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Leigh LaValle’s debuting The Runaway Countess

March 8, 2012

Debut author Leigh LaValle is making a splash with THE RUNAWAY COUNTESS. Please welcome her warmly to the blog and comment to enter to win her fabulous debut!

“A powerful debut. With THE RUNAWAY COUNTESS, Leigh LaValle weaves an enthralling tale of passion and deception, laced with charm and wit. Leigh LaValle is a captivating new voice in historical romance.”
-Tessa Dare USA TODAY Bestselling Author

THE RUNAWAY COUNTESS is an enchanting debut, full of passion, angst, danger, and the promise of true love.”
-Courtney Milan NYT Bestselling Author

LaValle’s debut is exciting and action packed, with a hero and heroine who play well off each other.”
-RT Book Reviews 4 stars

Making Merry on Midsummer’s Eve by Leigh LaValle

Spring is in the air! As the sun shines brighter and the temperatures rise, I feel my blood stirring. Summertime, with her vibrant, sweaty nights, is coming soon. I love every season, but I find summer by far the sexiest. Indeed, I set my debut novel, THE RUNAWAY COUNTESS, during the hot, sultry summer of 1821.

Summer brings long days spent out-of-doors, succulent berries fresh from the garden, and boisterous open air festivals. The most popular summertime festival in Europe is the lover’s holiday of Midsummer’s Eve. Celebrated on the solstice, Midsummer’s Eve is a pre-Christian holiday with strong ties to fertility rituals. (You can see where I am going with this :) )

On Midsummer’s Day, revelers came together in an open field to celebrate. Flowers were gathered for decoration, participants engaged in games and activities (such as dancing around a maypole or competing in footraces) and villagers hawked their wares to other villagers.

But, it was as the sun set for the shortest night of the year that the true celebrations began. Under the light of the June moon (called the Honey Moon due to harvesting honey from the bees) inhibitions were cast aside and revelry echoed through the sultry night air.

Bonfires were lit and villagers leapt over the flames for luck. Musicians tuned their instruments and a procession of merrymakers, often dressed in costume, wandered through the festivities carrying lanterns. Wheels were set aflame and tossed into the air or sent rolling down hillsides.

To add to the allure of the night, courting couples were encouraged to wander into the woods. Together, they would look for faeries and pixies, and gather the herbs thought to be most potent on Midsummer’s Eve. Indeed, many couples would stroll off and not return for quite some time. (And, I should guess, without any herbs in hand or pixie sightings to report.)

A night for lovers, divination spells also existed on Midsummers Eve. A woman might glimpse her next lover by dipping cloth in rose water and letting it dry before the fire with salt. (The more I research the more I think spells were not needed to see one’s lover at all :) ) Or, a man might go to a churchyard with his sword and, turning nine times, recite “Here’s the sword; where’s the sheath?” Subtle, isn’t it?

I had a lot of fun researching the Midsummer’s Eve festival, and used many of the traditions in THE RUNAWAY COUNTESS. I added a pond for skinny dipping and hero and heroine who have been sparking off each other for weeks. Voila- a night is created full of mischief and romance. A night the hero and heroine will never forget.

Tell me, Dear Reader, which season do you find the sexiest? Do you love cozy winter nights? The awakening of spring? One lucky commenter will win a digital copy of THE RUNAWAY COUNTESS!



Once the darling of high society, Mazie Chetwyn knows firsthand how quickly the rich and powerful turn their backs on the less fortunate. Orphaned, penniless and determined to defy their ruthless whims, she joins forces with a local highwayman who steals from the rich to give to the poor.

Then the pawn broker snitches, and Mazie is captured by the Lord Lieutenant of Nottinghamshire. A man who is far too handsome, far too observant…and surely as corrupt as his father once was.

Sensible, rule-driven Trent Carthwick, twelfth Earl of Radford, is certain the threat of the gallows will prompt the villagers’ beloved Angel of Kindness to reveal the highwayman’s identity. But his bewitching captive volunteers nothing—except a sultry, bewildering kiss.

And so the games begin. Trent feints, Mazie parries. He threatens, she pretends nonchalance. He cajoles, she rebuffs. Thwarted at every turn, Trent probes deep into her one vulnerability—her past. There he finds the leverage he needs and a searing truth that challenges all he believes about right and wrong.

 Buy links: Amazon ~ B&N ~ Samhain ~ iBookstore

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  1. I love the fall. The fresh smell of the season and the beauty of everything changing.

    • Jenna- I love the fall too! My birthday is on Oct 13, when everything is bright and crisp. We just moved to Oregon last summer and had such a gorgeous autumn here!

  2. I would have to say winter. So many more opportunities to snuggle since it’s harder to get warm and cozy when it’s so cold outside.

  3. I’m in South Florida so every season is beautiful (and VERY similar). However, I will choose summer as it it “bikini” season and I adore going to the beach. We also have “tourist season” which is very crowded and “snowbird season” also another busy time. Your book sounds great. I just love reading new-to-me authors. I have read some wonderful books that way! Thanks for the opportunity to win a copy of your book.

