I am so delighted to welcome Vanessa Kelly today! She's not only one of my favorite people but one of my favorite authors as well. If you aren't reading her books, now's the perfect time to begin! Vanessa was named by Booklist, the review journal of the American Library Association, as one of the “New Stars of Historical Romance.” Her Regency-set historical romances have been nominated for awards in a number of contests, and her second book, Sex and The Single Earl, won the prestigious Maggie Medallion for Best Historical Romance. (You may have seen the photos in our Moonlight & Magnolias blogs from 2011) You can find Vanessa on the web at www.vanessakellyauthor.com. You can also connect with her at Facebook, Twitter and Vanessa's Blog.
By Vanessa Kelly
Hi PJ and Andrea! I’m so happy to be celebrating the release of my new historical romance, His Mistletoe Bride, with you and your readers.
For those of you who've read my previous books in the Stanton Family series, you’ll know that I have strong-minded and resourceful heroines. They’re up to challenging the various pig-headed notions of the heroes, and they fight hard to achieve their HEAs with the men they love. But although my books obviously focus on the hero and heroine, I do like to develop other relationships for my main characters, especially friendships between the various women in the books.
The heroine of His Mistletoe Bride, Phoebe Linville, is a Quaker who comes from America to meet her aristocratic British relatives. The first person she meets is my hero, Lucas Stanton. Phoebe finds him both intriguing and attractive, but also a bit intimidating. Lucas, who is pretty darn smart as well as drop-dead sexy, realizes that Phoebe could use a little female companionship. He introduces her to Aunt Georgina (Lady Stanton) and to Meredith, the Countess of Silverton. The women—characters from my previous books—take Phoebe under their wings.
With some entertaining results, I might add. Here’s a short excerpt from Phoebe’s first dress shopping expedition in London—clearly an important event if she’s to make a success of her society debut. But as a plainly dressed Quaker she finds the entire experience rather daunting, and she needs some gentle support from Aunt Georgina and Meredith:
Scowling at her reflection, Phoebe gave her bodice another useless tug. Meredith stood and moved behind her, gently placing her hands on Phoebe’s shoulders and turning her around.
“You’re only in half mourning,” Meredith said as she skillfully rearranged the whisper-thin material across Phoebe’s bosom. “Your grandfather has been dead for over two months, so it’s entirely appropriate for you to go out into company, as long as you don’t dance. And this gown is both tasteful and discreet. Just the perfect thing for a young lady in your situation.”
Phoebe almost choked on Meredith’s description of the gown. Half her chest was exposed. If she did not succumb to a fatal chill, she would likely die of mortification the first time she went into public.
Without thinking, she slipped her hand up to the bodice, ready to yank it up. Meredith caught her fingers.
“You’ll ruin the fabric,” she warned.
“But I feel . . . naked.”
Aunt Georgie laughed. “I’m not surprised, given what you normally wear. But I assure you, that dress is modest by ton standards. It’s the perfect thing for your appearance at Lady Framingham’s ball next week.”
“Aunt Georgina is right,” Meredith said. “Half the women at the ball will be falling out of their gowns. One or two of them quite literally.” She smoothed down the bodice over her own generous chest and sighed. “Just look at me. After having twins, I practically have to strap myself in whenever I put on evening attire or I’d give my husband a fit.”
“But everything seems to fit you perfectly.” Despairing, Phoebe gestured at her overflowing chest. “Unlike me. I’m skinny everywhere but up here. I look top heavy, like some sort of puffed-up bird.”
Aunt Georgie smiled. “The dressmaker can alter the gown to fit perfectly. And you have a lovely figure. Most girls would give their eyeteeth to look like you. Most importantly, I’m sure any man in his right mind would agree. Lucas, for instance. He seems quite taken with you.”
Not again. Phoebe did not want to have this conversation, not when she knew her cheeks turned red as fire at the very mention of his name. “I am sure he is not.”
“I’m sure he is,” Aunt Georgie gently insisted. “We hardly used to see Lucas from one week to the next, but now he practically haunts the General’s library. He’s visited every day since you’ve arrived.”
Phoebe blushed even harder. “He is acting out of simple kindness to a newcomer, nothing more.”
Meredith laughed. “Kindness has nothing to do with it. Can’t you tell?”
That was the problem. She could not. The men she had grown up with were nothing like Lucas, or anyone else in London, for that matter.
Phoebe grew up in a quiet country village, and she has no idea how to navigate the complexities of life among the British aristocracy. Fortunately for her, she has women friends and family who will guide her. I love creating these strong female relationships in my stories, and I think readers enjoy them too. Besides, as much as we love the men in our lives—and Phoebe and Lucas do eventually fall madly in love—we sometimes need a little help from our women friends, don’t we?
What about you, readers? When you need support who are the women you turn to? I’m very fortunate to be able to rely on my step-mother and sister, but I have wonderful women friends, too. So tell us all about it! One person who comments will win a copy of two of my previous books—Mastering The Marquess and An Invitation To Sin.
BLAME IT ON THE MISTLETOE…
When Major Lucas Stanton inherited his earldom, he never dreamed his property would include the previous earl’s granddaughter. Phoebe Linville is a sparkling American beauty, yes, but with a talent for getting into trouble. Witness the compromising position that forced them into wedlock. Whisked away to Mistletoe Manor, his country estate, it isn’t long before she is challenging his rules—and surprising him in and out of bed…
Phoebe has no intention of bowing to Lucas’s stubbornness even though he offers all that she wants. His kisses and unexpected warmth are enticing, but Phoebe is determined to show the Earl of Merritt what real love is all about. And if that takes twelve nights of delicious seduction by a roaring fire, she’s more than willing to reveal her gifts very slowly…