#NewRelease – A TIME TO BE by Rosemary Hillyard

Please welcome author Rosemary Hillyard to my site. She released her debut novel, A Time to Be, in July. Check out a short excerpt of her historical romance after this author interview.

Interview

Tell us a bit about yourself. Where were you born and where do you call home?

I was born in south London, the second of six children, when London was a very different place to the city it is today. I have travelled a lot, visiting 24 countries when I was a journalist, and have lived in Surrey, Wales and the Midlands. Today I live in a small village in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, with a partner who was born here. I am not sure where I would call home now: I think it might be a place inside me…

What or who inspired you to start writing?

I was seven when I first announced to my family that I was going to be a writer. At school I was put up on a chair to make up stories to keep the other children quiet, and I wrote stories for magazines which won prizes – exciting for a little girl! I discovered that I was a descendant of Charles Dickens, which whetted my appetite further. My father was a great reader and collected the full set of Dickens’ books, which were passed on to me.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I suppose I did as a child, but I soon learned that it would be a precarious way to earn a living, and I was encouraged to look for a “proper job”. I joined a local newspaper as a trainee journalist and was soon too busy to think about writing for pleasure. It has taken me 60 years to publish my first book!

How much of yourself, your personality or your experiences, is in your books?

I haven’t consciously written about me or my experiences, but I am sure that everything we experience as we go through life affects our personalities and outlook. I cannot abide dull routine, for example, and Elizabeth, the book’s central character, craves excitement, too!

Please tell us about your current release. What inspired you to write this book?

My father died from cancer an hour after his 58th birthday. His death affected me greatly. It made me realise that life can be short and I was one of the next generation in line. I started writing about his illness as therapy, and then the plot for “A Time To Be” began making itself felt.

How did you come up with the title?

A passage from Ecclesiastes kept nagging at me – a passage which Pete Seeger used as the basis for a song: there is a season for everything. “A time to be born and a time to die, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance”. As my writing progressed I played through these phrases in my head, moving from one choice to another as I learned to work through and accept my father’s death. “A Time To Be” symbolised acceptance and a state of being for my story’s characters.

What kind of research did you do for this book? Did you base any of your characters on real people?

As I wanted to include real characters – politicians and suffragettes – in my story, I needed to be sure that their personalities, appearances and real events were accurate to the last detail. So I spent many hours checking and cross-referencing so that fact and fiction fused seamlessly together.

What was the most difficult thing/scene to write in this story?

The lovemaking chapter. I knew there needed to be one to make the storyline realistic, but I didn’t want it to be smutty or tacky. I wasn’t aiming for another “Fifty Shades of Grey”! Neither did I want it to be coy or so euphemistic that it would make the reader cringe. So it took quite a few drafts to produce a chapter which I hope achieves its aim without upsetting anyone.

If you could meet two authors, who would you pick and why?

If I could travel back in time, I would like to meet Charles Dickens and discuss how he put his stories together.  We both wrote for newspapers. He believed in doing what he could to help his fellow man, and I am donating royalties from my books to charities, so we should have something in common. Perhaps I could make that meeting possible in a sequel to “A Time To Be”?!

A modern writer I would like to meet is Jodi Picoult, who writes very readable books with tough storylines which make me think.

 Tell us a random fact about you that we never would have guessed.

I sang “Verdi’s Requiem” for Princess Alexandra in the Royal Albert Hall – with several hundred others, I hasten to add!

Excerpt – Chapter 3

‘Are you sure it’s wise to go out so soon?’ John watched his wife anxiously as she buttoned her coat and tidied her hair in front of the hall mirror.

‘John, dear, I need some fresh air and so does Elizabeth. I’ve had lots of rest in the last three weeks, and the doctors wouldn’t have let us come home if they hadn’t been sure we were both fine. Please stop worrying. I won’t stay out long, but I want to take Elizabeth to the church to offer a prayer of thanks for her safe delivery.’

John hugged Maria and planted a kiss on her forehead.

‘Okay, you win. I know it’s no use arguing with you when you’ve made up your mind. But keep on the move, won’t you? Although it’s brighter today, there’s still quite a cold wind, and I’d hate either of my girls to catch a chill!’

Maria pushed the pram proudly along the street towards St Benedict’s. It wasn’t the nearest church to their home – that was the modern, yellow-brick St John the Baptist round the corner – but Maria preferred the more traditional services at St Benedict’s, even though it meant a walk of half a mile or so. The people there were so friendly, too, and she was looking forward to taking Elizabeth with her. The vicar welcomed children, no matter how young, and she was sure he would be delighted to arrange the baby’s baptism.

Today, she’d be even more glad to reach the church. John had been right – the wind was cold – and she walked briskly, barely glancing at the front gardens of the houses she passed, not stopping as she usually did to admire a fine shrub or border.

As she turned thankfully under the lychgate at the entrance to the churchyard, and started pushing the pram along the stone-flagged path between the gravestones, she caught a snatch of organ music and realised that she wouldn’t have the church to herself.

Still, if it was old Mr Johnson practising for next Sunday’s services, he wouldn’t mind at all if she wandered round the church, running her fingers over the beautiful carved wooden choirstalls and reading the marble tablets set high in the walls. She liked to sit quietly in her favourite pew, imagining what the people commemorated in those tablets looked like and the kind of lives they led. What must it have been like to have lived in those long-ago days?

