Romancing The Romance Authors with… Leonie Mack

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This week on Romancing The Romance Authors, I am delighted to be quizzing author, Leonie Mack, on writing romance and what romantic fiction means to her.

Welcome to the blog, Leonie. Tell me a bit about the type of books you write and where you are in your publishing journey.

I write romantic comedies with big feelings and international locations. My second book, Italy Ever After came out on 11 May. My debut, My Christmas Number One was picked up by Boldwood Books in 2020 and released for Christmas 2020.

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Why romance?

The simple answer is: romance is what I most like to read. I love a story that focuses on a character’s internal journey to a place where they can commit to someone they love.

What inspires your stories?

All sorts of different sparks of inspiration go into each story. For Italy Ever After, for instance, the character of Nick Romano was inspired by a time I walked past a primary school and heard a violin ensemble rehearsing. I imagined the teacher and there was Nick. I wanted to write a real getaway, an escape from daily life, so I chose a place that had made a real impression on me and then I had Lake Garda. The rest of the story fell into place, when you have a teacher and a lake – perfect for a music camp.

Who are your favourite romance authors, past and/or present?

I used to read every Nora Roberts book I could get my hands on and her writing style greatly influenced mine. I also lapped up the Bridgerton books (back in the 2000s, when they were only books!) and others by Julia Quinn. I love that romantic comedies are so popular at the moment and some of my favourites have been by Mia Sosa and Sally Thorne and I love Lucy Keeling’s romcoms set in Manchester.

If you had to pick one romance novel for me to read, which one would you recommend?

Ooh, that’s a really difficult question for an author. I deal in complexity! But I’d probably recommend The Hating Game. It’s a very popular book, but I think that’s because everyone can enjoy it!

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Nemesis (n.) 1) An opponent or rival whom a person cannot best or overcome. 2) A person’s undoing. 3) Joshua Templeman.

Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman sit across from each other every day . . . and they hate each other.

Not dislike. Not begrudgingly tolerate. HATE. Lucy can’t understand Joshua’s joyless, uptight approach to his job and refusal to smile. Joshua is clearly baffled by Lucy’s overly bright clothes, quirkiness, and desire to be liked.

Now they’re up for the same promotion and Lucy, usually a determined people-pleaser, has had enough: it’s time to take him down. But as the tension between Lucy and Joshua reaches its boiling point, it’s clear that the real battle has only just begun . . .

Which romantic hero or heroine would you choose to spend your perfect romantic weekend with? Where would you go and what would you do?

Ha! I’m personally not all that romantic in the traditional way. I think that’s why I like romcoms. You can make the relationship progress in all sorts of funny ways that are often misadventures that show love can win in the end. But right now, after the year we’ve had, I’d love to have a weekend in the mountains with my husband to just hike. But if we’re talking a romance hero, I’d say snowed in with a bad-boy rockstar (LOL).

What is your favourite thing about being a member of the RNA? What do you think you have gained from membership?

Accessing the network at the RNA is so important, even though I only became a member in 2020 and haven’t managed to attend a conference, yet. There’s always someone who has experience of whatever you’re going through and we will always support each other’s books because we all love love stories.

What one piece of advice or tip would you give to new writers starting out in the romance genre?

Stick with it! The publishing industry has changed so much over the past ten years that if you just keep writing and submitting your work, you’re fairly likely to find someone who loves it eventually. It’s definitely slow and may take years of writing books that never see the light of day, but celebrate those books as part of the learning experience and you’ll get there eventually.

Tell us about your most recent novel.

Divorced mum Lou accompanies her daughter Edie on a music camp by Lake Garda, determined to discover her own talents while Edie develops hers. In a series of misadventures, she finally gets to know Edie’s seriously hot but very reserved violin teacher, Nick Romano, and she learns she doesn’t need a special talent to be loved for who she is. Italy Ever After is out now in all formats and you can buy a copy here.

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TV journalist Lou feels battered and bruised after her divorce from Phil, the father of her daughter Edie. Her confidence and sense of fun have steadily been drained away, and she isn’t sure who she is any more.

When the opportunity arises to accompany Edie on a music camp in Italy for a month in the summer, Lou jumps at the chance for new adventures, new horizons and new friends. The hazy warmth of the summer sun, shining brightly over the stunning Lake Garda, slowly brings Lou back to life.

Nick Romano, Edie’s music teacher, loves being home in Italy, but coaching his students for their concert in Milan, is bringing back difficult memories. His blossoming friendship with Lou is the perfect distraction, although a summer fling would be easier to conduct without the scrutiny of his mother Greta, not to mention the interference of his extended Italian family.

As the summer passes, full of sunshine and breath-taking scenery, gelato and delicious feasts, Lou and Nick get ever closer. But as the time for farewell creeps up on them, will they be able to say goodbye and leave their memories behind in the Italian sun, or can a summer romance last a lifetime?

About the Author

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Leonie Mack is an author of romantic comedies with great locations and big feelings. She loves a happy ending and shares that love in every book she writes! Leonie is a journalism graduate, a language nut and loves to travel, particularly on foot, by bike and by train. After growing up in Australia and living most of her adult life in London, she now lives in Germany, among the vineyards on the Main river.

Connect with Leonie:

Website: https://leoniemack.com/

Facebook: Leonie Mack

Twitter: @LeonieMAuthor

Instagram: @leoniejmack

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Romancing The Romance Authors with… Lizzie Chantree

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Time for another heart to heart about all things romance with an author in the genre, and this week I am delighted to welcome back to the blog… Lizzie Chantree.

Welcome, Lizzie. Tell me a bit about the type of books you write and where you are in your publishing journey.

Hello everyone. I write contemporary women’s fiction about love, romance and feisty entrepreneurs with some pretty unusual businesses. I have eight books published so far and have two more ready to publish. I have both French and American publishers, but I also self-publish in between, so that my readers don’t have to wait too long for another story. I really enjoy both elements of publishing and I now run seminars, where I talk about networking and how authors can broaden their readership and keep isolation at bay.

Why romance?

I love romance! I grew up reading Mills and Boon books from the local library and I adore a mischievous heroine and a swoon-worthy lead man. Romance books are full of laughter and real life issues and they are a wonderful way to connect with readers. I have met so many amazing book lovers since I began writing. Romance stories give us time to step away from any worries for a while and jump into some fun and excitement.

What inspires your stories?

I can be inspired from anything from the way someone holds another person’s hand, to a look that might pass between them. One of my books, the little ice cream shop by the sea, was inspired by seeing an elderly lady who was visibly upset in a café and a young waitress who tried to help her. After the first woman had stopped crying and left the café, I asked the waitress if her friend was ok. The waitress said she’d never met her before and from that grew a story about the kindness of strangers. 

Who are your favourite romance authors, past and/or present?

I have so many! Jane Austen, Emily Bronte, Jackie Collins, Marian Keyes, Freya North, Lisa Jewell, Katie Fforde, Heidi Swain, Liz Fielding… I could think of so many more.

If you had to pick one romance novel for me to read, which one would you recommend?

If I could only pick one, I’d always go back and read Pride and Prejudice, time and time again.

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Elizabeth Bennett has a keen mind, a sharp wit, and no desire to marry for convenience. When she meets Mr Darcy, her first impressions are far from favourable, and he shows little interest in her. Nor do their opinions improve with further acquaintance. There seems to be little hope of romance; indeed, it might be impossible unless they can confront the flaws in their own natures. Perhaps their first impressions were mistaken?

