Celebrate Christmas in October with Vanessa Kelly

Christmas is now my favorite holiday. While this hasn’t always been the case, I have to confess I get all giddy when the local Christmas radio station begins playing its annual music at the beginning of November. The same giddy fascination occurs in the September and October timeframe when I start seeing the announcements appear for Christmas-themed romances. As the books begin to arrive (or get downloaded) I inevitably hear “Is it that time already?” from my husband, MrMr. Now I’m not saying he’s a Scrooge by any means, but he knows that I’ll be more heavily occupied with reading than before as I chuckle and giggle and sigh my way through all the arriving books. One in particular caught my eye: His Mistletoe Bride by Vanessa Kelly.

Blame it on the Mistletoe…

His Mistletoe Bride

His Mistletoe Bride by Vanessa Kelly

When Major Lucas Stanton inherited his earldom, he never dreamed his property would include the previous earl’s granddaughter. Phoebe Linville is a sparkling American beauty, yes, but with a talent for getting into trouble. Witness the compromising position that forced them into wedlock. Whisked away to Mistletoe Manor, his country estate, it isn’t long before she is challenging his rules—and surprising him in and out of bed…

Phoebe has no intention of bowing to Lucas’s stubbornness even though he offers all that she wants. His kisses and unexpected warmth are enticing, but Phoebe is determined to show the Earl of Merritt what real love is all about. And if that takes twelve nights of delicious seduction by a roaring fire, she’s more than willing to reveal her gifts very slowly…

Military hero? Check. Compromising position? Check. Heroine with a penchant for rule breaking? Check. And Christmas too? Bonus check! After seeing this, I knew I had to read the book. And then I got an email that started this year’s Christmas reading season off with squees and dancing around my home office. It took MrMr by surprise.

“WHAT!?” he yelled from the other room as he heard the first of the noises.

“Uh…nothing.” I continued to dance around my office.

“That’s wasn’t a nothing squee. And I heard dancing. That was an ‘I’ve got great news’ squee. Cough it up, woman.” I could see him peeking through the doors between our offices.

So I proceeded to launch into great detail about Christmas romance novels and as I expected his eyes glazed over nearly before I started. I petered off when I realized he wasn’t nearly as enamored of my review of Christmas history as I thought he would be.

When he saw that I’d wound down, he came over to door I was standing in, put his hands on my shoulders, looked me straight in the eyes and said “Pretend I’m on Twitter and you have less than 140 characters to tell me why you’re happy.”

Without a moment’s thought I responded “Vanessa Kelly wrote His Mistletoe Bride. It’s coming out early October. I get to interview her for Teatime Romance.”

“There, was that so hard?” He kissed me on the head and walked back into his office.

I won’t actually admit to sticking my tongue out at his retreating back, but he did say without turning around “I felt that.” Spoilsport.

I continued my happy dance and thought up a boatload of questions (with the generous help of a panicked online query to friends), and Vanessa happily obliged by answering all of them.

Without further ado, here are Vanessa’s answers to my questions. Happy Holidays a little early!

•••

Welcome! Would you mind answering our traditional question first? Your house is on fire. Which five romance novels do you grab on your way out?

First, Jennelle, I want to thank you for hosting me on the blog on my release day. I’m very happy to be here! Okay, now to the questions…

Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase, Married By Morning by Lisa Kleypas, Last Night’s Scandal by Loretta Chase, Lady Sophia’s Lover by Lisa Kleypas, and When You Dare by Lori Foster. OMG, but how horrible that I can only grab five!! I would also want to snag at least one Amanda Quick/Jayne Castle, one Eloisa James, and at least two Georgette Heyer books!

Your graduate studies in 18th & 19th Century British authors seem to have provided you with considerable inspiration for fiction in general. How did this academic background help you in writing His Mistletoe Bride?

As with all my books, I think my grad studies grounded me—both in terms of historical accuracy and cultural sensibility. I read a lot of period novels, as well as letters, periodicals, and memoirs from the Regency. That background gave me a framework for pushing the envelope in terms of plot and character, but in what I hope is a believable fashion that doesn’t seem anachronistic.

The bulk of your readership lives in the United States. How do you deal with the differences in cultural perspective between modern American readers and that of the time period of His Mistletoe Bride or any of your historical novels? How do you keep your historical works accessible to modern readers?

I keep the primary focus on story and character. Readers do enjoy the Regency setting and they love the little glimpses into another way of life, but they don’t generally pick up a romance novel to learn nitty-gritty details of history. And let’s face it: most of us don’t want to read about what hygiene was really like during that period, or how women or black people or children were often so brutally treated. So I strive for a balance. I try to have a certain sense of historical realism in my books, which can often best be portrayed by secondary characters or subplots, but I never forget that I’m writing a love story for modern readers. It usually takes two or three passes through the manuscript to get the right balance.

