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Friday, April 29, 2011

Guest Amanda Grange: The Importance of Birth in Regency England

Linda Banche here. Today I welcome Amanda Grange and her Pride and Prejudice prequel, Wickham's Diary. Why did Wickham turn out so bad? The answer lies in the importance of birth in Jane Austen's world. As a bonus, Ms. Grange tells us about her favorite Jane Austen man.

Leave a comment with your email address for a chance to win the copy of Wickham's Diary which Sourcebooks has generously provided. Amanda will select the winner. Check the comments to see who won, and how to contact me to claim your book. If I cannot contact the winner within a week of the selection, I will award the book to an alternate. Note, Sourcebooks can mail to USA and Canada addresses only.

And the winner Amanda selected is Karla Vollkopf. Congratulations, Karla!

Welcome, Amanda!

My favourite Jane Austen man tends to fluctuate. Sometimes I’m drawn to Wentworth’s confidence and deep-rooted feelings; sometimes I’m more in the mood for Henry Tilney’s liveliness. But I am always in the mood for Darcy’s arrogance, so I think I have to say Mr Darcy.

In the late eighteenth century and early nineteenth century when Jane Austen was alive, birth had a huge impact on people’s lives. If a man was born to a wealthy family then he would have a lot of responsibilities as a landlord, a master, a patron and the head of the family. But he would also have a lot of advantages. He wouldn’t have to work for a living and he would spend much of his time on leisure pursuits, travelling from a large country estate to a town house in London, where he would attend balls and a variety of entertainments.

If he was born to a moderately wealthy family then he would have a choice of careers open to him and he would probably go into the church or one of the professions. He would have to work, but he would have a good standard of living.

If he was born to a poor family then he would have to work from an early age. If his family had useful connections he might find himself in the army or the navy from the age of twelve or so, with a chance to rise through his own efforts. But if his family was very poor with no connections, then he would probably find himself working down a coal pit or in a factory from perhaps five years old, with no chance of bettering himself or escaping his lot.

Mr Darcy is born into a wealthy family and wants for nothing. His future is mapped out for him and he will never suffer from want. Wickham, on the other hand, is the son of a steward and he will have to work for a living when he’s older. He will never be able to afford an estate and will always be considered beneath Darcy. This leads to a lot of problems in Wickham’s Diary as Wickham doesn’t accept the realities of his time. Instead, he tries to improve his lot by running after wealthy heiresses. If he succeeds, he will be lifted into another sphere and the money will buy him an entrance to a world he can’t enter as a steward’s son. But if he fails, then he will have to find a way of earning a living – or, being Wickham, he will have to pay his way by gambling and absconding without settling his bills!

About the Author--Amanda Grange
Amanda Grange is a bestselling author of Jane Austen fiction (over 200,000 copies sold) and a popular author of historical fiction in the U.K. She specializes in creative interpretations of classic novels and historic events, including Jane Austen's novels and the Titanic shipwreck. Her novels include Mr. Darcy, Vampyre, Mr. Darcy's Diary, and Titanic Affair. She lives in England. Visit her at

Wickham's Diary by Amanda Grange
This prequel to Pride and Prejudice begins with George Wickham at age 12, handsome and charming but also acutely aware that his friend, Fitzwilliam Darcy, is rich, whilst he is poor. His mother encourages him to exercise his charm on the young Georgiana Darcy and Anne de Bourgh in the hopes of establishing a stable of wealthy social connections.

At university, Darcy and Wickham grow apart. Wickham is always drinking and wenching, whilst Darcy, who apparently has everything, is looking for something he cannot find. Wickham runs through the money Darcy gives him and then takes up with the scandalous Belle, a woman after Wickham’s own greedy, black heart.

Praise for Mr. Darcy’s Diary:

“Grange hits the Regency language and tone on the head.”
—Library Journal

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Regency Man and Marriage: Fact and Fiction

Consider these images:

#1 A half naked male sex machine with a beautiful woman draped over him.

#2 A soberly dressed man with his wife on his arm and following them, five or six healthy, well-dressed children.

