Unveiling Love: A Regency Romance (A London Regency Romantic Suspense Tale Book 1)

Happy Wednesday, reader friends!

Today, we’re shining the spotlight on the first book in a series by Vanessa Riley.

The book that Vanessa wrote is titled, Unveiling Love: A Regency Romance (A London Regency Romantic Suspense Tale Book 1). 

Enjoy!


About the Book:

Winning in the courts, vanquishing England’s foes on the battlefield, Barrington Norton has used these winner-take-all rules to script his life, but is London’s most distinguished mulatto barrister prepared to win the ultimate fight, restoring his wife’s love?

Amora Norton is running out of time. The shadows in her Egyptian mind, which threaten her sanity and alienate Barrington’s love, have returned. How many others will die if she can’t piece together her shattered memories? Can she trust that Barrington’s new found care is about saving their marriage rather than winning the trial of the century?

This is the first Regency Romance of four.

A Note from the Author:

Dear Lovely Reader,

Unveiling Love is a serialized historical romance or soap opera told in episodes. Each episode averages three to eight chapters, about 18,000 to 30,000 words. Each episode resolves one issue. Emotional cliffhangers may be offered, but the plot, the action of the episode, will be complete in resolving this issue.

My promise to you is that the action will be compelling, the romance passionate, and the journey like nothing you’ve read before. I will tell you in the forward the length. This episode, Episode I, is eight chapters long, 28,000 words. Enjoy this Regency Romance.

Vanessa Riley

Buy Unveiling Love: A Regency Romance on Amazon or Barnes and Noble


About the Author:

I’m Vanessa Riley, and I write Regency and Historical Romances of dazzling multi-culture communities with powerful persons of color.

I write for historical romance readers who admire and acquire books that showcase women who find joy in sweeping kisses and strong sisterhoods.

Even in the darkness, I promise to give you laughs, maybe a few cries, to show you how light always prevails and how love always, always wins.

Connect with Vanessa: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram

Sign up for Vanessa’s newsletter: http://christianregency.com/subscribe.html

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Book Spotlight: No Hiding for the Guilty

Happy Wednesday, reader friends!

Today, we’re shining the spotlight on another one of Vanessa Riley’s books.

This one is called, No Hiding for the Guilty.

Enjoy!


About the Book:

The military leaders of the fraught Almeida Siege are dying, but not fast enough for a chef with a grudge to bear and axes to sharpen. Using her position as cook to the famed inventor, Lord Hartland, Isadel Armijo learns that one of the butchers responsible for slaughtering her family will sup at Hartland Abbey at month’s end.

The chef is determined to serve the guilty man his last meal, one with a cake possessing a controlled detonation so she can watch him die. Only one person can teach her how to whip eggs with black powder, Wellington’s hulking explosives expert, Hugh Bannerman. Can she persuade the recluse to return to society to help avenge her family with a dessert to-die-for?

With his soul in torture for the lives his actions have decimated, the hulking Hugh Bannerman is convinced his sins have manifested into leprosy. As the surviving member of his family, how can he take his place in society knowing his uncontrollable anger increases the spots discoloring his skin and puts others at risk?

No, he’ll remain in hiding until the Almeida Killer finds him or the incorrigible chef Isadel causes too much trouble, concocting a deadlier course, one part hope, a sprinkle of crazy, and a maddening sauce of desire.

Can two very different people find the recipe to right the wrongs of the past or forever remain prisoners to guilt?

Buy No Hiding for the Guilty on Amazon, Barnes and Noble or Books-A-Million


About the Author:

I’m Vanessa Riley, and I write Regency and Historical Romances of dazzling multi-culture communities with powerful persons of color.

I write for historical romance readers who admire and acquire books that showcase women who find joy in sweeping kisses and strong sisterhoods.

Even in the darkness, I promise to give you laughs, maybe a few cries, to show you how light always prevails and how love always, always wins.

Connect with Vanessa: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram

Sign up for Vanessa’s newsletter: http://christianregency.com/subscribe.html

Book Spotlight: The Butterfly Bride

Happy Wednesday, reader friends!

