Posts Tagged ‘piatkus entice’

Cynthia Harrod-Eagles introduces I, Victoria

Piatkus Entice are delighted to publish yet another wonderful novel by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles. Cynthia tells the story of Queen Victoria in this sweeping tale of a Monarch whose life was  colourful, enthralling and with love and romance always in her heart . . .

I used to have favourite periods of history, and those I avoided.  One of the latter was the Victorian age. I had never studied it, and thought it would be dull. The images one somehow absorbs – humourlessness, prudery, stuffiness and wall-to-wall domestic propriety – do not have the obvious magnetism of, say, the court of Charles II or the affairs of Henry VIII.

However, writing the Dynasty series forced me to cover everything, and taught me that every period has its fascination. And the Victorian age is one of the most dynamic and rapidly-changing times in our history. Machinery, manufacturing, medicine, travel, the arts, the sciences – every field witnessed a great leap forward. A million small inventions profoundly changed the lives of every citizen: safety matches, fountain pens, cooking stoves, chloroform… Just think of having washable cotton clothes, instead of heavy, smelly wool. Think how frozen and tinned food revolutionised the diet.

And the railway. In all of man’s history he had never been able to travel over the surface of the earth faster than a horse could carry him. And horses have to rest. Now, people, goods and ideas could race from one end of the country to the other in hours instead of days. You could read the London newspaper in Leeds, eat fresh mackerel in Mansfield.

At the heart of this social convulsion was Victoria. Brought up in obscurity and near-imprisonment, hurled at a shy and ignorant 18 into a firece spotlight and huge responsibility, this tiny woman came to rule half the world.

The Victorian Age takes its name from her, yet Victoria herself was in character a Georgian: a hearty, fun-loving hedonist, fond of dancing, food and wine, parties and games and silly jokes. She was quick-tempered, loyal, generous, determined and sentimental. She was a sensualist who loved the pleasures of the bedroom.

The traits we think of as Victorian really belong to her husband, the handsome, studious, intellectual Albert. He had seen in his own family the terrible consequences of debauchery, of drink, drugs, gambling and promiscuity. His adored mother had been sent away for adultery when he was a little boy; his father and brother suffered from syphilis. His understandable reaction was a retreat into ironclad virtue. Marrying Victoria, he wanted to preserve her and his children from the same degradation, to reform the court and if possible the whole country. Merry England should become Modern England. Rabelais was out, Rationality was in.

How did these two very different characters manage to live together? The answer is, stormily. The head-on clash between Victoria’s fiery temper and Albert’s chilly stubbornness seemed likely to split the marriage and the court apart.What saved them was a deep, tender and richly erotic love: however much they quarrelled, they could always be reconciled in bed.

This, then, is the background to I,VICTORIA: a love-story that changed the world and the birth-pangs of a new age. How could I ever have thought the nineteenth century would be dull?

I, Victoria is available from Piatkus Entice now!

 

A delightful prequel to Terri Nixon’s Maid of Oaklands Manor

  Today, Terri Nixon shares with us a very special and exclusive, never before seen prequel ,to Maid of Oaklands Manor.

 

March 1912.                                     

‘Getting off at Breckenhall?’ the woman asked me, her voice cutting easily through the rising din of excitable children. The train carriage was packed, with the youngsters climbing all over each other and their luggage, and this woman clearly had no intention of taming their behaviour. Why would she, when she was able to ignore them with such practiced ease?

I nodded. It probably looked rude, but my grainy eyes just wanted to close, and open again to find myself back home in Plymouth. Instead all I could see were bobbing heads, and the rapidly flashing tops of trees through the window. It was starting to make me feel sick.

‘Going into service?’ the woman persisted.

I nodded again, and managed, ‘Oaklands.’

Immediately the woman’s mouth tightened. ‘Hmm. Them up at the manor … well, they’re ones to watch, if you ask me.’

I hadn’t intended to do any such thing, but now she had my reluctant attention. Ma had worked at Oaklands for years, and been very happy doing so; she’d never once suggested the Creswells were anything but a normal, if extraordinarily wealthy, family. Cheshire royalty.

‘What do you mean, ones to watch?’ I could have kicked myself, but it was too late to take the question back now.

The woman sniffed, and shifted her position in her seat so that her back was turned to the only other adult in the carriage. I leaned forward, forgetting my queasiness and tiredness for a moment, and her eyes narrowed. ‘Lord Henry Creswell. Him that died in Africa?’

