Tag Archive | regency

Spatzle Speaks: A Match for Melissa (Book Review)

Mom has been busy writing and editing for others and hasn’t snuggled up with me with a good book for some time. And yes, I write that to make her feel guilty. She’s always had a liking for Regency romances and to find good Christian ones is even harder. She stumbled upon A Match for Melissa by Susan Karsten and loved this sweet story.

Melissa Southwood is the daughter of an ambitious social-climbing father who wants to sell her off in exchange for a title. It’s his fondest dream. Melissa has dreams of her own, triggered even more so by finding a handsome man in a ditch. But before she could get to know him, she’s whisked back to London to be wooed by someone else.

She wants a man who is a believer and she’s not too sure about this one. When Mark, the man she rescued, shows up in town she finds herself drawn to him. Her father’s mind is set. One aristocrat desperate for money is soon pitted against another with a damaging past who has recently come to know God. Which one will win? How can she get her stubborn father to see reason?

Add in Mark’s aunt, a widow with charms of her own, and meddling relatives of Mark bent on acquiring a fortune by foul means, and you have a complicated but sweet romance that will leave you smiling with her happily-ever-after ending.

The great news is this is the first book in a series of three in the Honor’s Point Series, so we can look forward to more sweet, clean, Regencies from this fabulous new author.

I give this book five bones! Another inspirational Regency author on the scene is always to be celebrated.

Spatzle Baganz, book reviewer for the silygoos blog because that’s how we roll.

Talking Love

Photo frame or gift card with valentines heart shaped ribbonYou would think the author of countless romance stories would find it easy to write one out of her own life. But it’s not.

Growing up, I would walk home and look up to heaven, spin around, and wonder if God was taking my picture. Did He care for my overly-sensitive, hurting and lonely heart? All a teacher had to do was look at me wrong and I’d burst into tears until sixth grade when I learned to hide my pain.

The sweetest love story is when, after years of sensing God’s call to me, I finally understood that I could respond. That he was waiting for me to do so! James 4:8 says “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. (NASB)” Really? He wasn’t some distant King high on a thrown beyond my reach. I first came to understand this at a Campus Life/Youth for Christ meeting.

For weeks I had begged some friends to let me come to a meeting. They seemed happy. They had something I didn’t. And they would go to concerts for groups like . . . Petra, who I had never heard of. Finally, I was invited and we had a conversation about misconceptions people had about Christianity. I was raised knowing about God and taught to fear Him, so I was fully engaged in the conversation. Then the biggest misconception hit me—that people didn’t understand that they could have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Whoa. Really?

I prayed right then and there and my entire world shifted.

I went out and bought a Bible and started devouring it. Opposition came but I clung to Christ. To a hurting, lonely fifteen-year-old, the fact that the God of the universe wanted me—Me?—was a huge revelation. When depression plagued me, I was told I was trying to manipulate people. The only reason I never attempted to take my life was because of the love of God.

Thirty-five years have brought me through many trials and triumphs, deep pains and sweet moments. God has been there by my side through all of it. I wish I could say that I’ve been as faithful to Him as He has been to me. It’s hard when people have wounded me deeply to trust the God who allowed it to happen. Yet I wouldn’t be here without Him. He’s led me, grown me, matured me . . . and I’ve learned that in Him I have more strength than I could ever have on my own. Some trials I look back on in wonder at how I was able to respond the way I did. That couldn’t have been me, could it?

Only God.

Through abuses, betrayals, heartache, He has been my constant. My one true love. When I write my romances my hope and prayer is that at some level the reader will understand the love of God that underlies the journey’s my characters take.

God is faithful. He has never abandoned me. The fact that He gives me the opportunity to put some of those experiences into my stories to bless others is just another example of His love for me.

Check out my contribution to Prism Book Group’s new Love Is series…

THE Baron's Blunder

The Baron’s Blunder
“Love does not delight in evil …” 1 Corinthians: 13:6

Fighting evil has been a hobby, but fending off marriage-minded debutantes—a chore.

Lord Charles Percy fends off a land pirate robbing a carriage in broad daylight. Noting he has rescued a beautiful debutante, he lies about his title claiming to be a mere mister.

The Honorable Henrietta Allendale isn’t convinced Mr. Percy is who he claims to be. But after he admits to one blunder can she ever truly trust what he says? Especially about the evil threatening her? Who is the Black Diamond anyway and why would he be after either of them?

One intrepid debutante and one bumbling Baron soon join forces to defeat evil. But to do so might mean they have to sacrifice the one thing they’ve each held as most important—their single status.

