Top 10 Reasons I Love Medieval Romances

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  1. Castles are very cool. I’ve been fortunate to visit assorted castles in England and Wales, including the castle where my AT HIS COMMAND heroine lives (Castle Rising). You can tell from the ruins how vast some of them were. Climbing spiral staircases in a tower or walking on narrow castle walls with amazing views of the surrounding area helped me imagine what living there hundreds of years ago was like. I even had the opportunity to stay in two castles (Thornbury and Amberley). Both were amazing in different ways.
  2. Real kings, queens and dukes figure into the plot, which happen to be more interesting to me than, say, books featuring presidents or first ladies. I’m fascinated by the historical events and lifestyles of late medieval England, from fashions to food. My interest sparked when I was in a production of Richard III in college and wondered how much of what Shakespeare wrote was true.
  3. The opportunity to figure out what happened when there are gaps in actual history. When, in a reliable source or sources, I see something like, “No one knows what happened in this meeting,” or “Scholars disagree on this or that,” I get to play, “What if?” and make up what will best enhance my characters and/or plot. When I learned about King Henry IV’s strange illness (scholars still debate what he suffered from), ideas started popping into my head, such as how the different people in his life would handle the situation on a day to day basis.
  4. So many interesting character options. Characters can be nobles, peasants, soldiers or merchants. They can live in castles, towns or cities. Heros can be knights in shining or cobbled together armor. Heroines can take on more roles in medieval times than many assume, or they can face societal restrictions most women today do not.
  5. Research and non-fiction books. And more non-fiction books. I’ve written a couple of contemporaries set in my hometown of Chicago. While it was definitely easier to, say, have the characters go for dinner at a Chinese restaurant similar to one in my neighborhood or walk downtown streets I already know well, I had more fun planning medieval meals and learning about who might eat what when, and figuring out how long it would take to travel from one place to another. One of my favorite books is English Medieval Industries, because it gives so many details most of which aren’t available on the Internet) about a variety of occupations.
  6. They say, “Write what you love to read,” vs. writing to market trends. My favorites when I started reading romance novels included Kathleen Woodiwiss’s THE WOLF AND THE DOVE, Roberta Gellis’s Roselynde series, and Julie Garwood’s and Madeline Hunter’s medievals. So when I decided to write, I wanted to write medievals.
  7. Life or death plots. From the plague to battles, from medical knowledge at the time to weapons and armor, from schemes to overthrow the king to arranged marriages, the medieval period yields high stakes plots. It’s easier for me to make the most of the available technology, or lack thereof, during the Battle of Castillon (featured in AT HIS COMMAND) than if I chose to place my characters, say, in a current war. Also, TV shows such as Homeland and Scandal do such a great job portraying modern warfare and politics. I don’t know if I could do as well or better.
  8. Escape and/or fantasy. Many of us read romance novels to experience times, lives and places different from our own. Immersing ourselves in the characters’ world can be more interesting if we’re not as familiar with it. For example, I have a law degree and spent 13 years working with attorneys. I’d rather spend my time off reading about other professions than the law.  If I do read a novel about a lawyer, it’s easier for me to get pulled out of the story if something a character does doesn’t resonate with my knowledge.
  9. Upending readers’ assumptions. Many readers lump the medieval era in with the dark ages, aren’t aware of how long the medieval period actually was or what was invented when, or how much life changed over the course of several hundred years. (Don’t get me started on the scholarly debate about correct terminology and the beginning and end of eras, such as “middle ages,” “early medieval,” etc.) That’d be like assuming very little changed in the 19th and 20th centuries, when we know each decade brought many changes.
  10. Gowns, veiled headdresses and armor. My favorite costume book, John Peacocks Costume 1066-1990s, does a wonderful job of depicting clothing worn during each monarch’s reign. The headdresses popular in mid-15th century England don’t look very comfortable, but are interesting and so different from even the stunning Edwardian chapeaus on this season of Downton Abbey I can’t help but wonder what it was like to wear them.  And who doesn’t love a knight in shining armor? Or chain mail, even. Toss in a manly sword, and you’ve got a swoon worthy hero.

