Naughty or Nice Blog Tour

Cara Elliott and Jennifer Delamere are here today, chatting as part of their Naughty or Nice tour. Help me welcome both ladies to the blog!

Jen: I really enjoyed both of your books. I’ll admit, I usually gravitate toward the naughtier end of the spectrum, but tell me about why you chose the heat level you did for your stories.

Jennifer: I love reading all sorts of romances, whether “sweet” or spicy. However, I never could picture myself writing the more graphic love scenes. One of my favorite authors, Mary Stewart, could get a lot of mileage just from the moment the hero and heroine kiss. My favorite classics, including books by Jane Austen, evoke lovely and sigh-inducing romances with even less. My goal was to write books that were rich with the sizzle and excitement of romance while leaving the more explicit details to the reader’s imagination.

Jen: Jennifer, I didn’t realize until after I finished with your book and visited your website that you are an inspirational author. Talk to me about the place spirituality has in your books and what made you choose to incorporate that into your writing.

I didn’t actually set out to write an inspirational romance. In truth, it was after my book was underway that I realized that’s what I was writing. I’ve been a Christian and avid student of the Bible for many years. It’s so intrinsic in my life that I see now it was bound to flow out in my writing.

I think An Heiress at Heart could be better described as a romance with inspirational elements, and it should easily appeal to everyone. Basically, I decided to write the kind of book that I personally would want to read. I took inspiration from all the things I loved–the rich vocabulary of the classics, the bubbly fun of romantic comedies and Hollywood musicals, and the heady emotions of romance. The inspirational elements stem from the characters’ own Christian world view, which was prevalent among the Victorians. I just allowed the story to follow its own path.

Jen: Do you think there’s a place for sex in inspirational romance?

Jennifer: I do, actually! Obviously, though, there are caveats. As a romance writer, I don’t want to shy away from exploring the very real emotions and physical reactions that are a natural part of falling in love. There’s plenty of room for what I call the “sizzle” without the characters actually making love. Readers of inspirational romance expect sex to take place in the context of a marriage, and I prefer to write that way too. As it happens, in my next book the hero and heroine are married, but it is a marriage of convenience. What that book will have in common with traditional romances is that when the hero and heroine finally make love, it won’t be gratuitous. It will be a significant moment when they realize their love and commitment to each other. It may not be described as graphically as in many traditional romances, but I believe the reader will not be disappointed.

Jen: Cara, Writing sex: fun or challenging? Or something else? How do you tackle writing a love scene?

Cara: Oh, that’s a very interesting question. Actually it’s a little of all three! Showing the growing physical attraction and “chemistry” between my hero and heroine as they fall in love is, for me, an integral part of their relationship, and how they are right for each other. The challenge is to make the scene resonate with their deepening emotional engagement, rather than sound like an instruction manual for, um, assembling a lawn mower—if you know what I mean! So it’s a delicate balance of describing the intimacy, yet keeping it very romantic.

Jen: Cara, A lot of authors tend to use euphemisms in those scenes. Are there any you hate? Make you laugh when you’re reading?

Cara: Well, “throbbing manhood” is one euphemism that always makes me roll my eyes. But you know, I feel that it’s a real art to write an explicit scene well. A great one creates a magic that has the reader thinking about the special moment, not the actual words used.

Jen: To both authors: Give everyone one reason to love your hero and your heroine. Why will we want them to find their HEA?

Jennifer: Lizzie comes from a poor but respectable family, but she has a “past.” She made the mistake of falling for a wealthy rogue, who in the end seduced and abandoned her. That was a lot to overcome in Victorian England, especially if later you find yourself in love with a clergyman…. Unlike Lizzie, who has known love (and heartbreak), Geoffrey has just fallen in love for the very first time. He’s dealing with a lot of emotions he’s never felt before. Unfortunately, Lizzie is (supposedly) the widow of his deceased brother. The laws in England at that time would not have allowed them to marry, and Geoffrey is amazed at himself for seriously contemplating going against the mores of the day because he cannot bear the thought of living without Lizzie. Those are some pretty serious roadblocks standing between two wonderful people and their happily ever after.

Cara: Both my hero and heroine made decisions in the past that drove them apart, but they have the courage to overcome their fears and try again for happiness. Life can be very daunting at times, so I think we all love the idea of second chances, and take heart in believing true love can triumph over past mistakes and misunderstandings.

Thanks to Jennifer & Cara for visiting the blog today! Be sure to check out Heiress at Heart & Too Dangerous to Desire this month!

Review: An Heiress at Heart

Reviewed by Jen

I had no idea when I started reading this book that it was an inspirational romance. I tend to like my romance with a sexy kick –and frankly, the last thing I am looking for is a sermon or even a “message” while I am trying to get my lovin’ going on.  Had I known this could fall under that category, I would have never picked it up. But I would have missed out.  This was a sweet love story and I actually enjoyed it.  I didn’t really miss the sex (*gasp*) and I never felt beat over the head with a lesson to be learned.

The story follows a young woman named Lizzie who fled London with her brother after she was shamed by an affair, and her brother shot the man in a duel. They made a new home for themselves in Australia where fate put her in the path of a woman who could be her twin.  A woman who Lizzie came to believe truly was her half sister.  Sadly, the woman –Ria– and her husband died in Australia, along with Lizzie’s brother, but not before Ria could convince Lizzie to return to London and assume her identity. Ria had left town in an elopement a decade earlier and she hoped to make things rights with her family through Lizzie. Having no one else –and really believing that she was part of Ria’s family– Lizzie honors Ria’s wish.

The deception goes amazingly well. But there’s a big hitch.  Lizzie falls in love with a man Ria could never have.  Geoffrey was younger brother to Ria’s husband.  And he turns to Lizzie for answers about what happened to Edward. He thinks he is getting close with his brother’s widow, who could never be his. Yet he can’t fight his growing feelings.  Neither can Lizzie.

You know it’s only a matter of time before the secrets and lies are exposed, but it’s hard not to empathize with the main characters. Lizzie’s motives are understandable and her feelings for Geoffrey are true.  And Geoffrey is trying so hard to do the right thing, but his heart belongs to the woman he thinks was his brother’s wife.

The writing is good, even if the story plays out in a somewhat predictable fashion.  The characters are likeable, though I wish Geoffrey, especially, had been a bit more fleshed out. It’s a sweet and gentle romance with a feel good ending and just a liiittle bit of a message.

Rating: B-

*ARC Provided by Forever via NetGalley

Click to purchase: Amazon
An Heiress at Heart
by Jennifer Delamere
Release Date: October 30, 2012
Publisher: Forever