Quiz: Which Type of Historical Romance Heroine Are You?

HistoricalQuiz

Authors Grace Burrowes, Katie MacAlister, and Shana Galen would love to invite you to take their historical romance quiz. Below is the quiz written by the authors which asks readers if they are royalty, an operative, or a member of a retinue.

#1 What word best describes you?

a) effervescent
b) nonconfrontational (mostly)
c) stealthy

#2 My favorite hobby is …

a) comparative study of the male form
b) looking after my darling baron
c) target practice

#3 What is the perfect late night snack?

a) bread, cheese, meats, lemon tarts … whatever can be liberated from the kitchen
b) the baron’s kisses
c) ratafia, shaken not stirred

#4 My ideal man must have …

a) a sublime derriere
b) an aptitude for growing hardy, contrary flowers
c) brains

#5 What accessory do you never leave home without?

a) my corset (large bosoms are such a trial)
b) my composure
c) my pistol

***

TheTruthAboutLeoIf you choose mostly As … then you are as sparkling and resourceful as Her Serene Royal Highness Dagmar from The Truth about Leo by Katie MacAlister. Dagmar may have been raised in a strictly formal manner, but she’s never let that stop her from pursuing anything that catches her interest. She’s a bit quirky, marches to her own drummer, and has a fine, fine appreciation of the manly form.








TheTraitorIf you choose mostly Bs … then you are clearly the stuff a baroness is made of, much like Millicent, from The Traitor. Milly is sweet, fierce, determined, and brave but slow to trust. Sebastian, Baron St. Clair, is ALSO sweet, fierce, determined and brave, and relentless when it comes to protecting those he cares for. Alas for both Sebastian and Milly, an enemy stalks them who is not sweet. By the time Milly is done with Sebastian’s enemies, they are not very brave either. So if you chose mostly B’s, the bad guys better steer mighty clear of you!






LoveAndLetSpyIf you choose mostly Cs … then you are equipped to be a master spy like Jane Bonde from Love and Let Spy by Shana Galen. Jane is smart, cunning, and loyal, but she has her weaknesses too. Her latest weakness goes by the name Dominic Griffyn. Planning a wedding and defeating a villain intent upon the destruction of England is tricky, but if you’re the sort who multitasks easily, then you too have Jane’s unique skills and panache.

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Do You Listen to Music When You Read?

reading with musicI’m not a person generally inclined to play music while I read for pleasure. I find that it’s distracting and can pull me from the middle of a good book – either because I want to sing along or because commercials came on and are aggravating. Now when I do read for work or blogging, I find background noise to be very helpful. It gives me something to tune out while I give my attention to tasks like scheduling posts. How about you, when it comes to reading for pleasure what do you do?

Reading for pleasure...

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Now how about work/blogging, what’s your preference?

Reading for work...

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If you picked the music option for pleasure reading or work related reading, tell me, what do you listen to? Is it mostly classical or instrumental or does it have jazzy beats and lyrics? I look forward to seeing you in the comments.

Photo Credits: ctsnow

If You Could Live in Any Period Setting and Fall in Love, When Would You Go?

Guest Post by Sandra Scholes

I am a lover of period romance novels, and I would like to say that I’m not fussy about what period novels I read, but I would be lying. The Regency period is as romantic as it gets for me; I like the setting, the architecture, the underlying passion that makes them so rakish, even in polite society circles. Everyone has their own period idea of what setting and period they would choose to fall in love. It could be the Middle Ages, Roman times, Georgian, Edwardian or Victorian, but which period sends your heart a flutter enough to fall in love?

1.) Regency

Everyone associates the Regency period with Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice these days as they have read them or seen them brought to life on TV, but there is more to this period than meets the eye, and it’s no wonder it was seen as one of the most romantic periods since the Victorians. One look at Mr. Darcy in his tight pants, taking off his shirt is enough to make any woman swoon!

2.) Edwardian

This was a time when opulence and extravagance still ruled, but for the last time; before World War I took hold on Europe. Edward took over the throne after Prince Albert’s death and Queen Victoria’s mourning, and refusal to keep up with her duties as queen. Casual flings were among the fun they got up to in upper class society as long as they maintained there were a certain amount of rules to follow.

