Home | Site
National Bestselling Author Beth Kery
Books What's Next? About Beth Blog Guestbook Contact

Archive for January, 2011



My Thoughts on Downton Abbey
Sunday, January 30th, 2011

Spending so much time both working and writing in the cave, I’m sometimes hopelessly out of it when it comes to what everyone is watching on television these days. My husband often saves me from complete ignorance by gifting me with an awesome movie or television collection. He struck gold again by bringing home the first season of Downton Abbey, the stunning Masterpiece production from Julian Fellowes (of Gosford Park fame).

In Downton Abbey, Fellowes once again highlights pre-World War II England, an ephemeral, gilded era that managed to hold on, however briefly, to both the ancient hierarchies of the aristocracy and the excitement of the technological age. It was a poignant, elegant period, and Fellowes is right to want to put it on the screen. For some reason, the era of the Titanic and electric lights shining upon people, furniture and houses that were created in the Victorian period is somehow magical—a little like the feeling I get from a steampunk. I’ve always had a love of this age, which is one of the many reasons I wrote Daring Time.

It was an era of confidence and enthusiasm, and yet there was a dark cloud growing on the horizon. (Perhaps that is the reason why the sinking of the Titanic, which is a significant plot element in Downton Abbey, is such a remembered, telling event of this age). The main character of Downtown Abbey is, of course, the austere, awesome estate and home itself. (I learned it’s actually Highclere Castle in Berkshire, England). Two different classes exist within the microcosm of Downton, two complete different social orders—one upstairs, and one downstairs—the ‘family’ and the servants. Fellowes’ genius, in both Gosford Park and Downton Abbey, is to equally highlight the downstairs and the upstairs world. By doing so, we see not only the fascinating workings of a ‘great’ house, but also hints of the social upheaval that was about to occur.

Downton Abbey is sexy, it’s smart and it’s truly a delight to the senses. The score is as gorgeous as some of the ‘upstairs’ lady’s dresses. (They change clothes three times a day, by the way, so the costume designer had her job cut out for her). The upstairs is ruled by the noble, kind Robert, Earl of Grantham (Hugh Bonneville) and his delightfully strong and outspoken American-heiress-wife Cora, Lady Grantham (Elizabeth McGovern). Cora and Robert had three girls, and were unable to provide the legally required male heir. The entailment requires that the entire estate, including the vast fortune Cora brought from America to the marriage, must go to a second and third cousin. However, when the two cousins are both killed upon the sinking of the Titanic, the vast estate legally goes to an unknown, middle-class solicitor whom the family doesn’t even know. It’s a stunning blow to the old family, and seeing how they work through the archaic law is fascinating stuff.

There is a ‘king and queen’ belowstairs as well as above, for the servants’ hierarchy is every bit as strict as the aristocracy’s. The ruler of this world is the butler, Mr. Carson, admirably played by Jim Carter, who I enjoyed in Cranford. Mr. Carson is fussy and strict, but as the story evolves, we see his rich, amusing history and his fair nature, and we come to care for him. The downstairs matriarch is the housekeeper Mrs. Hughes (Phyllis Logan)—”she who carries the keys”. Once again, here is a character representative of the whole story—richly drawn, strong and sympathetic. The servants follow the goings-on upstairs closer than a soap-opera addict follows her favorite stories, but their interest goes beyond entertainment to the core of their very identities. Mr. Carson’s identity and pride is largely tied into the position and status of the family. However, as the tides of social change begin to sweep over the servants, we also see those who are bitter toward those they serve, vindictive and manipulative.

Power is distributed in a shockingly hierarchical fashion,and it’s fascinating to see how the servants subtly influence the family to get a desired result or how they backbite and scheme to move one step up on the servant social ladder. Thomas, for instance, the decidedly nasty and reptilian ‘first’ footman, is envious and bitter that an outsider is brought in to be the Earl’s personal valet, which would have been a step up for him. He plots to get rid of the interloper, both subtly using family influence, but also overtly, by planting stolen goods on the new valet.

I enjoyed every moment of this well-acted, well-written and beautifully filmed saga about a time period infrequently portrayed in books and movies. If you love period pieces, gorgeous costumes and scenery and love a well-told tale, I recommend Downton Abbey wholeheartedly.

The last scene of the season came at an elegant garden party. The Earl of Grantham receives a telegram and announces to the entire assemblage that England is at war with Germany. Change is afoot. I cannot wait for the new season.
My Rating: 5 stars

Excerpt from The Hometown Hero Returns
Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

Hi all! So I was putting up an excerpt for The Hometown Hero Returns on its page, and I thought I’d put it up here as well. So, here it is…the prologue from this March 22 release.

