Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Fairy Tale Hop

Who doesn't get a little thrill when they hear the words "Once upon a time..." The four little words that set the stage for the "Happily Ever After" we all know is coming. And that's really the whole reason you start reading a book. Especially a book about a fairy tale. We look forward to that ending that makes everything better. The ending that sees the evil stepmother, the big bad wolf and the wicked witch get what they deserve. The ending that sees the hero ride in on his white horse just in time to save the damsel in distress. We want good to triumph, and we just can't get enough of it!

But what would the fairy tale be if not for the villain? After all, it is the trials of life that make the princess into the sweet, prudent, deserving person she is. If she never experienced any hardship, but was given all the privileges of royalty, she would become a spoiled prima donna and no one would like her.

So my top three most evil fairy tale villains?

3) Maleficent of "Sleeping Beauty". Her reasons for mistreating Princess Aurora have nothing to do with the princess herself. In fact, she is just feeling left out (can you say P.M.S.?), so she puts a curse on a newborn infant. I mean, WHO DOES THAT!? And talk about carrying a grudge...SIXTEEN years? Chick has issues.

2) Cinderella's Evil Stepmother. This woman probably does the most psychological damage, since she inflicts a whole childhood of verbal and emotional abuse on the poor orphaned Cinderella. And when it appears that Cinderella may be able to escape her life of servitude and find some joy in her adult life (forget the fact that she's going to be in therapy for years to come), the bitter old woman has to strip her of that too by locking her in her room. I realize a lot of parents fantasize about locking their teenage daughters in their rooms, but somehow I don't think the woman was just trying to protect her virtue.

1) The Evil Queen/Witch in Snow White. Motivated by envy alone, her plan is to murder an innocent girl simply because an enchanted mirror (hear voices much?) told her the girl might end up being prettier than her. And she doesn't stop with the first attempt. Nope. And with each consecutive try, she gets more and more creative. Someone should tell this lady that outer beauty fades with age, but that attitude is a perpetual turn-off. It happens. Accept it. Certainly ain't worth killing someone over. Well, at least she left a little loophole to offer a sporting chance. That true love's kiss sure is a life saver!

For the giveaway on this portion of the hop, I have a book with a new twist on the traditional fairy tale. The Fairy Godmother has to create a happily ever after for the villain. Check out the back cover blurb:

The Fairy Godmother Files by Rebekah L. PurdySixteen-year-old Maggie Winters can’t think of anything more exciting than junior year. There’s her first prom to look forward to, she can drive, and most important—Connor Prince has finally noticed her. But unfortunately so has the school snob, Katrina Melville, who goes out of her way to make Maggie’s life a living hell. If that’s not enough, Maggie’s grandma has decided to retire, which doesn’t seem like such a big deal. That is until she finds out her grandma is a Fairy Godmother, and not just any Fairy Godmother. The Fairy Godmother—as in Cinderella, pumpkins, and mice. And she has informed Maggie that she’s next in line to become the new Fairy Godmother.

At first Maggie is excited, the whole getting wings, flying (or rather trying not to crash), and a wand that lets her grant wishes. It’s like being a superhero, without all the action, explosions, and spandex. Then she gets her first assignment, Katrina Melville, her nemesis. And if that doesn’t make her want to poof herself into oblivion, she finds out that part of Katrina’s happily-ever-after is Connor Prince. Life is so unfair. Even worse, she can’t tell her two best friends about any of it and they’re getting sick of her disappearing acts. Then there are the dangerous creatures, called Grimms who will stop at nothing to keep the happy endings from being fulfilled, even if it means destroying the Fairy Godmother responsible. With time running out, Maggie has to make this wish come true or it will ruin the fates of everyone involved, and open the world to darkness beyond imagination. Maggie will soon find out what it truly means to be a Fairy Godmother—and it isn’t all about princes, gowns, and wings, but something much more.

To qualify for the random drawing, leave a comment below and let me know which fairy tale villain you think is the worst. I'll notify the winner on May 2nd.

As long as we're on the topic of fairy tales...I'm looking forward to the release of Rachel Van Dyken's London Fairy Tale Series, kicking off with a re-telling of Sleeping Beauty called Upon a Midnight Dream. Release date coming sometime in May. Check out Rachel's blog for excerpts and updates!

Back Cover Blurb:

Rosalind Hartwell is dying, plagued by a sleeping sickness which could strike her at any moment. Even in the middle of a ball as she meets her betrothed for the first time. But it isn't any wonder. Her family has fallen under a curse, and until she marries the barbaric duke, her family will have to pay the fatal consequences.

