Friday, July 15, 2011

Real Housewives? Meet The Real Duchesses Of London

Before there were Housewives there were The Real Duchesses of London...

I freely admit it. I am a Bravo Real Housewives junkie. I did hide it for awhile, feeling there were so many other things that I could be watching -- and that I probably should actually be writing. It always seemed slightly discreditable, like eating ice cream in bed. And it certainly didn’t help that my husband would roll his eyes and say -- that again -- when I turned it on.

And then I realized what a great character study it was. Yes, all these women know they are being filmed and would probably act differently if they weren’t -- and yes, it is clear that the conflict is set-up to create better television. However, even with the set-up, real personalities definitely shine through. (Have to admit that it is just hot, catty, and fun as well.)

I particularly felt that way with The Real House Wives of Beverly Hills. They almost all lived in what could truly be called palaces (the beginnings of my The Real Duchesses of London idea) and they were clearly all appearing on Real Housewives simply because they wanted to. It was interesting to watch who wanted to play peacemaker, who wanted to be a peacemaker, and who wanted to pretend to be queen and live in her mansion on the hill. And then there were the clothes -- and the shopping -- and the jewelry.

Watching them play dress-up is what truly formed my idea. I watched these women getting ready for party after party (only to be outdone by the NY Housewives this last season) and it reminded me of what life must have been like during the Season in Regency England. I started to imagine a bunch of Regency women being filmed as they went about their daily lives and squabbled and made up.

Obviously, I couldn’t have the benefit of filming during the Regency and so I turned to my other, and much less disreputable, favorite, Downton Abby. I’d loved watching the original Upstairs, Downstairs when I was a child, and Downton Abby reaffirmed my love of watching the servants watching their "betters".

I began to wonder if I couldn’t have the servants watching my duchesses the way TV viewers watch Housewives. It was so much fun thinking about what was really going on in my duchesses’ lives, compared with what the maids thought was happening. I’d love to play around with this idea at longer length someday.

In the meantime, some of the characters from The Real Duchesess of London also appear in my release this coming October, What a Duke Wants.

Thanks you for having me over for coffee, Sia. It’s been fun.

I’d love to give away a copy of the first of my Real Duchesses novellas and one of the cute t-shirts with the cartoon from the book trailer.

And all I want to know is: Mr. Darcy? Or Jaime from Outlander? I definitely have my own favorite in mind.


Regency England just got real(ity)

Episode 1: How Kathryn Got Her Passion Back (June 2011)

Kathryn, Duchess of Harrington, has the perfect life: a handsome duke for a husband, riches to spare, a house in Mayfair, and the right group of friends. The only thing she doesn’t have is her husband in her bed. But she’s about to change that. Enlisting the aid of her best friend, Linnette, who knows about these things even though she’s a duchess herself, Kathryn begins her seduction plan.

But Linnette knows a secret and it involves Kathryn’s husband. And, when that comes out, Kathryn’s marriage isn’t the only thing at stake. Can you say Afternoon Tea Catfight?

Episode 2: The One with the Fake Baby (August 2011)

Rumors abound – everyone has heard that Linnette, the Dowager Duchess of Doveshire is pregnant. Beautiful, young, with more freedom than any respectable woman should want; Linnette is no stranger to a little gossip. But her friends can't help her brave the fallout, because this time Linnette has done something naughty...

BUY: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Borders

Most days Lavinia Kent loves her life and knows that she has found her own happily-ever-after with her husband and three children But on those other days (you know which ones!), she is very glad for the wonderful romances, sensuous gowns, and tall, sexy men that fill her mind – and then her computer.

Lavinia lives in Washington, DC, with her family and an ever-changing menagerie of pets. She attended Wellesley College as an undergraduate and holds an MBA from Georgetown University.

What a Duke Wants is Lavinia’s fourth book from Avon Romance. She also has a fun and sexy serial of e-novellas, The Real Duchesses of London, available from Avon Impulse.

