Sophie Barnes's Blog - Posts Tagged "sophie-barnes"

When I received the offer from Harper Collins for two of my books, I was so thrilled I practically started doing cartwheels across the floor – the feeling of acknowledgement was incredible. My family and friends were still unaware that I was making a serious attempt to break through as an author – I’d been reluctant to say anything before receiving the positive reinforcement this contract provided. Now was the time to let the cat out of the bag. Filled with excitement, yet nervous about how this sudden news might be received, I started spreading the word. The responses were very positive – at least until I named the genre. Romance? A few eyes glazed over with disinterest and one friend plainly asked, choking back a bark of laughter, “how many times did you use the words throbbing manhood?”

I started feeling as though I had to defend myself and my writing – as if it fit into a slot that wasn’t going to be taken seriously by most.

Going back to my friend’s question…I generally try to avoid putting those two words side by side in the same sentence, simply because I find it somewhat disturbing. To be frank, if any man’s manhood starts throbbing or pulsating, I do believe I’d recommend immediate medical attention. Still, I think the point being made was something along the lines of all romance being literary porn, written by perverts, for perverts, with a loose plot, revolving around raunchy sex.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The way I see it, romance novels address human nature far more intensely than most other forms of writing – it’s all about emotions, understanding flaws and how people react when faced with conflict. It’s about recognizing the most positive human traits as portrayed by the heroes and heroines: honor, loyalty, the willingness to recognize ones mistakes and put them to right. Relationships, ethics, morality, the difference between right and wrong…all of these are repeatedly dealt with and analyzed, improving not only our understanding of ourselves, but of those around us as well.

I didn’t always feel this way. There was a time in the not so distant past when I’d shake my head at all the romance novels lining the walls of the bookstores, passing them by with the intention of finding something with more substance. Yes, I was ignorant – as is everyone else who picks up a romance only to drop it as if they’ve been burned.

A good romance novel is uplifting, the plot is smart and it’s well researched. Yes there’s probably going to be hot and frisky sex in it (at least there is in the ones I read), and to be honest, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Sex doesn’t have to be taboo– it’s a perfectly natural act that we’ve all been engaging in since the beginning of time – we wouldn’t be here otherwise. Heads up people – your parents had sex, your grandparents had sex…perhaps wilder sex than you’ve ever had yourself (though I’m sure you’d rather not think about that). Yet for some reason, the depiction of it in romance novels has labeled this whole genre of books as something for people to snuff their noses at. How sad.

So … Hello everyone, my name is Sophie Barnes and I write romance novels with PRIDE – novels with a solid plot, but with enough spice to get your heart pumping. They’re not for prudes, or hypocrites –… that should be a disclaimer … ;o). Besides, the romance writers out there are so diverse I’ll dare anyone not to find one they enjoy. You like humor? Catherine Gayle will make you pee your pants. Adventure? Try Marsha Canham or Leigh Greenwood. Something a bit more serious – how about Johanna Lindsey?

~Sophie Barnes - author of How Miss Rutherford Got Her Groove Back
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Published on February 04, 2012 09:37 • 1,165 views • Tags: miss-rutherford, romance, sophie-barnes
From the moment I popped into this world, I had one goal that shone brighter than the rest – to find my very own prince charming (tall, dark, handsome…you get the picture). My parents did not indulge the ‘all little girls are princesses and must wear pink’ notion that seems to have run rampant since the early 90’s. In fact, I was usually clad in a pair of overalls and a blue sweatshirt. Not that I didn’t think that frilly dresses were pretty (I even owned a few), but I quickly discovered that they were just that – nice to look at but completely impractical when sliding down a hillside on your butt.

However, my mom did read fairytales to me – repeatedly and at my insistence until she was exhausted. And so my love for romance began – particularly the sort where any number of odds must be overcome in order to achieve that “happily ever after”: a girl suppressed by her evil stepmother, a deep sleep from which only a kiss will awaken the princess or some other challenge that forces the hero to rise above and beyond his normal capabilities, spurred on by the power of true love. The stories were magical: the castles, the gowns, the handsome hero and the beautiful heroine, the battle between good and evil…Rich fodder for a child’s imagination.

