Review: Uncertain Magic by Laura Kinsale

Monday, May 31


Title:  Uncertain Magic*
Author:  Laura Kinsale
Series:  N/A 
Genre:  Historical Romance w/ some paranormal elements
Publisher:  Casablanca Sourcebooks
Format:  Trade size paperback
Date/Year: May 2010 (previously published in 1987)

*This book was provided to me by the publisher for review

Summary from the publisher:

A man damned by suspicion and innuendo

Dreadful rumors swirl around the impoverished Irish lord known as “The Devil Earl.” But Faelan Savigar hides a dark secret, for even he doesn’t know what dreadful deeds he may be capable of…

A woman cursed by the gift of sight

Roderica Delamore fears no man will ever want a wife who can read his every thought and emotion, until she encounters Faelan. As the two find their way to each other against all odds, Roddy becomes determined to save Faelen from his terrifying and mysterious ailment. But will their love end up saving him…or destroying her? A breathtaking historical romance filled with poignancy, darkness, love, and an unexpected twist of Gaelic magic…


My Musings:

Roderica Delamore has been gifted with the ability to feel and experience the emotions of everyone around her, both in humans and animals, which she oftentimes feels is more of a curse than a blessing.  She fears that she will never experience love or have a family, until she meets The Devil Earl, who seems to be the one person that she cannot “feel”, so she offers him her fortune in the hopes of having an amicable marriage of convenience with the dream of a loving relationship.

Faelan, The Devil Earl, is a brooding and haunted hero who believes the worst of himself and decides to throw caution to the wind at an early age and earn the title he has been given.  His past and his memories surrounding the death of his father have led him and the Ton to believe that he murdered his father.  His guilt drives him to lead a life of reckless abandon, until he finds Roddy.  She becomes his desperate chance to save his soul as well as his Irish estate.

Their journey to love takes them from the English countryside, to the hustle and bustle of London, and finally to the wilds of the Irish estate that had been abandoned and neglected where they find themselves embroiled an Irish revolt against English rule, as well as Faery magic.  Roddy and Fealan’s story is rich in emotion, love and experiences that I loved from beginning to the end.

I loved UNCERTAIN MAGIC!  It’s not a new release, rather a re-release of the same title previously published in 1987.  I found it interesting that it felt like a book that was written decades ago, not because it seems dated, but because the plot is much more expansive than romance novels that are currently being published.  It’s approximately 455 pages, whereas most romances today are usually no more than 350 pages (if that), and I think that allowed the author much more freedom to explore the hero and heroines love story in much more depth with many twists and turns that kept me guessing right up until the end.  I would have given it a perfect 5.0 stars, but I thought the ending was a little weak after the magic of the rest of the story.  I highly recommend it to anyone who loves historical romance....with just a touch of magic.



Favorite Pivotal Moment: (the heroine is gifted with the ability to read peoples minds, which has been a blessing and a curse, and until this moment has never been able to read her husbands mind)

"He was not the Devil Earl—he was only a man, and he needed her.  Wanted her.  Let her look at him and see into his soul laid bare and still loved her, with a fierceness that made her want to laugh and cry at once.  The way he saw her….she never would have guessed:  her strangeness he thought beautiful; her obstinance he called courage; her childish whims were joy and laughter to him, who had never known innocent laughter before."   p. 477-478  Uncertain Magic by Laura Kinsale


Ratings:

Overall:  4.50 stars
Sensuality level: 3.0 (while the love scenes are not lengthy or as detailed as romances currently published, our hero is a very passionate man)

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*I am an Amazon affiliate and receive a small (and I mean very small) referral fee for purchases made using a link on this blog. I don't use Amazon to earn money, I use it because the widgets are cool, easy to use, and serve my purposes to showcase books & such with minimal effort, but most importantly they have great prices and offer both new and used items. As a book addict I love that I can find just about anything I want in one place. If you are going to purchase a featured book anyway, and you know you won't pay more by using the links on this blog than you would by visiting Amazon on your own, I will be eternally grateful for supporting this blog by using the links, and don't forget that the referral fees from your purchases will sponsor the "Reader Rewards" giveaways :)

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Monday's Muse

Sorry, but the image containing the Monday's Muse has been removed from this blog so as not to violate any copyright issues.  Thanks for your understanding!

It's Memorial Day here in the US and I just couldn't let the day pass without giving a big heartfelt thanks to our soldiers in uniform as well as their families.  This weeks Muse is inspired by them.  Thank You!

I also wanted to take a few moments to explain some of the new rules for gaining extra entries into the giveaways here at Seductive Musings. I changed the rules this week and combined two of the ways that you used to be able to gain extra entries after much deliberation.   I recently came to the realization that offering to giveaway 15 extra bonus entries to post a blog about a giveaway in order to help spread the word about an author's book wasn't really doing what I had intended it to do.  A lot of people were posting the links, but often times without a picture of the book, or any info other than the title and where to find the giveaway.  In essence it became more about the giveaway then it did about letting your friends know about a book you were excited to read, or that they might like to read.  I've also realized through communications with some of you that many of you don't have blogs, but that didn't stop you from telling your friends in other ways....and in the end that's what it's all about. 

So I got rid of the "blog about it" extra entry where you earn 15 extra entries by itself, and expanded the "tell your friends" way to earn entries, but still awarding 5 entries to each follower. Now it doesn't matter where all you decide to post the info or how you do it...blog about it, Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, email, or word of mouth...it doesn't matter. After thinking about it I realized that if a blogger blogged about a book they had the potential to earn way more than 15 extra entries if more than 3 of their friends learned about the book and were interested enough to successfully enter to win....and at the same time it levels the playing field for my followers that don't blog.  It's all about spreading the word, which is the reason I decided to offer extra entries in the first place, because let's face it...it takes a lot of time to go through and verify the links and add in the extra points before having randomizer choose a winner, but it was worth it to me if I felt I was helping in my own small way to spread the word about an author's new book.  That's why I changed the rules.

The reason why I blog is to share books that I love or am excited about reading, not solely to become a free promotional vehicle for authors and publishers.  Many of my friends don't read romance despite my many attempts to seduce them with a great read.  So I started blogging to "talk" to what I hope would become online friends who had the same passion for romance novels that I did.  I should point out that I get offers to giveaway and feature way more books than I currently do.  I respond to all of the authors with either "I'd love to help", or politely decline with the reasons why I'm not a good fit for them.  I recently heard that some bloggers are charging a fee to feature a book, not as an advertisement (which I do charge for and are located in the right hand sidebar), but as a "hey take a look at this book".  I was surprised....and not so surprised by this.  More power to them, but I can say that I will NEVER charge to feature a book in a blog, but I also will say that I only agree to feature a book that I personally am interested in reading.  My time is as precious as yours is.  My TBR is mountainous, as is yours.  Therefore, the time I spend reading I like to "try" and make sure it is used to it's most pleasurable advantage. 

By deciding to blog this way I know I will never be one of the blogger rising stars who gain hundreds of followers in a short amount of time, nor will make a living by blogging.  And that is more than ok with me.  I want my blog to be a place where it feels like me and a group of my fellow romance bookloving friends discussing the books we can't wait to read, as well as old favorites...and if I am able to giveaway a few books in the process and Share the Love...well that makes it only that much better :)  Sorry to ramble on, but I think it's important for you to know where I am coming from and why you see the books you do that I feature on this blog (the majority of which are invited to be a guest on my blog rather than an author or publisher solicitation).

