Sunday, December 16, 2012

A Wallflower Christmas

Yes, its that wonderful time of year when everything is set in place to fall in love. Family gatherings with new people to meet, check. Fancy clothes and parties, check,  exasperating relatives who let you know you've never quite lived up to their expectations, check.

Oh, and don't forget the mistletoe!  That's the magical little plant that inspires romance simply by being hung in the doorway.

My favorite Christmas story of a historical flavor is, if you haven't guessed by the title of the post: A Wallflower Christmas by Lisa Kleypas.

The prologue of the story reads like the opening of Charlie's Angels:
"Once, there were four young ladies who sat at the side of every ball, soiree, and party during the London season. Waiting night after night in a row of chairs, the wallflowers eventually struck up a conversation. They realized that although they were in competition for the same group of gentlemen, there was more to be gained from being friends rather than adversaries. And even more than that, they liked each other. They decided to ban together to find husbands . . . "
           Excerpt from A Wallflowers Christmas by Lisa Kleypas

Okay, so if you aren't intrigued by the intro, and the subsequent list of the four friends and their attempts to find husbands together, then you don't love witty and engaging historical romance.  Not much.

This lovely gem is the fifth and crowning jewel in The Wallflowers series by Lisa Kleypas. Each of the four young women mentioned in the prologue has found a husband through the help of her new friends, and now the four of them are trying to help another wallflower emerge from the shadows at Christmastime to find her true love.

The four women are all fabulous in their own right, and each one is featured in her own book.

There is Annabelle, a poor but beautiful woman who is being forced to marry someone against her will to save her family. Her story is told in the first book of the series: Secrets of a Summer Night. She meets Simon in the book, a very witty and handsome fellow who is more than happy to help her out of her dilemma. I laughed so much when reading this, as Simon's witty quips are half the fun.

And then we have Lillian, the tall, outrageous and outspoken American from New York, who was brought to England to find a husband by her wealthy parents because she is so well . . . outspoken and wild, that no one in polite society in NYC will have her. Lillian is my favorite wallflower. She's full of pluck and sass, just the delightful creature to challenge the stiff as starches Lord Westcliffe. Their love story is in It Happened One Autumn. This book kept me entertained as Lillian's off the wall antics and her continual miss step's in proper English society get her in trouble again and again. In this one, we have four women out in a ball field, in their knickers, playing knickball with the stable hands. Prim and proper Lord Westcliffe happens upon them and flummoxes Lillian, adding to the fun.

Next in the lineup is the beautiful redhead who is shy and stutters, Evie. She has a speech impediment, mostly due to shyness and a little social anxiety disorder, and even though she's wealthy, her father's money came from owning a very scandalous gambling club. Enter the notorious rake, Sebastian, and you have a recipe for love and seduction, and not necessarily in that order. Sebastian is the man you wish you knew, a sort of Mark Sloan (for Grey's Anatomy Fans) of the 19th century, a man whore. Their story is told in The Devil in Winter. Sebastian is so bad that its said that just being alone with him in the same room would ruin a girl's reputation. Ah, but he's so charming. . . . you honestly can't resist falling in love with him.

 Last of the for wallflowers is Daisy Bowman. She's Lillian's younger sister. Daisy is the opposite of the bold outspoken Lillian. Daisy is quiet, bookish, prone to fantasy and daydreaming, sort of ethereal. Her match is Matthew Swift, an American man who works for her father. Matthew is not the knight in shining armor she dreams about, but he's in love with her. Their tale is told Secrets of a Summer Night. This story, as in It Happened One Autumn and A WallFlowers Christmas, takes place at Lord Westcliffe's manor house, Stony Cross Park.

Now then, getting back to the De-lish Christmas story that is sure to dazzle you this Christmas season. A Wallflowers Christmas:

The heroine,  Miss Hannah Appleton, is a lady's companion in the employ of her cousin, the lovely society darling, Natalie Blandford.  Hannah is a poor relation and must stand in the shadows as Natalie's chaperone at balls and wait on her more glamorous single cousin at home. Hannah is summoned to Lady Lillian Westcliffe's rooms for tea, where she meets the hero of the story, Lillian's brother from America. Lady Lillian has summoned the paid companion of Miss Blandford there to find out how her brother, Rafe, might win the hand of her charge. Rafe Bowman is a rake, a wall street 'pirate', if you will. He's made his fortune pushing speculative stocks to ill advised patrons and making money off them. Thus, his personality is one of being unconventional and quite capable of scandal and wild behavior.

Rafe Bowman has grown up with a heavy burden on his shoulders as the oldest and the heir to his father's soap manufacturing company. He was beaten often, and treated with cold disdain and disapproval by his father all his life. He's learned to go his own way and be independent, to train himself not to care about others as a sort of protection. In adherence to his father's wishes he agrees to come to England and meet the woman his father has chosen for him to marry--not Hannah, of course--but Hannah's cousin, Natalie.  He's prepared to commit to a loveless marriage with a boring society woman who will make his life conventional. But then he meets Hannah. He finds he doesn't want to marry the society darling everyone is pushing at him, no, he wants her paid companion!

