Siege is a The Romance Reviews Top Pick!

I’m thrilled to announce that Siege of the Heart, my medieval romance from Kensington, is a Top Pick for The Romance Reviews, the one-stop romance destination on the web.

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Isabel is feisty and brave and what every heroine should be. I loved this girl and her gallant brave honorable knights. It is a 100% great read. The kind you can’t wait to read the next page. An absolute page turner. So exciting and action packed I escaped into the days of knighthood and wars.

I give this book five stars and wished for more. I couldn’t put it down. I can’t wait to read more of this author’s work.

You can check out the rest of the review here.

Special thanks to Linda Hays-Gibbs, fellow author and reviewer for The Romance Reviews, for her kind words!

Books (!!!) and a Giveaway

So this happened…

….and I’m still so very happy to hold my book in my hands!

In addition, Kayelle Allen was kind enough to interview me over at Romance Lives Forever last week.

AND, don’t forget to enter the Goodreads Giveaway for your chance to win a copy of Siege of the Heart. Only twelve more days to go!

 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Siege of the Heart by Elise Cyr

Siege of the Heart

by Elise Cyr

Giveaway ends August 20, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Release Day for Siege of the Heart

Today is the day! My medieval romance Siege of the Heart is now available to purchase for your reading pleasure.

 

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He fought for king and country, but that battle was nothing compared to the one he’ll wage for a woman’s heart.

 A few lucky readers who got the book through NetGalley have already chimed in on what they think of Siege:

I enjoyed reading this book by Elise Cyr. The book was exciting, never bored me and kept me reading. If you like Knights and their ladies you will fall in love with the characters.

Belinda from Goodreads

I loved the way this story tackled women’s dependence, independence, power and leverage and the loss of independence on marriage and all in a great romance.

Ruth from Goodreads

Unfortunately, the paperback version of the book has been delayed. But it is coming. As soon as I hear when it becomes available, I’ll let you know. For now, ebook versions are available through:

  Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Kensington Books

In the meantime, you can check out my guest interview on DB Sieder’s blog, try your luck to win an ebook copy of Siege through LibraryThing (be sure to scroll down to find it), or keep an eye out for a Goodreads giveaway once the print version is available.

I hope you enjoy Siege of the Heart as much as I enjoyed writing it!

Siege of the Heart Inspiration

My publisher put together the following graphic for me. Love it!

EliseCyronSiege

May you find your own book of your heart!

Don’t forget, Siege of the Heart releases April 7th!

Kensington Books
Amazon.com
Barnes and Noble

In the meantime, I’m also running a giveaway on LibraryThing if you want to try your luck.

What’s So Romantic about Medieval Times?

If your answer is Not much, you are correct by modern-day standards. After all, indoor plumbing didn’t exist, medical care might kill you as much as cure you, personal hygiene left much to be desired, and if you were poor (or even slightly well to-do) you bedded down with the rest of your family each night.
Doesn’t sound very sexy, does it? So why did I set my romance novel during medieval times?

1) Escapism

Reading LoverBy patpitchaya of freedigitalphotos.net

Reading and writing romance provides an escape from the everyday. When it’s an historical from the far removed past, that escapism is even more pronounced. After all, swords and castles and carriage rides are a far cry from (and way more exciting than) folding laundry, pulling weeds, or commuting to the office.
I love historicals because somewhere in the back of your mind as you read, you know that these characters could have lived once upon a time. All those historical details pull you into their stories, but at the same time those very details reinforce the fact that you are still a modern-day person catching only a glimpse of what could have been. This results in a safe space to explore other times and places, and the fantasy ends when you close the book or power down the e-reader and return to the present.

2) More Realistic Fairy Tales

La_Belle_Dame_Sans_Merci2La Belle Dame sans Merci, by John William Waterhouse (1893) via Wikimedia Commons

For me, reading historical romance was a natural extension of the fairy tales I consumed growing up. Romances still have happy endings and dashing heroes, but none of the fade-to-black nonsense when it comes to the sexytimes.
Because the stories are grounded in historical fact, I find historicals to be more grownup versions of fairy tales, complete with adventures and quests and good triumphing over evil. And I think the medieval time period comes the closest to evoking the fantasy world of fairy tales thanks to the knights and castles of the age.

3) Primal Needs

619c90e9f977f0fea6046983c6d433bcPinned by Lori Wood on Once Upon a Time

We tend to think of the past as a “simpler time.” Things might not have necessarily been simpler, but the needs were more basic. People had to have shelter and food and protection, things we often take for granted today. The choices were starker too. Options, particularly for women, were nearly nonexistent. You did what you had to do to survive. End of story, right?
Well, that’s what makes playing in this time period so fun for writers. Because the stakes are so high for every conflict, every decision a character faces, the dramatic potential of medievals is huge. Same with the romance. The concept of marriage in medieval times was essentially a business transaction. Love was not an emotion regular people could afford to have. So any love match of the period was really something special, since too often they went against the wishes of their families and their liege lords when they chose love over duty.

