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Hello, my name is Valorie. I have a Master's Degree in History and a license to teach-- I have been both university professor and public school teacher. Currently, I am a middle school social studies teacher. I love horror movies and spooky things. Every day is Halloween. I am also a passionate book blogger.

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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Blog Tour, Book Review & Author Interview: A Hint of Wicked (James Family, #1) by Jennifer Haymore

About Jennifer Haymore
I've been writing since I could pick up a pencil. Wait, no-- that's what every other writer says! I started writing just before my eighth birthday, and it wasn't on my own volition. I was sailing with my family in a 42-foot sailboat across the Pacific, and since there were no local schools (except those pertaining to fish) nearby, my mother homeschooled me. She was a strict taskmaster! A veritable slave driver! She demanded a new story every day.  So I'd sit in the boat's galley and write. And stare out the porthole, and write some more. And doodle, and write some more. By the time we arrived in Hawaii the following year, I had a portfolio of stories, and I was hooked. Since then I haven't stopped. (Well, much. I did take breaks now and then, for things like college, young kids, and a master's degree.)  I love to read just as much as I love to write, and actually the reading bug hit me at about the same time my mom was cracking the whip over my head and commanding me to write. What else to occupy your time with when there are no other kids to play with and nothing to do but stare at the endless sea? Some of my most recent favorites: The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, River God by Wilbur Smith, and anything by Laura Kinsale and Loretta Chase.

About A Hint of Wicked

CAUGHT BETWEEN DUTY AND DESIRE . . . Sophie, the Duchess of Calton, has finally moved on. After seven years mourning the loss of her husband, Garrett, at Waterloo, she has married his cousin and heir, Tristan. Sophie gives herself to him body and soul. . . until the day Garrett returns from the Continent, demanding his title, his lands-and his wife. TORN BETWEEN TWO HUSBANDS . . .

Now Sophie must choose between her first love and her new love, knowing that no matter what, her choice will destroy one of the men she adores. Will it be Garrett, her childhood sweetheart, whose loss nearly destroyed her once already? Or will it be Tristan, beloved friend turned lover, who supported her through the last, dark years and introduced her to a passion she had never known? As her two husbands battle for her heart, Sophie finds herself immersed in a dangerous game-where the stakes are not only love . . . but life and death.

My Review of A Hint of Wicked

Title: A Hint of Wicked
Series: James Family
Book Number: 1
Author: Jennifer Haymore
Genre: Fiction - Historical Romance
Sophie, the Duchess of Calton, lost her husband Garrett at Waterloo. After seven years of mourning and searching, she finally moved on and married their mutual best friend Tristan, who lost his own wife. Though Sophie still harbors feelings for Garrett, she loves Tristan with a passion never experienced before, not even during her previous marriage to Garrett. The two of them have gotten through their grief together and are very much in love. In the midst of carnal passion, Sophie and Tristan are surprised by the sudden homecoming of Garrett who did not die at Waterloo, but instead spent the past years with amnesia in Belgium. But now that Garrett has his memory back, he wants his wife and his name returned to him. Sophie and Tristan are now at a loss of what to do-- nullify their marriage or fight it out. Sophie's position is especially difficult since she is still very much in love with Garrett and is overjoyed that he alive and home, back to her and their daughter. But yes, she loves Tristan and does not want to separate from him either. Since Sophie can't be married to two men, she has to choose. Of course, Garrett wants to give her no choice by declaring her marriage to Tristan illegal. Flanked by his trusted assistant William, Garrett is having trouble coming to terms with the war. He is prone to hallucinations, flash backs, and violence. His doctor is very grim about Garrett's eventual outlook, which makes it even harder for Sophie to give up on him. Very soon, Sophie and Tristan suspect that something is amiss, that Garrett isn't as sick and out of control as William and his doctor say. Now not only must Sophie decide between the two and Tristan fight for his wife, but the two of them have to uncover what plot Garrett is unknowingly in the middle of. I am a novice when it comes to romance, but I decided to give A Hint of Wicked a try because it is historical fiction and I am constantly searching for that one romance book that will seal the deal for me and make me love the genre. Or even just appreciate it. Though new to this genre, it didn't hinder my ability to appreciate Haymore's elegant writing style or her vast variety of adjectives that were never overused. It was, of course, predictable who Sophie would turn out with. 
Still, I tried not to let that bother me and instead took the book for what it was worth. Rather than accept the story as a mystery unfolding, I understood it as a progression of events I would see to the end, just to know how the events play out and what the means to the end are. Need I mention that the book is very steamy? I don't think I have to once you see the cover. Haymore certainly doesn't shy away from being descriptive, she doesn't hold back and cut out before the passion starts in full force, but her writing is such that she never descends into being crude. It is so easy to ruin a good love scene, you see, at least for me. Truthfully, sometimes Sophie annoyed me. Sometimes reading about how perfect she is got to me. But I never got bored of the love scenes.

Interview With Jennifer Haymore

Q: What do you do to prepare to write? What is the process that gets you ready to sit down a lay out a story?
A: It actually takes me a while to gear myself up to write. In advance, I know I'm going to need a good chunk of time. Unlike some (very lucky and enviable!) authors, I can't sit down for 10 minutes and whip out a page. I need a couple of hours, at least. Once I know I'm going to have the time, I sit down, clear out my email inbox so it won't distract me, and then I look over the last bit of work I did. I usually edit it, think about it, think about where I need to go now, and then I dive in. Sometimes I write fast (my record is about 7000 words in one day); other times I write at a snailâ's pace.

