Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Giveaway! Win a Signed Copy of Virtue's Lady on Goodreads


Hi everybody!

If you've been wondering where your regularly scheduled posts about plague and syphilis have gone, I am currently hibernating (writing) in my writing cave (bedroom) with a metric f*** tonne of nuts and berries (that's actually true) until I finish Book 3 of The Southwark Saga. 

Book 3 is set in 1677, six years after Tyburn and Virtue's Lady, and follows barmaid Alice Henshawe as she gets lost in France. Long-lost carpenter's apprentice Jack is sent to find her and when he does, things are pretty awkward and only really get worse from there. Carys predicted that Jack would grow up gorgeous in Virtue's Lady, but she didn't know the half of it! I'm making good progress and I hope to be able to tell you more by the end of the summer. If you liked the dark themes of Tyburn and the comedy of Virtue's Lady, I think you'll really like it. 

To tide you over until then, I'm giving away books! From today until July 23rd, you can enter to win a signed first edition paperback copy of Virtue's Lady on Goodreads here. The contest is open to residents of the US, UK, Canada, and Australia, so go for it! If you liked Mark Virtue on your Kindle, then you'll really like him on 360+ pages of good paper. Good luck! 

I will have more updates and great guest authors for you soon, but until then...back to the cave! I will probably emerge in August slightly confused with crazy hair. See you soon! 

My copies of Tyburn and Virtue's Lady. Yes, that is a framed picture of macarons on my desk. What?

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Positive and Negative Words for Summer Romance and the Bayou Beckons: Guest Post by Linda Joyce

What are your words for summer romance? 

I’m working on a manuscript, Bayou Brides, book four of the Fleur de Lis series. I’m putting down all kinds of words, going with the flow, and loving the energy of the mood.

Writing, unlike other forms of art, must first be captured on paper/computer screen, a writer’s raw material, before it can be polished into a gem of a book. I’m mentally and emotionally hanging out in the near past in Mississippi immediately following Hurricane Katrina—I’m engrossed. My fingers fly across the keys far faster than when I played piano. 

Then my cell phone dings. 

The real world comes into focus. 

Dictionary.com posts the word for the day—Incondite. 

Darn! My concentration is now broken, so I flip over to the Dictionary site on my laptop for a short, yet educational break. After all, who would know? I’m sitting in my writing cave alone except for the snores from three canines. I can take a few minutes to engage in a worthwhile word game to improve my writing. (That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.) 

Once at the website, the game appears like a pop quiz. The current challenge: Positive and negative words for summer romance. Intriguing. 

(By the time you read this post, the link should still work, but the game may be different. I urge you to give it a go. I dare you.) 

Hmmm….This vocab game will be a slam-dunk! Of course, I know ALL the vocabulary words for romance. What better way to take a break than to boost my writing confidence with a 100% correct score? 

And so I begin. There are four possible choices for each vocabulary word. The best thing about the quiz is that it provides IMMEDIATE feedback. A bright green star and check mark appear at the top of the page and highlight the correct answer. But then, RED! I missed one! Cosset. *Sigh* I never recall cosset used in any romance novel I’ve read. So now the challenge is to find a novel containing the usage. 

One of the dogs bumps my arm. I remember—I’m supposed to be writing! I’d better get 
back to that. 

In case you’re in need of a distraction, let Bayou Beckons, my new release be the ding that takes you away. Happy Reading! 



Bayou Beckons

Party-girl and bayou babe Camilla Lind treats life like a game. After sleeping with her sister’s fiancĂ©, she’s struggling to change, but karmic payback is a bitch. When the actions of her past crash into the present, they stand to ruin her future...and destroy any chance of love with the only man she’s ever wanted. 

Rancher Jared Richardson guards his heart carefully after suffering the pain of infidelity. He never expected to fall for a woman like Camilla Lind, nor did he think he’d follow her across the country to beg for a second chance at love. 