Today, we’re shining the spotlight on Vanessa Riley’s book, “The Butterfly Bride.”

Enjoy!


About the Book:

Frederica Burghley wants to be married by Yuletide. Or else her father will set her up with one of his friends. The bonbon-loving illegitimate daughter of the duke wants to choose her own husband.

Advertising in the newspaper seems like the way to go. But a sinister response, with threats against her life, leads her to enlist the help of her very handsome, dear friend Jasper Fitzwilliam, Lord Hartwell.

A father and widower, Jasper is not only tasked with keeping Frederica safe but also with helping his vibrant friend choose a suitable husband. The more he tries to keep the ever-surprising woman alive and find her a good match, the more Jasper realizes he cares for her.

The two friends risk their lives for each other, so they should be able to risk their feelings for a chance at a deep and true love together. But he’s not looking for marriage and she’s not looking for convenience.

Buy The Butterfly Bride on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Books-A-Million


About the Author:

I’m Vanessa Riley, and I write Regency and Historical Romances of dazzling multi-culture communities with powerful persons of color.

I write for historical romance readers who admire and acquire books that showcase women who find joy in sweeping kisses and strong sisterhoods.

Even in the darkness, I promise to give you laughs, maybe a few cries, to show you how light always prevails and how love always, always wins.

Connect with Vanessa: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram

Sign up for Vanessa’s newsletter: http://christianregency.com/subscribe.html

Book Spotlight: The Bittersweet Bride

Happy Wednesday, reader friends!

Today, we’re shining the spotlight on The Bittersweet Bride by Vanessa Riley.


About the Book:

Widow Theodosia Cecil needs a husband to help protect her son. The former flower seller turned estate owner posts an ad in the newspaper, and no one is more surprised than she when her first love, the man she thought dead, reappears.

Ewan Fitzwilliam has been at war for six years. Now, the second son of a powerful earl is back but his beloved Theo needs a husband and will not consider him. She believes Ewan left her—in desperate straits—so she denies the feelings she still harbors for the handsome, scarred soldier.

Theo and playwright Ewan must overcome bitter lies and vengeful actions that ruined their youthful affair. Theo must reveal her deepest secret in order to reclaim the love that has long been denied.

Buy Vanessa’s book on Amazon.


About the Author:

I’m Vanessa Riley, and I write Regency and Historical Romances of dazzling multi-culture communities with powerful persons of color.

I write for historical romance readers who admire and acquire books that showcase women who find joy in sweeping kisses and strong sisterhoods.

Even in the darkness, I promise to give you laughs, maybe a few cries, to show you how light always prevails and how love always, always wins.

Connect with Vanessa: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram

Sign up for Vanessa’s newsletter: http://christianregency.com/subscribe.html

Book Review: The Butterfly Bride

Happy Friday, Reader Friends!

I pray you’ve had a great week. If you’re wondering what you should read for the weekend, be sure to check our recommendations page and past blog posts. You’re sure to find something worth reading. 🙂

Today, I’m sharing my thoughts on Vanessa Riley’s The Butterfly Bride. It’s book 3 in her series, Advertisements for Love.

Let’s get started!


About the Book

Frederica Burghley wants to be married by Yuletide. Or else her father will set her up with one of his friends. The bonbon-loving illegitimate daughter of the duke wants to choose her own husband. Advertising in the newspaper seems like the way to go. But a sinister response, with threats against her life, leads her to enlist the help of her very handsome, dear friend Jasper Fitzwilliam, Lord Hartwell.

A father and widower, Jasper is not only tasked with keeping Frederica safe but also with helping his vibrant friend choose a suitable husband. The more he tries to keep the ever-surprising woman alive and find her a good match, the more Jasper realizes he cares for her. The two friends risk their lives for each other, so they should be able to risk their feelings for a chance at a deep and true love together. But he’s not looking for marriage and she’s not looking for convenience.

Links: Amazon, B&N, Goodreads


My Thoughts

So I’ve been curious of Fredercia’s story ever since I read book 1 in the series. There was something about her that I found interesting. And in The Butterfly Bride we see the many faces Fredercia must wear because of her parentage and the prejudice against women of color and her background.