‘Yes?’

The woman paused with her mouth slightly open, then shook her head. ‘No. It’s not for me to say.’

‘I’m sure you’re going to, nevertheless.’ The words had popped out before I had chance to bite them back, and I saw her plump face darken. She abruptly remembered she had the care of six children, who were currently entertaining themselves by pinching one another to see who could elicit the loudest shout, and she turned to admonish them. They paid as much attention to her as she had so far been doing to them, and I looked away, suppressing a smile.

‘I’m sorry,’ I said after a moment, ‘I’m just a bit tired. It’s been a long journey.’

The woman thawed slightly, and nodded. She abandoned her charges to their own devices once more, and settled back in her own seat.  ‘I understand, pet. Anyway, I’m sure you’ll be right as rain. Oh, but watch out for their kitchen maid, Ruth. She’s no better than she ought to be.’

‘Thank you, I’ll remember that.’ It seemed the right thing to say.

‘What’s your job to be? Lady’s maid?’

I shook my head. ‘Nothing so grand, I’m afraid. I’m replacing a girl called Mercy, as scullery maid.’

‘Well, she’s always had her nose in the air when it should be in the grate,’ the woman opined. ‘Scullery maid was never good enough for her.’

‘So, that’s the Creswells, the kitchen maid and the scullery maid,’ I mused. ‘Is there anyone there I might like, do you think?’

The woman eyed me sharply, and didn’t answer. This time I made no apology, although I did feel a glimmer of guilt for the way I’d spoken. My tiredness returned with a crash. All I wanted was to get off the train, and leave this woman and her squabbling brood; she was clearly nothing more than the local gossip, and knew far less than she pretended to.

The train rattled into Breckenhall station and I took my leave with a polite smile –  which wasn’t returned – and a huge sense of relief, as I stepped onto the platform and the noise faded into the background. But as I turned my feet towards the road leading out of town, and towards Oaklands Manor, I saw that sudden tightening of the woman’s face again, and heard her words of warning, and I wondered …

Terri Nixon’s Maid of Oaklands Manor is available from Piatkus now!

 

 

Terri Nixon and Maid of Oaklands Manor

Terri Nixon, author of Maid of Oaklands Manor, introduces us to Jack Carlisle, the man who will steal Lizzy’s heart. Here, in this exclusive extract, we see just what the housekeeper thinks of Jack . .  .

March 1912.

It was no good, there was something about him … Mrs Cavendish tried to keep her attention on Lady Creswell’s instructions, and her pen made the necessary notes, born of long practice and an innate awareness of the household’s needs, but more than half her attention was on the man sitting quietly in the corner of the room. Why did he insist on spending all his free time here? His promise to Lord Henry had been honoured; he’d taken good care of the family after His Lordship had died in ’02, but it was past time to be getting back to his own life, surely?

She was well aware that most of the younger ladies were happy to ignore his rather shady behaviour; those dark blue eyes and strong features made willing fools of them, but not her. A smile, a friendly word from his quiet, northern-accented voice, and silly girls came over all blushes and chattering, but Jack Carlisle’s undeniable charms only made the housekeeper more suspicious; why had he no wife, no family? And where did he go, when he left Oaklands for long stretches at a time, if he’d no home of his own to tend to?

‘So that will be four extra for dinner,’ Lady Creswell was saying, and from the the corner of her eye Mrs Cavendish saw Mr Carlisle’s dark brows draw down in a frown; no love was spared between him and the obnoxious Wingfields, which should have gone some way to soothing her mistrust of the man, but it didn’t. And his reaction proved he was always listening, whether he appeared to be or not. She gave a little shiver.

‘Four,’ she repeated, noting it down. ‘Will that be all then?’

‘Unless you have any business you’d like to discuss?’

Mrs Cavendish put down her notebook. ‘Aye, well, it’s only that we’re still short-handed in the scullery. Is there any word on a replacement yet?’

‘Ah!’ Lady Creswell opened her desk drawer and pulled out a letter. ‘I have withdrawn the advertisement, since I received a rather fortuitous message from Jane Parker, who worked here a good while ago.’

‘I don’t remember the name, Your Ladyship.’

‘She left shortly before you came, I think. She married a miner and moved to the West Country. Anyway, her daughter is looking for a position, and Jane’s work was exemplary, so I have agreed to take the girl without interview. She arrives next week.’

‘What’s her name?’

‘Mary Parker.’