The story takes place at Rafe's sister's country mansion. It's Christmas, so the four former wallflowers are together again (it's fun to see each of them in their married lives), and they are plotting again, plotting to get Rafe and Hannah together. Rafe is quite a charmer, and he's very impudent and saucy at the same time, a little like Greg House with his caustic and deadpan wit in pointing out others faults, but not quite as vicious as House. It's a fun romp with plenty of the things we love about Christmas, the parties, the annoying family members, the mistletoe kisses, and the unlikely couple falling in love during the magic season. You'll not be disappointed with this offering by Kleypas.

Here's a delightful excerpt, an exchange between the hero Rafe and the heroine, Hannah. It is their first meeting: 

Hannah: "Lady Natalie is a delight. Her disposition is amiable and affectionate, and she has every grace of character one could wish for. A more intelligent and charming girl could not be found."

Rafe: "A paragon. Unfortunately, I've heard other young women advertised in equally rapturous terms. But when you meet them, there is always a flaw." 

Hannah: "Some people will insist on finding flaws in others even when there are none."

Rafe: "Everyone has flaws, Miss Appleton." 

Hannah thought he was too provoking to be endured. She met his keen dark gaze and asked, "What are your flaws, Mr. Bowman?" 

Rafe:  "Oh, I'm a scoundrel, I take advantage of others. I care nothing for propriety, and I have an unfortunate habit of saying exactly what I think. What are yours?" He smiled, "Or are you by chance as perfect as Lady Natalie?" 

Hannah was struck speechless by his boldness. No man had ever spoken to her in such a manner. 

Lillian (Rafe's sister); "Rafe, I'm sure our guest doesn't wish to be subject to an inquisition before we've even brought out the scones." 
Copyright Lisa Kleypas,  A Wallflower's Christmas.

As an avid historical romance reader, I cannot say enough about Kleypas historical romances. She's my go to girl for a good read with fun, witty, and unconventional characters. She has two series on my desert island keeper shelf, The Wallflowers, and a spin off featuring the gypsy Cam Rohan we met in the Wallflowers series as the hero in the first book of The Hathaways Series.

Together, that's ten, count them, ten wonderful books to keep you entertained throughout the winter.

And since it's Christmas, I'm feeling very, very generous. I'd like to gift one lucky person who reads this blog and leaves a comment with a complimentary e-book copy of A Wallflowers Christmas. Just leave me a comment here (with your email address so I can contact you if you win) telling me what your favorite historical romance Christmas story is, if you have one. If not, then share a special Christmas memory of romance with me. Last day to leave a comment is December 24th, Christmas Eve!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Get Caught Under the Mistletoe

Close up of my Historical Christmas Short Story Cover

Hey, it's Christmas time.
My most absolute favorite types of stories to read are Christmas themed  Romances. I start Thanksgiving weekend and go straight on through to New Years, reading perennial favorites and picking up new books each year to add to my collection.  I absolutely love the old Regency Christmas stories, with the manor house, the snow, the Christmas ball, the sleigh rides and that special scene where the hero and heroine inevitably end up kissing under the mistletoe.

The most romantic element of the Christmas season is the mistletoe kissing. We've forgotten all about that magical little plant that used to be hung in doorways in an earlier era, an excuse for stealing a kiss.
But Christmas Romance is special even in this era. While I prefer historical romance most of the year, during this time I widen my horizons by reading contemporary romances as well. So, for the coming weeks I'm going to be sharing some of my all time favorites with you. 

This time, I'd like to feature an author who has delivered for me every time, and I can say that because I have read many of her books in the past few years. So if you are looking for a great contemporary Christmas series romance, my top pick is the series called Mistletoe Rules, by Stacey Joy Netzel. I have had this series for a few years in print form. Isn't this cover lovely? I will treasure it for years to come.

2009 Print Copy Cover

I'm happy to say that Ms. Netzel recently published the series in ebook form as short stories you can buy individually. They are listed as part of her new Romancing Wisconsin imprint as holiday stories. You won't want to miss this series as they bring the magic of the Christmas season to life in contemporary times. Each story is a stand alone, but they tie in together as each story is about one of three Riley siblings. And you can't miss meeting Santa Butch! He appears in all three stories, starting in the summer as he appears in Hawaiian Santa mode. With each couple, he has gives a little help when things go awry.