As Hurricane Katrina bears down on them, can they weather the storm and put aside past hurts to embrace their future together?

Bayou Beckons, book three of the Fleur de Lis series is now available at Amazon 

Bayou Bound, book two of the series is a 2015 RONE Award Finalist. (Winners to be announced at InD’tale magazine in September.) It also won 1st Place in Romance from the Southeastern Writers Association.

Bayou Born, book one, is a 2014 RONE Finalist. 

PS- The vocabulary in the game is not just for romance readers. These words appear in many genres. After you take the quiz, please let me know what you think. AND if you’re interested in winning a Waterford Crystal Fleur de Lis, please check out my newsletter for June: LETTERS from Linda, Journey into June

Want to test your word skill? Click on LOVE to take the test. 

A bit about Linda: 

Linda Joyce is an award-winning author published in poetry, memoirs, and contemporary romance. Born in Biloxi, Mississippi, Linda’s southern root run deep. If you wander in New Orleans cemeteries, you’ll find many of her family buried there. Her grandfather captained the General John Newton and her grandmother retired from the New Orleans police department. Linda’s a foodie, a big fan of jazz and blues, and a dog lover. General Beauregard, Gentleman Jack, and Masterpiece Renoir are her constant canine companions. She now lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband and four-legged boys. Please visit her at www.linda-joyce.com


Friday, June 12, 2015

Going on a Pleasure Cruise with Haley Whitehall's New 19th Century Paranormal Romance, Alpha's Voodoo

I have had such a great time in the Gulf Shore courtesy of Annette Mardis, that I think I'll extend my vacation and head west to New Orleans. I've always wanted to see New Orleans, but Haley Whitehall has an even more exciting proposition: New Orleans in the nineteenth century!

Haley Whitehall writes historical fiction and historical romance and her latest release, Alpha's Voodoo, is a nineteenth century multicultural paranormal! That's like all the good things at once! I think it sounds fantastic, and I am absolutely thrilled to welcome Haley to the blog today to tell us more about Alpha's Voodoo and Mark Afton's pleasure cruise...

Going on a Pleasure Cruise

I’d like to thank Jessica for hosting me on her blog today.  I write historical romances and Alpha’s Voodoo is my first paranormal historical romance. I like the mid-1800s so much that sometimes I think I was born in the wrong century. Most people have probably heard of the Mile High Club. However, at that time airplanes hadn’t been invented yet, so my rich hero, Mark Afton, decides to go on a pleasure cruise.

In my research I haven’t read of anything like this actually existing. It could have though. I’ve read many contemporary romances of billionaires falling in love on their yachts. I’d like to think that this is the historical equivalent.

After receiving a personal invite from Madam Dawn, Mark is ready to treat himself to a few pleasurable days in the company of her talented ladies. He never expected to find love on the high class steamer.  Violet Creed isn’t like the experienced tarts he’d been with in the past. Her innocence draws him in. What was a woman like her doing in this profession? His protective instincts kick in and he suddenly wants to protect her from the cruel realities of the world and he doesn’t even know her.

Of course, there is one way to for them to get acquainted…

Alpha's Voodoo

Are curses real or merely imagined? 

Violet Creed is a colored New Orleans debutante. She was brought up with servants and a strict set of rules regarding propriety, and her papa never approved of her interest in Voodoo. One night she sneaks out of the house and attends one of Marie Laveau’s gatherings—where she loses her virginity and her reputation. Turned out by her papa, Violet is destined for a life on the streets until Madam Dawn saves her. 

Cursed to live as a wolf shifter, Mark Afton is a wealthy lawyer and heir to the Bayou Pack. Unfortunately, he can’t take over leadership from his uncle without a mate. Wanting to escape his mother’s endless matchmaking attempts, he accepts Madam Dawn’s invitation to sail on the maiden voyage of the Southern Rose and enjoy the pleasurable company of her ladies. 

