Feed Your Reader: A Bluestocking on the Run

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When he goes hunting a thief, he never expects to catch a bluestocking…

Marie had the perfect life plan: she would satisfy her father’s ambition by graduating as one of the first female doctors in Europe, and she would satisfy her mother’s ambition by marrying a very suitable fiancé in a grandiose society ceremony. Only weeks away from completing the former, Marie is mere days away from achieving the latter. But her whole life is thrown into chaos when her fiancé dies, mysteriously returns, and then is shot and killed, and Marie risks her own reputation to save the life of the man falsely accused of the murder.

Gordon, Lord Stanmore, finally tracks down the conman who stole from his estate, only to find himself embroiled in a murder plot. The woman he rescues offers to rescue him in return, by marrying him and providing an alibi. Gordon’s ready agreement to the scheme grows the more time he spends with his new wife. Her wit, her intelligence, her calm, her charm: Gordon finds himself more and more enchanted with this woman he met by mistake. But as the clues to the identity of the murderer start to align with the clues to the thief, they reveal a more elaborate scheme than he could have imagined, and though he might desire Marie, Gordon is unsure if he can trust her.

As their chase leads them out of Amsterdam and into the UK, both Gordon and Marie must adjust to the life that has been thrust upon them and decide if marriage came first, can love come after?

In Pursuit of a Bluestocking is available now!

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Exclusive Excerpt: By the Currawong’s Call

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A small town, a new arrival, and a love that is as undeniable as it is unlawful…

‘Who would you say my friends are in Dinbratten?’

Matthew was momentarily stumped by the apparent change of subject and it took him a second or two to dredge up a name. ‘Um. George, I suppose? Or Albie at the pub?’

‘I’m a trooper,’ Parks said, as though that fact had been somehow forgotten. ‘My presence tends to make people uncomfortable. Like they’re immediately looking for what the trouble or the danger is as soon as I walk in a room. I think I make them feel a bit guilty, even if they’ve never done a bad thing in their whole life. And I can’t help thinking,’ his voice dropped slightly, ‘that men in your line of work must have it something similar.’

For a moment, Matthew couldn’t think what to say in response. He’d never before encountered such an attempt at solidarity. ‘I think I understand you, Sergeant,’ he said evenly. He glanced down at the bottle in his hand and smiled. ‘Though I must say, I’ve never had anyone offer me a gift of, well, sex before.’

‘Eh.’ Parks took the bottle back. ‘People see the cassock and the collar and they forget there’s a man underneath ’em, I s’pose.’

‘But not you?’

At the question, Parks paused with the bottle partway to his mouth and gave Matthew a penetrating look. ‘I see ya.’

On the receiving end of that look, Matthew felt a little hot under the aforementioned collar and realised belatedly that he had managed to get slightly tipsy. He cleared his throat. ‘It’s Sunday tomorrow…’

‘Don’t be offended if half the town are too hungover to turn up.’

Matthew smiled at that. His face was still feeling warm. ‘I think I’ll be bidding you goodnight now, Sergeant.’

Parks crossed his arms over his chest, liquor bottle nestled in the crook of his left elbow. ‘You called me Jonah earlier.’

Had he? Yes, Matthew remembered, he had. ‘You still call me Father,’ he pointed out.

‘So I do.’ One side of Parks’ mouth pulled up in his quirky grin. When it didn’t seem likely that he was going to say anything else, Matthew took a shuffling step back toward the door.

‘Well,’ he said, ‘goodnight, then.’

‘Goodnight,’ Parks returned. ‘Matthew.’

Matthew fumbled the doorknob and took his leave.

By the Currawong’s Call is available for pre-order now and releases 20 November.

