FROM THEA: I was so delighted when Zoe Archer asked me if I might be interested in having her guest on my blog. Yes indeed, I was! Zoe is a very talented romance writer who is also versatile. She seems to be entirely at home with writing historical, steampunk or science fiction.
Zoe’s also having a giveaway this week, and details for the giveaway follow at the end of the excerpt.
First, let me thank Thea for hosting me on her website today!
And now….down to business!
Many romance novels end with the hero and heroine getting married. Sometimes the wedding takes place in the middle of the book, and the hero and heroine must spend the remainder of the story learning about what it takes to make a successful marriage.
In DEMON’S BRIDE, my historical paranormal romance, the story opens with the hero and heroine’s wedding day. It seems like a strange place to start a narrative, but I wanted to give the reader the same sense of trepidation and discovery that Anne Hartfield feels being married to a virtual stranger. Since DEMON’S BRIDE is set in the 18th century, it’s not uncommon for marriages to be based on money or power rather than love. In fact, many aristocrats didn’t have the option of choosing a spouse based on affection. Their nuptials were used to form alliances or increase wealth.
Anne’s situation is a little different. She’s the daughter of an impoverished baron, and hasn’t any money to bring to a marriage. All she has is the prestige of her family’s title. Her aristocratic lineage is what makes her an attractive marriage candidate to Leo Bailey. Leo is the son of a saddler, a commoner who used ruthless business strategy to fight his way up from poverty. Now he’s one of the richest non-titled men in England. But not having genteel blood makes him a perennial outsider to the ranks of the elite. So, by marrying Anne, Leo obtains prestige, and by Anne marrying Leo, she gains wealth. It’s an ideal situation—except for the fact that the two barely know each other. Anne is very sheltered. Leo is extremely worldly. Plus, he seems to have a few mysterious secrets…
In this excerpt, Anne and Leo are in the middle of their wedding celebration, and getting ready for the guests to escort them to bed. That’s right—first Anne is going to be taken to the bridal bedchamber by her female relatives, dressed in her nightgown, put into bed, and then await her husband, who will be led toward the bedroom by the male guests, who will then stand outside and shout encouragements to the groom through the door . Seems awfully exposed, doesn’t it? Now Anne and Leo must await the inevitable procession, and contemplate what happens once they’re finally alone in the bedchamber.
Leo turned to face Anne, and she resisted the impulse to look down at her clasped hands. He was too imposing, too handsome, too . . . everything. How could she find him so attractive and so intimidating at the same time? Yet, sainted heavens, she did.
“Are you well?”
Her eyes widened at his heated tone. For a moment, she thought he might be angry with her, but then she saw that his anger was at her defense. It warmed her, though she could not be entirely comfortable in his presence.
“Other than a surfeit of iced cakes, I am perfectly well.” She made herself smile. “I trust your . . . meeting was successful.”
He seemed disinclined to say any more on the subject, and she was reluctant to press further. After all, their names were still drying on the parish register. She could not make demands of her husband so soon. According to her mother, at any rate. Throughout the day, Anne had received much advice from married women, most of it contradictory.
Be at all times silent and agreeable, else your husband will think you a termagant and shun your company.
Never allow your husband to dictate your actions or he will consider you weak and trifling, and shall not esteem you. Nothing ruins a marriage faster than lack of esteem between a man and his wife.
Which was it? Anne’s head spun with words, so many words, sly winks, and knowing smirks. Up to this day, she had passed her life in relative anonymity. Now it seemed the whole of her existence became the fodder for dozens of opinions, scores of eyes. She felt rather like a newborn vole forced out into the light, naked, blind, wriggling. Ideal prey.
From across the overheated chamber, Anne’s mother and several of her female relatives began walking toward her and Leo. The knowing smiles on their faces left little doubt as to their intention.
“I believe it is time for them to put us to . . . bed.” Good Lord, she could barely get the word out, and she felt by turns hot and cold. The man standing beside her was about to join his body to hers in the most intimate way possible—and though she found him attractive, she barely knew him.
“This distresses you.”
She did not want him to think her unwilling to perform the her marital responsibilities. After all, she had been taught that therein lay a woman’s primary function: the easing of a man’s desires and the bearing of children.
“Not at all, sir . . . Leo. Only, there are certain aspects of a marriage that are . . . private. And this”—she waved her hand toward the advancing women—“makes it all so very . . . public.”
“Then I’ll tell them to go to the Devil,” he answered at once.
A shocked laugh escaped her. “You can do no such thing.”
He raised one brow. “This is my house. You are my wife. I’ll do anything I bloody well please. And if it makes you uncomfortable to have the whole damned household shoving us into bed together, then it won’t happen.”
