Monday, October 31, 2016

Interview with Regency Romance Author Donna Hatch

Donna Hatch, author of the best-selling “Rogue Hearts Series," is a hopeless romantic and adventurer at heart. A music lover, she sings and plays the harp. She is a multi-award winner, a sought-after workshop presenter, and juggles multiple volunteer positions as well as her six children. A native of Arizona who recently transplanted to the Pacific Northwest, she and her husband of over twenty years are living proof that there really is a happily ever after.

Welcome to my blog, Donna. I love your books because they’re not just about romance, but also “intrigue” and “adventure.” Please tell us about this novel: Courting the Countess.

In a nutshell, it’s about two people with trust issues learning to love. Of course, there are family issues, a crime ring, stolen rubies, and a duel, so they have plenty of trouble to overcome before they find their happily ever after.  

When charming rake Tristan Barrett sweeps Lady Elizabeth off her feet, stealing both her heart and a kiss in a secluded garden, her brother challenges Tristan to a duel. The only way to save her brother and Tristan from harm—not to mention preserve her reputation—is to get married. But her father, the Duke of Pemberton, refuses to allow his daughter to marry anyone but a titled lord. The duke demands that Elizabeth marry Tristan’s older brother, Richard, the Earl of Averston. Now Elizabeth must give up Tristan to marry a man who despises her, a man who loves another, a man she’ll never love.

Richard fears Elizabeth is as untrustworthy as his mother, who ran off with another man. However, to protect his brother from a duel and their family name from further scandal, he agrees to the wedding, certain his new bride will betray him. Yet when Elizabeth turns his house upside down and worms her way into his reluctant heart, Richard suspects he can’t live without his new countess. Will she stay with him or is it too little, too late?

This sounds like an intriguing book. Where did you get your inspiration for this story?

It basically started with me talking with a friend about popular tropes in novels such as long lost loves, best friends falling in love, star-crossed lovers, etc. I mentioned that I really love the arranged marriage/marriages of conveniences. It’s been a while since I’ve written that kind of story so I started brainstorming about how I could write it with a fresh new twist. I decided having characters getting married to prevent a duel fit the bill nicely.

What kind of research did you do?

I’ve been researching the Regency Era for over ten years so I understand that pretty well but I always come up with new place or situation that I don’t know. For this book, I researched Vauxhall Gardens in order to write a scene there. I also researched what is required for a gentleman to serve in Parliament because my hero kicks around the idea of making that a career. I found both of those topics interesting and I probably over researched it just because they were so fun to explore. But hey, that’s what makes me a history nerd.

Tell me about one of the main characters and what you love about him or her?

I love both characters! Lady Elizabeth has no reason to believe in herself because of her upbringing, yet she still inheritably knows she is a worthwhile person who deserves happiness. She works hard to find who she is, all the while always looking for others to help and lift. Richard is wonderful because he’s so determined to do the right thing for the right reason. He is the perfect English lord who places duty and honor ahead of his own desires. Though he appears strong and confident on the outside, he has a vulnerable side that needs desperately to be loved. I love that combination in a romance novel hero.

You love to write about rogues, rakes, and swashbucklers. What intrigues you most about these characters?

They are confident and strong and have a sense of adventure. Yet they all have a missing component in their lives—true love. This kind of hero needs a strong heroine who is his match in wit, courage, and inner strength. Such a combination often results in fun banter and each making some concessions for the other in order to find common ground on which to build a lasting, loving relationship.

That is so true. I also love the concept of a rogue who fights for the underdog…those less fortunate!!! Thank you so much for this interview, Donna.

Here is the buy link for Courting the Countess

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Saturday, October 22, 2016

Interview with Historical Author Heidi Thomas

Heidi M. Thomas grew up on a working ranch in eastern Montana, riding and gathering cattle for branding and shipping. Her parents taught her a love of books, and her grandmother rode bucking stock in rodeos. She followed her dream of writing, with a journalism degree from the University of Montana. Her first novel, Cowgirl Dreams, won an EPIC Award and the USA Book News Best Book Finalists award, and her second novel, Follow the Dream, won a WILLA Literary Award. Dare to Dream, the third in the novel trilogy, was a finalist in the International Book Awards. Cowgirl Up! is Heidi’s first non-fiction book and won the Global E-Book Award for non-fiction/history.

