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Coming 26th March – A lone wolf must return home…

 

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He must master the wolf within…

Edinburgh, 1820. Thirty years after leaving Scotland, Drew Nicol is forced to return when the skeleton of a monster is found. The skeleton is evidence of werewolves—evidence that Marguerite de Carcassonne, the leader of Drew’s pack, is determined to suppress.

Marguerite insists that Drew accompany her to Edinburgh. There they will try to acquire the skeleton while searching for wolf-hunters—wolf hunters who may be holding one of their pack prisoner.

But Drew has reason to be wary about returning to Edinburgh—Lindsay Somerville now lives there.

Lindsay who taught Drew about desire and obsession.

Lindsay who Drew has never been able to forgive for turning him.

Lindsay who vowed to stay away from Drew twelve years ago… and who has since taken drastic steps to sever the bond between them.

Marguerite’s plan will throw Drew and Lindsay together again—and into a deadly confrontation with Lindsay’s enemy, Duncan MacCormaic. They will be tested to their limits and forced to confront both their past mistakes and their true feelings.

But it may be too late for them to repair the damage of the past. The consequences of Lindsay’s choices are catching up with him, and he’s just about out of time…

Buy links here.

PS: I said a few weeks ago this book would be released on 23rd March – small change to 26th March for personal reasons

In which I make a confession and an apology

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I’ve been needing to post this update for a while.

When I published Gentleman Wolf in August last year, I said that the second book, to complete Lindsay and Drew’s story, would be published in January 2020. I believed that would give me more than enough time to complete the book – my draft was already well advanced at that stage and writing was going well.

And then, it all went to pot.

There were various things that contributed. Some were writing-related and some were real-world-related. I’m not going into all that in detail. Suffice to say, Master Wolf is going to be a wee bit later than I hoped. Not a lot, but yeah – a bit.

The book is now more or less finished (yay!) but I wasn’t in a position to even set up a slot with my wonderfully patient editors until a few days ago and I wanted to hold off posting this update till I could be clear as to what the likely publication date would be. Thankfully, my editors are able to pick this up early next month, but I still need to allow time to go through their edits, make all the necessary changes, finalise files etc.

In view of this, my new planned release date is 26th March 2020. I’ll be putting the book up for preorder in a few weeks and will reveal the (awesome) cover (once again by the amazing Felix D’Eon) shortly before then.

I’m really very sorry that I won’t manage to deliver Master Wolf when I originally said I would, but hopefully when it comes out, readers will feel it’s been worth the wait.

Joanna 

How do you read historical romance?

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Having been on a social media break for a couple of weeks. I popped briefly onto Twitter the other day, and within 2 minutes realised there was a bit of a kerfuffle taking place in relation to  quality and accuracy in historical romance. It sent me away from Twitter again, to find the blog discussion that started the whole thing off.

The comments in the blog discussion that had prompted the tweets I’d seen related to diverse representation and the display of ‘modern viewpoints’ by characters in historical romances. I’ll touch on those points a bit later on, but to be clear, I’m making no attempt here to unpack the long and detailed discussion that took place. I didn’t even read every comment in the thread and only skimmed a very few of the reactions on Twitter that were clearly the tip of a larger iceberg. This post is no more than a few thoughts of my own on the topic of how readers consume historical romances, based on one particular reader.

That reader is me.

Reader belief

There’s an odd thing about fiction. It’s explicitly made up – and we know that going in – and yet the thing that we readers seek, above all else, is to believe in what we’re reading.

Which is kind of weird when you think about it.

A phrase often used to describe how a reader comes to a state of belief is that the reader has exercised a “willing suspension of disbelief” (a phrase coined by the poet Samuel Coleridge). One of the interesting things about that phrase is that it gives the sense that, whether or not to take that step – to willingly suspend disbelief – is firmly in the reader’s hands. As though it’s a conscious decision the reader must make. Should they release their hold on the objective certainty that the story is not real in order to fully enter the imaginative world they’ve been invited into by the author? Or not?

Coleridge talks about the reader’s “willing suspension of disbelief” constituting a sort of “poetic faith” – as though the reader is putting aside rational knowledge in pursuit of a more transcendent experience that can only be achieved following a leap of faith. That makes it sound – to me, at least – as though the act of suspending disbelief is a binary thing. Something that the reader either chooses to do or not do. But as a reader, I experience something much more subtle than that.

I have quite a complex spectrum of responses to the books I read, when it comes to reader belief. These begin with eyerolling, impenetrable scepticism, move through a wide range of increasingly engaged responses, and end up (in rare and wonderful cases) in complete and utter conviction. In these very rare cases, I will feel, when I reach the end of the book, as though I have returned from another world. Sometimes, the sudden knowledge (or recollection) that the characters I’ve just left behind don’t *actually* exist makes me feel forlorn.