Q: How much of yourself do you put in your characters? Are they extensions of you, or are they independent creations that take on a life of their own after coming from your imagination?
A: The heroine of my first book (which is currently unpublished and under my bed) was very much an extension of me, but since then I think I've branched out quite a bit. I do think, though, that all my heroes and heroines possess certain attributes I have. For example, I think they all pretty much stand on a similar moral plane as I do (although at times theirs can be amplified!).

Q: What sort of research went into making this book?
A: As I wrote this book, I became addicted to Google books (www.books.google.com). There's nothing quite like a source written in the same time period you're writing in. I now have an extensive, organized Google books library filled with books written in the early 19th century about everything from medicine to fashion to travel and architecture and cooking. The cure for opium overdose in A HINT OF WICKED is taken from these texts! Along with Google books, I made use of published historical texts on the period, Regency & other historical websites, horse experts, and fellow members of the Beau Monde chapter of Romance Writers of America, many of whom are experts on the period.
The most historically complex aspect of A HINT OF WICKED was the legal ramifications of a woman (an aristocratic woman, who'd be treated rather differently than a commoner) being married to two men at once. The English courts were extremely complicated and very fluid during this time period, marriage laws went through radical changes about ten years later, and there weren’t any exact precedents for this situation. I bought books on the topic of historical marriage, separation and divorce in England, and I contacted legal experts for advice. Still, it was a tremendous challenge to work it out.

Q: A Hint of Wicked is set in the early 1800s. What is the appeal of historical romance? Is the past somehow more romantic than the present?
A: Hmm...this is a tough question, because I really love contemporary romance too. Sometimes, yes, I think the past is more romantic than the present. There was an intensity to the time—the morals were stricter, the expectations more fierce, and double standards abounded. For example, thinking in terms of A HINT OF WICKED and marriage: once Sophie married Garrett that's it. Game over. Until one of their lives is over, there can be no other marriage. Hopefully they'll be madly in love until the end of their days, because if they're not "oops. Major, impossible-to-overcome problems ensue!" I love huge life-and-death conflicts, and I love how seriously people in history approached concepts like honor and fealty. I also love the pageantry and the customs of the time.

Q: What is the best part of writing a book?
A: Finishing it! There's nothing like that feeling of accomplishment when you write "The End."

Q: What is the worst part of writing a book?
A: Feeling like it's never going to end. Writing a 400-page book is a big job, and if you're an impatient person (like me), you want to do it and be done, but it really does take a long time and a lot of hard work to write a book.

Q: What is the most valuable piece of knowledge that you've picked up after becoming a published author that you wish you knew from the start?
A: There's so much...hmmm. Maybe to trust myself and my own voice. I used to worry incessantly about my ability to communicate a scene appropriately, and I drove myself crazy over it. I'd work on one sentence for a day and still feel like it sounded juvenile and boring. As much as Iâ'd love every single word I write to sparkle with wit and satire, my voice is my voice, and I've learned to appreciate it for what it is (I can't pinpoint exactly what that is, but I can say that while it may contain an occasional glimmer of wit and satire, it doesn't do so 100% of the time!).

Q: What is one thing you've never done but would love to do?
A: I'd love to go on an around-the-world sailing trip for a year or two and explore a few seldom-touched corners of the world.

Q: What would your "theme" song be on the soundtrack of your life?
A: The Chariots of Fire theme song is running through my head, but my husband says the instrumental version of Hotel California reminds him of me.

Q: Finally, could you share with all of us a quote that you love?
A: Since I was talking about trusting myself, here's one I like from Sylvia Plath: "The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt."

Participating Sites:

http://www.foreigncircuslibrary.blogspot.com/ - May 19 review 
http://bookinwithbingo.blogspot.com - May 19 intro; May 21 review; May 23 Q&A; June 6 announce winners of giveaway 
http://ajourneyofbooks.blogspot.com - May 21 Q&A 
http://chicbookreviews.blogspot.com/ - May 22 review and giveaway 
http://www.findthetimetoread.blogspot.com - May 26 review and giveaway http://www.ReadingWithMonie.com - May 26 giveaway 
http://zensanity.blogspot.com/ - May 26 Q&A http://booksoulmates.blogspot.com/ - May 27 giveaway 
http://yankeeromancereviewers.blogspot.com/ - May 28 giveaway 
http://www.myspace.com/darbyscloset - May 28 review http://confessionsofaromancebookaddict.wordpress.com/ - June 1 to 4 Q&A, review, and giveaway 
http://dreyslibrary.blogspot.com - June 1 giveaway 
http://www.morbid-romantic.net - June 2 review, giveaway, Q&A 
http://mindingspot.blogspot.com/ - June 3 review and giveaway http://kayespenguinposts.blogspot.com/ - June 3 giveaway 
http://thereviewfromhere.wordpress.com/ - June 4 review 
http://www.thebookgirl.net - June 5 review and giveaway 
http://yougottareadreviews.blogspot.com/ - June 6 review and giveaway http://reesspace.blogspot.com - June 6 review and giveaway
http://abookbloggersdiary.blogspot.com/ - June 6 review and giveaway 
http://martasmeanderings.blogspot.com/ - June 8 
http://www.bookwormygirl.blogspot.com/ - giveaway 
http://www.alphaheroes.blogspot.com - review

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