Authors read, too! And we read a lot. Well. I do. And I read a LOT of "kissing books." What's a kissing book, you ask? It's a book in which two people fall in love, and eventually they lock lips!
(Click on the covers to go to the Amazon Kindle *page!)
Here are the SIX Kissing Books I've enjoyed the most (so far) this year!
From the Timeless Regency Collection, An Evening at Almack's
The Heart's Choice, by Sally Britton
“Do stop dawdling, Matilda.”
One would think, given her sister’s tone, that Mattie was a delinquent child rather than the elder of the two and quite firmly the more responsible sister.
“Stopping to greet our neighbors, especially those of respectable age and rank, is not dawdling,” Mattie corrected, attempting to keep up with her younger sister.
“It is when we have better things to do.” Beatrice sniffed but finally slowed her rather unladylike stride. “And when the person you stop to speak to is that horrid Lady Fenlock. You know she delights in spreading rumors about me.”
Rumors that were, Mattie knew, very well founded. Beatrice had something of a reputation for being a flirt.
“She is also someone we need if we hope to be invited anywhere this Season.” Mattie looked at her younger sister from the corner of her eye, studying the artful way Beatrice’s sun-gold hair escaped her bonnet in playful ringlets. Her sister truly was lovely as Aphrodite and a contrast to Mattie in almost every way.
Mattie was older by four years, and at age twenty-six didn’t mind being considered on the shelf. Her hair was darker, her eyes muddier, and her complexion not so faultlessly pale as her sister’s. Beatrice was tall and willowy, Mattie of an average height and shape. Beatrice could command a room with ease and Mattie much preferred being an observer on the edges of most parties.
“As long as we have vouchers, we will do well enough,” Beatrice argued. “We do not need old gossipy geese to beg us invitations, Matilda. We are attractive young ladies, daughters of nobility.” She narrowed her eyes. “Our family has commanded respect for generations.” Beatrice tilted her nose into the air and walked at a faster clip again.
It took a firm hold on her tongue to keep Mattie from replying to that remark. Managing her family’s estate was far easier than managing Beatrice. The Granthorne barony had meant something for nearly a hundred years, but Mattie knew that in a single generation it could crumble like the ruins of their ancestors’ castle. And should people discover their father’s ailment, Bridget would not even be completely to blame.
Mattie’s steps on the walk slowed as she considered her father’s condition, one for which his doctor could give them no cure. Her heart ached at the thought of losing the man who had been her hero all her life. Her sister didn’t seem to notice when Mattie fell behind.
If Mattie could persuade Beatrice to focus long enough to marry her off, she just might salvage the family name, her father’s dignity, and her mother’s pride. Beatrice must stop being so stubborn about everything to do with marriage. Many of her worthier callers had disappeared after the previous year. Her sister, at twenty-two, didn’t command the devotees she had at eighteen and nineteen. But there was one man who might do.
Mr. Arthur Redhurst, a gentleman of means if not in possession of a title, would make a fine husband for Miss Beatrice Rayment, younger daughter of the sixth Baron Granthorne. They would do well together. Both mothers—and Mattie—thought so.
While Mattie had been thinking, Beatrice walked ahead of her by nearly twenty yards, but Mattie refused to run to catch up. They were on the street of their townhouse, after all, and she could at least see her sister well enough to stop any real trouble from happening. Or so she thought, until she saw a gentleman had stopped on the walk, doffing his hat to speak with Beatrice.
Narrowing her eyes, Mattie maintained her even speed and tried to determine who the man was. He was tall and dark haired, and his words carried to her clearly in the air, in a voice as unexpected as it was familiar.
“Miss Beatrice, good afternoon. It is a pleasure to see you after so long.”
It cannot be. Mattie’s heart lightened, a feeling suspiciously like hope stealing into her heart. But that was ridiculous. Seeing an old acquaintance, even if it was him, ought not cause such sensations.
Beatrice curtsied and Mattie slowed her step, only a few feet away now, waiting for her sister to identify the gentleman.
“Good afternoon,” Beatrice said as she returned to her full height. “Pardon me, but how do you know my name? I do not believe we have met.”
Beatrice raised a hand to her cheek, batting her eyelashes in her most coquettish manner. Mattie ground her teeth together. No. Beatrice must not be allowed to toy with this man’s feelings, innocent flirtation or not.
