Bride of a Wicked Scotsman - March 2009

Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with Samantha James, enjoy afternoon tea, and discuss her newest release, Bride of a Wicked Scotsman which arrives in bookstores Feb. 24. I love Samantha’s books and neither dust, dogs, nor deadline will keep me from reading one of her books when it comes out. So pull up a chair, help yourself to some tea, and let’s enjoy our chat.

LH: What makes this Scotsman so wicked?

SJ: Thus far in the trilogy, we’ve see Alec in his role as the Duke of Gleneden, head of the family. But in Alec’s book, the sexy, rakish, wicked side of him is revealed. Alec is charmingly audacious, very, very much a ladies’ man. And of course, there’s the fact — unbeknownst to all – that he’s the descendant of a pirate!

LH: What can you tell us about the curse?

SJ:   I’ll do one better. I’ll let it speak for itself!

From out of the mists and magic steeped in time came a myth — a myth that was born on the lands of the people who came to be called the clan McDonough. It was here, on the very tip of the peninsula, in this place where the wind meets sea and sky, and the sky the earth, where Druids reigned and pagans came to worship their Celtic gods in a temple ringed with standing stones. It is here, said the tale, that the Circle of Light first came to be, beget by the Druid priests. Conjured from sea and sky and water and earth, a symbol of the eternal cycle of life. Of purest silver it was made, a simple pattern, weaved together, a circle that had no end and no beginning.

The Circle of Light resided high upon an altar of stone — floating, suspended with a power of its own, slowly rotating, ever turning, shimmering with myriad color and warmth. The Druids proclaimed that all people of the clan McDonough who worshiped — all who believed in its powers of endurance, would be blessed.

So wondrous was the Circle of Light that St. Patrick himself came to see it. He, too, blessed the Circle, and all of the McDonough and their lands. He decreed that it should remain forever in this place of ancient worship; the clan was charged with its guardianship. In thanks for this blessing, the clan McDonough built their church in honor of St. Patrick, bringing fortune and favor to their lands and people.

As time and tide went by, the McDonough came to believe that to lose the Circle of Light — this enduring cycle of life — would be to lose their good fortune. Such was their belief. Such was their faith. Night after night throughout the centuries, high above the statue of St. Patrick, the Circle of Light was seen through the window to the north, casting out its glow. Shifting and shimmering through mist and moonlight and the darkest night, bringing forth luck and prosperity to the lands of the McDonough as promised. Like a crown of warmth and hope, its light could not be dimmed.

Until the night the Black Scotsman came plundering across the seas, to the land of the McDonough where he seized the Circle for his own . . .

And the truth of the legend came to be.

LH: Reading the excerpt posted on your website,, I loved how you brought one of F.J. Sparrow’s characters to the costume ball. Loved the entire excerpt actually. Alec seems to be quite a bit of fun, and I can already tell that the heroine is a great match for him. I read in another interview that you’d saved his story for last because he needed a special heroine. How did you finally find her and how is it that she’s his match?

SJ:  You noticed the F.J. Sparrow character! I wondered (read: hoped) if that would happen. That costume ball was so much fun . . . Back to Alec, though. Somehow I couldn’t see Alec falling for a white-gloved, fashionable London debutante. He’d be bored silly. He needed to be paired with someone who didn’t conform to Society’s ways. Someone who was more unconventional, more adventurous. And rather than see Scottish vs. English yet again, I thought it would be more fun to pit Irish vs. Scottish.

LH: If Bride of a Wicked Scotsman were to be made into a movie, who would play the hero?

SJ: Do I have to have just one? Because it could be Pierce Brosnan.  Or Hugh Jackman. Or Gerard Butler. But if I have to choose, well, I’ll go with Pierce Brosnan. He’s first in the alphabet.

LH: Tell us five things about Samantha James that we might not know.

SJ:  My favorite food is

peppermint ice cream.

My least favorite food is berries—any kind of berry. And mushrooms. And fish. Oh, that makes three. The strange thing is, my husband detests those same foods.

