Ready for an exciting new era of historical romance? The 1920s are popular at the movies, from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, to Live By Night. Now check out the Jazz Age in book form, for just $.99!
Need some jazzy historical fiction for you book club? Give If I Had You a try! Below are suggested questions for reading group discussions.
BOOK CLUB READING GUIDE for If I Had You by Heather Hiestand
Jazz music is a passion of the heroine in If I Had You. Are there songs that tell the story of your life?
- Immigration is a major factor in the hero’s past in If I Had You. Do you think immigrants should fully embrace the culture of their new country, or is there still a place for the politics, language, and lifestyle of the old country while living in the new?
- There were more women than men in the young adult population in the 1920s, due to deaths in World War I. Many women had to support themselves but opportunities were limited. Would you do anything you could to find a man to support you, or look for work? What kind?
- A “live for now” attitude existed in youth culture in the 1920s because of all the terrors in the previous decade. How would living through a war and a flu epidemic as a teenager affect your twenties?
- Which comes first, protecting one family member or saving the lives of a lot of strangers? Would you help a relative escape the police if they had committed a crime or turn them in?
- If you owned a business with a scandalous history, would you embrace that history or attempt to hide it?
- In the 1920s, contraceptive information was becoming more widely available. Who should be in charge of family planning, the man or the woman?
- If the person you are in a relationship with speaks English as a secondary language, should you attempt to learn their primary language to deepen your relationship?
Welcome to 1924, a time when youth was fast and fleeting, and the young people of the time pushed the memories of terrible war into the deep recesses of their minds in order to PAR-TAY! England didn’t have Prohibition like the United States, just a law that required food to be served along with liquor. Youth flocked to nightclubs, movie theaters, and daytime dances in order to have fun. The madcap elite of the day were called the Bright Young Things.
If I Had You is set around a Grand Hotel with an attached nightclub, the decadent Russian design bringing aristocrats, film and theater people, and travelers of all sorts to its doors. Not only that, it’s attracted the attention of Russia itself, and the new Soviet government is using the hotel to house trade delegates…or are they saboteurs, intent on bringing down the British government?
Into this glittering party arrives Alecia Loudon, a young woman ready to work as a secretary to theater people by day and live as a flapper by night. She wanders the hotel in the wee hours, listening to jazz and watching out for the handsome Russian night watchman who also prowls the corridors…
If I Had You is the first novel in the Grand Russe series. Book 2, I Wanna Be Loved By You is out next Valentine’s Day, and Book 3 will be out next September. Fall in love…in the 1920s.
If I Had You, the first book in my Jazz Age London series, goes on sale in one week! I’ve been eagerly awaiting the response to my move to 1924. When you were last reading my historical fiction, it was 1892 in London! How times change…
When I decided to write a Grand Hotel series, I needed to make it opulent. I found information about the Ballet Russes and was very inspired by the costuming of this French-based ballet company. I designed my hotel based on the art in the marketing materials for The Sleeping Princess ballet back in the early 1920s. It’s on the Internet if you want to take a look.This gorgeous creature is the Firebird. In my series, this painting hangs on a wall in the hotel and it figures into the series as it goes along. With all this Russian art in the decor, I had to bring in Russian characters, too.
Move over Scottish heroes, here come the Russians!
The hero of my first book is Ivan Salter. He was an upper middle class Russian who was able to leave during the Revolution because he and his sister were visiting friends close to Finland and were able to escape. Some people left that way, others left by way of China…or even British warship, like the hotel’s chambermaid, Princess Olga Novikova, another key character in the series.
In this time period the Bolshevik threat was very real, and a fair amount of the plot in this series highlights love in the time of bombs, deceit, and spycraft, 1920s style. In books 2 and 3 of the Grand Russe, you’ll start to see the spies come into play. It’s hard to fall in love when you’re pretending to be someone you are not!
But in If I Had You, the heroine is a British girl, reared by a vicar, who just wants to be a flapper, one of those girls who danced the night away in fabulous clothes. When she goes to London to work for a theatrical couple, she has no idea their command performance at the hotel is going to stir up a hotbed of Russian anger, centered on the hotel. Falling in love with refugee who is starting over isn’t so simple either. But when you meet the love of your life you just have to roll with it!
Happy September! Here in the Pacific Northwest it feels like autumn already. Admittedly, so did July this year, but most of August was hot and summery. It’s time to put away the kiddie pool, though, brew some tea, and curl up with a bunch of new books! My publisher is promoting If I Had You with some other new historical romances that are coming out this month, and I can’t wait to read them all. My Kindle is recovered from its epic crash and I have them all loaded up to enjoy!
