Thursday, September 28, 2006
When my editor invited me to write a novella for the October 2006 Western Christmas anthology, I knew what I wanted to write. William Merritt, the unconventional preacher from Of Men and Angels, had a story of his own to tell. Christmas offered the perfect setting for a man coming to grips with his failings and need for forgiveness.
Here's where the serendipity comes in . . . Angels is set in western Colorado in 1885. Because of a key event, the novella had to take place twenty years earlier in Denver. A little research revealed Christmas traditions as we know them were just beginning to take root at that time. Many of those traditions came from German immigrants to the Pennsylvania Dutch region. The odds of a family in Denver having a Christmas tree and glass ornaments were fairly slim unless they had ties to that region of the country.
By a stroke of luck, when I wrote Of Men and Angels, I chose Philadelphia as Katherine Merritt's home town. It made perfect sense for William's wife to bring the traditions of a Christmas tree and a decorating party to her home out west. She owns glass ornaments from Europe and loves Christmas music as much as I do. It's funny how things worked out. If Katherine had been born and raised somewhere else, the Christmas connection in 1865 Denver would have been harder to establish.
I loved telling this story, though my family found it a bit odd to hear "O Holy Night" in July. But why not? The music is beautiful and the true spirit of Christmas isn't just for December.
Saturday, September 23, 2006
Charlotte Lamb started the association more than a decade ago and it is a chance for Mills and Boon authors to meet with management and learn more about the company. In the evening, there is a champagne reception for the authors, attended by all the editors. This year's reception was held at Brook's -- as in the club where the Earl of Sandwich and Charles Fox gambled and the Prince Regent was a member. The Gaming Room where the reception was held has been carefully restored to its Regency splendor.
This year's guests were the managing editors from the UK, Holland and Germany. Unfortunately, Holland no longer publishes historicals, but the historical programmes are alive, well and expanding in both Germany and the UK.
Germany is expanding the length of its Regency line and they also have a separate historical line for other time periods. They are very excited at the prospect of publishing Roman set novels. They would like to see ancient Egypt as a time period as well. German readers have clearly said that they want variety in their reading. For Germany, historicals only go up to the Victorians.
In the UK, the Regency Lords and Ladies collection has been doing exceptionally well. Every single volume has made the Bookseller's Heat Seekers list. The covers are simply beautiful and the public has responded in a very positive way. It is a programme that the editors are looking to expand.
As Jo Carr, assistant editor Historicals later said to me -- Regency is the backbone of the historicals programme and they are still very much looking to publish the full range of Regency from traditional sweet to the darker side.
The reception was lovely and well attended by historical authors. Nicola Cornick, Joanna Maitland, Anne O'Brien, Claire Thornton, Emily Bascom June Francis as well as one of the newest signings -- Elizabeth Beacon. All three historical editors attended, and we were treated a brief lecture about the history of Brooks. It was apparently started by a gentleman's gentleman whose gentleman had fallen on hard times....
Everyone was very proud of Diane Gaston's success at the RITA as well as the other two RITA won for contemporary novels in the London office. A champagne toast was drunk to the health of all the authors. A thoroughly successful but tiring day.
The next morning I woke with a very hoarse voice!
Thursday, September 21, 2006
Call it a touch of vanity.
But I can’t help but smile when I read historical accounts of cultures that held their writers in places of esteem. I recently picked up some texts on the roots of Celtic culture where it meets with Druidic tradition and discovered that the Druid priests were not just spiritual figures but poets, passing their knowledge on in the oral tradition. Perhaps poetry helped the novice Druid to learn his or her lessons. No easy feat when they were schooled for a quarter century to acquire all the necessary skills.
Penning a medieval romance that took place in southern France last year introduced me to another culture that appreciated its poets. The troubadours were sought after to cement the legacies of their patrons in prose. Eleanor of Aquitaine employed troubadours to further her notion that women should be treated chivalrously when she ordered her poets to write the guidelines for courtly love.
