Tag Archives: Beauty & the Beast

The Mannequin • Audiobook

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My clean and wholesome Victorian romance is now available in audiobook format at Amazon, Audible, and iTunes)

Blurb: When she was a poor country girl in a hand-me-down dress, Rosamund saved the Duke of Swanhaven from the brink of despair, only to fall in love with him. Now a celebrated mannequin for an exclusive London dressmaker, her glamorous life is empty without the man to whom she gave her heart. Can a beastly duke and a beautiful mannequin ever find a fairy tale ending?

 

The Mannequin Series • Bestsellers!

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My two books in the Mannequin series are currently #1 and #2 in the Teen & Young Adult Historical Romance category on Amazon! I’m happy my work is being read and thrilled to share the good news. Thank you! ~ Suzanne

 

#Freebie • The Mannequin • Sweet Victorian Romance

sgrmannequin6x9Today is my BookBub feature, which is always terrific fun! Pick up a free Kindle copy of The Mannequin Monday, September 12 and Tuesday, September 13. If you enjoy clean and wholesome historical romance with a nod to some popular fairy-tale themes, this one is for you. ~ Suzanne

Blurb: When she was a poor country girl in a hand-me-down dress, Rosamund saved the Duke of Swanhaven from the brink of despair…only to fall in love with him. Now a celebrated mannequin for an exclusive London dressmaker, her glamorous life is empty without the man to whom she gave her heart. Can a beastly duke and a beautiful mannequin ever find a fairy-tale ending?

Follow me on BookBub HERE

Book Bub

#SALE • GRACE UNMASKED • Sweet Victorian Romance

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It’s a countdown deal at Amazon! From Monday, August 15th – Friday, August 19th download Grace Unmasked (reg. $3.99) for only $0.99!

Blurb: On the heels of an unjust accusation, Grace flees from her country village to the anonymity of London. Although she intends to seek sanctuary with her cousin Joe Fiddick, she discovers he’s also suffered a setback and needs more help than she can offer. Desperate, she solicits assistance from Joe’s friend–the notorious rake, Lord Henley. Will the price of the handsome baron’s help be more than she’s willing to pay?

Although it’s a standalone, you can start with The Mannequin, which is Book One of the Mannequin series.

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Blurb: When she was a poor country girl in a hand-me-down dress, Rosamund saved the Duke of Swanhaven from the brink of despair…only to fall in love with him. Now a celebrated mannequin for an exclusive London dressmaker, her glamorous life is empty without the man to whom she gave her heart. Can a beastly duke and a beautiful mannequin ever find a fairy-tale ending?

Buy The Mannequin HERE • Buy Grace Unmasked HERE

And, as always, you can count on reading a pure, blush-free romance!

#SALE • THE MANNEQUIN • Sweet Victorian romance

This weesgrmannequin6x9k, you can read The Mannequin for only 99 cents (or free via kindleunlimited)! This countdown deal is available Monday, July 11 through Friday, July 15, so don’t wait.

~ Suzanne

Blurb: When she was a poor country girl in a hand-me-down dress, Rosamund saved the Duke of Swanhaven from the brink of despair…only to fall in love with him. Now a celebrated mannequin for an exclusive London dressmaker, her glamorous life is empty without the man to whom she gave her heart. Can a beastly duke and a beautiful mannequin ever find a fairy-tale ending?

What reviewers on Amazon are saying: (198 five-star reviews!)

“I loved this story and all its twists and turns.” – maebelle

“[A] poignant tale of love, loss, and heartbreak.” – Juli D

“Engaging, romantic, fast paced, happiness, sadness.” – Colleen CF

“I would compare this to books written by Georgette Heyer or Barbara Cartland.” – Thomas Quarles

To read a sample of The Mannequin, click HERE.

To go directly to Amazon, click HERE.

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Eating Elephants and Writing Grace Unmasked

“When eating an elephant take one bite at a time.”

– U.S. Army General Creighton W. Abrams, Jr.

sgrmannequin6x9How do you write a sequel to a popular book that’s sure to please everyone? You can’t, of course. When I planned the sequel to my bestselling book The Mannequin, however, I re-read the reviews to get an idea what readers enjoyed most. Ultimately, I concluded that lightning rarely strikes twice in the same place. I didn’t want to tell the same story a slightly different way, so I vowed to begin fresh. Easier said than done!