The Hometown Hero Returns
By Beth Kery

Prologue

He’d followed her for three blocks, undecided whether he would call out or just fade back into the shadows of their mutual memories. The weight of the past had locked his vocal cords, but the sight of her graceful figure drew him like a magnet.

He repeatedly told himself there was no reason for so much trepidation. There was nothing between Mari and him now. The common ground they once shared was shadowed by his shame for his father’s actions as well as the bitterness he felt toward Mari for refusing to see or speak to him for half a lifetime.

He nearly did a complete turnabout in the revolving doors of the Palmer House Hotel, telling himself it would be best to just walk away. But at the last minute, impulse drove him to say her name.

“Marianna.”

She glanced around.

Mari’s eyes—God, he’d forgotten their power. The sounds in the bustling, luxurious hotel lobby faded as the color washed out of her cheeks. He felt a stab of regret. It’d been the sight of her breathtaking face that’d compelled him to pull up short and call her name.

For a few seconds they remained motionless. The single word he’d uttered had been the first shared between them since they’d both lost loved ones in one cruel swipe of fate’s hand.

“Marc,” Mari mouthed.

“I was at your performance and I followed you,” he explained rapidly. When she continued to stare at him, her expression rigid with shock, he realized how strange that sounded. “I just wanted to say, you were wonderful.”

She set down her cello case and straightened, seeming to gather herself. Her small smile seemed to give him permission to step closer. “Since when does Marc Kavanaugh listen to anything but rock music?”

“Give me some credit, Mari. A lot can change in fifteen years.”

“I’ll grant you that,” she replied softly.

He couldn’t stop himself from visually devouring a sight that had been ripped away from him so long ago. She wore the black dress that was standard apparel for a symphony member. The garment was simple and elegant, but it couldn’t hide the fact that womanhood had added some curves to Mari’s slender form.

In all the right places, Marc acknowledged as his gaze lingered for two heartbeats on her full breasts. He glanced down at her hands, noticing she twisted them together, betraying her nerves. Mari was a cellist—a brilliant one. She had the hands of musician—sensitive and elegant. Even though she’d been young and inexperienced when they’d been together so long ago, she’d had a magical touch on his appreciative skin.

“Look at you. Mari Itani, all grown up.”

“You too.”

Maybe it was his imagination, but her lowered glance seemed almost as hungry as his inspection of her had been. She returned his smile when she looked into his eyes. “Every inch the newly elected Cook County State’s Attorney.”

“How did you know about that?”

She shrugged. “I read about it. I wasn’t surprised. It was a foregone conclusion you’d excel at whatever you did. You always got what you wanted, once you made up your mind about it.” She swallowed and glanced away. “I was sorry to hear about your divorce.”

“I’m sure that didn’t make any headlines. How did you know about that?”

She looked uncomfortable. “I still have a few contacts in Harbor Town. I keep in touch.”

Not with me though, Mari. Fifteen years of silence. Marc banished the flash of frustration, knowing how fruitless the emotion was.

“Right,” he nodded, understanding dawning. “I wouldn’t be surprised if Walt Edelmann over at the Shop and Save was the first person to know about my divorce outside of Sandra and myself. It’s almost supernatural the way that man acquires gossip.”

Her radiant smile made a dull ache expand in his chest. “Do you think Walt still works at the Stop and Save?”

“I know he does. I don’t go back to Harbor Town often, but when I do, I always see Walt. He’s a standard fixture. He and my mother chat almost every day, which is code for exchanging juicy news.”

Her glance ricocheted off him at the mention of his mother. The light from the lobby chandeliers made the dark gold highlights in her brown hair gleam when she lowered her head. “Well…you know how small towns are.”

“Yeah, I do,” he replied gruffly.

She stirred beneath his stare. The moment wasn’t as much awkward as it was tense. Charged. He waited, wondering what she would say. He was having trouble finding the words himself. He and Mari were almost strangers to each other now. It was odd, the paradox of connection and distance he felt with this woman, as though they each stood on the opposite side of a great chasm of grief, joined only by a thin, ephemeral thread.

Still, that cord was strong enough that it had tugged at him this afternoon when he’d seen the newspaper article about the San Francisco Orchestra playing at Symphony Hall; it had made him ask his administrative assistant to buy him a ticket to the performance. It had fueled his impulsive decision to follow her to her hotel.

He nodded in the direction of a crowded lounge. “Can I buy you a drink?”