Which romantic hero or heroine would you choose to spend your perfect romantic weekend with? Where would you go and what would you do?

I’d choose Mr Darcy from Pride and Prejudice, as he’s gorgeous, but also because he has principles and is adventurous at the same time. He’s a bit of a contradiction, which makes him mysterious. I’d love to explore his estate and find out more about his family history. It would be fun to see him being more relaxed and enjoying himself, like he is at the end of the book. I’d be quite happy sitting on his front lawn and writing for a few hours, with him beside me!

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What is your favourite thing about being a member of the RNA? What do you think you have gained from membership?

I wish I had found the RNA sooner! It’s such a welcoming group to be part of and the support for new writers is second to none. If you are starting out, the RNA offer so much guidance, from courses to mentoring. For a more experienced writer, the RNA gives encouragement, room to learn and a feeling of being part of a huge and fun-filled team. 

What one piece of advice or tip would you give to new writers starting out in the romance genre?

I’d steer them towards the RNA for advice and guidance, then I’d tell them about networking and how to build up a readership through mutual support and the love of books. Author branding is also very important for customers to be able to see at a glance which genre you write in.

Tell us about your most recent novel.

My most recent novel is called Shh… It’s Our Secret. Shh… It’s Our Secret, is about a shy woman called Violet, who is trying to silence her inner critic and step out of the shadows.  Her best friends and sister support her, but she feels like they don’t see the real her, or understand that she has ambitions of her own and skills that could help them all escape from poverty.

To them, she is reliable, slightly dull and not very talented, but she is hiding a secret that could blow this theory sky high. Violet will have to eliminate old demons, learn to stand up for herself and show the world who she really is. The book is out now and you can buy it here in your preferred format.

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Violet has a secret that could change the lives of everyone she knows and loves, especially the regulars at the run-down café bar where she works. After losing her parents at a young age, they are the closest thing she has to a family and she feels responsible for them.

Kai is a jaded music producer who has just moved outside of town. Seeking solitude from the stress of his job, he’s looking for seclusion. The only problem is he can’t seem to escape the band members and songwriters who keep showing up at his house.

When Kai wanders into the bar and Violet’s life, he accidentally discovers her closely guarded secret. Can Kai help her rediscover her self-confidence or should some secrets remain undiscovered?

About the Author

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International bestselling author and award-winning inventor, Lizzie Chantree, started her own business at the age of 18 and became one of Fair Play London and The Patent Office’s British Female Inventors of the Year in 2000. She discovered her love of writing fiction when her children were little and now works as a business mentor and runs a popular networking hour on social media, where creatives can support to each other. She writes books full of friendship and laughter, that are about women with unusual and adventurous businesses, who are far stronger than they realise. She lives with her family on the coast in Essex.

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Connect with Lizzie:

Website: https://lizziechantree.com/

Facebook: Lizzie Chantree Author

Twitter: @Lizzie_Chantree

Instagram: @lizzie_chantree

Pinterest: Lizzie Chantree

Goodreads: Lizzie Chantree

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Romancing The Romance Authors with… Helen Buckley

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Time to chat all things romance and the writing thereof with another RNA member, and this week I am delighted to be quizzing author… Helen Buckley.

Welcome, Helen. Tell me a bit about the type of books you write and where you are in your publishing journey.

I write thrilling, dramatic contemporary romances about people in the public eye. There are lots of twists and turns, shock revelations, slow-burn romance, and of course, happy ever afters! I currently have a three-book contract with ChocLit and my next novel is due out in July.

Why romance?

I daydream in romance, so I am simply writing down the stories that are in my head. I’m an old-fashioned romantic who loves nothing more than two characters who come together after lots of challenges.

What inspires your stories?

All sorts of things! Strictly on Ice, for example, was inspired by the TV show Dancing on Ice. As my current series involves people in the public eye, I get a lot of inspiration from popular culture and news stories.

Who are your favourite romance authors, past and/or present?

I used to love reading Catherine Cookson when I was younger, but now I tend to read contemporary romances, by the likes of Lucy Keeling, Marie Laval, Jojo Moyes, Amanda Prowse, and Dani Atkins, for example.

If you had to pick one romance novel for me to read, which one would you recommend?

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. That book broke me. It is one of the best books I have ever read.

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Will needed Lou as much as she needed him, but will her love be enough to save his life?

Lou Clark
 knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun teashop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.

What Lou doesn’t know is she’s about to lose her job or that knowing what’s coming is what keeps her sane.

Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he’s going to put a stop to that.

What Will doesn’t know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they’re going to change the other for all time.

Which romantic hero or heroine would you choose to spend your perfect romantic weekend with? Where would you go and what would you do?

My husband is my real-life romantic hero and I’d choose him above anyone else. We’d go to Rome and eat mountains of gelato.

What is your favourite thing about being a member of the RNA? What do you think you have gained from membership?

I’m a fairly new member but it’s a great way to meet fellow romance authors, find out what they are working on, and there are lots of learning opportunities too which I am looking forward to taking part in!

What one piece of advice or tip would you give to new writers starting out in the romance genre?

I would say read a lot of romance to help you understand the genre, and try to work on a series of books rather than just one – it’s more marketable.

Tell us about your most recent novel.

A former Olympic skating champion takes part in a new TV show to earn some cash, but she gets more than she bargained for when she’s partnered with a love-rat rugby player, and finds that her ex-boyfriend is on the judging panel! Strictly on Ice is a dramatic, romantic, thrilling read about the world of ice skating and reality TV. It’s available in ebook and paperback formats and you can buy a copy here.

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When falling in love comes with the risk of falling flat on your face …

Former Olympic skating champion Katie Saunders is well known for her ‘ice queen’ persona in the press. On the face of it, perhaps Katie should have forgiven her former skating partner and ex-boyfriend, Alex Michaelson, for the accident that shattered both her ankle and their Olympic dreams – but she just can’t seem to let it go.

When Katie reluctantly agrees to take part in a new TV skating show, it’s only because she’s desperate for cash. What she didn’t count on is the drama – not only is she partnered up with infamous love rat rugby player Jamie Welsh, but one of the judges is none other than Alex Michaelson himself.

As the show progresses, will Katie be shown the hard way, once again, that romance on the ice should remain strictly off-limits?

About the Author

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Ever since Helen was little she wanted to be a writer, to turn daydreams into books. She’s fascinated by fame, in love with Happy Ever Afters, and enthralled by slow-burn romances. She squeezes in time to write around looking after her two sons.

Sign up to her newsletter to receive a FREE download of her novella, The Wrong One, a sweet contemporary romance about being true to yourself. https://BookHip.com/RZSDFSW

Connect with Helen:

Website: www.buckleybooks.org

Facebook: Helen Buckley author

Twitter: @HelenCBuckley

Instagram: @helencatherinebuckley

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Romancing The Romance Authors with… Victoria Springfield

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The weeks are going by so fast now, aren’t they? I can’t believe it is time for another edition of Romancing The Romance Authors, the feature where I chat to an author of romance novels about what, why and how they write. But it is, and this week I am delighted to be talking to… Victoria Springfield.

Welcome to the blog, Victoria. Tell me a bit about the type of books you write and where you are in your publishing journey.