But Stefan Hudson, the Marquess of Whitmore and future Duke of Montmouth, has spent far too much time on a deserted island and has forgotten the proper way to woo a woman. Between his wicked good looks and his sinful manners, Rosalind doesn't know if marrying him would be any better than living a life under the terrible curse.

The threat of impending death has a way of making one see things in another light, however. So the real question is will Stefan and Rosalind come to an understanding in time to save her and her family from a dreadful fate?

Friday, April 20, 2012

Sweet Saturday: Trial and Error

Already Bridget was relieved her aunt had taken ill that afternoon. Since she was unable to accompany her to the dinner party, Bridget had come with her dear friend Gemma Reynolds. The freedom from her aunt’s heavy-handed scrutiny of Bridget’s every move, as well as the lack of formal dancing, gave Bridget liberty to avoid hiding in corners from unwelcome attempts at forcing her to participate.

She sat chatting with Gemma and her brother, waiting for the entertainments to begin. Gemma was slated to play the piano forte later this evening after dinner, a talent that escaped Bridget, but she did enjoy listening to her friend’s mastery of the instrument.

Bridget had known Gemma for many years. Many times they had been mistaken for sisters, because their hair was the same brilliant shade of crimson—though Bridget had often wished she could trade her wild insubordinate curls for a satin smooth mane like Gemma’s.

Ever since her mother’s death and Bridget had come to live with her father’s family in London—though the man himself had abandoned both Bridget and her mother when she was but a child—Gemma and Bridget had been in constant company and loved one another like sisters. But Gemma’s aspirations were toward marriage nowadays, so her subjects of choice in conversation held little interest for Bridget.

Therefore it was little wonder that Bridget was only half-listening to the discussion of the announced betrothal between Count Belvedere and Miss Violet Jasper, when her friend stopped talking mid-sentence and anchored her gaze on the archway behind Bridget.

“Sweet heavens…Sin just walked through the door,” Gemma whispered in ironic reverence.

As Bridget twisted in her chair to see what was affecting her friend so, Gemma rested a hand on Bridget’s to stay her, stopping her from turning wholly around.

And something in Gemma’s urgency caused Bridget to stiffen in purest dread, when her friend added, “Oh! I may swoon! He's approaching us!”

“The devil you say!”

“He comes at this very moment!”

If the sudden chill prickling along her spine was any indication, Bridget was certain that the Sin her friend was rendered paralyzed by at this moment was none other than Viscount Maddox, and he stood directly behind her, a beautiful smile spread across his smug face. How did he know she would be here? Well, she was not going to gift him the satisfaction of knowing she could sense his presence. That would be just what he wanted.

“Holy Moses, no man should have a smile like that,” Gemma said just under her breath.

Bridget rolled her eyes, but had to grudgingly agree. His smile could melt the ice off a polar bear’s tail.

"Lady Bridget, a word?"

Gemma’s mouth gaped, betraying her shock.

Bridget stood before turning around, giving herself time to steel her nerves against the onslaught of his overwhelming male ego. At least he came by it honestly. The viscount truly was carved like a Greek god. But she had no intention of allowing it to affect her. She has other interests—other pursuits, and—

“My buttons, they make a handsome couple,” Gemma’s brother said loud enough for all to hear. Gemma jabbed him in the ribs with a deep frown.

How does one unring a bell?

“Ah, Lord Maddox. Speak of the devil and he appears—what an unlikely surprise.”

“You were speaking of me?” His beguiling smile stretched wider across his marble features.

“Hmm…if I recall correctly, we spoke of sin, and yes, I believe the devil was mentioned.” His smile waned to its usual irritating level. The golden corona of his brilliant green eyes seemed to catch the candlelight and sparkle at her. No. Bridget wouldn’t let him convince her. She was no trophy to be won. Why wouldn’t he just leave her alone?

Friday, April 13, 2012

Sweet Saturday: A Worthy Opponent

From the sequel to Waltzing with the Wallflower:

"I read, my lord," she replied. "I daresay none of the women of your prior acquaintance can boast such."

"Indeed," he said, eyeing her with a hint of doubt in his own charms.

That ought to finish him. A couple of well-placed poisoned darts in his more than adequate ego, and he would be but a memory of this tedious night. Dare she drive the nail home?

"Perhaps the talent eludes even you, my lord."

A shallow, sickly smile spread over his lips. Yes, she was getting to him.

"You may think of me as you please, my lady." His gaze drifted past her to his brother across the room as though seeking a swift escape. Good. The desired effect. No reason to postpone the inevitable. Men leave. The arrogant ones leave sooner. It was a simple matter of time.