One of Madam Dawn’s recent hires catches his attention. He is drawn to Violet immediately. Could she be his mate or is their attraction merely Voodoo?


Buy Links


Excerpt

It took several trips for the man to fill the copper tub that sat in the corner of the room. Until it had been pointed out to her she had not noticed the bath. Madam Dawn had thought of everything. The customary desk and chair had been replaced by a bath. Of course, on a pleasure cruise a bed and bath were the only things necessary. Chairs and tables were available to the couples in the parlor.

She sank her teeth into her bottom lip. Couples? That implied something more permanent than a dalliance. Where did that thought come from? Mr. Afton had yet to seat himself inside her and she suddenly wanted something more with him.

This was far from usual, she scolded herself. How had she forgotten her good breeding so quickly? Could she really be a white man’s mistress? Pleasuring the same man each night did seem a better life than lying with several each week. Perhaps she should pursue Mr. Afton, charm him.

He is the one charming me.

Did desire normally consume a woman and not let go? Later this evening she’d try to sneak away and ask Madam Dawn. To her knowledge, carnal hunger did not come with so many emotions attached. She felt nothing for the white man who had ruined her reputation. Mr. Afton was another story.

The promise of fulfillment left her wanting to please Mr. Afton. He smiled and the approval in his eyes sent her heart soaring. With her sudden attraction almost painful, she couldn’t hold back much longer. Throwing the covers off, she offered him his fill of her naked femininity. His gaze raked her form; the lust he exuded seared her and by the time he helped her into the bathwater she was so hot she prayed the water would wash off some of the fire burning her skin.

She eased herself to a sitting position inside the tub. The warm water rose just high enough to cover her bosom.

He kneeled beside the tub, cloth and soap in hand. Dipping the cloth into the water he began washing the back of her neck. Her eyes shut and she let out a contented sigh. The warmth combined with the gentle pressure of his hands felt heavenly.

About the Author

Haley Whitehall lives in Washington State where she enjoys all four seasons and the surrounding wildlife. She writes historical romance set in the 19th century U.S. When she is not researching or writing, she plays with her cats, watches the Western and History Channels, and goes antiquing. She is hoping to build a time machine so she can go in search of her prince charming. A good book, a cup of coffee, and a view of the mountains make her happy.


Where to Find Haley Whitehall


Previous Books

Midnight Caller – Moonlight Romance Book 1
Midnight Heat – Moonlight Romance Book 2
Midnight Kiss – Moonlight Romance Book 3
Soldier in Her Lap
Wild and Tender Care
Civil War Valentine


Sunday, June 7, 2015

Pack Your Flip Flops, We're Going to the Gulf Shore! Introducing Annette Mardis' New Contemporary Romance, Shore to Please

I don't know about you guys, but I could use a vacation. After a looooong winter, the sun has finally come out and I would love a trip to the beach. Unfortunately for me, the beach is hours away, so what can I do? 

Annette Mardis has the answer. The third installment of her Gulf Shore series, Shore to Please, is coming out on June 22nd. With the gorgeous settings, dreamy guys, and the lovable animals at the Gulf Shore Aquarium, the Gulf Shore series is the next best thing to going to the beach. 

So put on your flip flops, grab your favorite tropical drink (umbrellas absolutely necessary), and pick a sunny spot to read, because you deserve a vacation! I, for one, am turning off my phone and relaxing with a pina colada and my copy of The Shore Thing until tomorrow. Now where did I put my sunglasses? 



Thank you so much, Jessica, for hosting me on your blog. I’m a Florida girl through and through, and I’ve always been fascinated by creatures that crawl, swim, and slither in the sea. One of my all-time favorite shows when I was a kid was Flipper, which spurred my lifelong love affair with dolphins. 

I’ve learned a lot about these intelligent, complex, and charismatic mammals since then, and I know their lives in the wild and in human care generally aren’t as idyllic as I once believed. I don’t attach mystical qualities to dolphins like some people do, either. I’ve learned to appreciate them for what they are and what they aren’t.

