Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Best-laid Plans...

Write what you know and know what you write.  As an author, I’ve heard that my entire life.  But some things, the things that are the hardest to write about, are the things you know the best. They’re also the hardest things to share with the world because they’re so personal. You have to go to a place in your heart you don’t like to visit and tap into something you’d rather forget.

I encountered that very thing this past year as I was writing my Christmas-set novella A Bit of Mistletoe (which can be found in the recently released A PACT BETWEEN GENTLEMEN). I had every intention of writing a happy, fluffy Christmas story, until I realized my heroine wasn’t one who could ever be free enough from her past to be as light-hearted as all that – Christmas or not.

I could have scrapped that idea and started over with someone else; but in my heart I really, REALLY wanted Miss Theresa Birkin to have a happy-ever-after. Tessie deserved a happy-ever-after. She deserved so much more than she’d received up to that point. She isn’t so much my most flawed heroine as she is my most careful. She’s had no choice but to be so, however. You see, she made the mistake of falling for a rake and ruined her life in the process. 

I know what that feels like. To make decisions based on promises and then have the rug and my carefully planned life ripped out from beneath me.  And I’m intimately familiar with silver-tongued liars.  Don’t get me started!

The catalyst for the Christmas Pact Anthology collection (A PACT BETWEEN GENTLEMEN and A GENTLEMEN’S PACT) is that 6 gentlemen make a pact to remain bachelors after the death of their friend. You see, Lord Arrington, their friend (of the philandering silver-tongued variety) was caught cheating by his wife and then promptly murdered by her with the help of her fire poker. The 6 gentlemen in question feel the best way to avoid the same end to their lives is to simply to avoid marriage in the first place.  But you know what they say about the best-laid plans (or pacts, as the case may be)…

I posted the dedication to this book on my Facebook page the day the book was released, but I’d like to share it here as well…

For every woman out there who has been cheated on or abandoned ~ A few years ago, my husband of 12 years told me he was leaving me for another woman. I know I’m not a novelty in that regard, but when you’re going through a situation like that, you certainly feel like you are. So as unseemly as it is to admit, I do feel a little kinship for Lady Arrington and her fire iron. While I could never harm anyone myself, I certainly understand the emotions that could lead one to that place.
At the time, I had some wonderful friends who promised to help me hide the body should I decide to “knock him off” (in jest, of course). But their friendship, their commiseration, their support helped me through the most difficult time in my life, and I will always love them for it. Every woman should be as lucky to have such wonderful, devoted, and loyal friends.  Had Lady Arrington had friends like mine, I’m certain she wouldn’t have ended up in Newgate Prison.
I am here to say, however, that as hard as it is to believe when you’re recovering from that sort of betrayal, there really are some decent and truly good men out there. I am honored to know a number of them. And after rising from my ashes, I am very fortunate to have found an honorable hero of my own.  
Though Lord Berkswell isn’t the soft, cuddly sort – and flawed, though he is - Berks is decent and a truly good man who cares for and loves his family with all his heart. I hope you’ll love him as much as I do.
  ~ Ava

I am a baby, in that every time I read that dedication I cry. I hate to admit that, but it's true. Try as I might, I can never forget the betrayal and utter shock that went through me when my then-husband told me he was leaving me and for whom - a woman I knew, a woman I'd had at my house for holidays and graduations, a woman I never would have suspected was that sort of woman.

Because I had been through that particular situation, it made me anxious to give Tessie Birkin a well-deserved happy ever after, but it also hurt a little to write, getting into her head, feeling her emotions. She'd been betrayed and I knew exactly what that felt like. Tapping into that emotion can be painful, but also a bit cathartic too. Still, it had to be done. Good people don't always get happy endings in real life, but as an author of fiction, I can certainly make sure that good characters get the ending they deserve. (Bad ones too for that matter, though that's cathartic in a different way.)

Have you ever REALLY identified with a character in a book?

Monday, November 25, 2013

Yay!! I Can Finally Say...

For a while now I've been saying that as soon as A SCANDALOUS PAST hit the audiobook shelves, I'd be screaming the news from the rafters. (Consider this post said rafters).

I know you'd expect every author to say this, but... I really love this book. I adore the heroine, who I think was a bit similar to me when I was younger. A more loyal girl, you'll never find. But I also loved the triangle she finds herself in - torn between good boy Lord Clayworth and bad boy Lord Haversham. Really - I'd take either one.