Something about those accounts makes me feel connected to wordsmiths throughout history. Had I lived in another time, would I have undertaken the painstaking education of a Druid to exercise my love of words? Would I have jumped at the chance to be a court poet?
In her book Women Who Run with the Wolves, Jungian analyst Clarissa Pinkola Estes writes that “modern storytellers are the descendants of an immense and ancient community of holy people, troubadours, bards, griots, cantadoras, cantors, traveling poets, bums, hags and crazy people… story is far older than the art and science of psychology.”
And that feels just right to me. A good story—in any era—is the very best sort of therapy.
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Flour and 10lb sugar sacks were used for kitchen and bedroom curtains and for towels. They even furnished the fabric for dolls and stuffed animals. After dying them bright colors, the women cut the material into strips and wove the strips into carpets. Homesteaders stored grains and beans in them, too, as well as using them to wrap cured hams. Sometimes settlers sewed bags into narrow tubes and stuffed them full of sausage. Once the sausage was cooked, the fabric was removed.
Frontier woman also made handkerchiefs out of the little salt sacks.
Friday, September 15, 2006
I loved “Broken Trail” with Robert Duvall and Thomas Haden Church, the recent made-for-TV western on AMC. The landscape, honorable men, courage in the face of violence . . . the four-hour movie had everything I love about the western genre, but mostly I enjoyed the relationship between Tom Hart and Sun Foy aka No. 3.
They fell in love without speaking the same language. How is that possible? We put so much emphasis on communication these days. I’m one of those people. I believe in men and women talking through their problems, but that movie made me think. Tom and No. 3 communicated without words. They spoke with their actions.
When the villain kidnaps one of the Chinese girls and rapes her, Tom administers some well earned justice. Sun Foy sees his effort and knows his heart. When he finds a rip in his shirt, she takes the garment while he’s asleep and mends it with a patch from her own clothing. He sees the delicate stitching and knows she's perceptive and kind. It’s one of my favorite scenes. All action, no talk.
The best, though, is the very end. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who might rent the movie, but I gasped out loud when the stage pulled away. Watch Tom's eyes . . . Without a word or a touch, that look said everything. Now that’s romance!
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Hi, my name is Sharon and I'm a History Channel Junkie.
I freely admit that this compulsion is less compelling than my book addiction (can you ever have too many books? :-)), but it's becoming noticeable. The History Channel--as well as History International, the Science Channel, Discovery Times, A&E, National Geographic, and more--have become my TV of choice. Whenever I'm doing something that keeps my hands, and maybe part of my mind, busy, I've developed the habit of tuning in to one of these channels.
It's my new version of multitasking; I can't knit and read a book at the same time, but I can--and have--managed to improve my knowledge of ancient times, history, military strategy, and plenty of other interesting things while working on wedding and holiday gifts. I've even come up with leads for several new books, ideas I'll flesh out by doing research in more traditional ways.
Maybe I'm simply a history junkie, and this is my latest method for getting my fix. Whatever the reason, it sure beats sitcoms or so-called reality shows!
Monday, September 11, 2006
Women Who Tamed The Wild Frontier
My February '07 release THE LAWMAN'S BRIDE features a heroine on the run from a con man and the law. She fakes a background and references and chooses the least likely place imaginable to hide herself: working as a Harvey Girl in Newton, Kansas. Of course the hero is the City Marshal, so they collide in a good many fun and dangerous ways.
Much has been written about women who traversed the continent by wagon train as well as those who were mail-order brides. But there’s a less well-known, more unique, and equally important percentage of young women who blazed a trail of civilization from east to west coast. These were the Harvey Girls.
As the railroad charged across the west, little thought was given to the comfort of passengers. Food was inedible or lethal and service sloppy. Some café owners even went in cahoots with railroad crews and scammed passengers: No sooner was the food placed before the patrons who had paid half a dollar in advance, than the whistle would toot. Afraid of being left behind, passengers ran for the train and the food was “recycled” for the next trainload of unsuspecting victims.
