Tag Archive | Author Guest Post

Wanted, A Gentleman by K.J Charles

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By the good offices of Riptide Publishing
KJ Charles’s new Entertainment

WANTED, A GENTLEMAN
Or, Virtue Over-Rated

the grand romance of

Mr. Martin St. Vincent . . . a Merchant with a Mission, also a Problem
Mr. Theodore Swann . . . a humble Scribbler and Advertiser for Love

Act the First:

the offices of the Matrimonial Advertiser, London
where Lonely Hearts may seek one another for the cost of a shilling

Act the Second:

a Pursuit to Gretna Green (or thereabouts)

featuring

a speedy Carriage
sundry rustic Inns
a private Bed-chamber
***
In the course of which are presented

Romance, Revenge, and Redemption
Deceptions, Discoveries, and Desires

the particulars of which are too numerous to impart

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How Many Miles?! – A Guest Post by K.J. Charles

My new book Wanted, A Gentleman, is a Georgian road-trip story. If that gives you visions of galloping freely through the great open roads, like Thelma and Louise with cravats, forget it. We’re in 1805 Britain. You might as well walk.

I’m hardly joking. One of the great irritants in historical or fantasy fiction for the literal-minded pedant such as myself is how easily some journeys fly by. The duke whisks the heroine into his well-sprung carriage on Pall Mall and the next thing you know they’re alone in his gothic estate on the Yorkshire Moors, listening to the mysterious howling of a spectral hound. This is very easily done for modern authors used to getting into a car, sticking on the radio, letting our minds wander and then finding ourselves where we want to be. And, let’s be honest, we’d rather be in the gothic estate, getting our fix of brooding, sexual tension, and running around in a nightie.

Nevertheless, even if you’re going to elide a Regency road trip with a sentence, that sentence probably has to begin, “After several days of an uncomfortable and tiresome journey…” because it was.

In Wanted, a Gentleman, our heroes Martin (reluctant pursuer of an eloping heiress) and Theo (his even more reluctant temporary sidekick) find themselves obliged to embark on a breakneck dash up north to catch the heiress before she and her swain cross the border to Scotland and get married. Martin has access, as they start their journey, to a state-of-the-art travelling chaise (what you might call a “high-speed chaise”, ahahaha) drawn by four horses. They are taking the Great North Road from London, one of the major roads in the country. You know how fast Martin and Theo are going to go, with all the resources wealth can throw at the journey in 1805?

About fourteen miles an hour.

Fourteen.

And 14mph is good. 14mph is what you can do on a good road with four horses, only not for long, because horses are not the same as internal combustion engines. To quote the great Diana Wynne Jones on horses in fantasy:

Horses are … capable of galloping full-tilt all day without a rest. Sometimes they do not require food or water. They never cast shoes, go lame or put their hooves down holes, except when the Management deems it necessary, as when the forces of the Dark Lord are only half an hour behind.  … Horses can be used just like bicycles, and usually are.

Quite. Your actual horses had to be changed every 10-12 miles (that was a ‘stage’, and the stagecoach would stop at each staging post). This meant a stop, a wait for the ostler’s attention, hiring new horses which might well not be particularly good or energetic animals, getting them harnessed, and setting off again, only to repeat the whole procedure 10-12 miles later.

And this would not be comfortable. Coaches used springs and straps as a sort of suspension system but the roads were dreadful, full of ruts and potholes and rocks. Even 10mph would be dangerous, hard to achieve and hellaciously uncomfortable on many stretches of road.

It’s about 320 miles from London to Scotland. If you were on the road for twelve hours a day, in a good chaise and throwing money at the journey in order to go as fast as possible, that would still be a three-day journey of spine-jarring discomfort. Could be worse: in the stagecoach you’d be more likely to average 6mph in no more comfort at all.

