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The DA3 Interview & Giveaway: Lois Lanes

The DA3 Interview & Giveaway: Lois Lanes

Maybe not exactly Lois Lane, but each book in today’s DA³ Interview features a heroine who works at a newspaper. Here, in order by chronological setting, are the books:

Seducing Mr. Knightly

FIRST LINE: Some things are simply true: the earth rotates around the sun, Monday follows Sunday, and Miss Annabelle Swift loves Mr. Derek Knightly with a passion and purity that would be breathtaking were it not for one other simple truth: Mr. Derek Knightly pays no attention to Miss Annabelle Swift.

Words Spoken True by Ann Gabhart

FIRST LINE: Adriane Darcy’s heart pounded as the darkness settled down around her like a heavy blanket.

The Last Woman He'd Ever Date by Liz Fielding

FIRST LINE: Sir Robert Cranbook glared across the table. Even from his wheelchair and ravaged by a stroke he was an impressive man, but his hand shook as he snatched the pen his lawyer offered and signed away centuries of power and privilege.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Seducing Mr. Knightly, Maya Rodale concludes the Regency-set Writing Girls series with Annabelle, the shy advice columnist who asks her readers’ help in attracting the attention of the man she loves from not-so-afar—he’s the paper’s owner.

Editorial wars fan the flames of the social and political unrest of 1850’s Louisville in Ann Gabhart’s Words Spoken True. Adriane writes for her father’s newspaper, but the arrival of a Northern editor challenges her beliefs.

Finally, back to Britain and the present day for Liz Fielding’s The Last Woman He’d Ever Date. Claire is the gossip columnist for a village paper, which is far from the prestigious journalistic career she had in mind for herself pre-unplanned pregnancy. One great story on the self-made millionaire in town could turn things around, though.

The interview:

Instead of the usual six-word memoir, let’s stick with the newspaper theme: A headline for your protagonist:

Maya Rodale: Lovelorn Writing Girl Attempts Audacious Schemes To Seduce Rogue

Ann Gabhart: Editor’s Daughter Defies Conventions by Writing News Stories

Liz Fielding: Single Mother Struggling To Keep Job

How your heroine came to journalism:

Maya Rodale: Annabelle entered a contest in The London Weekly, never imagining that she’d win the position of advice columnist (“Dear Annabelle”) and become one of the four scandalous and celebrated Writing Girls.

Ann Gabhart: Adriane was born to it, a newspaperman’s daughter. She grew up in the newspaper offices of her father and learned about getting out the news.

Liz Fielding: Claire Thackeray should have been a high-flying journalist. Instead she fell in love with the wrong guy, had a baby and is now writing up the women’s interest and gossip on a small town newspaper.

What readers will love about your hero:

Maya Rodale: Besides being devastatingly handsome, wealthy, and powerful… He’s a man that gives women a chance to be something more that what society allows. While he is fiercely focused on his work at the newspaper, Annabelle recognizes “the intensity with which he might love and make love to a woman—her—if only he would.”  She’s right. Oh, so right.

Ann Gabhart: Blake Garrett reports the news as it happens. He fights for what he believes and refuses to be intimidated. He works and loves with his whole being.

Liz Fielding: He’s a man hell-bent on revenge, but right from the start we see his vulnerability, and a well-developed conscience when he bathes Claire’s wounded foot.

The setting for the first kiss: 

Maya Rodale: In the drawing room…

Ann Gabhart: In a carriage…

Liz Fielding:  In a muddy ditch…

A scene you vividly remember writing:

Maya Rodale: I had spent years writing the first chapter in my head and I knew exactly what I wanted it to be. Finally sitting down to write it—in bed, on a crisp autumn day—was such a pleasure. (Take a look at chapter one!).

Ann Gabhart: The election riot scene where Blake and Adriane see the mob burning the Irish tenement houses. The history is intense and so are the characters’ reactions to what is happening and to each other.

Liz Fielding: Hal invites Claire to be his date at a charity auction. Until now, although he hasn’t been able to stay away from her, he has been planning to make her pay for what her father did to him as a boy and every scene between them is underpinned with threat. At the auction, he realises that he’s been fooling himself, that what he wants is Claire Thackeray, in his bed, in his life. On the surface the scene is all about sex, but the subtext is all about letting go of the past.

For me, the heart of a good tale of journalism lies in the ethical dilemmas. Tell us about one your heroine faces.

Maya Rodale: Annabelle receives a letter requesting advice from her rival for the hero’s affections. She’s torn between doing her job well—and thus giving advice that would thwart her own goals—or putting herself first for once. Of course, the first thing she does is stuffs the letter in a book on a high shelf and tries to forget about it.  It’s true: even romance heroines are prone to procrastination.