I write contemporary women’s fiction immersed in the sights, sounds and flavours of Italy.  I started writing my first book in 2018 and was lucky enough to get a place on the RNA’s New Writers’ Scheme in 2019.  Later that year I met my agent, Camilla Shestopal at the RNA conference in Lancaster.  My debut novel, The Italian Holiday, has just been published by Orion under their digital-first brand, Dash.  A second book, set in a riding school in the Tuscan countryside, will be coming out in August this year.

Why romance?

Romance novels are often dismissed but love is one of the biggest influences on people’s emotions and actions.  Love can make one person curl up in a ball in a dark corner, another person to leap up and down on the sofa like Tom Cruise.  It can make people do crazy things, cause them to betray their friends and families or commit acts of self-sacrifice.  Love provides a writer with great material and I enjoy creating a happy ending.  I want people to put my books down with a big, contented sigh and the feeling that all is well in the world.

What inspires your stories?

I have been holidaying in Italy since I was a teenager thanks to my father who was a real Italophile.  The locations, the scenery, the history and of course, the wonderful food all inspire me.  Italy is such a diverse country – it was not united until the late 19th century – so the strong local identity of each location shapes my characters’ lives.  The story lines come from people I have met, conversations I have overheard and things I have read.  Once I start writing, the story itself inspires twists and turns as I go along.

Who are your favourite romance authors, past and/or present?

My favourite authors such as Mary Wesley, Joanna Trollope and Anita Shreve mix romance with other elements. I have recently discovered Erin Hilderbrand who is fantastic at dissecting human relationships; her books are mainly set on Nantucket.  Rosanna Ley is great; I really enjoyed The Little Theatre by the Sea set in Sardinia, and I always enjoy Sue Moorcroft’s books.  I want to read more from Nadia Marks, her Among the Lemon Trees, a mixture of family secrets and wartime romance has an Italian element but mainly takes place on a small Aegean island.  For a complete change I am trying some historical romance; I am thoroughly enjoying The Spanish Girl by Jules Hayes.

If you had to pick one romance novel for me to read, which one would you recommend?

I hope you have plenty of spare time because I am going to suggest Vikram Seth’s A Suitable Boy.  This is by far the biggest book on my shelf but well worth the read. The book opens with the wedding of the heroine Lata’s older sister.  Lata’s mother assures her that she will find a suitable boy for Lata to wed, but Lata has ideas of her own.  By the end of the book Lata has three different suitors to choose from and has to weigh up the merits of romantic love, personal happiness and family obligations.

Lata’s search for love plays out against a backdrop of infighting and tragedy as India prepares for its first election after gaining independence from the British Empire.  There is a lot to digest with the political shenanigans and a subplot involving a battle for the affections of the captivating courtesan, Saeeda Bai.  The recent BBC television series included many of the hundred-plus characters from the book but it could only scratch the surface – they should have made fifty episodes!

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A modern classic, this epic tale of families, romance and political intrigue, set in India, never loses its power to delight and enchant readers.

At its core, A Suitable Boy is a love story: the tale of Lata – and her mother’s – attempts to find her a suitable husband, through love or through exacting maternal appraisal. At the same time, it is the story of India, newly independent and struggling through a time of crisis as a sixth of the world’s population faces its first great general election and the chance to map its own destiny.

Which romantic hero or heroine would you choose to spend your perfect romantic weekend with? Where would you go and what would you do?

I was tempted to choose a handsome, brooding Italian but I am going to step back in time and choose Emma’s charming old-fashioned Mr. Knightley who would knock at my door and whisk me off in a horse-drawn carriage to Donwell Abbey.  After a tour of the grounds, we would enjoy dainty cakes washed down with copious amounts of tea from fine china cups in front of the roaring fire.  Later, I would descend the stairs dressed in a sweeping gown for the evening’s ball, where I would miraculously dance beautifully.  The next day a groom would appear with two striking horses.  I would try sidesaddle; Mr. Knightley would look particularly dashing in breeches and leather boots.  We would fall through a portal into the Italian countryside and trot through the same vineyards, meadows and woods as the characters in my forthcoming second novel before spending the night at the home of a handsome Italian count.  Spurred on by the count’s flirtation with me, Mr. Knightley would at last cast off his English reserve…

What is your favourite thing about being a member of the RNA? What do you think you have gained from membership?

The RNA provides a wonderful sense of camaraderie; I am continually astonished by how helpful and friendly everyone is.  I have been missing the chapter meetings but now I am crossing paths with people on social media.  If I had not joined the RNA’s New Writers’ Scheme I am not sure I would have got published.  The reader was able to pick out specific passages in my manuscript to show me where my writing could be more engaging and vivid.

What one piece of advice or tip would you give to new writers starting out in the romance genre?

Do what works for you and do not worry if someone else is writing 3,000 words a day.  Also, get away from the computer.  For me there is something about the rhythm of swimming or walking that untangles my plot problems.  I have been known to scribble things down whilst I am wrapped in a towel in the pool changing rooms.

Tell us about your most recent novel.

The Italian Holiday is an uplifting seaside romance which weaves together the stories of unlucky-in-love Bluebell and kind widow, Miriam who meet on a coach tour of the Amalfi Coast, with that of local girl, Michela, who is returning to Italy after a year working in London.  Whilst Bluebell and Miriam are making friends and exploring the region, Michela’s plan to work at her cousins’ restaurant in Positano is scuppered by a family crisis.  Instead, she lends a helping hand at her parents’ tiny café bar in the quaint town of Minori, surrounded by memories of her first love, Stefano.

The three women have to learn to embrace the changes in their lives and seize their chances of happiness.  The book explores love, friendship, family ties and – thanks to a mysterious poppy-print dress – how a change of clothes can change your life.

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Sun, sea and spaghetti…

Italy was Bluebell’s dream destination, but taking her granny’s place on the Loving and Knitting magazine competition holiday she’d won wasn’t quite what she’d had in mind. For one thing she didn’t knit and for the other…well being single probably discounted her from the love category too. But a free holiday is a free holiday and it’s the perfect escape from her lacklustre life.

Michela didn’t think she’d be returning home to Italy so soon, a new job at her cousin’s restaurant on the harbour of Positano was a dream gig, miles away from the grey London clouds. This time though, she vowed not to fall into old habits, Stefano was the past and now her future in her old hometown beckoned.

But under the Italian skies a whole host of possibilities await and maybe happy-ever-after is just a plane-ride away…

You can buy The Italian Holiday as an ebook here.

About The Author

Victoria Springfield

Victoria Springfield writes contemporary women’s fiction set mainly in Italy.  Her feel-good stories follow unforgettable characters of all ages as they find adventure, friendship and romance.  After many years in London, she now lives in Kent with her husband in a house by the river.  Victoria joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s New Writers’ Scheme in 2019.  In 2020 she signed a two-book deal with Orion Dash.  The Italian Holiday set on The Amalfi Coast is out now.  A second book, set in a horse riding centre in Tuscany, will be published in August 2021.

Connect with Victoria:

Facebook: Victoria Springfield Author

Twitter: @VictoriaSwrites

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Romancing The Romance Authors with… Karen King

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It is time to grill another romance writer about why they write what they write and what inspires their love-filled stories. Today, I am delighted to be chatting to author… Karen King.

Tell me a bit about the type of books you write and where you are in your publishing journey.

