Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Perfect Triad: Authors, Celebrities and Romantic Getaways

(from usatoday.com
by Joyce Lamb)

Today's featured authors: Shelley Shepard Gray, author of Hopeful; Emily Harper, author of White Lies; and Marci Jefferson, author of Girl on the Golden Coin. We're talking favorite romance authors, celebrities and romantic getaways.

Shelley Shepard Gray, author of Hopeful

Three of my favorite romance authors:

• Julia Quinn. Well, she had me at Bridgerton. I love Julia's books, they're so fun and witty and vibrant! She was one of the first authors that one of my critique partners (mystery writer Heather Blake) would have discussions about. It was so fun trying to figure out who was writing those Lady Whistledown columns! I've also sent just about every one of her books to my sister who lives in Greece. She then shares them with her girlfriends. That's what I love about Julia Quinn's books — they're absolutely so fun to share. She's truly a gifted writer.

• Catherine Mann. Cathy Mann writes exciting military romances for Harlequin, Berkley and Sourcebooks. Her novels are filled with all kinds of perfect details and great writing. She's also one of the most encouraging and nicest writers I've ever met. I met her for the first time when she was part of my writers group in Ohio, and I've followed her career from her first Harlequin sale to her RITA win to her debut of writing bestsellers for Berkley. Oh, and she fosters dogs and puppies for a local shelter in Florida. Every time I cross paths with her, I realize that I have a lot more to learn!

• Amy Clipston. Amy is one of my fellow Amish writing buddies. I got to know her well when she, author Vannetta Chapman, and I went on tour together back in 2011. Amy is not only a gifted storyteller of Amish romances, but she's also a gifted person. She works full time at a day job, writes young adult novels, Amish romances, and most recently, will be publishing A Gift of Love, a memoir describing her kidney donation. Every time I think that I'm working hard, I think of Amy and realize I could be doing even more. Even more special that she makes time to write letters, send birthday cards, and keep in touch. She's definitely a woman who lives her faith every day.

Here's the blurb about Hopeful (Return to Sugarcreek, book one):

Miriam Zehr has worked at the Sugarcreek Inn longer than she cares to admit. The restaurant is a favorite of town residents as well as the many tourists who come to taste the famous Amish fare. Though she always tries to have a smile for every customer, deep down Miriam knows something's missing: a family of her own.

Miriam has never felt particularly beautiful, especially because she's always been a bit heavier than other girls her age. When Junior, the man she's pined for all her life, suddenly seeks her out, she's thrilled to be noticed . . . until she realizes he's only asking her to help get the attention of Mary Kathryn Hershberger, her pretty friend.

If Miriam helps Junior court Mary Kathryn, she'll get to spend a lot of time with him, but she might lose him in the process. Are these few stolen moments worth a lifetime of sacrifice? Is Miriam right to even hope for the life she dreams of?

Find out more at www.shelleyshepardgray.com.

"White Lies" by Emily Harper.(Photo: Emily Harper)

Emily Harper, author of White Lies

Three of my favorite celebrities:

• Meryl Streep. Honestly, what has she not been nominated for? She is perfection in basically anything she does and donated her wardrobe from The Devil Wears Prada to charity. Enough said.

• Kate Middleton. OK, I know she's not a celebrity in the traditional sense of the word, but she is just lovely. I think she is the epitome of class, and if I am ever lucky enough to meet her I will try and play it cool, but so totally blow it. Also the hair … oh, that hair!

• Kevin Costner. My heart belonged to him the first time I saw Robin Hood Prince of Thieves. (I was 5, and I'm not entirely sure my dad had received permission from my mum to let me watch it.) But, from the first arrow, I was smitten. And he only got better with age.

Here's the blurb for White Lies:

Imagine standing in line at Harvey Nichols waiting to buy the most gorgeous silk Gucci dress. The only minor problem? You can't afford it, it's a size smaller than you are, and you have absolutely no place to wear it.

Meet Natalie Flemming: a twentysomething woman working in London for a fabulous shoe-designing firm, but the only thing they let her touch is the company's tax forms. She has decided to give fate a vacation and takes the task of finding the man of her dreams (or Johnny Depp if he would just return her calls…) into her own hands.

She craves adventure, spontaneity, passion — or will just settle for a decent date.

Find out more at emilyharper.wordpress.com.

Marci Jefferson, author of Girl on the Golden Coin

Are you prepared for Valentine's Day this Friday? My husband and I plan to spend it celebrating the release of my debut novel with family and friends, but I promised him we'd go somewhere romantic next year. In honor of love-struck couples everywhere, I'm listing three of my favorite historical destinations suited for the perfect romantic getaway.

• Though you don't have to wait for Valentine's Day for a trip to Paris because, as the famous Audrey Hepburn quote goes, "Paris is always a good idea," something about the sparkling gilding on every historical building, the ever visible and dominating rise of the Eiffel Tower, and the high style of simple meals at cozy cafes just make the City of Lights perfect for lovers any time.

• You can tell what time of year someone visited Venice by their general opinion of the atmosphere. If they hated the smell, they went in the summer. If they had the most romantic time of their lives, they went in the winter, as my husband and I did a decade ago. There is no place for couples like Venice, where water laps centuries-old front doors and the campos seem designed for public displays of affection. Cruising the canals past Baroque palaces and under intricate bridges while your gondolier's serenade echoes over the water is almost guaranteed to make you fall in love.

• While most all of Europe seems romantic to me, the architecture on our own continent isn't quite so old, and as a historical fiction author, something has to have stood for at least a few centuries to garner my attention. The layout of Savannah, Georgia, was established nearly 300 years ago, and its historical districts boast elegant buildings and several city squares. The massive live oaks in these squares, dripping with Spanish moss, create a historical fairyland for couples. There is no U.S. city like Savannah and its shady, voodoo past. Her ghost stories might frighten you into the shelter of your lover's arms, but that's where you really want to be on a romantic getaway anyway.

Here's the blurb for Girl on the Golden Coin:

In Marci Jefferson's Girl on the Golden Coin, a first novel Booklist called "an authentically detailed debut" and "a must read," the beautiful Royalist exile Frances Stuart must walk a fine line between pleasing kings and protecting her family's secret.

Find out more at marcijefferson.com.