Now Lord Hartwell made an interesting hero. He’s a widower with three kids and has seen a lot of heartache. I found his background endeared him to me and I wanted to know if he could overcome his fears and take a risk at love.

There’s also a suspense thread in this book that I found very interesting. I put on my thinking cap trying to figure out who did it. I was happy I was correct and enjoyed following along as all the little pieces lined up.

And another note, as we stated in previous posts, we would introduce clean reads. In my personal opinion, The Butterfly Bride would classify as a clean read and not a CF one. There is mentioning of God but I didn’t see a spiritual arc throughout the read. Also, there are some intimate moments that were a little much for my preference but nothing I feel crosses the line for a clean read. Hope that helps!

*I received a complimentary copy via NetGalley. My review was not influenced nor required.


About the Author

Vanessa Riley worked as an engineer before allowing her passion for historical romance to shine. A Regency era (early 1800s) and Jane Austen enthusiast, she brings the flavor of diverse peoples to her stories. Since she was seventeen, Vanessa has won awards for her writing and is currently working on two series. She lives in Atlanta with her military man hubby and precocious child. You can catch her writing from the comfort of her Southern porch with a cup of Earl Grey tea.

Follow: WebsiteFacebookTwitterPinterestInstagram


Post by contributor Toni Shiloh

Book Review: The Bashful Bride

Happy Friday, reader friends!

Are you ready for the weekend?

Today, we’re featuring my review of Vanessa Riley’s new novel, The Bashful Bride.

It’s the perfect weekend read!


My Review of The Bashful Bride:

This book was amazingly well written, and completely captivating from start to finish. Vanessa Riley, the author, has really outdone herself with this one. I’m not a big fan of historical romance but Vanessa’s stories are delightful and make me want to read more books by her brilliant mind!

Reading this book was a theatrical experience on paper. It’s like the author takes you by the imagination from page one and transports you back in time to the Regency era then invites you to a front row seat as you watch this beautiful story unfold.

The characters were likable, their background was believable and the dialogue was beautiful. I loved the idea of love at first sight and enjoyed seeing how the heroine’s celebrity crush became her real-life love interest via a meet-cute that threw them together in the most unique and intriguing way.

The author is not afraid to make her characters real and heroic in every sense—the hero is a famous, handsome actor with the passionate platform of an abolitionist. Arthur Bex is his name and he’s not afraid to speak out a time in history where most kept silent. He’s passionate about freedom and he’s not afraid to express his views even when his push for equality threatens to overhaul the status quo.

The heroine, a shy heiress by the name of Ester Croome, is heroic in terms of honesty and loyalty because she refuses to marry anyone who her heart does not love in a society where sometimes women married for money, status or other practical reasons. She may be shy but when it comes to marriage, she knows what she wants and who she wants—handsome actor Arthur Bex. But beyond good looks, Ester wants a man of character and integrity, and Arthur seems to fit the bill.

But love at first sight only becomes the forever kind of love that lasts when it’s tested and tried to be true. The author doesn’t shy away from testing the love between Arthur and Ester. She throws her main characters into quite the plight as the story progresses! Riley knows how to build tension and leave the readers wanting more at the end of each scene. I kept turning the pages until I finished this story in one sitting!

Even if you’re not a fan of historical romance, read this book by Vanessa Riley. It will captivate your heart!

*I (Alexis A. Goring) received a complimentary copy of this book (The Bashful Bride) from the author for me to read. My opinions in this book review are my own.


About the Book:

A friend’s newspaper advertisement for a groom nets the most famous actor in London, Arthur Bex. Shy heiress Ester Croome proposes to elope with the handsome man, who she’s secretly loved for two years, in order to escape an impending engagement arranged by her overbearing family.

Trying to outlive the shadow of his villainous uncle, Bex needs to marry quickly—to a woman of good character. And smart, beautiful Ester fits the bill. But a harrowing trip to Gretna Green and dangerous abolition rallies prove to be a more treacherous stage than either imagined. Infatuation and a mutual love for Shakespeare might not be enough to bind a couple looking to outrun the chains and secrets of family and the past.