Dolphins play a pivotal role in my Gulf Shore contemporary romance series. Those who know me won’t be at all surprised that I’ve chosen to write about an aquarium and a west-central Florida beach town. Both locales are near and dear to my heart. 

Gulf Shore Aquarium isn’t based on any one facility I’ve visited or yearned to see. It’s a composite of the best of what they have to offer. I’ve tried not to idealize, but I want readers to see GSA as a place where the animals are as content as they possibly can be and their needs are paramount. 

That’s not to say, however, that GSA is controversy free. Animal rights activists, for better or worse, are keeping a close eye on the place. And even the employees there struggle at times with the seemingly never-ending argument about freedom vs. captivity. My characters and my books wouldn’t be realistic if those topics didn’t come up, but my intent isn’t to preach or draw any proverbial lines in the sugary white sand.
My primary mission is to entertain and make you fall in love with the animals and the people of Gulf Shore and its aquarium. And who knows? You just might learn something, too.

Gulf Shore is a popular tourist destination that’s managed to maintain its small-town feel. It’s a place where you’ll taste salt on your skin and feel the Florida sun on your shoulders, a sea breeze ruffling your hair, and shells beneath your feet. You’ll meet swoon-worthy alpha males who aren’t embarrassed to cuddle a rescued baby dolphin in their muscular arms, and accomplished women looking for an equal partner who thinks that smart is sexy. 

You’ll get up close and personal with sea life and fall in love with a talking parrot named Ozzie who acts like a little boy in a bird suit. You’ll go behind-the-scenes at the aquarium and out to the beach to rescue marine animals in distress and to cheer others as they return to the wild. 

Like many writers, I draw on my personal experiences when creating my fictional locales. For instance, there really is an African gray parrot named Ozzie. He’s one of my extremely spoiled pets, and he does talk in context sometimes, as he does in The Shore Thing, Gulf Shore Book 1. 

I’ve also learned a lot about undersea life and aquarium operations as a volunteer at Clearwater Marine Aquarium, home of movie star dolphins Winter and Hope from the Dolphin Tale films. Let me be clear, though, that I most definitely am not writing about the people, policies, and animals at the world-famous Clearwater facility in my Gulf Shore series.


My latest book, Shore to Please, the third installment in the series, spotlights one of my favorite characters, Paul “Flipper” O’Riley, head dolphin trainer at Gulf Shore Aquarium. He’s loyal, funny, and hard-working, and he’s fighting an attraction to a woman who couldn’t be more wrong for him. 

Tara Langley is co-founder of SWADS, short for Stop Whale and Dolphin Suffering. She thought she’d found the love of her life, but he betrayed her with another woman. So she buried herself in her mission: convincing Gulf Shore Aquarium that dolphins and whales belong in the wild, not in artificial pools. 

If Tara had her way, Flipper would lose the job he loves, and for him that’s an impossible scenario. The aquarium’s dolphins are his babies, and his life revolves around them. While he’s open to having a real family one day, Tara is the last person he would choose to be his wife and the mother of his children. 

These two should be sworn enemies, after all. He certainly swears at the sight of her. And his surfer-dude looks and lover-boy reputation aren’t exactly what Ms. Prim and Tidy had in mind when she pictured her ideal man. 

There’s no possible way a relationship between Flipper and Tara could work, right? They’re like fire and gasoline. So why do they both want so badly to light the match?

As the two struggle to find common ground amid all the quicksand, Flipper and his coworkers become the targets of an increasingly more menacing campaign to force the aquarium to release the dolphins under its care. 

Tara, whose group has picketed the aquarium in the past, immediately becomes suspect. Is she being falsely accused? Flipper is quick to defend her, but is she deceiving him along with the police? Or do more sinister forces have Gulf Shore Aquarium in their sights? 

