Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Ten on Tuesday: My 10 Favorite Victorian Films and TV Shows

Maybe it's just wishful thinking, but it seems to me that Victorian-set films and TV shows have flourished in recent years. There are several that I consider modern classics and have watched more times than I'm willing to admit, and yet I'm thrilled to find and hear about more popping up all the time.

Do you have a favorite Victorian era-set film or TV show?

When I want to get in a Victorian mood, these are my ten favorite go-to movies and shows:

Penny Dreadful - Ask my friends and family. I talk about this series way too much. The sets and costumes have an authentic late Victorian era feel, but the extraordinary writing by John Logan and unforgettable performances by Eva Green, Billie Piper, and the rest of the cast are what keep me watching, again and again. Bringing fictional characters like Victor Frankenstein and Dorian Gray to life in Victorian London? Oh yes, it's a concept brilliant enough to make me a perma-fan.

North and South - I'm not referring to the epic Civil War miniseries I watched as a kid, though that was awfully good too. This North and South refers to the adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskell's novel that pits a mid-Victorian northern industrialist against a gently bred young lady from southern England. The multi-part British TV series features Richard Armitage looking breathtaking in period costume and contains one of THE best "look back at me" moments on film.

Ripper Street - This series is gritty, set in post-Jack the Ripper late 19th century London, and features one of my favorite actors, Matthew MacFadyen, in the leading role as Scotland Yard detective Edmund Reid. I love this series so much that it fed my imagination and played a big part in inspiring my Whitechapel Wagers series, set in 1880's London.

Oliver! - This may just be the film that started it all for me. I was forced to watch it as a kid in school, and then found that I wanted to watch again. Based on Charles Dicken's Oliver Twist, this colorful, raucous Carol Reed musical wound its way into my heart and probably still influences my notions of Victorian era London.

Little Dorrit - Another Dickens adaptation, though much more recent, by the BBC, and without much singing. This one features Matthew MacFadyen as the oblivious but charming Mr. Clennam, and a perfect performance by Claire Foy as Amy Dorrit, who's raised by her father during his imprisonment in Marshalsea debtor's prison.

Jane Eyre - This book by the incomparable Charlotte Bronte is one I'll re-read for the rest of my life, and I'm always excited when a new film or TV movie adaptation pops up. The most recent, featuring Michael Fassbender as the secret-keeping, mid-Victorian era hero, Edward Rochester, may be one of my favorites.

Wuthering Heights - Those Bronte sisters were awfully talented. Based on Emily Bronte's classic
tale, this adaptation features Tom Hardy as the tormented Heathcliff and Charlotte Riley as Cathy. Despite the tragic love story featured in the book and film, it's fun to watch this particular adaptation and know that Hardy and Riley became a couple after meeting during filming and are now happily married.

Tess of the D'Urbervilles - I must admit this isn't my favorite Thomas Hardy novel, but this is definitely my favorite adaptation of the book about a young woman who retains strength and identity despite being misjudged and mistreated by virtually every man she meets. Gemma Arterton glows as Tess in this particular BBC film version of the book.

Far from the Madding Crowd - Bathsheba Everdene is one of my favorite Thomas Hardy protagonists, just as Gabriel Oak is one of his best male characters. This recent film adaptation featuring Carey Mulligan as the feisty female landowner and the MANY men who woo her is a compulsively re-watchable gem.

The Knick - I might be cheating a little bit with this one. It's set in early 1900's New York, and Queen Victoria passed away in 1901, so it's not quite the Victorian era. Yet the show is so fabulous I have to mention it. Focusing on the Knickerbocker Hospital, it's patients, staff, and those running the facility, the TV series features characters tackling every turn of the century social issue and perennial personal issues like addiction, racism, infidelity, religion, and, of course, early 20th century advances in medical science. Clive Owen dominates the show as the charismatic, tempestuous, and troubled physician John Thackery.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Meet Moment Monday: Lily Maxton's One Good Thing

I'm so excited to have the fabulous Lily Maxton at Romancing the Victorians today. She's a multi-talented writer who has releases in both New Adult contemporary romance and historical romance.

Today she's sharing the meet moment between her hero and heroine in One Good Thing.

Here's a bit more about the book: 

Danielle is fresh out of college and should be ready to face the world, but she’s terrified of failing, both in her life and in love. Everything feels safe, from her boring starter job to her tiny, depressing apartment-that is, until she meets Evan, the coworker who pokes all of her buttons in all of the right ways. He’s cute, sweet, self-assured and has a way of seeing the brave, sarcastic woman underneath her worries. He also has a way of getting her into the most compromising positions … in the most unlikely places.

