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Thursday, April 3, 2014

5 Fun Facts with Anne Gracie & Giveaway of The Winter Bride

I have on my blog the inestimable Anne Gracie, here to delight readers with 5 Fun Facts about her new release, The Winter Bride.


Damaris Chance’s unhappy past has turned her off the idea of marriage forever. But her guardian, Lady Beatrice Davenham, convinces her to make her coming out anyway—and have a season of carefree, uncomplicated fun.

When Damaris finds herself trapped in a compromising situation with the handsome rake Freddy Monkton-Coombes, she has no choice but to agree to wed him—as long as it’s in name only. Her new husband seems to accept her terms, but Freddy has a plan of his own: to seduce his reluctant winter bride.

Will Damaris’s secrets destroy her chance at true happiness? Or can Freddy help her cast off the shackles of the past, and yield to delicious temptation?



The Winter Bride by Anne Gracie
Publication date: April 1, 2014
Publisher: Penguin
Series: The Chance Sisters #2
Five fun facts on a Friday — (with free alliteration)

  When I start a novel, I usually only have an idea of the characters.   Generally I "meet" them when I dream up a scene — I mean that   literally — I often have a scene come to me while I'm drifting off to sleep, or just waking up. I've learned to sleep with a notebook nearby for that very reason. Often a scene that comes this way helps generate a story.

  For instance one time I dreamed of a desperate young woman climbing through a window to steal something, but finding an even more desperate old lady instead. That generated the first book in this series, The Autumn Bride. Another scene that just "came" was of a young Englishwoman who'd grown up in China, hiding in a ditch as Chinese soldiers rode by. That became part of Damaris's backstory — she's the heroine in The Winter Bride.

  Once I have these scenes, I have to dig deeper to find the story behind the scene — why was that young woman climbing through a window? I could tell she was desperate, but why? And who was the old lady and how had she got there? Why was Damaris hiding in a ditch? What was her situation? What might happen next?

  Answering these and other questions is the way I put a story together.

  So five fun facts about The Winter Bride — but no spoilers, I hope.

  1) Damaris, Jane and Daisy are the Chance sisters, but although London Society believes them to be sisters, they are not related in any way; they are 'sisters of the heart.'

  2) Their "aunt" Lady Beatrice Davenham, added to their "history" when she made up a set of parents for them, inventing her own half-sister Griselda in the process.

      Max leaned forward and tried to catch her eye, hoping to head off the next outrageous lie. But Lady Beatrice had the bit between her teeth and was running with it.
      “Griselda married a Venetian, a marchese—that’s Italian for marquess, my dear,”  she explained.         
      “Tall, dark and divinely good-looking, too—the women in my family have always been lucky that way, marrying the handsomest of men. Dear Damaris has her father’s features and coloring.”
      “What was this Italian marchese’s name?” Max asked sardonically. He glanced at “dear Damaris,” who had developed a sudden fascination with the weave of the damask tablecloth. Her face was hidden; her shoulders were shaking.
       “Venetian, dear boy, not Italian. They don’t like it when you get them mixed up. Venice is the place with the canals,” his aunt explained kindly.
       “And his name, this divine Venetian?”
There was a short silence. His aunt’s gaze went momentarily blank as she tried to think of a suitable name. Then, “Angelo,” she said airily.
      “I meant his surname,” Max said with silky satisfaction.
She arched her brows. “Why, Chance, of course.”
      “Very Italian-sounding name, Chance,” Max said dryly.
His shameless relative didn’t bat an eyelid. “Well, naturally in Venice it’s pronounced                 "Chancealotto’”—at this point Miss Abby choked—“but here, we Anglicize it to Chance, those Italian names being quite hard to pronounce.”
       “Venetian.”
       “Quite so, dear boy, I’m glad you’re paying attention.”

    (From the Autumn Bride)
  3) Damaris grew up in China, the daughter of an English missionary. The local warlord tolerated them, but when his son inherited the position, he was hostile to all foreigners and Damaris had to leave China. She was taught by an old scholar, and speaks, read and writes Chinese and can paint in the Chinese manner.
[Mary: As I am Chinese, I find this really cool! :D]

  4) Lady Beatrice and her 'nieces" have a literary society, where the girls read books aloud, while the other members listen and drink tea, which is often sherry. Freddy Monkton-Coombes, the hero of this book, is appalled by it and refuses (at first) to attend.