And with Ms. Netzel's generosity, there is no reason to miss this series as she's giving away the first story free!  I love finding authors with heart, and authors who really want to treat readers and give them a satisfying romantic read. Ms. Netzel does both. I think she might be related to Santa, or at least Santa Butch.  ;)

Mistletoe Rules:  Christmas recipe for love—combine a matchmaking Santa, lots of mistletoe, one iron-clad rule, fated hearts; mix and stir. The Riley siblings don't stand a chance.

 Mistletoe Mischief, the first story in the series, is Free on Amazon.

Christmas in July at the zoo is the last place single parents Eric Riley and Marissa Wilder expect to find love. Thanks to some mistletoe mischief in the form of their two young daughters and Santa, they discover mistletoe rules were not made to be broken.
Mistletoe Mischief on Amazon

MISTLETOE MAGIC is book two in the series
This  one was my favorite, as it featured a woman running an animal refuge!
Major Mark Riley plays Court Jester to Janelle Walsh's Snow Queen at the Christmas Parade and is instantly captivated by the cute redhead whose grandpa just happens to be Santa. When Mark learns she's the tenant he evicted from his newly purchased property, it's going to take a little bit of Santa's mistletoe magic to save their romance.
 Mistletoe Magic on Amazon

 Mistletoe Match-up is the third book of the series

When Lisa Riley comes home for her brother Mark's Christmas Eve wedding, her high school rivalry with his wife Janelle's cousin, Derek Walsh, picks up right where it left off, only this time Derek has the upper hand. Santa bides his time as they battle it out because he's waited a whole year for this mistletoe match-up.

Mistletoe Match-up on Amazon

So, go ahead, treat yourself to a wonderful short Christmas anthology that's sure to become on of your annual favorites.

If you want to buy the new boxed set, check the link here. Romancing Wisconsin Holiday Pack
 Stacey has added a fourth short in the boxed set, so it's an awesome deal, even if you are not on Santa's  "NICE" list!

Stop in later this week when I'll be sharing my favorite historical romance Christmas stories.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Next Big Thing with Lily Silver

 I want to thank Stacey Joy Netzel for tagging me to do a post on The Next Big Thing blog hop. Stacey is a prolific romance writer. I have several of her books on my desert island keeper shelf. If you are looking for a wonderful Christmas treat, check out her Mistletoe Rules short stories. They are my favorites and they are a perennial bloom. They never fail to please each Christmas season. 

The Next Big Thing originated on the She Writes site, as far as we could work out, and is designed to raise awareness of our work, or work in progress. We do that by answering ten questions about it. We graciously thank the person who nominated us, and tag five other authors whose work could well be that NEXT BIG THING.
 Stacey Joy Netzel's Awesome Post  went live last week. She shared with us a little bit about her next book, Run to Rome, a sequel to Lost in Italy. I'm waiting for Ben and Evalina's story as I met them in Lost in Italy last spring. Their encounter was so sexy, with Ben in handcuffs and Eva teasing him with passionate kisses, you just wanted these two to have their own romance! 

What is the title of your next book?

Bright Scoundrel

Where did the idea come from for the book?

This book is the sequel to Dark Hero, the first book in of the Reluctant Heroes Series.  I spent a lot of time with Kieran O'Flaherty as a support character to the heroine in  Dark Hero and so I wanted to feature him in the next book. I also spent a lot of time developing the backstory for Elizabeth O'Flaherty and her older brother, Kieran, and so there seemed to be a need to return to Ireland to complete the story of the O'Flahertys.
What genre does your book fall under?

Historical Romance, but I tend to cross genres in my work, so this would be Historical Romance with strong paranormal elements. 

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Jared Padalecki from Supernatural would make a great Kieran O'Flaherty. He's tall, good looking, has a winning smile, and if you watch Supernatural at all, you know damn well he could play an Irish sorcerer with panache.

 Chyler Leigh would make a perfect Rose De Lacy. She even looks like the model on the cover of Bright Scoundrel. (See upper left hand corner)

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Charming womanizing scoundrel with magical abilities returns to his ancestral home, meets the woman of his dreams but finds her all prickles and spines, a true challenge after his easy sexual conquests in London Society. 

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
It will be self-published, just like the rest of the series. Dark Hero is the first of the series, Bright Scoundrel is the second book, and Gallant Rogue is the third book in the Reluctant Heroes Series. 

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

About 5 months. It took time to research the changes in Ireland from 1798, which is when the rebellion happened in Some Enchanted Waltz, (my second book) to 1802, which is when Kieran returns to Ireland after a twenty year absence.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I can't think of any books to compare it to. As for movies, however, I would consider it to be a mix of The Quiet Man and The Sorcerer's Apprentice. 
(that awesome movie from 2012 with Nicholas Cage!)
Kieran O'Flaherty, a Druid with supernatural powers, goes back to his ancestral home in Ireland seeking a quiet life, encounters obstacles and uses magic and his natural charm to overcome them and begin a new life. 


 Who or What inspired you to write this book?