Gulf Shore Police Detective Joanna Tompkins is racing to catch those responsible before it’s too late. 

While Shore to Please revolves around Flipper, Tara and the threats to the aquarium, the book also advances the story lines of other favorite characters, including Evan and Dani, Cosby and Monica, and Jo and Kelsey. Readers will meet a few new faces, too, and a couple more adorable critters join the cast as well.


Shore to Please is set for release June 22 and will available at all major e-book sellers, including:



If you haven’t read the other two books in the Gulf Shore series, now’s the time to get caught up. 

The Shore Thing: Danielle “Dani” Davidson vows to just say no to workplace romances after a messy breakup, so why can’t she get Evan Sanders out of her mind? Evan is twice shy, too, after an alluring but self-absorbed colleague takes a bite out of his heart, but he’s intrigued by Dani’s shyness and tempted by her intelligence and low-key sexiness. Their attraction smolders until an  encounter with a stingray sends Dani to the emergency room and Evan steps up to help her through her recovery. The two also bond over the rescue of an orphaned baby dolphin. But will Evan’s vindictive ex-lover, his career ambitions, and Dani’s inhibitions tear the young lovers apart?

Shore Feels Right: Once a pariah among her coworkers, marine biologist Monica Sims has spent months reinventing herself as she seeks redemption. A history of failed relationships leaves her leery of romantic involvement until she meets Cosby Williams, the new co-owner of Nauti-Toys watercraft rentals. As things heat up between them, Gulf Shore Aquarium responds to the stranding of a group of pilot whales. When a billionaire bachelor lends his private plane to the rescue effort, Monica catches his eye—and an obsession is born. How will she cope with the unwanted attention? And will her past sins come back to doom her newfound happiness with Cosby?


Connect with Annette

You're invited! 




Stop by the Beach Blanket Bash to chat with fun authors, play games, and win prizes to celebrate the release of Shore to Please
I'll be co-hosting with some fun Southwark Saga prizes to give to our guests! 
I hope to see you all there! -Jess

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Plague and Tulips: Gambling in a Time of Pestilence. Guest Post by J.G. Harlond

The Viceroy, from a 1637 catalog. One
bulb cost between 3,000 and 4,150 florins.
The first recorded economic bubble, ‘tulipomania’, occurred in the Dutch United Provinces between 1635 and 1637. The 1630s were a period of intense political and religious intrigue, when Pope Urban VIII appeared to be supporting Spain’s attempt to reclaim her lost territories in the Netherlands, but was actually conspiring to limit the size and power of the Habsburg Empire, to which Spain belonged; when France was playing both sides against the middle to undermine Spain’s power in Europe; and ordinary men and women everywhere were dying of the plague. 

Set during this epoch, my novel The Chosen Man features the charismatic, wicked but likable Ludovico da Portovenere, a charming Genoese rogue known to everyone as Ludo, and shows how it can take just one man with the right connections to create financial mayhem and ruin the lives of humble men and women. Acting on behalf of the Spanish monarch and Vatican cardinals, Ludo encourages and facilitates the futures market and outrageous sales of tulip bulbs in Holland. However, while I may have tinkered with fact in this area, the very real presence of the plague in the United Provinces at the time must have played a critical part in what actually happened.

The conspiracy theory behind what Ludo does in the novel has never been proved, and I should point out that Ludo is a fictional character, but the tulip bubble is documented history. Contemporary reports and records of sales transactions demonstrate the outrageous escalating prices paid up to 1637, when the bubble burst. The question is why did otherwise sober, thrifty Dutchmen, and many women, engage in what was basically gambling – with flowers that for most of the year could not even be seen? The answer lies in the combination of factors, but the very present threat of the plague, I think, was the final impetus. Death was literally on their doorsteps. 

