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, 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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A Dark and Stormy Night

This is a first of a series of guest blog posts from some of the authors participating in the Haunting of Castle Keyvnor series. There are twelve Regency romance novellas in this series, all of which take place during the same week at a haunted estate in Cornwall, while the characters await the reading of the late Earl’s will. I was invited to participate in this project by Ava Stone, and I’ll talk about that a bit more tomorrow.

Today, please welcome Ava Stone herself, to explain how the idea was born…

The Haunting of Castle Keyvnor, a Regency Romance novella collection

It was a dark and stormy night…

It really was. Dark AND Stormy. Jerrica Knight-Catania, Jane Charles, Deb Marlowe, Claudia Dain and I were in New Orleans for the Romantic Times Convention, and we were taking a haunted history walking tour at night and darting in and out of bars, trying to stay dry while we waited for the storm to let up a bit. And we might have sampled a Hurricane or two…That part is a big foggy.

Regency romance author Ava StoneBut that’s when inspiration hit, between Hurricanes in one of the most haunted cities in America. You can’t be in the French Quarter at night and not feel like you’re stepping back into another era. There is something seriously magical about New Orleans, and something seriously spooky at night under the gas lamps while you listen to tale after tale of the city’s haunted past.

One of us said, “What if we did a collection of haunted Regency stories?” That autumn, Jane, Jerrica and I published One Haunted Evening, which we followed up with One More Haunted Evening the next year.

But this year we wanted to do something new, something different, something BIGGER….

“What if an earl died and the vast majority of his estate was unentailed?”

“And what if he lived in a haunted castle, and his distant relatives had to stay there while they waited for the reading of his will?”

“And what if there were more than just ghosts there?”

“More than just ghosts?”

“Like witches! Cornwall is famous for witches!”

“Oh, and their rocky coast! There could be smugglers! And—”

“Maybe some Cornish Pixies!”

“And a dead wife in an attic à la Jane Eyre!”

“Attic? How ’bout turret, instead?”

“Let’s make this BIGGER than what we’ve done before.”


“More authors. More stories. More hauntings.”

And so, The Haunting of Castle Keyvnor was born.

With four anthologies, VEXED, BEDEVILED, MYSTIFIED, and SPELLBOUND we’ll bring you more authors, more stories, more hauntings as the distant relatives of the late-Earl of Banfield converge upon haunted Castle Keyvnor to await the reading of his lordship’s will. We hope you will fall in love with Castle Keyvnor just like we did.

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

Vexed, an anthology of Regency romance novellas by Erica Ridley, Ava Stone and Erica MonroeOnce Upon a Moonlit Path by Ava Stone
Lady Cassandra Priske sees dead people…not all the time, but occasionally. When her family is summoned to Castle Keyvnor for the reading of the late Earl of Banfield’s will, Cassy is more than terrified. After all, the castle is famous for its hauntings. But the very last person, dead or alive, she expects to see at the castle is the rakish Lord. St. Giles. After all, he’s not even a distant relation to the late-earl.

Vexed goes on sale September 20. Pre-order your copy at these portals:

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Guest Author S.E. Smith

I met Susan Smith almost a year ago at RTC in Ottawa. Not only are we both big fans of dragon shifters, but we hit it off and had some wonderful discussions. She’s just a wonderful person. 🙂 I’m very pleased to have her visiting my blog today. Please welcome S.E. Smith!

NYT Bestselling author S.E. SmithIt never ceases to surprise me that people like my books. I know that sounds a little strange, so let me take you back to the start. In 2012, I knew that I had to write down the stories that flowed around my head day and night.

I sat down and wrote them but didn’t tell anyone about them until I shared them with my sister, Linda. She immediately told me to publish them.

From what I have read, this is not such an unusual beginning for many writers. We write our stories because they demand to be told and I never thought that others would want to read my stories too.

I received this wonderful post from a reader the other day: “Susan, last night when I was on the phone with tech support about my kindle, I had a super nice lady and while we had down time while the kindle rebooted we talked books and how we can’t live without our kindle! So I said… do you read S.E. Smith? She says YES!! Then we traded fave stories and books for the next hour, lol.”

It is stories like this that readers share with me that warm my heart. It is important to remember my readers when I am writing; however, first and foremost comes my characters. There are times when my characters demand a story go a certain way and I know that I will get criticism from some of my readers. Being authentic as a writer is important and keeping the stories as told by the characters is part of this.

I listen to my readers; but what is even more important is I listen to my characters. They are the ones telling the story and they know what will happen next. Sometimes I wonder why a certain scene plays out. Eventually, the characters let me know the answer. I just ask that my readers be patient until they do.

Challenging Saber by S.E. SmithLet me give you an example. I recently released Challenging Saber, Book 4 in The Alliance series. I didn’t understand why Razor’s Traitorous Heart (Book No. 2) had to be the next one told after Hunter’s Claim until it was time to write Dagger’s Hope (Book 3). After all, Razor was only mentioned once in Hunter’s story.

I even had readers asking why I wrote Razor’s story instead of Jordan or Taylor’s. In my head, both girls needed to grow up before their story could be told, but it was more than that, Jordan couldn’t do it alone. That was when I understood how the puzzle pieces were beginning to fall into place. I needed Razor’s story because he and Kali were going to help Jordan. Without them, the story couldn’t happen.

Now, with the completion of Challenging Saber, Taylor and Saber’s story, even more of the puzzle has been revealed and I’m beginning to see the universe that makes up this amazing series – and more! Each book, each character, is so important in the larger picture of what is going to happen.

So, if you wonder why an author writes the way they do, keep an eye out for the clues hidden within the pages, because sometimes, the author doesn’t even know until the story is written!

S.E. Smith is a New York Times, USA TODAY, International & Award Winning Bestselling author who has always been a romantic and a dreamer. A prolific writer, she spends her days and weekends writing and her nights dreaming up new stories. She enjoys camping and traveling. Readers can find out more about her stories at