I’m a back-seat driver. Does t

hat make me a control freak?

My favorite vacation spot is Scotland. Anywhere in Scotland.

I stayed in a haunted castl

e – really. Yes, in Scotland, of course. Alas, I must have been sleeping when the resident ghost appeared.

LH: Oh, I’ve always wanted to visit haunted castle! How fun! Although I don’t know if I would have slept a wink.

Samantha, I want to thank you for joining us today. It’s been a delight as always. To those joining us today, what questions do you have for Samantha?

Bride of a Wicked Scotsman – March 2009

love-perfect-scoundrel-175Sophia, let me begin by saying what fun it is having the chance to interview one of my fellow Avon authors, especially since we’re both from the Washington DC area and coincidentally share the same literary agent. But enough preamble, since I know what readers are really dying to hear about is Love with a Perfect Scoundrel, the third installment in your enthralling Widows’ Club series.

1. Can you give us a little taste of what we can expect in Grace’s story, due to hit bookstore shelves on February 24th?

A Taste? How about: A rugged, wildly attractive mysterious stranger tempts twice-jilted countess to unleash her hidden reserves of desire while snowbound in the wilds of Yorkshire …

Michael Ranier is definitely my very favorite hero to date. He gives Luc St. Aubyn (from A Dangerous Beauty) a run for his money in more ways than one. Aside from the intense chemistry between the hero and heroine, I really enjoyed writing the interactions between the three male characters in this book. They reminded me of all my handsome, cocky male cousins trying to outdo one another on every level. And the ladies in the club grow even closer as more bits of pieces of their pasts were revealed.

This is a stand alone book (just like the other books in the series) which means you don’t have to read them in order. In fact many people have written to say they prefer to read them out of order!

2. Each of your books in this series feature widows and the club formed by the outrageous Dowager Duchess of Helston. What attracted you to the idea of writing stories about widows? And why do your widowed heroines keep changing the name of their club? Can’t these ladies make up their minds <g>?

The idea for the series came during a luncheon with a group of my friends when someone asked how all our lives would change if our husbands suddenly were taken from us. The responses were startling. Some said they would never recover. Others said they would survive and make a new life. And most shocking was one who admitted she would be relieved. I was intrigued that one question revealed so many different answers—and a series was born.

Soon an image formed in my mind of a mysterious dowager duchess who comforts a bevy of women left alone in the world and the gentlemen whose fates intertwine with the ladies’ own. I set the first two books in Cornwall, England — truly one of the loveliest places I’ve seen in the world. But with the third book, I moved the location to London and Derbyshire.

And no, just like me, these ladies can not arrive on a suitable name for their club. The Widows Club sounds just like a bunch of old crows. Merry Widows is a bit overused. They tried Barely Bereaving Beauties, and now The Wicked Ways of Willful Widows. Who knows what it will be by the end of the series…

3. I know I’ll be savoring every page-turning moment of Love with a Perfect Scoundrel and be left wanting more when it’s over. To tide us avid readers over, can you share a few hints about the next book and how long we’re going to have to wait until we can read it?

There is a novella (see below) to break up the lull between books. But I can give this hint: The working title for the fourth book is “Four Weddings & a Scandal.” This will probably not stick given the title of the anthology! But it does give you a feel for the content… A huge secretwill be revealed in the last book (and one of the weddings might surprise you!)

4. You have a novella coming out this summer in the Four Dukes and a Devil anthology. Will the story feature another willful widow or an entirely new set of characters?

Tracy, I am so excited to be in this anthology with you, Jeaniene Frost, Elaine Fox, and Cathy Maxwell. I have always wanted to savor the challenge of a short story. It was so much fun that I am hoping we get to do it again! And yes, the novella, “Catch of the Century” is a spin-off story from the series. It is completely stand alone but readers will also catch glimpses of the Duke of Helston and the outrageous Dowager Duchess as well as two other characters (including the heroine) from the series.

5. And lastly–because enquiring minds want to know–what is your favorite movie? Favorite book? Favorite food? And if you could go anywhere in the world all-expenses paid, where would you go and why?

