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Romance and the World War Two Era #historical #romance

           EveningTryst200x300          Unforgettable-200x300

Evening Tryst is set in 1940 and the action takes place in Biggin Hill, which isn’t far from London. Unforgettable is set in the city of London during 1941.

While many men headed off to war, the women left at home produced food, operated factories and took over jobs previously done by their menfolk. Time were tough…

Twelve Things That Occurred in 1940

1. Britain started to ration butter, sugar, bacon and ham.

2. Britain starts an anti-gossip campaign.

3. Gone With The Wind featuring Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh was big with movie-goers.

4. The Wizard of Oz starring Judy Garland was also very popular.

5. Winston Churchill took over as Prime Minister of Britain.

6. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, Finnegans Wake by James Joyce and How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn were big among readers.

7. You Are My Sunshine and A Nightingale Sang in Berkley Square were popular songs.

8. The first nylon stockings go on sale in the USA (May 15)

9. The British Government order the removal of signposts and street names.

10. The London Blitz begins on September 7.

11. People had to queue to purchase restricted goods. They had to hand over their ration books before they could purchase these goods, once they got to the front of the queue–if the goods weren’t already sold out.

12. Blackout was a fact of life. Motor vehicle accidents were very common during the blackout.

But amongst the trials and tribulations, the people found time for a little romance…

Read an excerpt for Evening Tryst

Read an excerpt for Unforgettable

Get Ready for Dunkirk #history #giveaways #IARTG

Dunkirk Image 1

Are you ready for Dunkirk? So are we! And we’re not just talking about Christopher Nolan’s upcoming summer blockbuster movie. Beyond the major motion picture, there is Dunkirk Week WWII Epic Novel Sale.

Discounted Books for 99c each

40+ authors of the Facebook Second World War Club have joined together for the "Dunkirk Week WWII Epic Novels Sale". From July 21-27 (the opening week of “Dunkirk”), we will discount a selection of our books to 99c to bring you more riveting tales of WWII from around the world.
This is a great chance to discover some awesome WWII stories. To find out more, go to: http://alexakang.com/dunkirk-book-sale/
We have tons of fun and interesting online events planned including:

Prizes & Giveaways

Join us too for:

6/26 A viewing Dunkirk Promo Official Trailer

6/29 A viewing of the book trailer for “Girl at Dunkirk” by David Spiller

7/3 A viewing of the book trailer for “The Yankee Years” by Dianne Ascroft

7/5 A viewing of the book trailer for “45th Nail” by Ian Lahey

7/7 Our Authors’ Pick of the Top 40 WWII Movies of all times.

7/10 A viewing of the book trailer for “Unrelenting” by Marion Kummerow

7/13 A viewing of the book trailer for “Luzon” by Richard Barnes

7/14 The Book Speak Podcast reading of Roberta Kagan’s “All My Love, Detrick”

7/17 Part One of our special two-part blog series on Dunkrik by Suzy Hendersen

7/19     A viewing of the book trailer for “Eternal Flame” by Alexa Kang

7/21     Dunkirk Week WWII Epic Book Sale begins with The Book Speak Podcast reading of “The Girl at Dunkirk” by David Spiller

7/22    Part Two of our special two-part blog series on Dunkirk by by Jeremy Strozer

7/24    Movie review of Dunkirk by Alexa Kang

Bookmark this page and be sure you won’t miss out:  http://alexakang.com/dunkirk-book-sale/

Lucien St Clare, The Spurned Viscountess @CarinaPress #historical

Meet the hero from The Spurned Viscountess, a historical romance set in 1720 England.

Lucien

Name: Lucien St Clare

Title: Viscount Hastings

Age: mid-twenties

Appearance: Tall, over six foot. Long dark black hair. Mahogany brown eyes. Tanned skin since he spends a lot of time outdoors. His face is scarred, the puckered scar running from his left eye to his jaw.

Hangouts: He currently lives at Castle St. Clare in East Sussex, England. Prior to this, he lived in Italy, near Naples on the Bacci estate with his wife, Francesca.

Reason for the move: Fragments of his forgotten memory have started to return to him, memories that place him in England. He can’t remember much about St. Clare at all. Yep, he has nasty amnesia.

Reason for staying: Someone from the area murdered his wife and their unborn child. He’s desperate for revenge.

