Confession of an Aspiring Romance Author

Time for a little confession. Okay, a big confession. I’m not always motivated to write. In fact, some days I’m downright discouraged. Being a self-published author is wonderful because I get complete creative control. The downside is…well, I feel like I’m standing in a crowd of thousands and my voice is being drowned out. I have a strong voice, solid stories, beautiful cover art, talented editors, and a supportive collection of family and friends. What more could a budding romance author want?

Readers. Faithful, engaging, loving, wonderful readers.

I have seen these types of readers. I’ve dined with them. I have laughed and conversed with them. They’re amazing people. I know, because I’m one of them.

The last two years I’ve had the fortune and opportunity to attend the Historical Romance Retreat. I attended strictly as a reader, but my little author heart couldn’t help but crave more. Seeing so many talented historical romance authors in one place. My poor fangirl self nearly imploded from the sheer pleasure of being in the presence of such talent.

Not only did I meet like-minded readers, I met authors I could have only DREAMED of meeting in person. Seriously, I could have died from pure bliss surrounded by people I admired and aspired to become. HRR has become the event of the season for me, and I will cherish every moment I spent traveling back in time and celebrating with my tribe of historical romance lovers.

Here are a few pictures from my adventure to HRR 2016:

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And HRR 2017:

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The costumes, the events, the interaction, the atmosphere. If you ever have the opportunity to attend, DO IT. It will be worth the expense and the time. (Here’s the link to the website: ) The friends I made through this event have only fostered my desire to persist as a romance author.

Why do I bring up this conference? Because it energizes me. The thought of being at HRR gives me life. It gives my motivation life. I want to be these women. These passionate authors and voracious readers inspire me. They give me direction and purpose. I want to be them. I want to bottle their energy and drive and fuel my own goals. I came home feeling reinvigorated and ready to write my next book.

But coming back to reality is often jarring. And time away from such a positive and uplifting atmosphere seems to wear me down.

To be honest, I feel like I’m drowning right now. I’m drowning in hours of promotion and preparation. I feel like I’m sinking in the quicksand of social media trying to market myself and my brand. I can feel my motivation slipping farther away from my grasp.

My desire to write never dies, but it wavers, it falters. I find myself staring at the screen wondering if anyone can hear me. I wonder if anyone wants to read my work. The monsters of self-doubt and rejection and fear linger in the dark recesses of my mind waiting for the opportunity to prey on my insecurities.

I want to write. I want to publish my work. I want to bring joy to readers around the world who crave escape and romance and adventure if only for a few hours.

But how can I reach you, gentle readers? How can I prove myself to you?

Over the last five years, I have learned a great deal about writing and publishing. I’ve learned a lot about myself as well. I have grown, matured, and persevered. I’m damn proud of myself and my journey as an author. I will continue to grow and mature. I will continue to write. My passion for the written word and romance has never dimmed. I shall always be a reader first and an author second. Because that was where I began my journey.

My desire is to have a relationship with my readers. I love knowing that you enjoyed my work. I love hearing your feedback and constructive criticism. It helps me make my work better. I value your reviews and your recommendations. I absolutely adore hearing that you recommended one of my books to your friends. It makes my heart soar.

Your joy brings me joy.

I will soldier onward. My words will continue to flow. The stories will be told, come hell or high water. But I need you, darling readers, to do what you do best.

Read. Review. Recommend.

These three simple steps can mean the world to an author. Especially to this author.

My aspiration to join the ranks of Elizabeth Hoyt and Eloisa James and all the fabulous authors I’ve met at HRR has been my dream since I began this journey. And when I finally earn my place among them, I can truly say that it was you, my lovely readers, who helped me reach my goal. For that, I will be eternally in your debt.

Until we meet again, may your bookshelves be full and your hearts even more so.

All my love,










SNEAK PEEK at Deceiving the Earl

Hello, darlings. My latest novel, Deceiving the Earl, will be releasing in May! I’ve decided to share a little snippet from this Victorian romance. It has a dash of mystery and a hint of steampunk elements. If you’ve ever seen Guy Richie’s Sherlock Holmes film series with Robert Downey Junior, this book is similar in aesthetic.