Fred Harvey, an Englishman, worked his way up in fine eating establishments in the East before trying his hand at a partnership which failed. After brief service on a riverboat and a stint as a postal worker, he sold advertising for a newspaper and invested in cattle ranching, finally deciding while working as a freight agent that there was a crucial need for improved food and service along the rails.
Harvey negotiated with Santa Fe Railroad and built his first dining operation in a wooden depot in Topeka. The premises were spotlessly clean. Premium prices were paid for top-quality supplies and ingredients, and table settings included Irish linens and English silver. Harvey’s standards brought instant and overwhelming success.
At his second establishment, a restaurant-hotel at Florence Kansas, he hired a chef away from Chicago’s Palmer House Hotel and paid him a $5,000 salary, more than the local bankers earned. The little town of Florence became famous for its Harvey House meals.
Uniforms, fingernails, place settings, food lockers, and all facilities came under stringent regulations. Harvey, perfecting the Sudden Unannounced Visit as a means of quality control, would suddenly appear and conduct a white-glove inspection, tossing an offending manager out onto the platform at the least infraction.
New Harvey Houses opened up at the division/meal-stop points, and by 1883, Harvey was operating seventeen establishments along the old Santa Fe Trail. The restaurants made a profit despite their devotion to quality food, generous portions, and elegant furnishings. The only drawbacks to their success were the staffs of unreliable male employees who either showed up for work hung over or were injured in brawls.
In 1883 Harvey implemented a policy that would be his greatest impact on the American West. Advertisements appeared in several eastern and Midwestern papers:
WANTED: Young women, 18 to 30 years of age, of good character, attractive and intelligent.
Harvey hired waitresses the same way he’d set about locating the finest food, furniture, chefs and managers. Women were screened with the same perfectionist methods. Upon signing a contract (twelve months in the early days), she usually had twenty-four hours to tell her family good-bye and begin rigorous training in Newton, Kansas.
Between 1883 and the 1950’s, tens of thousands of women applied and learned “the Harvey way”. The first women answering the ads had many motivations for doing so, financial reasons most prevalent: Starting out, they were paid $17.50 per month, plus tips, room and board, and unsurpassed meals.
Though black and white uniforms, black shoes and stockings, hairnets, and no make-up were intended to diminish their appearance, the Harvey girls were the best “dishes” the dining halls served up for the frontier men. The girls were friendly faces in an often lonely land.
Most dormitories had a courting parlor where gentlemen could call, plus a sewing room. The girls were among the best paid and best dressed females in their towns. Many, being farmers’ daughters, sent earnings home to their families.
The women worked their way up from the lunch counter to the dining hall and earned promotions or transfers to other houses along the Santa Fe. They worked six- and seven-day weeks, often twelve hours a day in split shifts around meal trains. When not serving, they cleaned and polished and kept their station ready for the next train.
When they did have free time, they rode the rails free, visiting family, or played softball. Some Harvey Houses had their own teams which traveled up and down the line competing in other towns.
A Harvey House was a social and business gathering place. Many real and imagined romances were spawned in the elegant setting. Countless contracts were broken and pay forfeited when Harvey Girls met and married railroad men, cattle ranchers, and businessmen. The impact of these “good, attractive, and intelligent” women on the towns they poured into shouldn’t be underestimated.
As approximately 5,000 of them married and raised families, eastern culture and civic improvement spread throughout Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, California, and eventually the rest of the states. These were the women in the forefront of the law and order movements, improving safety and quality of life. Their voices were the ones heard in civic activities, church choirs, and community stage productions.
The Harvey Girls who married and settled in the West tended to marry men of high standing and to be the most capable women in the community. It’s been claimed that thousands of boys born to these couples bore the names Fred or Harvey or both.