So, what makes a reader suspend disbelief?

I think it’s different for every reader and every book. There are many things that play into this, for example,  the quality of the writing, the accuracy of the depiction of any real-world setting/ the vividness of any fantastical setting, the consistency of the worldbuilding, the logical coherence of the plot, the rationality of the characters’ actions.

But just as important as all of these reasonably objective measures are the subjective measures that come from the individual reader.

Every reader comes to a book with a  complex web of personal knowledge, opinions and biases of their own. And this complex web informs what that reader will consider to be ‘accurate’, ‘authentic’, ‘rational’ and ‘logical’. Every reader also has their own set of priorities – what matters most to them in deciding that a particular book ‘works’ for them. And we readers have our moods too. Sometimes we want to read something challenging, other times something comforting. All these elements interweave in ways that are honestly difficult to unpack when the reader comes to articulate why they did or didn’t like a book. This can result in readers seeming to hold inconsistent views, damning one book for its historical inaccuracy while praising another that is objectively just as inaccurate.

So, does historical accuracy matter in historical romance? I would say… it depends.  In reality, it matters a great deal to certain readers,  doesn’t matter a jot to others, and varies in its importance to the rest of us depending on the individual book’s qualities and the individual reader’s many complex preferences and priorities.

Accuracy, diversity and modern sensibilities

I mentioned earlier that the blog discussion had raised two particular issues, namely the relatively new increase in diversity of character representation in historical romance and complaints from some readers about overly modern sensibilities being displayed by characters – these two issues were unhelpfully conflated at times in the discussion.

The diverse characters issue strikes me as a pretty obvious no-brainer. Historical romance has been really horribly homogenous for a very long time. Diverse representation – already far too scarce in the whole romance genre – feels even more scarce in historical romance and to my mind it’s clear we need more, not less of it.

Complaints about ‘modern sensibilities’ are slightly different, I think, though I need to exercise some care here, since ‘modern sensibilities’ is one of those phrases that is capable of a number of interpretations, some of which I may have some sympathy with and others I definitely won’t agree with.

My view is this: I am all for characters with progressive ideas and values – something I’ve always loved in historical romance is to see characters battling against the societal norms they have grown up with. However, having said that, I will admit to not much liking characters who appear to have wholly 21st century mindsets and who seem not to struggle at all with being at odds with the society they live in. I like to see the characters in historical romances having to wrestle with the norms of their time and I don’t mind seeing them making bad decisions along the way, if they come to regret those choices / change later.

One last thing I want to mention in this already too-long post: we are all creatures of our time. And creatures moving through time. Books are written, time passes. When I  pick up a historical romance book, I will be reading about another time, in my own time. One of the first historical romances I read was Devil’s Cub by Georgette Heyer, set in the late 18th century, first published in 1932, and read by me in around 1987, when I was a teenager with an interest in politics and left-wing views.

Now, Heyer’s books are wonderful but they are absolutely brimming with objectionable class snobbery and an apparent unshakeable belief in the rightness of aristocratic privilege. I minded this – but I also loved Heyer’s books, and I found I could sort of “filter out” what I didn’t like,  internally managing my objections.

This sort of ‘filtering’ is not something that can always be done though. Some issues are too glaringly awful to be filtered out. I recently picked up another old favourite from my teenage years, written in 1983 (Daphne by Marion Chesney). I had completely forgotten that the villain – who wanted to marry the heroine – was a homosexual man who wanted her as a ‘cover’ wife. The distinctly unpleasant homophobic tone made this book a wallbanger in 2019, but to my shame, I can’t say whether I even noticed in 1987.

So there you are – that’s my thoughts on the complex process of reading historical romance. Tl;dr: accuracy matters, quality matters, and representation matters… but none of it amounts to much if the reader doesn’t believe.

Gentleman Wolf release day giveaway!

Oh my word, Gentleman Wolf is going to be out imminently! On Monday 26th August! To celebrate, a little giveaway: leave a comment to win a copy of the book plus a $20 giftcard (if you’ve already preordered or had an ARC, you can select another title from my backlist). Competition open till 09:00 UCT 27th August 2019.

Note: this is a separate competition from the newsletter contest.