Buy The Bashful Bride on Amazon


About the Author:

Vanessa Riley writes Regency and Historical Romances of dazzling multi-culture communities with powerful persons of color. 

Vanessa writes for historical romance readers who admire and acquire books that showcase women who find joy in sweeping kisses and strong sisterhoods. Even in the darkness, she promises to give you laughs and to show you how light always prevails and how love always, always wins. 

Vanessa juggles mothering a teen, cooking for her military-man husband, and speaking at women’s and STEM events. She’s known for her sweeping romances and humorous delivery of poignant truths. You can catch her writing from the comfort of her southern porch with a cup of Earl Grey tea.


Connect with Vanessa:

Website – http://www.vanessariley.com
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/VanessaRileyAuthor/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/VanessaRiley/
YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/user/RegencyMaid
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/vanessarileyauthor/

Sign up for her newsletter to get access to free stories, giveaways, and more at: 
http://www.vanessariley.com

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Book Spotlight: The Bashful Bride

Happy Wednesday, reader friends!

Today, we’re shining the spotlight on The Bashful Bride. 

This book is a Regency-era, fiction story written by  Vanessa Riley.


About the Book:

A friend’s newspaper advertisement for a groom nets the most famous actor in London, Arthur Bex. Shy heiress Ester Croome proposes to elope with the handsome man, who she’s secretly loved for two years, in order to escape an impending engagement arranged by her overbearing family.

Trying to outlive the shadow of his villainous uncle, Bex needs to marry quickly—to a woman of good character. And smart, beautiful Ester fits the bill. But a harrowing trip to Gretna Green and dangerous abolition rallies prove to be a more treacherous stage than either imagined. Infatuation and a mutual love for Shakespeare might not be enough to bind a couple looking to outrun the chains and secrets of family and the past.

Buy The Bashful Bride on Amazon


About the Author:

Vanessa Riley writes Regency and Historical Romances of dazzling multi-culture communities with powerful persons of color. 

Vanessa writes for historical romance readers who admire and acquire books that showcase women who find joy in sweeping kisses and strong sisterhoods. Even in the darkness, she promises to give you laughs and to show you how light always prevails and how love always, always wins. 

Vanessa juggles mothering a teen, cooking for her military-man husband, and speaking at women’s and STEM events. She’s known for her sweeping romances and humorous delivery of poignant truths. You can catch her writing from the comfort of her southern porch with a cup of Earl Grey tea.


Connect with Vanessa:

Website – http://www.vanessariley.com
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/VanessaRileyAuthor/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/VanessaRiley/
YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/user/RegencyMaid
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/vanessarileyauthor/

Sign up for her newsletter to get access to free stories, giveaways, and more at: 
http://www.vanessariley.com

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Book Review: Unveiling Love

Happy Friday, Reader Friends!

I cannot believe we’re in the last month of the year! Can you? I decided to enter December with a review of Vanessa Riley’s Unveiling Love. It’s a serial novel, so you can purchase it by the episode or all 4 in one. 

If you didn’t catch the Author Interview done on Diversity by our co-contributor, Terri, be sure to check it out.

Let’s get started!


About the Book

The Blurb: “Winning in the courts, vanquishing England’s foes on the battlefield, Barrington Norton has used these winner-take-all rules to script his life, but is London’s most distinguished mulatto barrister prepared to win the ultimate fight, restoring his wife’s love?

Amora Norton is running out of time. The shadows in her Egyptian mind, which threaten her sanity and alienate Barrington’s love, have returned. How many others will die if she can’t piece together her shattered memories? Can she trust that Barrington’s new found care is about saving their marriage rather than winning the trial of the century?”

Links: First Episode (FREE), Complete Tale, Goodreads


Review

I’m glad I had the complete tale on my Kindle because once I started, I didn’t want to stop. First, it’s a tale of a married couple. That’s so rare in the romance genre but I always find it a delight when I manage to find it. Barrington and Amora are not without their problems which makes their unveiling love all the more sweeter.