Which image was the ideal of the Georgian and Regency male?

If you picked #2, you are correct.

#1 is an anachronism, today's popular image of the marriage-phobic male who dreads relinquishing his life of hedonistic pleasure for the strangling bonds of matrimony.

#2 is the Georgian and Regency ideal of manhood--a man with proven fertility and who is also a good provider.

In Georgian and Regency England, everyone had a place, and that place was marriage.

Bachelorhood was the undesirable limbo a man must endure before he wed. Life for a bachelor consisted of work and a social life mainly with other bachelors. They worked together, lived together, and filled the coffee houses and chop houses.

At first, the bachelor might enjoy the freedom from parental control. But a single man had a lower status than his married brethren, and in time, the exclusive company of men palled. Men longed for adult feminine company. How did bachelors find marriageable women? With great difficulty. If they were lucky, their families and married friends offered access to single women, since the women stayed at home.

Besides enhanced status, a secure place in society, and most importantly, the ultimate proof of his manhood, marriage conferred practical benefits on a bachelor, and I'm not just talking about available sex.

Marriage has always had an economic component. All men, even wealthy men, worked, leaving them less time for the day-to-day necessities of life. They needed to eat, live somewhere and have their living quarters and clothes cleaned. In the 18th and 19th centuries, food preparation, laundry and cleaning were expensive and time-consuming. Since most men couldn't afford servants, they had to pay for these services. In the division of labor of the time, a wife would perform these tasks while she also warmed her husband's bed and cared for his children.

Yes, there were unhappy marriages as well as happy ones, but the promise of happiness plus the other benefits outweighed the possibility of misery in the minds of most men.

A good book with a whole chapter on this subject is Behind Closed Doors: At Home in Georgian England by Amanda Vickery. This book also includes the Regency.

So, the next time you encounter one of those high-born Regency rakes who disdain marriage, remember his realistic counterpart--the man who yearned to wed.

Thank you all,

Book cover: The Seduction by Nicole Jordan
Painting: The Baillie Family (c. 1784) by Thomas Gainesborough

Monday, April 25, 2011

Guest Ciji Ware: The 1906 Earthquake and Women Architects

Linda Banche here. Today I welcome Ciji Ware and her knock-your-socks-off historical novel about the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, A Race to Splendor. Here she tells us about the earthquake and firestorm…and how women come to be among the architects that rebuilt the city.

Leave a comment with your email address for a chance to win the copy of A Race to Splendor which Sourcebooks has generously provided. Ciji will select the winner. Check the comments to see who won, and how to contact me to claim your book. If I cannot contact the winner within a week of the selection, I will award the book to an alternate. Note, Sourcebooks can mail to USA and Canada addresses only.

I haven't been able to contact Ciji, so I invoked executive privilege and awarded the book. The winner is Jannine Gallant!

Welcome, Ciji!

Given the recent, horrific quakes in Japan and Haiti—not to mention the Tsunami in Indonesia, Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf of Mexico, and the BP Oil spill— San Francisco’s 1906 7.7 (some say 8.2) shaker and the terrible fire that followed in its wake are still considered one of the worst natural disasters to strike a populated area. The 1906 cataclysm left 480 city blocks in cinders; destroyed dozens of churches and schools, and left some 250,000 of 400,000 San Franciscans homeless for up to two-and-a-half years.

The city’s best hotels: the Palace, the St. Francis, and the fabled Fairmont atop Nob Hill were all deeply scarred from events that took place before dawn on the morning of April 18th 105 years ago this spring –and there soon developed a competition to see if they could all be rehabilitated and reopened by the first anniversary, April 18, 1907. In the case of the Fairmont, the hostelry was only a few months from its Grand Opening when the quake struck and reportedly, the lobby’s grand-scale furniture was still in crates when fire of more than 2000 degrees swept through.