“Oh, we’ve met, Miss Beatrice. In fact, I’ve known you for years. You do not know me?” He spoke with a lilt to his voice Mattie had always found rather charming. What on earth was he doing here, on their street? And how could Beatrice not recognize the man who had grown up practically on their doorstep?
Beatrice shook her head, tilting her head coyly. “Sir, I would remember meeting someone such as you. I never forget a handsome gentleman, and it is really too bad of you to pretend to know me. We must be properly introduced or there will be gossip.”
A Christmas Collection of Sweet Regency Romances
I have been waiting for this day for quite a while. I am honored, privileged, and excited to share the work of this very talented author with you. Heidi Kimball is a talented author, with incredible attention to detail and a gift for making the big picture a masterpiece.
I love Heidi’s work, and I love Heidi. She’s one of my critique partners, which means I owe some of the loveliest scenes in my stories to her suggestions.
We’re going to be asking Heidi about her newest release, Second Chance Christmas, is a novella in the holiday collection A Christmas Courting.
Heidi, your stories are always lovely. What can you tell us about this one?
I love this story, much more than I expected to. When my publisher reached out and asked me to write it, it was early February and my story was due in April. The thought of writing a Christmas regency story at that time of year was a little strange. Not only that, but at the time I was in the throes of terrible morning sickness and spending most of my time in bed. Happily, Francie and Gerard’s story served as a lovely escape. It’s the friends to lovers trope, and I loved how they had a history together, it made their relationship so much fun to write. But poor Gerard - he goes through quite the ride before he gets his happy ending.
Your heroine, Francie, is sweet and fun. Do you see any of yourself in her?
I just loved Francie from the very opening scene. She has just a bit of a passionate personality, has very strong emotions, and a strong competitive streak. It’s hard to say exactly how simliar we are, but I can confirm that I am a VERY competitive person. When my husband and I play games together . . . watch out! :)
What about Gerard? What inspired his character?
Gerard is handsome and sweet and hardly realizes how wonderful he is. One thing I really see in him that makes him so lovable is his loyalty. Once he falls in love with Francie, there was never anyone else for him. I think that’s what inspired his character - Francie really needed someone who would love her no matter what, who wouldn’t give up hope.
I really love a good Christmas story. During the Regency, Christmas celebrations were a little different from today. What can you tell us about Regency era holidays?
Regency era holidays are quite toned down from what we have today. Everything was on a much smaller scale. In my story I showcase two of them - one is the gathering of greenery to put around the house on Christmas Eve. This was usually a tradition that the entire household took part in. The other is the lighting of the yule log. My family celebrates with its more modern counterpart - making and eating chocolate roll. Yum!
This is your second published title. Your first, An Unlikely Courtship, was an independently published novella. It’s also set in the Regency. What draws you to that time period?
Oh my goodness, there is so much to love in the regency era! I love the strict parameters of society, because it makes for such an interesting story. Every little thing between the love interests has to mean so much. There’s something fun about telling a story under such stringent rules, yet still making readers feel the depth of the emotions as the characters fall in love.
What are your future plans? Do you have anything in the works?
My first full-length novel, A Guarded Heart, will be released on March 1st, 2019. And right now I am currently just a few thousand words away from finishing my second full-length book, I, Juliet. Of course there will be a whole lot of editing and a round of beta readers, but it’s an exciting feeling to finish a book! I’m hoping if I can get things rolling with my publisher, that it will be released Fall 2019.
We both know writing can be as difficult as it is exhilarating. What inspired you to take the step to publish your work?
You are right about that! For me, it was a bucket list item. I am an AVID reader and always have been. I love losing myself in a wonderful story and just forgetting everything going on around me. Publishing my books is my way of trying to provide that little escape for someone else <3
What would you like your readers to know about you?
I’m just a normal person. I’ve got a pile of laundry the size of Mount Everest, I eat my brownies straight from the pan, and there are trails of goldfish crackers all over my house. As a mom of four, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Thank you, Sally! It is seriously my pleasure to work with you. I may be your critique partner, but I consider myself one of your biggest fans! And watch out everyone, because we’re attending a writer’s retreat together the first weekend in November, so there will be lots of regency nerdiness taking place . . . and there may be photo evidence. :)
Absolutely my pleasure. And I really, really can't wait for our retreat!
Heidi's Social Media Links
Five Authors. Five Romances. One Unforgettable Party.
I am excited to be doing another interview with one of the incredible authors behind the Regency House Party (RHP). It’s my privilege to interview Sara Cardon and share an up-and-coming author with my readership. If you love Regency, if you love stories where the romance is sweet and clean, then the books in this series are for you.