Have a good one, and take a moment to remember our Soldiers this Memorial Day 
(like gifting them with a cuppa of Joe)


Edited to add:  Forgot to mention that Laura Navarre, Donna Grant and Margaret Mallory will be my guests this week.  I'll hope you join me :)


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*I am an Amazon affiliate and receive a small (and I mean very small) referral fee for purchases made using a link on this blog. I don't use Amazon to earn money, I use it because the widgets are cool, easy to use, and serve my purposes to showcase books & such with minimal effort, but most importantly they have great prices and offer both new and used items. As a book addict I love that I can find just about anything I want in one place. If you are going to purchase a featured book anyway, and you know you won't pay more by using the links on this blog than you would by visiting Amazon on your own, I will be eternally grateful for supporting this blog by using the links, and don't forget that the referral fees from your purchases will sponsor the "Reader Rewards" giveaways :)

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Winners

I hope all of my US readers are enjoying the holiday weekend.  The weather has been warm where I am at , and we made homemade ice cream...a treat that we only do a couple of times during the summer.  It doesn't get much better than relaxing and eating ice cream :) 

I did manage to take a few minutes and have Mr. Randomizer select the winners from all of the giveaways last week...so in the interest of getting back to my relaxing and ice cream...here they are:



The winner of a signed copy of Dane by Elizabeth Amber courtesy of the author is....

jeanette8042

you've been really lucky lately :)







The winner of a signed copy of Stroke of Genius by Emily Bryan courtesy of the author is....


Stella







The winner of a signed copy of One Dance with a Duke by Tessa Dare courtesy of the author is...

Mitzi H







And last but certainly not least I have the winner of the unsigned copy of Fade to Midnight by Shannon McKenna courtesy of all of you who have purchased items on Amazon using the links on this blog.  Thank You!  This lucky person is....


AKD1018




Congratulations!  And thanks again to everyone else who participated.  As always, you can click on any of the links or the book covers found on this blog to purchase the books you are dying to read...even if you didn't win them.

If however,  you've been lucky enough to have already won this book in another giveaway please let me know so that alternate winner(s) can be selected.  In addition, the winners will have until Wednesday 6/2 to contact me with your mailing address, otherwise an alternate winner will be selected.  You can send your mailing address to me by using the Contact link in the menu bar at the top of the blog then filling out the form.

Booklover signature (revised)
*I am an Amazon affiliate and receive a small (and I mean very small) referral fee for purchases made using a link on this blog. I don't use Amazon to earn money, I use it because the widgets are cool, easy to use, and serve my purposes to showcase books & such with minimal effort, but most importantly they have great prices and offer both new and used items. As a book addict I love that I can find just about anything I want in one place. If you are going to purchase a featured book anyway, and you know you won't pay more by using the links on this blog than you would by visiting Amazon on your own, I will be eternally grateful for supporting this blog by using the links, and don't forget that the referral fees from your purchases will sponsor the "Reader Rewards" giveaways :)

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Guest Author & Giveaway: Shannon McKenna featuring Fade to Midnight

Friday, May 28

***This giveaway has ended, but you should still read the post...it's worth your time:)  Thanks for joining the fun!***


BEHIND CLOSED DOORS.  That was the first Shannon McKenna book that I read.  It completely blew me away...the suspense, the storytelling, the sexy hero.   It was also the first introduction fans of her books got of the McCloud brothers...Davy, Connor, Sean and now,  FINALLY,  Kevin.  They've all become cherished keepers on my bookshelves.

Shannon McKenna is here as my guest today to talk about her newest book that came out earlier this week, FADE TO MIDNIGHT, and in case you didn't already know...it's Kevin McCloud's story.  The brother everyone thought had died long ago.  She was gracious enough to take time out of her very busy schedule to share insight into her book and provide some tempting excerpts.  So get comfy and enjoy!


Welcome to Seductive Musings Shannon! I can't tell you how excited I am to have you as my guest today. For you, what makes a romance novel a great love story, and who are some of your favorite authors to read? Who's your new favorite find?

Thank you so much for having me, and I’m honored and delighted to be here! And thanks for the fun questions. I had a great time mulling them over.

Let’s see, what makes a romance novel a great love story? I guess it's what makes any story a great story--passion. What makes any book work for me is how much the hero and/or heroine care about each other, and what they are doing. It has to be life-or-death important. It's the intensity of the accompanying emotion that makes the book work, whether you’re talking about sex, action scenes, anything else. Without overwhelming emotion, the book is flat. It doesn't have any buzz or zing or flavor, it doesn't burn, it just doesn't work. I believe that you need a powerful emotional payoff in order for the book to do its job. 

I remember reading in Anais Nin's "Delta Of Venus," she recounts that when she was writing erotica for a dollar a page, her patron told her to take out the poetry and she protested that how could she? Poetry was her aphrodisiac. That's what the emotion is, for me, and I think also for most romance readers. The heroine and hero have to care about what is happening, in a life-or-death sort of way. If they do, even a scene like the simple handholding in the carriage in the movie "Age Of Innocence" becomes intensely erotic.

As far as new favorites, oh, that's a painful subject for me. I am terribly out of the loop when it comes to new stuff, because I have little kids and my reading time is brutally limited—that is to say, nonexistent--plus, I live abroad where there are no bookstores, and I don’t even have time for online loops and discussions, so the three things combined mean no bookshopping whatsoever. So I'm about a decade out of date, in terms of new authors! There must be such a wealth of wonderful people writing that I know nothing about, and someday, someday I’m going to do something about it!

When it comes to older books, well, I can't confine myself just to romances. Jane Eyre and the Tolkien Trilogy are the first ones that come to mind. Those, plus the Anne of Green Gables books and the Frances Hodgsen Burnett books (The Little Princess, The Secret Garden) are probably the books I reread the most growing up.

The latest thing I have read that actually changed my brain chemistry is Diana Gabaldon’s “An Echo In The Bone.” I’d been waiting four years for that. Yum! Such intense enjoyment and involvement. I had a huge mood crash after I finished it, when my body realized it wasn't going to get any more of that fiction drug. I was depressed and out of sorts for three days!  I have to admit, I really, hugely enjoyed the Stephanie Meyers vampire quartet--I'm not ashamed to jump on a global bandwagon now and again! And Edward Cullen is such an intensely romantic, old school hero, almost like the eighteenth century heroes of yore, all tortured and honorable and uptight. And I'm not even a vampire girl. Although I did enjoy the JR Ward series! She’s awesome. Another exception to my rules. Not that I really have rules. I can hardly wait to see the film Eclipse this summer. Yay for the vampire wars.

I don’t have a reliable database of incredible favorites in my head. It depends on my mood, what’s floating to the top on any given day. I’m a Harry Potter freak. I’m a shameless Diana Gabaldon Outlander groupie. I love Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel series, everything by Guy Gavriel Kay and Neil Gaiman, for fantasy. I’ve always loved Stephen King. I go for Lee Childs, Stephen Hunter, Harlan Coban, Nicci French and Thomas Perry for thrillers. I love the Dean Koontz Odd Thomas series, plus his Seize the Night duet. I love Barry Eisler's John Rain series. I was blown away by Yann Martell's "Life Of Pi" last year. And my tried and true comfort reads are classic Jayne Ann Krentz, Jayne Castle and Amanda Quick novels, plus Linda Howard and Elizabeth Lowell, most specifically her eighties stuff, like the "Only" series. I just could not get enough of those. I just read the Millennium Trilogy by Steig Larsson, and enjoyed it a lot, speaking of global bandwagons. And I love the romantic intensity of Lisa Kleypas novels. "Devil In Winter" was my idea of a perfect "beauty and the beast" set-up. Loved it, loved it.  I know there are more, but they’re just not coming to my mind right now. My brain’s been hijacked by Pixie Hollow books and Disney Princesses and Dora, Boots, the Wiggles and Dr. Suess.  Someday they tell me I’ll get my brain back. I’ll believe it when I see it.