She hesitated. He was sure she was going to say it wasn’t a good idea. He might have agreed with her five minutes ago, before he’d been stunned by the visceral impact of standing so close to her…of seeing her face.

“I have a suite. There’s a separate room where we could have a drink and talk. I mean…if you’d like,” she added when he didn’t immediately respond.

Seeing the sight tremble in her lush lips had mesmerized him.

He blinked, wondering if he was seeing things he wanted to see, not reality. He saw the glow of desire in eyes that reminded him of rare cognac, a heat that hadn’t been entirely stamped out by the weight of tragedy.

“That sounds like a great idea.”

She nodded, but neither of them moved. The bond he’d shared with Mari since they’d been sunburned, carefree teenagers in Harbor Town–a bond formed by love and battered by grief—chose that moment to recall its strength and coil tight.

He stepped forward at the same moment she came toward him. He enfolded her in his arms. A convulsion of emotion shook her body.

“Shhh.” His hand found its way into her smooth, soft hair. He fisted a hand full of it and lifted it to his nose. Her scent filled his head. Desire roared in his blood.

“Mari,” he whispered.

He pressed his mouth to her brow, her eyelid and cheek. He felt her go still in his arms when he kissed the corner of her mouth. Her lips were parted and warm. She turned her head slowly, her mouth brushing against his. Their breaths mingled. A powerful need surged up in him, the primal quality of it shocking him a little. He possessively covered her mouth.

When he lifted his head a moment later and saw the way she panted softly through well-kissed lips, he knew he’d succeeded in easing her doubts.

“I can think of a thousand reasons we shouldn’t do this,” she whispered.

“I can only think of you. Lead the way, Mari.”

She put her hand in his and they headed toward the elevators that led to the rooms.

Look for The Hometown Hero Returns March 22, 2011 from Harlequin Special Edition
Preorder

I have a Harlequin Cover!
Friday, January 14th, 2011

It’s very Harlequinny (yes, I just made up that adjetive) but it’s very pretty as well. I love the sunset colors. The beaches on the western Michigan shore where the series is set are known for their spectacular sunsets.

The cover copy may sound a bit…Harlequinny also :) but trust me, this is a heart-wrenching, emotional…satisfying romance.

YOU CAN GO HOME AGAIN!

At eighteen, Marianna Itani thought she’d found the man of her dreams in Marc Kavanaugh, the quintessential boy-next-door. That perfect romance flew to pieces when an unspeakable tragedy tore them apart. Yet when Marc appeared in her life fifteen years later, the sparks that flew were as explosive as the day they first met.

Now their reignited passion was changing their lives in more ways than one: Mari was pregnant! She was set on putting the pain of the past behind her—not reopening scars that had never truly healed. And their baby might bring these star-crossed lovers back together—forever!

Beth’s personal note on the Home to Harbor Town series:
I’m in the process of working on a very special project for me, a mini-series for Harlequin Special Edition called Home to Harbor Town. It’s about three very different families, all of whom are irrevocably tied together after one fateful night and a fatal car crash involving a drunk driver. Home to Harbor Town is a very emotional, intense read with lots and lots of heartfelt romance. I really appreciate Harlequin Special Edition for picking it up and being so supportive of the trope.

The Hometown Hero Returns–the first in the series.
Pre-Order at Amazon

Look for Liam’s Perfect Woman, Book 2 in the Home to Harbor Town series, coming in August of 2011.

The winners are announced!
Wednesday, January 5th, 2011

Thanks to everyone for stopping by and checking out the new site, and thanks again to Frauke for doing such a wonderful job.

I had the random number generator choose two numbers for the prizes.

The winner of all of my print books is
#33, Iveliss

The winner of a ten dollar Amazon gift certificate is
#20, Danielle James

Ladies, write to me at bethkery@aol.com to claim your prizes!

A new year and a new website! Help me celebrate!
Sunday, January 2nd, 2011

It’s finally here, my much awaited new website designed by the awesome Frauke from Crocodesigns. The timing is perfect, as 2011 is a very exciting year for me. It involves the debut of my Bethany Kane alter ego for Berkley as well as my new Home to Harbor Town series from Harlequin Special Edition!

Take a look around the new site and tell me what you think. I’m in the mood to celebrate the bright new prospects of 2011, so I’ll be giving away ALL of my print books (including my Ellora’s Cave print books) to one commenter and also a ten dollar Amazon gift card to another commenter (randomly chosen, winners announced 1/5/11).

Hurray, and Happy New Year!!



Steam for the Sophisticated Reader www.BethKery.com Go back to the top