Sunday, November 14, 2010

Today's Special -- Angela Johnson

I am thrilled to welcome Angela Johnson to The Romance Dish. Angela writes historical (specifically medievals) romances for Kensington. Though her love for romance began at an early age, it wasn't until college that Angela fell in love with history. Encouraged by her very own hero to combine her love of romance and history, Angela began writing medievals romances. And I, for one, am so glad she took the plunge! Angela's debut novel, Vow of Seduction, was release last year and you can read my review here. I am currently reading Angela's latest release, Vow of Deception, and thoroughly enjoying it. My review will be posted on November 23. Please join me in welcoming Angela Johnson!

Your first allegiance is to your heart…

As a knight, Sir Rand Montague’s allegiance is to King Edward I. But when the king orders Rand to escort Rosalyn Harcourt to court in order to wed her off to Sir Golan—a crass knight Rand abhors—he’s torn between duty and desire. For Rand has never forgotten the woman he spent one unforgettable night of passion with…

After suffering abuse at the hands of her deceased husband, Rose wishes to never wed again. But when Rand rescues her after Sir Golan attempts to compromise her, she agrees to marry Rand in name only. However, sharing such close quarters with Rand brings back memories of their torrid rendezvous—and tempts Rose to give in to an all-consuming desire…


As the cover blurb says, in Vow of Deception, Rand is ordered by the king to escort Rose to court to marry Sir Golan. Rose dares not defy the king if she wishes to protect her young son, but fears her husband-to-be is violent and dangerous, just like her first husband. Protecting herself and her young son would become Rose's steepest challenge.

I have never been abused, nor do I have any children of my own, so I had to dig deep to write my heroine. I had to do my best to understand her situation, and the relationship between her and her young son. To accomplish this understanding I had to go through a process of looking at mothers—up close and personal—as they say. I had to observe them, question them, seek their insights and input, and listen to their feedback.

This involved me putting out first drafts of my work for critique to two of my trusted friends who are mothers and writers. And I must be completely honest with you about this. Their feedback was like a cold slap in the face. They flatly told me that I was not capturing the essence of the whole motherhood experience. Their honesty sent me back to work and surely saved me some embarrassment. I can't thank them enough for that.

To be successful as a writer, I believe you must find "inspiration". You'll do your best writing when you are inspired about something.

As an author, many times we draw inspiration from the world around us. And that is what I tried to do with Vow of Deception. For example, one day I was discussing relationships between parents and children with a couple of my friends who are mothers, and one of them said rather matter-of-factly, "I love my children so much, I would die for them." The other friend spoke up quickly and affirmed that she'd do the same.

They both agreed the core motivation of a mother to protect her child is rooted in one's complete and utter love for their children. This is when I realized I had to tap into this emotion and express it in my book. Though I can’t truly understand a mother's love, I can relate to it. I have a husband whom I love so completely that I'd do anything to protect him. So I tried to transfer those emotions into Rose's character.

I also was inspired from the world around me when it came time to create a believable child in Vow of Deception. I needed both a physical description and inner personality traits. I started with his physical attributes—dimples, blond-hair, and almost four years of age. When creating characters, many writers draw inspiration from images of models or actors. I'm one who does this to solidify a character in my mind’s eye. But as serendipity would have it, my husband’s nephew fits this description perfectly. He’s the little boy you see in the picture, and he lives next door to us. He would often come running over to me to say "hello" whenever I was outside writing my novel, and ended up becoming my inspiration for Jason, Rose’s son.

Now that I had a physical description, I needed to define Jason’s inner traits. Inspiration came from another good friend of mine who visits me often with her son. Her young son is usually right beside her at all times. He's always excited to be "Mama’s little helper." So personality wise, Jason became a precocious little boy, devoted to his mother. He became a composite of two children I knew rather well through personal interaction. Here’s a sneak peak of a scene featuring Rose and her son, Jason.

Rose raised the missive in her hand and waved it at Edith. “The bishop has cancelled his trip to Ayleston, again. I wonder what can be keeping him?”

Edith set one of Jason’s hose she was mending down on the bench beside her. She rested her right arm, bent at an awkward angle, in her lap. “Milady, calm yourself. I am sure there is a perfectly reasonable explanation for his delay.”

