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Showing posts with label Katharine Ashe. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Katharine Ashe. Show all posts

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Review - - I Adored a Lord

I Adored a Lord
By Katharine Ashe
Publisher: Avon
Release Date: July 29, 2014

As a small child in a home for foundlings, Ravenna Caulfield learned to escape from the bullies who tormented her. Once she and her two sisters were adopted by a vicar, she still put the skill into practice, leaving the usual pursuits of female children to tag after the groom and learn what he knew about treating ill horses, to follow the gypsy boy hired by the vicar to learn the healing art he could teach her, and later to watch the doctor treating her oldest sister, adding all he could teach her to her store of knowledge. At sixteen, she and Beast, the big, black dog who had been her inseparable companion from her eighth birthday, left home to join the household of Sir Beverley Clark as caretaker for the three wolfhounds, nine pugs, and assorted macaws and parrots that belonged to him and his friend Mr. Pettigrew. For six years, she was happy, caring for the menagerie, learning all she could from the coachman, and being cossetted by the two men she fondly called “the nannies.” Then everything changed. First, Ravenna’s sister Arabella married Luc Westfall, Duke of Lycombe (I Married the Duke), and some people felt Ravenna’s employment was unsuitable for a member of a duke’s family. Then, Beast died. Arabella arranged for Sir Beverley and Mr. Pettigrew to escort Ravenna to a house party held at Chateau Chevriot, a remote castle in the mountains of France, where Prince Sebatiao of Portugal has gathered a bevy of marriageable ladies from whom he is expected to choose a bride.

Arabella is concerned about Ravenna’s isolation in grief over Beast, but the duchess has not forgotten the gypsy’s prophesy that only when one of the Caulfield sisters marries a prince will they know their origin. Maybe this is their chance for a Caulfield to captivate a prince. Ravenna is uninterested in princes or in marrying. She is not happy to be among Prince Sebatiao’s guests, but she's trapped for the duration of the gathering.

Lord Vitor Courtenay is no happier than Ravenna to be at Chateau Chevriot. A veteran of war and betrayal, he has spent two years in a monastery in search of healing and peace and had just decided he was not intended for a monk’s life when he was pressured to join the house party and make sure his half-brother, the spoiled young prince, chooses a bride--an eligible one. Vitor is not expecting to enjoy his stay, but he is accustomed to doing what he perceives as his duty. He is no stranger to danger; still, he is unprepared for the spitfire who attacks him with a pitchfork in a dark stable or for the unforgettable kiss they share. He’s even less prepared for a dead body in a suit of armor or for the spitfire who insists on being part of the murder investigation that is ineptly handled by local authorities. Ravenna may be no match for the prince, but she may be the perfect match for the brother who is not looking for a bride.

I Adored a Lord, the second book in Ashe’s Prince Catcher series, is part romance and part mystery in the vein of the British country house mysteries of the golden age of that genre when authors such as Agatha Christie, Dorothy B. Sayers, Georgette Heyer, and Margery Allingham were turning out classic tales. With more than twenty suspects snowed in at the chateau where an uninvited guest lies murdered, a dog worth more than the ostentatious jewels worn by some of the guests has been kidnapped, and mayhem accompanies various matches and mismatches, Ashe’s novel is a worthy successor to those tales. Ashe herself has compared the story to a game of Clue, and I promise reading it is as much fun as a lively game of guessing Professor Plum in the library with the knife or Miss Scarlet in the billiard room with the candlestick. 

The unquenchable Ravenna is smart, independent, and stubborn. The restless Vitor is handsome, honorable, and driven. I found them both to be interesting, likeable characters, and watching the advance and retreat of their relationship is a delight. The banter sparkles, the wit amuses, and the mystery sufficiently challenges.  A large secondary cast, drawn with a deft hand, adds to the fun. I am always charmed by authors who have the ability to capture the essence of a character in a few words, and Ashe proves her skill at this in such sentences as this description of Prince Sebatiao: “He was a boy of tender conscience in the skin of a spoiled prince, unstable at worst and too greatly indulged at best.” At levels large and small, this book works wonderfully.

I enjoyed the first book in this series, but I think the second is even better. If you like your romance with a shade of difference, a generous serving of mystery, and a blend of tenderness and sizzle, I highly recommend I Adored a Lord.


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Katharine Ashe Winner

The randomly chosen winners of an e-copy of
My Lady, My Lord
by Katharine Ashe




Congratulations!  Please send us your email address and whether you'd like a 
Kindle or Nook copy of the book.  

