Short Publication Delay

The publication date of TEMPTING HARRIET as an e-book has been pushed back to July 20. I am sorry about that. A key player in the publication process is on holiday. I hope readers who are eager to download the book will find it worth the extra wait. It is Book 3 of a trilogy with COURTING JULIA and DANCING WITH CLARA.

Sweepstakes Contest for Both U.S. Citizens and Non-Americans!

Penguin/Random House, my publisher, is running a sweepstakes contest from the last part of January, 2017, to February 17, in order to promote my new book, Someone to Hold, due out on February 7. It’s a fantastic prize:

–a Fortnum and Mason tea hamper
–a Royal Albert tea set for one
–copies of Someone to Hold, Someone to Love, Indiscreet, Unforgiven, and Irresistible
-a Mary Balogh tote bag

–oh, and five consolation prizes of copies of Someone to Hold,  Book 2 of the new Westcott family series–Camille’s story.

There is–or there was–just one catch! The contest is open to U.S. citizens only. This is always a huge frustration to would-be entrants from everywhere else in the world. I know–I live in Canada and have been a victim of of other similar contests. However, when I had a word with the people at Penguin/Random House, they were understanding and sympathetic and very willing to furnish an identical prize for a contest to be run separately on my Facebook author page for people who are ineligible for the sweepstakes. A huge thank you to them for that!

So….. Here is how to enter:

–if you are an American citizen, enter the sweepstakes here: https://sweeps.penguinrandomhouse.com/enter/mary-balogh-sweepstakes

–if you are a citizen of anywhere else in the world except the U.S., enter on my FB page: www.facebook.com/AuthorMaryBalogh . The contest notice is pinned to the top of the page. Leave a comment there that includes your country.

The drawing for both major prizes plus the ten consolation prizes will be made on February 17. Check back here or on my FB page then to see if you are a winner. Good luck!

Audible Reading

[The winners of signed advance reading copies of SOMEONE TO LOVE are Alea and Sheila–last names unknown at the moment. Congratulations to them! And thanks  to all who left a comment. I have contacted both ladies and await their replies and their addresses.]

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Are books best read with the eyes or listened to with the ears? There is no correct answer to that question, of course, only personal preference. It is certainly true that the oral tradition of telling and passing on stories preceded the written word. And how sad it would be if children could not experience stories until they learned to read them for themselves. However, I have always found listening to a story difficult–though I can’t recall how well I did at it as a preschooler. When my family used to gather about the radio to listen to a weekly drama (yes, I do remember those days!) I would settle with great determination to listen. But before many minutes had passed, I would be off in my own imaginary world. The same held true when teachers read aloud to the class. I would have to get the book and read it for myself–and then the magic would kick in.

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Audio books have become increasingly popular in the last few years. I do not listen to them myself. I prefer the voice in my head, which seems to have a very direct connection with my imagination. I had a very peculiar reaction when I tried listening to one of my own books read by someone else, especially when it came to the dialogue. Quite frankly, I was horrified!  A similar thing happens when readers occasionally suggest an actor or actress for a particular hero or heroine of mine and I think–really? REALLY? I think our imaginations are as uniquely individual as our fingerprints. I do recognize, however, that the time may come when my eyesight will no longer allow me to read with any great comfort and I will be very grateful indeed to have an alternative. Readers tell me they love to listen to audio books in the car or when housecleaning or cooking or when they are too weary to pick up a book. How very fortunate we are that there are now so many ways of entertaining ourselves with stories–through paper books, through ebooks, through audio books, and even (dubiously) through movies.

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All my newer books are available in audio format, most of them from Recorded Books (see the link in the drop-down menu at the head of my web page). But now Tantor Media (affiliated with Recorded Books–and the same link will get you there) has agreed, with a little persuasive help from my agent, to go back to record what are probably my most popular older series–the six  SLIGHTLY (Bedwyn saga) books and the four SIMPLYs. And since for the first time I had a choice of narrator, I asked for the one most readers like best–Rosalyn Landor. And I got her! The SIMPLYs are already available, and the SLIGHTLYs have started. SLIGHTLY MARRIED went on sale on September 30, 2016, and the others are to follow quite fast on its heels. SLIGHTLY DANGEROUS, Wulfric, Duke of Bewcastle’s story, the last of them, will be out in April, 2017. I do hope you will enjoy listening to all ten of these books.

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I have no copies to give away, unfortunately. However, I do still have two Advance Reading copies of SOMEONE TO LOVE, Book 1 of the new eight-part Westcott family series, due out in November. I will send them, signed, to two randomly chosen people who make a comment below before the end of Next Tuesday, October 4. Good luck.

Summer Reading Spots

The winner of a copy of ONCE UPON A DREAM is Eudora. Congratulations to her and thanks to those of you who left a comment. Do not forget to download a free copy of one of JESSICA EISSFELDT’s novellas (see below for details).

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                By Jessica Eissfeldt

As a romance novelist, I love to read. Especially in the summer when I can go outside with a favorite book. That way I get to enjoy the great weather and a good story! So here are a few of my favorite summer reading spots. Where is your favorite summer reading spot?