Rose smiled at her former maidservant’s observation. Rose could not be any calmer outwardly, but Edith knew her very well and understood her agitation.

“I cannot help feeling something is amiss. Not till the bishop takes my vow of chastity will I feel safe. I shall never marry again,” she swore, a dark thread of conviction drawing her voice taut.

Rose plopped down on the bench beside Edith. Jason tugged a worm from the earth and squealed in delight, his cheeks dimpling. Rose’s gaze softened as she watched him.
“Are you sure you wish to take such a drastic measure? A vow of chastity is irrevocable. Perhaps you will want to marry again one day.”

Rose jerked her head to Edith. Jason’s nurse gazed at her, eyes shadowed, her left hand rubbing her crippled arm.

Guilt reared. Rose reached over and began massaging the shrunken muscles and tendons of Edith’s forearm. “Oh, forgive me, Edith. Here I am rambling about my troubles when you are in pain.”

A significant pause, then Edith whispered, “’Twas not your fault, milady.”
“If only I had been obedient and dutiful, Bertram would not have broken your arm and forbidden me to set it properly for you.”

Rose gazed off in the distance, her thoughts returning to the past. Rose had been spoiled and indulged as a child, and her father, Lord Briand, had taken the unusual step in allowing her to choose her own husband, provided the man was of equal or greater rank than she. But Rose had chosen unwisely, to her everlasting shame and regret. When she threatened Bertram that she would return to her father and tell him of Bertram’s perverse sexual proclivities, her husband struck out at Edith instead.

From that moment on, she learned never to defy him. No one was safe from his violent tendencies, not even Jason, his own son.

“Once I take my vow of chastity, I shall never be compelled to marry and be at the mercy of a man again.”

Marriage required enduring the humiliating debasement of conjugal duties. She had barely survived her first.

“Wurm, Mama. I found a wurm.” Her son’s excited voice drew Rose from her devastating memories. She looked down at Jason standing before her. The worm lay in his dirty palm as he raised it up for her inspection. She relaxed her tight grip on the crumpled missive.

Her eyes grew big as she stared at the worm he dangled before her. “Oh my, you did find a worm. A big, fat, wiggly one.” She growled beneath her breath, then reached out and tickled his tummy.

He burst out giggling, his little body wriggling as he tried to escape her marauding fingers. “I can’t breathe, Mama,” he gasped between giggles.

Rose relented, bent forward, and kissed his sweaty brow. “Jason. How would you like to help me collect some herbs in the woods? You are always such a great help to Mama.”

“I’m a good helper, Mama.” He jumped up and down, a huge grin on his face, his gold curls bouncing in his exuberance. Her heart twisted at the resemblance to his father, but she pushed the guilt away.

Regrets could not alter the past. She lived in the present, her sole purpose to rear and educate her son to prepare him for responsibilities he would assume upon his majority. Her son was her life. Indeed, she would protect him to her last breath from anyone who would harm him. She would teach Jason to revere and respect women, like his uncle and grandfather. They were the rare exception of what was good and honorable and chivalrous in a man.

“Good. Why don’t you go put the worm in your pail?”

Jason skipped away.

“Milady. What do you intend to do?” Edith looked up at her, her hand shielding her eyes from the glare of the sun.

“We leave for Lichfield at dawn. I dare not delay one day longer.”

“I shall go and have Lady Alison pack for you and Jason then.” Edith rose and hurried toward the Keep.

Rose’s gaze returned to Jason, drawing in the dirt with his stick. Her only regret about her decision to formalize her vow of chastity was that she would not have any more children. But it was a sacrifice she was willing to make for her independence. Not to mention her emotional and mental welfare.

In a book, an author must make the reader empathize with the heroine or hero. Statistics show the majority of romance readers and authors are women, many of whom are mothers.

If you are a mother, do you enjoy romance stories where heroines are also mothers? Or do you prefer one without the complication of children, which you might find distracting from the romance and sexual tension? Conversely, if you do not have children, do you prefer romances with heroines who are single and childless? Or does it matter to you one way or the other? Perhaps it comes down to believability only. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Two random commenters will receive an autographed copy of Vow of Deception.

