For those who haven't discovered Romy, let me tell you a little about her --
Romy is a career freelance writer who decided to turn her attention to fiction in recent years. She calls herself a 'butterfly writer' because she flits between genres. To date, she has published historical romance, Dangerous Deceit with Champagne Books; paranormal romance, Mischief at Mulberry Manor; and her recent 'tween' novels as Ros Gemmell, Summer of Eagles and The Jigsaw Puzzle with MuseItUp Publishing. And of course The Aphrodite Touch with Tirgearr Publishing, and now Midwinter Masquerade.
Midwinter Masquerade is a unique take on the traditional Regency romance. Set in Edinburgh, Scotland, in December 1816, recently widowed Lady Lenora Fitzallen has just received an invitation from a man she used to love--Edward Montgomery. She thought they'd marry, but then one day he was gone. She thought she'd never see him again. Edward's invitation is to a masked ball to be held on the winter solstice. She reluctantly accepts the invitation.While visiting his estate, she befriends Edward's niece and ward, Annabelle, a young woman who frequently finds herself getting into trouble, which adds to the intrigue of the story.
As the solstice nears, another guest arrives in the form of Mr. Henderson. He's there to attend the ball to meet Annabelle, who doesn't like him from their first meeting. While trying to keep Annabelle out of trouble, Lenora is also dealing with her own rekindled affection for Edward. She's meant to remarry on her return home--Robert Masters--and tries keeping this in mind every time her thoughts wander in Edward's direction.
Behind the scenes, there is a secret, the clues of which are starting to unfold. And with the arrival of a mysterious costumed guest at the ball, Lenora must face some truths.
Wow! Lots of intrigue here. At the heart of this story is a sweet romance we've come to expect with Regency romances. But looking deeper, we have an intricate story which revolves around family drama, secrets, mysterious strangers, a troublesome teen, and a villain who must be unmasked, both in the figurative and literal senses. Readers will be pulled in from page one and become one of the costumed ball attendees enjoying a Highland soirée. There are no slow spots in the story to bog down reading. The short chapters will have readers saying, 'Just one more before lights out' but finally turning the last page in the wee hours of the morning. Regency fan or not, this is a lovely story, not just for the holidays and not just for those who love Scotland and Scottish set books. This book has something for everyone who loves sweet romance in a time and place which can only be imagined. Give it a try.
To wet your appetite, here's an extract from the book.
First though, Romy is giving away a copy of Midwinter Masquerade to one random commenter, so be sure to drop her a comment or question (*don't forget your contact email address so we can reach you) to be automatically added in the draw.
• • •
In the days leading up to the Masquerade Ball on the Winter Solstice, another guest arrives. Mr. Henderson has a particular reason for meeting Annabelle, who distrusts him on sight. Meanwhile, Lenora struggles with her rekindled feelings for Edward, while thinking of Robert Masters, the sophisticated man who hopes to marry her when he returns from abroad. As past secrets begin to unfold, Annabelle is rescued from harm, and a dashing, costumed stranger arrives at the Ball.
Once the past is revealed and the real villain unmasked, Lenora must decide where and with whom her future now lies.
As the carriage departed from her house in Edinburgh’s Charlotte Square, Lady Lenora Fitzallan settled back in her seat and contemplated the change to her plans since receiving the unexpected correspondence.
“Let me read the letter again, Lenora, if you will.”
Lenora reached across the short distance and handed the well-folded paper to Lady Clarissa Pettigrew.
Lenora’s godmother read the letter twice over, then handed it back. “How mysterious, my dear. And you had no knowledge of this niece, Annabelle, whom he wishes you to meet?”
“Not only have I never heard of the girl, but I’ve had no contact from Edward Montgomery in seventeen years, which makes his invitation to a midwinter solstice house party and masquerade ball all the more intriguing.”
“One wonders how Mr. Montgomery knows you to be a widow. His invitation would not otherwise have been proffered.”
Lenora turned the letter over in her hand as if the answer to her godmother’s astute question could be found there. “I do not know, Godmother. It is exceedingly curious.” She fingered the firm, sloping signature before returning the missive to her reticule. She knew it by heart, especially the part concerning the unknown niece. A sudden vague remembrance surfaced of rumours about the birth of a child, and she recalled Edward had a younger brother but knew nothing of his life. But why should the girl be in Edward’s care, as the letter inferred?
“Annabelle is becoming even more unruly now she is almost of marriageable age. She appears to be forming an unsuitable attachment to Mr. Frederick Shaw. My purpose in writing is to ask if you might consent to joining a small house party we are to have at Marlings around the winter solstice as part of the festive period. Several of the large houses nearby will be celebrating midwinter with dances and concerts and I am concerned that Annabelle should be in good company.”
Lenora pushed aside her questions, and a niggling little doubt that refused be given substance. She would meet the girl herself soon enough when all questions would be answered.
As the carriage lurched over the cobblestones on its way through the New Town, Lenora had to admit to curiosity about Edward. She tried to picture how Edward Montgomery might now appear and could imagine only a more mature version of the handsome young man who had stolen her heart so many years ago. Now she was no longer a young girl in her first season with hope of an advantageous marriage, but a wealthy widow with several admirers. And yet, a deep part of her longed to fulfil the passion of which she was capable and that had been denied for too long.
As though hearing her thoughts, Lady Pettigrew spoke again. “I dare say Sir Charles Osborne will be nonplussed to find you gone over the festive period, my dear.”
Lenora sighed. “He must surely understand by now that I am not contemplating a future with him. I endured quite enough boredom in my marriage and will never marry again unless for love, for I have no need of security.”
She paused, then decided to keep her other thoughts to herself. There was one more reason for marrying again: to bear a child before she was beyond such a possibility. If she were honest, Edward’s description of a lively, wayward niece sparked more interest in her than the dull, gray streets of Edinburgh in late November.
• • •
A freelance writer for many years, Romy Gemmell’s short stories and articles are published in UK magazines, in the US, and Online and she has won a few short story prizes over the years. Her first historical novel, Dangerous Deceit, was published by Champagne Books in Canada in May 2011 (as Romy), and Victorian novella, Mischief at Mulberry Manor, was published on kindle in December 2012.
First tween novel, Summer of the Eagles, was published by MuseItUp Publishing in Canada in March 2012 (as Ros) and The Jigsaw Puzzle is now released in April 2013. She describes herself as a butterfly writer, as she writes in so many different genres and different styles. Rosemary is a member of the Society of Authors, the Scottish Association of Writers and the Romantic Novelists’ Association. She indulged her love of literature and history by achieving a BA hons followed by a Masters in Humanities degree as a mature student. Happily married with two grown-up children, she loves to dance!
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