I write heartwarming, feel-good romance novels set in gorgeous locations such as Cornwall and Spain. My heroines are usually feisty and independent and definitely not looking for a permanent relationship. I’ve had eight romance novels published, the first one Never Say Forever, was originally a pocket novel for People’s Friend but is now republished by Headline Accent. Since then I’ve had seven more romance novels published and have a contract with Headline Accent for three more. The first one, One Summer in Cornwall, will be published on 29th April, and is set in Port Medden, the little Cornish town where The Cornish Hotel by the Sea is set. I’ve really enjoyed writing about some of the favourite characters and bringing in new ones. I’ve also written two psychological thrillers for Bookouture, the first one, The Stranger in my Bed, was out in November and the second one will be out later this year.

Why romance?

I’ve been a published author for over thirty years and started out writing romance, photo stories for Jackie magazine, and short romance stories for magazines like Patches and Loving. Showing my age here! Then I moved onto writing for children’s magazines, and children’s books but I always wanted to write a romance novel so am delighted to have achieved that dream. I’m fascinated by how people get together, how they decide that someone is the right person for them. I enjoy writing about relationships, although we know that there is going to be a HEA with a romance I find it really interesting to write about the hero and heroine’s journey until they realise and finally admit that they love each other.

What inspires your stories?

It can be anything, an overheard conversation, someone I see in the street, a beautiful location.

Who are your favourite romance authors, past and/or present?

There are so many, too many to choose a favourite. Margaret Mitchell, Catherine Cookson, Danielle Steele and Penny Vincenzi are old favourites of mine, current ones are Sophie Kinsella, Marian Keyes, Sue Moorcroft, Mandy Baggot and Heidi Swain.

If you had to pick one romance novel for me to read, which one would you recommend?

I think Sophie Kinsella’s Remember Me? it’s funny, romantic and the characters are so credible.

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Lexi wakes up in a hospital bed after a car accident, thinking she’s twenty-five with crooked teeth and a disastrous love life. But, to her disbelief, she learns it’s actually three years later – she’s a super-toned twenty-eight-year-old, her teeth are straight, she’s the boss of her department – and she’s married to a good-looking millionaire!

She can’t believe her luck – especially when she sees her stunning new loft apartment. And she’ll definitely have a fantastic marriage once she gets to know her husband again. He’s drawn up a ‘marriage manual’, which should help.

But soon she realises her perfect life isn’t all it seems. All her old friends hate her. A rival is after her job. Then a dishevelled, sexy guy turns up… and lands a new bombshell.

What the **** happened to her? Will she ever remember? And what will happen if she does?

Which romantic hero or heroine would you choose to spend your perfect romantic weekend with? Where would you go and what would you do?

Oh gosh, I can’t think of anyone. Sorry. Can I take my very own romantic hero, my hubby Dave, and send us both on a Caribbean cruise, stopping off for a few days in Barbados?

What is your favourite thing about being a member of the RNA? What do you think you have gained from membership?

I love the RNA. It’s such a warm, friendly organisation, the support from the other authors is fantastic. I’m the blog coordinator and enjoy reading all the different blogs, there’s such a lot of information there. It can be a bit frantic at times trying to organise everything -especially in February and March when we have Romance Reading Month and the RNA Awards. The RNA team is fantastic though, and everyone pulls together.

The best thing I’ve gained from the RNA is a three-book contract with Accent Press, which led to a contract for three romance novels for Bookouture, and now another three for Headline Accent. I love to tell the story of how I arrived at my first RNA conference with a synopsis for a romance novel, the second conference with that novel sold and a contract for two more, and for my third conference the book was on sale in the lobby!

What one piece of advice or tip would you give to new writers starting out in the romance genre?

Stop faffing about and get writing! Your first draft doesn’t have to be perfect, get it down and then you can edit it.

Tell us about your most recent novel.

One Summer in CornwalI will be published on 29th April. I’d wanted to go back to Port Medden for a long time, and give Marcus, the chef who only had a brief mention in The Cornish Hotel by the Sea, his own story so was delighted when Headline Accent said they would be interested in publishing it, and another two books. I often scroll Pinterest for inspiration for my characters and when I spotted a photo of a woman on a motorbike I had Hattie (my heroine) then I threw in a parrot that swears (inspired by a friend’s parrot) and an inheritance and there was my story.

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When Hattie is made redundant and evicted from her flat in one horrible week, she needs time to rethink. Her Uncle Albert left her and her father each half of Fisherman’s Rest, his home in the Cornish town of Port Medden, so this seems the perfect place to escape to until she can figure things out.

As Hattie stays in the cottage, clearing it out, tidying it up and getting it ready to sell, she starts to find her feet in Port Medden and making a new home here begins to feel right. If only her dad didn’t need a quick sale and things weren’t complicated by her unwelcoming neighbour Marcus . . .

One Summer in Cornwall will be published in ebook and paperback formats on 29 April and you can pre-order it here.

About The Author

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Karen King is a multi-published author of both adult and children’s books. She has had eight romantic novels published, one psychological thriller with another one out later this year, 120 children’s books, two young adult novels, and several short stories for women’s magazines. Her romantic novel The Cornish Hotel by the Sea became an international bestseller, reaching the top one hundred in the Kindle charts in both the UK and Australia. Karen is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, the Society of Authors and the Society of Women Writers and Journalists. Karen now lives in Spain where she loves to spend her non-writing time exploring the quaint local towns with her husband, Dave, when she isn’t sunbathing or swimming in the pool, that is.

Connect with Karen:

Website: http://www.karenking.net/

Facebook: Karen King Author

Twitter: @karen_king

Instagram: @karenkingauthor

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Romancing The Romance Authors with… Ella Matthews

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It’s Tuesday, and it is time to welcome another romance author to the blog to talk about reading, writing and loving romantic fiction. This week I am delighted to be chatting to.. Ella Matthews.

Tell me a bit about the type of books you write and where you are in your publishing journey.

I write historical medieval romances for Mills and Boon. My third one will be published on the 18th March and is the end of a trilogy, following the fortunes of the Leofric siblings. I’ve just submitted my fourth title to M&B, which is the first book in a new series about Edward III’s knights. It’ll be my ninth book as I’ve also had five Pocket Novels published by DC Thompson. I worked in publishing for many years and so I feel like my publishing journey has been going for decades.

Why romance?

When I first started out writing I imagined that I would write serious, soul-searching books. The problem is I’m terrible at writing those. I think the main reason for this, is that I read a lot of romance and very few soul-searching books. Romance is my favourite genre to read and I think you have to write what you enjoy.

What inspires your stories?

This really depends on the novel I’m writing. Sometimes, the characters stride into my head bringing their stories with them and I really couldn’t say where they’ve sprung from. Other times, it will be a picture of a castle or a line from a novel that inspires me.

Who are your favourite romance authors, past and/or present?

When I was growing up, I loved Georgette Heyer and Mary Stewart. I’ve read Heyer’s, Arabella so many times I can quote passages from it and yet I still haven’t lost my enjoyment of reading it again and again. There are so many talented authors who are writing right now it’s hard to narrow it down, but I do love to read anything by Katie Fforde, Mhairi McFarlane, Christina Lauren, Jo Watson, Kathryn Freeman and Tessa Dare.

If you had to pick one romance novel for me to read, which one would you recommend?

Gosh, there are so many to choose from, I would have a very hard time selecting one. I’ve recently discovered the writing duo, Christina Lauren and I absolutely adore their books. My favourite is Beautiful Bastard and I would highly recommend that to everyone.

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Chloe Mills is intelligent, hardworking, moments away from her MBA and starting a successful career. The only thing standing in her way is her boss, Bennett Ryan. He’s exacting, blunt, inconsiderate and…completely gorgeous – a beautiful bastard. She’s determined to ignore him, do the best job she can, and move on to her bright future.

