and in fact, many of today’s favorites originated in Cornwall. Christmas plays are a staple, as are the decoration of churches and villages.

In my Christmas story, Lord Locryn and the Pixie’s Kiss, I explored several updated customs that date back to the pagan ceremonies related to winter solstice.

I found them so interesting and discovered that they went well with the idea of the nature based Pixies that I developed for my first story in the Haunting anthologies-Lady Tamsyn and the Pixie’s Curse.

Steady readers of Regency themed Christmas stories have probably come across the custom of a kissing bough. A Cornish Christmas Bunch is a similar creation. They were made with two circles of withy, one inserted through the center of the other to create a three dimensional circle. They were decorated with holly, ivy, apples, candles—and mistletoe. Originally hung on December 20th and meant to welcome the Lord of Light, they were associated with mistletoe kisses, dancing and romping.

Lord Locryn Pendarvis, hero of Deb Marlowe's Regency romance novella in Charmed at ChristmasReaders might also be aware of the English Yule Log tradition. In Cornwall, a large log of ash is brought in and named the ‘mock.’ Only in Cornwall do they ‘Chalk the Mock.’ Someone was chosen to draw a figure on the log in chalk. He was said to represent the death of the old year and the birth of the new, or sometimes meant as a representation of Father Time. Adults toasted the mock, stories were told and the Yule log was burnt, with some of the embers saved to be used in the next year’s mock.

Another custom I incorporated was Guise Dancing. In this tradition, people dress in costumes and elaborate masks. The costumes might be tattered remnants of formal clothes or suits with long ribbons or tatters attached. The masks are beautiful and often shaped like animals or faces are blackened, painted and worn with crowns of flowers and vines. The disguised roam the villages and towns, performing traditional music, plays and dances.

I had a lot of fun working with the wealth of rich, Cornish festivities. As Lady Gwyn tells Lord Locryn—it’s the differences that make life interesting. I hope you will all enjoy the results!

USA Today Bestselling Author Deb Marlowe loves History, England and Men in Boots.  Clearly, she was meant to write Regency Historical Romance! Deb grew up in Pennsylvania with her nose in a book. Luckily, she’d read enough romances to recognize the true modern hero she met at a college Halloween party—even though he wore a tuxedo t-shirt instead of breeches and tall boots. They married, settled in North Carolina and produced two handsome, intelligent and genuinely amusing boys. Though she spends much of her time with her nose in her laptop, for the sake of her family she does occasionally abandon her inner world for the domestic adventure of laundry, dinner, and carpool. Despite her sacrifice, not one of the men in her family is yet willing to don breeches or tall boots. She’s working on it. 

Visit Deb’s website.

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

Deb Marlowe’s Lord Locryn and the Pixie’s Kiss
When is a kiss actually a curse? When an irate Pixie forbids you to kiss the wrong girl—ever. Unfortunately, Lord Locryn Pendarvis has no idea why girls are falling all over themselves not to kiss him. He only knows that after a certain point, the risk of humiliation outweighs desire. Until he meets Lady Gwyn Hambly again. She’s witty, charming and beautiful—and just as interested in him as he is in her. They’ll do anything to ensure their future together—even fight the supernatural forces aligned against them.

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Christmas at Castle Keyvnor – Ava Stone

Christmas at Castle Keyvnor, twelve linked Regency romance novellas

Today, our blog feature for the Christmas at Castle Keyvnor anthologies continues with a guest post by Ava Stone.

Ava Stone, bestselling Regency romance authorAll that Glitters was…Copper?

By 1811, England had been at war with Napoleonic France for almost a decade. Heroes we still know today were born in those battles on land and at sea in both Arthur Wellseley (then Viscount Wellington) and Admiral Lord Nelson, respectively. Finding new ways to fight and hopefully defeat the French enemy were necessary for not only England’s survival, but in the returning of as many of her soldiers and seaman as possible back to her shores.

Parys Mountain Copper MineMining in Wales was hardly a new endeavor at the time. A number of Welsh gold, lead and copper mines had been in operation as far back as the Iron Age, and on an even grander scale during the Roman occupation of the British Isles. Parys Mountain, right outside of Amlwch, is one of the oldest mines in Britain and was one of the world’s largest producers of copper, earning Amlwch the moniker “Copper Capital” and making it one of the wealthiest and most important ports during the Napoleonic Wars.

