Friday, 26 April 2013

Spotlight - Elf Ahearn

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Hi everyone,

Today I have the lovely Elf Ahearn joining me. Elf writes Regency romances and her ‘A Rogue in Sheep’s Clothing’ is published by Crimson Romance. Elf is kindly giving away a copy of her book to one lucky reader.

Hi Elf and welcome! J  Would you tell us a bit about yourself?

Elf is my real name. I live in New York State with a wonderful husband and a pesky (yet irresistible) cat named Sufie. Learn more about me at


What type of romance do you write?

My tag line is “Regency romance with a Gothic twist.” I consider it my warning label because my books are darker and more dramatic than most Regency romances. I like to put my heroines through hellacious adventures and then have them triumph in the end. And my endings are boffo – big, cataclysmic events with tons of drama.


Are you working on anything at present?

A Rogue in Sheep’s Clothing is the first in a planned series of four books about the Albright sisters. My publisher, Crimson Romance, actually purchased the second novel, Lord Monroe’s Dark Tower, before it bought Rogue. Lord Monroe is super dramatic and exciting – my heroine is pitted against a psychotic hoarder. Now, I’m busy writing the third book, which will have more twists and turns than a crazy straw.

What is a talent you wish you had, but don't?

Here’s what I wish – I wish I were one of those people who wrote super fast, like Nora Roberts. It takes me forever to get anything down on paper and then I rewrite it and rewrite it again... ad infinitum. Plus, I’m a little dyslexic, so my reading is slow, my writing is snail paced and when I do research, I tend to keep reading way past the point where I’ve answered my question. Maybe that’s why I like writing fast-paced drama, to make up for my turtle gait.


What made you want to be a writer?

Because of my dyslexia I was a dreadful speller. Nobody knew about dyslexia when I was growing up, so my school papers are covered in snarky comments from my teachers. They couldn’t seem to look past my “word interpretations” to the images I was creating, the plots I’d invented. The one person who did was my older sister, Tevi. She was a straight-A student who famously got only one word wrong on a spelling test in her entire academic career – she forgot to dot the “i” in president. Tevi was my proof reader, and she never failed to tell me I had talent, bless her heart.

It was another sister, Jenny, who encouraged me to write romances. I got laid off from a corporate communications job and the market had nothing to offer a gal with my skills – newspapers were dying, companies were only hiring Web-savvy scribblers – so she handed me a book by Sabrina Jeffries and said, “Give this a try.” The chance to write something with sweeping adventure, sexual tension and a happily-ever-after was entirely too tempting. I read every romance I could get my hands on, but The Rake, by Mary Jo Putney sealed the deal. That is an awesome book, and it has an emotional depth that I wanted to replicate.

My first step was to take an online course. Alice Duncan was the teacher – I’m mentioning her name because she was super sweet, super smart, a super good writer, and she encouraged me to join RWA. On her advice I became a member of the Hudson Valley RWA chapter. I’m now its president. So, here’s what I really love about being a romance author; you get to hang out with terrific, supportive people. I adore my chapter mates, and they’ve helped me shape a book, and hopefully, a career, of which I’m truly proud.

How about you all? I’d love to hear from blog readers about what turned them on to romance – either as writers or readers. The best answer gets a free copy of A Rogue in Sheep’s Clothing!

To be in the running for Elf’s book, please leave your answer in the comment section at the bottom of this post.

You can find Elf’s A Rogue in Sheep’s Clothing on Amazon, iTunes and The Book Strand.

Buy Links:, iTunes and

Thanks so much Elf for sharing your new release with us J

And as always – thanks to everyone for dropping by!

Nicóle  xx

A Rogue in Sheep’s Clothing  Blurb:

In Lord Hugh Davenport’s opinion, women of the ton perpetually hide behind a mask of deception. That’s hard for Ellie Albright, the daughter of an earl, to swallow – especially since she’s disguised herself as a stable hand to get back the prized stallion her father sold to Hugh to pay a debt. If Hugh learns her true identity she’ll lose the horse and her family will go bankrupt. Somehow, though, losing Hugh’s affection is beginning to seem even worse.

Already only a step away from being snagged in her own web of lies, Ellie’s deceit threatens to spin out of control when Hugh’s mother invites Ellie and her sisters to a house party. Now Ellie has to scramble to keep Hugh from knowing she’s the stable girl he wants to marry, while simultaneously trying to win his trust as herself. Can she keep her costumes straight long enough to save her family? And even if she does, will it be worth losing his love?


Here’s a Snippet -

A stiff breeze swept up the massive stone edifice bringing the scent of heather, gorse, and a tinge of the dank salt sea. The beauty of it sobered her. “My God, it’s magnificent,” she said, feeling the sun’s warmth and the chill of the breeze on her cheeks. For miles around she saw only the dip and rise of the yellowed moors disappearing into soft, distant gray.

