A tease of what I’m working on…

Cathy Pegau tagged me, and thus here are my answers!

1) What am I working on?

I just finished a novel for Bold Strokes Books (Betting on Love), and I’m back in gear with The London Game (the sequel to The Paris Game).

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

My work has been called ‘gritty noir-romance’, so I tend to work with anti-heroes, and characters of questionable morals.

3) Why do I write what I do?

I’m intrigued by how people can justify doing things that are morally questionable, and how they can still be good-intentioned people even though what they’re doing is wrong. This goes back to reading old noir and detective stories, where the detective or PI is pretty much as morally bankrupt as the guys he’s trying to beat. In one of my favourite books, pardoned gangster Roy Earle (in WR Burnett’s ‘High Sierra’) takes part in a robbery because he owes the man who pardoned him, but yet he still yearns for the everyday: love, marriage, settling down.

4) How does my writing process work?

I’m more of a plotter; at the very minimum I have an outline or a plot summary, and all the main characters have been sketched out. On ‘Betting on Love’, I did up a plot summary, blurb, and sketches for the four mains. It helped, and I wrote quickly and well. (or at least, I think I did! When I get edits back, we’ll see ;) )

I haven’t tagged anyone else, but if you want to play, drop me a comment and I’ll link to your post!

Review (& giveaway!): Sandra Gulland’s ‘The Shadow Queen’

Leave a comment on the post for a chance to win a hardcover copy of The Shadow Queen! (US/Canada only)

Synopsis:

From the author of the beloved Josephine B. Trilogy, comes a spellbinding novel inspired by the true story of a young woman who rises from poverty to become confidante to the most powerful, provocative and dangerous woman in the 17th century French court: the mistress of the charismatic Sun King.

shadow-queen-cover1660, Paris

Claudette’s life is like an ever-revolving stage set.  From an impoverished childhood wandering the French countryside with her family’s acting troupe, Claudette finally witnesses her mother’s astonishing rise to stardom in Parisian theaters. Working with playwrights Corneille, Molière and Racine, Claudette’s life is culturally rich, but like all in the theatrical world at the time, she’s socially scorned.

A series of chance encounters pull Claudette into the alluring orbit of Athénaïs de Montespan, mistress to Louis XIV and reigning “Shadow Queen.” Needing someone to safeguard her secrets, Athénaïs offers to hire Claudette as her personal attendant.

Enticed by the promise of riches and respectability, Claudette leaves the world of the theater only to find that court is very much like a stage, with outward shows of loyalty masking more devious intentions. This parallel is not lost on Athénaïs, who fears political enemies are plotting her ruin as young courtesans angle to take the coveted spot in the king’s bed.

Indeed, Claudette’s “reputable” new position is marked by spying, illicit trysts and titanic power struggles. As Athénaïs becomes ever more desperate to hold onto the King’s favor, innocent love charms move into the realm of deadly Black Magic, and Claudette is forced to consider a move that will put her own life—and the family she loves so dearly—at risk.

Set against the gilded opulence of a newly-constructed Versailles and the blood-stained fields of the Franco-Dutch war, THE SHADOW QUEEN is a seductive, gripping novel about the lure of wealth, the illusion of power, and the increasingly uneasy relationship between two strong-willed women whose actions could shape the future of France. [provided by the author]

Release date: April 8, 2014 at Doubleday (US) and HarperCollins (Canada)
Hardcover 336 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0385537520

My review

I’ve read the Josephine trilogy, and loved it, so I jumped at the chance to read The Shadow Queen, and I wasn’t the least bit disappointed. This was one I read in a day. I couldn’t put it down, and I didn’t notice the hours going by. I was completely immersed in the story.

I can’t speak to the accuracy of the history, having not studied this time period, but what I do know is that Ms. Gulland’s writing pulled me right in, and I felt like I was there, in the theatre, in the bedchamber…everywhere. Claudette is a compelling character, and her ethics and idealism clash with the corruption and intrigue of the French court. Of course, there’s no way that Claudette could remain unsullied by her first brushes, and then immersion, into the intrigue, and it’s her struggle, her naivete and its loss, that kept me wanting more.

I’d love to read more books set in this time period, and I can only hope that Ms. Gulland has others on the way!

sandra-gullandSandra Gulland is the author of the Josephine B. Trilogy, internationally best-selling novels about Josephine Bonaparte which have been published in over seventeen countries. Her forth novel, Mistress of the Sun, set in the 17th-century court of the Sun King, was also a bestseller and published internationally.
Her most recent novel is The Shadow Queen, also set in the era of the Sun King, published in April of 2014 by HarperCollins in Canada and Doubleday in the U.S.

See more on her website: www.sandragulland.com
Sign-up for her author newsletter: http://www.sandragulland.com/contacts/
Follow her on Facebook  | Twitter  |  Pinterest  | GoodReads
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Paris is ALWAYS a good idea!

Audrey Hepburn had it right when she said “Paris is always a good idea.” The City of Light is loaded with charms and wonders you can’t find anywhere else on the planet.

Paris is always a good idea

Books about Paris are a surefire hit–from romance to mystery to intrigue, what better way to fantasize about Paris than reading a book about it, preferably over a glass of Bordeaux?

I’ve hand-picked a selection of French-themed books below and to help you decide which ones fit your style, I’ve asked each author the following questions:

1. Why is your book a “good idea” for someone who loves Paris/France?
2. If your book was a drink, what would it be?
3. Which scene might raise a few eyebrows?
4. Who would absolutely hate your book?

