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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A Christmas Ball

A Christmas Ball, the new anthology by Jennifer Ashley, Emily Bryan & Alissa Johnson is due for release September 29th 2009 although Emily has mentioned that if you pre-order from Amazon, books are often available earlier than the official release date.

I'm thrilled to share with you today some tempting tidbits from A Christmas Ball and I hope you enjoy reading what's in store as much as I did - "Take it away Emily" -

When my editor asked if I’d like to be part of a holiday anthology with USA Today Bestseller Jennifer Ashley and Alissa Johnson, I jumped at the chance. The premise of A CHRISTMAS BALL is that all our characters are in attendance at the same glittering event. We had to agree on the hosts—Lord and Lady Hartwell. And since our characters would all be occupying the same time and space, we decided the ball was being held on December 19, 1822 in a splendid mansion with a layout very similar to Spencer House (Princess Diana’s family’s home).

Once we decided on those details, the editors at Dorchester turned us loose. This was my first experience with writing a novella. I’m used to turning in 400 page manuscripts, so I had to make every word count. The result was MY LADY BELOW STAIRS.

When Lady Sybil runs off with an Italian portrait painter, her bastard half-sister, Jane Tate, is called in to take her place at Lord Hartwell’s ball. Sybil was supposed to accept a proposal of marriage from Viscount Eddleton that would solve her father’s money woes, so the union must go forward.

You can read about Jane and Ian Michael, the head groom who fancies her, on my website.

But Viscount Eddleton, Lady Sybil’s intended, has problems of his own. Here’s a taste from MY LADY BELOW STAIRS in A CHRISTMAS BALL:

“Oh, that will never do! ‘Madam’ sounds so old.” Lady Darvish laughed gaily as she removed her hat, which was festooned with lace and topped with a real stuffed pigeon. “You must call me Leticia for I predict we will be great friends. May I call you Bertram?”
Eddleton’s mouth opened and closed wordlessly several times before he managed to sputter, “But my name is George.”
“Oh! How deplorably dull of your parents.”
He blinked in surprise.
“Every other titled gent in London is called George these days! Bertram suits you, so Bertram you shall be.” Leticia flashed a toothsome smile. “Sit down, Bertie. You’re wobbling a bit."
Eddleton sank into the other wing chair and said the first bland pleasantry that came to his mind. “You’re looking fit. I trust you’re well.”
“Coming out of mourning will do that for a body,” she said, spreading her bright yellow skirt across the red leather to good effect. The baroness was well-moneyed and, if Eddleton were being honest, he’d have to admit he found her surprisingly easy on his eyes for a woman of a certain age. She was attractive in a long-toothed, too-thin-for-comfort sort of way.
“I’m ever so glad to be wearing color again,” she said. “Black is rarely becoming to anyone and that pale lavender makes even the hardiest miss appear lifeless.”
“My condolences on your loss.”
“Water under the bridge,” she said with a wave of her be-ringed hand. “Bert was never the robust sort.”
“Bert? Your husband’s name was Bert?”
“I call all my husbands Bertram. It keeps things uncomplicated.”
So, the rumors were true. Lady Darvish, the Black Widow of Wembley Street, was on the prowl once more. Eddleton had no desire to be Bert Number Five.
“Lady Dar—”
“Leticia,” she corrected.
“Leticia,” he repeated. Bugger him, if the woman didn’t dimple almost prettily when he said her name. “I confess myself at a loss as to the point of your visit today. We barely know each other—”
“Ah, but we do have common acquaintances,” she all but purred. “And my particular friend Lady Martin-Featherwight assures me that, unlike my dear departed Bert, you are the robust sort.”
He stifled a groan. His ill-considered affair with the wealthy matron was coming back to bite him on the arse. The lady had been very generous, but it was the hardest work he’d ever done with his breeches round his ankles.
“Um, Lady—I mean, Leticia, well, I . . .” He groped for the right words as a drowning man might clutch at flotsam. “I’m to be married.” There! He’d grasped a promising straw.
“Oh, I know,” she said brightly, leaning forward to pat his knee. “And I wish you much joy, Bert. Marriage is a wonderful thing. I loved all my husbands, you know. In my way.”
“Then, what . . . “
Leticia giggled like a much younger woman. “Oh, this is the fun part. Don’t you just love the chase?”
His brow furrowed in puzzlement.
“Don’t be coy, my dear,” she said. “Your impending nuptials needn’t impinge upon us. I’m sure we can come to a mutually satisfactory arrangement.”
“Good God! I believe you are offering me carte blanche.” Eddleton stood, sheltering behind indignation like an invisible shield. “Madam, you have mistaken me for another sort of man altogether. I must ask you to leave.”
Her smile faded. “Very well, if that’s the way you want it.” Lady Darvish rose and strode to the doorway, a feline smile lifting her lips. “But we aren’t finished yet, Bert. You are a young man in a great deal of debt.”
“My financial state is none of your concern.”
“That’s where you’re wrong,” she said with an arch of her painted brow. “You see, I bought your vowels. All of them.”
Eddleton felt himself blanch white as paper. His creditors had sold his IOUs to Lady Darvish.
“You owe me a considerable sum. A staggering sum, actually. I imagine that’s something you’d rather your future father-in-law not discover,” Leticia said, as she adjusted her bonnet, making sure the dead pigeon faced forward. “But don’t fret, dearie. One way or another, we’ll work out a repayment plan. I expect I’ll see you at Lord Hartwell’s ball tonight. Everyone who’s anyone will be there. I’ll save a waltz for you. Good day, Bert.”
Eddleton sank back into his chair. He never thought to envy a dead man, but he was sick with resentment toward the four already-dead Berts.
He might even trade places with the pigeon.