As a quick recap, the Regency House Party started as a weekly serial event taking place across social media platforms. Five talented romance authors worked together to tell love stories set in the beautiful English countryside. They built a good, strong fan base as they took turns posting chapters about their wonderful characters.
After the stories came to an end, these five authors went to work turning the online content into novellas, now available for order and pre-order on Amazon.
Sara Cardon participated in this event and her story, The Stable Master’s Daughter, will be available on September 25, 2018. I’m really looking forward to grabbing my ebook copy, but if you can’t wait, the paperback is available now!
Sara, what did you think about the idea for RHP when it was presented to you? Were you excited to work with other authors to create this Regency world?
I thought it was a totally cool idea. It was fun to brainstorm characters, setting, and possibilities. We swapped all kinds of ideas and jokes. We had an inkling it might be something great, but we kept saying, “If we have 25 engaged readers, we’ll count this a success!” It’s incredible to see how it came together!
What about the Regency era appeals to you?
There are a lot of contradictions to play with within this time frame. The manners are beautiful, but could be stifling. Britain was at war with France, but the upper class went on with high living. I love the contrasts.
Your story is called The Stable Master’s Daughter. That’s an unusual sort of person to be at a proper house party.
It’s completely crazy to have a person born into the working class among the elite. Marjorie knows it too. The invitation comes from the Countess, who is acquainted with Marjorie’s well-to-do aunt. Marjorie doesn’t usually brush shoulders with such an elite group, but the Countess thinks outside the box and is a scheming matchmaker.
What can you tell us about your heroine, Marjorie? What’s something you love about her?
Marjorie is whimsical, gracious, and resilient. She pours her heart into her art. She believes the lie that her worth is diminished because of her birth. At the house party, she confronts her beliefs, battles to align dreams with reality, and of course, falls in love with the wrong brother.
What about your hero? Miles is described as a man of “unyielding” principles. What sort of principles is he fighting to maintain?
Miles has things pretty well figured out—for himself and everyone he cares about. He has a template for life and rejects everything that doesn’t match up, making him quite judgmental. He believes to his core in being a gentleman. When Marjorie touches a place in his heart no one else has, he wrestles with what society wants and what he wants. He reexamines what being a true gentleman means.
I asked Jen what one of her favorite “extras” in the series was. What’s something “extra” you enjoyed while y’all were putting this series together?
The “extra” for me would have to be Thomas Webb. I have a love/hate relationship with him, since his part in the story came about out of necessity. One of the pitfalls of trying to incorporate other authors’ characters into my story is when I use them in a way someone doesn’t agree with, because it affects their story. I had a gaping hole where a bad boy character was removed. Jen offered one of her sweet brothers for the role, but I couldn’t do that. I also didn’t want a placeholder or a cardboard character to fill the role. So I felt as aggravated with creating Mr. Webb as the Countess probably was with having him show up at her house party, uninvited. Webb ended up being an interesting character and a great addition. It stretched me.
What are your future writing plans? Any more books in the works?
I have a couple books I’m working on. I have a captain in the British Royal Navy trying to woo a jilted woman. I just finished some research into the Napoleonic Wars and the details will bring it into sharp focus. And of course, I have a zillion other book ideas because creating is fun.
As a romance author, I take it you’re a romance reader too.
I’m a huge reader. About ten years ago, all I read was nonfiction and literary fiction. I was always drawn to a romance subplot, if there was one. The summer I discovered clean and sweet romances was the best summer of my life!
What is one of your favorite romances you would love people to discover?
Elizabeth Camden’s Against the Tide is a favorite. I love Kathleen Baldwin’s School for Unusual Girls series. Karen Witemeyer, Regina Jennings, Kasie West—there are so many great authors, and new authors I’m discovering all the time! I especially love authors who write smart women and good men—that’s what inspires me.
Thank you so much for your time, Sara! Links to the Regency House Party sites and books by all five authors are listed below. Check out these fabulous stories and make sure you follow the Regency House Party accounts for deals on their books and other great Regency reads!
According to recent market surveys, the "clean romance" readership has grown by 60% in the last three years. Wow. Despite that significant amount of growth in readers it can still be really difficult to find a good, clean romance to read. When you start getting picky about genre beyond that, it can be even more difficult. So I'm going to do a monthly post with a list of clean romance books listed, and with different themes. This month, I'm sharing ten historical romance novels/anthologies that I've enjoyed. I hope you find some new favorites!
