From Kate's Writing Crate…
As a reader, I always love finding books that appeal to me. As a writer, I am twice as pleased when the authors also provide masterclasses within their books.
Masterclasses take place when performance artists and musicians work one-on-one with students. Writers don’t generally have this option, but I have found some books to be masterclasses for characters, backstories, plots, settings, voice, and/or creativity.
Before summer comes to an end, I'm recommending several more beach books—historical fiction this time.
Lisa Kleypas writes both historical and contemporary novels with detailed love scenes. Historicals are not usually my favorite, but Kleypas has a way with words, characters, settings, and plots. Her female leads are not wallflowers although this highlighted four-book series follows four women labeled as such by a society that has deemed them unworthy of suitors from the upper class.
The first in the series is Secrets of a Summer Night. Annabelle Peyton's family has sunk into poverty since her father's death years ago. Her brother's education is given first priority when bills are paid, but there isn't enough money for both food and shelter. Several Lords are waiting for her desperation to force her to become a mistress, but self-made Simon Hunt offers her marriage. However, she wants to marry an aristocrat, not the son of a butcher turned businessman.
At balls and social events, Annabelle is left sitting with the same wallflowers—Lillian and Daisy Bowman, American sisters whose father has made millions in manufacturing soap, and Evangeline Jenner, daughter of a wealthy father who runs a gaming establishment. Eventually they begin to talk and then become friends. Together they devise a husband-hunting plan.
The three rich debutants are invited to a month-long house party at the Westcliff estate and inveigle an invitation for Annabelle who is the first one to benefit from the husband-hunting plan. There is a happy ending, but complications, misunderstandings, and a near-death experience have to be overcome first. (Very romantic.)
Lillian Bowman is feisty, outspoken, amusing, and infuriating which catches the attention of Lord Marcus Westcliff, the most eligible bachelor in England, in It Happened One Autumn. She wins a bet with Westcliff so his mother must help Lillian and Daisy enter into high society. His mother wants him to marry a woman with the bluest blood, but an American upstart may upset her plans. Lord Westcliff is torn. Will family expectations triumph over love? Lillian's mother just wants her daughters to marry well. Will another aristocrat win Lillian's hand in marriage by any means necessary? (Very romantic and amusing.)
Next up is Devil in Winter, Evangeline Jenner's story. She turns to the Viscount Sebastian St. Vincent, a man desperate for funds as his father has squandered the family fortune, to save her from a horrible marriage to her cruel cousin who only wants control of her money. Without great expectations, will this relationship become romantic?
The series concludes with Scandal in Spring. Daisy Bowman's father has sworn to marry her to a man she does not like. She dreams of marrying for love as her sister did. With the help of her husband-hunting friends, she does.
Especially for writers, I also recommend Suddenly You as the lead character is Amanda Briars, a novelist who, with the help of her publisher, becomes a celebrated editor of a quarterly review journal.
While I wish this novel had a less Chick Lit name, Lady Sophia's Lover is the story of tragedy, revenge, and true love. Sophia's brother died in jail and she blames the man who put him there. She works her way into Sir Ross Cannon's office and home. Becoming indispensable and intriguing are part of her plan to ruin his reputation and break his heart. Will it work? (Very romantic.)