Let us take Amsterdam in 1635 as an example. It’s a busy, thriving city with a huge population for the epoch. The Dutch have wrested their independence from Spain and are currently engaged in the Thirty Years War in Flanders to keep it. The general ethos is what we now call the ‘work ethic’; frippery and ostentation are frowned upon. So what can people who by their very thrift have acquired surplus income spend their money on? Something that is not an adornment or a visible luxury, but is defined as a ‘connoisseur item’ and coveted; something that is guaranteed to double, triple its value in the space of a year, a month, a week . . . Tulip bulbs. Money must not lie idle.

But does this really explain why people are willing, desperate even to spend their savings and then raise cash or exchange their worldly goods for flowers? Not altogether. I think the bell they hear each evening and the cry ‘Bring out your dead’ is probably the final motivating factor. Many if not most of the people engaged in this futures market are Protestants and Calvinists: they must work hard and be seen to work hard to earn their passage to heaven and be counted among the ‘elect’ – but they could be dead tomorrow. Their future is as shaky as the anticipated profits in tulip transactions – so what is there to lose? And if in the process of buying and selling on little brown bulbs they make even more money, their families will be provided for in the future.

 An industrious author of the time, Munting, wrote over a thousand pages on ‘tulipomania’. In one pamphlet he recorded the items and their value which were traded for a single Viceroy bulb (see illustration above left). As you read, bear in mind the family of a shoemaker or baker lived on between 250 and 350 guilders a year. 
The Semper augustus, the most
expensive tulip sold.

Item                         Value (florins)
Two lasts of wheat          448
Four lasts of rye             558
Four fat oxen                  480
Eight fat swine                240
Twelve fat sheep            120
Two hogsheads of wine   70
Four casks of beer          32
Two tons of butter          192
A complete bed              100
A suit of clothes               80
A silver drinking cup        60
Total                            2,500

At its height, in the early spring of 1637, a Dutch merchant paid 6,650 guilders for a dozen tulip bulbs. The merchant wasn’t simply a rich man buying expensive the bulbs to plant and enjoy for their colour, he intended to sell on and make a profit – as his fellow Dutchmen had been doing for the past two years. Records document instances of farmers giving up their farms to acquire bulbs and men exchanging their homes for a just one single rare bulb. Artisans pawned or sold their tools to ‘invest’ in tulips. Between 1635 and 1637 everyone, it seemed, was trading in tulips. There were also connoisseurs, mostly belonging to the professional class, who spent huge sums on what they considered an object of art. All these people, merchants, artisans and lawyers, fell prey to this collective madness – why?

As I say, there is no single answer, but the socio-economic and climate conditions of the epoch were perfect for ‘tulip mania’. Having lived in the province of Holland I can fully appreciate why, once tulips had been introduced into northern Europe at the turn of the 17th century, they became so popular. Tulips bring colour and a promise of spring at the end of long, dark, tedious winters. The 1600s were during a mini-ice-age: no wonder people wanted something to brighten their homes and gardens. This was also the period known as the Dutch ‘golden age’. The Protestant ethic of hard work and the egalitarian nature of the Independent Provinces meant many people now had a disposable income. It was a period of house-building and home-improvements; people were buying musical instruments and investing in works of art. But the plague was everywhere: death was quite literally round the corner. Dutch frugality and diligence had led to wealth, but many obviously feared they might not have the time to enjoy it and took to the excitement and risks in gambling. 