Hugh joined her cliff-side. He settled on a patch of thin, wind-whipped grass. Ellie plopped down beside him and took a deep whiff of the heather he’d picked for her on the trail. “Ah,” she said. “It smells like England.”

Hugh broke off a branch of the plant and put it between his teeth. “Tastes like her, too,” he said. Ellie laughed.

Then they grew silent, listening to the rustle of grass, feeling the hot sun, and breathing the rich smell of sweet flowers and fecund herbs.

“This is my day,” said Hugh, lying back in the grass. “You may have a piece of it.”

Ellie swatted him with the stalk of heather. “I shall take your captain’s salute on horseback.”

“And I shall take this moment, right now,” he said, closing his eyes.

They were silent again. Ellie lay back and snuggled into the grass. The cool wind couldn’t reach her here – just the thick heat of the sun. She closed her eyes, too.

A fly tickled her forehead. She brushed it away. It came back and tickled her again. She opened her eyes in time to see Hugh leaning over her, the branch of heather in his teeth. He flicked it away from her face.

“You’re the annoying fly,” she said, lunging to pull the heather from his mouth. He caught her wrists and rolled onto his back. She struggled, enjoying the feel of his large, callused hands. “I suppose if I were really clever,” she said, giving up and leaning on his chest, “I could get that branch without using my hands.”

“Oh yes, and how would you do that?” replied Hugh, a glint in his eye.

Ellie leaned over and, bringing her face close to his mouth, pulled the heather from his teeth.

A bolt of electricity raced through her. She hadn’t meant to be so intimate – hadn’t anticipated the heat of his flesh against hers, or the soft velvet of a corner of his lips. Her heart beat fast and her face grew hot. She looked away, dropping the heather from her mouth. “I’m never getting married,” she blurted.

Hugh studied her. “Then I’m not either.”

Gently, he brushed a bit of heather from her lips.

The caress stirred a small fire. She closed her eyes and lay back down on the grass. Joy washed over her. “That’s wonderful,” she sighed. Hugh’s hand closed on hers.



Sunday, 21 April 2013

Medieval Fostering

In the Middle Ages arranged marriages help to secure alliances and bonds of loyalty among the nobility. Another method was the practice of sending children (generally over the age of seven) into other noble households to be raised. This was called fostering. It not only promoted friendship between the two families but could improve the child’s chances of success in later life.

            The children of nobility learned what behaviour was expected and how to run a household. They were trained in how to address those of higher status, and also how to command those below them in rank, such as servants and soldiers.

            Noble boys were first trained as pages, but as they grew older they served the lord and lady at feasts and other formal meals. By their teens, they were squires and in the process of training to become knights. As squires they assisted their lord and were trained in how to take care of armour, weaponry and horses.

            Girls on the other hand were trained in how to run and supervise a noble household. These duties included the overseeing of the cook/kitchen, healing, sewing, spinning and managing household expenses.

            Some peasant children were also sent away from the parents and homes from an early age. They were sent to learn a trade, which again like children of the nobility could improve their chances for a better life. Trades included such things as carpentry, metalwork, stone masonry and weaving. Many children who were not afforded these opportunities, found themselves bound as servants in richer households. In some instances, peasant families would give a child to the church. In a harsh world this could be seen as giving the child a chance, as they would grow up in the shadow of the Church as either a monk or nun. Perhaps their lives would not be quite as difficult as if they had stayed with their family. It was also believed that by handing a ‘spare’ child over to the Church, the parents themselves would find blessing.

 However, it did not matter whether the child was born to nobility or not; through fostering, apprenticing or just surrendering the child, its future had been set in stone.
Thanks for stopping by!
Nicóle  xx

Images from the Public Domain



Thursday, 18 April 2013

Capturing Bliss - Love,Lust & Lipstick Stains

Hi everyone,

Capturing Bliss has been given the 'thumbs up' over at Love, Lust and Lipstick Stains.

Hope you will drop by and check it out!

Nicóle  xx

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Historical Novelists' Book Fair 12th - 15th April


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Hi everyone and welcome to the Historical Novelists’ Book Fair!

Thanks for dropping by and joining the fun.  I hope you discover new authors and some great books.

I write historical romances. I have always been fascinated with history, especially the medieval period. My latest novella, Misrule’s Mistress is a medieval tale. It is set over Yuletide and centres on the Feast of Misrule. The Feast of Misrule marked the end of the Christmas celebrations (the twelve day of Christmas).  Misrule was basically seen as a British/French tradition but it has links back to ancient Rome and the feast of Saturnalia.



Lord Barric Cranley wants Lady Ellette for his wife but she has already refused once. He knows that Ellette loves him… it’s just she hasn’t realized it yet. With a little help, cunning and the Feast of Misrule, Barric plans to capture his bride and make it a Christmas she’ll never forget.