But, as she pushed open the heavy dark oak door and manoeuvred the pram, with some difficulty, down the broad stone step just inside, she realised that Mr Johnson wasn’t practising: a funeral service was in progress. An oak coffin topped with a wreath of evergreens and white chrysanthemums lay on a stand before the altar, and in the front two pews stood a small, sombrely-dressed group of people, singing the final verse of ‘Abide with me’.

Maria hesitated, feeling like an intruder. But it was too cold to wait outside, and she didn’t want to walk home without offering her thanks to God for the baby, so she parked the pram at the back of the church and slipped into the last pew as the vicar climbed the steps of the pulpit to begin his address.

‘Let us give thanks for the life of Edward Oscar Dinsdale…’

Maria started. Where had she heard that name before?

‘…A very brave man, a man who risked his life in trying to save others…’ the vicar was continuing. And suddenly Maria remembered where she had seen that name; on the white marble tablet next to the special memorial window in the side chapel. A whole family of Dinsdales was listed on that marble, all killed in a terrible fire at the beginning of the century.

She bowed her head in respect as the coffin passed her, then glanced up to be faced with the most startlingly vivid pair of violet-blue eyes she had ever seen. Their owner wasn’t a young woman – about 70, Maria judged – but she was still upright, slender and elegant in a neat grey suit and tiny black hat with a discreet feather curled along one side, topping a small heart-shaped face with silver hair brushed smoothly underneath.

The woman smiled at her and Maria, realising that she had been staring, flushed as she smiled back apologetically.

She waited until the group of mourners had left the church, then knelt to offer her prayer of thanks for the safe delivery of Elizabeth.

After a few minutes, she rose, checked to see that the baby was still sleeping soundly, then made her way to the side chapel. She was right – there, on the white marble tablet next to the memorial window, were listed the members of the Dinsdale family who had lost their lives in a fire which had destroyed their home in June 1908.

Book Blurb

a-time-to-beAs John Carter anxiously awaits the arrival of his first-born, in another ward of the hospital old Edward Dinsdale’s life is slipping away. Fate brings these two families and lives together when John’s wife, Maria, takes new-born Elizabeth to church to thank God for her safe arrival.

As Elizabeth grows, she has an inexplicable pull towards a bygone era and loves everything from the clothes to their lifestyle. So when she takes a bang on the head and time travels back to 1908, she feels as though she has come home.

She stumbles into the world of Edward Dinsdale and is taken under his wing at the beautiful Highwood Hall. Relationships and friendships grow quickly, and it seems that Elizabeth is quite content living in a time when life was much simpler. But her husband, Ben, is waiting for her.

Will Elizabeth ever return to her husband and family? What secrets will she uncover while amongst the Dinsdale family?

Filled with excitement, tragedy, love and loss, A Time to Be is historical / romantic fiction at its best and a must-read for all ages. Set partly in the era of the suffragettes and partly in the modern day, this is an atmospheric and cinematic read full of thought-provoking twists and turns that capture both eras perfectly.

About the Author

Rosemary Hillyard’s earliest memories are of wanting to be a writer. As Charles Dickens was an ancestor, perhaps the desire was in her genes!

She won a few prizes for stories as a child, but adults told Rosemary she needed to earn a living and should keep story writing as a hobby. So she trained as a journalist on her local paper in south London and stuck to factual writing for 25 years. She qualified as an industrial editor, producing staff publications for major companies such as Barclays Bank, Avis, MetalBox, Coca-Cola Schweppes and the Royal Institute of Marketing.

In her 40s she trained as a financial adviser, and ran a successful business as an independent mortgage consultant for ten years.

Her father’s death from cancer at only 58 was the catalyst which started Rosemary writing again imaginatively. ‘Suddenly I was aware how short life can be. The death of a parent also makes you realise you are next in line.’

The germ of an idea for historical, romantic fiction with a twist in the tale started to take shape. And at last ‘A Time To Be’ is seeing the light of day.

You can contact Rosemary through her e-mail.

You can purchase A Time to Be on Amazon and Amazon UK (ebook)/Amazon UK (paperback).

Today’s Featured Author – Margaret Brazear

Please welcome author Margaret Brazear to my blog. Today she is sharing with us an excerpt from The Judas Pledge, the first book in her Holy Poison historical romance series.

Excerpt

Her plan was put on hold indefinitely when one morning a messenger arrived on horseback asking to see Richard.  The man seemed to be in a panic and Bethany ordered refreshments for him, but he refused to tell her his message; that was for His Lordship’s ears only.

A few minutes after he had gone, Richard came to join his wife in their bedchamber where she sat on the bed, wondering why the messenger had been so secretive. Her heart sank when she saw he was buckling a sword at his waist.  He strode across the room and took her face in his warm hands, then they dropped to her shoulders and he lifted her to her feet.

“King Edward is dead,” he announced. “Jane Grey has been proclaimed Queen in London.”

She knew at once why he was wearing a sword and her heart almost stopped in her chest; he had come to say goodbye.

“Mary has gathered forces at Framlingham and is even now on her way to London with an army.  I will join her in Sawston where she will stay the night.  There is little time, but you must promise me that you will not put yourself in any danger while I am away.”