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Sneak Peek -- My Lady, My Lord by Katharine Ashe

My Lady, My Lord by Katharine Ashe is a Regency romance using the classic enemies-to-lovers trope with a significant, and unexpected, twist.  I'm reading it now and can't wait to discover how Ashe manages to bring these two to their happy ending!  

The Bluestocking
Lady Corinna Mowbray has three passions: excellent books, intelligent conversation, and disdaining the libertine Earl of Chance.

The Rake
Lord Ian Chance has three pleasures: beautiful women, fast horses, and tormenting high-and-mighty Corinna Mowbray.

Neighbors for years, they’ve been at each other’s throats since they can remember. But when a twist of fate forces them to trade lives, how long will it be before they discover they cannot live without each other?  

Excerpt from My Lady, My Lord

“Pelley is in there.”
Corinna halted her flight and looked over her shoulder. Ian stood in partial shadow, his long legs and handsome face slanted with torchlight.
“He is?” she said.
He folded his arms over his chest. “I thought that might stop you.”
“Are you telling the truth?”
“I never lie.”
She bit her lower lip. “I didn’t consider the possibility of his presence here.”
He frowned, his gaze slipping along her bodice to her hips. “Apparently.”
“Don’t look at me with such disapproval,” she snapped. “Your doxies wear much less than this.” How on earth had she gotten herself into this? What had she been thinking? He was right: this was not she. She was trying to be something she wasn’t and making a fool of herself. And now Lord Pelley would see her in this scandalous gown, and any last hope she might still have of convincing him she was the serious woman to whom he should sell his publishing company would be lost.
“I don’t disapprove,” Ian said. “Quite the contrary. I’m merely curious as to your motive.”
The words that were so easy to practice alone in her dressing chamber now clogged her throat. His eyes sharpened. For a moment that seemed like forever, neither of them spoke.
He strode forward and grasped her arm. Raindrops pattered on the shoulders of his dark coat and her lashes.
“I’m taking you home.”
She resisted. “What if I don’t want you to?”
“Oh,” he said in a low rumble. “You want me to.”


Readers, if you could choose one fictional character with whom to change places, who would you choose and why?  Two randomly chosen people leaving comments will receive their choice of either a Kindle or Nook e-copy of My Lady, My Lord.  

Links to Purchase My Lady, My Lord

Buy it now for $2.99 for Kindle | Kobo | Nook
($3.99 after March 31st)

Coming soon for iBooks and in paperback

Katharine Ashe is the award-winning author of historical romances that reviewers call “intensely lush” and “sensationally intelligent,” including How to Be a Proper Lady, an Amazon Editors’ Choice for the Ten Best Romances of 2012, and I Married the Duke, Historical Romance of the Year nominee in the 2013 Reviewers’ Choice Best Book Awards. A professor of history, she writes fiction because she thinks modern readers deserve grand adventures and breathtaking sensuality too. Please visit her at www.KatharineAshe.com.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Spotlight on Kisses, She Wrote

 From award winning author Katharine Ashe, comes an enchanting Christmas novella about a shy but imaginative princess and the rakish Earl who could make all her wildest fantasies come true….

The Christmas season has never been so steamy.

Handsome as sin and scandalously rakish, Cam Westfall, the Earl of Bedwyr is every young lady's wickedest dream. Shy wallflower Princess Jacqueline Sensaire knows this better than anyone, because her dreams are full of the breathtaking earl's kisses. And not only her dreams--her diary too.

But when Cam discovers the maiden's not-so-maidenly diary, will her wildest Christmas wishes be fulfilled in its pages . . . or in his arms?

