Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Then Comes Winter Blog Tour: Interview with Erin Lopez!

Hello! Today I am very happy to have on of my fellow writers from the Then Comes Winter anthology visiting! Please welcome the lovely Erin Lopez, author of The Unexpected Gift!

Hello, Erin! Welcome to Songs & Stories! Please, take a seat and make yourself comfortable. Would you care for a drink?
    Thank you for having me! Normally I would ask for some herbal tea (Tazo Wild Sweet Orange with sugar, please). However, since this is virtual space and that means you have virtually everything, I'll have Crio Bru. It's cocoa beans that have been roasted, ground, and brewed in a french press, exactly like coffee beans. If you love dark chocolate, then you'll most likely love this drink. I take mine with stevia sweet drops (around six or seven please) and a splash of almond milk.

Mmm, that sounds lovely! I think I shall try one as well.
To start, how about we get a couple of basic Austenesque questions out of the way, just to see where you stand on certain crucial matters:
Firth, Macfadyen, or both?
    Firth. Oh my goodness, Firth Forever! I discovered Pride and Prejudice through the BBC version in middle school. While my friends were fawning over The Backstreet Boys and N*SYNC, I was lamenting over how much older Firth was than me.
Do you prefer to travel by foot or on horseback?
    Well, I am an excellent walker and I've only ridden a horse a handful of times. The last time I rode a horse was in high school. While we were going down a hill, the horse tripped and slid a bit. The horse recovered, but I screamed because I seriously thought I was going to fall off. I'm pretty sure the horse did not trust me after that, and I was very glad to get off. I'll walk or ride a carriage, thank you very much.
What drew you to JAFF?
    You mean besides my love of all things Jane Austen?
    I was in college, actually, when the Kiera Knightly version came out and suddenly my interest and love for Austen's works started to renew. I had roommates who read Harry Potter fan fiction and I thought, “I wonder if anyone has written P&P fan fiction.” Well, I looked and was amazed at what I found. Shortly after that I was browsing a bookstore and ran across Pamela Aidan's Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman series and became extremely excited to see published fan fiction. Since then I've been hooked.
What was the most challenging part of writing The Unexpected Gift?
    Honestly, it was the fact that I was sending it out to be judged. Up till then, I'd only shared a handful of stories with a select few. Deciding to participate in Meryton Press's contest meant getting completely out of my comfort zone. I knew I needed to do it to advance myself as a writer, but that didn't make it any easier. I ended up writing The Unexpected Gift with this looming pressure that it would be critiqued, judged, and likely hated. That was the first time I wrote anything under that sort of pressure, so it was a whole new experience for me. It was good for me because I edited and polished that story like crazy.
    I probably rewrote the opening paragraphs ten times before I was satisfied. Also, the conversation between Darcy and Georgiana was reworked many times because I wanted to strike this balance for Georgiana and Darcy's relationship that I found difficult. Darcy is almost a father figure for Georgiana due to their age difference and his guardianship over her, yet she still gets to tease him like a sibling. Also, she's barely sixteen, so while she's mostly grown and mature she's also a bit childish and idealistic. In the end, I worried about that conversation the most.
Do you have any plans for future writing projects, or perhaps something you are currently working on?
    Right now I've been working a full length P&P variation novel. I have the first draft finished but it needs a lot of work. My goal for the next year is to clean it up enough to give to beta readers, clean it up some more, and then submit it to Meryton Press. I have my fingers crossed they'll like it enough to publish it.
    Other than that, I've been trying to pound out a short story a month just to work on my craft and experiment with different styles. Not all my stories are Austenesque romances. For example, my last short story I wrote was a children's story about a little girl defeating a monster who eats stories. The one before that takes place during a zombie apocalypse. I jump genres to whatever I find interesting or amusing. I do have an idea for a full length sci-fi novel that I want to write eventually.
I have heard a rumor or two that you could maybe possibly be considering writing a longer version of or sequel to The Unexpected Gift; is there any truth to these rumors? *makes hopeful puppy-dog eyes*
    Haha! The short answer to this is: YES!
    However, I'm sure you want the long the long answer, which is: it's complicated. You see, when I first wrote The Unexpected Gift it wasn't meant to be a P&P variation. In my mind it was a behind the scenes, untold snippet to Austen's original. I didn't see it as anything other than something easily sandwiched into Pride and Prejudice canon. We don't know much about what Austen's characters were up to during December and I thought of this as a fun missing scene. I figured a continuation of the story would be to hand someone the original novel.
    Since the biggest complaint about my story was it felt unfinished, I did try to add more scenes to make it feel wrapped up. However, it didn't come together as I imagined. The more I wrote, the more wrong it felt. I kept adding scenes and snippets, trying to find the missing piece, but I ended up feeling more lost. I'm a firm believer that if your writing doesn't feel right then you need to step back and find the problem. Eventually, with the help of my editor, Christina Boyd, I was able to add on the last few sentences to at least make it feel more wrapped up, even if it wasn't “finished.”
    Then something miraculous happened during Thanksgiving week. I'm in the middle of this huge move and trying to set up our new house when suddenly I get a very vivid line of dialogue from Darcy. He is extremely upset about something and the image was powerful enough that it startled me a bit. I was driving by myself at the time, so I stayed a few extra minutes in the car while this whole new scene fell into place. I almost couldn't believe it because this was so unexpected, but worked perfectly. It wasn't until a few weeks later, when life finally started to settle, that I was able to get it down on paper. I'm really excited about this turn of events because it means the story will continue. I'm not sure if this is just the other half of a short story or if it is the beginnings of a full length variation. Either way, I do plan on following it to the end.