Why do you love medievals? If you don’t, why not?

RKaufman_AtHisCommand_HistoricalRomance_285kbBlurb:Could she defy her king for love?

England 1453: King Henry VI sends Sir Nicholas Gray to protect the recently widowed Lady Amice Winfield from undesirable suitors. Though Nicholas intrigues her, she yearns to run Castle Rising without a man’s control.

Nicholas has no interest in marriage, but can’t deny he’s attracted to Amice. He’s surprised to finally find in Castle Rising a place he feels at home. A kiss sparks desire neither can ignore, yet serving opposing factions seeking to govern England threatens to pull them apart.

At court, the king and queen reject Amice’s pleas and choose a new husband for her, a highly-ranked lord who’ll provide connections and coin for the king’s depleted coffers that Nicholas cannot. How can she follow the king’s command when she’s a scribe for his rival? How can she marry another man when she’s falling in love with Nicholas?

Praise for AT HIS COMMAND-Historical Romance Version: A wonderful debut sure to please lovers of romance!
—NYT & USA Today bestselling author Madeline Hunter

With a bold knight and a strong-willed lady, Kaufman’s story is positively medieval.
— NYT & USA Today bestselling author Tracy Anne Warren

Buy: At His Command-Historical Romance Version, At His Command-Inspirational Version

Ruth Kaufman is a Chicago author, speaker and on-camera and voiceover talent with a J.D. and a Master’s in Radio/TV.  Her writing accolades include Romance Writers of America® 2011 Golden Heart® winner and RT Book Reviews’ national American Title II contest runner up. Her true, short story, “The Scrinch” is in the St. Martin’s Press anthology The Spirit of Christmas, foreword by Debbie Macomber. Learn more at www.ruthkaufman.com and www.ruthtalks.com.

Website: www.ruthkaufman.com

Blog: www.rjkaufman.blogspot.com

Review: The Vampire Hunter (In the Company of Vampires, Book 2) by Michelle Hauf

vampire hunterReviewed by Sandra Scholes

Synopsis: It’s Kasper’s (Kaz) sixteenth birthday and his only present is a wild, fanged beast trying to kill him – in his panic, he stakes him, killing him outright, though it takes another man, Tor to tell him that the beast he just took out was a vampire and even though he bit him, as he killed it – he would not become like him. He got lucky and, though Tor can’t offer him a place to stay as he’s also homeless, he tells him he can become one of the Knights of the Stake who live to protect the humans who walk the streets of gay Paris.

Review: Kaz has changed from what we saw in the prologue. In chapter one and onward he is a grown man who has developed martial arts skills to be able to look after himself, but the ability to be fast still evades him. Meeting Zoe in the cemetery was a chance he never thought possible, but she needed help and he as after three more vampires, longtooth they are known as, and they could have done a lot of damage to a woman like her if they had caught her. The difference is Zoe isn’t like other women he’s met she’s a witch and being with her would go against his code of ethics.

After kissing Zoe once, he wishes he could kiss her again. Strange thing is he feels drawn to her, like they are meant to be together even though he has never met her before. Kaz, like most heroes in romantic fiction is a man on a quest – to find the single-toothed vampire who killed his friends Robert and Ellen Horst. They had been on their honeymoon when the crazed vamp had a burning desire for the diamonds his wife wore that night. Rumour has it there is a new drug going around called Magic Dust and if vampires take it, it makes them crave shiny things. Other than Kaz’s need to find the killer, he wants to find the one who is creating and distributing the drug – but it he does, he might not like who it is.

Good Bits:

  • The fight Kaz has in the cemetery at the beginning.
  • The ever mysterious Vaillant.
  • The naughty things Faeries can do during sex with vampires!