Excerpt from KISSES, SHE WROTE, A Christmas Romance by Katharine Ashe

“At least you won’t be at a significant disadvantage when you wed,” the princess said thoughtfully.
“There is . . .” Her voice trailed off. She looked out the window and tilted her head. Her stance was relaxed. This conversation did not, apparently, agitate her as it did him.
“The thing is, I have never kissed a man,” she said and looked over her shoulder at him. “Will my husband be disappointed to discover that I have no knowledge of kissing?”
Cam’s throat had gone entirely dry. If she had no actual knowledge of kissing, she certainly had excellent intuition.
“Why do you ask me?”
“I cannot very well ask my brother. How horridly embarrassing that should be.” She scowled but her eyes twinkled.
“You might ask your ladies in waiting, or the Duchess of Lycombe.”
“How would they know the answer? They are women.”
He was nonplused. “Well . . .”
She turned to him fully. “You and I are friends, so I trust you will answer me honestly. I know you have considerable experience kissing women.”
His cravat had shrunk again. “Do you?”
She lifted a single, eloquent brow. She was far too intelligent for him, and far too forthright, and he was far too accustomed to consorting with females of much less acute minds and much baser characters. She was not now flirting with him but making a statement of fact.
He nodded in silent admission.
Both brows perked now, like the shimmering feathers of a raven. “So . . . ?”
“I should think that your husband would be delighted to teach you the finer points of kissing.” And learn a thing or two in the process.
“I suppose you may be correct about that. Men like to instruct women. I think it makes them feel more in control.”
He could not hide his amusement. “You don’t say?”
“Well, doesn’t it? You are a man.”
“Good of you to notice.”
“Do you like it when you feel in control of a woman?”
“I like it when a woman feels she is getting what she wants from me.”
Her fine, expressive eyes widened. Then, slowly, she turned to the pianoforte and began rearranging the music on the stand. Cam studied the clean sweep of her back to her gently curved hips and the straight set of her shoulders. She was not petite, not enticingly round, not anything he had ever desired in a woman. But merely looking at her back and knowing what she imagined of him — of them together — made his heartbeats hard.
“I should like to give it a try before I marry,” she said without turning around. Her voice was pitched a bit low. “Kissing, that is.” She glanced at him. Her cheeks were ever so slightly pink.
“Should you?” He suspected where this was going. He’d been the object of countless women’s flirtations. But never this woman. She confined her attentions to him safely in her diary.
This was a different woman before him now.
“Yes,” she said. “I think it would be a useful experience to take into marriage. Don’t you?” She turned her hungry gaze upon him . . .

Steal your own Christmas kiss with a $100 gift card to Sephora! Follow Katharine Ashe on Twitter, like her on Facebook, or leave a comment with a diary story of your own to enter for a chance to win!

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Thursday, September 26, 2013

Guest Review -- I Married the Duke

I Married the Duke
The Prince Catchers Series-Book 1
By Katharine Ashe
Publisher:  Avon
Release Date:  August 27, 2013

She thought he was a pirate. He thought she was a governess. Two wrongs have never made such a scandalously perfect right.
On the way to marry a prince in a castle a lady should never:
  • Bribe an infuriatingly arrogant and undeniably irresistible ship captain,
  • Let him kiss her senseless on a beach,
  • Battle assassins at his side, or
  • Exchange wedding vows with him, even under the direst circumstances.
But daring, determined Arabella Caulfield isn’t just any lady. And Luc Westfall is no ordinary shipmaster. He’s the new duke of Lycombe, and to defeat a plot that could destroy his family he must have an heir. Now he knows just the woman for the job . . . and he’s not above seduction to turn this would-be princess into a duchess. 