The Admiralty began sheathing Britain’s wooden naval ships with copper, which gave the Royal Navy an advantage over their adversaries. After all, ships sheathed in copper were more protected from seaweed, barnacles and shipworms. A copper coating also helped increase a ship’s speed and maneuverability, which is said to have aided Nelson in his victory during the Battle of Trafalgar. These sheathed warships were able to remain at sea for much longer periods of time as their need to return to port for regular maintenance was quite reduced over that of their wood only counterparts.

Lord Michael Beck, the hero of Ava Stone's Regency romance novella, Once Upon a Midnight Clear.It is the Admiralty’s need for copper in 1811 that is the focus of my novella Once Upon a Midnight Clear and my hero, Lord Michael Beck’s, foray into trade. If a gentleman had the disadvantage of being a second, third or fourth born son of a nobleman, his prospects were generally limited to the military, the church or scholarly pursuits. Going into trade was frowned upon and could be quite ruinous to one’s reputation and that of one’s family. Work, after all, was a four-letter word and considered quite beneath the nobility. It would be better to be hungry and penniless than to work for a living.

However, Lord Michael, third son to the Marquess of Halesworth, has no desire to join the military. His rakish tendencies do not lend themselves to him taking a position in the church. And he much prefers his pursuits be more risky in nature than scholarly. Knowing he will never inherit his father’s title or lands, but having a desire to continue living the life to which he is accustomed, Michael decides his best option is to purchase an operational copper mine in Amlwhch and make his own fortune despite what such a scandalous decision will do to his reputation…

…and despite how such a decision might cost him the girl of his dreams – Lady Ivy Dallimore.

Lady Ivy Dallimore, the heroine of Ava Stone's Regency romance novella, Once Upon a Midnight Clear.Lady Ivy is the slightly spoiled youngest sister of the Duke of Westbury. After watching her two older sisters marry for love but still end up unhappily married, she wholeheartedly believes that love is fleeting, but a title lasts forever. If a girl doesn’t look out for her own best interests while she can, she has no one else to blame except herself. Ivy is not the sort to listen to her heart over her head, and she’s not the sort who would ever consider a tradesman.

Is there anything Lord Michael can do to convince her to take a leap of faith with him? Or will he have to make due with only his copper mines to keep him warm at night?

USA Today Bestselling Author Ava Stone first fell in love with Mr. Darcy, Jane Austen, and Regency England at the age of twelve. And in the years since, that love has never diminished. If she isn’t writing Regency Era romance, she can be found reading it.

Her bestselling Scandalous Series is filled with witty humor and centers around the friends and family of the Machiavellian-like Lady Staveley, exploring deep themes but with a light touch. A single mother, Ava lives outside Raleigh NC, but she travels extensively, always looking for inspiration for new stories and characters in the various locales she visits.

Ava can be found regularly at Red Door Reads, on Facebook, Twitter and at Lady Jane’s Salon Raleigh-Durham, where she is one of the salon’s directors. Visit her website at http://www.AvaStoneAuthor.com

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

Kissed at Christmas includes

Ava Stone’s Once Upon a Midnight Clear
Only a duke will do for Lady Ivy Dallimore. If her unhappily married sisters have taught her anything, it’s that love is fleeting but a title lasts forever, which is all well and good in theory until she finds herself falling for the scandalous third son of a marquess who is bound and determined to make his fortune in trade! Lord Michael Beck courts scandal, living life to the fullest and dabbling in games of chance. Unfortunately, he’s neither heir nor spare to his father’s title, and the time has come to enter a profession. Michael is no soldier, and he certainly isn’t cut out for the cloth, so he embarks on the most scandalous and risky venture of his life. He will need capital, however, and collecting a number of outstanding gambling debts at a Christmas Eve wedding at Castle Keyvnor seems like the perfect place to start, at least until he stumbles across the lady of his dreams. But what are the odds the practiced gambler can win the girl without losing everything he’s worked for?

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Christmas at Castle Keyvnor – Elizabeth Essex

Christmas at Castle Keyvnor, twelve linked Regency romance novellas

Today, my guest is another author participating in the Christmas at Castle Keyvnor collection – please welcome Elizabeth Essex!