It’s clear from your Pinterest board that considerable thought went into each chapter of His Mistletoe Bride. How much research did it really take? Did you have to travel at all?

No, I didn’t travel for this book, although I’ve visited England a number of times over the years. As for research…all I can say is thank you, Google Earth! Truly, the internet is an amazing tool for writers and researchers, although you often have to drill down to find the good stuff. The biggest challenge was finding accurate information on Christmas during the Regency period—there’s not that much available. I think I managed to find most of it, either through inter-library loan or in old books. Never forget the awesome power of your local research librarian!

[Ed. Note: You all should really check out the Pinterest board that Vanessa put together for His Mistletoe Bride. It’s brilliant.]

His Mistletoe Bride takes on a culture usually reserved for inspirational romance, that of Quaker society. How did you come upon the idea of Phoebe Linville’s pacifist background?

I grew up in one of the oldest Quaker towns in America, one which still has an active Friends school and Meeting. I’m not a Quaker but it was there in the background—I have relatives and friends who went to the local Friends school—and I’ve always been fascinated by their history and philosophy.

In terms of the story, although Phoebe was raised as a Quaker, her mother was Church of England. Phoebe has always been torn between her traditionalist English background and her Quaker father’s American background. That inner conflict was really fun to play with, especially when Phoebe runs up against Lucas’s law-and-order approach to life. But one thing I learned while researching Quakers during the Regency period: they were not bloodless or passive. They were passionate advocates and were considered to be radical back in the day. And many were also quite wealthy and moved easily within society, so I think we sometimes have a pretty limited idea of what they were all about.

As fiction writers, we always run the risk of someone believing characters in our novels are based on them. How have your family and friends accepted your works? Have there been any problems you had to deal with?

My family thinks it’s pretty cool that I write romance novels and they completely accept what I do. I suspect most of them don’t really read my books, though, because I think some of the sex scenes would shock them. They never seem to mention those bits—maybe they skip them!

Do your female characters like Phoebe Linville in His Mistletoe Bride reflect the same qualities and struggles of modern era women? Have modern women improved their lot?

Women have always fought hard to define their self-worth and to create loving and nurturing relationships. I don’t think that’s changed, although I would say that modern women certainly have fewer limitations than women in the Regency period. But the desire for love is universal and unchanging, don’t you think?

Is there a question you’d like to ask me or our readers at Teatime Romance?

I’d like to ask your readers why they love Regency historical romance. What is it about Regencies that they find so appealing?

So, dear readers, what is it about Regencies that are so appealing? Comment to win a free copy of her first and third books, Mastering The Marquess and My Favorite Countess. Be the (randomly chosen) lucky commenter and win one of them! (Be sure to supply your email so we can contact you if you win.)  Vanessa will be contacting the winners via email soon!

•••

Vanessa Kelly

Regency romance author, Vanessa Kelly

Vanessa Kelly was named by Booklist, the review journal of the American Library Association, as one of the “New Stars of Historical Romance.” Her Regency-set historical romances have been nominated for awards in a number of contests, and her second book, Sex and The Single Earl, won the prestigious Maggie Medallion for Best Historical Romance. Vanessa also writes contemporary romance with her husband under the name of V.K. Sykes. You can find her on the web at www.vanessakellyauthor.com or at www.vksykes.com.

Vanessa is a member of Rock*It Reads, a self-published author collective dedicated to outstanding quality romance. She blogs regularly and you can find her on a variety of social media platforms too: Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.

Vanessa’s book, His Mistletoe Bride can be purchased from these online retailers: iTunes, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books A Million.

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43 thoughts on “Celebrate Christmas in October with Vanessa Kelly

  1. Hi Vanessa! Welcome to Teatime Romance. Thank you so much for visiting us today-it’s lovely to have you here!

    I love Christmas stories, and I am adding your book to my massive TBR pile! As you are obviously meticulous with your research, it makes me wonder about Regency holiday traditions, and if there are any we still practice today.

    But what I love most about Regency historicals is all the lords and ladies, men in breeches, crowded ballroom ripe with the possibility of scandal at any moment, being transported to another time and place-I love it all!

    • Lisa, Regency folks certainly gave each other gifts over the holidays, and they certainly liked their parties. And, as you say, all those parties and balls are just ripe for some fun and even a little scandal!

  2. Pingback: My Vanessa Kelly Interview at Teatime Romance | Jennelle Holland

  3. Regency is romantic and with all of the parties it makes it even better. I love Christmas stories and because it is a Regency Christmas we get a taste of all the glitz and glam that we aren’t as used to today. A little scandal thrown in makes it all the more interesting 🙂

  4. I love this interview! So fun! The questions were great and the answers really helped me to get to know Vanessa better. I loved that they asked “If your house was on fire which romance novels would you grab!” I currently follow Vanessa on her pinterest board and just love it! It’s fun seeing the images the author associates with her novel. I’m very excited for the new books. Keep writing because you have a huge fan base who LOVES your novels!