If you had an opportunity to provide an excerpt or quote from your book, Fade to Midnight, to grab the attention of potential readers and give them a glimpse and feeling of what the book is about what would it be?

I think I would go with the very first scene. I sat in my chair and cogitated with great pain to figure out the most dramatic and evocative moment I could possibly start the book with, so I wouldn’t deviate from the one I chose. I hope it works for you all.  I think this is a much longer excerpt than you had in mind . . . hope it’s OK . . . 

I am fucked. 

The thought flicked through Kev’s head, calm and detached. The roar of icy water filled his ears. The current would pull him loose in counted seconds. Seconds measured by the pounding pulse of blood through his brain. Each throb hurt like a raving motherlover, but there was nothing like imminent death to take a guy’s mind off a headache.

His little angel’s face flashed through his mind. His dream companion, his spirit guide. Her big eyes looked sad, and scared.

He’d known since he got out of bed that the day was going to be day. He’d had that prickle, as if someone was looking at the back of his neck. Not surprising, since he’d set the day aside for high-adrenaline sports activities, his chief joy in what passed for his life. One would think, having gotten a clue from the Great Beyond that death lurked nearby, that a reasonable, sane person would spend the day on the couch, watching reruns. Cruising the mall bookstore, reading about mindfulness or voluntary simplicity. Lying low in a multiplex, watching a nature documentary. Sipping a green tea latte. Well out of sight.

Not him. The reasonable, sane parts of himself were out in space. Along with his memories and his normal and natural fear of death. Danger? Bring it the fuck on. He should be dead already anyway. Look at his face. Kids ran screaming to mommy when they saw his bad side.

Cold had numbed the pain. He no longer felt his hand, clamped around the boughs of the dead tree. He did not feel the compound fracture in his other arm. His injured limb flopped in the water, sucked by the current, a few yards from the head of the falls. His broken bone tented out the nylon of his jacket, pinkish with blood. But he doubted he’d be using that arm again, once the water flung him over the brink.

Whatever. He’d been smash totaled years ago. Living on borrowed time. Half a brain, half a life. No clue at all. 

Don’t start with that. Just shut the fuck up. He did crazy shit like this for the express purpose of keeping himself too zapped with adrenaline to indulge in self pity. That was why he hung off the edge of cliffs, hang-glided treacherous air currents, rafted bad-ass rapids. When he was that close to death, he felt buzzing, connected. Almost alive.

Since Tony found him he’d had some mechanism functioning that damped his emotional volume way down. High enough for function, but no more. Probably caused by the trauma to his brain that had caused the amnesia, and rendered him speechless, back in the bad old days.

Whatever it was, he was bored with it. If he could, he’d join the military, fly fighter jets. Playing with toys like that, yeah. Talk about a coping mechanism. But the military wouldn’t want a guy with crossed wires, a questionable identity and a black hole in his mind to fly their hundred million dollar toys. They’d put him to work cleaning engines. If they took him at all. No, he had to make do with high-risk sports. They kicked his ass into high gear, and he liked that gear. The color, the noise. The buzz of being awake to it, aware of it. Giving a shit.

He’d gotten what he wanted. But he was going to pay big. He stared at the top of the falls. Clouds of vapor rose from the thundering tons of water crashing down, hundreds of feet below. How many hundreds? He tried to remember. Several. Well over three. Whoo hah.

Not that he was afraid of dying. At most, he was curious. Sorry he’d never unravel the great questions of his existence, at least not as a living man, and who knew what happened after? He’d never speculated. His present mortal existence was problem enough, for as long as he could remember. Roughly half of his life. He didn’t know how old he was. Tony put him around twenty when he’d saved Kev from the warehouse thug eighteen years ago. So he was fortyish. Give or take.

At least the boy was going to make it. Kev was immobilized by tons of rushing  icewater, but out of the corner of his eye, he saw activity in the trees choking the cliffside shore. Rescue proceedings were underway. Other people besides Kev had been at the point when he’d put ashore, where he’d seen the kids spin past, oarless and out of control. Only a guy with a black hole in his brain would be suicidal enough to jump in after them at that point in the rapids, but he’d taken no time to ponder that implacable truth. He just went for it.

And then, a long, hopeless wrestle with nature while the water got wilder, the roar of the falls louder.

While death approached, smiling. Happy to see him. His old pal.

Maybe he’d subconsciously wanted it. Bruno threw that death wish crap in his face a lot, whenever he got cracked up doing daredevil sports. Could be. Not worth worrying about, though. Particularly now.

The kids had capsized by the time he caught up. Kev saw a bobbing head and scooped one out of the water by sheer, blind luck. Then they plunged into a trough, the raft flipped, and they were tossed like twigs, the boy flailing, choking. He’d clamped the kid against him, struggled, kicked. He’d wanted to save that kid. Wanted it ferociously. He was played out, now, though. In fact, he felt strangely serene.

The other boy was gone, over the falls. That was fucked, and he was sorry. Rescue was on the way for the other one, but the greedy way the water sucked at the tree told him the hard truth.
He was going down. Anytime.

He forced his head to turn, checked on the kid. Sixteen or so. A drowned rat, clinging to the lucky side of the rock that split the top of the falls into two long, thin tails, hence the name, Twin Tails Falls. The weight of rushing water pinned him against the bulwark of the rock. He couldn’t move if he wanted to. But he’d live. That was good.

It wasn’t strength or skill that had smacked them up against that jutting rock. Just chance. And then, just as fast, bam. That bastard came up so fast, he barely shoved the kid out of the way before the tree trunk snapped his arm, smashed God only knew what else in his thorax, knocked him loose—and then spun out perpendicular to the falls, catching on a rock across the torrent. It formed a barrier, trapping him against a temporary dam. But not for long.

Smashing him, then saving him. When it worked loose, it would fuck him again, definitively. He’d ride that bastard out over the cliff.

The story of his life. Something inside him laughed, with stony irony. Wasn’t it always the way. Like Tony, who’d dragged Kev out of his own rapids years ago, and kept him there, brain damaged, shambling and speechless. Washing dishes, mopping floors for room and board at the diner. Lying on a sagging cot, watching paint peel in the windowless mildewed room behind the diner where he’d slept. For fucking years. 

The rope thrown out to save him. The same rope that he strangled himself on. It was almost funny. Except that it wasn’t.

The tree was about to go. The branches stuck on the rocks on the other side were wavering, wild water bending the flexible limbs, teasing them loose. The tree shuddered, rolled. The water sucked and insisted.

Any time now. He composed himself, tried to pay attention, to be present for it, to breathe. Difficult. So cold. So much water.  The kid’s mouth gaped, begging Kev to do something. As if he could swim against that current, even if he weren’t fucked up. He had as much strength left as a broken doll. A final swell shook the tree loose. The ponderous slow motion made those last moments of clinging stretch out, infinitely long.

He struggled to stay conscious. The last wild ride. He’d better enjoy it. He wondered if he’d know, once he was dead, who he’d been before. What he’d done, who he’d known. Who he’d loved.

