Author Eva Shepherd on her Favourite Historical TV Series, Movies and Books!

New Zealand writer Eva Shepherd’s book Awakening the Duchess is a marriage of convenience story between an American heiress and an English Duke. It will be released in April. Here she discusses her favourite historical TV series, movies, novels and marriage of convenience books.

When I was asked to compile a list of my favourite historical movies, books and TV series, my immediate reaction was yes, of course, no problem. As a historical romance writer, I spend a lot of time indulging my passion for all things historical so could immediately compile an extensive list. Then I was told to keep it to my top three in each category. My reaction – Three? How do I possibly limit it to just three? But here goes.

TV series

The Tudors

What this series lacked in historical accuracy it more than made up for in steamy sexiness. Dark, sultry Jonathan Rhys Meyers looked and dressed nothing like the famous red-headed monarch, but who cares. He was a man any woman would happily lose her head over.


Once again this featured a dark, sultry leading man being all masculine and seductive. I also loved the setting, that broody landscape with all those crashing waves and craggy cliff faces. Very atmospheric.

Downton Abbey

I’m going to show just how superficial I really am with this choice. I loved the first series of Downton Abbey mainly because of the clothes. The Edwardian period is one of my favourite times for the fashions. All those long linen skirts, embroidered gowns and magnificent hats. Fabulous.


Light Between the Ocean by M.L. Stedman

A wonderful Australian novel set at the end of World War Two. It’s a love story between a man and a woman, and a woman and her child, with the main characters facing an all but unsolvable moral dilemma. I also loved the movie.

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Light Between the Ocean
Cold Mountain

Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier

Set during the American civil war, it features a deserter from the Confederate side trying to get home to the woman he loves, and a woman who is trying to cope in a world that has been turned upside down. Loved it.

The White Queen by Philippa Gregory

I love Philippa Gregory’s books, and I particularly enjoyed this one because of the mystical, witchcraft element. I also loved the TV series.


Shakespeare in Love

Gwyneth Paltrow and Joseph Fiennes were brilliant in this movie. It was funny and sexy with gorgeous costumes – what more could you want?

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

I watched this movie in disbelief – putting zombies in a beloved Jane Austen story – really? But I laughed all the way to the end. Needless to say, I also love Austen’s books and all the ‘real’ tv and movie adaptations of her novels.

Gone With The Wind

A classic. What more do I need to say?

Marriages of Conveniences

This was a hard one as there’s so many great writers who have put new twists on this popular story line.

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Claire had no choice but to marry James, but then neither of them were really complaining, nor were the readers. Fabulous book and wonderful TV series.

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The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory

Unlike most marriages of convenience stories, this one did not end happily. Although as the ambitious heroine always believed she should be royalty, and her son ends up becoming king I suppose she got her happy-ever-after – sort of.

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The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare

I love Tessa Dare’s books, and this one made me laugh out loud.

It’s not a definitive list, and taste is subjective, so I’m sure not everyone will agree with my picks. Please feel free to leave a comment, particularly if you’re outraged that I left off what you consider to be the best historical book, TV series, movie or marriage of convenience tale of all time.

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The Duchess Deal Tessa Dare

An Interview with Eva Shepherd and review of her latest historical romance Awakening the Duchess

I am delighted to welcome to Bookish Jottings historical romance author Eva Shepherd for a chat about Victorian England, dashing heroes and the appeal of the 19th Century!

Thank you so much for joining me here at Bookish Jottings, Eva. It’s lovely to have you here. Could you please start by telling me something about yourself and the books you write?

Hi, it’s lovely to be here. I write historical romances set in late Victorian England. My debut book with Harlequin-Mills & Boon, Beguiling the Duke, came out in August last year, and my latest book, Awakening the Duchess is released this month.

What can I say about myself? I live in Christchurch, a beautiful, small city in the South Island of New Zealand. I’ve worked as a journalist, researcher, and as an advertising copywriter, but for many years have harboured a secret fantasy of becoming a romance writer. Now that my fantasy has become a reality, I still can’t quite believe it, and some days think I’ve started living someone else’s life. I spend most of my day immersed in the world of horse drawn carriages, society balls and beautiful gowns, but when I’m not writing I love going to the beach, I live fifteen minutes-drive from the sea, and in winter I try and go skiing as often as possible, I’m two-hours drive from the nearest ski field.

What drew you to writing historical romance?

I’ve always been interested in history. I did a degree in history and spend more time than I should glued to the history channel. I also love romance novels. They provide a wonderful means of escape and I’ve never been able to resist a happy ending. Combining the two, history and romance, is in my view, the definition of perfection.