All she could think of was how to stop him, how to keep him here and safe where he belonged. But there was no way and she knew it. She felt certain these gloriously happy weeks would never come again.

“What sort of danger?” She asked at last.

“Rely only on Anthony for news, please. It is a dangerous time and if you say the wrong thing to the wrong people, it could be construed as treason.”

Treason? He could speak to her of treason while he risked his precious life for the little papist woman?

“Aren’t you the one in danger of being condemned for treason?” She was shivering with fear now and did not realise she was digging her fingernails into his arms.  “You are going to support Queen Jane’s enemy against her. You are planning to ride into London with Mary Tudor, right into the lion’s den. The next time I see you could be in the Tower.” She reached up and kissed his lips, held her arms tightly about his waist, desperately trying to make him stay. She could not stop the tears which were brimming over and falling down her cheeks. “Please, Richard, do not go. I think I would die myself if I lost you.”

So she had said it. She had taken those feelings out of their little box and thrown them at him, despite wanting very much to keep them safe inside, where he would never see. They had an agreement and this was not part of it.

He held her away from him to look down into her eyes and smiled gently as he hugged her close. She could feel his heart beating rapidly against her cheek, could feel the shuddering sigh as he breathed in deeply.

“You really love me,” he said, but with a little puzzled frown on his brow. “I had not expected that, but you do. You really love me.”

Then he returned her kiss, a kiss that went on so long she thought she would faint, a kiss that took her breath away and aroused in her that longing she had so recently discovered. And she was so afraid it would be the last kiss.

Gently, he took her arms from around his waist and pushed her away.

“Pray for me,” he said swiftly, and with that he was gone while she wondered miserably if she would ever see him again.

***

When the messenger had gone, Richard sat for a moment wondering why his heart failed to sing at the news of the King’s death. If only Mary had been declared Queen, as her father’s Will had decreed, he would not now have to leave his wife and risk his life to fight for her.

He had waited for the Protestant boy to die, his allegiance was to Mary and until now he had longed for the day he could raise his sword in defence of her, the day he could help her to return England to the true faith. He had looked forward with joy and excitement to the day he would ride into London at Mary Tudor’s side, raise her flag before her army and claim the throne of England for the true heir and the true faith.

Since he invited Bethany into his life, he could summon no enthusiasm to leave her, no matter what the cause.

He shook his head to clear it. He had no time for this; he would have to go, and go quickly. He took his sword from its place over the fireplace and buckled on his belt as he climbed the stairs to say goodbye to her. She waited, seated on their bed and looking more beautiful than he had ever seen her, and he could see in her eyes that she knew already what the news would be.

He could not love her; he could not afford to risk his heart. He had no intention of ever loving her, only of giving her the respect due to his countess. He did not love her! It was not possible. It was merely an infatuation from which he would soon recover once he was away from her.

But when she clung to him and begged him not to go, when he saw how much he meant to her, his resolve almost failed. He was always popular with women; he was handsome, well built and charming and with skills in the bedchamber they could find nowhere else, but he never had expected any of them to love him as this woman did.

She had kept her side of the agreement, or tried to. She had followed all his instructions on how a countess must behave so that when he finally presented her to the monarch, she would move in court circles and not disgrace him. He knew there were many among those circles who gossiped about his choice of bride, who condemned her as being unworthy to wear the title, but he had little use for the opinions of others.

She had stood beside him every day in his private church and said the mass as he had taught her but he knew she was uncomfortable with it, even afraid of it. She trembled with fear in that church, although she tried to hide it; she stared at the statues with terror in her eyes and she seemed no closer to embracing his beliefs.

She had paid attention to the lessons his priest gave her, but he knew the subject was of academic interest to her, nothing more. She was an intelligent woman who enjoyed learning, but she was nowhere close to believing what she was taught and now he doubted she ever would be.

He had been arrogant enough to believe her faith was unimportant and she would soon see the truth; it was a mistake, a big one.

Now it was too late. His duty lay with Mary and he could not afford to be distracted from that duty. And there was still no sign of an heir.

Book Blurb

The Judas PledgeIt is 1553 and for five years the fifteen year old protestant King Edward VI has reigned with the aid of a Lord Protector. It has been twenty years since King Henry VIII broke away from the yoke of the Roman church and Catholicism is outlawed and a thing of the past.

Bethany is the daughter of a wealthy merchant and her only concern is to avoid an arranged marriage to the impoverished baron her father has found to marry her for her dowry.

When the wealthy Earl of Summerville suggests a marriage which will make her a very rich countess she is thrilled and his confession that he is a hated catholic and that he expects her to follow his faith, means little. If Bethany had thought about it at all, she had believed there were no Catholics left in England. Her eyes firmly fixed on a handsome, amiable husband and the title, wealth and huge country mansion which comes with him, she believes she will never have to adhere to that condition, she believes there will never be another catholic monarch, despite his assurances that the catholic Mary Tudor will succeed her brother to the throne.

She has no idea how hard it is going to be to keep that pledge when Mary gains the throne and begins a brutal campaign to bring England back to the church of Rome. Bethany is horrified to learn that not only is her new husband a catholic, he is a close friend and advisor to the new Queen Mary.

