Tag Archives: historical fiction

Readers And Writers Get Together At StoryFest

This past weekend I travelled down the South Coast of NSW to the trio of towns hosting the first annual StoryFest literary festival: Milton, Mollymook and Ulladulla.

It was my first visit to this truly beautiful area of the state and even a drop in temperature couldn’t detract from the stunning scenery, the dolphins surfing the coastal waves next to clumsy human counterparts and the humpback whales migrating along the coast.

My husband and I made a weekend out of it, taking our doggies with us; their sheer joy at the discovery of beach sand added a warmth the weather couldn’t cool.

The organising team of StoryFest volunteers put together a fabulous program making the most of local landmarks. All the events I attended were sold out. The program was supported by local independent bookseller Harbour Bookshop in Ulladulla, local libraries and many local businesses.

The first event I attended was a fascinating conversation, Historical Inspirations, that took place at the Tallwood Eatery on Mollymook beach. The food was delicious: fish cakes, gnocchi with lamb ragu and a wickedly delicious chocolate dessert. However, it was the authors who really lit up the room.

The chat, facilitated by author Pamela Cook (The Crossroads), featured historical fiction authors Natasha Lester (The Paris Seamstress, The French Photographer) and Lauren Chater (The Lace Weaver).

The authors were generous with their advice, inside stories and insight into their writing processes. History has often written women off the page, and it is a pleasure to see these authors, and others, bring previously hidden stories to light and restoring balance to the bias inherent to history written primarily by only one gender.

The other wonderful event I attend was Unforgettable Settings. Inga Simpson led a discussion amongst Karen Viggers (The Orchardist’s Daughter), Robert Hollingworth (A Blank Canvas: Set in the Jungle of Contemporary Art) and Candice Fox (Hush, Hush) about the importance and impact of setting in fiction. My takeaway was that authenticity is found in the detail. At one stage, Inga observed that all three included birds in their books – eagles, mallards and geese respectively – to which Karen replied simply, “birds are part of the landscape.”

Festivals such as StoryFest bring readers and writers together and provide inspiration all round. My congratulations to the team of volunteers, led by author and journalist Meredith Jaffe, who took on the mammoth task of starting an event from scratch. Long may they prosper.

Our Five Favourite Summer Reads

I read many fabulous books this quarter, but my five favourites are:

 DILF by Amy Andrews (contemporary)

DILF‘Serious DILF alert.’ Those are the words that warn Stefanie that her younger brother’s best friend Owen has grown up and graduated as a doctor. He’s about to start work at St Bart’s General Hospital, and she had promised her brother he could stay with her until he found his own place. But… that was when she still thought he was a skinny teenager with acne rather than the hottest doctor in town. The chemistry between them is off the charts but there are a zillion reasons why having sex with Owen is a bad idea. For starters, there’s the age. Owen doesn’t see it as a problem. He’s always had a thing for Stefanie even if she didn’t notice him before. Stefanie is ready to settle down and have babies. She reckons Owen still has to date a thousand nurses. Can he change her mind and get her to give them a chance, first in the present and then in the future? Written with Amy Andrew’s trademark wit and wickedly sexy encounters, this is a delicious romp that will have you alternatively laughing out loud and fanning yourself.

Down and Dirty (Men of Haven) by Rhenna Morgan (contemporary)Men of Haven

I’ve been waiting a long time for Axel’s story, ever since I met him in book 1 of Men of
Haven alongside his brother by choice Jace. Rhenna Morgan doesn’t disappoint. His love interest, rock lead singer Elizabeth is his perfect foil, bringing out all of Axel’s protective instincts and allowing him to engage more fully with the music world he loves and turned his back on as a young man. Elizabeth is scared of being overwhelmed. She’s been down that path once before. Axel, with his dark desires and ferocious intelligence is surprising hesitant when it comes to pursuing Elizabeth, needing a good push from his family. I adored this series and hope to see all the characters pop up again in future series from Ms Morgan.

Devil’s Daughter (The Ravenels) by Lisa Kleypas (Victorian)

Devil's DaughterThe Ravenels and the second generation of wallflowers just can’t seem to keep their hands off each while declaring they just won’t suit. This leads Sebastian, former wicked Lord St Vincent and now meddling Duke of Kingston, to pull strings in order to ensure his beloved daughter Phoebe gets her happily ever after second time around. Phoebe doesn’t want to like West Ravenel. He’s the boy who bullied her poor dead husband at school. But, her father likes him, her son adores him, and even her brother thinks men can change. West doesn’t think he’s good enough for Phoebe. Will all Sebastian’s meddling come to naught or will passion overcome Phoebe’s scruples long enough to allow her to seduce West? Lisa Kleypas once again delivers a witty, intelligent romance with a cast of memorable characters.