It has been a wonderful journey, listening to audio versions of my SCANDALOUS series be born. It has been so much fun re-visiting these books in a new form and hearing Stevie Zimmerman - audio producer extraordinaire - transform these characters and stories into something different, something new. 

Though A SCANDALOUS PAST is the last in this particular series, it certainly isn't "the end". Very soon, I hope to announce that my connected HEROES RETURNED series will also be finding its way to the audiobook shelves. 

Audible  |  Amazon  |  iTunes

After years of abuse at the hands of her mother, Cordelia Avery knows the only way out is marriage to the perfect man. A man who will allow her all the freedom she has ever craved. And she has the perfect man picked out. The scandalous Marquess of Haversham might not be perfect to anyone else, but taking the man’s black reputation under consideration, Cordie believes she’ll enjoy all the freedom she’s always wished for in his disreputable arms. If only she could get her heart to go along with the plan and to stop leaping whenever Lord Adonis…er…the Earl of Clayworth is nearby. But the very proper earl is most assuredly the wrong sort for her purposes. 

Brendan Reese, the Earl of Clayworth, has no intention of ever marrying again. He's still trying to clean up the mess his first wife left him, even years after her death. To all the world, Clayworth is the epitome of the perfect English gentlemen, and he so wishes that image was the truth. But the truth, as it often can be, is ugly. After all, a perfect English gentlemen would never have a traitor for a mother. And unless Clayworth can find the evidence his late-wife hid, he could face the gallows himself. But a chance encounter with the reckless Cordelia Avery give him the best lead he's had in years to finally put his family's past to rest. Unfortunately, focusing on anything other than Miss Avery seems a nearly impossible task. 

Also available in the Scandalous Series...

Friday, November 22, 2013

Romance Ramblings: Planning for Thanksgiving

During this week's Romance Ramblings, Jerrica calls Ava a "baby woman" more than once and lives to tell the tale. They talk voting, cynical teenagers, planning for Thanksgiving, and bedside manner.
Today's preparing for Thanksgiving question - How many place settings do you have? 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Romance Ramblings: An Homage to Film Noir...

This week during Romance Ramblings, Ava and Jerrica discuss worst/best Christmas gifts, projects for the new year, and Ava's impending sainthood (thank you, Christi Caldwell.)

What is the worst gift YOU've ever received?

Friday, November 8, 2013

Romance Ramblings: Seriously Off the Cuff...

This week Ava and Jerrica (along with "That Guy") are imbibing once again. And you know what that means... ONE LIVELY EPISODE OF ROMANCE RAMBLINGS. This week we talk Snapchat (and why Ava can't get her user name and other more sordid details thanks to Eric), discuss how to sound properly German, the fun of audiobooks, and family trees!

What do you think is the next big social media "thing"? And Eric would like to know your Snapchat user name. ;)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A Pact Between Gentleman & A Gentlemen's Pact

