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Author Archive

Rowan Keats Educates the Duchesses on How to Tame a Wild Scot.

Taming a Wild Scot by Rowan Keats (Cover)Our most gracious houseguest today is the lovely Rowan Keats. She’s here to celebrate the release of the first book in her Claimed by the Highlander series, TAMING A WILD SCOT. Her wonderful debut garnered a 4 1/2 star review from RT Book Reviews, which also named her as “a rising star of medieval romance”.

When not writing, Rowan can frequently be found in a dark movie theater indulging in a large bag of popcorn, or watching the sunrise with a mug of steaming coffee wrapped in her hands. She lives in Central Canada with a goofy black lab, a very talkative cat, and a daughter whose own creative talents awe and inspire her every day. Please join me in offering Lady Rowan a warm Duchess welcome to our House Party.

I’m utterly delighted to join your House Party, Your Graces.

Circulating amidst such polite company, I thought it apropos to discuss a topic near and dear to my heart—how to tame that overbold creature known as the Wild Scot.

Wild Scots make fascinating romance heroes. They liven up any party to which they are invited, regaling guests with shocking tales of defending their hearths at all cost, raiding cattle, and stealing brides. And spying them in their Highland garb… Dear me. Someone hand me a fan.

There are several important steps in taming a Wild Scot, all of which require fortitude. First, you must ensure the Wild Scot you’ve chosen is indeed wild. Many Scots appear wild, but are in fact committed to another woman. Next you must attract his attention in a bold manner, often with bright colors. Wild Scots are fierce hunters, so under no circumstance should you stalk or corner a one. Once you’ve gained his attention, you must draw him closer. The simplest solution to this problem is food. If you can make a fine bannock or stuff a champion haggis, you will have an easy time of enticing him forward. You must then earn his trust in a slow, steady fashion—by being as steadfast and loyal to him as he is to you.

The last stage of taming a Wild Scot is the hardest. Before you can be certain your brawny Highland warrior is truly yours, you must let him go. Set him free, then wait to see if he walks away.  For example:

She tilted her head and studied him. A droplet of rain plopped from her makeshift hood to her nose. “Would you be traveling faster if you were alone?”

He glanced away. “Aye.”

“Then leave me behind.”

A frown stormed onto his brow. “Don’t be foolish.”

“Why is that foolish?”

“I can’t leave you out here in the wilds alone.”

She held his gaze steady. “You did it once before.”

Twin flags of color rose to his cheeks. “That was different. I barely knew you then.”

“The only thing different is that this time we are ahorse.”

“Nay,” he said, glaring at her. “The last time I also had my brother to care for.”

Ana blinked. “MacCurran is your brother?”

Niall’s face tightened, and he prodded his horse forward. “Aye.”

Well, that explained a lot . . . and yet nothing. It made sense of his willingness to risk his life breaking the man out of Lochurkie, but added to the confusion over his lineage. Hadn’t he implied his mother was a whore?

“I’m perfectly able to fend for myself. You need not trouble yourself with my welfare.”

He halted again, but did not turn around. “Is that what you think this is? A mere execution of chivalric duty?”

Ana frowned. “Isn’t it?”

“Nay.” He slid off his horse and strode over to Ana. Grabbing her by the waist with a pair of big, warm hands, he tugged her to the ground. “Let me make myself clear, as it appears that I have thus far failed. I do not risk life and limb to save women I don’t give a damn about. I love you, you bloody frustrating woman.”

If he doesn’t leave, but rather insists on remaining by your side for eternity, then you’ve succeeded. You’ve tamed a Wild Scot.

Wild Scots are worth the investment of your reading time; they truly make awesome romance heroes. Aye, they are fierce and shocking and the very opposite of a proper Regency lord, but they will also risk life and limb to defend you, find you whenever you are lost, and cradle you against their brawny, broad chests when life gets a wee bit overwhelming.

So, what’s your favorite type of wild romance hero? The blatantly wild one who marches to his own drum or the urbane one with his wild side tightly held in check?

