Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Stormcrow Castle

My new Gothic romance, Stormcrow Castle, is out today!



Synopsis
On visiting Stormcrow Castle, Helena Carlisle is disturbed to find that her aunt, the housekeeper, has disappeared. Helena takes on the role of the new housekeeper and it is not long before strange incidents begin to unnerve her. The castle's owner, Simon, Lord Torkrow, frequents the graveyard at night; the portrait gallery conceals a secret room; identities are hidden at a masked ball; and the key to the attic is missing. As the secrets unravel, Helena finds herself drawn into a world where nothing is as it seems and she must fight for her chance of love...and to survive.



REVIEW
"How I do love Gothic novels, and here is a good example of the genre. Take a brooding castle on the moors, a sinister master, ghostly phenomena, a Mrs Danvers like lady's maid and a masked ball and stir them all together, then serve and enjoy." My Shelf


I thought you might like a taster!

CHAPTER ONE

Helena Carlisle rested her valise on the dry stone wall and peered into the gathering gloom. The March daylight was fading and she was beginning to feel uneasy. The carrier had told her it was only two miles to Stormcrow Castle but she had already walked three miles across the moor.

She strained her eyes but there was no sign of the castle, nor was there any sign of a house at which she could ask for directions. Looking over her shoulder, she wondered if she should retrace her steps, but it was a long way back to the nearest town and she decided to continue on her way. She picked up her valise and walked along the rutted road, bending her head against the icy wind and praying it would not snow.

A sound disturbed the silence and, looking back, she saw a speck in the distance. As it drew closer she could see that it was a coach, racing towards her. Four black horses were pulling it, and it was swaying from side to side. She stepped aside to let it pass, but as it drew level with her, the horses were reined in and the coach rolled to an abrupt halt.

The door was flung open and a man's voice said: 'Get in.'
She was about to back away when she caught sight of the gentleman inside. She heard her aunt's voice in her memory: "Like a portrait, he is, with his gaunt face and his long, pointed chin. He should have been living in 1617, not 1817. Lord Torkrow his name is, but no one calls him that hereabouts. They all call him Stormcrow."
'Don't dawdle, you're late as it is,' he snapped.
Late? she thought uneasily. But I didn't tell anyone I was coming.


You can find the rest of the first chapter on my website by clicking here
I hope you enjoy it!

Amanda Grange

Monday, January 29, 2007

Exciting News


I just wanted to let our visitors know that An Improper Companion, Anne Herries has been shortlisted for the RNA Romance prize. I know that Nicola Cornick and Michelle Styles have also been listed and I want to congratulate them as fellow historical writers. There are three other authors listed but I don't have their names to hand - but congratulations to all of them. It is wonderful for all of us and I feel so lucky to have made the shortlist for the second time. I won it with A Damnable Rogue last time, and I think it unlikely I shall win again, but fingers crossed it is one of our authors! It helps the image when Historical writers get an award so I am thrilled that three of us made it through. Good luck to all six shortlisted authors!
Linda/Anne Herries

Three Historical Romance UK authors nominated for awards!

The Romantic Novelists' Association has just announced its awards lists for 2007.

An Improper Companion by Anne Herries and Lord Greville's Captive by Nicola Cornick have both been shortlisted for the Romance Prize, and Dangerous Waters by Jane Jackson has been longlisted for Romantic Novel of the Year.

We hope you enjoy the books!

Friday, January 26, 2007

The Revival of the Waltz

The waltz seems to be in fashion again, thanks to Strictly Come Dancing, but the modern version bears little resemblance to the rather formal dance which features in so many historical novels. One of my reference books covering Regency life describes the rules for waltzing as follows:-

'The lady and gentleman before starting should stand exactly opposite to one another, quite upright, and not, as it so common in England, painfully close to one another. If the man's hand be placed where it should be, at the centre of the lady's waist, and not all round it, he will have as firm a hold and not be obliged to stoop or bend to his right ... It is the gentleman's duty to steer, and in crowded rooms nothing is more trying. He must keep his eyes open and turn them in every direction, if he would not risk a collision and the chance of a fall, or what is as bad, the infliction of a wound on his partner's arm. The consequences of violent dancing may be really serious. Not only do delicate girls bring on thereby a violent palpitation of the heart, and their partners appear in the most disagreeable condition of solution, but dangerous falls ensure from it.'

Violent palpitations of the heart, eh? Well, perhaps things haven't changed that much after all because Mark Ramprakash can do that to me, and unfortunately I'm not even dancing with him!