Thank you so much for visiting, Erin!

About Erin:

Erin Lopez is a reader, writer, wife and mother—although not in any particular order. While she reads and writes in a variety of genres, she has a special place in her heart for Jane Austen and Pride and Prejudice fan fiction. She grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area where she met and married her own “Mr. Darcy,” and they lived in Colorado and Arizona for a time. During their stay in Arizona, they brought two delightful daughters into the world and adopted a small, fuzzy dog. They have since returned to the Bay Area.

Twitter: @writerlyerin
Instagram: @writer_erinlopez

WinterAbout the Book:
Then comes Winter with bluster and snow, that brings to our cheeks the ruddy glow... Gertrude Tooley Buckingham, The Four Seasons 

If you long for a toasty snuggle on a cold winter's night, this compilation of original short stories inspired by the magic of the holiday season-and more than a nod to Jane Austen-is fancied as a sublime wintertime treat. On the heels of the summer anthology, Sun-kissed: Effusions of Summer, and in concert with some of Meryton Press's most popular authors, this romantic anthology introduces several promising writers. With a robust mix of contemporary and Regency musings, Then Comes Winter rekindles passionate fires with equal wonder, wit, and admiration. 
Edited by Christina Boyd.
Stories by: Lory Lilian, Linda Gonschior, Suzan Lauder, Beau North & Brooke West, Sophia Rose, Natalie Richards, Anngela Schroeder, Melanie Stanford, Denise Stout, Erin Lopez, and Maureen Lee.
Buy Link: Amazon

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Then Comes Winter blog tour schedule
11/30: Guest Post & Giveaway at FLY HIGH
12/1: Excerpt & Giveaway at So Little Time…
12/2: Character Interview & Giveaway at More Agreeably Engaged
12/3: Excerpt & Giveaway at Jennifer Vido
12/4: Guest Post & Giveaway at Liz’s Reading Life
12/5: Excerpt & Giveaway at Best Sellers and Best Stellars
12/6: Guest Post & Giveaway at Delighted Reader
12/7: Review at Just Jane 1813
12/8: Review at Babblings of a Bookworm
12/10: Review at From Pemberley to Milton
12/11: Review at Diary of an Eccentric
12/12: Excerpt & Giveaway at The Calico Critic
12/13: Review at Margie’s Must Reads
12/14: Author/Character Interview & Giveaway at Austenesque Reviews
12/15: Author Feature at Songs and Stories
12/16: Author Feature & Giveaway at Tome Tender
12/16: Excerpt & Giveaway at Chick Lit Plus
12/17: Author Feature & Giveaway at Skipping Midnight

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Spotlight Tour: Daniel's True Desire by Grace Burrowes + Giveaway!

Hello! Today I am happy to have the ever-talented Grace Burrowes visiting. I hope that you will enjoy her guest post on what constitutes a true gentleman, as well as the following excerpt from her latest novel, Daniel's True Desire.

The Joys of True Gentlemanliness… by Grace Burrowes

About twenty books ago, I lamented (whined) to one of my brothers that coming up with ways to challenge a romance hero into facing his worst fears and risking all to win the heroine’s heart was taxing my imagination. My brother, without a heartbeat’s pause said, “Make him choose between the competing demands of honor.”