    • Hi Betty- Thanks for stopping by and saying ‘hi’! My family is in the Northeast and very much part of the Florida ‘snowbird season’ :) I also love discovering new-to-me authors. I enjoy sharing books on Goodreads for that reason- I’ve found some great recommendations there.

  4. I love fall! The crisp coolness in the air, the leaves in their beautiful array of colors. A time to bundle up and snuggle down. A time for rest..

    • Cindy- You mention a lot of great elements about fall! Slowing down after the fast pace of summer does feel good. Last summer, we had just more to Oregon and I dragged my family out every weekend to discover our new state. My husband was VERY happy when fall came and we could just stay home for a bit. (And unpack :)

  5. Fall is also the season for me. Sounds like a great book. I haven’t read anything by Leigh LaValle, but will be looking her up on BN. Thanks for the giveaway.

  6. I love summer. I am a warm weather fan and can’t stand to be cold. Your book sounds great. I love the cover.

    • Crystal- The same artist who does Beverley’s covers did my cover. She is talented, isn’t she? I love Bev’s new cover with the hot pink and black. For mine, I asked for gold or purple (the artist chose gold) with a lot of cascading fabric. (The hot hero was a bonus.)

  7. Thanks for having me here at The Season, Bev! I am excited to share my release week with you all!

  8. I love the spring of the year, everything is coming a live and then you have those rainy days to snuggle up with a good book, having one of those today.

    • We are having a lovely spring day here in Oregon as well. The sun feels wonderful, the flowers are opening and the birds are singing. It is a wonderful time of year! Have a great day, Quilt Lady!

  9. Summer is my favorite season…think ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof’ and ‘The Long, Hot Summer’…both films starring Paul Newman…how bad can that be?

    Since summer arrives early in NC, hoping to snag a copy of Leigh’s book to read during the long days of summer!

  10. Spring…the colors make everything more vivid….love in bloom. Congratulations on your book!

  11. I’m not sure if I’ve ever thought of one season as being sexier than any other, but thinking about it, I’d say things steam up more around here during warmer weather.

    I love Spring, when the flowers start blooming. And gardening is so much easier and more productive. But there’s nothing like the air during Fall.

  12. It’s been ages since I’ve read a good highwayman story! Good luck with your debut, Leigh!

    Not being the outdoorsy type (with the possible exception of fishing), I’d have to say I find winter the sexiest season. I may not like being cold, but I sure like getting warmed up with the right person. 😉

    • lol, Ann. Getting warmed up with the right person is surely a good thing. The highwayman in the Runaway Countess is a secondary character, the story centers more on those who are looking for him or trying to protect him. But, I am working on his novella. It is turning into an ‘Electric Cowboy’ kind of story (if you are familiar with the movie.)

  13. The sword/sheathe rhyme made me laugh. I love summer–the season where there’s a valid reason to wear less!

    • Julie- That rhyme was funny. I remember my husband once saying that it was a cold spring his senior year of college, and he just wanted it to warm up so the girls would take their clothes off. lol.

  14. I admire Leigh for letting us see the different facets of the character showing not only thier good qualities but their faults as well in The Runaway Countess. What a wonderful way for us to identify on a more intiment level as we reflect on our own personal lives as well.

    When I think of my favorite seasons those same conflicts come into mind as well. Cozy winter nights in front of a fireplace can be soothing but how often does that snow then turn into a blizzard where you lose power and hear? The beginning of spring brings violets, tulips and daffodils to our yard but it can also be a time of hurricaines and storms. So I love the winter for the quiet times spent with my husband before that warm fire but shudder thinking of going outside for one more load of wood to keep the fire going and I love the Spring flowers in all their glory but don’t enjoy thinking how that means that the summer crowds will soon be decending about our town heading to our beaches. As in all things to enjoy the wonderful things about a season or a relationship the reality of heartbreak and sadness are always lurking nearby.

  15. I like summer best, beach time and warm weather, love it. Congrats about the book i love the review and cover and good luck with the debut :)

    • Thanks Amy! We just moved to the coast from the Rocky mountains and I loved going to the beach last summer. Though it’s not quite a warm beach here-I get to go to Hawaii this May for that! My writing partner, Carey Baldwin, is getting married on Maui. No better excuse to go to Hawaii.

  16. It’s pretty much mild here all year round so I like all the seasons. I’ll choose Spring because I can get out more and explore the hiking mountain trails. The days are longer which means more reading time.

    • Na- The longer days are really nice, though I think I read more in the winter. In the summer, I tend to be outside later, going for walks after dinner or working in the yard. Thanks for saying hi!

  17. Congrats Leigh on the release 😛

    I live in southern Cali.. so can I ask.. What are seasons??? lol I have to say I love winter the best because it means layering, cuddling, and generally staying in for nice quiet nights. I picture sitting in front of a fire, talking, and being bundled up with the hubby.

