I’ve never done this before, but after reading the LoveSavesTheWorld review of The Madness of Lord Westfall, I had to write and ask for permission to repost the review here. I’m always interested in what catches my readers’ eyes, so it was very instructive. Fortunately, Tin gave her permission so here are her beautifully expressed thoughts:

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THE MADNESS OF LORD WESTFALL smallI really enjoyed the first book in Mia Marlowe’s Order of the Muse series, and I’ve been waiting for the second book to come out. When it did, I was able to muster a bit of willpower and waited for the third book to come out, because, I knew that, after reading Pierce’s book, I would want to read the third book IMMEDIATELY — and, that’s exactly what happened.

In terms of “superpowers”, many would think Pierce Langdon, Lord Westfall, has a really great one: his ability allows him to hear people’s deepest darkest thoughts. I could think of a million ways that Pierce could use his talent to take advantage of people, but, in reality, Pierce sees what he has as a great burden, and he’s had to train with the Duke of Camden in order to build a wall to block out the invasion of other people’s thoughts.

Pierce is such a great character — he spent most of his formative and adult years locked away in Bedlam, and, before that, he lived in the countryside, so he hasn’t really had any real experience of the outside world. Ever since he was liberated from Bedlam by the Duke of Camden, Pierce has worked with MUSE within the safe confines of their house/headquarters. But now Pierce is needed in the field, to locate an object with psychical powers, that the Duke suspects will be used against the Prince Regent. It’s a rare, and unwanted, moment for Pierce, who is happy to live away from people — but, he knows he owes the Duke his life, and so he risks succumbing to madness and ventures out to help MUSE with its latest mission.

Pierce finds himself inside the mind of Lady Nora Claremont, a famed courtesan.

This is where it gets very interesting, because Pierce has had no previous knowledge of Nora, he sees and accepts her without any prejudice or regard for the past. For Nora, this is a godsend: for the first time in her life, someone is seeing her beyond her youthful mistakes and her tarnished reputation. At the same time, Nora, while a member of the aristocracy, but has long been exiled from it, had never heard of Pierce, or of his life. Maybe it’s a strange choice of words to describe a “madman” and a courtesan, but there’s a heartbreaking innocence to their encounter. It is a clean slate for both our hero and heroine, and a chance for them to show the other their real identity.

… “Have I offended you in some way, sir?”

If not, it wasn’t for lack of trying. Something about him made her uncomfortable. She’d be just as happy if this man left Albemarle’s party. He wasn’t the jovial sort Benedick Albemarle usually cultivated at his routs.

“No, you’ve given me no cause for offense. Though I suspect the world has offended you more than once,” he said. “I am sorry for it. You deserve a full measure of respect.”

That took her aback. While she was arguably the most sought after high-flyer in London, no one had ever cared if they offended her.

It’s innocent meets jaded, as Pierce disarms Nora with his earnestness. Nora has never met anyone like Pierce, who genuinely appreciates her and talking to her. Most men of her acquaintance only want one thing from her. It’s a challenge for Pierce not to listen to Nora’s thoughts — again, this is a testament to Pierce’s heart — he could easily just read her mind and become her ideal person. But he would rather try on his own, without the use of his powers. I loved imagining the delight in a new beginning, a fresh start, for both of them. In Pierce’s case, it was a revelation to him that he could be with someone, and that someone could love and accept him — “madness” and all. It is rare in historical romances for the hero to be the one to discover love for the first time, but that is the case with Pierce — and it is a breathtaking moment.

Nora looked up, aware that most men loved to catch a woman in this state. She was wearing half-dress, her hair unbound, her expression appropriately dewy-eyed and hopeful after supposedly letting Byron’s lush verses surge over her.

“Hullo, Westfall,” she said.

“Your book is upside down.”

“Oh!” She laid it aside as quickly as if it were a viper.

“But you looked lovely pretending to read it. I assume that was the point, so, well done.”
 
But things were never easy for Pierce or Nora, who have had to fight to survive up to this point, so it comes as no surprise that their own relationship would prove to be a seemingly insurmountable struggle: Nora is in an arrangement with Lord Albemarle, and Pierce is investigating him. The weakest part of the story is the psychical object, which is Fides Pulvis, which allows the user to control whoever consumes the powder.

