Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Marquess of Cakes by Heather Hiestand

Today I am welcoming back, Heather Hiestand, and her new book from Kensington, The Marquess of Cakes.  My review follows the Interview with her.

Blurb


Coffee. . .tea. . .or a pastry chef sweeter than any confection...
Scotch trifle fit for Queen Victoria, scones with clotted cream.  Alys Redcake knows the way to a man's heart. Yet she is unaware that with each morsel--and flash of ankle--she is seducing the handsome marquess frequenting her father's tea shop. 


Unmarried at twenty-six, Alys's first love is the family business. But thoughts of the gentleman's touch are driving her to distraction.

With his weakness for sugar, the Marquess of Hatbrook can imagine no more desirable woman than one scented with cake and spice. Mistaking Alys for a mere waitress, he has no doubt she would make a most delicious mistress. And when he finds himself in need of an heir, he plans to make her his convenient bride. Yet as they satisfy their craving for one another, business and pleasure suddenly collide. Will Hatbrook's passion for sweets--and for Alys--be his heart's undoing?

Interview


What are your roots?

I’m originally from Illinois, but I’ve lived on the West Coast since I was three so Chicago barely counts, other than visiting relatives over the years.  I identify as Irish Catholic, both by ethnicity and family, but since I’m adopted (as a newborn), my root story is on the murky side.

Has your own family story impacted your writing at all?

I like to write about people finding their true homes, where they best belong, and I suspect that has something to do with being adopted.

How do you describe yourself as a writer?

I consider myself to be a professional commercial fiction writer, so I feel like I can be flexible to the needs of the marketplace. I’ve written contemporary, paranormal and historical, erotic, basic sexy, and sweet. I’ve even dabbled in mystery and science fiction in short form.

Why did you pick this particular genre for your writing?

I settled on romance (mostly) because I liked the positive message it sent. That’s what I want in my brain, not depressing or scary stories.

Why was it important for you to write this particular novel? 

My son had lots of health issues as a baby, and we spent too much time in front of the TV. I became hooked on cooking shows, like the cake decorating ones on The Food Network. The 1880s time period I was working in for steampunk stories and the cake decorating bubbled together in my brain until The Marquess of Cake mixed into a novel, thanks to my idea about the people surrounding a tea shop in Victorian London. 

What was hard for you in writing this novel?

Finishing it was hard. I was halfway through, writing daily, and very excited, when my then two-year-old stopped napping and life as I knew it came to an end. I didn’t get to write the second half until he went to preschool and I regained some quiet hours. It was the right thing to do, because I had an offer from Kensington only six weeks after submitting. And I’ll tell you, I’m the writer who writes those books editors sit on for a year or two at a time. It’s happened to me repeatedly, as early as the start of my career and as recently as last year.

Are there themes that recur in your work?

What is reoccurring in my Victorian fiction is unusually independent women. I guess that’s why I like those years better than the always popular Regency period, because my heroines aren’t as out of place there. I’ve written time travelers, smugglers, inventors, airship captains, cake decorators, inn owners and runaway aristocrats, all women! I like my female characters to have an identity other than wife, other than mother.

What are you working on now? 

I’m busy working on my Redcakes Victorian romance series for Kensington. Book 2, One Taste of Scandal, Judah’s story, is at the copyedit stage, and Book 3, His Wicked Smile, Gawain’s story, is with beta readers. I’m writing a novella, Redcakes 3.5, right now.

What would you like to write in the future?

I have a couple of historical romance series ideas. One starting just as Victoria assumes the throne is in the active research phase. Then I have a contemporary FBI series that I’m shopping. I have a cool idea for book two so I hope book one sells. Then, of course, there’s my co-written St. George Protector Society series. If the first book, Wear Black, catches on we want to finish book two.

What three books did you read in 2012 that you loved and would recommend to others as excellent? (title and author please)

I have to remember that far back? Oh dear. It’s possible that I picked up Sherry Thomas and Courtney Milan for the first time last year. Private Arrangements was unusual and excellent. I love new takes on reunion romances.  The Governess Affair, a novella, though not my first Milan read, sticks out in my head because, once again, it was so unusual. It mostly took place on a park bench, but it was riveting. Talk about out-of-the-norm characters. Wow, I have so many books to choose from, but staying with Victorian, let’s go with Sold to a Laird by Karen Ranney. I often come up with inventor characters and I worry about doing them right. This book is an example of how to do so. All three of these authors were new to me last year but I’ve been devouring their books ever since.

Thank you for taking the time to participate in this interview. Is there anything else you would like to tell the readers of this blog?

