It feels unfair to pick only 5 books when I […]
We’re back from a holiday weekend and there are only two things keeping us alive right now: Spite and this amazing excerpt from Tamara Gill‘s Only A Duke Will Do!
“I’m sorry you feel that way, but you cannot stop Isolde from marrying. She will marry one day. It may not be me, but it will be someone. And if the reports around London are correct, she is looking for a husband.”
“Damn you to hell.” Merrick left Wardoor, grabbed a half-filled bottle of whisky from the pavilion, and started toward the Italian Walk. He found a secluded grassy spot within the trees. The sweet-smelling scent floating on the breeze did little to lesson his ire.
Merrick clung to the tree branch above his head and fought not to snap it off, imagining it as Wardoor’s neck. He flung back a good portion of the whisky and welcomed the burn to his throat. How could his closest friend do this to him?
The thought of Isolde welcoming his attentions was like a physical blow.
Damn them. Damn him.
Thanks for having me on EverAfter Romance to celebrate the release of the first book in my new Highland Isles series, The Beast of Aros Castle! I’m Heather McCollum, and I am a Word Nerd. I love words, history, and writing romance. I often lose myself in etymology: the study of the origin of words.
As a writer, there are millions of words from which to choose. Yet the wrong word, or the right word said by the wrong person, can completely throw a reader out of the world I’ve created. Nooo! Therefore, I must choose wisely when writing.
The word “wow” was first used in the 1510’s. It was a Scottish exclamation to show astonishment and has apparently stood the test of time. In my Scottish romance, set in the year 1522 when King Henry VIII was still on his first wife, it would be historically accurate for my Highlander to say “wow, lass, ye look lovely, spread naked across my bed.” But how many of you would stop and wonder whether he would really say “wow”? That word could completely throw you out of the scene (and this could be a scene you really don’t want to miss!).
Then there are the cuss words. In the late 16th century, the F-word was not considered a swear word, but a word to describe, in a straightforward way, sexual intercourse. It first showed up in a manuscript written in the early 1500’s by a monk writing about his moral-lacking abbot. The word became increasingly thought of as crass and was considered taboo by the late 18th century. The word “swive” was defined the same way as the F-word in the 16th century, and considered just as crass.
Mistress Hahn was supposed to entertain you today, but she sent me an urgent message begging for help.
The timing could not be more perfect. I have been longing to set the record straight on a number of matters pertaining to what is really involved in maintaining a less-than-sterling reputation. I most certainly am not soliciting your sympathy. I simply wish for you to understand that it’s not as effortless as it seems.
Carousing. Everyone uses that word. Does anyone know what it actually entails? Making merry is all well and good. Lively company is a fine thing. To a certain extent. But a man reaches a certain age, and the lure of a good book by the fireside with a fine glass of wine becomes more appealing. I know. It was a strange realization for me, too. At the age of eighteen, nothing sounded more dull. At twenty-five, I was more compassionate toward the old men who found pleasures in such things. A few years later—I won’t say how many—and I became that old man myself, decades earlier than anticipated. Or I would liked to have done, had I not had a reputation to maintain.
Which brings me to what it takes in maintaining one’s reputation with women. Let me think. All right, I won’t lie. I can’t find any downside to this one. If a woman seeks my company with certain expectations of what I might provide for her…never mind, let’s skip this one.
Horseflesh. You must have an intimate knowledge of all the fastest horses in the country. You must be able to detail who owns which animals, who bought which horse when and for what price, and all the particulars therein. I myself like horses very much. Not so much as my dear friend, the Earl of Corbeau, but I do like them. But sometimes a man wants to enjoy the company of his animals without being surrounded by young Corinthians in their finest, carefully appointed plumage who want the opportunity to try besting you to prove themselves.
Just what we needed: A list of really tempting things to distract us all weekend from a Romance author we love.
We’re sharing the wealth with these obsessions from Heather Van Fleet.
5. Pretty Little Liars
I was late to the game when it came to this show. My oldest daughter, who loves it to pieces, kept pushing it on me, wanting to talk end games and ships and what not. So, toward the beginning of last year, I believe it was during spring break, I sat down and watched every single season and episode of this series just to make her happy. In the end, my eyes were bleeding from all the twists and coupling off, but…color me addicted. I’ve not read any of the books in the series (shame on me, I know) but I’d say this is good enough for a middle-aged Mama like myself.