Ack, I LOVE movies…and have so many favorites. I just finished watching “Intolerable Cruelty” again yesterday, which I love. The plotting and repartee is priceless. Favorite book? Now, I know you’re joking. There are too many to list. But the book I reach for the most? The DICTIONARY! Favorite food? Sushi and French desserts. Fave dream trip? Lately, I’ve had a hard-to-ignore hankering to go to Australia. I keep waiting for Anna Campbell to step up to the plate and invite me, but alas, I think she is secretly afraid I will eat all her Tim Tams and never leave. Scotland and Ireland are a close second and third.

tempted-by-his-kiss-175Hi everyone! Tracy and I belong to the same local writer’s community and since we’ve both got books coming out on Tuesday, we thought it would be fun to interview each other…

Hope you enjoy!

Best wishes,

Sophia Nash

1. Tracy, I’m so excited a fellow Washingtonian has joined the Avon family! And I know readers are clamoring to hear all about your new series. Can you tell us a little about the Byrons of Braebourne and the first book, Tempted By His Kiss, which will be available on Feb. 24th?

Sophia, thank you so much for the warm welcome! It’s great to have an opportunity to chat with you and all my readers here at I’m tremendously excited to be writing for Avon Books and about the release of my new Byrons of Braebourne series.

The series is set in Regency-era England and will follow the Byron siblings––a daring bunch known for their scandalous ways and rakish exploits. Just like Lord Byron, the poet, my Byrons are every bit as ‘mad, bad and dangerous to know,’ as their poetic non-relation. There are eight of them––so lots of romance and excitement lies ahead!

In Tempted By His Kiss, soldier and spy, Lord Cade Byron, returns home to England after being tortured by the French. Wounded in both body and soul, he buries himself in his remote Northumberland estate wanting only to be left alone. But fate intervenes when a snow storm lands orphaned Admiral’s daughter, Meg Amberley, on Cade’s doorstep. Stranded together, Meg’s reputation is soon compromised. A false engagement and a London Season seem like the perfect solution . . . until they find themselves tempted by a kiss that just may lead to forever.

2. In the past you’ve had back to back-to-back releases (i.e. three books in three consecutive months): the Trap Trilogy and the Mistress Trilogy. Can you tell readers and writers what are the pros and cons of writing/releasing books in this fashion?

You’re precisely right, Sophia, that both my Trap Trilogy and my Mistress Trilogy were originally released on a back-to-back schedule. That kind of quick release schedule is one that many readers really love, since it allows them to get deeply involved in a fictional world, knowing they’ll only have to wait a few weeks at most to read the next book in the series. The downside, however, is that once those three months are up, there are no new books until the author has time to write more. This lag between books is one of the biggest drawbacks for both readers and authors alike. There’s a definite element of instant gratification with back-to-backs, but then there’s the “withdrawal” of having no new novels from a favorite author for as long as a year or more.

In addition to the lag time between releases, writing back-to-backs is a very intensive process that can be draining for an author in terms of energy and creativity. This is one of the reasons I’ve decided to transition to a more traditional release schedule for my new Byrons of Braebourne series. I want to keep writing great stories that readers love, and being on a schedule that allows me to produce one book every few months, instead of three right in a row, will help me stay creatively fresh and full of new ideas!

Plus, the upside for readers is that while they’ll only be able to read two full-length Tracy Anne Warren novels in 2009, they’ll get two more in 2010. So actually, over a two year period, they’ll be one book further ahead in the series than they would be with a three book back-to-back release! A win for author and reader alike.

3. A week from now, after I devour Tempted by His Kiss, I know I will be dying to know the story behind book two, Seduced by His Touch. Can you drop a few hints now? Please?

Since you asked so nicely, Sophia, how can I possibly resist? Seduced By His Touch is about rakehell brother Jack, and I can safely assure you that he is a very bad boy! When a game of cards goes horribly awry, Jack finds himself deeply in debt to a rich shipping merchant. But the merchant doesn’t want his money. Instead, he wants Jack to woo and wed his spinster daughter. But there’s a catch . . . Jack has to convince her it’s a love-match!