    In summer when it’s hot and sweaty the last thing I want is someone touching me. But I have to admit, my idea of winter is probably a whole lot different from a lot of other people’s winters lol If I had to shovel snow, or deal with freezing pipes, icy roads, or wearing longjohns all day I don’t think I’d be feeling very romantic or sexy. I’d be more scared and looking for a space heater 😛

    • Sharon- This made me laugh. “In summer when it’s hot and sweaty the last thing I want is someone touching me.” I do like winter- I am a skier- but all those clothes get tiresome after a while. It takes forever to get dressed to go outside.

  18. Thanks for the review and giveaway.

    I live in south Texas, where we don’t really have much winter. So I guess that’s part of the reason I’ve always liked the idea of wnter snuggling and cuddling in books!

  19. I love winter too. I think cold weather is perfect for cuddling. Also you can seek refuge in a cozy cabin when you get snowed in with a hot guy. 😉

  20. Hi Leigh! Congratulations on the release of your debut!!!! Truly reason to celebrate. :)

    I’m partial–and always have been–to autumn. To me there’s nothing sexier than walking hand in hand down a tree-lined path with the fall foliage all around. And for me, the autumn weather is absolutely perfect. Best season in my book hands down.

    • Thanks Bev! It’s been so fun to be here today. I once had the privilege to be in Paris in autumn- your description makes me think of the Luxembourg Gardens as the leaves were changing. Truly romantic- I was in heaven! I’ve also been there in the spring and summer, but something about autumn was truly special. Thanks for having me at The Season For Romance!!

  21. I think early autumn would have to be the ‘sexiest’! Its still warm enough to enjoy the outdoors and then cool enough to sit by a bonfire with your loved one and get warmed under their arm! 😉 I just love the leaves changing colors too!

  22. I love fall the most. Coming from California and now living in Florida, it’s always a relief from the summer heat when fall comes along. I feel more like getting outside and doing things without melting in the heat (and Florida’s humidity). My birthday is also in the fall, and so is Halloween, which I think are great reasons to love the season as well. 😀

  23. Congratulations on the book! I would say summer because people seem happier.

  24. Congratulations on the new book. I like fall and winter.

  25. HAhahaaha! Here is the sword, really? Thank for sharing that tid bit, made it worth reading your post just for that =) Sounds like you had fun researching, and the result is an enjoyable sounding book.
    I am partial to winter, the beauty and smells. Not to mention having to cuddle up under the blankets with my handsome man.

    • Lexi- I’m glad you enjoyed that part of the poem 😉 The smells of winter make me think of wood smoke, baking, and the tang of new fallen snow. Almost makes me want to reverse the clock and go back a month!

      • If we would have had snow this year I would have agreed with you. I miss not having much this year, guess I will just have to wait for next season and enjoy wood fires and the smell of pine!

  26. I love summer and the possibility of a summer adventure. I love planning trips during that time of year. I also love the chance to eat ice cream every day. ^_^

    Congratulations on your debut!

  27. My favorite season is Fall. Cool days and cold nights are perfect for long leisurely walks, sitting around fires (outside as well as in), walking hand in hand and snuggling. For me the atmosphere is energizing, comforting, and conducive to spending lots of time with your loved one.
    I like the sound of THE RUNAWAY COUNTESS. Robin Hood is always a favorite. The need to even things out, outweighs the legal ramifications. Laws are in place for good reason, however, when they shelter wrongdoing, another option is sometimes necessary.

    Best of luck with your new release, THE RUNAWAY COUNTESS. It sounds enjoyable and I look forward to reading it.

    • Hi Librarypat- With The Runaway Countess, I really tried to show that both sides of the conflict (those that uphold the law and those that challenge it) have sympathetic motivations. I hope you enjoy reading it!

  28. OMG I can’t wait to read this book. Spring is favorite season!

  29. Autumn is my favorite season. I love the colors and the cool, crisp air – not too hot, not too cold. I love Halloween and Thanksgiving as well.

  30. Oh you are new to me but your book sounds wonderful and what a gorgeous cover. I’m a spring girl myself lol. But fall is my second favorite.

  31. Spring would be my pick. I love all of the colors and everything smells amazing.

  32. I would have to say Fall. Warm enough to stroll hand in hand outside if you like, but cool enough to stay in and snuggle if you please 😉 Congratulations on your first book, Leigh!

  33. Well, Winter you can cozy up in front of a nice fire, spring and summer you can talk long walks and hold hands on the beach, fall you can feel the crisp air as you walk and check out the colors of the leaves. I think all the seasons have something wonderful about them.


  34. I love the fall – when I lived in Michigan, at any rate. Quiet walks by trees red, orange, pink, and yellow. It was the best!

    Here in Florida things are monotonous year round. It’s very boring.

  35. I love the Spring and Fall. In the Spring, the flowers are growing and trees are blooming, and the temperatures are wonderful. In the Fall, the leaves change color, and the temperatures are wonderful. No air conditioning or heating required are just the ticket.

  36. I think summer is the sexist!

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