Not sure if I’m more obsessed with the show, or with Jamie, but hey…I’m on this bandwagon for life. These books and the TV show have turned into a pop culture phenomenon and I, personally, can’t get enough of it. Every Saturday night, I sneak out of my house and drive the ten minutes to get to my parents’ house just so I can watch the show with my equally as obsessed Mom. We curl up, eat some popcorn, and turn off all the lights just to get the theatre ambiance whenever we’re watching. Every week is a surreal experience that I keeps me coming back for more, though I know what’s about to happen. Most of all, it gives my mom and me time to just hang.
Guys, we’re not sure what to do with ourselves! This Q&A with Merrie Destefano has left us absolutely charmed! Treat yourself before you run off for President’s Day weekend.
What are your five favorite movies with romance or romantic elements?
While You Were Sleeping, The Time Machine, Romancing The Stone, The Last of the Mohicans, Pride and Prejudice
Describe your favorite scene from each one (you can include a Youtube clip if you want as well).
While You Were Sleeping: The scene where Bill Pullman demonstrates what leaning is to Sandra Bullock. So adorable!
The Time Machine: When Samantha Mumba takes Guy Pearce to read the Stone Language. During their conversation, he gives her a vulnerable, heart-broken look and she instantly knows that he has lost a woman he loved. My heart melts every time I watch that scene.
Romancing The Stone: When Kathleen Turner finally comes out of her shy shell and starts cutting the way through the jungle, ultimately leading Michael Douglas and herself to safety. A beautiful analogy of a how a writer comes to life while digging into the complicated plot of her story.
The Last of the Mohicans: When Daniel Day-Lewis takes Madeleine Stowe by the hand and leads her through the fort. All around them a war is exploding. Inside them is another kind of explosion—that of falling in love. Sigh.
Pride and Prejudice: The dance scene. The look on Colin Firth’s face. The music. The realization that he does care about her, but has put his foot in his mouth and she isn’t going to forget it. I could watch that dance scene ALL DAY LONG.
You’ve Got Mail: The end, where Meg Ryan goes to meet her secret email pal, hoping it’s Tom Hanks. And then Tom comes walking over the bridge. It’s a heart-warming conclusion to what began as a bitter work-related feud.
Hard day? We’ve got exactly what you need, because Nicola Davidson is back! Don’t miss our Q&A, or The Devil’s Submission, out now!
What are your five favorite movies with romance or romantic elements?
I’d have to say Love Actually, Emma, The Notebook, Braveheart, and Pride and Prejudice.
Love Actually: I adored all the characters in this movie, but especially liked Jamie (Colin Firth) and Aurelia (Lucia Moniz.) So many sweet, funny scenes as they attempted to communicate, getting it wrong but still unable to deny the growing attraction to each other. My favorite scene is when he leaves the awkward family Christmas and instead flies back to her, making his declaration in the restaurant in broken Portuguese. SO romantic! And then it turns out she took English lessons ‘Just in cases’. Swoon. Love conquers all – even the language barrier.
Emma: Ohhhh, Mr. Knightley (Jeremy Northam.) Both stuffy and sweet, a real gentleman’s gentleman Regency hero. It is equal parts annoying and sniffle-worthy as he drops subtle, awkward hints about his feelings for Emma that she keeps missing. But then comes the last scene in the movie with one of the truly great romantic lines: ‘Marry me, my wonderful, darling friend.’
The Notebook: What a perfectly cast movie. Noah (Ryan Gosling) and Allie (Rachel McAdams) were just brilliant together as the working class man and his society princess trying to break free. Although there are SO many fabulous scenes, a random one sticks out for me. Again, near the end, when Allie has to choose between her fiancé Lon and Noah. She pulls up outside Noah’s house in her car, hops out with her suitcases, and gives him the big shrug. Not a word is said but it captures one of the key essences of love – the heart wants what it wants, even if on paper it seems like absolutely the wrong choice.
Braveheart: Before the patriotism and raging bloody battles, there was an incredibly sweet romance between William Wallace (Mel Gibson) and Murron MacClannough (Catherine McCormack) childhood friends reunited as adults. Their courtship is just delicious, tender yet full of wonderful crisp banter that says their minds are in accord as much as their hearts. The scene when they sit together on the rock and he offers to teach her to read is gorgeous enough, but when they arrive back at her home and he presents her with the thistle she gave him as a child at his father and brother’s funeral…oh my.
Pride and Prejudice: I love the dynamics between Lizzie Bennett (Keira Knightley) and Mr. Darcy (Mathew McFadyen). She is so smart and witty and outspoken. He is stuffy and rigid and honorable. They shouldn’t work as a couple, but they do—and it’s because both learn to look below the surface, and trust their hearts when circumstances around them make them doubt what they feel. The scene at the end where he strides toward her in the dewy grass, now slightly unbuttoned and purposeful, and she knows he has done her and her family the greatest of favors and is open to seeing the kind heart beneath his crisp exterior…SWOON.
