Jane Austen Society Gala – Great fun!

I had a great time this weekend talking about books and geeking out on Jane Austen with my fellow Janites at the JASNA NorCal Region Annual Birthday Gala. Below you can see some of our answers to the tough JA question posed to us by DiAnn Ellis.

If you are thinking about joining the JASNA, I would endorse it. The party was loads of fun and an experience no Jane Austen fan should go without. It felt really comforting and special to be with people who know Jane as well as I do. No explaining necessary! 🙂

My fellow panelists are: Abigail Bok, Jeannette Watts, and Reina M. Williams.


Dusk’s Warriors by Emerian Rich

Vampire love. Sexy, eternal…deadly?

Experience love the vampire way with three great couples.

Julien is obsessed with a woman who has left him for a world and duties he only vaguely understands. Without her, he feels as if part of himself has been ripped away. Just think of the last time your heart was broken, and then imagine you have all of eternity to live with that intense pain.

Reidar, on the other hand, is in love with a woman he sees every day. She is always there, reminding him of her beauty, her scent, her laughter. He walks the line of keeping quiet but near her, or telling her of his unwavering love and chancing her sending him away. His heart aches with the thought of losing her.

Markham is a tortured soul. Every woman he’s ever loved has been ripped from his grasp in a horrible way. In Dusk’s Warriors, he’s all but given up when he sees a woman who is the spitting image of a love he lost in 20s to the vampire wars. Could it truly be her? Or is this new version a gift sent from heaven to fill the void he’s felt for decades? Will the guilt of his old love’s death hamper him from finding love once more?

These love affairs are captivating, addictive, and sometimes toxic. Read an excerpt of Julien/Jespa’s love affair below.

———-Excerpt of Dusk’s Warriors———-

Their mouths couldn’t connect fast enough as Julien latched on to Jespa with the force of a high-powered magnet. Before they hit the hotel suite, garments were stripped, and once inside the suite, a trail of clothes littered the floor to Julien’s room.

Not a word passed between them. Any emotions or questions they had about their time apart remained locked away in the dark corners of their minds. Primal lust took over as their bare bodies met.

Sex. Break. Thrust. Bite. Devour. Julien could think of nothing else than to have her. A mere hour later, they were too weak to go on. They had rushed everything, but their passion couldn’t be stopped.

The first words uttered were Julien’s.

“What took you so long?” He’d meant it as a joke, but the words came out in a wounded voice. Jespa lay in the crook of his arm, a lock of his white hair between her fingers.

“I didn’t know you were calling.”


“Well, I did, but…I saw your prayers to me, but…it’s difficult to explain, I…couldn’t be sure…I mean…”

“No matter. You’re here now. I will never let you go again.” He kissed her forehead, brushing back her auburn hair.

“You chose this life and didn’t come with me.” Her words caused silence between them.

Julien stood, anger inside him brimming over as he gripped his fist. A knife stabbed straight through his heart. Not come with her? The box in his heart he’d put his anger in burst open.

“You didn’t tell me! How could I know?” His breathe came in fast pants as he attempted to keep control. “I didn’t know I could come with you. I didn’t know it was an option. I would have gladly…but you pushed me away. You said you had to go. I didn’t know I could follow.”

“It’s not god’s place to push the will of her subject. You were supposed to…”

“I was supposed to what? Come after you? Beg for you? You seemed so full of importance, so ready to reclaim your heavenly seat. I felt unimportant to your destiny. How could I know?”

Jespa didn’t answer. She sat up in bed, her perfect, full breasts exposed, her face void of expression.

“Miss cool. Miss under control. Nothing bothers you. There’s nothing you can’t solve with a good fight and quick wit. I’ve never seen you crack. Your body was torn to shreds and even then you were a mask of control!” His fangs extended. Only then did she show concern.

“Your fangs. They’ve returned? You’re a vampire?”

“They’ve never left! Don’t you understand? I’ve not moved on! I’m frozen in the state of despair you left me in. I’m a being without a home, without control!” He approached her, grabbing her shoulders and throwing her back on the bed.


He heard her, but his blood lust had taken over. His fangs latched onto her precious skin, locked forever. Her blood was sweet, pure. It tasted like fresh whipped cream and honey.

“Julien!” Jespa screamed.

