Category: As You Wish


Years ago, after Berkley/Jove released my first published book, As You Wish, people (mostly coworkers at my “day job”) often asked if I planned to write a sequel. I always said, “I don’t know, but maybe a prequel telling Phoebe and Harold’s story.” Their story was already half-formed in my mind, but having spent so much time on As You Wish, I wanted to do other stories first.

Well, the day has finally come for anyone who may be waiting for it. 🙂 The prequel to As You Wish, a 35,000-word novella called Wish I Might is out today on Kindle! The cover and back-cover blurb are below. Print edition soon to come, and other ebook platforms later.

Kindle cover for Wish I Might

A love unrequited and wishes unfulfilled…

Phoebe Sheffield has been nursing tender feelings for David Traymore, a bitter younger man who views her as a sister. On a misty evening, under the influence of absinthe, she wishes for a suitor like him, only mature enough to appreciate her as a woman.

Be careful what you wish for…

For a few magic moments, her wish seems to come true when she meets someone she mistakes for a vision of David from the future. But after the most passionate encounter of her life, she learns her dream lover is actually David’s worst enemy: Lord Solebury, the man who sired him then abandoned his mother.

A choice between love and friendship…

Though Phoebe should hate Solebury, she’s wildly attracted to him—and moved when he opens up about the regrets of his youth. But how can she justify betraying David, the friend who needs her most, to be with the man who is the bane of his existence?

***

For the Kindle page on Amazon, please click here.

And if anyone is wondering, yes, next I am going to write a third book in the series. Very early days for that yet!

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House Rules

Over the past week or so, Hubby and I have binged on “Downton Abbey,” zipping through Season 1 and half of Season 2. During the same time, I’ve been editing the final proof of the “Author’s Edition” of As You Wish (hopefully out by the end of the month). So it’s been a weird couple of weeks immersed in two period dramas set in England and thinking about how much the houses in both of them dominate the storylines.

After watching the special on Highclere Castle (see my last post) and learning that the castle inspired “Downton Abbey,” it was fascinating to see that theme in the show. The fictional Lord Grantham is so set on properly maintaining the Abbey that he doesn’t even fight the entail that will keep his wife’s money with the house (and a distant cousin who is heir) instead of going to his eldest daughter. It’s not that he cares more about the house than his daughter (I think); it’s just that both are his duties, and he figures Mary will survive without the money, but the Abbey won’t. There are more plot twists that revolve on the entail (inspired by Pride and Prejudice, I suspect), but I won’t post spoilers, in case there are other latecomers to the show who still plan to watch Season 1.

Meanwhile, without giving away too much of As You Wish, I will say that the Marquess of Solebury — father of the hero in the story, David Traymore — also takes extraordinary measures to try to save his estate, which is destined to go to his wastrel of an heir rather than the more deserving but illegitimately born David. Since the heroine Leah Cantrell has seen Solebury House in a state of ruin in the 21st century, she wonders if saving the house may be the reason she’s been transported to the past. I’d never thought about how central the house is to the plot of the book until re-reading it while watching “Downtown Abbey.”

To read the blurb and first couple chapters of As You Wish, please click on the book title to head over to the book page. If you’re an Amazon Prime Member, you can watch “Downton Abbey” episodes free on Amazon Instant Video (like Hubby and me); if not, you can buy the boxed set of DVDs here.

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Since four of my books are set in Regency England, it may surprise you that I haven’t seen any of the Edwardian-set TV hit Downton Abbey. But I may have to change that, after seeing the PBS special the other night on Highclere Castle, where the series is filmed. Being an archaeology buff, I tuned in because of the family’s connection to the discovery of King Tut’s tomb, only to be intrigued by other interesting aspects of their real-life history that have inspired events on the show.

The Fifth Earl of Carnarvon, great-grandfather of the current owner of Highclere, financed the Tut expedition and was there to ask archaeologist Howard Carter, “Can you see anything?” when he first peeked into the tomb. (“Yes, wonderful things” was the famous reply.) But the Fifth Earl’s wife, Lady Almina, is also fascinating. A super-rich trade heiress, she used her wealth not only to maintain the castle but to set up a WWI hospital, like the one on the show. The family has letters written to her by grateful veterans who recovered there from awful experiences. A bio of her, written by the current countess, is available here.