THAT was great advice. Make the hero choose between the woman who needs him, and the military unit depending on him. Make him choose between avenging injustices from his past, or respecting the wishes of the pacifist woman he loves. Make him decide whether to be publicly vindicated or privately forgiving… Delightful stuff, for an author!

And yet, to travel along these brilliant character arcs, our hero must have one characteristic: He must have a well-developed sense of honor. To me, that means this fellow must be honest and kind. He can be poor, grouchy, lacking in charm, without prospects, unlucky in love—Daniel Banks is nodding his head—but ideally, he will still be a true gentleman at heart.

The true gentleman, alas for him, can be tormented from page one by the author and by the story, but from the start, the true gentleman will play by the rules of decency.

Rules are tough. The true gentleman will never misrepresent himself, which means Daniel Banks must inform Lady Kirsten that a) he’s married, and b) he won’t disrespect his vows. Too bad for Daniel, this honesty only raises him in the lady’s esteem, when he’s trying to emphasize his unsuitability.

The true gentleman will lend a hand—or an ear—to those in need. When Daniel Banks realizes that Lady Kirsten has been overlooked by her entire family, and is as lonely as an earl’s daughter can be, the least he can do is listen when she explains the misery in her past. Again, his respect for, and understanding of her increases, but what else could a gentleman have done?

The true gentleman is kind. He does not ignore the suffering of others, even if that means, he’s left with a bigger helping of suffering on his own plate. When Lady Kirsten needs a champion to fight her battles with an overbearing brother, Daniel steps up, though it might cost him his position. Once again, Daniel’s decency only gets him in hotter water, because now Kirsten’s brother is also viewing the impecunious, reserved, sometimes grouchy, vicar with renewed respect.

This business of being a true gentleman is darned hard, and darned heroic. What Daniel has to learn, though, is that true gentlemanliness begins at home. When he’s honest with himself, and shows himself the compassion we all deserve, all the inconvenient rules, tough choices, and honorable standards turn out to have been his second-best friends.

Lady Kirsten is, of course, his very best friend, being a true lady. But that’s another story…  

Excerpt from Daniel’s True Desire

Daniel Banks is the new vicar in Haddondale, temporarily a guest of Lady Kirsten’s family. They’ve dragooned him into tutoring some of the local boys, and Kirsten is managing the staff who’ll turn the dower house into a place of learning. What Daniel doesn’t know is how a married man, even one estranged from his unworthy spouse, can resist the allure of friendship with Lady Kirsten…

“I dread crossing the garden,” Lady Kirsten said. “Susannah has taken up reading old issues of La Belle Assemble√©, Della is memorizing DeBrett’s, and the countess talks only of fashion. Nobody does anything.”

“Most would envy them their idleness,” Daniel said, though he did not. The earl gave a good account of himself, tending to significant acreage and mercantile interests, but the women were bored.

One of the women was mortally bored, though never boring.

“I want to take the vicarage in hand,” Lady Kirsten said, marching from the pantry. “I doubt I’ll have time before we leave for Town the week after next. Lemon and beeswax won’t cure rising damp any way.”

Nothing cured rising damp save for replacing every scrap of affected wood. “You’re leaving soon, then?”

The prospect of distance from Lady Kirsten should have been a relief. She was unconventional, discontent, and unpredictable. Worse yet, she was patient with small boys, had a strong streak of domestic competence, and could not dissemble even to appease appearances.

Most troublesome of all, Daniel liked her. A lot.

“I smell fresh bread.” Lady Kirsten’s pace increased, then she halted to twist a sachet from behind a curtain. “Nicholas told George that in addition to Digby and the Blumenthal brats, you’re to take on both of Squire Webber’s sons. He aspires to send them to public school, but they lack a foundation.”

And years of dedicated tutors had been unable to remedy that lack? “I think you had better join me for lunch,” Daniel said resuming their progress toward a hot meal.

“I believe I shall. I adore a hearty beef stew with bread and butter on a cold, rainy day. Cook uses Mama’s recipe, and I’m partial to it.”

Peasant fare, for an earl’s daughter. Daniel liked her entirely too well.

A scullery maid set places for them at a wooden table heavy enough to double as a threshing floor, while Lady Kirsten served up bowls of steaming stew and Daniel sliced the bread. Daniel held the lady’s chair, and then, without even a nod in the direction of further small talk, took shameless advantage of his companion.