Big problem: The Earl of St. Clare expects him to go through with an arranged marriage to Rosalind, a small English mouse of a woman.

In Lucien’s words.

“Everyone tells me my name is George, that I’m the long lost heir, Viscount Hastings. I could leave and return to the Bacci estates in Italy, but I burn for revenge. Those bastards who murdered my wife and unborn child must pay for their crimes. Someone called Hawk ordered her murder. It seems a coincidence there’s a Hawk operating the smuggling ring—too much of a happenstance in my opinion. I’m investigating, looking for clues, but meantime I have to deal with my new wife. She’s small, blond and reminds me of a mouse. I tried to put her off the idea of marriage to me, but she was set on the marriage.

She’s not very good at following orders and I’m forever running across her in places I told her not to visit. Trouble is her middle name. She’s stubborn, frustrating, irritating and she’s getting under my skin. I find myself thinking about her at the oddest moments…”

The Spurned Viscountess Blurb:

The Spurned ViscountessShe must marry him.

Cursed with the sight and rumors of witchcraft, Rosalind’s only chance at an ordinary life is marriage to Lucien, Viscount Hastings. She doesn’t expect love, only security and children of her own. Determined to go through with the wedding, she allows nothing she encounters at the gloomy Castle St. Clare to dissuade her.

He wants nothing to do with her.

Recently returned from the Continent, Lucien has no time for the English mouse his family has arranged for him to marry, not when he’s plotting to avenge the murder of his beloved Francesca. He has no intention of bedding Rosalind, not even to sire an heir.

Dark secrets will bind them.

Though spurned by her bridegroom, Rosalind turns to him for protection when she is plagued by a series of mysterious accidents and haunted by terrifying visions. Forced to keep Rosalind close, and tempted into passionate kisses, Lucien soon finds himself in grave danger of falling in love with his own wife…

Currently on sale for 99c at some retailers.

Purchase at: Carina Press| Amazon Kindle| All Romance eBooks| Kobo| iBooks| Nook|

A Marriage of Convenience

I’ve always enjoyed reading a marriage of convenience romance. This type of book is familiar and comforting and popular with readers like me. Since I snap up books using this premise, a marriage of convenience plot was the obvious choice when I decided to write my own historical romances. I’ve written two so far—The Spurned Viscountess and Mistress of Merrivale, which both feature this trope.

So what is a marriage of convenience? What are the characteristics of this type of plot?

In times past, love didn’t come into the marriage equation. Parents arranged marriages for their offspring, searching for the links that would bring land, finance and added prestige into the family. Marriage was all about connections and improving your lot in life.

For the romance writer, this is conflict served up on a platter. The hero and heroine start their marriage knowing little about each other, yet since they’re married there is no barrier to those hot sex scenes. The layers of the characters are peeled away as they struggle to find their place in the relationship and, because this is a romance, love.

Modern day marriage of convenience stories are harder to pull off, mainly because times have changed and sex before marriage is common. The modern way is to marry for love, and we generally choose our partners, rather than letting our parents do it for us.

The modern-day couple might marry for more practical reasons such as sealing a contract, securing an inheritance or to perpetrate a pretense of some sort.

If a child is involved, two people might marry to provide that child with a home and safety. Sometimes money comes into the decision, but immigration to allow one half of a couple to enter the country is a modern twist. The need for protection or the insistent tick-tock of a biological clock might persuade a heroine into marriage or even the modern version of mail-order—meeting someone on the internet.

These stories bring inherent conflict because the characters aren’t in love and they don’t have to pretend they’re head over heels for each other. The getting-to-know each other stage of the relationship becomes the conflict. Sexual relations are sometimes part of the deal and sometimes not, and the greater intimacy comes with time.

Mistress of MerrivaleIn Mistress of Merrivale, Jocelyn Townsend is a mistress to a titled man. When her protector no longer requires her services, she is desperate to find a replacement in order to keep her mother safe. Leo Sherbourne requires a wife to warm his bed, keep his house in order and to look after his young daughter. They agree that a marriage of convenience will work well between and that—in the spirit of a good romance—is when all their problems begin.

Here’s the blurb:

A marriage of convenience…full of inconvenient secrets.