Summary: Michelle tackles the subject of Faerie and other supernatural creatures living in a sort of harmony in this novel. Vampires have the sort of needs we never pondered before and are far from the Gothic, fanged predators we took them for. They have weaknesses and the Faerie tend to exploit them for their own gain. Kaz is a strong character and Zoe is equally as strong but in different ways. I liked that this story was based in Paris and had a lot of fast-paced moments, emotions and humorous moments too.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: The Vampire Hunter (In the Company of Vampires Book 2)

Review: An Affair Downstairs by (Thornbrook Park, Book 2) by Sherri Browning

an affair downstairsHero: Logan Winthrop is an estate manager with a past. He was once gentry but was linked with the murder of his lover’s husband. To keep his brother’s family free of gossip he hid from polite society. But he can’t keep hiding around Alice.

Heroine: Lady Alice Emerson has no intention of ever marrying. She has a bucket list and she plans to pursue the completion of every adventure on it and a husband would get in the way. Alice wants to see India, shoot a pistol, and have an affair to name a few things on her list.

Review: Logan is a hero who will do what it takes to protect those around him, even if it is from himself. He has desired Alice for a while but saw the differences in their circumstances as insurmountable. He’s relatively easy to seduce when Alice chooses him as her first sexual experience. Don’t let Alice fool you, she thinks he’s a good choice for all the wrong reasons. Another man enters the picture and he says all the right things, pays all the right attention to Alice, and yet there’s something off about him. Will Logan step aside to give Alice a chance at the perfect match or will he claim her as his own? One nice thing about this book is that the sister isn’t evil (and there will be a time when you wonder, but she’s mostly shallow and clueless which are forgivable because she loves Alice).

Rating: ★★★½☆

Buy: An Affair Downstairs (A Thornbrook Park Romance Book 2)

Review: Bought for Revenge by Sarah Mallory

bought for revengeReviewed by Sandra Scholes

Synopsis: Captain Lucas Blackstone has, unlike many of his men he served with returned from the battle of Waterloo unscathed. By coming back, he hopes to renovate what was once his family’s mansion, but seeing it in its current state causes him concern.

Debutante Annabelle Havenham’s father has to settle with his debtors and the only way he can is to sell the mansion he has come to see as his home. He thinks Captain Blackstone is the worthy buyer, yet he wants more into the bargain if he is to get his revenge on her father for what he had done in the past.

Review: Lucas comes to Annabelle’s father pretending to be a Mr Monserrat to avoid problems, but even in this deceptive manner, Annabelle’s father thinks he recognises him. Little by little, Lucas plans to take the loathed Mr Havenham down, knowing no one can prevent what will come to pass. Once Lucas meets Annabelle he has feelings for her as she is a strong-minded woman who wants to be seen as an equal in relationships. He wants to take down her father, yet he also has a hard time making her a worthy pawn in his game. Lucas makes the mistake of getting too close to her, close enough to have feelings for her that could cloud his judgement if he wants revenge against her father. He does have a heart, though but he keeps it in check for his own sake if he is to make her father pay for his past sins. In doing so, he puts his future and that of Annabelle’s at risk – she might never trust him after he tells her he wants to ruin him. He was after all a child when the incident happened and as a result, he could be alienating the only woman who would love him back, and the one man who, if Annabelle would accept his offer of marriage, would accept his offer of marriage without question.

Good Bits:

  • Annabelle’s first meeting with Lucas.
  • The interesting business of the Havenham family painting that makes Lucas very nervous indeed.
  • The mysterious cousin Hugh and how he fits into the story.

Summary: What starts out as a heated romance novel soon turns into a murder mystery both Lucas and Annabelle have to solve before it is too late. I found this an enjoyable and gripping novel that twists and turns really well until the satisfying reveal at the end.