“I want to know every detail you can share about my scholars, Lady Kirsten. They’re shaping up to be a pack of ne’er-do-wells, scamps and scapegraces. One wonders if the parish isn’t attempting to run me off rather than welcome me.”

She snapped her serviette across her lap. “They’re out and out rotters, every one save for Digby, but George says he’s showing dubious potential. Don’t steal all the butter.”

Daniel passed her ladyship the plate of butter, small golden molds in the shape of roses.

“Your butter, and Lord-we-thank-Thee-for-this-food, amen. Now tell me about these scoundrels.”

Lady Kirsten sat back, her smile indulgent. “I’ve known them since they were babies, Mr. Banks. They’re full of energy and mischief, and there’s not a Latin scholar among them. They are truly, truly awful.”

She loved these rotten boys, and—greatest possible inconvenience—Daniel regarded this her most attractive quality of all.


About the Book:

An honorable life

Daniel Banks is a man of the cloth whose vocation is the last comfort he has left-and even his churchman's collar is beginning to feel like a noose. At the urging of family, Daniel attempts to start his life over as vicar in the sleepy Kentish town of Haddondale, family seat to the earls of Bellefonte.

Challenged by passion
Lady Kirsten Haddonfield has resigned herself to a life of spinsterhood. Then the handsome new village vicar, Reverend Daniel Banks, becomes a guest of the Haddonfield family while the vicarage is being renovated, and Kirsten finds herself rethinking her position. Lady Kirsten does not know that Daniel's past is about to cast a shadow on love's future.

Buy Links

Author Biography

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Grace Burrowes' bestsellers include The Heir, The Soldier, Lady Maggie's Secret Scandal, Lady Sophie's Christmas Wish and Lady Eve's Indiscretion. Her Regency romances have received extensive praise, including starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Booklist. Grace is branching out into short stories and Scotland-set Victorian romance with Sourcebooks. She is a practicing family law attorney and lives in rural Maryland.

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Thursday, September 17, 2015

Blog Tour: Yours Forevermore, Darcy by KaraLynne Mackrory Guest Post + Giveaway!

Displaying YFDhorizontalbanner.png
I am thrilled to be participating in the tour for Yours Forevermore, Darcy by KaraLynne Mackrory. As anyone who has followed my blog for long knows, I love Ms. Mackrory's stories and take every opportunity to share them. Today, we have a lovely letter from the authoress herself to you, her readers, and a chance to win an e-copy of her latest literary accomplishment. Enjoy!

My dear Readers, 

I cannot contain my feelings anymore and must put them forth to paper.  I do not know what it is about the written word that makes it easier to express myself but its true.  When I am able to put words to paper I can share the thoughts in my head more easily than I might if we were face to face.  

    You are my inspiration, Readers.  You are the reason for this letter.  When I think about plots and stories they are always with you in mind.  What would Reader think?  Would Reader find this amusing and romantic?  Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet may be my outlet through which my creative mind works, but it is with you in mind, Readers, that they act as they do.  

    I will confess that when I write I like to put myself your shoes, Reader.  Imagine I were reading this story.  What would I want to read, to have happen?  This happens so frequently and so completely that often times I am caught up in the story as well and forget that I know what will happen.  I become less like an author and more like you, Reader.  My books make me laugh, cry and smile like you because you are who they were written for and you were who I imagined myself to be when I wrote them.

    Just like Darcy wrote letters in Yours Forevermore, Darcy to express the emotions that were in his heart, I too write this epistle to express my feelings; gratitude being foremost among them. Thank you Readers for being there.  For your enthusiasm and interest. And finally, for your encouragement.  
    With my deepest respect,
    KaraLynne Mackrory
    YOUR Number One Fan

PS- Enter to win a copy of this book, Reader.  And then we can get lost in the story together.