Calico Ball, Timeless Western Collection
by Carla Kelly, Sarah M. Eden, and Kristin Holt
The Timeless Romance series is amazing. You can't go wrong with any of them. But this is the latest from their collection, featuring three of my favorite authors. Carla Kelly, Sarah M. Eden, and Kristin Holt. They're masters of their craft and these sweet stories are sure to leave you romantically satisfied.
The Merry Lives of Spinsters
by Rebecca Connolly
I'll pretty much pick up anything by this author. She does an excellent job of crafting fun, memorable characters and entertaining stories.
From Amazon: Georgiana Allen is a spinster and everybody knows it. She also happens to be one of the writers for the Spinster Chronicles, and everybody knows that as well. She’s accepted her lot in life, and, along with the other spinsters in her circle, takes great pride in the articles she writes and the influence she has. Then Captain Anthony Sterling infiltrates their group, and her life, and Georgie impossibly begins to hope once more.
Tony Sterling had no idea what to expect when he agreed to break up the Spinsters for his cousin, but he certainly did not expect Georgie Allen. From the very first meeting, she upends everything he thought a spinster would be, and her beauty and wit keeps him on edge in thrilling ways. The more he gets to know the Spinsters, the less he wants to break them up. And the more he wants Georgie in his life. Permanently.
Book 1 in A Hearthfire Romance Series
by Michelle Paige Holmes
This was the first book I ever read by this author, and I was immediately charmed and eagerly waited for the next, and the next. This is such a beautiful story.
From Amazon: After the death of her grandfather, the Duke of Salisbury, Grace Thatcher wants nothing more than to live quietly in the country with her younger siblings. Her father’s debts thwart those plans, and to protect her sister, Helen, Grace must marry a man of her father’s choosing.
As each suitor proves less than desirable, Grace comes up with clever schemes, causing each to reject her. While staying at the mysterious Sutherland Hall, a middle-of-the-night mishap sends Grace into the arms of a stranger, Nicholas Sutherland—and provides inspiration for her grandest plan yet—one that will leave her reputation in tatters yet free both her and Helen from all possibility of marriage.
Too late Grace regrets her rash actions when her father’s last choice, Mr. Samuel Preston, proves to be a gentleman and a friend. But Samuel is the sworn enemy of Nicholas Sutherland, the man responsible for her “ruin.” Now instead of being free, Grace is caught between two men—each with his own agenda.
His Bluestocking Bride
by Sally Britton
Yup. I have no problem including my books. I poured my heart and soul into this one, telling the story of a young woman who has given up hope of being loved for herself. While this is part of my series, it actually stands alone very, very well.
Summary: Overlooked by society and underappreciated in her family, Ellen Bringhurst has resigned herself to spinsterhood and a life of reading. Until her match-making friends contrive to reintroduce Ellen to the man she has secretly loved since their shared childhood.
As the younger son to an earl, Marcus Calvert must wed in order to inherit his estate. Still nursing a broken heart, he prefers a practical approach to matrimony rather than romantic love. When Ellen is presented as a possible bride, he proposes a marriage of convenience.
Ellen accepts his hand, hiding her feelings rather than risking her husband’s rejection. Marcus, though determined not to expose his heart again, finds more to admire in his childhood friend with each passing day. What began as a sensible arrangement now has the possibility to become so much more. But is Marcus willing to risk his heart a second time?
Christmas at Edgewood Park
by Shaela Kay
A Victorian Christmas novella, by a lovely author and dear friend of mine. I love this book, so much.
From Amazon: At nearly thirty years old, Eleanor Eves is a confirmed old maid - and a rather wealthy one at that. She enjoys her independence, relishes her position, and delights in serving the people of Littleton. But when the reclusive Mr. Cartwright returns to town after eight years abroad, she finds herself the unwilling delegate volunteered to welcome him into the neighborhood.
Not only is he shrouded in mystery, but Albert Cartwright is horribly disfigured, and carries a reputation for being somewhat of a brute. With Christmas on the horizon, a holiday bazaar to organize, and her aging father to care for, can Eleanor make room in her heart for Mr. Cartwright as well?
The Earl and His Lady
by Sally Britton
This is a story of love lost, second chances, and healing. I cried writing it and more than a few of my reviewers said they cried reading it.