3.) Victorian

Queen Victoria lost her dear husband, Albert and was forever clothed in mourning outfits that showed he had been the only man for her, and she could not take another man at her side. This, for many people was the one of the most progressive eras, but also the most repressive and prudish. There were many new art styles, and scientific discoveries
made in this time. The Bronte’s, Lord Tennyson and Oscar Wilde were some of the Victorian eras most interesting writers; not forgetting Oscar’s scandal with men which has spawned some rather immersive LGBT Victorian writing.

4.) Georgian

George I ruled this era having come all the way from Germany. Not having spoke any English, or fitted in with anyone else in society, he was seen as an unpopular king and spent most of his time in Germany while others considered his being there political. It is considered a decadent era where the filthy rich were idle as lampooned in popular
comedy Blackadder the Third.

5.) Roman

These people had a rich history steeped in discovery, conquest, and enjoyment of all the senses. They favoured romantic attachments with either men or women, or both and had no hang-ups about what others would think about them. Some women think a man in a toga is a sensual thing, and a woman in even less might be a blessing. Think of the
Spartacus: Blood and Sand series where men were gladiators, sweating and fighting shirtless in deadly arenas.

6.) Frontier/Western

This isn’t just about the Indians who featured highly in the setting; women can’t resist the sight of a cowboy in leathers and hat, sporting jeans in calf length boots with spurs. These men are rough and ready to help a woman in distress. Everyone loves a cowboy especially if they are Clint Eastwood or John Wayne no nonsense types. There are the
good guys, but as we all know, the bad guys are out there too and dressed in black.

7.) Medieval

It was a rough time for most ordinary people, but girls still had the time to fantasize about knights in shining armour who would whisk them away from the doldrums of a boring lifestyle. Think of castles, fairy tales and men like King Arthur, along with his Knights of the Round Table. Don’t forget Mordred, Merlin or Guinevere – they play their
part in a difficult period in history.

8.) Elizabethan England

Daughter of Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth Tudor, or Queen Elizabeth as she would come to be known ruled after her father, King Henry VIII died and her mother was beheaded. She swore that she would never marry once she had witnessed her mother being dragged away for execution, and remained so until she died. It didn’t stop her having a few men at her
side, though. The Elizabethan era proved to be a very romantic one where William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe were the playwrights of the day, and Sir Francis Drake was one of the best seafarers known.

9.) Dark Ages/Viking

The longboats drifted along treacherous seas, they had gods who were powerful and brave, and the berserkers liked to go about pillaging, but these Vikings liked other things too, they liked their women, and, if the woman was game enough, they could have a handsome, strong, blue-eyed blond hugging them at night beside a nice warm campfire, forever protected and cared for.

10.) American Civil War/Reconstruction

With the Southern belle all primped and preened, often fanning her while men fall all over her by the dozen, this can be seen as one of the best eras to be romanced in even though the war was raging. Women are dressed in satins and silks, with more modern types of make-up than their predecessors. This could easily be one of the most impressive.

11.) Historical Romance

As this one is more about certain earlier time periods such as the Egyptians, Celts, and Greeks, these can be some of the most overlooked eras, even though romantic men and women have had novels written about them; Alexander the Great, and Queen Cleopatra for example.

For me it would have to be the Regency era. Men were rangy and handsome, well-mannered, but underneath it all, their hearts burned with a passion they couldn’t let out to their spouse – many found solace in other women’s bedchambers, but this was an era of beauty and extravagance in every way, from the food they ate, to the luxurious balls they hosted and the women they bedded.

What do you think? Was the Regency period the most romantic? Or are there some you think better settings for romance novels.

Photo Credits: Kıvanç Niş

Dastardly and Dandy – The Wicked Highwayman – Why Do We Find Him So Appealing?

Guest Post by Sandra Scholes

The dandy Highwayman has been an elusive figure in popular culture. This 17th century figure cuts a dashing swath through romances and it’s easy to see why.

For a lady, being out on her own (during daylight or night time hours) was fraught with some serious consequences.

An opportunistic male riding on horseback spots a maiden looking lost. He’s wearing a smile, a mask and cape, both in black, like the rest of his attire.

Swooning yet?

Men like him have enchanted and turned-on women readers for years and there are many stories and novels that feature them, and the writers that pen them never run out of ideas.

The Intoxicating First Meeting: “Stand and Deliver! Your money or your life!” He shouts, and once you see his pistol, and his pouting lips, you know you want him, don’t you? His mask hides his identity, but not his ravishing charm, which you think has an animalistic edge to it you find utterly irresistible.

