CROSS THE OCEAN
1871 . . . Worlds collide when American Suffragette, Gertrude Finch, and titled Brit Blake Sanders meet in an explosive encounter that may forever bind them together. Gertrude Finch escorts a young relative to London and encounters the stuffy Duke of Wexford at his worst. Cross the Ocean is the story of an undesired, yet undeniable attraction that takes Blake and Gertrude across an ocean and into each other’s arms.
Blake found his guests in the music room listening to Melinda play the pianoforte. “Miss Finch, may I beg a moment of your time?” he asked as he touched her elbow.
The two of them retreated out of hearing distance from the rest.
“Yes?” Miss Finch clipped off and folded her hands at her waist.
“I find I do owe you an apology,” Blake began.
“And every other woman in the room as well,” she replied.
“I am not concerned with every other female in the room.” Blake stood tall. “I have many faults, but hurting a guest’s feelings cannot be one of them.”
“I agree with you there,” Miss Finch said and clapped politely.
“Agree with what?” he asked.
“You have many faults. The least of which are poor manners.”
“Yes, well, in any case, I apologize for what I said.” Blake looked away ashamed. “I was wrong. You are really quite attractive.”
Gertrude Finch put her hands on her hips, and her voice rose with each word. “I could care less what you think of me.”
“Now, now, no need to call attention our way,” Blake said and glanced at the assembly listening to Melinda. “No need to be defensive, either. I am aware of the tender sensibilities women associate with how attractive they are. My own mother made us all kiss and coo over Aunt Constance, and she had whiskers longer than . . .”
“Listen to me, Sanders. I meant what I said. I couldn’t care less whether you think I’m attractive or not. You dismiss ideas and brains for the lack of a pretty face. I think you’re a pompous idiot. What do you think of them apples, Your Highness?” she said.
Blake held his hands behind his back, and a muscle twitched below his eye. “Miss Finch, the title ‘Your Highness’ is reserved for the royal family. You Americans bandy about titles as if a one of you could trace a history further back than the last mule you shoed.”
1. Romance ‘musts’
I’m a big fan of Regency and Victorian romances, and there are some universal things about all of the really good ones that make for the most memorable historical romances. First, somebody has to have some serious money. While intellectually, I know that Regency and Victorian England had squalor and poverty, and that common folk had their own hopes and dreams and success and failures. Call me shallow but I like the gowns and the jewels and the balls. I want to read about beautiful dresses and sculptured lawns and fast, sleek horses when I’m reading a British historical romance. This isn’t necessarily true when I’m reading historical romances set in the US, in fact, some of my favorites and my own, are about everyday people.
Second, and I’m doing these in no particular order, there has to be enough historical detail to convince me that what was happening in the story was real or could have been real. In my novel, Cross the Ocean, the Duchess of Wexford leaves her husband, the Duke – I thought long and hard about whether it would seem possible to readers and if I could make it plausible. I did some research and found that while not usual, it did occur both in Regency and Victorian times. I read about some deliciously true scandals about this exact thing.
Third, give me some passion, some spark between the hero and heroine. Give me a reason that they will fight their way through all the roadblocks put in front of them. Give me some witty dialogue, tender moments and real challenges to them being together. If there are going to be sex scenes make them part of the natural progression of their relationship. And make them hot.
Fourth and finally, give me some interesting and entertaining secondary characters. I expect my Regency and Victorian reads to have a large cast of characters inter-woven with the hero and heroine. Most times it’s family, but often it’s the larger social milieu I expect from that time period. After all, how can I have a novel of ‘manners’ if there is no one to be mannerly with or to?
Holly Bush was born in western Pennsylvania to two avid readers. There was not a room in her home that did not hold a full bookcase. She worked in the hospitality industry, owning a restaurant for twenty years and recently worked as the sales and marketing director in the hospitality/tourism industry and is credited with building traffic to capacity for a local farm tour, bringing guests from twenty-two states, booked two years out. Holly has been a marketing consultant to start-up businesses and has done public speaking on the subject.
Holly has been writing all of her life and is a voracious reader of a wide variety of fiction and non-fiction, particularly political and historical works. She has written four romance novels, all set in the U.S. West in the mid 1800’s. She frequently attends writing conferences, and has always been a member of a writer’s group.
Holly is a gardener, a news junkie, has been an active member of her local library board and loves to spend time near the ocean. She is the proud mother of two daughters and the wife of a man more than a few years her junior.
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