Enter Julia Morgan, a “local girl” who was the only female in her class in 1894 at UC Berkeley to graduate from the engineering department, and the only woman in the world up to that time (and for many years afterward) to be accepted to study architecture at the famed L’Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris. After obtaining her Certificate in Architecture there, she returned to San Francisco barely four years before the quake hit and by 1904, had struck out on her own, establishing a small practice on Montgomery Street in the heart of what is now the financial district.

Fortunately, none of her staff were killed or suffered injury in the disaster, but her office was destroyed. She immediately moved her firm into the carriage barn at her home in Oakland and proceeded to gain commissions that had been slow in coming until the quake hit. Dealing in an essentially Man’s World in a field almost exclusively male, Morgan competed for commissions to rebuild the city’s famous hotels—but failed.

That is, until the famed New York architect Stanford White—celebrated for his many buildings, was unable to undertake the renovation of the Fairmont. It was at that point that Julia Morgan received the assignment to restore the hotel to exactly what it looked like before the earthquake struck.

The Grand Lady of Nob Hill has undergone several renovations in the last 105 years, but in the Year 2000, she was restored to nearly the same look that Julia Morgan had reinstated by 1907, created by the original architects, the brothers James and Merritt Reid. In her own right, Morgan built some 700 commercial and residential structures in the Bay Area, alone, and is probably best known as the architect and builder of the exotic “Hearst Castle” overlooking the Pacific Ocean in central California.

When I first moved to San Francisco, I lived in an apartment building designed and built by Julia Morgan just a few blocks from the Fairmont on Taylor and Jackson streets. I soon became totally obsessed to learn how a woman in that era had accomplished such a marvelous feat as to restore the terribly damaged 600-room hotel. I’ve chosen to tell the story through the eyes of Amelia Hunter Bradshaw, a fictional, composite figure based on the lives of people who knew and worked with Julia Morgan. I’ve cast Morgan as an important, but secondary character in this work of fiction that chronicles the daring, the rampant corruption, and the splendor of some of the people who fought for the city to rise, literally, from the ashes.

I hope you and your readers will be as swept away by this story as I was, and please visit to learn about A Race to Splendor and my other historical novels.

A Race to Splendor by Ciji Ware

Inspired by female architect Julia Morgan, this is the riveting tale of a race against time to rebuild two luxury hotels after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake destroyed 400 city blocks and left 250,000 homeless.

Morgan's fictional protegee Amelia Bradshaw and client J.D. Thayer will sacrifice anything to see the city they love rise from the ashes; in the process, they can't help but lose their hearts.

Praise for Ciji Ware:

"Ciji Ware is a master storyteller."
Libby's Library News

"A great historical fiction author...Ciji Ware certainly knows how to touch hearts."
Reading Extravaganza

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Sites for Historical Authors

Like most historical authors, I am always on the lookout for interesting sites (like the one you are presently on), where I can learn more about the way people in the past lived, worked, worshipped, and spent their days. One never knows when, in the process of writing, we will come across a question like Was lipstick invented yet? What kind of underwear did ladies wear back then? What do cartoons have to do with tapestry making? I have shelves full of research books, but sometimes, search as I may, my quest is not answered there. That is when I turn to the internet.
I keep a list of trusted sites, because I frequently give workshops on How to Research for Historicals, like the one I presented last year at RWA National, and what I’ll be giving at the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, ‘Colorado Gold’ conference in September. One site I ran across recently, which offers up a smorgasbord of little-known items from the past, is Another fun site is Have fun browsing these two great sites, and don’t forget to make notes or put the links to them in your favorites.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Guest Susanna Fraser: Castles, Old and New

Linda Banche here. Today I welcome fellow Regency author Susanna Fraser and her latest novel, A Marriage of Inconvenience. For all you Regency fans who like to overdose on history, enjoy Susanna's discussion about castles.

Susanna will give away an e-copy of A Marriage of Inconvenience to one lucky commenter. Leave your email address. See below for details, and check back here for the winner.

And the winner Susanna selected is minki-moira! minki-moira, please contact Susanna at to let her know which format (PDF, ePub, or Kindle) you want.

