Thursday, April 26, 2012

Signet Regencies

Before I started writing romance novels, I read an enormous number of books--I have, since childhood, and read every kind of book I could get my hands on.  I eventually found a friend in high school who also read a lot, and her favorites were romance novels, in particular Regency romance, and she introduced me to those.

Don't know what a Regency romance is?  Oh you poor dear.  Think Jane Austen.  Pride and Prejudice.  Sense and Sensibility.  Fun, romantic, often witty, and set between the years of approximately 1790 to 1820.

Check out Library Journal's description here:

I took off on those like a rocket.  Had to get my teenaged hands on every kind I could find, from Georgette Heyer (the founder, essentially, of modern Regency romance) to Barbara Cartland.  I found, over time, where I could find my favorites, and that was within the covers of the Signet Regency imprint.  I ended up going to those Regencies by Signet first, then the others.  Don't get me wrong, there were plenty of wonderful authors writing for other imprints and publishers, but I could always depend on reading something different, yet still adhering to the Regency feel in a Signet Regency romance.  Signets became my mainstay into adulthood.

I think many Regency and historical romance fans can recognize the names that published with Signet Regencies:  Mary Jo Putney, Jo BeverleyClare Darcy, Catherine Coulter, Sandra Heath, Barbara Hazard, Joan Wolf, Edith Layton, Marion Chesney (aka M.C. Beaton), Mary Balogh, Anita Mills, Amanda Scott, Laura Matthews (aka Elizabeth Neff Walker), Carla Kelly, Michelle Kasey (aka Kasey Michaels), Elisabeth Fairchild, Candice Hern, Elizabeth Mansfield, April Kihlstrom, Teresa DesJardien, and many more.  If you haven't read these authors' books, go forth, find, and read. For a complete list of Signet Regency authors and their Regency romances, here's a good web site reference:

When I started writing romances, they naturally were Regency romances, the ones I liked the best.  And my ambition was to be a Signet Regency author, because those were my favorites.  I considered Signet to be the premier publisher of Regencies.  I could count on the history to be as accurate as possible, and the storytelling to be superb, with just a bit of the unexpected thrown in.  If I could achieve those ranks, it would be confirmation of the quality--in my mind, at least!--of my stories.

Eventually I did become a Signet author.  Of the eleven novels I have published, seven were with Signet.  Of the four novellas I've written, three were also with Signet.  To top it off, when I received a letter from one of my favs, Mary Jo Putney, complementing me on the first Signet Regency I had published, I just about cried and ran to tell my husband, I was that thrilled.  Not that he totally understood the significance of this, but he knew enough to give me a hug and congratulate me.  :-)

Unfortunately, in about March of 2006, Signet ceased publication of their Regency line.  For me, and for many others, it was a sad day in romance history.  No, not because I had been a Signet author, but because there are a limited number of Georgette Heyer and Jane Austen books around, and there has to be some way to feed the Regency-era habit.  For a Regency fan (e.g., me), it was a day for weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Well, I'm glad to say that Signet has revived the Signet Regency line, this time as ebooks.  These will include both out-of-print books as well as never-before-published Regencies.  You can find them at Penguin's Intermix site (Penguin is the publisher of the Signet imprint), or click on the "invitation card" at the top of this blog.

Will one of my books be e-published there?  Yes (Miss Carlyle's Curricle, sometime in July).  Will I totally spend my royalty check at this site?  No doubt.

Seriously, Signet should just have a buyer's account for me into which they deposit my royalty checks and out of which I can buy Regency romances.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Special License is available at Regency Reads!

Description:  When the Earl of Rothwick mistakenly absconds with Miss Linnea Ashley, all he has to do is the honorable thing:  marry her.  But life is never as simple as that for a man as wrong-headed as Lord Rothwick, especially when his ex-fiancee Sophia becomes hell-bent on retribution.

You can find the book here:
My second book was published by HarperCollins back in 1995, so is out of print.  I believe I have some paperback copies of this, so if anyone wants to read this book the old-fashioned way, let me know.

This is a traditional Regency romance.  It’s...somewhat humorous, and I have a somewhat quirky sense of humor that occasionally slides into the outrageous, so there’s no telling how it’ll come off to other people.  However, I enjoyed writing it, so I hope that comes through to whoever does read it.

I think it did, actually, because Romantic Times Book Club said this about it:

"...bright and shining talent...gleams with added lustre in this impeccably crafted Regency romance...(a) lively tale with the flavor of authenticity so valued by Regency connoisseurs, along with a fiery spark of passion sure to win every romance reader's heart."

