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Dementia: Mistress of Merrivale

 

Mistress of MerrivaleIn my release, Mistress of Merrivale, the heroine’s mother has dementia. Since my story takes place in the 18th century she hasn’t been diagnosed, but as the writer I know she has Alzheimer’s. It’s a silent disease in which the family suffers just as much as the person who is experiencing the illness. I know because my father has dementia. It’s sad watching someone you love losing connection with reality.

Dementia happens when there are changes in the structure of the brain. These physical changes might affect memory, the way a person behaves, their personality, their emotions and the way they think. There is no cure, and the symptoms gradually become worse.

Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia in our society. It was named after German Alois Alzheimer, a psychiatrist who first described the condition in 1906.

There is no single factor that has been identified as the cause of Alzheimer’s and it’s thought that the disease is a combination of factors such as age, genetics and environment.

Some facts:

1. 35.6 million people have dementia worldwide (2010)

2. In America there are more than 5 million people with Alzheimer’s.

3. It’s the sixth leading cause of death in America.

4. 1.1% of the population in New Zealand has dementia and 60% of these are female.

5. Most of the caregivers are largely unpaid. In fact according to stats in 2012 15.4 million family and friends provided 17.5 billion hours of unpaid care to sufferers.

In Mistress of Merrivale, Jocelyn is determined to find a protector who will accept her mother with her strange behavior and quirks. Jocelyn’s sisters want to send their mother to Bedlam, but she refuses to send her mother to a hospital. Instead, she hires a woman to tend to her mother and does her best to keep her parent happy and safe.

Of course everything is not as it seems, and there is murder afoot at Merrivale…

To read an excerpt check out the book page for Mistress of Merrivale

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?

Thirteen Ways I Learned to Write About Sex

I’m thrilled to welcome Marian Perera, a fellow Samhain Publishing author. She’s celebrating the release of her paranormal fantasy romance, The Highest Tide and has a fun post about sex. Smile with tongue out

Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen ways I learned to write about sex

Thanks for hosting me, Shelley! I like interesting lists, so when I found your blog I read through all the Thursday13 posts first. Those gave me the idea of this guest post.

But here’s the story behind it. I grew up in the Middle East, in a devoutly religious family, a sex-segregated school and an extremely conservative country. How conservative? If a couple kissed on a TV show, this was cut out before the show was broadcast. So speaking of kisses, my first had to wait until I went to college in the States. I was that sheltered.

And now I write romances with explicit sex in them.

Of course, this transition from saint to sinner didn’t happen all at once. So here are a few of the steps I took to become an enthusiastic proponent of the open-bedroom-door policy…

1. Read every romance novel I could lay my hands on, from Sweet Savage Love onwards.

2. Bought and read Stacia Kane’s book Be A Sex-Writing Strumpet. The book is so blunt it overcame a lot of my inhibitions.

3. Reminded myself that it’s not about what I’ve been taught, or what my family believes. It’s about what’s right for the characters and the story.

4. Reminded myself that my editors have read hundreds of steamy romances, so there’s no need to be embarrassed if they refer to certain, uh, technical aspects of the scenes.

5. Kept sex scenes in-character. If the couple enjoy verbal teasing, there can be a rest in the action where they playfully spar with each other.

6. Put the characters in unusual locations. Not only is this fun, I get to think about where they could have sex long before they reach that point. Cave on a deserted island? Got it. Inside a hollow baobab tree? Came out earlier this year.

7. Pushed my personal envelope. Most of my romances are a slow burn where the sexual tension builds up until the characters finally give in. With The Highest Tide, they got their clothes off in the first chapter—and had good reason to do so.

8. Used sex to heighten the characters’ emotional struggle. At the end of The Coldest Sea (coming out later this year), the heroine has settled down with a job she enjoys, and she reluctantly tells the hero, a freighter captain, that she can’t just leave to marry him. So he makes love to her in an intense, the-last-time-we’ll-have-each-other way. The story ends happily, but I milked that scene for all it was worth in terms of heartache.

9. Read some really bad sex scenes. It’s good to know what not to do—for instance, I don’t believe it’s ever arousing to mention the heroine’s urethra.

10. Learned to drop the occasional f-bomb. I don’t use this word very often, so when it occurs—especially when the hero says it in a sexually charged moment—it packs a punch.

11. Held true to my convictions. I believe that even in fiction, when a woman says no, a man should back off (unless they’re play-acting or the scene is written as assault). So I’ve written hot makeout scenes which stopped when the heroine remembered a good reason not to go further. That made it even better when she did want it.

12. Figured out how to incorporate contraceptives into fantasy romance. Or, if they’re not used, to show why not. One of my heroines is infertile, and knows she is, and doesn’t end up with a surprise baby at the end.

13. Wrote sexy fanfics. Less pressure there. Plus, they were Transformers fanfics. If I can write about giant robots having sex, I can write about anyone having sex.

Bio : Marian Perera started reading fantasy at 6 when she found a huge hardcover copy of The Lord of the Rings. Her parents replaced that with a more age-appropriate paperback of The Hobbit. Later she discovered another book with an adorable bunny rabbit on the cover. Yes, that was Watership Down. She had to wait ten more years for romance novels, but once she discovered those she never looked back, and now combines the two for maximum fun.

