20 January 2023

Announcing a romance!

A Heart Purloined, my first historical romance, will be released on Valentine’s Day, February 14.

It’s been quite the challenge, beginning with National Novel Writing Month last November/ I confess I was unable to keep mystery elements out of the story, so the characters have a few puzzles to solve!

But I am no stranger to romance novels. Back in the day, I was a huge fan of Johanna Lindsey and Amanda Quick, authors who feature heroines who go beyond plucky and are never passive. Thus it won’t surprise anyone that my “strong female protagonist” is Amanda Goodwin, a woman searching for a miniature of her grandmother that was lost in an investment swindle.

Amanda has a good heart and great confidence. She swears like a sailor, but is too truthful for her own good. The book is set, naturally, in Victorian England, but this time it’s 1880 and most of the action is in West Sussex rather than London.

A Heart Purloined is available for pre-order on Amazon now, but will be released widely as all my books are. A sweet treat for Valentines!

January in the Garden

The weather here in Southern California has been unusually stormy and wet, allowing for more days inside with the occasional foray to plant a six-pack of primroses before it rains again.

I’ve also planted a Mr. Lincoln rose, and looking around the garden, I realize I now tend sixteen roses. Some are there on purpose, and others just happened. One of my favorites is a hybrid rose where the hybrid top died off, and left the root stock below the graft. It sends up shoots and blooms all over like an old-fashioned rose.

So while some say we should dispose of the old for the New Year, and embrace the fresh, I’m not so sure. The root stock rose is so much lovelier than the hybrid it sported originally. Sometimes the older things are better, and the new things, however showy, are trendy but not lasting.

And in other books

This month I’ve been reading an old mystery, a work of general fiction, and something I’m not quite sure what to call although it says it’s a romance.

* The old mystery is The Floating Admiral, written in 1931 by a club of fiction writers, including Agatha Christie and GK Chesterton. Each wrote one chapter, and only read the chapters before, so it’s written (sort of) collaboratively. Although it was terrific fun to read, I admit I had trouble following it, since each author thought they knew who the killer was and emphasized something different.

* I’m also reading my first (!) Rhys Bowen novel, Above the Bay of Angels. To know that it’s about a woman who takes on the name of a dying woman is not as much fun as knowing that she becomes a cook in Queen Victoria’s kitchen. It’s one of the best-written popular novels I’ve read.

* The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels by India Holton is a fantastic romp. When I started it, I was enchanted by the idea of a club of women pirates who steal and fight and try to kill each other but in the spirit of Victorian gentlewomen. Once the houses started flying around, I thought it was fantasy and put it down, but I came back and was glad I did. It’s listed as historical fiction but is more like steampunk comedy. The sense of humor never stops in this one – I don’t usually “lol” at books but I am, all the way through.

TV and Movies

If you follow my blog you’ll see I’ve been watching Whitechapel, and to be honest I’m glad I’m almost done!

My mystery books are semi-cozy. They aren’t thrillers and don’t contain a lot of violence or horror or explicit sex. That’s my taste, and it extends to TV and film. Whitechapel began well, with connections between a modern case and the Ripper killings, then moved on to parallel cases connected to the Kray killings.

Unfortunately, although the writing remained excellent and the historical connections fascinating, the editing began to feature more and more quick-edited shots of killings and gruesomeness, and the audio track more sounds designed to grate on the nerves. By season four those weird sounds were within scenes as well as between them.

But it’s still a good show, and without being set in the Victorian era, does a good job of making 2009 Whitechapel look like it’s Victorian, with each story connection to historic murders. It’s on BritBox.

And that’s it for January!