Leave a comment or a question (Emily has been truly wonderful following up on everyone's questions) and you will go in today's draw for one of Emily's novels.

Day 4 winner - ibeeeg

Empress Signature


Heather D said...

This sounds wonderful. I am definitely going to have to check into A Christmas Ball.

Emily, Is there interaction between the characters in each of the three novellas?

etirv said...

I enjoy reading historical romance anthologies and look forward to reading A Christmas Ball!

I always thought it was harder to write a novel but from what you shared here, I realized it can be really challenging to write a novella when you're used to writing full length novels.

Emily, just curious, is there a romance genre that you are not particularly fond of?

Jane said...

I look forward to the release of "A Christmas Ball." I especially enjoy anthologies where the stories are connected. Was there a lot of communication between you, Jennifer Ashley and Alissa Johnson while you were writing the story?

EmilyBryan said...

Heather--Other than sharing the same physical space and time, none of the characters in the three stories interact. That would have required much more coordination than any of us might have been comfortable with.

For example, what if I didn't describe Jennifer's hero correctly? Or suppose I decided my heroine should spill her drink on an important someone in another tale? It could interfere with the story arc of the others.

So, it's a big party and they don't bump into each other. And since my heroine isn't supposed to be there anyway, she probably wouldn't know them if she did spill that drink!

Good question, Etirv. Honestly, I'm not wild about vampires. I know this places me in a very small minority, but there it is. I just don't get why having someone want to suck my blood out might be sexy.

I read the TWILIGHT series hoping to figure out the draw. I concede that Edward is attractive--he's such a courtly "old soul" in a hot forever-young body.But when he tells Bella she's his "personal brand of heroine" and she's like "Cool. Let's hang out," I just totally don't get HER!

I would be running as fast as I can.

ibeeeg said...

Oh, I liked that excerpt!
Golly, cannot wait to get my hands on one of your books. I am thinking this week one should be here. **smile**

You know, you described perfectly why Edward is attractive. Loved the {{courtly "old soul" in a hot forever-young body}}.

Blodeuedd said...

Here I though she would end up with the lord, but perhaps she takes Ian instead :) I do wonder, and who does the black widow get.

I do wonder, have you tried your hands on writing in other genres?

EmilyBryan said...

ibeeeg--I thought it might be fun to post an excerpt with secondary characters here since my h/h are in the excerpt on my website. Then I also follow the misadventures of Lady Sybil with her Italian painter lover. There's plenty going on in this novella!

Blodeuedd--You'll have to read the book to find out who Lady Darvish ends up with, but whoever he is, he will answer to "Bert."