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Bi-Visibility: Highlighting Some Favourite Bi-Characters

by Welton B Marsland

(Editor’s Note: September 23, Bi-visibility Day, has been marked each year since 1999 to highlight biphobia and to help people find the bisexual community)

Writing my novel, By the Currawong’s Call, it was important to me that I show the character of Jonah Parks as quite obviously bisexual. Even after falling in love with a man, he continues to admire women and female sexuality – I was determined to avoid the bi-erasure that’s all too prevalent in popular culture. Often, the fluidity of human sexuality is ignored in favour of absolutes (television, in particular, seems most fearful of the simple little word “bi” and rarely brings itself to acknowledge it).

As September is Bi Visibility Month (with September 23rd Bi Visibility Day), I’d like to celebrate four unabashed bisexual characters from screens large and small.

Alec Scudder

Appears in: Merchant-Ivory’s adaptation of E.M. Forster’s classic novel Maurice

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Played by: Rupert Graves

In both book and movie, Alec Scudder, a working class gamekeeper, is there long before we or Maurice notice him. He emerges from the narrative slowly and naturally, making us blink and wonder how we could possibly have missed him – Maurice must have felt the same way. Scudder is truly one of my favourite characters in all of literature, so brave and determined and self-accepting. The sacrifice he makes for love, for the possibility of “a happier year” is awe inspiring. D.H. Lawrence may have created a more famous gamekeeper over a decade later, but Forster’s is the one that makes my breath catch.

“First time I see’d you, I thought, I wish I had that one. And it is so.”


Saxa

Appears in: Spartacus TV series

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Played by: Ellen Hollman

Many TV shows over the years have used a bisexual female character to quickly and cleanly tick a diversity box. They just seem so much more palatable and non-threatening, don’t they? Wonderfully, there is nothing in the least bit “non-threatening” about Saxa, a slave from Germania freed by Spartacus’ growing army to become one of its most formidable warriors. Saxa approaches her love life with the same fearlessness she approaches a battlefield, and yet still retains her capacity for tender moments. She lives large, like most of the Germanic characters in Spartacus, never shrinking from anything.

“I rival any fucking man.”


the Earl of Rochester

Appears in: the movie Plunkett & Macleane

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Played by: Alan Cumming

The real Earl of Rochester wrote bawdy verse and outraged Georgian society with his hedonistic lifestyle. This Rochester doesn’t pen any poetry, but quips and puns his way through this rollicking romp, holding his own amongst highwaymen and villains, and wishing he was holding someone else’s. With an eloquent smirk and an eye as sharp as his dress sense, this Rochester believes in justice and friendship and is prepared to draw his sword on a bad guy in order to save the day.

“I swing EVERY way.”


Crowley

Appears in: long-running TV series Supernatural

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Played by: Mark A. Sheppard

King of the crossroads, the Demon King of Hell, Crowley is a slippery character. What his true sexuality is might be anyone’s guess (do demons truly even have one?), but he’s certainly an equal-opportunity flirt and takes great delight in procuring those seal-the-deal kisses from desperate souls. One of the few Supernatural characters who seems to see everything that’s going on, even the unspoken and unacknowledged, and isn’t afraid to make a pointed remark about it. Friend? Foe? Fuckbuddy? Only Crowley himself could ever know for sure.

“Your choice. You can cling to six decades of deep-seated homophobia or, just give it up.”


32275A small town, a new arrival, and a love that is as undeniable as it is unlawful…

Victoria, Australia, 1891

Anglican priest Matthew Ottenshaw receives his first posting in tiny Dinbratten, two days’ ride from his Melbourne home. Determined to honour his calling as best he can, he throws himself into the footy mad, two-pub town, navigating the dusty streets, learning the gossip, and striking up a friendship with Jonah Parks, the resident police sergeant and local bona fide hero.

A police officer and a priest often find themselves needed at the same place, and Jonah and Matthew’s friendship deepens quickly, as they set about their business of protecting the bodies and souls of Dinbratten’s residents. When a bushfire threatens the town, and Matthew’s inexperience with fire endangers the church buildings, Jonah comes to the rescue, and a reckless kiss in the midst of the chaos takes their friendship to forbidden.

