Love and Courtship in Regency England

I admit I’ve been out of the dating scene for (ahem) a few years now. However, from what my single friends tell me, not much has changed since I was dated. In today’s world a man asks out a woman, (or if she’s braver than I ever was, she asks him out). They might meet online, or be introduced by a friend, but eventually they end up on that first date. It might be dinner or drinks or just coffee (in my case, hot cocoa). It might involve a movie or miniature golf or a museum. It might even occasionally include another couple but it never involves parents or chaperones, and no one thinks anything of an adult man and a woman being alone together in a car or a house.

Dating in Regency England was very different. For one thing, it was called courting or wooing. But most importantly, a young lady of good breeding who wished to keep her reputation pristine so she would be a candidate for marriage never, ever put herself alone with a man. (The double standard is, of course, that the man was expected to have “sown his wild oats” and could have a very sullied reputation and still be considered a good match if he were wealthy and well-connected enough.) Therefore, courting was a very public affair.

First, they needed an introduction by a mutual friend before conversing. They often met at balls which were THE places to meet those of similar social backgrounds, but they might also meet at a dinner party, soiree, musicale, or even the opera or the theater.

If the man wished to get better acquainted with the lady he’d met, he might send her flowers the next day (but never gifts or letters), and later pay a visit upon the family during their “at home” hours where her mother or aunt or other chaperone would be present. He might take her for a stroll in one of the walking parks, with a chaperone close at hand. He might even take her riding on horseback or in an open carriage—open being the operative word since riding in a closed carriage could ruin her reputation as quickly as being alone in a house with a man.

Courting could be short or take place over a long period of time. At a ball, if she refused to dance with any other man but him, she basically announced to the world that they were engaged. If she danced with him more than twice in one night, everyone assumed she was either engaged to him or was “fast,” a terrible label for a proper young lady. If he spent a lot of time with her to the point where people began to notice how much they were together, public opinion placed them as engaged. If he failed to make an offer of marriage for her, people said he had failed to come up to scratch and shook their heads and wondered if she were unsuitable or if he were. Either way, the couple’s reputations suffered. At that point, their only option would be to marry or live with tainted reputations. Depending on his status, his reputation would probably recover but hers would likely remain tainted.

Such courting practices may sound rigid and even sterile to the modern-day woman, but I think it leaves so much open. For one thing, they relied on witty conversation rather than getting physical to get to know each other. And since the courting practices were pretty predictable, a man had to use creativity to impress a lady.

Once he felt secure she returned his affections, the gentleman would make an appointment with the girl’s father and formally ask for her hand in marriage. His income would be scrutinized and they would draw up a prenuptial agreement called a marriage settlement which included her pin money, dress allowance, jointure, and other ways he’d provide for her, as well as what dowry would go to the man. With all that settled, the father would break the news to the girl and the wedding preparations would commence.

My goal as Regency romance author is to keep in mind these social customs known as ‘manners and mores’ and yet find unique ways for my hero and heroine to meet and fall in love. I enjoy creating a unique twist on acceptable courting, throwing lots of obstacles in the way of their happily ever after, and revealing the final, happy, triumphant ending.  That doesn’t make me a hopeless romantic, it makes me a hopeful romantic.

My tagline is ‘Believe in happily ever after’ because I do believe in it. Do you believe in happily ever after?

Cover Reveal for new Regency Historical Romance Novel

I’m super excited to share with you the cover for my new book titled Courting the Countess. This all-new novel launches a new series, but still features a few characters you may recognize from my Rogue Hearts Series. And since this series pre-dates the Rogue Hearts, you’ll even get the meet the parents of the unconventional Amesbury siblings.

Haven’t read the Rogue Hearts? No worries; this is a stand-alone novel so you can start with this one if you are so inclined.

So, are you ready to see the new cover?

Okay, here we go:

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Ta da!

Isn’t it lovely?

This new novel will be available to purchase in October, but can be pre-ordered now so you don’t have to remember to order it when it is released. Just follow this link to pre-order your copy now.