“Not the literary society. The horror stories those girls read are enough to make a fellow’s hair stand on end.”
        Max frowned. “Horror stories? They don’t read horror stories, only entertaining tales of the kind ladies seem to enjoy, about girls and gossip and families—”
        “Horror stories, every last one of them,” Freddy said firmly. “You asked me to sit in on their literary society last month, when you went up to Manchester, remember? The story they were reading then . . .” He gave an eloquent shudder. “Horror from the very first line: It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife. Must he, indeed? What about the poor fellow’s wants, eh? Do they matter? No. Every female in the blasted story was plotting to hook some man for herself or her daughter or niece. If you don’t call that horror, I don’t know what is!”
                    (From the Winter Bride)
  
  5) The Venetian background sometimes gets the girls into trouble when they forget where they were supposed to have grown up. For instance this scene with Damaris and Freddy's father:

          "I used to breed pigs," Damaris said.
          It was only a slight exaggeration; a farmer had given them a piglet once, and Damaris had raised it. She'd wept when it had to be killed but she'd still eaten the meat. Meat was always very scarce at the mission and it was sinful to waste food, simply because you'd known it as a friend. Pigs were affectionate and intelligent creatures.
          He turned his head to stare at her. "You bred pigs? Good gad!" and then, after a pause, he asked, "What kind of pigs?"
          "A Chinese breed. They were experimental," she hastily added. 
          He grunted and gave her another hard-to-read look. "Experimental Chinese pigs, eh? And do they swim, these Chinese pigs?"
          She gave him a blank look. "Swim?"
          "Yes, well, they'd need to, because of the canals, wouldn't they?"
           She managed to keep a straight face. "Er, no, we kept them on an island, where we had the orchards."
          "Extraordinary," he murmured, to himself. "Experimental Chinese swimming pigs. . ."
                    (From the Winter Bride)

I had a lot of fun writing The Winter Bride. Of course it's not all silliness and fun — at heart, if a romance is to work, it has to be emotional, and this one is. I hope you fall in love with Freddy and Damaris — they're an unlikely couple at first glance, but I think they're perfect together.

Anne Gracie

So, here's the truth: I really fell in love with Damaris and Freddy in The Winter Bride. And if you want to read more of my thoughts on it, you can read my review of it HERE. 

The Winter Bride has received rave reviews, including Romantic Times 4 1/2 stars TOP PICK!, and wonderful praises from Publishers Weekly and Kirkus Reviews.

Anne is giving a copy away to one lucky commenter, and here are some questions you can answer:
  • Do you prefer humor in romance novels?
  • If you were a wealthy lady or gentleman and lived in the Regency era, would you have found Pride & Prejudice a "horror story?"
(I'll pick a winner here on Friday, April 11th)
Winner picked by Random.org is...jmcgaugh! I will be contacting you, and will pick another winner if I don't hear a reply within 3 days. Thanks for coming, everyone!

49 comments:

  1. I almost REQUIRE some humor in a romance novel~~ a little bit helps the romance not take itself so seriously, imho.

    If I had lived in the Regency Era I would have found Pride and Prejudice probably true to life and entertaining and positive, since I'm sure I would have been one of those ladies who ended up in an Arranged Marriage with no hope of love/passion in my marriage.

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    1. I agree. My first introduction to romance novels was through Georgette Heyer and she's so funny. I do believe that many arranged marriages worked out well, as love grew after the marriage, so I hope that was your kind of regency marriage.

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  2. I do like humor in romance novels. When I read a book I like to feel all emotions, and laughter is one of the top. I find myself laughing in romance books at parts I'm sure weren't meant to be funny. It all makes a good book.

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    1. LOL -- I hope you laugh at the parts in mine that are meant to be funny. Thanks for dropping by.

