Tag Archives: Romance

Historical Romance Brought to Life

I’ve just returned from a whirlwind trip to London. In three and a half days, I squeezed in sight-seeing all around the city, plus trips to the Cotswolds, Bath, and Stonehenge. Suffice to say, my Fitbit got quite the workout!

Those of you who have been following this blog (or, more particularly, my Goodreads reviews) know of my love for historical romance. Well, this trip made me feel as if I’d stepped into the pages of some of my favorite books. Best of all, the settings exceeded my imagination (no easy feat).

For example, take Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill, and also the family estate of the 12th Duke of Marlborough (and his ancestors).

Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Oxfordshire

Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Oxfordshire

I imagine this might be something like the Duke of Bewcastle’s grand estate (from Mary Balogh’s Slightly Dangerous). By the way, that’s still one of my favorite books. And yes, this was actually one family’s home. The current Duke still keeps apartments there, although obviously it is open to touring as well. This is where he and his family still celebrate Christmas dinner!IMG_7610

Then we have Windsor Castle, which is where the Queen sometimes lives, and is also home to St. George’s Chapel (where Henry. How many historicals mention the King’s court and St. George’s? Many! It was beyond exciting to be there.

Windsor Castle

Windsor Castle

I also toured the Tower of London, where the Crown Jewels are kept.

Tower of London

Tower of London

Sadly, we weren’t permitted to take photos of those, but those crowns had jewels as big as lumps of coal. This is also the place where many executions occurred, including Anne Boleyn. It was haunting to read the dozens of etched texts left by past prisoners.

Prisoner's inscription

Prisoner’s inscription

This one was my favorite. In case you can’t read it, it reads: Wise men ought circumspectly to see what they do, to examine before they speake, to prove before they take in hand, to beware whose company they use and, above all things, to whom they trust.

The history is phenomenal.

I strolled down “Rotten Row” in Hyde Park. Saw the former mansions in Mayfair. Visited Covent Garden and saw a show in a theater built in the 1800s. Luckily, however, I was not forced to do all of this while wearing a corset, long dress, and slippers!

Finally, we went to Bath, a beautiful little town. It’s been described in so many of my beloved historical romance novels, I nearly floated across its streets from the excitement of being there.

Bath

Bath

I wish I could return and spend time there writing (possibly in the very place where Jane Austen used to meet up with her contemporaries).

Assembly Room where Jane Austen used to hang out!

Assembly Room where Jane Austen used to hang out!

 

 

 

 

I feel so blessed to have been able to take the trip. Now every time I read another historical romance, I will be transported again and again.

Is there a setting you’ve read about in a story and would love to visit? Do share!

XO-Jamie

 

“Promposals:” A Good Thing or Not?

It’s that time of year again: Prom season!

Some things haven’t changed throughout the decades, like mothers and daughters going shopping for the perfect dress and shoes. Of course, gone are the flouncy princess dresses of yore. I still remember my purple silk-organza gown, with its ruffled, off-the-shoulder neckline, fondly. It looked perfect with my Eighties-style big hair, I swear! Sadly, all the pictures are at my mom’s, so I can’t share.

Other things have changed a lot, most notably the latest trend: the Promposal. Teen boys (for the most part) across the nation nervously planning some way to wow their prospective dates with an Instagram or YouTube-worthy plan.

I can’t decide whether or not I think these Promposals are a good or bad thing.

They range from the sweet:

 

To the touching/tear-jerker:

 

To the painfully awkward:

 

My initial response to the hoopla is that it is a result of the reality-TV / selfie-obsessed generation that’s been trained to believe every second of every day needs to be larger-than-life and recorded for posterity. That side of this craze isn’t healthy. Not only does it create a tremendous amount of pressure on kids to come up with bigger and better ideas, but it’s also proven that chronic social media focus is actually causing depression…but that’s a topic for another post.

On the other hand, and particularly when watching some of the cuter Promposals that go well, I have to admit that I love watching creative kids who are willing to make themselves vulnerable in such a public way. There’s something courageous and inspiring about it.

And maybe these bigger milestones deserve to be recorded. Honestly, I can’t remember how my boyfriend asked me to Prom. We’d been dating all year, so it’s possible he never formally asked at all. We just assumed we’d be going!

So what’s your take on the Promposal: yay or nay?

XOXO-Jamie

 

Weddings–Near and Far

IMG_6678

La Cana Golf & Beach Club

As some of you know, I just returned from a week-long vacation with six of my friends. We escaped the fall weather by traveling to the lush tropical paradise of Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. Of course, we could have been holed up in a tornado bunker in Kansas and still had a great time together, but the DR proved to be infinitely more beautiful and relaxing.