Here is more information on where to find Rowan and her books:

Buy Links:

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1g4YR3E

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1imC8x0

Books-a-Million: http://bit.ly/1ahUosn

Website: www.rowankeats.com

Facebook: http://facebook.com/RowanKeatsAuthor

Twitter: http://twitter.com/RowanKeats

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6462457.Rowan_Keats
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Would You Be a Fool For Love?

best headshotToday the Duchesses are most pleased to welcome Merry Farmer to our November house party! Merry is an award-winning author of both historical romance, and what she likes to call “sci-fi for women.”  She lives in suburban Philadelphia with her two cats and enough story ideas to keep her writing until she’s 132 years old.  Her second novel, The Faithful Heart, was a 2012 RONE Award finalist, and her unpublished futuristic novel, A Man’s World, won first place in the Novel: Character category at the 2013 Philadelphia Writer’s Conference.  Some of her published historical works include The Loyal Heart, The Faithful Heart, and The Courageous Heart, Our Little Secrets, Fool for Love, and In Your Arms (coming November 2013.)

Merry is going to dazzle us with us an excerpt of her newest release, Fool for Love and then begs the question, “What would you do?” Thanks for joining us, Merry! The floor is yours!

Thanks for asking me to visit the Duchesses!

Now, imagine yourself alone, in trouble, no one to turn to, the people you thought you could trust betraying you.  You stand on the verge of being cast out by society and sinking into dark, unknown depths.

Then, out of the blue, help comes in the form of a handsome semi-stranger.  He offers you a solution to your problem, an answer to your prayers…with one hitch.  You have to leave the world you’ve known and everyone in it behind you and start anew in a foreign land.

Would you do it?

This is the dilemma that faces Amelia Elphick in Fool for Love.  The man she thought she loved has left her pregnant and alone.  It’s a devastating fate for any woman, but in London of the 1890s, there would have been no recovery, even if she was a lady from a noble family.  So when Eric Quinlan offers her a chance to move to Montana and start over, she takes it.  And so the story begins.Fool For Love [e-book cover]_small

But what if you came face-to-face with this kind of a crisis in your own life?  It’s easy for us to read our favorite novels and watch the heroines we love get into a bind.  We love to cheer them on and hope that some handsome hero will come along to get them out of trouble.  And we might think that, of course, if we were in the same situation, we would take any offer of help that was given, particularly if it came from a tall, rugged cowboy with a lazy smile.  We in the modern world like to think of ourselves as bold and daring.  But the choice that was faced by Amelia, the choice that was faced by every woman and every family that picked up and moved out west to start over, is something beyond what we usually have to deal with these days.

Transportation and communication was advancing in the 1890s by leaps and bounds.  It was possible to cross the ocean in two weeks or less and the continent of North America in a matter of days.  The telephone had been invented and with a little time and effort you could talk to someone across great distances.  But for most people, these epic journeys were a once or twice in a lifetime experience.  Moving from London to Montana was an almost permanent prospect.  For someone who had a past to run from, it might have been a godsend.  For those who wished to hold on, it could have been a nightmare.

So what do you think you would do?  Would you rather risk shame and ruin but stay near to everything you’ve known in your life?  Would you take your chances and find a way to make life work at home?  Or would you strike out, trading one culture for another in an attempt to clean the slate?  Do you think you could hide the sins of your past if you did?

For your pleasure, here is an excerpt from Fool For Love:

London, 1896

The ballroom of Mr. Reginald Hamilton’s townhouse was awash in bright, swirling colors.  The lamps were all lit, bathing the room in a warm, sparkling glow.  Musicians played a lively waltz.  The scents of candles, perfume, and bodies was rich as half of London society danced their cares away.  But above it all, the room buzzed with the sound of lords and ladies spreading the latest gossip.

Amelia Elphick wedged her way through it all, heart pounding terror in her throat, one hand clutching the not-so subtle curve of her stomach.  Her simple cotton skirt and blouse marked her as an interloper amongst the finery, even as she struggled to keep her head high.

“Who is that?” she caught one of the ladies murmuring.

“Dear Lord, that’s the Marquess of Horsham’s daughter!” a second woman gasped.

Amelia blanched, pushing on through the crush.  It was too late to turn back.

“Look at the state of her!” the first woman said.

“I heard she’s the governess here now,” the second woman informed her with a haughty sniff.