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Pygmalion by Jean-Baptiste Regnault, 1786

You see, when I wrote The Mannequin, I didn’t start out to write a novel based on Cendrillon (Cinderella), La Belle et la Bête (Beauty and the Beast), or Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden. As the story unfolded, however, I wove in some familiar elements, hoping to strike an emotional chord. In the development of Grace Unmasked, however, I wanted to draw on other inspiration. I chose the mythological figure of Pygmalion, a sculptor who falls in love with his creation. Many 20th Century plays, musicals, and movies have been written about Pygmalion, most notably George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, the musical My Fair Lady, and even Gigi.

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Actress Mary Anderson as Galatea (1883)

Since Grace Unmasked is set in 1883, I had to find a version of Pygmalion written early enough to warrant a mention in the narrative. I chose Pygmalion and Galatea, a play written by W.S. Gilbert. (Download a .pdf copy from Boise State University website HERE). The three-act blank verse production opened at the Haymarket Theatre in December, 1871, was quite popular, and sparked many imitations. Although Grace Unmasked is not a retelling of the myth, I touch upon a similar theme.

One other interesting aspect of Grace Unmasked is its length. I’d wanted it to be longer than The Mannequin (over 64,000 words), but I hadn’t planned for it to exceed 96,000 words!  As Abe Lincoln said, when asked how long a man’s legs should be, “Long enough to reach the ground.” I wrote until the story was done…for the most part. That is to say, there are a few characters who might warrant a third book in the series. 😀

~ Suzanne

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Blurb: On the heels of an unjust accusation, Grace flees from her country village to the anonymity of London. Although she intends to seek sanctuary with her cousin Joe Fiddick, she discovers he’s also suffered a setback and needs more help than she can offer. Desperate, she solicits assistance from Joe’s friend–the notorious rake, Lord Henley. Will the price of the handsome baron’s help be more than she’s willing to pay?

Grace Unmasked is available for pre-order at a special price HERE. Release date Tuesday, May 31, 2016.

#99cents Countdown Deal • The Mannequin

sgrmannequin6x9On spring break? Look no further for a romantic read at a bargain price! Bestselling Victorian romance The Mannequin is 99 cents from Tuesday, March 15 – Monday, March 21.

Blurb: When she was a poor country girl in a hand-me-down dress, Rosamund saved the Duke of Swanhaven from the brink of despair…only to fall in love with him. Now a celebrated mannequin for an exclusive London dressmaker, her glamorous life is empty without the man to whom she gave her heart. Can a beastly duke and a beautiful mannequin ever find a fairy-tale ending?

Click the cover, above, to read a sample, or check out the excerpt, below.

~ Suzanne

Excerpt:

“The best physicians in London can’t find anything wrong with him physically, but his emotional state is extraordinarily precarious. He recently lost his entire family in a ferryboat accident, and he’s become dangerously withdrawn. He won’t speak, barely eats, and takes no pleasure in anything. He’s wasting away, and his grandmother is worried he’ll die. I called on him myself and found him quite unresponsive. I’m not sure he can be reached, if truth be told.”

“Why, of course I’ll visit the lad, but I’ve no experience with this sort of thing.”

“He’s actually a young man of twenty-two, and here is the sticking point: if you accept this position, you can say nothing about his condition whatsoever, to anyone. Discretion is critical, and secrecy paramount. If anyone inquires, you may tell your family and friends only that you’ve accepted a position as companion to the grandmother. Do you think you can do that?”

She gulped. “Yes.”

“Considering who you are, Miss Ashfield, I believe you’re uniquely qualified to take on this challenge.”

“I’ll try my best to justify your faith in me, Mr. Preston.”

The vicar gave her a piercing look. “I give you one piece of advice. Wounded animals are often injurious toward the people who try to rescue them.”

Her eyes widened. “Should I be concerned for my safety?”

“Only here.” He tapped the center of his chest, over his heart. “Stay true to yourself, and all will be well.”

flourish

 

Excerpt from THE MANNEQUIN

sgrmannequin6x9“Before I introduce you to my grandson, let’s chat for a few moments.” The Dowager Duchess crossed over to a seating arrangement and gestured toward a chair. When they were both comfortable, the duchess continued.

“I asked Mr. Preston if he knew of a girl with courage and indomitable spirit. Are you such a person?”

“I believe so.”

“Yes, you very well may be.” She took a deep breath. “My grandson, the duke, is lost in a very dark prison of his own making. Although I’ve tried everything, I’m completely helpless to reach him.”