What do you think is so fascinating about the 19th Century? And why do you think that this setting lends itself so well to historical romance?

The 19th century was a time of enormous change, particularly for women. By the late 19th century women were demanding the vote, they were moving into various trades and professions, and taking an active role in social reform. For a writer this provides a wealth of possible story lines to explore.

Eva Shepherd Portrait

What kind of research do you do for your books?

I read everything I can get hold of set in the period I’m writing about, both non-fiction and fiction. I watch countless TV programmes and YouTube videos, particularly those with an emphasis on the small details, such as how women got dressed, how food was prepared, and the etiquette rules for different occasions. Even the smallest detail is helpful for getting a feel for the period, and its lots of fun as well.

Your latest novel, Awakening The Duchess, was recently published. What is the book about?

It’s a marriage of convenience story between Arabella, an American heiress, and, Oliver, a British duke. Neither want to marry, but Arabella’s social-climbing father is determined to secure a title for his only daughter, so he forces her into a marriage with a notorious rake. Arabella is determined it will be a marriage in name only, but, not surprisingly, finds resisting the rake’s charms something of a challenge.

What did you enjoy most about writing Awakening the Duchess?

Along with being an heiress, Arabella is also an aspiring actress, so it was a lot of fun reading and writing about the late Victorian theatre. The theatre was also experiencing a lot of changes at that time. Actresses had once been seen as little more than prostitutes, but by the late 19th century they were starting to get the respect they deserved. I also enjoyed doing research on the so-called American Princesses, American women who married into the British aristocracy. They were often high-spirited, well-educated and independent young women, and they really shook up the stuffy British Society.

Who is your favourite character in the book?

As much as I like Arabella, I have to say Oliver is my favourite character. I love his devil-may-care attitude and sense of fun. Plus, despite being a rake, he is essentially a moral man who cares about those around him and is determined that no one is ever hurt by his actions. For that reason, and because he is also fabulously handsome and charming, Arabella has a lot of trouble resisting him.

How would you describe Awakening the Duchess in a single sentence?

A marriage of convenience between two people who believe they have only one thing in common, they do not want to marry anyone, ever.

Who are your favourite authors?

That’s a difficult question. There are so many wonderful writers whose work I love, and I keep discovering new authors all the time. Limiting it to just a few of my favourite historical romance writers I’d have to say Tessa Dare, Courtney Milan, Lorraine Heath, Joanna Shupe, and Sarah MacLean and I’ve recently discovered the regency romances of MC Beaton, which I’m thoroughly enjoying.

What’s next for Eva Shepherd?

I recently finished Aspirations of a Lady’s Maid, which features Nellie Regan, the lady’s maid in Beguiling the Duke and Awakening the Duchess. That is due to be released in July. At the moment I’m working on a book featuring Charlotte FitzRoy, who is the sister of the hero in Beguiling the Duke. That’s due out in August. Then I’ll be starting a new series. It’s still in the draft stage, but I’m thinking it will be about three sisters, a wallflower, a beauty, and the bookish youngest sister.

Awakening The Duchess Web


Awakening the Duchess might only be Eva Shepherd’s second historical romance, but this talented writer already writes like a pro. Engaging, emotional and so enjoyable readers will struggle to put the book down, Awakening the Duchess is a stellar Victorian historical romance from a terrific new voice in the genre.

American heiress Arabella van Haven has always had a passion for the theatre and a yearning for the stage. Unlike other women in society born to great wealth and privilege, Arabella does not spend her days shopping or idling her time away, but instead chooses to invest all of her time, energies and efforts into honing her craft, perfecting her technique and being the best actress she can possibly be – much to her father’s chagrin who would rather his daughter find herself a titled gentleman than waste her life performing on the stage. For Arabella, her freedom and independence mean the world to her. She has no interest in marriage and has no desire whatsoever to find herself a handsome aristocrat – until Oliver Huntsbury, Duke of Somerfield, barges into her dressing room and proceeds to kiss her passionately in front of her father and proclaims to be her fiancé!