Please keep in mind, this hasn’t been to my editor yet. So have patience with me. We’re still in the process of polishing the story. Thank you.

Allow me to introduce Adele and Christopher…

Spring 1895

Adele Prescott is the daughter of the Viscount of Longmont. After her family is killed in a house fire, Adele hides her identity and becomes a maid in the home of Lord Christopher Underwood, Earl of Dorrington. Why? Because she believes the fire was no accident and that the earl had some hand in her families deaths.

Lord Underwood is a man haunted by the past and laden with secrets. His reclusive nature leaves him to pursue his passion for science, but after the fire, he wishes for nothing but the blissful oblivion of opium and seclusion. Until he meets his new maid, and a plan forms in his mind. A plan that leads to an intimacy neither of them expected but brings them into the heart of danger.


The sound of the door opening interrupted their solitary moment. A wave of fear forced Adele to spin around, turning her back to the door. She would not want to be caught idle while she was supposed to be working.

“My lord,” Elizabeth said behind her. “Pardon us.”

“Ah, yes, I had forgotten you would be here at this hour.” His voice tugged at her memories. While familiar, it echoed strangely in her mind, as though distant, foreboding, and strangely alluring.

Adele turned, keeping her head down. She bobbed a small curtsy and avoided meeting his gaze.

“Is this the new maid?” he asked.

“Aye, my lord, this is Anne.” Elizabeth stepped to the side as he approached them.

He paused before Adele. She studied his neatly pressed trousers and the tips of his polished shoes.

“If you will beg my pardon, my lord, I shall fetch some coal for the fire.” Elizabeth’s voice echoed from the doorway.

“Very well,” he said in dismissal.

Adele stood as still as her trembling body would allow. Her heart pounded. There would be no way to hide herself from him now. Most masters were satisfied when the work was completed and their servants remained silent. Adele closed her eyes and took a deep breath. What if he recognizes me?

“Anne.” Her alias on his lips sounded almost like a challenge.

“Aye, my lord,” she replied, her voice steady, unlike the emotions boiling beneath her calm exterior.

“Will you not meet my eyes?” he asked. When she hesitated, he tipped her chin up with his gloved fingertip.

With a deep breath, Adele met his gaze. She faltered only for half a second, not because of his familiar face, but because of the shock of his deep, soulful hazel eyes. Never in her father’s long acquaintance with him, had she taken the opportunity to converse with him, let alone share a lingering look.

Lord Underwood was even more handsome than she’d remembered. His dark hair lay in waves, longer than fashionable, but neatly kept. The strong lines of his jaw were shadowed by a days’ worth of stubble. It lent him a roguish air. Her breath caught. From his dark, penetrating gaze to the soft smile haunting his lips, Adele found herself mystified by the man before her.

He only ever visited her father to work in the laboratory. Everyone knew him to be a reserved sort, especially after he had returned from the war and inherited his brother’s estate. Adele wanted to despise him for the path he had led her father down. But finally seeing him, eye to eye, she saw the despair behind the gentleman’s façade.

His fingertips brushed along her scar. “An injury from the fire, I presume?”

“Aye, my lord.” Adele suppressed the sudden desire to run as he inspected her face.

“You were fortunate to escape with your life, my dear.” He nodded before dropping his hand. “How do you find your new post?”

“Very well, I thank you, my lord.” Adele tried to keep her answers direct and simple.

He tilted his head and regarded her closely. “Have we met before? Upon my visits to your former employer’s estate perhaps?”

“It is possible, my lord. However, I do not recall.” She bowed her head unable to bear the constant scrutiny, fearful he would remember her.

He exhaled sharply. “I shall leave you to your duties then, Anne.” He turned to leave before pausing in the doorway and gesturing to the cylinder in the corner of the room. “Oh, and careful as you dust the inverter. It is liable to produce an electric shock that may be uncomfortable.”

With those cryptic words, Lord Christopher left her.

Adele collapsed in a chair and pressed her hands to her cheeks. Relief flooded her as she realized he did not recognize her. The dye in her hair and the scarring from the fire must have altered her enough to allay any suspicions he might have. She allowed a smile to cross her lips. Surely she would be safe enough to discover what he had convinced her father to study in that laboratory.