Probably not. This was all he got. It would just have to do. 

Whoosh, the river rolled him under the tree and spat him far out into vastness. Endless space, above, below. Turning, head over ass.

The angel flashed across his mind. Those big gray eyes, so achingly sweet. A sharp sting of regret that he didn’t understand. And another face, too, scowling his disapproval as the immutable laws of physics had their stern way with him. A face he saw in his dreams every night. A young guy. His face maddeningly familiar.

Kev had been having a dream argument with that guy, that very morning, he suddenly remembered. The man had been scolding him.

Dying is easy. You told me that yourself,” the guy said. “It’s living that’s hard. Meathead. Hypocrite. You piss me off.” 

So that was how he’d known today would be dangerous.

Part of his mind hooted and shrieked with unreasoning joy at the icy rush of air and water, on his face. Whoa. This shit is fun. Another part pondered acceleration rates of falling objects, wind shear, probable force of impending impact on the rocks below. He calculated it down to ten digits after the decimal in that last, eternal instant—

And hurtled into a blank, white nothing.

Readers like myself have waited for years, years I tell you, with baited breath for Kevin McCloud's story!  He has to be one of your most requested characters to get their own book.  Did this surprise you at all, or was this your devilishly clever writer's plan to make us mourn for him like his brothers...believing that he had died long ago, only to find out he is alive? And why did we have to wait so long :)

My apologies for the long wait! Devilishly clever, indeed. Hah. I’m just muddling desperately along as best I can! The shocking truth is, for the longest time, I had no idea Kev was alive at all. For me, he was no more than a distant, poignant tragedy in the lives of the McCloud brothers. Then I found out while writing EDGE OF MIDNIGHT that the body in the grave was not his, and I was totally gob-smacked. And  then readers started agitating and asking, and poking and prodding. And I finally realized that he really needed his own book.

Oh, man. I knew it would be a humdinger. There was such a vast disconnect between the other books and Kev’s. Eighteen years. An abyss of silence and mystery. How does a righteous, heroic dude justify letting his beloved brothers believe he’s dead for eighteen years? There was enough backstory to choke a whale, a cast of thousands, all the brothers had to be involved, all their intense buried feelings about Kev reckoned with, and their search dovetailed with Kev’s own struggle to vanquish the demons trying to destroy his life. And it all had to come together in a crashing, thundering conclusion. And don’t forget the romance, too, thank you very much! He has to negotiate finding the love of his life along with all that other stuff. Whoa. I was scared to death of it, and who could blame me? (don’t answer that question, please, it is purely rhetorical)

It took three interim books after EDGE OF MIDNIGHT, Sean’s story, to work up the courage to develop a jumping off point, which is all I ever have when I start. Not a plot line, but just a situation with oomph. A place to leap from. Like the top of a waterfall, for instance. What I find when I come barelling down is always a surprise—and my fear of finding no water in the pool below never goes away. 

For readers who don't already know about Kevin McCloud tell us about your hero, Kev Larsen (aka Kevin McCloud)? What do you think will make readers, much like his heroine Edie, fall in love with him? And can you tell us a little bit about their story in Fade to Midnight?

Kev was a big voyage of discovery for me. With all the other McCloud brothers, from BEHIND CLOSED DOORS onward, I’d already discovered all kinds of background information about their characters, history and choices, which is a tremendous springboard for the story—since for me, the characters ARE the story. All I had to go on with Kevin were a few of Sean’s sentimental memories, a couple dream sequences and a paranormal vision or two. That was it. And to make matters worse, Kev was at zero, too, as far as his past was concerned. His injuries at the hands of Dr. Osterman had rendered him brain damaged and amnesiac. There was so much he did not know about himself, and the only way I could make some sense of all that for him was to have him use his special gifts to exploit it as an opportunity for spiritual growth. Which sounds a bit odd and out of place in a sexy suspense novel, but there it is. Kev learned to be in the moment, serene and calm and centered, and essentially fearless—until he encounters Edie. Then all bets are off. But his capacity to be in the moment serves him there, too, because he is able to give himself over to love and passion more quickly and completely than any hero I’ve ever created. Certainly faster than any (ahem) “normal” guy ever would. Sorry, guys. Fantasy rules.

I had great fun with setting up the love story for Edie and Kev. It was a total, over-the-top fantasy for me, to make the damage the two of them had suffered the very reason they are destined for each other. As a hopeless romantic, I get off on the concept of true love written in the stars. Edie was marked at a tender age by her traumatic encounter with the desperately injured Kev, and becomes obsessed by his image, creating her graphic novels around the character inspired by him, practically channeling Kev’s life from afar as he lives it. Meanwhile, Kev saw the eleven year old Edie dressed all in white in a moment of extremity, and then used her dream image like a holy talisman for years, to lead him through his own darkness and into healing and wholeness once again. So the moment they finally meet again, they have no choice but to fall instantly in love. They’re programmed for it. Of course, the fabulous sex certainly doesn’t hurt. It has all the ponderous weight of destiny driving it.

Sean and Kevin McCloud are twins.  Edge of Midnight dealt the "death" of Sean's twin and their special bond as brothers.  You hear so much about twin "connections" and their special abilities to feel and sense the other even across vast distances.  Did Kevin ever feel that "loss" during his disappearance and how is this phenomenon addressed in his story?

I didn’t stress it as much as I did in Sean’s story. As you have already seen, the first chapter of the book does establish that Kev dreams about Sean on a daily basis, but to his agonized frustration, he never knows who he is dreaming about. I emphasized this phenomenon more from Sean’s point of view in EDGE OF MIDNIGHT. I felt as if I couldn’t stress it that much for Kev because of the amnesia. He feels an ache, and a loss, but he can’t identify the shape of it until his memories come back. But I don’t want to spoil, so I’ll shut up now.

Edie, the heroine in Fade to Midnight, is an author who has physic abilities of her own. Can you explain the connection that Edie and Kev have?  And how it has influenced her own writing of  her characters "Fade and Mahlia"?

I addressed that partially above, when you asked about Kev. I feel like when Edie saw him in his moment of desperation when she was eleven, it forged a mysterious spiritual connection between them—and in a way, they help each other through their lives even though they don’t know each other, or even know that they are connected. Edie escaped from her pain into her drawings and her fantasies, and Fade/Kev was the most important one. In fact, it became her livelihood.  I don’t think either of them would have survived without the other, even before they meet. I am a hopeless romantic. I like to raise the stakes, and I don’t think they’ve ever been this high! At least, they haven’t been in my books!

What's your favorite scene or moment from Fade to Midnight, and why? Can you describe it (or provide a short excerpt) for us without giving too much away?

Well . . . I have a very hard time choosing a favorite moment, but I do really love it when Kev and Edie finally do meet and hook up. There’s so much back story and set up, they have to wait much longer than in my usual novels, and the waiting is tough! But I’ll include a juicy little tantalizing bit of that love scene . . . 

Don’t go. The plea hung in the air between them.

Edie waited for Kev’s response, her fingers digging into the thick muscles of his shoulder. The seconds ticked on, and on.

He didn’t answer. Tears prickled her eyes. This was torture.

A muscle twitched in Kev’s jaw. “You don’t understand,” he said. “I don’t know how to handle feelings this strong. Before the waterfall accident, I was numb, more or less. Self control wasn’t an issue for me. But now, I feel . . . inside out. Like I’m going to break.”