The character, Kieran O'Flaherty, did. I enjoyed his character so much in the first book of the series, I simply had to write his story. I had to have him come full circle from being an heir, sold as an indenture, trained as a ghost buster, and then going back to his family home in Ireland to take his place again as the rightful heir. It wouldn't have worked to just ignore him and the potential for his story. 

                                      What else about your book might pique the reader interest?

 The female lead, Rose De Lacy, is a feminist. Yes, a feminist in 1802!  They did exist. She is a follower of the teachings of Mary Wollstonecreaft, an early advocate of women's rights who wrote A Vindication of the Rights of Woman back in 1792. Rose De Lacy is an artist and is the estate manager for Roisin Dubh Castle, Kieran's ancestral home, although she was hired through letters and is known to Kieran and his grandfather only as the Honorable R. De Lacy. She's a little concerned when the absentee landlord suddenly decides to visit his rural Irish estate. 

For a sneak peek, visit the Pages Tab at the upper right of the blog and click Excerpt of Bright Scoundrel

Now it's time to pass the torch to more deserving authors so they can tell you about their amazing work. Their posts (which will have the same title: The Next Big Thing Blog Hop) will be live on or around December 5th. Here they are:

Christina Tretreault

Janice Lane Palko

Andrea Kuhn Boeshaar 


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Is There Such a Thing as Too Many Books?

Somebody help me, please!

 Hi, I'm Lily Silver, author and historian. Thanks for joining The Beach Book Blast Thankful for Great Books Event!  Our Grand Prize for this event is a Olive Garden Gift Card. Whoo Hoo, I love Olive Garden. Enter to win the Olive Garden gift card on the main BBB site and maybe you'll be going out to eat a romantic dinner on us! Also, leave a comment for me here with your email and be entered to win a $15 iTunes Gift Card on me! 

I'm an avid reader. My favorite pastime as a teen was being cloistered in my room reading a great book. Even better when summer came, as I'd spread a blanket on the grass under a shady tree in our back yard and read away the afternoon.  Bookish, yes, that was me as a teen.

Not much has changed over the decades. I still always have a nose in a good book. The trouble is, these days I find there are just too many good books to read and never enough time. I work at a library. It's heaven, and it's hell. Heaven because I literally have books come to me daily as I work the circulation desk. It's like a kid in a candy story. I check the books in as patrons return them, admire the lovely covers, read the blurbs, and inevitably end up taking many of them home. More of them than I can possibly read. The hell part comes into play when I have to return some of them because they are due, (being a conscientious library employee) without even being able to read them. When it comes to books, I don't have a lot of self restraint. And that's not a bad thing. Nobody died yet from reading too many books.

My first truly memorable read, aside from the ones we all read in school was Interview with the Vampire, by Anne Rice. It was a new book, back in the '70's. I was a teen and nobody had heard of Anne Rice. I loved Louis, the tortured, angst ridden vampire. I loved the setting of New Orleans in the 18 and 19th centuries depicted in the novel. I loved the time travel feeling as Louis told us about his life back then. Those elements stuck with me. As a writer today, I like historical fiction, mainly romance. I love time travel romance, and I love fantasy (the vampire element of Interview).

As a young adult, I went on to discover Kathleen E Woodiwiss, and her wonderful historical romance stories. My first by her was A Rose in Winter, a historical romance set in 18th century England, with a masked, scarred Lord, and a very poor woman who agrees to marry this dark and scary man in exchange for her stepfather's debts being paid. It was a lot like Beauty and the Beast. I read this book several times, and still have a copy. I've read all of Ms. Woodiwiss' books, but have always considered A Rose in Winter to be her best.

So, as a power reader, I feel I owe tribute to these two women, Anne Rice and Kathleen E. Woodiwiss, for shaping my reading tastes and for influencing my writing career. Anne Rice gave me an imaginative peek into the supernatural and let me see the historical world changing through the centuries through her vampire character's lives. Kathleen E. Woodiwiss gave me wonderful romantic fantasies set in exotic locals of the past that were rich with detail and packed a strong emotional wallop. I'm eternally grateful to these two grand ladies, for opening up new worlds to me as a reader and giving me something to aspire to as a writer.

As for my own stories, I do like to imbue a strong element of fantasy within them. The romance genre is all about fantasy. I have heroines who are seers, fairies or as in my most recent release, a celebrity. And my heroes are always a little larger than life. Yeah, that's a fantasy for most of us, isn't it? Being wealthy and famous. But what if . . . what if you achieved success, lived in a nice posh home in Malibu and the guy next door was  . . . a Rock Star! A real rock star--the one you used to fantasize about when you were a teen? And what if  he believed you were his lover in a past life and he wanted you to marry him . . . right now, without hesitation? Would you? Or would you be a little worried about this scenario?