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: Bought for Revenge

Audio Review: Sylvester by Georgette Heyer

sylvesterHeroine: Phoebe Marlow has a good head on her shoulders and sees the ton’s foibles for what they are. She’s also an aspiring writer who just finished penning a marvelous Gothic romance with cameos of different persons in the ton. She makes her bad guy the insufferable Duke of Salford and unwittingly creates his fictional character with a background very close to the real Sylvester. When Sylvester makes a good impression on her after the book is sent to the publishers, she’s desperate to change it but it’s too late!

Hero: Sylvester, the Duke of Salford, doesn’t remember meeting Phoebe the first time. He’s always prided himself on upholding the title with pride and dignity. To treat anyone ill is beneath him and his station. He decides the best way to get back at Phoebe for her slander is to marry the girl, but he goes about it all wrong and botches everything.

Review: In some respects you could say Sylvester is like Mr. Darcy, but they are not exact copies. Loved Sylvester’s nickname for Phoebe, “sparrow.” Super cute. I love a great nickname. I also liked the dynamics of the story. You have several side characters who add to the story’s tapestry and orchestrate all kinds of shenanigans from an ill-behaved nephew, a spoiled woman who wants the attention from being a pitiable mother without having to mother, a man as pompous as he is wealthy, and a platonic male friend who tries to do right but ends up making a mess of things because he lacks the savvy Sylvester was born with. Overall very enjoyable.

Narrator: Nicholas Rowe has a nice smooth voice. The recording is a little soft and I had to listen to it at higher volume than I normally would, but Rowe himself was great. He had a good cadence with the book and made Heyer’s novel entertaining and engaging.

Rating: ★★★½☆

Buy: Sylvester: or The Wicked Uncle, Sylvester: Or, the Wicked Uncle (audio book)

Review: Slow Hand (Hot Cowboy Nights, Book 1) by Victoria Vane

Slow Hand-300Reviewed by Lynn Reynolds

Nicole “Nikki” Powell has some regrets.  And with the way her story starts off you have to feel sorry for her.  And the author does a great job at showing all the emotions that Nikki is feeling.  Wade Knowlton has a soft heart but that doesn’t mean that he’s a pushover.  The author did a great job in showing how seductive or sweet he could be.  Their first real interaction will have you chuckling.  Our couple’s second conversation shows what a great read this is going to be.  You will have to read in order to find out who won the “tug of wills”.

This book is also a great incentive to check out Montana if you’ve never been.  Another suggestion would be to check out those vacations that you could spend your time on a working ranch.  But in both instances you will want to make sure to bring this book with you.  There is tons of steam heat and you can’t blame it on the humidity – just sayin’.  There’s graphic language and some graphic sex scenes so that you will need plenty of ice or a big fan handy.  It may even spice up your love life a little.

Some authors include a character that you just seem to hate – one step above a jerk.  This is one more incentive to grab your own copy of this great book – to learn more about Wade’s brother.  And this author goes one step further and includes a real bitch that has you hoping that she gets what she deserves.

Victoria will give you your HEA ending and this book will also get you ready for Rough Rider that comes out in February.  If I have one disappointment is that I wasn’t able to get to a ranch in order to set the tone while reading this book – but never say never.  And if you would like to read a Christmas novella starring our couple, Slowly Unwrapped can be found at Victoria’s web site.  (http://www.victoriavane.com/free-reads/).

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: Slow Hand (Hot Cowboy Nights)

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Review: An Unsuitable Match (The Duke of Strathmore, Book 2) by Sasha Cottman

cover52980-mediumHeroine: Lady Clarice Langham is in the unenviable position of watching the future Duke of Strathmore wed another woman. (She used to be engaged to the the man). Even being an heiress and a previous ton favorite doesn’t shelter her from vicious gossip and a waning society crown.

Hero: David Radley is the eldest son of the current Duke of Strathmore, but is alas illegitimate even if he is recognized by the duke. He’s loved Clarice for years and sees now as the perfect time to pledge his case.