I’m so excited that readers are going to meet the Redcakes! I’ve written series before, but this is the first time I’ve had idea after idea and I hope I get to write more than the three I’ve done so far. If you like historical romance, or even if you are just a fan of dessert, I hope you give Marquess of Cake a read!

My Review

I was fortunate that this book was available at Net Galley and I was approved to review it in advance of release. First, let me say that if you read this and you are on a diet, you will likely stray. So be forewarned.

There are so many clever pieces in this mixture of family drama with light romance. The Marquess of Hatbrook has a sweet tooth that has caused him to frequent Redcake's Tea Shop and Emporium. Of course this leads to a mutual attraction and a delicious romance between the Marquess and the Emporium's owner, Alys. The romance is even more delicious than the cakes (or maybe that is simply because I don't have a sweet tooth but love a good romance).




The author does a great job presenting the Victorian era and it's dictates around marriage, owning or running businesses, class, and society.  She also inserts plenty of tension with difficulties between various family members--some of them not very nice.  The other thing I like in her characterizations is that she does not make Michael, The Marquess, out to be perfect. He makes mistakes and some decisions are not ones I liked to see. However, that made him so much more real and the relationship between Michael and Alys even sweeter.

One of the more interesting character attributes, and thus possible tension, is that the Marquess is hypoglycemic. This means that Michael is unconsciously dealing with his low blood sugar levels by eating sweets.  I admit, I'm not a physician so I don't really understand the difference between a diagnosis of hypoglycemia vs diabetes.  In both cases, the blood sugar needs to be regulated or normalized.  The way that Alys identifies Michael's problem and addresses it really adds to the romance and bodes well for a forever after relationship.

Overall, I enjoyed The Marquess of Cake. It was a nice combination of romance, drama, and entertainment. I believe the Redcake series will be fun to follow.


Buy Links:  Kensington | Amazon | B&N |

About Heather

Heather Hiestand/Anh Leod is the author of many novels, novellas, and short stories. On Amazon she has achieved bestseller status on the Romance Anthologies list and on Amazon.UK she has achieved bestseller status on the Romance Short Stories list.  She lives in Washington State with her husband and son. Heather is represented by Pam van Hylckama Vlieg at Larsen Pomada.

Contact Heather on the Web: Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter |

* * * GIVEAWAY * * *


Heather is giving away three great prizes: A $5 Amazon Gift Card, An Amazon Gift Card for Marquess of Cake, and an Amazon Gift Card for Wear Black.  So, participate in the RaffleCopter below for your chances to win. She will draw a winner on August 1st, so no time to lose getting in on these prizes!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

It's Here! It's Here! It's Here!

The second book in The Forest People series is here!  I had hoped it would be released at the same time as the first book, but it didn't work out that way.  In the end, I'm glad because truth be told managing a release for one book took a lot of energy as it was.  But now, for all those who have just finished the first book, you can now get the second.  And if you were lucky to get in on the 99 cent preorder deal at Windtree Press, you should be seeing emails with download links today.

The ebook is only $4.50 and available around the world now.  The print book is $14.00 and will be released next week.  You can get it online through Amazon & Barnes and Noble, as well as through most booksellers who purchase books through Ingrams or Baker & Taylor.

In both ebook and print, my motto is always BUY LOCAL.  Check with your local bookstore for availability.  Many local bookstores now also have ebook links too.

Just as a reminder, here's a look at Book 2 - Chameleon: The Choosing

Having survived the Kintala and liberated her father, Camryn knows two things: 1) her feelings about Ohar or Dagger can't be trusted; and 2) her newly found magical powers are darn scary and out of control. Though she has learned how to manage when she changes into other people, now she has the added burden of controlling her magic before she kills someone by accident. 

The first step is to bond with the most powerful creature in the universe, a thunder dragon. They are the only ones who can take her to the void. They are the only ones who can answer her questions about her gifts. They are the only ones who understand the burdens of life and death--of balance and control. The choosing is never easy, and only the worthy are chosen.
 
Camryn is committed to stopping the lichen mutations that are killing the Forest People. She knows that her gift as a Chameleon will allow her to discover why the Agnoses experiments are being escalated and how they use the lichen to enhance powers of both Forest People and Agnoses.

In her first battle of control, Camryn comes face-to-face with her own inner demons. What price is she willing to pay in order to save the Forest People? Camryn can see the war coming. Her gifts have the power to save both worlds, but in the process she may end up destroying everyone and everything she loves.

Enjoy!

Buy Links: Windtree Press | Jan's Paperbacks | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Apple | Xin Xii