Jocelyn Townsend’s life as a courtesan bears no resemblance to the life she envisioned in girlish dreams. But it allows her and her eccentric mother to live in relative security—until her protector marries and no longer requires her services.

Desperate to find a new benefactor, one kind enough to accept her mother’s increasingly mad flights of fancy, Jocelyn is nearly overwhelmed with uncertainty when a lifeline comes from an unexpected source.

Leo Sherbourne’s requirements for a wife are few. She must mother his young daughter, run his household, and warm his bed. All in a calm, dignified manner with a full measure of common sense. After his late wife’s histrionics and infidelity, he craves a simpler, quieter life.

As they embark on their arrangement, Leo and Jocelyn discover an attraction that heats their bedroom and a mutual admiration that warms their days. But it isn’t long before gossip regarding the fate of Leo’s first wife, and his frequent, unexplained absences, make Jocelyn wonder if the secrets of Merrivale Manor are rooted in murder…

Warning: Contains mysterious incidents, a mad mother who screeches without provocation, scheming relatives, and a captivating husband who blows scorching hot and suspiciously cold. All is not as it seems…and isn’t that delicious?

What do you think of the marriage of convenience trope?

It’s Bedlam!

Bedlam!

According to www.dictionary.reference.com bedlam is a scene or state of wild uproar and confusion. Synonyms for bedlam include disorder, tumult, chaos, clamor, turmoil, commotion, and pandemonium. If someone says, “The place was bedlam!” we know there was trouble and a lot of confusion.

But there’s more to the word.

Bedlam originated as a common and popular name for the Hospital of St. Mary of Bethlehem in London. The hospital was a lunatic asylum and many families left relatives there in order to hide them. It was also a place where husbands could leave wives who had become inconvenient, since it was widely known that women of the time were mentally unstable. Thank goodness times have changed!

The patients were chained to walls and posts and conditions were terrible. During the 18th century, in an effort to raise funds for the hospital, anyone with the price of admission could enter the hospital and visit the patients. Originally it was expected that the visitors would help the hospital raise money and bring food for the patients. That didn’t happen as the visitors treated the patients like a sideshow. They laughed and jeered, poked and teased the patients and threw things at them, inciting them to acts of madness. Bedlam was part of the tourist trail and these visits continued from 1720 – 1770.

Mistress of MerrivaleIn Mistress of Merrivale, Jocelyn, the heroine resists her sisters’ attempts to place their mother in Bedlam. She hates to think of her mother in a place like this and makes a point of looking after her parent. As one of the conditions of her arranged marriage with Leo Sherbourne, she insists he give her mother a home with them.

Elizabeth Townsend is spared from residing at Bedlam.

Bedlam was a tourist site during the 18th century. If you were to visit London either during the 18th century or now, which tourist site would be on your to-do list?

Review: Flowers From the Storm by Laura Kinsale

Flowers From The StormI read Flowers from the Storm many years ago and loved it. This year, I noticed there was an audio version, and I grabbed a copy. I wanted to see if the story had stood the test of time and was as good as I remembered. It was narrated by Nicholas Boulton.

Here is the blurb:

The Duke of Jervaulx was brilliant – and dangerous. Considered dissolute, reckless, and extravagant, he was transparently referred to as the "D of J" in scandal sheets. But sometimes the most womanizing rakehell can be irresistible, and even his most causal attentions fascinated the sheltered Maddy Timms.

Then one fateful day she receives the shocking news – the duke is lost to the world. And Maddy knows it is her destiny to help him and her only chance to find the true man behind the wicked facade.

But she never dreamed her gentle, healing touch would alter his life and her own so completely – and bind them together in need, desire…and love.

Review:

The Duke of Jervaulx is a scoundrel. Quaker, Maddy Timms knows this, yet the man still fascinates her. Christian, the duke is suffering from headaches, and when he’s called out by an enraged husband, he collapses. In truth, he has suffered a cerebral haemorrhage. The doctors and his relatives think he is a lunatic and he is sent to an asylum. The asylum, an old country estate, is run by Maddy Timms’s Uncle Edward, and she is astonished to discover the duke is a patient. Most people think he is dead.