“Tell me about it,” she said fervently.

“You don’t get it.” He gripped her hand in his own, engulfing it. “I don’t trust myself. I don’t want to hurt you. I have to leave. Now.”

“Leaving would hurt me,” she said simply.

He muttered something, in a harsh, gutteral language. It sounded profane to her attenuated senses. “You’re not listening,” he growled.

“You are so wrong. You will never find a better listener than me. And if you’re trying to intimidate me, don’t bother. It won’t work.”

His eyes narrowed, to bright green slits. “It won’t?”

“No. It won’t. I’m fearless today. I could eat you for breakfast.” She plucked his hand off hers, and pulled it up to her mouth, pressing her lips against it. “You think you feel exposed?” She whipped off her long green sweater, and flung it down next to his on the floor. “We’re even.”

Kev sucked in a harsh breath. “Oh, fuck.” His voice sounded strangled. “Edie. Goddamnit. This is not helping.”

She reached back, struggling with the fastenings of her shabby white bra. Wishing she had a seductive scrap of silk and lace on. At least the boobs themselves were acceptable, as boobs went. “Who said anything about helping?” She flung the bra onto the sweater, chest out, shoulders back. Displaying herself. Ta da. Take that, buddy. Tit power.

He stared at her bare chest, as if hypnotized. “I can’t do this to you.” His voice sounded strangled. “I’m not in control. You understand? I can’t . . . I don’t know what I’d do to you.”

“No? Well, gee. I could give you some pointers.” She felt silly, being naked to the waist and still wearing glasses, so she pulled them off and tossed them onto the table. The room shifted into soft focus. Kev glowed in the foreground, like luminous marble. His dirt blond hair had wiry glints of gold and bronze. Silver and gilt beard stubble glinted on the unscarred side of his jaw. She liked the metallic accents. They gave him a supernatural glow, like some mythical beast in an ancient tale. He glittered and shone. Colors of the sun, the moon, the stars.

She seized his shoulders, her ink blackened nails digging into hot, smooth skin, thick, ropy muscle, the rasp of bumpy scar tissues. She let her breast sway, inches from his face, in blatant invitation.

He seized her waist. “So we’re clear?” His voice was clipped and harsh. “We just met, a little over an hour ago. There are two outcomes in this scenario. I put on my shirt and leave right now, or I throw you down on the nearest horizontal surface, and fuck you. Hard. And repeatedly. You understand?”

She stroked the muscles of his back, shivering. “Jeez,” she murmured. “You don’t have to sound so unhappy about it.”
Can you tell us about some of your upcoming releases, or the new projects you are working on?

Wow, you put it in plural, as if I had a whole different bunch of books busily being written at one time. Hah! Not! I am slower than molasses in January, and swamped by my family life, so it’s just one single book that I’m well into, but far from finishing—and I can’t even say much about that one, because I’m superstitious. If I had finished the manuscript, I could tell you more, but I’m many a long mile from that happy bourne. But I will say that the hero of my current WIP is a very important character that you will all meet in FADE TO MIDNIGHT, and the book will certainly feature the McClouds and their friends! And the villain is shaping up to be suitably horrendous . . .

If you could ask readers a question what would it be?

Hmmm . . . ask the readers a question? That is a perilous enterprise. All those people out there, with all those powerful opinions, all reading my stuff and judging me for it! Yikes! The terror. I spend most of my time trying very hard not to think about what the readers will think, because experience has taught me that it distracts me from what I myself am thinking, and that, right there, is the bad moment when the writing stops and the nail chewing and the teeth gnashing begins.  Rather, I’d just prefer to thank them for having made my livelihood possible, and tell them all that it gives me immense pleasure to know that my books are enjoyed--at least by some!  

Finally, just for fun…if you could write the “fortune” in a fortune cookie what would it be?

Well, there’s a lot of directions I could go with this—comical, facetious, solemn, woo woo . . . so I’ll go for the feel good/spiritual vibe, and say, with absolute honesty, with all my heart and with warmest best wishes to everyone . . . . may you learn to find joy in little things.

Like a good book, for instance. 

All the best, 
Shannon McKenna


Gone But Not Forgotten

Davy…Connor…Sean… Three brothers who have conquered their demons, but they’ve never forgotten their long lost brother, Kev, whom they believed to be dead. When the McCloud brothers discover Kev is alive, they won’t rest until they find him...

Beaten and tortured almost to death, Kev Larsen was found eighteen years earlier in a warehouse alley. He survived his brutal ordeal, but his memories before that night were completely erased. When he nearly dies from trying to save someone from drowning, the brain surgery he has to save his life triggers fragmented, terrifying memories. With only these memories and the name of his torturer to guide him, Kev is determined to unlock the secrets to his past.

Edie Parrish has always been good at not letting anyone get too close to her. If someone were to learn of her unusual gift, her life would be immediately jeopardized. But when Kev Larsen discovers who she really is, Edie has only one choice: to trust him. And soon, Edie can’t resist her consuming desire for him—even though she knows she’ll have to pay a price for it.

Now Kev and Edie must race against time and place their faith in each other to stop a deadly legacy... 



Congratulations Shannon on your first hardcover release, and many thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to share your thoughts on FADE TO MIDNIGHT with us.  If you'd like to learn more about Shannon McKenna and the books she writes you can find her on her website www.shannonmckenna.com

Since Shannon is lucky enough to live in Italy...where she is surrounded by rustic loveliness, but far from a post office where mailing a book would consume an entire day and therefore unable to giveaway her book herself I'm going to offer our very first reader rewards giveaway!  To thank all of you for your support in reading this blog I am offering to giveaway one copy (unsigned) of FADE TO MIDNIGHT to one lucky GFC follower.  Here's how you can enter to win...

Ways to earn entries:
  • MandatoryLeave a meaningful comment (good for 1 entry)
  • Mandatory:  You MUST be a Google Friend Connect (GFC) follower in order to be eligible to win (unfortunately an email subscriber, or subscription in Google reader, and a follower are not the same thing so make sure you are signed up as a follower if you'd like to win this book)
  • If you have a blog,  or even if you don't, you can earn extra entries by telling your friends. If they successfully enter to win and mention that you sent them you can each earn extra entries.  You can blog about it with a link to this post,  post it on Facebook, Twitter, email...or even word of mouth (good for 5 entries for the referrer and the commenter for each friend) .  Please note that to earn the points they must mention your GFC name so that I can match you.
  • Purchase any item from the Seductive Musings Amazon store by using this link, or the Amazon widget contained within this post and email a copy of your purchase receipt to me no later than the deadline to enter (email available in sidebar). Sorry purchases made prior to this date do not apply, and link contained in this post must be used. No faxes or snail mail copies are allowed. No purchases are necessary to win. (good for 25 entries, or 50 entries if a purchase is made from the featured author's available titles)
How to enter:
  • You can choose to enter as many different ways that you want, but please place all of your entries in ONE comment
Rules and disclaimers: 
  • This contest is open to US & International addresses
  • The contest will end on May 30 at 11:59 pm EST and winner will be posted after they have been selected
  • Winner(s) will be selected using Random.org
  • The winner(s) will have THREE days from the date they are posted to provide a mailing address. If you do not contact me within three days a replacement winner will be selected. NO EXCEPTIONS
  • The book(s) will be mailed directly from the publisher or author and no substitutions are allowed
  • Seductive Musings is not responsible for prizes that are not honored, distributed in a timely manner, lost, stolen, or damaged during transit 
  • All giveaways are subject to change/cancellation without prior written notice 
Good Luck!