We expected white sands and clear, turquoise-colored water, palm trees and plenty of rum punch. But one thing we didn’t expect was to run into wedding receptions everywhere we went. Whether at the beach club, a restaurant in downtown Punta Cana, or brunch at the Tortuga Bay hotel, we kept crossing paths with wedding parties. We swooned a bit at the romance of it all despite the fact that the seven of us–married a combined total of 110 years–were all carousing around the island without our husbands!

But that’s beside the point.IMG_6720

Seeing these weddings prompted a conversation about destination versus hometown weddings. Some of my friends were firmly in favor of local weddings. They preferred to invite large groups of friends and family and spare guests the costs associated with traveling too far. Some were willing to make an exception to the hometown wedding provided the destination held special meaning to the couple (they met there or got engaged there, or something like that).

Having planned my own wedding in Italy and attended several other destination weddings (Florida, Aruba, Vermont), I argued in favor of the intimate yet exotic destination wedding. Personally, I preferred a small affair over hundreds of guests, half of whom–like parents’ colleagues and distant relatives–I probably wouldn’t have known. And as a guest, I’ve always turned a destination wedding invitation into a mini-vacation, so that made the extra cost worthwhile.

But in the end, the most important element of any wedding has nothing to do with its location. It doesn’t even have to do with the guests, the dress, the cake, or the music. All that truly matters is that the bride and groom come together and make a commitment to love and honor each other until the end of their days. That HEA is not just for romance novels, after all.

Where was the last wedding you attended?

XO-Jamie

 

 

 

 

Romance 2.0

I’m feeling whimsical today. Maybe it’s because of the perfectly sunny fall day. Or maybe it’s thanks to that last Tate’s chocolate chip and walnut cookie I just ate. Or maybe the upcoming release of Accidentally Hers has me focusing on romance.

I don’t know, and it doesn’t matter. The point is I’ve got romance on the brain today, so I might as well be productive about it.

As a woman who has been in the same relationship for twenty years and counting, I know how it can sometimes feel like there aren’t any surprises left. If there are things I don’t know about my husband, it’s because he’s hiding them, right?

Well, maybe not, actually.34252037_s

When I step back and think of it, we’ve both changed a lot over the years. Sure, we’ve been together for those growth cycles, but I can’t say we’ve always discussed them in detail, or that I know he who really is now as opposed to who he was when we married. Honestly, who has time for philosophical discussions when one is stuck in the middle (of life, of careers, between needy kids and aging parents)?

With so many important matters vying for one’s attention, relationships often get shoved to the bottom of the to-do list, and you talk less and less about non-essential things. But those dreamy, non-essential things are precisely what people spend so much time discovering about in the beginning of any relationship. What if that on-going dialogue is the key to keeping a relationship fresh?

With this idea in mind, I thought it would be fun to make a short list of little things anyone can do to boost his/her real-life romance and renew intimacy:

  1. Daydream together (what if we won the lottery, where would you most love to retire, if you could be granted one wish, who’s your current real-life hero…). You know, just make it fun and see where the conversation leads.
  2. Give your undivided attention to your partner when you ask about his/her day. I mean it! Look him/her in the eye and really listen.
  3. Hold hands while driving/riding in the car.
  4. Make a list of your partner’s best/most admirable traits and surprise them with it.
  5. Ask him/her what you can do to make their day better.
  6. Make his/her favorite dinner on the weekend, when everyone can relax and enjoy it.
  7. Send a sexy text (no, not a “sext” pic) in the middle of the day to set the mood for later that night.
  8. Make a list of relationship goals (be specific, like twice-a-month date nights, one weekend per year road trip, and so on).
  9. Let each person choose a movie (in my house that would be heavy drama for me and anything with Will Ferrell for my husband) and then watch them each together (no complaining allowed…or at least keep the eye-rolling to a minimum).
  10. Role reversal! Basically, walk in the other person’s shoes for a day. Cooking, laundry, yard work, whatever. Get an appreciation for what your partner contributes to making life a little easier in the household and talk about it later.

Hopefully these little efforts will yield big payoffs in the romance department. And don’t be shy. If you’ve got an idea to share with the rest of us, please do so in the comments!

XO-Jamie

The Joy of Romance

AUGUST 14TH UPDATE

GIVEAWAY WINNERS:  ROSE & GRETCHEN

THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO STOPPED BY TO READ THIS POST AND ENTER THE CONTEST!  FOR MORE OPPORTUNITIES TO WIN PRIZES, SIGN UP FOR MY NEWSLETTER (SEE SIGN-UP TAB IN THE RIGHT-HAND SIDEBAR)

 

When Bobbi Dumas and Lorelei’s Lit Lair invited me to participate in Read-a-Romance Month as a derivative author via Lorelei’s RARM post, I was honored. When I learned the central theme of the month was “the joys of romance,” I knew this could well be the easiest blog post I might ever be asked to write! The real challenge would be keeping my response short and sweet. Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 5.52.52 PM

People often ask, “Why do you choose to write romance?”