It is actually quite fitting that I review I Married the Duke for The Romance Dish.  It was here at The Dish that I first discovered Katharine and her books when she visited to talk about her debut Swept Away by a Kiss. I was immediately intrigued by the premise of the book, and her passion and enthusiasm.  I am thrilled that things have come full circle in this way.  I Married the Duke is the first book in Katharine’s Prince Catchers series, and it was a delightful and engaging read. Katharine’s passion, joy, and investment in her books and her characters are palpable, and draw in the reader instantly.
Arabella Caulfield is the second of three sisters who were orphaned as young girls with no real knowledge of their past.  Their only clue is a ring. Years ago, the three sisters met a fortune teller who told them one of them would marry the owner of the ring, a prince, and only then would the three sisters know their past and who they truly are. Arabella is determined to fulfill the fortune teller’s prophecy, so she accepts a governess position to the sister of a prince. She and Prince Reiner will fall in love and marry, and all would be revealed. Unfortunately, she runs into an obstacle by the name of Captain Luc Westfall, the captain of the ship that’s taking her to Saint-Nazaire so she can assume her new position.  She finds him rude, arrogant, and maddening. And utterly attractive, compelling, and irresistible. Naturally, her plans to marry the prince are not meant to be.
Arabella is a woman whose experience with men makes her suspicious and wary of them and their motives.  Her beauty has long made her the target of men’s lascivious thoughts and unwanted advances. In addition, her guardian has made her feel her looks was something to be hidden and ashamed of, and maybe even to blame for those thoughts and advances.  Therefore, she has trouble trusting Luc and his intentions.  It leads to many crossed wires and miscommunications between her and Luc because she constantly second guesses his actions and motives. But eventually, she learns to trust him and herself. I liked  Arabella’s kind and caring nature, and admired her strength in facing down her doubts and fears, physically and emotionally, so she could truly give her heart to Luc, fully and openly.  I loved that Arabella comes to Luc’s rescue time and again, both literally and figuratively.
As with all Katharine Ashe heroes, Luc isn’t exactly who he first appears to be.  He is, in fact, the potential heir to the Duke of Lycombe. But due to his troubled past, he’s not anxiously waiting to assume the dukedom. Luc has many demons haunting him, and must make peace with his past in order for him to embrace his future with Arabella.  My heart ached for what he and his brother went through as children, and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the villain get what’s coming to him, and then some.  I liked that despite Arabella’s initial reaction to him, Luc truly is a man of valor and honor who strives to do the right thing. And I must admit the kerchief covering his eye injury makes him so dashing and even more appealing!
Katharine’s romances are very passionate, sensual, and deeply emotional. I Married the Duke is no exception. The hair washing scene in particular still gives me shivers.  She makes you feel every high and low her heroes and heroines go through on their way to the happy ending, and you can’t help but be swept along on the journey. You get the sense that not only do they want each other, they NEED each other, like the missing piece of the puzzle that makes their lives and joy complete.
I thoroughly enjoyed I Married the Duke, and definitely recommend it. Katharine has said that a book for baby sister Ravenna is already in the works, and I can’t wait to see what happens next in the Prince Catchers series! In the meantime, a Christmas novella featuring Princess Jacqueline and Luc’s cousin, the Earl of Bedwyr, will have to tide us over until then.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Today's Special -- At the Duke's Wedding

June is considered the month for weddings, so what better way to celebrate that than to have four ladies who write historical romance and are experts at love tell their own wedding stories! Maya Rodale penned the popular Writing Girl Series and makes her home in New York City. Miranda Neville is in the midst of a new series, the Wild Quartet, and lives in beautiful rural Vermont. Caroline Linden's upcoming book, Love and Other Scandals (August), is already garnering rave reviews! Caroline lives with her family near Boston. Katharine Ashe starts a new series in September with the upcoming, I Married the Duke. Katharine resides in the wonderfully warm Southeast. Please welcome Maya, Miranda, Caroline, and Katharine!

Last year the four of us wrote short stories for a free promotion piece (Once Upon a Ballroom) and had a wonderful time. So wonderful that we had to do it again, this time on a larger scale. Brainstorming for a June release, naturally we thought of weddings. One wedding, at an English ducal estate 1813. But with four different heroes and heroines meeting, quarreling and reaching Happy Ever After during a two-week-long house party, ending up with four weddings, none of them expected. 

Each of us plotted her own novella, but we came up with a number of common threads and characters that appear in all our stories, notably the White Muslin Crew of Regency girls running wild, the wisecracking Lady Sophronia, and Hippolyta, the world’s greatest high perch phaeton. 

And then there was the timeline. Emails flew through cyberspace: “Can we have a cricket match on Day 7?” “Is it OK if your guy and mine meet in the stables on the morning of Day 10?” And gales of virtual laughter as we wrote little scenes for each other’s characters. We hope AT THE DUKE’S WEDDING will bring readers as much pleasure. Descriptions of the four novellas may be found at http://www.atthedukeswedding.com. 

We’d like to share some of our own wedding stories and pictures.

Maya: The bride and groom wore cowboy boots--even though he's a Brit! My sister the bridesmaid, who may or may not be taller than me, was forced to wear flats. But hey, it was my day! My perfect, lovely, totally romantic day.



Miranda: I was married in June in the English countryside but not at a ducal mansion. The reception was in the garden of my parents’ house. I wish I could tell you about the food and decorations but the details vanished into a blissful haze. I was attended by my five-year-old niece. As you can see by the “before and after” picture, her toilette deteriorated in the course of the day. The yellow satin sash was one I’d worn as a flower girl at the same age (my mother never threw anything away) and the elderly male cat was named Cleopatra.




Caroline: Here's a candid photo of me, getting photobombed by an irate junior usher! He was about 6 and wildly annoyed by all the photos being taken, when we could have been doing something much more important like getting to the food. My favorite comment on the ceremony was from my younger sister, who was a flower girl: "It was like going to church, but short and not boring."