Booklover signature (revised)
*I am an Amazon affiliate and receive a small (and I mean very small) referral fee for purchases made using a link on this blog. I don't use Amazon to earn money, I use it because the widgets are cool, easy to use, and serve my purposes to showcase books & such with minimal effort, but most importantly they have great prices and offer both new and used items. As a book addict I love that I can find just about anything I want in one place. If you are going to purchase a featured book anyway, and you know you won't pay more by using the links on this blog than you would by visiting Amazon on your own, I will be eternally grateful for supporting this blog by using the links, and don't forget that the referral fees from your purchases will sponsor the "Reader Rewards" giveaways :)

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Guest Author & Giveaway: Tessa Dare featuring One Dance with a Duke

Thursday, May 27

***This giveaway has ended, but you should still read the post...it's worth your time:)  Thanks for joining the fun!***


Few debut romance authors received as much buzz last summer as Tessa Dare did with the back to back releases of GODDESS OF THE HUNT, SURRENDER OF A SIREN, and A LADY OF PERSUASION.  They made quite an impact not only on me, but on the rest of the romance community.  This summer she has a brand new historical romance series, The Stud Club Trilogy, that is being released similarly in May, June and July...starting with ONE DANCE WITH A DUKE.  Give me a  great summer romance and I am in booklover bliss.  Give me a trilogy that I don't have to wait an eternity for and I'm in booklover....is there something beyond bliss?

I was already eagerly anticipating this new series and then I happened upon the book video.  I love a good book video!  I do.  I know a lot of you can take or leave them, but when they are done well nothing makes me remember an upcoming release more.  Usually there is a stark contrast between the ones that have been professionally made and ones that the author or a fan created themselves, but Tessa Dare's homemade book video is a masterpiece because of it's creativity, it's wit, it's humor and it's ability to intrigue you to want learn more about the books.  In the end that's exactly what a book video should do...make you want to learn more about the story and buy the book.

Tessa Dare is my guest today talking about her now infamous book video (and if you haven't seen it you'll get a chance to watch it later), so I hope you'll read, watch, listen and enjoy!



The best promo money I never spent: how I made my own book video.

I had three books release in 2009.  I never managed to make a book video for any of them.  Oh, I thought about it.  I had all sorts of ideas, most of which were either a) ambitious to the point that I’d need CGI effects  to pull them off or b) straight-up meh.  In the end, nothing ever came of it, except I’d listened to a bunch of stock music and picked out some favorites.  

A full year later, one of those pieces was still bouncing around my memory—a dramatic piano piece in A minor that really seemed to tell a story.  And I had this new trilogy to promote, with a quirky premise—the Stud Club.  I started thinking, maybe it’s time to make a video at long last.  

I honestly can’t remember exactly when the idea to use my kids’ toys came in.  I was thinking about the concept of the Stud Club.  The heroes of the trilogy all share ownership of a prize stallion, and the membership tokens can only be won in games of chance, like cards or dice.  I thought to myself, “We have cards and dice around here, don’t we?  Tons of them in the kids’ room.”  And then I thought, “Well, and we also have some horsies. Some verry pretty ponies.”  

It all just snowballed from there. 

After jotting down a loose sequence and thinking through the props I wanted to use, I made the video using my iPhone and the iMovie software on my Macbook.  It was my first time using any movie-making program, which I suppose is a testament to the usability of Mac software and the efficacy of their online tutorials!  All the visuals (aside from the video intro) were still photos I took of the toys, and the movie software allowed me to add pan and zoom effects, and drop in text.  I finally bought that piece of stock music I liked so well, to use as a soundtrack. (This was my major expense, about $35.) That music, I think, is a big part of why the video works.  It’s a serious, dramatic soundtrack juxtaposed with silly visuals—the contrast is part of what makes the video funny, and I wanted the video to be funny. I like to keep a healthy sense of humor about the romance genre, and life in general. 

People have told me they like the video because it’s different and makes them laugh.  They also seem to enjoy looking for toys they recognize from their own childhood or their children’s playthings.  I like the video because it’s very “me.”  I made it, using things in my house, with the help of my children, to tell the story of my books, and as a result, I like to think my voice comes through loud and clear.  If you enjoy that video, there’s a solid chance you’ll enjoy my books.  To me, that’s why it’s a successful book video, and the best promo dollars I barely spent.  

Oh, and because several people have asked me—no, my kids’ bedroom is usually not that clean.



True temptation begins at midnight…

A handsome and reclusive horse breeder, Spencer Dumarque, the fourth Duke of Morland, is a member of the exclusive Stud Club, an organization so select it has only ten members — yet membership is attainable to anyone with luck. And Spencer has plenty of it, along with an obsession with a prize horse, a dark secret, and, now, a reputation as the dashing “Duke of Midnight.” Each evening he selects one lady for a breathtaking midnight waltz. But none of the women catch his interest, and nobody ever bests the duke — until Lady Amelia d’Orsay tries her luck.

In a moment of desperation, the unconventional beauty claims the duke’s dance and unwittingly steals his heart. When Amelia demands that Spencer forgive her scapegrace brother’s debts, she never imagines that her game of wits and words will lead to breathless passion and a steamy proposal. Still, Spencer is a man of mystery, perhaps connected to the shocking murder of the Stud Club’s founder. Will Amelia lose her heart in this reckless wager or win everlasting love?




Once Dance with a Duke by Tessa Dare (excerpt)

Want more?....Listen to a scene from Ch 5  (with accents and all)


Congratulations Tessa on what promises to be a most excellent new series!  If you'd like to learn more about Tessa Dare and the books she writes you can find her at www.tessadare.com, and her blog (aka the "diary"), Facebook, Myspace, and Twitter

To celebrate the first book in her Stud Club series, Tessa is giving away a signed copy of ONE DANCE WITH A DUKE, and if you are interested you can also request a set of Stud Club bookmarks.  Here's how you can enter to win the book..

Ways to earn entries:
  • MandatoryLeave a meaningful comment AND tell me....do book videos make or break a buying decision?  If the video is poorly done do you scratch the book off your wish list, or vice versa if the book is normally not one you would be interested in, but you loved the book video did you then give it a try...did it live up to your expectations? Or do you not even watch them?  (good for 1 entry)
  • Mandatory:  You MUST be a Google Friend Connect (GFC) follower in order to be eligible to win (unfortunately an email subscriber, or subscription in Google reader, and a follower are not the same thing so make sure you are signed up as a follower if you'd like to win this book)
  • If you have a blog,  or even if you don't, you can earn extra entries by telling your friends. If they successfully enter to win and mention that you sent them you can each earn extra entries.  You can blog about it with a link to this post,  post it on Facebook, Twitter, email...or even word of mouth (good for 5 entries for the referrer and the commenter for each friend) .  Please note that to earn the points they must mention your GFC name so that I can match you.
  • Purchase any item from the Seductive Musings Amazon store by using this link, or the Amazon widget contained within this post and email a copy of your purchase receipt to me no later than the deadline to enter (email available in sidebar). Sorry purchases made prior to this date do not apply, and link contained in this post must be used. No faxes or snail mail copies are allowed. No purchases are necessary to win. (good for 25 entries, or 50 entries if a purchase is made from the featured author's available titles)
How to enter:
  • You can choose to enter as many different ways that you want, but please place all of your entries in ONE comment
Rules and disclaimers: 
  • This contest for the book is open to US & International addresses
  • The contest will end on May 29 at 11:59 pm EST and winner will be posted after they have been selected
  • Winner(s) will be selected using Random.org
  • The winner(s) will have THREE days from the date they are posted to provide a mailing address. If you do not contact me within three days a replacement winner will be selected. NO EXCEPTIONS
  • The book(s) will be mailed directly from the publisher or author and no substitutions are allowed
  • Seductive Musings is not responsible for prizes that are not honored, distributed in a timely manner, lost, stolen, or damaged during transit 
  • All giveaways are subject to change/cancellation without prior written notice 
Good Luck!
Booklover signature (revised)
*I am an Amazon affiliate and receive a small (and I mean very small) referral fee for purchases made using a link on this blog. I don't use Amazon to earn money, I use it because the widgets are cool, easy to use, and serve my purposes to showcase books & such with minimal effort, but most importantly they have great prices and offer both new and used items. As a book addict I love that I can find just about anything I want in one place. If you are going to purchase a featured book anyway, and you know you won't pay more by using the links on this blog than you would by visiting Amazon on your own, I will be eternally grateful for supporting this blog by using the links, and don't forget that the referral fees from your purchases will sponsor the "Reader Rewards" giveaways :)