On the plus side, this did mean that travellers had to spend an awful lot of time together, crammed onto a small seat, stuck in remote inns where they knew nobody, forced to share rooms in busy posthouses. Obviously that wasn’t much of a plus side for them, but it’s a boon for the historical romance writer. And who knows, Martin and Theo might even end up seeing the advantages…

OUR REVIEW

Publisher and Release Date: Riptide Publishing, January 2017

Time and Setting: England, 1805
Genre: Historical Romance novella
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 4.5 stars

Review by Caz

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This new novella from the pen of K.J. Charles is a Regency Era road-trip undertaken in order to foil the elopement of an heiress and her unsuitable beau.

The couple has been corresponding secretly by placing messages in the pages of the Matrimonial Advertiser, a news-sheet dedicated to publishing what we would today call Lonely Hearts advertisements, and run by Mr. Theodore Swann, a jobbing writer who owns and runs the paper as well as scribbling romantic novels on the side.

Into his dingy City office one day, bursts Mr. Martin St. Vincent, a well-built, well-dressed and obviously well to-do black man, who is trying to discover the identity of the man who has been corresponding with the seventeen year-old daughter of his former owner.  He’s blunt and not in the mood for humour, small-talk or any of Theo’s sales patter – and quickly cuts to the chase by asking Theo to put a price on his assistance.

Before he can discover the man’s identity however, the young lady elopes with her swain, and the family turns to Martin for help.  A former slave, his relationship to the Conroys – who, by the standards of the day treated him well – is a difficult one, but he used to play with the young woman when she was a child and read her stories… and it’s for her sake that he agrees to try to find her and bring her home safely.

Realising he’ll need help – and having been reluctantly impressed with Theo’s quick wits and sharp tongue (among other things) – Martin asks Theo to go with him – and after they have agreed on a large fee, Theo agrees.

This is a novella of some 150 pages, but K.J Charles does such a superb job with the characterisation of her two principals and adds such depth to their personalities and stories that I came away from the novella feeing – almost – as though I’d read a full-length novel.  There’s a spark of attraction between the two men from the start, and this builds gradually as they travel and get to know each other better, but what is so wonderful is the way the relationship between them grows alongside it.  Martin is a former slave, and while he doesn’t feel he owes anything to his former master, he can’t help resenting the fact that he has been very lucky when compared to so many others:

“I was kept in the household, and freed on such generous terms that I have been able to prosper ever since, and how can I resent that?”

“That sounds to me the kind of generosity that could kill a man.”

“It is. It sticks in my throat like thistles, it chokes me.”

And Theo gets it.  He sees Martin as a person, he believes he’s entitled to be angry:

“I, uh, feel strongly about gratitude.  Forced gratitude, I mean, the kind piled on your debt as added interest.  To be ground underfoot and then told to be thankful the foot was not heavier – I hate it.”

Their conversations are insightful and often humorous, showcasing many of the things I enjoy so much about this author’s work. Her research is impeccable and I always like the way she doesn’t just gloss over the social issues of the day.  Slavery had been abolished in England at this time, but there were still many people making money out of it; there was serious social inequality and no safety net for those who couldn’t afford even the most basic of life’s necessities; yet all these issues are addressed in a way that is not preachy or dry history lesson.  Instead they arise naturally out of the direction taken by the story, the lives of the characters and the situations in which they live.

Both protagonists are attractive, likeable characters, although Theo is probably the more well-developed of the two, with a bit more light and shade to his persona.  He’s quick witted, devious and sarcastic; and I really liked that his lady novelist alter-ego, Dorothea Swann, gives Ms. Charles the opportunity to make a few tongue-in-cheek observations about romantic fiction but also allows Theo to save the day.

Wanted, A Gentleman is beautifully written, the dialogue sparkles and Theo and Martin simply charmed me.

My only complaint is that the book ended too quickly.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

kj-magpieKJ Charles is a writer of mostly m/m historical romance, sometimes with fantasy. She has won several Rainbow Awards for her work and twice been voted Best LGBT+ Romance in the All About Romance annual poll. She is published by Loveswept and Samhain.