That's the storyline of my newest release, The Rock Star Next Door. It's every woman's fantasy from her teen years. Doesn't matter if it was Elvis you drooled over or Justin Bieber, or maybe you dreamed of country music stars instead. Doesn't matter. You get it if you're a woman. You dreamed of meeting your idol, kissing him, and maybe a little more, maybe a lot more. Well, here's your fantasy and mine . . . your favorite Rock Star chasing after little ol' you.

So now it's your turn:
What are your most memorable reads?  What writer influenced your tastes as a reader today? 
Leave a comment here with your email address and be entered to win a free $15 iTunes card on me, so you can buy more good books! I wish for you the same wonderful dilemma; so many books and so little time!

To register for the grand prize,  $25 Olive Garden gift card, use the rafflecopter gizmo on the main Beach Book Blast site. Here's the link back to the Beach Book Blast Blog

Be sure to visit our other awesome authors for more great books, great fun, and prizes.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Dragon and the Jewel

This week, we have a guest on Romancing History. Brittiany Koren is sharing with us a favorite couple from a historical romance novel.  Since this week is Thanksgiving, it's only right that we give thanks for all the things in life that we love, including great books!  Who doesn't have a certain book that is their all time favorite, one they can read again and again? I do, and I'm sure you do, too.  

Introducing Brittiany:

Brittiany Koren has been a reader of historical fiction since her early teens. In 1997, she got her first job in publishing working for legendary anthologist and book packager, Martin H. Greenberg, and later collaborated with him on several anthologies. She is married to her own real-life hero, and they have three children. She is the proud owner of Written Dreams Editorial Services, where she edits fiction of all genres and non-fiction. Brittiany’s personal goal is to help as many writers as she possibly can write the story they long to share with their readers. She lives in Green Bay, WI.

Visit her website at:

Take it away, Brittiany!

Eleanor and Simon

The Dragon and the Jewel by Virginia Henley is one of my favorite books of all time. When I first read this novel in the 1990s, I was still in high school. I’ve read it several times since then, and it still intrigues me which is amazing even to me, because as an editor, I’m pretty darn picky in what I read in my spare time.
I stumbled upon this novel the old-fashioned way, in a book store. I became so entranced with Henley’s details of the medieval period and the historical characters of Simon DeMontfort, Earl of Leicester and Princess Eleanor Plantagenet, I went on to find more non-fiction books about the real people of the story. It didn’t matter what it was, or how long it was. I was obsessed with their love story and the characters of the novel I had grown to love. And being obsessed when you’re a teenager doesn’t take much. J
               What intrigued me the most about Simon and Eleanor’s story was that they never gave up, no matter what the obstacle was. In the novel, Simon, comes to England penniless. The King’s sister, Eleanor, has been recently made a widow, and Simon falls hard for her. Simon is the ultimate medieval hero. He commands men and women alike. He’s intelligent on the battlefield, and in bed. At one point in his life, he takes over the throne. He’s a force to be reckoned with.
               Eleanor is a breathtakingly beautiful woman, and she plays Simon for what he is: a powerful man. But there’s also a softer side to Eleanor and the time period shown to the reader. She tallies books, handles the running of the keep while Simon plays soldier, and plays the perfect hostess. She’s confident, courageous, and warm. A woman every man wants to be with, and every woman wants to be. Their love story, the way it is depicted in Henley’s novel, is fierce. The details in the novel bring this time period to life in such a fascinating way, it feels as if you’re really there. Henley takes a careful hand in adding in depth to the major and minor characters, making them live and breathe.
               After I read this novel, I was hooked on Henley’s writing. I became a collector of her books. Every time Virginia wrote a new story, I had to have it. Another favorite is The Hawk and the Dove, and I named my daughter after a character in that novel, but that’s another story. J
               Every time I read another one of Henley’s novels, I was happy. Just thinking about reading one of her books now gives me a feeling of contentment, sitting on the sofa all cozy in a blanket, wrapped in the story of a great romance. Her characters gave me something to think about, inspired me to change my own life, and be the person I am today. I became a huge fan of the historical romance because of this novel, and it’s still my favorite genres to both read and edit today. Reading the The Dragon and Jewel has truly affected my life in a positive way. I encourage you to read it, and learn all about Simon and Eleanor and their adventures.

Lily's thoughts:
Thanks Brittiany, for joining us and sharing your favorite couple in historical romance. I really want to read this story now and discover a new author who has been around a long time. Virginia Henley has many books published. Here is a list of some of her historical romances available. This is not a complete list, but just the titles are so tantalizing I'm sure if you're like me you'll be wanting to check out this awesome historical romance author: 

The Raven and the Rose,
A Year and a Day
Bold Conquest 
The Hawk and the Dove
The Falcon and the Flower
The Dark Earl
Master of Paradise 

Here is a link to Amazon's Virginia Henley Page
Start here if you're looking for a great romantic read, or check out your local library.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Troubadours, the Rock Stars of the Middle Ages?