As their work email heats up, their relationship moves from friends with benefits to more than just benefits. But, like all fledgling couples, they’ll have to overcome a few obstacles on their way to their happily ever after, including evil German Shepherds, boomerang ex-boyfriends, scheming coworkers, and company parties gone awry.

Here's the fantastic first chapter!
Chapter One 

I was a failure. Officially. The evidence couldn’t have been more obvious if it had punched me in the face—Friday night at a Halloween contest for pets. I didn’t even have a pet. I was here because my roommate had entered the contest, and I didn’t have anything better to do than tag along.

And if that red flag wasn’t enough, a dog had just stuck its slobbery nose up my backside. I shouldn’t have worn a flirty, short skirt; the hem lifted and air brushed the part of my leg where the upper thigh curved; maybe more important, I shouldn’t have worn a thong with the skirt. It wasn’t one of my brighter moments.

But what I’d been thinking was this: my boyfriend and I were supposed to go on our first real date in weeks, and even though it wasn’t the kind of thing I would normally do, I thought he’d appreciate both the skirt and the thong.

He’d canceled.

Now the only one appreciating it was the dog, whose moist breath I could feel against my bare ass.

This was why I avoided impulsive moments. Impulse and I just didn’t get along. And I didn’t even like wearing thongs. Whose idea was it to stick fabric between someone’s butt cheeks and call it underwear?

It was unnatural. And I was paying for the travesty.

I reached behind me, my hand landing not on the dog’s thick, furry skull but on some sort of plastic helmet. I gave it a fierce shove and the dog whined. Like I was being really cruel for dislodging its nose from my crotch. But my skirt didn’t fall to cover me. The hem had somehow gotten stuck in the top band of my underwear. How had the stupid mutt managed that?

I yanked the fabric back into its proper position and turned slowly, hoping that no one stood behind me, but half expecting the entire population of the park to be pointing and laughing. Was it too much to ask that the earth crack open and swallow me into its fiery depths before I died from mortification?

When I faced the park, there was no crowd gathered, but I didn’t manage to walk away unscathed. A small group of people were gathered around a nearby park bench, and a man jogged over from their direction. I glanced past him to the others, but they were deep in their own conversation and didn’t notice me.

He stopped in front of me and knelt to pick up the leash that trailed on the ground.

I stared down at his head. He looked young. He might have been attractive but it was difficult to tell at this angle. He had on dark jeans and a well-fitted black T-shirt.

Earth, now would be a good time.

“Sorry,” he said. “Vader got away from me.”

A German shepherd stood at my feet with a lopsided grin and tongue lolling out. He sported a Darth Vader helmet and cape and was wagging his tail as his wet doggy eyes stared up at me like he’d done something praiseworthy.

The creature was beyond evil. Horns and a pointy tail would have been a more accurate costume.

And then I looked back to the owner to observe him more closely. It was a mistake. Now that he was standing and I could see him straight on, I could tell that he was sort of cute. And that just made everything worse. His brown hair glinted with reddish highlights, ending past his ears with a curl. His face was longish with high cheekbones and a straight nose that had a slight bump on the bridge. Light blue eyes held mine steadily.

I looked down; that was a bigger mistake. My gaze fell on his mouth.

His lips. I swallowed. They were full, curved, sensual, and right now they were tilted in an apologetic smile.

Which meant, most likely, he’d glimpsed some or all of my butt, possibly even my lacy red thong.

Hot lips or not, my body heated with embarrassment that quickly morphed to anger. It was my coping mechanism for shame—probably not a good one. Even though it was warm for mid-October, I pulled my jacket tighter around my torso, my arms wrapping around my chest.

“Keep track of your stupid dog,” I snapped.

He patted the dog’s side like I might have hurt its feelings. “He just does that sometimes. I guess he thinks he’s being friendly.”

That was it then. He’d seen the whole thing—the whole thing. I actually felt vaguely nauseous.

Why was this happening to me? Why did it have to be a young, attractive male? The only young, attractive male who should have seen my thonged ass was my boyfriend. Not to be perverted or anything, but I’d rather have an old lady check out my butt than this guy.

“That’s great,” I said, taking refuge in sarcasm. “I hope lots of strange dogs want to be friends with you. You’ll see how fun it is to have their nose up your . . .” I didn’t finish that statement—the word got stuck in my throat and I could feel my face burn.

He didn’t say anything for a long moment, and I noticed his lips were pressed together, like he was trying not to smile. Or laugh. “It’s not a big deal.”
I hadn’t realized my mortification was so hilarious. If looks could kill, the glare I shot him then would have made his face melt off his skull, like something from an Indiana Jones movie. At my level of pissed-off-ness it was hard to be clever. “That’s great,” I said. Again.