Second, this tale has a mystery element. In fact, I would say it’s almost as important as the romance. I was trying to figure out who dunnit and was completely disgusted once the villan was identified.

Third, can we say regency England? Swoon! I don’t know what it is about this era but I love it. Maybe it’s the fact that they go by titles, call each other Mr and Mrs even though they’re married. Or could it just be Ms. Riley’s amazing writing style? Whatever it is, I love it and enjoyed it.

Last, can we say diversity?! Barrington is half-Black. His wife is half-Spanish, half-Egyptian. They have to deal with he looks and slurs and assumptions that ran rampant in this time frame. I loved the diversity.

Don’t ask which was my favorite because I refuse to choose. 🙂 But whether you choose to read this book for the romance, mystery, regency era, or diversity, you’ll be happy you picked it up.


About the Author

Vanessa Riley worked as an engineer before allowing her passion for historical romance to shine. A Regency era (early 1800s) and Jane Austen enthusiast, she brings the flavor of diverse peoples to her stories. Since she was seventeen, Vanessa has won awards for her writing and is currently working on two series. She lives in Atlanta with her military man hubby and precocious child. You can catch her writing from the comfort of her Southern porch with a cup of Earl Grey tea.

Follow: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram

Author Interview: Vanessa Riley

Today, we’re featuring Vanessa Riley.

She’s the author of Regency-era novels with gorgeous book covers, captivating characters, and intriguing storylines!

Vanessa visits with us today to talk about her story, Unmasked Heart.

About the book: 
Shy, nearsighted caregiver, Gaia Telfair always wondered why her father treated her a little differently than her siblings. She never guessed she couldn’t claim his love because of a family secret, her illicit birth. With everything she knows to be true evaporating before her spectacles, can the mulatto passing for white survive being exposed and shunned by the powerful duke who has taken an interest in her?

Ex-warrior, William St. Landon, the Duke of Cheshire, will do anything to protect his mute daughter from his late wife’s scandals. With a blackmailer at large, hiding in a small village near the cliffs of Devonshire seems the best option, particularly since he can gain help from the talented Miss Telfair, who has the ability to help children learn to speak. If only he could do a better job at shielding his heart from the young lady whose honest hazel eyes see through his jests as her tender lips challenge his desire to remain a single man.

Unmasked Heart is the first Challenge of the Soul Regency Romance novel.

Purchase the book: Amazon, BAM!B&N

Author bio: Vanessa Riley worked as an engineer before allowing her passion for historical romance to shine. A Regency era (early 1800s) and Jane Austen enthusiast, she brings the flavor of diverse peoples to her stories. Since she was seventeen, Vanessa has won awards for her writing and is currently working on two series. She lives in Atlanta with her military man hubby and precocious child. You can catch her writing from the comfort of her southern porch with a cup of Earl Grey tea.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Interview: 

Alexis: Unmasked Heart is the first book in your Challenge of the Soul Regency series. Tell us about it. How did you create the concept for this story?

Vanessa: Unmasked Heart is a story in which I kept pushing the envelope. I didn’t want to tell a normal tale. Every novel in the series will focus on a challenge of faith from someone who has been rocked to his/her core by life circumstances. The hero or heroine or both must answer, “Who am I in Christ?” Am I conqueror, a temple, no longer a slave, an heir?

When we meet Gaia, we see she is a nice young woman from a modest family. She’s the kind sister and the caregiver in her family. She is doing good things and takes primary care of her stepbrother. Gaia is a believer and her faith is evident from the beginning. When she is alone, she prays to God, mentioning all her frustrations. At first, these problems seem to be nothing more than what a young woman of the 1800s would face.

Yet, what would make Gaia challenge everything that she knows including her bedrock of faith? It wasn’t enough to have her requited in love. It wasn’t enough to have her doubt her father’s love. What if she doubted who she was? That is where her story begins. Who am I in Christ? Am I who He says I am or the lies I’ve grown up believing?

Alexis: What are Gaia’s greatest hopes and deepest fears? Why?