Neither Matthew nor Jonah can go back to the way things were before, but continuing their relationship puts everything at risk: their jobs, their friends, even their lives. In the outback town of Dinbratten where everyone knows everything about everyone else, how can they ever expect to keep a secret this explosive?

“Told with an old-fashioned, authentically Australian wink and a smile – including even a couple of laugh-out-loud japes – By the Currawong’s Call is also a tale with a very timely message: people in love will marry whether it’s legal or not.” – Kim Kelly

“By the Currawong’s Call is warm and sweet and sympathetic and respectful, with skilled and lovingly descriptive prose. A really satisfying read for a rainy day when you want to feel like there is love and hope even through trying times.” – Plain B, NetGalley

“Stars: five, Its a story to savour, a book to re-read later and had an epilogue I loved.” – Jeannie Z, Reviewer

“This was beautifully written and full of love and hope.” – Ashley B, NetGalley

By the Currawong’s Call is available for pre-order now.

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A Bullet and a Family Legend

by Renee Dahlia

Inspirations for stories come from many places, seemingly random connections between two unrelated events. In Pursuit of a Bluestocking is the second book in the series, and all through the first (To Charm a Bluestocking), Marie was engaged to Bertrand, boring, bland Bertrand. A story about him is uninspiring, and therefore the challenge was laid down. How could I craft a story that makes him not boring?

I delved into the family legends and plucked out the story of the bullet, gave the bullet to a much more illustrious person, the Duke of Nemour (who has the unfortunate place in history as the first general killed by a bullet). Throw in a few curve balls, a boxing champion hero, and a villain who manipulates everything, and Marie’s tale, In Pursuit of a Bluestocking, was born.

My family legend occurred one hundred and forty years ago, in 1877, at the Battle of Shipka Pass between the Russian Empire and the Ottoman Empire. One of the soldiers for the Russians was my great-great-great uncle Pavel who was a member of the Russian Imperial Guard. By 1863, aged 22, he was commander of a rifle battalion, and took part in the suppression of the Polish Uprising in 1863. This photo was taken in that year.

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Concerned about the atrocities that the Turks were committing against Christians living in the regions of what is now Bulgaria, Serbia and Montenegro, Tsar Alexander II declared war on the Ottoman Empire on 24 April 1877. Pavel’s unit fought in the attack led by the Russian General Radetsky on 27 December, but unfortunately, he was shot in the leg during the battle. After the bullet was removed in an army hospital, Pavel returned home to St. Petersburg in January 1878. He recovered well enough to walk with a crutch, but in March, Pavel succumbed to infection and died aged 37. In a rather gothic decision, the bullet was made into a keepsake with a gold cage placed around it. The details of the battle were inscribed into the gold, and on the base, the family crest was engraved. Or at least, that’s what the family legend said.

Last year, when my father was researching the story, he rang his cousin, and asked, “should I include the story of the bullet? Is it real?” 

Of course, it is real. It is sitting on my desk in front of me.”

pavels bullet

The newspaper reports at the time are full of overt racism that many modern day readers ought to feel uncomfortable with, such as these excerpt from The Times on 19 July 1877:

There lay men who had been wounded or unwounded prisoners in the hands of the Turkish ‘gentlemen,’ who had foully murdered and mutilated them, showing thus that they are savages as cruel as any in Africa or India.

On the one side [Russia] civilization, rough if you will, but still civilization, based on the precepts of Christianity; on the other side [Turks] barbarism and the worse than bestial ferocity of cruel men.”

It is no wonder that when the British Empire fought the Ottoman Empire at Gallipoli less than 40 years later, during WWI, that they severely underestimated the ‘savage Turks’. The ANZAC tradition came from that battle, while the 1877 battle at Shipka Pass created a new country. The Ottoman Empire lost badly to the Russians, which enabled Bulgaria to be liberated and form their own country.

You can learn more about the battle here.


