Fun Stuff & a Giveaway with Barbara Monajem
Barbara is the award-winning author of the Bayou Gavotte paranormal mysteries, Sunrise in a Garden of Love & Evil, Tastes of Love & Evil, and Heart of Constantine. Her love of the paranormal has crept into her Regency romance novellas, most recently Under a Christmas Spell and this month’s release, Under a New Year’s Enchantment. She lives near Atlanta, Georgia with her husband and an ever-shifting population of relatives, friends, and feline strays.
So, take it away, Barbara!
Usually when I’m blogging about one of my stories, I talk about some central aspect of the book, but this time I’m going to indulge myself and talk about stuff I put in there just for fun.
A few years ago, a friend introduced me to the Falco mysteries by Lindsey Davis. They take place in Ancient Rome―a period about which I didn’t know much and didn’t expect to, either. Davis’s mysteries changed that. She brings Ancient Rome to life. I definitely wasn’t up to writing about that era, but I was dying to put something Roman in one of my stories. Fortunately, there were Romans in Britain long ago, and relics of their time there are being unearthed even today.
My new Regency novella, Under a New Year’s Enchantment, is the second in a series that features incubi and succubi―not the demonic kind, but talented people who can send erotic dreams. In the first novella, Under a Christmas Spell, an incubus and succubus, former spies and former lovers, are reunited. In Under a New Year’s Enchantment, they help another couple find love.
So where does Ancient Rome come in? In Under a New Year’s Enchantment, I gave the hero and heroine a mutual interest in ancient history. The hero, Lord Westerly, finds some Roman ruins under the remains of an abbey on the grounds of his estate. Theodora, the heroine, wants to sketch his finds for her scholarly father. Necessary to the story? No, not really. They could have had some other interest in common or some other way to get together. The Roman stuff was for me.
I had the hero find a hoard of Roman coins in a clay pot that had been buried about 1500 years or so before the Regency. Burying your money was one way to avoid having it stolen, especially if you were under attack or had to leave home to go to war. Among the coins was a brooch, known as a fibula, which had once belonged to a Roman soldier. This item was especially poignant to Lord Westerly, who had recently returned home after the Battle of Waterloo.
When I visited London last year, I couldn’t resist going to the British Museum. I saw Roman coins, brooches, and plenty of other relics of the distant past. I get the shivers when I see items this old and imagine the people who handled and wore them.
Here’s a blurb for Under a New Year’s Enchantment:
Garrick, Lord Westerly, has forbidden the hanging of mistletoe, yet the holiday house party at his country estate sizzles with sensual desire. And though Theodora Southern decided long ago never to marry, she enjoys the erotic fantasies that haunt her each night—fantasies featuring her handsome, brooding host….
Since returning from the war, Garrick has been in no mood to celebrate. But suddenly the nightmares that plague him are making way for much more pleasant dreams—dreams in which his childhood friend Theodora is very much a grown woman. The question is, has he fallen in love—or under a wicked spell?
And here’s an excerpt:
Setup: Theodora has sneaked out at night to look at the Roman ruins, because her old friend Lord Westerly, who owns them, has become withdrawn and unfriendly, and wants people to stay away.
Theodora made her way through the overgrown sanctuary and across a strip of flagstones to the site of the old refectory. A pit the size of a small bedchamber, but only a few feet deep, yawned near the tumbledown stone walls. A makeshift canopy covered it to keep out the rain. She jumped into the pit and made her way carefully around the picks, shovels and trowels, past the brazier and a couple of chairs to where several pillars had been unearthed.
She squatted, aiming the beam of the lantern. She knew what the pillars were. She’d seen a drawing in one of Papa’s books. They were the remains of a hypocaust, which—
“What the devil are you doing here?” said a voice of pure rage.
Theodora started violently, dropping the lantern. It hit the ground with a clatter. The glass broke and the candle went out, plunging her into darkness. She uttered a mew of distress.
“It serves you right.” It was Lord Westerly speaking, she realized. “I don’t intend to wed you or any of the others, as I trust I’ve made plain by now.”
She stood, disbelieving, staring into the blackness. He thought she’d come out here to trap him!
“Even if I did, this sort of ploy wouldn’t work,” he said. “I won’t be forced into marriage.”
Mortification washed through her. As if she would! Much as she liked Garrick, she wasn’t one of those ninnies his aunts had invited in the hope that he would fall in love with them. She had come, as she did every year, to help out as a sort of secondary hostess. She’d known Garrick Westerly for years. She’d followed him about when she’d been ten years old to his fourteen. She’d been desperately in love with him at fifteen. She’d prayed for him when he was away at war, and she’d looked forward to seeing him again.
He wasn’t the same man. He had returned hard, bitter and frequently rude.
“Let this be a lesson to you, before you ruin all your chances,” Lord Westerly drawled. “Gentlemen use some rather unpleasant words to describe the sort of woman who chases a man. I assure you, nobody wants one of those as his wife.”
Shaking with anger now, Theodora made her way slowly away from his voice and toward the edge of the pit. It was all she could do not to shriek at him. I already did that, remember? I wouldn’t chase you now if you were the last man alive. Theodora’s half boot encountered a trowel. She muffled a curse and bent to pick it up. And I’ll certainly never use you as a daydream lover again.
She hurled the trowel in the direction from which his voice had come. It met something with a clang—fortunately not Garrick’s head, which wasn’t made of metal, although evidently he had returned from the war about as intelligent as a lump of lead.
“You disgust me,” she said. She picked up her skirts and stormed away without another word.
I’m happy to share that Barbara is offering a digital copy of Under a New Year’s Enchantment to one lucky commenter. To enter, just leave a question or comment for Barb or me.
Every single one of you can get a free read from me today too!
I’m so excited to share that you can get a FREE digital copy of Plaid to the Bone, thanks to my publisher, Kensington. This story is the prequel to Plaid Tidings, which was nominated for RTBOOKReviews Reviewers’ Choice Best Scottish Historical of 2013. Here’s how to claim your Plaid to the Bone: