Friday, January 07, 2011

WRP Winter Blog Tour

The next six Fridays I'll be hosting fellow historical romance authors from Wild Rose Press in what we're calling a Winter Blog Tour. So hang out here on Fridays and find new authors to add to your TBR pile! To day I'm happy to introduce you to Victoria Gray.

Historical Romance – Blending Fact with Emotion

Why do I love reading and writing historical romance? The answer is really quite simple. Historical romances transport me to another time and place and immerse me in a love story. Before I started writing historical romance, I never considered the skillful balance between facts and emotion in these stories, the delicate weave of details within a love story that creates a sense of time and place and brings the plot and the characters to life. Now, as a writer of historical romance, I know firsthand the challenge of blending facts into a story without creating information overload.
While the developing emotional relationship between the heroine and her hero is the central focus of historical romance, historical details serve to sweep the reader away to another time and place. Infusing facts throughout the story without sounding like a travel guide is a writer’s challenge. Research, layering details through multiple revisions, and a willingness to cut facts that don’t enhance the story are my keys to achieving balance between historical detail, story flow, and emotional intensity.
Of course, thorough research is a given. Historical inaccuracies pull a reader out of a story, while details about historical events, clothing, food, transportation, communication, occupations, and social structure – the list could go on and on - provide scaffolding for a believable story.
After I become familiar with the essential characteristics of an era, I map out the plot and research specific aspects of the time period that may factor into the story. What weapons were available? What historical events, landmarks, and people might have impacted the characters’ lives? What literary and artistic works were prominent during that era? In my new release, Angel in My Arms, set during the American Civil War, Union spy Amanda Emerson visits with Confederate first lady Varina Davis and ventures to Richmond’s Libby Prison to rescue a double agent. These historical details add to the tapestry of the story. In Destiny, the heroine’s love of tragic romances factors into the plot. Research to identify popular authors of the heroine’s time provided details that fleshed out the character’s actions and dialogue.
How much historical detail brings a story to life without bogging it down? That depends on the story. Are historical events plot elements, or does the historical setting provide a context for the story? Angel in My Arms and Destiny are set against the background of the Civil War, but the plot events are entirely fictional. Historical details woven throughout the story create a sense of time and place, and references to historical figures can add to a character’s development, but historical name-dropping can result in detail overload. Your characters shouldn’t sound like Joan Rivers on a time travel adventure.
Every author develops a method that works best for him or her. To me, research, layering details, and revision are the keys to crafting a love story that transports the reader to another time and place.

Here’s a brief summary of Angel in My Arms and an excerpt:

Amanda Emerson must break her cousin, a notorious double agent, out of a Confederate prison before his imminent execution. She’s a skilled Union operative, but for this mission, she needs a man. Even a man who looks and acts like a Viking warrior.
Caught with Rebel battle plans and set for a hanging, Union spy Steve Dunham isn’t about to refuse the assistance of the sable-haired beauty who shows up at the jail and slips him the keys to his cell. Of course, she’s there for a reason besides saving his neck - he’s the key to her plan.
He may be trading one noose for another, but he won’t forsake her. The spoils of his victory will be her surrender. And the terms of surrender will be sweet.

Amanda closed her eyes and savored his possession. How could anything feel as good as his lips against hers? With his arms wrapped tight
around her, she felt as though nothing could penetrate the tender shield of his embrace.
Wanting him was wrong. He was little more than a stranger. A man she’d teamed with for a mission. He was supposed to be nothing more.
But he’d filled her heart.
His handsome face captivated her all the more for its tiny imperfections. A small scar on his chin. The small bump at the bridge of his nose that told the tale of a long-ago break. Another scar, much more recent, on his jaw that looked to be the result of a man’s ring connecting with his flesh and bone.
He was a warrior. Her warrior. Fierce. Tender. Courageous. Protective.
“You’re so beautiful, Mandy.” His lips trailed the column of her throat.
She nestled against his broad chest. He smelled like bay rum and pine and leather. She’d never realized how tantalizing the scents could be. Mingled with his natural essence, the blend of aromas touched something deep and primal within her. She couldn’t resist the scent. Or him.
He took her hands in his. A sly smile curved his mouth as he studied her. “Such sweet temptation. The question is where to begin.”
She’d wasn’t an innocent, but she’d never experienced the heat of a man’s gaze drinking her in as though she were a fine wine to be savored. When Steve looked at her, she felt wanted.
Ridiculous. He couldn’t possibly love her.
But he hungered for her touch. That would have to be enough. After all, she didn’t love him.
Keep telling yourself that, Mandy.
She couldn’t love a man she barely knew.
Even if she longed for his scent. For his touch. For the moment when he’d claim her.
Even if she prayed he’d come to his senses and leave her before the rebels captured him and dragged him away to prison. Or a noose.
His hands slid to her back. A tug on one delicate fastening of her bodice. Then another. And the tight fabric loosened, collapsing to her waist. Her breasts crested over her corset, leaving her nearly exposed to
eyes filled with unveiled male hunger.
She took hold of his collar and attempted to shrug the charcoal frock coat over his broad shoulders. He shook his head and took hold of her. He caught one wrist, then the other, and drew her arms behind her back. Coiling his left hand over her captive wrists, his right hand explored her willing flesh.
He swept his lips over her nape, stirring delicious tingles with tiny nips of his teeth. When she wriggled against him, his calloused fingertips
brushed over the swell of her breasts in unhurried adoration. With the delicate touch of an artist’s brush, he grazed the sensitive mounds, smiling a rake’s smile when she tugged against the unyielding bond of his long fingers.
“Relax, Mandy. Just relax,” he whispered against her ear, nibbling and caressing the tender lobe. “Let me love you, darlin’.”