As Bethany’s protestant family and friends are persecuted for their beliefs, beliefs for which they are prepared to die a horrible death, she finds the struggle to support her catholic husband and give lip service to his faith to be impossible despite having fallen deeply in love with him.

This is a tale of love, passion and betrayal in an age when God is a very real part of everyday life and the way he is worshipped worth of dying for.

HOLY POISON is a series of historical romances concerning the ordinary people who lived through the religious upheaval brought about by Mary Tudor’s determination to return England to the Catholic Church, a violent five years for which she was ever after known as ‘Bloody Mary’.

About the Author

Margaret Brazear was born in London, England in 1948, to a working class family. Her father was a lorry driver and she had what was then a secondary modern education. Her interest in history was piqued when she was in her teens and she went on to study in earnest the fascinating subject of England’s past. She has written stories since she could write and is proud and delighted to have found a following to her historical romance fiction.

She is a widow with three grown up children, two grown up grandchildren and a deep love of four legged furry creatures, especially dogs.

You can find out more about Margaret on her website or check out her Facebook Author Page.

You can purchase The Judas Pledge on Amazon.

Today’s Featured Author: Hannah Fielding

Please join me in welcoming author Hannah Fielding back to my blog. Her book, Indiscretion, came out in April and in August, she will release the second book in the series, Masquerade.

Interview

Where were you born and where do you call home?

I grew up in a rambling house in Alexandria, Egypt, and my bedroom windows overlooked the beautiful Mediterranean Sea. I could see up to the harbour. At any time of day when I looked out of my windows, there was beauty in the scenery. That is where I first experienced the blazing dawns and sunsets, the brilliant azure sky and the ever-changing colours of the sea – silver under the moonlight, almost purple and orange in the early morning or the evening, deep blue in autumn, angry grey in winter and almost turquoise in the spring and summer.

Today, I split my time between my homes in England and France. In England, I live in a Georgian rectory in Kent, surrounded by grounds and forests. In France, I have a renovated farmhouse in the Riviera, which has breathtaking views of the ocean that remind me of my childhood home.

What or who inspired you to start writing?

My grandmother was a published author of poetry and my father published a book about the history of our family, so writing runs in my veins. I guess I always knew that one day I would follow in those footsteps and forge my own path in that field – a subconscious dream which finally came true.

To quote Anais Nin: “If you do not breathe through writing, if you do not cry out in writing, or sing in writing, then don’t write.” I do all that. Writing is my life.

Inspiration comes from so many sources. From the books I read, the plays I see at the theatre, the movies I watch, the art galleries I visit – but most importantly for me, from my extensive travels. Each of my books has an evocative, exotic setting that I know well from my own experiences, and my aim is always to transport my reader to another world so that they can see, smell, feel, hear and taste everything in that place.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I think it was the day I first held my debut novel, Burning Embers, in my hands. It was the culmination of so many years of writing and dreaming, a special moment indeed.

But holding a book is passive, and the truth is that being a writer is active – so since that moment, every day that I think about a plot of character, or plan a chapter, or sit and craft a paragraph, I tell myself, ‘This is it. I am a writer.’ And that lights up such a warm glow inside.

Do you write full-time? If so, what is your work day like?

I write every day. Writing is my life and also a job – a very enjoyable job.

I wake up very early, and do my chores first thing. After a cup of passion-fruit tea, in the morning I start off by looking at my online marketing on Twitter and Facebook for an hour or so. Then most days I sit at my desk and work through the day, with an hour for lunch and errands. I take some time in the afternoon for a long walk on the beach or in the countryside when I’m dreaming up a plot, but otherwise I stick to a strong work ethic and write according to my plan.

Do you outline your books or just start writing?

I am a thorough planner. Having researched my facts thoroughly, I plan my novel down to the smallest detail. Planning ahead, I have found, makes the writing so much easier and therefore so much more enjoyable.

Please tell us about your current release.

Indiscretion is the first book in the Andalucian Nights Trilogy, the saga of a Spanish aristocratic family that spans 70 years, from 1950 to the present day. It is the story of a young woman’s journey of discovery that takes her to a world of forbidden passion, savage beauty and danger.

The setting is spring 1950. Alexandra de Falla, a half-English, half-Spanish writer, abandons her privileged but suffocating life in London and travels to Spain to reunite with her long-estranged family.

Instead of providing the sense of belonging she yearns for, the de Fallas are riven with seething emotions, and in the grip of the wild customs and traditions of Andalucia, all of which are alien to Alexandra. Among the strange characters and sultry heat of this country, she meets a man who awakens emotions she hardly knew existed. But their path is strewn with obstacles: dangerous rivals, unpredictable events, and inevitable indiscretions.

What does Alexandra’s destiny hold for her in this flamboyant land of drama and all-consuming passions, where blood is ritually poured onto the sands of sun-drenched bullfighting arenas, mysterious gypsies are embroiled in magic and revenge, and beautiful dark-eyed señoritas hide their secrets behind elegant lacy fans?

Indiscretion is a story of love and identity, and the clash of ideals in the pursuit of happiness. Can love survive in a world where scandal and danger are never far away?

What inspired you to write this book?

My romance with Spain began when I was in my early teens after I saw a film called The Pleasure Seekers. The wonderful setting and atmospheric music made me dream and triggered my imagination.