Men who remain a complete mystery tend to turn you on, and it’s no big surprise, as you want to peel away his sensually dark disguise in order to reveal the handsome man beneath. You know full well you can’t possibly do it, but that just makes you hot under your corset, doesn’t it?

Beneath the Mask – The Man Inside Wanting to Get Out: If there is another man in the carriage is with you, you may have a fight on your hands! The other man might want to protect your life and your chastity. But then again, you might not want him to protect your chastity! Neither does the highwayman who finds you so utterly attractive! He sees your ample bosom pushed up in your dress, and the fan hoping to hide your blushes and your desire.

Daring and Combative – At Least Against Another Man: He likes his ladies sweet and submissive, or naughty and ready for action, but he doesn’t like to have competition. That other man who fought in your carriage for your safety just gets in the way when the highwayman fights for his right to woo you, and steal your jewellery away.

It might get to be a simple matter of pistols at dawn if he is challenged, or he might go for shooting the man in the leg and taking you with him. It is a long shot, but it could work – he’s fast and incredibly strong so he would get her to the safety of his bed in a local Inn. However even if you have been in his bed, you still won’t be any wiser to who he is.

All In Black and What It Means: Okay, so he’s just said those magic words, and has his gun ready while his other hand accepts your jewellery, and if you are alone, your kisses. He’s a blackguard all right! He’s all in black: his mask, hat, cloak and pants, hell, even his leather gloves and his gun is black too!

So why black? It’s one of those psychological things really; black is the colour of mystery intrigue and darkness. All the bad things happen in darkness, but it is rather a seductive colour, don’t you think?

Your highwayman hides his true identity under that garb and he can turn and run before you can get an idea of who he is. Let’s face it girls, if he was dressed in any other colour he wouldn’t look half as good, would he? Think about it.

The Voice of the Ravishing Male – Surrender or Die: You might melt even if you hear these words pour from his lips. His voice is deeply masculine and as erotic as those lips you saw speaking those words. You would easily surrender to his demands!

He wants your jewellery, money, clothes…

He has a commanding voice, but he isn’t cruel, and you would love to find out more about him, wouldn’t you? I don’t blame you, he must be handsome underneath, no man could have such a sexy voice without being as equally sexy to look at.

Who is your favorite highwayman hero? Heroine?

Do you love your hero to be a highwayman?

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My Favorite Tropes: Secret Baby!

Guest post by Carla F.

Secret Baby! The phrase just screams for capitalization and an exclamation point. Of course, this plot is when a couple goes their separate ways without the hero knowing that the heroine is pregnant. (Sometimes the heroine doesn’t even know.) The couple could have been separated by war, controlling parents, a misunderstanding, etc.

It is my impression that there are many readers that dislike this trope. It can be problematic depending on how the author deals with it. Unfortunately, many times these stories involve one or both parties who are Too Stupid To Communicate. The “breakup” could have been avoided if he/she could have just explained their thoughts/feelings. Sometimes just saying, “I love you” (when in fact the person does love him/her) would have made a difference.

Then there are the Contemporary stories where the couple forgets the condom. Sure it happens in real life all the time, but I would like to see at least my romance characters show a little responsibility. Of course, wearing a condom doesn’t always work because they seem to break a lot (or so I have read). This especially seems to be a problem for the millionaire/playboy/tycoon types. In fact, I am beginning to think that these types have extra strong sperm that just busts right through the latex, and someone should develop a new line of condoms just for them.

So why do I like Secret Baby! plots? In most of these the reader knows about the child before the father does. It is fun watching the other shoe drop. (Bad historical example: Duke of Candlewyck: “My portrait gallery is so huge that I had forgotten all about this portrait of great-uncle Basil. I never realized that Sarah’s son looks just him…Bloody hell!”) Then it is interesting to see how the hero deals with this knowledge. How he does this can determine whether you love or hate him.

If the author can avoid the situations that I mentioned above (especially Too Stupid To Communicate), I am ready to go buy the baby shoes and the onesie.