Can the truth set them free to love?

Spatzle Speaks: The Baron’s Blunder (Book Review)


THE Baron's BlunderMy mom, Susan M. Baganz, wrote a book as part of the Love is . . . series with Prism Book Group.
Now, generally I like mom’s writing but she went and put a bird in a book? What was she thinking? We have a bird in our home but Quincy the Quaker parrot  just makes messes. And his talk? Utter nonsense.

The Baron’s Blunder illustrates the passage from 1 Corinthians 13, “Love does not rejoice in evil but rejoices in the truth.” While this is part of the Love is . . . series it is also a prequel for mom’s Regency Romances, the first of which will  be available Spring 2017. The Virtuous Viscount at least has a dog. ‘Nuff said.

Lord Charles Percy is wealthy, titled and single. All that Jane Austen would say makes him in desperate need of a wife. Charles isn’t really interested in that. He’s got secret work he does for the British government. (shhh. He’s a spy!). And he seems to have developed a penchant for capturing ne’r-do-wells who would rob coaches.

That’s how he meets the beautiful Honorable Henrietta Allendale, sister to Viscount Remington. She’s a little older than your normal debutante and sees no need for a husband. She’s a bit strong-willed and unbeknownst to anyone, she’s also, gasp! A spy!

Well, he rescues her when she didn’t really need rescuing. He lies. She suspects. She rescues him and then he rescues her but at the expense of . . . well, let’s just say while both start out refusing marriage, one changes their mind.

Spatzle Baganz, book reviewer for the silygoos blog because that's how we roll.

Spatzle Baganz, book reviewer for the silygoos blog because that’s how we roll.

There’s a lot packed into this novella and it’s a delightful romp filled with wit, adventure and love. So go buy it so mom can afford to purchase me more bully rings. Oh, wait. Maybe you shouldn’t. She might choose to get my hair cut instead and I hate going to the groomers. I’ll give it five bones anyway because she’s my mom and I love her. And in spite of a bird being this story, I know she loves me best.

5 bones for blog

One Way A Book Gets Written

For all the books I’ve written, the stories have come from my imagination. I’ve written the stories and later contracted them. I’ve had rejections for those stories and I’ve taken the tales and revised, edited and revised again.

But The Baron’s Blunder is the exception.

Every November since 2009 I’ve written a story during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). I’ve written some stories that I’ve felt inspired to write. I’ve written flash fiction, short stories, novellas and full length novels. I’ve written contemporary, historicals and romantic suspense. I’ve never submitted a story idea to an agent, editor or publisher that I haven’t already written – at least the rough draft.

I work as an Acquisitions Editor for Prism Book Group. It’s a smaller e-book publishing house. One of the benefits of being in a family of authors like Prism’s is that they become family. Authors supporting, praying, encouraging each other and cross-promoting books. Another up-side is that occasionally our Editor-in-Chief comes up with a crazy idea to do a novella series.

FragileBlessingsWe did a collection last fall of Christmas stories. All authors could participate. I’m an author and had a manuscript that I dusted off and sent in Fragile Blessings. That wasn’t the original title but I love it. A historical novella I’d written years ago that needed a lot of work, finally was read by others. It ended up as an e-book as well as in a collection of historical novellas called Love’s Christmas Past.

All that to say is my “boss” decided we should do a series of novellas based on 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a. Each story was to show some aspect of that chapter. Authors submitted their ideas and soon all the topics were taken. Authors stared writing and as an editor, I started to work on edits for a bevy of stories and I had the majority of them finished before November 2015.

I wrote another novel for National Novel Writing Month in November of 2015. I finished and in December I got back to work on edits for my authors. My boss sent me an email asking me if I could write a novella for the Love Is series about the topic: Love does not rejoice in evil but rejoices in the truth.

THE Baron's BlunderWell, I’ll try. I thought about trying to add a novella in my Orchard Hill series but the story idea I had for the next book didn’t quite fit that subject. I looked at my Regency series. It has five books and I wondered if perhaps I could pull a minor character from the first novel and give him or her a romance. I remembered that my main man, Lord Marcus Remington in The Virtuous Viscount (a Regency romance coming soon I hope!), had a sister. The Honorable Henrietta Allendale arrives mid-story, throwing a stumbling block in Marcus’s romance with Miss Josephine Storm.  Henrietta is married to a man named Lord Percy. So for this novella I wrote their romance.

I had so much fun. I was afraid I couldn’t write on demand but obviously that was a lie. And I hope readers enjoy my Regency romp of a romantic suspense as I did writing it. The Baron’s Blunder is up for preorder and releases on Friday, August 26th, 2016.

