Friday, June 22, 2012

Newsflash - FREE BOOK!

My new release, Black Leather, White Lace is free on Kindle on 22nd and 23rd June, 2012!

Get your copy now!

Vernon and Nathaniel Heatherington are brothers on opposites sides in the English Civil War. When they duel, each slaughters the other, and they are forced to haunt their old home, Rustead Abbey, until they have expiated their sin.

Vernon Heatherington falls in love with the Regency Countess of Rustead, Cassandra. He is her only comfort in her unhappy marriage, but Vernon has only one day of corporeal form a year. Can they cram a lifetime's loving into a handful of days?

Two centuries later, Nathaniel Heatherington falls madly in love with Sylvie, the current Countess. When a TV crew descends on the Abbey, Sylvie's philandering husband is murdered. Nathaniel is granted corporeal form to find the murderer, but faced with the reality of Sylvie, he founds her impossible to resist. And Sylvie loves him back.

Sensuality from ghosts? You'd better believe it!

You can read an excerpt here:

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Goodbye, Richard and Rose

This month I get to say good-bye to two of the most enduring characters I’ve ever created. They were the subject of the first book I wrote for publication, and they remain two of my favourites. I doubt I’ll ever get to the end of understanding Richard and Rose.

They started as totally different characters. I used to read a lot of classical mystery stories—Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane, Albert Campion, Hercule Poirot, and I wondered about two of the characters, especially after I saw them brought to life on screen. What would Nick and Nora Charles make of the eighteenth century?
When I started researching, I knew I was on to something. The mid-eighteenth century was a time of change, in legal and social terms. Before then, British society wouldn’t dream of having a nationwide police force. Sounded too much like a military state to the average subject of his majesty. But nationwide crimes like smuggling were devastating the country’s economy and its peace. A force was needed to combat these huge gangs of criminals, so the novelist and magistrate Henry Fielding, and later his brother John, instigated the Bow Street Runners.
The aristocracy kept itself to itself. Many crimes were quietly and efficiently dealt with in kind, ie the perpetrator would be sent away, or kept under close confinement. Not often, but dig and there are a few cases of interest. Occasionally a scandal would open the ways of the aristocracy to the public. The murder of his valet by Lord Ferrars, the scandal of Elizabeth Chudleigh’s alleged bigamy and the occasional “kiss and tell” (modern parlance, but the practice is far older than that) by a spurned lover or servant would expose the doings of the wealthy and powerful to the rest of the public. Greatly increased literacy helped spread the news.
So the setting was right. I created two people. A quiet, unassuming country girl, and a man from the lower aristocracy, a baron, one with just enough credentials to get himself invited to the right parties. Someone of unassuming appearance who could slip in and out of country murder scenes and solve the mystery, like Hercule Poirot, producing the solution like a rabbit out of a hat.
One day I’ll write those books.
What I got was Richard Kerre. Richard is neither lower aristocracy nor unassuming. He arrived, fully formed, in the courtyard at Hareton Abbey, the run-down house that is the setting for “Yorkshire,” the first book in the series. I’d spent a few chapters setting up Rose, and she was going well. She showed more spirit than I’d thought, but she still came from the gentry class, and from a solid, comfortable family background. I felt I knew her. Writing in the first person was a surprise, too. When I tried writing in the third person, it just didn’t work. Once I met Richard, I knew. If you want to know what happened to those first chapters, they’re what I view as “establishing shots,” written more to get a character clear in my mind. They’re probably lurking somewhere on an old floppy disc, but they don’t belong anywhere else.
Richard has to be seen closely, by a natural observer like Rose, because when we first meet him, he is all flash and dash, and pushes people away. Deliberately. He’s rogered his way through female society because of what they did to him, but now he’s ready for change. His roaring twenties done, he’s looking for a more solid connection in life, beginning to regret some of the more vicious acts he committed. Too bad they’re about to come back and bite him.
I was wary of making him and out-and-out dandy, but since my early crush on David Bowie, I’ve had a fascination with androgyny, men and women for that matter not afraid to reach out and touch their feminine side. In the mid eighteenth century, men didn’t hide the flamboyant part of their nature behind dark clothes and restrained behaviour. They cried, they danced, they dressed outrageously, and they fought to the death, wore swords every day and never backed down from a challenge. I love that period, and Richard is a man of that period. So despite my misgivings, Richard became a dandy. He could never be anything else.
I had to stop writing and re-think the beloved series I’d spent so much time preparing to write. Richard would not be ignored, and I couldn’t do it. The instant “coup de foudre” falling in love was his idea, too. I knew what I wanted to achieve in the coach house scene in “Yorkshire,” but at one point Richard makes a declaration I considered foolish. But he insisted. He knew what he wanted. I went back, found many examples of that happening at that stage in history. For instance, the Duke of Devonshire saw his future wife, Mary, across a crowded ballroom and knew she was the only woman for him. He had to wait for her for many years, but eventually he got her.
Richard wanted Rose with the same intensity and certainty.
Just when I thought I was on some kind of track, something else happened to stop me. Gervase. I got to a point I thought was a bit weak, and I’d discovered a plot knot, something I needed to solve before a reader said, “but why didn’t they just…?”
I needed an answer, so I did some “what if…” scenarios. One worked so much better than all the others and at that point, I had to stop and go back and rewrite all over again. At the time, it was daring to bring in a major sympathetic character with this trait. Now, it’s almost compulsory. It explained so much, rippling over the backstory to make more sense. Why would society behave so viciously to Gervase as to cast him out until he was so rich anything he did short of murder didn’t matter? Lots more delicious research, and I was ready to go for it.
It worked. What I didn’t realise was that Gervase would get his own fan club, that people would love him so much they wanted his story.

