Monday, June 23, 2014

Historical Romances Are Far From Old Fashioned

Hi everyone,

Take a minute and consider these romance plots:

A father is desperate to find a suitable husband for his wild daughter, but she rejects all her suitors and wants the one man she can’t have.

An outcast is persecuted by the people in her small town and relies on a handsome stranger to help her escape.

Disowned by his well-to-do family, a spoiled socialite is forced to find a job and make his own way in the world. He falls in love with a sweet shop girl and suffers heartache as he sees how the “other half” lives.

A young woman leaves everything behind to start a new job far from home. She tries to solve a murder as she falls in love with her employer’s son.

A wealthy husband and wife invite couples to their country home for a weekend of sex games and wanton fun.

Sound like interesting books? Would it surprise you to learn that they are all plots from my historical romances? (In order, they are: A Most Unusual Princess, The Viking’s Witch, A Most Unfortunate Prince, Dangerous Indenture, and Midsummer Night’s Delights.)

Some people think historical romances are boring “old fashioned” stories about royalty, dukes, castles, and historical battles. But with a few plot and character modifications, any of my historicals could take place in modern times. Princesses could become spoiled actresses, singers, or reality show stars. Imagine the pampered prince as a high-paid arrogant actor who is destined for a fall from grace.

I like to bring my historical romances “out of the history books” and into the everyday lives of my characters. My stories aren’t weighted down with heavy discussions about politics or war. Instead, I focus on the lives of people and how they meet, fall in love, overcome their obstacles and challenges, and eventually live happily-ever-after.

Back in the day, not everyone was a noble lord or lady who lived in a castle and attended fancy balls. There were plenty of “regular people” (considered by some to be lower class or peasants) with stories to tell, lives to live, and love to share. 

My female characters are far from the “helpless heroines” who graced the pages of historicals years ago. These women aren’t wearing frilly dresses and hosting tea parties while waiting to find the perfect man. In most cases, they’re too busy trying to keep themselves alive or fighting against perceived notions of how a “proper” woman should behave to look for a husband. And if they do find a man they want to be with, they are only willing to accept love on their terms. Claudette from A Most Unfortunate Prince and Shauna from Dangerous Indenture are two examples. These strong women would be right at home in a contemporary romance novel.

When I sit down to write a historical (and I’ve written a dozen of them), I never know where the characters will take me. Each book starts out from a different place. Sometimes I’ll know the plot before I meet the characters (as in The Viking’s Witch and The Dark Lord) and other times I’ll know everything about the characters and then have to work with them to uncover the plot.

But no matter how the plot unfolds, I always make sure the characters are interesting and lively. I don’t have “stuffy shirts” making long-winded speeches about politics, law, or anything not crucial to the storyline. You won’t find me (or my characters) giving anyone a history lesson! Just because historical romances are set in time periods before cars, the Internet, and cell phones, that doesn’t make them boring. There is plenty of action, adventure, intrigue, danger, comedy, and depending on the heat level, sensual love scenes.

Romances and forbidden love affairs aren’t new. Throughout history, people have loved and lusted after each other, regardless of social, political, or so-called “moral” rules. Hundreds of years ago there were plenty of “sordid” affairs going on behind closed doors. People were having sex, but it wasn’t mentioned openly or discussed in “proper” social circles. 

I thought about this “forbidden” subject and decided to write a romance that addressed that “taboo”. It became the theme in my historical/fantasy trilogy:  Midsummer Night’s Delights, Midwinter Night’s Delights, and Ultimate Night’s Delights. In these stories, a respectable man in high society is basically running an invitation-only sex club for swingers. (As you can imagine, these novellas gave readers who thought historicals were old fashioned and boring a real shock!)

Every romance genre has its fans. Some people like to read contemporary romances, others live for paranormals, and there are those who switch up genres and read anything that sounds appealing. I like writing historicals—but I also write contemporary, paranormal, fantasy, and gay romances, too. Why? Because I enjoy writing great romances about interesting characters that fall in love, wherever and whenever that may be.

