Archive for the ‘The Summer of Living Dangerously’ Category




National Readers’ Choice Awards

Filed under: The Summer of Living Dangerously

I’m thrilled to announce that THE SUMMER OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY has been shortlisted for the Novel with Strong Romantic Elements category of the Romance Writers of America’s National Readers’ Choice Awards, run by the Oklahoma chapter of the RWA.

What’s even better is that my dear friend and amazing writer Susanna Kearsley has also been shortlisted in my category, with her novel THE ROSE GARDEN.

Susanna and I have decided to settle this matter in the only honourable way: by drinking tequila shots.

We may be some time.

(The winners will, in fact, be announced in California on at the RWA National Conference in July. My Harlequin buddies Donna Alward and Christyne Butler have been shortlisted too in their category. They may, or may not, also be having a tequila duel.)





The Spring of Dying Dangerously

Filed under: about me, The Summer of Living Dangerously

I’m going to a dinner tonight…not just any dinner, but the 14/4 Literary Dinner, which is part of the Windsor Literary Festival and features 14 authors who move from table to table during the night to meet different guests. I have a gorgeous handmade vintage scarlet chiffon frock, and fabulous accessories, and I decided I wanted to put my hair up and look really glam.

Two problems. One. My hair is too short to put up properly in a glam fashion. This is a problem I’m prepared for, because I bought this great fake hair thing for when I dress up like a Regency gentlewoman. However, we now have problem two. I bought the fake hair thing when I had brown hair, and my hair is currently red.

Fake hair on left (brown). Real hair on right (red).

Now, you would think this wasn’t much of a problem. I’m not all into this red hair shade anyway, so the easiest thing to do would be to dye my hair back to brown, to match the fake hair thing. Simple. Right?

Not right. The thing is, I have a history of dying my hair immediately before Very Important Events. And sometimes, it goes horrifically wrong. Like the giraffe-neck debacle before the Festival of Writing. Or the Wicked Witch of the West/Fairy Liquid disaster before the RNA Conference. After the Wicked Witch/Fairy Liquid disaster, I vowed never ever to dye my hair again myself, and to let professionals handle it.

The thing is, that letting professionals handle your hair colour requires making an appointment several days in advance, and spending at least sixty quid. Whereas doing it yourself takes twenty minutes and costs just upwards of a fiver. And you get Boots points! Yes!

I asked on Twitter whether I should dye it, and everyone who knew me when I washed my hair with Fairy Liquid screamed “NOOOOOOO!” And everyone who didn’t, said, “Yeah, why not? Live dangerously!”

It was that phrase that got me. My book is called The Summer of Living Dangerously after all. I sort of had to.

I am so gonna look like this chick.

Black gloves. Wicked Witch again? Or just achingly cool?

I put on the dye. I waited for thirty minutes. I washed it off. It made worryingly little mess.

This is the result.

Real (dyed) hair on left. Fake hair on right.


Perhaps this post should have been titled The Spring of Dying Ineffectually.

Still, it is a shade lighter, though you can’t quite tell in the photo, and more like my natural colour, and nice and shiny. And with any luck the dinner will be dimly-lit. I might use the fake hair anyway, even though I have told everyone about it on the internet.

Now that’s living dangerously.






Filed under: research, The Summer of Living Dangerously

Of course once I’d decided to write a novel about historical re-enactors, I had to go see some. So I coerced Brigid Coady into helping me. I actually blogged about this in detail after it happened, so I’m repeating the post here, in case you missed it the first time. Because it has Tudor Dudes in it. And as it happened a year and a half ago, it’s like time travel, and so fits in with the dual timeline of The Summer of Living Dangerously. Yeah, baby.


22 September, 2010
On Saturday, Brigid and I went to Hampton Court Palace for the day. This was totally research. I’m currently writing about a historical re-enactor, and every day at Hampton Court Palace, historical re-enactors, well, re-enact, Henry VIII’s wedding to Catherine Parr. So I had to go and see what these re-enactors did, how it was organised, how they interacted with their audience, how tongue-in-cheek it all was.