Moreso than dining experiences and service standards, Harvey’s most profound contribution to the civilization of the American West was the advent of the Harvey Girl. They worked hard, but with dignity and a sense of purpose. They were professionals worthy of respect and admiration.
Many Harvey Houses survived the great depression o the 30’s, and as part of the war effort, Harvey Girls served thousands of troops during WW II. The disappearance of Harvey Girls is historically linked to the extremes of war and to progress in the form of automobiles and airplanes, an appropriate and worthy end to the legendary women who settled the West.
Will Rogers, western philosopher and humorist, recognized the contribution of the Harvey Girls with this: “In the early days the traveler fed on the buffalo. For doing so, the buffalo got his picture on the nickel. Well, Fred Harvey should have his picture on one side of the dime, and one of his waitresses with her arms full of delicious ham and eggs on the other side, ‘cause they have kept the West supplied with food and wives.”
THE HARVEY GIRLS, Women Who Opened The West, Lesley Poling-Kempes
THE HARVEY GIRLS, The Women Who Civilized The West, Juddi Morris
THE HARVEY HOUSE COOKBOOK, Memories of Dining Along The Santa Fe Railroad,
George H. Foster and Peter C. Weiglin
THE RAILROADERS, Time-Life Old West Series
STEEL TRAILS TO SANTA FE, L.L. Waters, University of Kansas Press
Friday, September 08, 2006
Some people even said that there was no demand for such a time period. One of the reasons cited was the preponderance of arranged marriages. This was a total red herring in my opinion as for most of civilization, arranged marriages were the norm.
But at the time, I had revisions to do for a marriage of convenience story that was aimed at Tender. In the end, the mss was not strong enough (a view that I now utterly and wholeheartly agree with) and M&B passed. That particular manuscript was eventually cut from 55k to 30k and sold to My Weekly Story Collection as a novella and then to Lindford Romance as The Marriage Inheritance. It was, however, my first complete manuscript.
One thing I did acquire from the experience was an editor -- Helen French -- who thought I had promise and was willing to work with me. I happened to mention to Helen that what I was really interested in doing was writing historicals, and maybe set in Rome. Was I correct in thinking they wanted to see such a thing? The answer came back a resounding YES. So I started researching. I also knew that I had to put in a manuscript or partial for the RNA New Writer's Scheme.
I duly put in a partial of a Roman set one. The response was immediate from the NWS -- my writing was good but M&B are not interested in publishing such things and if they did, they would use an established writer.End of story, aim it at somewhere else, had I thought of crime? Anyway, I asked Helen who exploded and said basically who did these people think they were -- Historicals was very interested in going into new time periods and she thought I would be good at Rome.
I explained that the report had also said that she thought the partial had too much suspense, so I was going to write that one as a crime novel but I would like to write one about gladiators. Would they be interested as we were talking professional sports heroes here? Helen went and asked at a meeting and the answer came back -- a resounding yes from the both sides of the Atlantic. Once again well meaning friends and fellow writers said -- be cautious, don't get your hopes up.
Anyway, I did my research (including visiting Rome) and submitted the partial in March 2004 and Helen was busy and I didn't hear much. At this point, I thought -- maybe everyone was right. Then Kate Walker who is a truly marvelous person was sitting next to Linda Fildew, the senior editor of Historicals at lunch and decided to ask once and for all -- were they interested in Rome? Answer:YES and please tell your friend to send it. I contacted Helen again who apologized and requested the full -- like most editors she was snowed under.
I then submitted the full and one of the last acts Helen did as an editor at M&B was to hand carry the manuscript over to Linda. (Helen's husband had another job and she moved) This was in June 2004. And an agent I was trying to interest in my work said -- nice but HM&B will never buy such a thing. Several other agents said the same thing. One said to me -- my gut instinct is that this is a no-goer. There is no market for it. Sorry to be the bearer of bad tidings. All the while, I kept clinging on to the fact that Helen had hand-carried it and it was sitting on Linda's desk. Surely it had to be good enough for revisions.