‘Well we’ll have to change that, can’t have two Marys running around,’ Mrs Cavendish said, scribbling down the name. ‘I’ll arrange that with her when she arrives.’

‘Very well, thank you.’ Lady Creswell closed her accounts book and the daily audience was over. ‘Good morning.’

Mrs Cavendish rose. ‘Thank you, Your Ladyship.’ She turned to leave, and Mr Carlisle raised his head from his book.

‘Good morning, Mrs Cavendish,’ he said, and smiled. Mrs Cavendish nodded, but didn’t return the smile; he would bear very close watching. She pulled the door closed behind her, and stood in the great hallway, her eyes roving over the paintings of former lords and ladies of Oaklands Manor … they looked down at her with tranquil familiarity, but Mrs Cavendish had the unsettling idea that a dark change was coming, and that Mr Jack Carlisle was going to be at the heart of it.

Maid of Oaklands Manor by Terri Nixon celebrates its one year anniversary! It is available from Piatkus now!

 

Maid of Oaklands Manor celebrates its one year anniversary!

To celebrate the one year anniversary of the publication of Maid of Oaklands Manor by Terri Nixon, the Piatkus Entice competition winner for 2012, we are delighted to feature a week of some lovely contributions by this very special author.

Here, Terri Nixon takes us on her journey to publication . .  .

Getting to know “Just Lizzy.”

Lizzy Parker:  “… a heroine to fall in love with.”  (Saskia Sarginson.)

When I began writing Maid of Oaklands Manor (winner in the Historical category of the Piatkus Entice Romantic Fiction award, 2012) I had nothing more in mind than finally fictionalising some of the things my late maternal grandmother had told me about her time in domestic service. I’d never attempted any kind of historical work before, but I was looking forward to it, so I wrote copious notes, talked to my mother, got all prepared, and then settled down to write a kind of memoir on Grandma’s behalf.

Then Lizzy arrived. Out of nowhere, she landed on the page – in the first person, something I had never done before outside the short story format – and all I could do was watch with a kind of dazed bewilderment as she took complete charge. To be fair, she behaved herself quite nicely at the start; she got on with her work, learned a lot, made the usual mix of friends and ones-to-watch that any one of us makes when we start a new job, experienced a life that was alternately fulfilling and frustrating … and then she met Jack Carlisle.

Oh dear.  Jack.

Where do we start with him? Friendly?  Yes.  Intelligent? Undoubtedly.  Attractive? Lizzy certainly thought so, and she wasn’t the only one.  The subject of speculation below-stairs, and conflict above; an instant connection that crossed first social boundaries, and then legal ones;  an undercurrent of mystery. But that connection was undeniable, and it was all just a little bit thrilling, from the safe haven of Lizzy’s happy life and new, fast-emerging emotions.

Then, to Lizzy’s horror, Jack’s actions propelled her into a shocking new existence, and my grandmother’s gentle upstairs/downstairs story took a flying leap out of the window.

I couldn’t have loved it more!  The story picked up its pace, evolved into something entirely different, but when it came to editing I left the original, gentle opening chapters – a risky choice, but people seem to like it, and enjoy the  surprise all the more when things take that dark turn.

Thanks to Piatkus Entice, this story was published in July 2013, and has set my feet firmly on the road on which I intend to stay. And, despite my eye-rolling, and determination to write the story I’d originally planned, I adored getting to know Lizzy – so much so that she features in the sequel too, although it’s not part of her own post-Oaklands story. Seems she’s one of those girls who quietly creeps into your consciousness, and doesn’t make too much of a fuss – until she has to.

***

Maid of Oaklands Manor  by Terri Nixon was shortlisted in the 2013 Festival of Romance awards, in the Best Historical Read category.

A Rose in Flanders Fields is due out on July 7 2014.

www.terri-nixon.co.uk

Charlotte Betts on The Milliner’s Daughter

Join the author Charlotte Betts as she explains her inspiration behind The Milliner’s Daughter . . .

When I’m working on a novel there are some characters who take on a life of their own and refuse to go back in the bookcase when I’ve finished the story. Arabella Leyton, the wicked stepmother in The Apothecary’s Daughter, is one of them. She insisted on playing an important part in The Painter’s Apprentice and even poked her nose into a scene in The Spice Merchant’s Wife!

Arabella is a character readers love to hate and they often ask me what happened to her after her husband died of the plague in The Apothecary’s Daughter. So I decided it would be fun to write about her adventures after she escaped over the rooftops from the quarantined apothecary shop with her five children in tow.