Plus, it was the opportunity to ogle some Tudor dudes. Talking on Twitter beforehand, Brigid and I decided that every time we saw someone in Tudor costume, it was imperative to turn to each other and say, “Yeah, baby!” Because that is, you know, Tudor.

We also agreed we would have to closely inspect any male Tudor calves which came into our vicinity.

First, we helped Catherine Parr select her wedding dress. Although she is not, strictly speaking, a Tudor dude, I got some great ideas for my book just from those twenty minutes. (In the chapter “A Most Inconvenient Engagement”, in case you’re wondering.)

Me and a Queen

Then, we watched Henry VIII talk over his impending nuptuals with his courtiers. And arm-wrestle said courtiers. This particular activity brought Sir Thomas Seymour‘s calf muscles rather close to Brigid and me. As one, we both bent and snapped a photo.

Tudor calf

After this close inspection we were both rather enamoured of the roguish Sir Thomas and made sure we had our portrait taken with him.

Sir Seymour sandwich

Then we drank a toast to King Henry VIII (“Yeah, baby!”) and his last bride, from the wine fountain in the courtyard. I need me one of those.

Wine fountain! Yeah baby!

I wouldn’t say no to a Tudor dude, either.


Back to 14 March, 2012: All of this was incredibly useful for The Summer of Living Dangerously, even though my characters weren’t playing Tudors. These re-enactors, I discovered later, are professional actors rather than necessarily being history buffs, and they work to a script, from which they ad lib as necessary. My characters don’t have a script, and are a mixture of amateurs and professionals.

The Summer of Living Dangerously is available from here in paperback and for Kindle, from for Kindle here, and with free international shipping from The Book Depository here.

This week, I’m on BBC Radio Berkshire on Thursday at 2.00 pm, an author guest at the 14/4 Literary Dinner in Windsor on Friday, and signing copies of my new book at Waterstones in the Oracle, Reading, on Saturday 17th March from 11-2.





how I went to Brighton and came back with a book

Filed under: research, The Summer of Living Dangerously

I’ve been celebrating the launch of my book everywhere lately—including on Risky Regencies, the QVC blog and, today, on the Word Wenches. But I haven’t properly celebrated it here, on my own website.

So for the next few days I’m going to be posting some stuff about my book, The Summer of Living Dangerously. Some behind-the-scenes stuff, mostly: about research, about how I wrote it, about the soundtrack and the influences, about some of the issues in the book that have touched me.

First, how the book started. It’s about historical re-enactors, and I got the idea for it when the Rock God and I were in Brighton for our anniversary. We stayed in this brilliant B&B called The Brighton Pavilions Hotel, where every room was decorated to a different theme. We stayed in the Royal Pavilion room and of course our first priority was to visit the Royal Pavilion, the Prince Regent’s lush folly of a seaside retreat.

As soon as we walked up, we were greeted by a woman dressed as a Regency-era servant. She greeted us, told us which way to enter, and then immediately got into an argument with a man dressed as some sort of groom. In the Long Gallery, a young gentlewoman asked if we were there as guests of the Prince; a servant lounged in the kitchen waiting for his favourite kitchen maid to flirt with. When we got to the Music Room, Prince George himself was there, demanding we bow, and treating us as if we were soldiers returning from the Peninsular Wars.

It was amazing.

Afterwards, we walked down to the sea front and saw a gathering of VW camper vans. (This is, apparently, very typical in Brighton.) Then we went to the pub. And it was in the pub that I turned to my husband and said, ‘Wouldn’t it be fun to set a book in a place like that? And to have a heroine who was a historical interpreter, but in reality her life was a total mess, so she became completely obsessed by her fake historical life so that she could escape from her real life?’

And the long-suffering but perfect Rock God said, ‘Yes, that would be great. Have some more wine.’

And so, the book was born.

Next post…YEAH BABY.

The Summer of Living Dangerously is available from here in paperback and for Kindle, from for Kindle here, and with free international shipping from The Book Depository here.