About the Book:
Displaying YFD_front cover_500x750.jpg 
Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy has a secret.
The letter he presents to Miss Elizabeth Bennet after his ghastly proposal is not the only epistle he has written her. In this tale of longing, misadventure, and love—readapted from Jane Austen’s dearly loved Pride & Prejudice—our hero finds a powerful way of coping with his attraction to Miss Bennet. He writes her unsent letters.
The misguided suitor has declared himself, and Elizabeth Bennet has refused him, most painfully. Without intending for these letters to become known to another soul, Mr. Darcy relies on
his secret for coping once again. However, these letters, should they fall into the wrong hands, could create untold scandal, embarrassment, and possibly heartbreak. But what happens if they fall into the right hands?
Displaying MacRory Family_96.jpgAbout the Author:
KaraLynne is an amazing mother who never makes mistakes, never gets upset with her children and never ever has a dirty house. Ever. She always has her dishes done and the floors spotless and dinner is always prepared and ready on time. Her kids are always clean, polite, respectful and loving, especially to each other. She never gets irritated with her husband when he doesn’t turn his socks right side out for the laundry and they always agree on everything. She delights in nothing else but to serve her family and never wants or needs time for herself. She takes great care to shower every day and put make up on so that she is always beautiful and presentable. She never wears her pajamas all day or for days in a row and she is the epitome of womanhood. Most of all, she has a great sense of humor and loves to write.
Okay, in all honesty –  KaraLynne Mackrory is no newbie to the writing world.  She made her debut as an author at the tender age of 13 when she wrote her first set of bad poetry. Angsty and emotional – teenage-drama filled – they were unbelievable disasters.  Such contributions to the literary world were deemed so terrible that today they are kept behind lock and key to protect others from their awfulness.  As a young adult she steered clear of soap opera drama inspired works and achieved a degree in Social Work.  It was not until her late twenties that she returned to her roots in writing.  Since then she has published three Austen inspired novels so full of romantic sensibilities as to give you a toothache and a grin and hopefully a few contented sighs.  She is thrilled to report that Falling For Mr. Darcy, Bluebells in the Mourning and Haunting Mr. Darcy: A Spirited Courtship are a mite better than the bad poetry.


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Monday, September 7, 2015

The Duke & His Duchess Duology Spotlight + Giveaway!

Hello! I am very happy to be participating in this spotlight tour for Grace Burrowes' latest literary accomplishment. I love her stories and am very exited to see two new stories about one of my favorite couples from her Windham series - the Duke and Duchess themselves! Enjoy the excerpt, the message from Ms. Burrowes, and good luck on entering to win a bundle of the entire Windham series at the end of this post!

Message from the Author:

My parents recently celebrated their seventieth wedding anniversary—you read that correctly, 7-0. I’m the sixth of their seven children, so I missed a lot of the opening rounds of the Burrowes family story. To make up for that great unfairness, I ask my parents and my older siblings to fill in blanks for me. What was it like for my mom, starting out with twin boys, when the nice obstetrician—who didn’t want to upset her—failed to inform her she was carrying twins?

Mom learned she was to embark on double motherhood in the delivery room, when the nurse said, “Keep pushing, Mrs. Burrowes. You’re still in labor.”

She kept pushing. My brother Dick is particularly grateful she did, too.

What was it like for my father, to be the sole support of nine people, various shirt-tail cousins, and extended family members, on just a professor’s salary?

We never did without the essentials. How did he DOOOOO that?

These stories are the stuff of family legends, and every family has them. When I’d written stories for all of the Windham siblings, I still had a sense that the family tale wasn’t complete. How did Maggie and Devlin join the family? How did Percival, occasionally more stubborn than insightful, have the great sense to marry Esther? Why has Esther remained his champion, conscience, and confidante despite all the trying moments?

To find those answers, I had to write two novellas. First, came “The Courtship”, wherein Their Graces fall madly in love, despite—what a surprise!—meddling parents. Second, came “The Duke and His Duchess”. We know Percy and Esther’s household was in some regards unconventional, but they chose love over appearances from the start of their relationship. I wanted to know how they got through the challenges created by Percy’s behavior prior to the marriage, and emerged a stronger couple and a happier family for their choices.

The Duke’s Courtship duology is the result of my curiosity about the ongoing magic of a loving family, and also a tribute to my parents, whose happily ever after continues, even as a I write this.


Miss Esther Himmelfarb has been dragooned into attending a house party to make up the numbers, and to keep an eye on a cousin with a penchant for gambling. Little does Esther know Lord Percival Windham will risk all to win her heart.

“Miss Himmelfarb, I believe?” Lord Percival winged an arm and smiled at Esther graciously. “Shall I have us introduced, or in the informality of the occasion, will you allow me to join you at supper?”

A more calculating man would have offered to escort her to whoever had the honor of dining with her, but then, Lord Percival likely did not have to be calculating.