The Secret of Pembrooke Park (Book Review)

I’m typicaly a prolific reader but struggled with Julie Klassen’s latest Regency-era historical fiction, The Secret of Pembrooke Park. Typically in cases like this I wouldn’t even post a review but as I received a free copy from Bethany House, I am obligated to do so.

Abigail Foster is trying to save her family from financial ruin. Ever practical, and in search of inexpensive housing they agree to travel and live at Pembrooke Park, a home abruptly abandoned eighteen years past. Mysteries abound including the story that there is hidden treasure in the mansion. Abigail hopes to find it and restore her family’s fortune.

The local curate is welcoming and as much as his family knows the history of the place. His only warning is that strangers might come to search for the treasure. Mysterious letters and hidden rooms provide diversion in her quest as does the handsome pastor. Maybe she’ll find both love and treasure. . . or danger.

This book is indicative of some others from this publisher which contain far more detail than necessary to tell the story. I found myself bored and easily setting it down for days on end with no real desire to pick it up again. I love Regencies but this is not a traditional light, sweet, Regency. It is a historical novel. While well-written it was not what I anticipated and coming in at 456 pages seemed too long of a book for the story to be told.

Sisterhood of World Bloggers

I would like to thank Sharon McGregor, for inviting me to join Sisterhood of The World Bloggers. It looks like a fun gig.
sisterhood
First, before I get started, here are the rules…

The Rules:
1. Thank the blogger who nominated you.
2. Put the award logo on your blog.
3. Answer the 10 questions they’ve sent you.
4. Make up 10 new questions for your nominees to answer.

If you could go back in your life and change one decision you made, what would it be?

There’s a temptation to  want to do this but the fact is there are many blessings that came out of what at times feel like poor choices. I try to comfort myself that I made the best choices I could at the time with the knowledge I had then. I would not be the person I am today if it weren’t for those decisions and the consequences of them. Even bad decisions can lead to positive growth and God can use any of our past for His glory when we surrender it to Him. 
What is the most intriguing book you have ever read?

Well, the Bible would top that list for sure. I read a lot so trying to define the creme of the crop would be hard. When I was thirteen I read and reread S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders. Still compelling storytelling. i memorized Robert Frost’s poem Nothing Gold Can Stay because of that book.

For nonfiction: If I were to look at books I would want my kids to own: Intimacy with the Almighty by Charles Swindoll, Liberated through Submission by P.B. Wilson and anything by A.W. Tozer. For 2015, the non-fiction book of the year for me was The Extravagant Fool by Kevin Adams.

For fiction: I love The O’Malley Series by Dee Henderson, My Stubborn Heart by Becky Wade and Healing Grace by Lisa Lickel flow off the top of my head as cherished novels I have read again and again. And anything by Georgette Heyer. I could make a much longer list but that’s a good start.

If you could pick one word to describe yourself what would it be? 

Encourager.

If you could time travel, what period  of history would you choose and why?

Probably the Regency period (1811-1820) I love reading books from that time and would find it fascinating to experience it. Only for a brief period though. Jane Austen had to write everything by hand!

Did you have a role model growing up and if so, what effect did he/she have on your life?

I didn’t have one role model. But I did have a few people who encouraged me in a huge way:

  •  My English and Speech teacher, Orin Mueller was so encouraging of my writing and speaking and finding creative ways to share my faith. That was huge.
  • Pastor Mark Steele was my “boss” for many years at Stonebridge Community Church in Menonomee Falls, Wisconsin. He taught me firsthand about the importance of accountability. I learned that one of the most caring questions someone can ask me is “How is your relationship with God?” Is it any wonder that my contemporary romance series is set in the northwest suburbs of Milwaukee, and revolve around a fictional church called Orchard Hill?

If you could plan a dream vacation, one that may seem out of reach, where would you go?

I would return to Great Britian and spend more time visitng and touring. I was there once on a mission trip and didn’t want to come home. I think now that I’m older I would appreciatet the history and sightseeing even more than I did the first time.

If you could choose any profession to follow, what would it be?

I never planned to be an author growing up even though my favorite thing is to read. Being an editor was even further off my radar. But I think that right now I’m where God wants me to be doing both, as well as speaking at conferences. I enjoy my work.

Pick a card, any card-greeting card that is. What is your favourite holiday?

Probably have to say Christmas . . . that’s when I’m most likely to make my own greeting cards. I used to do over 100 of them but with my life busier now, I’ve had to scale that back and don’t make or send out as many as I used to.