Katharine: Right before we all went off to the church, my parents' house was full of crazily busy people: me and my sisters dressing, the stylist coiffing, the photographer grabbing us all for pictures, caterers running between the kitchen and the tent out back where the reception was to be held, and little nieces and nephews scampering through it all. And it was pouring rain: lovely, wet, steamy June in Pennsylvania.  

That's when our French baker called. In a torrent of irate Gallic syllables he lambasted the florist. She had apparently informed him that she would decorate the cake with fresh flowers (as planned) at our house rather than at the bakery where he could supervise. The florist (a truly amazing artist) thought he was a pipsqueak. Fifteen minutes before the ceremony, the baker refused to deliver the cake.  

Then someone summoned my husband. Fluent not only in the French language but also in the character of certain Frenchmen, he grasped the phone with confidence.  

First he told the baker that his cake was sans doute the most important part of the entire wedding. Then he agreed that the florist's demand was thoroughly outrageous. Finally he promised the baker that should anything happen to the cake other than the greatest artistry, he would hold himself personally accountable and write a condemnation of the florist and a formal apology to the baker. 

By the time my husband hung up, he and the baker were best friends. My hero. 

The cake was delicious–and beautiful, as you can see in the picture.

I used the baker as the model for the French baker in my novella HOW TO MARRY A HIGHLANDER (coming July 30). 


Please share your favorite wedding story, from your own or any other wedding. We have prizes for three commenters: a complete set of Caroline Linden’s Bow Street Agent trilogy (A View to A Kiss, For Your Arms Only, and You Only Love Twice); Miranda Neville’s The Importance of Being Wicked, plus the prequel novella The Second Seduction of a Lady; a digital download of Maya Rodales’s Seducing Mr. Knightly. (We forgot to ask Katharine about a prize before she left on vacation WITH NO INTERNET.) Sorry, US addresses only.

At The Duke's Wedding

            (A Regency Romance Anthology)            

As society gathers at Kingstag Castle for the wedding of the year, matrimony is in the air. But who will be the bride? With swoonworthy lords, witty ladies, eccentric relatives, a gaggle of free-spirited girls, not to mention the world’s best high perch phaeton, it’s a recipe for mayhem — and romance. Award winning, best-selling authors Katharine Ashe, Caroline Linden, Miranda Neville and Maya Rodale serve up delectable Regency fun and a sexy contemporary twist in this anthology of original novellas.

Four authors, four couples, four deliciously romantic surprises. When it comes to love, anything can happen…

That Rogue Jack  by Maya Rodale

Jack, Lord Willoughby is charming, handsome, and utterly irresponsible. In other words, he’s the worst person to entrust with the ducal wedding ring. Miss Henrietta Black is prim, proper and the ideal person to help find the priceless family heirloom that’s gone missing… as long as she isn’t distracted by Jack’s gorgeous smile and tantalizing attempts at seduction. They MUST find the ring before the wedding… if they aren’t too busy falling in love.  

PS. I Love You  by Miranda Neville

Handsome, inarticulate Frank Newnham asks his cousin Christian's help when he woos Rosanne Lacy by letter. Rosanne falls for Frank's delicious prose, but when they meet in person at the duke's wedding party, Rosanne can't understand why Frank seems so ... dull. And why is she drawn to the dark brooding Earl of Bruton, with his scarred face and air of melancholy?  

When I Met My Duchess  by Caroline Linden

Gareth Cavendish, Duke of Wessex, believes he’s chosen the perfect bride… until he meets her sister and lightning strikes—literally! Now he’s the only member of society dreading the wedding of the season. Or is he? Cleo Barrows can’t fathom why her knees weaken every time the handsome duke approaches, or why her sister isn’t in the clouds at the prospect of marrying him. But the more often wedding plans throw Cleo and Gareth intimately together, the faster time is running out to turn the celebration of the summer into the scandal of the year.

How Angela Got Her Rogue Back  by Katharine Ashe

When gorgeous Lord Trenton Ascot beckons to history grad student Angela Cowdrey from the pages of a comic book, she thinks she’s going crazy. When Trent rescues her from a lake and she claims she’s from the future, he knows he is. But a blackmailer is threatening Trent’s family and Angela is determined to help. While unraveling the mystery of her time-travel trip to the duke’s wedding, this modern girl and Regency lord just might discover a passion that defies centuries.