As I grew older, I became enthralled by the kind of movies that offered a similar opulence, glamour and happy ending my beloved fairytales had done. I must have seen Robin Hood with Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland a thousand times, not to mention Pride and Prejudice, Jayne Eyre, The Princess Bride, Doctor Zhivago and of course Gone with the Wind.

And yet, surprisingly enough, I didn’t actually read my first romance novel until I was married. Yes, it’s true. Of course I’d read everything that I could scrape together by Jane Austen and I absolutely adored Wuthering Heights, but when it came to contemporary writers, I would pick Wilbur Smith, Ken Follet and Margaret George – writers that many, including myself at the time, considered to be more ‘serious’. Yet somehow it was always the moments of romantic intrigue (as scarce as they were in these novels) that drew my interest and made the rest of the pages fly by faster. What was it going to take for me to just capitulate and pick up a proper romance novel? Apparently, a mother-in-law.

I kid you not. I believe my mother-in-law has more romance novels on her bookshelves than most people would be able to read in a lifetime. So, on one of my many visits to her home, and having voiced my need for something new to read, she promptly handed me You Belong To Me by Johanna Lindsey, which she happened to have in duplicate. My life would never be the same again. I’d re-discovered the fairytales I loved - full of adventure, intrigue, a dashing hero and a gorgeous heroine with an independent streak to challenge any sane man.

From then on, I quickly began acquiring as many romance novels as I could get my hands on. Living in Africa at the time, I bought most of them on my visits abroad, sampling both the contemporary ones and those set in different time periods (Medieval, Victorian, Georgian and Regency). One day, on a chance visit to a local bookstore, I scanned the dusty shelves…hoping. There, shining like a beacon was the book that would launch my writing career as you know it – Julia Quinn’s, Romancing Mr. Bridgerton.

For many years I’d been trying to write a fact-filled historical novel about a medieval queen, but that required immeasurable amounts of time spent on research – time I just didn’t have at my disposal with two small boys around my feet (three if I include my husband). But after reading Julia’s book, I was inspired. I loved the witty dialogue, the setting, the strict etiquette governing each and every person’s conduct. It brought back the Austen novels in a modernized fashion and I thought, “Maybe I can write something like that,” figuring I wouldn’t need all that research. After all, this was pure fiction so I could just make it up as I went along. I thought.

Boy was I wrong. :o) Perhaps I didn’t need as much research as I would have had I been writing about a real historical figure, but I soon discovered that I didn’t know nearly enough about the Regency period to get past the first paragraph. (I’m so grateful for Google!) Of course, the first book I wrote was rubbish. I think of it as a lesson in everything writing related, and though I did submit it and it did get rejected a million times, I still consider the plot solid enough to merit a re-write at some point in the future.

But, back to my own love for the Regency period – as a writer. I think the period’s social constraints for women offer a never ending variety of plotlines; featuring women insistent upon thwarting those limitations; or women trying their best to adhere to them, but somehow forced to act outside the acceptable norms due to extraordinary circumstance. The promise of scandal is always juicy – particularly when a striking Duke, Earl or Viscount happens to be involved. It was a time when a woman’s virtue was held in the highest regard, when men were gentlemen and when etiquette (or lack of it) meant everything to a person’s place in society. Certainly romance writers use their artistic licenses liberally, but we do so whilst sticking to what was (and was not) socially acceptable at the time, and by injecting correct historical facts that further enhance the plausibility of both plot and characters.

Writing “How Miss Rutherford Got Her Groove Back” was a pleasure. I fell in love with the characters (and hope that those of you who read this novel, will grow to love them too).