“I will happily accept your escort to the buffet, my lord.” Esther laced her gloved hand around Lord Percival’s arm, only to encounter a small surprise.

Or not so small.

Gossip had not lied. The man was muscular in the extreme, and this close, he was also of sufficient height to uphold the fiction that he’d protect Esther from any brigands or wolves wandering about Lady Morrisette’s parlor.

“Does your family hail from Kent, Miss Himmelfarb? I know most of the local families and cannot recall Himmelfarbs among them.”

The question was perfectly pleasant, and so too was his lordship’s scent. Not the scent of exertion or the standard rose-scented rice powder—he wasn’t wearing a wig—but something elusive…

“You’re twitching your nose like a thoughtful bunny, Miss Himmelfarb. Are you in anticipation of something particularly succulent among the supper offerings?”

He smiled down at her as he spoke, and for moment, Esther could not fashion a reply. Of all the times for Charlotte Pankhurst to be right about a man’s blue, blue eyes… 

“I’m trying to fathom the fragrance you’re wearing, my lord. It’s pleasant.”

“If I didn’t know better, I’d think from your expression that you do not approve of men wearing pleasant scents.” His tone, amused, teasing, suggested that sometimes, all he wore was a pleasant scent—and that just-for-you smile.

Lord Percival leaned nearer, as if sharing a confidence amid the noise and bustle of the first night of a lively, extended social gathering. 

“Bay rum lacks imagination, don’t you think? I shall wear it when I’m a settled fellow with children in my nursery. There’s cedar in the scent I wear, reminds me of Canada. You’re partial to spicy scents yourself.”

He was inviting a reciprocal confidence from her with that observation. The notion of trading secrets with Percival Windham made something beneath Esther’s heart twang—disagreeably, of course. 

“Lavender with a few other things.”

“My dear”—his lordship had straightened only a bit—“why is My Lady Hair Bows staring daggers in this direction?”

My lady…? Then… my dear?!

“I’m not sure what you mean, my lord.”

“You know exactly what I mean, Miss Himmelfarb.” Lord Percival picked up a plate, though they were still some distance from any sustenance. “Now the Needy girl is at her elbow, pouring brandy on the flames of gossip. You and I will be engaged by this time tomorrow, I don’t doubt.”

Did one correct a duke’s spare when he made light of marriage to a woman within staring distance of professional spinsterhood?

Yes, one did.

“Her name is Needham, my lord. And I should think an engagement unlikely when you have yet to ask for my hand and I have given no indication I would accept your suit.”

The light in his eyes changed, going from friendly—yes, that was the word—to something more intent. 

“You are an impertinent woman. We shall get on famously, Miss Himmelfarb. I adore impertinent women.”


Title: The Duke and the Duchess / The Courtship
Author: Grace Burrowes
Release Date: September 1, 2015
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Genre: Historical Romance



The first novella to be published by New York Times bestselling author Grace Burrowes features the foundation story for her bestselling Windham series. This is the tender story of love tested and won, and how Percy Windham, the dashing and brilliant man who was never supposed to become the Duke of Moreland, wooed Esther Himmelfarb, the amazing lady who became his beloved Duchess.


In this second prequel novella to the popular Windham series, Grace Burrowes continues the story of the Duke and Duchess of Moreland through the tumultuous and bittersweet first years of marriage and parenthood. Percival Windham is a second son and cavalry officer when he weds the beautiful Esther Himmelfarb. Percy and Esther must grow into the nobility they've been resisting and stand together, or face the threat of destroying their young family and the beautiful love that started out with such promise...

Buy Links

Author Biography
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Grace Burrowes' bestsellers include The Heir, The Soldier, Lady Maggie's Secret Scandal, Lady Sophie's Christmas Wish and Lady Eve's Indiscretion. Her Regency romances have received extensive praise, including starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Booklist. Grace is branching out into short stories and Scotland-set Victorian romance with Sourcebooks. She is a practicing family law attorney and lives in rural Maryland.

Social Media Links



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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Book Review: Tremaine's True Love by Grace Burrowes

Tremaine's True Love
by Grace Burrowes

Genre: Romance / Historical

Ages: 17 and up

I received an e-copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.


Wealthy wool magnate Tremaine St. Michael is half French, half Scottish, and all business. He prowls the world in search of more profits, rarely settling in one place for long. When he meets practical, reserved Lady Nita Haddonfield, he sees an opportunity to mix business with pleasure by making the lady his own.