The duke is confused and finds it difficult to speak and communicate. He’s chained or bound in a straight jacket and despairs of ever getting out of the asylum where his family have sent him. His mother, sisters and brothers-in-law are after his money and property and are willing to have him legally declared a lunatic to seize the prize. Maddy spends time with Christian, nurses him and gradually, she gets him to trust her. He falls in love with her, but Maddy tries to stick to her Quaker faith.

Things I loved about this story:

1. The plot.

There are hundreds of historical romances featuring dukes. Mostly, the heroines are young girls of good families. Flowers from the Storm has a duke. He’s intelligent and enjoys advanced mathematics, he likes hot chocolate and he has a terrible reputation. He’s having an affair with a married woman. Maddy is a Quaker. She speaks with thee and thous, she dresses plainly and believes all are equal. No courtesy titles for her. Everyone is addressed in the same manner. Much of the story takes place in the asylum and the duke is unable to communicate. The plot is so far removed from balls and the London season that it stands out as original.

2. The characters.

The duke is arrogant even though he can’t communicate. He’s in a dangerous position and fears spending the rest of his life in the asylum. His family certainly want him there. Maddy is prim and proper and the contrast between the hero and heroine really works. Watching them fall in love is amazing.

3. The sense of urgency.

Throughout the story, Christian’s family want to take control. Maddy needs to help him prepare to pass the competency hearing. There is a sense of the ticking clock.

4. The narrator.

He was very good and did a great job.

Things I didn’t like quite as much:

1. Maddy’s insistence on sticking to Quaker ways. I think it is hard for the modern reader to understand her insistence on sticking to the plain way of life and her beliefs. Most readers would wonder why she held out for so long and didn’t return the duke’s love. The reader needs to buy into her strong beliefs, I think, and trust that she will do the right thing, no matter what.

Conclusion:

This is a stand-out historical romance and one that deserves all the awards and excellent reviews. The audio version was just as good as the book I read all those years ago. I loved it. Highly recommended.

Fun at the Frost Fair

Let’s travel back in time…

Imagine yourself in England—London, to be precise. It’s almost Christmas or Yule, and it’s cold. There’s an air of excitement because the Thames has frozen over. Traders are rubbing their hands together. Local residents are anxiously watching proceedings. Children are gleeful because if the cold snap continues, the ice will be thick enough for a Frost Fair.

So what is a Frost Fair? Here’s the scoop. The old London Bridge caused the water to run slowly and during cold conditions the water froze, sometimes for months. When the ice was thick enough to support weight, the frozen Thames became a playground. Locals played games and skated on the ice. Local traders set up booths and the crowds flocked to the Thames to join in the festivities.

I write historical romances set during the 18th century, a little before the official Regency period. If the characters from The Spurned Viscountess and Mistress of Merrivale were to travel to London for the Yule season they might go shopping for trinkets and gifts to give their loved ones.

The Thames froze over during these years in the 18th century: 1709, 1716, 1740, 1768 (a little frozen), 1776, 1785 (a little frozen), 1788, 1795. Source~Wikipedia.

So let’s get back to the fun.

Jocelyn and Leo Townsend from Mistress of Merrivale are strolling on the ice. Leo has his daughter’s hand firmly in his grasp. Cassie’s eyes are wide as she gazes at a juggler. Then a puppet show grabs her attention. Jocelyn laughs and together, she and Cassie drag Leo over to join the crowd.

Once the show finishes, they visit a ribbon seller. Jocelyn buys several ribbons to give as gifts and lets Cassie choose one for herself. Cassie picks a scarlet ribbon and insists that Jocelyn tie it in her hair immediately.

Leo buys cups of hot cider and slices of spicy gingerbread. They meander through the crowds and pause to watch some acrobats. A roar comes from across the way, an animalistic growl and a louder shriek. Jocelyn takes on quick look in that direction and urges Cassie to move on to see the sailing ship, stuck firmly in the middle of the ice. There’s no need for Cassie to catch a glimpse of the bear baiting.

The scent of cooking meat fills the air while men and women shout of their wares. “Hot beef here!”

“Oranges! Oranges!”

“Buy Frost Fair prints here!”

Occasionally, the ice creaks. A group of children jeer at a hunchback while three young maids giggle and clap at the antics of a strolling minstrel.