~Sophie Barnes - author of How Miss Rutherford Got Her Groove Back
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Published on February 06, 2012 06:43 • 390 views • Tags: miss-rutherford, romance, sophie-barnes
I think most women start anticipating and planning for their wedding while they’re still in the womb. :o) Setting aside ideas for dresses, venues and color-schemes that they can tap into later, the minute an unsuspecting man proposes to them. They generally think of it as a “once in a lifetime time occurrence” and often find themselves weighed down and stressed out by the challenge of creating that exact image they have in their heads of the perfect wedding. Now, imagine planning two weddings at once – to the same guy. Two different locations, two different gowns, two different guest lists…you get the idea. Well, that was my situation eight years ago. To top it all off, we were already married!

Maybe I should start at the very beginning.

My husband and I met in a bar of all places – not the most romantic setting perhaps, but there it is. Two months later, I moved into his place – or rather, I came for a weekend visit and never left…In hindsight, I’m sure he must have suffered a small nervous breakdown at that point. Still, after living together for about ten months, we were driving home one evening when out of the blue he suddenly says, “Why don’t we just get married?” I believe I responded with something as eloquent as, “OK.” I was dumbfounded. Perhaps the nervous breakdown had been more serious than I thought.

Looking back, it’s one of the best decisions we ever made, not only because we’re perfect together, but also because we avoided the cold sweat and the ‘life flashing before your eyes’ moment that probably would have occurred had we had a year’s worth of anticipation ahead of us. Basically, we just did it – a week later at city hall in fact (let’s check off the first dress). We travel a lot and we both have family and friends living abroad. Needless to say, not many of them were able to make it at such short notice.

So, two years later we (or more precisely I) decided it was time to have a proper church wedding. But how would we go about it? We knew it would be virtually impossible to bring everyone together under one roof – perhaps not wise either.

After much brainstorming, the obvious solution presented itself – two weddings! Why hadn’t we thought of it sooner? After all, it would be so much easier (and cheaper) for the two of us to travel between our two hometowns than to relocate more than one hundred people. And of course, I had nothing against picking out two dresses – indecisive as I am when it comes to clothes.

Truthfully, it was not only perfect; it was everything I could have wished for in a wedding. And to make things even better, unlike most couples, we were not plagued by the typical pre-wedding disagreements, since each one if us was in 100% in charge of the details of one wedding. :o)

How Miss Rutherford Got Her Groove Back only has one wedding in it. It’s a spur of the moment event, just as my first wedding was, though the circumstances leading up to it are quite different, I assure you. However, since my heroine, Emily Rutherford, is a very family oriented character, the possibility of having a second wedding that her sisters can attend, does get discussed.

I thoroughly enjoyed writing this novel. It’s the story of overcoming tremendous heartache, of self discovery and realizing that, as painful as a broken heart can be, life not only can go on, but does go on, sometimes relentlessly marching on toward a much better and completely unexpected outcome.

But wait – there’s more:

1. Blackmail at the hands of a woman so callous she’ll put any villain to shame.
2. A misunderstanding that almost lands our heroine at the altar with the wrong man.
3. A hero with a past built on so much anger and hatred it’s a wonder he’s maintained his sanity.
4. A secret letter that promises to change the lives of our hero and heroine forever.

Alone, Francis and Emily don’t stand a chance, but together they draw on each other’s strengths, discovering that even the most impossible odds can be overcome if they open their hearts completely, trust each other, and let love in.

~Sophie Barnes - author of How Miss Rutherford Got Her Groove Back
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Published on February 07, 2012 07:24 • 512 views • Tags: miss-rutherford, romance, sophie-barnes
As seen on: http://romancingrakes4theluvofromance...

1. Who is Sophie Barnes? (author, movie buff, multilingual, international woman of mystery...)

I’d love to tell you that I’m an international woman of mystery. However, I think of myself primarily as a wife and mother. Come May, my husband and I will have been married for 10 years – as unbelievable as that is for both of us.
I was born in Denmark, raised in Spain and lived all over the world, before finally getting married and settling down in the US. I like to think of myself as “Danish at heart” (even though I’ve scarcely lived there). I suppose speaking the language and going back to visit my family “in the old country” on a regular basis has left its mark. That said, I feel as though I belong everywhere in the world, whilst not really belonging anywhere at all…if that makes any sense.
Writing is still so new to me that telling people I’m a writer in response to the age old question, “What do you do?” still doesn’t roll off my tongue so easily. I love being creative (to use on old cliché), whether it’s writing, cooking, painting, sewing or decorating. But whatever it is, the ideas for my novels are forever present in my mind.

