Tuesday, June 5, 2012

GUEST LAUNCH PARTY: The Most Improper Miss Sophie Valentine by Jayne Fresina + Giveaway!

Please give a warm welcome to Jayne Fresina, fellow Sourcebooks Casablanca author of The Most Improper Miss Sophie Valentine, in stores this month!

I am so delighted to be here celebrating the release of my first regency romance THE MOST IMPROPER MISS SOPHIE VALENTINE. It hasn't been a short, smooth or uneventful road to get this far, but that makes it all the more enjoyable and satisfying now the day is finally here.

It's almost fifteen months since I signed my contract with Sourcebooks and two years since I wrote my very first draft of this manuscript. Even through several changes to their love story, Sophie and Lazarus have remained pretty much the same as they were when they first appeared in my head. Living with them both for so long, they are a part of me—almost like family—and I feel protective, anxious that other people should like and be kind to them. They are going out into the world now. I've done everything I could to prepare them for it and I've had help and support from some terrific people, family, friends, other writers, my editor Aubrey and all the folk at Sourcebooks. But of course, I can't know what will happen. I suppose it's like sending a child off to school for the first time; I have to hope for the best, whether my characters will make friends or come home with tears in their eyes.

So, as I wave them off with a word of advice to play nicely with the other characters on the shelf, I'd like to take this opportunity to introduce you to Sophie Valentine and Lazarus Kane.

Most of Sophie's story takes place in the fictional country village of Sydney Dovedale, where she was born and raised. In her life she has ventured outside that world only briefly and with disastrous results. Now Sophie is content to stay where she is, despite —or perhaps because of—the fact that this reduces her chances of meeting anyone new. There is a great shortage of marriageable males in the village and, at almost thirty, she is likely to end her days an old maid. In most respects Sophie is a trapped creature. Trapped by her circumstances, the proprieties of the age, her family's expectations, even her own fears and doubts. But one thing about her is not confined and that is her rebellious mind. It has caused her trouble in the past and, try as she might, somehow she can't stop it from acting impulsively, coming up with mischievous ideas to wreck havoc in the quiet life of that village. Because Sophie, despite her meek, almost angelic appearance, can't help herself from occasionally upsetting the applecart.

Forced to live with her brother and his wife, by whom she is told daily that she's a burden on everybody's nerves, Sophie's mischief is prodded into action yet again. She decides to get herself a husband and since no one comes to Sydney Dovedale looking for a wife, she sees only one solution. She'll advertize.

Lazarus is a young man with a dark past full of struggles. While his life experiences have been very different to Sophie's, he's not beaten down. The trials and tribulations he's encountered have made him stronger, more determined, more decisive. He lives life to the fullest and he knows an opportunity when he sees one. Lazarus might have started out in the world with nothing, but now he's a man with a fine, expensive suit of clothes, a chance of a new beginning, and a plan of seduction to sweep Miss Valentine off her feet.

When Lazarus arrives in Sydney Dovedale to answer Sophie's advertisement, he knows it's going to cause quite a stir. But that's nothing to the turmoil she's about to cause his heart. As for Sophie— shocked that anyone came in answer to her advertisement, and now having second thoughts about the entire matter, she tells herself it was nothing more than a foolish prank. It was just another chance to annoy her pompous brother and his wife. Besides, Lazarus Kane is too young for her. He is capable, handsome and much too charming for his own good. Clearly he could acquire a wife in the usual manner. A much wealthier, younger, prettier wife than an old maid like Sophie. So why on earth is he reduced to answering a scandalous advertisement?  

Here is an excerpt from THE MOST IMPROPER MISS SOPHIE VALENTINE - when Lazarus and Sophie have one of their first encounters soon after his arrival in the village. At this point they're still getting to know one another, but it's the beginning of their journey and there is much to come. Like the road I've taken to get here, theirs won't be an easy path. But it will be all the more rewarding once they get there.