4. Ahem, a little bird told me you’ve also got a novella coming out this summer. Is it part of the Byrons of Braebourne series?

It sure is! My novella is part of the Four Dukes and a Devil Anthology (which curiously enough features a novella by you as well, Sophia!), and is scheduled for release on June 30th! The story features a Byron cousin, India Byron, who finds herself in need of rescue from an unwanted suitor. To create the illusion that she’s being courted by another man, she demands a kiss from the devilish Duke of Weybridge. Little does she know what she’s started when she finds him only too happy to oblige.

5. OK–cramming all the things I’m dying to know in one long question: Chocolate or Vanilla? Tea or

Coffee? Alpha Male or Beta Male? Tiger Red or Bridal Blush? Angelina or Jen? And cats or dogs? (OK, I know the answer to the last one ; }…

Chocolate––hands down.

Tea—I adore tea, and not just because I write Regency historicals.

Alpha or Beta Male—Alpha. Although I like Beta’s sometimes too!

Bridal Blush—I adore soft pastels.

Jen—but only because Brad should have broken it off with her before he hooked up with Angelina.

Cats—Yes, you do know the last one. To see pictures of my three adorable cats and learn more about my books, please visit my website at!

Sophia, it’s been wonderful chatting with you. Thank you so much and happy reading everyone!

heartLet’s forget that it’s Friday the 13th and instead concentrate on the fact that tomorrow is Valentine’s Day!

There was more than one Saint Valentine. According to Wikkipedia, the Catholic church recognized 11 V-Days up until 1969. The one we celebrate is in honor of Valentine of Rome, who was martyred in AD 269. Not a lot is known about him but there are 2 theories as to how he supposedly met his end. One says that he was executed after refusing to convert to Roman paganism and trying to convert Emperor Claudius II to Christianity. The second says that Claudius insisted all army men remain single, in the belief that married men did not make good soldiers (ed. — must have been that pesky reason to live and all that!). Valentine was a priest at the time and he secretly performed marriage ceremonies. For this he was arrested and subsequently put to death. Legend has it that before his execution he penned the first ‘valentine’ to his beloved, reportedly a jailor’s daughter.

Hmm, which explanation is more romantic? I think I have to go with #2.

Valentine’s Day as we know it is, unsurprisingly, widely acknowleged as a Victorian custom. Chaucer might have put the idea in our heads, but things really took off around 1847. Before this many people made their own declarations of adoration and sent them to their beloved. In the US a woman named Esther Howland, of Worcester, Mass sold the first mass produced Valentines in 1847, taking inspiration from an English valentine she herself had received.

Today it’s estimated that there are approximately one billion Valentine’s Day cards sent every year, making it second only to Christmas for card sending. Also, it’s estimated that men spend (on average) twice as much as women on the holiday. Go guys!

So, how do you feel about Valentine’s Day? A time to remember a martyred saint, or a day you can eat as much chocolate as you want and not get fat (it’s been scientifically proven!)? Do you look forward to spending time with your sweetie or do you still wonder what the cute boy in your grade 7 class meant when he gave you the Mickey and Minnie Mouse card and gave everyone else Goofy and Donald? Do you mutter, ‘Bah Humbug’ under your breath when you see the aisles of pink and red in your Walmarts, pharmacies and grocery stores? Or do you smile at the boxes of cheesy paper cut-outs and fight the urge to run home and decorate a paper bag to hang in front of your desk? Do tell! Avon Authors want to know!

what-i-did-for-love-175Gayle Callen caught up to Susan Elizabeth Phillips to talk about her new book, What I Did For Love–and no, Gayle isn’t stalking her again, although there are some videos on the Avon Books site that are pretty incriminating…

GC: Your new book, WHAT I DID FOR LOVE, deals with celebrities. How famous are you?
SEP: Nothing like starting off the interview with a little sarcasm… Let’s just say that I’m not quite as famous as Bram and Georgie, my hero and heroine. Wait! At our neighborhood bookstore last week, a customer asked me if I was Janet Evanovitch. Does that count?