Welcome to my blog. Please tell us about your book: Cowgirl Up! A History of Rodeo Women.

When someone says “Cowgirl Up!” it means to rise to the occasion, don’t give up, and do it all without whining or complaining. And the cowgirls of the early twentieth century did it all, just like the men, only wearing skirts and sometimes with a baby waiting behind the chutes. Women leaned to rope and ride out of necessity, helping their fathers, brothers, and husbands with the ranch work. But for some women, it went further than that. They caught the fever of freedom, the thirst for adrenaline, and the thrill of competition, and many started their rodeo careers as early as age fourteen.

This book won the Global E-book Award for non-fiction/history. Where did you get your inspiration for this story?

This book was inspired first by my grandmother who rode bucking stock in rodeos during the 1920s. The research I did for the novel trilogy based on her life led to a non-fiction history of those women who competed with men on bucking broncs, bulls and steers.

What kind of research did you do?

I read books about the old-time cowgirls, researched newspaper articles, I had stories my dad told me about my grandmother, and I interviewed descendants of some of the cowgirls.

America is known for their rodeos. What makes you so interested in cowgirl and rodeo history?

My grandmother. After she passed away when I was about 12, my dad and I were going through some photo albums and he made a casual remark: “Did you know Grandma rode steers in rodeos?” I knew she loved horses and preferred riding the range to domestic chores, but that tidbit of information intrigued me. I filed it away until many years later when I decided to write a book to tell her story. That casual remark led to four published books!

Where can my readers find you online?

Twitter: @heidiwriter

Thank you for this interview, Heidi. I hope my readers will check out this book.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Interview with Contemporary Romance Author Charissa Stastny

Charissa Stastny hails from Las Vegas, Nevada, but has never pulled a handle of a slot machine and can't shuffle cards to save her life. Her hobbies include reading, writing, painting, spending time outdoors, and savoring good food (especially sushi and chocolate...but not together). She resides in Salem, Utah with her husband, children, and lazy English Cream Retriever (where shuffling isn't required, thank goodness). She has written four books: The Bending Willow Trilogy and Between Hope & the Highway.

Welcome to my blog. Please tell us about your novel, Between Hope & the Highway.

This is a heart-warming redemption story with a forgiveness theme. Here’s the blurb:

Sometimes things get so messed up you have to pick up and get the heck out of Dodge. That’s what Liz Ruthersford does. Memories can be weapons, and hers have become incoming missiles. Fleeing home and her parents’ pity, she seeks refuge on a remote ranch in Montana where no one knows her tragic past. When she meets Bentley and Rawson Law, brothers with wounds of their own, life veers off course from her plans. Embers of hope and love flicker to life, but will Liz let them burn bright enough to warm her heart? Or will she hit the highway and run once again?

Some of your books are suspense/romance, but this one is different. Where did you get your inspiration for this story?

My first three books were contemporary romantic suspense. This one doesn’t have the danger and intrigue those had; it’s a lighter romance set on a Montana ranch with cowboys, horses, cattle, and lots of heart. Part of my inspiration came from this quote I heard on Oprah. It’s by Lily Tomlin: Forgiveness means giving up all hope for a better past. My characters have some issues they are trying to heal from so their past mistakes don’t define the present.

My husband is a real fan of your works and talks about them quite often. What kind of research did you do for this book?

In comparison to my first three suspense works, I felt this book only required ‘mild’ research. I didn’t feel like I would alert the FBI by my search terms of drug cartels, torture methods, and guns like last time. For this book, I researched the workings of cattle ranchers, horse trainers, different horse breeds, and stuff like that. It was fun.   

That was what grabbed me. I loved the setting for this book and I loved the lightheartedness of the characters. You had me laughing so much. Do you consider your female character to be feisty or meek yet spirited?