Regency romance author Elizabeth EssexI have a confession to make: I LOVE research. In fact, one of the primary reasons I write Historical Romance instead of any other genre is the absolute delight I take in the hours and hours I get to spend doing historical sleuthing.

My affinity for research is of long standing—long before I ever thought of putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) to write romance novels, I was a Nautical Archaeologist, specializing in the underwater excavation and research of shipwrecks. For a few months every summer, I would don my diving gear and head under the waves to investigate likely wreck sites. And every fall, winter and spring, I would spend the rest of my time researching and drafting and writing about what the previous summer’s excavation had taught me.

Elizabeth Essex at workBut the whole time I was excavation and writing, I was also daydreaming, wondering what it might have been like…

As a result, nothing delights my sea-faring heart more than ripping good tale of adventure and romance on the high seas, which is where a good deal of my novella, “A Merry Devil”, in TEMPTED AT CHRISTMAS, is set. While the action begins and ends in our fictional Cornish town of Bocka Morrow, our heroine and hero take to the seas to find true love.

Elizabeth Essex at workOur heroine is Tressa Teague, youngest daughter of the vicar of Bocka Morrow, (sister of Nessa Teague of last fall’s “Between the Devil & the Deep Blue Sea”) and the secret mastermind behind the village’s smuggling operation. Our hero—and Tressa’s nemesis—is Captain Matthew Kent, sent to Bocka Morrow by the Admiralty to find a traitor hidden amongst the smugglers. In my mind, their test of wills and match of wits could only play out on the deck of a sailing ship!

Cornish luggerThe vessel I chose for our Tressa and Matthew is a traditional Cornish lugger—a small sailing vessel with lug sails—that was used both for fishing in the pilchard-rich waters off the Cornwall coast, and for smuggling brandy, gin, lace and silk past the Revenue officers and into England. One of the more fascinating bits of research I found was that the sails of the luggers were often a dark red, which would not have shown in the moonlight as they were ghosting along the coast! But my, even in the daylight, don’t they look yar?

To me, there is nothing more heroic than a man who can sail a ship! Nor anyone more fit to tame him than a wily smuggling woman!

I hope you enjoy A MERRY DEVIL as much as I have. Cheers & Happy Reading!

Elizabeth Essex is the award-winning author of critically acclaimed historical romance. Her three Brides Series (Dartmouth Brides, Reckless Brides and her new Highland Brides) have been nominated for numerous awards, including the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award and Seal of Excellence Award, and RWA’s prestigious RITA Award. The Reckless Brides Series has also made Top-Ten lists from Romantic Times, The Romance Reviews and Affaire de Coeur Magazine, and Desert Isle Keeper status at All About Romance. Her fifth book, A BREATH OF SCANDAL, was awarded Best Historical in the Reader’s Crown 2013.

When not rereading Jane Austen, mucking about in her garden, or simply messing about with boats, Elizabeth can be always be found with her laptop, making up stories about heroes and heroines who live far more exciting lives than she.  It wasn’t always so.  Long before she ever set pen to paper, Elizabeth graduated from Hollins College with a BA in Classics and Art History, and then earned her MA in Nautical Archaeology from Texas A&M University.  While she loved the life of an underwater archaeologist, she has found her true calling writing lush, lyrical historical romance full of passion, daring and adventure.

Elizabeth lives in Texas with her husband, the Indispensable Mr. Essex, and her active and exuberant family in an old house filled to the brim with books.

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Tempted at Christmas, one of the Christmas at Castle Keyvnor anthologies of Regency romancesTempted at Christmas includes

Elizabeth Essex’s A Merry Devil
Captain Matthew Kent has always been bound by his service to the Royal Navy. But when the Admiralty rewards him handsomely for cleaning out a nest of Cornwall smugglers, he is tempted to throw it all away for a second chance with Tressa Teague, the very woman he should not admire—a smuggler. Tressa is the daughter of the vicar, expected to be everything sweetness and light. But instead she has the heart of a pirate. She thought she’d seen the last of the dangerous sea captain who left her heartbroken before. But when he returns to the rugged coast of Cornwall to offer her the chance of a lifetime, will she lose her freedom, or only her heart?

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Christmas at Castle Keyvnor – Christy Carlyle

Christmas at Castle Keyvnor, twelve linked Regency romance novellas

Today, my guest is another author participating in the Christmas at Castle Keyvnor anthologies. Please welcome Christy Carlyle!

