Hi friends! March has come to a close, so we say goodbye to another Women’s History Month. I’m very excited to welcome back Katharine Ashe, with this wonderful post.
Disguise or Truth? By Katharine Ashe
I just wrote a historical romance in which the female protagonist, Libby, dresses as a youth to achieve her dream of becoming a surgeon, a profession prohibited to women in early nineteenth-century Britain. I based Libby’s story on a historical person.
Heroines disguised as boys are a staple in popular historical romance fiction. From the early days of Kathleen Woodiwiss’s Ashes in the Wind (1979) and Johanna Lindsey’s Gentle Rogue (1990), romance readers have adored heroines who are not only comfortable in breeches but revel in the liberty the costume allows.
Why do readers love these heroines? I think it is because they serve our fantasies about history. Continue reading →
Hi friends! It has been a month, hasn’t it? Smithsonian Women’s History Month ends today… and as you see we’ve got Katharine Ashe visiting with a guest post. If you don’t know anything about her, read her bio at the end, and you’ll see why she was a perfect gift this month. I hope everyone had fun, and learned something. 🙂 Thanks for sticking with us! <3
The Rights of Women
In December of 1789, an abolitionist play, The Slavery of the Blacks, or the Lucky Shipwreck by Madame Olympe de Gouges, debuted on stage in the tumult of Revolutionary Paris. After only three performances, the curtain fell on the play for the last time. Incendiary in its call for slave emancipation, the play infuriated colonial plantation owners, whose lucrative sugar industry in the West Indies (today’s Caribbean) depended entirely on the labor of slaves. The play went too far in criticizing their livelihood, and encouraged slaves to rise up violently against their owners, they complained. Who was a woman to demand change to a system she could not possibly understand?
I know you’re all “WTF, Lime? A Wednesday post?!” Or… maybe not. Maybe just confusion – cuz I’m the one here who swears like a sailor. XD I think all of you are … not? :X WE HAVEN’T TALKED ENOUGH LATELY, YOU GUYS. Stay with me.
So one of my favorite reads in 2013 was I Married the Duke by Katharine Ashe. I loved it so much I even wrote a review of it. Which … I mean if you’re around ALBTALBS you know is rare. I write a review for the site maybe like 4 times a year. [So I’m really bad at reviewing now! … Which … needs a whole other post to explain it.] But you can read the review here if you so like. (Which man – remember when people used to comment? Even on reviews?!)
Surprise! It’s Saturday >.> (yes, yes it is) and despite it not being Tuesday, we have an exclusive excerpt from the fabulous Katharine Ashe! I absolutely adored I Married the Duke, so I’m really excited to hear about this new romance. (And that twist – who wants to vet it for me? :D)
Book #1 in a new series of historical romances… with a twist.
Lady Corinna Mowbray has three passions: excellent books, intelligent conversation, and disdaining the libertine Earl of Chance.
Lord Ian Chance has three pleasures: beautiful women, fast horses, and tormenting high-and-mighty Corinna Mowbray.
Neighbors for years, they’ve been at each other’s throats since they can remember. But when a twist of fate forces them to trade lives, how long will it be before they discover they cannot live without each other?
Excerpt from My Lady, My Lord by Katharine Ashe
“Taunting the goddess again, Corinna?”
Her heart turned over. Ian’s voice at her shoulder was quiet but light. She looked up at him. He wore a black coat, sparkling white linen, and a black satin half-mask that revealed his clear blue eyes.
“Your costume.” He gestured, the corner of his mouth tilting up.
Corinna gathered her courage. “I mean to flatter Aphrodite by emulation. But what about you? What are you supposed to be?”
“Comfortable.” He grinned. Clearly he was not angry now. She might not deserve this olive branch, but she would take it if it meant being with him as they had been before, when they shared the most astounding adventure. Oddly, like friends.
“You look very mysterious.” And utterly handsome. “I would not have known you.” She would know him with her eyes closed.
He bowed. “Thank you, ma’am.”