32236When he goes hunting a thief, he never expects to catch a bluestocking…

Marie had the perfect life plan: she would satisfy her father’s ambition by graduating as one of the first female doctors in Europe, and she would satisfy her mother’s ambition by marrying a very suitable fiancé in a grandiose society ceremony. Only weeks away from completing the former, Marie is mere days away from achieving the latter. But her whole life is thrown into chaos when her fiancé dies, mysteriously returns, and then is shot and killed, and Marie risks her own reputation to save the life of the man falsely accused of the murder.

Gordon, Lord Stanmore, finally tracks down the conman who stole from his estate, only to find himself embroiled in a murder plot. The woman he rescues offers to rescue him in return, by marrying him and providing an alibi. Gordon’s ready agreement to the scheme grows the more time he spends with his new wife. Her wit, her intelligence, her calm, her charm: Gordon finds himself more and more enchanted with this woman he met by mistake. But as the clues to the identity of the murderer start to align with the clues to the thief, they reveal a more elaborate scheme than he could have imagined, and though he might desire Marie, Gordon is unsure if he can trust her.

As their chase leads them out of Amsterdam and into the UK, both Gordon and Marie must adjust to the life that has been thrust upon them and decide if marriage came first, can love come after?

Pre-order In Pursuit of a Bluestocking now!

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Not caught up on the series? Grab book 1To Charm a Bluestocking!

 

Exclusive Excerpt: In Pursuit of a Bluestocking

32236

When he goes hunting a thief, he never expects to catch a bluestocking…

Spring 1888

Marie sat, head bowed, in the tiny red-brick church on the edge of the small village of Kleindorp. Her carefully constructed life plan lay in ruins. In only two days, the grandiose wedding ceremony that she’d spent two years helping her mother plan should have taken place. Instead, she sat at her fiancé’s funeral, unable to believe that Bertrand was dead. How could a simple accident take away all her dreams? Light shone at an angle through the side windows in the church, sending scattered streams across the aisle, creating shadows on the wooden pews. Dust motes danced in the light breeze that swirled in the empty space, much like the vacancy inside her. The Aanspreker droned on, and his voice echoed around the empty room. His words muffled in Marie’s ears against the clamour inside.

The final preparations for her extravagant wedding had been well underway when that fateful note had arrived from his sister, Loretta. Her dear Bertrand had been crushed by a wagon carrying fruit to market two days prior, and the funeral would be today. Guilt rose in her throat, and she rubbed her palm against her neck as she thought about how she’d spent more time with her mother on the wedding preparations than with him in the last week. Now the news of his demise seemed to appear out of nowhere. She’d left her mother and her two best friends—Josephine, now Lady St. George, and Claire—at her parent’s house in Amsterdam, surrounded by happy wedding clutter. Flowers and gowns and the like filled the room with the happy scent of love.

In Pursuit of a Bluestocking is available for pre-order now!

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Friday Five: Lena Dowling

Author: Lena Dowling
First Published with Escape: March, 2013
Favourite Romance Trope: Marriage of Convenience
Ideal Hero: The only non-negotiable qualification is that he loves the heroine more than life itself (even if he doesn’t know it yet).
Ideal Heroine: Determined, resourceful, feisty, and fiercely loyal. She doesn’t need a drop dead gorgeous hero but she sure deserves one.
Latest Book: Convict Heart (Book 3 in the Convict Series)

What began your writing career? Why do you write romance?

Inspiration came reading  a Mills and Boon romance set in the South Island of  New Zealand (on the wild and rugged Otago Peninsula in Dunedin) when I was a teenager. Up until then all the books I’d ever read were written about impossibly far away places by American and British authors. That book made the setting and characters hyper-real. Writing suddenly seemed like something someone living at the end of the world could do. And it is truly the end of the world – there’s not a whole heck of a lot of land between Dunedin and the Antarctic. Sadly I can’t recall the name of the author or the title of the book. It would have been written in the nineteen eighties and if any reader recognises it, I’d love to know who I owe my writing career to.

What is the best writing advice you have ever received?