Happy Reading,
Kelli A. Wilkins

Catch up with Kelli on the Web:

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Kelli’s Quill Newsletter - Welcome Summer Issue

Hi everyone!

Welcome summer! This month I’m sharing guest blogs and interviews, links to
Dangerous Indenture, plus info on a new sci-fi story.

Let’s get started!

Kelli’s New Historical Romance…

Kelli’s second romance with Medallion Press, Dangerous Indenture, is a spicy historical is set in Pennsylvania Colony that blends romance with mystery. It is available exclusively in ebook format.

Reviewers are already falling in love with Ashton & Shauna. Here are a few excerpts:

“5 stars! This novel will keep you riveted from start to finish! I was hooked from page one and did not put it down until I finished it. I cannot say enough wonderful things about this novel. If you love romance with mystery then pick up a copy of this one today and get lost in the story! I know I certainly did! It’s perfectly written to keep you turning page after page, and I promise, you won’t be able to guess the ending…so if you’re looking for a great romance story with a whole lot of action, drama, and mystery then this is your book!!! Definitely a MUST READ!” - April P., Reviewer, My Book Addiction & More

“Combining mystery with romance, this novel keeps the pages turning. . . . Shauna and Ashton are well-developed characters readers can root for. Overall, a great beach read.” - Emily Thompson, SUNY-Oswego, Library Journal
“Kelli A. Wilkins delivers a colonial-era mystery that will appeal to mystery and romance readers alike.” - Lisa Marie Wilkinson, author

Order your copy of Dangerous Indenture from:


Kelli’s New Sci-fi Story!
On Monday, June 16, look for “The Chosen Ones” on the T. Gene Davis Speculative Blog: A new sci-fi, fantasy, or horror story posts every Monday.

Kelli’s Been Guest Blogging All Over!
Since Dangerous Indenture debuted, Kelli has been featured on many guest blogs and done several interviews. Catch up with them here:

Guest blog: Historical Romances with a Modern Twist:

Book spotlight – Dangerous Indenture – read an excerpt
Dangerous Indenture blog tour:

Guest Blog: Chatting with Bad Boys of Romance:

Guest Blog: Historical romances:

Author Interview: 

Dangerous Indenture was the Love Lust & Lipstick Read of the Week:

Look for more guest blogs, interviews, and more coming in late June and July!

Quick Q&A! Kelli Answers some writing questions…
Q: How do you begin the process of telling a new story? Where do you start?

A: Each book comes to me in a different form. Sometimes I’ll have an entire story “jump” into my head, and I’ll know everything about the plot and the characters. 

Other times, I’ll get bits and pieces of the story and parts of the characters. Once in a while, I’ll have a character come first, and after I get to “know” and develop the character, I’ll find out the story. Then the other pieces fall into place, like a puzzle.

Before I start a book, I need to know who the characters are and what’s going to happen to them. After that, I outline the scenes and start writing. As I write, I allow myself some leeway to explore things I hadn’t considered in my outline/list. I might add entire scenes or write scenes that are later omitted. Writing a new book is always an adventure for me and I never know where the characters or stories will take me.

Q: After seventeen-plus romantic novels how do you keep it fresh and spicy in the (literary) bedroom?

A: I let the characters in each story determine the sexual content. Every story is different, and so are the sexual lives of the hero and heroine. Writing in different romance genres influences the sexual content. Writing for the different characters and their individual situations helps keep things interesting and fresh.

In most romances, a sexual relationship is almost a requirement. However, the type of relationship and the frequency of the love scenes have to fit in with the characters and the heat level of the story. Love scenes should show how the characters relate to each other, how they fall in love, and add something to the overall emotional intensity of the story.