Troubadours were poets and musicians who wrote romances about knights and ladies. They wrote their stories in the form of love songs and played them as entertainment in medieval courts. They traveled from town to town. Many were hired by nobles and became part of the noble's household staff. Some were nobles themselves, although they did not 'tour' and entertain like their poorer counterparts. If you've ever heard the song Greensleeves, written in the 16th century by Henry VIII, you've been exposed to a romantic ballad set to in the trubadour tradition.

The practice started in southern France.  Eleanor of Acquitane is credited with being the impetous behind bringing the the trubadour tradition to England. The trubadours were poets and singers who wrote heart stopping lyrics about true love, mostly about the joys and sorrows of unrequited love. They made the ladies sigh, and cry. They made women long for true love. They were the balladeers of the age. Some of them remained in service to one patron, and some of them traveled about the regions of France, mostly in the southern parts, stopping at various castles to play for an evening's entertainment, much like rock stars of the modern age.

For anyone who has lost their heart to the songs of Elvis, Bryan Adams, Bon Jovi, or Justin Timberlake, you know how the power of song can affect the heart. And, if the singer is not hard on the eyes, we deem him swoon worthy by today's standards.

While an evening of musical entertainment in the Middle Ages may not have had the high energy of a Beatles concert with young women succumbing to hysteria over their arrival, the trubadours were an integral part of courtly life. Their songs contributed to the notion of true love, and to the asthetic of unrequited love.

What was courtly love?  It was an idea that love that was not consummated was the purest form of romantic love. It usually involved a great lady who was married and a knight who adored her from afar. Their love would be kept secret, as she was married, after all. They might exchange a few sweet words, or trinkets. They might write each other little love notes to be cherished forever. The whole point of this ideal love was that it was unobtainable in the real world. It was beautiful, fraught with angst and sorrow, and idealized because it was not possible for the lovers to be together.

Check out this compelling harpist playing an example of Medieval Harp Music. Imagine a man singing a lovely ballad about true love set to this mesmerizing and hypnotic music. Just press back arrow on your browser to return here.

 Medieval troubadour harp music

Singing about unrequited love in the courts raised the ideal of a true love that transcends earthly constraints like time, physical distance, and the impossibility of acting on that love to into a spiritual kind of love, a love that is the most holy, and the most pure. It's a beautiful ideal supported by the concepts of chivalry and the codes of the gentleman and the knight. Such traditions are passed down from generation to generation, giving us the modern crooners who make us tear up, make us sigh and swoon over the ideal of true love being just beyond our reach.  

In my newest romance novel, I give nod to the troubadour tradition. Even though my novel is a contemporary love story, it also has the theme of reincarnation in it. The Hero is a Rock Star. He meets Jessie. He's convinced they were lovers in a past life, and their souls are destined for a reunion. In the story, Lex was sort of a Rock Star in his past life, as he was a traveling troubadour in the middle ages. He fell in love with Jessie back then and they planned to marry, but something evil came along and it--stopped them from getting married. It destroyed their love and separated them for centuries. This time around, Lex is determined to not allow fate to interfere. If you are curious about the love story between Lex and Jessie that transcends time, you can click on the book cover at the upper left hand side of the blog for more information about The Rock Star Next Door. 

If not, just enjoy this lovely song by the famous French Troubadour Guillaume de Machaut, written in the 14th Century:
Troubadour song from YouTube

Friday, November 9, 2012

What's the Flavor of Autumn, Can you Taste It?

What do you love about Autumn? We authors are ready to share our favorite Autumn stories with you. Starting on Friday and ending on Nov 12th, over 200 Authors and Bloggers will share their favorite things about those sexy men we know and love. And while we do that, we are EACH doing a giveaway. Yep. There will be over 200 giveaways on each blog hosted by that Author or Blogger.
Yep, you can enter over 200 times!

Now what are those grand prizes?

1st Grand Prize: A Kindle Fire or Nook Tablet
2nd Grand Prize: A $50 Amazon or B&N Gift Card
3rd Grand Prize: A Swag Pack that contains 10+ paperbacks, ebooks, 50+ bookmarks, cover flats, magnets, pens, coffee cozies, and more!
Note: Everything but the Swag prize is international. Swag gift (tons of books and goodies) is only available for shipment in the U.S. due to mailing costs.

Leave a comment here and be entered to win the prizes above and a $15 Subway gift card from me as a celebration of the Fall Harvest and a digital copy of one of my Historical Romances, readers choice (Dark Hero or Some Enchanted Waltz).

