Tag Archives: Judith James

Winner of the Judith James giveaway!

King's CourtesanThanks to everyone who commented on my interview with Judith James. Hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did!

The winner of The King’s Courtesan is…Cat!

Cat, you’re a lucky lady. I can’t wait to read this one. I’ve emailed you, so check your spam folder if you don’t see an email from me in your inbox.

For those of you who didn’t win, I’ll hope you’ll buy Judith’s book, and consider commenting on my interview with Katie Lane. Her novels are totally different than Judith’s (contemporary cowboys instead of Restoration libertines) but they’re loads of fun!

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Judith James interview – and giveaway!

Judith JamesFor me, the best thing about reviewing books is the chance discovery of an author whose writing blows me away and turns me into a gushing fan-girl. That’s what happened last summer when I was asked to read Libertine’s Kiss by Judith James (you can read my review here).

I honestly struggled to express how wonderful the novel was; it was everything I love in a romance—steamy, intensely emotional and full of historical detail that didn’t intrude on the story’s passion.

Judith James’ latest novel, The King’s Courtesan, hit bookshelves on September 1st, and it’s one of the books I’ve most looked forward to reading this year.

I’m thrilled to have Judith on my blog today talking about adventures in British history and modern publishing. She’s also giving away a copy of The King’s Courtesan to one very lucky commenter.

Thanks for joining me, Judith!

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What hits your hot button?

(Note: the hot button I’m referring to isn’t related to our previous discussion on how to heat up the fictional bedroom. Sorry if you’re disappointed.)

Last week I randomly clicked on a link to a review for Judith James’ Libertine’s Kiss. (I can’t find that link now, so if this description of the review sounds familiar, please let me know.) The review was thoughtful and complimentary, and awarded the novel 4.5 stars out of 5.

At the end, the reviewer gave her reasons why she’ll never re-read Libertine’s Kiss, even though she thought the book was well-written. It features two subjects she doesn’t like reading about, even in fiction: sexual abuse and domestic violence.

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Libertine’s Kiss by Judith James

Libertine’s Kiss is a passionate story full of the real stuff of romance – the difficult decisions and sacrifices one makes for love, and the power two people can claim for themselves when they have the support of the right person.

One thing I’ve learned in my time as a reviewer is that I’m stingy with my praise. To get a 9 out of me, an author has to give me characters I can relate to – people who have problems that they face with bravery, honor and humor. The characters need a setting so vivid I feel like I’m there. The plot must avoid easy romance clichés, and the author has to use English in ways that make each sentence a pleasure to read.

Judith James’ latest novel is most definitely a 9.

William and Lizzie were childhood friends, even though their families were on opposite sides of a political divide that would lead to the English Civil War. Lizzie’s family are Puritans and support the Parliamentarian revolt, while William’s family are Royalists. When war breaks out, William leaves to fight for the monarchy, and he follows the executed king’s son into exile.

It’s years before they meet again, this time in a semi-anonymous encounter when Lizzie saves William’s life. She recognizes him, but he doesn’t know who she is; he only knows the comfort he feels around her.

The war years have not been kind to Lizzie. She was married off to an abusive husband, and after she’s widowed all her land is seized by Oliver Cromwell because he discovers she helped an enemy – William. At times, it’s only the fantastical stories William told her as a child that keep her going. She doesn’t see William again until the monarchy is restored and she goes to the royal court to plead for her lands back.

When he realizes who she is, he uses his influence with Charles II to have her land restored. Unfortunately, the king is a true libertine, and William knows he’s unlikely to lift a finger for a woman unless there’s something in it for him.

In William and Lizzie, Judith James has created characters with such depth that they could be real. Every significant character is funny, but William regularly had me clutching my ribs with laughter with his inappropriately timed observations. He is a poet with passionately held ideals. He’s a libertine, yes, but not because he seeks pleasure for pleasure’s sake; he had a traumatic childhood and drowns his demons in alcohol and sex.

Any romance novel heroine in less well-written novels would change him with little effort. Elizabeth instead faces his demons head-on and helps him realize that taking the more difficult paths can be more rewarding. She makes one firm rule – that he will have no other women – and helps him find ways to curb his drinking. Even when he doubts his own ability to change his self-destructive ways, Elizabeth is practical and strong enough to make me think he will be able to conquer his addictions. But only with her unflagging support.

What I enjoyed most about William and Lizzie was the maturity and honesty with which they talk to each other. They are people who clearly respect each other and show it, even when they’re furious with each other. The depth of friendship and love between them makes their love scenes scorching hot, not just because of the explicit descriptions and language (although people who like their sex to be alluded to may find themselves skipping quite a few pages).

After all they’ve been through together, William’s declaration of love for Lizzie is one of the most romantic scenes I’ve ever read. It’s the kind of statement that I wish I’d read before I got married because I would’ve gladly ripped it off and said those words to my husband on our wedding day.

Libertine’s Kiss is such an engrossing novel that I resented the time I had to waste doing other things – like sleeping, eating and working. I’ll certainly be keeping an eye out for any more from Judith James.

Rating: 9

Heat: 5 (Scorching)

(First posted on The Season)

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