“And yet you knew me. I’m disappointed. I hoped not to be recognized.”
“Your mouth is particularly familiar to me.” He placed a fingertip at the corner of her lips. A flock of butterflies took flight in her stomach. Rather, birds. But a spike of unease snipped at their wings. She must know if he had come with a woman.
“What brings you here tonight, Ian?”
“The pressing desire to dance with a goddess, it seems.”
“You wish to dance with me?”
“You may feel free to accept.”
Words—Corinna’s salt and butter—deserted her. Finally she managed to croak, “I may?”
“I depend upon it.”
“I meant, did you arrive with your friends this evening?” she said, feeling cowardly as she did.
“I suspect they’re hereabouts somewhere. I haven’t seen them.”
“This is an interesting gathering. But it’s not your usual fare, after all.”
“It suffices.” His eyes glimmered. “I don’t eschew all society functions. Only those that are unredeemable.”
“I don’t think there is a card room here tonight.”
“Then I will have to make do with dancing with a goddess.” He extended his arm.
She took it, willing her voice to remain steady even as her heart sped. “Or Cleopatra, or a sea nymph, or Marie Antoinette.” She gestured to the crowd.
He took her waist in hand and grasped her fingers with his other hand. The warmth of his hold, his scent and body so close all stole her wits. She tried to breathe, to think of anything to distract from the desire pulling at her. But all she could summon up was the sensation of his skin against hers, his lips on her breasts, her thighs about his hips, and confusion consumed her.
The music swelled through the chamber, mingling with voices raised in conversation and increasing hilarity. Champagne-filled crystal glittered in the candlelight, costumes sparkled, the breeze blew heady with jasmine, and Ian’s gaze remained on her.
Corinna struggled for words.
“In your estimation,” she finally said, “what are the redeeming qualities of this society function?”
“Masks. Dark corners. As you might expect. I am tediously predictable.”
He was roasting her. She slanted him a suspicious look. “Forgive me for wariness after our last disagreeable conversation, my lord, but from where has this good humor come?”
The corner of his mouth twitched. “Masks. Dark corners.”
Her stomach sank. “Already?”
“I have been here upward of ten minutes, madam.”
And he had spent them all with her. He had not come with a woman, or at least he hadn’t been with another woman yet this evening. It was foolishness, but her heart sang.
“Ian, I beg your pardon for what I said at Lady Upton’s house.”
He quirked a brow. “Do you?”
With some effort, she banked her temper. “I expected you would make this difficult for me.”
“Ah, still having trouble with apologies, are we?”
“We are when we must apologize to you. But I truly am sorry. It was uncalled for.”
“Not precisely. But I will allow you your charming groveling.”
“I am not groveling.”
“Forgive my mistake, then.” The dimple showed.
Her pattering heart tangled her thoughts. This thing—this feeling so acutely was new to her. She had not yet become adept at managing it. “Papa said he saw you at Westminster some days ago.”
“Your father did not misspeak.”
She looked up through her lashes, afraid to ask, but she must. “How did you find it?”
“Excruciatingly dull. Torture, in point of fact.”
Torture. That night, he had used that word. “Torture?”
“Not quite as onerous as upon another occasion.” His lips curved into a dashing grin, but it faded almost immediately. “I am not cut out for politics, Corinna.”
“Not everyone is,” she replied, wishing they were still making suggestive comments about torture and not discussing matters that could only emphasize the differences between them, and between him and Giles Fitzhugh. “But you have other talents,” she added.
He smiled wickedly.
“H—Horses,” she stammered.
“Ah, of course.”
More foolishness. She tried to regain her bearings. “Your brother is certainly suited to government.”
“Yes, you have something there,” he conceded, but he seemed distracted now. He looked away from her and she followed his attention. At the edge of the dance floor, a satyr and King Louis with a thick red band about his neck flirted with an Amazon, thankfully not bare-breasted. But Corinna didn’t recognize anyone in particular, or anything especially untoward occurring.