He couldn’t stop. He’d been craving her blood, her love, for longer than he could fathom. His mind told him to move, to release her, but his body would not give way.

Jespa shoved him away from her, his body as a scrap of cloth in her grip. She threw him across the room and he slammed into the wall. He sunk onto the carpet in a heap of despair.

“I’m sorry…I’m sorry…I…” He was no longer his composed, strong self, the one that stood gladly beside Jespa, ready for anything. He was a crumbled shell of a man whose soul had been tortured to the point of madness.

She crouched near him, pulling him into her arms. Her tender embrace felt much more like love than their earlier lustful lovemaking. She smoothed back his hair, gripping him tightly to her.

“I’m sorry I left you. I did not know what I was doing,” she said.

His voice came as a whisper. “Jespa, my love, I would follow you to Heaven. I would follow you to Hell. I’d follow you anywhere. I thought you knew. If I must beg to make you mine, I shall.”

Jespa pulled him to the bed. He was on his back and she rose over him, their hips together. She kissed him deeply. She smelled of honeysuckle and rain and he could think of no better place to be, but under her, inside her.

“Don’t ever leave me here again,” he said. “Truly, take me with you wherever you may go. I fear for a life void of you, my love. You don’t know what dark thoughts I had alone. My life up until now has been to serve a duty I never really felt was my choice. I thought I had to become Lord of Dawn to make all things right. I thought…” He swallowed. “I thought somehow if I accepted Dawn, you would be proud of me and I thought you would fight for me.” He swallowed. “It matters not. We are together now. I love you, and I’ll spend the rest of my days with you, for when you are gone, my days will be at an end.”


Jespa gasped as she landed on her back next to Julien. Lovemaking was glorious on Earth. Everything felt more thrilling, more real. Angels didn’t cut it. She curled in front of Julien as he wrapped his arms around her and kissed her shoulder.

“You are delectable, love,” his voice rumbled in her ear.

She allowed herself to look into his mind and explore his soul. She found complete and utter devotion there. Was it true devotion or simply his infatuation with her godly presence? Did she still bewitch him enough to make him forget his own desires, or was he truly in love with her?

Give him a cup of Kingdom Tea and all your questions will be answered.

The tea. She glanced over to her jacket. Should she give the pouch a try? If he truly loved her, the tea would not dim his adoration. If he didn’t… Well, did she really want to know?

“Julien,” she said, turning to face him. “Would you really come with me, to my realm?”

“Without hesitation.” He ran his hand over her temple, smoothing back her hair.

She smiled. I have to know. Before I ask him to sacrifice his life to be with me, I must know if he is acting of his free will. She detangled from him and stood up.

“Where are you going?”

“I want some tea. You want some?”

“I don’t know how you can think about tea at a time like this.” He laughed. “But yes, I would like some.”

Jespa ventured into the main room for cups and hot water. When she returned, he was sitting against the headboard. His pale skin rippled with muscles, the veins in his arms making her want to run her tongue along them. She put the cups on the side table and retrieved the tea from her jacket.

“You came prepared,” Julien said.

“This is special tea from my realm. It…”

His expression was so open and accepting. How could she drug him without his knowledge?


“Well, it will let us sleep. Otherwise, I don’t think we’ll get any rest sleeping in the same bed.”

“You’re right. We have a lot of catching up to do.”

She laughed, tipping the pouch of tea equally into their cups. He took a deep breath.

“Smells glorious.” He rose the cup to his mouth and took a sip. “And tastes like blueberry or…”

“Zionberry actually.” She sat down next to him on the bed as he lifted the tea to his lips, finishing it off. He set the cup on the side table and then scooted down on the bed, a warm hand squeezing her leg.

“Julien, I love you. I probably haven’t said it enough. I do. I’ve never felt like this for anyone before. I’ve never looked to fall in love. I’ve never felt it was my place to hope for someone for myself.”

Julien’s hand went limp on her leg and she looked down. His eyes were closed and his face held a serene smile. She’d accomplished her task, she just had to wait for the outcome.

He loves you. This will prove it. After all, you drank the tea and still love him.

Jespa stood, taking the two cups to the sink in the main room.


Dusk’s Warriors by Emerian Rich

Heaven has opened up and welcomed the vampires of Night’s Knights into a new reality. As they struggle to find their place in their new world, trouble brews on Earth.