Although Arabella is a selfish and ruthless social climber I wanted to show that there are two sides to every story. Life could be very hard for women in the seventeenth century. There were few choices: you married and went in by the front door of the house or you became a servant and went in by the back door. Without marriage even women from higher up the social scale often had little choice other than to live on the charity of their relatives.

In such circumstances, who can blame Arabella for using her beauty to manipulate men to fall in love with her, since this is her only weapon in a very uncertain world? Her behaviour at times is reprehensible but I confess to a secret admiration for her because she is brave and resourceful and says things and behaves in ways that I never could. Sometimes I wonder if she is a reflection of my dark side!

The Milliner’s Daughter is the story of how Arabella sets out to find a new husband to provide a better future for herself and her children. When she meets wealthy but dull Mr Goddard, she dares to believe that her worries are over. But what does she do when her charismatic childhood sweetheart arrives on her doorstep to sweep her off her feet?

The Milliner’s Daughter is out now on Piatkus Entice! The Apothecary’s DaughterThe Painter’s Apprentice and  The Spice Merchant’s Wife are also available digitally, as well as in all good bookstores everywhere!

Jennifer Haymore introduces His For Christmas . . . and gets us into the festive spirit.

 

The holidays are my favorite time of year. This year is particularly special, because my mother is crossing an ocean to be with us during the holidays—it’ll be the first holiday season I’ve spent with her since I was a teen, and the first holiday my children will have with her. For me, the holidays are the time of year when people’s focus turns to family, giving…and love. I love how the holidays bring out peoples’ kindness, goodness, and generosity. I love how families can put aside their differences and just be together and enjoy one another. Most of all, I love the sense of love that seems to pervade the whole season.

These holiday themes are what inspired me to write His For Christmas. It’s a story of a woman’s and a man’s struggles to be with their families for Christmas, and how in the course of that journey, they fall in love. It’s ultimately the spirit of the holidays that ends up bringing these two together (well…along with a little help from a bit of bad weather!). My greatest hope for this story is that it will touch every reader with a bit of holiday joy.

To all of you—I hope you have a lovely holiday season, full of family, friends, laughter, great books, and, of course, love!

Our Entice Hero Hunk (in cinemas now!!)

With the exciting news that Fifty Shades of Grey had been cast, the Entice team sat down and dreamed of the day that some of the Entice titles would be adapted for the screen. And if when it does, our editors will be ready for their pick of star. Charlie Hunnam, move over! Here are our hunk castings for three popular Entice titles:

 

1) Sweet Proposal by Celia J. Anderson, Leo

Books, chocolate and a Jacuzzi: could there be a better combination? Gorgeous Geordie Leo arrives in Clayton-on-the-Bream with a mission to make his mark. When he reveals his ideas for a bespoke bookshop and chocolate-themed cafe, struggling writer Mab can’t resist both him and his plea for help.

If you haven’t read Piatkus Entice winner Celia J. Anderson’s Sweet Proposal yet, then what are you waiting for? It’s a deliciously heart-warming and romantic read as we follow our heroine, Mab, on her search for her happy-ever-after. And when hunky Leo arrives on the scene, he is surely the man to make that happen. Not only is he manly, gorgeous and super sexy, he’s from Newcastle – who can resist the Geordie accent? and he’s funny. A perfect combination! Now if Gerard Butler can perfect that Newcastle twang then he is a Leo in the making! Why aye man! – Caroline Kirkpatrick

 

 

 

2) Dark Predator by Christine Feehan, Zacarias

We may not always come right out and admit it, but every woman has her preferred type of hunk – ‘witty and charming’, ‘silent and brooding’, ‘heavily muscled, not-too-bright but primal’ – film, TV and books offer a positive cornucopia of drool-worthy options. I lean towards the ‘tortured, morally-on-the-edge but totally badass’ (Omar from The Wire, Khal Drogo from Game of Thrones – even Robin Hood!). That’s why, when we started discussing our favourite book heroes, my thoughts immediately turned towards Christine Feehan’s Dark Carpathian series, as she excels at exactly this type of hero, the kind you desperately hope can save himself in time. Without finding their life mate, her heroes are slowly drained of all colour and emotion, until their temptation to kill and become an abomination is too strong to resist – it gives this whole series an immense tension and power. My favourite Carpathian hero is Zacarias in Dark Predator, a “merciless, ruthless and implacable dark predator”, who finally, against all the odds, finds his soul mate. I find that the closer the hero is to the edge of darkness, the more dramatic and moving his journey is back into the light. To anyone who hasn’t read Feehan before, as well as any fans of seriously dangerous and dark heroes, I heartily recommend you give Feehan’s work a go!

