March 8, 2012
Debut author Leigh LaValle is making a splash with THE RUNAWAY COUNTESS. Please welcome her warmly to the blog and comment to enter to win her fabulous debut!
“A powerful debut. With THE RUNAWAY COUNTESS, Leigh LaValle weaves an enthralling tale of passion and deception, laced with charm and wit. Leigh LaValle is a captivating new voice in historical romance.”
-Tessa Dare USA TODAY Bestselling Author
“THE RUNAWAY COUNTESS is an enchanting debut, full of passion, angst, danger, and the promise of true love.”
-Courtney Milan NYT Bestselling Author
“LaValle’s debut is exciting and action packed, with a hero and heroine who play well off each other.”
-RT Book Reviews 4 stars
Making Merry on Midsummer’s Eve by Leigh LaValle
Spring is in the air! As the sun shines brighter and the temperatures rise, I feel my blood stirring. Summertime, with her vibrant, sweaty nights, is coming soon. I love every season, but I find summer by far the sexiest. Indeed, I set my debut novel, THE RUNAWAY COUNTESS, during the hot, sultry summer of 1821.
Summer brings long days spent out-of-doors, succulent berries fresh from the garden, and boisterous open air festivals. The most popular summertime festival in Europe is the lover’s holiday of Midsummer’s Eve. Celebrated on the solstice, Midsummer’s Eve is a pre-Christian holiday with strong ties to fertility rituals. (You can see where I am going with this )
On Midsummer’s Day, revelers came together in an open field to celebrate. Flowers were gathered for decoration, participants engaged in games and activities (such as dancing around a maypole or competing in footraces) and villagers hawked their wares to other villagers.
But, it was as the sun set for the shortest night of the year that the true celebrations began. Under the light of the June moon (called the Honey Moon due to harvesting honey from the bees) inhibitions were cast aside and revelry echoed through the sultry night air.
Bonfires were lit and villagers leapt over the flames for luck. Musicians tuned their instruments and a procession of merrymakers, often dressed in costume, wandered through the festivities carrying lanterns. Wheels were set aflame and tossed into the air or sent rolling down hillsides.
To add to the allure of the night, courting couples were encouraged to wander into the woods. Together, they would look for faeries and pixies, and gather the herbs thought to be most potent on Midsummer’s Eve. Indeed, many couples would stroll off and not return for quite some time. (And, I should guess, without any herbs in hand or pixie sightings to report.)
A night for lovers, divination spells also existed on Midsummers Eve. A woman might glimpse her next lover by dipping cloth in rose water and letting it dry before the fire with salt. (The more I research the more I think spells were not needed to see one’s lover at all ) Or, a man might go to a churchyard with his sword and, turning nine times, recite “Here’s the sword; where’s the sheath?” Subtle, isn’t it?
I had a lot of fun researching the Midsummer’s Eve festival, and used many of the traditions in THE RUNAWAY COUNTESS. I added a pond for skinny dipping and hero and heroine who have been sparking off each other for weeks. Voila- a night is created full of mischief and romance. A night the hero and heroine will never forget.
Tell me, Dear Reader, which season do you find the sexiest? Do you love cozy winter nights? The awakening of spring? One lucky commenter will win a digital copy of THE RUNAWAY COUNTESS!
Blurb: THE RUNAWAY COUNTESS
Once the darling of high society, Mazie Chetwyn knows firsthand how quickly the rich and powerful turn their backs on the less fortunate. Orphaned, penniless and determined to defy their ruthless whims, she joins forces with a local highwayman who steals from the rich to give to the poor.
Then the pawn broker snitches, and Mazie is captured by the Lord Lieutenant of Nottinghamshire. A man who is far too handsome, far too observant…and surely as corrupt as his father once was.
Sensible, rule-driven Trent Carthwick, twelfth Earl of Radford, is certain the threat of the gallows will prompt the villagers’ beloved Angel of Kindness to reveal the highwayman’s identity. But his bewitching captive volunteers nothing—except a sultry, bewildering kiss.
And so the games begin. Trent feints, Mazie parries. He threatens, she pretends nonchalance. He cajoles, she rebuffs. Thwarted at every turn, Trent probes deep into her one vulnerability—her past. There he finds the leverage he needs and a searing truth that challenges all he believes about right and wrong.