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  3. In my opinion a good romance (dare I to say a good novel?) requires both humorous and serious elements to be considered such. I don't like when a book relies only on humor or only on drama, it sounds unnatural. It is true that the main plot determines which kind of elements will prevail during the narration, but still I feel that some jokes and some serious moments need to be included notwithstanding.

    The second is a hard question...I hope I would have been able to enjoy P&P as much as I have when I first read it a 15 (even if my favourite Jane Austen book is Persuasion), but who knows? I might have been an Aunt Catherine in the making :P

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    1. I agree with you, Elisa — it's the light and dark of life, isn't it? If something's all grim or all funny, it lacks depth. And maybe reality.

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  4. Humor is not absolutely necessary, but the ones that have it I will remember forever. A good example of humor in a regency novel is the parasols in Julie Garwood's The Gift. It was the first romance novel I ever read and I've been hooked since!

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    1. Maggie my favorite Julie Garwood novel is Honor's Splendour. Another writer you might like is Eva Ibbotson — lovely writer, some very funny moments in an emotional story.

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  5. Being a woman, I don't believe I would have thought it a horror story, but from a young man's perspective, especially a man of some wealth, I guess I could see him thinking it a horror story. I think that's an interesting take on it, and would love to read more of it. Thank you for offering this free chance!

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    1. Taswmom, yes, it all depends on the perspective of the reader, doesn't it? Freddy is a very particular young man -- his friend Max didn't see it like that at all. Thanks for visiting.

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  6. I love humor in romance novels. As for being a wealthy lady in Regency time, I think I wouldn't find the Pride and Prejudice to be a horror story. I married into a conservative family and they all think I'm crazy because I don't follow the social norms for my culture.

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    1. Hi Alyn — yes, we all want to be a wealthy lady in Regency times, don't we? Well, I suppose we'd all like to be wealthy no matter what the times. And I think all cultures have members who like to step outside the lines at times. Thanks for dropping by.

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  7. I prefer there to be some humor in my romance novels. If I were a wealthy lady in the Regency era, I don't think I would have thought of Pride and Prejudice as a horror novel.
    jmcgaugh (at) semo (dot) edu

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    1. It wouldn't be horror for a wealthy lady at all, I agree. I enjoy all kinds of novels, and don't mind if they have hardly any humor. We need variety, or at least I do.

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  8. I like some humor in a romance novel, but I don't care for some of the over-the-top humor that is in a few recent historical romance novels. It's tone is then too contemporary.

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    1. Interesting comment, Kim — I suppose it depends on what you call OTT. Humor is a very personal thing, isn't it? I find some books that others say are hilarious to be not very funny at all. When I was a kid, my brother and I would be rolling on the floor laughing at some movie or Tv show and my sister would be saying, "What? What's funny? That's just stupid." It takes all sorts.

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  9. I like humor in any romance novel. And, I'm sure Jane Austen's book was true to life. Depending on how much money your family had, it could be a horror story of sorts. My family was poor, so,a at best, I might have been a servant.

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    1. It's sobering how many of the female authors we remember and love still today had very few opportunities for marriage, simply because they were poor, and possibly plain. We are so much luckier today, I think.

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  10. I love humor, especially in romance! Helps to keep the story from being too "purple". If I had been a "young" regency lady, I'd have loved P&P :) Thanks so much for sharing and congrats to Anne on the new release!

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    1. Thanks Erin. Yes, I like a little bit of laughter to lighten up the mood from time to time. I also like a bit of angst and emotion — its a balancing act. Thanks for visiting.

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  11. I definitely love humor in my romances! Just like I have to have humor in daily living on this planet. Without humor life can be pretty dreary at times. These excerpts really tickled me too. Venice v. Italy made some delightful conversations. :-) Thanks for the chuckles. Now I really have to read the entire story! jdh2690@gmail.com

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    1. Hi Janice -- yes, I think life would be pretty unbearable without humor. One of the funniest women I know was an older lady who'd had a really tough, hard life. She could have made it seem depressing, but instead she used to tell stories that made people cray laughing — and yet, afterward, you thought about it and realized they were really terrible things that happened. But she'd turned them into funny stories. Amazing woman. Wonderful woman, too.

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  12. I LOVE when there is humor in a romance novel. I tend to not like the books that don't have humor in them.