Unlike my first book, The Sergeant’s Lady, [] which is a road romance, my new release, A Marriage of Inconvenience, [] takes place almost entirely at two houses in rural Gloucestershire. I spent a lot of time inventing mansions that suited my characters and tried to make the places almost characters in themselves.

The first house, Almont Castle, belongs to a marquess of ancient lineage. He’s a minor secondary character, but the heroine is at his house as a wedding guest when she meets the hero. Lord Almont and his house represent the kind of world my heroine has grown up in as a poor relation–one of old money, old pedigrees, and old ways. So it was only natural to give him a very old house. I decided his family had been there all the way back in Norman times, and that they still live in the castle they started building in the 12th century. They have added onto it, of course, so it has most of the “modern” conveniences and furnishings someone living in 1809 would expect. But it looks ancient, it’s surrounded by a moat (now used as a pond for carp for the castle dining room), and the marquess opens the original keep, lit by torchlight, for balls.

The second house, Orchard Park, belongs to the hero, James Wright-Gordon, Viscount Selsley. James is new money. He is only the second viscount of his name, having inherited his title and his fortune from his father, a nabob who made his money in India. While some men in James’s position might feel anxious about their newly acquired status and try to act even more proper and proud than those who have had titles and fortunes for generations, that’s not my hero. It’s not that James minds being wealthy and powerful or that he acts egalitarian in a modern sense, but he sees himself as the beneficiary of a lucky accident of birth. So in his serious moods he works hard to live up to his father’s reputation and to use what he has inherited wisely and well. But in his frequent less serious moods, he is amused by the pretensions and obsessions with status of those around him. And his house reflects that.

Orchard Park is a castle, but a whimsical castle. It was never intended for defense, so it has no moat, and its windows are many and wide to take full advantage of the often-scanty English sun. Lucy, the heroine, loves it on sight–before she’s even seen the hero. For her it represents freedom, openness, and playfulness–all things she’s had very little of in her restricted life as a penniless, unwanted relation of an old, proud family. James and Lucy don’t have much in common with Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett, but like Elizabeth, Lucy can say that her love for her future husband began to grow when she first saw his beautiful grounds.

My main research source for my characters’ houses was Life in the English Country House, by Mark Girouard. I can’t recommend it highly enough to anyone writing a book set in rural England any time between 1400 and 1900, or indeed to anyone interested in architecture, interior design, or how home comforts have grown and evolved over the centuries. I didn’t use a specific castle as the model for Almont Castle, instead taking the descriptions of medieval castles and imagining how a family still living in such a place 400 years later might have used and updated their space. (Though something like a non-ruined version of Beverston Castle would do nicely, if you’re looking for a mental image as you read my book.)

Orchard Park, however, is based on Luscombe Castle in Devon, which was designed by architect John Nash in association with landscape designer Humphry Repton. At the time it was built in 1800, it was the height of fashion--asymmetrical, playfully Gothic, and at home in a natural, irregular landscape. My Orchard Park looks almost exactly like Luscombe--in fact, I assume the first Viscount Selsley would’ve hired Nash and Repton himself--except that it’s larger and built of the lovely golden limestone you often see in southwest England (think Bath).

Your turn! Readers, what houses stand out in your mind from books you’ve read? Mr. Rochester’s Thornfield Hall in Jane Eyre? (Now there’s a symbolic name if ever I saw one!) Laura Ingalls Wilder’s succession of little houses? Green Gables? Writers, what role do characters’ houses play in your books? One commenter wins a copy of A Marriage of Inconvenience in their choice of PDF, ePub, or Kindle format.

About the Author
Susanna Fraser wrote her first novel in fourth grade. It starred a family of talking horses who ruled a magical land. In high school she started, but never finished, a succession of tales of girls who were just like her, only with long, naturally curly and often unusually colored hair, who, perhaps because of the hair, had much greater success with boys than she ever did.

Along the way she read her hometown library's entire collection of Regency romance, fell in love with the works of Jane Austen and discovered in Patrick O'Brian's and Bernard Cornwell's novels another side of the opening decades of the nineteenth century. When she started to write again as an adult, she knew exactly where she wanted to set her books. Her writing has come a long way from her youthful efforts, but she still gives her heroines great hair.