Read more...

Guest Author & Giveaway: Emily Bryan featuring Stroke of Genius

Wednesday, May 26

***This giveaway has ended, but you should still read the post...it's worth your time:)  Thanks for joining the fun!***


Today, I have the delightful Emily Bryan as my guest.  Her new historical romance Stroke of Genius was released yesterday and features a hero who is an artist (yet another reason for our Muse this week).

I first learned about Stroke of Genius almost a year or so ago while Emily was still writing it.  She had a contest to help her name one of the minor characters and it sounded like so much fun that I decided to make up a name that I felt fit the character description and submit it.  She had over a hundred entries and I enjoyed browsing through all of the names to see what others had come up with.  I was excited to learn that the name I had submitted was chosen as a finalist, but sadly it wasn't the final choice.  While I was somewhat disappointed, I completely agreed with the name she ended up choosing (or readers did through voting...I can't remember).  I never really thought about how much went into naming a character, and involving readers and fans in choosing a name, even if it was a minor character, I felt was a stroke of genius in giving insight into all of the decisions and choices a writer must make when creating a story.  

I feel like I've been waiting for this book forever...and it has been a long time because I became intrigued with the story while it was still unfinished.  Happily, the wait is finally over :)  Emily is here today to share her own artistic masterpiece, Stroke of Genius.  I hope you will enjoy it!


Welcome to Seductive Musings Emily! I am so glad to have you as my guest today. For you, what makes a romance novel a great love story, and who are some of your favorite authors to read? Who's your new favorite find?

Thanks so much for having me! When I read a romance, I want to be swept away to another place and time. Unfortunately because I'm a writer, I usually read with an eye to studying the other author's craft. It does tend to suck a little of the joy out of it. But there are a few authors who make me forget I'm a writer too. I treasure them. Here are a few in no particular order: Eloisa James, Sherry Thomas, Victoria Alexander, Shana Abe and Madeline Hunter.

If you had an opportunity to provide only a two or three sentence "teaser" quote from your book, Stroke of Genius, to grab the attention of potential readers and give them a glimpse and feeling of what the book is about what would it be?

Crispin Hawke is revered by the ton. His artistic creations are celebrated in every fashionable parlor, tales of his fiery bed skills whispered behind every fashionable fan. But when he turns an American heiress into the most sought-after Original, will he be able to resist falling for her himself? 

Tell us about your hero, Crispin Hawke? What do you think will make readers, much like his heroine Grace, fall in love with him? And can you tell us a little bit about their story in Stroke of Genius?

Crispin is a self-made bastard. Oops, I mean man, but he's a bastard too. His innate talent lifted him from grinding poverty, and he's high on sex appeal, but low on charm unless it suits him. You never have to wonder what he's thinking because he'll tell you.

RT compared him to House, and like House, the thing that saves Crispin from being completely insufferable is his pain. Not just physical pain. There's a core of hurt inside him he carefully shields from the world. Pain only Grace's love can erase.

In the first chapter you reference the artist Pygmalion which automatically brings to mind (at least mine) My Fair Lady.  How does this relate to Crispin and Grace?

While Crispin sculpts Grace's hands, he schools her on how to win over the ton. When she catches the eye of a marquess, he realizes he's done his job a little too well and has to scramble to win her back.

Your hero is an artist, and is hired to sculpt Grace's hands.  When writing their story why did you choose the hands as her feature to highlight to the ton and to gain their acceptance?  I also found it interesting that you mention both of them "favor" their left hands which is unusual for this time period.  Does this hold any significance to the story?

Ask any artist and they'll tell you hands are difficult. Crispin displays his genius by capturing them brilliantly. (Plus with the emphasis on hands, I wanted to convey that he's good with his!) Crispin is also playing a trick on the ton by making them think Grace's hand's are exceptionally lovely when they really aren't her best feature. 

I decided to make them both left handed to point out that they are both in some ways "fish out of water" and to give them a small point of commonality to start with.

I first learned about your book last year when you ran a contest asking readers to name a minor character.  I absolutely loved this approach (I actually thought it was a "stroke of genius") to letting readers learn about your new book Stroke of Genius.  It also gave some insight into how important it is for writers to choose the "right" name for their characters.  Can you give us some insight into how you choose the hero and heroine's names?

Grace Makepeace is a Bostonian heiress and her Puritan roots are showing. But the name Grace is a bit of a misnomer because Grace is anything but graceful. Tall and gawky, she’s awkward and uncomfortable with most social situations. But because she’s called Grace, there is an implied character growth arc in the name, which gave me some ideas for plot as well.

Grace means “unmerited favor” and carries the connotation of redemption, which also gives me the idea that she’s going to be redeeming someone—most likely my badboy hero. 

Grace Makepeace is made up mostly of soft sounds, except for the GR at the beginning, which to me suggests that she has strength of which she’s not yet aware.

Which brings us to my hero, Crispin Hawke.   Crispin is an artistic genius (hence the title of the story!)  His surname Hawke (which he chose for himself not having a real one!) hints at his keen observation skills and he’s been using them on the ton of London while he practices his art. Cynical, but brilliant, he’s just the man to help Grace beat the ton at their own games.

Crispin means “curly haired,” so looks like my hero is going to have some natural curls. In the time of Byron, this was a good thing for a man. Crispin was also a 3rd century saint, so I play up my Crispin’s non-saintly attributes.

Crispin Hawke is a strong name, bookended with the hard “K” sound. But the soft ‘h’ in the middle suggests a softer side hidden beneath his carefully placed armor.

Grace calls him ‘Cris’ almost immediately and it irritates the fool out of him.  

What's your favorite scene or moment from Stroke of Genius, and why? Can you describe it (or provide a short excerpt) for us without giving too much away?

I'll share Crispin and Grace's first kiss with you. It's only one of my favorite moments in this story.
He stepped back, frowning down at her hands. “No, this won’t do.”

She pulled them back and folded them on her lap. “I know they aren’t my best feature.”

“That’s not the point,” he said. “There’s nothing wrong with your hands, Grace, but a piece of art should speak. The only thing I can make them say is ‘I’m capable.’ Not exactly the kind of message you hope to send your future titled husband, I’ll wager.”

