Eleanor Thompson, The Bedwyns, and Grace Burrowes!


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?


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.


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.


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.


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!


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.


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


…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.


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?


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.

Creating an Emotional Bond Between Character and Reader

[…and the winners are Lori Allman and Brenda Soules. Congratulations to them and thank you to all who left a comment. I always enjoy reading them.]

Coming on August 4: SILENT MELODY, a republication of a Georgian romance first published (with HEARTLESS) during the 1990s. The heroine is a deaf mute at a time when there was no recognized way of communicating with the deaf. The hero is her sister’s brother-in-law with whom she was deeply in love as a girl before he went off to India for several years. Now Ashley is back unexpectedly and Emily is about to marry another man. I will be choosing two winners of signed copies of both books on Monday, August 3. Read on…


A love story is not just a narrative; it shows the growth of a relationship between two people, a growth through indifference (sometimes even hostility), through liking and friendship and being in love to the ultimate fullness of love itself. The ending of a love story should leave the reader sighing with contentment, convinced that this couple shares a love that will stand the test of time and last forever and even beyond. It should give the impression of happily-ever-after yet the conviction too that it is real. In order to get this feeling, however, the reader has to be drawn into the story and into the very souls of the main characters and into the love connection between them. The reader has to feel these characters, to be emotionally involved in their journey, almost to become them in imagination. It is the writer’s job to make this happen. But how is it done?

First of all, the characters have to seem real. Whether the hero is a tall, dark, handsome macho man or something quite different, whether the heroine is cover model gorgeous or not, they must feel like real people, ones with whom the reader can relate and identify. They really ought not to be cardboard characters with little depth beyond some character details the writer jotted down when creating them. They have to be living, breathing people with strengths and weaknesses, with triumphs and failures and problems, as full of contradictions as real people. The reader has to want to root for them in their struggles and fall in love with them in their vulnerability if this is indeed a love story.

In order to make characters real, the writer has to know them soul deep. It is possible to know a great deal about other people without really knowing them at all. Sometimes we do not even fully know ourselves. Do you ever find yourself saying or doing something that takes you by surprise? Do you really know exactly how you would behave in unexpected circumstances, a life-and-death emergency for example? When I am writing a book, I stop and go back and rewrite time and again before I come to the end and usually it is because I need to adjust the story as I get to know the main characters better. It is never easy because I am not satisfied until I feel I have them right. They are rarely willing to give up all their secrets early or at once. Sometimes—usually, in fact—I end up asking them where their deepest pain is. There always is something. Once I know it, then I can set about bringing that character to some sort of healing so that he/she can come to the point of being able to love and accept love and settle to a lasting, meaningful love relationship. This must happen for both main characters, and they must both be involved in the revelations and the healing. They bring each other to healing and love.

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There must be growth in the characters if the reader is going to invest time and emotion in their story. Admittedly there are action stories in which very little emotional involvement with the characters is necessary, but this is not often so with a love story. If the hero, for example, is just gorgeous and sexy and does nothing but macho things throughout—well the reader might enjoy reading about him being those things but there will be very little emotional empathy with him. He will be a cardboard figure.

The best way I have found of getting this depth of character and pulling the reader in emotionally is by making careful use of point of view. Point of view is the person through whose eyes and viewpoint the story is being told. It can be first person though then the action of the story can be seen through the mind of only the one character (just as our own lives are viewed). I use what I call third person deep interior point of view. I usually alternate between the hero and heroine, though there is no strict rule about it. I tell an episode from the hero’s point of view and then one from the heroine’s. That way, the reader gets to experience the story through the mind and emotions of the character experiencing that particular episode of the story. If you think about it, everything that happens in our lives has an emotional component. We are the ones who experience everything that happens in our own lives, and everything that happens is colored by our own experiences and character and background and emotions—mostly our emotions. Very little happens to us that does not carry some emotion with it. The aim of the writer should be to duplicate that with characters. They are living, emotional beings, and if their story is told from deep within them, then the reader will be there too, experiencing everything with them and feeling with them—living and loving with them.

Creating this emotional connection among writer, character, and reader is one of the greatest challenges of writing a love story, but is, I think, the key to its success. The author needs to make the reader laugh with the characters and cry with them—and fall in love with them.


To two randomly chosen people who leave a comment below before the end of Monday, August 3, I will send signed copies of both HEARTLESS and SILENT MELODY, which is due to be published on the 4th. Good luck.