Review: I think this book is better after having read the first in the series. Readers will have more background on Clarice and David. Clarice did not come across as a strong heroine, although I think she was meant to be because of her inner strength holding onto a secret. She felt drab and plain (she binds her body.) I could not connect with her. David was a good sort. He didn’t envy his younger brother the status of heir to the dukedom and he had a good relationship with his siblings.

Rating: ★★½☆☆

Buy: An Unsuitable Match: Destiny Romance

Get into Bed with Leigh Greenwood (Author Interview)

to love and to cherishKeira: Laurie Spencer, the heroine of To Love and to Cherish, feels trapped by her life and particularly by her family. If you were her best friend, what would you tell her?  

Leigh Greenwood: My first impulse would be to tell her to leave her husband, but women on the frontier had few rights and fewer chances for legal support.  Since her parents wouldn’t support her, she would need the support of other family members.  Still, she was a young and beautiful woman.  I would say her chances of finding a caring husband were very good.

Keira: What advice would you give to Jared Smith, the hero of the story, if you were his best friend?  

Leigh: Figure out the money as best he could, but don’t take a chance on losing Laurie.

Keira: What’s your perception of the genre as a male author writing romance? How did you come to write in this genre?

Leigh: I think it’s a wonderful genre and don’t see why so many people look down on it.  That we have excellent writers is proved by their presence on the bestsellers lists.  They can write anything from character-driven stories to action/adventure and science fiction/futuristic.  I think many people are too afraid of their emotions to be able to appreciate romance.  I write romance because I enjoy the interaction between characters that leads to a happy ending.  I also like cowboys and children so it all works together to create a story that, regardless of the setting, can be pertinent to modern situations.

Keira: What’s your favorite part about writing about cowboys and cowgirls and the West?

Leigh: I like the chance to include the kind of action and adventure that you can’t put in most present-day settings.

Keira: How do you define love? How can someone recognize their soul mate / true love?  

Leigh: There really is no answer to that question because it’s different for every couple.  It even changes when a person finds a new partner because no two people are the same.  What they bring to the relationship and what they need from it will be different.  The best I can offer is that being with that one person makes you happy, fulfilled, content, so much so you’re willing to work your butt of to keep it.

Keira: If you could travel anywhere and in any time period, where would you go and why?  

Leigh: It would be hard to choose between ancient Greece and ancient Rome.  I’ve always been fascinated by ancient civilizations.  These two made enormous contributions to our modern world.

Keira: What can we expect from you next?  

Leigh: I have two more books in the Cactus Creek series that will disclose the secret that caused the town to pick up and move west.

To Love and to Cherish by Leigh Greenwood

Torn Between a Desire to be Free…

When Laurie Spencer said “I do”, she never realized she’d be trading one pair of shackles for another—until her husband’s unexpected death leaves her with an opportunity to escape her controlling family for good. Determined to be independent, Laurie approaches sexy rancher Jared Smith with an offer she hopes he can’t refuse…

And a Longing to be His…

Jared’s determined to make it in Texas, but with the local banker turned against him, it looks like his dream may be slipping through his fingers. When unconsciously sensual Laurie offers a partnership, his luck may be changing…but when she throws herself in as part of the deal, Jared’s not sure he’ll be able to respect the terms of their agreement and keep his eyes—and his hands—to himself.

There’s something about Laurie that awakens every protective instinct Jared has…and when all hell breaks loose, there’s nothing and no one who’ll be able to keep this cowboy from her side.

Buy: To Love and to Cherish (Cactus Creek Cowboys Book 2)

Leigh Greenwood is the USA Today bestselling author of the popular Seven Brides, Cowboys, and Night Riders series. The proud father of three grown children, Leigh resides in Charlotte, North Carolina. He never intended to be a writer, but he found it hard to ignore the people in his head, and the only way to get them out was to write. Visit him at www.leigh-greenwood.com.

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