Susanna grew up in rural Alabama. After high school she left home for the University of Pennsylvania and has been a city girl ever since. She worked in England for a year after college, using her days off to explore history, from ancient stone circles to Jane Austen's Bath.
Susanna lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and daughter. When not writing or reading, she goes to baseball games, sings alto in a local choir and watches cooking competition shows. Please stop by and visit her at, get to know her on Facebook at and follow her on Twitter at @susannafraser.

A Marriage of Inconvenience by Susanna Fraser
Lucy Jones is a nobody. As an orphan she was reluctantly taken in by her wealthy relatives, the Arringtons, on the condition that she be silent and obedient, always. When her lifelong infatuation with her cousin Sebastian is rewarded by a proposal of marriage, she's happy and grateful, even though the family finds excuses to keep the engagement a secret.

James Wright-Gordon has always had the benefits of money and a high station in society, but he is no snob. He's very close to his sister, Anna, who quickly falls for the dashing Sebastian when the families are brought together at a wedding party. Meanwhile, James is struck by Lucy's quiet intelligence, and drawn to her despite their different circumstances in life.

Lucy suspects that Sebastian has fallen for Anna, but before she can set him free, a terrible secret is revealed that shakes both families. Will James come to her rescue—or abandon her to poverty?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Guest Elaine Coffman: Men in Kilts!

Linda Banche here. Today I welcome Elaine Coffman and her latest book, the time travel, The Return of Black Douglas. Here she talks about one of our favorite subjects--Men in Kilts!

Leave a comment with your email address for a chance to win one of two copies of The Return of Black Douglas which Sourcebooks has generously provided. Elaine will select the winner. Check the comments to see who won, and how to contact me to claim your book. If I cannot contact the winner within a week of the selection, I will award the books to alternates. Note, Sourcebooks can mail to USA and Canada addresses only.

And the winners Elaine selected are Vonnie Davis and Alyssia. Congratulations to you both and thanks to all who came.

Welcome Elaine! And all your heroes in kilts.

What’s the attraction to men in kilts?

This is a difficult question to answer, because I tend to wrap kilt wearing up with all the research I’ve done about Scotland and how the wearing of kilts has been anything but true to the historical facts. But, you can breathe a sigh of relief, because I’m not going there, other than to say the plaid and kilt wearing belonged to the Highlanders (and partly to the Irish), although the wearing of the kilt as we think of it screams Scotland and did not come about until the late 17th or early 18th century. The kilt first appeared as a belted plaid around 1600. The kilt as we think of it did not occur until the mid-1700’s. The term plaid is Gaelic and means a blanket or cloak and doesn’t refer to the pattern or the material. The plaid was 12 to 18 feet long and 5 feet wide, made by sewing two pieces of fabric together. It was worn as a cloak, wrapped around the upper body. It was multi-purpose, for warmth, to roll up in to sleep, as a covering when it rained. The plaid belonged to the Highlander’s, just as the clan system did. It was not in any way connected with the Lowlands until much later, when they adopted it along with the English. Now, it has literally been adopted by people everywhere, whether they have a dollop of Highlander, or any kind of Scots blood or not.

So, what’s the attraction to men in kilts? And why do women love Scottish Highlanders? I’ll deal with the attraction for men in kilts first, and I think the first thing that comes to a woman’s mind when she sees a man in a kilt is, “What is he wearing underneath it?” One cannot see a man in a kilt without being curious! I have to pause here a moment to tell you that there is even a MEN IN KILTS window cleaning company that advertises “No Peeking” on their T-shirts. Seriously! They are even backed by the BBB and there is a video of them in action. Now, if there are any of you left reading this, I will get back to the question.