KJ is also a RITA-winning editor with twenty years’ publishing experience as a commissioning and line editor. She worked primarily in romance and children’s fiction, and is now freelance.

She lives in London with her husband, two kids, a wildly overgrown garden, and a cat with murder-management issues.

Connect with KJ at: www.kjcharleswriter.com * ~ * Facebook * ~ * Twitter * ~ * Tumblr.

Christy English – author of Love on a Midsummer Night

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Today, we’re welcoming a guest to Romantic Historical Fiction Lovers. Love on a Midsummer Night is the second book in Christy English’s Shakespeare in Love series of novels in which the stories are based on Shakespearean themes. You can read our review here.

When I wrote my novel, LOVE ON A MIDSUMMER NIGHT, I did not know that wealthy people in Regency England rarely bothered with betrothal rings. The exception to this rule was if the gentleman and lady knowingly entering into a long engagement. In that case, a betrothal ring could be offered, and accepted, to seal the commitment in advance.

In my novel, Earl Pembroke rediscovers the love of his life, a woman who left him ten years before, taking his mother’s ruby ring with her. The ring is given to her as a symbol of their engagement, and just one more way in which my hero bucks the system, and strikes out on his own. When he gave her the ring, he did not expect to take ten years to marry her.

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It turns out that in reality, Regency brides did not expect betrothal rings. Though in wealthy marriages, money and property often exchanged hands, engagements were usually short, and rings were rarely if ever given.
This is a far cry from a few decades later in English history, when Queen Victoria was given a snake engagement ring by her betrothed, Prince Albert.

Snake ring

In this, as in so many other things, the wealthy British public were quick to emulate their queen. Different types of engagement rings abounded, the favorite being the snake ring, a la Victoria. South African mines had not opened yet to British interests, so the large, single stone rings of the twentieth century had not yet come into vogue. Instead, the rings were often cast in yellow gold and rose gold, with colored jewels and smaller diamonds arranged in patterns on the band.

Multi Jeweled Ring

According to the fabulous site http://www.victoriana.com/bridal/wedding-rings.htm, opals, pearls, sapphires, emeralds, and rubies were worked into these rings. The Victorian lady also sometimes received a beautiful cluster setting like the one below. You may be familiar with this idea from the Twilight films and books, in which Edward gives Bella such a ring.

Cluster Ring

Though Regency ladies didn’t receive rings, wealthy Victorian ladies had a bit of bling to look forward to when they accepted a man’s proposal. Nothing like jewelry to make true love even more exciting.

Author Bio:
After years of acting in Shakespeare’s plays, Christy English is excited to bring the Bard to Regency England. When she isn’t drinking tea, hiking or chasing the Muse, Christy writes historical novels (The Queen’s Pawn and To Be Queen) from her home in North Carolina. Please visit her at http://www.ChristyEnglish.com

Guest Post by Wendy Vella

Today we have a guest post from Author Wendy Vella. Wendy Vella is the author of The Reluctant Countess. Today Wendy is here talking with us about writing historical romantic fiction.

Wendy VellaFirstly can I say thanks so much for hosting me here today and hello from down under.

Born in New Zealand I’m a Kiwi to my toes and love my homeland passionately. I live with my husband of 29 years and have two children who have surprisingly morphed from hideous teenagers into fairly exceptional young adults.

My first taste of romance novels came when my mother hid my Jill’s Pony Club manual and replaced it with a Mills & Boons (to broaden my mind of course) and I remember thinking the hero was one arrogant bastard who needed a swift kick but by the end I was as smitten as he. Intrigued, I then read These Old Shades by Georgette Heyer, and the rest as they say is history. My love of the Regency Era started from that moment.

I wrote my first contemporary novel aged 19 and that will never see daylight I can assure you, but when I need a good laugh I drag it out of the shoe box it’s hidden in. I wrote my first historical novel at 23.