My answer: I write romance because no mystery, suspense, sci-fi, fantasy, or crime novel contains more thrills, or evokes more emotion, than a journey to love.

And therein lies the joy of romance for me.

I defy any reader to pick up a well-written romance novel and not be whisked away on an emotional roller coaster that will literally awaken her body and rev up her heart while also stirring her soul. Like a good love song, a romance novel will engage its reader by tugging at universal passions that resonate deep in our chest: yearning for, finding, and/or losing love.

Who among us doesn’t enjoy reliving the butterflies of new love, experiencing the lump in the throat caused by a heroic grand gesture, and, let’s be honest, picturing that sexy hero? On that last note, many contemporary covers can also inspire quite of bit of “joy,” right? Yes, joyful would be an apt description of what I might feel if asked to sit in on a cover shoot with the open-shirted cowboy on Laura Moore’s Once Tasted cover…*coughs*

St. James Book One

St. James Book One

But all joking aside, an authentic, layered love story can provide hope when we need it, or catharsis, or the comforting knowledge that we are not alone in our own relationship ups and downs.

Romance novels connect us through our collective desire to be known, understood, and loved just as we are. In real life, that can be hard to find and too easy to lose. But with a romance novel, we’ll not only experience that connectedness for a few hours, but we’re also assured of a happy ending.

And truly, what greater joy could one take away from any book?

 

Author Q & A

Tell us about a moment in your life when you experienced sheer joy. Aside from the obvious (marriage, birth of my kids, publication of my debut novel), one indelible, joyful moment of my life occurred during a 28-day Outward Bound program (many moons ago), when I found myself dangling from a cliff on my first-ever rock climbing and rappelling experience. The odd combination of terror and mastery, set against a stunning backdrop of the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina, provided quite a powerful feeling of success and possibility. To be pushed beyond what I thought I could do also taught me not to let fear dictate my decisions.

Sterling Canyon Book One, Coming October 6th

Sterling Canyon Book One, Coming October 6th

Tell us about a place that brings you joy, or is attached to a memory of joy. As you might guess from my prior answer, one place that always brings me tremendous joy is traveling to the mountains, particularly the Rockies. The majesty of the peaks—whether sheer rock faces or slopes littered with fir trees—never fails to awe and inspire me. I love to hike or ski them whenever possible!

Tell us about a sound that brings you joy. My daughter’s singing. I’ve spent my life being a music lover, so I absolutely adore hearing her practicing piano and singing. When the house is filled with music, it is a happy place indeed.

What recent book have you read that brought you joy? So this one is a little weird, because sometimes I find joy and beauty in sorrow. I know…like I said, weird. A “relatively” recent book that has affected me this way is JoJo Moynes’s Me Before You. Oh, boy, did I cry. Rivers of tears. That “barely breathing” kind of pain in the throat. But underneath the sorrow, that story exemplified the power and beauty of the kind of love that understands, accepts, and encourages, which is why I think it’s such a best seller. Technically it may not be a “romance,” but for me, it was a wonderful love story.

Chris Pine

Chris Pine

A joy of choice ~ “pick your Chris” (Hemsworth, Pine, Evans, Pratt, Rock, or Plummer). This is a tough choice, but ultimately I think I need to go with Chris Pine because he’s got beautiful eyes, a very nice set of lips, and has a bit more of a refined look than the others (which I like).

GIVEAWAY! I’m giving away two signed copies of either of my books (reader’s choice) along with some little goodies. To be eligible to win, simply leave a comment to this post telling me why you love romance (the comment link is just beneath the post title). The little contest widget will pick two winners from those who choose to participate. I’ll announce a winner on August 14th (in order to give people time to read and participate).

Recommendations. Where to begin? My favorite romance subgenre to read is historical romance, and my favorite authors in that genre are Lisa Kleypas and Sherry Thomas. I’ve read all of their books and, if forced to pick favorites (an unfair and impossible task), must choose Lisa’s Love in the Afternoon and Sherry’s Ravishing the Heiress.

But recently I’ve also read a few good contemporary romance novels from newer authors: If you enjoy sharp humor and a whimsical story, try Tamra Baumann’s It Had To Be Him. Want heartwarming with a dash of sexy? Sara Richardson‘s No Better Man is for you. Other author’s to try? Gail Chianese, Sugar Jamison, Miranda Liasson, Jeannie Moon, Regina Kyle, and Sheila Athens.

Bio. Jamie Beck is a former attorney with a passion for inventing “realistic and heartwarming” stories about love and redemption, including Amazon Kindle store Top 10 best seller, Worth the Wait. In addition to writing novels, she also enjoys dancing around the kitchen while cooking, and hitting the slopes in Vermont and Utah. Above all, she is a grateful wife and mother to a very patient, supportive family.

xo-Jamie