“That’s not what I meant,” the first replied.  “Look at the state of her.”

Amelia dropped her trembling hand from her belly.  She was well aware that she was past the point where her sins could go unnoticed, but this was her last chance.  Nick was at this ball.

She spotted him several yards away, deep in conversation with her employer, Mr. Hamilton.  Nicholas Hayworth stood tall and handsome, the aristocratic lines of his face sharp in the lamplight.  The  rich blue of his eyes and black of his hair drew the attention of every woman in the room.  She knew his face so well, knew every contour of his nimble body.  Even now, with shame threatening like a thundercloud, she wanted to embrace that body, to melt into him and have him tell her everything would be all right.

A different body, as tall as Nick’s but broader and more muscular, bumped into Amelia as she surged toward Nick.  The man knocked her off balance, sending her spilling over her feet and his.  She flailed for balance and hit a glass out of one of the fine guest’s hands.  The man caught her, but the sound of shattering glass and a lady shrieking broke through the hum of gossip.  All eyes snapped to her.

“Watch it there, Miss Amelia.”

Amelia raised wary eyes to the man who had both tripped and caught her.  Her heart sank.  Of all the Hamilton’s guests, she had bumbled into Mr. Quinlan, the American that had been staying in the house for the last few months.  He smiled at her with his artless brown eyes and boyish grin and set her back on her feet.  The hush that had followed her spill burst into a full roar of whispers.

“You all right?” Mr. Quinlan asked again as he brushed imaginary dirty off of her skirt.

All Amelia could manage was a tight nod.  “I’m fine, thank you.”

It was a lie.  She swallowed and turned, wincing, to Nick.  He had seen her stumble.  Everyone had seen her stumble.  Nick sneered at her, his head tilted with aloof grace.  She had to do this now, before it was too late.  All eyes bored into her as she rushed through the gap that had formed in the crowd.

“Nick,” she kept her voice low as she reached him, “Nick I must speak with you.  It is a matter of utmost urgency.”

She reached out to him.  Nick backed away.  His glance darted through the crowd that now judged him as much as her.

“I have nothing to say to you, Miss Elphick,” he hissed.

“Please, Nick!”  The threat of tears pinched Amelia’s voice.  “You know … you know what it’s come to.”  She smoothed her hand over the bump of her belly.

Nick sniffed and backed further away.  “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

To his side, Reginald Hamilton’s back stiffened.  His eyes went round with shock and disgust.  “Miss Elphick!” he exclaimed in a whisper.  “What is the meaning of this?”

A flash of boldness stiffened Amelia’s back and her resolve.  “Ask Mr. Hayworth,” she said.  “It is his doing.”

Nick blanched, shrinking from the eavesdropping guests.  “How dare you!”

“No, Nick, how dare you!”  Her attempt at bravado withered as the horror of the situation spilled over her.  “I have your child growing inside of me and you know it.  You have known it all along, yet you turn your back on me?”

“Miss Elphick,” Mr. Hamilton was red with rage, “Have I have entrusted the care of my precious little girls to a harlot?”

Before Amelia could summon a defense, Nick muttered, “Like mother, like daughter.”

The pitch of whispered gossip around her spun with such fevered intensity that Amelia thought she might swoon.  Ripples of shock spread through the room as London’s finest stood on tip-toes to see the tragic farce unfold.

Amelia met Nick’s eyes with what was left of her pride, tears running two hot trails down her cheeks.  “I loved you.  We were to be married … before.”

“Yes, well that clearly isn’t the case now.”  The smirk that bit at Nick’s beautiful face was too much to bear.  Every promise he had made shattered.

“My family is not what it once was.”  Amelia made one last attempt to stave off ruin, sniffling and wiping her eyes.  “But you and I have been friends for too long to break over such things.  I thought … I thought you still cared for me.”

“I care for certain parts of you.”  Nick’s gaze flickered down.

“Mr. Hayworth,” Mr. Hamilton warned, “my house has seen enough scandal for one night.  Pray do not make it double.”

“Forgive me, sir.”  Nick bowed low to his host.  “It was not my wish to disrupt your magnificent gathering.  That, I believe, was the lady’s intent.”  His stare pierced Amelia with such malevolence that her heart withered.

