Category Archives: Prizes!

A Woman Entangled Giveaway

Cecilia Grant’s third book, A Woman Entangled, is out in the world. Huzzah!

I’ve spoken quite a bit about Cecilia on this blog, because her writing is an inspiration. She also wrote one of my favourite posts from my guest series last year – the one that called romance fiction “a middle finger brandished in the face of existential despair”.

I’d read quite a few mixed reactions to A Woman Entangled, so I wasn’t certain whether it would grab me the way A Gentleman Undone did. In the end it was a completely different reading experience – and I loved every minute of it.

The first thing I love is how Grant evokes a sense of time and place. I’ve said before that my favourite kind of historical fiction creates a character moving into their own projection of the future that is based in what they know of the world, not what we know of the world.

The first time we meet the barrister hero, Nick, he is standing in the Inns of Court, and–

Actually, let me interrupt myself and say that the first time we see Nick is thusly: Round the landing, down the stairs, and through the heavy oak front door, Nicholas Blackshear spilled out into the cold sunlight of Brick Court, black robes billowing in his wake.

Then he stands out on the street and thinks:

Blackstone and Oliver Goldsmith had each surely stood here – he had only to glance up at Number Two Brick Court to see where the jurist and the writer had slept and studied a few generations ago.

But so it was throughout the Inns of Court. Just as he always had to stop at the sundial, so must he quietly marvel, every time he took a meal in the Middle Temple Hall, at the serving table whose wood came from the hull of Sir Francis Drake’s Golden Hind. So must he always attempt, mid-meal, to picture all the details of the evening, some two hundred years ago, when the benchers and students had been privileged to witness the very first performance of Twelfth Night in that same room.

To be a London barrister was to live surrounded by the best of everything England had to offer, all from men who’d charted their own courses to greatness. A fellow might end up anywhere, who began here.

Gah, the loveliness and depth of that passage! The historical writer in me despairs. The reader in me rejoices.

The next thing I love about A Woman Entangled is that when we meet Nick we’ve just come from meeting our heroine, Kate, who also aspires to greatness – she intends to marry into the aristocracy and lift her family back to their rightful place in society. And it is so heartbreaking to see the difference in what she is allowed to aspire to, compared to this grand dream of Nick’s that stretches back through time and all the great men that came before him.

Grant has done an extraordinary thing in this book: she has embedded it deeply, and without overt commentary, in the sensibilities of the time. Kate isn’t a feminist heroine placed anachronistically back in time to fight against all the constraints placed on women; she is an intelligent, warm-hearted woman living unselfconsciously within the world she knows. Nick respects and admires her – and treats her accordingly. But he also hands down judgement (and advice) on her actions in a very Knightly-ish fashion, because as a man he naturally knows more of the wider world and how it works.

What an incredibly fine line this is to walk! To fully evoke the sensibilities of a time that was more constraining and unequal than ours, and to believably write a man and a woman meeting as equals.

As far as I’m concerned, Grant succeeded.

There are many, many more things I loved about this book, but I’ll just discuss one more before proceeding to the giveaway.

I utterly adored Grant’s previous book, A Gentleman Undone. It grabbed me in some visceral, emotional place and left me feeling scrubbed clean and quiet. When the heroine of that book, Lydia, says to Nick in this book, “The first thing I want you to know, Mr. Blackshear, is that I love your brother. My attachment to him is fiercer than my attachment to life.” I believed her without hesitation.

But A Woman Entangled shows Nick suffering because of his brother’s decision to marry a courtesan. Almost no briefs come his way anymore, and he doesn’t feel welcome in the society he needs to impress, in order to become a politician.

The unequal marriage is a romantic notion – the duke and the serving girl, the countess and the steward. But in romance we never see the cost of these marriages, because then we would have to ask ourselves the uncomfortable question: is love worth this? It’s a question that runs counter to the whole premise of romance.

Grant didn’t back away from that question. She forced me to wonder whether Lydia and Will – who I believed in so thoroughly – should have put family before love. Not a comfortable feeling. But one that feels closer to the real choices we make around love – and the real triumph love can be – than I usually find in romance.