Capable. It’s what one would say of a draft horse or a hunting dog or a punctilious accountant. Her belly plummeted downward, but she shot him a glare. She would not give him permission to insult her by keeping silent.

“Perhaps I should put my long-sleeved gown back on and find some gloves to cover my annoyingly capable—”

“Gloves!” He cupped her cheeks and planted a quick kiss on her mouth. “You’re brilliant.”

The kiss startled the breath out of her.

Their gazes met and she was sure her eyes must be wide with surprise. But Crispin must have seen something else in them, because he slowly leaned in again, covering her lips for a longer kiss. He slanted his mouth over hers, running the tip of his tongue along the seam of her lips.

Tasting her.

There was a loud roaring in her ears, an ocean pounding in her head. Her world spiraled down to the exquisite sureness of his mouth on hers, to the feather of his breath on her cheek, to the roughness of his chin against her smooth one. She couldn’t move. If she did, the spell might break. All she could do was bunch the extra fabric of the palla in her lap between her tightly scrunched fingers.

Then he suddenly pulled away and turned his back on her as if nothing had happened. He made for the doorway in his canting stride, bellowing for Wyckham.

Good Lord! Grace gasped and brought her fingertips to her lips. They were still tingling. I just sat here. As if I was made of stone. Why didn’t I do something?

She had done something, she realized with a sigh. She’d let Crispin Hawke kiss her silly.

And she hadn’t wanted it to end.
You are known for you light hearted romances writing as Emily Bryan. How did you approach writing an artistic hero who is tortured, brooding and darker in personality and still keep the style and tone in your writing that your readers adore?

Crispin projects a witty persona to the world. He's urbane and glib. Grace begins to pull back those protective layers and finds the abandoned boy underneath.

It also helps to surround my hero and heroine with clever, funny secondary characters. Crispin's man Wyckham has an on again/off again affair with Grace's French maid that was great fun to write!

Congratulations are in order!  You've been contracted to write 6 new novels under the pen name Mia Marlowe.  That's amazing....and daunting all at the same time.  Can you tell us about some of your upcoming releases, or the new projects you are working on?

Oh, my, yes! I'm thrilled about the recent developments in my career. First, I'll be writing my Touch of Seduction series about characters who possess a pyschometric gift for Kensington's Brava line. Look for TOUCH OF A THIEF in May 2011! Then I'll join Diane Whiteside and Maggie Robinson for an anthology called IMPROPER GENTLEMEN in July 2011.

I'll also be writing historical romance for Leisure books as Mia Marlowe, and am contracted for 3 more novels. My agent is still hammering out the release schedule so we don't have multiple releases in one month, so look for more announcements about my books at http://www.miamarlowe.com .

Six books and a novella by July 15, 2011 is an ambitious writing schedule, but I've got my work planned out and I'm almost ready to turn in the first manuscript!

If you could ask readers a question what would it be?

Is there a plot device that drives you crazy?

Finally, just for fun…if you could write the “fortune” in a fortune cookie what would it be?

"Do everything you want to do this summer."

That was actually the advice a doctor gave a friend of mine who was diagnosed with liver cancer. He lived another five years, but that summer, he laughed more. He played more. He spent more time with the ones he loved.

I figure it's really a good fortune everyone can latch onto.

Thanks for having me!



CAN AN ARTISTIC GENIUS . . .

Crispin Hawke, a brilliant sculptor, is revered by the ton. His works are celebrated in every fashionable parlor. And tales of his fiery bed skills whispered behind every fashionable fan.

TRANSFORM AN AWKWARD HEIRESS . . .

Grace Makepeace is determined to wed a titled lord, but her Bostonian bluntness leaves much to be desired among the well-heeled London crowd. So to gain their acceptance, she commissions the incomparable Crispin Hawke—and asks for love lessons on the side.

INTO THE MOST SOUGHT-AFTER ORIGINAL . . .

Crispin agrees to school Grace in flirting and the delights of the flesh. But when she catches the eye of a marquess, he realizes maybe he’s done his job a little too well. And suddenly he knows Grace is the one masterpiece he cannot bear to be parted from.

WITHOUT FALLING FOR HER HIMSELF?


(amazon widget)

Happy belated release day Emily!  Stroke of Genius came out yesterday, and I've already got my copy on reserve.  This book sounds like such a great summer read.  For some reason I like the lighter romances like this one in warmer weather, and the darker more emotional reads in the colder months.  If you'd like to learn more about the books Emily Bryan writes you can find her at her website www.emilybryan.com, and at www.miamarlowe.com, as well as on her blog, Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, and a several other blogs that she contributes too.  It's a wonder she gets any writing done! And if you'd like a little bit of hump day fun I suggest you take her Stroke of Genius Quiz (I was a Romantic Genius).

To celebrate her new book, Emily Bryan has generously offered to giveaway one signed copy of Stroke of Genius to a lucky commenter, and if that is not enough she is willing to ship it anywhere!  Here's how you can enter to win...

Ways to earn entries:
  • MandatoryLeave a meaningful comment and answer the question Emily posed to readers during the interview (good for 1 entry)
  • Mandatory:  You MUST be a Google Friend Connect (GFC) follower in order to be eligible to win (unfortunately an email subscriber, or subscription in Google reader, and a follower are not the same thing so make sure you are signed up as a follower if you'd like to win this book)
Rules and disclaimers: 
  • This contest for the book is open to US & international addresses (woo hoo!)
  • The contest will end on May 27th at 11:59 pm EST and winner will be posted after they have been selected
  • The winner(s) will have THREE days from the date they are posted to provide a mailing address. If you do not contact me within three days a replacement winner will be selected. NO EXCEPTIONS
  • The book(s) will be mailed directly from the publisher or author and no substitutions are allowed
  • Seductive Musings is not responsible for prizes that are not honored, distributed in a timely manner, lost, stolen, or damaged during transit 
  • All giveaways are subject to change/cancellation without prior written notice 
Good Luck!

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*I am an Amazon affiliate and receive a small (and I mean very small) referral fee for purchases made using a link on this blog. I don't use Amazon to earn money, I use it because the widgets are cool, easy to use, and serve my purposes to showcase books & such with minimal effort, but most importantly they have great prices and offer both new and used items. As a book addict I love that I can find just about anything I want in one place. If you are going to purchase a featured book anyway, and you know you won't pay more by using the links on this blog than you would by visiting Amazon on your own, I will be eternally grateful for supporting this blog by using the links, and don't forget that the referral fees from your purchases will sponsor the "Reader Rewards" giveaways :)

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My FREE Kindle Quest

I've wanted a Kindle for what seems like forever, but haven't been able to afford it (and that's saying something since I can justify the cost of just about ANYTHING that I really want). I've tried winning one in one of the many giveaways that have taken place over the couple of years, but with no luck :( So I've decided to take matters in hand so to speak :) I've now decided that I am going to accumulate enough Swagbucks from my Swabucks searches to buy one...so in essence my new Kindle will be FREE...funded entirely by my internet searches done on Swagbucks. I'll keep you informed of the Great Kindle Quest below (in case you're interested....if not feel free to just skip over this part, but really who wouldn't be interested in a FREE Kindle?)
Goal: $119
Current Swagbucks Amazon Gift Card balance: $90.00
If you'd like to learn how you can earn Swagbucks and earn your own Amazon Gift Cards to buy books, a Kindle or other merchandise sold at Amazon contact me and I would be more than happy to tell you how I plan to go about it. (just so you know you can earn both Amazon.com and Amazon.ca gift cards on this rewards site)
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