Bennett has been trying to ignore his gorgeous, infuriating assistant for months. He’s never been one for a workplace dalliance, especially not with one of his employees. But Chloe is so tempting he’s willing to bend the rules – or smash them, if it means he can have her… all over the office.

What starts as just a hot hate hook-up becomes something much deeper, as both Chloe and Bennett must confront exactly what they’re willing to lose to find love with each other.

Which romantic hero or heroine would you choose to spend your perfect romantic weekend with? Where would you go and what would you do?

My very first hero crush was Raoul from Nine Coaches Waiting. I can remember trying to concentrate in school and completely failing because all I wanted to do was get back to the book to see what he would do next. I’d love for him to take me to his chateau in the eastern France where I imagine we would drink fabulous wine and eat some delicious French cuisine.

What is your favourite thing about being a member of the RNA? What do you think you have gained from membership?

I’ve gained so much from being a member of the RNA. I’ve made some fabulous writing friends and learned so much from the conference and other members. I absolutely love being the editor of Romance Matters because it allows me to talk to lots of different authors about such a wide range of topics. The best thing I have gained from my RNA membership is my contract with Mills and Boon. I had a 1-2-1 meeting with my editor, Vic at a conference eighteen months ago and I was so lucky because she loved the book. I would not have had such an amazing opportunity, if it hadn’t been for the RNA.

What one piece of advice or tip would you give to new writers starting out in the romance genre?

Keep going, even in the face of rejection, even when it seems too hard. You can do it!

Tell us about your most recent novel.

My latest novel is the last in the House of Leofric series. It centres on innocent Linota who has lived her whole life in seclusion and is more than ready for her first taste of freedom. She begins on a journey to her brother’s home, full of excitement. She hasn’t gone far when she’s abducted. She’s saved by the hero, Erik but there is more to him than meets the eye. Erik has been put in an impossible position, to save his young niece he may have to betray his half-brother and the woman he is coming to love.

Erik was the anti-hero in Under the Warrior’s Protection and I’m really thrilled he’s had his own novel, so that he can tell us his side of the story.

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An impossible choice:

His family or love

As steward to the Earl of Borwyn, Erik Ward had only admired sheltered noblewoman Linota Leofric from afar – until he has to escort her on a dangerous journey. When she’s kidnapped, he rescues the courageous beauty, revelling in finally having her in his arms. But Erik has a secret plan to reunite his family – now he’s forced to choose between that and his growing feelings for Linota…

You can buy a copy of The Warrior’s Innocent Captive here.

About the Author

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Ella Matthews lives and works in beautiful South Wales. When not thinking about handsome heroes she can be found walking along the coast with her husband and their two children (probably still thinking about heroes but at least pretending to be interested in everyone else).

Connect with Ella:

Website: www.ellamatthews.co.uk

Facebook: Ella Matthews Author

Twitter: @ellamattauthor

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Romancing The Romance Authors with… Emma Bennet

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Today, in the latest in my series grilling romance authors on all things love and writing, I am chatting to author… Emma Bennet.

Welcome to the blog, Emma. Tell me a bit about the type of books you write and where you are in your publishing journey.

I write sweet contemporary romances and have four full length novels and two novellas currently published. My next book is due to be released at the beginning of June 2021 by Spellbound books.

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Why romance?

I guess I just love following the twists and turns of a relationship coming together culminating in a satisfying Happy Ever After! It makes my heart happy.

What inspires your stories?

Things I hear, things I see, things I read… One of my books is based on the story a friend told me of how she and her husband got together. Sometimes I’ll be doing something as mundane as washing up the dishes after supper, and I’ll think ‘what if such and such happened…?’ and that will end up becoming a story.

Who are your favourite romance authors, past and/or present?

I love some comedy in my reads so Sophie Kinsella is definitely one of my favourites. I also really enjoy Jenny Colgan and Paige Toon’s novels. Kiley Dunbar and Sharon Booth are very good, their books are made to be devoured!

If you had to pick one romance novel for me to read, which one would you recommend?

I’d definitely want it to be one of mine, and I have a soft spot for Her Perfect Hero, mainly because it contains an evil cat called Mr Darcy, so I think I’d recommend that. 

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Romance writer Bronte Huntington is sure she’ll find her perfect hero someday… he’s just been held up for a while.

When she’s rescued by the debonair Sebastian Fairfax, heir to the Fenworth Estate, she thinks her dream has finally come true. Sebastian’s dashing, handsome and… well… a tiny bit boring and self-absorbed if Bronte were completely honest with herself.

Can’t she see there’s a much better prospect closer to home – her new neighbour, the rather ordinary, down-to-earth Ryan? He’s kind, funny and sweet, and they’ve plenty in common. But she’s adamant she’ll only settle for a fairytale romance.

Will Bronte open her eyes and heart to what’s staring her in the face? Her perfect hero.

Which romantic hero or heroine would you choose to spend your perfect romantic weekend with? Where would you go and what would you do?

I’d be a bit concerned about what had happened to my husband, but imagining he’s busy himself… I’d have to choose Joseph Wild, the rock star hero of my novel Starstruck. He’d take me on tour to somewhere terribly glamorous, possibly Milan, and I’d be backstage at his concert before we disappeared from all the paparazzi to a beautiful hotel.

What is your favourite thing about being a member of the RNA? What do you think you have gained from membership?

The support from fellow authors is absolutely invaluable. If I ever have a writing query or concern, there’s always someone who’s happy to help!

The conferences are so helpful and a lot of fun. I was very nervous before attending, but everyone was lovely ad I came away with lots of new friends and my head full of writing plans and advice.

What one piece of advice or tip would you give to new writers starting out in the romance genre?

Join the RNA’s New Writer’s Scheme if you are able to. You’ll make so many friends in the industry and get some honest feedback on your work. I didn’t know about the scheme when I was starting out, but I wish I had.

Tell us about your most recent novel.

Starstruck is the story of newly divorced Kate who finds school friend, now super famous rock star Joseph Wild, on her doorstep. 
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was such fun to write, especially any scene containing the awful Genevieve! It is available in ebook and paperback here.

(You can read my recent review of Starstruck here.)

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When newly divorced Kate finds school friend, now super famous rock star Joseph Wild, on her doorstep, her whole quiet, ordinary life is thrown into disarray.

Joseph has broken up with glamorous actress Genevieve Moore, and needs somewhere to retreat to until the paparazzi interest in his marriage calms down. Kate agrees to help him out and drawn to his simple, self-effacing charm, soon finds herself falling in love.

But can she cope with the problems a relationship with such a high profile celebrity brings? What happens when he jets back to his regular life of stardom in L.A.?

And how will Genevieve react when she finds out Joseph has moved on? She can’t possibly allow anything to sully her ever-so carefully crafted public image.

Falling in love with a rock star is tougher than you’d think…

About the Author

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Emma grew up and lived in London, before falling in love and moving to Wales to marry her own hero. Emma now lives with her husband, for children, and many animals a few miles outside of a small Welsh market town. She can often be found in rivers attempting to control two overexcited chocolate labradors.

Six charming romances are currently available from the Amazon bestselling authoress:

Number 1 Australian kindle bestseller, ‘His Secret Daughter’, is the heart-rending story of Iris, a woman falling in love with the father of her child. The only problem is she never told him they had a daughter.

