Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Perfect Strangers by Rebecca Sinclair

Perfect Strangers

About the book:

Gabrielle Carelton is one of Queen Elizabeth’s most devoted ladies-in-waiting. But her loyalty is put to the test when Her Majesty commands her to marry Scotsman Collin Douglas. When Gabrielle is kidnapped by Collin’s twin brother, not even Good Queen Bess can save her. Dubbed the Black Douglas, devilishly handsome Connor is known throughout the land for his magnificent feats of strength and cunning. But now he is in need of an heir. An English bride will bring peace to the warring nations — and give him the son he craves. What he doesn’t expect is a woman as passionate as she is proud … and a desire that knows no boundaries. Set against the pageantry and savage splendor of 16th-century England and Scotland, here is the story of a man and a woman who begin as enemies and strangers — and find a love that will triumph against all odds.

Meet Rebecca Sinclair (from the book):

Murphy’s Law, Rebecca Sinclair’s first short contemporary romance, was a finalist for the EPPIE Award, an award given for excellence in electronically-published fiction. Perfect Strangers and Montana Wildfire, two of her earlier books, are now being made available for the Kindle, Nook, Sony, PDF…and just about any other e-reading device there is. Reb is working on getting the rest of her back-list out in e-book format (keep checking her website www.rebeccasinclair.com for details.)

In case you’re wondering why her name sounds familiar but you can’t quite place it, now would be a good time to mention that Rebecca is just coming off of a ten year, self-imposed sabbatical. She’s back to writing now, however. Currently, she has three new projects in the works: one, a sexy time-travel historical romance and two long YA novels. (The latter genre is a departure for her, yet it’s one she’s having great fun with!)

Rebecca has lived on the rocky southeastern coast of New England all her life; first in Maine, where she was born, then in Massachusetts, where she grew up, and finally settling in the biggest little state of the union: Rhode Island. For the last 15 years she’s lived in a big, turn-of-the-century (the last century – circa 1865!) house … that came complete with a widow’s walk, a Table –of-Death and, of course, its own ghost!
            
She enjoys spending time with her family, reading (a lot!) and listening to a wide variety of music. Her favorite time to write is in the wee, wee hours of the morning, when all the sane people are asleep; then, her creativity flows like a river. She is the owner and primary webmaster for the popular webstie Eclectics (www.eclectics.com ), which she founded in 1993). Eclectics is Internet home to a variety of authors, literary agents, writing articles, and more.
           
Rebecca Sinclair can be found here:
Twitter: www.@Rebecca_S

Guest Post From the Author:
And she danced...by Rebecca Sinclair
written exclusively for the My Life, One Story at a Time Blog

Hubby and I attended a wedding this past July for my daughter's BFF, Avery. If forced to render Avery in one sentence, the descriptive tags would include 'bright', 'vibrant', and intensely 'alive.' When Avery decided to get married, it stood to reason everything about her wedding would reflect her passionate, bohemian character.

The invitation said the “I do's” would be spoken exactly at sunset. The bride and groom, as well as their guests, were to be barefoot on the summer-warmed New England beach. Unfortunately, Hurricane Irene stepped in at the last possible second and put a monkey wrench in those plans! The ceremony and reception were quickly moved to an indoor function room. No one seemed to mind.

Had the bridal processional music always been Oh, Happy Day!? The bridesmaid and maid-of-honor, my daughter, boogied down the aisle. The bride, however, took center stage as she sashayed and shimmied seductively toward her groom. After the ceremony, the couple joined hands and literally ran back down the aisle and out of the room,. They were instantly followed by the rest of the wedding party, most of who were by this time laughing and congratulating both the happy couple and each other.

The tone was set for the rest of the evening; the reception was to be light and airy and fun. And when the bride and groom took center stage to dance their first dance together as a married couple, instead of there not being a dry eye in the house, there wasn't an unsmiling mouth.

The DJ played some hip, modern song I didn't recognize; it had an upbeat tune, a sweet beat, and lyrics that promised love everlasting. I barely heard. I wasn't really aware of anything beyond Avery and her new husband.

Avery's method of “dancing” involved a series of arm and hip motions, coupled with many, many energetic little jumps. With the natural grace of an Amazon, she hopped excitedly from foot to foot as though playfully daring gravity to contain either herself or her emotions. If the bare toes peeking out from her gown were chilled by the air conditioning, she didn't let it show. In fact, she seemed only vaguely aware she had feet. The brunt of her concentration was elsewhere.