She stared at him. Many things he said astonished her. Not merely his rough language in the presence of a woman, but his willingness to flout convention. Gazing up into his cool gray eyes, Anne could see how such a man not only blazed a path for himself through the old, ancient forest of entitlement, but also how he had earned the name Hellraiser. A man who cared little for others’ opinions, who did as he pleased—the world was his to use or discard as he wanted. Without a backward glance for the smoldering devastation he left behind.
What a heady power that must be. And he was willing to exercise it on her behalf.
“Truly, I do not mind.”
“As you like.” He shrugged, the pull of velvet across his shoulders a testament not only to the tailor’s skill but the physicality of the man beneath the fabric. Pure feminine appreciation tugged low in her belly. What must he look like without layers of clothing?
She realized in a mix of panic and anticipation that she would find out very soon.
So, my question to you is, if you’re married, do you have any strange or funny stories about your wedding day? If you aren’t married, leave a comment about what could be the oddest or most bizarre thing that could happen during a wedding celebration. One winner will receive a copy of DEMON’S BRIDE! (Print for US/Canada, electronic for international.)
**Giveaway ends at 12 noon MDT on Friday, May 25th**
The Hellraisers, Book 2
Hell to Pay
Leo Bailey may have been born to poverty, but ruthless business sense and sparkling intelligence have made money worries a thing of his past. It doesn’t hurt that the Devil himself has granted Leo the ability to read the future.
But even infallible predictions are a déclassé commoner’s trick to some members of the ton. They’ll never see Leo as their equal – one good reason to prove himself their better. And a noble marriage is an obvious start.
Bookish Anne Hartfield, daughter of a baron, is hardly the flashiest miss on the marriage market. But her thoughtful reserve complements Leo’s brash boldness in an attraction neither can deny. A whirlwind courtship sweeps Anne and Leo into a smoldering marriage before either can believe their luck. But happiness built on Leo’s dark powers can’t last. Soon, Anne will have to save her husband…or lose her heart.
Zoë Archer is an award-winning romance author who thinks there’s nothing sexier than a man in tall boots and a waistcoat. As a child, she never dreamed about being the rescued princess, but wanted to kick butt right beside the hero. She now applies her master’s degrees in Literature and Fiction to creating butt-kicking heroines and heroes in tall boots. She is the author of the acclaimed BLADES OF THE ROSE series and the paranormal historical romance series, THE HELLRAISERS. She and her husband, fellow romance author Nico Rosso, created the steampunk world of THE ETHER CHRONICLES together. Her steampunk romance, SKIES OF FIRE, is now available from Avon Impulse, and Nico’s steampunk Western, NIGHT OF FIRE, will be available in July. Zoë and Nico live in Los Angeles.
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To buy: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Chapters Indigo, Amazon UK
I’ve been to a lot of weddings, but never a Western one -you know, church, white wedding dress.
Arab weddings are very different, the contract gets signed, of course and then the families toss money and mashmoom (sort of like lavender) and sometimes sweets. You have all the kids dashing around underfoot trying to get all the money (or chocolate), there’s lots of dancing and music. The women usually dance around waving scarves and, ah, I think the best word to describe it is ululate -it’s very awkward describing this in English!
The men usually go off with the groom and celebrate in another room and the women stay and tease the bride and dance with her. The two parties rejoin later in the evening. It’s lots of fun! So I guess the most weird, bizarre thing I could imagine happening at a wedding would be having a church wedding, simply because it’s so different to how our weddings work!
I’ve never been to an Arab wedding, Hannah, but they sound fascinating. I have been to a Sikh wedding, and it was a wonderful, joyous experience. Nothing like seeing women in saris dancing to YMCA!
The funniest thing that happened at my wedding was my husband said “I do.” before the preacher finished asking him. 🙂
Sounds like he was eager to be Mr. CrystalGB!
Funny now, but not so funny then, the DJ played the wrong song for our first dance. It was supposed to be Love Changes Everything (an Andrew Lloyd Webber song) and instead he played something else on the cd that was just so not good (I don’t even remember what it was). My sister tried to tell me it was “good luck” to play the wrong song, but I didn’t believe it. He played the right song later on, so we got to dance to it at least.
Now you can have “your song,” and also “not your song.” 🙂
At the end of the night at my wedding, my bridesmaids hung up a giant penis piñata that they had originally made for the bachelorette party. It was filled with candy, condoms, glow sticks, lube and confetti poppers. My guests thought it was a hilarious, albeit, redneck way to finish off a great celebration.
It sounds very pagan, Amanda! I’m sure no one will ever forget the wedding that ended with a penis-smashing.
Lol! Well I do have a Roma background. Sounds about right.
Did you know that the heroine of Devil’s Kiss, the first book in the Hellraisers series, is Roma?