Frog Legs, Frankenstein, and Galvanism by Christy Carlyle

author Christy CarlyleAs an author, I usually set my stories in the Victorian era, and I’ve spent quite a bit of time researching the ways electricity was used during Queen Victoria’s reign. For A Love for Lady Winter, my novella in the upcoming Enchanted at Christmas multi-story set, I went back a bit further. Specifically, I drew inspiration from one of my favorite novels published during the Regency period, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

I should probably say at the outset that my novella is more of a ghost story than a monster tale. My heroine, Lady Winifred Gissing, sees apparitions, and my hero, Septimus, Earl of Carwarren, is a strictly rational gentleman who believes in nothing he cannot prove through scientific experimentation. But Septimus is every bit as fascinated with galvanism as Mary Shelley’s protagonist, Victor Frankenstein. Septimus might actually put readers in mind of Benjamin Franklin. He’s interested in studying and harnessing the power of electricity produced by lightning strikes.

In preparing to write my novella, I wanted to know what ladies and gentlemen of the Regency era know about electricity. And why was Victor Frankenstein so interested in galvanism? I studied two 18th century physicists to learn more and discovered that electricity was as fascinating to people in the early 19th century as it would be by the end of Victoria’s reign, when it was beginning to power lights in homes and on city streets.

Believe it or not, Frankenstein might never have been written—or at least not in the way it was—if not for a battle of ideas between two Italian scientists of the 18th century.

Luigi Galvani graduated from the University of Bologna in 1759 with degrees in medicine and philosophy. He eventually served as an anatomist at the university and later became intrigued with studying “medical electricity.” In other words, the effects of electricity on the human body. While preparing to conduct a static electricity experiment, his assistant touched the exposed nerve of a dead frog, causing the creature’s leg to jump as if it had been reanimated. Galvani came to believe that the impetus behind muscle movement was an electrical charge carried by a fluid inside the body.

A contemporary of Galvani’s, Alessandro Volta, served as a professor of physics at the Royal School in Como, Italy beginning in 1774. He was aware of Galvani’s findings, but he disagreed. Volta believed that the frog’s leg had simply served as a conductor of electricity, rather than being its source. He sought to prove his theory and ended up creating an early form of electric battery. His “voltaic pile” consisted of stacked metal disks of copper and zinc interspersed with brine-soaked cloth or cardboard. The combination produced a steady electric current. No frog legs needed.

Mrs. Hurst DancingDuring my research, I also discovered that beyond Italian scientists debating the sources of electricity, British ladies and gents thought getting a shock of static electricity was an enjoyable parlor game. A young Regency era woman named Diana Sperling produced a series of delightful watercolors from her family’s life, and they’ve been collected into a book called Mrs. Hurst Dancing & Other Scenes from Regency Life 1812-1823. One of the book’s most intriguing watercolors depicts Diana and others receiving electric shocks from her cousin Henry’s hand-cranked static-producing machine. I couldn’t resist letting that research tidbit go to waste, and in A Love for Lady Winter, my characters gather around to be “electrified” by just such a machine.

Throughout history, men and woman have sought to study and understand the natural universe. Electricity fascinated people for centuries before Galvani, Volta, and even Ben Franklin contributed to our understanding of its power. No one “discovered” electricity, of course. It’s an energy that occurs in nature, but figuring out where it originates, how to produce it, and the best ways to harness it were preoccupations of 18th and 19th century scientists. Its mysteries and potential fascinated Shelley’s Victor Frankenstein just as they intrigue my hero, Lord Carwarren.

Fueled by Pacific Northwest coffee and inspired by multiple viewings of every British costume drama she can get her hands on, USA Today bestselling author Christy Carlyle writes sensual historical romance set in the Victorian era. She loves heroes who struggle against all odds and heroines who are ahead of their time. A former teacher with a degree in history, she finds there’s nothing better than being able to combine her love of the past with a die-hard belief in happy endings.

Visit Christy’s website, like her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.