Wendy Soliman

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Guest blogger of the month - Jennifer Kloester


We're very fortunate to have Jennifer Kloester with us this month as our guest blogger. Heyer fans will already know Jennifer through her wonderful book, Georgette Heyer's Regency World , which is the ultimate, definitive guide to Georgette Heyer's world: her heroines, her villains and dashing heroes, the shops, clubs and towns they frequented, the parties and seasons they celebrated, how they ate, drank, dressed, socialized, shopped and drove. A great read for any Heyer fan!






Now Jennifer is at work on a new biography of Heyer, and here she talks to us about it.

"I am currently writing what I hope will be the first comprehensive critical and literary biography of the bestselling historical novelist, Georgette Heyer. Read and loved by millions around the world, Heyer remains an enigma. During her lifetime she neither gave interviews nor appeared in public and her biography was limited to 18 lines in Who’s Who. Since her death only one biography has been published (Jane Aiken Hodge’s The Private World of Georgette Heyer) in which the author regretfully acknowledged the scarcity of information about the first forty years of Heyer’s life.

During the past six years of research into Heyer’s life and writing I have been fortunate to discover several unworked archives of Heyer letters as well as a great deal of new information her family, her formative years in Wimbledon and the first twenty years of her writing career. This research continues on a daily basis and I now have over 1,000 pages of letters dating from 1921 as a well as a fascinating collection of other material relating to her life. Heyer’s son has also granted me repeated access to her notebooks and private papers and has been extremely generous in his support of my research. His copyright permission will be essential for the biography to be published in its fullest form.

The manuscript will be completed in November 2007 and has yet to be offered to a publisher. The story of Georgette Heyer’s life and development into one of the great historical novelists is a fascinating one. Every day brings some new discovery that draws me further into her world and helps me to see and understand many of the underlying ideas and attitudes that formed her and which resonate throughout the novels. As a woman writer, as a writer for women, as a writer of romance and a writer of historical fiction, Georgette Heyer remains extraordinarily popular, and yet for these same reasons she has also been largely ignored by the literary world. She is a phenomenon who deserves investigation and explanation and this is the aim of the Georgette Heyer biography."

That is one book we would all love to see!

Thank you, Jennifer, for taking the time to come and talk to us here on Historical Romance UK.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Deceived - Coming Soon in the UK!


My Regency historical Deceived is published in the UK in trade paperback format in February 2007, just in time for Valentine's Day! Deceived has just been nominated for the Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Awards 2006 in the best Regency-set historical category! Of the book, the Romantic Times reviewer commented: "Nicola Cornick masterfully blends misconceptions, vengeance, powerful emotions and the realization of great love into a touching story." I am thrilled that the book has been so well received and that it will soon be available in UK bookshops.

Nicola





Our Most Recent Books

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Book covers and interviews.


This is the lovely cover of my first e-book, THE RETURN OF LORD RIVENHALL- with Belgrave. It is available now at www.RegencyReads.com

On Wednesday last I was invited to appear on BBC Radio Essex. It was my first radio interview and I was quite nervous. I was advised to allow plenty of time for the journey, prepare a few notes and relax and enjoy it. In fact the directions I had been given were incorrect and by the time, after asking a taxi driver and ringing the studio twice, I finally arrived I was so relieved to be there and not have missed my spot that the actual interview was easy. They have sent me a tape of it but I've not dared to listen to it yet.


Finally the cover for my next book THE MESALLIANCE, which comes out in February with Robert Hale, has been sent to be. I'm pleased with it- Mr Hale now allows me to send an appropriate picture and I have the same artist, David Young for all my books. The picture is a good likeness of St Osyth Priory, a famous historic building, where the book is set.
Don't forget all Hale books are easily ordered from your local library and I know that there are copies of all my books on the shelves.
Best Wishes
Fenella

Saturday, January 20, 2007

A treat for all Austen fans

The Jane Austen Centre in Bath is a wonderful place. Not only does it combine the words Jane Austen and Bath, but it has recently begun posting its first online novella. There Must be Murder is a mystery set in Regency Bath and it also happens to be a sequel to Northanger Abbey.


A new chapter will be posted each month, and the first one, Winter Pleasures, is available now. It's written by Margaret C. Sullivan, whose book, The Jane Austen Handbook: A Sensible yet Elegant Guide to Her World will be out this spring. The illustrations are by Cassandra Chouinard

To visit the Jane Austen Centre online, click here

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Monday, January 15, 2007

Charlotte Smith's Diary - Part 12

This is a Regency satire of Helen Fielding's wonderful novel, Bridget Jones's Diary.
For parts 1-11, follow the links on the sidebar to the left.