Vanessa: Like all of us, Gaia wants to be loved. She has spent her life in want of it. She wants deep and abiding, love-all-of-me love. Fear of never possessing it or not being brave enough to say she deserves it, this is Gaia’s problem. If she can overcome the fear of asking and failing, she will never have everything God wants her to have. How can she be all that God wants her to be if she does not have the strength to try?

Alexis: Gaia grew up believing that her natural tan is a result of her mother’s Spanish ancestry. But then she learns the truth. How does her father’s confession rock her world?

Vanessa: The day Gaia learns that her mother had an affair and that Gaia is the product of a liaison with an African man, her world is turned upside down. She is ashamed of her mother’s sins. She knows little of the African race. In her isolated village away from London, she may have not seen that many. She has heard the jokes about that race being slow-witted or happy slaves. She must come to terms with who she is as a biracial woman. She has to accept that the past does not matter. It is who she in in Christ, how she makes her life a willing sacrifice to Him—that is what matters. My hope is all who read Unmasked Heart, will sense her heartache of learning the truth and the weight of her dilemma. Some will never value her humanity because of the sins of the past, but she must come to understand that Gaia is not defined by it. Her present counts more. She is wonderfully made molded in the image of the Creator.

Alexis: A mulatto “passing” for White was an act that is not limited to the Regency era but still happens in modern times. What is your definition of a mulatto?

Vanessa: A mulatto is a person of mix ancestry with typically one white parent and one black parent. Gaia is a mulatto. A Blackamoor is a person of darker colored skin. Had she been darker skinned, unable to pass for White, she could have also been labeled as a Blackamoor.

Alexis: William St. Landon, the Duke of Cheshire, is the hero of your story. Describe his looks, mannerisms, and heart.

Vanessa: William is a handsome, older hero. He’s in his mid-thirties, which was older for the shorter Regency life spans. William is a military man. Rigor and discipline are his norms. It’s what he is used to, but now he finds himself widowed and raising a daughter who is mute. Can you imagine if you are accustomed to shouting commands to your men who do as they are told but you can’t command this little girl? She won’t say “Yes, Sir” and do his bidding. He is frustrated and desperate. So, when he meets Gaia and finds out that she is a caregiver who has taught her mentally disabled brother to speak, he has hope. He must meet Gaia and find a way to convince her to help.

Alexis: What is it about Gaia that draws William to her, making him reconsider his desire to remain single?

Vanessa: William is a widower, but his marriage was difficult. His wife married him for his title and his wealth. He meets Gaia who doesn’t care about either. In a truly Darcy-kind-of-way, he’s taken by her because she’s not running after him or fawning all over him. In fact, she believes herself in love with someone else. He feels he can be himself around her without worrying about her trying to attach herself to him. The problem with spending more time with Gaia is that he sees her heart, begins to covet it then wants it for himself.

Gaia is love with her neighbor, Elliot. Unfortunately, he has begun to court her sister, Julia. Gaia is heartbroken to see her sister’s treachery for who else would know of her love for Elliot better than the sister she with which she was close? Gaia’s happily-ever-after won’t come until she is able to repair relationships with her family and learning to live without bitterness if her efforts fail. Not everyone will be able to accept who you are, but you must love yourself enough to not crumble. Gaia should accept the challenge to love herself more than sorrow, more than loss. If God loves us so much that He sacrificed his only Son for our sakes, why can’t we love ourselves beyond our own failures or the poor labels given to us by those who are not working for our good?

If Gaia and William, can both learn to love to love in the light, beyond the shadows of the past, they will earn their happily-ever-after.

Alexis: What were the challenges of writing this book?

Vanessa: There wasn’t a challenge per se. The problem lies more in the attitudes one confronts during and after publication, centering on the lie that this story could never happen. Dido Belle, the mulatto niece raised by Lord Mansfield is not known by many but there is a lovely movie called Belle if one needs cliff notes to this history. One may not care to know that Jane Austen wrote about a mulatto heiress in Sandition (1817). One probably doesn’t know of the scandal of Prince William, the brother of the Regent who was caught in an affair with a mulatto woman from Jamaica (1778).

