Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Austen and Arsenic

Maybe Jane Austen died of arsenic poisoning, posits The Guardian.

Austen fans have constantly debated what led to her early death at just 41. From Addison's disease, to the cancer Hodgkin's disease and the auto-immune disease lupus, various illnesses have been laid at her door.

Now crime novelist Lindsay Ashford has put forth reasoning to support her thesis that it was by arsenic poisoning. As she was researching her latest novel in Chawton House library, she found a sentence that Jane wrote a few months before she died: "I am considerably better now and am recovering my looks a little, which have been bad enough, black and white and every wrong colour."

"Having researched modern forensic techniques and poisons for her crime novels, Ashford immediately realised the symptoms could be ascribed to arsenic poisoning, which can cause 'raindrop' pigmentation, where patches of skin go brown or black, and other areas go white."

In Austen's time, arsenic was a compound found in a few medicines, such as Fowler's Solution, which was prescribed for the treatment of rheumatism—something Austen complained of in her letters.

We may never really know what couldn've caused Austen's death, but Ashford is having a fun time exploring it in her new novel The Mysterious Death of Miss Austen.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Harlequin Holiday Giveaway

A romance advent calendar from some of the Harlequin Historical authors. Click on the image to see the details of the book titles and author names as well as links to the authors' websites.

From November 29 to December 22, participating authors will give away one book to one of the commentators each day. Each author will have an activity planned on their website for their special day. You may be asked to comment on a blog, find an ornament, or visit a Facebook page.

For each day you participate, your name will also be entered into the Grand Prize drawing. At the end of the month on December 23, one day from the calendar will be randomly selected. One of the entrants from that day will then be randomly selected to win a Kindle Fire. Thus, the more days you visit, the better your chances!

Go HERE for official rules and eligibility requirements.

Participating Authors are:

November 29 - Michelle Willingham
November 30 - Elizabeth Rolls
December 1 - Charlene Sands
December 2 - Diane Gaston
December 3 - Annie Burrows
December 5 - Elaine Golden
December 6 - Barbara Monajem
December 7 - Michelle Styles
December 8 - Deborah Hale
December 9 - Marguerite Kaye
December 10 - Lynna Banning
December 12 - Carol Townend
December 13 - Blythe Gifford
December 14 - Julia Justiss
December 15 - Terri Brisbin
December 16 - Ann Lethbridge
December 17 - Bronwyn Scott
December 19 - Sarah Mallory
December 20 - Kate Bridges
December 21 - Amanda McCabe
December 22 - Jeannie Lin
December 23 - Grand Prize Drawing

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Other Guy's Bride by Connie Brockway

I loved Connie Brockway's As You Desire when it came out in 1997. Since then, I've read it and re-read it umpteen times. Brilliant, strong Dizzy (Desdemona) and lovable, strong Harry make such a memorable pair—neither is dominant, both are loyal, compatible, and complement each other very well. It's always been a satisfying comfort read for me.

So for those of you reading my blog, if you loved AS YOU DESIRE, The Other Guy's Bride is in the same league. It's written in Connie Brockway's signature style with wit, poignancy, and sexiness; characters with depth and nuance; a story that's entertaining and yet brings a lump to your throat; and above all, writing at it's lyrical finest.

If you haven't read AS YOU DESIRE, don't worry. This book stands alone, so you can read this one first, and then AUD.

In THE OTHER GUY'S BRIDE, Ginesse Braxton, Harry's daughter, is attempting to follow in her parents' illustrous wake with training in archeology. Her dedicated research has led her to a possible location for the fabled city of Zerzura in the middle of the desert far from the Nile. Such a find would not only be the archaeological find of the century, but it would make her career. In addition, she hopes that this will reform everyone's image of her as a screw-up and magnet for trouble.

Along her trip down to Egypt from England, Ginesse meets one Mildred Whimpelhall, fiancée to Colonel Lord Pomfrey stationed at Fort Gordon in the Sahara desert. Mildred gets very seasick and abandons the ship part-way through the trip in preference to taking the rail down to Africa. In a moment of epiphany, Ginesse assumes Mildred's name to get herself to Fort Gordon, which is very close to where Zerzura purportedly is.

Jim Owen, drifter, hired gun, and sometimes illegal dealer in antiquities, is tasked by Colonel Lord Pomfrey to escort his Mildred to Fort Gordon. Jim is indebted to Pomfrey for his life and is eager to discharge his debt despite the nuisance of shepherding a delicately raised female across the treacherous desert past fierce warring tribes.

Jim Owen may have a disreputable reputation, but he still retains a core of honor that forbids any romantic entanglements with another man's affianced bride. Despite this, he's helpless against falling in love with Ginesse "Mildred." He suffers agonies of shame over this. Ginesse, blithely unaware of his emotional involvement, is busy trying to keep herself distanced from him to maintain Mildred's image of being happily affianced.

THE OTHER GUY'S BRIDE proceeds to take this mismatched pair and transports them across the desert and into each other's hearts via a series of debacles, laugh-out-loud mishaps, tender exchanges, and heart-stopping adventures, not to mention highly sensual moments.

I am a huge fan of Connie Brockway's books and have her entire booklist. I have read them again and again over the years, and THE OTHER GUY'S BRIDE is definitely going to be another book that I'll come back to repeatedly.

The eBook was released on November 22, and for a few days, it's free for Amazon Prime members. The print version of the book will be released on December 22.