Be sure to stop by Angela's website and check out her latest contest. You may just win a $50 Susan G. Komen for the Cure Visa card!

~ Buffie


  1. Thank you for an interesting post and n enjoyable excerpt.
    As far as the heroines status as a mother, It depends on the story line. Lets face it, children are a complication and make the trip to an HEA more interesting and difficult. I like my heroines to come in all varieties: with children, widowed, single, tomboys, delicate ladies. What they all need to have is compassion, strength, intelligence, honor , and the ability to love.

    Good luck with the release of VOW OF DECEPTION.

  2. Angela

    I do love medievals and I don't know how I missed your first one but I will be on the lookout for it. Love the sound of your new one.

    I am a mother and grandmother and yes I too would do just about anything for them all. I don't mind whether a heroine has children or not as you say as long as the story is believable and the author has got me in I will enjoy it.

    Congrats on the relase I look forward to reading both of your books

    Have Fun

  3. I'm a mother, but having a heroine be a mother depends on the story and how it all fits into it. If it's part of the heroine's character and has a bearing on her actions, if it adds depth to the story, it's fine with me.


  4. honestly for me its either or Im a mom so i love stories where the heroine has that normal struggle of parent hood some books focus too much on just that one roll and thats it Vow of deception sounds awesome its been on my wishlist since i read the first blurbe so congrats on the release!

  5. Angela, good luck with the new book!

    I'm not a mother and so sometimes I feel that books tend to focus a little too much on children. For awhile it seemed that no heroine was good and pure unless she tried to adopt orphans or spent half of the book fantasizing about having her own kids one day. Still with some novels it can be exactly what the story needed. It really is all about how it is done. The challenges of children can be a great tool, Lisa Kleypas' new book seemed perfect with the little girl and the issues she brought to the story.

  6. Having 7 children of my own makes it fine by me :)My feelings are about the same. It depends on the story line. I've read many books involving children and no children. I'll read both and already have. Congrats on your newest release Angela and wishing you much success.
    Carol L.

  7. I have 4 children. It depends totally on the story line. Sometimes kids are extraneous and a distraction. I hate whinny spoiled children. But sometimes they are needed for the story as a kidnapped victim or they have an illness so they need money leading to a marriage of convenience or to meet the new doctor.

    johnslake at usa dot com

  8. Congratulations on your new book! When my children were little I couldn't read or watch any stories where children were endangered. It was just too upsetting. Now I don't mind stories with children in them but they have to ring true for me.

  9. It doesn't matter to me one way or the other. I read everything! I'm the proud momma of two beautiful kitties. And I swear they act like two year old human children! :-)

    Meljprincess AT aol DOT com

  10. Thanks for stopping by, librarypat! And yes, you are correct, children are a complication!! LOL!

  11. Hey there, Helen! I think you will enjoy both of Angela's books. I know how much you love medievals!!

  12. BarbaraE, I'm with you on this one. It all depends on the storyline and the writing! I have to say that the child in VOW OF DECEPTION is such an adorable little thing. He fits right in!!

  13. SiNn, there are some books that do focus too much on the mother role and that makes it hard for me to believe in the relationship between the hero & heroine. VOW OF DECEPTION is not one of those books. I'm glad you have put it on your wishlist as I am really enjoying it right now.

  14. Hey Lindsay! Thanks so much for stopping by. In VOW OF DECEPTION, the child adds another deminision to the story and to Rose's past. I think it is one that you would enjoy.

  15. Wow, Carol, seven children? That's a lot of little kids!!! LOL! I only have two and they constantly test my sanity - LOL!

  16. Hi Laurie! So glad you stopped by today. I agree with you -- it all depends on the storyline. And SO with you on the whinny, spoiled child!!! :-)

  17. Thanks for stopping by Maureen! Sounds like you are a very tender-hearted person! Little Jason in VOW OF DECEPTION will definitely pull at your heart strings!!