But at least I said it in a really seething way.

He actually did laugh then, a little huff of amusement that made me want to disappear off the face of the planet. He started to say something, but I brushed past him and he fell silent.

I couldn’t get away from him fast enough.

Of course, that meant turning my backside to him again. Surreptitiously, I ran my hands down my hips to make sure the skirt covered everything it was supposed to cover. And then, with long strides, I crossed the mulch path to find my roommate.

Buy Links

Google Play

Author Bio
Lily Maxton grew up in the Midwest, reading, writing, and daydreaming amidst cornfields. After graduating with a degree in English, she decided to put her natural inclinations to good use and embark on a career as a writer. She loves history, tea parties, long meandering walks, and everything romance.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

New Release: Celebrating the book birthday of One Tempting Proposal!

The second book in my Accidental Heirs series is near and dear to my heart for several reasons. It features my first duke hero, my favorite mean girl, and the scents of many of my favorite flowers. The plot also offers a bit of a nod to one of my favorite writers, William Shakespeare.

My fantastic Avon editor encouraged me to redeem my mean girl from One Scandalous Kiss, and I had to find my way into Kitty's heart to give her a worthy hero. While fierce alpha heroes certainly have their appeal, I knew that Kitty needed a hero with the ability to soften her tough, untouchable exterior. Thus, mathematician turned duke, Sebastian Fennick, Duke of Wrexford, began tapping on my shoulder. He has his own wounds, of course, and his desire and admiration for Kitty might just end up redeeming her as much as it does him.

Here's the blurb:

Becoming engaged? Simple. Resisting temptation? Impossible.
Sebastian Fennick, the newest Duke of Wrexford, prefers the straightforwardness of mathematics to romantic nonsense. When he meets Lady Katherine Adderly at the first ball of the season, he finds her as alluring as she is disagreeable. His title may now require him to marry, but Sebastian can’t think of anyone less fit to be his wife, even if he can’t get her out of his mind.
After five seasons of snubbing suitors and making small talk, Lady Kitty has seen all the ton has to offer…and she’s not impressed. But when Kitty’s overbearing father demands she must marry before her beloved younger sister can, she proposes a plan to the handsome duke. Kitty’s schemes always seem to backfire, but she knows this one can’t go wrong. After all, she’s not the least bit tempted by Sebastian, is she?
If you'd like to check out some of my visual inspiration for the book, hop over to my Pinterest board for One Tempting Proposal. I will give you a hint: gorgeous British actor Jude Law served as my hero inspiration for Sebastian. 
Grab your own copy of One Tempting Proposal! It's available now for $1.99.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Accidental Heirs Series and My Victorian Era Inspiration

Life is unpredictable, and none are more aware of it than those who worry about passing on their titles and properties. In the 19th century, when less advanced medical care and war, illnesses, or injury often shortened lifespans, British titled gentleman and ladies sought to produce an heir, but also a spare. Or two.

They knew that the men who inherited titles and grand estates were often not the one raised for the task. Primogeniture, the law or custom in which titles and estates were inherited by the firstborn son or eldest male heir in preference to spreading out a family's wealth among several siblings, meant that English estates, property, and possessions were kept together. Yet it might leave younger siblings, particularly if they were women, in quite modest circumstances, while uncles or male cousins inherited the whole of the family estate.

Queen Victoria herself is actually a fascinating case of unexpected inheritance. She was the granddaughter of King George III, and her grandpa and grandma, Queen Charlotte, worked very hard to produce plenty of heirs. Charlotte gave birth to fifteen children, thirteen of whom survived. Two of George's sons did become king. King George IV reigned from 1820-1830 and his younger brother, King William IV, ruled from 1830-1837, but when Victoria's uncle died in 1837, she was her grandfather's next legitimate heir. She became queen at only eighteen years old and reigned for nearly sixty-four years.

Another story of unexpected inheritance links directly to the current royal family. Take one handsome son of an Irish peer, add an American heiress, and you have a fascinating story of marriage and inheritance. In 1878, Frances "Fanny" Work, the daughter of a wealthy New York stockbroker, Franklin Work, fell for the dashing James Burke Roche, the second son of an Irish baron. They married in 1880, but Frances's father, a self made man, wasn't terribly impressed with Roche, and he wasn't keen on his American millions supporting an extravagant Englishman. You see,
James liked to gamble. Rather a lot.

The situation was so bad that, in 1891, Frances divorced James for desertion. Several years later, James's older brother passed away before him, and he unexpectedly became the third Baron Fermoy, but his marriage to Frances had already ended.

