Thursday, June 28, 2012

A Chat with Elizabeth Hoyt

      When attending a writers conference at the beginning of this month, I was honored and excited  to meet one of my writing heroes, Elizabeth Hoyt. She appeared in Wausau at the WisRWA Write Touch 2012 conference and was one of the main speakers. Gathered were over 90 romance writers hyped up on chocolate and coffee, waiting to hear Ms. Hoyt speak about writing romance. During the break I was able to interview her. Following is our conversation.
       LS; You chose a very different time period for your stories than the typical regency romps that seem to be a perennial favorite among authors and readers. What made you choose Georgian England in the early to mid 18th Century for the settings of your stories? 

EH: Well, I did want to try a different time period than the usual Regency one, but I also love the Georgian period. I like the fashions—big dresses for women, heels and coatskirts for men—I like that the men wore swords and I like that the period was a time of great revolution in the way people thought and what they did. There were agricultural, mechanical, and scientific innovations.

2 minute YouTube video on Fashion 1720-1790 

LS: Yes, men wore swords as it was a very dangerous thing to merely walk the streets of London at night in the time period. It was a matter of self preservation. Many footpads and no police force patrolling the streets as we are accustomed to today.

EH: My Maiden Lane series takes place a little earlier than my previous books—in the 1730s and 1740s. I chose that period because of what was happening in London: the city was booming with new people from all over the world moving in and there was a very big problem with the sale of gin—it was a bit like crack cocaine during the 1980s. Upheaval is always an interesting backdrop for a book. ;-)

LS: With the Maiden Lane Series, you delve into not only a unique time
period for a romance novel, (1737), but also a very different setting that
has not been used by romance writers before you, specifically, the slum
district known as St. Giles in London. Why did you chose this setting? 

EH: I chose St. Giles and the fictional orphanage in it because of the gin problem I discussed above and because I’ve always been very interested in class differences. There was such an extreme range during this time period—aristocrats who literally lived in houses where nearly everything was gilded versus the very poor who might have to share a rented bed in a room crowded with strangers to sleep for the night. I don’t think I could’ve done a character like Winter Makepeace (the hero of THIEF OF SHADOWS) if I hadn’t set the series in St. Giles.

LS: Some reviewers have tried to speculate that you chose this setting so that you
could explore more elaborate and gritty sexual themes that are not typical
in a romance novel by using the slum neighborhood and environs as a
backdrop. Any truth to that? And if not, please feel free to set the record
straight here.

EH: Huh, I hadn’t heard the sexual themes theory—does that mean they think my earlier books set outside slums were less sexy? ;-)

LS: Good Heavens! Not at all. I'm just repeating an idea posted by some readers reviewing your books. I think they are all very sexy, in different ways, which explains why you are so popular. 

Lord Caire & Temperance in Wicked Intentions
LS: Lord Caire, from Wicked Intentions, Book one of the Maiden Lane Series has some very unusual sexual tastes for a hero in a mass market romance novel. His inability to endure being touched is something new, and adds a deeper psychological element to the story. Also his need to tie up his sexual partner and to cover her face during sex is another new twist for a hero in a mass market historical romance novel. (For erotica, this is nothing new, but for mainstream romance it pushes the boundaries!) 

EH: As you pointed out, he’s pretty tame by erotica standards—and many main stream readers are now reading erotica. By the way, I do think that in a romance novel the hero’s sexuality is part of the character—i.e. a writer shouldn’t just throw in a bit of kink for the heck of it. There was a  definite reason why Caire did what he did during sex and I thought it was an important part of the character.

LS: Were Lord Caire's unique sexual needs hard to pitch to your editor?

EH: No, my editor didn’t have any problem with Caire’s sexual oddities. 

LS: Do you feel that the mass market romance lines are becoming more open to deeply flawed heroes than in the past?  I ask this as we're often told that the reader must fall in love with the hero by the third chapter in order for it to be satisfying in the romance market, yet, Lord Caire's cool aloofness and his sexual proclivities could be considered off putting to the typical historical romance reader.