Fast forward to May 2005, after following up to reassure myself that the manuscript was still in house, I finally received an email from Linda saying that she had read it and could I do a few revisions. Linda has a very good eye, and I learnt a tremendous amount from her letter. I did the revisions and sent them in and then felt like I was on a roller coaster. Had I actually done them correctly?
Now, I had done my research and it seemed to me that The Call came on a Thursday. Three Thursday came and went. Nothing. Late on Friday 10 June 2005, the phone rang. It was Linda Fildew. Did I have time to talk? Yes, I gasped, thinking I must be very close but this won't be The Call because that ALWAYS happens on a Thursday. Her next words were basically that they had read and loved Gladiator's Honour and wanted to buy it. I believe I started crying and we chatted for awhile. Linda is lovely to chat with. I did ask her about the Thursday thing and she said that she ALWAYS called on a Friday to ensure the writer had a wonderful weekend which I duly did.
As you can see from this story, there is a reason why Gladiator's Honour is dedicated to Helen French.
Since Gladiator's Honour, HM&B Historicals have bought three other Roman manuscripts from me (the next one comes out in paperback in January for M&B) as well as purchasing at least two other writers' stories. They wanted to publish the time period but no one was writing the stories.
And I am here to say -- go to the source, believe the editors and the guidelines. If you have a strong enough story, a good story well told, that fits the guidelines the editors will be interested. Agents and others writers may know a lot, but they are not the editors. Trust the editors to know their own minds.
If you believe and follow your dream, sometimes it happens.
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
This summer, one of my dreams came true. I took my first research trip as an author and visited a gorgeous destination. My family joined me. Since I’ll be setting my next few historical novels during the Klondike Gold Rush, I wanted to see the area—Yukon Territory in Canada, and Alaska in the USA. Here are the top 3 things that surprised me.
1) The smell of the air. It’s what I’ll remember most. It was incredible! Every step brought a new scent: mountain flowers, clear glacier water, pine trees, cold rivers. On the first day we arrived in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, it was raining and the sun was shining at the same time. There were 3 rainbows!
2) The high price of food. Most food is imported, as I had imagined, but I was still surprised at paying $8.00 for a bag of small oranges. Wild salmon from the Yukon River tasted heavenly, but costs almost as much there as it does here. Worth every penny.
3) Around-the-clock daylight feels strange. We were so far north that in the summer, the sun never sets. There were two or three hours in the middle of the night where the sky was a deep twilight blue, but otherwise, the sun was bright enough to get a sunburn at ten in the evening. It was hard to fall asleep. Very exciting, though!
The two photos of the Yukon River valley were taken just outside the city of Whitehorse, at Miles Canyon. The photo of the sign was taken on top of the world, on the mountainous border between Yukon Territory and Alaska. What an incredible view. These are the mountains the stampeders crossed on foot to get to the gold in Dawson City, Canada. For more info and pics, please visit my website. http://www.katebridges.com
Sunday, September 03, 2006
Long live rebels! That’s what I love most about the Reverend John Leaf, the hero in ABBIE’S OUTLAW, a September 2006 Mills & Boon release. The man is a rebel to the core. He breaks the rules. He’s smokes and fights. And he’s not afraid to talk about sex. He’s not afraid of anything . . . except passing his bad blood on to his illegitimate daughter.
I’m a sucker for men like John Leaf. They break the rules for the right reasons. They stand for what’s right no matter the cost. They’re men of principle who are willing to fight and die for the people they love. That, to me, is true heroism.
Some might say that such sacrifice isn’t relevant in today’s world. No one’s rustling cattle or robbing stagecoaches, but I’d argue that the sacrifices men make today are the same as in the Old West. Our husbands and fathers still go to war, fight fires and build buildings. Just as profound is the sacrifice of men who go everyday to jobs that make them grit their teeth. They do it for us, ladies. For their wives and children. For that sacrifice, they deserve to be called heroes.
