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!

 

 

Eleanor Thompson, The Bedwyns, and Grace Burrowes!

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When author Grace Burrowes asked me a while ago if I was interested in writing a novella to go with one she had written to form a shared anthology, I was swamped with work since I was still writing the Survivors’ Club series at the rate of two books a year. So of course I said yes! I read her novella, loved it, and thought I should write one that somehow complemented it. Hers was a love story in which the hero was a widower with young children. It was set at a country house party. Perhaps, I thought, I would use those same elements in my story. But–I needed a hero, a heroine, a plot, and a specific place at which to set the house party. This is always a part of the writing process that I love. And when the ideas come, I very rarely have any idea where they come from. During the years since the six books of the Bedwyn family series and the related four books of the Simply series, numerous readers have asked me to write a story for Eleanor Thompson, sister-in-law of Wulfric Bedwyn, Duke of Bewcastle, and owner and head teacher of a school in Bath. I have always said an adamant no. So–of course–she popped up in my mind as the heroine of this novella. Who was I to keep on saying no?

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The Bedwyns have remained reader favorites among all the series I have written and characters I have created, especially the head of the family, the formidable Wulfric with his cold silver eyes and ever-present quizzing glass. As soon as I had decided that Eleanor would be the heroine, the setting of the house party was immediately obvious. Christine, the Duchess of Bewcastle and Eleanor’s sister, is organizing a summer party at Lindsey Hall for Wulfric’s birthday, despite his long-suffering protests. All the other Bedwyns will be there, as will Eleanor, who is on her way there from her school in Bath at the beginning of the story. She is delayed at a country inn by a thunderstorm, and there she meets the hero–and his two young children.

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You can read more about Grace Burrowes’s story at her web site ( www.graceburrowes.com ). If you have not read her before, you have a treat in store, not only because her books are good, but also because there are so many of them. She is super-prolific! I am excited about this anthology, Once Upon a Dream, due out on April 12. It is an e-book, available all over the world. For those die-hard paper book readers among you, though, good news! The anthology will also be available as a print-on-demand edition from amazon.com. You won’t find it in bookstores, but you can order it on-line.

And to one person who makes a comment below before the end of Tuesday, April 12, I will send a paper copy of ONCE UPON A DREAM as soon as my own copies arrive.

A Word of Gratitude for Ebooks!

And yes, there really is something to be thankful for! I have no wish to open here the endless debate about which is better–the print book or the ebook. Some readers, I know, can get quite heated over the argument, as though there is only one right answer and those who disagree are just plain wrong! I merely rejoice in the fact that we have the choice. We can read either or both. However, I do want to draw attention to what I think is the single most amazingly wonderful contribution the ebook has made to my reading, and, I assume, to many other people’s too.

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People of a certain age, like me (I won’t go into definitions here!), remember a time when there were only print books, and the only place to buy them was the bookstore. These people may remember too what it was like to discover a series in progress only to find that the earlier books in the series were not in the bookstores and, in many cases, could not even be ordered because they were out of print. I can remember discovering wonderful authors of an earlier time but finding it virtually impossible to get my hands on most of their out-of-print books. Patricia Wentworth (a contemporary of Agatha Christie with books similar to hers) would be an example. I can remember also old books of my mother’s and aunts’ that I lapped up as a girl but could never find again as an adult because they were long consigned to dust. I can remember a time, as an author, when my books were on bookshelves for a few weeks after they were published before being pulled and destroyed (after their covers were torn off) because stores could simply not find room for all the old books when new ones were constantly arriving. It did not take long for those books to go out of print, the assumption being that they would never be in print again. The window of opportunity for selling those books and bringing them to the attention of readers was quite small.

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Those days are gone, and I am one happy reader! We very quickly adjust to a new reality, however, and for young people it is a reality that has always been here. With the advent of the ebook it has been possible to keep alive (or resuscitate) the earlier books of a series or of a particular author and to bring back old favorites of an older generation for them to read again and newer readers to discover. I can recall my delight a while ago when I idly searched for the books of Florence Barclay without any real hope that I would find them. But there they were in ebook format, and they were even free! I lapped them up all over again. I have been able to find all the old Nero Wolfe books, most of the old Regency romances that were being written while I was writing mine in the 1980s and 1990s, all the Ed McBain books, to mention just a few, In fact, it has got to the point at which I get quite indignant if there is a book I can’t find, either in print or ebook form. I have come to see it almost as a right that I should be able to have access to any book I want to read at a moment’s notice. What a blessed world we live in.

And now those long-ago, out of print books of mine are coming back, most of them being published in ebook form by Class Ebook Editions. Many readers have been asking for them. Many have been paying ridiculously high prices for the rare second-hand copies that find their way onto the market (the author gets no royalties on them, by the way). Many readers have discovered my books with more recent series, like the Bedwyn series or the Huxtable series or the still-ongoing Survivors’ Club series and would like to go back to read my earlier works. There are a lot of them! Well, now they are starting to be available again. There were two Christmas anthologies in late 2015, and in February, 2016 there are four novels–Red Rose, A Certain Magic, An Unlikely Duchess, and Lady with a Black Umbrella. And there will be more on the way.

So–I am not saying ebooks are better than print books. Neither am I saying the reverse. I am merely pointing out why this lady of a certain age is over the moon with delight at the wide world of reading that ebooks have opened up–and all just the click of a button away. Oh, that one-click!