My newest Release "The Rock Star Next Door" is free Sunday only on It's my gift to you. Here is the link to the Amazon Page: Link

Lily's Thoughts
The most memorable thing when I think of Autumn is the taste of the Harvest Season. Every year, my husband and I drive to Door County. We buy freshly pressed Apple Cider from the Orchard Store. We also pick up some hot and spicy cherry salsa. There's usually a couple of bottles of wine and some cheese curds tossed in the bag, too. Cherry wine, because Door County is Cherry Land. My husband and I have a tradition of going for a romantic picnic to Door County in Mid-October, just before the leaves fall. We stop at the orchard, get our annual goodies and take a leisurely drive along the back roads to view the exquisite foliage, just the two of us. It's our romantic get away. We stop at a little hideaway diner for lunch. We click pictures of the fall landscape. And each year, we repeat the romantic tradition.

So when I think of fall, it's romance and rare harvest foods that come to mind: Hot Apple Cider and my mother's Pumpkin Bars. To me, those two foods paired together are the essence of the season. Those bars are so rich and fulfilling, they aren't typical bars but more like a rich pumpkin cake. I've included the recipe in the pages sidebar in the upper right hand corner, (See Mom's Pumpkin Bars and click) so that you, too, can experience the rich, lush, sweet and spicy taste of Autumn. As I sit before a fire with a cup of hot apple cider and a pumpkin bar, I like to lose myself in a good historical romance.

My favorite fall romance is It Happened One Autumn, by Lisa Kleypas. This is set in Regency England at a country manor house, the big party with guests, a ball, traditional fox hunting and would-be lovers who annoy the you know what out of each other! I love Marcus because he's the take charge type of alpha male. Throughout the book, one thing is made clear; he's in charge. It gets better. Marcus is also rich, handsome, powerful, sexy, a peer of the realm--and well--pretty darned arrogant and full of himself, too. It takes a really unique heroine to bring him down to earth. Lillian is just the woman to do it. She's headstrong and outspoken. She has the chops to stand up to Marcus, something no one else does because he's that much of an alpha male. Lisa Kleypas is my favorite historical romance author. She has given me some pretty sexy, sinful and dangerous heroes to love but Marcus is Lord of the Dance, Lord of the Manor in It Happened One Autumn. Marcus is the traditional and yet new Regency hero, an alpha male all the way. He hunts, he rides well, he fights well, and he cleans up nice for the ballroom and never fails to excite in the bedroom.

Have a favorite flavor of hero? What's your favorite fall read? Share it with me below in the comments section and be entered to win a  $15 Subway gift card and a free romance on me. 

And keep hopping, visit the other blogs, each time you leave a comment you're entered to win the grand

To find the other 200+ authors and enter to win more prizes, click HERE!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Alpha Hero Wanted, but Make Mine a Dark Hero, Please!

What is your favorite thing about Alpha Heroes? Well, we authors are ready to share our favorite Alpha Males, our favorite things about them, and everything sexy and heated about those Alpha Males you can think of. *wink* Starting on Friday and ending on Oct 22nd, over 200 Authors and Bloggers will share their favorite things about those sexy men we know and love.
And while we do that, we are EACH doing a giveaway. Yep. There will be over 200 giveaways on each blog hosted by that Author or Blogger. But that's not all....

We have THREE grand prizes:
1st Grand Prize: A Kindle Fire or Nook Tablet
2nd Grand Prize: A $130 Amazon or B&N Gift Card
3rd Grand Prize: The Pictured Swag Pack!
Please Note: Swag pack not available for International Shipping!
You as a reader can go to EACH blog and comment with your email address and be entered to win. Yep, you c an enter over 200 times! Please, be sure to leave a comment here sharing your favorite Alpha Male from a book you've read, and leave your email address so you can be entered to win The Grand Prize: A Kindle or Nook tablet and oodles of other prizes from each blog on the hop.

Those who leave a comment here will be entered for the above 3 Grand prizes and entered to win a $15 Starbucks gift card and a print copy or ebook copy (your choice) of Dark Hero from me.  Just share your favorite romance book hero here. What's his name, what book was he in, and why does he appeal to you? I'm always looking for a hot, sexy alpha romance to enjoy. And don't forget to list your email so we can contact you if you are the winner.

Allow me to share with you my ideal alpha male hero. Donovan is a Gothic Hero with a serious brood factor (Think Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights, but without the innate cruelty). He's a former pirate, a scientist and an actor who uses his wit--an important component--not just his brawn, to conquer the bad guy. Donovan is a survivor. He's a little bit damaged. He's a dark, brooding hero, having escaped France after being tortured for a crime he didn't commit. After escaping prison, he knocked about in the East Indies for a few years as a pirate.

 After Donovan is banished from Elizabeth's home by her nasty step-papa, he doesn't just skulk away and sulk. Nope, he dons a mask and plays the part of the disfigured, tortured Count Rochembeau, a refugee from the Terror in France. His scheme works because that's just what the stepfather wants--an evil, frightening bridegroom for Elizabeth (he's just wicked, that stepfather). Donovan is willing to do anything to claim girl he loves, using even deception when necessary. 