“I have no wish to make our private emergencies public,” Amelia countered.

Our emergencies?” Nick balked.  “I think not.”

Amelia’s chest constricted in panic.  “You must help me, Nick,” she implored in barely more than a whisper.  “You must-”

“There is nothing I must do,” he clipped his reply.  “You have ruined yourself, now face the consequences.”

Amelia gulped, tears stinging.  A sob caught in her throat as the weight of her sins piled down on her.  She stole a desperate glance around the room.  Men and women who had smiled and welcomed her at her coming-out just three short years ago now turned up their noses at her as if she was diseased.  It was all because she couldn’t control her instincts.  Her cheeks burned scarlet in humiliation.

With one last deep breath she laid her life at Nick’s feet.

“So you have no intention of fulfilling your responsibility toward….”  She couldn’t say it.  She couldn’t even think that Nick’s child was inside of her.  “After all we-”

“Enough, Miss Elphick!” Mr. Hamilton snapped.  “Go to your room!  We will discuss this in the morning.”

Amelia gasped, blinking rapidly.  She had heard that tone of voice, seen the same sharp glower from Mr. Hamilton when one of his daughters had disobeyed.  She took another step back, lowering her head.  It was no use resisting.  Her great gamble had been a failure.  Her life was over.

She turned to flee, but where she had hoped to find a quick escape, she was met by a wall of faces.  Women and men of refinement and breeding, their jewels as bright as the scorn in their eyes, stared at her as though she was a guttersnipe loose amongst her betters.  The turned-up lips, the pointed glares at the bulge of her stomach, the whispering behind hands and fans, flayed Amelia like a scourge.

It took all of her effort to put one foot in front of the other.  Her whole body shook as she walked through the crowded ballroom, the last vestige of what her life had been.  The musicians had stopped playing, the dancers had stopped dancing.  Her heart had stopped beating.  She couldn’t lift her head or raise her eyes to meet any of them.  With all the awkward humiliation of her fall, she shuffled toward the door.

“Of course you’d expect that from Sophia deLaurent’s daughter,” someone murmured to her left.

“She always did give herself airs,” another voice chased her, “but ones true nature always shows through the gloss, doesn’t it.”

“Such a pity,” a male voice chuckled to her right.  “I wonder how much she’ll charge once she’s taken her place on the market.”

Amelia burst into a sob, clapping a hand to her mouth.  It was over.  She didn’t care who she crashed into or whose toes she stepped on as she fled the room at a run.

She passed Mr. Quinlan, who was red with fury, at the door.  His fury was no more than she deserved.  She was furious with herself for the folly that had cast her out of the life she’d tried to resurrect for herself.  But there was no hiding from the truth of who one really was at heart.

So, let me ask again: What would you do?  Risk shame and ruin but stay near to everything you’ve known in your life?  Take your chances and find a way to make life work at home?  Or would you strike out, trading one culture for another in an attempt to clean the slate?  Do you think you could hide the sins of your past if you did?

To contact Merry and find out where to get her books, here are links to her various social media venues.

Website: http://merryfarmer.net

Twitter: @merryfarmer20

Facebook: www.facebook.com/merryfarmerauthor

Amazon Page: http://www.amazon.com/Merry-Farmer/e/B006RATLFC/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1366067537&sr=8-2-ent

 

 

 

Interview with the lovely Lady Shana Galen!

smaller spy wore blue-300 (3)Today the Duchesses are most pleased to welcome our esteemed guest, Lady Shana Galen. She’s here for a spot of tea, a bit of juicy gossip, and most importantly, to tell us all about her latest release. Lady Galen is the bestselling author of fast-paced adventurous Regency historicals, including the RT Reviewers’ Choice THE MAKING OF A GENTLEMAN. Once an English teacher, she now writes full time, is happily married, and claims her young daughter is most definitely a romance heroine in the making. Welcome, Lady Galen!

SG:  Thank you for having me! I’m excited to be here.

TB:  If heard whispers you’ve just released a novella.  You simply must tell me about it!