Here is the back cover blurb for Courting the Countess:

When charming rake Tristan Barrett sweeps Lady Elizabeth off her feet, stealing both her heart and a kiss in a secluded garden, her brother challenges Tristan to a duel. The only way to save her brother and Tristan from harm—not to mention preserve her reputation—is to get married. But her father, the Duke of Pemberton, refuses to allow his daughter to marry anyone but a titled lord. The duke demands that Elizabeth marry Tristan’s older brother, Richard, the Earl of Averston. Now Elizabeth must give up Tristan to marry a man who despises her, a man who loves another, a man she’ll never love.

Richard fears Elizabeth is as untrustworthy as his mother, who abandoned him when she ran off with another man. However, to protect his brother from a duel and their family name from further scandal, he agrees to wedding Lady Elizabeth, certain his new bride will betray him. Yet when Elizabeth turns his house upside down and worms her way into his reluctant heart, Richard suspects he can’t live without his new countess. Will she stay with him or is it too little, too late?

Pre-order your copy of Courting the Countess here.

 

Harps and Music

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Harp belonging to Adrienne Bridgewater

If you’re like me, the very thought of a harp creates a magical wistfulness inside. When I was twelve years old, I had an opportunity to take harp lessons, and something came alive inside me. Instantly, more than anything. I wanted–no, had–to learn to play. It’s been an ongoing love affair ever since.

Playing the harp takes years to master, and a great deal of time must be devoted to technique, not just learning to read music. It has been said that harp is the second most difficult instrument to learn to play. (Apparently bagpipes is the hardest.)

Back when I used to perform, many people come up to me after my performance and tell me that they’d never seen a harp up close before. I assume that’s a fairly common situation. So, I thought I’d give you a few basics of a classical pedal harp’s anatomy.

The “base” is the bottom part of the harp where it stands on the ground. The little claw looking things all around the base are called “feet.” When the harp is in use, it balances on the feet and rests against the inside of a harpist’s knees as well as lightly against the right shoulder. The long, thin part at the left of this picture is called the “column.” You probably could have guessed that, couldn’t you? The column is filled with long mechanical gears that help change the strings. The column exterior is usually intricately carved. Some of the more expensive harps, like Adrienne’s harp in the picture, are also gilded with gold leaf.

harp base

Adrienne’s harp

The photo on the right is a close up of the harp’s base where you can see the feet. You can also see the pedals (the black things that stick out). There are seven different pedals, one for every note in all the octaves. For example, one pedal controls all the harp’s C strings. Another pedal controls all of the D strings, and so forth. Moving the pedals into different positions can make each string either sharp, natural, or flat, as desired. When the moving the harp, the harpist can flip the feet up using a hinge so they rest closely against the harp’s body, cutting down on the likelihood of damage.

Until about a hundred years ago, harps had an eighth pedal which opened a panel in the back to allow access to changing out strings. Today’s modern harps have oblong holes that provides the same access. Strings must be fed through these access holes, through the holes in the soundboard, and wound around the little pegs in the picture below.

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Harp belonging to Donna Hatch

This photo of my harp to the left is a close up of the top, curving part of the harp, called the “neck,” which also shows the harp string pegs and all those little lever thingies which are called the “action.” These levers move when the harp pedals move, which shortens or lengthens the strings to change key depending on the position of the pedal. To tune, one tightens or loosens the strings, similar to tuning a guitar or violin, but a special tool is required–one cannot turn them with fingers.

You’ll also notice that some of the strings are red, some are black, and the rest are white. The red strings are C, the black are F. This allows the harpist to easily find the correct strings, although an advanced harpist pretty much knows where the strings are by the position of their arms and hands, but everyone needs an occasional guide, especially for performance. The strings are laid out like a piano (minus the black keys)–A, B, C, D, E, F, G. Then it repeats. My harp had six and a half octaves. The full-sized concert harps have seven. Smaller harps have fewer octaves.louisxviharp

The wide part of the harp that has all the scrollwork and painting is called the “soundboard.” Large soundboards usually have the biggest, richest tone. Tone can also be affected by the kind of wood used and age–the older ones have a gloriously rich tone.

A folk harp or lever harp is similar to a pedal harp–just smaller and has levers instead of pedals to change key. Folk harpist use their hands to change keys by flipping up a lever; classical harpists use their foot pedals.