So how are Fanny and James linked to the current royal family? The couple had four children before they parted, including Edmund Maurice, the grandfather of Diana, Princess of Wales. Thus, American Frances is the great great grandmother of Prince William and Prince Harry.

When I conceived my Accidental Heirs series, I took inspiration from these stories and many others. In my first book of the series, my hero, Lucius, Viscount Grimsby, is one of those younger brothers who assumes he must find a profession. But when his brother dies, he becomes a viscount, future heir to an earldom, and responsible for a crumbling estate and his ailing father. After losing his mother at a young age and facing his father's rejection for years, Lucius has learned to stifle emotion and focus on the practical. When suffragette bookseller Jessamin Wright storms into a fashionable soiree and kisses him in front of everyone, she turns his world upside down.

Jess has problems of her own. She's inherited her father's bookshop, but she'd never known just how far he'd sunk the shop into debt. In a desperate bid to earn enough money to keep the place afloat, she agrees to a vengeful young woman's scheme to embarrass Viscount Grimsby. One kiss, in public, for one hundred pounds.

What neither suspects is how that one scandalous kiss will change everything.

If you pre-order One Scandalous Kiss now for $1.99, it will be delivered to your e-reader on September 8th!

Please consider joining me on Facebook to celebrate the release of One Scandalous Kiss! We're having a party on September 13th with guest authors and lots of giveaways.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Cover Reveal! I Spy a Duke by Erica Monroe

I'm so excited to be sharing in the reveal for the first book in Erica Monroe's upcoming Covert Heiresses series, about four women who by day are the talk of the ton, and by night are England’s top spies.

I Spy a Duke introduces James Spencer, Duke of Abermont, and Vivienne Loren, a governess with a secret agenda.

Cover designed by Designs by BMB

Blurb: She wants revenge…
When bluestocking Vivienne Loren becomes the governess for the wealthy Spencer family, she’s searching for clues about the murder of her brother, not a husband. But Vivienne didn’t count on James Spencer, the autocratic and infuriatingly handsome Duke of Abermont.
He needs a wife…
As head of Britain’s elite intelligence agency, James has no time to woo a wife. When he discovers Vivienne’s thirst for revenge has made her a pawn in the treacherous plot, James realizes they can help each other. She’ll become his duchess, and he’ll keep her safe from one of Napoleon’s deadliest spies.
What begins as a marriage of convenience quickly becomes anything but, as they find out love is the most dangerous mission of all.

Release Info: I Spy a Duke releases October 5, 2015.
Special sale price of 99c for preorder – get it now before it returns to full price

Purchase Links:
All Romance E-Books: http://bit.ly/1JvdnkM

Author Bio:
Erica Monroe is a USA Today Bestselling Author of emotional, suspenseful historical romance. Her debut novel, A Dangerous Invitation, has been nominated in the published historical category for the prestigious 2014 Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Romantic Suspense. When not writing, she is a chronic TV watcher, sci-fi junkie, comic book reader, pit bull lover, and slow runner. She lives in the suburbs of North Carolina with her husband, two dogs, and a cat.

Reach Out to Erica:
Newsletter: http:// bit.ly/mlem4
Friend her on Facebook: http://facebook.com/ericamonroeauthor
Like her Facebook page: http://facebook.com/ericamonroewrites

Monday, June 1, 2015

Meet Moment Monday: Laurel O'Donnell and My Noble Knight

There's something about medieval romance novels that I can't resist, so I'm especially thrilled to welcome award-winning author and fellow Love Historicals pal Laurel O'Donnell for Meet Moment Monday. Today we're featuring the meet scene between Layne and Griffin from her delicious medieval romance, My Noble Knight. Even more exciting? I designed her cover for the book!
Here's a bit about the story...

Layne Fletcher, the only girl in a family of three boys, has grown up learning to use a sword and joust, but she is not a knight. She and her brothers have been traveling from tourney to tourney to make enough coin to buy their own farm to shelter their ailing father. When her brother is found unconscious before an important tournament, Layne takes his place on the jousting field against... 

Griffin Wolfe, the undefeated jousting champion. When he is unhorsed by a slip of a woman who is not a knight, he demands retribution. His honor will not allow him to let a woman be thrown in the dungeon and he has no choice but to pay her fine, ordering her to travel with him until her brothers can repay him. Griffin attempts to educate Layne in the art of being a woman, but finds he is attracted to her exciting personality and uncommon beauty despite her less than lady like ways. 

But someone is trying to sabotage Griffin as he competes in the tournaments. Can Layne and Griffin discover who the culprit is while keeping their families safe and their growing attraction secret?