* * * *

    Lazarus whistled softly as he strode down the narrow, muddy lane, arms swinging. His thoughts were so far away he didn’t see anything in his path until the toes of his boots hit the edge of a deep, wide puddle. He stopped abruptly and looked up to assess whether he could make it over with one jump.
    And then he saw Sophie Valentine on the other side of the puddle, apparently pondering the same problem. She carried a bonnet in one hand, a book in the other. Her coat was unbuttoned, her face flushed, and her hair in disarray, as if she’d been running again and was in considerable temper. Her eyes widened when she saw him at the exact moment he saw her. She stepped back, her heels squelching in mud. He followed the path of her gaze as it tracked from left to right and measured the verge on either side. There was only a narrow strip of grass before the stone wall on one side and a high, steep bank of weeds and thistles on the other. Finding dry footholds would require the balance of a circus acrobat.
    Well, he couldn’t let her get her petticoats wet, could he? Lazarus rolled up his shirtsleeves and sloshed forward into the water, his stride long and determined. Alarm and surprise took turns possessing her pretty face. It seemed she was too stunned to move away, and when he finally reached the spot where she stood, he swept her up easily into his arms, swung around, and carried her slowly across the puddle. They did not speak. Her arm reached across his chest, her hand resting on his shoulder, clinging to the ribbons of her dangling bonnet. He felt her breath, unsteady and shallow, as it trembled through her light form. His own heart thumped away, beating in his ears and boldly disregarding the metal lodged nearby.
    Carefully, he set her down. He wondered if he should say something, but he didn’t want to spoil the peaceful moment.
    At first he thought she meant to walk away and say nothing, but apparently her temper—something he’d already witnessed being released on a sack of feathers—got the better of her.
    “What made you think I needed your help?” she demanded primly, chin up and eyes aflame. “I suppose you assumed I was just waiting to be rescued.”
    He scratched his head. “You were standing there looking desperate.”
    “Desperate? Desperate?” Something about that word raised her temper another notch. Whatever had put her in a bad mood already, his sudden appearance in the lane had done nothing to appease it. “I’ll thank you to know, sir, I am quite capable of finding my own way around a small obstacle. I am twenty-nine years of age and managed to survive quite well on my own all these years. Do you suppose I was waiting all this time for you?”
    He said nothing but rubbed his jaw slowly with one hand, taking her in from muddy feet to the wayward straggle of honey-colored hair.
    “I might not have wanted to cross the puddle,” she added. “I might not be going this way. You didn’t even ask.”
    He cocked his head to one side.
    “Why do you look at me in that manner?” the haughty madam demanded.
    “Miss Valentine, may we—?”
    “Don’t speak to me!” She held up her hand, palm in his face. “I cannot converse with you.”
    “Why not?”
    “Because it’s most improper. You’re a single man and a stranger.”
    “But you’re speaking to me now,” he pointed out.
    “Indeed I am not,” she exclaimed boldly with the aplomb of a woman accustomed to telling fibs.
    His gaze swept down to her feet again. “You’ve got mud on your gown.”
    “I know that, for pity’s sake. Don’t you think I have enough people to point out my faults already?”
    “Well, I—”
    “If there’s one thing I do not lack, it’s other folk trying to direct my life.”
    “I only pointed out the mud—”
    “I may be a woman, but that does not make me an imbecile. Neither am I crippled. I am perfectly capable of negotiating a puddle. Things may be different wher¬ever you come from, sir, but here in Sydney Dovedale, gentlemen don’t sweep ladies off their feet.”
    He smirked. “I’m sorry for the ladies, then. Good thing I’m here, ain’t it?”
    “That is not what I meant, and well you know it.” Her cheeks darkened another shade. “They do not put their hands all over ladies without permission.”
    “I’ll ask first next time, then.” And one of these days, he mused, his blood roused, he’d make her beg for his touch. “Ma’am.”
    “Well, you are refused—”
    “I didn’t ask yet.”
    “—in advance,” she sputtered, wrapping her bonnet ribbons around her fingers. “Besides, your hands are dirty,” she added with a grand flourish, as if she’d been searching for more insults. “Dreadful, impertinent man.”
    His hands were dirty? Was that the best she could do?
    He gave her a moment, and when that produced no further comment, he took matters into his own filthy hands.
    Bending his knees slightly, he scooped her up again, this time vertically, with his arms around her hips, and carried her back across the puddle. He set her down again, doffed an imaginary hat, and left her there as he walked onward down the lane. He had no doubt the ungrateful wench watched him go, so he kept his gaze forward and resumed his merry whistle.

* * * *

Thank you for reading. I hope you give my characters a chance and get to know them, and love with them, as I have.