Enchanted at Christmas, a Regency romance anthology and part of the Christmas at Castle Keynor seriesEnchanted at Christmas includes
Christy Carlyle’s A Love for Lady Winter

Lady Winifred Gissing has a secret: she sees ghosts. With this strange skill, and her odd, ethereal appearance, she knows she’ll never find acceptance among society, let alone love. But when she travels to Castle Keyvnor, she meets her aunt’s godson, Septimus Locke, the Earl of Carwarren. Scientific, rational Septimus stirs an unexpected passion in her, and she finds his experiments in galvanism fascinating. Romance sparks between them, but will his past and her unusual ability destroy their chance at happiness

 

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Christmas at Castle Keyvnor – Kate Pearce

Christmas at Castle Keyvnor, twelve linked Regency romance novellas

Today, my guest is another author participating in the Christmas at Castle Keyvnor anthologies. Please welcome Kate Pearce!

Romance author Kate PearceHaving enjoyed writing the Halloween story for our previous Keyvnor collection I was delighted to be given the opportunity to write another one. This time I was a little late starting, which means that as all the stories happen concurrently, I had to be careful not to tread on anyone else’s already conceived and in action plots.

A lot of Regency romances focus on the nobility, and, as we have a whole castle full of aristocrats at Keyvnor, I decided to write a romance about what’s going on below stairs. Who’s taking care of all those wedding preparations, feeding and caring for the guests, and organizing the ball? And when one of the aristocrats is mistaken for his valet, how is he going to explain himself?

I recently visited the city of Bath in England, and spent a happy hour touring Number 1 The Royal Crescent. The rooms that struck me most were the gloomy kitchens where all the glamor of the upstairs drawing rooms and bedrooms were stripped away to bare walls, tiled floors and blackened chimneys. Servants were a huge part of Regency life, but are often ignored when we tell our stories.

The other inspiration for my novella was the Tom Stoppard play, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, which concerns two characters off stage in Hamlet trying to make sense of what’s going on. My novella is a bit like that. My characters only deal with the parts of the Keyvnor stories that directly impact them, and have no idea of the complexities of the romantic struggles going on directly above their heads.

If you ever get the opportunity to go to Bath, take a moment to tour the house at The Royal Crescent and think about those poor servants in that dark kitchen. I suspect that’s why we all enjoy reading about the nobility so much!

NYT and USA Today bestselling author Kate Pearce was born in England in the middle of a large family of girls and quickly found that her imagination was far more interesting than real life. After acquiring a degree in history and barely escaping from the British Civil Service alive, she moved to California and then to Hawaii with her kids and her husband and set about reinventing herself as a romance writer.

She is known for both her unconventional heroes and her joy at subverting romance clichés. In her spare time she self publishes science fiction erotic romance, historical romance, and whatever else she can imagine. You can find Kate at her website at www.katepearce.com, on Facebook as Kate Pearce, and on Twitter as Kate4queen.

Tempted at Christmas, one of the Christmas at Castle Keyvnor anthologies of Regency romancesTempted at Christmas includes

Kate Pearce’s And a Pigeon in a Pear Tree
When stuffy Benjamin Priske, Baron Saxelby, heir to the Earl of Widcome arrives at Castle Keyvnor, he not only falls in love at first sight, but is accidentally mistaken for his valet. As he spends time with Henrietta, the witty, beautiful, and self-assured granddaughter of the castle housekeeper, he’s increasingly reluctant to reveal his true identity and spoil the most remarkable days of his life. Can Benjamin overcome his rigid nature, embrace the magical nature of Keyvnor castle, and maybe indulge in a fairytale romance all of his own?

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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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The Nutcracker Reimagined & Tina DeSalvo

Today, my guest is another author participating in the Nutcracker Reimagined anthology. Please welcome Tina DeSalvo!

Author Tina DeSalvoHi everyone, and thank you Deb for inviting me to stop by to say hello and talk about my books. It is one of my favorite things to chat about. It’s up there with talking about recipes, family and oh, heck, let me confess now, I like to talk about almost anything. Yeah, the truth is out, I enjoy visiting with readers and anyone who doesn’t rush off in the other direction (I have yet to chase after anyone). LOL. I guess I should introduce myself so you know who this chatty person is yammering away – My name is Tina DeSalvo and I write contemporary romances with a little bit of mystery and a whole lot of laughter and emotion. My favorite settings are small towns. And, I love to surround my hero and heroine around eccentric, crazy, well-meaning people who make us smile, laugh and just plain-ole feel good. In my Second Chance Novel series, my books are set in the heart of Cajun Country in south Louisiana – a place I am very familiar with as that is where I have lived, worked, raised my family and passed a good time! I hope you give the Second Chance Novel Series a try – Elli, Jewell, Abby, as well as, Hunt for Christmas, Out-lanta and A Second Chance in Vegas.Christmas at the Inn at Cloud Hill by Tina DeSalvo