This week, I’m on BBC Radio Berkshire on Thursday at 2.00 pm, an author guest at the 14/4 Literary Dinner in Windsor on Friday, and signing copies of my new book at Waterstones in the Oracle, Reading, on Saturday 17th March from 11-2.





The Summer of Living Dangerously

Filed under: The Summer of Living Dangerously

The Summer of Living Dangerously
Today is World Book Day and it’s also the day my brand-new paperback hits the shelves.

I don’t usually wallow in my achievements (in fact usually I am neurotically wondering if they are achievements at all) but today I am going to blatantly share the nice things that people have said about my book. Then I am going into town and I am going to buy myself a large slice of cake and a very frothy coffee in my favourite cafe.

Please don’t forget—sign up to my newsletter for a chance to win a free copy.

‘Reader, prepared to be charmed … to cry a little … and laugh a lot. Julie Cohen’s pen dances gracefully over the page in what is on the surface a delightful romp, but which packs an emotional punch that most romantic comedies fail to deliver. It takes great skill to marry both light and dark, but Julie manages this seamlessly and with a deftness of touch that will keep you reading till the very last page. Enchanting.’ — Bestselling women’s fiction author Veronica Henry

‘The flirtation with the Regency world is delightful fun, but that’s also the frame for a moving and deeply satisfying love story. A rich feast.’ —Internationally bestselling historical romance author Jo Beverley

‘Wonderful…moving and heartbreaking and funny and real.’ —Internationally bestselling YA author L.A. Weatherly

‘Loved it! …Made me laugh out loud – a feat usually reserved for Georgette [Heyer]‘—Heyer biographer Dr Jennifer Kloester

‘Total bliss from first page to last; full of nostalgia, bittersweet romance and men in tight breeches. The kind of book you can’t stop reading but don’t want to finish. I loved it.’ —Award winning romance author India Grey

‘The Summer of Living Dangerously captures all of the witty, elegant and dashing style of the Regency era and wraps it in a delicious contemporary novel.’ —Bestselling historical novelist Nicola Cornick

‘Heart-warming, moving, romantic – this is a Regency-come-modern day love story that I just did not want to put down!’The Bookbag

“This book was everything I love in a contemporary women’s fiction novel…Just plunge straight in and let the plot wash over you and swallow you up. This is Julie’s best book yet. She just keeps getting better and better.’ —reviewer Helen Redfern


You can read an excerpt here, and you can order it from Amazon in paperback here and for Kindle here and, I am reasonably assured, for US Kindle here.





in which I give away a book and marry Paul McCartney

Filed under: The Summer of Living Dangerously

Very excitingly, I have a book out on Thursday. THE SUMMER OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY comes out in paperback on 1 March and I will be firing up my blog by talking about it.

You can get a sneak peek at the story and see what people have been saying about it by checking out this page on my website.

But in the meantime, I’m going to do a special newsletter-subscribers-only giveaway of a signed copy of the paperback. All you have to do to be in with a chance of winning is to sign up for my newsletter using the form right there on the right. If you’re already a subscriber, you’re automatically entered.

I’ll choose a winner next Tuesday, randomly selected from my newsletter subscribers.

Here is an Incredibly Cool Fact about this book: The cover was designed by Hennie Haworth, who did some illustrations for Paul McCartney’s new album. As I spent every breathing hour between the ages of 10 and 25 years old overwhelmingly, passionately, some might say obsessively in love with Paul McCartney, this is very exciting for me. It’s one degree of separation! I think it means that Paul and I are probably fated to get married. Or something like that.

Look! It’s a match in heaven.

Or this:

We both like umbrellas! We both smile at the camera in black and white! We have so much in common! I think it is True Lurve.







hardback publication day!

Filed under: The Summer of Living Dangerously

Today is the day that THE SUMMER OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY is out in hardback! It’s always a wonderful and terrifying day when your book, which has only previously been read by yourself, your agent, and various important people at your publisher, goes out into the big wild world and gets read by readers.

I’m celebrating over at The Heroine Addicts with a big party with lots of men in tight breeches (and also a giveaway of a copy)…so high-tail it over there if you want a piece of the breeches—er, I mean a piece of the action.