Just for fun and as the Dark Carpathians aren’t yet a film (and WHY NOT?! Come on, Hollywood!), I’ve pasted a picture of Khal Drogo – can’t you just see him in the battlefield, brutally protecting the woman he loves… *sigh. – Anna Boatman

 

3) The Charley Davidson series by Darynda Jones, Reyes Farrow

Never has the Devil been so sweet . . .

Er, I mean, the Devil’s son. And he is. SO SWEET. Any by sweet I mean sexy, dark, smug, fierce, brooding and the altogether ‘bad boy’ that so many girls climb out of their window for these days. And best of all? He meets Charley head-on! He’s a match for our girl! Seriously, Charley is basically the friend I would never think anyone was good enough for. But Reyes? He had his faults (inferno, fire, damned for all eternity, blah blah blah blah blah) but he’s just enough damaged (and just enough redeemed) for our favourite Grim Reaper.

For Reyes I have always imagined someone with with charm, someone smooth, but perfectly capable of winning in a bar fight. I need him to be dark, but with soft eyes. *Cue* Adrian Grenier. He’s a dream. Perfect casting. – Grace Menary-Winefield

 

Tell Us Your Good & Bad Date Stories!

Editor Caroline wants to know your secrets, good and bad . . . !

Here at Piatkus Entice, we love hearing about good and bad date experiences. Was that first date one that you’d just never want to relive or was it the one that you met Mr Right on? I asked a group of girlfriends (all anonymous of course!) what their worst date stories were ever . . . answers below!

The date that sticks in the mind as particularly disastrous took place when I was at university. You know the scene. I took a book from a shelf in the library and our eyes locked over the gap between. He was really good looking and when he asked me out to coffee at the student union I was chuffed. He started with some lovely compliments but then in a blink of an eye started raving about the end times and Judgement Day for all who’d sinned. Needless to say I thought, Blimey. This is a bit full on for coffee! Once he’d finished his rant, he then went on to describe in minute detail his daily diet and how many calories he needed to function. This went on for quite some time. Thank goodness I could escape to my next lecture. It’s safe to say that when he called to fix a date for the next discussion of the end times, I was washing my hair!

I’d liked a guy for ages and so was very nervous about our first date. So I had a (large!) glass of wine before I left the house. Then more wine at dinner. Then a cocktail. And then . . . I threw up on him! I’m now happily married, but not to that guy who, unsurprisingly, never called me back!

I had a really bad date where we ran out of conversation so badly that the high point was when Twitter announced Amazon was buying Goodreads. We both noticed because we were both checking our phones that much.

Send us your best and worst date stories in! We’re dying to hear them!

Love,

Caroline x

The Underrated Good Guy

It makes me sad that the good guy never gets appreciated in fiction. He’s always stuck just out of shot somewhere, being emotionally available, proffering tea, mopping up tears and never, ever getting the girl. So I’m fighting for the good guy today! I say NO to dashing, dangerous heroes who sweep a girl off her feet then drop her from a great height because of their dark and brooding troubles. I want someone who’s there when, at the end of a truly rubbish day, I come home and need a shoulder massage. Someone who I know will make the right choice when faced with the temptation to hurt someone he loves. Someone whose sense of humour is more developed than their internal angst. Let’s hear it for the tea-bringers, the children-feeders and the bloody good friends.  I admit I may be biased because I’ve recently re-watched a very old series called Due South. Haven’t heard of it? Order it immediately. Do not pass go – it’s worth more than £200.

The hero, Benton Fraser, is a Canadian Mountie (an under-represented genre of romance hero that I’m currently in the right mood to receive submissions for, hint hint). He has almost no sense of humour, a moral compass of such exactitude that most of modern life is a mystery to him and believes in everyone implicitly. He’s a big ol’ hunk of gullible, crime-fighting good guy and he’s the best proof I’ve come across that ‘good’ doesn’t have to mean ‘dull’. So come on any wannabe writers among you – write me a true hero! I could murder a cup of tea and a shoulder massage right about now…

Have you come across any good guys you’ve fallen for? Or are you firmly wedded to the dark side… We’d love to hear what you think!