I was on a panel and a very, very popular bestselling author, tried to make a joke about it being “impossible to put African Americans in her Regency novels because it was England.” She thought it was cute to indicate, “that you people have no seat at the table.”

She forgot about the American-born slave women brought to London post the Revolutionary War, technically African-Americans. She forgot about the free Blackamoor and mulatto women present in London at the time Pride and Prejudice was written. Bless her heart. She did have her hands full marginalizing other populations in her books as her answer to the growing call to add diversity to her stories.

Alexis: What would you like to see change in CBA when it comes to authors of color who write about characters of color and how that impacts their journey to publication?

Vanessa: I would love for there to be more opportunity, but opportunity is only part of the battle. The systemic marketing issues are huge. Stories centered on characters of color are often packaged as exotic like it’s the same as an alien futuristic novel. Other marketing tactics are to put a house on the cover as if the reader should be tricked into buying the book. Or lastly, the guilt-ridden complex which equates to buy this book of color because it’s Black History Month, etc. as if the story would not make a good read in March. The CBA is not alone in this struggle, but it seems that with the data available about buying patterns and habits, newer fresher ways to market diverse books should also exist.

Alexis: You’ve said that ABA wants your historical romance stories that feature characters of color but CBA does not. What did they say was the reason? How do you feel about that? Explain.

Vanessa: I can’t speak for the ABA (American Booksellers Association) or CBA (Christian Booksellers Association) but ABA seems to be more successful in getting different types of books to the market. They take more risks, which paid off with more unexpected hits.

With the ABA or CBA, you still face challenges in marketing diverse stories. If the sales numbers are not there, you’ve now doomed the slots for your future books and or books like yours. Yes, this is the extra weight of every diverse narrative that is traditionally published. Can you stand the rain?

I have an umbrella, and I decided to go with a publisher who has had success in publishing different books to a wider market and has the distribution to land New York Times bestsellers. For my 2018 releases, I am being published by Entangled in their single title historical select imprint. I am very happy for the opportunity to tell my story to a broader audience.

Alexis: What advice do you have for authors of color who want to share their stories but are afraid to write what they know?

Vanessa: Tell the story you are given. Don’t chase the market for it always moving. Write what is on your heart. When I gave up trying to fit my square peg Regency tales into a round market that didn’t necessarily think a market for diverse Regencies existed, I found my lane, my audience. I am ever grateful for my traditionally published CBA debut and every one of my independently published titles that have found homes around the world on readers’ shelves or Kindles.

Alexis: Thanks for the interview, Vanessa!

~*~

Connect with Vanessa:

Website – www.vanessariley.com

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/VanessaRileyAuthor

www.facebook.com/ChristianRegency

Twitter – http://www.twitter.com/VanessaRiley

Pinterest – http://pinterest.com/regencymaid

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/govanessariley

Purchase Vanessa’s book: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00WDR6C7S

Sign up for Vanessa’s newsletter: http://christianregency.com/subscribe.html

Book Review: Unmasked Heart

Book title: Unmasked Heart

Author: Vanessa Riley

Number of pages: 412

Book blurb: Shy, nearsighted caregiver, Gaia Telfair always wondered why her father treated her a little differently than her siblings, but she never guessed she couldn’t claim his love because of a family secret, her illicit birth. With everything she knows to be true evaporating before her spectacles, can the mulatto passing for white survive being exposed and shunned by the powerful duke who has taken an interest in her?Ex-warrior, William St. Landon, the Duke of Cheshire, will do anything to protect his mute daughter from his late wife’s scandals. With a blackmailer at large, hiding in a small village near the cliffs of Devonshire seems the best option, particularly since he can gain help from the talented Miss Telfair, who has the ability to help children learn to speak.

Ex-warrior, William St. Landon, the Duke of Cheshire, will do anything to protect his mute daughter from his late wife’s scandals. With a blackmailer at large, hiding in a small village near the cliffs of Devonshire seems the best option, particularly since he can gain help from the talented Miss Telfair, who has the ability to help children learn to speak.

If only he could do a better job at shielding his heart from the young lady, whose honest hazel eyes see through his jests as her tender lips challenge his desire to remain a single man. Unmasked Heart is the first Challenge of the Soul Regency novel.