2013-02-12_18-35-21_990What is your favourite pet? Dog or cat? Gerbil or snake? Horse or hamster? Or none at all?

I had a dog when I was a child but we had to give it away because I had terrible asthma/allergy issues. Bingo (Babette Suzette) was a silver poodle. I always mourned the fact that I could never have a pet but we did adopt a silly Quaker parrot about 20 years ago. My husband spoiled him terribly and he’s a snotty brat now. Over time, although I still have asthma and allergies, I learned that some animals didn’t make me sick. Two years ago we adoped our Maltese mix from a rescue. Spatzle is now six and sassy and my shadow and while I’m not especially fond of standing outside with him when it is 10 below zero, so he can relieve himself, I do adore him and am so glad he’s part of my life.

What one thing would you like to see happen in 2015?

My novel, Pesto and Potholes releases March 25, 2015, and I’m thrilled and terrified. I’ve written many books and this is my debut novel, and I think of all I’ve written, this one has more of “me” in it than any other. I hope readers will fall in love with Renata and Tony and find inspiration for their own walk with God in the “potholes” of their own lives. While it would be nice to sell lots of books, I think the greater reward is knowing that something you wrote impacted someone in a positive way. Having someone draw closer to God, is the greater, if intangible, reward.

My ten questions: 

1.  It’s a new year. Do you make resolutions or do you do the ‘one word’ concept? Care to share what either of them are?

2. If you could revisit any time in history, here would you go? What is happening?

3. Favorite beverage?

4. What’s your favorite social media? Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or something else. Why?

5. What is your favorite day/time of the week and why?

6. If you listen to music as you write, what is it?

7. It’s time to celebrate your birthday, what do you plan?

8. What is your most important role in life?

9. Are you a Princess or a Tomboy?

10. What kind of legacy do you hope to leave behind with your writing?

Fishing for Love (Regency Short Story Romance)

Image courtesy of EA at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of EA at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Percy walked out into the dewy grass and paused to smell the fresh summer air. He thought he saw a shadow in the distance and since he was headed that way he stepped forward to follow.

As he grew closer he noted the cloaked figure of Lady Annette Wallington. Daughter of a neighboring earl who passed away six months ago, and his closest friend all these years as they were neighbors.

She sat beneath the sprawling oak tree, on a blanket she must have carried with her. Percy gave a soft whistle to let her know he was coming and not startle her. It was a jaunty little tune they had made up one summer and was unique to them.

He saw her hood fall away from her face as she turned to look at him. Her expression grave.

“Good morning, Annette. What brings you out this early in the day?” He settled down with his fishing pole and tackle to bait his hook.

“I needed to get away from the house.”

“At this time of the day?”

“Even now it is an untenable place to live.”

“Why?”

“My uncle is to be wed to Miss Sophorina Dimplewile in a fortnight and demands that mother and I vacate the premises prior to that date.”

“This is shocking news. You are all still in mourning.”

“He has gone to half-morning and declares it is a prudent move.”

“Sophie was one of your bosom friends from finishing school?”

Was being the operative word.”

“There’s a huge age gap there. He’s only two years younger than your father.”

“I know.”

“So where will you go?” He cast his hook into the stream before looking at her again. He was concerned by the dark circles under her eyes, and wrinkles on her forehead.

“I know not. We have been ill-provided for. There is no Dower House and even his smaller properties he has denied us residence at.”

“He will not find you a place?”

“He says he washes his hands of us.”

“You and your mother have run that house and you especially have overseen the estate on his behalf and made it profitable, yet he refuses you aid?”

A tear trickled down her cheek and he propped his rod up so he could scoot backward to sit next to her.

“And Sophie is in agreement with his treatment?”

“It seems that becoming a countess brings with it a distaste for the lower orders.”

“Meaning you?”

“Apparently. With a heritage and education of a lady, but no season, and having worked in trade as an estate manager, they deem me ‘unmarriageable.’”

“They see you as employable in that role?”

“Right. Who would employ a woman as estate manager?”

“I would.”

She stared at him and shook her head. “You are the dearest of friends but even you cannot take on a single female into your home without scandal falling on both of us.”

“Ah, but a Duchess has more influence than a Countess, doesn’t she?”

“There are not many Dukes on the marriage mart and those who are, are ancient.”

“But there are heirs to dukedoms available.”

“And the only one of them I could ever have any affection for was you, Percy.”

Lord Percival smiled. “I’m glad to hear it. It would be poor form for me to duel with another peer for your affections.”

“You are being silly now. Everyone knows you will never marry and have no need to do so. Your brothers have provided a bevy of heirs.”