If I Had You is out September 27th, though you can preorder it, as well as the sequel, “I Wanna Be Loved By You” which is out on Valentine’s Day. I’m negotiating the title of book three in the Grand Russe Hotel series with my editor. Book #3 will be out in September 2017. I hope the series is a success so I can keep writing stories set in my exotic, sexy hotel in 1925. I have two more stories already planned, including the happy ending for the mysterious and elegant hotel manager, Peter Eyre, who is featured in all the stories, along with his doomed romance with a tragic flapper.
I can’t wait to see who the favorite secondary characters are in my new series! I always have my own favorites, and how readers respond gives my editor and I feedback as to who readers want to learn more about. That’s how Lewis Noble got his own story in the Redcakes series. Yes, Christmas Delights was written just for Lewis fans (of course, I’m one too!)
Thank you to my readers, who allow me to pursue my favorite career outside of motherhood. I hope we can enjoy the Grand Russe hotel together.
I’m very excited to talk about my Roaring Twenties romance, If I Had You, with fellow lovers of history and romance. It’s my new Grand Russe Hotel series starter and is up for pre-order now. I’m hoping 100 people will add it to their Goodreads shelf so that my publisher will host a Q&A with me on the site. Please add my “Cinderella in the Jazz Age” novel to your shelf! bit.ly/2aDawHf
Also, my paranormal witch in space erotic romance novella, Ex Factor, is rereleased today with a new sexy cover, and is on sale for $.99! Check it out at https://www.amazon.com/Ex-Factor-Anh-Leod-ebook/dp/B01K1EMP84. It’s free on Kindle Unlimited!
Columbo Balbane misses his ex. He’s out transporting cargo around the solar system, but he’s still in love…and in lust.
Teasy Rose never told Columbo she’s a witch, and now that she’s single, she’s ready for a change. She sells her candy shop and starts Ex Factor, a new business where she uses magic spells to impersonate other people’s exes and simulate final meetings with old lovers.
When Columbo schedules an appointment, not knowing it’s her, can Teasy find closure for herself? Or is it truly possible to go home again?
Inside the glittering walls of a famous hotel, an ingénue experiences first passion . . .
As she stands before the gilded doors of The Grand Russe Hotel, Alecia Loudon is poised on the threshold of a profound awakening. It is the Roaring Twenties, and London is buzzing with opportunities for adventure . . . and indiscretion. The young personal secretary knows nothing of the ways of men, but a chance meeting with the hotel’s handsome night watchman sets her imagination afire.
Ivan Salter has noticed the quiet Englishwoman and wonders what delicate beauty might be lurking behind Alecia’s plain clothes. As the handsome Russian draws Alecia further into the hotel’s luxurious world, he introduces her to fine food, cool jazz, and forbidden assignations. Their dalliance is tested, however, by a surprising link between Ivan’s family history and Alecia’s bosses. Tangled up in international intrigue, the lovers must decide if their sparkling new romance is worth the cost . . .
The terrorist attacks in Belgium today settle on me uneasily as an author of historical fiction. As I blithely changed the timeline on my work in progress , I wondered what historical events I might be missing that might distract the characters in my novel, or even affect them. Characters live in larger worlds than our plots. For instance, my current hero is from Sicily. What might have been happening in his hometown during that week I just added to my story because I realized my plot timeline was too tight?
The other issue that concerns me is how I write about circumstances like what happened in Belgium today. My upcoming series (debuts 9/27/16), The Grand Russe Hotel, is concerned with Russian immigrants in England. Most of them are solid citizens trying to restart their lives after the Russian revolution, but some are Bolsheviks hoping to disrupt the British government. There are bombers and bomb threats and even actual bombs. Danger for all, a very real situation. As I writer, I need to make sure to keep the emotion tangible. It’s not just a plot. My characters need to feel the fear that is present in Europe today in the midst of so much sorrow, uncertainty, and despair. I must remember to keep my world of 1925 London three-dimensional. The terrorists of 2016 are different than those of 1925, but the emotions of those living through the experience are the same as those suffering today.
If we want readers to bond with our characters, understanding the mindset of people in crisis is very important. And if we can give our characters happy endings despite the traumas they live through, hopefully it can give readers a feeling of closure and hope that all is not lost, no matter how dark the sky that day.