The Rocky Mountains also hold a special place in my heart, too. My hubs, Mr. Co-Man, and I spend a lot of time there enjoying the majestic scenery and cool temperatures. We consider it a second home. The Rockies is the setting for my Cloud Hill series – the first book (a novella) is part of the AMAZING Nutcracker Reimagined Christmas Collection. I am so honored to be included with the wonderful authors writing for this collection! The title of my novella is Christmas at the Inn on Cloud Hill. The following books in this series are Autumn, Winter, Spring and Summer – the names of the sisters this series is about and you briefly hear about in Christmas). Oh, I’m so excited to share this series with y’all!

The Nutcracker Reimagined, a Christmas romance anthologyI had so much fun writing my story, Christmas at the Inn on Cloud Hill for the Nutcracker Reimagined Christmas Collection. As I mentioned before, it is the first story of a new series I am writing, so researching and exploring then new setting has been really fun. I have moved from the bayous of Louisiana to the high elevation Rocky Mountains of Colorado with this setting. Although the landscape is very different, the heart of what I write about is the same – small towns, sense of community and family with a hodge-podge of eccentric personalities. All, who are basically good people who care for one another and the place they live. In this Christmas novella Country Music Superstar, Daniel Brooks, has comes to the tiny village of Cloud Hill for a little R & R and reunites with a childhood acquaintance, Aurora Morgan. Now an accomplished muralist who is back in Cloud Hill to paint a mural at the historic Inn of the owner’s four daughters, Aurora hopes to prove to herself she has indeed come to terms with a horrific life-changing event from her past. She didn’t realize she would have to face the man who had set it all in motion though – Daniel Brooks. As they get reacquainted for the first time in over twenty years, the town’s historical society decides that good fortune has rained down on them with a talented artist and a musician! They manage to get both Daniel and Aurora to help with the annual Christmas Festival – in particular the Nutcracker Variety Show. I hope you enjoy this story with its elderly ladies dancing in sequined tutus, defiant fostered three-legged deer, and a kilt-wearing handyman, who all play roles to create this Nutcracker story REIMAGINED in a way to bring Daniel and Aurora together to find love, happiness and resolution.

Pre-order your copy of the Nutcracker Reimagined today at these portals:
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Elli, a Second Chance novel, by Tina DeSalvoLearn more about Tina and her books at her website.

Tina has very graciously offered a giveaway today, of two free copies of her e-book, e-book copies of the first Book in her Second Chance Series, Elli, a Second Chance Novel. Please comment on this post and say what it is you like or dislike about the Classic Nutcracker Story for your chance to win. Good luck!

The Nutcracker Reimagined & Eliza Knight

Today, my guest is another author participating in the Nutcracker Reimagined collection. Please welcome Eliza Knight!

Hello! I’m Eliza Knight, an award-winning and USA Today bestselling author of historical romance. Under the name E. Knight, I pen rip-your-heart-out historical fiction. Most of my novels take place in medieval Scotland, which is my favorite time period to write about. I’m fortunate enough to have been able to do some research in Scotland, too, which brings me even closer to my characters and the land they cherish so much.

The Highlander's Reward, a medieval Scottish romance by Eliza KnightMy Stolen Bride series is kicked off with The Highlander’s Reward, and in it my hero Magnus Sutherland fights for William Wallace and the Bruce in trying win back Scottish freedom from the English. So what happens, when in the middle of a battle, Magnus comes across an English lass, daughter to the enemy, in need of saving? Well, he takes her of course, and forces her to marry him. Arbella is horrified. She didn’t like the idea of leaving England to marry an English lord occupying a Scottish castle as it was. It’s a wild place full of heathens, and now she’s married to a barbarian! For Magnus, marrying the enemy puts his duty to his clan and country in jeopardy, not to mention that having a wife will be a total pain in the arse. But what started as a mock marriage turns into one of passionate love, and together they have to fight off the enemies who would seek to destroy them. The Highlander’s Reward is currently a free read—escape to the Highlands with me and give this series a try!