    • Thanks, Heather! It’s always tough coming up with interview questions but I think I’m a research geek at heart. So when I saw the very obvious in-depth work Vanessa was doing I simply had to dig deeper and find out more. Her Pinterest boards are fabulous IMHO!

  5. What is not to like – royalty, pomp and circumstance, gowns, affairs (both kinds lol) but most of all – sexy men and strong women. Love your cover and I know I will love your story too!

  6. To answer Vanessa’s question, I love Regency because of the scenery! It’s an escape from the modern world of internet and gadgets, back to an earlier more “romantic” time. I love the costumes you dress the characters in in your novels, the great details, and the fun old traditions! I love the castles and royalty. It’s just such a nice escape from the crazy busy world of today. In essence, Regency romance novels are charming! It’s a mini vacation that I treat myself to by reading them.

  7. Good Morrow to ye and thee! My first time blogging here I do believe. Just an fyi, I am an American living in England. And not only do I love to read, but I am attempting to be a writer as well.
    Regency is a beautiful and elegant period of time that I think many people would wish to go to if they had a choice on a time period to go back and visit. Unlike the time of the Romans or Saxons, Vikings or Norman conquest, Medieval, Tudors, Stuarts, or Jacobite, where medicine and cleanliness were not very well known and lets face it people, they ate some weird and disgusting things back then. And the dresses were not as elegant at times (unless you were Queen Elizabeth!), and children had a 3 in ten chance of living not to mention I would not want to try dodging the plague.
    When I read a book, I am one of those weird people who can see and smell and almost taste what the character is doing. Like for example, after reading Clan Of The Cave Bear, I swear I smelled smoke and pine forests for weeks in my dreams.
    So when I read a book, I want to be able to relate to the characters sometimes; to grow to become them in my mind so that I can understand who and what they are and where they go. Regency is just one of those eras most people adore and want to relate to.
    Thanks for letting me ramble. I dare not go on. I could talk for hours!!!

    • I think that when an author manages to make us dream and engage senses other than our eyes, especially our taste and smell, they’ve truly succeeded in telling a fantastic story. Cap that with engaging our emotions and we have something truly memorable, don’t you think?

      Please feel free to ramble away at any time. If you’re interested in more info on the medicine and clean health practices of those previous times, (quite extensive) and the very edible food they served (e.g., meatballs, steak, fried chicken, chicken soup), feel free to email me and I’ll point you to some really great research manuscripts (and translations) that debunk common myths.

    • Ti, that is a truly fascinating quirk that you can immerse yourself so deeply in your reads. No wonder you don’t want to do Medieval – I’m watching World Without End right now. What a nightmare that period was!

  8. Liked reading the interview. It was great getting to know Vanessa a little more. I’ll put the book “His Mistletoe Bride” on my wish list for Christmas.

  9. I love the elegance which permeates historicals; from the speech & language, the setting, the people , just about everything. I love that the simplest & smallest things are romantic; a gentle caress on the cheek, a touching of fingers. Just makes me melt :p

  10. I absolutely love the etiquette and rules of courtship in a Regency Historical Romance. The balls and gowns and Rakes. The Mothers determined to marry off daughters.

    marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

  11. I love the Regency period for it’s beautiful clothing and manners. While I don’t think I could survive back then, it is a wonderful dream.. I’m off to the Pinerest board again to relive my dream world!

  12. Isn’t it a little…unrealistic…for her to have one Quaker parent and one not? Her father would’ve very likely been disowned for marrying an Anglican. IIRC, improper marriage (marrying in a “steeplehouse” or to a non-Quaker) was the number one reason for disowning in the 19th century.

    • Yes, that’s true, but at the end of the 18th Century (when her parents would have married) there seemed to have been less rigidity. Attitudes seemed to harden in the 19th century. I do address this in my book, in the backstory. Phoebe’s mother did leave her old life behind and did her best to adapt to her husband’s traditions. And Phoebe was raised as a Quaker in a Quaker household. But I think there was more nuance in many of these communities and relationships than we realize. People did convert, but I suspect they didn’t entirely abandon – at least emotionally – all their traditions and beliefs. I think it’s reasonable to assume that Phoebe’s mom would have talked about her childhood and life in the old country, and missed them. And, when Phoebe does leave for England, her half-brother is very upset, since he sees it as her abandoning her community.

  13. Pingback: What I Read for the Weeks of October 14 & 21, 2012 | Jennelle Holland

  14. Pingback: Teatime Romance Blog’s 2012 Year in Review | Teatime Romance

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