Ian’s hold on her hand tightened. He released her waist and drew her toward the terrace doors.
“Ian? Where are we going?”
“We are in the middle of the set.” She stumbled after him. “Why now?”
“Because I wish to kiss you,” he said roughly, with intention, “and despite your conviction that I am an unrepentant scoundrel, I cannot do so on a dance floor.” …
Katharine Ashe is the award-winning author of twelve romances that reviewers call “intensely lush” and “sensationally intelligent,” including I Married the Duke, nominated for Historical Romance of the Year in the 2013 Reviewers’ Choice Book Awards and How to Be a Proper Lady, an Amazon Ten Best Romances of the Year. She lives in the wonderfully warm southeast with her beloved husband, son, dog and a garden she likes to call romantic rather than unkempt. Please visit her at www.KatharineAshe.com.
So what’d you think? Have you read anything by Ms. Ashe before? Are you tempted to read this now?
Arabella Caulfield, one of three orphaned sisters, has clung to an ancient gypsy prophecy as the only way to save her family from endless heartbreak. Now she has twelve days to reach a remote French castle and fulfill her destiny: to marry a prince.
Along the way, Arabella meets Lucien Westfall, decorated naval captain and the new Duke of Lycombe. She thought he was a pirate. He thought she was a governess. Two wrongs have never made such a scandalously perfect right.
(And because I feel the blurb on Katharine’s page better describes the book…)
She thought he was a pirate. He thought she was a governess. Two wrongs have never made such a scandalously perfect right.
On the way to marry a prince in a castle a lady should never:
Bribe an infuriatingly arrogant and undeniably irresistible ship captain,
Let him kiss her senseless on a beach,
Battle assassins at his side, or
Exchange wedding vows with him, even under the direst circumstances.
But daring, determined Arabella Caulfield isn’t just any lady. And Luc Westfall is no ordinary shipmaster. He’s the new duke of Lycombe, and to defeat a plot that could destroy his family he must have an heir. Now he knows just the woman for the job . . . and he’s not above seduction to turn this would-be princess into a duchess.
Confession – this month I messed up 🙂 I had the prompt in my calendar, and it says “Western: Contemporary or Historical” – but I only hovered over the date and saw “or historical” so … >.> I thought general historicals were on the table. Nevertheless it was a happy mistake, because I “rediscovered” historicals. I’ve been wanting to read a book by Katharine Ashe, and I Married the Duke was one more recently added to my calibre library. Kismet!
Arabella Caulfield is a fantastic heroine. She’s so practical and determined, very rational and realistic … and yet her whole driving force is something a gypsy woman told her when she was a child. It’s a great juxtaposition. Bella is written with such depth and just comes alive from the page. In a way, Bella provides for her family and is the most pragmatic. She knew what she wanted, and went for it, through schooling, her making money to support her family, and becoming a finishing governess. On the other hand, she’s determined to marry a prince. It’s just so out there, that I didn’t (couldn’t?) really think about it. Bella is so friendly I just loved her. The fact that she’s willing to throw Luc’s words back in his face, and take matters into her own hands is also great. It’s hard to explain, but Arabella is how you want every romance heroine to be – unique, her own person, smart, and human.
Lucien Westfall is quite the hero. (I love an understatement, don’t you?) He’s a pirate, a future duke, a former officer in the navy, a rogue, and an all around marshmallow. I loved him. He’s so capable, yet flawed, inept, but amazing. As you can see, Ms. Ashe does a great job developing her characters. Luc has a wicked sense of humor which is compounded by the company he keeps. I liked that Luc isn’t arrogant, despite the fact that everyone expects him to be the duke (and in fact begin addressing him as such). Luc is rather wicked, and actually starts out brusquely with Bella. So much in fact that for a little bit I questioned if he actually was the hero or not. It was a nice take, and really fit with the story. He of course also has a hero-complex, which fit.