EH: Huh. Again, I hadn’t heard the third chapter rule before—which is probably just as well. If I were to make such a rule, I think the reader has to be intrigued by the hero by his first appearance, but that she doesn’t have to actually fall in love with him until far later in the book. I do believe in love at first sight, but it doesn’t often work that way and my heroes in particular are often assholes at the first meeting. ;-)

LS: Of your three published Maiden Lane Books, (and two upcoming books in
the works) who is your favorite hero? In other words, which one makes you
swoon the quickest?

EH: I like Caire, just because he was such a multi-layered character to write.

LS: You've developed some very interesting female lead characters, Temperence, Silence, and Lady Hero. These women appear to fit into the restrictive society in which they are a part of, and yet they secretly break the rules and follow their own desires. Which heroine is your favorite ladyamong the three above?

EH: Among these three I think I like Hero the best because she was trying her best to fit into the life in which she’d been raised.

LS: Yes, Hero was a Duke's daughter and had a lot of expectations put on her as a leading woman in society. Griffin helped her 'loosen up' quite a bit, didn't he! <Grin?|>
<<--- Hero & Griffin in Notorious Pleasures by Elizabeth Hoyt

EH: As an awful teaser, though, I have to say that I just finished LORD OF DARKNESS, which isn’t out until February 2013, and Megs, the heroine of that book, is my definite favorite of the series so far. ;-)

LS: Which couple do your readers seem to praise the most in fan letters?

EH: At the moment it’s a neck-and-neck race between Mickey O’Connor and Silence in SCANDALOUS DESIRES and Isabel Beckinhall and Winter Makepeace in THIEF OF SHADOWS.

Charming Mickey and Silence in Scandalous Desires

LS: Ah, yes, Charming Mickey, the River Pirate.
Definitely an intriguing and sexy romance hero. We first met him in book one, Wicked Intentions. Winter Makepeace, however, is also very mysterious, he has a secret side that up until now has only been hinted at in previous books. Many readers will be anticipating his story. You mention releasing a 5th Book in the Maiden Lane Series in early 2013, Lord of Darkness. Will there be 6th?

EH:  Oh, yes. The sixth book will be DUKE OF MIDNIGHT and though we don’t have a release date yet, it’ll probably come out late 2013. I also hope to continue the series past the sixth book—we’ll have to see.

LS: The Legend of the Four Soldiers Series and The Prince Trilogy proceeded your Maiden Lane Series. What will come after? Are you dreaming up another cast of characters for us? If so, give us a little hint, where will it take place and what time period?

EH: As I’ve said above, I’d like to continue the Maiden Lane series. I have a definite three-book arc planned, but I can’t say much for fear of spoilers (and because the next three books aren’t sold yet.) I can say that reader favorite, Asa Makepeace is planned for those books and his mysterious job will be revealed. ;-)

LS: And so, we have a six book series in Maiden Lane. Wonderful. We have so much to look forward to from you in the next year or two. Thank you, Elizabeth for joining us to chat about your excellent Georgian Romance Series, Maiden Lane.  We look forward to many happy reads from your pen. 

Drum Roll! And the Winner is.... Stacey Joy Netzel! Stacey is our lucky reader who will receive a Free Copy of Thief of Shadows.  

Note to our readers: Visit my earlier post for a free excerpt of Thief of Shadows, which is now in available in stories! 

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Rock Ballad That Speaks to Every Woman's Heart

In my recently published Time Travel Romance, the heroine, Tara O'Neill is a modern day DJ at a radio station. She has discovered a song that speaks to her heart, and as a DJ who can capture the air waves for a brief time each night, she features that song as her calling card at the beginning of her show.