4) Hard-bodied Knights

KnightMicrosoft Clip Art

Maybe I should have started off with this one… Knights were the soldiers of the day. Training started early for boys, creating lethal men (so long as they lived to see adulthood). In addition to knowing how to wield a sword, they were usually trained in another weapon (ax, bow, spear), taught how to control a warhorse, and had to wear thirty to fifty pounds of chain mail. Such a regimen would result in a fine physical specimen, don’t you think?
But it wasn’t just the knights. I’d venture to say that anyone living in medieval times worked hard, whether they were a craftsman, a farmer, or a chatelaine. Everything was harder in the Middle Ages, which means it took concerted effort to do just about anything worth doing. People earned their night’s rest every day, and considering the diet of your average medieval person, most people had lean physiques.
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So these are some of the reasons I enjoy reading and writing medievals. I’d love to know why they work for you!

A Discussion of Terms

When I use the term medieval what does that really mean?
Do you envision knights and castles? The Black Death? The Carolingian Empire? The Age of Chivalry? Beowulf? Anything that’s post-Roman Empire but pre-Renaissance? You’re getting warmer.
The problem with using “medieval” or “the Middle Ages” is that the terms cover a huge range of historical events from the fall of the Rome Empire to the start of the Renaissance, essentially the 5th through the 15th centuries.
The Middle Ages is further subdivided into Early, High, and Late periods:
Early Middle Ages — 500-1000 (approx. Fall of Rome through founding of Holy Roman Empire)
High Middle Ages — 1000-1300 (approx. Norman Conquest in 1066 through Black Death)
Late Middle Ages — 1300-1500 (approx. Restructuring following Black Death until Renaissance)
Turns out my story takes place during the High Middle Ages, since most of the events center around the Norman Conquest of England.
But I didn’t know that when I was first starting out. I grabbed every book I could find with the terms “medieval” or “middle ages” in the title—used book stores and college library book sales were the best places to build my collection. However, I was often disappointed to find the books to either be a survey of the entire medieval period (and therefore containing only summaries of events) or focused on a period of history outside of the time period of interest to me.
I also learned that books with a European focus often omitted or glossed over the events in England. That led me to another body of work that was solely focused on the British Isles. Another problem I ran into was studying the Anglo-Saxons (ie, the English people pre-Conquest). I learned to focus on the late Anglo-Saxon period, as anything later than that was typically considered to be England post-Conquest, and anything earlier wasn’t always relevant.
As with any research into a new area, it took me a while to figure out what I needed to look for and how to interpret it when I did eventually find it. I’ll be talking about the resources that provided me with the most help in later posts.
But in the meantime, if you find yourself being overwhelmed by medieval terminology, check out the Guide of Medieval Terms from the Online Reference Book for Medieval Studies.

Why Historical Romance?

I get this question a lot.
Usually it’s from folks who stick their nose up at anything genre let alone romance. Never mind the fact that romance outperforms other sectors of the book market. When I was searching for my first writing group, I ran into a lot of these literary snobs. I carried on and found a great group of trusted readers, but the experience shook me up a bit.
Happy endings, romance, and history—not only to provide a framework but also an endless supply of conflict and complications? What’s not to like?
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But I do have a confession. My book didn’t start out as a historical romance.
When I was a teenager, I wrote a story about a girl and her horse on a desperate ride to get away from a powerful warlock. She traveled over mountains and through forests and hid herself in a remote village after she became injured. There she met a handsome farm boy and shared a passionate kiss in a hayloft…
I never finished that story. In part because I was way more interested in writing the romantic scenes instead of fleshing out the fantasy world, which admittedly was rather silly and full of every cliché you can think of.
But I had sunk a lot of time into that story and wanted to do justice to my characters. I realized the aspects I liked best were the horses, the castles, and the swords. And the kissing. Can’t forget that. That’s when I decided to turn it into a historical romance and set it during a time where castles and knights weren’t out of the question. So that’s what I did.
I came at this book kind of sideways. Many historical romance authors love history and write their stories out of an extension of that. Don’t get me wrong. I love history, but that wasn’t the driving force behind the story. Instead, I had two characters I was fond of in a hayloft and had to figure out a way to justify their connection.
The thing of it is, that scene never made it into the finished book. Ah well. The tradeoff’s been worth it.

Image by Clarita from morguefile.com