There’s just so much about this story that’s woven into the plot I’m having a hard time not talking about it. (My own rules, I know!) I loved the fact that this book stands alone, and has its own “happily ever after.” However, it is clearly part of a series, and the overarching story is not yet finished (and should be at the conclusion of the trilogy, as there are three sisters, and it is driving me crazy.) The prologue is interesting, but I was pretty skeptical about it. It also leads to so many questions. I know Arabella has the goal of marrying a prince, and at the beginning of the book she’s on her way to meet one … but also as a career move – he’s hired her. It’s this mix of prudence and fantasy. Which I suppose any good romance is.
I have to admit, I looked at the cover, and the cover quote is from Lisa Kleypas. She wrote “Katharine Ashe writes with eloquence and power.” The eloquence I could figure, but the “power” really caught my attention. Having read this book, I see it. Ms. Ashe tells a compelling story, with excellent writing. The characters are so dynamic, with a great dialogue and banter. The pacing and flow is perfect. I’m just so annoyed it’s only the first book in the series because I hate waiting. I’m so impatient to see how the story ends, because there are so many questions. The girls’ origin, the ring, what prince, and there are still two books to go! If anyone has read it, I’d love to discuss with you in the comments what pairings you suspect, because I have an idea or two.
Clearly, I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys historical romances, and in fact, anyone who enjoys romances in general. I’ve already told a friend to read it. If the gypsy aspect makes you skeptical – go with it. I think you’ll be really happy.
I know we’re already a few days into the month of [Ack!] August, but it’s only just the first Tuesday of the month. And we all know what that means – a special monthly author! And almost inevitably… the author interview. So without further ado… Katharine Ashe answers some questions for my *coughs* super professional on topic author interview!
What’s your favorite drink? (Alcoholic, and non-alcoholic)
A person has you trapped and will shoot you if you do not a) eat yourself sick on something and b) watch a marathon for 72 hours. What do you choose to eat, and what show/series or movie would you watch?
Hilarious question. But I can’t answer “a”. I feel queasy even considering it. As for “b”, the Buffy tv series ties with the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Can I watch both and still keep my life? Pretty please?
Which fairy tale would you most like to be in? Least? Why?
Most: These days, with two jobs and a busy family life, I have to say Sleeping Beauty. All that time to just lay around doing nothing while everyone takes care of troubles, then to be woken by a handsome man! I’m changing my name to Aurora now.
Least: The Little Mermaid. Disney’s happily-ever-after version aside, I don’t care for the idea of drowning my man from love. Now, drowning him in love, that’s another thing altogether.
What five dead authors would you invite to a dinner party if you could? What about general historical figures?
Authors: Jane Austen, Dorothy Dunnett, Virginia Woolf, Virgil and Francis Petrarch.
Historical figures: Gandhi, Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King Jr., Boudica and Susan B. Anthony.
If you won the next SuperPowerBallMegaBucks Lottery (whichever), what are the first three things you would do? (And if those things had nothing to do with money – what would you do with the money?)
Pay off all my loved ones’ debts; set up my son, nephews and nieces with money for college; and donate the remainder to local and regional charities that fight child abuse and poverty. I’d also like a red Mustang rag top convertible, but maybe I can buy that with money from all the product endorsement deals I’ll get simply from being the SuperPowerBallMegaBucks winner, right? 😛
What is one question you always wish as an author people would ask but nobody ever does?
I can’t think of even one!
Celebrity/Author death match – who would you most want to take on? [you don’t have to say why ;)]
Cherry Adair because it would be BEYOND FUN. And of course she’d win and that would make me happy. #IadoreCherry
What’s a career you could never do? Why?
Astronaut. Discomfort with enclosed spaces. Desperate need for fresh air, lots of space to run around in, and my dog.
What author promo has been most effective for you?
I don’t know which has been most effective in terms of selling books, but I can tell you what I enjoy the most: while I like chatting and having fun online, I love love love meeting readers in person. In fact tonight (August 6) I’ll be at Lady Jane’s Salon in Naperville doing an advance reading from I Married the Duke and I cannot wait!