The song is a 1990's Romantic Ballad by Meatloaf, "I'd Lie for You (and That's The Truth)" from his Welcome to the Neighborhood Album. Meatloaf's song in this video clip is a tribute to the Indiana Jones Movies, and features actor Brett Cullen as a "Jones" type adventurer. Meatloaf is a genius when it comes to writing lyrics that touch a woman's soul. If you've forgotten the words to this lovely ballad,  never heard of it or just want to revisit it, here is a the opportunity.

Through the magic of YouTube, you can watch this wonderful video, listen to the words, and be swept away by them, just as Tara was in "Some Enchanted Waltz".
                             Note to viewer: It may work better if viewed at YouTube Home.
Click on the right hand corner to view on the YouTube site if you experience problems with buffering here.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

"A Salute to Captain Midnight!"

Excerpt of Some Enchanted Waltz, copyright Lily Silver 2012, available on

Setting, Baron Bantry's home, Seafield House, County Cork, Ireland, 1798. Lord Adrian Dillon and his wife, Tara, are attending a ball given by Loyalists to the English crown for Sir Ralph Ambercromby, the new English Military Commander-in-Chief of Ireland. Adrian is uncomfortable being among his enemies, yet, listens to their conversation as they discuss his alter ego, the masked highwaymen known as Captain Midnight:
        “Sheriff Burke, I am sorry to inform you that my cousin  died three years ago. You are chasing a dead man.” Adrian said in an aloof, bored tone.
       “Says you. There are others that say he’s alive, and heads the masked riders of the Fianna in this region.” Burke responded.
        “Aye.” Lord Knox mused, his eyes twinkling with intoxicated mirth. “He’s a phantom, nothing more, a fanciful legend of the peasantry, another Finn Mac Coul who lives in the dreams of the impoverished, promising them redemption from their oppressors. I’ve heard reports of the illustrious Captain Midnight being responsible for every deed against the government from here to the far north regions of  Donegal, Connacht, and County Down. No man can be everywhere at once, gentleman, only a ghost, conjured up in the minds of the whiskey sodden masses.”
        “What of the reports of his role in the ambush on the Beara peninsula?” The sheriff whined, not ready to let sleeping dogs lie.
         “Posh, man, you’re chasing down a myth. As we speak, Captain Midnight is this very night in Galway, Kerry, Tipperary, Dublin, Roscommon and far off Londonderry, fighting injustice, championing the cause of every tenant farmer on this island province. When we are all cold in the grave, this figment of legend will still be roaming the countryside righting the wrongs of the oppressed. I propose a toast to Captain Midnight.” Lord Camden lifted his glass in a stalwart salute to the phantom rebel leader.
         The other men at the table, one by one, joined him, some with amused smiles, others with a measure of consternation. Adrian meekly lifted his glass, turned to Tara, who was regarding him with those exquisitely beautiful, discerning green eyes.
         “To Captain Midnight.” He smiled, privately enjoying the irony of the situation.
         “To Captain Midnight.” Tara echoed with a sparkle of amusement in her eyes.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A Masked Hero needs lessons in Love; Read an Excerpt from Elizabeth Hoyt's Upcoming July Release

Okay, as I've mentioned before, I'm a sucker for a man in a mask. A story with a masked hero is an automatic buy for me, and I've written two books of my own featuring a masked hero.

Well, hold on to your seats as we have another contender for Sexy Masked Hero coming up in July. 

Ms. Hoyt has graciously sent me an excerpt from her latest book, Thief of Shadows, which is to be released next month, in July 2012, and has generously offered one lucky reader here a free copy of the new release. (See details at end of post) Ms. Hoyt is a gracious lady as well as a very talented writer.
For those unacquainted with the series, here is a description of Thief of Shadows:
Winter Makepeace lives a double life. By day he’s the stoic headmaster of a home for foundling children. But the night brings out a darker side of Winter. As the moon rises, so does the Ghost of St. Giles—protector, judge, fugitive. When the Ghost, beaten and wounded, is rescued by a beautiful aristocrat, Winter has no idea that his two worlds are about to collide.
Lady Isabel Beckinhall enjoys nothing more than a challenge. Yet when she’s asked to tutor the Home’s dour manager in the ways of society—flirtation, double entendres, and scandalous liaisons—Isabel can’t help wondering why his eyes seem so familiar—and his lips so tempting.
During the day Isabel and Winter engage in a battle of wills. At night their passions are revealed . . . But when little girls start disappearing from St. Giles, Winter must avenge them. For that he might have to sacrifice everything—the Home, Isabel . . . and his life.