2. Tell us about your book [no copy and pasting blurb :)]

Emily Rutherford is about to discover what it means to have her heart broken – not just slightly broken, but shattered into a thousand pieces and ground to dust, broken. She is also about to find out what it truly means to fall head spinning, heart hammering, weak in the knees in love.
The subject of Emily’s affections is Adrian Fairchild, the man that she intends to marry. He is wonderfully charming, strikingly good looking and he’s been Emily’s close friend since childhood. To top it all off, they have an agreement.
Unfortunately, Adrian has no recollection of this agreement, whatsoever. So, when he tells Emily of his intention to marry her best friend Kate, Emily’s world falls apart before her very eyes.
With her heart torn to shreds and feeling more betrayed than she’d ever thought possible, Emily suddenly finds herself whisked off to London together with her sisters by a man she can’t stand - Adrian’s cousin, Francis Riley, the Earl of Dunhurst.
In spite of his troubled past and years of pent up rage, something in his darkened soul shifts at the sight of Emily’s suffering. Without fully understanding why, Francis suddenly has an almost desperate desire to see Emily smile again, especially if there’s a chance that her smile will be directed at him.

3. Tell us about your hero and heroine.

Francis Riley, the Earl of Dunhurst is a troubled soul. For years he’s been keeping the truth about his heritage to himself – a truth that’s concealed in a letter and that, if revealed, will bring a monstrous scandal crashing down over his head. In addition, he’s being blackmailed by a woman so callous, she’ll put any villain to shame. But, beneath his cool façade, Francis is a man of honor and integrity, a man who longs to love and to be loved in return, even if he has yet to acknowledge this fact to himself.

Emily Rutherford has always found a means by which to overcome life’s hardships thanks to her positive outlook and sunny disposition, but when Adrian Fairchild breaks her heart, she’s confident she’ll never recover. As she starts getting back on her feet with the help of her sisters and Francis, a woman willing to speak her mind, one who often finds herself in a fit of laughter at the most inappropriate moments and who most definitely wasn’t born yesterday is gradually unveiled.

4. If you could cast your book, who would you put in the starring roles?

Hugh Jackman’s a definite possibility together with Keira Knightly.

5. What do you have next in store for readers?

I’m working on a three-book series about Alexandra, Ryan and William Summersby. The first book in the series, presently titled A Change of Heart, stars Alexandra Summersby, a veritable hoyden and skilled swordfighter. When her brother William, sent to Paris to spy on Napoleon, is accused of treason, Alexandra disguises herself as a young man in order to accompany Michael Ashford, the Earl of Trenton, on his mission to uncover the truth. Unaware that the young man tagging along is in fact a headstrong woman who not only doesn’t trust him but insists on fighting him at every turn, Michael has no idea of the trouble lying ahead. It’s packed with action, adventure and passion. Due for release by Avon Impulse in early summer 2012, you can keep an eye out for it by visiting my website, or by following me on Facebook and Twitter.

1. Alpha or Beta? Two 3rds Alpha and one 3rd beta.
2. Virgin Widow or Secret baby? Virgin Widow.
3. Swashbuckling pirate or naval captain? Naval captain – less likely to end up at the gallows and more likely to be a gentleman.
4. Belle of the ball or Wallflower? Wallflower turned belle of the ball.
5. Debutante or Spinster? Debutante.
6. Friends to Lovers or Strangers to Lovers? Strangers to lovers unless they’ve had a turbulent friendship.
7. Titled peer or Working man? Titled peer.
8. Love at first sight or Second chances? Second chances.
9. Writing or reading? I’m a bit conflicted here. If I’m writing I can’t read, because if I do I won’t write. Truth be told, I love both.
10. Plotter or pantser? Pantser – Ideas just come to me from out of nowhere. When I sit down to write a scene I’m not sure how I’ll manage it – it just happens.
11. e-Books or Bound books? Wouldn’t want to live without bound books on the shelf, but since getting my kindle, most of the books I buy are e-books.
12. Past, present or future? Past – More elegance, more lavishness and better manners.