The strangest thing about my wedding was my mother. “She” decided that she had to walk me down the aisle even though I didn’t want that. Then she stood in the center of the aisle for the entire ceremony which made the video we were “trying” to take of our wedding nothing but her back. You might wonder why we didn’t move the camera. There were only 8 of us in the chapel, 2 of which were children, so no one thought about it.
Also my cake started to fall apart so my girlfriend made a slurry with frosting and milk and patched it back together.
Maybe your mother got confused as to whose wedding it was? 😉
My husband used to assist wedding photographers, and he said that the most difficult person to please on the day of the wedding was the mother of the bride. I wonder why that is?
My wedding was a continuing joke. The day started off overcast as I drove into Lansing to pick up the flowers and get my hair done. Halfway home we had to stop because the rain was so heavy and we couldn’t safely continue. Did I mention my wedding and reception was to be held outside?
As I worked my way back home my husband-to-be rushed to get the reception set up in my grandmother’s church reception hall that we couldn’t get into until two hours before the ceremony. As I worked my grandmother managed to procure the chapel that I did not want and a pastor I’d never met. One of my bridesmaids took her aside and tore her a new one after sending me off to get ready.
I was late to the ceremony after hauling the decorations to the church and helping set up before dressing, which then the corset I’d had made broke and I spent the ceremony (a pagan/native mixture involving a handfasting) being stabbed in the boob by a wire that broke free from the light boning.
We survived all of this and then, at the reception, my new husband stepped on my skirt while we were dancing and nearly pantsed me in front of our friends and family.
I will never, ever get married again. Although, the three bekilted men made most of the drama worth it. 🙂
That story is epic. EPIC. It should be written down in the giant tome of Wedding Tales and periodically read aloud.
Kilts have a way of making otherwise unbearable things worth it in the end. 😛
Holy smokes! Your story wins hands down in my books.
Looking forward to reading your book, Zoe!
My wedding tale: I hate crowds… I really do and to have to dance in front of them…uggg! And of course my husband stepped on my dress and I was flat on my butt within minutes. I felt like a child having a tantrum because not only was on my butt, but with wearing a large structured dress I couldn’t get up on my own! Every time I see pictures of it I give my husband hell over it. : )
I guess that means ballroom dance competition is out?
All the weddings I’ve attended have been a mixture of Western and Asian, and it’s interesting to see what parts end up in the final result. The majority of them have the bride go through an ridiculous amount of dress changes. You have to have one for the tea ceremony, one for the actual wedding procession, two for the evening banquet…it makes me exhausted just thinking about it.
I’d heard about that with Asian ceremonies, where they change outfits several times over the course of the day. I’m really intrigued by how Western customs have seeped into other traditions.
Sounds great! Can’t wait to read 🙂 My wedding story is awkward, ha ha. After ten hours of wearing my wedding dress, corset and the sucking in underwear, I realized I hadn’t been to the toilet the WHOLE time. Lets just say that the ride to the hotel from the venue, over roadworks was very painful! But I made it.
Ouch! At least you made it there without any accidents!
I had a very small wedding, I think there were 25 guests total, an up until my wedding day I was so stressed planning the thing that I was ready to pull my hair out. But on my wedding day I was zen calm, despite getting oil from the hinges of the car on my wedding dress, or having more people trying to “help” me get ready than were much help. I was happy and calm, which is why when my future brother-in-law came knocking on the dressing door to get me in something of a panic it made me smile and not freak. “You have to hurry up, you’re going to be late, and then they’ll start without you.” He was adorable, and after me explaining, that as the bride, they couldn’t really start without me, he calmed down enough to smile and breathe. I still think it is funny that he was is such a state that the wedding was going to start without me 🙂
I’ve heard that, on the day itself, the bride and groom go into almost a fugue state and sometimes barely remember anything! Glad you were able to enjoy your day, despite your B-I-L’s panic.
I was definitely relaxed, but my poor husband swears he caught up on my three month’s worth of stress in that one day. Apparently my zen did not translate…and at one point in the ceremony I was sure he was going to pass-out from not breathing. I ended up making faces at him until he was almost cracking up–but breathing. 😛 We have both sworn if by some time-warp or other catastrophe we have to get married again we are taking the money and going to vegas, or on a cruise. The wedding was more for everyone else than us. 😛
Nope a very typical wedding day, everything went smoothly, flowers arrived on time, no lost ring bearer or rings, just a very memorable wedding day!
Sounds like you’re the exception, Diane! Glad your day went smoothly!
The book sounds good. The groom not seeing the bride before the wedding is a little odd.
I’m sure there’s an ancient custom behind that, but it does seem odd now, especially since most brides and grooms live together before getting married. So they might wake up in the same bed and have breakfast together on the day of the wedding.