First off, I think there is a fascination with Scotland in general, for Scotland, tempered by never ending sorrow, calls out to all of us, like echoes from the past . . . secret, mysterious, evocative, and eerily stirring. One cannot help but admire the steadfast strength of a people who have taken the destruction of their clan system, the taking of their land, the eviction and emigration of their families, and the loss of their independence. And yet, something as simple as the genes for red hair and freckles has managed to survive. No other country can match it in sadness, conflict, haunting beauty, and poignancy, or the enigmatic loneliness of the land itself. Theirs is a tale of suffering told in a tragic vein-- passions so naturally manifest, and misfortunes so wrenching, that the very soul is pierced. Simple and yet complex, beautiful and dramatic, Scotland rises out of the cold depths of the North Sea like a clenched fist. Even the rugged uplands that separate it from England seem to suggest separation. You’ve only to listen to the mournful tunes of a bagpipe to feel it, even now. And when the last notes have faded away, a great silence falls over your soul, while the images are still running around in your head, and you are reminded of all they endured, what they lost, and how much the rest of us were spared. In a land ignited by the flame of pageantry that smolders even now, one cannot help but think of Scotland in terms of obelisks and Celtic crosses, the bones of saints, the relics of Vikings, the haunting lilt of a bagpipe and the proud wearing of the plaid and kilt. These are badges that identify Scotland around the world.

I cannot help but recalling these things whenever I go to a wedding or a parade and see men in kilts, for it is symbolic of just what Scotland is and what it means. It is the garment and the tradition that snags us, and part of that tradition is, men wore naught beneath it.

When I think of a man in a kilt, I think of Scotland and manliness, endurance, steadfastness, masculinity, vigor, power, bravery, devotion, resoluteness, pride, suffering, overcoming-- all beautiful, descriptive words that bespeak virility, strength and masculinity. As Gilder said, “Manhood at the most basic level can be validated and expressed only in action.” It is our nature to see men as heroic, and in a kilt we think of them in the most masculine of terms, for isn’t it in our genetic breeding to select the most masculine of alpha males? And doesn’t it take a masculine male to have the nerve to wear a skirt? And, don’t we love it when there is a bit of mystery to it . . . does he or doesn’t he?

He’ll Help a Woman in Need No Matter Where She Came From…

Alysandir Mackinnon rules his clan with a fair but iron fist. He has not time for softness or, as he sees it, weakness. But when he encounters a bewitching young beauty who may or may not be a dangerous spy, but surely is in mortal danger, he’s compelled to help…

She’s Always Wondered if She Was Born in the Wrong Time…

Thrown back in time to the tumultuous, dangerous Scottish Highlands of the sixteenth century, Isobella Douglas has a lot to learn about her ancestors, herself, and her place in the world. Especially when she encounters a Highland laird who puts modern men to shame…

Each one has secrets to keep, until they begin to strike a chord in each other’s hearts that’s never been touched before…

Since her first publication in 1988, New York Times Bestselling author Elaine Coffman’s books have been on the NYT, USA Today Top 50, and Ingram’s Romance bestsellers lists, and won four nominations for Best Historical Romance of the Year, Reviewers Choice, Best Western Historical, and The Maggie. Elaine lives in Austin, Texas, where she is working on her next book! For more information, please visit

Monday, April 4, 2011

Regency Fragrances....and what does she smell like?

by Donna Hatch

In my attempt to create the feeling of "being there" in my novels, I try to keep as many of the senses engaged as possible. Especially in really key scenes where I slow everything down, such as first sight, or first touch, I pull in sensory details other than sight or sound--touch, taste and scent.

Scent is usually easy, especially if the hero or heroine is in a room because they could smell food or a bouquet of flowers, but when they are in an embrace and all they smell is each other, what do they smell? Okay, the hero I generally have no problem with, but what about the heroine? What does she smell like to the hero?

It seems like historical heroines always smell of roses or lavender or so I wanted my heroine to wear a more original scent. So what did I choose?

I confess in the past I chose lavender, because that seemed to be a popular scent for women to put in their final hair rinse. Okay, I admit it; I needed to do some research first. I couldn’t write down "roses" because rose water reminds me of grandmas, not spunky beautiful young heroines.