SG:  THE SPY WORE BLUE is part of my LORD AND LADY SPY series, which actually didn’t start out to be a series. Readers wanted more, and specifically requested Blue’s story. So here it is. Blue is probably the best spy the elite Barbican group has to offer, and he travels to Naples, Italy in pursuit of an assassin. Reaper, the assassin, is “haunting” the Teatro di San Carlo, which just happens to be where a woman from Blue’s past is a renowned opera singer. Helena shoots Blue with a pistol in chapter one, and we’re off!

TB:  I always find it entertaining when the heroine maims the hero, but perhaps that’s just me! How does writing a novella differ from drafting a full-length novel?

SG:  I didn’t think I’d like writing in a shorter format, but I really did, and so much that I will be doing more. The main thing was to make sure the development of the characters’ relationship didn’t feel rushed. I also had to cut subplots and unnecessary secondary characters. Really what I wrote was a Shana Galen novel without all the frills.

TB:  Oh, my. We Duchesses adore our frills, but sometimes even we like something with less frippery. Especially during summer days when one simply wants to pass an hour or two reading. I look forward to wiling away an afternoon with your story! Do you have writing rituals or can you write anytime, anyplace?

SG:  I have to write whenever I have the chance. I have an almost four-year-old, and she doesn’t like for my attention to be anywhere but on her.

TB:  Ah, yes. Baby Galen. I enjoy her antics on Facebook! The four-year-old demographic is a tough audience! How do you juggle writing with motherhood?

SG:  I have a lot of help. Baby Galen goes to a local preschool, and that gives me some dedicated writing time. She loves it there, and she’s home before three, so we have the afternoons to hang out together.

TB:  That’s lovely. The best of both worlds. What, may I ask, are you working on now?

SG:  I’m finishing the third in the LORD AND LADY SPY series, LOVE AND LET SPY.

TB:  Forgive my vulgar slang, but I must say that is a flippin’ awesome title. Love the play on words! You’ve been a prolific writer and show all signs of continuing on that path. We are so impressed! Could you describe your first release day? And what is a release day like for you now that you have so many wonderful books already published?

SG:  Is it bad if I don’t remember? It was back in 2005. I think I went to the bookstore to see my book on the shelf and my boyfriend, now husband, took me out to dinner. I do remember that I just sort of enjoyed the day. I might have had a radio interview, but I didn’t do much work. Things are so different in 2013. Release day is more work than other days for me because I have to get the word out and respond to readers on social media. I’m usually blogging somewhere, so I have to check in there, and I’m usually writing more blogs for other stops on the tour. But I always take at least an hour to appreciate how fortunate I am to have 14 books published now and more on the way. My husband helps by always bringing me flowers and either getting take-out or taking me to dinner.

TB:  That’s a hero! I do think it’s interesting how much things have changed in just the last few years with regard to release days. But even if you can’t remember, it must have been a thrill to see your book on the store shelf. You have some contemporary titles, too. Why did you make the switch from that to historical?

SG:  Actually, I published my first historical and my first contemporary simultaneously, so I’ve always written historicals. I wrote the contemporaries back in the day when chick lit was huge. Pretty soon sales in that genre declined, and I was told to focus on my historicals. Dropping the contemporaries was a survival strategy. I’d love to do more, but right now, I honestly don’t have the time.

TB:  I’m sure your historical readers are thrilled you’ve focused on that genre! What is something you know now that you did not know when you were working on your first manuscript?

SG:  So many things, but one big difference now is that I think about my reader. I wrote my first manuscript for fun and for me (WHEN DASHING MET DANGER). Now I think about what will resonate with readers. I wouldn’t write something I didn’t want to write because I do have to live with the book for months and months, but I may make certain choices about my characters based on what readers have told me.

TB:  How do you do your research?

SG:  I put XX in my manuscript if I don’t know something or need to research it more. I’ve written a lot in my historical period, so I know the basics. When the book is done, I research online or go to my bookshelf and pull down the materials I need, for example, on spies or horses or clothing.

TB:  That’s a wise strategy. I tend to stop in the middle of a manuscript to hunt down some obscure fact and two hours later, I’m lost in some article that has nothing to do with anything! Describe your writing space.

SG:  I have an office, but I wouldn’t get much done if I went there because it’s not very convenient. I mainly work at the kitchen table. I like it because I can see what my daughter is up to and there are a lot of huge windows opening into a garden.