Be mean to your characters, put them through the wringer and then build them up so they can pull themselves out of it.  Agonising to do when you care about your characters, but it makes for the best stories.

Which book written by someone else do you wish you had written?

Any of Jane Austen’s books but particularly Persuasion.  Some say it’s semi-autobiographical and its the thought that perhaps Jane was giving herself the HEA that she never got in life that makes it so poignant.

Persuasion

If you could cast anyone for the movie/stage adaption of your book and characters who would they be?

Clare Bowen – who plays Scarlett on the television drama “Nashville” to play Nellie in Convict Heart the third book in my Convict series. Clare is Australian, but she is also brilliant with accents so she could do Nellie’s Irish accent beautifully, plus she has a wonderful singing voice and when she wears her hair long she’s Nellie to a “T”. And then there’s the fact she works on “Nashville” – love it, love it, love it. 

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Snacks while writing, yes or no?

There are people who don’t eat snacks while writing? Who are these people and what sorcery do they use to fuel their muse with thin air? Potato crisps, salted peanuts, salted cashews, milk chocolate, white chocolate… during the day… segueing to evening… which includes all of the above plus wine.


30777 (2)An Australian historical romance about a woman with a past who is fighting with everything she has for her future.

All of Sydney knows she was a convict and a prostitute, but Nellie Malone is now the manager of the ‘Tullamore’ Inn, a respectable businesswoman who makes her living on her brains and hard work – no longer on her back.

But when gentleman Harry Chester, fresh to the colonies, shows up at the Tullamore with papers of ownership and plans to collect rent, Nellie’s carefully controlled world is sent into a tailspin. She has barely enough money to keep her doors open, let alone pay an owner the rent he is demanding.

The Tullamore is Nellie’s home, her hope, and her freedom all tied up into one, and she will do anything to save it. Now, she has to decide what she is willing to sacrifice to hold on to the dreams for a future she’s only just beginning to realise.

Convict Heart is available now!

 

Feed Your Reader: Weddings and Kings!

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The Belshaw brothers are back in Balkissoch…

Bridie Porter is wearing her Vera Wang gown and veil in the back of her wedding limo when she receives a compromising text about her hotelier groom. Panicked, she tells the driver to keep going and she flees from Melbourne to the small town of Balkissoch in the Adelaide Hills.

It’s the perfect pit-stop to hide from her ex and the press and to earn enough cash to stay out of sight. Unfortunately, the admin job she gets is for a wedding photography business and she’s had her fill of weddings lately. But it’s slim pickings on the work front in a town so teeny. And her new boss is strangely compelling…

After the rush and adrenaline of his job as an LA paparazzo, the last place Cody Belshaw wants to be is back in the small town where he grew up. But thanks to a clause in his father’s will that amounts to blackmail, Cody and his two brothers are stuck running a wedding business for at least a month. If there’s one thing that he’s learned in LA, however, it’s to keep business and pleasure very, very separate. Which makes his new admin employee the definition of temptation.

Bridie is desperate to stay anonymous. Cody seeks out secrets for a living. As they delve into the world of brides, boutonnières and dogs-as-best-men, both Cody and Bridie will have to decide if this is a fling…or forever.

Available now


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From award-winning author Alison Stuart comes a stirring historical trilogy about soldiers, spies, and the strong women that love them.

By The Sword

England 1650. In the aftermath of the execution of the King, England totters once more on the brink of civil war.

Kate Ashley finds her loyalty to the Parliamentary cause tested when she inherits responsibility for the estate of the Royalist Thornton family.

Jonathan Thornton, exiled and hunted for his loyalty to the King’s cause now returns to England to garner support for the young King. Finding Kate in his family home, he sees in her a chance at a life he doesn’t deserve.

But love is fragile in the face of history. What hope can one soldier and one woman hold in times like these?

The King’s Man

London 1654: Kit Lovell is a disillusioned Royalist who passes his time cheating at cards, living off his wealthy and attractive mistress and plotting the death of Oliver Cromwell.

