I’m always moved by art and love to share pieces that touch me. This is Jean Baptiste Marie Pierre’s Nativity. He was an 18th century French painter who served as Premier peintre du Roi (Head painter of the King!) from 1770 till his death in 1789. I love the way the source of light for the whole canvas seems to be emanating from the baby Jesus. Light of the world, indeed.

The Nativity by Jean Baptiste Marie Pierre

The Nativity by Jean Baptiste Marie Pierre

  Happy Christmas, dear friends. May your holiday be filled with wonder, laughter and the joy of being with those you love.

Touch of a RogueThe Romance ReviewWell, this is a lovely surprise! Touch of a Rogue, Book 2 in the Touch of Seduction series, has been nominated for Best Book of 2012 in the erotic historical category at The Romance Reviews.

I’ll have to confess that I’m not sure how I feel about being listed in an erotic category. My love scenes involve one man/one woman without anything I’d call kink. When I hear ‘erotic,’ I think multiple partners, a tangle of anonymous limbs and sex for the act’s sake without any hint of relationship outside the boudoir. Erotic smacks of titillation instead of storytelling to me. And most especially, it signals disregard for deepening the readers’ understanding of the characters or advancing the story.

Since those are two requirements for any scene in my books, I work especially hard to make sure the explicit aspects of my stories follow suit. I do write hot love scenes–I believe one lovely reviewer called them “incandescent!”–but do I write erotica?

Only my readers know for sure.

The Romance ReviewLord of Fire and IceThe second lovely surprise is that Lord of Fire and Ice, the Viking tale I wrote with New York Times Bestseller Connie Mason, also got a nod from The Romance Reviews! It’s been nominated for the Historical category.

Now I don’t expect it will win. The rest of the books are Regencies by romance luminaries like Elizabeth Hoyt, Grace Burrowes, Shana Galen, Sarah MacLean and Courtney Milan. But Lord of Fire and Ice’s inclusion here might be signaling a willingness in the romance reading public to try something outside the normal fare. I hope so.

With the recent debut of Vikings on the History Channel, readers can get a fascinating peek into 8th century Norse culture. Be warned that I’ve seen a couple of things on the series that were at odds with my research. For example, while the Vikings kept slaves and even had some who were designated as bedslaves, the Norse raiders’ horror of homosexuality would have kept them from offering their slave a chance to join in a three way with the master and his wife. That so wouldn’t have happened.

And I don’t believe there’s any archeaological evidence to support the jarl killing a little boy and burying him with a hoard of gold to guard it for use in the after-life. When the jarl died he might have had servants burned with him in his soul boat, but to my knowledge, no Viking hoards have been discovered with a skeleton buried alongside the wealth.

Erinsong

Click to read an excerpt!

So now it’s your turn. Please weigh in on whether or not you found Touch of a Rogue erotic. What is your definition of erotica?

And if you’ve been watching Vikings, do you have any questions about those rough-edged raiders?

(Oh! Looks like the 99 cent sale on Erinsong, my Irish/Viking romance is still holding for Kindle and Nook! The idea for this story came to me when the DH and I visited Ireland a few years ago and I discovered that Dublin started as a Viking over-winter settlement. They may have started as raiders, but eventually, they came to stay.)

As always, I look forward to hearing from YOU.

 

RagnarDid you happen to see the pilot of Vikings on the History Channel last Sunday? If you missed it, you can view the first two episodes online. I haven’t been this excited about a TV series since I discovered Downton Abbey.

Of course, I have a soft spot in my heart for those Nordic barbarians. My first two novels, Maidensong and Erinsong, are set in the Viking world. (Dragonsong, the final book in the Songs of the North trilogy will be out later this year!) And this new series shows so many things that captivate me about this time period.

MaidenSong

Click to read an excerpt!

History is usually told by the victors, but in this case, much of what we know about the Vikings came from their victims. Once they began raiding outside the Scandinavian fjords, they showed up in the chronicles of the day and every Christian soul in ‘civilized’ Europe began to pray “Deliver us, O Lord, from the fury of the Northmen.”

But they weren’t simply mindless raiders. In the late 8th century, they were making technological advances like a keel for their sleek, beautiful longships and a sun compass that allowed them to calculate latitude. And while the rest of Europe bathed once a year whether they needed it or not, the Vikings bathed once a week and took great pride in their appearance.

They were the last population group to convert to Christianity, but that didn’t mean they had no moral sense of “ought-ness.” The Norse had a detailed collection of laws with punishments for specific crimes carefully laid out. They had a rich mythology, as complex as the Greco-Roman system of gods and goddesses. It’s a fascinating culture and I’m so glad the History Channel is doing such a good job of recreating it.

Of course, it’s not the Regency. The women don’t wear gorgeous gowns and there are no fine balls. But the Vikings knew how to love and how to hate and they thought a man’s chief duty was to provide for and protect his family. In my book, that’s hero material.

Erinsong

Click to read an excerpt!

For years, the historical romance genre has shrunk to mean only stories set in England and then only in the Georgian-Regency-Victorian eras. With the success of Downton Abbey, I expect the late Edwardian, early 20th century to creep into the mix, but that still leaves a mammoth portion of the world and its history left unvisited by the romance world.

What do you think? Are you willing to read outside the box? What unusual setting has captivated you? Or if you are a historical purist, please share why you love the Regency. (Don’t worry, I love it too. But I do enjoy dabbling in other times and places as well.)