Avery's hands never left her new husband—she touched his shoulders, caressed the back of his neck, ran her fingertips down his arms or the line of his jaw as though she couldn't believe he was there, he was real—even as she bounced in elated circles around him or, in a surprise move, allowed him to toss her between his legs and pull her up the other side, with a flirty grin and coquettish twirl of voluminous white skirt. At one point, despite her dress, Avery jumped on him, wrapping her legs tightly around his waist, her arms around his neck. Clinging to him, they never missed a step, just continued to sway as one to the music.

Anyone with a working pair of eyes could see Avery was happy; pleasure radiated from her every move, her every excited gesture, from the way she continued to bounce excitedly up and down on her toes. Jump. Jump.
JUMP! You had to look just a little deeper to see that somehow, at some point, she'd surpassed mere happiness and entered into a world where sheer and utter jubilation reigned supreme...a realm known only to the fortunate few, and even then oh, so very rarely.

Her dance was an unbridled celebration of love, life, and all that was good, right, and carefree in the world. As I watched her, I couldn't help wishing I could still dance like that myself. I remember being able to, but it was a long time ago. Back when hubby and I were first married. Over the years those feelings morphed into something else, something more comfortable. Their sharp edges blunted from the passage of time, the shine fading to years of neglecting to polish it, putting the chore off for just. One. More. Day.

There's been no room for dancing in my world of duty and responsibility There hasn't been for a long time.
Nothing is light and airy anymore. The steps of my dance have grown heavy and intricate. Gravity hung in the game and won after all. There are constant demands of kids, animals, jobs. There are meetings, conflicting schedules, and late nights spent struggling to get the latest project just right before crawling into bed. Alone. Because hubby works from the house during the day, while I prefer to write at night.

Like looking through the magnifier at the top of the Empire State Building, watching Avery and her new husband—but, especially, Avery—dance that first dance together has helped bring my own life more clearly into focus.

Lessons learned:

It is time, past time, to take a page from Avery's book. No matter what was going on in my life, I need to set aside some time each day to simply allow myself to feel happy—not resentful of the things I don't' have but joyful for the things I do. To lay inhibitions aside and kick my feet up and dance again, wild and free, as if I could defy gravity to hold down all the raw emotions and possibilities bubbling up inside of me. Emotions I haven't allowed myself, or haven't had time, to feel in a very long time. And to think, all of this was unlocked simply by watching one vibrant young woman dance with more gusto and raw joy than anyone I'd ever seen before.

For the rest of my life, I will remember the way Avery danced at her wedding.


Why I decided to cross genres and write a YA book:

Because...

a) I've always enjoyed reading YA books, but for awhile there, frustrated at not finding any romances--historical or otherwise--that I wanted to read, I'd switched to reading virtually nothing but YAs. My interest in the YA genre has always been keen and high, but more so with all the wonderful books being published for teens/tweens/and the like today.

b)I had the niblet of an idea for a story that wouldn't work as a romance (although it is a bit romancey; I am a romance writers first and foremost, after all), but that I thought would be ideal for a younger audience.

And...
c) I felt restless, like I needed to stretch my wings a little, challenge myself. My choice of a challenge was to write a book outside my comfort zone, outside "my" genre of historical romance. As it turned out, the effort birthed more than one book; my first YA, Endless, hasn't even sold yet and already it's spawned a sequel, which I'm in the process of writing now. I'd like to stress, in this day of the trilogies or longer, my story is just two books. The story begun in Endless wraps up in the second book, its conclusion, Rapture.



Book Quotes:

“A Maxwell takes care of his own,” he repeated softly, seemingly to himself. Louder, as realization dawned on him, he said, “What sort of kin would we be if we dinny lift a finger to get the poor, sweet wee lass away from her arch enemy, the Douglas?”

She lifted the goblet and took another drink of whisky, even though her thirst had passed. As any good Carelton could tell you, if one of anything worked well, two would work better…and three better still.
Gabrielle set the goblet aside and lay back against the pillow. She stifled a yawn with her fist and arched her spine, stretching tentatively at first, then, when her muscles didn’t cramp in protest, more expansively. Aaah, but that felt divine.

Mayhaps another sip of whisky wouldn’t be out of order? Heaven knew the unexpected jolts of thunder had made sure the effects of the first three wore off with alarming speed.

