Guest Author & Giveaway: Jayne Fresina featuring The Most Improper Sophie Valentine

Friday, June 1

You all know how I love a commoner hero, right?  Add in the fact that he's witty, charming and a self made man, and someone might have to catch me mid-swoon, LOL.  So is it any wonder that the heroine in The Most Improper Miss Sophie Valentine falls for the man who's had a thing for her for more than ten years?  

My guest today is historical romance author Jayne Fresina, and she is here today to share a bit about her new book, The Most Improper Miss Sophie Valentine.  Enjoy!


Welcome to Seductive Musings Jayne! For you, what makes a romance novel a great love story and what makes writing historical romances so compellingly seductive to your muse?

Hi and thank you for having me here! I think a great love story starts with the characters. If they don't feel real, lovable and yet also fallible it's hard for me to get immersed in the story. I like to read—and write—about people who are flawed and quirky, finding someone who loves them for it. I suppose I gravitate toward historical because that is what I grew up reading: Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters, Thomas Hardy etc.  Of course, there were a lot more barriers back then when it came to expressing feelings, so I think that makes it interesting.

Your newest novel, THE MOST IMPROPER MISS SOPHIE VALENTINE is the first book in your new series. Can you tell us a little bit about the books in this series, how many there might be, and how they are all connected?

There are three books scheduled in this series and I would love to do more if I get the opportunity. (Obviously I'm hoping the first three will be well received!) All the books follow the lives and love affairs of inhabitants and their relatives in a fictional, deceptively sleepy, country village called Sydney Dovedale. The first book, of course, is Sophie's. The second book will follow her best friend Ellie Vyne and the third book is the love story of Ellie's step-son.

Tell us about your hero, Lazarus Kane.  What do you think will make readers, much like his heroine Sophie Valentine, fall in love with him? And can you tell us a little bit about their story in THE MOST IMPROPER MISS SOPHIE VALENTINE?

Lazarus is a very determined young man and I think it would be hard for anyone not to fall in love with him, once he makes up his mind that they should! He decides that he wants Sophie the moment he sees her, but because of the class difference between them most people would give up. Not Lazarus. Ten years later, thoughts of her have kept him going through some rough times—to put it mildly—and coming into a little, unexpected inheritance he finally has the opportunity to pursue her. It just so happens that she's advertized for a husband in a local farmers' gazette and guess who turns up on her doorstep? Lazarus has had a hard life. He grew up in the rookeries (the slums) of London and struggled to raise his deceased sister's illegitimate child. I won't tell you everything that he's been through. Suffice to say, it's time he had some good things come his way! Despite a tough life he is not beaten down. He is witty, charming and knows how to sweep a girl off her feet. I get the impression he could do anything he wanted, once he put his mind to it. He's certainly willing to do anything to win Sophie's love—even risk his life to stay in Sydney Dovedale when the past threatens to catch up with him.

What's your favorite scene or moment from THE MOST IMPROPER MISS SOPHIE VALENTINE, and why? Can you describe it for us without giving too much away?

My favorite scene....ummm. There are several, but I suppose one of my favorites would be a scene when Lazarus sends her a gift - a mechanical bird in a cage. Sophie follows him to thank him for it, but also to tell him that it's not "proper" for him to send her any gifts. He invites her to pick mushrooms with him and so they have their first conversation. She is still trying to ignore him at that point, but this is when she finally realizes that she has no control over her feelings for Lazarus. Up until then she's resisted his lively charm as much as possible and told herself that she's not the right woman for him. She's put him off in any way that she can. But when he opens up a little about his hard-working past life she sees how different he is to other men she's known. She wants to help him and so rather than keep pushing him away, she opens up to him as he does to her.

Here’s a short excerpt of the scene:

A swirl of lighter color broke through the darkness under his lashes and, as he leaned with one elbow resting on the wooden post, he was almost too casual.

“Thank you, Mr. Kane.” She couldn’t resist a little sarcasm. “I’m most grateful for the opportunity to learn the wondrous things you could teach me. I’m sure they’re plentiful.”

He grabbed her hand, brought it to his lips, and kissed it firmly. She tried to slip her hand from his, but he wouldn’t relinquish it. “Time’s up. What will it be?”

She inhaled sharply. “That was unfair.”

“I said I’d give you time. Never said how much.”

