Wow, March! And finally the snow goes away and the sun comes out!
Not that I can do much more than look at it out of the window while I get on. When did this absorbing hobby become a full-time job? Not that I'm complaining (much) because it's the best job I've ever had.
So in a couple of days I'm off to Loughborough, to sit on a panel at the Writing Industries Conference. The panel is "Traditional Romance vs Paranormal Romance." While these things make me incredibly nervous (am I supposed to admit that?) I'm with authors Mary Nichols and Sue Moorcroft, so I'm also looking forward to it enormously.
The conference looks great, with one-to-one editor and agent meetings and a number of panels and workshops. So if you can make it, here are the details:
I know I mentioned it last month, but I thought a reminder might be in order, since it's happening this weekend.
The first ERWA newsletter has come out with one of my reviews in it. I'm really enjoying the new challenge.
And there are quite a lot of my reviews this month at The Good, The Bad and The Unread, together with a column on the growth of self-publishing, and what might be driving some of the demand.
I was one of the two runners up in the Love Romances annual awards, for "Harley Street." Since I share the award with the wonderful Alex Beecroft, I'm delighted with it. I don't do much canvassing for awards, so it's doubly warming when I win something.
And to writing:
I'm still writing Jack's book from the STORM universe. Jack led me a wild dance and I had to stop part way through and rewrite. It happens sometimes, when a character doesn't work within the plot, and needs rethinking. Since I care more about the characters, it's always worth stopping and rewriting.
I've also been deep in planning with the ladies from Tempt the Cougar for our Cougar Growl at RT Convention. We've booked an hour at Club RT on the Thursday where we plan to have lots of fun and give stuff away. It's been an absolute joy working with these women, so much that I want to do another cougar story. The conflicts fascinate me.
No new releases in March, except for "Venice," out in print, so I thought you'd like a little of that for this month's excerpt.
Excerpt from Venice
Richard and Rose, Book 3
At long last, it is Lord and Lady Strang’s wedding day. Yet no sooner do Richard and Rose leave their wedding breakfast than two shots ring out, forcing a hasty change in honeymoon plans. Instead of traveling together by yacht, Richard goes on ahead, making sure the road to Venice is safe for his beloved.
Rose is by no means alone, however. Along her journey by packet, coach, even mule, she befriends young couple, the Ravens, who have a strange confession to make. They are traveling incognito—and are really the newlywed Lord and Lady Strang!
Once reunited in Venice, Richard and Rose heat up the sheets, making Richard consider the delightful possibility of keeping his wife in bed for the rest of their stay. Except Venice is as full of knaves as London, and one of them is still trying to find them with a bullet.
The Ravens could hold the key to the assassination attempts. Or perhaps they are playing a deadly game of their own…
The following day the sound of bells woke me, myriad bells, commanding the faithful to attend church. If we had joined the British community here, no doubt they would have expected us to attend, but we had protected our privacy too well to let it slip now.
I turned my head to look at my husband, but he was still asleep. I watched him, so vulnerable in sleep I could almost see the boy he had been, before his nightmares had begun.
I slipped out of bed and went to the chair where I had thrown my dressing gown the night before. I threw it around my shoulders, thrust my arms into the sleeves and then went to the two long windows, withdrawing the bolts holding the shutters closed on the first one. I didn’t open the other window, because its light would have fallen directly on the bed and woken him.
I stood by the window, looked out at the glow of Venice and listened to that glorious sound, from the deepest boom to the brightest, highest chime.
How could I have got this far? Last year, a forgotten old maid, preparing to dwindle into a dependant spinster, this year the cherished wife of the man I was meant for. How close we came to not meeting at all! Or, if we had met and it had been in company, I doubt he would have noticed me. I never showed well in company. He might even have been married already to Julia Cartwright. I might have married Tom, spent all my life in Devonshire, the wife of a country squire. Once I would have been happy with that but not after I’d met Richard.
If Richard was a country squire, it was enough, more than enough. That he was not sometimes left me feeling inadequate, not up to the position I must now learn to take. I hadn’t been brought up to it, as the girls he’d been presented to year after year had—to be the eventual mistress of a great estate and a member of one of the first families in the country. It filled me with dread but I would do it for his sake. Here, in this paradise, I’d start to learn.
The rustle of the sheet behind me told me he had woken, but I didn’t turn round. I heard him cross to the chair in his turn and fling on his gown and then felt him slip his arms around my waist and rest his cheek on my hair. We didn’t speak, but I put my hand over his and we stood, listening to the Sunday greetings outside.
“I’m so afraid I’ll let you down when we go home.”
“You won’t,” he assured me calmly. “If you’re reserved, everyone will assume you’re proud. Stand tall and always make sure they look away first.”
His warm breath tickled my neck. “I love you very much,” I said.
“I know. It’s all that matters. We’ll buy you some fine clothes, the sort that stand alone and you can inhabit them while they speak for you. Shall we buy an estate in Devonshire and go and live there, in seclusion?”
I turned away from the window into his arms. He could have been reading my mind. If I had accepted his offer he would have gone through with it, but it wouldn’t make him happy. “No. You are what you are and as long as you’re here with me, I’ll do whatever’s required of me gladly. Will you come to my presentation at court?”
“Of course. My mother will present you. It’s soon over and a dead bore. I don’t move in any royal set, so be assured that won’t come into our lives to any great extent. For the rest, we’ll please ourselves and if you’re not happy, you must promise to tell me.”
“I promise.” We kissed to seal the bargain.
I slipped out of his arms and went to open the shutters on the other window. Light streamed across the unmade bed. I turned to see him watching me from the middle of the room, golden hair lit by the sun, tousled from sleep, making him look like a knowing putto. I went back to him.
“I said something once about these bells,” he reminded me, mischief in his voice. “Do you remember?”
Of course I remembered. It had been in the humble nursemaid’s room at Hareton Abbey. “That you’d like to make love to me in the Venice sun, with the sound of the water outside and the bells. You made me blush.”
“So I did. Do you think I could make you blush now?” He undid the frogged fastenings at the front of my dressing gown.
“Without a doubt.” He slipped his hands inside the gown and I let it slide down my arms to the floor.
He loved me, just as he’d once promised. He kissed my mouth, my throat and went down on one knee to take a nipple into his mouth, running his tongue around the very tip, then the other and then lower still, making me sigh in pleasure. My knees grew weak from his caresses. I gripped his shoulders to keep from falling to the floor and he delved between my legs, kissing and tasting until I thought I might die. But he didn’t let me climax, he withdrew when he had me shivering with need.
Venice - Richard and Rose, book four
Venice is perfect for their honeymoon. Unless an assassin plays his cards right…