Guest & Contest: Amara Royce

First, thanks very much to Romancing the Book for having me here today! It’s an honor and a pleasure, and I look forward to chatting with the Romancing the Book audience!

I am always excited to talk about my debut historical romance, Never Too Late, and my focus for today is the importance of music in the novel.

Music communicates passion in a way words can’t. This isn’t a surprise to anyone. But classical music isn’t perhaps the first thing people think of when they think of the seductive power of music.

Consider, though, the exuberance of Mozart, the teasing nimbleness of Chopin, the dramatic pounding of Rachmaninoff. The delicate music can dance through your senses, and classical pieces frequently build to a breathtaking crescendo.

More specifically, I’d like to make a claim for the seductiveness of the cello. On the surface, there’s the visual evidence: an instrument with feminine curves held *ahem* between one’s legs.  More importantly, though, the passion and sensuality of the cello is in the music: the trills, the depth of tone, the vibration that echoes through you. The cello embodies power and grace and a whirlwind of emotions. Yes, it is dignified and refined, but it is also tremendously passionate.

The hero of Never Too Late, Lord Alexander Devin, is a masterful cellist, but, like the hero of Sarah Maclean’s Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake, he keeps his musical talent private, hidden from the world.  His reticence is about more than modesty; he locks away his emotions from everyone, including himself.

So, when he does play for someone else, it means something. When he plays for someone he cares about deeply, the music communicates emotions that he cannot put into words or that he doesn’t even consciously recognize yet.

While writing Never Too Late, music served not only for inspiration but also for focus. On one level, different songs helped me visualize my characters and their journeys. For example, one of the secondary characters (who is likely to be a heroine in a future book) took The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven” as her theme song. On a different level, classical music, in particular, sometimes helped me shut out the rest of my world temporarily and immerse myself in the story. It’s probably not a coincidence that I often listened to Bach: The Cello Suites, performed by famous cellist Yo-Yo Ma. In fact, after you read the except from Never Too Late below, I recommend you listen to Johann Sebastian Bach’s Suite 1 or Suite 2 for Solo Cello. I suspect you may hear it from a new perspective.

Enjoy this short excerpt:

“It’s a magnificent piece of work, that cello.”

“It is a Stradivarius.”

“Really?” she whispered. “Are they as impressive as their reputation attests?”

He looked at her long enough for her to feel uncomfortable before he replied, “They are, beyond belief, more impressive than purported. This one elevates music from mere pleasure to sublimity.”

She finally deciphered the signs of his demeanor.

“That’s your cello!  You used to play?”

He nodded, almost sheepish.

“Would you play something for me?”

“I have not played in quite a long time.  I am unaccustomed to playing for an audience.”

“I hardly constitute an audience. It’s just me. Furthermore, I probably couldn’t tell the difference between the scales and a sonata. I’ve just never heard an actual Strad.”

She was delightfully surprised by his acquiescence and waited patiently while he set up the music stand and tuned the cello. She was actually content to witness his tuning session. When he began a concerto, however, she was struck dumb. Soon, completely taken over by the music, his eyes closed and his body swayed. Taken over by the music, he was mesmerizing. This was passion.

The piece he’d selected was nearly violent in its range. The deep bass notes vibrated through her; she could only imagine how much more visceral an experience it was to be playing, to feel the notes transmitted through his own body. A strange thing began to happen; she wasn’t sure when it started. But each stroke of the bow seemed to echo in her flesh. The swift back and forth movement of his arm tingled across her breasts; the gradual dip into lower octaves spread lower through her, vibrating through her core. She stared at his hands, working the instrument masterfully, drawing out exquisitely vibrant and moving tones. Her body nearly shook as she felt the piece build, deeper and more intense.

He opened his eyes, and the intensity of his dark gaze speared her. Could he know the tumult rushing through her body? She panted, unable to control the feelings coursing through her.  His fingers, so masterfully controlling the strings, so powerfully drawing the bow, might as well be playing along her sensitive skin, so extreme was her physical response to his music.

* * * * *

amaraAmara Royce writes historical romances that combine her passion for 19th-century literature and history with her addiction to happily ever afters.  Her debut historical romance, Never Too Late, focuses on a rather unconventional older heroine who runs a bookshop and the viscount who is being blackmailed to ruin her reputation.  Amara teaches English literature and composition at a community college in Pennsylvania. When she isn’t writing, she’s either grading papers or reveling in her own happily ever after with her remarkably patient family.