I hope you enjoyed this sneak peek at Deceiving the Earl. I wanted to share the moment they first meet in the novel. What did you think?

I’m excited to share this novel with you. Keep an eye here for more details about the release date and special events.

Until we meet again, may your bookshelves be full and your hearts even more so.

All my love,


The Lost Art of Victorian Flirtation

Hello, darlings.

We all remember that tingle in the pit of our stomachs when the butterflies take flight at the thought of someone special. Especially when they enter the room. You’ve had your eye on them for weeks. They have been on your mind constantly and you cannot wait to see them again. They give you a feeling of elation unlike anything you’ve ever experienced in your life. But they don’t know how you feel.

What do you do?

Flirt, baby. Flirt like it’s the end of the world and this is your last chance to confess all those emotions you’ve kept bottled inside.


The art of flirtation is a delicate tightrope to walk just as much now as it was in the Victorian era. However, the methods have changed significantly.


While the prospect of leather-bound books and the scent of rich mahogany is appealing, the art of flirting wasn’t always so straightforward. The strict social etiquette of the Victorian era often limited the interaction between an unmarried woman and a prospective suitor. In fact, sometimes I think the possibility of being discovered was half the excitement of engaging in a flirtation.

Here are a few guides I found that provide ways of conveying your sentiments and flirting without ever using words. I thought you might find them interesting. I certainly did.

Honestly, I would be terrified that I would inadvertently send the wrong message. *gasp* How could you possibly undo that damage?



I would love to see these moves in action. Wouldn’t you?

But what about gentleman?



Or perhaps you require another method to show your affections. Well, here are some signaling possibilities to take into consideration. Again, I would be extremely concerned about accidentally sending the wrong message. Or worse, sending one when I had not intended a message at all!




Oh, sweet mercy, I’m exhausted. How could anyone keep up with all of this? Not only the etiquette but the flirtations!

And don’t even get me started on the American Escort Cards. Here’s a humorous look at their role in American Victorian history. CLICK HERE for article.


Of course, one cannot forget to send flowers. But be aware, each flower holds a special meaning. It would be wise to choose flowers with care. Even the colors could represent a different emotion. Roses often came in a variety of colors and meanings.



*collapses in a heap* I’m overwhelmed. I thought flirting today was difficult.

There is something to be said for the allure and romantic nature of such a flirtation. I’m not sure I appreciate the modern technique of flirting. It seems too impersonal and focused solely on instant gratification. I love the slow burn of a simmering attraction.

I think we should bring some of these techniques back. Not all of them, mind you, but I think it could be fun, even if I’m only flirting with my husband.

What do you think of Victorian flirtation? Do you prefer modern methods better? I would love to hear your thoughts.

Also, do you think I should make a video attempting to demonstrate some of these flirting techniques? If so, leave me a comment with your choice of flirtation to demonstrate. This should be fun.

Until we meet again, may your bookshelves be full and your hearts even more so.

All my love,


Character Interview: James Bates

Welcome to my interview with James Bates, leading man in Winter’s Gentleman. We first met Bates in Jewel of Winter and followed him throughout the Thieves of Winter Series. I had quite a few requests for his story. I’m excited to say, his story is coming this summer!

I hope you enjoy this interview showing a deeper picture of the butler we all fell in love with in the Thieves of Winter.  If you’re curious as to who I would cast for Bates, the closest I can come up with is a cross between Gordon and Alfred from the TV show Gotham. Definitely more Gordon though. *wink* I’ve provided pictures of the actors from the show. Obviously not mine, just inspiration.

Me: Welcome, James, thank you for joining me today.

Bates: The pleasure is mine, my lady. How may I be of service?

Me: *blushes* Always the proper gentleman’s gentleman, aren’t you?

Bates: *smiles politely* It is my duty to be polite in address and serve as I can.

Me: You are a loyal servant of Lord Edmund Reddington, correct?

Bates: I am the head of the household staff, as well as Lord Edmund’s butler and personal valet on occasion.

Me: How long have you worked for Lord Edmund?