“Where did you ever get the impression I was opposed to marriage?”

“You’ve never been serious with a woman before and have never talked about it.”

“Not every man boasts of his conquests with women, although to be honest, I have none. But my heart has been engaged for an age. It has never seemed a prudent time to broach the matter with the one who holds my heart.”

She smiled at him. “Oh, Percy, I’m so glad for you. I pray she will be worthy of you. Who is she?”

“You don’t know?”

Her brow furrowed. “No.”

“Let me see if you can guess.”

She warily nodded her head.

“She was a devoted daughter and works hard. Her beauty takes my breath away and even the thought of her brings a smile to my face. I’ve known her for many years and she dances divinely. She has never had a season due to unfortunate circumstances. She has unwittingly held my heart for years as I have waited for her to grow, I hope, to return my affections.”

She smiled and a tear trickled down her cheek. “I’m so happy you have found love, Percy. I cannot guess though who this deserving woman would be.”

“No? More clues then?”

“Yes, silly man.”

“She is a wonder with numbers and reads and is able to converse on a wide variety of subjects from gothic novels to crop rotation. She is light on her feet and has lips so kissable that I have yet to taste.” He watched her face turn a rosy hue.

“Please, tell me you have proposed so I may wish you happy.”

“But you have your own problems. My happiness should never supersede your distress.”He sighed.  She looked up through the trees as the early dawn glow filtered through the leaves and dappled her face with odd patches of light.

He frowned at her cloak and reached up to the catch at the top to peek at what she wore underneath. “You came here in your night rail?”

“I was suffocating in my room and left in a hurry so as not to wake my maid who would have tattled to my uncle.”

“Tsk, tsk, tsk. You do know you could cause a scandal being alone with me. It is beyond the pale to be alone with me dressed in such a way. Did you even wear slippers?” He moved aside part of the cloak to reveal naked toes. He raised his eyebrows. “Well, Anne, you do know there is only one thing to be done now and it will make everyone happy.”

“What would that be?”

“You can marry me.”

Her book dropped off her lap as her jaw fell open. She recovered with a shake of her head. “But what of the one you love? I would never deprive you of that because of my imprudence.”

“If you said yes, I would hope she would be delighted.”

“You speak in riddles.”

“And you have not had enough rest. You are not thinking clearly.”

“Your pole! You have a bite.”

Percy reached out to grab his rod and tried to bring the fish in. Just as he was to bring it out of the water, it escaped leaving a naked hook. He set the pole down and came to sit next to her again. “Anne. It’s always been you I have loved and longed for. Please say you return my affections?”

“Me?”

“You, my love.”

“You love me?”

He nodded.

“I. . . I . . .I don’t know what to say.”

“Perhaps that you love me and want to be my bride, my best friend and mother of our children? And that you will help me run my estate?”

She gave him a soft smile. “I do love you and always have. You are the reason I didn’t mind missing a season. I couldn’t have borne seeing you in the arms of other women. I never dreamed . . .”

“Maybe you should start dreaming then. I’ve had plenty of dreams about you and would love to make every one a reality.” He watched her face grow pink. Or was it a trick of the light? “Say you’ll be mine, Anne?”

“I have no fortune.”

“Having you will be all the fortune I need.”

“You are certain?”

“Never more sure of anything than this. I love you, Anne. Please say you’ll marry me?” He leaned forward and their lips met in a tender moment of bliss. He pulled back and watched her eyes flutter open.

“If I marry you, will I get more of those?”

Percy smiled. “As many as you want, every day of our lives together.”

She leaned toward him and kissed him. He savored the moment but pulled back. It would be no good to tarnish his bride’s name.

“Yes, Percy. I will wed you.”

He couldn’t hide his grin if he had tried. “Soon? Would you like to beat your Uncle to the altar?”

“But the banns . . .”

“I’ll get a special license. We could be wed within a few days. Could you manage to be ready by then, with whatever you need and moving to my home?”

“I could be ready tomorrow should you but ask.”

“Do you need me to speak to your uncle?”

“I am of age and do not need his permission. I will inform him on the day of our wedding lest he, or Sophie try to ruin my joy.”

“I’ll bow to your wisdom on that.”

“I’m glad you decided to come fishing today. I’m sorry I’ve kept you from catching anything.”

“I caught myself a beautiful bride. You smell better than the fish too.”

She giggled as she pulled him toward her for another kiss. “Guess I reeled in a good catch myself.”

“Glad to be caught, Anne. I’ll be the one who didn’t get away.” He leaned down for his kiss, grateful that somehow today, his fishing was better than ever.