Buy links:    Amazon.com     Amazon.co.uk     All other stores

Amazon AU: https://amzn.to/32cX47V

Amazon CA: https://amzn.to/2MBQYtO

Apple: https://apple.co/2ZqdAU8

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2Hrs8sn

Add it on Goodreads: http://bit.ly/2zmBrFO

newproject_1_original-19Amazon.com Amazon.co.uk All other stores

Gentleman Wolf available for preorder

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The blurb:

An elegant werewolf in Edinburgh…

1788. When Lindsay Somerville, the most elegant werewolf in Paris, learns that the man who held him in abject captivity for decades is on his way to France, intent on recapturing him, he knows he must leave the Continent for his own safety. Lindsay cannot take the risk of being recaptured—he may have been free for a century but he can still feel the ghost of his old chains under his fine clothes. 

… on a mission…

While he’s in Edinburgh, Lindsay has been tasked with acquiring the “Naismith Papers”, the writings of a long-dead witchfinder. It should be a straightforward mission—all Lindsay has to do is charm an elderly book collector, Hector Cruikshank. But Cruikshank may not be all he seems, and there are others who want the papers. 

… meets his match

As if that were not enough, while tracking down the Naismith Papers, Lindsay meets stubborn architect Drew Nicol. Although the attraction between them is intense, Nicol seems frustratingly determined to resist Lindsay’s advances. Somehow though, Lindsay can’t seem to accept Nicol’s rejection. Is he just moonstruck, or is Nicol bonded to him in ways he doesn’t yet understand?  

Note: this is the first book of a duology – the story continues and will complete in the second book, Master Wolf.

The links:

Amazon.com
Amazon.co.uk
All other stores

 

Coming up on 26th August

My next book, Gentleman Wolf

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An elegant werewolf in Edinburgh…

1788. When Lindsay Somerville, the most elegant werewolf in Paris, learns that the man who held him in abject captivity for decades is on his way to France, intent on recapturing him, he knows he must leave the Continent for his own safety. Lindsay cannot take the risk of being recaptured—he may have been free for a century but he can still feel the ghost of his old chains under his fine clothes.

… on a mission…

While he’s in Edinburgh, Lindsay has been tasked with acquiring the “Naismith Papers”, the writings of a long-dead witchfinder. It should be a straightforward mission—all Lindsay has to do is charm an elderly book collector, Hector Cruikshank. But Cruikshank may not be all he seems, and there are others who want the papers. 

… meets his match

As if that were not enough, while tracking down the Naismith Papers, Lindsay meets stubborn architect Drew Nicol. Although the attraction between them is intense, Nicol seems frustratingly determined to resist Lindsay’s advances. Somehow though, Lindsay can’t seem to accept Nicol’s rejection. Is he just moonstruck, or is Nicol bonded to him in ways he doesn’t yet understand?

Note: this is the first book of a duology – the story continues and will complete in the second book, Master Wolf.

 

Photo: Eric Kilby from Somerville, MA, USA [CC BY-SA 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D

Cheap and cheerful childhood toys

I’m participating in the lovely RJ Scott’s annual autism blog hop again and this year the theme is childhood toys, so I’m talking about my childhood obsession with picture scraps…

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Before I get on to this first and all-absorbing obsession of mine, a word or two about the hop. Firstly, you can check out RJ’s chosen charity, Lindengate here – it’s a mental health charity that works with autistic children like RJ’s son: https://mydonate.bt.com/charities/lindengate

More than half of children with autism have one or more chronic sleep problems.

A bunch of authors are posting throughout the blog hop and hosting giveaways to raise awareness. My giveaway prize is any of my backlist books to a commenter on the post. Edited to add: the winner is Alicia Fourie ❤ 

And so to scraps.

Does this inadequately-bewinged cherub look familiar to any of you?

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The cherub was extremely familiar to me because when I was around 6-9 years old (it’s difficult to be exact but we’re looking at around 19809ish)  I was an obsessive collector of scraps and this particular picture was ubiquitous!

Scraps were literally no more than pictures that you bought and collected. I stored mine between the pages of books. They were sold at my local newsagent in A4 size sheets, with the individual pictures held together with little tabs.

You can see the tabs holding the pictures together in the image below. I remember buying this very set and I ABSOLUTELY loved them. I would stare at them for ages. I remember thinking of this group as almost achingly tasteful, which, looking at them now is rather sweetly funny.

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Scraps were currency. We swapped them (and some of the ones that were circulating amongst my friends were years old, passed on from older sisters and cousins). The seasonal angel scraps above – and the pink, blue and lavender angel heads at the start of this post – were very much at the premium end of what was available. The inadequately-bewinged cherub was rather less popular and scraps like the ones below (hands, flowers) were frankly despised.

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And then there were the strange religious ones. I definitely had some of these ones…

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I wonder what happened to my scraps? Presumably a day came when I tossed them out, or maybe I gave them to another wee girl. I can’t remember. But I still remember those angel faces, and the odd 1940s aesthetic that permeated all the pictures, even though I was buying them in the 1980s