veniceVenice in the Moonlight by Elizabeth McKenna is a fast-moving, atmospheric romance. Set in eighteenth century Italy, we meet Marietta Gatti who is having rather a tough time of things. Her husband, Dario, is an obnoxious, unfaithful bully and as for his mother, well, she’s beyond awful. When Dario dies prematurely, Marietta is thrown out by mum-in-law and returns from Verona to her parents in Italy but finds that her father has been murdered and someone unpleasant is after her. But fortunately there’s Nico so she’s not totally alone.

This is an unusual story. As well as a bevy of trials for our heroine to get through, we have the heady atmosphere of carnival time in Venice, plus devil worshipping and also a blind hero. The author is particularly good at depicting characters. We really get into their shoes and see how their minds work. Venice is beautifully portrayed and we can imagine ourselves there in this almost magical world.

The story is absorbing and it’s easy to get lost in it. Elizabeth McKenna writes with a keen eye for detail but never goes over the top with it. The story never wallows and neither do our characters. There’s energy and optimism, despite the difficult circumstances the find themselves in. This is an enjoyable historical romance/mystery that makes for a pleasant, interesting read.

You can buy it on Amazon.com here.

About the author

elizmcElizabeth McKenna works as a full-time technical writer/editor for a large software company. Though her love of books reaches back to her childhood, she had never read romance novels until one Christmas when her sister gave her the latest bestseller by Nora Roberts. She was hooked from page one (actually, she admits it was the first love scene).

She had always wanted to write fiction, so she combined her love of history, romance and a happy ending to write her debut novel, Cera’s Place. Her short story, The Gypsy Casts a Spell, is available for free on her website http://elizabethmckenna.com/. She hopes you will enjoy her latest novel, Venice in the Moonlight, as much as others have enjoyed her previous works.

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It’s party time! Today Karie Hendon is celebrating the launch of her historical romance Keeper of my Heart. Set in the kindgom of Greenwood, Josian, the village seamstress, has caught King Tobias’s eye. After a few months of visiting her for unnecessary clothing repairs and alterations, he comes clean and tells her he wants to hand fast with her – become engaged. Naturally he thinks Josian will be thrilled to be his chosen one, but she isn’t that impressed. She’s a strong-willed young woman and doesn’t take to being told what to do, even by her king. Tobias’s Captain of the Guard, Avery, warns Tobias he’s got his hands full taking on Josian.

And he has. Josian hangs on to her independence when she first moves into the castle. She finds a wonderful friend in her Lady in Waiting Cecily, but she also makes some enemies. Josian is in for a hard time but luckily she has Tobias to watch out for her. Gradually she learns to see beyond his apparent arrogance but he still might not be enough to keep her safe…

This is a thoughtfully and beautifully written story with an amazing amount of attention to detail and light, humorous touches here and there. There is so much going on in the story. We meet Josian’s family and face their hardships, we quickly dislike Josian’s seamstress rival, Elizabeth, and we find out the truth about Andrew la Barre, Tobias’ uncle. The plot never lets up, but there are moments of tenderness and reflection amongst all the action. Karie is a very clever writer and keeps her readers thoroughly charmed and entertained.

I also happen to know she’s a really lovely person and I asked her a few questions. She was kind enough to find time to answer them, in the middle of launching her new book and just after coming home from honeymoon. She’s one energetic author!

Here’s the link to Keeper of my Heart on Amazon.

And now, let’s hear from Karie.

What inspired you to write Keeper of my Heart?

I love romance, and history. So I thought why not combine the two? I will say paranormal romance is my favorite genre, I wanted something different, but still had the swoon worthy male character. What can be more swoony worthy, but a strong and handsome, and I have to say cocky, king?

Which character from the book are you most like – Josian? Tobias? Cecily? I hope not Elizabeth!

*laughing* No, definitely not Elizabeth. I think I have a good mixture of Josian and Tobias. I share the temper with Tobias and the willingness to help and care for others, like Josian. However they are both stubborn, and I completely share that trait as well!

The Keeper of my Heart has a great cover. How did you come up with that design?

Oh my cover! One of my fave things about my book. I knew I wanted a picture of a girl that matched Josian’s description. I also knew I wanted her to stand in front of the castle, but everything else was done by my wonderful designer and fellow author Stephanie Nelson.

Would you like to have lived in the period your historic novel is set in? Which modern convenience do  you think you’d have missed the most?

I think I might have liked the 16th century. There were certain things that were being discovered and being tested. For instance, I have a stethoscope in my book. In that time, only specific physicians had them. I think it would be exciting to be around when those kinds of things happened. The modern convenience, would definitely be air conditioning. I do not like to be hot.

Which of your personal qualities help you as an author? Which ones don’t help?

I think my emotions are the answer to both of the questions. I can have a bad day at work, and come home in a bad mood and start to write, and it will either help or hinder me. You can imagine how hard it can be to write a celebratory scene when you’re angry.

What are you writing now?

Right now I am working on two separate projects. I am working on the sequel to Keeper of my Heart, but I am also working on a new book, that I hope will be the start of a new series. This one will be paranormal romance. I have put a different twist on some familiar things. I’m really excited about both of them.

Are book reviews important to authors, in your opinion?

Oh my gosh, yes! Book reviews are so important, not only for us new authors but also for the ones that have been around for forever. Before I started really writing, I would do reviews for the books I’ve read. At the time, it was more because if it was able to hold my attention (by the way, can be very hard to do) then I want to let people know. But now seeing how it can affect the author, I’m even more for it. It helps the readers know not only the majority opinions of the book, but it helps support the author. A lot of people base reviews off of whether they are going to purchase that particular book, which in turn helps the sales for that author. If it’s a new author, it helps get their name out there, so others will get the chance to read what the writer has put their heart and soul into.

Do you have any strange or quirky writing habits?

Well I do have habits. I will not write unless I’m in my pajamas. Lol. I want to be in my most comfortable state, physically. Anytime I sit down to write, I turn on one specific song. Every time this song comes on, it’s like my brain says, “ok, let’s do this” and I just take off. Then, if I feel like I need to write more, and things are slowing down. I go back and turn that song on again. Lol. I don’t know how it works, but it does. I cannot write on a desktop  computer. If I don’t have access to a laptop at the time, I use a specific spiral, that I have set aside for my writing. I need to be able to move around. I may start off writing in the living room, and end up in my bedroom.

When did you first realise you wanted to be an author, indie or otherwise?

When I was 16. I always enjoyed writing. My teachers would always tell me how good my writing was, so that helped. Then one day, in my English class, we had an assignment to write a poem. Now to this day I have no idea what this poem was about. Lol. So I did the assignment and turned it in, and the next day, my teacher asked me if she could publish it in our school newspaper. That’s when I knew.

What one snippet of advice would you give to aspiring self-published authors?

My advice, is don’t let anyone stray you from what you want to do. Write what you feel, and don’t let anyone try to change that. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. I was lucky enough to be blessed to meet four wonderful women. From the beginning, they have been more than willing to help me with anything. I am so grateful for them!

OK, enough of the serious stuff. What are your three favourite foods?

Hmm, I’ll be honest I love food. So this question is a little hard for me. Lol. I do love Cajun food. Anytime I go visit my parents, I beg my dad to cook. He makes a mean jambalaya. I love ice cream of course. I LOVE Ben and Jerry’s Half Baked! Sushi. Lord have mercy, I love sushi! Lol.

And finally, what would you not be seen dead wearing?!

I would NOT be seen wearing plaid pants! Yuck! Even when they were in style, I still thought they were awful! Lol.