Over here on my own blog, I will celebrate by sharing a picture of the inspiration for the hero of this book.

Happy sigh.

And as well as having some lovely eye candy around, my house also smells gorgeous because my publishers sent me these beautiful flowers:

Bigger happy sigh.





RNA Regency Celebration

Filed under: about me, RNA, The Summer of Living Dangerously

Any day that consists of spending time with a building full of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer fans is bound to be brilliant, and when you throw in a bit of dancing, a bit of sex and some men in period uniform…

Well, it’s pretty much bliss.

For me, the day started with lugging a suitcase of books and historical costume from Reading to London, and then doing a quick change in the thankfully large and generously be-mirrored ladies’ room at the Royal Overseas League. Several of us were there helping each other button up and doing each other’s hair, including the lovely Christina Courtenay who, believe it or not, made her dress herself. This is Christina and me with Henriette Gyland, who was attired as a very handsome gentleman for the day.

I think it looks like she's pinching our bums. Shameless rake!

I chaired a panel with Nicola Cornick, Juliet Archer, and Beth Elliott to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the publication of Sense & Sensibility. Nicola knows a huge amount about the period and was able to offer some interesting links between Willoughby in the novel and the Earl of Craven. Juliet writes modern versions of Jane Austen’s novels and so she had some things to say about the characters and how they translated into modern sensibilities. And Beth traced the philosophical influences on the creation of two heroines, Elinor and Marianne.

In my research I was quite tickled to find that Austen had been rejected (for an early version of Pride and Prejudice) and she funded the publication of Sense & Sensibility, her first novel in print, herself. It was a success (selling out its first print run of 750 copies!) and was published anonymously, as “A Lady”.

The story goes that when Jane and her niece, Anna, saw the book in a circulating library, Anna commented that it must be rubbish with a title like that.

Modern romance writers can identify with all of this, I think!

It was a treat for me to dissect the text a little bit and to revel in its glorious structure. I love the way that Elinor and Marianne’s stories are nearly identical and how Austen deftly manipulates the similarities and differences to create irony and heighten the pacing.

Next, we heard Jennifer Kloester talking about her new biography of Georgette Heyer. I knew hardly anything about Heyer’s life so I was amazed to hear what a deft novelist she was, writing incredibly quickly—but also how she was plagued by self-doubt about her writing.

There were sessions on Georgian scents and what sounds like a hugely interesting session on Georgian sex, but I chose the active pursuits of Regency dancing and going for a Regency walk. Our guide Louise Allen was knowledgeable and fascinating (and the soldier kept on saluting passers-by!).

Outside the private London Library in St James's Square

There was a Waterloo tea featuring readings and cake, but I stayed at the Royal Overseas league to play Hazard (I’m rubbish at it), and the day was rounded off by a panel discussion about Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer, by author Jenny Haddon, Ebury Fiction Editor Gillian Green, Jennifer Kloester, historical author Joanna Fulford, Roy McMillan, producer at Naxos Audiobooks.

There are more photos on Liz Fenwick’s blog, but I will leave you with a photo of me gazing adoringly at Beau Brummel, whilst he gazes stonily into the distance.

Most inappropriate behaviour.

PS…If you’re in the area, I’m giving a talk at Wokingham Library at 8 pm on Thursday 20th October. Wokingham Library’s events are always lovely, so please come!





getting ready for 1811

Filed under: about me, RNA, The Summer of Living Dangerously

I’m really looking forward to Saturday, when I’ll be at the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Regency Celebration at the Royal Overseas League. There’s going to be Regency dancing, talks on Georgian sex and Regency scents, a talk by Jennifer Kloester about her new Georgette Heyer autobiography, and walks around Regency London. (For some pictures, have a look at Jenny Haddon’s blog.)

It’s a Regency romance fan’s dream come true.

I’m dressing up, of course; I can’t sew, like the intrepid Christina Courtenay, so I’ve borrowed my long-suffering friend Ruth’s red bridesmaid dress again, and I’ve got a shawl to go with it. I’ll have to do something about my hair (Jan Jones is also worried about this problem) and the ostrich plume I wore the last time I dressed Regency is distinctively worse for wear, from sweeping under the arms of dancing gentlemen during the Duke of Kent’s Waltz.