Lavinia Kent WEBSITE


Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Thanks so much for having me over for coffee, Sia, though I must admit I don’t drink it. So I’ve brought some hot chocolate. And Junior Mints.

I'm thrilled to have you visit Over Coffee again. I always have hot chocolate and teas. I remembered the Junior Mints from the last time you were here. :-) 

I’m really enjoyed reading What a Goddess Wants. You create such a fascinating world.

WHAT A GODDESS WANTS, the first book in my Forgotten Goddesses series.

This isn't your first book set in Etruscan mythology, though, is it?

When I first started writing WHAT A GODDESS WANTS, I was already deep into the two Etruscan series I've been writing for Ellora's Cave for the last three years. All of the books I've published, with the exception of SIZE MATTERS, have been set in this world. 

Actually, the world is the same one we live in; except there are whole communities of magic users normal people know nothing about.

The Etruscans are an ancient race of magic users including witches, werewolves, elves, fairies and deities. The first series I wrote, Magical Seduction, featured the elementals, the fairies and elves, and a witch. The second, Lucani Lovers, focuses on the lucani, the Etruscan werewolves.

Why Etruscans, rather than Greek or Roman?

I chose the Etruscans because there wasn't a lot of information known about this ancient race so I could play with the facts and twist them however I liked. I could take something that had a basis in fact and take it out of history and into the Twilight Zone.

But it also meant I was flying mostly blind. Unlike the Romans or the Greeks, I couldn’t look up a quick answer to anything.  Since I love to do research, this meant I ordered many, many, many books by Etruscan scholars, books not written for the casual reader. But in those 1,000-page tomes, I picked up lots of little tidbits that I could use in my stories.

Have you noticed that my goddesses wear red shoes most of the time? That’s one of those little bits I found in one of those books.

Most scholars believe that the Etruscans based their pantheon on the Greeks’ but, since none of those scholars can agree on where exactly the Etruscans came from or when, I chose to ignore that. Instead, I took what limited information I could find that didn’t mimic the Greek pantheon and expanded from there.

Let’s talk a bit about Tessa. Something I didn’t know and found intriguing is Tessa being a goddess with dual powers and duties.

Tessa in WHAT A GODDESS WANTS is the Etruscan Goddess of the Dawn. She used to lead the sun into the sky at the start of each day until that Roman bitch Aurora usurped her job. Tessa was pretty ticked off about that but she still had her duties as a Goddess of Childbirth. That’s another of those little tidbits I picked up.

Aurora cracks me up. I loved some of your secondary characters, like Sal, and I’d love to know more about him.

All of my Etruscan stories are linked; I was able to build a fairly large community with lots of characters who I love to revisit. For example, in WHAT A GODDESS WANTS, you’ll get to say hello to Salvatorus, who you might remember from SEDUCED BY MAGIC, SEDUCED BY TWO or EDGE OF MOONLIGHT.

You’ll also meet a new race of magical beings, the Cimmerians. Well, they’re not actually new. Robert E. Howard actually wrote about the Cimmerians in his Conan books. Yes, Conan was a Cimmerian, a fact Caligo, Tessa’s hero, grinds his teeth over constantly. Damn Arnold Schwarzenegger anyway.

I have so much fun playing in this world, creating a world within our world and revisiting characters throughout the stories.

And it shows in your stories, Stephanie. They’re fun to read. You said you have other series you’re writing. Anything new coming out in those series you’d like to tell us about?

As a matter of fact, I have another story in the Lucani Lovers series, GRACE IN MOONLIGHT, releasing July 20.

Thanks so much for having me over, Sia.


In his arms, her magic powers are on the rise…

Tessa, Etruscan Goddess of the Dawn, is desperately fighting off a malicious god, but her powers are weakening. She needs a hero and fast, because only sexual energy can give her strength. So she seeks out Caligo, whose sexual prowess is legendary

 And she’s the only one who can bring him into the light…

Caligo is a fabled Cimmerian warrior determined to stay away from spoiled goddesses who trample heart after they've had their fun. But there’s something irresistibly hot and inviting about Tessa, and he knows he’s her only chance to escape the encroaching darkness…EXCERPT 

BUY: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, All Romance eBooks. 