So, I was ready. I wrote “Yorkshire,” “Devonshire,” and started on “Venice” before the writing frenzy gave me enough time to send the manuscript out to a publisher. I must have been mad.


Nobody in the UK was interested in a story so different. They want more of the same with a twist, and I wasn’t writing the kind of book they wanted. But I had enough “this is good but we don’t know where to place it” letters to tell me I was on the right track, somehow. Somewhere was the clue. An agent, in a rejection letter, said I had something that might appeal to the American market. We’d just got dial-up at home, and we restricted it rigidly (it was very expensive at first, but my husband needed it for his job). I found a couple of writing groups and a list of publishers. The big New York publishers didn’t want it, same story, too different, first person didn’t sell well, Regency rather than Georgian, so I tried the brand new epublishing market. I found NFI West. I was lucky, because just before I signed the contract, a friend warned me they were about to disintegrate, so I went to NBI instead. Frying pan, meet fire.
My first editor rewrote the book. She didn’t just heavily edit it, she rewrote most of it and suggested I did it in third person. Distressed, wondering if this was what publication was like, I wrote to the senior editor, who agreed with me, sacked the original editor, and did the work herself. Something she said then stayed with me. “We bought your book, not hers.” A lovely reassurance.
Unfortunately, after a few years, NBI died when the owner ran away, never to be found to this day, despite one of the authors, ace PI Linnea Sinclair, bringing her skills to bear on the case. We formally claimed back our rights, and luckily, the senior staff at NBI had the authority to do that, before closing the company. Richard and Rose went on to Mundania, who then had a few setbacks, including the serious illness of one of the partners, which meant the book’s schedule disappeared.
By then I’d sold a book to a new company, Samhain, “Last Chance, My Love.” I hadn’t realised that my editor there was such a Richard and Rose fan, until she asked me how the series was doing. Of course, inter company etiquette meant she couldn’t do anything else, but as it happened, I was in the process of regaining my rights from Mundania, and when I got them back, I offered them to Samhain, where Richard and Rose currently have their home. Angie was my editor until she left the company to helm Carina. She was such a help, and one of the greatest editors a girl could wish for, helping me polish and hone the books until they shone. She never imposed her own views, never told me where she thought the story should go, and let me take my couple where they needed to go. She’s a great factor in the success of the stories. As is Samhain’s support. They’ve put “Yorkshire” up for free a couple of times to interest new readers in the series, and they’ve always believed in what I did, even when I had a near-breakdown last year wrapping up all the remaining loose ends in “Lisbon.”
The series ended where I always planned. Along with that vision of Richard, resplendent and confident in that courtyard in Yorkshire, I saw him in a specific situation, broken and lost, needing one person to help him fight back. Rose, of course. I knew where that situation was. I timed the series so it would end there, and even I didn’t know its ultimate conclusion, if the couple would live or die, if they’d leave problems behind them, if they’d—I had to write it to find out.
There is potential for more stories, and already I have an idea where I’d want them to start. Not all their enemies are dead, not all are revealed. In 1757, the country is on the brink of war, Parliament in turmoil and the old King’s health failing. The heir to the throne is a boy, dominated by a new political faction, led by his mother’s lover, Lord Bute. If Richard comes into his title then, and his mother is still eaten up with the way he’s wrested control from her and given nothing back—she could get vicious.
Or perhaps I should leave them be.
Anyway, please enjoy “Lisbon” with all my best wishes. I’ve put the first chapter below for you.


Who knows? I don’t. At least, I have an idea.
Welcome the Emperors of London, a family whose mothers decided to call them after powerful emperors of the past. Some have won the Emperor lottery, like the subject of the first book, Alex. Some are relatively fine, like Julius, his cousin, but some are saddled with the more outlandish names, like poor Nicephorus.
I’ve written the first book in the story, Alex’s, but I haven't really started to query these, so I have no idea where they’ll end up. Alex’s story started as a character from Richard and Rose. He was originally Freddie, Richard’s closest friend, but it became obvious something else was happening, so I rewrote it as a stand alone. It took interesting turns, starting in a modest country house, transitioning through a London brothel to the highest of society. I wanted to bring all the excitement of the Georgian age to the page, its follies and even its more unbelievable aspects, but everything in the story could have happened. Indeed, it might have happened, since I often take real life incidents and use them as the basis for fiction.
So I need to buckle down to the practicalities of writing. Now finally I have to say goodbye to two of my favourite characters, perhaps it’s time to say hello to a whole new group.

Thank you. Just thanks, for being there, for buying the books, for writing me such lovely letters over the years. I’m not going anywhere.

They can escape winter’s cold, but their nemesis has a long, icy reach.

Richard and Rose, Book 8

On a ship bound for Portugal with her children and the man she loves, Rose should be blissfully happy. Except Richard treats her like she’s made of porcelain. She’s recovered from the childbed fever that nearly killed her, yet he won’t share her bed and it’s driving her mad.

To win him back body and soul, she resolves to use every wicked, seductive trick he’s taught her. Until a possible attempted murder on board puts them both on alert for the trouble that seems to dog their every move.

Richard is almost relieved to have something to investigate. He loves Rose too much to risk losing her—which is exactly what could happen if he gets her pregnant again. When it becomes clear a series of accidents is no such thing, they realize an old enemy has caught up with them.

It’s imperative for Richard and Rose to work together to defeat this foe, but their new distance could prove their undoing. Especially when Mother Nature conspires to make them endure one last, desperate test of their love… 

Product Warnings
The earth is moving for Richard and Rose, but this time it’s not entirely their fault.