Hearts Through History Romance Writers

Love and Destiny – Irish Style

It seems as if Ireland has always had a hold on my heart – even before I realized it myself.

Growing up, I spent my summer vacations in a tiny little Eastern Quebec village called Irishtown, where my father was born. I can’t count the number of times I heard him sing Danny Boy, or dance a jig. I was surrounded by Irish/Maritime culture.

When I was fifteen, I developed a crush on an Irish actor, and being a bit of a “research junkie,” I decided I must learn everything I could about Ireland. That was when I began to seriously study the country’s history, culture, myths and legends, music – and anything else I could get my hands on.

Three years later, when I attended a friend’s wedding, I met the man destined to be my husband, and wouldn’t you know his mother is Irish?

I couldn’t get away from Ireland if I wanted to! So is it any wonder that my first historical romance, In Sunshine or in Shadow, is set in Ireland?

Here’s a blurb:

Siobhán Desmond will do anything to keep the tattered remains of her family alive, even if it means working for the new landlord – a darkly handsome stranger with secrets in his eyes and pain in his smile. As she watches her village return to life and begin to thrive under Rory’s care, she comes to understand his true nature, and soon finds herself falling under his sensual spell. As danger ignites all around them, Rory and Siobhán fight to right the wrongs of the past – and protect their newfound love.

And here’s a short excerpt:

Rory’s words echoed in her brain, sending prickles of alarm through her. “Do you know who did this, Rory?” she asked quietly, fighting to keep the tremor from her voice.

He didn’t flinch from her probing gaze. “I think it was Frank and Joe Kerrigan.”

The Kerrigan brothers again!

Chilled to the very marrow of her bones, she rubbed her hands over her arms in a futile attempt to warm herself. It seemed her destiny was forever tied to the brothers who’d destroyed her life so many years ago. Would the past never leave her alone?

“Was it because of me?” she asked, her voice no more than an aching whisper.

He heard, though. Abruptly he turned to her and gathered her into his arms. He felt warm and solid and safe. “No, my love, it wasn’t you. It was because of me. I dismissed the Kerrigans on Tom’s advice. The night he and Nora married, Eileen O’Farrell lost her crop to a fire. Now Tom and Nora’s cottage goes up in flames. It’s no secret in the village how Charlotte died. Wouldn’t Frank and Joe Kerrigan think this a fine way to punish me?”

She heard the pain in his voice and gazed up into his face, raw with anguish. She reached tentative fingers to caress the lines around his mouth and eyes, smoothing away the soot and perspiration he’d accumulated while fighting the fire.

“It wasn’t your fault,” she whispered, her throat aching with tenderness. She knew this was another burden her wounded love would take upon his shoulders. “Rory, it wasn’t! Sure, Frank and Joe Kerrigan were causing trouble in Ballycashel long before you came. Why, look what happened with Michael and Sean!”

“It’s different this time,” he insisted, and she felt his body shudder against hers. “They’re cowards, Siobhán. They won’t go after me directly. Instead they will attack me through my people. Who will be next? Old Liam Brady as he’s coming home from Donahue’s pub? Paddy Devlin as he comes back from courting his girl in Clifden? You?”

A great sense of weariness swept over her. “They’ve already taken my husband and brother. What more can they do to me?”

“They can take you away from me.”

His quiet intensity sent a jolt of molten desire through her. What did those words mean? She’d never belonged to him–not really. Did he truly value her that much? Or was she just another one of his tenants?

“I cannot lose you, Siobhán. Not now, when I have only just found you. I’ve been a bloody damned fool, thinking if I sent you away, you’d be safe. You will never be safe with me–no one ever has been. But I cannot bear to let you go!”

“I don’t want you to!” she whispered vehemently. “I love you, Rory O’Brien, and love is worth any risk in the world.” Raising up on tiptoe, she pressed her lips to his in a kiss that bespoke forgiveness, healing and passion.

He broke the kiss and glanced down at her, something like wonder in his eyes. With great tenderness, he skimmed his fingers down her cheek, sending little shivers through her. But his eyes were filled with torment. “I do not know if I can do this, Siobhán.”

“Do what, my love?”

“This! Any of this!” He gestured to the small thatched cottages, the fields of potatoes and corn, then to Ballycashel House. “I don’t know if I can be lord of Ballycashel. I cannot keep the crops safe, I cannot keep the tenants safe. I just don’t know if I can do it all. I don’t know if I can be everything to everyone!”

Siobhán touched his face tenderly. “You don’t have to,” she told him softly. “You don’t have to be anything but what you are. You’re such a good man, Rory O’Brien, responsible and caring. You’ve brought Ballycashel back to life. Sure, you’re the best landlord this village has ever known, and we’re lucky to have you.”

“I’m the lucky one,” he countered, his hands moving in warm, gentle circles over her back. “For in coming back to Ballycashel, at long last I think I’ve finally come home.”

She pulled him close, so close she could feel the mingled beating of their hearts. “Then come,” she whispered against his cheek. “Come all the way home, my love.”

He watched her for a long, intense moment, and she could feel the awareness pulsing between them. Then, as if he’d found what he sought in her eyes, he released her, drew off the cloak that fluttered about him like a storm cloud, and tossed it to the ground. He knelt upon it, then turned to her and held out his hand.

“Come home with me, Siobhán.”

Come visit me at




Romance and Readability

A while ago the issue of readability caught fire on a few chat loops and spread out of control. It seems an editor told a writer in a pitch that they were looking for manuscripts written on the fourth to fifth grade reading level for their adult audience. The writer was shocked and interpreted this meant she was expected to “dumb down” her work. She expressed her concern on the loops and the debate began. Responses ranged from outrage to acceptance.