“You’re a trickster, sir!” Again she tried to retrieve her hand, but the villain kept it and tugged gently on her fingers, drawing her back to him. She tripped the last small distance, until his lips were almost upon hers. “I know things are different where you come from,” she gasped. “In Sydney Dovedale, gentlemen do not kiss ladies in public!”

His mouth hadn’t yet touched hers, and now he pretended it was never his idea to kiss her again. “Is that your way of asking for a kiss, Miss Valentine?”

Her temper up, she jerked her hand away, but in that same moment, he caught her around the waist. He pulled her against him, holding her there tightly, her breasts crushed to his hard chest. Again he lowered his mouth to hers and pried her lips apart with his own. She felt his warm tongue pressing hers, seeking a response, demanding it.

The heat of his body melded with hers, and they became as one, locked together in an embrace surely too savage and improper. She dropped her apron of mushrooms as her hands moved up his thick arms to his shoulders and then to his neck, which was almost too broad for the span of her fingers. He slanted his mouth to hers, not giving her a moment to breathe. One of his large hands moved down over her hair and then lower, falling to her bottom. He shockingly caressed it in the same manner, urging her upward slightly to fit more securely against his hard groin. Her belly was very warm, and her bones softening, one by one. His hand squeezed her right buttock, fingers spread, gripping her with too much possession, too much strength. Although he’d been bold with her before, this was more than he’d ever dared. It seemed today he was determined to leave his mark on her.

Most authors have a synopsis, outline or idea of what the story they are about to write will be.  However, sometimes during the writing process your “Muse” might speak to you and lead you in a different or unplanned direction.  What surprised or changed the most from your original intent of The Most Improper Sophie Valentine?

I know it sounds like a cliché, but I started writing this story about a scarred woman after a dream I had. It was really only a dream of one scene and it’s the first time I ever actually got my inspiration from a dream! In the beginning it was a very serious ghost story entitled "The Stranger". Much later I found the humor in the story and it turned into a romance without the supernatural part! I don't think it's my muse that takes over. It's the characters themselves that decide which direction the story will go. I'm just their plaything.

What are five fun facts about this book that readers would love to know?

Ha Ha!
  1. I based a couple of characters on people I know. Wicked of me, but I couldn't resist.
  2. A lot of country details I think I picked up from the stories my dad always told us about his life on a farm and when he was a blacksmith's apprentice as a boy.
  3. Sophie was originally a ghost who refused to leave her brother's house!
  4. Sydney Dovedale is a fictional village that has played a role in several of my books. I could draw you the entire village layout and tell you the history of every cottage!
  5. Some of my musical inspiration (I listen to music a lot at the planning stage, but not so much when writing) came from a Loreena McKennitt CD A Midwinter Night's Dream and one song in particular - Seeds of Love - which is apparently a traditional ballad. The first time I heard it the song seemed to fit Sophia and Lazarus. I could picture them walking together through a field of haystacks at sunset, holding hands. I knew exactly what they both looked like from that picture in my head. I love Loreena's music and find it very inspirational. She also did a very haunting version of Greensleeves.

Can you tell us about some of your upcoming releases, or new projects that we can look forward to?

After Miss Sophie will come The Wicked Wedding of Miss Ellie Vyne. Ellie is Sophie's wild friend and you will briefly meet her in the first book. Don't want to give away more than that!

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

Always look on the bright side of life. Or, Every silver lining has a cloud. Depending on my mood that day and how the writing's going!

"Wanted: one husband, not too particular. Small dowry, several books, sundry furnishings, and elderly aunt included. Idlers, time-wasters, and gentleman without other attachments need not apply."

—Miss Sophie Valentine

Sophie Valentine knew placing an ad for a husband in the Farmers Gazette would bring her trouble-and she was right. When the darkly handsome, arrogantly charming Lazarus Kane shows up on her doorstep, the nosy residents of Sydney Dovedale are thrown into a gossiping tizzy. After all, it's common knowledge that Sophie is a young lady In Need of Firmer Direction. But even Sophie isn't so scandalous as to marry a complete stranger. .. is she?

Lazarus Kane has been searching for Sophie half of his life. She may not remember him, but he could never forget her. But the past is a dangerous thing, and it's best if his remains secret if he wants to tempt Sophie with ...


Enjoy this special excerpt in the flipbook below
especially for Musings readers...
or read it in a Google document here.