The Falcon & the Philosopher Inn, Cambridgeshire – December 1814

Flickering light from the hearth at the far end of the taproom cast a warm glow across the floor, wooden beams, and six very serious gentlemen gathered in a circle around one of the tables. Only an occasional pop or crackle from the fire made any sound in the otherwise vacant tavern.
“Richard would want us to drink to his name,” Rowan Findley announced, lifting a glass of whiskey out before him.
Robert Hurst, the Earl of Northcotte, snorted. “Richard would want to be alive,” he grumbled under his breath, but the others heard him clearly. And on that point they were all in agreement.
Richard Hollace, the late Lord Arrington, had lived life to its fullest. He embodied the sentiment “eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we may die.” And unfortunately, the latter was true in his case. It was the way Lord Arrington had passed that had caused such a pallor to be cast upon the taproom. No man liked to think about his own passing, and certainly not passing before one’s time, but to be killed so viciously, and by one’s own wife…
“Which is why we should drink to his name,” David Hounslow, the Marquess of Preston said softly, lifting his glass of whiskey as well.
“Here, here.” Sebastian Stanwick raised his glass.
The other three men followed suit as Findley said, “To Richard Hollace, a damn good friend.”
“With a generous heart,” Preston added.
“And a wicked sense of humor,” Nicholas Beckford, Lord Edgeworth tossed in.
“The life of every party,” agreed Everett Casemore, the Marquess of Berkswell.
“Knower of all things equine.” Northcotte smiled sadly.
“Knower of all things female.” Stanwick frowned.
That last bit swirled about the room, each man ruminating over the truth of it. Had Arrington known fewer females, he might very well be alive this night. He wouldn’t be lying six feet under with a hole in his head in the shape of a fire iron. The six of them wouldn’t have driven through the snow to Cambridgeshire on short notice. And they wouldn’t have sat through their old school chum’s funeral, wondering how such a tragedy could have befallen the man.
One by one, they swallowed the contents of their glasses, each wondering how the world had stopped making sense. Ladies didn’t murder their husbands. They just didn’t do such things, except… Well, except one did. Something the lot of them would have thought unfathomable a fortnight earlier had become a tragic and quite frightening truth.
“What’s going to happen to her?” Preston asked, his voice just loud enough to be heard over the crackling fire.
“She’s been taken to Newgate,” Edgeworth replied. “I expect they’ll hang her.”
“Richard should have been more careful of her sensibilities,” Stanwick said, raking a hand through his midnight black hair. “He should have taken care that she not find out about his paramours.”
“I doubt he thought his wife was capable of such a thing,” Berkswell returned.
“I doubt any man thinks so.” Findley sighed.
“And yet women are very clearly capable of such things,” Northcotte began, “One only has to look as far as Richard for proof.”
Again, silence befell the six men. One only did have to look as far as Richard to see that women were very clearly capable of murder. Northcotte had never spoken truer words.
“Well, that settles it then—” Findley broke the silence, slamming his glass on the table in front of him a little harder than was necessary “—I’m never getting married. That’s the best and only way I can think of to avoid Richard’s fate.”
It only took half a second for Preston to say, “I couldn’t agree with you more.”
“Well, then, what about you?” Findley glanced from Berkswell to Northcotte to Edgeworth to Stanwick.
Berkswell scrubbed a hand across his jaw and shook his head. “Certainly not worth the risk. My brother can inherit.”
“As can my cousin,” Northcotte added solemnly.
“Never planned on marrying anyway.” Edgeworth shrugged.
“Nor I,” Stanwick agreed.
“Then we’re agreed,” Findley announced, lifting his glass in the air once more. “I, Rowan Findley, hereby solemnly vow to never take a wife.”
The other five lifted their glasses and repeated the vow in unison.
Famous last words, most assuredly…

PRE-ORDER Available

In AVA STONE's A Bit of Mistletoe, Everett Casemore, the very serious Marquess of Berkswell, returns home for Christmas, slightly shaken by the death of an old friend. Determined not to suffer the same sort of fate at the hands of a woman, Berks resolves himself to eternal bachelorhood. Unfortunately, both his resolve and his peace of mind are threatened by the arrival of a beautiful, thoughtful, but mostly unsuitable lady. * Miss Theresa Birkin knows better than most that an error in judgment can lead one down an unfortunate path. If only she'd been wiser when she was younger. If only she hadn't followed her foolish heart. If only she'd met Lord Berkswell long before now. 

In JANE CHARLES's Lady Disguised, Mr. Sebastian Stanwick never intended to marry. It was bad enough that his father gambled away everything they owned and then drank himself to death, leaving his mother broken until she could not go on. But the death of his good friend at the hand of the man’s wife only solidifies Stanwick’s decision to remain a bachelor. Women were simply unpredictable and unstable if not taken care of properly. * Hélène Mirabelle wants few things in life. One, is to perform on the stage, and the other, is to be out from under the roof of her overbearing new family: Lord Bentley and the Trent brothers. Since her mother’s recent passing, Hélène's desire to return to Milan and the stage has only grown. A husband could never fit into the plans because no decent man would take an actress as a wife. * One fateful night leaves Hélène questioning if being an actress is the only thing she wants, while Stanwick begins to wonder whether all women are truly prone to madness and if they are, he may never get Hélène off of his mind. 