Then I visited that beautiful country and it captured my heart.  Spain has a rich culture and an ancient, varied history. It is a land of drama. The people are intense; their culture, their music, their traditions personify passion and fire. They are never in a hurry. If you don’t make it today, there is always mañana, tomorrow… life is lived to the full. The Spanish seem to be totally in tune with James Dean’s immortal words, ‘Live as if you’ll die today.’ All in all a country after my own heart… the seeds for Indiscretion were sown!

If this book is part of a series, what is the next book? Any details you can share?

My next book, Masquerade, is the sequel to Indiscretion and it will take my readers to the next generation of the Rueda and de Falla families. It is set in the second half of the seventies and is the story of Luz, Alexandra’s daughter, living in the New Spain, which has opened its borders to outsiders and is preparing to enter the European Union. It is set in a different era to that which Alexandra was thrown into, but one that nevertheless has its own problems. More fiery emotions, more colourful traditions, more outlandish ritual and a passionate love story to enjoy. Here’s the blurb:

Love, mystery and desire under the scorching Spanish sun. A young writer becomes entangled in an illicit gypsy love affair, pulling her into a world of secrets, deception and dark desire. Summer, 1976. Luz de Rueda returns to her beloved Spain and takes a job as the biographer of a famous artist. On her first day back in Cádiz, she encounters a bewitching, passionate young gypsy, Leandro, who immediately captures her heart, even though relationships with his kind are taboo. Haunted by this forbidden love, she meets her new employer, the sophisticated Andrés de Calderón. Reserved yet darkly compelling, he is totally different to Leandro but almost the gypsy’s double. Both men stir unfamiliar and exciting feelings in Luz, although mystery and danger surround them in ways she has still to discover. 

Masquerade is available for preorder now and it publishes in early August 2015.

Is there a specific place in the house (or out of the house) that you like to write?

In my home in Kent, I write in a wood-panelled room, surrounded by books – we call it the library. In France, I write overlooking the most fabulous view of the Mediterranean from a large picture window in my bedroom, or if it is not too hot, outside in our gazebo. I really can’t complain!

Do you have an all-time favorite book?

Mary Margaret ‘Mollie’ Kaye (1908–2004) has been one of my favourite writers since I read her worldwide best-seller The Far Pavilions in the early 1980s. She has been an inspiration to me in my writing, because, like me, she was a traveller at heart and she wrote wonderfully descriptive stories set in exotic locations that really transport you to far-off lands. Her stories transport you to a time and a place as if you are there and then. If you have not read her books, I do recommend them… pure escapism… pure romance. See http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1040250.M_M_Kaye.

Tell us a random fact about you that we never would have guessed.

I once unwittingly snubbed Richard Burton – husband of Elizabeth Taylor – at a party I’d sneaked into. In my defence, I was only fourteen! It was at film festival in Montazah, Egypt. My family were summering there in our cabin, and my sister, cousins and I hatched a plan to sneak into a nearby hotel where Hollywood icons were attending a reception. Having climbed through a window, we made our way into the party and began hunting for our favourite heart-throbs from the silver screen. My sister asked Roger Moore for a kiss (his response: ‘But, baby, I’m married.’) and Robert Conrad signed an autograph. But it was Gardner Mackay, star of Adventures in Paradise, that I most wanted to meet. So I asked a man in a tuxedo whether he knew where I could find Mr Mackay.

‘Why do you want to speak to him?’ the man asked.

I explained that I was a huge fan.

‘And what about me?’ he demanded. ‘I’m Richard Burton.’

I had no idea who he was, and politely took my leave. If only I had known!

Book Blurb

Indescretion coverIndiscretion is the new novel from award-winning romance novelist Hannah Fielding. Written in Fielding’s signature style, infused with an old-school Hollywood glamour, Indiscretion evokes the drama and passion of 1950s post-war Spain.

1950’s London. Alexandra, a young writer is bored of her suffocating but privileged life amongst the gilded balls and parties of Chelsea. Keen for an adventure, Alexandra travels to Spain to be reunited with her estranged Spanish family on a huge estate in Andalucía.

Arriving in sun-drenched southern Spain for the first time, Alexandra is soon caught up in the wild customs of the region. From bull fighting matadors and the mysterious Gypsy encampments in the grounds of the family’s estate, to the passionate dances of the region and the incredible horsemanship of the local caballeros, Alexandra is instantly seduced by the drama and passion of her new home.

When Alexandra inevitably falls for Salvador, the mercurial heir to her family’s estate and the region’s most eligible man, she finds herself entangled in a web of secrets, lies and indiscretion. Alexandra soon falls prey to scheming members of her own family, the jealousy of a beautiful marquésa and the predatory charms of a toreador, all intent on keeping the two lovers apart.

But nothing can prepare Alexandra for Salvador’s own dangerous liaisons with a dark-eyed Gypsy.

Can Alexandra trust that love will triumph, or will Salvador’s indiscretion be their undoing?

About the Author

Portrait of Hannah Fielding and photos of where she writes.Hannah Fielding is an incurable romantic. The seeds for her writing career were sown in early childhood, spent in Egypt, when she came to an agreement with her governess Zula: for each fairy story Zula told, Hannah would invent and relate one of her own. Years later – following a degree in French literature, several years of travelling in Europe, falling in love with an Englishman, the arrival of two beautiful children and a career in property development – Hannah decided after so many years of yearning to write that the time was now. Today, she lives the dream: writing full time at her homes in Kent, England, and the South of France, where she dreams up romances overlooking breath-taking views of the Mediterranean.

