romance

Natasha Lester: Her Mother’s Secret and A Kiss From Mr Fitzgerald

Natasha Lester: Her Mother’s Secret and A Kiss From Mr Fitzgerald

Natasha Lester is one of the most generous authors in Australia. Her blog is inspiring and informative. It is this generosity, and a love of her travel updates on Facebook as she researches her novels, that inspired me to pick up Her Mother’s Secret – as much as the beautiful cover and intriguing blurb! I scored A Kiss From Mr Fitzgerald through a free iBooks promotion via Facebook. I can hardly wait for The Paris Seamstress to come out in March.

Natasha captures the glamour of the 20s – the music, dancing, fashion, cosmetics, and hope of the time. After the first world war, women had had a taste for working outside the home, and they didn’t want to give that up. It was an exciting and liberating period for women. Natasha expertly throws you back in time to experience the ride alongside her beautiful characters.

What I loved most about Her Mother’s Secret and A Kiss From Mr Fitzgerald:

  1. In a time when women were just starting to break further into the work force, Leo and Evie are fierce and ambitious. They have career goals as well as romantic desires. They break boundaries and surprise society.
  2. The ‘villainous’ characters exist in the grey. I can’t completely hate them, I have sympathy for them, even though they flaunt their cruelty.
  3. The romances are realistic – the characters are flawed – there are misunderstandings, lies, half-truths, sacrifices and amazing sex.
  4. I love how Leo and Evie each have a bevy of supportive women friends around them.
  5. I loved Alice’s photo shoot, jumping forward to 1930s New York. The tension and the beauty of this scene had me seething with envy. It was delicious to imagine, and Alice’s character really captured that 19-year-old angst and anticipation.
  6. I adored the history – cosmetics, fashion, advertising, ballet, Ziegfeld’s Follies, a speakeasy and obstetrics.
  7. Technically, Natasha is a wonderful storyteller. The novels have the right balance of setting the historical scene and keeping the story moving apace, dialogue and description, career goals and romance. The plots are compelling, and the characters are memorable and inspiring.

There is so much more about these novels that I could say and rave about, but really, you should just go read them for yourselves. Consider yourself forewarned though – they are un-put-down-able.

Posted by jhamby in Blogging, Reading, 0 comments
NaNoWriMo 2017

NaNoWriMo 2017

I’m in!

Can’t believe I’m signing up for this again. It would be amazing if I could beat what I managed to get out last year: 12,670. That novel has since grown to a 49,708 word beast that is no where near finished the zero-th draft and needs a lot of chopping. But I can’t chop until it’s all out. So that’s my goal this November. Wrangle the rest of the beast onto the page so I can set it aside for a while and then start editing!

I have a few mini goals before NaNoWriMo starts that centre around what the Romance Writers of Australia offer. I am an aspiring member of the group. Joining up was one of the best things I’ve ever done (Thank you Allison Tait for the encouragement). The group is so supportive – with email loops and Facebook groups and more. The courses give amazing feedback, I’m learning a lot about the craft and commitment. I am currently writing a science fiction novel with romantic elements, so it’s great that you don’t have to be a full blown romance writer to join.

My mini goals for NaNoWriMo Prep are with RWA:

  1. Selling Submission due 30 October

    The RWA have competitions! This is my big task for the week. The beauty is in the feedback. There are so many amazing writers in this group aspiring, emerging and established, I have to be in it to learn!
  2. In the RWA e-loop we also do BIAW – Book in a Week – a mini-NaNoWriMo – where we set our word count targets and are accountable to each other. I need to get in another 1500 today to reach my goal of 2000, because I got distracted reading obsessively during the week. Oops ;)That’s one of the things I find about writing – you need to read (for the love of it and to boost the creativity & industry knowledge), but you need to read in moderation, so you still have time to write. I don’t always get the balance right. Reading all Saturday long is fun… but then you don’t get any words written at all. It’s inspiring though, right?

Come join me on the NaNoWriMo website! My username is JessicaMHamby – same as everywhere else 🙂

 

Posted by jhamby in Blogging, 2 comments
Chatsworth house or Lyme park?

Chatsworth house or Lyme park?

If you’re a Pride and Prejudice fan (guilty! Though Persuasion is my favourite Austen) then you’ll likely be familiar with this question. Which makes for a better Pemberley?