Without further ado, please enjoy this delightful gift from Ms. Hoyt to our readers:

The following is an excerpt from "Thief of Shadows" by Elizabeth Hoyt, and is copyrighted by Ms. Hoyt.
>>Isabel swallowed at Mr. Makepeace’s low words. His voice sent a shiver across her nerves, making her nipples tighten. Had she heard correctly? Had he just confessed to being a virgin? He was unmarried, true, and by his own admission had never had a sweetheart, but still. Many men resorted to prostitutes—and he lived in an area where they abounded.

But one look at Mr. Makepeace’s proud, stern face disabused her of that notion. Somehow she knew: he would never pay for such an intimate act.

Which meant he was a virgin…and he’d just asked for her tutelage. Surely he didn’t mean—

“Your silence is uncharacteristic, my lady,” he said, still in that deep, precise voice that feathered across her senses. “I hope I have not shocked you with my inexperience…in flirting.”

Flirting. Of course. That was what they were discussing. But she hadn’t imagined the gleam in his dark eyes—or the subtle pause before he’d said “flirting.”

Isabel straightened. She was the experienced one here, after all. “I believe we must work on your introduction, then.”

He merely raised one eyebrow.

She cleared her throat. When had she last been this out of sorts? And over a plain, rigid schoolmaster—a man younger than she! “Flirtation is best begun immediately, even before the introduction. Can you show me your bow?”

He stood slowly and, still holding her eyes, bowed shortly.

She frowned. “No. Something more elegant. Shall I demonstrate?”

“No need.” His gaze was ironic.

This time he backed up a step and pretended to doff an imaginary hat, bowing from the waist, his arms outstretched gracefully.

Isabel’s eyes widened. “If you’ve known all along how to give a proper bow, why haven’t you?”

He straightened slowly and shrugged broad shoulders. “A simple nod of the head gives enough deference without such silly flourishes.”

She rolled her eyes. “Well, from now on flourish, please, when in polite company.”

“As you wish,” he said gravely.

“Now.” She had to stop to inhale, for oddly she found herself out of breath. “Now, I would like you to practice kissing the hand of a lady.”

She extended her hand, hoping he wouldn’t notice the faint tremor of her fingers.

He paced toward her, took her hand, and bent over it. For a moment, his bowed head obscured their hands, but she felt the brush—warm and intimate—of his lips on her knuckles.

She gasped. “You’re supposed to kiss the air above the lady’s knuckles.”

He raised his head, still bowed over her hand, the position bringing his face much closer to hers. She could see tiny shards of gold in his brown eyes. “Isn’t this a lesson in flirtation?”

“Yes, but—”

He straightened to his full height. “Then it seems to me that a real kiss is more to the point than a pretend one.”<<<  Thief of Shadows, Copyright Elizabeth Hoyt 2012

Thank you Ms. Hoyt for a teaser from your latest book!

And readers, don't forget to sign up to win a free copy of "Thief of Shadows" a new release that will be available in stores in July this year.  Just leave a comment for Lily here. Winner will be announced June 27th.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Praise for the Bravest Among Us!

 It's not often that romance writers will take a risk by writing about a time and place in history that is different than the usual suspects. Most historical romances on the shelves today fit into a couple of eras: Medieval, Regency or Victorian. Most Romance Authors stick with what works and what sells, the usual time periods.

How about a setting that is gritty, often cruel and unforgiving, like the slums of St. Giles, in London, circa 1737?