~Sophie Barnes - author of How Miss Rutherford Got Her Groove Back
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Published on February 07, 2012 12:51 • 191 views • Tags: miss-rutherford, romance, sophie-barnes
Becoming a recognized romance writer has been such a whirlwind experience for me that I still can’t quite believe it is happening. How great is it to be able to do what you love day in and day out, not just as a hobby, but because people actually have a genuine interest in your work?

Having only recently begun to share the details of my writing career with people, I’ve been met with an astounding amount of support and congratulations, usually followed by tons of questions about the genre and my plots in particular. I think a lot of people are under the assumption that my days must be truly extraordinary to inspire such stories. Well … occasionally, but most days are not.

My life revolves around my family – my wonderful husband and incredible boys whom I love with all my heart and soul. The stories I write are mostly fiction, meant to entertain and explore human behavior – our flaws, our fears and our desires. They are the product of many hours of hard work – work that can only be done by patiently placing your butt in a seat and staying there until your ideas for the day have finished pouring from your head onto the paper (or onto the shiny pixels of your word processor, to be more precise :o) )

So here’s a play by play of a day of my life…not as exciting as the stories I write perhaps, but perfect in every way that matters.

7:00 am – I awake, just in time to get the kids ready for school – we have 1 ½ hour to get dressed, pack their lunch and have breakfast together before getting out the door.

9:00 am – Drop the kids off at school and do a quick bit of grocery shopping on the way home.

10:00 am – Having poured myself a hot cup of tea, I start going over my e-mails, checking my social network pages and responding as best I can to my friends and fans If it happens to be Friday, I post my weekly romance recommendation…wink wink (shameless bit of self promoting :o) ).

10:30 am – I turn to my manuscript and cringe, wondering how the heck I’m going to manage getting my work done before picking up the kids again. I have a general plan, but usually let the characters lead the way. After staring at the screen for a few minutes, hoping for an epiphany to get me started, I just begin writing … something…anything… to get things going… and then suddenly the story comes back to life and I can’t seem to stop again.

1:00 pm – Break for lunch – something quick that I can eat while I check my e-mails, answer a few tweets and FB messages .

1:30 pm – Write, write, write.

3:15 pm – Jump in the car to go pick up the kids.

4:00 pm – Afternoon tea with my husband and the kids. Once that’s over and the kids run off to play, I start writing again.

5:00 pm – Prepare dinner – anything from steak and vegetables, to pasta, to grilled chicken…whatever it is it usually takes me under 1 hour.

6:00 pm – Everyone flocks together at the table for dinner, but since the kids are usually done in under 10 minutes, my husband and I have a few quiet moments to ourselves…bliss. Unless of course the kids need either one of us to help them load a new computer game, or get to the next level of yesterday’s game. :o)

6:30 pm - I have just a bit more time to write before getting the kids ready for bed at 7:00 pm. Ideas are always popping into my head…all I need is a little more time to…oh well, it’s 7:00 pm =)

7:00 pm – Get kids into PJ’s, brush teeth, read story, sing song and cuddle – love it!

My kids are normally asleep around 8:30 pm, after which my husband and I usually manage a little more quality time either talking or sharing a couple of hours in front of the TV. We follow a lot of series and have a DVR so there’s always something good on (Big Bang Theory, Revenge, House, Dr. Who, Supernatural, Whitney…to name only a few). If I have a deadline, I drop the shows and write some more at this point, but right now I’m just moving forward at my own pace, so all I need is to fill my self-imposed daily quota – roughly four - five hours of constant writing required.

Finally, I cozy up in bed with the latest book I happen to be reading, until I eventually dose off around midnight – lights out by 12:30 if I’m not asleep, so I’m not a complete zombie the next day.

