How time flies. Summer is upon us--at least here in Texas. And do you know what else is upon us? The release of my new historical romance, Not Quite a Husband, which hits bookshelves today. And I'm very excited, because I love that book--and because it means most of the PR work for the book release will be already behind me. Yay, back to normal writing schedules!
Romantic Times loves Not Quite a Husband too and says the following in its 4.5-star, Top Pick review: "Thomas has quickly become a fan favorite thanks to her wonderful storytelling and her unique ability to get into her characters' minds and our hearts."
In other news, Private Arrangements has been named Best Debut Historical by the Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Award. And it has been nominated for two RITA awards--Best First Book and Best Historical. Not a bad showing, all in all. :-)
But this issue of the newsletter is all about Not Quite a Husband. Today is the day it makes its debut and preens in the public eye for the very first time. So if you would bear with me, I'd like to tell you a little more about the book and take you on a mini-tour of its magnificent setting.
Read an excerpt | Watch the Lego-licious book trailer | Order your copy
The original inspiration for Not Quite a Husband comes from the 2007 movie The Painted Veil, starring Naomi Watts and
Edward Norton. The story of The Painted Veil is that of a marriage in real trouble, a couple very much estranged who travel to the dangerous interior
of China at a time of cholera outbreaks. It is one of the best romantic dramas I have ever seenówith complex
characters, dark emotional conflict, great sexual tension, and a gorgeous backdrop. And I loved, loved, loved it up until the very end when SPOILER....
the hero dies!....END SPOILER. I came out of the movie theater completely shattered, and on the spot decided that I would write my own version of the story
and give it the happy ending it so deeply merited.
My version tells the story of Leo Marsden and Bryony Asquith, a couple whose marriage was in so much trouble it has already been annulled. It is summer 1897, three years after the dissolution of their marriage. Bryony is living in the most rugged, remote part of British India. And one day, without any warning, Leo turns up at her doorstep: Her father is gravely ill; Leo will escort her back to England.
Thus begins the most perilous journey of their lives. And not just because unbeknownst to them, a rebellion brews, an uprising that would take the British Empire entirely by surprise, but because many, many secrets of the heart will be revealed as they fight their way out of the mountains. And in the end, there is nothing quite so dangerous as secrets of the heart.
Not Quite a Husband opens in Rumbur Valley, on the North-West Frontier of British India (today's North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan). Rumbur Valley is one of the three valleys known as the Kalash Valleys, so called because of their unique Kalasha population.
The Kalasha are a tribe of pagans who worship a pantheon of gods. They believe themselves to have descended from the soldiers of Alexander the Greek--and it is not unusual to find among the Kalasha fair hair and blue/green eyes. Unlike the Kafirs of Afghanistan who were forcibly converted to Islam in mid-1890s by the Amir of Kabul, the Kalash Valleys happened to fall on the British side of the Durand Line, and the Kalasha were allowed to continue in their ancient beliefs.
Kalasha women's costume is quite distinctive: black robe riotously embroidered, thick strands of beaded necklace, and headdress decorated with cowry shells.
A typical Kalasha village, with rectangular houses stacked on top of one another.
Once Leo persuades Bryony to come with him, they exit Rumbur Valley into Chitral Valley. Chitral was a strategic forward hold for the British, who feared that the Russians could sweep down at any moment from central Asia into India itself. Chitral Valley is dominated to the north by Tirich Mir, the highest peak of the Hindu Kush, covered in pristine glaciers. Leo and Bryony, however, would only see the Tirich Mir when they look backward, as they are headed not north, but south, toward the plains of India, where they could get on a train to Bombay and then catch a steamer to England.
To get out of Chitral Valley, Leo and Bryony brave Lowari Pass, elevation 10,230 ft. The steep mountainside leading up to the pass can only be negotiated via a series of hair-pin turns.
Once they have crossed Lowari Pass, they move ever closer to Swat Valley.
Spectacular place, isn't it? Swat Valley has rightfully been compared to Switzerland (more pics here). Yet it was nothing less than spectacularly dangerous in the summer of 1897. Inspired by the exhortations of a certain Mad Fakir, the population of Swat Valley rose in a swift, powerful rebellion that caught the local British garrison by the short hairs.
If the mini-tour gets you excited, yay and hooray. But if it makes you thinking longingly of the familiarity of London, then let me offer you some reassurance in the form of a lovely review by Pearl from Realms on Our Bookshelves. "There are a few settings that I tend to avoid in my romance reading. Among those settings is the British/Indian setting. But with NOT QUITE A HUSBAND Sherry Thomas has made me make an exception once again. And I liked it!"
See, it can work for you too! :-)
And if you love a bit of danger with your romance, great! But if you prefer your book to concentrate overwhelmingly on the romance, then think of Not Quite a Husband as Sherry's version of Titanic. Titanic was never about the sinking ship, but about Jack and Rose. Likewise, Not Quite a Husband is never about the war, but always about Leo and Bryony. Plus everyone lives at the end!
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Madensky Square by Eva Ibbotson. I have been gushing about this book to anyone who would stand still for two seconds and listen. It is a magical book--for me there is no other way of describing it. I'm a very picky reader and it's not that often a book just sucks me in completely and spits me out at the other end orgasmically satisfied. What is it about? Well, it's hard to say. It's a year in the life of a dressmaker in 1911 Vienna, her life, the lives of her friends and neighbors, and the affair she conducts with her great love. Oh but what magnificent worldbuilding. I wish I could live a year, a month, a day in Madensky Square.
The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. King. Have you ever wondered what Sherlock Holmes is like as a man? I.e., not the great detective, but as a man of feelings, a lover even? I frankly couldn't imagine. But thankfully Laurie R. King could. And came up with a woman as splendidly exceptional as he is. The Beekeeper's Apprentice is satisfying both as a mystery and as a romance.
Catch of the day by Kristan Higgins. Catch of the day won Romance Writers of America's RITA® award for Best Contemporary Single-Title Romance in 2008 and deservedly so. This is the first sentence of the book: Falling in love with a Catholic priest was not my smartest move. How can you resist that? :-)
May your shelves always overflow with great books.