Bates: I have been in the employ of the Reddington house for fifteen years come September.

Me: That is quite a long time. Do you enjoy being a butler?

Bates: I have a generous employer and a stable position, I would be a fool to jeopardize it. To answer your question, I do, to an extent.

Me: Sounds like you’re being reserved in your response. This is a safe place, I promise I won’t tell Lord Edmund anything you reveal today.

Bates: While I appreciate the gesture, there are some secrets one cannot reveal. That would be—what do you call it, ah yes, spoilers.

Me: *laughs* Well, we appreciate your restraint. I’m sure readers would prefer going into your story spoiler-free. Would you be willing to answer some personal questions about yourself?

Bates: Within reason, of course.

Me: Of course. I’ll start off simple. What is your favorite food?

Bates: Roasted Duck with root vegetables. Although the occasional indulgence in chocolate never goes amiss.

Me: Do you know how to cook?

Bates: *pointed stare*

Me: I had to ask. *laughs* How about I ask about some firsts?

Bates: Very well.

Me: Tell me about your first crush. The first person you thought you loved.

Bates: That would be my governess. *heavy sigh* She was a lovely, young French woman, Mariette. I would have done anything she asked. She returned to France when I left for school at the age of eleven.

Me: Sounds like she made quite an impression on you.

Bates: She did.

Me: Do you have any siblings, James?

Bates: *shifts uncomfortably* I do. An older sister, Lilah.

Me: How old are you if you don’t mind me asking?

Bates: Thirty-five.

Me: I’m surprised you aren’t married. Do you have anyone special in your life?

Bates: Being a bachelor provides fewer complications. My employment is demanding of my time. It would be unfair to shackle some poor woman to such a life.

Me: You didn’t answer my question.

Bates: I believe you know the answer.

Me: Anna is quite young. Do you not find your attraction to her inappropriate?

Bates: In my era, it was not unheard of for a husband to be ten or twenty years his wife’s senior. Anna is nineteen. I have known her since she was a child. I admit only that she deserves better than me.

Me: Sounds like you have some heartbreak in your past. Did a first love break your heart?

Bates: A first love, no. But I made some poor decisions in my youth. Ones I will pay for until the day I die.

Me: So there’s no lost love you pine for?

Bates: No.

Me: Dare I ask about your first time making love?

Bates: That is quite a personal question, but if you insist on knowing, my first time was with a widow who lived in the village outside the school. She often brought treats for the boys. I shall leave the rest to your imagination.

Me: You are quite the tease, you know.

Bates: *takes a bow* So I’ve been told.

Me: *fans self with the interview papers* Let’s change the subject, shall we? *clears throat* Have you ever been in a fight?

Bates: Yes, several.

Me: Have you ever taken part in a duel?

Bates: *drops his gaze* Once, I would rather not discuss it.

Me: As you wish. Do you read?

Bates: When I find the time, I do enjoy a good read.

Me: Do you have a favorite author?

Bates: I am quite partial to Arthur Conan Doyle. His detective is quite an interesting fellow.

Me: You strike me as a highly educated man. Why are you working as a servant?

Bates: Penance. I am right where I need to be. *smiles half-heartedly*

Me: What can we expect in Winter’s Gentleman?

Bates: Answers, and a bit more insight into my past. I promise it will be more revealing than this interview.

Me: Well, thank you for joining me today. I shall leave the comments open for questions. If the readers have any questions for you, they can post them here. You can answer at your leisure.

Bates: My pleasure. I look forward to responding to their inquiries.

Thank you all for stopping by to check out my interview with James Bates, butler extraordinaire. If you’d like more interviews like this, please let me know. I had fun with this one.

Winter’s Gentleman is coming soon!

Until we meet again, may your bookshelves be full and your hearts even more so.

All my love,


How to Write a Love Letter

This week, I’ve recorded a little video for you. Enjoy!

So, what are your thoughts? Are you going to write a love letter this year? Have you ever written one before? Share your experiences, suggestions, and thoughts in the comments below.

Until we meet again, may your bookshelves be full and your hearts even more so.

All my love,


Love Romance? Love Movies? Check this out.