The beautiful landscape around her home gave Emma the inspiration for ‘The Green Hills of Home’, a tale of love and duty in which country girl Gwen struggles to save her family home and avoid her feelings for her handsome, suave new boss. Is he quite all he seems?

‘Snowed in for her Wedding Day’ is a novella picking up Gwen’s story as her wedding day approaches, but with terrible weather, and an absent groom, will she have the happy ending she so deserves?

‘Just Desserts’ is a novella about confused chef Leah, who’s falling for her handsome French co-worker Jean-Claude, but meant to be marrying to Dan in just a few weeks! Who will she choose?

‘Her Perfect Hero’ was released in July 2015 as ‘I Need a Hero’, it’s a lovely comic romantic read for anyone who’s ever searched for Mr Right (and failed to find him!). Despair of Bronte, a romance writer, incapable of spotting when the perfect man is right next door! Full of horses, country houses and dentists, just beware of the foul-tempered cat Mr Darcy!

New release, ‘Starstruck’, proves that falling in love with a rock star is harder than you’d think! When newly divorced Kate finds school friend, now super famous rock star Joseph Wild, on her doorstep, her whole quiet, ordinary life is thrown into disarray. Is the attraction between them enough to make up for all the hurdles they have to cross if they want to be together?

Emma likes (in no particular order): cake, books, Cary Grant films, prosecco, chocolate, guinea pigs, knitting, quilting and happily ever afters!

Connect with Emma:

Website: https://www.emma-bennet.co.uk/

Facebook: Emma Bennet

Twitter: @romanceemma

Instagram: @romanceemma

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Romancing The Romance Authors with… Mary B. Moore

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Today I have another edition of Romancing The Romance Authors, where I chat all things romance and romance writing with an author in the genre and this week I am grilling Mary B. Moore.

Tell me a bit about the type of books you write and where you are in your publishing journey.

I mainly write romantic suspense and romantic comedy books, but there have been some exceptions to the rule. April 5 will be my fifth anniversary since I published my first books, and I’m trying to remember how many books I’ve published?! I think it’s 27 or 28 now. There are so many more planned, too.

Why romance?

I grew up with romance books around me, whether it was the Sweet Valley Twins/High series’ or Mum’s Harlequin novels. There’s something soothing about reading them, even when the drama and tensions are high in them, and closing it after the last page and the characters having a happily ever after together. Being able to create my own characters, giving them their own books and worlds, is the most amazing feeling for me.

What inspires your stories?

A variety of things. I’m the daughter of retired diplomats, but I grew up in places like Damascus, Angola (during the civil war), Indonesia, Jamaica and Panama, so a lot of that does come into it. My family and friends also tend to inspire my characters (I swear I have zero sanity around me). Sometimes it can even be a news story that I’ve read. I come from an “eclectic” family who tends to have more laughter than tears, so I decided to approach serious subjects in my plots by adding humour to them. Life’s serious as it is, sometimes having something that makes you laugh or smile makes it a bit easier.

Who are your favourite romance authors, past and/or present?

Oh, there are a lot of them. Sylvia Day is a big one. I still haven’t read book 5 in the Crossfire Series because I don’t want to accept it’s over. Kristen Ashley is another one. I have friends who are romance authors and their books are my go to books for when I need to unwind: CP Smith, Elena M. Reyes and C.M. Steele. I’m familiar with their styles and their plots are always what I need. Aurora Rose Reynolds, Kristen Ashley, K. Bromberg, Terri Anne Browning, Melody Anne… there’s so many.

If you had to pick one romance novel for me to read, which one would you recommend?

Definitely the first book in Sylvia Day’s Crossfire Series, Bared To You. It’s impossible to put down and you’ll jump straight into the next book. It’s just so perfectly done. I swear no man will ever be able to live up to the awesomeness of Gideon Cross.

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Our journey began in fire . . .

Gideon Cross came into my life like lightning in the darkness – beautiful and brilliant, jagged and white hot. I was drawn to him as I’d never been to anything or anyone in my life. I craved his touch like a drug, even knowing it would weaken me. I was flawed and damaged, and he opened those cracks in me so easily . . .

Gideon knew. He had demons of his own. And we would become the mirrors that reflected each other’s most private wounds . . . and desires.

The bonds of his love transformed me, even as I prayed that the torment of our pasts didn’t tear us apart . . .

Which romantic hero or heroine would you choose to spend your perfect romantic weekend with? Where would you go and what would you do?

I’m sure it’ll be no surprise when I say Gideon Cross from the Crossfire Series. I’d probably take him to a beach in Indonesia and just enjoy being back there with him and showing him around. Maybe we could go to Port Royal in Jamaica? Either or, I’m not fussy. If I got to spend a weekend with Gideon, I’d let him choose where and just enjoy the heck out of it.

What is your favourite thing about being a member of the RNA? What do you think you have gained from membership?

I love being a member. I love the diversity that I’ve come across in the organisation, including the DISCO chapter for disabled authors. With a huge percentage of authors and the market being in the USA, it’s been great to meet other British authors and have the support, advice and information from the organisation that we get.

What one piece of advice or tip would you give to new writers starting out in the romance genre?

Do it. It’s easy to get disheartened or to be scared, but your words are just as good as someone with fifty books under their name. Just do it! Obviously do it properly, but don’t be put off from letting your words out into the world.

Tell us about your most recent novel.

My most recent novel is called Eat Crow, and it’s Book 6 in my Cheap Thrills series. I’ve got three series that are based in Texas (I come from a large American family even though we’re Brits) and I have a huge amount of love for the state. Granted my family are from New Jersey, but I have fond memories of Texas and places like Gonzales County.

Anyway, the Cheap Thrills Series is predominantly about the police department that I started outlining in 2016, and the latest book is about a deputy called Logan and his childhood best friend called Bexley (Bexley Heath—it has a nice London link in it). He said something when they were younger that split the friendship up, but when she comes back for her grandad’s funeral, he’s the one who helps her through the loss.

I love second chance, small town romances, and the connection the two characters have has been fabulous to write.

Eat Crow will be released on Kindle on 26 February and you can pre-order it here.

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Logan

I made a mistake seven years ago and opened my mouth, letting words fly out of it that I didn’t mean. I said something about the one person I never wanted to hurt and lost my best friend. Now she’s back and needs help her with her loss, and I’m going to be the best rock in the history of rocks and make it right between us again.

I’d do anything to get Bexley Heath back in my life, even if it means helping out with her dog, who hates me and loves to destroy everything around him.

Time doesn’t kill love. Neither does a giant Irish Wolfhound eating my favorite chair.

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I’d successfully avoided Logan Richards for seven years, but somehow losing my grandpa brought him back into my life. Perhaps Papa was right when he said in his last letter that it was time to get over it and just let it go. Life’s too short, and forgiveness is divine, right?

He’s my anchor when I need it and my tissues when I cry. But that doesn’t mean I can’t reward my dog for causing him grief and destroying some of his furniture, though, does it? To heck with it, good Doyle.

About the Author

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I’m a British author who grew up all over the world. My parents were diplomats, so we were posted to all of the corners of the earth and it was a blast. Some wouldn’t seem so awesome if you heard about them, but my parents always made it a fun experience and it moulded my brother and I into who we are today.

I live in Wiltshire in the west country of the UK. At random times of the day, I’ll hear a moo from the fields around me, or get a whiff of that…uhhh…’country air’, and I love it! I might not have grown up in the UK, but I’m a British girl to the bone (regardless of the suspicious whiffs coming in from the fields).