Ann Gabhart: In the 1850s, newspapers were how people got their news. Editors wrote fiery editorials intended to incite readers. Adriane knows her father’s editorial rants are escalating the political unrest in the city, but there’s little she can do to influence his opinions. Then she finds out her father owes one of the politicians money and she wonders if her father is reporting what he believes or what he thinks the politician wants him to believe. She wants their news stories to be truth, but at the end of the story, she is confronted with the dilemma of reporting the truth of what has happened and facing social and economic ruin or not reporting the whole story and being in a position to write the news on another day.

Liz Fielding: In order to get back onto the career path she originally envisaged, Claire needs a big story. The arrival of Hal North, the bad-boy made good, is her opportunity. He’s a person of interest but he guards is privacy well. He’s a scalp every editor would pay highly for and she knows where he comes from and all his youthful misdeeds. Then she discovers the truth about his birth and can name her price.

What’s distinctive about the role of the press in the time period of your novel?

Maya Rodale: The Writing Girl novels center around The London Weekly, a fictional but “typical” newspaper from the Regency era that is based largely on actual newspapers from that time period that I read while doing research. Those papers and the society were gossip-tastic–just like our society today. Whether The London Weekly or People Magazine, or calling hours, Twitter, salons, and Facebook, it just seems human to want to know what other people are doing and to connect with them.

Ann Gabhart: The 1850s were a decade of political unrest in America. Not only was the Civil War lurking on the horizon, but also an influx of Irish and German immigrants was settling in cities like Louisville, the setting of Words Spoken True. Some of the established citizens of these cities feared the immigrants would take over the country if they began getting elected to office. That led to election riots like “Bloody Monday” in Louisville where dozens were killed. Some people put part of the blame for the riots on newspaper editors because of how their fiery editorials incited the public.

Newspapers were how people at that time got the news. People also looked to newspapers as a means of entertainment and enjoyed reading about their own social functions and activities. These stories were generally reported in the flowery language of the Victorian age.

Liz Fielding: The present-day obsession with celebrity has led to phone hacking, bin diving journalism. Personal privacy has been lost in the rush to salivate over the latest scandal or ogle Prince Harry’s bum, all in the name of “public interest”. We have become voyeurs of other people’s intimate moments.

How was your heroine’s characterization affected by putting her to work in this particular profession?

Maya Rodale: It was a tricky balance because Annabelle is decidedly not the sort of daring girl who would do something scandalous, like write for a newspaper. And yet one of her defining characteristics is that she extremely generous, kind and helpful to others, even at her own expense. So while she would never author, say, a gossip column, she’s a natural to offer advice to anyone who asks.

Ann Gabhart: Adriane’s character was greatly influenced by her work on the newspaper. She had “ink in her blood,” which meant she could never be truly happy unless she was involved in the business of getting out the news. At this particular time period, the middle of the nineteenth century, such work was not something a lady would do or even be thought capable of doing. So Adriane had to be independent and not concerned with the rules of society.

 Liz Fielding: Claire gave up her place at a premier university to have her baby, defying her mother and her teachers who tried to persuade her to have an abortion. She’s probably the smartest reporter on her local paper, but is confined to women’s interest, reviews of the local pantomime, small stuff. Hal’s story gives her a chance to break out, but instead of excitement at the challenge, the reality of exposing someone to the public gaze makes her uncomfortable. Even when she discovers what he is planning, she hesitates to send her story to one of the big tabloid newspapers. And yes, like everyone, I read the gossip columns!

What’s coming up next? 

Maya Rodale: In addition to Seducing Mr. Knightly I’ve also published a light-hearted and humerous novella, Three Schemes and a Scandal. I’m also at work on a new series which features a contemporary heroine writing a series of historical romance novels based on her own romantic misadventures.

Ann Gabhart: My inspirational novel, Scent of Lilacs, will be re-issued in March 2013 with a new cover. Then in July, my second Rosey Corner book, Small Town Girl, will be released.

Liz Fielding: I have just finished the first draft of my second “ice cream” book. The first, Tempted By Trouble, was published a couple of years ago and I’ve now written Sorrel’s story. No title as yet.

Your favorite book at age 10:

Maya Rodale: Anne of Green Gables—which is still one of my favorite books.

Ann Gabhart: Black Beauty by Anna Sewell.

Liz Fielding: I read so much as a child and I’m trying to remember what I was reading about that age. What Katy Did Next, maybe. It’s a book I loved. Anne of Green Gables, Pamela Brown’s The Blue Door Theatre, or Noel Streatfield’s Ballet Shoes. They are all still bright in my memory.

Many thanks to Maya, Ann, and Liz. Readers, leave a comment or question for a chance to win one of the featured books.