Liz Ruthersford is sweet and strong, but very vulnerable. She’s been verbally beaten down all her life by a hen-pecking mom who has never seen eye to eye with her, but she’s still resilient and kind-hearted despite that obstacle. She harbors deep insecurities because of her upbringing though, that she has to overcome over the course of the story.  

I agree, and she sure can be strong and sassy when she wants to get even with Rawsom. Haha. Where can my readers find you online?

My website’s the best place to go. It has all my social media links, as well as Amazon links, blurbs, and trailers for each of my books. If you sign up for my newsletter there, I will send you a free book as a welcome gift.

Thank you for this interview, Charissa. I hope my readers will check out this book. Here is my review for this book below.

I truly enjoyed this story. It’s done in first person and each chapter is from a different person’s viewpoint: Liz, Rawson, and Bentley. Liz is an adorable young woman and I love both her innocence and spunkiness. Bentley is a 12-year-old boy who is physically disabled and has a heart of gold. Rawson is very masculine and has a great sense of humor. He is the complete opposite from Liz. He had me laughing so much, simply because of his love of Star Wars and his flirtatious attitude toward Liz. I loved how he gradually changed to be a better person throughout the story. This book is done in 4 parts and I love how the author slowly develops the love story between Liz and Rawson. It did not take long for Rawson to realize that respect of Liz’s values was the way to win her heart. They were an adorable couple. This story is one that I would read again.” Review written by Linda Weaver Clarke

Saturday, October 8, 2016

A Tale of Fantasy, Mystery, and Romance!

Magic is always a common element in fantasy. In this story, you find out that some magic is good, while others use it for evil. Katie Watkins, of Katie’s Clean Book Collection, wrote:

I love a good story with an arranged marriage in it--especially if it involves royalty. How could I not love this one? Gabrielle is offered up to marry handsome Prince Alec in order to forge an alliance that will help in the coming war. Their relationship progresses slowly and naturally and I really enjoyed watching it unfold.

“Gabrielle wants to be loved, but she remembers the prince from her younger years and always thought of him as a playboy. I know I would have a hard time getting over those memories and she wasn't any different. I can't imagine being thrown (forced) into a new situation like that. I thought she did a good job of making the best of her situation.

“I loved the mystery and adventure and thought there was just the right amount of fantasy. Of course, my favorite parts were the romance. I loved how kind and gracious this couple was and how they worked together to find a solution to the problems at hand. I really liked the first book, but I loved this one! So far, they just keep getting better!”

In The Alliance of Isian, war is coming and all the kingdoms must choose a side. Isian decides to make an alliance with their long time enemies in order to defeat a common enemy. So Isian sends a proposal, offering their daughter to the prince, in order to ensure an alliance. Princess Gabrielle and her new husband, Prince Alec must learn to work together and trust each other in order to triumph in the approaching war. With a mysterious beast attacking the kingdom, their lives in danger, and overcoming their vast cultural differences, will love grow despite their trials or tear them apart? Enjoy the fantasy, danger, mystery, and romance!

Jonel Boyko, Confessions of a Bibliophile, wrote: “Wow! This series just keeps getting better. Clarke melds fantasy with a vivid manner of storytelling that had me hooked. The intricate descriptions lend themselves to Clarke's vivid world building while the intimate voice allowed me to really get into the exciting and fast paced plot.

"I love how Clarke showed the separation between those who approve of magic and those who don't. It's not just a given thing in this world. Many are against it, and for good reason. This divide added a complexity to this tale that I never expected.

"I love how character driven this story was. It really allowed me a mulit-perspective view of the story. Beyond that, I truly enjoyed getting to know these new characters. They quickly and easily found a place in my heart. All in all this was a fantastic story on it's own and an unforgettable addition to the Isian series.”