I love the Regency era and I’ve always felt there’s something a bit special about writing in a time that I or my parents were never part of – you’re really only limited by your imagination. I love the secrets and nuances of that era, the scandals and dramas. It was a time that lent itself to romance and intrigue and because I’ve never experienced it first hand you get a certain amount of creative licence. We have plenty of research tools at our fingertips but writing historicals gives me the freedom to create, more so than when I write contemporary. I love imagining life back then, describing what they wore or saw. Just imagine walking into one of those ballrooms in Regency London, the feast of color and noise, the dancing! The rules and regulations they lived by were amazing, I mean never wear pearls or diamonds in the morning!’ Who made up this stuff? I wonder if having them on your clothing or in your hair counts? Were emeralds, rubies and sapphires acceptable?

Find Wendy Vella online:

Visit my website: http://www.wendyvella.com/

Facebook: http://facebook.com/AuthorWendyVella

Twitter: https://mobile.twitter.com/wendy_vella

Email: wendy@wendyvella.com

Reluctant Countess

From Wendy Vella comes a Cinderella story of whirlwind passion between a dashing earl and a beautiful countess—and the secret that threatens to tear them apart.

Regal, poised, and elegant, Sophie, Countess of Monmouth, is everything that a highborn lady should be. But Sophie is hiding a past that is far from royal. When Patrick, Earl of Coulter, realizes that her story doesn’t add up, he resolves to find out the truth of what Sophie and her sister-in-law are concealing. Although Sophie has every reason to avoid him, the handsome and charismatic Patrick awakens something wicked deep within her soul . . . a powerful need that Sophie must stifle in order to protect her place in society.

Despite Sophie’s humble background, the raven-haired beauty has won Patrick’s heart. But what Sophie needs now is an ally. Viscount Myles Dumbly, the disgruntled former heir of Monmouth, is determined to expose Sophie as a fraud to recapture his lost inheritance. Soon Patrick is drawn into a fight for both their lives. Somehow he must find a way not only to rescue Sophie from poverty once and for all, but to keep her in his arms forever.

**Available on Amazon for $2.99**

Excerpt from the Reluctant Countess

“If only she had a small imperfection.”

“What?” Patrick, Earl of Coulter, tore his eyes from the top of the stairs to glare at his friend.

“The countess.” Lord Sumner swept his hand in an arc that encompassed most of the assembled guests. “I was saying that some sort of imperfection would detract from her goddesslike beauty. Perhaps a lisp? Alas, no,” he added seconds later. “A lisp would merely make her sweet and beautiful.”

“Idiot,” the earl muttered, propping one shoulder against the silk-covered wall. His gaze returned to where the countess now stood. Poised on the top step of the Duke of Rookvale’s ballroom, she appeared motionless; only her eyes moved as they passed over the guests milling below.

“Perhaps a mole with several long dark hairs,” Lord Sumner mused, “on the end of her little nose?”

Patrick watched the countess descend. Tonight her raven locks were piled high and clasped with a single diamond pin; several long curls had been artfully teased to lie on one slender shoulder. Created to torment, her dress was cut low in the bodice, allowing a glimpse of the lush curves that lay beneath, and with every step she took the skirts caressed her legs in a swirl of emerald satin. Patrick dreamt about those legs—naked and wrapped around his body. Even from a distance, his muscles clenched at the thought of her lying beneath him, skin gleaming, lips red from his kisses. Bloody woman. From the first glance, she had taken up residence in his head, and he wanted her out. Patrick didn’t obsess over women—he took what he wanted when he wanted it. Usually his affairs were brief yet satisfactory for both parties and he was always the one in control. The countess, however, was another matter. Something about her reached out to him and he wanted her with a desperation no other had made him feel. Yet he would never act on that desperation because the countess was a fraud, and there was nothing Patrick hated more than people who set out to deliberately deceive others.

“Did you just growl, Coulter?”

“Don’t be ridiculous!” Patrick snapped, following the countess’s progress until she reached the bottom step. Once again she became motionless. It was as if she held her breath, yet those eyes moved in every direction, seeking, searching, but for what?

“To be her lady’s maid for just one day,” Lord Sumner sighed.