Total anthology length: 129,000 words/516 pages

Monday, March 5, 2012

Guest Review - - When a Scot Loves a Lady

When a Scot Loves a Lady
By Katharine Ashe
Publisher: Avon
Release Date: February 28, 2012 


Lady Katherine Savege—her very name meant scandal in the narrow world of London’s aristocrats, and her every act only served to keep her a favorite topic of the gossips and see those who accepted her grow fewer. But Kitty was determined to have her revenge on the man who destroyed her innocence, regardless of the cost. Then one night at a masquerade the dark gaze of an uncouth Scottish earl penetrated the layers of disguise and changed her life. She gave up her pursuit of vengeance on Lambert Poole, only to stir up all the old gossip two and a half years later when Poole threatened her brother and Kitty took proof of the reprobate’s treasonous activities to the authorities. When Lady Emily Vale, one of her few remaining friends, invites her to Shropshire for Christmas, Kitty gratefully accepts the invitation.

On the night Leam, Earl of Blackwood met Lady Kitty Savege, he was on Falcon Club business, quietly retrieving the missing niece of a bishop. Now, after five years of Falcon Club missions, he is finished. This time when he goes to Alvamoor, his estate in Scotland, to spend Christmas with his son, he plans to stay. But first he has promised to perform one final task for the Falcon Club.

Three years after their first meeting, a meeting neither has forgotten, Kitty and Leam with their respective companions take refuge in the same inn during a blizzard. As the weather conditions worsen, the small company find themselves sharing the Christmas season in a country inn. It’s ample time for the attraction between the two to build, time for dogs and mice and sexy card games and stolen kisses and more. But even in the countryside of Shropshire, enemies pursue them. Kitty is shot, secrets go unrevealed, and love seems destined to be enjoyed only for a season.

This first book in Ashe’s Falcon Club series introduces an intriguing cast of characters and a story that weaves together plot threads that twine together the public and private lives of the characters. Leam says to Kitty at their first meeting, “But things be not always whit thay seem.”  That sentence, which Kitty repeats to herself later, becomes thematic. Neither Kitty nor Leam is the person he/she seems to be, and the same holds true for nearly all the secondary characters as well . While all the secrets and miscues make for an interesting, lively paced story, they can also confuse the reader. I like the Kitty of the village inn, but I never felt I fully understood who she was before Shropshire. There were all these pieces of the puzzle in front of me, but I could never piece them together in a fully satisfactory manner. I wondered if I should have read Captured by a Rogue Lord first.

I was fascinated by Leam from his first appearance, and my fascination increased when I read this description:

Four years at Cambridge. Three years after that at Edinburgh. He spoke seven languages, read two more, had traveled three continents, owned a vast Lowlands estate, was heir to a dukedom possessed of a fortune built on East Indian silks and tea. Yet society imagined him a ruffian and a tease. Because that was the man he showed to the world.

Small wonder I was fascinated. The more I learned about him, the more engaging I found him. Yet Leam also irritated me beyond words. I hated his use of dialect. Other readers may not be bothered by these moments at all. In fact, for those enamored of heroic Scots, his language may even add to his attraction. But I was pulled out of the story every time he spoke in dialect.

Despite these issues, I found the story compelling and the characters interesting, and the next two Falcon Club books, How to Be a Proper Lady (June 26) and How a Spy Loves a Lady (September 25) are on my TBB list. If you like adventurous romances with a high sizzle factor and settings that are not limited to London scenes, I recommend When a Scot Loves a Lady. And about those stars . . . I’ll raise them to 3.75, and if you don’t mind the “weels” and “dinnas,” you’ll probably be more generous.


Friday, September 16, 2011

Today's Special -- Katharine Ashe

I am super thrilled to welcome back the author Booklist decribes as one of the "New Stars of Historical Romance", Katharine Ashe! Katharine swept so many romance readers away with her debut, Swept Away by a Kiss. She has since penned Captured by a Rogue Lord and her latest, In the Arms of a Marquess, out this month from Avon. Katharine was gracious enough to answer my questions, so without further ado... Welcome, Katharine!

So, you have a new book out—In the Arms of a Marquess—which I completely adored. I stayed up way too late finishing it because I could NOT put it down! Can you tell us a little about the story?

Seven years ago in the tropical heat of the East, a girl poised to enter society and a wild young lord tumbled into first love... passionate love... forbidden love, only to be torn apart. Now Octavia has returned to England, but Ben is no longer the man she lost her heart to. Instead he is a powerful, wealthy lord. He has never forgotten her, the taste of her lips or the touch of her hand. This time danger threatens, and he will do anything to protect her... and to have her again.