So what other scents would a nineteenth-century woman have worn? Citrusy? I like citrus, but that didn’t seem very Regency. I mean, what Regency heroine smells like oranges? Original is one thing, but I don’t want to bump out the reader either. Musk reminds me of men. So I ventured out to the internet to find an alternative.

I found Lilac Vegetal, which sounds great except for the "Vegetal" part which sounds like one of those health food vegetable drinks that are green and difficult to swallow.

I stumbled on a site about the Grasse region in France, a place famous for its perfume. The early perfumes created here were scented with ambergris and wild myrtle. I have no idea what ambergris smells like, and I’m willing to bet my readers don’t either. Plus it said it's created from the fatty secretions of the sperm whale. Eew! And wild myrtle? I doubt my hero wouldn't recognize the scent of wild myrtle. I sure wouldn't.

Then I found the motherlode in the 13th Cenutry Perfumery. We can all use this! Tons of spices are listed, but I only went for the scents I both recognize and, more importantly, find appealing.

Apple, clover, Lily of the Valley, mint, apricot, cinnamon, jasmine, sandalwood, sweet orange. Okay, that last one, I’ll change to orange blossom lest she smell like an orange julius.

I also found the ingredients of Eau de Cologne, popular from the 18th century on: rosemary, neroli, bergamot and lemon. Mmm. Bergamot--except that makes me think of Earl Grey Tea--not exactly a feminine scent.

Then I found it. Violets!! Huzzah!!!! I recognize that smell and it’s got this magical quality that makes it come and go in waves, so each time it returns, it renews itself so it's a very provactive fragrance that would tempt the hero even before he has her in a clench! Woo hoo!

Okay, sweetie, you soooo smell like violets!

But what about the next heroine? Any suggestions?

Friday, April 1, 2011

Guest: Sharon Lathan: A Bad Boy at the Wedding

Linda Banche here. Today I welcome Sharon Lathan and the latest book in her Darcy Saga, The Trouble With Mr. Darcy. Here she tells us about that villain we all love to hate, George Wickham. I've read The Trouble With Mr. Darcy, and yup, Wickham's a bad one, and I do mean bad!

Leave a comment with your email address for a chance to win the copy of The Trouble With Mr. Darcy which Sourcebooks has generously provided. Sharon will select the winner. Check the comments to see who won, and how to contact me to claim your book. If I cannot contact the winner within a week of the selection, I will award the book to an alternate. Note, Sourcebooks can mail to USA and Canada addresses only.

And the winner Sharon selected is Jhosszu! Jhosszu, please send me an email at to claim your prize. If I do not hear from you by April 12, I will award the book to an alternate.

Welcome back, Sharon. We love to have you here.

It was inevitable. I knew it would have to happen. I just did not know when. After all, one cannot write a Pride and Prejudice related novel without eventually tackling the characters fans love to hate. Lady Catherine - check. Caroline Bingley - check. Mr. Wickham - yep, check. I had to do it. I held off though, partly for the very reason that it was inevitable. I did not want to be too predictable!

In the cases of Lady Catherine and Caroline Bingley I avoided going the typical, expected route of making them villains. I softened Lady C up a bit with Anne finding love and then giving the old battle-ax a grandchild, after she gets what-for from Mr. Darcy, Lizzy, and Lord Matlock of course, just to provide some satisfaction. Caroline also found love, eventually, after a few revelations along the way, and although still uppity and annoying she meets her match and settles down.

Maybe this deviation from JA fan-fiction norm gave me the okay to go for broke with Wickham. Or maybe I simply hungered to write a story line with intrigue, danger, and heavy drama. Or perhaps I just dislike him more! Not sure, but early on, even when ignored and left to ramble off-scene in the nether regions of England with Lydia, I knew he would pop up and wreck havoc someday. Hints have been sporadically strewn through the series as Darcy revealed bits of his childhood to his wife, eventually talking about his playmate/nemesis George Wickham. Definitely a love/hate relationship!

Yet even I was a bit surprised at just how bad Wickham turned out to be. Evil. E-Vil. As in so bad it must be spoken with two syllables! Cracked and twisted he is. Gone off the deep end. A few bricks shy of a load. Missing a full deck. Cuckoo for... well, you get the idea.