Marian was born in Sri Lanka, grew up in Dubai, studied in the United States (Georgia and Texas), worked in Iqaluit and lives in Toronto. For now. With five hot fantasy romances published by Samhain and Loose Id, she’s just getting started. She blogs at Flights of Fantasy, is on Twitter, has lots of excerpts on her website and still writes the occasional giant-robot-smutfic with no guilt whatsoever.

The Highest Tide

BLURB:

One touch, and the tide isn’t all that’s rising. When brothel health inspector Jason Remerley finds a uniformed woman waiting impatiently in the Velvet Court parlor, wanting to hire a man’s services, he’s struck by lightning. His intense, immediate attraction compels him to pretend his way into her arms.

Enough silver, and most men forget about Captain Lera Vanze’s half-burned face. She senses something off about the handsome, ill-dressed prostitute who sells himself so cheaply. But with his first touch, goose bumps turn to shivers of desire—right before the truth drives them in opposite directions.

Her fury is still simmering when they face each other in a more “official” capacity. She’s joined a warship to stop a terrorist only Jason can identify. Though trust is scarce, they’re swept away in a tidal wave of murderous plots and an explosive attraction that could leave them marooned in an emotional—and very real—minefield.

Warning: She knows how to wield her sword, he knows just how, when, and where to apply his…mind. Contains deception in a brothel, sex in a cave, a shark with a bad habit, and one very large wave.

Samhain Publishing | Amazon

Do you have any questions for Marian or tips to add to her list?

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 First Meeting: Leo and Jocelyn

MistressOfMerrivale72sm

I’m visiting Jill Hughey today where Mistress of Merrivale is featured. Read about the first meeting between my hero and heroine, Leo and Jocelyn.

My post at Jill Hughey’s blog

Matau, the Giant

Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown

Like most countries, New Zealand has myths to explain the formation of various lakes and mountains. This is the legend of how Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown, New Zealand was formed.

Renowned beauty Manata lived in Otago in the South Island of New Zealand. She was popular with neighboring men and many of them wanted to take her as their wife. Manata’s father didn’t consider any of the suitors husband material.

One of her suitors was called Matakauri. He loved Manata and she loved him in return.

One day a giant called Matau stole Manata from her home and carried her away into the mountains. Manata’s father told Matakauri that if he could rescue his daughter, he’d approve of a marriage between them.

Matakauri knew that the giant always turned sleepy when the wind blew from the nor’west, and once conditions were right, he set out to rescue his love. When he arrived the giant was sound asleep.

“Come with me,” Matakauri said. “I’ll take you home.”

“The giant has tied me to him with a rope made from the skin of his two-headed dogs. It is impossible to break,” Manata cried.

Matakauri tried to cut it, but to no avail. Manata started weeping and when her tears fell on the rope it dissolved. Freed, the lovers fled to safety.

As promised, the couple married, but Matakauri worried about the giant returning and stealing his new wife. When the wind blew from the nor’west again, he sneaked up to the giant’s home and found the giant curled up and sleeping on a bed of bracken. Matakauri set fire to the bracken and the giant suffocated before he regained consciousness. The giant’s body sank deeper and deeper into the ground until he created an enormous chasm many kilometers long. His entire body was consumed by the flames, except the heart, which kept beating.

Rain began to fall and it flowed into the new chasm. The heat generated by the fiery giant bonfire melted the snow on the nearby mountains. Soon the chasm was full of water and it remains as a lake to this day—a lake shaped like a giant who has drawn up his knees in sleep.

Meanwhile the giant’s heart still beats beneath the surface of the water, sometimes so hard that the waves thunder against the shoreline.

I didn’t realize we had giant myths in New Zealand, and I’ve been enjoying reading through Taniwha, Giants, and Supernatural Creatures by Aw Reed and Ross Calman. Do you have any local giant myths?

Today I’m visiting Lissa Matthews where I’m discussing Maxwell’s, the fictional club in Past Regrets. There’s a giveaway too.

Stepping Back in Time

Shelley, Bangui, CAR

I’m stepping back in time today with a photo of me taken in Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic. Several local ladies visited our camp and offered to braid hair. I kept mine in for about three weeks. When I’d had enough of braids and unfastened them, I had the hair style from hell. The worst hair day ever!

Today I’m visiting Keira Kohl with Julia Maxwell, the heroine of Past Regrets. There’s also a giveaway.

Have you ever had your hair done in braids?

A Writer’s Life – The Bottom Line

The Bottom Line, the first book in my Love and Friendship series is out a blog tour this week, and Past Regrets, the second book in the series is due out on 10 September.

Today I’m visiting:

The-Bottom-Line-Banner-AUTHORS-FB

Sky Purington at A Writer’s Mind – interview

Fierce Romance Author Group – interview

Booker Like A Hooker – review

I bet you can’t guess what the least glamorous thing I do every day is…find the answer in the Fierce Romance interview!

All The Better To Eat You With!

I’m visiting Mychael Black today and talking about sharp teeth – all the better to eat you with!