“Trust Powder. One pinch and whoever takes it from me will believe whatever I tell them is gospel. Damned handy thing in the right hands.”
 
The plan is to slip some in the Prince Regent’s drink, and then control his decision regarding the …, which would, therefore, extend the armed conflict between France and England. Part of me wasn’t convinced that the truth powder was a game changer, if it was ever used on the King. Maybe it’s a lack of explanation or history/backstory on the powder — but, it just felt, harmless to me. But, it does create a very complex test of love and loyalty for the characters in the story: Nora loves Pierce and wants to help him, but she understands Lord Albemarle’s situation and why he has the Fides Pulvis. It’s a crisis of priorities and sides, and it falls on Pierce to make the correct judgments — he is in an intimate position to know Nora’s thoughts, but does he have to share these discoveries with the Duke of Camden? Is his love for Nora greater than the needs of his country?

But the Sensory Extraordinaires believed that it would change the tides of history, and they all put themselves on the line in order to locate it. Mia Marlowe uses Pierce’s story to develop Meg Anthony’s story a bit. She’s a “finder” and little else is known of her — Marlowe delves a little bit deeper into her history and explains her abilities a little bit more. (Yes, when I finished Pierce’s book, I immediately started reading Meg’s book.)

What I love about this series is this: while the stories have a touch of paranormal in them, Marlowe uses it as a vehicle to highlight the very, very human needs and wants of the Sensory Extraordinaires. Lord Stanstead needed to feel hope, Lord Westfall needed to feel wanted and accepted, the Duke of Camden needs closure, and Vesta needs the Duke’s love.

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THE MADNESS OF LORD WESTFALL smallThanks so much for that thoughtful review, Tin. And thank you to everyone who posts a review of my work, whether it’s on your own review blog or at the etailer’s site where you purchased it. I truly appreciated each one.

And if you haven’t read THE MADNESS OF LORD WESTFALL, the story is available in print and as an ebook. Here’s where you can find it:

Amazon  
Barnes & Noble 
Book Depository 
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Entangled 

iBooks 
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Happy Reading!

 

I’ve had 30 titles published since 2006. My work has been nominated for a RITA and RT’s Reviewers’ Choice Awards. One of my books even made it into the 2010 Best of PEOPLE magazine! I’ve been blessed with a loyal readership, fabulous reviews and wonderful relationships with my editors and my agent. I’m a lucky girl and I know it.

So why did I decide to change from writing sensual historicals to much sweeter contemporary stories?

It didn’t happen quickly. A couple of years ago, while I was still happily writing historicals for multiple publishers, I started noodling around with a contemporary set in a fictional town in the green hills of the Ozarks. I was living in an urban area at the time and really missing my small town roots. Maybe that’s why I fell in love with my own creation–Coldwater Cove, a place that’s a cross between Lake Woebegone and Mayberry! Then the troop of characters that lived there began clamoring for me to tell their stories.

When I sent the first 3 chapters to my agent, she warned me that this was a HUGE departure from my previous writing. Not only was The Coldwater Warm Hearts Club set in today’s world after I’d made my name writing historicals, this new story read like a completely different voice. And it was wholesome enough to read aloud with your Sunday School class. Not that this series is exclusively for the Christian market. It’s not. The Coldwater Cove stories are sweet romance/women’s fiction in the spirit of Debbie Macomber and Kristan Higgins. But I’m not hindered from letting my characters explore the spiritual side of their lives. My characters are flawed. They wouldn’t be realistic if they weren’t. They’ve made mistakes and will probably make a lot more, but they’re working on it.

Because the bedroom door remains closed in these books, I could spend more time exploring other aspects of my characters’ lives. The romantic relationship isn’t the only one that has a growth arc. I also write about friendships and  relationships between adult children and their parents. In The Coldwater Warm Hearts Club, I take on veterans’ issues—not just my hero dealing with his PTSD and the loss of his leg, but also how a community of faith and hope comes together to help a homeless Viet Nam vet find his way back into society.  And eventually, in coming books, to a restoration of his broken marriage and into a relationship with God.

