2014 Golden Heart Update: The Historical Romance Finalists

What have the other 2014 GH finalists and I been doing since last month? Besides celebrating, writing, revising, pursuing publication, changing signature lines and bios, answering interview questions, updating websites, adding special events to our conference schedules, keeping up with emails and social media, competing in other contests, going to day jobs, and having personal lives? We’re getting to know each other on the private Golden Heart loops. Who needs sleep?

What’s trending on the GH loop right now? Choosing a name for the 2014 group, RWA14 pitches to agents and editors, and finding the dress for the July awards ceremony. More on those topics in future Golden Heart updates. From now through June I’ll host groups of the 2014 GH finalists. Today the 8 Historical Romance nominees are sharing snippets of their manuscripts and thoughts on being a finalist.

2014 Historical Romance Golden Heart Titles

Word Cloud created by GH finalist, Nan Dixon


charisCharis Calhoon

This is my second time to final in the Golden Heart. It sounds so cliched, but it really is an honor simply to make the final-round of judging. Out of all my WIPs, this manuscript has always been my favorite, so I’m incredibly excited to see it out there. THE EARL NEXT DOOR is a whimsical Regency Historical that dips and spins from London to Somerset and back again….

Miss Piety Grey, American heiress, is running away. Running from a cruel and avaricious suitor; running from her manipulative mother, who is bent on the match; running from a life half-lived in New York City. Her flight takes her to London, where she sinks her inheritance into a ramshackle townhome mansion in Mayfair. There she resolves to entrench herself and her fortune, refurbish the house, and start a new life with real and true friends.

The very last thing that Trevor Rheese, the Earl of Falcondale, wants is to become anyone’s friend, real or true—especially no friend to the complicated, distracting American who’s bought the house next door….  chariscalhoon@yahoo DOT com


ellenEllen Lindseth

A SOLDIER’S SERENADE is my 2014 GH final, in which a spirited, young songwriter falls for a stoic, divorced army officer in WWII Minnesota, forcing her to choose between her dreams of success and the longings of her heart. As for the Golden Heart, this is my first final in four tries. I actually cried when I got the phone call, because to me it meant I had finally done it, I had finally taught myself to write at a high enough level to impress my peers, and that meant the world to me.

http://www.ellenlindseth.com    Twitter @EllenLindseth



Gwyn MacKenzie

My title is THE SEER. It’s the first of a Merlin’s Prophesy series. (The prophesy is on my website).  I’m a 4-time finalist (07, 09, 11, 14), and this is my first even-numbered year. Mayhap that will bode well.





Julie Mulhern

This is my first Golden Heart final. It was a wonderful surprise, and I still can’t quite believe it’s real. A HAUNTING DESIRE is a turn of the century story about a ghost-hunter and a madam, who team up to catch a serial killer in 1902 New Orleans.


 Jillian’s Update: Julie sold her 3-book mystery series to Henery via Margaret Bail of Inklings Literary Agency.  The publication date for THE DEEP END  is February 17, 2015.


lauraLaura Trentham

Hi! This is my first time finaling in the Golden Heart, too. My Regency romance series Spies and Lovers is a little dark, a little funny, and a whole lot of sexy. I entered the first two manuscripts and was beyond shocked when I got the calls informing me they had both finaled. For me, being nominated is a great honor that I hope will open a few doors in an industry that is tough to crack.


With spywork in her blood, Lady Lily Drummond, armed with some rather unusual skills for a debutante, joins Crown spy Gray Masterson in the hunt for her missing father, not realizing the danger will ignite a passion neither can deny even as a web of madness closes around them.


In order to keep control of her dowry and maintain the freedom not to marry, Lady Minerva Bellingham agrees to settle her brother’s gaming debts by working as a servant at Lord Rafe Drummond’s country estate for three months. Rafe can’t believe the beautiful, cold paragon of the ton didn’t call him out when he proposed the scandalous bargain. An unexpected passion turns their hatred into love, but neither can outrun their demons.

(Jillian’s note: Double congrats, Laura! She sold both her historical manuscripts to Samhain and her 3 book football contemporary series to St. Martins’ Press via her agent, Kevan Lyon. To be released in 2015)

Twitter @LauraTrentham


Lenore Bell

My Regency CHARLENE AND THE DUCHESS FACTORY is also my first GH final. I’m beyond thrilled.

http://www.lenorabell.com/    http://lenorabell.blogspot.com/

(Jillian’s note: Lenore won the 2014 Golden Heart Historical Romance award. She’s represented by ICM literary agent Alexandra Machinist.)



sheriSheri Humphreys

A HERO TO HOLD finaled in 2012, so finaling in the Golden Heart again means I’m close to selling and realizing my dream!


The end of the Crimean War brings Victoria Thorne home to face a society that isn’t ready for a lady with the education and experience of a physician. While nursing a Crimean veteran she proves herself able to deal with medical challenges and discrimination, but she’s dismayed when she develops an attraction to her patient’s betrothed brother, the Earl of Havenwood.

Robb Merrick, Earl of Havenwood, is engaged to a darling of society, yet finds himself drawn to his brother’s nurse. She makes him feel connected with the world instead of cocooned by his title and position. He craves the freedom to pledge his love and loyalty, but ending his betrothal means entangling them all in scandal. How can an honorable gentleman be expected to keep his vow when doing so means destroying all hope of happiness?




That’s me, the last of the first time Golden Heart finalists in this year’s Historical Romance category. I’m still shocked, thrilled, and overwhelmed. The GH nomination is an honor from my peers and validates my writing, but I’m also humbled by how incredibly fortunate I am. Maybe repeating “Golden Heart” over 100 times in a 7 part GH blog series was my lucky charm this time.