"You presume much, my lord. For when this conversation is at an end, I will not think of you at all." His golden-crested emerald eyes flashed the briefest betrayal of his pain. Bridget knew she had said too much, and an icy twinge of guilt spread from the pit of her stomach to her extremities. Her ears burned, and she knew without doubt they were a fiery beacon of her regret. For a moment, Bridget was glad of her scarlet tresses, since they would do much to camouflage her vibrant ears.

She tore her gaze from his face, glanced towards the nearby doors, and waited for him to excuse himself.

"If that is the case," he said, a hint of amusement dancing in his deep, rich voice, "We shall simply continue this conversation for eternity."

Friday, April 6, 2012

Sweet Saturday: Anthony's Story

“Dance with her!” Cordelia ordered Anthony, poking him square in the chest with her gloved hand.

“Cordelia, you’re making a scene!” He cursed and felt the heat of embarrassment spread down his neck.

“I swore I would revere the day I saw my brother blush!” Ambrose’s solo applause brought Anthony a renewed sense of ill will towards his twin brother, which must have registered on his face. “Well done, my dear. Anthony looks quite put out.”

“I assure you, I am fine.” Anthony cleared his throat to mask his indignation.

Just then Wilde approached the group. “Has he worked up his nerve yet, or are we still in the coaxing stage?” Traitor.

“Still coaxing,” Ambrose and Cordelia answered in unison. Ambrose gave his wife a wink and pulled her far too close. Anthony knew they were happy, but must they flaunt it before him?

Anthony glanced towards the lady in question once more. She was lovely. Perhaps the finest he had seen in quite some time. Her dark red hair framed her fair face in delicate ringlets, and the blue of her gown set her eyes off like brilliant sapphires. He felt Ambrose watching him and turned back to his brother.

He had that dangerous look, as if a plan were forming in his mind as he spoke. “Say, Anthony?”

“What?” The crazed glint in his brother’s eyes disturbed him, but he trained his own gaze on the girl by the plants again, feigning boredom.

“Would you agree that every Season, you are approached by several women for little dalliances?”

“Yes.” It would do no good to ignore him.

“Would you also agree that you’re one of the most sought after bachelors in the ton?”

Beside him, Wilde cursed. “I’ll answer that for you. Just this morning in the park a girl cried when he picked up her fallen hat.”

“Perfect,” Ambrose said. “Do you believe you could make any woman fall in love with you then, Anthony? Or have you lost your touch?”

Oh, so that was what this was about. Anthony couldn’t stop the grin from spreading across his lips. He did have an enviable touch when it came to the gentler sex.

“Not that it matters, but yes I do believe that.” Anthony smoothed out his jacket with pride. He could have any woman eating out of his hand within minutes of an introduction. Yes, he was that good. His prowess had never once been disputed.

“Any girl?”

“To be certain.” Anthony thought the line of questioning ridiculous. His brother knew his talent better than anyone else in the world. Wilde appeared to be mumbling a prayer heavenward. Strange. Praying a fraction of Anthony’s charms be bestowed on him no doubt.

“And you’re willing to wager you could accomplish this in say… four weeks?”

“Yes.” Anthony nodded. This discussion was growing tiresome. The view was nice though. The girl’s ruby lips were drawn into a tight pout. She turned her head to address someone over her shoulder. Was that a hint of fire in her eyes? Her apparent spirit intrigued him, and he found himself wishing his present conversation would end, so he could obtain an introduction to his newest conquest.

“Shake my hand, Anthony,” Ambrose ordered.

Anthony reached out and shook his hand. A sudden realization struck him. What did he just give his consent to? He cursed under his breath.

Ambrose grinned. “What was that?”

“Did I just agree to a bet?”

“Yes, and guess who I’m choosing.”

Anthony closed his eyes. “I don’t want to guess. I want to go back in time and slap myself before I accepted the terms.”

“Not possible. Do you see that girl over there? The one you’ve been salivating over for the past ten minutes while you handed over your life to me on a silver platter?”

Anthony cursed again.

“You haven’t called me that in ages!” Ambrose slapped him on the back. “Her. You must make her fall in love with you in four weeks’ time. Good luck!”

“Why do I feel like this is going to go terribly wrong?” Wilde muttered.

“Or,” Cordelia said as she kissed Ambrose on the cheek. “It could go terribly right.”

“Yes… yes, it could.” Ambrose leaned down and kissed his wife full on the mouth. “After all, it’s just a bet.” Why did they have to do that in public?

Cordelia giggled as she swatted at her husband with her reticule. “Who knows where it will lead?”

“Probably somewhere near the potted plants.” He pointed as the lady in question stepped behind the large plant.

Anthony rolled his eyes in disgust and walked away. His brother’s words faded as the great hall filled with music. It hardly seemed like a fair bet. The girl hadn’t danced all evening. This would be a piece of cake for a devil may care charmer like himself.