Fortunately, she attacks the same question from the other side in the romance between Nick and Kate, and comes to – no surprises here – a happy conclusion. Not easy, but happy.

Neither Nick’s aspirations nor Kate’s are served by them marrying; each has connections that will cast a shadow over the other. But as they fall in love, each comes to feel how genuine, fulfilling human relationships make up the real stuff of life. They are still driven by what drives them, but they come to understand that aspirations are dreams that don’t take into account the daily living of life.

It’s a joy to read about the difference real human connection makes – and Grant answers her own question about love by suggesting that fulfilling relationships not only make life bearable, they give us strength to see ourselves clearly and pursue, in the long-term, what we really want from life.

I’m giving away a print copy of this wonderful book to one commenter! (All countries welcome.) Leave any comment you like, from “Gimme” to a thesis on literary analysis. I’ll be drawing the winner’s name on Monday morning, Australian time.

ETA: I have just done my usual, highly scientific names-from-a-hat, and the winner is Londonmabel! Congratulations! I hope you enjoy this wonderful novel. Thanks to everyone else for entering your names. I encourage you all to get your hands on the book without delay :-) .

let me read to you, let me give you a book

Dear readers, I have an extract of Untamed for you! I’m reading it aloud, and let’s just say I realise I’ll never be head-hunted as a voice actor. However, it is one of my favourite parts of the whole book: the scene where Kit and Darlington first meet, and are both surprised out of themselves by the strength of their connection.

Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Untamed - I’ll be giving one away to a random commenter.

ETA: I’ll be drawing the winner Wednesday 9pm Aussie EST!

ETA: Using the trusty name-in-a-hat method I have picked Anna as the winner of a copy of Untamed. Thanks everyone for your comments!

this is the end. and, of course, the beginning.

The final wrap-up of my series of guest posts fell through the floorboards. Christmas has floorboards. But I have managed to sneak it in just on the cusp of a new year!

The final week of posts had Cara McKenna talking about how she uses place as character short-hand (and led to an excellent discussion about unconscious stereotyping); Cath Crowley gave a breath-taking description of what it takes to leave one book behind and embark on the next; Toni Jordan talked about the worth in studying Creative Writing, though it is often dismissed; Sherry Thomas gave a lesson on using objects as powerful emotional motifs; and Meredith Duran meditated on the eternal nature of love – even when it breaks your heart.

It was such a joy and a privilege to host this series. Not only because it put me in contact with so many people I admire – and every single one of their posts made me catch my breath when I opened and read it – but because of the wider conversation it generated, and the people I’ve befriended here and on twitter because of it.

One of my favourite parts of reading and writing romance is the intelligent, thought-provoking online discourse. Non-romance readers are always surprised when I tell them that. Cecilia Grant has listed her favourite posts of 2012, and it’s an excellent place to reflect on the year.

The year the world was supposed to end.

Thank you so much for reading the series. Next year it’ll be back to a weekly post from me, with the occasional guest post chucked in when someone says something that really interests me and I say Can you write me a post about that?

And now special k and I struggle through the Boxing Day coma to bring you the final prize-draw! (There are two videos. There was a small technical difficulty. It’s a bit of a long story, but it had to do with a drawer.)

Congratulations Nicole and Kaetrin! Your accidental housewife e-reader covers will make their way to you in the new year. And everyone, stick close to Willaful. She’s got something lucky about her.

Here’s to an even better year for romance in 2013! I can’t wait.

To keep up with the conversation in the new year, you can subscribe to the accidental housewife. Press the follow button bottom right, follow in WordPress, or add to your RSS feed.

It’s still sunday. technically.

This was a special week on the accidental housewife. We had Scott’s meditation on masculinity, and how a man faces death; I thought about the subversive elements of Milan’s The Duchess War; Cecilia Grant talked about the dull horror of human condition – and the small, defiant candle that is romance; and Nelika thought about how details give a narrative authority.

Next week is the final week of this series of posts – culminating in posts by Sherry Thomas and Meredith Duran. I can’t wait!

I’ve been buying more material for the e-reader covers, and I’m pretty sure I’ve gone overboard. I’m also feeling pretty confident they’re gonna be gorgeous. Before special k draws the winner:

Interesting things around the internet this week included:

These pictures of the first same-sex couples to be married in Seattle. I always love these kinds of photo series, but the commentary on this is also great fun.