I’m often asked how I “know how much to show” in the love scenes. Sometimes it’s nice to give the characters “privacy” and imply what goes on (this lets readers use their imaginations); and yet, other times, readers want to see the passionate side of the relationship. I blend a little of each into my books. But no matter what type of love scene I write, I try to keep most of the focus on the characters and what they’re thinking and feeling emotionally—how the experience makes them more connected to their lover—rather than focus on what their bodies are doing.

Q: When you finish a book what do you do to let go of your characters and the world of that story?

A: When I send a book off to the publisher, it’s not really “done”—there’s more work ahead. I need to do revisions and review the galley. After those are completed, I breathe a sigh of relief and unwind from writing for a while. I might do no writing at all (except for blogs) for a week or two and catch up on my reading. (When I’m writing, I don’t read, and when I’m reading, I don’t write.) This helps me leave the characters behind and I focus on other things.

After a while I’ll get the urge to write again and start working on something new. Although I love my characters, I know when the story is over, it’s time to leave them behind. (Unless of course, they come back to me later and want me to write a sequel!)


I hope you enjoyed this issue of Kelli's Quill. Next month, I'll be sharing mini-excerpts from Dangerous Indenture, social media marketing tips, and more!

Have suggestions? Send them along! Want to subscribe? Contact me via the email on the News page of my site:

Enjoy the summer!
Until next time,

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Chatting with Four Bad Boys of Romance

 Hi everyone,

Today we’re chatting with four bad boys from my romances: Ashton Bailey (Dangerous Indenture), Deke (Killer in Wolf’s Clothing), Rothgar (TheViking’s Witch), and Matt (The Sexy Stranger).

Welcome! Let’s start with a simple question: What makes you a “bad boy” hero?

Ashton: Am I bad? Well…I suppose so. Compared to other young men in Pennsylvania Colony, I am rather naughty. I do all the things “respectable” heroes of my time period shouldn’t: get drunk, gamble, fight, curse, and go to bed with “loose” women.

Deke: I’m right there with ya, except for that “woman” part. I’m an Alpha male, the alternate personality of Greg, who’s a lameass loser. I drink, curse like a sailor, eat whatever I want, and have one goal in life—to get laid. I don’t care where I find a guy, as long as he’s ready and willing to be dominated.

Rothgar: Like Deke and Ashton, I’m also a fighter. I have a solid reputation as a fierce Viking leader and have been in many battles. I don’t suffer fools lightly and I’m not afraid to take charge of a situation. I expect to be obeyed, not challenged.

Matt: I’m not much of a fighter. I’m not violent, but I am an ex-con and a kidnapper. I just happened to be hitchhiking when I got out of prison and jumped into Lauren’s car. I ended up kidnapping her and getting her into some crazy situations. I guess that makes me a pretty bad boy.

When Kelli wrote your stories she made sure you weren’t “too” bad, otherwise you wouldn’t be heroes. We know how tough you are, so tell us about your weaknesses and vulnerabilities.

Ashton: I have the need to defend anyone who is having a rough time. Shauna left Ireland with nothing and came here to start over. I helped her adjust and protected her at Stewart House. I try to do the right thing where people are concerned and help out if I can. Once, I had to choose between paying a girl for her services and getting a meal. I felt sorry for her and gave her the money she deserved.

Deke: My soft spot is buried pretty deep. Years ago, I lost most of my friends in a fire. My need for revenge is fuelled by the fact that they deserve justice, and I also feel responsible because I wasn’t there to help them. That makes me protective of Larry (Greg’s boyfriend), too.

Rothgar: I can relate to that. My wife and son died in a fire while I was out raiding. I never really forgave myself until I talked it through with Odaria. After the fire, I stopped raiding because I didn’t want to cause other people heartache and grief. Seeing Odaria in danger brought out my protective nature. I wouldn’t know how to go on without her, and I would fight to the death to keep her safe.

Matt: My vulnerability? I’m running around with some pretty bad guys who wouldn’t think twice about seriously hurting someone. I have a secret I must keep from them—or else. I also have a responsibility to Lauren. She was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and I’d feel bad if she got traumatized or hurt.