Who are the heroes in your life? My husband gets top billing in mine. My dad’s right behind him, and my two sons make me proud. Way to go, guys! I love you all!
Could the drifter find a home in her heart?
John Leaf was a reformed character. His past still had the power to shame him, but he’d long left it behind. Or so he thought, until the letter arrived. Now he had a daughter he’d never met, by the woman he’d loved – and abandoned.
Hell would freeze before Abbie Windsor married again. Even if he’d changed, even if she still loved him, even if her daughter needed her father, there was no way Abbie would give in. But, Lord, she was sorely tempted…
New Mexico, 1887
Buy the book
Was she as respectable as she seemed?
Powerful warlord Fabian Cornelius Peregrinus must quell the rebellious hill tribes at this northern outpost of the Roman empire. From the precision of their raids on Hadrian’s Wall, he knows someone has inside information.
Living as a refined, local citizen of Rome, Dania Rhiannon has kept her true origins hidden. While soldiers swarm the streets by day, wealthy officers are drawn to her House of Women by night. Not once tempted before now to share in the intimate talk and pleasures, Dania’s shocked to realise that one masterful warrior could all too easily seduce her into his arms. But is Fabian truly attracted – or does he suspect what lies beneath her mantle of respectability? AD 208
Buy the book
Her past was a dark country
And Iantha Kethley was trapped at its borders, never quite able to escape the one defining moment of her life. Until the day she held Lord Duncan at gunpoint, and he offered her a future she’d never dared imagine!
He recognised the effort it took for Iantha to maintain her icy control. Himself a prey to past grief, he was sure he could help her – if she would only let him close enough to try.
Yet even while she began to heal, danger pursued Iantha...
Buy the book
Betrayed by marriage
Miss Marina Winslow assumed she would never marry. Then Justin Ransome, Earl of Mortenhoe, proposed a sensible, practical, passionless match. Marina knew it was madness to accept his bargain when she had tumbled head over heels in love with him, but his honesty touched her. Perhaps she could risk her heart…
Buy the book
Saturday, September 02, 2006
September marks the start of a new era for Harlequin Historical. It is the first time (since possibly the Dark Ages), they have published romances set in the Roman era. These are tales of sandals, swords and sex.
The first book to be published is The Gladiator's Honor by Michelle Styles, recent winner of Cataromance's Reviewers'Choice award for Best Mills and Boon Historical and is set in Rome in 65 BC. This month also sees the publication of Mills and Boon second Roman romance -- The Warlord's Mistress by Juliet Langton. This is set on Hadrian's Wall during the Roman occupation.
Harlequin Mills and Boon is committed to showcasing this exciting era. Debut author Lyn Randal's Warrior or Wife about a female gladarix during the reign of the Emperor Trajan. It will be published in Feb 07 and the editors are very excited about it.
Three more of Michelle Styles' books are in production: A Noble Captive (Mills and Boon Historicals Jan 07), Sold and Seduced (Mills and Boon Historicals Apr 07) and The Roman's Virgin Mistress (Mills and Boon Historicals July 07). The Harlequin Historical release dates are yet to be determined. All three take place during the 60s BC when Julius Caesar was a young man, and Roman society faced many changes and challenges.
Louise Allen is currently writing a book about the fall of Rome and Visigoths.
So why now? Was Harlequin influenced by the success of HBO Rome? The answer is no. Linda Fildew, the senior editor had long wanted to publish ancient civilization books, but no one had produced a book set in Rome that fulfilled Harlequin's promise of passionate romance in a vivid historical setting to its reader until Michelle Styles sumitted her manuscript in March 2004. When Gladiator's Honour was finally purchased in June 2005, neither Michelle nor Linda were aware of the production. But once the series was shown on the BBC last autumn, the entire historical editorial team and Michelle became fans!