I’m a single mother with a son who is nearing his teenage phase. Maybe he’s reached it early? Who knows. But he’s awesome and has a personality and sense of humour that I can only attribute to my family. We’re slightly bonkers, we have a wicked sense of humour and we find the positives in every situation. I’m so proud to be his mum and to watch him grow and mature.

Writing was something that I’d always done. I had a teacher in the third grade who always set us the task of writing a story and making it into a book every weekend. After I left school, I kept this up and wrote as often as I could or just plotted out books. This evolved into me taking the plunge and publishing my first book in 2016 and I’ve been typing ever since.

I’m proud to be an Indie Author, and I absolutely love writing out my crazy Providence characters and the more complex ones in my other series’. It doesn’t matter if it’s romantic comedy or something with more suspense – so long as it has a HEA I’ll do it!

Connect with Mary:

Website: https://www.marybmoorebooks.com/

Facebook: Mary B Moore

Twitter: @mary_bmoore

Instagram: @mooremaryb

Facebook Readers’ Group: 50 Shades of Neigh

Newsletter: https://view.flodesk.com/pages/5f76283ae3a4a1ac190b037f

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Romancing The Romance Authors with… Penny Hampson

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Today I am delighted to welcome to the blog, author Penny Hampson, to share her thoughts on writing romance with us.

Tell me a bit about the type of books you write and where you are in your publishing journey.

Hi Julie, thank you so much for inviting me here.

I came to writing quite late in life, so I feel like I am just catching up. As a historian, I’m an avid reader of stories set in the past, so when it came to writing my own, they too had to have a historical setting. Because I’m a lover of all things Georgian and Regency, my historical stories are set in the early 1800s.

At the very beginning of my writing journey I joined the New Writers’s Scheme of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, and this meant that I received invaluable feedback and advice on my work.

My three historical books are all self-published and they form my Gentlemen Series. A Gentleman’s Promise, my debut novel, is currently being re-edited and it will be re-released early in 2021. An Officer’s Vow and A Bachelor’s Pledge are the next books in the series, though each can be read as a standalone. There are also at least a couple more stories to come.

My first contemporary novel, The Unquiet Spirit, was published by Darkstroke earlier this year. Writing this was a bit of a departure for me, with it’s present-day setting and supernatural elements, but there is also a good helping of romance and a strong historical thread running through it. As you might guess, I’m rather obsessed with history!

Why romance?

I’ve always enjoyed reading romance novels, especially when life has been a bit stressful. I think they offer much needed escapism and comfort when times are tough. I’ve always been fascinated by what makes people tick and creating two characters who develop a relationship is an opportunity for me to explore and create believable characters.

What inspires your stories?

Lots of different things inspire my stories. For instance, The Unquiet Spirit was inspired by a house I saw for sale on the internet – I wondered what it would be like to live in a house like that. It became The Beeches in my story, a house that had some interesting and spooky secrets.

Another story that I’m currently working on was inspired by a British newspaper report of 1812 about a young French emigré who came to a bit of a sticky end. My young lady however, will have a much better outcome!

Locations also inspire me. I love Falmouth, Cornwall, in the South West of England, having spent several holidays there. It has a long and interesting history and I utilised some of that history in my  historical novel, A Bachelor’s Pledge. Falmouth also plays a large part in my contemporary romance story, The Unquiet Spirit.

Another favourite place of mine is Bath, which will be familiar to any lovers of Jane Austen. Bath too, has appeared in both my historical and contemporary stories. With its fabulous architecture and stunning setting it is truly an inspirational place.

Who are your favourite romance authors, past and/or present?

Gosh, I’ve got lots of favourite authors. However, for stories set in the Regency period, my go-to author is Georgette Heyer. I’d also hesitate to call her a romance author, because her stories are much more than that. Having re-read many of them recently, I was surprised to discover that several that I’d thought of as romances are anything but. I’m thinking of titles such as A Civil Contract which is in fact a realistic portrayal of a marriage rather than a fairytale romance, or The Foundling, which is more like a coming-of-age story.

For present day romance authors, I enjoy reading Mary-Jo Putney, Mary Balogh, and the late Jo Beverley.

If you had to pick one romance novel for me to read, which one would you recommend?

This is a very difficult question to answer! But given no choice, I’d recommend Faro’s Daughter by Georgette Heyer, which tells the tale of the tempestuous Deborah Grantham and the man who is out to ruin her plans, Max Ravenscar. If you enjoy sparkling, witty dialogue, you will enjoy this book, the verbal sparring between this pair is some of Heyer’s best work. Packed with rich comedy, Heyer’s plot weaves its magic, and it is delightful to see how she brings two such unlikely personalities together. And of course she sets it in a world that is recognisably Regency, real facts about places, people, and events are inserted in an unobtrusive and natural way.

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Renowned gamester and the first to admit that he is entirely void of a romantic disposition, Max Ravenscar regards all eligible females with indifference and unconcern.

But when he meets the woman his young cousin Adrian is bent on marrying – the beautiful Deborah Grantham, mistress of her aunt’s gaming house – he finds that none of his experience in risk and gambling has prepared him for such a worthy opponent.

Which romantic hero or heroine would you choose to spend your perfect romantic weekend with? Where would you go and what would you do?

There are so many wonderful romantic heroes to choose from, it is difficult to make a choice. I think I’d prefer to spend the weekend with a group of my favourite heroes and heroines from the Regency period. It would be a weekend party at a rural stately home, with lots of walks in the countryside, sumptuous rooms, delicious food, and no washing-up! I might even persuade one of the gentlemen to teach me to ride a horse – something I’ve only ever done once. How nice it would be to go for a gallop and then come back to a blazing log fire. And a weekend like this would involve so many changes of clothes: morning dresses, walking dresses, riding habits, pelisses, spencers, and bonnets. For someone like me who lives in jeans, it would be quite a novelty, but I’d really enjoy putting on a fabulous evening dress for dinner.

What is your favourite thing about being a member of the RNA? What do you think you have gained from membership?

Where do I start? It’s great feeling a part of the community of romance authors and sharing ideas and information. Before Covid, my local chapter met up for lunch once a month and I rarely left one without having learned something new or receiving encouragement – a real boost when you feel you’re getting nowhere with your writing. You can guarantee one thing, romance authors are a very supportive group.

The best thing about the RNA is the New Writers’ Scheme. This set me on my journey to becoming a published author. I’d recommend it to anyone thinking of becoming an author.

What one piece of advice or tip would you give to new writers starting out in the romance genre?

I’d advise them to join the RNA New Writers’ Scheme! It’s the best place to go to get honest feedback on your work from professionals who thoroughly understand the romance genre.

Tell us about your most recent novel.

My latest book, A Bachelor’s Pledge, is an action-filled adventure set in England during the Napoleonic Wars. At its core is the growing romance between secret agent Phil Cullen and lady’s companion Sophia Turner. Both have their reasons for not wishing to see each other again, but circumstances and a ruthless French spy set their lives on a collision course.

A Bachelor’s Pledge is available as an ebook (free on Kindle Unlimited) and a paperback from Amazon here.

A Bachelor's Pledge

The woman who haunts his dreams

Secret agent Phil Cullen is upset when he discovers that the young woman he rescued from Mrs Newbodys establishment has absconded from his housekeepers care without a word. Thinking he has been deceived, he resolves to forget about her… something easier said than done.