The Highlander's Gift, a medieval Scottish romance by Eliza KnightMy story in The Nutcracker Reimagined is The Highlander’s Gift, and it features the daughter of Magnus and Arbella from The Highlander’s Reward. Bella is a fiery and independent lass who definitely doesn’t want to be constrained by the bonds of marriage. And she just so happens to find the most perfect man for her. Sir Niall Oliphant was betrothed to the Bruce’s daughter, Princess Elizabeth, until she declares that his wound in battle has incapacitated him as a man. Because he does not wish to marry the spoiled royal, he is glad to pass her off to his brother Sir Walter, and remain a bachelor. Until he is presented with an offer from the Earl of Sutherland to marry his only daughter, a lass more beautiful than any other. Bella Sutherland, daughter of one of the most powerful earls and Highland chieftains in Scotland, can marry anyone she wants—but she wants no one. When she spies the injured warrior at the Yule festival who has been shunned by the Bruce’s own daughter, she makes her choice. What is better than no husband? A husband who cannot truly be husband at all. With them both satisfied that they are gaining a marriage in name only, imagine their surprise when love blossoms and passion ignites?

The Nutcracker Reimagined, a Christmas romance anthologyThe Highlander’s Gift is the ninth medieval tale in my Stolen Bride series. It will be available first as a novella in the Nutcracker Reimagined which releases on October 19th — only available for 30 days for 99 cents – along with nine other great Christmas novellas! After that, The Highlander’s Gift will be expanded into a full-length novel and released in its own edition.

Visit me at www.elizaknight.com and sign up for my newsletter to be the first to know about new sizzling hot reads, book news, contests, and more!

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Guest Author Michelle Willingham on the Haunting of Castle Keyvnor

The final post in our series Behind the Scenes at the Haunting of Castle Keyvnor is from Michelle Willingham, whose novella is included in the anthology BEDEVILED. Please welcome Michelle!

Don’t miss the other posts in this series:
Ava Stone
Claire Delacroix
Elizabeth Essex
Claudia Dain
Kate Pearce
Renee Bernard
Erica Monroe
Deb Marlowe
Jerrica Knight-Catania
Jane Charles

The Haunting of Castle Keyvnor, a Regency romance collection

Author Michelle WillinghamI was married on this day eighteen years ago. Happy Anniversary to us!

My own personal love story began with a blind date. One of my good friends invited me to come and play cards with her, and she mentioned that her boyfriend and his roommate would be there. I didn’t know at the time that the entire card game was a set-up. The roommate was looking for a date for an upcoming dance, and my friends thought I would be a good candidate.

We hit it off, but I can’t say it was love at first sight for either of us. We did go to the dance, became good friends, and enjoyed spending time together over the next few months. And then, out of the blue, I realized that I was looking forward to his visits more and more. Friendship gradually transformed into love, and we’ve been married for eighteen years now.

Michelle Willingham's wedding pictureIn my story, “A Dance with the Devil,” Jane Hawkins and Devon Lancaster are intrigued by one another but Jane is well aware that no man wants to marry an impoverished vicar’s daughter. They become friends by chasing down an escaped poodle, Oscar, and Jane finds Devon easy to talk to. And when they are locked in the wine cellar together, the sparks fly! It may not be love at first sight, but friendship at first sight can lead to an even stronger love.

And remember the card game I was invited to play? Ironically, we were playing “Hearts.”

Michelle Willingham is the author of over thirty historical romances and novellas. She lives in Virginia with her husband and three children. Visit her website at: www.michellewillingham.com/book/bedeviled to read an excerpt from Jane and Devon’s story, “A Dance with the Devil.”


Bedeviled, an anthology of Regency romance novellas by Kate Pearce, Deb Marlowe andA Dance with the Devil by Michelle Willingham
Devon Lancaster is fascinated by the beautiful vicar’s daughter, Jane Hawkins, who has been summoned to the will reading of the late Lord Banfield. But is she truly only a vicar’s daughter? Or does her past hold secrets that put her very life in danger? Jane knows she is unlikely to find a husband among the handsome men at Castle Keyvnor because of her poverty. But when she is locked in the cellar with Devon, she finds that the Devil of Lancaster sets her blood on fire.

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