Unlike some images, the harp is played with the body of the harp resting against the harpist’s right shoulder, opposite the column. Reportedly, Harpo Marx, who was a self-taught harpist, started playing the harp backwards–with the column, instead of the body of the harp, resting against his shoulder. When he realized his error, he changed his technique which, I am sure, helped him develop his skill. Many pictures show the harpist resting the body of the harp against her left shoulder which is not considered proper technique and indeed I would find very confusing because one would have to play the treble clef with the left hand instead of the right.

Harpists spend years perfecting the art of harp playing, and if done correctly, make it look easy by the graceful motion of their hands. Because of my great love for the harp, I mention a harp or harpist in all of my novels, and in most of my short stories and novellas.

Since music is such a part of my life, I decided to write a series of  novels about musicians. The first one in the series is called Heart Strings which features a harpist and a violinist. In fact, one of my most beloved teachers was the great Phyllis Schlomovitz. I give a nod to her in my newest short novel when my heroine identifies her teacher Phillip Schlomovitz.

heartstrings2_fullHere is the backcover blurb for Heart Strings, book 1 in the Songs of the Heart Series, coming September 7, 2016, is now available for pre-order on Amazon.

Gently bred young ladies don’t run away from home to find employment, but when forced to choose between marrying a brutish oaf or becoming another man’s mistress, Susanna makes an unconventional decision. Following her passion for music, she flees to London with dreams of securing a position as a harpist. Becoming entangled with a handsome violinist who calls himself Kit, but who seems too aristocratic for a working-class musician, may be more problematic than sleeping in the streets.

Kit’s attention is captured by Susanna’s breath-taking talent, admirable grace, and winsome smiles…until a lawman exposes the new harpist as a runaway bride and a thief. With peril lurking in the shadows, Susanna’s imminent danger not only forces Kit to choose between his better judgment and his heart, but he must also embrace the life to which he swore he would never return.

Heart Strings, book 1 in the Songs of the Heart Series, coming September 7, 2016, now available for pre-order on Amazon.

Cover Reveal for Sweet Regency Romance Novel, Heartstrings

Announcing my newest sweet Regency romance novel, Heartstrings.

Synopsis:
Gently bred young ladies don’t run away from home to find employment, but when forced to choose between marrying a brutish oaf or becoming another man’s mistress, Susanna makes an unconventional decision. Following her passion for music, she flees to London with dreams of securing a position as a harpist. Becoming entangled with a handsome violinist who calls himself Kit, but who seems too aristocratic for a working-class musician, may be more problematic than sleeping in the streets.

Kit’s attention is captured by Susanna’s breath-taking talent, admirable grace, and winsome smiles…until a lawman exposes the new harpist as a runaway bride and a thief. With peril lurking in the shadows, Susanna’s imminent danger not only forces Kit to choose between his better judgment and his heart, but he must also embrace the life to which he swore he would never return.

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And now … are you ready to see the wonderful new cover??

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To celebrate, I’m having a cover reveal party on Facebook, going on all day, with lots of chances to win free stuff, including Amazon gift cards. So please come join the fun! Follow this link to the fun!

Titles and Heirs

Sir_Arthur_Wellesley,_1st_Duke_of_WellingtonSince the subject of titles in Regency England seems to be both confusing and detailed, it bears revisiting. For today’s post, I will focus on heirs: both heirs apparent and heirs presumptive.

An heir apparent is the son of a titled lord or landholder. Let’s say, for example, the father is the Earl of Charming. Charming probably has a secondary title or two (or more) because most peers did, due to the whim of royalty over the years. If one of Charming’s secondary titles were, say the Viscount Handsome, then Charming’s eldest son would bear the courtesy title of Viscount Handsome. Handsome is Charming’s apparent heir, so he bears the courtesy title and is known as his “heir apparent.” I think of it as; “His heir is apparently his son.”

Note: Despite what you may read in some novels, sons who are heirs apparent cannot be disinherited from their rightful titles just because the father thinks the son is undeserving. It takes an act of parliament to do such a thing and those were granted in extreme cases.