Lady Virginia Macon, the recently widowed Baroness of Heatherton, has an impossible decision to make. Her late husband’s unscrupulous brother demands guardianship of her sons. The courts are on his side, unless she marries someone willing to stand in her late husband’s place. Locking her heart away and devoting herself to her children is the only way Virginia can countenance such a decision.
Wearied by the world, Lucas Calvert, Earl of Annesbury, is tired of being alone. His wife’s passing six years previous left his life gray and empty. His only recourse has been to make life better for those around him, using his considerable wealth and influence. When he learns of Virginia’s plight, he knows he can save her and her sons.
During one of the rainiest summers in England’s history, Virginia and her children bring light and color back into Lucas’s life. But will Virginia’s determination to protect her heart destroy their possibility of finding happiness together?
A Rouge About Town,
Book 2 in the London League Series
by Rebecca Connolly
I know. It's book two. And the first book in the series, The Lady and the Gent, is charming and fun! But I like this one even more.
From Amazon: Gabriel Statler, Lord Wharton, has a problem. His duties as an operative for the Crown are being compromised for the sake of his cover, where he is known only as the Rogue. His days are now filled with trivial investigations, and none of the problems are ones he wants to solve. Then he meets a mysterious young woman who holds more secrets than he likes, and, against his better judgment, he takes her case.
Amelia Berger needs the Rogue, and she needs everything he can offer without revealing everything she knows. Her secrets are her own, and she has far too many to risk revealing even one. But when working with Rogue turns into something entirely unexpected, she finds that the secrets she began with are not the ones she most needs to protect.
Loving an Outlaw
by Kristen Iten
I enjoyed reading this sweet Western romance very much. It was absolutely delightful - full of beautiful description, strong characters, interesting twists, and a love story that made me sigh.
From Amazon: Eighteen-year-old Abigail Dodd has always dreamed of building a life out West. Her plans to join her older brother in Texas are put in jeopardy when he suddenly stops writing. Unsure whether he’s dead or alive, Abigail leaves for the Wild West in search of the truth. Jake Morgan rides to the rescue when things go wrong on the long road to Sweet Creek, Texas. He vows to see Abigail safely to her destination before continuing his own journey to California. When it becomes clear that her life is in danger, Jake decides to stay as long as it takes to make sure she’s safe — even if it costs him his life.
When Abigail learns of a dark secret from his past, she realizes that she may have to let go of the man she has come to love in order to save his life.
by Kristen McKendry
I discovered this book and author quite by accident. This novel was an impulse buy for me at a brick-and-mortar store. Now, I almost can't stop recommending it!
From Amazon: Independent young Kate Porter envisions a future far greater than the middle-class existence she’s always lived, and her work as a governess is simply a means to an end. The glittering world of a society wife calls, and her new position as a private tutor for the children of Mr. Alonzo Colaco is a step in the right direction. She merrily imagines the grand house awaiting her—but when her new employer meets her at the train station driving a gaily painted gypsy wagon, Kate suspects her new job as a children’s tutor will not be all she dreamed. Instead of the mansion she anticipated, Kate finds herself living in the woods in a refitted train car as she teaches the charming children of Alonzo, a tinker by trade.
After trying in vain to secure another job, Kate is left with little choice. She must simply bide her time until a better position presents itself. Before long, however, she abandons her petticoats and preconceptions in favor of the joys of a simple life—and the possibility of true love. But when opportunity knocks, will Kate really be ready to walk away from all she’s come to care for to pursue her high-society dreams?
The Orient Express, Timeless Victorian Collection
by Elizabeth Johns, Annette Lyon, and Nancy Campbell Allen
Again, you cannot go wrong with the Timeless books. These three stories take place in the age of Queen Victoria, the golden years of the railway system that stretched from one side of Europe to Istanbul. In keeping with the tradition of writing about this amazing train, each of these sweet romances contains just a hint of intrigue.
Don't forget to share this list with friends!
I write clean and sweet Historical Romance Novels, I live in the desert, I'm a mom of four, madly in love with my husband, and I love to read!
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Sally Britton's books on Goodreads
His Bluestocking Bride (Branches of Love #3)
ratings: 1062 (avg rating 4.21)
The Earl and His Lady (Branches of Love #4)
ratings: 1008 (avg rating 4.36)
The Gentleman Physician (Branches of Love #2)
ratings: 680 (avg rating 4.20)
The Social Tutor (Branches of Love #1)
ratings: 656 (avg rating 4.11)
Miss Devon's Choice (Branches of Love #5)
ratings: 517 (avg rating 4.45)