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.

Buy Charmed at Christmas today at:

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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

Pre-order now at:

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Cover for The Mercenary’s Bride

The Mercenary's Bride, book #1 of the Brides of Inverfyre series of medieval Scottish romances by Claire DelacroixThe Mercenary’s Bride is a Christmas novella and my contribution to The Nutcracker Reimagined, a 2017 multi-author anthology for Christmas. It’s also the first story in the Brides of Inverfyre series.

It’s the story of Mhairi, daughter of the Hawk of Inverfyre and his wife Aileen. (The family tree for Ravensmuir and Inverfyre is a free download in my online store, right here.) Mhairi is the middle child of five and the second daughter. She’s a crack shot with a crossbow and a bit of a tomboy, and she’s unafraid to defy her father. Her interest was why the mercenary Quentin was dismissed from Inverfyre, but when he returns, bitter and wounded, Mhairi is the only one who can see his merit. Can her love heal him? I think you can guess, but I hope you’ll join me for their adventure.

The Mercenary’s Bride will be available in a digital edition on its own in 2018. I’m excited to have the cover done already and wanted to show it off to you. Since this story is a novella, there won’t be a print edition of it – it’ll be tucked into the print edition of book #2 in the Brides of Inverfyre series instead.

What do you think of the cover? The couple are exactly perfect for Mhairi and Quentin.

 

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!

Pre-order your copy of the Nutcracker Reimagined today at these portals:
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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