To date, Hannah has published three novels: Burning Embers, ‘romance like Hollywood used to make’, set in Kenya, 1970; the award-winning Echoes of Love, ‘an epic love story that is beautifully told’ set in turn-of-the-millennium Italy; and Indiscretion, her fieriest novel yet, set in 1950s Spain.

You can find out more about Hannah on her website or follow her one Facebook or Twitter.

You can buy Indiscretion on Amazon. Masquerade is available for pre-order on Amazon.

Today’s Featured Author: Dorothy Wiley

Today I welcome romance author Dorothy Wiley to my blog.

Interview

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I grew up in southern California and found my own romantic hero in Austin, Texas, where I received a Bachelor of Journalism degree, with honors, from The University of Texas. After a 35-year corporate career in marketing and public relations, I am living my dream—writing historical romances—and residing in central Texas with my husband (the same wonderful guy) on our beautiful cattle ranch. Yes, dreams really can come true!

What or who inspired you to start writing?

My American Wilderness Series Romances, WILDERNESS TRAIL OF LOVE (Book One) and NEW FRONTIER OF LOVE (Book Two), are set in 1797 colonial America. My husband’s ancestors, who really did journey from the New England area to Kentucky in the late 18th century, inspired this series. I wanted to honor these and other first wave settlers of early America by writing these books. The arduous journeys, brave battles, and daily sacrifices of these first-wave pioneers should not be forgotten. Although the books are only inspired by America’s ancestors and are not based on actual people, I’ve attempted to balance the hardships of the frontier with amusing, romantic, and vividly compelling characters that I hope will be very memorable.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

At the University of Texas, I majored in Journalism. After graduating, I worked in marketing/public relations for corporations in Houston and writing was a big part of all my jobs. I primarily wrote annual reports, speeches, news releases, magazine articles, etc. But I always wanted to try writing a novel. Eventually, I just had to try. I had characters in my head who needed their story told. At the time, I was a VP for a major corporation and could only find time to write for a few minutes or hours here and there and it was hard to make significant progress. But I did get my characters and setting fully developed. A little over a year ago, I decided to retire early so that I could begin writing novels full-time. That opportunity has been a real God given blessing and I have loved every minute of it, especially that minute in July of this year when I opened the box that held my first book. That’s when I really felt like a writer! What a thrill.

Have you started your next project? If so, can you share a little bit about your next book?

Yes, I’ve started the third book in the series, which will be called WHISPERING HILLS OF LOVE. It’s the story of William and Kelly. William is the brother of Stephen and Captain Sam, the main characters in Books One and Two. William’s a sheriff and the best looking of all the brothers. In Book Three, he plays a significant role in helping Kelly to overcome her emotional scars (something really awful happens to her in Book One, but I won’t say what).

Do you outline your books or just start writing?

My primary approach to writing is to allow the characters to drive the story. I believe a writer must really get to know their characters. I would like to be a plotter, and I am going to try that with my third book, but I confess to being a pantser. For those of you who are new to writing, pantser means writing from the seat of your pants rather than following a detailed plot outlined in advance of writing the book. For me, it means plots driven by the characters. I spent a lot of time initially conceiving the characters and describing them to myself, both physical characteristics and personalities. Then, in my head, I put them in a room or situation and just follow their lead. They always seem to know what to do or say. I guess that’s my subconscious driving them forward, but it seems to work for me. I often receive compliments on my characters such as this one from a reviewer on Amazon, “The author’s well-sculpted cast of characters, not only come alive, but you actually begin to really care about them and want them to succeed in their journey west. Her evil characters are truly scary and her good characters are painted gloriously.”

Advise for aspiring writers?

Like top athletes, writers must continually train. With each draft, you build more stamina. With each edit, you increase muscle and get rid of fat. With each skill you practice, such as showing not telling, you add beauty and style. Learning how to produce quality manuscripts is not easy or quick. To really shine, a book requires many drafts and countless edits. After writing for more than 30 years, I still have a lot to learn and believe that each of my novels will be better than the last because I am continually striving to become a better writer.

Please tell us about your current release.

WILDERNESS TRAIL OF LOVE, is Book One of my American Wilderness Series Romances, and is set in 1797 on America’s romantic frontier. This historical romance is a gripping journey of danger, heartache, and passion. It is the story of Stephen Wyllie, and his heroic and breathtaking quest for land—across a thousand perilous miles to the Kentucky wilderness—a new world for the brave. Stephen wants only one thing more than land—to keep his wife Jane and their young daughters safe. But he needs land to make a better future for his family, and the frontier lies open to settlement in the new state of Kentucky. When the harsh demands of the frontier nearly tear apart their great love, Stephen and Jane must find a path through more than the wilderness. His courage is undaunted, her passion is deep, but the wilderness is full of terror. Two lives. One great love. Torn apart by a frightening wilderness. Will Stephen’s dream cost him what he values most—Jane’s love?

What kind of research did you do for this book?