Nita Haddonfield has a meaningful life tending to others, though nobody is dedicated to caring for Nita. She insists the limitations of marriage aren't for her, then Tremaine St. Michael arrives-protective, passionate, and very, very determined to win Nita's heart.

My Thoughts:

I am sad to say this book was a disappointment. I love Grace Burrowes, but this book was just...a little off. It was still an entertaining read, but not up to her usual standards. The story wandered a little, the path littered with conversations largely concerning either sheep or medicine or both, leaving me with several questions and the realization that I would rather have been reading a book about the much more interesting side plot. Now that I've finished complaining, I'll tell you what I actually liked about it.

Nita is a great heroine. Her passion for healing and her empathy for the unfortunate made her instantly likable, and her strength against the disapprobation of her won me over completely. Tremaine was likable as well, if a little bland in comparison to Grace Burrowes' other heroes. He has a tender heart that he doesn't want anyone else to know about and shows a huge amount of respect for Nita throughout their courtship.

The side characters stole the stage more than once, particularly George Haddonfield, Nita's wayward younger brother, and Elsie Nash, their widowed neighbor. I would have liked to see more of them and less sheep.

Overall, this book was okay so long as you don't get your hopes up too high.

Content Ratings: Profanity, Sexuality and Violence
1 (mild) through 10 (extreme).

I give it a 4.10 for some mild to mid-level profanity.

I rate it 7.10 for a couple of scenes of varying explicitness as well as several references and some innuendo.

I give it 4.10 for attempted murder (sort of), illnesses and injury.

                                   Lieder Madchen

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Book Review: The Duke's Disaster by Grace Burrowes

21996394The Duke's Disaster
by Grace Burrowes

Genre: Romance / Historical

Ages: 17 and up

Note: I received an e-copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.


Noah Winters, Earl of Anselm, spent months sorting and courting the year's crop of debutantes in search of an ideal bride. When the sweet, biddable young thing he selected accepts another's proposal, Noah decides to court her companion instead.

Thea Collins, though, is anything but biddable. She has learned the hard way that men are not to be trusted, especially the handsome ones. When she reluctantly accepts, Noah rushes Thea to the altar before she can reveal her deepest secret. Can she finally move on from her past, or will it come back to haunt her?

My Thoughts:

I really, really liked this book. Don't let the cover fool you; Grace Burrowes books aren't really bodice rippers, even if they sometimes look like it. Which is not to say that they don't have plenty of steamy romance - because they do. It is just that the term 'bodice ripper' implies a certain amount of shallowness that her books do not possess. While I have loved all of her books that I have read so far, The Duke's Disaster is one of my favorites.

Noah is adorable. He's a grouchy bear of a man who is honest to a fault, slow to anger, and eminently cuddle-able. Thea is very nearly as good a character with her practical attitude and mysterious past. Each one of their conversations was wonderfully realistic and made me want to hug them both as they struggled to learn to trust each other and slowly fell in love.

What I really loved the most about this book, though, was the beautiful writing. Every single word was perfectly chosen, painting a luxuriously detailed picture of characters and setting alike. I don't think I've ever seen an author convey emotion so well.

Overall, this book was great. Thea's 'dark secret' could have been resolved faster, but I understand why it wasn't so that is a very small complaint, easily washed away by the spectacular writing and characters. I highly recommend this book to lovers of Gaelen Foley, sweet romance, and emotional angst.

Content Ratings: Profanity, Sexuality and Violence
1 (mild) through 10 (extreme).

I rate it a 4.10 for some mid-level swearing and name-calling.

I give it 7.10 for a few scenes of varying explicitness.

I rate it 5.10 for references to rape, attempted rape, kidnapping, and fighting.

                    Lieder Madchen

Monday, July 13, 2015

Blog Tour Book Review: A Will of Iron by Linda Beutler

Hello from California! Today I'm happy to have Linda Beutler's brand new book on Songs & Stories. It has made for a great vacation read on my road-trip down the west coast. Thanks to Jakki Leatherberry for hosting the tour!

A Will of Iron
by Linda Beutler

Ages: 17 and up

Genre: Romance / Historical / Austenesque / Pride & Prejudice Re-telling / Mystery

I received an e-copy of this book as part of a blog tour in exchange for a fair and honest review.