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Do enjoy the new ebooks. In the meanwhile, though, just to show I am not discriminating against print, I will be giving away two print copies of the newly republished INDISCREET to two people who comment below, as well as two print Advance Reading copies (with a plain cover) of ONLY BELOVED, the final book of the Survivors’ Club series, due out in May. Make your comment by the evening of Monday, February 8.

 

A “Special” Christmas

And the winners of the audiobooks are MARTI DOLETA and DEANA COUTURE. Congratulations to them and thank you to all who left comments below.

I see that my last blog was about my Christmas books and how much I have always enjoyed writing them. I will not repeat myself, then. But exciting things are happening this month if you enjoy a good bargain. The price of the e-book anthologies Christmas Gifts and Christmas Miracles has been reduced to under $2 each for this month only. That’s not bad for three novellas in each one .And don’t feel left out if you do not have a Kindle or a Nook. The reading apps can be downloaded onto your phone or your tablet or computer. Then you just have to click on one of the covers on Home Page above and find the link to the vendor of your choice.

xmasgiftxmasmiracEven better for value, the e-book price has been temporarily dropped on the 2-in-1 edition of Christmas Bride/Christmas Beau. Even at the full price this was good value as these two stories are full-length novels, originally published separately. You can find buy links by clicking on “Books” at the top of the page. So you can read six Christmas novellas and two novels all for the price of around six dollars.

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I have a few copies of the audiobook editions of THE PROPOSAL, THE ESCAPE, ONLY ENCHANTING, and ONLY A PROMISE and will send one of them (winner’s choice) to each of two people who express an interest in a comment below before the end of Monday, December 14. Good luck.

 

 

 

 

Romancing Christmas

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…and the winners are KAREN ALLEN and SHARI MORSE. Congratulations to them, and thanks to all of you who left comments. I always enjoy reading them.

Way back in 1989 my editor at NAL asked me to be one of five contributors of to the first Signet Regency Christmas anthology of novellas, a new venture that was so well received by readers that it became an annual event for years afterward. I contributed to ten of them. Now six of those novellas of mine are about to be available again (on October 27, 2015) in two e-books, CHRISTMAS GIFTS and CHRISTMAS MIRACLES, published by Class Ebook Editions.

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I adored writing those novellas, We expect good things of the Christmas season. We expect peace and goodwill and the warmth and closeness of family celebrating together. We expect love and joy. We expect, in fact, all the elements we look for in a good romance. What better marriage can there be than that between Christmas and romance? When writing a Christmas story, I can be as sentimental as I want. The setting calls for an abundance of it. It is a time for love and healing, for second chances, for an end to loneliness, for surrender to friendship and love, for commitment to marriage and parenthood and happily ever after. In a Christmas story I can be unabashedly romantic. In the first novella I wrote, “The Star of Bethlehem,” still available in the anthology of five of my novellas  UNDER THE MISTLETOE, a marriage is in trouble. It gets worse when the wife hurls her diamond ring at her husband and it is lost among the coals of the fire. A little chimney sweep’s boy, whom the couple help when they discover the wretchedness of his existence, finds it and thinks to keep and sell it though he returns it in the end. In the meanwhile, however, the husband, stricken with guilt, has an exact replica made for his wife for Christmas, and she, equally stricken, has a replica made to show him at Christmas that she is sorry she so carelessly cast away the ring that had once meant so much to both of them. They end up with three identical rings–and with a great deal of understanding and forgiveness love and happiness–a happiness that includes the little sweep’s boy.

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And that is another thing I soon discovered about Christmas stories. They are almost invariably better, more heartfelt, when they include children as well as an adult romance. A child, after all, is at the heart of Christmas, and children can teach the adult characters and the reader a great deal about love. The feuding hero and heroine in “The Surprise Party,” neither of whom wants to be stuck with having to care for the recently orphaned children of her brother and his sister, both change their minds when they actually meet the children and realize how much they are being deprived of the carefree joys of Christmas. And both are bowled over by love when the youngest child is far more concerned with holding a surprise birthday party for Jesus than with opening her Christmas gifts. That story appears in the about-to-be published e-book anthology, CHRISTMAS GIFTS.

Perhaps the best thing I learned from the writing of those novellas was that the stories could be far more effective if Christmas was an essential element and the story happened as it did because it was Christmas and not just because by pure chance it occurred late in December. In “The Bond Street Carolers,” which appears again in the about-to-be-published e-book anthology CHRISTMAS MIRACLES, a jaded, disillusioned aristocrat has made sure that this year he will have nothing to do with all the mad hypocrisies of Christmas. But he is a connoisseur of music, and while walking down Bond Street in London one afternoon he happens to overhear a group of inferior carolers–and then a boy soloist whose pure soprano voice brings him to an abrupt halt. He must have the boy sing at one of his concerts, but the boy’s widowed mother will have nothing to do with the exploitation of her son. It is Christmas, however, and when he arranges a Christmas concert at his home and invites the whole group of carolers to perform there, how can the boy’s mother refuse to allow her son to be a part of it?

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I have written several Christmas novels as well as novellas. To two people who leave a comment below before the end of Tuesday, October 27, I will send a signed copy of the 2-in-1 paperback edition of A CHRISTMAS BRIDE and CHRISTMAS BEAU.