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Monday, October 3, 2016

Interview with Regency Romance Author Donna Hatch

Donna Hatch, author of the best-selling “Rogue Hearts Series," is a hopeless romantic and adventurer at heart. A music lover, she sings and plays the harp. She is a multi-award winner, a sought-after workshop presenter, and juggles multiple volunteer positions as well as her six children. A native of Arizona who recently transplanted to the Pacific Northwest, she and her husband of over twenty years are living proof that there really is a happily ever after.

Welcome to my blog. Please tell us about your novel: Heart Strings.

Gently bred young ladies don’t run away from home to find employment, but when forced to choose between marrying a brutish oaf or becoming another man’s mistress, Susanna makes an unconventional decision. Following her passion for music, she flees to London with dreams of securing a position as a harpist. Becoming entangled with a handsome violinist who calls himself Kit, but who seems too aristocratic for a working-class musician, may be more problematic than sleeping in the streets. Kit's attention is captured by Susanna’s breath-taking talent, admirable grace, and winsome smiles…until a lawman exposes the new harpist as a runaway bride and a thief. With peril lurking in the shadows, Susanna’s imminent danger not only forces Kit to choose between his better judgment and his heart, but he must also embrace the life to which he swore he would never return.

This sounds like an intriguing book. Where did you get your inspiration for this story?

I am a harpist, and I mention a harp or a harpist in almost all of my stories. However, I wanted to write a plot that centered around the heroine being a harpist—not just for fun, but for her livelihood—which created some fun predicaments.

I’m so impressed. I love listening to the harp. I have a CD with harp music that I go to sleep with. I love it. What kind of research did you do?

Since I’m a harpist and my daughter is a violinist, I already knew all I needed about that aspect of the plot. However, I did some research regarding how professional orchestras were run. When I was unable to learn much about how they operated in England during the Regency, I had to rely upon orchestras of today. So, I contacted a friend who is a professional musician with an orchestra. She offered a few guidelines to help me. I also researched the Watermen’s Stairs in Wapping—I can’t wait to see that in person someday.

Tell me about one of the main characters and what you love about him or her?

I love both of my main characters! However, Kit was especially fun to write because he’s such a happy, kind person, yet still has some room for character growth. Writing his relationship with his sister was a delight.

You love to write regency romances. Why is that?

As a child, my most beloved books were historicals. My favorites were the Laura Ingalls Wilder series, and Frances Hodgson Burnett’s A Little Princess and The Secret Garden. I read those books over and over. Later, I discovered other historicals like Little Women, Jane Eyre, and Anne of Green Gables. So my love for historicals grew at an early age.

Historicals are like a whole new world, totally different from the modern world in which I live. Regency in particular is fun because the manners of society are so formal and lavish (unlike my reality). Besides what’s not to love about men who can dance? Not to mention that there are few things as manly as riding horseback or fencing or being willing to engage in a dual to protect his honor. Mostly, I love Regency because of the men. Or at least, my perception of the men. They were gentlemen. They were committed to duty and were so wrapped up in honor that they were willing to die for it. And that is a character trait I find immensely attractive.

I totally agree. Historical fiction not only helps us to understand what our ancestors’ lives must have been like, but for some reason it feels so much more romantic. Hahaha. Women who fought for their rights, for equality and respect…and men who were swashbuckling heroes intrigue me. Here is my review of this Regency Romance below.

Heart Strings is a tale of a young woman treated cruelly by her relations after the death of her parents. This story reminds me a lot of Cinderella. Susanna’s aunt dressed her in rags, half starved her, and locked her in her bedroom if she felt inclined to do so. The aunt reminded me of the “evil step mother” in Cinderella. The difference between the two stories is that Susanna would not put up with the abuse of her aunt any longer and decided to run away. The harp lessons that her parents gave her would now help her to escape the cruelty of her aunt. Dressed in threadbare clothes, she searches for a job as a musician. Kit, a wealthy man incognito, comes to her rescue and helps her to audition as a harpist in an orchestra. I was touched by his kindness and sympathy towards her. Susanna doesn’t find out he’s wealthy until towards the end of the story. This love story is lovely and I really enjoyed it.” –Written by Linda Weaver Clarke