Handsome, charismatic and an expert seducer, Oliver has had women throwing themselves at him for as far back as he can remember. Although the good-looking aristocrat has no qualms about sharing his bed, his heart is off limits and he has absolutely no intention of finding himself a bride. With a keen eye for the opposite sex, Oliver makes it clear from the off that he is just looking for fun and he has no interest in a meaningful relationship which is why he sticks to bedding married women bored with their husbands and worldly widows. Unfortunately for Oliver, one of his lovers’ husbands has found out that he has been having an affair with his wife and is now baying for his blood! Barging into the backstage of a theatre and claiming a kiss from an actress he has never met before is the only option available to him with a cuckolded husband screaming blue murder, but little does Oliver realise when he claims a kiss from Arabella that he is in far deeper trouble than he had ever imagined…

Finding themselves blackmailed into marriage was not what Oliver and Arabella had in mind when they pretended to be engaged, however, finding themselves with no other option available to them, it looks like the two of them will have to surrender their precious freedom and independence. Still, the two of them might have been forced into matrimony, but no sooner is the ink dry on their certificate that they agree to lead separate lives. Theirs was supposed to be a marriage of convenience, however, there is nothing convenient about the attraction that sizzles between the two of them.

As desire consumes and overwhelms them, Arabella and Oliver find themselves in danger of losing their hearts to one another. But do they have the courage to admit how they truly feel? Or will pride and fear end up costing them this unexpected chance of happiness?

Readers of historical romance need to add Eva Shepherd to their auto-buy list. A talented writer who brings Victorian England to vivid and colourful life, Eva Shepherd has penned a dazzling, evocative and wonderfully romantic tale with a determined and resourceful heroine readers will love and a gorgeous hero they will find themselves swooning over.

I adored this brilliantly written, highly emotional and beautifully rendered historical romance. Awakening the Duchess is a tale that sparkles with passion, intrigue, humour and heart from a writer with a very bright future ahead of her: Eva Shepherd.

Rating: 5 Stars

Author Links:  Article~ Facebook ~ Twitter

Eva Shepherd’s Awakening the Duchess is published by Harlequin Mills and Boon and is available to order from Harlequin (USA) and Mills and Boon (UK)

Getting the Call: Meet Eva Shepherd!

Eva Shepherd Portrait Like so many other Harlequin authors before me, I’d been waiting for “the call” for years, and yet when it came it took me completely by surprise.

Previously I’d submitted seven manuscripts to Harlequin. I had just started working on manuscript number eight when I saw that Harlequin was having a book blitz. They wanted the first chapter and a synopsis, and they guaranteed feedback on every submission.

I figured I had nothing to lose. I’d get some valuable feedback and find out early in the writing process where I was going wrong.

I received an email back, but it had no feedback. Instead there was a request for the first three chapters. Great, I thought. I’ll get even more feedback.

So I submitted the first three chapters. But I still didn’t get any feedback. Instead I got a request for the full manuscript, and a couple of suggestions on changes I might like to make.

This was when I started to panic. I had sent the first chapter off before the book was finished, and it still wasn’t’ finished. The good news was, the request came just before the Christmas holidays, so I had three weeks off work when I could focus on writing. All other plans were put on hold. No spring cleaning, no gardening (I live in New Zealand so Christmas is in the middle of summer) and trips to the beach became quick dips rather than long leisurely days lying in the sun.

I finished the book, sent it off, waited for the feedback, and tried very hard not to get my hopes up.

The first time I sent a manuscript to Harlequin I’d received a request for a rewrite. I’d been so excited and had convinced myself I was well on the way to becoming a famous romance writer. Then my rewrite was politely rejected. I was devastated.

With each subsequent rejection I’d coped a bit better, until I was coping so well that I expected rejection. But I’d never been asked for a full manuscript before. This was unsettling.

Then the email appeared in my in-box. There was no feedback, no request for a rewrite, just an inquiry from Julia Williams, asking if I’d be available to take a phone call at 9am UK time the next day. With the 12-hour time difference, plus one hour for daylight saving, that was 10pm NZ time.

I emailed back, yes – of course I’d be available. Then I spent an anxious day and night, waiting. At 10pm I sat watching the phone. Then it rang, and a woman with a lovely British accent told me my book had been accepted and Harlequin would like to offer me a two-book contract. I’m sure she gave me lots of other details, and I hopefully answered sensibly, but all I can remember is smiling like an idiot and having to stop myself from breaking into a dance until I put the phone down.

Eva Shepherd Beguiling the Duke BookcoverOver the years I’ve heard many published authors say, don’t give up, it will happen, and now I can say the same. If you’ve had a manuscript rejected, don’t give up. Even if you’ve had several rejections, or, like me, seven rejections, don’t give up. Take notice of any feedback and keep going. And one day “the call” will come.

My journey has involved lots of support from others, so I should mention the Romance Writers of New Zealand, the Romance Writers of Australia, and the Christchurch branch of the Romance Writers of NZ. Their advice, enthusiasm and support has been invaluable.