Penniless and friendless, Thamsine Granville has lost everything. Terrified, in pain and alone, she hurls a piece of brick at the coach of Oliver Cromwell and earns herself an immediate death sentence. Only the quick thinking of a stranger saves her.

Far from the bored, benevolent rescuer that he seems, Kit plunges Thamsine into his world of espionage and betrayal – a world that has no room for falling in love.

Torn between Thamsine and loyalty to his King, Kit’s carefully constructed web of lies begins to unravel. He must make one last desperate gamble – the cost of which might be his life.

Exile’s Return

England, 1659: Following the death of Cromwell, a new king is poised to ascend the throne of England.

Imprisoned, exiled and tortured, fugitive Daniel Lovell returns to England, determined to kill the man who murdered his father. But his plans for revenge must wait, as the King has one last mission for him.

Agnes Fletcher’s lover is dead, and when his two orphaned children are torn from her care by their scheming guardian, she embarks on a perilous journey to save them. She didn’t plan on meeting the infamous Daniel Lovell.

Thrown together with separate quests – and competing obligations – Daniel and Agnes make their way from London to the English countryside, danger at every turn. Will they find the peace they crave, or will their fledgling love be a final casualty of war?

Available Now

Feed Your Reader: A Bluestocking Historical!

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She wants to be one of the world’s first female doctors; romance is not in her plans.

1887: Too tall, too shy and too bookish for England, Lady Josephine moves to Holland to become one of the world’s first female doctors. With only one semester left, she has all but completed her studies when a power-hungry professor, intent on marrying her for her political connections, threatens to prevent her graduation. Together with the other Bluestockings, female comrades-in-study, she comes up with a daring, if somewhat unorthodox plan: acquire a fake fiancé to provide the protection and serenity she needs to pass her final exams.

But when her father sends her Lord Nicholas St. George, he is too much of everything: too handsome, too charming, too tall and too broad and too distracting for Josephine’s peace of mind. She needed someone to keep her professor at bay, not keep her from her work with temptations of long walks, laughing, and languorous kisses.

Just as it seems that Josephine might be able to have it all: a career as a pioneering female doctor and a true love match, everything falls apart and Josephine will find herself in danger of becoming a casualty in the battle between ambition and love.

Friday Five: Viveka Portman

1607Author: Viveka Portman
First published with Escape: 2013
Favourite romance trope: Historical
Ideal hero (in three words): Strong, masculine, confident
Ideal heroine (in three words): Interesting, clever, thoughtful
Latest book: The Journal of a Vicar’s Wife
What began your romance writing career? Why do you write romance?

I always wrote stories from a young age, and I decided to get serious about it after my good friend and fellow author Shona Husk urged me send some of manuscripts off for publication. I chose the romance genre because I think there is far too much unhappiness in the world, and I have no intention of adding a miserable story to it. Romance by definition has a happy ending, and that’s what I love about it.

Viveka (1)What is your writing Kryptonite?

My small farm usurps most of my time these days, and though I love it, I am struggling to find time to write. Which I hate. My latest work has been ‘in progress’ for over two years: fingers crossed we’re nearly there!

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever had to research for a book?

I spent a great deal of time researching testicular injuries for my book “The Private Affairs of Lady Jane Fielding.” I am now fully versed in the appearance, and symptoms of a testicular atrophy.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

When I’m writing, my face contorts with the emotions that my character is feeling. So I’m intermittently scowling, smiling, frowning, smirking at the computer screen. My children find this disturbing.

As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/familiar? Do you have one alViveka (2)ready?

I love my animals from my sheep to my steers, but my mascot would undoubtedly have to be my cat Al, he’s a naughty, funny, cuddly monster who will sit on my lap, computer, desk for however many hours I stay there. There’s not better writing companion.


24497The final instalment in Viveka Portman’s sexy, sinful Regency Diaries sees an unhappy wife desperately seeking love—and her taciturn husband who doesn’t know how to reach her.