Secret Baby Plot:

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Books that I enjoyed with the Secret Baby! plot include:

  • Everyday, Average Jones by Suzanne Brockmann (Contemporary) - Melody Evans is saved by Navy SEAL, Harlan “Cowboy” Jones, from terrorists. The attraction is immediately and intense, but Melody always wanted to marry someone who is average and not someone who takes risks. Melody and Cowboy return to their separate sides of the US. Yes, yes this is one where the condom breaks but Cowboy’s attempts to convince Melody that he is the man for her is so sweet and sexy that I can ignore that.
  • Texas Wedding for Their Baby’s Sake by Kathryn Albright (Western) - The hero Brandon goes off to fight in Texas after having to watch his brother kiss his secret fiancé, Caroline, in front of the whole town (-10 points for that reaction, Brandon). He is wounded physically and mentally in the war, and he knows that he can no longer marry Caroline. When she receives his letter telling her to find someone else, she heads west to find him.
  • Scandalizing the Ton by Diane Gaston (Regency) - Lady Lydia Wexin is rescued from a reporter that is harassing her by Adrian Pomroy, Viscount Cavanley. Lydia has been hurt and so Adrian carries her indoors, and thing progress from there. The next morning, Lydia insists that Adrian leave because she was already a target of so much gossip because of the death of her husband.
  • No Place to Run by Maya Banks (Contemporary) - When Sam Kelly was undercover, he had a brief affair with Sophie Lundgren. The mission falls through and Sophie vanishes. When Sam next sees her she is pregnant and tells him that his life is in danger.
  • Circumstantial Memories by Carol Ericson (Contemporary) - I had to have one with amnesia as part of the plot. Julia does know not where she was heading when she had her accident. She doesn’t remember anything about her life including who is the father of her baby. After returning from a multi-year assignment, secret agent man, Ryder McClintock, is stunned to see Julia living in his town. When he didn’t hear from her, he thought that she didn’t want to continue their relationship.
  • The Masquerade by Brenda Joyce (Regency) - It is actually the sister that bears the hero’s baby in this one. (Yes, hero.) Elizabeth “Lizzie” Fitzgerald was supposed to meet Tyrell de Warenne (who she has loved since she was a child) in the garden during the masquerade party. A mix-up causes Lizzie’s sister to be out in the garden at the appointed time. The sister and Lizzie go off to have the baby, and when he is born, Lizzie decides to claim him as her own. Things don’t go smoothly when Lizzie returns home with the child.

Ones that I didn’t enjoy so much include:

  • Seducing Simon by Maya Banks (Contemporary) - I really wanted to like this one, but couldn’t in the end. Simon catches the woman he is about to ask to marry him with another man. He comes home and starts drinking a lot. His roommate Toni, who has always loved him, seduces him. Trouble is that he doesn’t remember it the next day. When she becomes pregnant, she puts off telling him for a long time because she is afraid of his reaction. He goes all asshat when she finally tells him, because she didn’t tell him earlier.
  • The Frenchman’s Marriage Demand by Chantelle Shaw (Contemporary) - Millionaire Zac knows that the baby that his mistress Freya is carrying cannot be his so he throws her out. When Freya is in a traffic accident, her grandmother takes the daughter to Zac to watch over because she doesn’t want the responsibility. Zac is not happy about this at all. He insists upon a paternity test and demands that Freya and the child come with him to Monaco. He calls her names and orders her around, but thinks that she will just get back into bed with him because he is so irresistible. Unfortunately, she does.

What are you favorite Secret Baby! stories?

More Secret Baby polls!

My Favorite Tropes: Marriage of Convenience

Guest blog by Carla F.

Merriam-Webster defines a trope as “a common or overused theme or device”. However, it seems to me that it can only be “overused” if it brings nothing new to distinguish itself from all the others. The one thing more satisfying than reading a romance is reading one that has your favorite plot. It is like when you slip on that old, ratty, soft sweatshirt that is still in your closet after all these years and laze around at home all day.

Marriage of convenience (MOC) plots were my first love (and I have never forgotten them ). In a MOC the couple decides to marry for financial and/or matter-of-fact reasons. My love of this type of plot started in the days when in romance novels, the woman didn’t lose her virginity until her wedding night. The only way to read more sexually explicit love scenes was in a MOC. It might be days or sometimes even years, but you know the couple will have sex as surely as they will fall in love. “Harlequin Presents” had a lot of these back then. I remember books by Anne Mather and Charlotte Lamb in particular. The woman would have a brother/step-brother/father who was about to bring the family firm/family to financial ruin, and she would have to marry the millionaire/playboy/tycoon to save it/them. (Of course the added bonus with these types of marriages is that you got to live the life of the stinking rich, but of course the woman didn’t care about any of that.) Nowadays you don’t see that many MOC plots in “Harlequin Presents” because the woman has to become the rich man’s mistress in order to save the day! The times have changed.