The untimely death of Anne de Bourgh, only days after his disastrous proposal at the Hunsford parsonage, draws Fitzwilliam Darcy and his cousin Colonel Alexander Fitzwilliam back to Rosings Park before Elizabeth Bennet has left the neighborhood. In death, Anne is revealed as having lived a rich life of the mind, plotting rather constantly to escape her loathsome mother, Lady Catherine de Bourgh. Anne’s journal, spirited into the hands of Charlotte Collins and Elizabeth, holds Anne’s candid observations on life and her family. It also explains her final quirky means of outwitting her mother. Anne’s Last Will and Testament, with its peculiar bequests, upheaves every relationship amongst the Bennets, Darcys, Fitzwilliams, Collinses, and even the Bingleys! Was Anne de Bourgh a shrewder judge of character than Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy combined?

My Thoughts:

This story grabbed me right away, pulling me through its myriad twists and turns all the way to a satisfying conclusion. It had touches of gothic drama, macabre mystery, and wonderfully sweet romance.

The first half of the novel kept me on the edge of my seat, trying to figure out what was going to happen next. The second half was a little calmer, more focused on the various romances. I really liked all of the romances. Col. Fitzwilliam stole the stage a couple of times with his less-than-well-thought-out attempts to choose a wife.

Col. Fitzwilliam might have stolen the stage a couple of times, but Anne de Bourgh was the true main character, even if she was only shown through her journal entries. Her thoughts were at times sweet, sad, funny, and disturbing. She was superbly written, though not always likable.

I would have liked to see more Darcy and Elizabeth in A Will of Iron. It wasn’t that they didn’t have enough page time, but rather that the focus was so spread about between them, Bingley, Anne, Charlotte, and Lady Catherine that there were few places to just enjoy a full chapter of the couple. Every scene that did focus on them, however, was thoroughly lovely.

My only minor complaint is that the transition between the intensity of the first half and the far more laid-back tone of the second half was very abrupt. It took me a couple of chapters to settle into the new pace. 

Overall, A Will of Iron was a very entertaining read that I would recommend to those who enjoy darker, less conventional P&P variations.

I give it 4.10 for a few uses of mild profanity and a couple mid-level words.

I rate it 7.10 for a couple of mid-level scenes, a fadeaway or two, some references, and innuendo.

I give it 6.10 for multiple murders and attempted murder.

About the Author:
Linda Beutler is an Oregon native who began writing professionally in 1996 (meaning that is when they started paying her...), in the field of garden writing. First published in magazines, Linda graduated to book authorship in 2004 with the publication of Gardening With Clematis (2004, Timber Press). In 2007 Timber Press presented her second title, Garden to Vase, a partnership with garden photographer Allan Mandell. Now in 2013 Linda is working with a new publisher, and writing in a completely different direction. Funny how life works out, but more on that in a minute.

Linda lives the gardening life: she is a part-time instructor in the horticulture department at Clackamas Community College, writes and lectures about gardening topics throughout the USA, and is traveling the world through her active participation in the International Clematis Society, of which she is the current president. Then there's that dream job--which she is sure everyone else must covet but which she alone has--Linda Beutler is the curator of the Rogerson Clematis Collection, which is located at Luscher Farm, a farm/park maintained by the city of Lake Oswego. They say to keep resumes brief, but Linda considers Garden With Clematis her 72,000 word resume. She signed on as curator to North America's most comprehensive and publicly accessible collection of the genus clematis in July 2007, and they will no doubt not get shut of her until she can be carried out in a pine box.

And now for something completely different: in September 2011, Linda checked out a book of Jane Austen fan fiction from her local library, and was, to put it in the modern British vernacular, gobsmacked. After devouring every title she could get her hands on, she quite arrogantly decided that, in some cases, she could do better, and began writing her own expansions and variations of Pride and Prejudice. The will to publish became too tempting, and after viewing the welcoming Meryton Press website, she printed out the first three chapters of her book, and out it went, a child before the firing squad. Luckily, the discerning editors at Meryton Press saved the child from slaughter, and Linda's first work of Jane Austenesque fiction, The Red Chrysanthemum, published in September 2013. Her second work of fiction, From Longbourn to London was published in August of 2014.

Linda shares a small garden in Southeast Portland with her husband, and pets that function as surrogate children. Her personal collection of clematis numbers something around 230 taxa. These are also surrogate children, and just as badly behaved.

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