When Elizabeth is kidnapped, Donovan reverts back into pirate mode and hunts down the culprits who kidnapped his bride. It's not pretty when he captures their ship. No one is left alive. This is the brawny, tough guy part of the Alpha Male equation. And that's the part that gets the blood pumping in our veins as women, right?  There is the warrior element that makes us swoon and sigh.

Yeah, but . . . there is another side that must be present:  the tender, gentle, patient lover. Donovan is not a brute or a bully. He's been tortured. He's been in prison. He's been in a dark, ugly place where fear abounds. Therefore, he's able to help Elizabeth through her pain. He's able to bring her back from the dark side. He's been there, so he knows the way back. He's strong, tough, smart, and oh so tender!

Purchase links for Dark Hero:
Barnes & Noble Nook
Smashwords for any digital format

Thanks for stopping by. Remember to leave a comment to be entered to win the grand prize and other prizes and then continue this wonderful blog hop by clicking any of the links below. Each author is featuring more ideas about Alpha Male Heroes, prizes and great books! Get ready to be swept away . . .

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Ghost Stories, what makes them Good?

October Churchyard by Lily Silver, 2006

What Makes a Compelling, Believable Ghost?
      With Halloween just around the corner, I wanted to talk about what makes a good ghost story.  As an author, creating ghosts is much harder than reading about them. 
      When writing Dark Hero, a Gothic Romance, I had think long and hard about how and why the ghosts would appear in the story in the first place, as well to try to create that chill factor we love in ghost stories.
I asked myself this, why stick around in a place for centuries when you could be off enjoying the after-life? I’d go to Paris, to the Louvre. I’d be off in a heartbeat if I was a ghost and able to travel anywhere I wanted to go with no physical boundaries. And yet, the main element of ghost stories is the ghost being tied to the person or to a specific place.
       Ah, now I had a clue. I can’t just throw random ghosts into a story to jack up the creepy factor and scintillate readers; we need to have reason for the haunting that fits into the plot of the book.
       So, I came up with a list of elements to help me construct a compelling, believable ghost:
1). Ghosts have feelings, and feelings compel us to act, rationally or irrationally.
I love the Supernatural TV Series. As Dean and Sam hunt ghosts, there are often some pretty angry haunters to contend with. An example is the female ghost in the show’s pilot who kept appearing to men along the deserted road. The men she appeared to were unfaithful to their mates, so after they picked her up she would kill them. She did this because she had been betrayed by her husband and being in an angry, irrational state, she killed herself. Thus, she became fixated on killing other men in the area near her home who are adulterers. Her feelings of pain and betrayal at death forced her to seek revenge--now that’s an emotionally driven ghost.
2). Ghosts want to contact the living. That is the bread and butter of the Ghost genre. If they’re off doing their own thing, like going to Paris to haunt the Louvre (my choice) then where’s the story? What’s the point?  It might be at the Louvre . . . but again, why would I be there instead of at home trying to contact my children and grandchildren?
3). Ghosts have to be motivated toward a goal. There has to be a reason why they are stuck where they are. That’s why they are so angry, sad or psychotic. They have intense feelings which cause them to act and they are motivated to complete a goal so they can find peace.
       To illustrate this, consider two of the ghosts in the Harry Potter movies. I love the headless ghost who keeps floating around Hogwartz cheerfully chatting with everyone, but it seems he serves no real purpose in the movie other than background flavoring. Moaning Mertle on the other hand, (the girl who haunts the bathroom) has intense feelings and a purpose to be in the story. She has knowledge that ultimately helps Harry and the gang. Once they talk to Mertle, she helps them solve their problem by giving clues that lead to the next step in their quest. 
       I have several ghosts in Dark Hero. Some are strangers to the heroine and others are family members. Regardless of their relationship to Elizabeth O’Flaherty, they all have a reason to be stuck with a haunting gig and a reason to want to contact to her. Elizabeth is a seer and is able to see and speak with the dead. Examining why the ghosts should be present in first place helped me to write a compelling ghost story and avoid using ghosts as wallpaper merely to spice up the story. 
      After sharing what I think makes a credible ghost, let’s open this up for discussion. Feel free to share your comments about what makes a worthy haunting in a story and what you like (or don’t like) in ghostly characters.
Leave a comment. It’s your turn--share a favorite ghostly character, what appealed to you or what didn’t?  

Free on Me! A Halloween Treat. I am currently working on the Sequel to Dark Hero; Bright Scoundrel. If you would like a free digital copy of Dark Hero, A Gothic Romance use coupon code YN23J at
Coupon is good now through Dec 1st. Limited to readers of this blog. Get your free copy and be ready to read the sequel, Bright Scoundrel, come December!