 Excerpt One

England – 1247 AD

“‘Tis fine work, master smith,” Lord Barric Cranley said as he rolled the gold ring between his fingers. It was small, intricate, and fashioned in the shape of a crown. “You have excelled in your craft. ‘Tis more than I had hoped.”

            Barric lent against the rough wooden workbench. The heat in the small room was almost oppressive. Two inches of snow had fallen overnight, but the workshop was as hot as the fires of Hell. One of the goldsmith’s apprentices stoked the fiery furnace whilst the other stood near an iron anvil, hammering out silver into a thin sheet. 

            “My lord.” The old man bowed his head, but as he straightened, Barric could see a glimmer of pride reflected in his watery eyes.

            “Here is the coin I promised.” He dropped several silver coins into the smith’s outstretched hand. He turned his attention back to the ring. “‘Tis an astonishingly pretty thing you have conjured. You have my thanks.”

            “You are all kindness, my lord, but may I be so bold as to ask if the ring is destined for a fair lady? Is it to be a betrothal ring?”

            “Aye, ‘tis my hope,” Barric said as his lips curved into a smile.

            “Then good luck, my lord, and may the blessing of Yuletide be upon ye.”

            “And to you,” he said as he nodded his dark blond head and reached for the leather pouch that hung by his side. But before he slipped it inside, he held the ring up once more. A pale shaft of winter sun shone through the crude wooden casement and illuminated the tiny crown.  “My destiny turns upon this trinket. The trap is prepared, the bait set, and now I must wait.”

            “I do not understand, my lord; you speak of the hunt rather than a lady?”

            “‘Tis all one and the same. For if luck is with me, I shall capture my bride.”


   Excerpt Two  


“If I were sure that you loved me, if you would accept my offer, I would wait if I knew how long.”Barric slowly closed his fingers over the ring and let his hand fall down by his side.

“I cannot tell you, for I do not know – a year, two... or three.”

“But after all these long years, would you then marry me?”

“I do not know, Barric; I do not know what to say. I am confused and do not know what I want or feel,” she said as went to walk away but Barric caught her arm and she turned her head and looked at him.

“You kissed me back, Ellette.”

“I know, I know I did... but...”

“Then without an answer I cannot wait for you, Ellette, no matter how much I want to,” Barric said as his hand slid down her cheek. “If I cannot have you, it matters little who I take for a wife. And because of that, I vow I will be married by the Feast of Epiphany.”

Arching a brow, Ellette replied, “Are brides so easily found?”

“I want you, Ellette, but if you do not wish me for a husband and cast me aside, I will be forced to find a bride elsewhere.”

“By the end of our winter festivities?”

“Aye,” Barric said.

“I fear you have taken our games and challenges too far. For whom will you marry... the kitchen maid, or the weaver’s daughter? I am the only eligible maid at Cranley, and I say nay.”

“Mayhap, but I will be married by midnight at the feast.”

“In twelve days?” Torn and confused, Ellette stared at Barric. Part of her wanted to cry that perhaps she had been too hasty, perhaps one day, far away, she would marry him. Mixed with that, she was annoyed and hurt that he would think she was so easily replaced; and lastly, a hint of competitiveness reared its head. She almost wanted to take his challenge and wager that it would be impossible to marry in twelve days.

“Aye – I swear it,” Barric said as he turned and returned to the feast, leaving Ellette alone with her riotous thoughts.



My other medieval books include The Trinket Seller’s Daughter and Capturing Bliss. My books can be found on many sites including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords and Jupiter Gardens Press.


I would also like to add a big thank you to Ms. Francine Howarth for all her hard work in putting this event together.


Thank you so much for saying hello and I hope you enjoy the rest of the book fair!

Nicóle  x


Link to return to book fair’s list of authors –






Saturday, 6 April 2013

Another Reynard Story

Hi everyone,

I'm very excited to be working on another Reynard story. I first introduced the Reynard family in Capturing Bliss.

To save her younger sister, Lady Blissot de Woodville exchanged places and married Lord William Reynard. She hid her identity but her lie had the power to destroy everything she had grown to love.

 The new story is set a hundred years on from the original but deals with the same  family and their estate, Foxwoods Hall.

The family legend says the Reynard betrothal ring has the magical ability to always choose the right bride.  But Lord Savaric Reynard does not believe in childish fairy tales or true love.
He has sworn an oath to his Father that Foxwoods Hall will prosper and continue. Savaric has promised to marry and beget a heir to carry on the family name.

It therefore makes perfect sense that he should wed the widow whose land border his.

 But on his way to secure the marriage, fate gets in the way. Fate, in the form of Rosamund, a wanderer, an artisan and a woman of enticing beauty.

Savaric does not believe in magic, but even his steadfast ideas are a little shaken when Rosamund arrives at Foxwoods,  carrying the Reynard betrothal ring.

I'm still playing around with the title at the moment.

Here's a link to the first story - Capturing Bliss.


Thanks for dropping by!

Nicóle   xx
Image from Bigstock