TB:  You are a member of the Sisterhood of the Jaunty Quills. How did that blog come to be?

SG:  It started in 2004 or 2005 with a bunch of Avon authors. That was when blogging was new and blogs like Squawk Radio were popular. We wanted to get in on a new way to reach readers, and most of us really enjoyed it and stayed with it for years. Robyn DeHart, Cindy Kirk, and I are all founding members and are still there.

TB:  Excellent, and now it’s random question time. Do you have a pet?

SG:  I have two cats, which my daughter named Mickey and Maisy.

TB:  Describe your favorite pair of shoes.

SG:  Black Converse sneakers. Love them.

TB:  If you could have dinner with any fictional character, who would you choose?

SG:  Maybe Stephanie Plum from Janet Evanovich’s books. I think she’d be fun and something interesting would probably happen. I’d like to say Eve Dallas from JD Robb’s books, but I’m a little scared of Eve.

TB:  Perfect man: Alpha or Beta?

SG:  In real life, not alpha! We would butt heads. In fictional life, alpha all the way. I love the arrogant protector-type.shana bio pic

TB:  What do you usually think of when you first wake up, or when you’re trying to fall asleep?

SG:  When I first wake up, I think coffee. I generally pass out before I can think anything when I’m going to sleep.

TB:  What food can you not live without?

SG:  Strawberries because that’s about all my daughter will reliably eat. I buy them by the crate.

TB:  Thank you so very much, Lady Galen for sharing time with us! Best of luck to you with all your future endeavors.

For readers wanting to know more about Shana Galen’s August release, THE SPY WORE BLUE: A LORD AND LADY SPY NOVELLA, here is a description:

An exciting new novella in the popular Lord and Lady Spy series. Blue, an elite spy, tracks an assassin to Naples and the theater where his estranged wife performs. As he falls in love with his Helena again, Blue races to apprehend the assassin before he destroys them both.

Shana loves to hear from readers: visit her website or see what she’s up to daily on Facebook and Twitter.  Her books are available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble

SURRENDER this holiday season with Tracy Brogan!

Tracy Brogan Pub PhotoI was born on December 25th. Personally I have always enjoyed this fact about myself. While it is true, upon occasion my birthday celebration gets lost amidst the holiday madness, I like to think that while everyone else is having a jolly, old, standard-fare Christmas, I’m having something a little more spectacular. In fact, I *see* your Christmas and I *raise* you a birthday.

My birthday is the whipped cream on top of the hot fudge that is Christmas.  And what duchess doesn’t adore a little whipped cream?

 

I’m also fortunate that my dear husband makes an effort to remember my birthday in a way which all husbands should, and so few do. Considering the haste and mayhem often surrounding Christmas, he could by all accounts plead ignorance, forgivable forgetfulness, or testosterone-triggered indifference. He does none of these. Every December the 24th he scurries to the nearest bake-shoppe to obtain a frosted confection bearing my name and, most thoughtfully, not my age. On the 25th, after all the paper from the family presents has been torn asunder, he gets out this cake, lights the candles, and I get to make a wish.

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For the Birds

As any proper duchess will tell you, all things good and glorious were either invented, or at the very least discovered, by the English.

The pencil, the perambulator, spotted dick. Uranus. The planet, of course. However, one thing which feels inherently English but is not, is the noble art of Falconry.

 

Historical evidence suggests falconry dates back as far as 2000 BC and originated in Mongolia. It was most likely introduced in Europe around AD 400, when the Huns invaded from the East. Frederick II of Hohenstaufen (Everyone knows Freddie, yes?) is generally considered the most reliable source of falconry knowledge which he obtained during his wartime travels in 1228. He obtained a copy of Arabic falconer Moamyn’s manual and had it translated into Latin. Frederick himself made corrections to the translation in 1241 and later wrote “De Arte Venandi cum Avibus.” For those among us who are a little rusty with their Latin, that means “The Art of Hunting Birds.”