My family loves movies. But none of them loves them the way I do. While I’m a huge sucker for romance novels, I’m very picky about the romantic movies I watch. Especially if the chemistry between the love interests is non-existent or forced.

There are some films I saw as a kid that stuck with me. These are still on my keeper shelf. Most of these have distinct elements of romance in them that held my fascination well into adulthood.

I would love to share a few of those with you.

Gone with the Wind (1939) – It just. It’s a hot mess of volatile emotions, but it painted such a vivid picture in my young mind. I never sympathized with Rhett until I was older. Scarlett never deserved him.


Yes, please.


The Mummy (1999) – Brendan Fraser as Rick O’Connell. *swoon* What can I say, I love the action, the adventure, and the smoulder. The attraction between Rick and Evey keeps perfect pace with the film. I love this film so much. Why do you think I named my daughter, Evelyn. *wink*


We totally understand why you’re flustered, Evey.


The Saint (1997) with Val Kilmer – What can I say, I love Val Kilmer. My dad recommended I watch this one when I was in high school. I fell in love with it. Not technically a romance, but the love story within the plot is memorable to me.

The Saint.


Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) – Don’t even tell me that’s not a romance at its core, cause it is. That injured Indy kiss toward the end screamed it loud and clear. Indiana Jones and Marian had wicked hot chemistry.


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He’s milking this for all it’s worth. Smart man.


Persuasion (1995) with Ciarán Hinds – This adaptation of Jane Austen’s book by the same title will always have a special place in my heart. I picked up a copy of it on a whim when I was sixteen. I have loved it ever since. The slow burn chemistry in this one just has my inner romantic squealing with delight.


This scene though, it hits me right in the feels.


Oh, and how could I possibly forget to mention this little gem:


Madmartigan for the win.


Willow (1988) with Val Kilmer (again) – You see the trend yet? I love movies with action and adventure, but my favorites are the ones with well-placed, simmering, and believable romance bubbling on the back burner. This one still makes me laugh and swoon every time I watch it.


“You are my sun, my moon, my starlit sky, without you I dwell in darkness…”



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Me. Totally me.


Sorry, got a bit distracted there. *clears throat*

These films influenced the blossoming writer inside of me. They made me long to be like the independent heroines, full of sass and wit and fire. I fell in love with the snarky, dominant heroes who craved adventure and caved to the woman who enchanted them.

They helped mould the stories I wanted to write.

I’ve compiled a list of other films with strong romantic elements that have made an impact on me both personally and as an author of romance.

I realize that not everyone will enjoy the same movies I do. We’re not all wired to enjoy the same things. Recommendations for books or movies are tricky because of this. Still, I would love to share my personal favorites with you.


So, I would love to hear from you. What movies would you recommend that aren’t on my list? Please post your suggestions in the comments.

Or, if you’d like to comment on my recommendations, I would love to hear what you have to say.

Until we meet again, may your bookshelves be full and your hearts even more so.

All my love,








Etiquette for Victorian Ladies. Wait, what? Oh, heck no.

My head is spinning. I have been doing extensive research for my new series of Victorian novellas focusing on a trio of extremely independent women in the late 19th century.

I believe that research in historical romance should be treated like a seasoning. Generous enough to enhance the flavor, but too much will distract from the delicious meat of the story. That being said, most women in history were expected to follow a strict set of societal guidelines and etiquette. We often find that heroines in historical romance novels often defy these expectations.

What is a writer to do?

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In order for my heroines to break the rules, I need to know exactly what they were required to know. Only then can I defy convention. Who doesn’t love a little bit of rule-breaking?

I went out and found as many sites and books I could find that discussed proper etiquette for ladies and gentlemen of the era. Some of these manuals were written during the era, not by historians. I know I’m getting accurate information.

Research can be overwhelming, so I take it in small doses. This post isn’t about my research or even how to research. No…this post is for me to vent about the INSANE amount of etiquette and social propriety that was expected of both ladies and gentlemen of the Victorian era. Oh good gravy, I would have died.

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If I had a time machine and travelled back to the 1890s, I would have been outed for a fraud within moments. Even though I know these rules from researching them, my brain isn’t wired to follow them. I’d have been ostracized within an hour.