On Bended Knee (The Wicked Worthingtons) by Celeste Bradley (Regency)On Bended Knee

I had the great good fortune to meet Celeste Bradley as part of the Australian Romance Readers Association (ARRA) book signing tour of Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth. She is charming with a dry sense of humour that resonates through her books. If you haven’t met the quirky Worthingtons, make a date in your diary to do so. You won’t regret it. Lysander Worthington is back from the war in Spain, carrying a terrible secret that haunts him day and night. In search of his brother, he accidentally takes on a fight with a male pig who is not to be outdone on his own territory, thus introducing himself as a patient to Gemma Oakes, doctor’s widow. Gemma feels responsible for her hamlet in Yorkshire and continues to provide medical services. She accompanied her husband to the war, knows the horrors that Lysander faced, and is determined to rescue him from himself. However, he couldn’t fall in love with a patient – that would be unethical. Except no one on her side or Lysander’s agrees. Can Lysander face the horrors of his past? Will his secrets drive Gemma away? Only by confessing, can he find out. Celeste Bradley writes with compassion, humour and an understanding of human foibles. This is a delightful, amusing and heart-warming romance.

Of Sunlight and Stardust by Christina Lee and Riley Hart (contemporary dual timeline gay romance)

Tanner Rowe is livinOf Sunlight and Stardustg in the house he bought for his dead wife because that is what she wanted of him. Cole Lachlan has been released from prison and is looking for work, finding out the hard way that no one wants to give an ex-con a chance. He’s camping on Tanner’s property when they meet. Tanner, realising Cole is down on his luck, asks him to help rebuild the burnt barn. Cole knows he is gay but makes no move on Tanner. Tanner is initially confused by his feelings for Cole but comes to understand and accept them for what they are. Their story is eerily similar to that of two boys who lived and worked on the property fifty years ago in less enlightened times that ended in tragedy with Tanner’s dead wife mirroring the role of the girl who tried to help them. As Tanner and Cole seek to uncover what happened to the boys, the relationship grows. The question is, has the town grown enough to appreciate the value Tanner and Cole can add to the community, or will prejudice and fear of Cole’s past isolate and endanger the men? Of Sunlight and Stardust is the most beautiful, sensitive and heart-warming romance I read this past year, demonstrating the range and fluidity of human sexuality that psychologists now acknowledge. Contemporary romance at its finest.

The above are all five star romance reads. If you’re looking for something different, why not see what the other members of The Writers’ Dozen have been reading?

Angella Whitton

Rae Cairns

Pamela Cook

Michelle Barraclough

Deerbourne Inn Dates

Today I’m talking to Linda Carroll-Braddauthor of 51 short stories, novellas and novels in contemporary and historical romance. She is a contributing author to the Deerbourne Inn series and her book Freedom’s Path was recently released.

What’s the first book you remember reading on your own as a child, or your favourite childhood read?

The Little Red Hen. My mom said I knew if she skipped any words or turned the page too soon. She says I was reading. Looking back, I’m wondering if I had just memorized it.

What’s your favourite place to write?

My computer desk is set in a corner of an office I share with my husband. Very functional with my research books in 2 bookshelves to my left. When I need a break, I go upstairs and write in a notebook on a couch with a view of nearby mountains.

What’s the most important lesson you have learned on your writing journey so far?

The story is often better in my head, and my job is to make it as close to that perfect story on the page.

What do you do when you feel stuck? 

I either pick up a romance to read or I switch to another aspect of the project. If I’m creating pages, then I go back and edit, or I think of an upcoming scene and write the description for the setting.

Writers are readers too. Please recommend a romance you recently read and enjoyed.

Starlight Bridge by Debbie Mason and Herons Landing by JoAnn Ross

What was it that appealed to you about the Deerbourne Inn series?

For the past several years, I’ve participated in several multi-author series, and I like the framework provided. In this series, the framework is the inn and the town. Because I chose to set my story before the Civil War, I had to envision what was already established in the series bible and scale it back more than one hundred fifty years.

What was the inspiration behind Freedom’s Path?

Years ago (before I started writing), quilting was my hobby, and recently, I read a book perf5.000x8.000.inddthat revealed how quilts were hung on fences or clotheslines to serve as signals to escaping slaves on the Underground Railroad. Of course, people were the ones to choose the quilt to hang, a fact which helped me form the heroine.

Tell us about Freedom’s Path in 100 words or less.

Working at the Deerbourne Inn provides Sidonie Demers the perfect cover for helping on the Underground Railroad. The quilt patterns she selects direct escaping slaves to the safest route. The cause is personal for octoroon Sidonie whose mother and grandmother escaped bondage years earlier. Army Corporal Colin Crawford arrives in Willow Springs, disguised as a salesman, to locate abolitionist activity. Raised anti-slavery, he’s conflicted about upholding the Fugitive Slave Act but believes in fulfilling his duty. The attraction is irresistible, but what happens when their true identities are revealed?

Do you have an extract you can share with us?