5 to 12
Quickly tipped the rest of the vase into the potted palm as the butler returned to hall.
‘Lord and Lady Winters will see you now,’ he said.
‘Lord and Lady . . . ?’ I gasped.
There was no time to think anything further as the butler had already started walking across the hall. Picked up my basket and followed him quickly into a large room with high ceilings and deep carpets. I am cut out to live in a house with high ceilings and deep carpets but will probably end my days living in Susan’s attic.
Lord and Lady Winters were sitting on rigid seats behind a huge table. They looked up when I came in.

‘Why is your skirt wet?’ asked Lady Winters, lifting one eyebrow.
‘It was raining,’ I said, thinking quickly, and not being able to admit I’d dampened it to make myself look sexy for sake of hot, bachelor Lord Winters, who turned out to be cold, married, fish.
Lady Winters looked out of the window at the glorious winter sunshine.
‘In the country,’ I said, thinking even more quickly. ‘I’ve come from the country and it was raining there, quite heavily.’
‘I wonder you didn’t think to wear a coat,’ said Lady Winters
‘Yes, I did, but I took it off and left it in the hall.’
She lifted the other eyebrow.
‘It was hot in the hall. So I took it off.’
The interview was not going well.

‘You seem to have something on your skirt,’ said Lord Winters, raising his quizzing glass.
I looked down to see pieces of china dust clinging to my skirt.
‘In the country, where I come from, they make pottery. Some of the dust must have stuck to my skirt because it was wet.’
Lord Winters looked at me for what seemed like an hour but was probably only fifty-five minutes, then he said, ‘Yes.’
There was a slight cough from the window and I looked towards it to see a sweet old lady with white hair sitting on a very large sofa.
‘Yes, of course,’ said Lord Winters. ‘We are here to find a companion for my mother. You appear to like reading,’ he said, glancing at my basket.
I’d taken The Earl’s Secret with me in case I had to wait.
‘Yes, I do.’
‘Good. My mother likes reading, but her eyesight is weak and she needs someone to read for her. You seem to like improving books.’
‘Oh, yes I do.’
Had decided little old lady would be a good person to work for, particularly as I saw her pushing a book under her cushion and recognised the cover of The Earl’s Secret.

‘Did you think The Earl’s Secret improved, too?’ I asked.
The sweet little old lady coughed.
‘The Earl’s Secret? Which earl was that?’ asked Lord Winters. ‘The Earl of Richmond?’
‘Oh, no, the Earl of Ravenskeep,’ I said.
‘Ravenskeep. I don’t believe we know the Ravenskeeps, do we, Hortense?’
Hortense wrinkled her brow, then said, ‘No.’
‘I will have to read my Kings and Queens of England again. Or perhaps I should try and find an Earls of England,’ he said, revealing his yellow teeth in a ghastly grin.
‘Oh, yes,’ I burbled, thinking, What is he talking about? Then noticed that Kings and Queens of England was sticking out of my bag and realized Susan must have changed it for The Earl’s Secret when I wasn’t looking.
‘Well, that seems satisfactory, I think,’ said Lord Winters.
‘Yes. It will be good to have someone to steady Mama-in-Law,’ said Hortense. ‘She tends to be too giddy. A course of improving reading will do wonders for her character.’
‘Oh, yes, of course,’ I said in a serious, deep voice. ‘I like nothing better than some serious reading.’

‘Good. You can start next week.’
Hooray! Have a job. Am going to be a companion to a sweet old lady who likes romances. I won’t have to live in Susan’s attic after all.
Spirits fell as I realized I wouldn’t be able to marry sweet old lady’s handsome son. Sweet old lady’s son is not handsome and is already married. Spirits rose again. Perhaps the sweet old lady has another son.

Amanda Grange

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Historical Novel Society - US conference

I've mentioned the Historical Novel Society before on the blog, as it's a great place for lovers of historical fact and fiction to be, so I thought readers might be interested in the US conference, particularly as the author guest speakers this year are Diana Gabaldon and Bernard Cornwell.

Diana Gabaldon of course wrote the wonderful, New York Times bestselling, Outlander series, and Bernard Cornwell is most famous for his fabulous Sharpe books. Not only are these a great read, but they were responsible for bringing Sean Bean to our TV screens, for which every woman with a pulse will surely thank Mr Cornwell. And as if this wasn't enough, they're a great way to get the men in your life hooked on the Georgian era, because Sharpe is a British rifleman fighting Napoleon's forces in Portugal, Spain, and France, so there's lots of action, and of course the whole thing's from a male point of view.