How does your partner handle your “bad boy” attitude? Some people might consider it a turn-off.

Ashton: Shauna understood my drinking and womanizing…but she didn’t approve. With her help and support, I turned myself around. However, I’m not entirely reformed. I’m still notoriously improper when it comes to certain activities in the bedchamber. Shauna has confessed that she likes it when I take charge and get a little forceful between the sheets.

Deke: Welcome to my world! Larry is the same way—now. At first, my gruff attitude and demands turned him off. Or maybe he was just surprised because I’m so different from Greg. After a few hours with me, he learned how much fun it was to be dominated. He doesn’t complain.

Rothgar: Odaria never tolerated my attitude for a second. When we met, we fought like cats and dogs. She was my “prisoner” for a while (I kept her with me to keep her safe) and argued with me every minute of the day. She’s a strong-willed, confounding woman who insisted I was a brute and said she hated me. But I knew from the way she kissed me, that deep down she was glad I was there.

Matt: Lauren obviously didn’t appreciate being kidnapped and held prisoner, but when she realized I wasn’t going to hurt her, she relaxed—a lot! I discovered she had a secret fantasy about being seduced by a sexy stranger, and well, who could refuse that?

Why do you think “bad boy” heroes are appealing to readers?

Ashton: I think readers are attracted to heroes who have faults, bad habits, and don’t always make the right choices. And despite all this, their women love them anyway. Outside of romance novels, real men aren’t perfect. Everyone has flaws or something in their past to overcome. Perhaps readers find these heroes appealing because there’s always a happy-ever-after ending, no matter what.

Deke: People want to read about “bad boys” who do, say, and think what’s not considered “polite” or “right” and still come out of the book a hero. Readers can lose themselves in a down-and-dirty fantasy about a bad boy who just might come home horny and bend their lover over the dining room table. Think about it. On “Happy Days” who was considered cool? Drippy Richie Cunningham or the Fonz? “Bad boy” heroes have an extra sharp edge to them, and they don’t care what other people think. They stand outside what’s considered “acceptable”—maybe that’s why they’re appealing.

Rothgar: A “bad boy” or not, who wouldn’t like to read about a hero who is brave, loyal, and can take charge of any situation? When readers lose themselves in a book, all their real life problems fade away. They become involved in the story, and even though things might seem bleak for the characters, they know that by the end of the book, the hero will rise to the occasion and everything will be fine. Heroes have to jump off the page, carry the book, and face down their nemesis; otherwise they’re not doing their jobs.

Matt: I agree with Deke. “Bad boys” are often fantasies for readers, and I’m fine with that. The reader can pretend she is a character and is “forced” to do whatever the hero wants, and since it’s fiction, there are no real-world consequences. Readers can get swept up in a different world and live vicariously through the heroine. They don’t have to worry about their jobs, paying the bills, or anything else. The key to any good romance is creating interesting characters who draw readers into the world the author has created and keep them there.

Thanks for sharing your insights. We appreciate first-hand opinions from our heroes!

Readers, what are your thoughts on the subject? Why do bad boys appeal to you? Which ones are your favorites? Contact Kelli and let her know! Wanna read about these hunky heroes? Catch up with them here:

Happy Reading!
 Next week, I'll be posting my May/June newsletter here. Stay tuned!

Kelli A. Wilkins is an award-winning author who has published more than 90 short stories, seventeen romance novels (for Medallion Press and Amber Quill Press), and four non-fiction books. Her romances span many genres and heat levels. Kelli had two historical romances published in 2014: Wilderness Bride from Amber Quill Press: and Dangerous Indenture from Medallion Press:

writes a monthly newsletter, Kelli's Quill, and posts on Facebook and Twitter. Kelli invites readers to visit her website, to learn more about all of her writings, sign up for her newsletter, and share questions and comments.

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