Bless their romance-loving hearts.  :-)

Want to know what the book is like?  You can read an excerpt here:

And an extra excerpt here:
Well, well, thought Rothwick. Opportunity knocks.  
Although, if he had known at the outset that the woman was Paul's so-called inamorata, he would have left her to her fate. No doubt it was all some squabble about money or jewels.
He grimaced to himself, feeling the knuckles he had bruised on one man's jaw. Untrue. He could no more have let her be assaulted than if she were his own sister. In truth, no woman should be assaulted, regardless of what she was. Besides, he had not known who she was until he had seen her face. 
However, he could teach her a lesson. What an actress she was, to have claimed kinship with Lord and Lady Boothe, and with such an unconscious air! But she had slipped, and slipped badly. He had heard long ago that Lady Boothe was a woman of rigid propriety; he would bet his estates that she would never let a young female relative out of her sight or from the close proximity of one of her dragons. Much less would Lady Boothe let a female of her household walk alone at a time of night when only men and prostitutes dared appear. He felt himself confirmed that this woman was no innocent maiden at all, but as sly a bit of muslin as he had ever come across. 
Rothwick pursed his lips slightly, as if a sour taste had entered his mouth. He did not like liars. His past mistresses had been honest, making no claim to be anything other than they were. He would not bother making her his—but most certainly he would teach her a lesson. She would learn to stay away from members of his family. 
The earl turned up the carriage lamp and surveyed her in the dimness. She neither moved nor spoke during their ride, and though she was not deeply asleep, he thought she dozed. The lights made shadows under her closed eyes; she looked very tired. Rothwick shrugged. The light was muted, and if she was tired, it was no doubt from dissipation. Women grew old quickly in the oldest of professions, for all their knowledge of paints and lotions. 
The carriage slowed, and Rothwick could see that the Boothes' town house was near. He quickly made a decision. Leaning out of the door, he murmured a few words to Grimes. The groom's brows rose, but the man said nothing. The carriage continued down the street. Rothwick gazed at the woman, thinking about what he would do. Should he expose her charade at the nearest stopping place, or should he continue to his hunting box? He reviewed the various inns on the periphery of London and thought better of it. An inn was too public a place—if she set up a screech, it would cause no end of scandal, and he wanted to keep his—well, he would admit it—abduction of Miss Pickens quite private. It would have to be his hunting box. Once more he leaned out the door and gave his groom the new direction, then smiled to himself and settled back down on the carriage seat. 
When she finally opened her eyes, she sighed, looking around her for a few seconds. Her eyes rested on the earl and lost their sleepy vagueness, looking embarrassed instead. "I am truly sorry, sir—I think I actually slept for a while. Your carriage is remarkably well sprung." She laughed tentatively. "It must have been terribly dull for you. Was it long?" 
"No," replied the earl. "It was but a moment." He did not want her to know they had been traveling for more than half an hour. It would be most inconvenient if she made a fuss before they were out of London; indeed, he had hoped she would actually sleep. They were already at the outskirts of town, however, so it was not likely she would be able to make much headway in escaping if she did find out. He smiled briefly at her. "I do wish you would not call me 'sir' every time you address me. It is quite tiresome, you know." 
She blushed but said with a touch of spirit, "I can hardly address you otherwise, since I do not know your name." 
He raised his brows. "I am remiss; you must forgive me. I am William, Lord Rothwick, at your service." He inclined his head slightly. 
She returned his bow with quaint dignity, he noted with reluctant admiration. "I am honored, my lord. And I am—" 
"I know who you are, Miss Pickens. You have become quite well known to me." He laughed shortly. 
"Pickens?" she said. "I am afraid you are mistaken; I am not Miss Pickens, I am—" 
"Come, come, my dear—shall I call you Cassey? No matter. There is no need to pretend you are other than you are. I know what you were up to with my nephew, Paul. He may still be wet behind the ears, but I am not. I have had experience with your sort, and I needed only to look at Paul's expression when he escorted you that day to see he was almost secured in your trap." 
"Of—of my sort?" She looked confused. "What can you mean? And who is this Cassey? It is not I, I assure you, my lord. My name is Linnea—" 
