Category Archives: historical romance

Our Five Favourite Spring Reads

So many Spring reads to choose from but here are my five favourites, all five star reads:

The Pursuit of by Courtney Milan

tpo-smallI loved this story of same sex romance in the late 1700s set against backdrop of the American War of Independence. It’s a prequel to her Worth Saga series and features the couple that set up the family business, English officer Henry Latham and African American corporal John Hunter. Chance sees them meet on the battlefield, where they almost kill each other, before becoming friends and then lovers. Both face different challenges in their personal lives and they must overcome societal restrictions and personal concerns before they reach their happy ever after. The Pursuit Of  is tender, funny and meaningful. Vintage Courtney Milan.

 

One Night Wife and Fool Me Forever, The Confidence Game books 1 and 2 by Ainslie Paton

Ainslie PatonThis series from Ainslie Paton is Robin Hood for the twentieth century. It is funny, sassy, smart, seriously sexy contemporary romance with a twist for our morally ambiguous age. The Sherwood family are professional grifters in the name of causes not supported as they should be by government and business. They con money from those who have too much, especially if they’re slack about paying tax and morally reprehensible, and give it to responsible charities. They’re one of four families committed to the con. In One Night Wife, Cal Sherwood falls for Finley Cartwright, the queen of lost causes. The problem is she’s not part of the four families. I absolutely loved it and book two, Fool Me Forever, featuring youngest brother Halsey and Fin’s friend Lenore Bradshaw.

Lionheart by Thea Harrison, Moonshadow book 3 (Moonshadow andSpellbinder)

Lionheart_HiRes_1800x2700-768x1153Lionheart is the final book in this trilogy which forms part of Thea Harrison’s Elder Races world. It is paranormal/fantasy at its finest, combining the creatures of mythology and lore with the Arthurian legend and others. Magical worlds overlap with earth creating more opportunities for cross cultural conflict, war and love. Moonshadowwas my introduction to Thea Harrison, and I was hooked. She became an immediate feature on my autobuy list. Lionheart is the story of King Oberon of Lyonesse and the Wyr earth trauma surgeon and magic user, Dr. Kathryn Shaw, sent to save him.

 

Neanderthal Seeks Human, A Smart Romance by Penny Reid, Knitting in the City bk 1

neanderthal-seeks-humanThis is not a new title, but it was a lovely introduction to Penny Reid’s delightful rom-coms. I’ll be reading my way through all the Knitting in the City as well as the Winston Brothers books. *happy sigh* Discovering a new-to-me excellent author with a long backlist is one of the best things that can happen to an avid reader. Neanderthal Seeks Humanintroduces Janie Morris, who is awkward, anxious and uncertain. Quinn Sullivan, aka Sir McHotpants, is anything but. Can they really make it work?

 

The Laird’s Christmas Kiss by Anna Campbell, Laird’s Most Likely book 2

TLCK-FOR-WEB-1-683x1024After six delightful novellas, Anna Campbell has returned to full length novels with her Laird’s Most Likely series. The Laird’s Christmas Kisshas landed just in time for Christmas, a time Anna writes about particularly well. Shy wallflower Elspeth Douglas has had a crush on Brody Girvan, Laird of Invermackie, for five years – and he has never noticed her. Just when she decides to grow up and move on, he decides to show interest. Unfortunately his reputation as a rake means Elspeth is uncertain as to whether she can trust his newfound interest. With interfering friends and a crate of imported mistletoe thrown into the mix, the stage is set for a house party rife with secrets, clandestine kisses, misunderstandings, heartache, scandal, and love triumphant.

 

If you’re looking for something different, perhaps try other members of The Writers Dozen:

 

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Release Day Celebration

To celebrate the release of my romance The Millionaire Mountain Climber, I am hosting a party on Facebook with the 1-Click Addict Support Group and a clutch* of other authors. Join us for the chance to meet  new people, discover new books and win prizes.

Date 24 – 25 October (depending on where in the world you live)

24th 3-10pm American EST OR 25th 6am – 1pm Australian AEDT

PartyPromoGraphic_med

*Is clutch the right word for a group of authors? Happy to take suggestions.

Cross-cultural Victorian romance alive with heart, hope and strength

After the Wedding: A Worth saga romance by Courtney Milan

The only thing more inconvenient than Camilla’s marriage at gunpoint is falling in love with her unwilling groom…

So begins the story of Camilla Worth and Adrian Hunter. I’ve always enjoyed Courtney After the WeddingMilan’s Victorian romance but I really loved this one. Humorous. Passionate. Angry. Heartfelt. As I read the final words, I was filled to the brim with the happy, bubbly, lighter-than-air feeling I get from a truly beautiful book. 

There is something heartwarmingly-everywoman about the heroine Camilla (Cam) Worth, her unquenchable spirit and hope for the future despite the fact that deep down, she doesn’t believe she deserves love. Camilla is the daughter of a treasonous earl, trying to stay hidden so as not to bring any further shame on her family. The hero, Adrian Hunter, is the son of a duke’s daughter and a black abolitionist, an artist and a businessman, strong but gentle and always willing to believe the best of everyone. Brought together by circumstances beyond their control, they work together to wrest their futures back from the men who want to deny them control of their own destinies.