What was your favorite book as a child?
There were too many to choose just one! But my favorite series as an older child were the Black Stallion books by Walter Farley. I was in love with The Black. He was pure beauty, speed and wild power, and entirely untamable, but he would do anything – anything – for love. That’s my kind of hero.
Do you like sports- yes or no? which, and college or professional?
I do. My husband writes books about international soccer, so we watch a lot of that, and I teach at Duke, so naturally college basketball is a family fave. My favorite sport to attend live is—hands down—ice hockey.
You have your choice between any of the X-Men’s super powers… or the ability to eat unlimited cake and stay the same size. Which do you choose?
Which would you prefer? Never having to tweeze/brow shape for the rest of your life, or not have to cut your fingernails, or toe nails?
Brows. Nails are easy to do while watching tv or reading a book. 🙂
Hostile alien invasion, or zombie apocalypse? Which one do you think is more likely to happen? Which one is scarier?
As Ellie’s father says in the movie Contact, “If we’re alone in the universe, that’s a lot of wasted space.” So I’m guessing aliens. Zombies are not my cup o’ tea.
What’s the most interesting thing you’ve ever done for research? What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned while doing research? In general, or for your current book?
The most fascinating—and disturbing—was the transportation of white Englishwomen to the Indian subcontinent to marry army and East India Company men so they wouldn’t be tempted to marry native women or take them as concubines. These women were essentially poor mail order brides, though not hand chosen for specific men, and many of them didn’t really know what they were getting into when they agreed to set sail. I learned that while working on In the Arms of a Marquess.
Fortunately my research isn’t all about the dark secrets of history. 🙂 In researching my new Prince Catchers series, I’ve spent fabulous days and nights at spectacular country houses in England and France. Several scenes in I Married the Duke (coming out on August 27) takes place in a chateau that suspiciously resembles Chenonceau. It’s fairy tale dreamy!
Isn’t Katharine a great sport? Now, you know the drill. Ask Katharine any question you like! About her books, or otherwise. And feel free to ask her ridiculous zany questions as well. I always like to challenge you guys to pull out all the stops. 😉 Someone who participates in the fun will win a signed copy of my novel How a Lady Weds a Rogue plus its companion novella How to Marry a Highlander.
Hi everyone! We’ve got lovely author Katharine Ashe visiting with us! She’s super nice and patient (I had a flub and she was incredibly gracious about it). <3 I’m also fascinated by this newest release she has out – and this post tells us more about it. I hope you enjoy!
(And please, ignore the HORRIBLE image sizing :\ I changed the pixel size, but it’s just not agreeing to show up as such.)
Some books take months to develop. Others percolate in my imagination for a bit longer. The ghost story in my new Regency novel,Captive Bride, got its start thirty-six years ago.
The journey to this book happened in four steps. Care to hear the short and spooky tale of it? Well, pull up a camp chair and cuddle together. And that howling you think you’re hearing in the trees beyond the fire’s glow? It’s just a chilly fall wind. Probably . . .
First stop: Mrs. Kierstead’s 4th-grade music class set me on the path to spooky. Music was my favorite class, and Mrs. K really did Halloween proud. That year she played for us Franz Schubert’s “Der Erlkönig,” translated as “The Alder King.” Composing in Austria during the same years as the Regency and early reign of George IV in England, Schubert based his hauntingly intense piece on a poem written in 1782 by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, whose poem itself drew on a much earlier Scandinavian legend.
It is a simple yet horrifying tale. A father rides home with his beloved young son in his arms, only to become prey to an otherworldly demon “with crown and with tail.” The boy tells his father that the Alder King is following them, but the father cannot see the king and tries to comfort his son with happy thoughts, as parents are wont to do when little ones are frightened of their rampant imaginings. But the Alder King is real, and he snatches the lad’s soul while his father still clutches him close.
Chilling, tragic, and it gripped my nine-year-old heart completely. The cold, cruel otherworldly creature stole that boy’s soul right out of his father’s loving embrace. There was nothing more frightening to me.