I believe in really studying the history and geography of the book’s time period. I spent a great deal of time in libraries and online preparing to write these books. Even some shows on the History Channel helped. I read everything I could get my hands on about the Wilderness Trail and early Kentucky, particularly Boonesborough. The thing I learned that was the most surprising was the difficult land laws and complicated processes that existed in the 1790’s for acquiring land. The procedure was very complex and often resulted in armed conflicts and people losing their land. This aspect of frontier life is a part of Book 2, NEW FRONTIER OF LOVE. Even though it’s a very small part, it adds historical detail and authenticity to the story.

Which of your characters is your favorite? Do you dislike any of them?

My favorite character is the hero of Book Two, NEW FRONTIER OF LOVE, Captain Sam Wyllie. He’s a wounded warrior type of character. Very strong and courageous, but battle-scarred and hardened by war and tragedy. He’s afraid of love. But he has a courageous and bold heart that defies danger. He is determined to make a fresh start in the newborn state of Kentucky. Newly widowed, the heroine, Catherine, is drawn to Sam’s keen intelligence and harsh masculinity.

I really dislike the antagonist in Book One, WILDERNESS TRAIL OF LOVE, Bomazeen. He’s a half-Indian slave trader and vicious killer. He targets Jane, wife of the main character Stephen and the mother of four daughters.

Is there a specific place in the house (or out of the house) that you like to write?

I usually write in my home office. It’s filled with inspirational items like a Kentucky Rifle, Bowie knife, whip, authentic peace pipe, bears (not real ones), Indians (also not real ones), and my favorite books. Lots of books. Sometimes, if the weather is really nice, I like to write on my terrace. The view of our ranch from there is great and sometimes it’s just good to feel the breeze on your face and listen to the birds when you are writing.

What book are you reading right now?

Sharon Kay Penman’s Lionheart. She writes fabulous literary historicals. But you must love history to enjoy her books.

Tell us a random fact about you that we never would have guessed.

Two years ago, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I mention this only to strongly encourage all women to get their annual mammogram. That’s how my cancer was found and it saved my life. It didn’t save me from two traumatic surgeries, but the hero of my life, my wonderful husband of 37 years, and the answered prayers of family and friends got me through it. Please, please, please, get your mammograms. They have made amazing advances in the treatment of breast cancer, especially drugs that target a specific type of tumor, and nearly all breast cancers can be cured IF they are caught early.

Book Description

wildernesstrailofloveAward-winning historical romance author Dorothy Wiley’s Wilderness Trail of Love is the first American Wilderness Series Romance. This memorable historical romance novel breaches the walls of time, bringing readers to a young America, where romance and danger are as powerful as the wilderness.

Set in 1797, on America’s romantic frontier, this gripping journey of danger, heartache, and passion is the story of Stephen Wyllie, and his heroic and breathtaking quest for land—across a thousand perilous miles to the Kentucky wilderness—a new world for the brave.

Stephen wants only one thing more than land—to keep his wife Jane and their young daughters safe. But he needs land to make a better future for his family, and the frontier lies open to settlement in the new state of Kentucky. He must make a difficult decision—choose between the comfort and safety of their New Hampshire home and his dream for their future. Can he risk exposing them to the dangers of the wilderness? Then an immediate threat makes the decision clear. A vicious half-Indian killer, Bomazeen, begins to haunt the area, stealing slaves for the Algonquians to replace those lost to smallpox. Having glimpsed her great beauty from afar, the cunning slave trader tantalizes the tribe’s virulent Chief, Wanalancet, describing his next target—Jane. Believing the merciless slave trader may soon succeed in kidnapping or murdering Jane, Stephen decides his family must leave for Kentucky with his four brothers. When the harsh demands of the frontier nearly tear apart their great love, Stephen and Jane must find a path through more than the wilderness. His courage is undaunted, her passion is deep, but the wilderness is full of terror.

Two lives. One great love. Torn apart by a frightening wilderness. Will Stephen’s dream cost him what he values most—Jane’s love?

A fresh, unblinkingly gritty, and deft new writer of intelligent heart-pounding romance novels, Dorothy Wiley’s new American Wilderness Romance Series captivates readers by balancing the hardships of the frontier with amusing, romantic, and vivid characters. Join her as she robustly blends adventure and action, heartache and humor, with romance and passion

About the Author

DorothyCalled a “deft new writer of intelligent romantic fiction,” award-winning author Dorothy Wiley enjoys writing big, action-packed romantic adventures set in the American wilderness when it was still a frontier. In her exciting new American Wilderness Series Romances, Wiley breaches the walls of time, bringing readers to a young America, where romance and danger are as powerful as the wilderness. Readers describe her writing as fresh, unblinkingly gritty, and highly enjoyable with well portrayed characters. Like Wiley’s compelling heroes, who from the outset make it clear they will not fail despite the adversities they face, Wiley is likewise destined for success.

Her debut historical romance WILDERNESS TRAIL OF LOVE was a 2014 Florida Romance Writers Touch of Magic Contest Finalist. According to one contest judge, “This work has that memorable feel I associate with big historicals (i.e. Lonesome Dove).”

Wiley’s second book NEW FRONTIER OF LOVE was a 2014 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest Quarter-Finalist. Described by an Amazon reviewer as, “fresh, unblinkingly gritty, and highly readable, her romance novel reads like a classic American adventure story.”