Demon servant, Ridge, is causing havoc by gathering up all the souls on Earth that have been touched by immortality. When he injures one of the Night’s Knights crew, he launches a war between the vampires of Heaven, the Big Bad in Hell, and a mortal street gang of vigilante misfits.

Will Julien, Markham, and Reidar be able to defeat the evil that’s returned, or will they once again need Jespa’s help?

Praise for Dusk’s Warriors:

“All hail, the queen of Night’s Knights has returned! Emerian Rich’s unique take on vampires delights my black little heart.” ~Dan Shaurette, Lilith’s Love

“A world of horror with realistic characters in a fast paced thriller you won’t be able to put down.”

~David Watson, The All Night Library

Praise for Night’s Knights:

“Fresh, original, and thoroughly entertaining.” ~Mark Eller, Traitor

“Emerian brought the Vampire Novel back from the dead.” ~C. E. Dorsett, Shine Like Thunder

Available now at Amazon.com in print and eBook

Emerian Rich is an artist, horror host, and author of the vampire series, Night’s Knights. She is the hostess of the internationally acclaimed podcast, HorrorAddicts.net. Under the name Emmy Z. Madrigal, she writes the musical romance series, Sweet Dreams and she’s the Editorial Director for the Bay Area magazine, SEARCH. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and son.



Guest Blog: The Ultimate Romantic Cemetery by Loren Rhoads

Loren Rhoads is a good friend of mine and just happens to be an aficionado on cemeteries. She’s here today to tell us about the most romantic one, Saint Giles Churchyard.

Eighteenth-century poet Thomas Gray composed his “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard” while visiting lovely old Saint Giles Churchyard in Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire in the heart of England.

The manor, which stands 200 yards away, served as a Saxon thane’s home until the Norman Conquest in 1066. By the 1080s, the Normans built the first Christian church here. The chancel (the part near the altar), walls, and pillars in the main body of that Norman church still survive.

The word Stoke meant a stockaded place. In 1086, the lord of the manor became known as William of Stoke. In the 13th century, Amicia of Stoke, heiress of the manor, married Robert Pogeys. Their land became known as Stoke Poges.

The church is first mentioned in 1107, when it was “made over” with money tithed to the Priory of St. Mary Overie in Southwark. It was remodeled every hundred years or so, enlarged and improved. In 1702, the spire was erected — Gray admires it in his poem as the “ivy-mantled tower”— but the ivy-damaged the spire was in danger of collapse when it was removed in 1924.

Inside the chancel stands the tomb of Sir John de Molyns, Marshal of the King’s Falcons and Supervisor of the King’s Castles. Although he served both Edward II and Edward III, Sir John was a robber baron believed to have murdered his wife’s uncle and cousin to inherit their land. He died in March 1360.

Around 1558, Lord Hastings of Loughborough added a chapel inside the church for the use of inmates of a nearby almshouse. The chapel served as a burial place for succeeding generations of the Hastings family. Sir Thomas and Sir Walter Clarges were buried here with their families, but the graves have been lost. A mural with skulls and cherubs’ heads survives on the chapel’s south wall.

St. Giles’s oldest monument is a flat tombstone dug out of the churchyard, now on display inside the Hastings chapel. In Norman French, the stone says, “All those who pass by here, Pray for the soul of this one. William of Wytermerse he had for a name.”

Out in the churchyard, Thomas Gray lies beneath a brick sarcophagus next to his mother and her unmarried sister. His name doesn’t appear on the grave, but a tablet on the church’s wall records his burial. Immediately opposite the southwest door of Saint Giles’ Church stands the yew tree under which Gray composed his poem.

The boast of heraldry, the pomp of pow’r

And all that beauty, all that wealth e’er gave

Awaits alike the inevitable hour:

The paths of glory lead but to the grave.

Saint Giles’ Churchyard is one of the 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die by Loren Rhoads. She is also the author of Wish You Were Here: Adventures in Cemetery Travel and writes about graveyards for the Horror Writers Association and Legacy.com. She blogs about cemeteries as vacation destinations at cemeterytravel.com.

199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die

Amazon | Barnes & Noble |  Indiebound

Wish You Were Here: Adventures in Cemetery Travel


Review: Nonsensibility by Valerie Estelle Frankel

Looking for something different to read in the Jane Austen variation list? Perhaps a comedy where the characters from all of Jane’s novels are mixed up and thrown together like Yahtzee dice?