"Really, Miss Pickens," Rothwick drawled. "I concede you are a good actress, but did you really think you could fool me with that story about Lady Boothe? It does your case no good to change your name, either." He leaned back in a leisurely manner. "It was a good story—one I have heard before, however—though the invention of a relationship between you and Lady Boothe was a bold stroke, I must say! But I happen to know Her Ladyship is extremely strict in her observance of the proprieties, and would never let a young woman of her household leave without escort. So, my dear, why don't we dispense with this unnecessary pretense and engage in some pound dealing, shall we?" He smiled genially. 
Her face was the picture of stunned astonishment, and she seemed bereft of words. Really, he thought with a touch of irritation, she was an excellent actress, but he would prefer she be open with him now. 
"But—but, I assure you, sir, I am not who you think I am," she managed to croak. She cleared her throat and said more calmly, "Please, you need only let me down at Lady Boothe's and she can identify me." 
He laughed. "And have you make a run for it?" She opened her mouth to reply, but he held up a hand. "Or, no. You seem to be an imaginative young woman.... Let's see. You will be so bold as to approach Lady Boothe and demand her presence. She will not recognize you, and you will then protest that she is against you and seeks only to cast you out from her house." 
The young woman opened her mouth again, only to shut it. A hopeless look came over her face. "But, my lord, she must acknowledge me!" she whispered. "I am her kin, after all." She seemed almost to be talking to herself. He could see she was on the edge of giving up her act. 
"Come now. You know she wouldn't," he said soothingly. 
She looked at him as if bewildered. "But wait—wait! Am I to assume from this conversation you are not taking me to Lady Boothe's?" 
"No, I am not." 
She half rose from her seat. "Then where—" She stared at him in horror. "You must be mad! You cannot just—just abduct someone and carry her off!"
"Your presence here proves that I can." 
"No. I cannot go with you, it's impossible!" 
"What, another assignation with a... er... paramour? Or is it Paul?" 
Her gaze was one of incomprehension. "Paul? What has Paul to do with all this?" 
"So you are on a first-name acquaintance with him, are you?" 
"Why, yes, I have known him for a good while." 
"Your mask slips further and further, Miss Pickens. There is no one in Lady Boothe's household who is closely acquainted with Paul." 
She pressed herself into the seat, away from him. "You jump from one thing to another! You must be mad or—or full of drink! I cannot see why you chose to abduct me and then talk of people I don't know, and acting as if I should!" 
"People you don't know," mocked Rothwick. "You just said you knew my nephew!" His distaste grew. She was playing the innocent maiden role, an act that often lent some spice to other men's pursuit of women, but it was one he detested. 
"Ah, sir! Why do you do this to me?" she exclaimed. She looked about her wildly. "You must be mad—or I! I cannot go with you!" She jumped up and seized the carriage handle, tearing open the door. 
She moved so swiftly that she was halfway out of the moving carriage before he seized her about the waist and pulled her back in again. From out the swinging carriage door, Rothwick could see the quick flashes of reflected moonlight on the road's rocks and pebbles. She could have been killed. He turned his head and looked at her. She had fallen against him, and he still had one arm around her waist and a hand clamped around her wrist. She breathed in small gasps, and he could feel how thin her wrist was in his hand and how little flesh covered her ribs that were pressed against him. Her eyes looked up into his, and in the turned-up carriage lights he could see a spark of defiance beneath the fear and fatigue in her eyes.
The horrible suspicion that had risen in Rothwick's mind when the woman had gone for the door now turned into certain consternation. Women of the demimonde may act the unwilling maiden to tantalize, but they soon gave way to seduction at the end. They did not try to escape into what might have been death or at least severe injury. 
"Who are you?" he whispered tersely. He let go of her waist and let her down gently on the seat opposite him. 
She pushed herself into the corner away from him, her hands clutching the cushions. "I am Linnea Ashley. I live with Lady Boothe, my—my cousin. She lacked a footman to send a message to Lady Strahan, and she sent me instead."
"Oh, my God." Rothwick sank his head into his hands and wearily ran his fingers through his hair, pulling a little. He glanced up at Miss Ashley. "You can stop trying to wedge yourself into the woodwork. I don't ravish women, much less ladies of quality." She relaxed a little but kept a wary eye on him. "Please," he amended. 
She lifted her chin mutinously. "You might change your mind," she said. "Indeed, I do not know what you will do next."
"Surely you don't take me for a madman—yes, well, I see you do." He sighed. "I assure you, I am quite sane. You see, I, ah, I thought you were someone else, and was trying to teach her a lesson." The excuse sounded weak even to his own ears.
"How flattering." Her voice was sarcastic, but she unclenched her hands from the upholstery.