 

REVIEW:  Legacy of Love by Christine Johnson

REVIEW: Legacy of Love by Christine Johnson

“She dreamed of digging through ancient ruins–but the only exploring Anna Simmons gets to do is in the expensive houses she cleans in Pearlman, Michigan. When Brandon Landers hires her, she’s unsure whether to be furious or thrilled. He evicted Anna and her ailing mother, but she’s heard rumors of hidden treasure on his land. Treasure Anna decides to find. Not just for herself, but for new employer whose unexpected kindness has softened her heart.

Physically and spiritually wounded in the Great War, Brandon knows not to hope for the impossible–like buried riches or Anna’s love. Is there still time for them to learn that the only treasure they need is a lifetime together?”

Dear Ms. Johnson,

Your Love Inspired Historical books have been on my radar for a while, mainly due to the early 20th century time period you’ve selected to use in them. It’s one I enjoy and thankfully one that is beginning to be seen more often. But “Legacy of Love” is the first I’ve sat down and read. I hate to say it but this is one of those books that I can read and be interested in while reading it but finish with nagging questions and unresolved issues which become more manifest the longer I think about them.

legacy-of-loveBasically I decided to read the book in spite of the blurb which doesn’t do the actual plot justice and would confuse me if I hadn’t already read the book. Brandon doesn’t actually evict Anna and her mother – that was going to be done by the new owner of their rental home. Brandon has enough honor to make sure the two women have a place to live because it’s his father who sold the house before his death. The why is that Brandon’s younger brother needed to be set up with a trust fund but there are unexplored hints dropped that the new owner would have traded the rental for Brandon’s house. Why? This is never explained.

Anna dreams of exploring ancient ruins but has no concrete plans or steps outlined to achieve them. She just seems to drift with a vague idea that one day she’ll go to college and study. For now she’s cleaning houses and might resort to working in a cannery. I never felt this aspect of her background was fleshed out enough. This plot line isn’t explored enough for me despite Anna’s determination to discover a hidden treasure in Brandon’s house. I guess it’s more that Anna is willing to spend time on the hunt and patiently piece together the clues that might lead to a find rather than that she’s going to head out and be an Egyptologist. I also am not thrilled that by the end of the book, she appears to be willing to totally give up on her dream in order to stay in Pearlman and assist Brandon with his rare books store. She does love the store and books and wants to make it a success but the understanding seems to be that her dream will be let go for his. This just made her dreams seem conveniently disposable and not a deep seated part of who she is.

Brandon’s dream is opening a store to sell rare books and highbrow literature. A noble goal, certainly, but his business plans are as concrete as are Anna’s tenuous dreams of archeology. As with Anna, this comes across as more a character checklist item – pick a job for the hero – rather than something that means a great deal to him. I realize that business models and competition were different 90 years ago but I honestly sat reading these sections of the book and thinking, “Good luck buddy. If you’re still in business next year I’ll be surprised.”

Brandon is good at being (rightfully) frustrated with his feckless, younger brother. Reggie breezes in and out of the story, causing problems then skedaddling. I’m not sure why or if you have plans for another book to wrap his character up or if his fate will fade into the background. As well, there are several young women in town who interact with him and who are also little more than character outlines rather than fully realized people. The book doesn’t end on a cliffhanger or anything – rather these characters are just left dangling and twisting on the wind.

Where I did feel a lot of emotion and intensity from Anna and Brandon was in jumping to conclusions and heaping blame on their own heads. Anna is young, only twenty, so her wild imaginings and leap frogging in logic is more understandable. Brandon’s ultimate decisions have a little more thought behind them but neither of them communicate particularly well before arriving at their (usually wrong) cross purposes. Each of them also has a major incident from the past which haunts them to this day. They both use these to think the worst of themselves at times – Brandon more than Anna – and both have to almost be hit over the head – repeatedly – before beginning to forgive themselves. By the time Brandon whines for the last time that Anna deserves better than he could ever be, I almost agreed with him.

Faith plays a role in them laying down their heavy emotional burdens but I’ll be honest and say that as a reader I almost felt as if I were being bashed with religion in this book. Of course millage will vary per reader and what they feel comfortable with but for me, even in this historical setting and with a hero suffering from post war issues, it’s heaped on with a backhoe.

I’ve had good luck with inspies. I’ve had bad luck with inspies. And sometimes what I get is a mixed bag. I liked this one for the setting used. I felt the religion was laid on with a heavy hand and the conversion of the hero back to faith practically lit with neon. But what I most regret is that the interesting premise of timing it 90 years after the discovery of Tutankhamen’s tomb and teasing us with a heroine who is said to be interested in archeology ultimately went nowhere and that I’m left with several questions that have – as yet – no answers. C-

~Jayne

Oh, and I wasn’t sure how in 1924 Brandon could refer to Edmund Hillary (born 1919) climbing Mount Everest since it didn’t take place until 1953. Seriously, an editor should have caught this.

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