The moment that will make you want to read the rest...

He turned and headed back to his pavilion where his squire was preparing his armor. Around him, spectators continued to arrive, the wealthier guests heading for the wooden stands, others staking out their spots in the fields for the best view of the joust. He turned the corner of a pavilion that bore the flapping flag crest of lord Crandall and a small whirlwind slammed into his chest. Griffin grunted and scowled, caught by surprise.

He lowered his gaze to see a pile of wild dark hair at his feet. Two hands emerged into his view and separated the hair to reveal two beaming blue eyes staring up at him. “Pardons, sir." The hands pushed the hair further back to reveal a face and Griffin was shocked to see a woman! If it weren't for her delicate face and full lips, he wasn't sure he would have realized she was a female. She wore brown breeches on her slender legs and a dusty green tunic.

Instinctively, he reached out a hand to her. “Are you hurt?”

Her blue eyes twinkled and a smile spread across her lips as she reached for his hand. “You're strong, but not a rock. I am unhurt.”

When her fingers closed over his palm, a searing jolt raced through Griffin. He almost pulled his hand free of hers, but his upbringing overrode his surprise and he easily lifted her to her feet. There was something instantly intriguing about the woman, even though she was dressed in men’s clothing. He withdrew his hand. “Where are you off to in such a hurry?”

“The joust,” she answered. “It's already crowded and I have to get a good spot to watch.”

Griffin frowned slightly. Women did not dash around running into men looking for the closest spot to watch a joust. He stepped aside. “Far be it from me to stand in your way.”

She nodded and walked past him, her steps more measured.

He watched her walk away. At least she had slowed her pace. His gaze took in her body. Her bottom was hidden beneath the tunic that fell to her mid thigh. Her legs were covered with knee high black boots. Very inappropriate for a woman, but so very intriguing. Suddenly, she turned and locked gazes with him. A slow smile turned up the corners of her lips into a lovely, knowing smile. It was like the sunrise on a glorious morning. His spirit lifted at the mere sight of her grin. He couldn’t help but smile back at her; her grin was infectious.

“Forgive me for crashing into you.”Griffin nodded slightly and then she was gone, swallowed up by the sea of villagers and merchants arriving for the joust.

More about Laurel...

Laurel O’Donnell has won numerous awards for her works, including the Holt Medallion for A Knight of Honor, the Happily Ever After contest for Angel’s Assassin, and the Indiana’s Golden Opportunity contest for Immortal DeathThe Angel and the Prince was nominated by the Romance Writers of America for their prestigious Golden Heart award. O’Donnell lives in Illinois with her four cherished children, her beloved husband and her five cats. She finds precious time every day to escape into the medieval world and bring her characters to life in her writing.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Meet Moment Monday: Where the Wild Wind Blows by Nancy Morse

I'm excited to welcome fellow historical romance author and Love Historicals member, Nancy Morse. Nancy's Native American historical romance, Where the Wild Wind Blows is the first book in her Native American Wild Wind Series.

Here's a bit more about the story...

Katie McCabe, daughter of an Indian trader, finds herself alone when her family is killed in a battle between the Army and the Indians. She is rescued by Black Moon, a fierce Lakota warrior who has vowed to keep the white people from taking his land, and is taken to live with his people. The love that ignites between these two wild hearts is tested by treachery, abduction, prejudice, a promise to a dying woman, and the tensions that erupt between the Sioux and the Army during the turbulent 1850s. From the war-torn Great Plains to the opulence of St. Louis, a headstrong white girl and a proud Lakota warrior fight for their love and the wild country of their birth.

WHERE THE WILD WIND BLOWS is the first book in the Native American Wild Wind Series. Book 2, WINTER WIND, follows the tumultuous adventures of Katie and Black Moon as a new threat arises, testing the strength of their love.