Second stop: Andy Warhol’s 1974 film “Blood for Dracula” put the sexy in my spook. When I saw it I was still quite young and powerfully affected. In the film, Dracula must drink the blood of virgins, but he’s already drunk them all up in Transylvania, so off he goes to Italy where virgins abound. Too many virgins for the young, earnest hero of the film to protect, it turns out; Dracula feasts. But not on all the girls. One pretty young thing has her virginity— er— um— shall we say?— nullified by our valiant hero. Urgently. In a stairwell. Standing up.
I haven’t seen the film since. My memory may be wholly inaccurate. But it made a strong impression on me. Alder King or hungry vampire, young lad or maiden lady, it was the same story: unearthly creature of evil seeks to steal the soul of an innocent while loved ones watch and suffer.
Third stop: Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey added romp and Regency to my ghostly imaginings. Austen’s critique of the Gothic novels that were popular during her time is wit extraordinaire. It is also a story of sincere friendship and true love making villains simply vanish. Poof!
Fourth stop: A misty emerald hillside in Wales, the ruins of a medieval castle, and a romance I’d been dying to write for years all came together. I had written a novel in which a minor character, a girl of fifteen, Bea Sinclaire, spoke to me quite clearly. Bea’s exact words: “Give me him. Please.” (She is unfailingly polite.) “Him” was a young gentleman whose acquaintance she had just made and who immediately stole her heart. I couldn’t blame her. At nineteen Peter Cheriot was a baron and deliciously handsome with dark hair and green eyes. He was also wonderfully kind and adorably attentive to her.
But she was far too young, and in any case I wasn’t quite clear yet on how exactly I was to give her him. I told her I had to ponder it.
Fast-forward six years to me and my sister in Wales for the express purpose of wandering through medieval castles. Otherworldly villains and the lost souls of innocents were still on my mind. Pure of heart and exceedingly virginal, Bea seemed the perfect candidate for such a tale. And dashing, noble Peter was the ideal hero to save her. I only needed the right setting . . .
Wales is a castle lover’s dream. We visited splendid and stately Caernafon, and solidly gorgeous Harlech. I adored them. But I still didn’t have a story for my young lovers.
Then I saw Criccieth Castle.
In the rain on that chill winter morning, Criccieth simply screamed HAUNTED CASTLE! And in a wild rush, like the fog that rolled off the towering gateway walls of the 13th-century ruin, Bea and Peter’s story came to me: An ancient castle. A tortured ghost. A curse that preys upon innocence — virginal innocence. And a love so powerful, so deep and so true that even the wickedest villain cannot destroy it.
So there you have it. Four steps and nearly four decades later, I finally wrote my own spooky tale.
What’s your favorite spooky story this time of year? One randomly chosen commenter to answer the question will win a copy of Captive Bride.
Katharine Ashe is a professor of medieval history and the award-winning author of six Regency romances and one novella from Avon Books.
In fact – you know what? You need to know more about the book. You can read more on the inception of it here, but the blurb is fantastic too!
Sensible, practical Beatrice Sinclaire has two secret passions: gothic novels and Lord Peter Cheriot, the man her beautiful sister left heartbroken years ago. When Bea’s scapegrace twin brother begs her help to rescue a maiden from a haunted castle, Bea seizes the chance for real adventure. If only Lord Cheriot didn’t insist on protecting her! How can she maintain a clear head in the face of terrible danger when all she wants is to be in his arms?
Lord Cheriot may be the catch of the London season, but he has only ever loved one woman, Bea Sinclaire. And he’s determined to have her. He doesn’t count on a meddling ghost whose demand for a virgin bride threatens Bea in the direst manner. But the specter has a deadline, All Hallows Eve, and it’s fast approaching. In the race to capture the heart of one daring lady, it’s every man—and ghost—for himself.
See?! And one of you has the chance to win a copy today! You lucky ducks!