MUCH ADO ABOUT SCANDAL (Book 1 Mischief in Mayfair series)

Lady Selborne has found the man she wishes to marry. Unfortunately he’s not her husband. Lord Selborne has found the life he always wanted. Unfortunately he’s not free to live it. The estranged couple agree to end their arranged marriage the only honorable way allowed by Victorian law. One of them has to die – a faux death. To avoid suspicion they must convince Society they are a loving couple. That is, if they can agree who should be the “victim” and protect their hearts from a painful past and unexpected desire.

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I can’t predict what being a GH finalist will bring to each of us, but I embrace the opportunities and my fellow Historical Romance nominees. Congrats, everyone! I can’t wait to read your books.




Vintage Easter Bunny in a Basket


Happy Easter!
Will return April 29th

~ Jillian


Historical Romance Author Haley Whitehall


Haley lives in Washington State where she enjoys all four seasons and the surrounding wildlife. She writes historicals set in the 19th century U.S. When she is not researching or writing, she plays with her cats, watches the Western and History Channels, and goes antiquing. She is hoping to build a time machine so she can go in search of her prince charming. A good book, a cup of coffee, and a view of the mountains make her happy.

This month Haley has two historical romance releases, Soldier in Her Lap released on April 4th and Midnight Kiss releasing on April 14th.



April 4, 2014 Decadent Publishing

Trapped by her alcoholic, abusive father, Sophia Carpenter longs to escape her life of drudgery on her father’s dirt farm in Clark Springs, Georgia. Making matters worse, her father’s scared off every man who tried to call on her. She longs for freedom, but with the Civil War raging, even fewer men are available to fulfill her dreams—unless a soldier landed in her lap.

Conscripted into a war he never wanted to fight, Lucas Grady is tired of battle and refuses to lay his life down for a lost cause. After a musket ball tears through his leg, he deserts from the ambulance wagon rather than risk a field surgeon’s saw. He barely makes it to Sophia’s farm before collapsing.

The wounded soldier’s arrival seems like a dream come true, but first she must save him from his injuries—and her father. As forbidden attraction blooms between them, they will have to struggle to survive. Can their love overcome so many obstacles or will they become another casualty of the War Between the States?

Midnight Kiss (Moonlight Romance, Book 3)

April 14, 2014 Liquid Silver Books

Unjustly accused of stealing, nanny April Windmire is turned out on the streets without pay. With no place to go and no friends, she stows away on a Mississippi River steamboat. Her hopes to hide through the journey to St. Louis are dashed when a handsome white officer finds her. But instead of turning her in, he takes her to his private quarters where she fights her growing attraction to a man she cannot have.

Matt Seever’s wife died four year ago, leaving him alone with two small mulatto children. But his job as an officer on the Queen Bee isn’t family friendly. He knows he needs a new wife, but no southern white woman will marry him. When April lands in his lap, his prayers are answered. Or are they? April’s not the trusting type and racial prejudice runs deep in post-Civil War Missouri. Just when Matt convinces April he loves her, his new family becomes a target and there’s no backing down from this fight.

Together, April and Matt must brave heinous race prejudice crimes to find an enduring love.

Congratulations on your two new releases, Haley!



Twitter @HaleyWhitehall


Soldier in Her Lap (April 4th):

Midnight Kiss (April 14th)


Shortlink http://wp.me/p1Pfqb-5J


My 2014 Golden Heart Story: “THE CALL”

If you read this blog, you’ll know I finished posting a 7 part series on the Golden Heart contest last Tues. Repeating  “Golden Heart” over a 100 times must have been my lucky charm. The next day I received “the call” for my Historical Romance manuscript, Much Ado About Scandal.

golden_heart png
Jan Hudson’s Golden Heart Necklace

I had to run an errand on announcement day and couldn’t remember which phone number I put on my entry form. I stopped by my house to check voice mail on the landline. NO MESSAGES. I checked my computer and saw 6 names listed in the Historical Romance category. I thought that was it. NO MORE NAMES. I was already late for the Austin RWA Golden Heart Announcement Breakfast, so I headed for the door. The house phone rang. THE Jodi Thomas was calling to let me know I was a finalist. I was too shaky and shocked to scream. I’m not sure what I said. Jodi repeated that I really did final. She seemed to be waiting for a more exuberant reaction. I told her I was glad she wasn’t a telemarketer. At least I made her laugh.

I called chapter mate Chris Campillo about the final and asked if she was still at the GH breakfast. She screamed and the rest of the group screamed. They waited for me to arrive and applauded when I opened the door to the private room at a local restaurant. I’m not sure what the rest of the patrons thought. They were probably glad I shut the door behind me. Lots of congratulations and hugs ensued. What a fun and supportive group!

My life has been a thousand shades of crazy since announcement day. Emails, tweets, and calls! Oh, my! Champagne, lunch, and tea celebrations with chapter mates, friends, and family, too.

Thanks for the special memories, everyone!


The Golden Heart Part 1: Judging Contests by guest blogger, Jody Wallace

The Golden Heart Part 2: Entering the Contest

The Golden Heart Part 3: T’is the Season to Sparkle and Shine

The Golden Heart Part 4: Sliding Across the Finish Line with Your Synopsis

The Golden Heart Part 5: Here Come the Judges

The Golden Heart Part 6: What Do the Judges’ Scores Look Like?

The Golden Heart Part 7: Are You Ready for the Finalists Announcement?