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    1. Me too, Amy, though I do still enjoy some novels that are serious and a bit dark. But there's a reason why my old Georgette Heyer books are still comfort reads. They always make me smile and chuckle.

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  14. I love humor in a romance novel. Witty dialogue and a great plot equals a happy reader.

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    1. I hope you enjoy my books, Raquel — I try for both those things.

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  15. I do love some humor in romance. And you have to admit, the mother & some of the sisters in P&P were kind of a horror!

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    1. Sharlene, you're so right — that mother was a horror. The sisters, well, annoying, but isn't that the job description for some sisters? :) And Lady Catherine was a truly splendid horror. Imagine being her daughter.

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  16. Humor in romance novels appeals to me if it is in the form of the repartee between the heroine and hero (or other characters too). I like the kind that makes me smile and say to myself, "I wish I had said that!"

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    1. I like this description, Dee. And I adore witty repartee in a novel. Thanks for dropping by.

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  17. Great post! I'm so looking forward to reading The Winter Bride. Just added it to my Amazon cart. :) As for the questions, I definitely love humor in my romances. Ha, as for living in the Regency era, I'm pretty sure I would be one of those eccentric sorts, confined to some country manor home to escape the talk around town.

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    1. Ah, the Eccentric Lady -- love that idea, Melissa.Hope you enjoy my Winter Bride.

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  18. Every quote, blurb, and excerpt I read makes me want to read Winter's Bride even more!

    I prefer some humor in all my books. And as if I were a Regency male or female I'd find Pride and Prejudice a horror story for different reasons. Were I female because of the implication that my whole purpose in life was to be a wife. Were I male because of having to dodge all the husband hunting girls and mammas. :-)

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    1. Interesting response, Glenda -- I think it's true that the Regency attitude was that a woman's job was to be a wife and mother -- and a dependent. Thanks for joining in the conversation.

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  19. I love the blurb for your book! It is on my TBR list. The more I learn about this book, the more I am looking forward to reading it.

    I really like when humor is infused in the books I read. It makes them move a bit faster and they are the ones I find myself re-reading.

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    1. Thanks, Lisa -- I hope you do like it. I'm fond of a funny book myself, but I also enjoy a good "weepie"

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  20. I love a bit of humor, especially at a tense moment in a story.

    P&P may have been too much for a lot of Regency people, but it could also provide hope for many - I think I would be one of those.

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    1. Thanks, Di --i t's amazing, isn't it, that P&P has grown so much in popularity since Jane Austen's death. Sadly, she hardly made any money from her writing.

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  21. I don't think I like Romance novels that lack the humorous side. And I don't mean to break a very dramatic a climatic scene but the overall story. I guess I never really thought about it but that's why I'm so drawn to them. Thanks for the insight! LOL and about Pride and Prejudice, had I lived back then, I'm prejudice enough as it is so I would have cringed at the thought of a woman as independent as Miss Lizzy Bennett. Oh, but how do I love her now . She's the reason I started reading Historical novels.

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    1. I agree, a little humour in a book is like leaven in dough -- adds lightness and depth of flavour. And I agree -- I think many of us were drawn to romance through Lizzie Bennet and her strength of mind — not to mention Jane Austen's clever, satirical, funny pen.

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  22. I love a touch of humor is all I read & that includes romance. It can be in the form of sardonic wit, a pithy saying, witty banter, a humorous situation or even black humor. I think the world, & books, are better if we can have a laugh, especially at ourselves.

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  23. I love humor in a romance story. It makes the book more believable.

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  24. I love love love humor in romance it makes it more relatable. I love reading books that make me smile and laugh out loud!!!

    Josiehink122026 at gmail dot com

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  25. I love humor in romances!!
    Thanks for the chance to win!
    natasha_donohoo_8 at hotmail dot com

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  26. I like humor in romance novels. It helps make the story seem more real, and it definitely helps break up some of the sexual tension!

    brookeb811 at gmail dot com

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  27. Like humor in stories. but also like suspense, if its a good story doesn't matter. But, do like a battle of wits
    catlover0112 at yahoo dot com

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