I dare you to read this meet scene between Katie and Black Moon, and not want to read the rest of the story.
There was nothing friendly about him. He sat without moving, deceptively relaxed in a cross-legged position, puffing silently on a long-stemmed pipe. The fire sent shadows flickering across his face and bare chest and cast him in an ominous light. There was a menace about him, an undisguised hostility, and a proud arrogance. The colors and design of the beaded bag that hung from his rawhide belt confirmed that he was Lakota.
Her voice sounded small and childlike when it slipped into the space between them. “How long was I sleeping?”
If he was surprised that she spoke his language, he gave no indication of it. Tossing a stick onto the fire, he said stoically, “The sun has risen and fallen once.”
A day. She had slept an entire day. It seemed incredible until she recalled just how much there was to forget. She began to tremble, and into the darkness she raged at the utter senselessness of it all. “Why did they have to die like that?”
A muscle twitched in his high-boned cheek. His voice came low and reeking of bitterness from across the flames. “Word of this killing will spread like wildfire and many others will be asking that question.”
Remembering what her father always told her about the Indian way, Katie swallowed down the lump in her throat and said in a voice that quavered, “My father will have many fine gifts for you for helping me to escape.”
“Your father is dead.”
She did not hear him. “He will be very grateful to you.”
He repeated, “Your father is dead.”
This time she could not block it out. His cold, flat words were the awful confirmation of what she had already sensed in the depths of her being. They had a final, absolute ring to them.
“Richard.” She uttered the name as part statement, part question, aimed at no one in particular.
He tapped the spent ashes out of the pipe bowl, saying as he did, “The one with hair the color of the red dog is dead.”
It wasn’t that he referred to Richard as a fox that caused her to flinch, but the casual way in which he said it. Tears began to form, hot, stinging tears of disbelief and outrage and sorrow. Her shoulders started to shake as great sobs seized her. Like water from a broken beaver dam the tears rushed from her eyes and she wept into her hands. First, her mother had been taken from her, leaving a void that would never be filled. Now, her father and brother, and with them, dreams of Ireland and a life that was never to be fulfilled. The world was suddenly a dark and lonely place, with death and destruction as the only rewards for living.
Black Moon watched her from across the embers. “Death is part of the circle of life,” he said. “Man moves in a sun-wise direction. He comes from the south, the source of all life, and moves toward the west, the setting sun of his life. As he grows older, he approaches the cold north where the white hairs wait. If he lives long enough, he comes to the source of light and understanding that is the east. From there he returns to the place where his life began, to his mother, the Earth. We all return to the place of our beginning. Only the weak ones cry.” There was no pity in his voice, no compassion, only a hint of mocking.
Katie lifted her chin and glared back at him. With tear-stained cheeks and eyes wild and bright, she declared with a sudden burst of pride, “I am not weak. I am strong.”
His face remained implacable. He gave an indolent shrug, and said, “Is that why you shake like a frightened long-ears? Tell me, little red-haired long-ears just how strong you are.”
“I am no rabbit,” she said. “Do not call me that.”
His jaw tightened at her insolence. “I will call you whatever I please.”
“I have a name. It is Katie.”
“Names can be changed. A boy is known by his cradle name until he earns a new one.”
“But I am a woman, and even among the Lakota a woman does not change the name she receives at birth. My name is Katie and I will answer to no other.”
From the storm clouds she saw gathering in his smoky eyes she expected him to draw his knife from its hide sheath and silence her with it for speaking so boldly. But he made no move toward his weapon.
They lapsed into silence. Katie had no idea how long she sat there with her knees pulled up to her chest, her arms hugging them tight. During the indeterminate hours that passed in which neither of them spoke, she scrutinized him from across the flickering flames.
His hair, unbound and hanging long and straight over his shoulders, was blacker than the recesses of the cave where no light shone. The fire illuminated a face that bore the stamp of power and sheer force of will. With its high cheekbones, straight nose and well defined mouth, its handsomeness was compelling. It drew her toward it, much like the glazed windows of her father’s cabin on the Laramie had often drawn magpies that flew against them with a thud and an explosion of feathers.
She could not help but notice that his legs were slim and hard, made for wrapping around a horse’s bare back. A lean, tough belly showed not a hint of extra flesh. His bare narrow shoulders seemed perfectly made for slipping easily through thick groves and brush. His arms were well-muscled from a lifetime of drawing taut bowstrings. A band of red-dyed porcupine quills spanned one forearm. The hands that held the pipe, with their long, tapered fingers, were almost too beautiful to belong to a man.
Yet despite the physical appeal of him that she found so compelling, there was a hardness about him, of angular features and taut muscles and the suggestion of an inflexible spirit. But it was his eyes, in which the flames of the fire shone so brightly, that burned with such undisguised hatred it sent chills through her and forced her to turn her face away.
The silence stretched on and on.

More about Nancy...

Nancy Morse is an award-winning author of historical, contemporary and paranormal romance, where love is always an adventure. She lives in Florida with her husband and a very spoiled Alaskan Malamute. Visit with her at http://www.nancymorse.com and on Facebook.

Grab your copy of Where the Wild Wind Blows!

Barnes & Noble
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Monday, May 11, 2015

Meet Moment Monday: Eruption by NA Contemporary Author J. Hughey

I'm so pleased to welcome New Adult Contemporary author J. Hughey to Romancing the Victorians for Meet Moment Monday.