The request for a readability score is not so unusual as some may think. It’s accepted fact that most newspapers are written on the 3rd grade level. The NY Times averages a 5th grade reading level; the Wall Street Journal is rated 11th grade. The Harry Potter books range from 4.9 to 7.8, increasing with Harry’s years at Hogwarts. Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series are all between 4.9 and 4.5 as are all of Judy Blume’s books regardless of their target age group.

Finding the reading level of you own work is a function of counting words, number of syllables, number of sentences. Calculate the average of words per sentence and syllables per word. Then multiply the average number of syllables per word by 84.6 and subtract it from the average number of words multiplied by 1.015. Finally, subtract the result from 206.835. You should test at least three 100 word sections from beginning, middle, and end of your work and average your results. Luckily, for historical writers, you can skip all place names and other proper nouns in your count.

If all this has you scratching your head and you use Word, you’re in luck. You can turn the readability function on in your grammar check.

1. Open Word.
2. Click the Microsoft Office Button and click Word Options.
3. Click Proofing.
4. Place a check beside the Show readability statistics option.
5. Click OK.

Now when you click the Spelling and Grammar button on the Standard toolbar, the results will include information about the reading level of your document.
Readability and reading level are two different measurements. Readability is a percentage and represents the percent of the reading population who will be able to understand the work. Reading level is the grade level (or years in school) that reflects the literacy level of the work. A 50% readability will mean 50% of readers will understand it. A 4.5 reading level means a 4th grade, 5th month average student should be able to comprehend it.

Of course none of these formulas calculate the appropriateness of the content, or the complexity of the ideas in the work. No one expects a 4.5 level book by J.D. Robb, for example to appeal to a 4th grader.

According to those who have tested a range of popular authors, the lower reading level the more books that author sells on average. In his book Fiction Writer’s Brainstormer, James V. Smith Jr. analyzed the works of various fiction writers, both literary and genre, on the NY Times bestseller list and found all their books fell in the average 4th grade grade reading with a range of 2.6 to 6.3 and an average readability of 83%.

From this, Smith developed his “Ideal Writing Standard” for writers to use when editing and revising their work: No less than an 80% readability on the Flesch Reading Ease scale and a Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level between 4 and 6.

More information on this topic can be found by searching “reading level” and “readability” online. One interesting website is <http://www.juicystudio.com/services/readability.php > which includes a way to instantly determine the readability of a website. Mine was 4.6 RL and 74% readability. MORWA.org’s was 7.5 and 57%. Nora Robert’s was 3.8 and 75%

Email me and I will gladly send you a PDF of a copyright free graph that you can use to manually check the reading level of your work.

Leave a comment for a chance to win a collectible teddy bear because you’re never to old to need a hug. No reading level needed to comprehend that.

Our First All-Blog Contest

Time to celebrate. It’s just past our Seduced By History 1st Monthiversary. Thanks to all our bloggers, followers, and visitors, we’re off to a bang-up start. And to cap it off, we have Kimberly Killion’s Rita nomination for Her One Desire to raise the roof about.

Winners of our first all-blog contest were chosen randomly from those who made comments since the first blog. The winners are Helen Hardt and LuAnn. This month’s prizes are supplied by Paty Jager and Anna Kathryn Lanier. Winners please email me at bscott49 @charter.net (no spaces)

Please continue to follow and comment and you may win our next all-blog contest.

Egypt—my grand passion

I fell in love with Egypt when I went to see the Yul Brynner movie, The Ten Commandments. I wasn’t supposed to fall in love with Egypt of course, I was supposed to be rooting for the other side, but the moment I saw pharaoh’s court, I was a gonner.

I devoured Egypt for many years. Bought books, lapped up any movies I could find, even paid a visit to the tombs and temples. That visit was like a pilgrimage for me.

The passion continued to grow and as I built a small career in category romance, someone suggested I wrote a book set in Egypt. But even after all the study, what did I know? Until one day an idea came to me and Eternal Hearts was born.

It’s a time travel set in the time of the heretic pharaoh Akhenaten and Nefertiti. Although many consider him to have been mad, others have suggested he was actually Moses, even though he was born almost 1000 years before Moses.

Writing about Egypt was not without its strictures. Although they decorated their various pottery objects such as pots, bottles, walls of tombs and the many pylons and obelisks in bright colours, clothing remained simple and virtually colourless. No brightly coloured silks for Nefertiti to clothe herself in, none in fact until Cleopatra’s time, 1500 years after Eternal Hearts is set. All they had was linen, which does not take kindly to dyes.

The hero is Lord Khafra, a charioteer in pharaoh’s bodyguard and Alexis (Abana) is an American actress, sick and tired of all the hype about her career.


Alex found the love of her life, 3000 years too late. But time cannot destroy a love as great as theirs.

When Alexandra Kelly returns a broadcollar to Egypt she is swept through a time portal into a breathtaking, yet terrifying journey to a land of majesty and splendour–the land of the pharaohs.

Death is Lord Khafra’s fate if he embarks on his dangerous quest. Alex’s arrival disrupts his plans, but can she save him from his destiny?

Together they face terrible danger and hardship but the sexy charioteer could make any woman believe the gods were smiling on her.

Eternal Hearts, coming soon from Highland Press http://highlandpress.org/
Book video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4y6MeAzlepAhttp://unusualhistoricals.blogspot.com