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My Thoughts:

Sadness, sweetness and true beauty were poetically woven throughout this story with the perfect title for its content.

The story is called Unmasked Heart and the author Vanessa Riley is a true authority on all things regency romance. She skillfully and flawlessly paints vivid pictures in every scene featuring characters of color.

The heroine Gaia Telfair is what people back then (and now) would call a “mulatto” which means that she is a mix of White and Black blood/heritage/lineage. Due to her mixed blood, her skin is a bit darker than her White family members and she’s very self-conscious about it. She even stays out of the sun for a month prior to a fancy masquerade ball so that she appears paler and closer to the skin color that was accepted by society at that time which was a milky white complexion.

Gaia’s father spun the story about her skin color from her birth to be socially acceptable. He said that she had Spanish ancestry and for a while, that lie worked…until Gaia discovered the truth.

The author knows how to peel back the layers in this story like a Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef would expertly peel back the layers of an onion. Every layer reveals something new about the hero and heroine of this story. It’s so well done and intriguing that the reader will keep turning the page until they reach the end. The reader’s journey through this book is an experience of a myriad of emotions as the plot twists and the tension builds.

Highlights from this book include the scene where William St. Landon, the Duke of Cheshire, advises Gaia that she give her love interest “something to chase” because “every man wants to win love and know that it’s his alone.” It ups the ante on the love triangle that’s happening in this story. It’s the classic case of the heroine wants the object of her affection but he does not want her (at first) and meanwhile, the true hero (William) wants the heroine. The difference, however, is that William is a hero worth his weight in gold who makes Elliot (Gaia’s love interest/first hero of choice) pale in comparison.

Another highlight in this book was when Gaia confesses her feelings to a man that she thinks is Elliot. But his face is hidden behind a mask because they’re attending a masquerade ball. It was compelling to hear Gaia pour out her “unmasked heart” to “Elliot” only to find out that it is not he. The reaction of the man who is not Elliot was swoon-worthy.

A sad part of this story was the fact that Gaia believed the Black side of her heritage prevented the only father that she knew from loving her as one of his biological daughters. Even sadder was the scene where Gaia learned the circumstances of her conception and the tragic results of the affair that her mother had with Gaia’s biological father. Worse yet is her belief that her Blackness will prevent the man she loves from loving her back.

However, the reader may be surprised by Gaia’s unique marriage proposal. It was a scene that made me laugh out loud. The interaction between Gaia and her suitor was heartwarming.

One of the most clever lines in this story was when a Black man named Albert talks about his mixed-race niece whose hair like Gaia’s which he describes as “feathers in the fog”. It was a very clever way for this author to reveal that Albert knew that Gaia was part Black and it rings true even in the year 2017 when quite often a Black person in America can easily point out another Black person no matter what percentage of Black blood they have just by details that most people who are not Black may miss.

It made me sad that a character advised Gaia to not tell William that she is Black because it would “ruin everything”. But that’s a reality that Black women of mixed heritage still sometimes face in 2017 which is centuries after the era this book was written to reflect.

Most powerful was the point in this story where Gaia realizes that it doesn’t matter how her biological father’s background or status in society ranked. What matters is that she’s a Child of the King (GOD) so God made her somebody and she deserves happiness.

I loved reading this story! The author’s storytelling style is historically accurate, enthralling, and smooth. The storyline is strong and so well told that it was hard to take a break from reading it.

Unmasked Heart is worth every bit of a 5-star rating!

*The book reviewer (Alexis A. Goring) received a complimentary copy of Unmasked Heart from the author in exchange for an honest review.

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About the Author: Vanessa Riley worked as an engineer before allowing her passion for historical romance to shine. A Regency era (early 1800s) and Jane Austen enthusiast, she brings the flavor of diverse peoples to her stories. Since she was seventeen, Vanessa has won awards for her writing and is currently working on two series. She lives in Atlanta with her military man hubby and precocious child. You can catch her writing from the comfort of her southern porch with a cup of Earl Grey tea.

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