I hope readers will stop by my website and my blog, ;
I’d love for you to friend me on Facebook:
and follow me on Twitter:!/VictoriaGray115

CONTEST: When I wrote Angel in My Arms, I pictured Owen Wilson as my hero, Steve Dunham. Based on the story blurb and excerpt, who would you like to see portray Steve if this were a movie? One lucky commenter will win a pdf of Angel in My Arms.

Angel in My Arms
is available at several terrific sites:
Angel in My Arms is available from The Wild Rose Press (print - and e-book -, and other retailers including:
Digibooks Café (,
All Romance E-Books (, (Kindle - and print -


Debra said...

For some reason I prefer dark haired
haired men. And I am partial to Hugh Jackman..

Victoria Gray said...

Hi Paty,
So glad to be here today. I hope lots of people will leave comments about who'd they'd envision as the hero of Angel in My Arms. If you've read Destiny, who would you picture as Jack Travis? I'd love to know. I'll let you know my thoughts later :)

Victoria Gray said...

Hi Debra,
Ooooh, great choice.

Donna L Bolk said...

My Steve would be a young Robert Redford, think of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. The way Sundance looked at his lady love was enough to melt the heroine's heart. He even had a scar on his chin and small bump on his nose

Kathleen Bittner Roth said...

Ha! I was going to jump in with a young Robert Redford! Sans him, there is a Scottish actor by the name of Kevin McKidd who would get my vote (he can do American accents quite well)

Lilly Gayle said...

Own Wilson is good....Matthew Maconahy is better! And he's still blond. Not as funny, but a whole lot sexier! I've always prefered Dark hair and blue eyes or blond hair and brown eyes. And Matthew has brown eyes!

Mary Ricksen said...

I kinda like Gerard Butler. Hi Victoria! I hope sales are rocketing for you.
Thanks for the advise and the interesting blog!

M Pax said...

I would pick Henry Cavill from The Tudors.

All success to you, Victoria.

Caroline Clemmons said...

Victoria, I think Keanu Reeves would make a good hero for this book. Owen Wilson is too goofy. His brother Luke might be good, though. I agree with Debra that Hugh Jackman is good in any role!

Tanya Hanson said...

Ooooh, young Robert Redford to be sure. The teacher lady scene from Sundance will live in my memory until my dying day. Good blog, Victoria and Paty!

She said...

For some reason Owen Wilson just doesn't do it for me. He's associated with comedy for me. I think Richard Armitage would be my spy.

Anna Kathryn Lanier said...

I just can't see Owen Wilson in a romantic lead Having watched The Sting recenting, I might have to agree with the young Robert Redford. But if we have to go with a current young actor...Hugh Jackman would get my vote.

Victoria Gray said...

Great choices! I really like the Matthew McConnahay (sp?) suggestion. Wow, he'd be great.

For Jack Travis, I can picture Jake Gyllenhaal, or Stephen Moyer, who plays Bill on True Blood...hmmmm...or a young early X-files David Duchovny...choices, choices....

Heather Hiestand said...

So funny - I immediately thought of Hugh Jackman, then I get into comments and that is the first thing someone else said!

Victoria Gray said...

Hugh Jackman is definitely on my top 10 list :)

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

First things first - Gerard Butler is always the hero I picture in my stories. Now that's a real man!!!! In my humble opinion, of course.

I love your voice. Your style is so easy and fun to read. Thanks for sharing the excerpt and best of luck with your writing. :)