Longleat House

Longleat House

Now, what if the Earl of Charming has no son–only daughters (or no children)? At this point, he now must grant his title and estates to his heir presumptive. It may be his younger brother or even a distant cousin–whomever is the closest living male relative. The heir presumptive does not use the courtesy title of Viscount of Handsome, but he can presume that he will someday be the Earl of Charming because no other living male heir stands in his way. Yet. Anyone who can be supplanted in the line of succession by the birth of a boy is an heir presumptive, no matter how unlikely that birth seems. One can think of this as; “The heir presumptive presumes he will inherit the title and property.”

If, of course, the good Earl of Charming eventually has a son, even in his latter years, the heir presumptive no longer can hope for such a grand inheritance, because it all goes to Charming’s son, his heir apparent. Immediately upon his birth, the new baby boy bears the courtesy title, Viscount of Handsome.

The only heir apparent is the current title holder’s eldest son.

Now this works the same way even if there is no title involved. Let’s say Mr. Dashing is a landowner, similar to the Bennett family in Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice. If Mr. Dashing had a son, his son would be his heir apparent. If he had 5 sons, the eldest would be his heir apparent. If, however, Dashing has no sons, only daughters (or no children) all of his entailed property now goes to the closest living heir–a younger brother or a nephew or a cousin, even if he is as obnoxious as the unforgettable Mr. Collins. In other words, the heir presumptive is granted the same way regardless if there is a title or courtesy title involved.

http://www.ancestryimages.com/proddetail.php?prod=f1181If Dashing’s estate is entailed, he cannot choose to whom he will leave the property. It’s set in stone. It goes to the closest living male relative or heir. Dashing can will non-entailed property to anyone he wants, but nothing entailed, which most estates were.

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Book One of the Rogue Hearts Series

In my Amesbury family series, The Rogue Hearts Series, the father of this unruly bunch is the Earl of Tarrington, and his eldest son, Cole, is his heir apparent who uses the courtesy title Viscount Amesbury and has since birth. When the Earl of Tarrington dies, Cole becomes the new Earl of Tarrington, and all secondary titles go to him as well. Cole’s heir presumptive would be his younger brother Jared. But Jared never uses a courtesy title. When Cole and his wife have a son, the child becomes the heir apparent and uses the courtesy title, Viscount Amesbury from the moment of his birth.

So, in a nutshell:

A lord’s son is his heir apparent.

A lord’s brother or nephew or cousin, whomever is closer to him in the bloodline, is his heir presumptive.

I hope this has cleared up any confusion and is useful to you in some way, even if all it does is explain why the annoying Mr. Collins assumed he would inherit Mr. Bennett’s property and why Mrs. Bennett was in such a state of agitation that she and her daughters might be thrown out into the cold, cruel world immediately upon her husband’s death (which actually kind of happened in Sense & Sensibility, if you’ll recall).

Intertwining Fantasy and History

evening gown 1819A little while ago, some authors were basically bashing “ballroom Regencies” where there are so many young, handsome, single dukes, and lords–all of whom fall in love with a captivating heroine–that England could not possibly have contained all of them. I don’t see the problem. Each author’s world is her (or his) own existing in different planes independent from one another. The idea that we should all write about “real” people facing real problems, is just as ridiculous that we should all write mysteries, or contemporary novels, or non-fiction.

I celebrate the diverse genres and I adore “ballroom Regencies” that take place amid the glittering lives of English nobility because I like the fantasy element–it’s pure escapism from my ordinary life.

However historical accuracy’s importance, (and something for which I strive while writing every story) the main reason why readers love to read is to relax and escape the stresses of their lives. Many Regency readers cite wanting to enjoy a glamorous life vicariously through the eyes of the characters of a book. Historical romances are a magical way to wear beautiful gowns, get help with clothes and hair from a maid, attract the notice of a gorgeous gentleman (or even a titled lord), explore the beauties of historical settings, and fall in love–all without leaving the real world. Reading about the result of people’s poor bathing habits (something more and more people changed during the Regency, thank goodness) bad teeth, bills piling up, not having enough money, and the drudgery of everyday life too closely mirrors real life to be a complete escape. True, the falling in love aspect is fun and something one can achieve with any romance novel, but “ballroom Regencies” offer a beautiful combination of historical truth, mingled liberally with a fantasy element few other genres offer.