There are many reasons for a MOC besides saving the family business, and these are reflected in some of my favorites:

  • The Admiral’s Penniless Bride by Carla Kelly – (Regency) - Sally Paul was set to be a companion to an old lady, but the lady dies right before Sally shows up. With no money left, her only choice seems to be the workhouse. Lucky for her she goes to spend her last money on a cup of tea and encounters Sir Charles Bright who can tell that Sally is in trouble. He offers to marry her because he feels sorry for her, and he needs to marry anyway.
  • The Stranger I Married by Sylvia Day (Regency) - In this one Gerard Faulkner, Marquess of Grayson, wants to embarrass his mother and have her stop hounding him to get married by asking the scandalous Lady Isabel Pelham, who is the lover of one of his friends, to be his wife. Pel has just turned down her lover’s marriage proposal because she doesn’t want to marry again with love involved. She does accept Grayson’s proposal of a MOC. The couple settles down in friendship, but continues their romances outside the marriage. Gerald leaves their home when a tragedy strikes. When he returns years later, he wants a real marriage with Pel.
  • A Daring Proposition by Jennifer Green (Contemporary) - Leigh Sexton desperately wants a baby, but not marriage. No way is Brian Hathaway going to just make a deposit at a sperm bank. He wants to be involved in his child’s life so he wants marriage.
  • Miss Winthorpe’s Elopement by Christine Merrill (Regency) - Her brother is a bully and wants to continue to control her money. Bluestocking Penny Winthorpe has had enough, so she climbs into a carriage to go get a man to marry her. She finds one when her carriage almost runs over the drunken Adam Felkirk, Duke of Bellston, who because of severe investment losses is trying to kill himself.
  • To Tempt a Saint by Kate Moore (Regency) - This is another one were the woman wants to gain control of her money. In this book, Cleo’s evil uncle leaves her and younger brother just barely scraping by on a farm. Alexander Jones who saved the prince’s life needs Cleo’s money so that he can invest in a gasworks that will light up the streets of the horrible London slum, St. Giles. (Well-lighted streets will help him find his missing brother.)

A MOC plot that didn’t work for me was Bought for Marriage by Margaret Mayo (Contemporary) this “Harlequin Presents” was like the ones that I used to read. Dutiful daughter is sent by ailing father to go to his enemy (say what?) to save the family business. Greek tycoon demands marriage.

Seems like I read that one before.

Do you like Marriage of Convenience romances?

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What are some of your favorite books with this type of plot?

Do You Read a Book While at Work?

Do you read a book while at work?

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How many of you do this I wonder? I’m curious!

If you do read at work, do you sensor your reading? For instance do you bring an ereader with you so you can read your romance or erotica without commentary from the peanut gallery? I bring an ereader or an actual book – and I’ll show up with mantitty or extremely kiddy YA novels – and haven’t heard anything other than, “WOW! You read A LOT!” To which I respond, “Sure do! I run two book blogs. One on romance novels and one on YA books!”

As for when I read… well… I read at lunch where I work if I do. I find this to be a good time to pick up my latest read and squeeze in a few extra pages, but I don’t always crack a book. Sometimes it’s nice to be part of the conversation but I work in an all male field (well mostly, at least I’m the only female in my department at the moment…) so when the conversation turns to fart noises, poop screen savers, and bathroom humor I either laugh because it’s near the end of lunch or I finish quickly and hide behind a book. lol :)

What about you? Answer the poll and comment!

Photo Credits: This Year’s Love

Poll: How Often Do You Read Book Reviews?

A lot of work goes into writing book reviews and I’m curious to know how often you read them. There’s a poll below to see where everybody falls.

How often do you read book reviews?

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If you read lots of book reviews:

  • What do you like best about them?
  • Do you look for anything in particular in book reviews?
  • What would help you in a purchasing decision?

If you read few book reviews:

  • What makes you decide to read a particular book review?
  • Do you only read reviews in the genre/subgenre you read the most? Or only when you’re on the fence about a book?
  • What would make you read more reviews?

If you rarely or never read book reviews:

  • Why do you avoid them? Is it because you’re afraid of spoilers, don’t trust the reviewer’s judgement, too many reviews on ebooks/print books and you only read the other format, too long/short, or something else?
  • What would make you change your mind on reviews?

Thanks!