“Sulking around in the shadows now, are you, Douglas? Haven’t you ever heard of the term ‘knock’?” “Twill be a cold day in hell afore I’ll knock on me own bedchamber door, lass.” The words slid through Gabrielle much the same way the first sip of whisky had only moments before.

“And exactly how would ye go aboot doing that?” “By rescuing her myself if there’s no other way.” “Well, guddle me,” Ella muttered, then shook her head. Her laughter was soft and musical. “Lass, ye dinny e’en know where Gaelside is!” “True,” Gabrielle acknowledged thoughtfully. Her gaze had dipped to the fists clenched tightly atop her lap. If now lifted and boldly met Ella’s. A sly, challenging grin tugged at her lips when she added,” But you do.”

Thick raven hair, harshly sculpted cheekbones, forehead, and jaw, gray eyes that gleamed out of the murky shadows, and a gaze that arrowed straight through her very soul…

Unlike the last, this kiss was light, gentle. His lips whisked airily over heres with sweet promise, yet she sensed an underlying urgency.

His mouth carried through its promise and was on hers, his tongue urging her lips apart. His kiss was ravenous; it obliterated all thoughts of family and feuds and weddings from her mind.

My Review:

            Ok – I have to admit, the picture perfect specimen on the cover captured my attention before anything. Did you look?! Well, go back and LOOK!

            I also have a predisposed fascination with Scotland as my ancestors hail from the great country of Scotland. I love the brogue. I love the bagpipes. I love the kilts. I would someday like to visit Scotland, and I would like one of those men (from the cover).

            Perfect Strangers captured the love between Gabrielle Carleton and Connor Douglas magnificently. What sets this book apart from previous books I’ve read is that the author did not make Gabrielle a picture perfect woman. Gabby is a complex young woman who as part of Queen Elizabeth’s court, was ridiculed, and judged based on her lack of outer beauty. The “Black Douglas’” piercing gray eyes saw passed the outer shell to the beautiful woman beneath (and mine will too).

            The author not only captured the essence of Gabby but the complex humanity of the highland clans and their way of life in 16th century Scotland and England.

            Perfect Strangers is a story of a young woman, sent by her queen, to marry in hopes of ending the border feuds. Her betrothed’s twin brother, the notorious Black Douglas, whom ballads of his fierceness have been written and sung, kidnaps her.

            Soon after arriving at his castle, a battle breaks out and Connor’s old aunt is kidnapped. In her goodness and innocence, Gabrielle sets off to rescue her. Before the night has time to set, Connor comes upon her camp, and after a night of giving in to the passion that has been threatening to consume them, Gabby and Connor, are captured by a neighboring clan.

            Through the twists and turns of a great story, love trumps all. I will definitely be reading more from Rebecca Sinclair. The characters are well written and developed. The Scottish dialogue spoke of authenticity. The story draws the reader in and leaves you wanting more at the end.

            Well done Ms. Sinclair!

Giveaway!

Rebecca Sinclair has graciously offered to give away an e-book to one of my commenters.
The only requirement to enter is to follow this blog via
GFC or NetworkBlogs.

Please leave an email where you can be reached. The giveaway will run until November 20th.
I will post and email the winners on November 21th.
Any tweeting about the giveaway is greatly appreciated! (but not required)

If you absolutely have to read the book NOW, you can find it here:


DONT FORGET! to also enter for the Amazon Gift Card giveaway - here:

Disclaimer / Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of the book with no obligation for a positive review. No compensation - monetary or in kind - has been obtained for this post. Cover art and book description courtesy of the author, publisher, or PR firm. 

5 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  2. What a great guest post!

    Fab review also, as a Scottish lass myself i'm even more intrigued in reading this. Thanks for sharing!

    TToria
    xo
    http://ttoria.blogspot.com
    ttoria1987@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  3. The cover IS definitely attractive. I wonder if there are a lot of arguments (spice!) between the male and female protagonists?

    Your new GFC follower,

    Nancy @ Simple Clockwork
    http://www.nancycudis.com
    enarse@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  4. Definitely nice cover. I would love to read this. Thanks for the giveaway!
    GFC - Gloria

    geschumann at live dot com

    ReplyDelete
  5. Count me in, thanks for the giveaway.

    GFC : Malvina Beatrice
    darkenf(at)rocketmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete

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