It is a story of young love, lost love, and love gloriously re-found.

The beginning of the book takes place in India and your descriptions were so detailed that I felt like I was right there in the port bazaar surrounded by the heat and spicy scents. Have you ever been to India?

Thank you! I’ve not yet been to India, alas. For decades, though, I’ve studied the culture and history of the subcontinent, and I hoped to bring some of my love of those to this book. Generally, I think my travels abroad have helped me appreciate the really tactile differences between the texture of life at home and elsewhere. I’m also very fortunate to have scholars of Indian and British Indian history among my family and close friends. My favorite moment of consultation had to be when my eminently respectable brother-in-law, a Harvard Divinity School grad and Professor of Religion, helped me find just the right word from ancient Sanskrit love poetry for my hero to utter at— shall we say— a crucial moment. All my colleagues were enormously generous in helping me work out details and bring that world to life, for which I’m very grateful.

Ah, what a wonderfully crucial moment that was! *g* There were many secrets and lies throughout this story that were revealed at the perfect time, which kept me turning the pages. This had me wondering if you plan/plot your stories out or do you write by the seat of your pants? Also, did Ben and Octavia surprise you at any time while writing their story?

I always begin a story with the heroine and her hero, and the romantic dynamic between them entirely determines the plot. And the more emotional and tumultuous the better! Once I meet them, I get an idea of an overall plot that will throw them together and pull them apart again and again. Then while I write the first chapters and get to know them better, details come to me and I’m able to sketch a plot more thoroughly. By the time I started writing In the Arms of a Marquess, I’d actually known Ben and Octavia for years — his powerful sense of responsibility and her honest, affectionate nature. What I didn’t know about Octavia until I started writing the book, though, was how loyal she is, and I’d no idea how that loyalty to her friends would complicate her relationship with Ben and what he was trying to accomplish on her behalf.

In the Arms of a Marquess is the final book in your Rogues of the Sea trilogy, and in this particular story, the heroine Octavia became obsessed with the sea at a young age. How much (if any) research did you have to do? What draws you to the high seas?

The sea is a powerful mistress. It is awesome, beautiful and rich with life and opportunity yet at once terrible and dangerous. I love this contrast, and especially how it provides such a dramatic counterpoint to the proprieties of Regency society. The heroes of my Rogues of the Sea trilogy reflect this; they are at once gentlemen and adventurers, highly cultivated men but warriors at heart. The ladies best suited to them aren’t afraid to dare whatever necessary to win their heroes, and have a vibrant streak of adventure in their own souls.

As for researching life on the high seas — yes indeed! Books about pirates and sailors have been some of my favorite resources over the past decade. I like best to use texts written in the era I’m writing about (historians, you know, are never quite content with secondary sources). The book that Tavy uses as her diary of sorts and which provides the chapter epigraphs, Falconer’s Dictionary of the Marine, was an 1815 reissue of a popular book among seamen. I’d used it while writing the first two books in the trilogy and it seemed so natural for Tavy to feel comfortable with it too.

I loved the epigraphs! There were a perfect addition to each chapter. In your writing, which comes first for you—the characters or the story?

I’ll answer this with an example, if I may.

I first met Miss Octavia Pierce on the verge of sixteen sitting in a chair with her long legs thrown over the arm like a thorough hoyden and her freckled nose sunk in an enormous Atlas of the World. She was a minor character in the story I was writing at the time. But instantly I knew she would have a grand adventure.

Soon after that, I met Lord Ben Doreé on a snowy night in the corridor of a country greathouse that I was writing. In that scene in the first book of my Rogues of the Sea trilogy (Swept Away by a Kiss), the hero told his lady that the work he did upon the sea saving others — honorable, perilous work — had a wealthy patron. And there was Ben standing behind me while I wrote, looking all dashingly tall, dark and handsome, telling me he was that patron, he the powerful man of mystery behind that noble work. And he said he wanted Octavia, a girl whose heart matched his perfectly, to be his heroine. He told me this in no uncertain terms.

Well, we had some words; she was fifteen for heaven’s sake! He said (with contained impatience), yes, he understood this, but perhaps we could come to an agreement. Finally I relented, but I told him he would have to wait a few years for her to become a lady, then after that he would lose her... for a time. He glowered at that last bit, but I stood fast. I know what I love in a romance novel and an easy, quick conquest isn’t it.