The man she wants to forget

Sophia Turner is horrified when she is duped into entering a notorious house of ill-repute. Then a handsome stranger comes to her aid. Desperate that no one learns of this scandalous episode, Sophia flees to the one friend she knows she can trust. With luck, she will never see her mysterious rescuer again.

But fate has other plans…

Months later, Phil is on the trail of an elusive French agent and Sophia is a respectable lady’s companion when fate again intervenes, taking their lives on a collision course.

Traitors, spies, and shameful family secrets – will these bring Sophia and Phil together… or drive them apart?

About the Author

Penny Hampson

Some time ago Penny Hampson decided to follow her passion for history by studying with the Open University. She graduated with honours and went on to complete a post-graduate degree.

Penny then landed her dream role, working in an environment where she was surrounded by rare books and historical manuscripts. Flash forward nineteen years, and the opportunity came along to indulge her other main passion – writing. Penny joined the New Writers’ Scheme of the RNA and  three years later published her debut novel, A Gentleman’s Promise, a traditional Regency romance. Other books in the same genre soon followed.

But never happy in a rut, Penny also writes contemporary suspense with paranormal and romantic elements. Her first book in this genre is The Unquiet Spirit, published by Darkstroke.

Penny lives with her family in Oxfordshire, and when she is not writing, she enjoys reading, walking, swimming, and the odd gin and tonic (not all at the same time).

Connect with Penny:

Website: https://pennyhampson.co.uk/

Blog: https://pennyhampson.co.uk/blog/

Facebook: Penny Hampson Author

Twitter: @penny_hampson

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Romancing The Romance Authors with… Melissa Oliver

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Today I am very excited to be discussing writing romance with the winner of the 2020 RNA Joan Hessayon Award… Melissa Oliver.

Tell me a bit about the type of books you write and where you are in your publishing journey.

Hi Julie, thank you for having me on your blog.

I write historical romance for Harlequin Mills and Boon, with the first series; the Notorious Knights set in early 13th century England.

So far, I have written three of the books, with my debut published last summer, the second out at the end of this month and the third coming in the summer of 2021. I was ecstatic that my debut- The Rebel Heiress and the Knight won the prestigious RNA Joan Hessayon Award for 2020. Honestly, getting that first publishing deal as a new writer was an incredible feat in itself but to win the award was really the cherry on top and something I will always treasure.

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Why romance?

Romance is a glorious genre that celebrates love in all its various forms, examining the connection between two people through the prism of time, or a contemporary back-drop. Whether it’s with comedy or tragedy, mystery & adventure- there’s always a great pay-off at the end in the happy ever after or happy for now- which can only be a balm in these troubled times.   

What inspires your stories?

Anything and everything! I’m attracted to the medieval era at the moment, as there’s a certain immediacy about real-life events from that time giving my books a sense of heightened intensity (I hope) blending romance, emotion, conflict, intrigue even a little humour and at times, mystery & adventure.

I really enjoy incorporating real historical events and people through the narrative at key moments. So, reading a lot and I mean a lot of factual books is key to getting a sense of the period in an attempt to capture the essence of the time. Having said that, my characters are the real driving force of my books. I need to know everything about them- who they are, what they are doing and where they want to go before I even start a book.

Who are your favourite romance authors, past and/or present?

Ooh, that is such a difficult question and really does depend on my mood. My favourites’ include; Georgette Heyer, Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, Milly Johnson, Jilly Cooper, Marian Keyes, Sophie Kinsella, Mary Balogh, Meredith Duran, Mimi Matthews & Lisa Kleypas. I know I’ve probably missed out a few but this list can be quite flexible and ultimately changeable.

If you had to pick one romance novel for me to read, which one would you recommend?

Katherine by Anya Seton. A vividly compelling historical romance. One of my absolute favourites.

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Katherine comes to the court of Edward III at the age of fifteen. The naïve convent-educated orphan of a penniless knight is dazzled by the jousts and the entertainments of court.

Nevertheless, Katherine is beautiful, and she turns the head of the King’s favourite son, John of Gaunt. But he is married, and she is soon to be betrothed.

A few years later their paths cross again and this time their passion for each other cannot be denied or suppressed. Katherine becomes the prince’s mistress, and discovers an extraordinary world of power, pleasure and passion.

Which romantic hero or heroine would you choose to spend your perfect romantic weekend with? Where would you go and what would you do?

We recently got a lovely cocker spaniel puppy named Mr. Darcy, so I am going to go with Lizzy’s other half. Mr. D would escort me on a whistle-stop tour through Regency London. From Gunter’s tea shop for an ice, to a horse ride down Rotten Row, then a hop and a skip to Almack for a dance and finally to Vauxhall Gardens which was pretty magical, by all accounts.

What is your favourite thing about being a member of the RNA? What do you think you have gained from membership?

A sense of community as well as the amazing support and friendships built over the last few years of being a member. Added to this are the fantastic events such as the Winter Party and the Summer Conference, where I met my lovely editor from Harlequin Mills and Boon at the industry one-to-one meetings in 2019. There’s still so much to learn for me, so it’s quite reassuring being a member of the RNA, knowing there’s a wealth of knowledge out there.

What one piece of advice or tip would you give to new writers starting out in the romance genre?

I would say not to give up, if you’re serious about becoming a writer. It can be tough and sometimes quite lonely dealing with rejection and keeping that self-doubt at bay. So, do your research, hone your craft, enjoy what you’re doing but above all, write the book you have always wanted to write.

Tell us about your most recent novel.

Her Banished Knight’s Redemption is the second book of the Notorious Knights series and is set in 1218. It features Sir William (Will) Geraint – the gorgeous best friend of Hugh de Villiers (the hero from The Rebel Heiress and the Knight– book 1 of the series.)

Will is quite embittered and different from the affable, easy going knight we first meet in the previous book and is now living in exile in France as a sword-for-hire. He goes on quite a journey in this book as he escorts the lost heiress, Isabel de Clancey back to England where they’re forced to work together to uncover the secrets of their past. There’s even a medieval treasure hunt to discover.

There was quite a bit of research to do on this book. From the history of the Knights Templar, to the Tour de la Lanterne in La Rochelle- the only tower that would have been erected at that time and not the one that stands there today, to the herbs and plants used to treat various maladies. I loved writing this book and wanted to give Will and the lovely Lady Isabel an exciting story filled with romance, passion mystery, and adventure.

Mills&Boon cover for Her Banished Knight's Redemption

A lady’s need for protection
A knight’s chance for redemption

Exiled Knight William Geraint answers only to himself. Yet, a mission to reunite lost heiress Lady Isabel de Clancey with her family is Will’s chance to finally atone for the torment of his past.  With every rushed mile, their intense attraction becomes dangerously thrilling.  He swore to protect Isabel not seduce her, but their desire for each other could threaten the redemption he’s worked so hard to achieve…

Her Banished Knight’s Redemption is out 21 January 2021 in UK & Australia and 26 Jan in US and you can pre-order your copy here.

About the Author

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Melissa Oliver is from south-west London where she writes historical romance novels. She lives with her lovely husband and daughters, who share her passion for decrepit, old castles, palaces and all things historical.

Melissa is the WINNER of The Romantic Novelist Association’s Joan Hessayon Award for new writers 2020 for her debut, The Rebel Heiress and the Knight.

When she’s not writing she loves to travel for inspiration, paint, and visit museums & art galleries.

Connect with Melissa:

Facebook: Melissa Oliver Author

Twitter: @melissaoauthor

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