  18. Hey Meljprincess! So you read everything? My kind of gal! LOL! Love that you are a parent of kittens!!

  19. Hi Angela!
    This book looks really good! I'll have to add it to my list, along with your debut. ;)

    Whether the heroine has children or not really just depends on the story.

  20. Welcome, Angela! I'm looking forward to reading your new book. I'm a huge fan of medievals and this one looks very good.

    For me, it all comes down to a well-written story. I love many books without children and many with, but I want the children to be realistic and necessary to the story - not just window dressing. After reading your excerpt, I can already tell that Jason is going to steal my heart.

  21. Congrats on the new release and thanks for the insight into the book. Whether the herione (or hero) have children can influence how a story feels & progresses but doesn't influence if I'll read the book or not. It is just another aspect of the story and as with any with any part of the story what is important is it's believabilty and fit within the story.

  22. I can go either way with my reading, I am a mother and grandmother and have discovered that the love and dedication carries over to your grandchildren just as strongly as it does for your children.
    Many books I have read were made by the appearance of children while a couple were ruined. I cannot remember the title at the moment but one book in particular comes to mind. The child in the story was a particularly spoiled little girl that totally ruined the book for me. I never finished it.

  23. Hi Angela,
    It's great to have you here and congrats on your new release!

    Like you, I'm not a mother, so I have no real frame of reference to understand the deep and fierce bond that a mother has with her children. But I know a lot of mothers who say that once they give birth, a lot of those instincts automatically kick in (especially a higher degree of patience and a higher threshold tolerance for noise, lol).

    As for children in romances, if it's done well, I really enjoy them. For example, Nora did a great job with Seth in the Chesapeake Bay/Quinn series. And I loved Hyacinth Bridgerton is JQ's Bridgerton series.

    In books, and in real life, I find that children tend to have good instincts, and if they don't like someone, or are scared by someone, there's usually a good reason.

  24. Hi, Angela, and welcome to The Romance Dish! We're happy to have you with us today. Congrats on the new release!

    As a mother, I appreciate the lengths you went to to capture the feel of a mother and her child. I enjoy reading about children in books as long as they fit in the story. I have read books where I felt as if the child was just "thrown in" for whatever reason. It didn't work for me. I believe that children (when written well) should only enhance the story. And they usually add some humor. :)

  25. Trisha, I'm reading the book now and really enjoying it. I think you would like it too!

  26. I can already tell that Jason is going to steal my heart.

    Oh, PJ, just wait until you read the story. That little Jason is such a cutie pie!

  27. gamistress66, as usual I agree with your comment. :-)

    Dianna, I hate to hear that a child spoiled a book for you! Jason, the little child in VOW OF DECEPTION, is such a sweet, bubbly child. For me, he really adds to the story.

    Lisa, great comments! Though I don't know if I have a higher level of patience because of my children. Lately they have been giving more gray hair than a woman my age should have!! LOL!!!

  28. I believe that children (when written well) should only enhance the story. And they usually add some humor.

    Well said, Andrea! Little Jason certainly enhances VOW OF DECEPTION. He makes me smile everytime he is in a scene.

  29. Thanks for stopping by, Karyn! As you can tell from my responses to the comments today, the little child in this book (Jason) really does add to the story and the background of the heroine's emotions.

  30. Hi Buffie, thanks so much for having me at the Romance Dish. I'm getting a late start, but catch up with everyone's comments soon.

  31. Hello, Librarypat. I'm glad you liked the excerpt. Today, there is so much more variety as far as types of heroines in romances, not just young virgins, but even women who you might not typically think of as heroic, like courtesans. Makes them so much more interesting.

  32. Helen, thanks for your congrats. I am proud of this book and really feel readers, mothers in particular, will be pulled into the story by Jason. II do hope you'll give my books a try.

  33. Hi Buffie, thanks so much for having me at the Romance Dish. I'm getting a late start, but catch up with everyone's comments soon.

    Angela, I am so glad you are visiting with us today! I have to say I really enjoyed reading your blog and how you find inspiration around you. I must tell you, as I am reading VOW OF DECEPTION right now, that you fully captured the heart of a mother. Rose's love for Jason is spot on.

    Also, that little nephew of yours is just too darn adorable!!!