The Shallow Reader thinking about her illiterate grandmother and her highly literate father, and thinking about how we value literacy in our culture.

And this woman (I think? Edan?) who talks about literary fiction as a genre and lovingly lists the tropes. I had a lot of fun with this article, because I get frustrated with the literary world not acknowledging it is a genre. But this wasn’t a genre writer like me being frustrated – it’s a LitFic writer seeing their own genre clearly.

And now, the prize draw!

Congratulations Alyssa! And, ahem, obviously I am sending you an e-reader cover, not an e-reader. Much more exciting.

Remember you can keep up with the conversation by subscribing.

another not so so-so sunday

How cool was this week?

Jodi introduced us to the early (female) novelists; Jo talked about writing personal experience into historical fiction – as well as Just Making Stuff Up; Liz described the process of reading and reading for pleasure; I asked why sex always hurts the first time in romance; and Cat gave a master-class in creating and sustaining tension.

Also the accidental housewife was referred to as both a salon and an orgy on twitter. Success!

Next week we have three future super-stars stepping up to the plate, and a post by Cecilia Grant (fangirl moment!).

Interesting things around the internet this week are all on Radish Review’s Linkspam. Is that internet-cannibalism, if my only link is a link to another links page? This is how information works! Information is a cannibal!

Although I will pull one out as a definite highlight:

This post in which Kristin Cashore bares her book-writing process to the world. She writes by hand, so you can see every painful step, as well as the helpful little notes she writes herself, like, Don’t freak out and Terrible, horrible, no good, very bad. It’s terrifying but also inspiring. I was especially glad I’d seen it today when I realised I have to rewrite my whole teen romance.

And now to prizes! Also, fun things have arrived in the mail. Let me show you:

UPDATE: Isobel requested that I redraw in favour of a reader, and I picked Willaful’s name out of the hat. Congratulations Willaful! An accidental housewife e-reader cover will be winging its way to you in the new year.

The best way to keep up with the conversation is to subscribe. You can do this by clicking the follow button on the bottom right corner of the screen and inputting your email address, by following with your own WordPress blog, or by subscribing to the RSS feed.

not such a so-so sunday

Thus ends the first week of new-blogdom, and it’s been so much fun! (If distracting. Must. Write. Book.) I revealed the Very Impressive List of guest bloggers; Ruthie Knox talked about writing *that* scene; and Rose Lerner explained that particular creative quality known as fannishness.

The posts are in for next week, and there’s so much fab stuff coming up, from the early female novelists to romance reading as ego-reading – and a massive fangirl moment when KA Mitchell steps up to the plate.

Thank you so much to everyone who visited the accidental housewife this week. I’ve gotten some great feedback on the new design, and I’ve had some useful suggestions for how I can still tweak it a bit to make it as user friendly as possible. All the input is greatly appreciated!

As promised, every comment put your name in the hat to win a hand-made e-reader cover. Special k will be picking the winner shortly, but first, here are some places I’ve enjoyed visiting this past week:

Every writer has to decide how much of themselves they’re going to share online. As the Personhood debate heats up in the US, Victoria Dahl wrote a fierce, deeply personal defence of birth control. It was one of those rare instances of baring the person behind the profession and I, along with so many others, appreciated it.

I’m coming really late to this party, but I’ve just discovered Dave Gaider has a lot of articulate stuff to say about the gaming industry, the collaborative process of creating games, and the way it engages with gender and sexuality. I particularly enjoyed his response to a Straight Male Gamer who felt his preferences weren’t being met in Dragon Age 2.

I love this critical review of SkyfallYou can tell the writer’s having an absolute ball breaking the film down in this really wanky, LitCrit way. Lots of interesting stuff, for all that.

And lastly – I look forward to the day when beauty isn’t the defining characteristic for women. But in the meantime, this woman’s approach moved and inspired me, and is going to make a huge difference in her daughter’s lives.

And now for the prizes! Take it away, special k:

Congratulations Catherine!!! A gorgeous new e-reader cover will be winging its way to you in the new year.

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