The hour grows late, and Leo, Jocelyn and Cassie make their way to their carriage. Cassie goes to sleep on the way home while Jocelyn cuddles against her husband’s side. His hand rests on her rounded stomach, and they both laugh softly when their baby kicks. A family outing to the Frost Fair ends with love and a snatched kiss just before the footmen opens the carriage door, and Leo hustles them inside out of the cold.

Note: The last Frost Fair took place during the winter of 1813-1814 when the ice was thick enough to lead an elephant across the river near Blackfriars Bridge. New innovation during the Victorian era increased the flow of the river and ended the entertainment known as the Frost Fair.

Sources: London by Peter Ackroyd, Georgian London, Into the Streets by Lucy Inglis and Daily Life in 18th Century England by Kirstin Olsen.

Mistress of MerrivaleMeet Jocelyn and Leo in Mistress of Merrivale – order at Amazon http://amzn.to/1eW93rW

Jocelyn Townsend’s life as a courtesan bears no resemblance to the life she envisioned in girlish dreams. But it allows her and her eccentric mother to live in relative security—until her protector marries and no longer requires her services.

Desperate to find a new benefactor, one kind enough to accept her mother’s increasingly mad flights of fancy, Jocelyn is nearly overwhelmed with uncertainty when a lifeline comes from an unexpected source.

Leo Sherbourne’s requirements for a wife are few. She must mother his young daughter, run his household, and warm his bed. All in a calm, dignified manner with a full measure of common sense. After his late wife’s histrionics and infidelity, he craves a simpler, quieter life.

As they embark on their arrangement, Leo and Jocelyn discover an attraction that heats their bedroom and a mutual admiration that warms their days. But it isn’t long before gossip regarding the fate of Leo’s first wife, and his frequent, unexplained absences, make Jocelyn wonder if the secrets of Merrivale Manor are rooted in murder…

Warning: Contains mysterious incidents, a mad mother who screeches without provocation, scheming relatives, and a captivating husband who blows scorching hot and suspiciously cold. All is not as it seems…and isn’t that delicious?

Bedlam!

This post first appeared on Ally’s Miscellany

According to www.dictionary.reference.com bedlam is a scene or state of wild uproar and confusion. Synonyms for bedlam include disorder, tumult, chaos, clamor, turmoil, commotion, and pandemonium. If someone says, “The place was bedlam!” we know there was trouble and a lot of confusion.

But there’s more to the word.

Bedlam originated as a common name for the Hospital of St. Mary of Bethlehem in London. The hospital was a lunatic asylum and many families left relatives there in order to hide them from becoming public knowledge. It was also a place where husbands could leave wives who had become inconvenient, since it was widely known that women of the time were mentally unstable. Thank goodness times have changed!

Mistress of MerrivaleThe patients were chained to walls and posts and conditions were terrible. During the 18th century, in an effort to raise funds for the hospital, anyone with the price of admission could enter the hospital and visit the patients. Originally it was expected that the visitors would help the hospital raise money and bring food for the patients. That didn’t happen as the visitors treated the patients like a sideshow. They laughed and jeered, poked and teased the patients and threw things at them, inciting them to acts of madness. Bedlam was part of the tourist trail and these visits continued from 1720 – 1770.

In Mistress of Merrivale, Jocelyn, the heroine resists her sisters’ attempts to place their mother in Bedlam. She hates to think of her mother in a place like this and makes a point of looking after her parent. As one of the conditions of her arranged marriage with Leo Sherbourne, she insists he give her mother a home with them, and Elizabeth Townsend is spared from the horror of Bedlam.

Bedlam was a tourist site during the 18th century. If you were to visit London either during the 18th century or now, which tourist site would be on your to-do list?

The One Where Rosalind Snatches a Kiss

My-Sexy-Saturday-1024x226

Welcome to My Sexy Saturday, a fun blog hop. Here are the details: every Saturday, published and unpublished authors will be sharing 7 words, sentences, or paragraphs from a work-in-progress or an already published story.

My snippet this week comes from The Spurned Viscountess, a historical romance. Rosalind has an arranged marriage with Lucien, Viscount Hastings, and unfortunately Lucien isn’t interested in her. Rosalind is determined to grab security and have babies, so she isn’t going easy on poor Lucien. Something weird is happening at the castle and Rosalind is investigating. Lucien just happens to get in her way and she seizes the chance to further her cause. Just quietly, he doesn’t stand a chance!