In CATHERINE GAYLE’s Thick as Thieves, David Hounslow, the Marquess of Preston, will not stand aside while those he loves are hurt. When it becomes clear his brother-in-law’s guest is up to no good, Preston determines to scrutinize every move of the would-be thief. Not that he minds such a task—Lady Frederica is as beautiful and intelligent as she is enigmatic. Considering her close relation to a wastrel brother and her current proclivity for the less-than-savory, Preston never expected to be won over to the lady’s charms. Yet she just might steal his heart. * Desperation has become Lady Frederica Bexley-Smythe’s constant companion due to her brother’s recent affinity for gambling and carousing. With the fate of both her mother and sister resting upon her shoulders, perhaps the time has arrived for Freddie to bend the rules. How else can she secure their future? Unfortunately, Lord Preston’s scrutiny is complicating her task. Far more perplexing than his perusal is his caring nature, which is distracting her from the treasures she intends to steal. But desperate times call for desperate measures…
PRE-ORDER Available
iTunes | Kobo

In JERRICA KNIGHT-CATANIA's All He Wants For Christmas, Rowan Findley can't imagine a fate worse than what his friend suffered at the hands of his mad wife, so he's made the decision to remain a bachelor for all eternity. That is, until Olivia walks into his cousin's drawing room for a Christmas party. Her fiery red hair and sweet demeanor remind him of a night so many years ago that he would never forget. * Olivia Edwards can't quite believe her eyes when Rowan Findley waltzes back into her life, as handsome and charming as ever. It's been almost seven years since she's seen him, and the secret she's been harboring all that time has her on edge whenever he's about. Yet she can't deny that she's still drawn to him, nor can she deny the desire she's kept hidden in her heart these many years.

In AILEEN FISH’s Chasing Lord Mystery, Lord Northcotte is not in the holiday spirit when he joins his sister’s family shortly after the brutal death of a friend. Discovering a matchmaking scheme is afoot, he tells them he will never marry Lady Miriam or any other woman. Now if only his heart would listen. * Lady Miriam’s mother accused her of chasing Lord Mystery after a noble act by a handsome stranger six years ago became the measure of all other men. Now he’s staying at the home where she’d hoped to escape a summons from her grandfather, the Duke of Danby. Terrified Northcotte will recognize her and reveal the contents of the scandalous letter she wrote him years ago, she can’t decide which is the bigger threat: the duke armed with a special license, or Lord Mystery, who carries a secret she’d never live down.

In JULIE JOHNSTONE’s Tis The Season For Surrender, Lillian Lancaster would rather catch the plague than a husband. Unfortunately, her abusive, recently deceased father’s will stipulates her inheritance hinges upon her marrying a lord. With time running out, Lillian proposes to the guilt-ridden, marriage-adverse Lord Edgeworth after securing his agreement to a marriage in name only. * Edgeworth feels responsible for his former betrothed’s death and believes he doesn’t deserve love, which makes Lillian’s proposal oddly perfect. Commanded by his grandfather to marry by Christmas or become penniless, the obviously perfect choice is a woman who wants nothing to do with him. * When Lillian displays a brave and true heart and Edgeworth reveals his honorable, protective side maintaining a marriage of convenience becomes harder than these two wounded souls imagined. Now, Lillian and Edgeworth must decide if they are courageous enough to risk their hearts and surrender to love.

Amazon                            Amazon                             Amazon                         Amazon
B&N                                  B&N                                B&N                                 B&N
Kobo                                   Kobo                               Kobo                                  Kobo
iTunes                              iTunes                              iTunes                              iTunes

Friday, October 18, 2013

Romance Ramblings: Ava & Jerrica's Top 11 1/2...

There's often something unpleasant on the news, be it government shutdowns, natural disasters, or tragedies of one form or another. So this week, inspired by the government shutdown, Jerrica and I have compiled a TOP ELEVEN 1/2 list of things you can do to keep your mind off all the unpleasantness going on...

Do you have anything to add to our list? What is your favorite form of distraction...?

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Romance Ramblings is BACK!!!

This week Ava Stone and Jerrica Knight-Catania catch up at Romance Ramblings. We discuss new houses, pets, the original rebel rouser (who is NOT Ava), and toss around the idea of having Jerrica's twins (in their younger years) pull some sort of prank on one of Ava's characters in an upcoming book.
I'm not sure why... but the video isn't showing up today. So if you're looking for it. You can find it at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ct-HvxpSjqs
Ava says a bad word (consider that your warning). AND... Jerrica tries to convince us that she can turn into a gourd. 

QUESTION OF THE DAY - what sort of prank should Andrew and Michael Wetherby (when they're children) play on one of Ava's characters? And do you have a suggestion of which character will have a prank pulled on them?