As he waited for Kevyn’s footsteps to fade, Colin finished his tart. His mind whirled with a topic that he worried might be too forward. After a swallow of coffee, he angled his head and met her gaze. “I saw how you broke that man’s hold. Smart move.”

Eyes wide, she gasped, rested a hand on the table edge, and crouched next to the end. “Oh, please don’t tell Missus Deerbourne that I stomped on a guest’s foot.” Her dark brows drew together. “I’m not sure she’d view my action in the same way you do.”

Her response rankled. Wasn’t the innkeeper concerned for the safety of her workers? He wished he could offer comfort by covering her hand with his. “Can you not carry a small knife in a pocket to protect yourself?”

A laugh escaped as she shook her head then gripped the band of her hat and pulled it lower on her forehead. “Not an appropriate accessory for someone in my position.”

Colin disliked the idea of her being vulnerable to a man’s mauling. “The foot stomp can take a man by surprise, but often not for long enough to effect an escape. Might I demonstrate another move that guarantees a longer distraction?” He sorted through the various moves involved in his ranger tactical training for the one most effective to someone her size. Leverage was what was needed to counter a larger foe.

“I am eager to learn.” She set the tray on the table. “What do I have to do?”

Bracing both hands on the table, he pushed himself to a stand and took a couple steps away from the bench. “Walk toward me like you’re about to grab my arms.”

A blush rose in her cheeks, and she averted her gaze. “Oh, I couldn’t, Mister Crawford.”

Her modesty produced a chuckle. “Miss Demers, don’t worry. You won’t hurt me. Remember, you’re learning a new skill.”

After a nod, she stepped forward with her arms outstretched and fingers spread wide. “Like this?”

“Keep walking.” He balanced his weight on the balls of his feet. When she came within reach, he grabbed the thumb of her left hand and bent it backward.

“Ow.” She contorted her body, back arching in the opposite direction.

He knew her movements were instinctual, with her body acting on reflex to reduce the pressure. “See how you moved to get away from the pain.” He released his hold with reluctance, because he’d enjoyed the slide of her soft palm in his.

Buy links

 Where can readers find you online?

Thank you for stopping by Linda. I love historical tidbits, and your one about the quilt is a gem.

The Seduction of Lord Stone: A delightful romantic interlude

SPOILER ALERT: FANGIRL POST AHEAD

An Anna Campbell novellaI discovered my first Anna Campbell novel just a couple of years ago as I was browsing the shelves of a small bookshop. What a serendipitous moment that proved to be, leading me through multiple titles in rapid succession until I arrived here, at the publication of The Seduction of Lord Stone, the first book in her Dashing Widows series.

I’m always on the lookout for a good novella. There are lots of points in its favour. I can read a whole book if I have a couple of hours spare one evening, or over the weekend, getting a satisfying full-story fix uninterrupted by work or dinner or housework. I’m also fond of brevity. Cut the waffle, I say. The intensity level is also higher, especially in the hands of an expert like Anna.

Of course, not all authors excel at this short form. Some truncate the story, resulting in a simplistic plot or under-developed characters. However, every one of Anna’s novels that I have read is a full, rich and rounded story regardless of whether it is  a full-length romance or a short and sexy novella. Yes, I’m a fan, and I make no apologies for that. Let me take the stand and declare: I LOVE Anna Campbell’s books! They are emotionally intense, dark and funny and sexy – smoking’ hot actually. I adore her heroines and love her heroes. What more could I ask for as a reader?

The Seduction of Lord Stone is the story of Caroline, Lady Beaumont and Silas Nash, Viscount Stone. Caroline has had a dreary year in mourning that she survived only because of her new friendships with Helena, the Countess of Crewe and Fenella, Lady Deerham. The three decide to become dashing widows once their year of mourning is complete since not one of them, for different reasons, wishes to remarry. Caroline in particular is determined to have some fun and sets about targeting the right man to make her lover. For this task she enlists the help of Helena’s brother, Lord Stone.

Poor Silas! What a lowering position for a reformed rake to find himself in. He has devoted the year of Caroline’s mourning to winning her trust only to discover that he has been designated the status of ‘a dear friend’. Worse, Caroline has her eye fixed on his best friend, a man he now regards as not fit for London society let alone Caroline’s. Can he change her mind? Persuade her that it is possible to be lovers and friends? You’ll have to read it to find out. To whet your appetite and find out what indignities the man suffers, read an extract from The Seduction of Lord Stone here.

Books two and three in the Dashing Widows series of novellas will be available in early 2016. Look out for Tempting Mr Townsend and Winning Lord West.

Also recommended: The Sons of Sin series

  • Seven Nights in a Rogue’s Bed
  • A Rake’s Midnight Kiss
  • What a Duke Dares
  • A Scoundrel by Moonlight
  • Three proposals and a Scandal (novella)

5 hearts all

 

 

The Seduction of Lord Stone is a sexy Regency romance.