1. Barefoot under a tree: I love the feel of grass beneath my feet in the summer, and there’s something about leaning up against a tree with a book in hand that really evokes a sense of peace and joy for me. I even bring a cushion.

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2. Lounging at the beach: I love the sound of the surf in the background as I’m enjoying a story. Sometimes I even pick up a story or two set on an island or by the ocean because in an instant, I’m right there, even when I’m not at the beach.

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3. Sitting in a novel setting: One of the reasons I love books and reading so much is because I get to imagine I’m inside the story. Sometimes I find hidden-away nooks that bring to mind a scene or setting from a book I’ve read or am reading, and sitting down in those places to read makes the experience all the more fun.
4. At the library: I love libraries, and sitting and reading a book while being surrounded by books brings me a sense of contentment. Not to mention the comfy chairs, quiet atmosphere and best of all, I can bring a snack or a drink. Plus, if I finish the current novel I’m reading, I can just pick up another one!

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5. Speaking of food…Sometimes I’ll pack a picnic and read a book while I’m at the park.
6. Going for a stroll with an audiobook: I’ve fallen in love with audiobooks and love how I can listen and do other things…like enjoying nature. (Might even see someone who happens to look like a character — that’s always fun!)

Jessica Eissfeldt is a romance novelist who loves antique stores, tea, cats and vintage dresses. You can download Dialing Dreams, the first book in her 1940s romance series, for FREE for a LIMITED TIME on all retailers — go to www.jessicaeissfeldt.com/books to get started.

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And, as an extra bonus, one person who comments below before the end of Wednesday, May 11, will win a copy of ONCE UPON A DREAM, a duet of novels by Mary Balogh and Grace Burrowes. And that is Jessica Eissfeldt on the cover of DIALING DREAMS, by the way. There are more pictures in the book–she played the part of her heroine, a fun concept!

Love Beyond the Age of Forty?

And the winners are: CATHY BEACH and ANDREA SHACKFORD. Congratulations to them and thanks to all who left a comment.

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The seventh and last book in the Survivors’ Club series, Only Beloved, will be published on May 3. It is the story of George, Duke of Stanbrook, who opened his home, Penderris Hall in Cornwall, during the Napoleonic Wars for the treatment and convalescence of wounded officers. Six of them stayed for three years or more, and those six plus George formed a close bond of mutual support and affection and named themselves the Survivors’ Club. The six are young men–and one young woman, but it seemed important to me at the start that George be an older man so that his decision to offer his home would not seem like a guilt-offering for not having gone to war himself. I did involve him emotionally, however, His only son fought and died in the wars at the age of 17, and his wife committed suicide soon after. George is now 48. Too old for a romance of his own? I knew from the start that I was facing the writing of his story at the end, and I trusted that I was up to the challenge–and that readers would be receptive to his love story despite his age.

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Although it would have been perfectly realistic historically to give George a young heroine, I just could not do it, and modern sensibilities don’t find it very acceptable (though Léonie is in her teens and the Duke of Avon in his forties in Heyer’s much beloved These Old Shades). Dora Debbins first appeared in The Arrangement as the music teacher of Vincent, the blind hero. I don’t think I thought of her then as George’s heroine, but I certainly did when the two of them met in Only Enchanting, and so did many readers! Dora was perfect heroine material. She had given up all her hopes and dreams as a very young woman when she remained at home to raise her young sister after their mother ran away with a lover. Now she lives alone in a cottage in a country village, earning her living as a music teacher and counting her blessings. She is 39 years old. Too old for a romance of her own?

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I think readers generally speaking are ready for romances involving older people. Many readers are older people–and so am I! In the changing social fabric of our times, more and more older people are single (for whatever reason) and looking and dreaming. It is no longer assumed that if you have not snared your man (or your woman) by the age of 25 or so and got safely locked into marriage, you are on the shelf and out of luck for the rest of your natural born days. People of all ages are dating, forming relationships, getting married, falling in love, staying in love, and so on and on. Perhaps it is time for a whole genre of romances for the over-40s. Dora almost qualifies! In fact, by the end of the book she probably is 40, and in the epilogue (yes, there is one to wrap up the whole series) she is 43. And he–gasp!–is 51.

I thoroughly enjoyed writing George and Dora’s story. As older people, they both enter into a marriage with the expectation that it will be more of a companionable friendship than a passionate romantic relationship. And their expectations are fulfilled…and severely challenged…and exceeded until the moment late in the book when George, in a moment of great stress, can call Dora his only beloved. Dora, of course, has been quietly, deeply in love with him since that evening when he turned the pages of her music as she played the piano in Only Enchanting. I hope readers will enjoy this ending to the series and then follow me into the next one–the eight-part Westcott Family Series beginning with Someone to Love in November, 2016.

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To two people who leave a comment below before the end of Thursday, April 28, I will send a signed copy of ONLY BELOVED. Good luck!