Read their responses and check out their books!

Becoming Josephine
Becoming Josephine
by Heather Webb
Why is your book a “good idea” for someone who loves Paris?
Becoming Josephine is about a famous and beloved French historical figure and much of the novel takes place in Paris.

Which scene might raise a few eyebrows?
One of the scenes set during the September Massacres, also, perhaps one of the hotter scenes between Napoleon and Josephine.

Genre: Historical Fiction, Women’s Fiction

Buy now or read the book’s description:
Print: $15.00 | Kindle: $7.99

Connect with Heather:
Website | Facebook | Twitter

Je T'Aime Me Neither
Je T’Aime, Me Neither
by April Lily Heise
Why is your book a “good idea” for someone who loves Paris?
Paris is almost a character in my book rather than the setting, perhaps a coy antagonist? I’d like to think that the passion of Paris was a root of most of my romantic misadventures, but I can’t blame it all on Paris!

Who would absolutely hate your book?
Readers looking for an idealized story of Paris. Truth is more interesting than fiction, but reality can clash with some people’s dreams of perfect Paris.

Genre: Memoir

Buy now or read the book’s description:
Print: $13.49 | Kindle: $6.99

Connect with Lily:
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Gastien: The Cost of a Dream
Gastien: The Cost of a Dream
by Caddy Rowland
If your book was a drink, what would it be?
If The Gastien Series was a drink, it would be absinthe, of course! That was the preferred drink of the bohemian artists of nineteenth century Paris. Strong, beautiful and mind-altering, the “green fairy” is a drink that forges its own path, daring to be different.

Who would absolutely hate your book?
People who don’t like dark, raw, gritty, emotional, and – at times – brutal stories would hate my book. I don’t write “pretty” stories, I write about the sublime joy and bitter tragedy of being human. That doesn’t guarantee “happy” but it does guarantee “real”.

Genre: Historical Fiction, Family Saga, Drama

Buy now or read the book’s description:
Print: $14.99 | Kindle: $4.99

Connect with Caddy:
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Paris, Rue Des Martyrs
Paris, Rue des Martyrs
by Adria J. Cimino
Why is your book a “good idea” for someone who loves Paris?
It will transport you to the Paris of Parisians… You won’t feel as if you have vacationed in Paris, but as if you have lived there.

If your book was a drink, what would it be?
CafÈ au lait: Bitter and sweet, dark and light… Opposites come together, creating unforgettable flavor!

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Buy now or read the book’s description:
Kindle: $3.99

Connect with Adria:
Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Confessions of a Paris Party Girl
Confessions of a Paris Party Girl
by Vicki Lesage
If your book was a drink, what would it be?
A glass of red wine–classy but accessible. You want to share it with friends and you have fun drinking it.

Which scene might raise a few eyebrows?
The airplane vomit story, for sure. Or maybe the passing-out-on-the-bathroom-floor story. If you enjoy drinking, this might make you stop. If you don’t drink, you can smugly watch me learn my lesson. I do eventually grow up, it just takes a while.

Genre: Memoir

Buy now or read the book’s description:
Print: $14.99 | Kindle: $4.99

Connect with Vicki:
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

I see London I see France
I see London, I see France
by Paulita Kincer
If your book was a drink, what would it be?
An Absinthe Chocolate Cocktail. Traveling with three kids while figuring out if a marriage is worth saving brings some definite worries, thus the absinthe to help forget those worries. And the chocolate, well that makes everything better, right?

Which scene might raise a few eyebrows?
Some of the scenes in my novel are hot, but they don’t get into graphic details of slot a fitted into slot b. What might raise some eyebrows would be Caroline, the main character’s, realization that she may have some prejudices. She rolls around the beach in Nice and is certain she is ready to break her marriage vows to have sex with a sensual gypsy man (think Johnny Depp). She leads him up to her hotel room and realizes she’s never been inside a building with the man. She only pictures him outdoors. And the prejudice of the hotel clerk plants doubt in her mind. Most middle class Americans have trouble admitting they may have prejudices.

Genres: Fiction, Women’s Fiction

Buy now or read the book’s description:
Print: $14.00 | Kindle: $4.99

Connect with Paulita:
Website

Paris Was The Place
Paris Was The Place
by Susan Conley
Why is your book a “good idea” for someone who loves Paris?
At times Paris Was the Place is like a guided walking tour of Paris. You get to eat delicious crepes, hear some good jazz music, drink red wine and fall in love.

Which scene might raise a few eyebrows?
When narrator Willie Pears falls for a Frenchman she meets in Paris, she jumps in his truck and heads to the South of France. It’s a drive that turns out to be one long roadtrip of foreplay.

Genres: Fiction, Women’s Fiction

Buy now or read the book’s description:
Print: $26.95 | Kindle: $10.99

Connect with Susan:
Website | Facebook | Twitter

The Paris Game
The Paris Game
by Alyssa Linn Palmer
Why is your book a “good idea” for someone who loves Paris?
It’s an especially good idea if you’re fond of late night jazz, or wandering the streets of the Left Bank. That’s where I focused most of the story.

If your book was a drink, what would it be?
Something quite strong, whiskey on the rocks.

Which scene might raise a few eyebrows?
The entirety of chapter one.

Genres: Mystery, Romance, Suspense

Buy now or read the book’s description:
Print: $15.95 | Kindle: $4.99

Connect with Alyssa:
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Which books match your style? Share in the comments!