You can find Amara on Facebook and Twitter, as well as on her web site: www.amararoyce.com.

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22 thoughts on “Guest & Contest: Amara Royce

  1. I played the flute and so have always loved the sound of that instrument, especially in pieces by Claude Debussy. However, I’m also fond of light piano pieces, by Mozart and Satie. BTW, looking forward to reading your book!

    • Maria– Thanks so much for sharing! Yes, Debussy is so wonderful. And the flute is such a beautifully versatile instrument. It can light and playful but also very serious and powerful. Thanks again!

  2. Marcy Shuler says:

    My sister and nephew play the cello and I took lessons on it for a brief time. Very beautiful instrument. I also played the French Horn for about 5 years in middle/high school. Both of these have haunting sounds.

    The book sounds fascinating, Amara. I plan to check it out. 🙂

  3. Tammy S. says:

    My 7 year old daughter is eager to learn to play the violin. We are looking into lessons for her now. I find it interesting that one so young just knows this is the instrument for her.

  4. MK says:

    As a violin and piano player, books with musicians are definitely of interest to me! Like lord Valentine in Grace Burrowes’ books

    • MK–Ooh, Grace Burrowes is on my TBR list! I’ll have to bump her ahead! Sarah Maclean’s Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake has a closet musician too. 🙂

  5. Sarah R. says:

    What a great post. I love the cello as well. My husband still plays his cello from time to time and I love to listen to it. On of my twins started playing the viola two years ago and that is also a beautiful instrument. My son is not the best at technique, due to autism an low muscle tone, but he memorizes all his music after playing it once or twice and he plays quite well for only being two years in.

    • Ella–

      Thanks! I took a year of piano lessons and keep meaning to go back to it. It’s wonderful too and has such wide reach…I have fond memories of family members playing Christmas carols and classical pieces. Thanks for tweeting!

  6. Your book’s been on my radar for a while; this post made me buy it and sent it to the top of my TBR list.

    The prelude to Cello Suite #1 sort of sums up the whole human condition for me in a way I can’t articulate. (Fittingly enough, as I think most transcendent music is a way of articulating the things we can’t otherwise articulate.)

  7. Cecilia–
    Thanks so much! I’m a big fan of yours! 🙂 Yes, Cello Suite 1 is really quite something. I must have listened to it a hundred times while writing NTL.

  8. BookLady says:

    Congratulations on the publication of Never Too Late! It sounds like a fascinating book. I have always thought the piano was enticing, but after reading your excerpt I find the cello to be very seductive. Thanks for sharing the excerpt.

    • BookLady:

      Thanks very much! I think music in general stirs all sorts of emotions, especially in the right hands. 🙂

      Thanks for your comment!

  9. erinf1 says:

    I’ve always thought a piano playing man was sexy 🙂 Congrats to Amara on the new release! Thanks for sharing!

    • Erin–

      Thanks so much! Re: piano…you know, I considered piano for this hero, but then I kept picturing the piano scene from the movie Pretty Woman. It’s a fine scene, but the visual interfered too much with my vision of this hero and heroine. 🙂

  10. I’m a sucker for a guy who can play a cello. Bass—both standard and electric—can be sexy too! Also some men can pull off jazzy instruments like saxophone or rocker instruments such as the drumset but others look like they’re trying too hard when they do. It depends on the charm of the person!

    Karielle Stephanie @ Books à la Mode

  11. Jeanne Miro says:

    Hi Amara!

    I loved finding out more about Never Too Late and must admit that I love reading a story that includes which a musician. While most historical romance only mention music as something that’s played during a house party or in respect to a ball I love that you’ve included it as an important part of your story!

    I come from a musical family and found it always calming when my mother played the organ while one of my sisters accompanied her on the piano. On the other hand my talent lead me in a different direction and I played the clarinet.

    I’ll never forget the first time I heard Benny Goodman, who was a jazz musician during the string era, while listening to the radio as a teenager while most of my friends were listening to the Beatles!

    To me even today music is and always will be an important part of my life.

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