Stephanie Julian is the author of three erotic romance series with Ellora’s Cave. She is a member of RWA and Valley Forge Romance Writers and is a freelance entertainment and lifestyle feature writer. Stephanie lives in eastern Pennsylvania, where she is working on the next two books in the Forgotten Goddesses Series: How to Worship a Goddess (December 2011) and Goddess in the Middle (July 2012). For more information, please visit

Monday, July 11, 2011

MONDAY MUSINGS: Characters Who Influenced Me

A few days ago my group and I touched on characters that were role models as we grew up. I got to thinking about women characters I liked and why. I’ll admit, these characters also influenced my writing in so far as female characters go.

Amanda Bonner (Kate Hepburn, Adam’s Rib)
She was smart, a snazzy dresser, a career woman, and yet she was also married and juggled both. It wasn't all roses. She had problems to overcome, but then, so do all good characters.

Of course, Hepburn always played the accomplished woman who was strong, smart, bucking against stereotype of her time, but not afraid of being a woman. She let her dry wit and sense of humor out to play.  Hepburn always played my favorite type of character, intelligent, funny, sassy, sexy, and confident.

Some of Hepburn’s leading men were favorites of mine too. Gary Grant, suave, dashing, funny, and sexy. Or a man’s man, like Humphrey Bogart in African Queen. But Heroes are a subject for another blog. 

These old movies have fond memories for me because my mom and I loved Hepburn and we always watched them on TV when I was a girl. I still catch them when I can

Honey West (Anne Francis)

Oh, I watched this faithfully as a young girl. I loved Honey West. She was everything I wanted to be when I grew up. She was physically strong to do what she did, she had confidence galore—which was very attractive to me at that age. Honey was a judo/karate expert and she could kick ass and take names. Honey, was a great character because she took the labels of the time and poked holes through them. She was the first female private eye to ever appear on television. Plus, she had, Bruce, a very cool cat (ocelot). As the show progressed she got tougher. Yes, she celebrated her womanhood, used her looks to disarm the bad guys, but when push came to shove she could hold her own. Honey knew her limitations but she also demonstrated a quality I've always admired. If you use your brain you can figure out most things. Honey showed that you didn't have to be mannish to be a strong and competent woman and I liked that. She was always classy.

Ann Marie (Marlo Thomas That Girl)

I watched it and loved the idea that Ann was young and enthusiastic, had a goal and was willing to leave the safety of home to achieve it. I like the fact the focus was on a young single woman and it reflected the changing roles of women. This show was the forerunner of two shows (and characters) I also loved—the highly successful Mary Tyler Moore Show and Murphy Brown (I was a big fan of this one even more than MTM)

Pepper Anderson (Angie Dickinson)


Pepper was smart, pretty, and capable. Able to be what she wanted to be regardless of what people thought the role of woman should be. She had a tough job but was still celebrated her femininity. She had compassion, a sense of humor, and used logic and reason to get through to people—whether they were coworkers, bad guys, or families she had to share bad news with. Angie Dickinson’s role opened doors for more dramas that featured women in lead roles.

Kate Lawrence (Sada Thompson, on Family)


Why Kate? Because she had the courage of her convictions in a time when wife and mother were becoming synonymous selling out and being unliberated. She was loving and strong woman. Kate was tough when she needed to be and very fierce in protecting her family—even against themselves. She seemed so wise and confident. Actually, I think she showed there was nothing weak or wimpy about the job of being a mother and a wife. Even in this day of *new* paganism (especially in books) and worship of the mother goddess, wasn't one of her roles motherhood and wife. The goddess perfected the strength required to do both and do it well.


  • Who were some of your favorite film characters?
  • Do find yourself using their type or style in your writing?    

Coming up: Wednesday: Stephanie Julian, What a Goddess Wants, Friday: is historical author Lavina Kent.