There are a few rules I personally found so contradictory to my personality that I would never survive the Victorian era. They also give me a HUGE respect for the freedoms that I have now.

Ready, here’s my list:

~ “An unmarried young woman, up to the age of thirty, must always be accompanied by a chaperone when she goes out.”

Yup, that’s not going to happen. Sorry. It’s bad enough that my kids follow me everywhere I go.

 ~ “A lady avoids all exhibitions of temper before others.  Whether grief or joy, emotions should be subdued in public and only allowed full play in private apartments.”

Oh crap. I wear my emotions on my sleeve. This would be darn near impossible for me. I’m a passionate, expressive person by nature.

~ “A lady never looks back after anyone in the street, or turns to stare in a public place.  She should never walk alone in the street after dark.”

Sorry, no double take when that handsome gentleman passes by on the street. No staring at someone while you’re trying to figure out where you saw them before or if you met them at your cousin’s birthday party two years ago. And heaven forbid I want to go out alone after dark.

~ “For riding, stallions were too frisky for ladies.  Mares and geldings may be used, but women and children favored ponies.  They were smaller than horses and easier to handle.  In rare instances where women drove horses, they usually drove a one-horse carriage.  “Four-in-hands” were too much for a woman to handle.”

As a horsewoman myself, I find this to be frustrating. I’ve both learned to ride and drive. While stallions and four-in-hands can prove challenging, I enjoy a good challenge once in a while. Also, have you met any ponies, they can be nasty creatures. I’ve noticed in my experience the smaller horses were much more temperamental than larger breeds. And don’t even get me started on side-saddle. I’d rather be risque, to be honest.

My personal favorite:

~ “Double entendre is detestable in a woman, especially when perpetrated in the presence of men; no man of taste can respect a woman who is guilty of it: though it may create a laugh, it will inevitably excite also disgust in the minds of all whose good opinions are worth acquiring. Therefore not only avoid all indelicate expressions, but appear not to understand any that may be uttered in your presence.”

Oh man. I can’t. I’ve always been aware of my company when conversing. Sometimes it such speech is not appropriate for the company. That I understand. But to avoid it completely and pretend I don’t understand it. I. Can’t. Do. It.


If these have captured your interest, let me give you a few of my resources so you can see how insane etiquette actually was for the time period. Of course, the social classes would be different when it came to expectation and adherence to societal rules. But for the most part, I focus on the servants and the nobility/upper class.

This website is a good one to easily see the different functions and expectations. I took some of my examples directly from this site: 

I have these books that were written during the era. Some of them are free on Amazon. Dig around, most of them you can find for free since they’re in the public domain now.

A Hand-book of Etiquette for Ladies by Anonymous

The Ladies’ Book of Etiquette, and Manual of Politeness: A Complete Hand Book by Florence Hartley

The Book of Household Management by Mrs. Isabella Mary Beeton

A Word to Women by Mrs. Humphry

Manners for Women by Mrs. Humphry

Manners for Men by Mrs. Humphry

And if you want a resource dedicated to smoking etiquette of the era, I found this awesome article:

As you can see, research can be daunting, but when you find solid reliable sources, it can really help put you in the correct mindset for the era. I still find it difficult to keep my “head in the era” while I’m writing. But hey, that’s what the editing phase is for, right? It’s extremely difficult to keep modern ideals and sentiments from bleeding into a historical story.

Fortunately, there were always rule breakers no matter the era. These pioneers are a huge help for authors when it comes to creating conflict and tense situations to foster the plot of our stories. Scandal is a main force in most romance novels. *wink*

Do you have any resources or research you’d like to share on the topic? Feel free to comment.

Are there any rules of etiquette from the era that you know would be extremely difficult for you to follow? I’d love to hear your responses.

Thanks for the visit. I hope my little tirade was amusing and educational. I know it makes me a little more appreciative of the freedoms I have as a woman in the modern era. ❤

Remember, don’t take life too seriously, you’ll never get out alive. 😉

Until we meet again, may your bookshelves be full and your hearts even more so.

All my love,