Saturday, July 16, 2011

Special visit from Vicky Dreiling, author of How to Seduce a Scoundrel

I'm excited to announce a visit by Vicky Dreilin, author of  How to Seduce a Scoundrel

Q: You'd first introduced Julianne Gatewick in How to Marry a Duke where her brother was the romantic lead.  Could you share how you'd thought of Julianne's love story?

Interestingly, while writing How to Marry a Duke, I was a bit startled when I realized Julianne held tender feelings for Marc Darcett, the Earl of Hawkfield (a.k.a. Hawk).  Because I’m a pantser (I write by the seat of pants rather than do a lot of detailed plotting), I’m often surprised at the things I learn about my characters as I write. The moment I realized Julianne’s feelings for Hawk, I knew she and Hawk needed their own story.

I’ll share an interesting behind-the-scenes fact about HOW TO SEDUCE A SCOUNDREL. It wasn’t always a book about The Rules in Regency England.  The early version contained a plot in which the heroine ran a ‘school’ to reform rakes. Hawk was Julianne’s guardian in this early version. So why did I abandon that idea? Well, to be honest, matters went awry as I tried to make Hawk a secret genius. He resisted my efforts, to say the least. I finally scrapped that version and decided to use The Rules as a basis for yet another spoof of modern dating practices. That turned out to be the perfect venue for spunky Julianne and charming Hawk.

Q: Can you tell us what you're currently working on?

First of all, I work on one book at a time. Even before I published, I never strayed to other books. I tend to get absorbed in whatever book I’m writing. Also, because I’m a pantser I’m compelled to go forward so I can find out what happens. 

Q: Which authors/books influenced/inspired you?

The first romance I ever bought (accidentally LOL) was Judith McNaught’s ALMOST HEAVEN. I got hooked on historical romance after reading that one book. As for influencers, I would say authors like Amanda Quick, Mary Balogh, Loretta Chase (LOVE her books), and Laura Kinsale, especially her acclaimed FLOWERS FROM THE STORM. While I admire their works, I’ve never tried to imitate any of them. Frankly, I couldn’t change the way I write, even if I wanted to do so. 

Q: What are you currently reading?

A contemporary!  I’m a big fan of Jane Graves (and yes, she’s a friend) and am loving her new release BLACK TIES AND LULLABIES.

Thanks so much for inviting me to blog. May the Magic Romance Fairies be with you!


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Close Your Eyes by Amanda Eyre Ward

Welcome to the TLC Book Tour for Close Your Eyes by Amanda Eyre Ward! 

Close Your Eyes: A Novel
Close Your Eyes: A Novel by Amanda Eyre Ward

The blurb:
If Laura Mahdian can be sure of one thing, it is that when she was eight-years-old, her father murdered her mother in their family home.  Now an adult with a career, a home, and a boyfriend, Lauren still clings to this truth, using it as a compass to guide her life. She refuses Gerry's please to marry her as she's seen what love can do, and she wills herself to stay detached form all that surrounds her as she knows how quickly things can be torn painfully away.

When Lauren's brother, Alexander, announces that he will be moving overseas with Doctors Without Borders, she is crushed -- Alex is the only person with whom she feels safe.  Before he leaves, Alex attempts one last time to share his belief in their father's innocence.  Although Lauren at first refuses to listen to his arguments, she begins to wonder if his theories have any grounds. What follows is a story of long-harbored lies and twisted decisions, as Lauren finally decides to go in search of the truth about what happened that night so many years ago.

Close Your Eyes  is unusual literary fiction of family drama and old fashioned suspense.  We sympathize and follow Lauren as she tries to make sense of her painful family history and carry on a regular life. Lauren isn't perfect and her insecurities and demands on Alex can get annoying, although this does make her character seem authentic. 

The story moves from Lauren to Sylvia Hall who is "forty-one years old and five months pregnant".  Raised by a beautiful, glamorous, and emotionally draining single mom, Sylvia Hall attended an elite private school in Manhattan's Upper East Side on a scholarship.  Amanda Eyre Ward takes us to Sylvia's years in Manhattan, the power dynamics with her best friend Victoria, and the difficult times with Sylvia's mother Pauline. 

Lauren and Sylvia's lives intersect in an unexpected and irrevocable way.

Full of suspense and plot twists, Close Your Eyes is emotionally intense and complex.  Literary fiction and psychological thriller, I paused for some quiet after finishing the book. If you're looking for an unusual read, I recommend it.

ISBN-10: 0345494482 - Hardcover $24.00
Publisher: Random House (July 26, 2011), 272 pages.
Review copy provided by TLC Book Tours and the publisher.

About the Author:
Amanda Eyre Ward is the author of three novels: Sleep Towards Heaven, How to Be Lost, and Forgive Me, as well as a collection of short stories, Love Stories in This Town.  She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and two sons.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Haunting Violet Blog Tour

Welcome to the blog tour of Alyxandr Harvey's Haunting Violet!  Isn't this cover gorgeous?

Haunting VioletHaunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey
The blurb:
Violet Willoughby has participated in one too many fake seances to believe in the supernatural -- especially after watching her mother fool widows and old men into handling over their fortunes.   But she is forced to reconsider her jaded views when she has a frightening vision during her mother's latest scheme at the country estate of prominent spiritualist Lord Jasper.

Thrust into the center of an unsolved murder committed within the upper echelons of Victorian society, Violet is faced with a ghost who won't rest until her killer is brought to justice.  The only person Violet can trust with her new secret is her mother's assistant, Colin, the boy she's grown to love but can never be with because of the rigid rules of their society.  Can Violet find a way to accept her new talent and prevent another murder without risking her own chances for a future with the one she loves?

When I saw the cover and read the blurb, I wanted so much to read Haunting Violet.  The book itself more than lived up to the cover. I love historical fiction, mysteries, and a good love story, and Haunting Violet has all these things plus characters that draw you in.

The book opens with, "I was nine years old when my mother decided it was time I took part in the family business.  I was pretty enough no, she said, that I might be of use.  I'd grown into my ears and my long neck and might be clever enough to be handle myself.  Besides which, she claimed, she had no other option."

As Violet tries to reconcile her mother's dodgy profession with her conscience, she is very aware of her place in the class structure and of her precarious position.  The snubs, bullying, and the kindnesses all give us a better understanding of her strong character, her sense of fairness and integrity.  Violet is a good friend - to Colin, to the highborn Elizabeth, and even to bullying Tabitha Wentworth.   The mystery of Rebecca's death is carefully revealed.  If you are partial to historical fiction, mysteries or love stories,  you're sure to find Haunting Violet an engrossing and satisfying read!

Reading level: Young Adult
ISBN-10: 080279839X - Hardcover $16.99
Publisher: Walker Childrens; First Edition edition (June 21, 2011), 352 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.

About the Author:
Alyxandra Harvey is the author of the Drake Chronicles -- Hearts at Stake, Blood Feud, and Out for Blood.  She studied creative writing and literature at York University and has had her poetry published in several magazines.   She lives in an old Victorian farmhouse in Ontario, Canada, with a few resident ghosts, her husband, hawk, and two dogs.