You can find out more about Dorothy on her website or follow her on Twitter or Facebook.

You can purchase Wilderness Trail of Love on Amazon.

Today’s Featured Author: Marie Lavender

Today I have with romance author Marie Lavender on my blog. Her latest book, Upon Your Return, is a historical romance.

Interview

Tell us a bit about yourself. 

I am a romance author.  I have published 16 books.  I have been writing since I was a kid.

Where were you born and where do you call home?

I was raised in a small town in Indiana, so small they actually consider it “Small Town U.S.A.”.  At the moment, I still live in Indiana, though I have plans to move eventually.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I feel like I’ve been writing forever.  So I pretty much always considered myself a writer.  I never considered myself an “author” until I published a book in 2010.

How much of yourself, your personality or your experiences, is in your books?

Oh, I think quite a lot is.  Sometimes when I go back and read through stories, I can see a bit of myself bleeding through the text.  I know the people closest to me notice it too.  It’s not intentional at all.  I think a lot of my beliefs have been influenced by my life experiences and that will come through occasionally in my characters.  I think some of my characters are stubborn like me.  That’s one example.

Have you started your next project? If so, can you share a little bit about your next book?

I plan to release an anthology very soon.  It is a mixture of stories and poems called Miss Lavender’s Anthology of Ramblings.  I am also polishing my sequel to my current release, Upon Your Return.  It is titled Upon Your Honor, and it is about a young woman who finds herself in quite a bit of trouble when she stows aboard a ship.

Which of your characters is your favorite? Do you dislike any of them?

Though I can identify with Fara Bellamont in Upon Your Return, I still have a thing for Captain Grant Hill.  What woman doesn’t want a hot captain showing interest in her?  And the only characters I have disliked are the antagonists.

What was the most difficult thing/scene to write in this story?

I struggled a bit with the prologue.  Getting into the mindset of a child is definitely not easy.  I mean, I remember being a child, but this child was in Victorian France so that made it more difficult.

Did the story turn out the way you planned from the beginning? If not, what change happened that you didn’t expect?

I didn’t expect Fara to turn out so strong, but she did.  She rose above her circumstances and took what was thrown at her pretty well.  She made a life for herself in a time where she would have been ridiculed for it.

If you could be one of the characters from any of your books, who would it be and why? 

I think I would want to be Fara Bellamont from Upon Your Return.  Not because of her circumstances or anything, but more for the time period.  I’ve always loved historical romances and I always kind of wondered what it would be like to travel back in time.  I’m sure it wouldn’t be easy to live in that time, but it might be interesting to find out.

What book are you reading right now?

I am reading The Law of Love by Nora Roberts.

If you could meet two authors, who would you pick and why?

That’s hard.  I would say J.R. Ward merely because I’d like to know what really spurred the Black Dagger Brotherhood series.  And I might choose Catherine Coulter as well.  She is very good with romances set in Regency England.  She could be fascinating to talk to.

Tell us a random fact about you that we never would have guessed.

I like to color my hair red.  It’s naturally dark brown.

Book Description

UponYourReturn_E-bookCoverFara Bellamont has been back in society for a year after leaving Cluny Abbey, where her uncle sent her long ago. When he chooses a suitor for her for marriage, she fears that she will be forced to marry a stranger and live a miserable life. But, Fara finds herself thrust into an adventure of a lifetime when unforeseen circumstances cause her to place her trust in a strange man for protection. His intervention not only saves her, but puts her in an even more compromising position. Grant Hill, a trading captain, is enchanted by the young heiress not only because of her beauty, but because she is hardly conventional. Underneath her ladylike exterior lies a tigress. Grant cannot help but offer his protection as she is in need and he is far from immune from her charms. Fara just never bargained on the passion that she feels for Grant Hill. As events unfold, she must decide whether her desires and the dictates of her heart should trump the rules of society…

About the Author

Mariepic2Marie Lavender lives in the Midwest with her family and three cats. She has been writing for over twenty years. She has more works in progress than she can count on two hands.

At the tender age of nine, she began writing stories. Her imagination fueled a lot of her early child’s play. Even growing up, she entered writing contests and received a certificate for achieving the second round in one. She majored in Creative Writing in college because that was all she ever wanted – to be a writer. While there, she published two works in a university publication, and was a copy editor on the staff of an online student journal. After graduating from college, she sought out her dream to publish a book.

Since then, Marie has published sixteen books. Marie Lavender’s real love is writing romances, but she has also written mysteries, literary fiction and dabbled a little in paranormal stories. Most of her works have a romantic element involved in them. Upon Your Return is her first historical romance novel.

A list of her books and pen names are as follows:

Marie Lavender: Upon Your Return

Erica Sutherhome: Hard to Get; Memories; A Hint of Scandal; Without You; Strange Heat; Terror in the Night; Haunted; Pursuit; Perfect Game; A Touch of Dawn; Ransom

Kathryn Layne: A Misplaced Life

Heather Crouse: Express Café and Other Ramblings; Ramblings, Musings and Other Things; Soulful Ramblings and Other Worldly Things

You can find out more about Marie on her website or her blog. You can be updated on her latest books on her book blog. You can also follow her on Twitter or Facebook.

You can purchase Upon Your Return on Amazon, Create Space and from Solstice Publishing.