  34. Hi Angela,
    I'm not a mother. Whether a heroine has kids or not doesn't affect if I get the book or not. Some stories need kids and some don't.

  35. Hi Barbara E. I think you'll like Vow of Deception because Rose's actions are based on her desire to protect her son, everything she does is for love of him, which "adds depth" to the story, as you say.

  36. It does not matter to me if the heroione has a child. Its life! It does not matter to what the heroine is, a mother, widow, virgin, ect. It only matter if the story is good and how the deal with situatuions messy or not! Thanks for sharing today.

  37. SiNn, thanks for your comments. I understand what you mean when you say some books focus too much on the heroine's role of motherhood. Though it's very important to the plot of the story in VOW OF DECEPTION, I don't think it's overdone. That's great to know the blurb got your interest enough to put VOD on your wish list.

  38. I'm not a mother and so sometimes I feel that books tend to focus a little too much on children

    Lindsay, I feel the same way. I enjoy the romances with lots of sexual tension, which children can sometimes get in the way of. But if done right, it can be a very satisfying read.

  39. Hi Carol. You have 7 children? By golly, I bet they keep you on your toes. Thanks for your well wishes.

  40. Laurie, whinny spoiled children are very annoying in romance novels, as in real life. LOL

  41. Maureen, thanks for reading my blog. I understand, when your children were little, why you couldn't read or watch anything where children are endangered . So glad they're all grown up now. LOL. Though I imagine you never stop worrying about them.

  42. Hi Meljprincess, congrats on your two beautiful kitties. That's awesome that you read everything. You are much more broadly read than I am. I read mostly historical romance and historical fiction.

  43. Buffie, I've been reading your comments. I'm so happy Jason touched a chord with you. I had such a fun time writing him.

  44. Trisha, thanks. I hope you will pick up both my books.

  45. I can already tell that Jason is going to steal my heart.

    Ah, thanks PJ. Jason certainly stole my heart. ;-) Hope you love VOW OF DECEPTION.

  46. I do not care one way or the other. I love all types of romances as long as I can believe the chemistry between the main characters. In romances, children have different roles from breaking up to building families. The best romances are when there is a HEA where the child does have a true family even if someone besides the father or mother steps up to love the child as his or her own.

    smccar1 at hotmail dot com

  47. gamistress66, believability is very important to me too. It can make or break a book.

  48. Hi Dianna. That's too bad you could not finish the book. I think you'll like Jason. He's certainly not spoiled. He's very sweet and lovable, but I'm a little biased. ;-)

  49. Lisa, I have noticed my friends have a higher tolerance of noise than I do. LOL! Our house is so quite, it's quite a shock when we are around their kids.

    I love those books when the child senses a person is bad when an adult is clueless.

  50. Andrea, thanks for your welcome. I really wanted to make Rose believable, and rewrote those scenes with that in mind. I hope it pays off in the end.

  51. Karyn, Jason, just as much as Rose, plays a key part in "breaking down the defenses" of Rand, the hero in VOW OF DECEPTION. One of my favorite scenes is when Jason is at his bath. The nurse leaves him alone with Rand, who shows Jason how to play with the small carved ship Rand made for him.

  52. Chey, thanks for reading and commenting on my blog.

    Johanna, like you, I'll read books with or without children, as long as the story's good.

  53. I must tell you, as I am reading VOW OF DECEPTION right now, that you fully captured the heart of a mother. Rose's love for Jason is spot on.

    Buffie, what an amazing compliment. You made my day. I look forward to reading your review next week.

  54. I love all types of romances as long as I can believe the chemistry between the main characters.

    I agree, Stephanie, chemistry is the key to a good romance. Creating sexual tension between the H/H is also my favorite part of the writing process. Thanks for commenting.

  55. Meljprincess- If we get to count kittens and puppies, then that is where I'm guilty. I have two of each and really treat them like they are my children. I will even fess up to adding pets to my novels even when they might not have been needed. Luckily in my latest novel, a small siamese kitten was the perfect addition to the plot. I love it when pets can bring people closer together!

  56. Buffie, did you say sanity ? lol
    Thankfully they are all grown up now. :) And on their own.
    Carol L.