Less exciting than you imagined perhaps, but peppered with the simple pleasures that life has to offer, a bit of time with my loving family and doing what I love. Not sure I’d change any of it for all the adventures in the world. ;o)

~Sophie Barnes - author of How Miss Rutherford Got Her Groove Back
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Published on February 10, 2012 16:15 • 247 views • Tags: miss-rutherford, romance, sophie-barnes
Stories come to me little by little – they’re a gradual process that takes shape as my characters develop and start interacting with one another. When I first started writing, I did take a look at how other writers developed their plots and characters, hoping that I might stumble upon some words of wisdom, or better yet, a well kept secret to success =) As it turned out, they differed as much as their genres, leaving me more confused than ever. Some would make a very structured outline and then proceed to follow this outline step by step, leaving nothing to chance, while others would have a less concrete idea of what to expect, making up the story as they went along instead.
Because of how much easier and orderly it seems, I have tried making a detailed outline – repeatedly. This however, just doesn’t work for me. Sooner or later my characters will move off in an unexpected direction, they’ll have a conversation I wasn’t planning on, and just like that, the whole plot will veer off at a 90 degree angle. I love writing like this – it’s like reading a new book (I have some idea of where it’s heading, but I’m not entirely sure of what will happen along the way). Naturally, writing like this means that there are moments when I get stuck or write myself into a corner that I simply can’t get out of. In these instances, I either have to go back and take the plot in a different direction, or simply put the manuscript aside for a day and hope that a solution will come to me (it often does, right before I go to sleep in the evening, allowing me to get up the next day and write with renewed enthusiasm).
Other than this, my work schedule is a bit sporadic. My days are busy taking care of my two small children (three if I count my husband =)), I don’t have a quiet office that I can retreat to – my desk is at the kitchen counter, so I write on the go. Many people have stared at me in wonder, asking me how I managed to write a book, much less two or three (I’m now working on my fourth) when there are constant distractions all around me. The answer is simple really – lots of hard work, determination and sheer stubbornness =) I love writing, so it’s never been a chore, but rather something that I’m able to savor, whenever a spare moment allows it. Most of How Miss Rutherford Got Her Groove Back was written during my children’s naptime or after they would go to bed in the evening (thus the reason why this book took me two years to complete), but that doesn’t mean that I wasn’t working on the book the rest of the time – I was always thinking about the plot. This saved me a tremendous amount of time, since I always had an idea or two ready to go when I finally sat down in front of the computer. The acknowledgement of having it published, with other books following in its wake, is an unbelievably wonderful feeling of accomplishment. A great man by the name of Walt Disney once said, “If you can dream it, you can do it,” so I did =)

~Sophie Barnes - author of HOW MISS RUTHERFORD GOT HER GROOVE BACKSophie Barnes
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Published on March 10, 2012 08:46 • 222 views • Tags: miss-rutherford, romance, sophie-barnes
As the release day for Lady Alexandra's Excellent Adventure approaches, I'm keeping busy, adding 3-4,000 words per day to the third manuscript in the Summersby Series so I can make my June 1st deadline. Yes, it's grueling and exhausting - my house hasn't been vacuumed or cleaned in...well, let's just say it's been a while. Laundry's piling up around my ears, but the words are flowing, so do not fear - I will succeed =) And really, I couldn't be more excited!!! It's my first series, and it's almost complete. Actually, that's not entirely true, because I do have plans - lots of exciting plans involving secondary characters that I've grown to love. So yes, there will be more - lots more!!!
But for now, I'm just really happy to let you all know that Lady Alexandra's Excellent Adventure will be released on May 22nd 2012 (already available for pre-order), so if you think you'd enjoy a tomboy heroine who's quick on the trigger, an expert swords-woman and eager for adventure, paired with a hero who's not only employed by the Foreign Office, but whose charm will disarm the most resistant of women (think 1800's version of James, then you definitely don't want to miss this =) And as an added bonus - here's the first review from
Rogues Under The Covers
Lady Alexandra's Excellent Adventure by Sophie Barnes Sophie Barnes
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Published on May 11, 2012 13:54 • 231 views • Tags: adventure, lady-alex, regency, romance, sophie-barnes
Women who dueled