Roman society was the first consumer society and the first republic to become a world super power. Romans enjoyed a higher standard of living than any other society until the mid-nineteenth century. They had indoor plumbing, good roads and mass produced goods. There was a high degree of literacy, and women were educated. However, they also had slavery and life was cheap. It was a world where the son of slave could be a senator and a senator, a slave.
While Romans were practical and pragmatic people and the vast majority of marriages were for polictical or business reasons, it should not be supposed that they were strangers to love. Human emotions have not changed through out the ages.
Some readers have mentioned the modern language. As in theory, these book are translated from Latin, the authors like other modern novelists writing about the period (Lindsey Davis, the best selling Roman mystery writer for example) have chosen to show slang in a modern context. Most Roman slang is difficult to translate or might cause a long and awkward explanation, and the meaning might be lost or more importantly the flow of the story. Thus, in order to give the flavor of the period, modern language has sometimes been used.
The authors and the editors of Harlequin Mills and Boon are tremendously excited to be adding a new era to the stable. It is an era of passion, high adventure and breath taking romance. An era of sandals, swords and sex and one we hope you love.
Friday, September 01, 2006
To her spiteful aunt, Kathryn Marchant is little more than a servant: she does not deserve a place in polite society. That's about to change, when Kathryn accidentally falls into the arms of the most notorious rake of them all.
Lord Ravensmede draws the line at seducing virgins. Yet once he has tasted the lips of the delectable Miss Marchant, he wants her! He has the distinct impression that she's in need of a protector, but, no matter how much he strives to be honorable, her temptation may prove just too sweet to resist!
Buy Mistaken Mistress
Shane Graham had always looked out for his neighbor, Dorie, but lately he'd had his own share of problems, including an arranged marriage. But then little Miss Dorie—shotgun in hand—kidnapped him from his own wedding ceremony and he found he could no longer ignore her change from scrappy girl to blossoming beauty….
The resourceful yet naive Dorie McCabe knew the struggling rancher would come to the same realization—they were meant for each other! But time was not on her side, so who could blame her for giving him a gentle nudge in the right direction?
Buy Abducted at the Altar
A hardened survivor of more than a dozen gladiatorial combats, Valens's raw masculinity fuels many women's sexual fantasies. He is outside polite society, and Roman noblewoman Julia Antonia knows she should have nothing to do with a man who is little more than a slave.
But with a wisp of scandal clinging to her stola, Julia is drawn inexorably toward the forbidden danger he represents. For Valens, Julia is a tantalizing reminder of the life he'd been torn from. To claim her, he must fight one final time—and win!
Buy The Gladiator's Honor
The Impostor Prince by Tanya Anne Crosby
A deception of royal proportions had thrust Ian MacEwen into the very center of the ton's marriage mart, forcing him to choose a bride who would be queen. He'd wanted only to uncover answers denied him all his life. Instead he found Claire Wentworth, a fearless woman with grass-green eyes who needed his protection—and his love—whether she admitted it or not!
Claire Wentworth needed a champion, but what she got was a regal mystery. The man all London hailed as "Prince" instead struck her as a rogue adventurer—who could rouse her slumbering heart to wide-awake desire!
The Impostor Prince
An officer in the East India Trading Company, Matthew Beresford has made a life a world away from England and his father's malevolence.
Now it's time for Matthew to return home.
There he finds Miss Imogen Priestley, who's worked tirelessly to save the Thornfield estate from ruin. Cold and aloof, Matthew gradually thaws as he begins to imagine a new life—with Imogen. But he's torn—the blistering heat of India will wilt his English rose, unless he can vanquish his demons and find his home at last with her….
Buy The Officer and the Lady
Jane had broken her engagement to Harry Hemingford and sent him packing after his scandalous behavior. So why was he back now, just when Mr. Allworthy had proposed? Her suitor was undoubtedly a good match, but had she ever really fallen out of love with Harry?
Was safety really more important than the joyous happiness she found in Harry's arms? Perhaps Society's opinion should just go hang!
The Hemingford Scandal