The conference is being held at the Desmond Hotel and Conference Center in Albany, New York. It runs from the evening of Friday, June 8, 2007, until the morning of Sunday, June 10. It features workshops, panels and keynote addresses on various aspects of fiction set in the past. As it says on the HNS website, it "will present authors, readers, industry professionals and other historical fiction enthusiasts with a unique opportunity to celebrate the genre."

For more information about the conference, click here

And for more information on the HNS, including details of how to join, click here

Monday, January 08, 2007

Loveday Introduction

LOVEDAY INTRODUCTION

With the start of the New Year I begin writing book nine of The Loveday Series. I have to pinch myself that this dream come true continues. Although 18 previous novels of mine had been published I was delighted when my Cornish trilogy was commissioned by Headline. The family adventures are set around three sets of cousins and involve the French Revolution, navy battles, privateering, shipbuilding, smuggling, the Georgian theatre, highway robbery, transportation, pioneering, romantic entanglements, rivalry and suspense.
The popularity of the characters turned the trilogy into a series and in such turbulent times sex, scandal and intrigue provided the background for new adventures and conflicts. I still experience the same thrill today sharing their escapades and romances writing book nine as I did creating the first book. Although each novel must stand on its own, all the titles are still available and the monthly backlist list sales show a vastly expanding dedicated readership.
The series starts with ADAM LOVEDAY.

Twenty years ago, fate denied Adam Loveday his birthright: the family estate, Trevowan, and the shipyard. The intense rivalry between Adam and his elder twin St John overns their fated passions and chequered fortunes.
St John is a dissolute wastrel but Adam with a talent for ship design and a thirst for adventure has fierce family pride in Trevowan and the yard. Aware of his father’s disapproval St John fears that the shipyard yard will be given to Adam and resolves that Adam will never get what his heart desires: the shipyard – and Meriel Sawle, the seductive daughter of a local innkeeper, whose violent family are infamous in the smuggling trade…
Rich in drama, passion and period atmosphere, this is a story that transcends time.

May all your dreams come true in 2007
Kate Tremayne

To visit Kate Tremayne's website
click here

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Winter inspiration





My next book, the "Celebrity Regency" Lord of Scandal, which is published in the US in June 2007, is set around this time of year and features both the Great Fog of December 1813 and the Great Frost Fair of 1814. According to contemporary accounts, the fog was so thick on 27th December that when Prince Regent set out for Hatfield House near St Albans, one of his outriders fell in a ditch near Kentish Town and the party were obliged to turn back. There were countless accidents to hackney carriages and mail coaches. The fog was followed by a heavy fall of snow that continued for 48 hours.

Last month we had the fog in the south of England but no snow to follow it and somehow I can’t see that happening again as it did in the days of the Great Frost Fair. But I do have a beautiful photograph to inspire us all with images of winter.

More about Lord of Scandal and Regency celebrities soon!

Nicola

Friday, January 05, 2007

Stormcrow Castle

When I was growing up, I loved reading books such as Jane Eyre, Rebecca and the novels of Victoria Holt. I still loved reading them when I was an adult, but they were hard to find. For some reason, Gothic romances were thin on the ground. I decided to write one, and Carisbrooke Abbey was the result. My new book, Stormcrow Castle, is another Gothic.


Helena Carlisle goes to Stormcrow Castle to visit her aunt, who is the housekeeper there, but her aunt is missing, supposedly having given in her notice in order to nurse a sick sister. But her aunt doesn't have a sister . . .

Helena pretends to be the replacement housekeeper and starts questioning the other servants discreetly in an attempt to find out what happened to her aunt.

But the more she learns, the more she's unnerved. There's a locked attic, a family graveyard, a masked ball, and strange servants. And then Helena discovers a hidden room . . .



If you want a book to curl up by the fire with, then this is it!

Amanda Grange

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

New Year - New book


I thought you might like a peek at the rough draft of the cover for my new book, The Belles Dames Club, which comes out in April this year. I have often thought it unfair that during the 18th century there was a proliferation of gentlemen's clubs - Whites, Almacks, Brooks's etc and nothing similar for the ladies, so I thought I would redress the balance. The Belles Dames Club is the brainchild of a lively widow, Lady Wyckenham, and when her step-daughter, Clarissa, comes to stay she is soon embroiled in the outrageous escapades of the club and its members. I loved writing this Georgian romp, which has its fair share of adventure, handsome heroes (of course) and villainous rogues. I am waiting now to see the finished cover, and I wonder how different it will be from this original sketch?




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