Here's a bit about Eruption, the first book in the Yellowblown™ Series.

I’m in the middle of the perfect college semester, hundreds of miles from Mom, with an awesome roomie and my freshman crush finally becoming a sophomore reality—Hotness! I’m figuring out calculus, I’ve got both hands on the handlebars and the wind of freedom in my hair. What on earth could slow my roll?

How about if the Yellowstone volcano erupts for the first time in 630,000 years, spewing a continuous load of ash (crap) all over North America? Think that’ll put a kink in my bicycle chain?

Make that kinks, plural, because here’s a scientific fact I’ll bet you didn’t know. Nothing ruins the perfect semester like a super caldera. Now that I’ve made you smarter today, maybe you can tell me how to keep my life cruising in the right direction—no to Mom, yes to roomie, double yes to Hotness!—during a global disaster?

My lame name is Violet and, in the interest of full disclosure, I’m not hanging from the side of a cinder cone on the last page of this trauma, but there’s definitely more to come. Unless, of course, humans become extinct and then there’s not. Duh.

~ * ~

In this excerpt, protagonists Violet and Boone have their first real meeting. They met briefly on freshman move-in day, but he was in his official capacity as a Resident Assistant, not at liberty to notice the new girls. Today Violet is out for a bike ride to escape her cray-cray roommate.