Longleat House

Longleat House

Ordinary people in real life are often unsung heroes who quietly uplift and improve their own corner of the universe, and I don’t mean in any way to demean their contribution. But the adventurer and romantic in me seeks something larger than life. How else, but through literature, can I explore an English manor house or castle? How can I don a tailored riding habit and ride side-saddle over the English countryside in a fox hunt or steeple chase? How can I sail on a schooner or frigate and battle pirates while exchanging smiles with a gorgeous sea captain? How else can I flirt and dance and exchange witty banter with a handsome duke? Historical romance, and in particular,”ballroom Regencies,” offer these adventures all set in the backdrop of the elegant, glamorous, fantastic world of the English beau monde.

galleonBy combining these settings with the human elements of good people trying to do the right things for the right reasons, I feel that I have found the best of both worlds. I hope you enjoy those journeys with me.

 

 

Book Giveaway

Original cover

It’s time to celebrate the upcoming release of book 4 in my award-winning “Rogue Hearts Regency Series,” The Suspect’s Daughter, available December 3, 2015.  Celebrating is always more fun with friends. So, I am giving away five copies of book 3, A Perfect Secret which features Grant who is the hero of book 4. Winners have a choice of receiving a paperback copy or a digital copy for ebook readers.

Since its original release, A Perfect Secret has received a new cover, but the story is the same. The version I am giving away has the original cover, which is pictured to the left.

It is my hope that these copies will go to someone who has not yet read any of my books, but anyone can enter the drawing.

Here is the back cover blurb for my “clean and wholesome” Regency Romance:

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new cover

Desperate to protect her father from trial and execution, Genevieve breaks off her engagement to Christian Amesbury and marries her father’s blackmailer. After a year of marriage, she flees her husband’s violent domination only to have fate bring her back to Christian. Just when she thinks she’s started a new life of safety and freedom, her husband tracks her down, stalks her, and threatens everyone she loves.

Still brokenhearted over Genevieve’s betrayal a year ago, Christian can’t believe she’s come back into his life–and worse, that she’s done it on the anniversary of his brother’s death, a death that haunts him. Though tempted to throw her back into the river where he found her, he can’t abandon her, nor can he leave her at the mercy of the terrifying man she married. When her husband torments Genevieve and puts the Amesbury family in danger, Christian will do anything to protect those he loves…anything except give Genevieve another chance to break his heart.

To enter the drawing, simply put your name and email address in the comments section below. If you want a second chance to win, “like” my author Facebook page and put “I liked your page” in your comment.

Rules:

No purchase necessary.

Giveaway open to everyone; US and Canada may receive paperback copies or digital upon request.

International winners will receive digital copies. Void where prohibited.

And the winners are:

Sireena, Julia, Heidi, Jerika, and Heather. Whoo hoo! (throws confetti)

Thank you so much to everyone who entered my giveaway.

 

 

Deleted Scenes: Unmasking the Duke

Since I’m the kind of writer who writes by the seat of my pants, I have to do a lot of editing, revising, rewriting. Sometimes that means I need to cut a scene, either because it takes the story off course, or it isn’t meaty enough, or it paints the character in a less than ideal light. Sometimes, I need to delete a scene to stay under a certain word count. For all of those reasons, but mostly to keep under the word count limit, I cut a scene from Unmasking the Duke. I love seeing cut scenes from favorite movies, so I thought it would be fun to share this cut scene with my fans.

In the original draft of the story before I started cutting scenes, Hannah is trying to determine if she is truly in love the the duke, or if she is merely reacting to his kiss. Since she has never been kissed before, she has nothing upon which to base a comparison. So she calls in a servant, someone who saved her life in a previous story and who is young and handsome. She asks him to kiss her. It’s a dangerously scandalous request but she’s desperate to prove that being kissed by anyone is amazing and earth shaking so she can discount her reaction to the duke’s kiss.