Not sure why the narration on the PBS special labeled Highclere’s Temple of Diana folly (seen to the left) “pointless.” For a rich family that loves both hunting and archaeological endeavors, having a Temple of Diana makes perfect sense to me! Not to mention that according to these plasterers who did restoration work on it, it once held living space.

Meanwhile, I’ve been editing my Regency time-travel As You Wish for an new print version, and as I revisit the Traymores’ struggle in the book to find ways to maintain their crumbling estate, I can’t help thinking of the Carnarvons, who lucked out in that Downton Abbey is such a hit and will draw visitors and more filming at Highclere. Like the Carnarvons with Tut’s curse, the Traymores also have a legendary curse in the family. And, coincidentally, the famous words of Carnarvon and Carter mentioned above are quoted in As You Wish.

If you’re an anglophile, are drawn to aristocrat-vs-commoner intrigue, or are fascinated with curses, please look for the new trade paperback edition of As You Wish this month or next. Stay tuned for a giveaway on Goodreads to celebrate. (If you read ebooks, the book is already available on Kindle and Nook — links and sample chapters here.)

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Part of the romance of the English Regency lies in the elegant manners. People of the era seem more civil than we do today — at first glance, anyway. But in Jane Austen’s books you find aristocratic characters flinging insults at their less-privileged counterparts. We know from Georgette Heyer that if a debutante dances more than twice with the same guy in one night, she’s throwing herself at him (in the view of the ton) — and if she dances the waltz before getting permission from society leaders, well then she’s a strumpet.

It turns out that real fun comes in smashing up the formalities of the Regency. When Lizzie Bennet takes down Lady Catherine DeBourgh near the end of Pride and Prejudice, it’s one of the most satisfying moments in the book. (“I do not pretend to possess equal frankness with your ladyship. You may ask questions which I shall not choose to answer.” Strong stuff!)

One way I’ve had fun pushing back at the social restrictions of the Regency in my romance novels is through gender-role reversal. In For the Love of Lila, Lila Covington has received a male’s education but not a male’s privileged place in London society. She rebels, deciding to move in with a “freethinking” (female) cousin in Paris. When she gets involved with Tristan Wyndam, a barrister with an eye on a political career, he is more concerned with his reputation than she is with hers. (Good luck with that, Tristan!) Read a more detailed description and sample chapters on this page.

My time-travel, As You Wish, explores what happens when a modern American woman mixes it up with a guy from Regency England. David Traymore is used to society’s restrictions, but, as the illegitimate son of a marquess, he’s often gotten the short end of the stick. Leah Cantrell has had some rough patches, but as far as she’s concerned, the world is their oyster. For the book blurb and sample chapters, please click here.

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Working Against Time

The concept of time travel is a surprisingly recent thing. Only a handful of old stories (and no ancient ones) feature characters who maybe slept for years or visited a strange place, then learned afterwards that while they were out, years had passed. As for traveling backward in time, that’s an even newer concept. I guess going forward is less of stretch since we’ve all traveled from the past to the present, but no one known has traveled back in time.

One of the first stories that describes a character traveling to the past (as well as the present and future) is Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, published in 1843. Interestingly, only Ebenezer Scrooge’s soul, not his body, seems to travel back, since he remains invisible to other characters during his visits.

In 1889, Mark Twain published A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, in which a man gets knocked unconscious and wakes up, body and all, in the past. A few years after that, in 1895, H.G. Wells introduced the idea of The Time Machine and purposeful time travel.

It’s interesting to me that my only time-travel book, As You Wish, was the first manuscript I sold (though the third or fourth one I wrote) and that year after year, it continues to sell better than my other books. Why? Is it because of the setting? (The heroine travels to Regency England, and maybe people find that elegant or romantic?) Or is it the past in general that appeals to readers — a simpler, more natural lifestyle than ours? Of course, maybe it’s just the title of the book that grabs attention somehow.

I’m fascinated with the past, which is why I love reading classic literature, from Austen to Shakespeare, from Apuleius to Herodotus. I’m working on some ideas for a story about a contemporary heroine who winds up in an ancient Roman town. Anyone want to go there?

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