GC: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to learn about you?
SEP: I’m a terrible speller, I can cry at the drop of a hat, and I have a crush on Tim Gunn from Project Runway. As for my other secrets… Not telling!

GC: Which classic have you always meant to read and never got around to it?
SEP: Any classics I meant to read, I’ve already read. A few I’ve never forgiven myself for opening. MOBY DICK springs to mind.

GC: Do you have any favorite place to write?
SEP: I have a beautiful office. (See photos) But I end up carrying my laptop to our upstairs guest room. Laptop doesn’t connect to Internet. Guest room has a beat up Laz-E-Boy. ‘Nuff said.

GC: What is your favorite word?
SEP: Ice Cream. Oh, wait, that’s two words. Still…


Debut Avon Author Jaime Rush recently took the time out of her busy schedule to have a chat with the lovely and talented Julianne MacLean. Here’s what was said:

JR: You have said that you enjoy the process of making video trailers, and the video for The Mistress Diaries is indeed spectacular. What is it that appeals about both making them and putting them out there for the public?

JM: We’ve had great fun filming those videos, and mostly it’s just for the pure joy of it. My husband is a doctor by day, but filmaking is his creative outlet. He loves making movies, and works on a lot of projects in our local area (Nova Scotia is a popular place for movies. Part of Titanic was filmed here, and The Memory Keeper’s Daughter, among many others). My husband also has a wacky sense of humor, and we wanted to something outside the box, which would purely entertain.

JR. Your recent books seem to play with that tantalizing theme of forbidden love. In The Mistress Diaries, for example, she is a noblewoman and he, a mere groomsman. In When a Stranger Loves Me, she is an heiress, and he, a stranger with no memory of his previous life. She must seduce him to have the child she needs to secure her family’s estate. Have you purposely been drawn to this theme…or is it something in your own life that inspires?

JM: (Tracy – the hero in The Mistress Diaries is the son of a duke (not sure where the groomsman comes from, LOL!) – but it was still forbidden because he was engaged to another woman.)
Yes, I’ve always been drawn to this theme of forbidden love, because it makes the obstacles intense and emotional. Wanting someone when you can’t have them can drive a person to the point of obsession. Also, a love scene where both characters are trying to resist “going all the way” is very exciting to write. It adds an element of danger and conflict and inner turmoil to the scene. In WHEN A STRANGER LOVES ME, there’s also the possibility that the hero might have a wife, but he can’t remember because he has amnesia. It made their decision to make love so much more complex. I also love it when passions threaten to override common sense. I’m sure we’ve all been in the position of knowing in our heads that something is not prudent, yet we still want to do it. The lure of the forbidden – it’s a universal theme as old as Adam and Eve.

JR: Amnesia has been used many times in novels. What makes this fascinating situation different in When a Stranger Loves Me?

JM: It’s funny, it is a classic theme, but I haven’t read that many historicals lately that have used it. For a while there were a ton of contemporaries with the world “amnesia” in the title, and I’d certainly heard many editors over the years say that “amnesia sells.” So people obviously like it.

I wanted to do one for a while, but I also wanted to make sure that it was not so much an external plot device, but more of a characterization issue. I wanted the lost memory to be a great sense of torment for my character, and cause him inner pain and confusion and sorrow. I think I accomplished that with Blake. He had to rediscover his identity, not just in an external sense (to learn that he was the son of a duke who needed a wife) – but also internally. He didn’t know if he was a scoundrel deep down, or a decent, responsible man, because he had no history in which to recall his previous actions in life. He felt torn between both traits sometimes.

JR: What is the best thing about being a romance writer?

JM: Reliving the experience of first love, over and over again.

JR: What is the most indulgent thing that you do for yourself?

JM: I insist on private time when I need it – whether it’s to read a book or watch a movie by myself. Thankfully I have a wonderful husband who is an amazing Dad and loves to do fun things with our daughter, so I never feel guilty about it.

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