Here is an extract from The Chosen Man that illustrates the situation in Amsterdam in 1636. Encouraged by the wicked Ludo da Portovenere, Elsa vander Woude, a wealthy widow, has become involved in tulip trading. The scene takes place in her salon:

***
Admirael van der Eijck, 1637
Sold for 1045 florins
 . . . the unspoken promises she believed had urged her into buying and selling on a scale she could never have imagined. Just this week she had speculated on a whole bed of bizarden tulips owned by a Haarlem florist. And her enthusiasm, her physical drive had impelled Paul Henning into the speculator’s market, too. He was already trading on the bulbs just in the ground and not to be lifted until after they bloomed in March, April or May. It was gambling, of course, and that had held him back at first, but he was as much a part of the new tulip trade as she was now, and making an excellent living. Good Paul Henning with a proper bank account; a fine, safe account in one of the new Amsterdam banks.  (. . . ) And here he was mixing as an equal in his late employer’s salon with his wife and other gentlemen and their wives, all enjoying fruit punch and sweet wine, and celebrating a good year’s trading. Such changes! Such good changes bringing benefit to all. Elsa turned her back to the window and sought out her late husband’s loyal clerk. 

Paul Henning was not mingling as she imagined, he was standing at the far side of the room observing what was going on around him, a very serious look on his face. Stopping for a polite word here and there, Elsa crossed the room to stand beside him. “Henning, my dear, why so glum?”

“Glum? No, not glum, Me’vrouw.”

“Then what are you thinking? Dark thoughts I fear, but I cannot see why.”

“Forgive me. I feel a little out of place here. I was not raised to mix with the rich.”

“Neither you, nor many here (. . .) Tulips are a great leveller Henning. Don’t feel ill at ease (. . .) You’re going to be a rich man Henning. It’s so much easier now we don’t actually have to have the bulbs in our hands to sell them. Do you know, last week I sold a whole bed of tulips—the ones I bought near Haarlem last spring for—well, for an awful lot more than I paid, and they were already in the ground. The whole transaction took two pieces of paper. It wouldn’t surprise me if that same bed of flowers doesn’t get passed on at a tremendous profit four, five times before spring!”

“That’s what worries me, Me’vrouw. To be honest, it is exactly that which worries me. If you—we—are buying and selling without seeing the product—well, anyone can cheat us. Tell us they’ve got a bed of purple on white and when they’re lifted they’re just plain red or yellow. And buying bulbs and off-sets according to goldsmiths’ weights doesn’t seem to make much sense either. Since when was a big winter potato any better quality than a small, floury summer root? Something here is not right, Me’vrouw.”

“Oh, you Doubting Thomas! You Jonah!” Bending her head to the concerned man Elsa whispered, “Does it matter? I mean we’ve got some lovely flowers already, we know they are safe and right; what harm can a little speculating do?”

Paul Henning did not reply. Then quietly he said, “Me’vrouw, I was raised to understand that the respectable working man worked hard to keep his place. What I fear is not that I will fail to get rich, but that I will lose what little I have. Security is all. If you will forgive me saying, it was your late husband’s motto, was it not?”

Elsa did not reply; she was not listening. Paul Henning smiled cautiously and Elsa vander Woude went on spinning an elaborate future for his family.

Above the hum of voices and laughter there was the distant clanging of the plague bell and the terribly familiar call, “Bring out your dead.”

“Death is also a great leveller,” Paul Henning murmured.
***

Both Elsa and Paul Henning will suffer when the bubble bursts although they are involved in tulip trading for very different reasons: Elsa because she wants to believe in Ludo; and Henning because he has a family and no other income. Each has a very different outlook on life, but ultimately they are both victims.

The initial idea for the main plot in The Chosen Man came to me while watching a documentary about the fall of Lehman Brothers. There are clear parallels also to the mortgage scandals in Britain and the USA of recent years; how people had been encouraged to borrow well above their means believing the market would only ever be buoyant; and how, in some cases, it took just one man to set in motion a dramatic financial collapse. Obviously, we are not threatened by the plague but in many ways life today is just as precarious: car crashes, plane crashes, heart-attacks . . . People rarely learn from history – but . . . Carpe Diem.

The Chosen Man published by Penmore Press: http://www.penmorepress.com
It is the first novel in the Ludo da Portovenere trilogy by J.G. Harlond. You can contact J.G. Harlond at jgharlond (at) telefonica.net, and you can visit her website here at www.jgharlond.com