Ummm… yeah. My husband refused to let me have the wedding I wanted because he has a fear of being up in front of people. He had been left at the altar before. So we had no music, flowers, fancy clothes or attendants. Nothing but vows, which is all right — except my B-I-L got me both playback and blackmail. When he got married two years later, my husband had to stand on a stage in front of about 300 people in a tux that had pink accessories — hot pink bow tie, cummerbund, and vest. HEHE
Aw, poor husband! I hope he survived his ordeal, not pink bow tie and all!
My wedding was a disaster. I woke with a fever of a 102 degrees and full blown bronchitis. The flower shop sent the wrong bouquet, and I ended up using what looked like a funeral bouquet for photos, but it was lost to a wind storm that blew in during photos and carried it a block away. Grandpa Hoppie died the week before and the family was fighting over genealogy records… so my husbands family boycotted the wedding ceremony, but managed to show for the wedding luncheon. Oh… and my father showed up with a sister I had never met. Of course we laugh about it… now.
You win the Most Drama-Filled Wedding Award. Have some chocolate.
My wedding was fantastic – I must say. Things were smooth and we all had a great time! The one thing that was “WTF?!” was that right before the ceremony, the maid of honor freaked out.
“are you ready for this? are you too young? is this really the guy you want?” NOOOO! not that kind of freaked out. She was saying “oh my god! I’m SO nervous! I’ve never been so nervous! How am I going to do? What if I cry? WHere do I go? How will i walk? I Can’t do IT!!!”
So… I gave her illegal drugs. At least, that’s what I told her. I said I had illegal prescription strength relaxants for just such a panic attack and that they worked fast. [it was a breath mint]
She thanked me later – said how much it calmed her down though we never did talk about WTF with her panic and nearly running out on my wedding…
Bahaha! The power of the placebo!
And it for all those reasons if I ever get married i’m eloping. My family can have a giant party if they want to celebrate it, but I will off somewhere gorgeous waiting for the drama to die down.
My husband and I went to the courthouse and had one witness. A few weeks later, my mom hosted a small brunch as a kind of shower/wedding party. That was exactly all I wanted.
WE forgot the wedding rings at my cousin’s wedding. Her mother had to go home and retrieve them from the safe…so the priest stalled and talked about life and love….for about 20 minutes ….seemed liked the longest ceremony in history…lol
Hah! That poor priest! Maybe the thought it was his best work yet.
The funniest thing that happened to me was that I had been so focused on the wedding itself that I had forgotten about the next day. I woke up in the morning in the hotel and realized that the only clothes I had to wear was my wedding dress–which my husband was in no way able to re-hook me into. My hubby had a spare set of clothes in his bag, luckily, but he’s 6’4″ and I’m only 5’8″ so they were way too big. The hotel was one we’d filled up with wedding guests so of course I ran into every one of them on our way out and I had to great them all while holding a pair of shorts on with one hand. But we all had a good laugh over it so it’s more of a fun story than a disaster story.
I bet they thought that the process of spouses resembling each other had begun a little early. 🙂
I had such a blast at my wedding. 🙂 Although I don’t know that I can say the same for our DJ.
Poor guy was having to juggle requests from my very white (somewhat hick) family from Minnesota, and my husbands very Mexican family from Mexico.
The dance floor was constantly being rotated between my family and my husbands. When The B-52s came on, all my family boogied their behinds out onto the dance floor and shook their tushes. Then the next song would be some Salsa dance and there would be a mass exodus of MN folks and an influx of of my husband’s aunts and uncles twirling and spinning around in circles. *giggle* It was definitely a sight to see!!
I think the only dances that had BOTH our families on the dance floor were: The Macarana, the chicken dance, and the electric slide!! LOL
Ah, the uniting power of the Chicken Dance…
The book sounds great. I was the first of all my friends to get married and the first of all my parent’s friends’ kids, even though I was almost 23. The funniest thing was probably that my mother and sister literally had to be drugged. They were on Valium at my wedding, and still managed to sob. They ended up fitting right in with everyone else. My best friend sang and I don’t think there was dry eye in the church. 18 years and three kids later and we’re still happy.
That’s so sweet! Your story reminds me of the film Sixteen Candles, where the bride takes a huge handful of muscle relaxants right before the ceremony.
My girlfriend and I are not married. We live in a state that does not allow it. I know we could still have a ceremony, but it’s not the only reason. We live with my mom and definitely want to move into our own place (possibly in another state) before anything happens.
When I think about a possible ceremony in the future, I always get worried about how the families would react. Not all extended family members are aware of the situation. My mom explained the situation to my grandma when we went up to visit, but I think she thinks we’re just friends… I’m sure there are some that would disagree. And I worry that some would disagree very vocally. Or not show up at all.
If certain people don’t show up, then perhaps it’s for the best. Any commitment ceremony should be about love and joy. Surround yourself with as much of that as you can. I hope some day soon people will realize that love is love, and it is always something to be celebrated. *hugs*