So that’s how it happens. A minor character, usually a young woman, lifts off the page and almost immediately her hero presents himself to me. They tell me who they are and why they are perfect for each other, and I take it from there.

That's so awesome! Thanks for giving us an example. So, what would you say is your favorite part about being a writer?

I immerse myself in a love story every day. I’m thoroughly addicted to the feeling of falling in love. It’s my drug of choice. (Chocolate comes in a close second.) Also, sharing those love stories and talking about them with readers is beyond wonderful.

What a beautiful way of putting it! I guess as romance readers, we all are at least a little addicted to falling in love. Sigh. Since you are a professor of European history (and a wife and mother), I’m curious as to when you find time to write. What is a typical writing day like for you?

When I’m writing a book I find it difficult not to write, no matter what else I’m supposed to be doing. My husband has a picture of me standing at the stove stirring dinner with one hand while typing away on my laptop with the other. I simply cannot leave those lovers until they get their happily ever after! My family comes first, and I teach classes a few times a week. But every other moment goes to the story — whether I’m actually sitting at my computer or writing scenes in my head as I walk the dogs, mow the lawn, grocery shop, or what not. And I don’t sleep much. I’m pretty sure I’m aging in double-time because of this, but it’s worth it.

Oh my goodness, I would love to see that picture! I'm not sure if I could do that. LOL! Katharine, what hobbies/activities do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I play with my son and my dogs. I run. I occasionally garden (in a very English garden sort of you-can’t-really-tell-I’ve-done-anything way). I bake cookies. I eat cookies. I drink champagne. And I read.

Mmm, cookies and reading. Is there anything better?! *g* What is one piece of advice that you were given that you would give to aspiring authors?

Write what you love. There will always be people telling you not to. I wrote all sorts of books with safe, easily marketable premises and characters. But the book I actually sold — a Regency — featured a hero who was a vigilante anti-slaver disguised as a French priest. I wrote it because I loved it, the same way I wrote an Anglo-Indian hero for this book. After all, what’s the point of doing it if it doesn’t fill you with excitement and joy?

Terrific point! There is a very special K.I.S.S. and Teal campaign associated with Avon’s September releases, including In the Arms of a Marquess. Can you tell us about the campaign and what it means to you to be a part of it?

Avon hopes to raise awareness among women about the whispering symptoms of Ovarian Cancer. For every K.I.S.S. and Teal book sold (e-book or print), Avon will donate 25 cents, up to $50,000, to the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance toward research on this fast and stealthy disease. Women learn too late about Ovarian Cancer because they don’t know what to watch for and because there are no screening tests. As a writer and historian I’m all about spreading the word, especially when the word whispers but needs to be shouted out instead. Knowledge is empowering, and I love helping other women feel empowered. I’m excited and honored to be part of this campaign. Please help us SHOUT against the whisper!

Okay, you all heard it--let's SHOUT against the whisper!! So, what’s coming up next for you, Katharine?

My Falcon Club Series debuts on February 28! One night behind the façade of a townhouse that looks like a mere gentleman’s club, five secret agents abruptly quit. Actually leaving behind the past is another thing altogether. In WHEN A SCOT LOVES A LADY, a snowstorm throws a scandal-plagued London spinster into the arms of a roguish lord. The beauty suspects that succumbing to the beast’s seduction may be the only way to tame him, until she discovers the beast is in fact no beast at all…

Ooooh! I can't wait!!

Quick Six Time!

Coffee or Tea? Coffee with breakfast pastries. Tea when it’s raining, with a crackling fire and friends.
Alpha or Beta? Intelligent alpha capable of great compassion and tenderness.
Mountains or Beach? Beach. (I write books about the sea!)
Comedy or Drama? Drama, but I love laughing through tears.
Diamonds or Pearls? Diamonds. Glitter is always good. Always.
Milk chocolate or dark? Both!

Thanks so much for answering my questions, Katharine! Now it’s your turn—is there a question you’d like to ask our readers?

Because of my other profession, I was a closet romance writer for years (though my family and close friends knew I read and wrote romance voraciously). I’m dying to know if your readers are “out” to their friends and work colleagues about their love of romance, or if they hide it like I did from my colleagues?

To learn more about Katharine and her books visit her website at http://www.katharineashe.com/, her new blog (with five other terrific historical authors) http://www.theballroomblog.com/, or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/KatharineAsheAuthor.