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Tea Time with Elizabeth Boyle

Today the Duchesses are pleased as punch to welcome New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Elizabeth Boyle. She has penned eighteen romantic novels including Confessions of a Little Black Gown, Love Letters from a Duke, Hero, Come Back, How I Met My Countess, and Memoirs of a Scandalous Red Dress. Elizabeth has been thrice nominated for the RWA® RITA, and garnered a Career Achievement Award for Innovative Historical Romance. She has received dozens of other accolades during her prolific career and we are so happy to have her here today.

 

TB:  Thank you again for joining us, Elizabeth. Please tell us about your most recent release? What are the themes of this story?

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Nudity and Chocolate

 

Today I was planning to share some delicious tidbits about the legendary Lady Godiva— because what’s more tantalizing than the tale of a nude noblewoman riding a glorious, high-stepping steed through the streets of Coventry?

 

Not much, especially when you consider the era in which her journey occurred. The 11th century was not known for its exhibitionist tendencies.

 

So I promise to tell you a little about that. But as I researched this bold, remarkable woman, I uncovered some historical morsels of a much more delectable nature. And I’d like to tell you about that, too.

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Island Holiday

 

Ahh, spring break.

 

 

That thoroughly American ritual during which young lords and ladies cavort about on sandy beaches, swilling cheap ale, and exposing bits even one’s valet and nursemaid would be shocked to see. With this weeks’ pilgrimage to Daytona in full swing, I began to ponder vacation destinations of a more genteel and historical nature. Being from Michigan, my thoughts turned naturally toward Mackinac Island and its charming Grand Hotel.

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James V. Royal Bad Boy or Misunderstood Sovereign?

What do you get when you mix one power-hungry stepfather with one foolhardy, English-born queen, add a dastardly uncle and a baby king? The makings of a fascinating fairy tale, right?

 

Or, the real life of James V.

 

Born at Linlithgow Palace on April 10, 1512, James V was crowned King of Scotland at the ripe old age of seventeen months. His father had died at the Battle of Flodden, and within weeks, his mother, Margaret Tudor, sister of Henry VIII, remarried Archibald Douglas, 6th Earl of Angus. Like the proverbial evil stepparent found in all good fairy tales, Douglas used young James V as a political pawn and it  was this contentious relationship which colored much of the young king’s perspective and lead to several major events of his life, including his captivity. It didn’t help matters much that James’ mother, and his “Uncle Henry” (Henry VIII) also conspired against him to push their pro-English agenda at the cost of his Scottish loyalty.

 

But first things first.

 

After Sweet Baby James V was crowned, and Margaret married Douglas, the Scottish nobles formed a Board of Regents to rule the country until the king was ‘old enough’ to claim his throne. But Douglas used his position to accumulate more lands, titles, and wealth. He appointed his relatives to various government and church posts, solidifying the base of Douglas superiority. So much so, that his power eventually rivaled that of the monarchy.

 

Around age thirteen, James V began expressing concern over his stepfather’s growing authority and also his poor handling of certain skirmishes along the border between England and Scotland. James wrote to his uncle, Henry VIII, asking for assistance. Douglas responded by moving the king to remote Tantallon Castle, located along the southeast coast, and holding him captive. For more than two years, Douglas kept the boy king ‘entertained’ by providing him with prostitutes and ‘allowed him to indulge in allurements and improper pleasures,’ presumably thinking that if he kept James occupied, he wouldn’t be motivated to leave. Whether or not this impacted James’ future sexual appetites, he did grow up to become a complete, royal horn-dog. More about that later!

 

 By age sixteen (or thereabout) the king was ready to make a break for it. His mother, who had long wanted to divorce Douglas, was living at Stirling Castle, probably trying to develop a poison apple for her estranged spouse. Under cover of darkness, and allegedly disguised as a prostitute himself, James escaped to Stirling. It’s unclear how Queen Margaret reacted when her son showed up on her doorstep, but it is clear that she did little to aid him during his time of imprisonment. It’s also clear she’d made attempts to get him moved to England where he’d be ‘under the protection’ of her brother, Henry, even while knowing that could cost him his throne. Her loyalties were decidedly English. One historian remarked, “Margaret possessed all the flaws of the Tudor men, but none of their charm.”

At Stirling, James gathered together those nobles who were equally frustrated with Douglas’ abuse of power, and together they attacked Tantallon. Douglas escaped and made his way to England to cower under Henry VIII’s chair.

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