So, for your pleasure, a deleted scene from Unmasking the Duke:

Was it possible that every man’s kiss was as heavenly as Bennett’s? Perhaps all men’s kisses were as beautiful and moving. She might be confusing love with desire. But how to learn the difference? She certainly couldn’t ask Cole to kiss her, nor the Buchanan twins, and certainly to not Mr. Hill. As she thought of men of her acquaintance, a terrible, naughty, delicious thought struck her.

In an uncharacteristic act of daring—not to mention impropriety—she summoned Cole’s valet, Stephens.

He arrived, his handsome dark looks as striking as she’d remembered. “You wanted me, Miss?”

“Yes. Please close the door.”

He obeyed and waited for her to approach.

She pushed past the butterflies having a war in her midsection. “If I asked you to do something, would you do it?”

“Of course, Miss.”

She gathered her courage. “I need you to kiss me.”

He gave a start. “Miss?”

“I have only been kissed by one man, and I need to know if I’m so shaken by the man, or by the kiss. I need to know if all kisses are that…nice. So I need you to kiss me. If what Cole has implied is true, you are something of a ladies’ man, so you ought to be experienced enough to know how to do a proper job of it. And you’re certainly handsome. Did you know I actually had a crush on you for over a year?”

He glanced sideways as if afraid someone might be listening and took a step back. “Ahhh…”

“If your kiss makes me feel the way his does, then I can more easily put him from my mind.”

His mouth opened, but nothing came out. Finally, he shook his head as a slow grin curved his mouth. “I’m sorry but I can’t do that, Miss.”

She self-consciously touched her hair. “I’m not pretty enough.”

“Oh, Miss, you’re more than pretty enough. You’re one of the fairest girls I’ve ever seen.”

“Then it should be no hardship for you to kiss me.”

He choked. “No, Miss. I admit, I’ve wanted to kiss you a fair long time. Pretty girls have that effect on me. But if Lord Tarrington found out I’d touched you, he’d skin me with his bare hands.”

“He won’t find out. All the men are out for the afternoon hunt, and my sister thinks I’m lying down with a headache.”

He grinned but eyed her uncertainly. “Are you sure? Kissing is no trifling matter.”

“I’m afraid I won’t know the answer to my problem unless I kiss a man, and I daren’t kiss one of the guests, lest they get the wrong idea. Please? Will you help me?”

Stephens chuckled. “Putting like that, how can I refuse?”

He stepped in. All the butterflies in her stomach doubled their efforts. Not only was she behaving in a scandalous manner, this moment might reveal more than she wanted to know.

He put a finger under her chin, lifted it, leaned in, and kissed her. His lips were soft and warm and gentle, and he was clearly a skilled kisser. But none of the awareness raced over her body, none of the thrill tingled in her nerve endings, none of the joyful completeness settled in her heart as it had when Bennett kissed her.

Stephens kissed her thoroughly and then stepped back, eyeing her. “Well?”

“It was pleasant, and you obviously know what you are doing.”

“But?”

“It wasn’t the same as his.”

Grinning, he shook his head “Well, I’m a little offended that I can’t make every girl swoon at my kiss, but it sounds to me like you have your answer. Is it what you’d hoped?”

“No. It means I have a problem.”

He nodded, his dark eyes solemn for a moment before they twinkled. “Well, any time you need a second go, I’m at your beck and call, Miss Palmer. I think I’d risk Tarrington’s temper for another taste of your sweet mouth.”

Autumn Masquerade ebookIf you haven’t read Unmasking the Duke, you can find it on Amazon here.

Writing “Sweet” Romance

Regency Lady in whiteOften when people ask me why I chose to write romance, it surprises me a little. I didn’t honestly choose to write romance, it sorta chose me. I never woke up one day and said, “The romance market is really successful over other genres, so that’s what I’m going to write.” It happened over time. My earliest attempts at writing were adventure and mystery. Later, I turned to science fiction. By my teens, I was  writing fantasy. As an adult, I finally wrote historical–with elements of adventure, mystery, and even a little fantasy. In all these earlier genres, progressively more and more romance sub plots crept into the stories.