Thanks Jayne for being my guest today!  I have to admit, that all it took for me to want to read this book (like really bad) was after I read the blurb on the back, in particular the line "Wanted:  one husband, not too particular".  I just had to know why the heroine would place this type of ad, and then there was the humor.  I love humor in my romances :)

If you'd like to learn more about author Jayne Fresina you can find her at her website,  and on Facebook.

To celebrate the release of The Most Improper Miss Sophie Valentine, Jayne's publisher, Sourcebooks Casablanca, would like to giveaway a print copy of the book to one lucky Musings follower.  Here's how you can enter to win...

Ways to earn entries:
  • Mandatory: Answer this question:  What's the one thing you would love to read about in a historical romance that you have never seen? (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.
  • You can also earn extra entries by sharing the flipbook excerpt on Facebook, Twitter, your website or blog or other social media sites. You can earn 5 entries for each place that you share it and leave a link in the comments.
  • 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 & Canadian addresses only
  • You must be at least 18 years or older, or of legal age in your country
  • The contest will end on June 3rd at 11:59 pm EST and winner will be posted after they have been selected
  • Winner(s) will be selected using, and/or by the author
  • 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
  • Winners will be subject to one copy per household, which means that if you win the same title in two or more contests, that you will only receive one copy of the title in the mail
  • 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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*Seductive Musings is an Amazon affiliate and receives a very small referral fee for purchases made via the links on the blog and through the Seductive Musings Amazon Store. Read the full disclosure here.


Natasha June 1, 2012 at 12:20 AM  

I read a lot of Historical Romance, so it would be hard to choose something new... Maybe one where the heroine is deaf? That would be unique. Or one where they time travel to the 21st century. I've read Highlander ones, but never Enligh historical romance.

I follow on GFC - Natasha


JenM June 1, 2012 at 12:51 AM  

You had me at "commoner hero". I love those types of stories. As for something new in historicals, I've seen just about everything at least once, but I do love it when at least one of the leads isn't of the nobility. I also would love to see one feature a hero who is just an average looking guy. Every once in awhile, we get that in heroines, but never in heros.

GFC follower - JenM
Jen(at)delux(dot) com

Maureen June 1, 2012 at 6:39 AM  

It is tough to come up with something I haven't read after all these years. I would say a romance set in colonial Philadelphia which must have been an exciting place.
mce1011 AT aol DOT com

Carol L. June 1, 2012 at 7:59 AM  

Hmmm, I'm trying to think of something because I've read soooo many Historical Romance books. I guess something we'd never read about would be the Heroine having a choice and a say in who she had to marry. That it wasn't part of the strict rules laid down on all the females back then.I'd love to read this book. Lazurus sounds like a very determined and independent man.
Thanks for the opportunity. GFC follower under Lucky47.
Carol L
Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

Di June 1, 2012 at 1:17 PM  

I've read so many Historical Romances over the years there probably isn't anything that hasn't been used. However, you don't see a child's promotion to their father of a new mother very often & I do enjoy that in contemporary romance.
GFC follower - Diane Sallans
Tweeted about Flipbook:
Shared Flipbook on FB:

sallans d at yahoo dot com

Bethie June 1, 2012 at 6:19 PM  

It is hard to come up with something new. There are so many great historicals. I think maybe New York City at the turn of the century would be interesting.
I follow on GFC

lizzi0915 at aol dot com

Tore June 1, 2012 at 10:03 PM  

How about a historical romance with someone who is blind. Please enter me in contest.

Barbara E. June 1, 2012 at 10:39 PM  

I won't know what that thing is that I've never seen until I see it. I've read many historical romances and every so often I'll see something unique or unusual, but if I could think of something like that, I'd be a writer. I don't have that kind of imagination, so I'll have to leave it to those great authors out there to come up with new things.

Barbed1951 at aol dot com
GFC: Barbara E.

erin June 2, 2012 at 1:36 AM  

Thanks for a lovely post and giveaway! Congrats on the new release! It's added to my wishlist :)

I would love to see more characters of different ethnicity. They can be a mixed couple, but it would be nice to explore different cultures in that time period.

gfc: erin

Jayne June 5, 2012 at 6:05 PM  

Thank you for having me as your guest! I hope you enjoy Sophie's journey to love as much as I enjpyed writing it!

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