Adrian gives Camilla the right to be herself, and she finds the strength and anger to fight back against with the people who would put her – and Adrian – down. He helps her to look back, and she helps him to look forward. The result is a love match started for all the wrong reasons but finding all the right reasons to continue.

Aside from her memorable characters, Courtney Milan also always digs below the surface of Victorian England to uncover bits and pieces of history that still influence us today. In this case, it is china, as in crockery.  Britain was the workplace of the world for several decades of the nineteenth century, fuelled by a rise in domestic demand thanks to a growing middle and upper working class. There’s a delightful sub-plot in After the Wedding about the creation of a fine china design for display and sale at a trade exhibition.

After the Wedding got me thinking about diversity in Victorian England. A little bit of digging on the web got me the information that there were roughly 10,000 black men and women in London at the time, more around the country, as the result of English tentacles stretching into every continent. They were a distinct minority, under threat of slavery before 1833 even although slavery hadn’t been legal in England since the time of William the Conqueror. However, they were probably not as feared or hated as the Irish. As always in England, class played the largest role in social standing. If you would like to do more research about Black Britain, I found this article from History Today, a helpful overview, although, of course, it does not delve into all the ethnic minorities that make up British society.

After the Wedding is book 2 in the Worth Saga but can be read as a stand alone novel. I did, although I have remedy this fault in my bookshelf by downloading book 1, Once Upon a Marquess, to read immediately.

5 hearts all

Blurb

Adrian Hunter, the son of a duke’s daughter and a black abolitionist, is determined to do whatever his family needs-even posing as a valet to gather information. But his mission spirals out of control when he’s accused of dastardly intentions and is forced to marry a woman he’s barely had time to flirt with.

Camilla Worth has always dreamed of getting married, but a marriage where a pistol substitutes for “I do” is not the relationship she hoped for. Her unwilling groom insists they need to seek an annulment, and she’s not cruel enough to ruin a man’s life just because she yearns for one person to care about her.

As Camilla and Adrian work to prove their marriage wasn’t consensual, they become first allies, then friends. But the closer they grow, the more Camilla’s heart aches. If they consummate the marriage, he’ll be stuck with her forever. The only way to show that she cares is to make sure he can walk away for good…

Courtney MilanAuthor

Courtney Milan writes books about carriages, corsets and smartwatches. As one does. You can find out more about her and her  books here.

 

Diversity in Romance: US report finds only 7.8% of romance titles by people of colour

Diversity in romance is a hot topic at the moment. It’s fuelled by questions around cultural identity and sales.

Who has the right to create characters from different backgrounds? On the one hand, no one is better positioned to write a character with, say, an African American background than an African American. On the other hand, taken to extremes, that argument would mean no Othello, no Ophelia and no romance heroes with their own POV, at least not when written by female writers. And does this mean that a writer from an Asian background can’t write Regency Romance, even if she wants to? And what does it mean about aliens and shape-shifters? The world would be a much duller place if writers only wrote what they knew.

There is also, of course, the issue of unrepresented minorities in history. We think of medieval Britain as an island predominantly populated by white people, but what of the descendants of the African Roman soldiers stationed along Hadrian’s Wall before the collapse of the Roman Empire?

Then there is the thorny issue of sales. Which comes first, the demand or the story? I’m inclined to favour the perspective that the way forward is to ensure diversity within publishing houses. If editors and publishers have diverse interests and backgrounds, they will find those great books which have universal appeal regardless of the cultural identity, nationality or race of the characters.

The publishing industry certainly isn’t there yet. Bookseller and Publisher covered an 2rippedbodicereport2016Entertainment Weekly story on The Ripped Bodice’s report on the racial diversity of romance publishing in the US during 2016. The Ripped Bodice is a romance specialist bookstore. They found that only 7.8% of romance titles published were written by people of colour. ‘People of colour’ is a broadly descriptive term that not all writers of non-Anglo Saxon heritage will identify with. However, given that US census figures indicate that up to 28% of the American population identifies as either black or Hispanic, the diversity book is clearly not balanced.

Half of the 20 publishers surveyed had fewer than five percent of their books authored by people of colour, and only three publishers had at least 10% of their books authored by people of colour.

The report co-authors and owners of The Ripped Bodice, Leah and Bea Koch, said they were motivated to conduct the study ‘because they often found themselves short of options when customers come in looking for traditionally published books by authors of color’.

‘We have found it difficult to continue the conversation about diversity in romance without hard data,’ said the Kochs. ‘For many years the common refrain from publishers has been “we’re working on it.” Every year we will track industry growth and see if that promise rings true.’

The report notes that all of the publishers mentioned were invited to contribute statistics to the study. More than half engaged directly, with the missing data gathered from publisher and distributor websites.

I think this is an excellent initiative by The Ripped Bodice. I’m also giving a shout-out to all those publishers who participated willingly and all the indie authors who publish diverse romance but weren’t covered by this study. The more we talk, the more answers and solutions we’ll create and the more great romances we will have to read.

Australia has a very diverse, multicultural society. It would be interesting to see a similar study done here. I suspect the numbers would not look much better although I do know many publishers who actively hunt for and publish magnificent stories by individuals from marginalised or misunderstood groups, whether because of their cultural background, sexual preferences or other factors.

If you’re looking for a reading list of diverse authors and characters, try one of these four books, or have a browse on GoodReads, where there are many recommended book lists complete with comments.

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