I have been amazed by author Elizabeth Hoyt for some years. I first discovered her in the spring of 2008, and was delighted to read The Raven Prince, which was getting a lot of praise from various romance review sites. I was enthralled from the first page of her story and went on to read the other two "Prince Trilogy" books and also "The Legend of the Four Soldiers" series.

Recently, I discovered a new series by this brave, talented and imaginative author. Hoyt's newest series, "Maiden Lane" is set in the back streets of St. Giles, a dangerous part of London that has been depicted in William Hogarth's famous prints of the early 18th Century.

Gin Lane Print Engraving By William Hogarth, 18th Century

What could be romantic about such a place as this (Above)? Well, nothing really. Except for the heroine, who runs an orphanage for cast off children, a masked swordsman known as the Harlequin, who goes about rescuing people from thugs in the dark of night, a river pirate named Charming Mickey, and a nobleman roaming the dark streets trying to find the man who murdered his mistress to settle the score?

All of these intriguing characters are introduced to us in the first book of the Maiden Lane Series, Wicked Intentions.  It also gives us a very unusual hero, Lord Caire, the aforementioned nobleman. His physical appearance may seem a little strange for a romance hero, as he has very pale white-blonde hair. At the outset, this man is not a very gallant and honorable sort of hero. He's able to have sex with women, but he in order to do so he must restrain them first. Add to that the fact that Lord Caire cannot stand to be physically touched by another person. As iconic romance heroes go, this is a little unsettling, and sort of creepy. We're used to rakes, yes, but typically the kind who want to touch and be touched, who break hearts with a smile and who are lovingly reformed by their would-be heroines by the end of the book. But a hero who is emotionally turned off, selfish and uncaring (on the surface)  and can only get it up if he can tie up his 'victim'?  That, to me, was questionable. Because I love Hoyt's previous works and know she has an exceptional talent for spinning a deep and satisfying historical romance, I read the book, despite my reservations.

And the verdict?
I loved it. The heroine, Temperance, is a widow who runs an orphanage in St. Giles with her brother. They take in stray children, most of them being the unwanted offspring of the local whores and other less savory characters of this dark underbelly of London. Lord Caire meets Temperance in the slums while searching for his mistress's murderer. Through the course of the story, the pair encounter many dangers on the streets at night, and come to be strongly attracted to one another. On the surface, Temperance seems to be a saint, tirelessly selfless, the polar opposite of Lord Caire and his strange sexual appetites. In this story, she turns out to be his perfect match. She turns out to be not such a boring saint after all. She even allows Lord Caire to tie her up and have his way with her.

And damn, but if she actually sort of likes it.

Wow, talk about a one-two punch in romance writing history. Yes, I know, there have been many, many erotica tales with dark BSDM undertones. This is NOT one of those stories. It's not about the sex. It's about the lovers, their journey, which just happens to take them to the dark side of London, a setting that mirrors perfectly the exploration of their dark desires.

Lord Caire is not as nasty as he seems. He does care, he just hides it well. He is charmed by Temperance, and we, in turn, are charmed by him!  Thank you, Ms. Hoyt for rising to the challenge to create a very unique hero and a very intriguing new series. 

The time period and the setting are fresh, and in Ms. Hoyt's hands, we have a very well written historical romance that many readers will be pleased to discover.  Add to that, the intriguing characters such as Charming Mickey the River Pirate and the masked vigilante introduced in book one, and we have the makings for a very fresh and intriguing new series set in Georgian England instead of the Regency.

I highly recommend The Maiden Lane Series. Ms. Hoyt is currently working on books four and five, which will be released July of 2012 in early 2013.
Here are the titles in the series:

Wicked Intentions, 2010
Notorious Pleasures, 2011
Scandalous Desires, 2011
Thief of Shadows, coming July 2012
Lord of Darkness, coming in early 2013

For more information check out Elizabeth Hoyt's Website