FREE E-BOOK and Guest blog by Judith James

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Rakes and Rogues of the Restoration series debut: Or how to leave your publisher and start over again.

The 17th century has always been one of my favorite periods. It is filled with  highwaymen, cavaliers and courtiers; political upheaval, social mobility both up and down, colorful characters, tremendous wit and giant leaps in science and thought. During and after the Restoration women had more freedom than they would in later years, the social structure was more informal, and people questioned authority, religion, and long held beliefs in a way they hadn’t before. In a way, the Restoration period reminds me a bit of the sixties.

While researching the period for Highland Rebel, I came across John Wilmot, the notorious rake and libertine and sublime poet whose scathing wit and social commentary ( as well as humor, charm and good looks) gave me the idea for a story that turned in to Libertine’s Kiss. The first in a series of 17th century romantic historicals, an AAR Desert Island Keeper and an RT nominee for Best British Isles Historical, this book tells the story of two childhood sweethearts torn apart by civil war and reunited following the restoration of Charles II to the throne. It features a hero based on the notorious libertine, poet and close friend to the king, John Wilmot Earl of Rochester

Libertine’s Kiss has a bit of a fairytale motif, and is a love story told at least in part from a POV firmly planted in the centre of London, court life, the inner royal circle, and palace intrigue. William de-Veres is the ultimate insider and the heroine Elizabeth develops a close friendship with King Charles II. My editor “got it” I had a great cover, and the book did reasonably well for an relatively unknown author. Sadly though, (but happily for her) my editor was off to a prestigious art school before I began the second.

Undaunted, inspired by the period and firmly at home in it, I began the second book, The King’s Courtesan. This hero and heroine in the second book were “outsiders” in a sense. Captain Nichols was a country gentleman, a friend and suitor of Elizabeth from Libertine’s Kiss, but he fought on the Parliamentarian side and loses his lands soon after King Charles II regains his throne. The heroine, Hope Mathews, is a lowborn mistress of the king who must be removed from court before King Charles’ new wife arrives from Portugal.

Although Libertine’s Kiss and The King’s Courtesan are connected stories with recurring characters they were not connected as a series by title or covers by my publisher. I felt too much was cut from the second story to bring it in at a certain length, the cover was dreadfully wrong for the period and there was no series title. I was disheartened. I read reviews complaining there was no epilogue or follow up to the first book. I heard from people asking if there would be a second book a year after the second book was released. Very few people found that book compared to the first one.

Highwayman please (2)When the third book, titled Hers at Midnight was approved it was not connected either. To be honest, I didn’t like the title for this one either. I had my heart set on The Highwayman and I didn’t want a mustache on my clean shaven hero. But these things were decided by the marketing department, not me. When it was delayed for release repeatedly, I began to consider what had once been unthinkable.

Many friends were recommending independent publishing as the best place for cross genre books who don’t adhere to the rules to find a home. I was terrified at leaving traditional publishing, but I decided to make the move. After much negotiation and a long wait I got most of my rights back (other than foreign translations) to my first two books and the as yet unpublished Hers at Midnight.

At last I was able to publish my books as series, The Rakes and Rogues of the Restoration, in the form and length that was originally intended. Libertine’s Kiss remains the same, except for the cover. I am delighted to release an enhanced version of the King’s Courtesan, now titled Soldier of Fortune in the form and length that was originally intended. Readers who enjoyed Libertine’s Kiss can find out what happened to Captain Nichols and catch up with Elizabeth, Charlie and Will.

The last line leads directly into my new release The Highwayman,  a story based on the real highwayman Swift Nick and inspired by the intrepid 17th century traveler and journalist Celia Fiennes that takes the reader from the privileged world of London’s aristocracy to the highways and byways, inns and hunting grounds of some of England’s most celebrated rogues.


I have learned a lot along the way. One of the toughest hurdles in launching the series was finding the right covers. These stories aren’t traditional romance in the current sense of the word, nor are they traditional historicals. They are a blend of fact and fiction, history and romance, with a dash of adventure, a generous helping of sensuality, a bit of a literary twist and an angsty love story at their core. Finding images to represent them, let alone ones that are historically appropriate was a daunting task, but thanks to Rob Lucas I was able to do just that. Blogger, photographer, model, re-enactor, weapons consultant, and clothing designer, Rob also owns a period clothing store. His Rakish Highwayman was the inspiration for all three covers. It has been a difficult task getting all the elements together but I am happy with the covers and the title. They are my choices and I am proud of them, even if the old ones may have been more marketable.

Finally, although each book can stand alone, they were written as a series, and when read in sequence, they provide a richer picture of the characters and the times. If you are interested in revisiting, catching up, or discovering the series for the first time today is the day! Both Libertine’s Kiss and Soldier of Fortune are free on kindle today!

I have included Rob’s Rakish Highwayman, my cover inspiration. I would also like to thank Victoria for inviting me here today and for all she does to broaden the field and open the doors to stories of history and romance.