I’d say I thought about all these movies a bit while writing The Devil’s Submission. Devil is kind of a raunchy hybrid Knightley/Darcy, in that he is rigid and reserved, a bookish man whose submissive need for pain with his pleasure weighs heavily on his heart. He is in desperate need of a strong, sassy lady to lure him out of his shell and show him the way to happiness. Eliza, his estranged wife has one heck of a battle on her hands. Luckily she is more than bold and brave enough for the task. I also love the fact that when their walls come down, they can really talk. I like my scorching hot lust with a large side of friendship, I think that is what ices the happily ever after cake. The knowledge that they like as well as want each other, which is a pretty strong foundation for lasting love.
Thanks for having us here at Ever After! We hope you enjoy this dream cast from the Cyberlove series. We focused on the main characters, some supporting characters who may get their own story one day, and Kai and Garrett from Strong Signal who have several cameos!
This series has been really visual for us because so much of it takes place online with people who have to share pictures or Skype because they don’t see each other in person. Also, Strong Signal and Hard Wired are very rooted in the idea of fandom culture. To celebrate that, we created Tumblr pages for both Kai and Ian (and his alter ego Cerise), but here are inspiration pictures of the entire cast!
The stars of Hard Wired:
Ian played by Miles McMillan
Jesse played by Alex Pettyfer
Among contemporary novels, my favorites are always set sometime in the past. I just can’t get interested if the setting is one that I recognize and can judge for myself. It doesn’t seem compelling to me to hear what my peers have to say about the world that we share. I consider myself to be an astute observer of human nature and of culture, of our current way of life. I don’t need to be inside my neighbors’ heads. Life would be unbearably noisy if I didn’t content myself with my own thoughts. Likewise, I consume the news, but never the op-eds. I form my own opinions. I watch movies and episodic television, but never read reviews. What I seek is an escape from the world that I know, as well as anybody can.
Historical fiction takes me on an incredible journey back in time, to the past – a foreign country, to be sure – where everything is mysterious, from the most enormous political questions of the day to the most minute quotidian realities. I enjoy descriptions of picturesque or sublime landscapes no longer extant on earth, food no longer eaten, clothing so luxurious it hurts, battles fought and won over issues easy to understand and empathize with. The cadence of obsolete speech charms me; the philosophical discussions of our ancestors weren’t mere parlor games, as they seem to be today, but genuine explorations of the human condition. The stakes seemed higher in the past, and people lived more viscerally, with a greater understanding of what it means to be mortal on this earth.
The Spanish haven of Santara with its lush, green grounds and beautiful flowers and sweet fruits is my first pick for Arik and Gia’s date. The castle was built into the side of a mountain. Arik and Gia could hike the long, winding trail that leads to the top of the mountain. At the crest, they could view all of Santara while enjoy a picnic of empanadas filled with meats and fruits. Afterward, they could fly down the mountain
Mantello Haven in Italy is where Gia’s great-grandfather is from. The castle is stately and the village is quaint with winding roads and many shops. There are festivals, wine making, and a unique bookstore. Arik and Gia could have fun eating bake goods while strolling through the many shops. They could sit at one of the outdoor cafes to eat and watch the many plays and puppet shows performed on the street.
As a city girl, I’m always surprised when a Western Romance pulls me in. Maybe it’s the visual of a generous smirk and the adventure of the wild that calls, but it works every time. Kari Lynn Dell’s Tangled in Texas has it all, and we’re happy to bring you this sneak peek!
She brushed her fingertips over the gouges his spurs had made on the front of his rigging. Then she tapped the shoulder of the spur board. “Put your feet here and your hand in the rigging.”
She grabbed his left ankle and wrapped her other hand around the inside of his left knee. “Try to go limp and let me move you.”
Any time, darlin’. But she was so focused, she missed his smirk. She played his leg like a puppet’s—bending, straightening, rotating out at the hip, bending again, testing angle after angle until she found one she liked. He tried to stay loose, but her hand kept sliding up and down the inside of his thigh, every stroke heating his blood until limp was no longer a part of his vocabulary. The air got sideways in his lungs as she moved her hand even higher. Think cold. Ice cubes. North Dakota in January. He sucked in a breath through clenched teeth as her hand moved again. A couple more inches and she’d find out for herself just how not limp he was.
She gave his leg a shake. “Relax!”
She paused, looked up at his face, then followed his gaze to where her little finger was a hair shy of rubbing up against his balls.
“Oh.” She didn’t snatch her hand away, just moved it down to midthigh. “Sorry. But look.”