There are numerous historical accounts of women who not only dueled, but disguised themselves as men and rode into battle. Augusta Kruger for example, served in the Prussian army during the Napoleonic wars after cutting off her hair at the age of twenty three and putting on a male costume that she had designed herself. She was promoted to corporal after the battle of Möckern, and was awarded both the Russian order of St. George and the Iron Cross.
Similarly, Elizabeth Hatzler served in the French army. Her husband was Sergeant of the cavalry while she herself enlisted as a dragoon (a musket carrying infantry trooper). She fought beside her husband in several battles, saving his life in 1812 in a battle against the Cossacks by carrying him several miles during the French retreat.
Many more accounts like these exist from different parts of the world, but when it comes to duels, there are two stories that really stand out. The first involves Lady Almeria Braddock who challenged Mrs Elphinstone to a duel of pistols in London’s Hyde Park in 1792. During a visit to Lady Braddock’s home, Mrs Elphinstone is reported to have said, “You have been a very beautiful woman. You have a very good autumnal face even now, but you must acknowledge that the lilies and roses are somewhat faded. Forty years ago, I am told, a young fellow could hardly gaze upon you with impunity.” The comment swiftly transformed what might have been an otherwise pleasant social call into a very distasteful affair. Mrs Elphinstone is said to have taken the first shot, knocking Lady Braddock’s hat to the ground. They switched to swords, and Lady Braddock finally declared herself satisfied after striking her oponent in the arm and lightly wounding her. The entire matter was concluded with a letter of apology from Mrs Elphinstone.

woman firing a pistol in a duel

The next account is equally intriguing, for it involes royalty. In 1892, a duel of swords took place in Vaduz, the capital of Liechtenstein, between Princess Pauline Metternich and the Countess Kielmannsegg. It is particularly noteworthy because it has gone down in history as the first “emancipated” duel, since all parties involved, including principals and seconds, were female. The princess received a cut on her nose while the countess’ arm was lightly injured. The reason? Well, apparently the two ladies had disagreed about a flower arrangement for an upcoming musical exhibition. The confrontation was organized and presided over by Baroness Lubinska who, as unusual as it was for that period, had a degree in medicine. Now, to make it even more interesting, the Baroness pointed out that many insignificant wounds delivered during a duel turn septic when bits of clothing are driven into the wounds by the point of the sword. She therefore advised that both participants strip down to their wastes to prevent this from happening – which they did =)
For those of you interested in reading more about these extraordinary women, I’ve included the following link:

Painting inspired by the princess and the countess


Lady Alexandra's Excellent Adventure by Sophie Barnes
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Published on May 23, 2012 18:40 • 1,395 views • Tags: avon, lady-alex, romance, sophie-barnes
When I start working on a new book, I always have a loose idea of where I want the plot to go, but generally, the characters make the final decision based on their actions and dialogue. It was no different with Lady Alexandra. A large portion of the beginning was re-written before I even submitted it, because I suddenly felt that Alexandra revealed herself as a woman to soon. Similarly, there’s a section with a carriage chase that was written in much later on. It not only alters the way in which one of the characters is disposed of, but also adds a bit more action to the plot.
Back to basics though =) In the beginning, I was sure of one thing – I wanted my heroine to be a skilled sword-fighter, similar in many ways to one of Alexander Dumas’ musketeers. My initial intention was for her to join the army disguised as a man, but eventually decided that she and the hero would have better interaction with one another if they were afforded more alone time than they would be likely to have, surrounded by a whole regiment. So I turned to espionage instead and Michael Ashford began to take shape as an agent for the Foreign Office. But I needed intrigue and conflict – some heated arguments that would lead to…more =) They both had to be honorable and likeable people of course, and Alexandra needed a compelling reason to join Michael on one of his assignments. Inspiration struck – what if one of her brothers was in trouble and needed rescuing? What if word reached England that he was a traitor selling valuable information to the French? And what if Michael was given the responsibility of going to France, finding William and either bringing him back to face charges or worse, stopping him by whatever means necessary? Alexandra suddenly had a reason to travel to France herself in the hopes of uncovering the truth and saving her brother. She was also given a reason to dislike Michael, adding just the right amount of tension between them.
But, would Michael be all right with a woman tagging along on such a perilous journey? Probably not, so I returned to the idea of disguising Alexandra as a man and decided to have a couple of fun Commedy of Errors moments where Michael, who’s otherwise quite the rake, feels very baffeled and disconcerted by the effect that Alexandra’s deep blue eyes start having on him (her face is otherwise concealed by a scarf over her mouth and nose).
Once these elements had been settled though, I started researching Napoleon and what he might have been up to around that time – well, if Alexandra’s brother William was going to be accused of treason, then Napoleon seemed like a compelling reason. As it happens, he had just escaped from Elba and returned to Paris shortly before the story begins, and was in the process of planning his attack against the Seventh Coalition – soon to be known as the Battle of Waterloo. Now, while I was busy researching, I discovered something interesting. As Napoleon’s troops began to advance, the Duke of Wellington was led to believe that they’d be attacking from Mons, cutting off his access to the ports. It wasn’t until the very last minute – the evening before the battle in fact – that Wellington was warned that Napoleon intended to attack from a different direction altogether. It’s not clear who delivered the message to the Duke, but I thought it would be fun if, for the sake of the plot, it would be Alexandra and Michael.
Lady Alexandra’s Excellent Adventure is the first book in the Summersby series. Books two and three are about Alexandra’s brothers, Ryan and Willian, and will be published on November 13th and 20th.
Lady Alexandra's Excellent Adventure by Sophie Barnes Sophie Barnes
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Published on May 27, 2012 07:35 • 233 views • Tags: adventure, lady-alex, regency, romance, sophie-barnes
After writing How Miss Rutherford Got Her Groove Back, I was struck with a sudden urge for adventure. I wanted a plot with an action heroine who could hold her own in a sword-fight, and immediately began piecing together a character that’s not only strong and willful, but also quite vulnerable beneath her tough exterior.

Following her mother’s death, her father fell apart for a number of years, shirking the responsibility of turning his daughter into a fashionable young lady of the ton. Instead, Alexandra was allowed to run rampant on the family estate together with her brothers Ryan and William. Her hoydenish character flourished, and during this time, she honed her skills as a soldier, becoming an excellent shot, swords woman and equestrian. She is stubborn to a fault – a trait that lands her in trouble on more than one occasion, but she is also incredibly loyal. When it comes to family, there is nothing that she will not do in order to keep them safe. She fears only one thing, and that is love, for having seen the way in which it tore her family apart, she has come to believe that nothing good can come of it. Consequently, she has decided never to marry.

Enter Lord Trenton =)

His name is Michael Ashford (son of the Duke and Dutches of Willowbrook), and he’s not only an earl, but also a secret agent employed by The Foreign Office. He’s honorable, believes that before all else comes duty, and is also far more level headed than Alexandra, who tends to act a bit more on impulse. He’s incredibly handsome of course (see picture below =)) and can charm the most resistant of women into his bed! After all, rumor has it that he has no fewer than nine mistresses – one for each day of the week, with a couple to spare for variety’s sake. Like Alexandra, he has no intention of marrying either, for he’s quite content with his life as it is. However, the more time he spends in the company of the trouble-making blonde, the more he starts to wonder what a life with her by his side might be like – unpredictable and full of adventure, no doubt – and decides to make her his wife, only to discover that getting her to agree, is a whole other matter entirely.

I always find it difficult to put an actual person’s face to the characters I’ve created, for I see them a certain way inside my head, and nobody can ever quite fit that image perfectly. However, if a movie were to be made and I was allowed to decide who should play the part of Alexandra and Michael, based on appearance alone, then I’d probably choose Gabriella Wilde and Henry Cavill.



Sophie Barnes - author of LADY ALEXANDRA'S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE Lady Alexandra's Excellent Adventure by Sophie Barnes Sophie Barnes
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Published on May 27, 2012 07:51 • 234 views • Tags: adventure, lady-alex, regency, romance, sophie-barnes