MY SEXY SATURDAY:

Rosalind screwed up her face in a frown as she heard Hastings whistle to Oberon through the door. The black whickered softly in return. What was she going to say? What was she going to do? She imagined Hastings standing on the other side of the door. Excitement shot through her veins, despite her predicament.

The hinge creaked when the door opened. Rosalind watched with a combination of trepidation and anticipation. The gap widened to reveal Hastings’s shiny black boots, his mud-splattered stockings and breeches. Her eyes rose to his gray shirt and black jacket. Her mouth dried, her pulse pounding with expectancy, excitement. She swallowed and lifted her gaze to loose black hair and his…mouth. Finally, she met his astonished eyes.

Speak, she thought frantically. Quick before he asks what you are doing here. Distract. Attack. Something. Anything.

“You’re back,” she cried and planted a kiss on his beguiling lips.

He tensed. In shock or astonishment, Rosalind wasn’t sure but ceased to care. His lips were as soft as a baby’s skin. Her hands curled into his shoulders and she leaned into him, enjoying the play of hard muscles and the earthy masculine scent of him.

“What are you doing?” he demanded finally, pulling away enough to glare at her.

“I’m pleased to see you.” A stupid half-wit would sense his bewilderment. But along with confusion lay shocked enjoyment. And that, decided Rosalind, was a good thing.

TheSpurnedViscountess_200x300

BLURB:

Cursed with the sight and rumors of witchcraft, Rosalind’s only chance at an ordinary life is marriage to Lucien, Viscount Hastings. She doesn’t expect love, only security and children of her own. Determined to go through with the wedding, she allows nothing she encounters at the gloomy Castle St. Clare to dissuade her.

Recently returned from the Continent, Lucien has no time for the English mouse his family has arranged for him to marry–not when he’s plotting to avenge the murder of his beloved Francesca. He has no intention of bedding Rosalind, not even to sire an heir.

Though spurned by her bridegroom, Rosalind turns to him for protection when she is plagued by mysterious accidents and haunted by terrifying visions. Forced to keep Rosalind close–and tempted into passionate kisses–Lucien soon finds himself in danger of falling in love with his own wife…

Purchase The Spurned Viscountess

To read more Sexy Saturday posts, check out the links at My Sexy Saturday

Thirteen 18th Century English Resource Books

Thursday Thirteen

I’m busy researching in preparation to write a new historical romance series. My chosen time period is 18th century England, and here is a list of my current reading.

Thirteen Non-Fiction Books on English History

1. Great Houses of London by James Stourton, Publisher Frances Lincoln Limited

A book featuring some of the great houses in London with lots of great photos.

2. Georgian House Style Handbook by Ingrid Cranfield, Publisher David & Charles

Features the different interiors and furnishing of a Georgian building. Also a little about architects and the styles of house.

3. London in the Eighteenth Century by Jerry White, Publisher The Bodley Head.

This book is full of great info on the people, the city, work in the city and culture.

4. The London Square by Todd Longstaffe-Gowan, Publisher Yale University Press

A history of residential squares in London.

5. The Golden Age of Flowers by Celia Fisher, Publisher The British Library

Botanical illustration in the age of discovery 1600 – 1800

6. How to Create the Perfect Wife by Wendy Moore, Publisher Weidenfeld & Nicolson

Georgian Britain’s most ineligible bachelor and his quest to cultivate the ideal woman.

7. Mid-Georgian Britain by Jacqueline Riding, Publisher Shire Living Histories

How we worked, played and lived.

8. Vauxhall Gardens by David Coke & Alan Borg, Publisher Yale University Press

A history of Vauxhall Gardens

9. The Secret History of Georgian London by Dan Cruickshank

How the wages of sin shaped the city.

10. Walking Jane Austen’s London by Louise Allen

A guide to nine walks that Jane Austen enjoyed.

11. Georgian London: Into the Streets by Lucy Inglis

A guide to 18th century London.

12. The Amorous Antics of Old England by Nigel Cawthorne, Publisher Portrait

All sorts of interesting snippets on courting.

13. Daily Life in 18th Century England by Kirstin Olsen, Publisher Greenwood Press

A book full of social history details.

Are you a big non-fiction reader? If so, what is your chosen topic?