Judith James, award-winning author of IPPY gold medalist BROKEN WING, Historical Novels Reviews Top Choice and Barnes and Nobles best of the year HIGHLAND REBEL, and Booklist starred reviewed and Romantic Times 2010 best book nominee LIBERTINE’S KISS, is an avid reader and history buff who grew up in Montreal Quebec. She is a bit of an adventure junkie and has travelled, worked and lived in many places, including the Arctic, Ireland, London and France.

Variously employed as a trail guide, horse trainer, and clinical psychologist, she’s had the opportunity to live out many of her dreams. She has found the perfect place to write on the East Coast, with a view of the ocean from her window. Judith’s writing combines her love of history, romance and adventure with her keen interest in the complexities of human nature, and the heart’s capacity to heal.

She is currently getting ready to publish her Rakes and Rogues of the Restoration series. If you haven’t met them yet, catch up with the libertine, William de Veres and his childhood sweetheart Elizabeth Walters in Libertine’s Kiss. Meet the soldier and the courtesan in Soldiers of Fortune, previously known as The King’s Courtesan and prepare to be swept away by The Highwayman, a story based on the real highwayman Swift Nick and inspired by the intrepid 17th century traveler and journalist Celia Fiennes.

Ms James is always pleased to hear from fellow readers and writers and invites you to visit her on Facebook, her webpage or on twitter.

Follow Victoria Vane:

Romance Novelist

VICTORIA VANE is an award-winning author of smart and sexy romance with works ranging from wild comedic romps to emotionally compelling erotic romance. Her books have received more than twenty awards and nominations to include the 2014 RONE Award for Treacherous Temptations and Library Journal Best E-Book romance of 2012 for The Devil DeVere series. She lives the beautiful upstate of South Carolina with her husband, two sons, a little black dog, and an Arabian horse.

20 Responses

  1. Sandra Owens

    I’ve been a Judith James fan ever since I read Broken Wing. Pulled it out and read it again only a few months ago. I’ve read Libertine’s Kiss, but now I look forward to reading all three in a row. Love the new covers, Judith.

  2. Caz

    I am always sorry to hear it when authors are stuck in the sort of situation you describe, but I’m glad you were able to do something about it in order to bring us your stories as YOU wanted to tell them.

    The covers are beautiful.

    One thing; I can’t find Soldier of Fortune at Amazon UK – is it available here?

    • Judith James

      Hi Caz. Unfortunately, that was one I was unable to get back, They said they had just licensed it and would revert the rights when the license expired. I am not sure if you can get it from the EU. It is available in France etc. in English. Also the old version with the cover I’m not too fond of is available in the UK as The King’s Courtesan, but the newer book has had some revisions and added material. Very frustrating to miss one book in a seroes in one country. I am fighting this but have yet to make any progress.

      • Caz

        I had suspected that might be the case, Judith, but thank you for confirming it. I shall have to resort to my trusty work-around (legal!) method of obtaining from the US. But how frustrating, in this age of the WWW that book publishers still think having an ocean between us is a sensible method of licensing books!

  3. Aly (@megeara_erinyes)

    I had no idea the 2nd book wasn’t how you wanted it to be, when I first read it… I loved it anyway so now I can’t wait to read the revised version 😀
    What do you have in mind to write next? I know I’ll buy and read it 🙂

    • Judith James

      I was disappointed with cover Aly. Not that it was bad, but I didn’t think it reflected either character or the times. As for the story. All the essentials are the same but I usually write about 20,000 words longer. I had to remove some of Hope’s personal story, and some about Elizabeth and William from Libertine’s Kiss. I hope putting it backt adds to the story 🙂 My next book is The Highwayman which I’ve just released. I am about halfway through a historical fantasy, and halfway through a story about Jacques, a character from Broken Wing. I also have a contemporary ghost story on the go 🙂 Once I’ve shepherded the series all into print I will have to pick one and finish it. I honestly don’t know which one that will be yet. Any suggestions?

    • Judith James

      Thank you Jessica! I have to give the credit for the covers to Rob, but I searched two months looking for images close to what I wanted before I found him. He was a dream to work with and seemed almost to read my mind.

    • Judith James

      I may return to some of the characters from Broken Wing, Davy or Jacques, but I don’t know. If I do, Gabe and Sarah will be far away sailing and making babies. They’ve been through enough.

  4. Barbara Monajem

    I already have Libertine’s Kiss — it’s up soon in my TBR list. The 17th Century and particularly the Restoration area are favorites of mine, and it’s a shame they haven’t caught on the way Tudor and Regency have. I even took 17th Century poetry in university — although unsurprisingly they didn’t expose us to Rochester; I had to find him on my own. 😉

  5. Judith James

    Such wonderful poetry isn’t it. An Rochester is so amazing. He spoke truth to power cloaked in profanity and stunning wit. I love his poetry.