Nonsensibility by Valerie Estelle Frankel is the answer to your call. This book is a comical, sarcastic mash-up with the most unlikely star—Fanny Anne Collins—the cousin of the Bennets. With this build up you’d expect things to be out of hand, and they are!

You have to feel bad for Miss Collins as she is thrust into the unaccommodating and silly household of the Bennets, herein called the Fussbudgets. With character names like Miss Haughtyton, Mr. Tightlywound, and Mr. Minor-Character, you’d expect silliness and there is that, but the core of the story is witty in a way that does not take itself too seriously. The best way to showcase this book’s genius is to pull out a few samples.

One of my favorite scenes is a spoof of Emma. Remember when Mr. Elton snubs Harriet at the dance? Only this time he’s snubbing Scary (aka Mary Bennett).

“Oh I had not observed [her there]… If I were not suddenly stricken by a terrible leg cramp, I surly would.”

In one of my favorite scenes from Pride and Prejudice—when Darcy happens upon Lizzy right after she’s discovered Lydia has run off with Wickham—this new version reads,

“What has been done to recover her?”
“My father has gone to London, where he can put up ‘Missing Daughter’ posters beside all those that advertise lost kittens and umbrellas.”

And in the famous love letter from Persuasion, this version says,

“I am half in agony, half in hope, and half gastric troubles brought on by an under-cooked Shepard’s pie.”

For die-hard JA fans, there is much to be enjoyed. There is a ball like in Pride and Prejudice, a play like Mansfield Park, and a novel discussion like Northanger Abbey.

“The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.”

Although sarcasm is thick, Regency fans looking for something different will find this text—peppered with sarcastic quips—quite enjoyable. To see our most beloved characters shown in this different light is a nice change of pace. I think you will appreciate some of the jokes that are meant only for the avid JA fan who will understand the context.

Classical Inspiration in Regency

Meant to Be Press

seed-by-the-yes-man The Seed of an idea. -Seed by The Yes Man CC license

Novelists of every genre are frequently asked where their ideas come from, but the answer can be different for every story. Usually, it’s a combination of sources coming together to produce that magical something new and interesting.

For Ruined Reputations, a two-story collection coming out next month, the inspiration for “Virtue’s Temptation” largely came from the original Regency inspiration, Jane Austen. In Pride & Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennett has many problems, particularly family members, and notably Lydia. Lydia elopes with Mr. Wickham and scandal and ruin looms for the whole family. Fortunately, Mr. Darcy and his fortune are there to soften the blow (and bribe, where necessary.)

What might have happened if someone, perhaps even a stranger, had stopped Lydia? Wasn’t there some good-Samaritan or sensible woman around to halt her youthful indiscretion before it became more? Wouldn’t…

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I Have No Memory of That

Meant to Be Press


Your first kiss. Your first crush. You’re first love…. your first broken heart.

Much of what shapes us is an emotion-laden memory.

Maybe that’s why memory is so important in romances. It’s fun to read the story of the couple coming back together after years apart, their special time together a tenuous bond for the people they are now. Or perhaps the couple who once meant something to one another, but were torn apart. Can they get over memories of their hurt?

Emmy Z. Madrigal plays with memory in Lord Harrington’s Lost Doe, in which the heroine is found bedraggled by the side of the road, with no memories. The story was written as part of a challenge, where the girl’s origins were gradually revealed to the character and author (for more on the challenge, see Emmy’s post).

Sometimes being without memory can let you forget and forgive past…

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First Kiss Friday with Emmy Z. Madrigal & a Giveaway!

Sherry Ewing

Today on First Kiss Friday I have as a guest Emmy Z. Madrigal and her characters from Lord Harrington’s Lost Doe. Emmy is offering an eCopy of her novel to one random comment so please be sure to show her some love.  Happy reading!


He and his staff doted on her day and night. Three days passed and with each day, she became thinner, weaker, and paler. There were moments of clarity every so often, when she’d be strong enough to chat, but she still did not know who she was or where she’d come from. The fog the laudanum withdrawals kept her under wouldn’t let go completely.

At night he would try to sleep in the adjoining room while Mary watched her, but he’d hear his doe tossing and turning and inevitably rise. He’d send Mary to bed and spend the night sleeping in the chair next…

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