I have tried romantic suspense and my new agent, whom I trust, has informed me my manuscript is neither romantic nor suspenseful. So looks like I'll stick with historical for now. With each sub-genre, there is a whole new palette of reader expectations to meet. Galen Foley says it's best to try to master one. I think she may be right.

Jane--I think I answered your question above. Thanks for stopping by!

CrystalGB said...

Hi Emily. Great excerpt. Your novella sounds wonderful.

housemouse88 said...

Hello Emily,

Thank you for giving us a taste of your upcoming release. It sounds wonderful. Have a great day.

Kate said...

I love the extract. It sounds really good :D

EmilyBryan said...

Crystal GB--Thanks muchly!

Housemouse--I've been delighted that you've popped over to my blog www.emilybryan.blogspot.com ! Thanks.

Kate--Thanks. It's a little hard to read the way the paragraphs aren't indented. That happens with html sometimes. Glad you enjoyed MY LADY BELOW STAIRS from A CHRISTMAS BALL!

throuthehaze said...

this sounds great!

Teddyree said...

I love the whole 'Bert' thing happening, amused me no end.

sorry have tried to rectify the 'editing' issue for ease of reading, with no luck. It's got a mind of its own today *sigh*

Congrats to ibeeg - winner from Day 4

booklover1335 said...

Bert #5, that was hilarious! I will be looking for this come September. I love Christmas anthologies, and with you and Jennifer Ashley it should be a winner.

EmilyBryan said...

Thanks, ThroughTheHaze.

Teddy--Technology is wonderful except when it isn't. Sometimes, I just have to throw my hands in the air! Thanks for trying.

Booklover--No offense to anyone named Bert, but that name has always made me laugh and I don't know why. Bet someone thinks my name is funny too.

bookreviewsbybobbie said...

Hi Emily and Sheree,

What a fantastic post, Ladies! :) Thank you for hosting our dear Emily, Sheree...and thank you for the friendly reminder!!

The excerpt from 'A Christmas Ball' is SUPERB!!! I want to read it SOOOOO very much; I absolutely LOVE it how Leticia calls all her hubbys “Bert” ROFLOL hahaha :) I had to laugh and I can't wait to read it, Em!

Thanks again for the entertaining and enjoyable post!


Book Reviews By Bobbie

donnas said...

Great excerpt. I loved it. I will definitely have to check this book out.

Eva S said...

I'd love to read this book! I love anthologies and this one sounds so interesting. Loved the excerpt!

EmilyBryan said...

Bobbie! How lovely of you to pop by! If the rest of you haven't discovered her yet, Bobbie runs a fab review site from way up north in beautiful Canada. Check it out at BookReviewsByBobbie.

Donna--I feel like I'm rushing the season, but my Christmas anthology will be here before you know it!

Eva--Thanks for the kind words. There is another excerpt at EmilyBryan.com.

bookreviewsbybobbie said...

Hi Emily :) Why thank you so much; as usual, I am very happy that I came by! Teddyree, the lovely lady that she is, reminded me of your visit here. ;) You're too kind Em! :) You don't happen to have an ARC of 'A Christmas Ball' that I could snag for review, do you? *crossing fingers* (((hugs)))

Teddyree said...

I'll scissor/paper/rock you for it, Bobbie LOL
*fingers crossed, legs crossed, eyes crossed*
So glad to see you back again Bobbie, pop back soon - there will be a 'hot' post from Em on The Importance of Sex :-)

Randi said...

Hi Ladies,
I'm really enjoying Emily Bryan week! I have just recently discovered you blog and it's great.

So I left you an award at my blog...

Christie Craig said...


You or your stories never fail to impress and entertain us!



genelladegrey said...

Cool, Em!
I like how different this idea is. I'm looking forward to reading it!

EmilyBryan said...

Bobbie & Teddy--I have a PDF of MY LADY BELOW STAIRS, but not the other two stories. Let's see what happens as we get closer to the release.

Randi--I'll be sure to visit your blog!

Christie--As always, a treat to see you girl! Christie Craig's GOTCHA is in stores RIGHT NOW! Run! Don't miss it! She is absolutely hysterical!

Genella--I've always been of the "Different is good" persuasion. Glad you are too!

pams00 said...

I just love anthologies and I haven't had the opportunity to read this one yet. I am adding it to my list!

Pam S