Jayne Fresina

Congratulations again to Jayne! To enter to win one of two print copies of The Most Improper Miss Sophie Valentine, please tell us your favorite historical time period. US and Canada addresses only, please leave an email address that you can be reached at in your comment. Winners will be announced on Friday, June 8. Good Luck!

"Wanted: one husband, not too particular. Small dowry, several books, sundry furnishings, and elderly aunt included. Idlers, time-wasters, and gentleman without other attachments need not apply."—Miss Sophie Valentine

Sophie Valentine knew placing an ad for a husband in the Farmers Gazette would bring her trouble-and she was right. When the darkly handsome, arrogantly charming Lazarus Kane shows up on her doorstep, the nosy residents of Sydney Dovedale are thrown into a gossiping tizzy. After all, it's common knowledge that Sophie is a young lady In Need of Firmer Direction. But even Sophie isn't so scandalous as to marry a complete stranger. .. is she?

Lazarus Kane has been searching for Sophie half of his life. She may not remember him, but he could never forget her. But the past is a dangerous thing, and it's best if his remains secret if he wants to tempt Sophie with ...


Jayne Fresina sprouted up in England, the youngest in a family of four girls.  Entertained by her father’s colorful tales of growing up in the countryside, and surrounded by opinionated sisters— all with far more exciting lives than hers— she’s always had inspiration for her beleaguered heroes and unstoppable heroines. Visit www.jaynefresina.com for more information.


  1. Congrats on your debut release, Jayne!! Great excerpt.

    Of course, I'm a huge fan of Regency, but Medievals will always hold a special place in my heart, too.

  2. I do love me a dose of darkly handsome and arrogantly charming! Congratulations on the release, and if Lazarus should come upon me daunted by a mud puddle, you may assure him his assistance will meet with appreciation.

  3. Regency is my favorite. Love the cover!

  4. I'm not sure I have an absolute "favorite" time period. Every time I begin to narrow it down, I read a book on another time, and get excited all over again!
    I love the Elizabethan Age, Regency and Victorian Age books.

  5. My favorite type of romance is "Regency", although I'm also a little partial to Medieval and Victorian romance too. I really do love Historical Romance books. There’s just something about this type of romance that really engages me. I love to follow the journey of the Hero and Heroine from the beginning of their story upto their happy ever after. Sometimes the descriptions in books are so vivid, that I imagine that I’m actually there.
    I really do appreciate all the research that an author does to make her story more authentic.
    Congratulations on your new release and, for this awesome opportunity. I really look forward to reading this book. :-)

    dpd333 (at) aol dot com

  6. Congratulations on your release, Jayne. There is such a spark between Miss Sophie and Lazarus!

    Definitely a must read...my TPP list is getting longer by the day!

  7. Congratulations on your new book. Love the cover. My favorite time period is Regency England.

  8. I don't have a favorite time period. As long as it is historical I am happy. For a first book I am excited about reading it. Thanks for the giveaway!


  9. Hi Jayne - congratulations on your debut release! I honestly don't have a favorite historical time period. I'll read great characters across the eons.

  10. Here's wishing you tons of success and many happy more characters to release on the world!

  11. Sounds like a fun story. Congrats on its release!

  12. My favorite is the regency period. Thanks for sharing the release with a giveaway :)

    Debi Anne

  13. Congratulations on the book! I like the Regency period.


  14. Congrats on your debut historical release! I enjoy reading about Victorian, Regency, and Georgian periods.

    kliu107 (at) gmail (dot) com

  15. Congrats on the new release and the lovely cover, Jayne. I do love regencies, but like Tracey am a huge fan of medievals especially those set during the Norman invasion.

    janie1215 AT excite DOT com

  16. LOL! Fantastic excerpt! I already love Sophie and Lazarus. Congratulations on your release, Jayne. I look forward to reading it. :)

  17. Congratulations on your debut! I love firsts :) I enjoy all historicals but if you twisted my arm I'd probably say medievals but since I like variety, I'm always reading a little bit of everything. Great excerpt!


  18. Congrats on the release of The Most Improper Miss Sophie Valentine!

    I love history, so really any historical period is great, but I do read a lot of Regency romances, and the Victorian era is a close second.

  19. Congrats on your debut. It's always fun finding new authors to read.

  20. I am so thrilled to be here. Thank you all for the warm welcome!

  21. Our winners are: Diand D and Anonymous (Debi Anne). Thanks to everyone who stopped by! Have a great weekend,