When I wrote as Mia, my personal rule was that every scene in my stories had to either deepen the character or advance the plot, preferably both, including any love scenes. However, even with those guidelines, I felt conflicted about my writing. Since I’m a Christian, it was a tension I couldn’t continue to ignore. I thought I could ease that tension by sneaking spiritual themes into my books. I wrote several faith conversions in my historical novels, even though one of my editors said I was in danger of giving my readers whiplash. I’m especially proud of Once Upon a Plaid (Kensington, October 2014), a book set in 16th century Scotland about a married couple who are childless in an age when a man needs an heir like he needs his sword arm. Not only are Kat and William trying to save their marriage after losing a stillborn son and several failed pregnancies, William has to deal with his anger and bitterness toward God. He finally realizes that God understands exactly how he feels, because He too watched His Son die.

But even though I was able to slip a good bit of faith into my historicals over the years, I grew more convicted about my writing and knew I needed to take it in a different direction. One of the many good things about being a Christian is that God gives us a do-over when we need one.

And I needed one.

the coldwater warm hearts club I turned down a request for more historicals from one of my other publishers, and told my agent to go ahead and send the first 3 chapters of The Coldwater Warm Hearts Club to my editor at Kensington. She and I have formed a solid working relationship over the years, and I hoped to keep it going. Fortunately, she loved my new voice and the Coldwater Cove series is off and running.

We are physical, emotional and spiritual beings. I write about life and that involves so much more than physical. Moving to writing my sweeter Coldwater Cove series has been very freeing. I love these stories, and I’m very glad to have turned this page in my writing career.

Please don’t think I’ve become anti-sex. Not at all. After all, it was God’s idea in the first place and the Bible is very frank in its discussion of sex of all sorts. I don’t judge what anyone reads.But as it always has been in this business, I can only control what I write. And I choose to write about the kind of folks you might meet in the grocery store line, in your kid’s PTA, or in the mirror each morning.

Life is hysterical. It’s both sadder and sweeter than we realize. It can beat us down to a nubbin’ and lift us up to dizzying heights. The only constant is change, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be better than we ever imagined. This is the latest chapter in my life and I’d love for you to come along for the ride.

Thank you for reading my books.Truly. It means the world to me when someone chooses to spend hours of their life with me and my imaginary friends. If you enjoyed my writing as Mia, I hope you’ll give my Lexi Eddings books a try.

I promise I’ll make you laugh, I’ll make you cry, and I’ll always give you a happy ending.

THE MADNESS OF LORD WESTFALL smallThe release of The Madness of Lord Westfall is almost upon us! I love this story and freely confess that Pierce Langdon is my favorite hero to date. Hope you’ll love him too. 

Readers always want to know what a book is about before they commit several hours of their lives to the story, so let me give you a few insights. And since brevity is the soul of wit, I’ll use as few words as possible.

The Madness of Lord Westfall premise in one line:

When Pierce Langdon, Lord Westfall fell from an oak tree as a boy, the accident so rattled his brain, it left him hearing voices. Now he’s fallen again…this time for a totally unsuitable woman! 

(Ok, that was two lines, but you get the idea.)

Which came first? Plot, premise or people?

My hero came first. We first meet Pierce in The Curse of Lord Stanstead (Book One in the series). He’s both strong and vulnerable, funny without meaning to be and once he gives his heart, it stays given. I couldn’t wait to write his story. Who wouldn’t be fascinated by a guy who’s spent time confined to Bedlam?

What do I love about The Madness of Lord Westfall?

Other than my hero? The theme of redemption and the way love binds up the hurts of our pasts and makes us whole speaks to me. I hope it’ll speak to you too.

My favorite advances review quote:

I’m thrilled to share that there have been lots of terrific ones, but one of my favs was the review with a 5 star rating from a Goodreads reader:

“I never thought I would start with this sentence… I fell for a man who has been in a prisoner in Bedlam. But when you read this wonderful tale you will too.”

The Madness of Lord Westfall is the second in the Order of the MUSE series, but the early reviews say it reads like a stand-alone. But the review that really matters is yours. Please let me know what you think.

Happy reading!

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