~ * ~
After my responsible escape, I’d ridden four or five miles out of town then looped back on the country roads. At the first stoplight, a biker came toward me on the perpendicular street. He nodded at me and looked away then looked back at about the same time I recognized him. Boone freakin’ Ramer. The unexpectedness both jazzed and horrified me. Hotness, all to myself, yes, but he was seeing me in a helmet, sports sunglasses and a water bladder backpack.
“Hey,” I said.
He wore sunglasses, too. The reflective orange lenses hid his eyes, but not his frown. “Aren’t you a freshman at Western Case?” he asked. His voice was nice, not crazy deep but definitely masculine, and he spoke with a slow cadence, in no hurry at all.
“Yeah,” I said. Scintillating. Brilliant.
“What’d you think of the game?”
“What game?” I scooted my bike farther onto the shoulder of the road as a car cruised past.
“The football game. Today. At home.”
“I don’t follow sports much. Was it good?” Those maddening mirrored glasses hid everything. His extended silence couldn’t be a positive sign.
“Are you lost?” he finally asked.
I glanced around. “I don’t think so. Do I look lost?”
His self-deprecating smile thinned his lips but showed no teeth. “No, sorry, most students only ride far enough to find beer.” He moved his head in a way that suggested he was checking out my gear. “I should’ve noticed you weren’t dressed for a grocery run.”
“I only did about ten miles,” I said with a shrug.
“Twice what I can do on these hills.” He grimaced.
I slid my sunglasses off my sweaty nose. I didn’t like not seeing his eyes and hoped he’d show me his if I showed him mine. I used the maneuver as an excuse to check out the rest of him. His biking shorts were loose, like gym shorts, accentuating awesome, tight calves. The top half of him didn’t disappoint, either, with the thin fabric of his shirt plastered over his pecs. He was respectably muscled, not over-juiced like Bodacious.
Hot. Ness.
“New to biking?” I asked.
“Rehabbing my knee.”
“That sucks.”
“Yep.” He finally removed his sunglasses to wipe his forearm over his ruddy face.
“What happened?” I indicated his leg with the tip of my chin.
His quick glance registered surprise before he gave the same odd little smile. “Oh. I was a quarterback for the football team. Took a low hit at the end of last season.”
I squinted at his leg. “Wow, those scars are tiny.”
He prodded at a shiny pink dot on his hairy skin. “The doctors in Pittsburgh are some of the best.” He sounded tired, or sort of downcast.
In an unusual moment of insight, I said, “Was today the first game since?”
“I’m guessing you didn’t play?”
He looked down the street, away from me, then at the road cinders at our feet. “This is the first fall I haven’t played ball since I was six.”
“Wow. I can’t think of anything other than, you know, the basics like breathing I’ve been doing for that long.”
He smirked.
“Docs wouldn’t clear you?”
“They did. I didn’t.” He picked up the front of his bike by the handlebars then set it back down. “When the mom who drove you forty miles round trip for midget practices and the dad who wrecked his shoulder passing the ball back to you both say it’s time to quit….”
“Sounds like your parents are good at mind-jobs, like mine.”
He smiled a little more cheerfully and I smiled back, glad because he’d been cruising toward miserable. Just the image I wanted to create—here’s the sports ignoramus who can totally bum you out in thirty seconds flat.
“They let it up to me in the end. I made the right decision. It’s not like I have a chance to go pro. I’ll be able to walk when I’m forty, maybe throw the ball with my own kid.” A shrug bunched the muscles at his shoulders. Another shadow of doubt passed over his face.
“The bike’ll be good for you.” Again with the brilliance, as if some millionaire orthopedist hadn’t already told him about biking. Duh.
“I can go farther in Nebraska. Fewer hills,” he said. He reached for the water bottle attached to the down tube of his bike, and I could almost see him shaking off the blues. “Where are you from?” His green eyes bored into me with unanticipated curiosity.
“Indiana. We have hills but not like this.”
“Why do you ride?” he asked after he’d finished taking a deep drink from the Copperheads Football bottle.
“Um, mostly ’cuz it feels good. I mean, it helps me to clear my head.” It feels good? Really, did I say that out loud?
“Endorphins,” he said. “Though I could do without the bugs smacking me in the face.” He tucked the bottle in the cage and pushed his sunglasses back on. “Wanna head back?”
“Sure.” I slid my own glasses on and clipped one foot into a pedal.
We stood on the corner, ready to launch, each waiting for the other to lead.
“You go ahead,” he finally said with a chuckle.
“Is this a test to make sure I’m not lost?”
“No.” He grinned. “My mama taught me ladies go first.”
I rolled my eyes, checked traffic and pushed off, thanking God my other biking shoe clicked neatly into its bracket.
“Clips,” he said from over my left shoulder. “You’re brave.”
“Power on the upstroke and downstroke,” I said.
“Or instant death the first time I tried to stop.”
I laughed. “I practiced in my front yard for awhile. If I can do it, anyone can.” I shifted into a lower gear for the gentle climb. The real bitch of a hill would come at the end.
“Don’t baby me, now,” he said.
I glanced over my shoulder at him. “Have it your way.”
He panted in even, deliberate puffs by the time we reached the edge of campus, but he hadn’t given up. He’d stayed on my back wheel. I did a cool down loop on the local streets before guiding us to the dorm.
I stepped off my bike and reluctantly removed my helmet. My stubby ponytail was mostly intact, though much of the front section of my hair slipped from the skinny hairband. I did my best to tuck the errant strands behind my ears.
He arranged his own gear then looked at me with the green stare again, more intense than before. “I’m sorry, I don’t remember your name.”
“I’m sure we freshman all look alike.” I extended my hand. “Violet Perch.”
“Boone Ramer.” He took my hand and, though our palms were hot and sweaty, he continued to hold it, lighting a fuse of attraction that sparked up my wrist and past my elbow. “Violet. Unusual name. I’ll remember it now.”
“Yeah, it’s kind of a curse,” I said as the heat passed my shoulder to go straight to my skort.
“I didn’t mean unusual bad. It’s nice. Feminine.” He released my hand while his eyes touched me, sliding down my pink jersey and along legs I knew weren’t particularly long but had hints of muscle definition.
I knew what I was. In our world of breast enhancements and thigh gaps, I didn’t have the right dimensions to attract a guy in Boone’s league, especially with my sports bra smashing my itty bitty titties down to nothing. Helmet hair, sweat stained armpits, padded bottoms, and black sturdy shoes completed the non-seductive, flat-chested ensemble. I was all in.
His face sharpened in a way that suggested he might like what he saw. My nostrils flared in immediate, misguided response. God, he was magnetic.
“You’re in good shape,” he said appreciatively. “I bonked on the last hill but you pulled me up.” He waggled his brows at me. “Couldn’t let you make me look bad.”
My face flushed beyond exercise-induced red. “You did good.” We wheeled our bikes toward the door and I’d almost worked up the courage to ask if he’d like to ride together again when a trilling voice called his name.
Twyla Blakelock, who’d ignored me at a rush party last week, bounced up to press her glossy lips against his mouth. Her nose wrinkled. “Ewww, you’re all sweaty,” she said.
What kind of moron touches him and says Ewww, I thought. You’re ewww, Twyla.
“Hey, I’ll see you later,” I said out loud, eternally grateful for the guy who came out the door at the right time to hold it for me.

~ * ~
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Learn More About J. 

J. Hughey knows what a girl wants. Independence. One or two no-matter-what-happens friends. A smokin’ hot romance. A basic understanding of geological concepts. Huh? Okay, maybe not every girl is into geology, but J. Hughey is, and in the Yellowblown™ series she combines her passion for a timeless love story with her interest in geeky stuff to help Violet Perch get a life, despite an ongoing global catastrophe.

J. Hughey also writes historical romance as Jill Hughey. You can find out more about her at her website www.jillhughey.com