My favorite books and movies are very character-driven, meaning the characters are interesting and well rounded, with a good balanced of strengths and weaknesses. These favorite tales have characters who get a satisfactory ending, triumphing over their challenges, and are better at the end of the story than at the beginning. And if there’s a little romance, I like that even better.

Writing romance evolved over time, as what I wrote tended to center around characters overcoming obstacles to succeed in their goals and find love in the process. Now my stories center on romance, how characters find each other and realize that they are better, stronger, happier people as a couple than they were alone, AND overcome obstacles to succeed in their goals. Those are the best endings, don’t you think?

People also often ask why I write “PG-rated” romance, also known as “sweet” or “clean” romance. That answer is very simple; that’s where my comfort zone is. I prefer to read and write stories that don’t go into the very private, intimate details of bedroom scenes. Many people, including my own agent, have encouraged me to write hotter romances, or even put in “just one little sex scene” because, as we all know, “sex sells.” That may be true. I might sell more books and make more money, but that would feel as though I am selling out. I need to be true to myself, and that means writing romances that feel realistic, have plenty of chemistry, and even a few detailed kissing scenes. But anything beyond that either does not occur in the course of the novel, or it happens behind closed doors.

And I think Jane Austen would approve, don’t you?

What kinds of books do you love to read?

Leave a comment and I’ll put you in a drawing to win this cool, magnetized book button that marks the exact line where you left off. It’s the best book mark ever! (next to one with my cover on it, that is 🙂

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Spotlight on author Jennifer Bryce

Today my spotlight is author Jennifer Bryce and her very first published book, Haley’s Song. This romance is squeaky clean, with a courageous heroine and a dreamy hero.

I thought I had first met Jennifer at a writer’s conference when she sought me out upon the recommendation of a mutual writer friend to get help editing her first book. But she later reminded me that we had met about ten years before; she’d done my hair when I’d moved to her town. (Jenn has a much better memory than I do.) But my family only lived there about six months, so we’d only had a few chances to talk when she’d worked on my hair (and a fabulous job she did, too).  Anyway, years later, we met again and I made suggestions on how she could improve her book. Jennifer worked really hard on revisions, submited to a publisher, got a contract offer, and now her first book is available.

In Haley’s Song, the stakes are high, the heroine is smart and brave, the hero is as likable as he is realistic, and there is a full cast of fun, quirky characters. It has a vintage, wild west feel to it. Here is more info:

Big Haley's SongSynopsis:
Hayley’s father has a gambling problem that’s now become hers. He lost her in a bet. Now, she must either leave the only place she’s ever known or marry a brute who is only interested in a servant he can control.

On the run and scared, she finds sanctuary at a ranch with seven men and one little boy. Though hired as a cook and nanny, she quickly realizes she’s found a home. With brothers, Ben and Tate, vying for her affections, Hayley starts to believe she can have a life that doesn’t involve alcohol, abuse, and gambling. But the winner of the card game has other plans.

Ed Thompson tracks Hayley down, determined she’s going to become his wife. But Tate isn’t about to allow that to happen. He’ll move whatever mountain he has to for Hayley’s safety. And when she’s kidnapped, he’ll tear the town apart to find her. But Ed has an ace up his sleeve that could end up getting Hayley killed.

Here is a short excerpt from Haley’s Song:

“Hey Gummy, how did you get your name?” Curiosity pushed her to ask as she helped Johnny sit next to her on the bench. She expected him to say it was because he always chewed gum.

“I’m a natural born scrapper as a lad and got into plenty of fights.  Once when a fight was in full swing, my gum came out of my mouth and stuck in my hair. The name Gummy ‘stuck.’” The jack of all trades chuckled. “You’re a scrapper like me. We can handle a little opposition.”

About The Author

Jen BryceJennifer has a brain that is never quiet (even in her sleep). She uses writing as an escape to be and do anything she can create. Plotting is her favorite thing to do in her down time. Raised in southern Arizona, she was influenced by being raised a cop’s daughter (plenty of teenage angst material there), Mexican food, and the old West. She is a busy mother to three rambunctious boys, is married to her amazing cowboy, she’s  a full-time nursing student, and she desperately needs a long vacation. Her biggest fear in life is to be completely mediocre.

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