My husband, though I do not doubt his goodness, does not love nor want me. He married me for pure convenience. He needed a bride and I was the one offered to him. Thus I find my pleasures where I may…

Mrs Maria Reeves has been married for six years. Six long, lonely years. She craves love and affection, but married to a handsome but pious vicar she receives little in the way of earthly pleasures. The Reverend Vicar Frederick Reeves is a man of principle and morals, and is more likely to provide his wife with suggested Bible readings than carnal knowledge.

If her husband will not please her, then she will find a man who will.

But infidelity doesn’t come naturally to the vicar’s wife. Though Maria finds herself getting the sexual pleasure she desires, she also finds herself emotionally frayed and unhappy. To make matters worse, in the small village of Stanton there are always people watching, and Maria discovers that some secrets are impossible to keep. What will her upright husband do when he discovers that Maria has broken not only one of the commandments, but her vows to him?

ARRC2017 – A Wrap Up!

Renee Dahlia attended her first Australian Romance Readers Convention this weekend, and she wrote up a recap for us!

The romance community celebrated and discussed our best-selling genre at the recent Australian Romance Readers Convention. Romance readers welcomed me into the group, and made my debut experience one of easy acceptance. This sense of community is special to romance. The shared camaraderie over books is delightfully refreshing in the current climate of cynicism that has invaded world politics.

Being the geek that I am, I took notes on every session I attended. Here are a few personal highlights (you can get all the details at my website).

In the “publisher” session, readers had their chance to speak directly to publishers. The panel asked questions to the audience about how they read, where they find new authors, and importantly, what type of heroines do they want to read about but can’t find.

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Female sports stars got the biggest cheer.

The session Feminism and Romance created plenty of discussion between panel and audience. Everyone agreed that in a genre written by women, for women, there is no conflict. On wider societal issues, Erica Hayes spoke about how romance is a safe place to write about issues that affect women, because the reader knows it will work out. Any other time these issues are discussed in literature, the women end up abused and dead. Romance readers want to see heroines who get on with their lives, and heroes who respect their choices.

The Dukes Need Not Apply session descended into giggles (and super fandom) when Courtney Milan read from her current work in progress. It will be part of an anthology inspired by the popular Broadway show Hamilton. Kat Mayo (Book Thingo) kept the fan moment alive by asking Milan how to say ‘suffragette!’ (From: The Suffragette Scandal).

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Back to the theme of what readers want, someone asked the panel if they knew any books that turned the wealthy Duke trope upside down. I mentioned Alisha Rai’s A Gentleman in the Street where the heroine is a billionaire, and enjoyed an “OMG, I love that book” moment with someone. Instant book buddies. Once again, welcomed into this community.

Another questioner said “I’ve never read an historical novel, because I don’t care for the damsel in distress trope. How do you get beyond real history and create strong women?”

Milan answered for all us.

“History has lied to you.”

She went on to say that we aren’t damsels in distress. We’ve always been strong. We just get erased from history because it’s been told by men. Milan bases her characters on these strong women that she finds when looking deeper into history.


30778-1She wants to be one of the world’s first female doctors; romance is not in her plans.

1887: Too tall, too shy and too bookish for England, Lady Josephine moves to Holland to become one of the world’s first female doctors. With only one semester left, she has all but completed her studies when a power-hungry professor, intent on marrying her for her political connections, threatens to prevent her graduation. Together with the other Bluestockings, female comrades-in-study, she comes up with a daring, if somewhat unorthodox plan: acquire a fake fiancé to provide the protection and serenity she needs to pass her final exams.

But when her father sends her Lord Nicholas St. George, he is too much of everything: too handsome, too charming, too tall and too broad and too distracting for Josephine’s peace of mind. She needed someone to keep her professor at bay, not keep her from her work with temptations of long walks, laughing, and languorous kisses.

Just as it seems that Josephine might be able to have it all: a career as a pioneering female doctor and a true love match, everything falls apart and Josephine will find herself in danger of becoming a casualty in the battle between ambition and love.