“I understand there was a tragic accident?”

“A ferry boat carrying my son and his family capsized en route from Dover to Calais. Most passengers drowned, but among the survivors was my grandson, Aubrey. He lost not only his dear parents, but his beloved younger sister, Elise.”

As she spoke, the woman’s voice cracked, and her eyes filled with tears. Rosamund found her own eyes brimming with tears as well.

“Oh, no. I’m so terribly sorry.”

“Thank you.” The duchess blotted her eyes with a lace-edged handkerchief, and then nodded toward the oil painting hung over the fireplace. “That’s my son and his family, in happier times. It was painted about five years ago.”

Rosamund gazed at the painting of a handsome couple posing with a strapping young man of perhaps sixteen or seventeen, and a pretty little girl around ten years of age. They appeared to be so vibrant and full of life, it was difficult to imagine anything calamitous could have befallen them.

“I haven’t given up hope that Aubrey may go on to live a normal life someday, which is why none of our acquaintances know the extent of his condition,” the duchess said. “If they did, they would think him mad.”

“I’m eager to meet His Grace.”

“He spends his daylight hours in the music room.” She stood. “Come with me.”

The woman’s stiff satin skirts rustled as she walked. Rosamund followed her from the drawing room and down a long hallway until they reached a pair of arched double doors. The duchess put her hand on the doorknob, and paused.

“You’ll be shocked at Aubrey’s appearance. Please don’t let it disturb you.”

“I won’t.”

As the doors swung open, however, Rosamund shivered with apprehension. The velvet curtains had been drawn over the windows, and the darkened room beyond resembled a tomb. The dowager duchess smiled serenely as she escorted the visitor inside.

“Aubrey, dearest, allow me to introduce Miss Ashfield. She’s a neighbor.”
Rosamund could barely discern the outline of a man sitting in a chair, but he neither stirred nor made any response.

“Miss Ashfield, why don’t you and my grandson have a nice long visit? Someone will fetch you in an hour.”

“Y-Yes. Thank you.”

The duchess sailed from the room with her head held high. Rosamund’s eyes were slowly adjusting to the darkness, but she nearly tripped over a footstool as she walked further inside.

“Forgive me, Your Grace, but this won’t do. I simply must have a little more light.”

She moved over to a window, opened the curtains, and tucked each fabric panel behind the drapery holdbacks. As illumination flooded the space, she turned back toward the duke.

And recoiled.

flourish

Intrigued? The Mannequin is available at Amazon HERE.

#1 Bestseller • The Mannequin

Screen Shot 2016-01-20 at 4.53.23 PMThe Mannequin was a featured BookBub deal on December 28th, 2015, and it’s been a #1 Bestseller on Amazon since then. BookBub sent me a follow-up questionnaire, asking how I’ve publicized my bestseller status and it occurred to me I should at least announce it on my blog, right?

I’m so pleased readers have discovered my work. A great many reviewers have drawn comparisons to Beauty & the Beast, Cinderella, and The Secret Garden, and indeed, I reference fairy-tales within the work itself. I didn’t start writing the novel with those stories in mind, however. I began writing The Mannequin with the scene in the library, where Rosamund sees a debilitated Aubrey for the first time, and is overwhelmeCatherine_Walters00d by the task of trying to reach him. From there, I let the story unfold.

The latter part of the book was inspired by the courtesan Catherine Walters (“Skittles”), whose wardrobe and trendsetting style drew the avid interest of aristocrats. Understandably, her perfectly tailored riding habits created a demand for the garments, and drew custom (business) to their designers.

I’m especially pleased with the reviews thanking me for writing a book without the overt sexuality and harsh language that’s frequently found in romance books these days. Although there’s certainly a great demand for those often marvelous stories, I made the decision as an author to take a different path. I believe my work is finally beginning to find its market, and I plan to keep writing stories with plucky heroines, dashing heroes, dastardly villains, and a cast of supporting characters who lend warmth and humor.  ~ Suzanne

P.S. YES, I’m thinking about the sequel!

sgrmannequin6x9Blurb: When she was a poor country girl in a hand-me-down dress, Rosamund saved the Duke of Swanhaven from the brink of despair…only to fall in love with him. Now a celebrated mannequin for an exclusive London dressmaker, her glamorous life is empty without the man to whom she gave her heart. Can a beastly duke and a beautiful mannequin ever find a fairy-tale ending?

Available at Amazon HERE