Luckily you don’t have to answer it because you can visit both in person like my husband and I did. Or watch either as Pemberley.

In the 1995 BBC TV series, Lyme Park is used as Pemberley, in the famous lake scene semi-recreated here by my handsome hubby.


In the Kiera Knightley version, Chatsworth house features. For Austen fans, Chatsworth house has the added benefit of being visited by Elizabeth Bennet in her tour of Derbyshire with her aunt and uncle.

Both houses and grounds are truly stunning, but with very different histories.

Lyme Park, house and garden was famously home to the Legh family. The house was built in the late 16th century, but Thomas Legh directed substantial renovations to the property in the Regency era. The tour of the house centres on the life of Thomas Legh, an adventurer who traveled through Egypt and wrote about his experiences. On returning home, he became an entrepreneur. The library is also home to the Lyme missal, a 15th century prayer book, touted as the most important printed book the National Trust’s collection.

I loved Lyme Park because we saw a magnificent herd of deer grazing. They also had a second hand bookstore in the basement. There was a lego tour and an opportunity to dress up for families, which was very sweet. My husband and I walked on though. We’ve done P&P dress up before 🙂 I’ll save that for another post. Lyme Park was also less busy than Chatsworth to my delight and relaxation.

Pro tips:

1) Ask the staff lots of questions, they know heaps of history!

2) Wander up to the deer park for a gander.

Chatsworth house was the 16th century home to Bess of Hardwick, the second most important woman in Elizabethan England. The house is still occupied by the Cavendish line (of her second husband). Her fourth and final husband, the Earl of Shrewsbury, was tasked with being custodian of Mary Queen of Scots who was kept prisoner at Chatsworth house for a time.

I loved Chatsworth house because it had vast landscaped gardens you could amble through and lose the crowds that gathered in the house. The maze was magnificent and challenging. The house and family have a strong connection with fashion throughout history and there is currently an exhibition throughout the entire house celebrating this relationship. In the chapel, the family wedding dresses, christening gowns and mourning clothes were displayed – it was a deeply moving tribute to life and death through fashion.

Pro tips:

1) We did the garden first thing in the morning, and the house later in the day. The queue for the house was crazy long first thing.

2) Visit nearby Bakewell and The Bakewell Tart Shop (in the footsteps of Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan). The Bakewell tart is delicious.

I can’t choose a favourite between them. Can you?

Posted by jhamby in Blogging, Reading, 0 comments
Weekend coffee share

Weekend coffee share

If we were having coffee this weekend, it would be at Burgate Coffee house in Canterbury. I ordered a single shot flat white with almond milk, which made you laugh. I can’t handle more than a single shot of coffee … about once a week. I’m way to sensitive to the caffeine. As for the almond milk, er well, I prefer the nutty flavour and have been avoiding dairy for a little while for my stomach.

I was with friends in Canterbury this weekend checking out the Cathedral and wandering around the town. It was really nice – had some very pretty gardens – and old walls and gates. The crypt of the Cathedral was very peaceful. It was being set up for a wedding and looked very romantic. The train from London felt long, but is probably one of the shorter trains I’ve caught in England, cheaper too, for booking in advance.

I got in plenty of reading and am almost finished Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander. Loving it! Given that I usually adore highlander romances and have a special interest in time travel – this really shouldn’t come as a surprise. I love the references to local mythology like waterhorses and changelings. The treatment of the witchcraft arc was so powerful! It’s a great window into the history of the Jacobite era.

I haven’t visited Doune Castle (pictured) just yet, but I hope to in August. It features in the TV series of Outlander, and in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The latter is how I hope to entice my husband on the trek. It’s about an hour’s drive from Edinburgh, or closer to two hours by public transport.

Have you been to Canterbury Cathedral or Doune Castle? Are you an Outlander fan or Monty Python fan?

 

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#NaPoWriMo day 15

Happy half way mark! Feels good! 🙂 

Red skin stretched taut over crisp cream
Two hearts embedded with black eyes gleam. 

Cored and halved to share
each heart is now laid bare. 

In the shade of the apple tree
once sat my love and me. 

  I have always loved old folk tales of men and women sharing an apple. I still get a flush of love and gratitude when my love goes to halve some food for us … Especially anything with chocolate!

Thanks for the halfway prompt napowrimo.net !

Posted by jhamby in Poetry, 0 comments