And what fun to write! I guess it is true that the bad boys are fun to write. I ended up cliche after all! Oh well. But better yet was compounding Wickham’s badness and deviant behavior with making him a partial pawn for someone even worse! Who? Not saying! My lips are sealed. Guess you will have to read the book!

So in The Trouble With Mr. Darcy, Mr. Wickham and naughty Lydia show up after an absence of several years. Ostensibly they are in Hertfordshire for the wedding of Kitty Bennet. Darcy does not believe it is that simple and he goes on high alert. Lizzy sympathizes with his distress, especially now that she knows of the history between the two boyhood friends, but she does not agree that there is a threat. Until, that is, she sees something horrifying. Pulling themselves together to enjoy the long awaited nuptials of the final Bennet daughter proves difficult, but they manage, even to the point of growing complacent. That will be a mistake they shall regret, but hindsight is twenty-twenty as they say.

The guests at the wedding are largely oblivious to the drama aside from the strained undercurrents. They are too focused on seeing Kitty’s day transpire as perfectly as possible. The marzipan is prepared for the cake. Early spring flowers are cut and arranged. The dress is sewn - a simple gown of while with green trim to please the groom who loves green. The Netherfield kitchen staff cook the breakfast feast to Kitty’s specifications, which are too simple for Mrs. Bennet’s taste, she still anguished that none of her daughters saw fit to utilize their fiances’ influence to obtain a special license for their weddings. Alexander Darcy and Claudia Daniels are entirely focused on spreading the flower petals before the bride while the groom’s five brothers are entirely focused on discovering the location of the secluded honeymoon cottage, their motives not innocent in the least. Lydia Wickham flirts brazenly with every man present, annoying her husband which in turn amuses Darcy.

Loads of undercurrents indeed. A bad boy and a wedding. What a winning combination! Talk to me about your favorite bad boys. We do love them even as they get their comeuppance.

Thank you, Linda, for hosting me today and giving me a chance to talk about the Austen bad boy we love to hate the most.

About the Author Sharon Lathan is the author of the bestselling novels Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy: Two Shall Become One, Loving Mr. Darcy: Journeys Beyond Pemberley, My Dearest Mr. Darcy and In The Arms of Mr. Darcy. Sharon also wrote a novella as part of an anthology with Amanda Grange and Carolyn Eberhart, A Darcy Christmas. In addition to her writing, she works as a Registered Nurse in a Neonatal ICU. She resides with her family in Hanford, California in the sunny San Joaquin Valley. For more information, please visit Come to Austen Authors – where Sharon and twenty other authors of Austen fiction blog together.

The Trouble With Mr. Darcy by Sharon Lathan
Sourcebooks Landmark ISBN 1402237545

Even charmed lives will encounter troubles along the way....

After a time of happiness and strife, Darcy and Elizabeth gather with family and friends in Hertfordshire to celebrate the wedding of Kitty Bennet. Georgiana Darcy returns from a lengthy tour of the Continent with happy secrets to share, accompanied by the newlywed Colonel Fitzwilliam and Lady Simone, who may have secrets of their own. The stage is set for joy until the party is upset by the arrival of the long absent Mr. and Mrs. Wickham.

Wickham's jealousy and resentment of Darcy has grown steadily throughout the years and Darcy rightly suspects that Wickham is up to no good. Darcy enlists the aid of Colonel Fitzwilliam to keep an eye on Wickham's activity, but neither anticipate the extreme measures taken to exact his revenge. Nor do they fathom the layers of deception and persons involved in the scheme.

George Wickham returns to Hertfordshire bent on creating trouble, and Elizabeth and her son are thrown into danger. Knowing that Wickham has nothing left to lose, Darcy and Fitzwilliam rush to the rescue in a race against time. This lushly romantic story takes a turn for the swashbuckling when Mr. Darcy has to confront the villainous Wickham and his own demons at the same time... devoted as he is, what battles within will Mr. Darcy have to face?