Unlike the last time I wore the outfit, I will have several like-minded women to help do my dress up in the back, so I won’t have to ask some random cider-drinking smokers to help me. Which is a relief.

I’m also chairing a talk, with the brilliant Juliet Archer, Nicola Cornick, and Beth Elliott, on Sense & Sensibility, which is celebrating its 200th anniversary this year. In preparation, I’ve been rereading the book and also watching the film (what a hardship).

It’s going to be a fabulous day and I’m really looking forward to it.





things of beauty

Filed under: about me, The Summer of Living Dangerously

I’m looking through the proofs for my next paperback, THE SUMMER OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY, and it’s extremely cool to see that the very pretty cover design carries through to the inside. Have a look at these lovely title pages!

Fecklet has started school full time, which is a good thing for both of us. He’s loving it, and I really need the time to catch up on work. On Tuesdays he stays late at school to do Lego Club. He mostly wanted to do Lego Club so he could destroy the things he made.

Meanwhile, I’m trying to pick out shoes to wear to my book signing at Waterstones in Windsor this Saturday. There’s a pair of fake crocodile brogues which are quite possibly the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. But I’m trying to resist. Also, my friend Michelle is having a Jamie Oliver party at her house the night before and though I have good intentions, I fear that I’ll end up drinking like seven bottles of wine and then spend my shoe money on tea towels and storage canisters.

Anyway, if you’re in the area, come to Windsor Waterstones on the afternoon of Saturday the 24th September. You can buy a book if you want, but you can also just taunt me for being hungover.

I will have chocolate.





A Regency Celebration

Filed under: about me, RNA, The Summer of Living Dangerously

If you’re a fan of Jane Austen or Regency romance, or if you just like seeing men in tight breeches and women in gorgeous frocks, check out the Regency Celebration that’s happening next month in London.

This event will be a celebration of Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer and the books they have influenced. It coincides with the launch of a new biography of Georgette Heyer, written by Dr Jennifer Kloester, and 2011 also happens to be the bi-centenary of the publication of Jane Austen’s “Sense & Sensibility” – both perfect excuses for a Regency themed day!

The day will be a mixture of serious talks and more frivolous activities, and will include the following:-

• Georgette Heyer, Her Life and Writing – Talk by Dr Jennifer Kloester
• Sense & Sensibility: The Things You Didn’t Know – Panel discussion by Amanda Grange, Juliet Archer, Nicola Cornick and Julie Cohen
• Austen & Heyer – Were they better than they thought they were? Panel discussion
• The Celestial Bed: Sex and the Georgians – Talk and panel discussion
• Regency Scents: Odours and Malodours – Louise Allen and Christina Courtenay “sniff-and-tell”
• Regency Clothing – Jane Walton demonstrates the fashions of the day
• Regency Dancing – Mr and Mrs Ellis Rogers take us through the steps
• Parlour Games – Learn how to play Whist, Piquet, Vingt et Un or Loo
• Regency Walk – Guided tour of St James’s
• Afternoon Tea, with the chance to attend a special Waterloo Tea

To book, please visit the RNA website, or you can visit the event page on Facebook. You can also follow @RNARegencyDay on Twitter.

I’ll be there, speaking about Sense & Sensibility, promoting The Summer of Living Dangerously, and perhaps dressed like this…

Regency Julie





The Summer of Living Dangerously cover!

Filed under: covers, The Summer of Living Dangerously

Good morning, world.

I’m back from my holiday in Maine (having fortunately failed to be killed by several odd men in the woods) and very excited to share the cover for my next book, THE SUMMER OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY.

The Summer of Living Dangerously
Beautiful, isn’t it?

Here’s the blurb:

Alice Woodstock has been running away.

Well, not literally. She spends most of her time glued to her desk, writing about grommets and model aeroplanes. No, Alice is avoiding the real world because there’s something — someone — in her past that she’s desperate to forget. So when she’s commissioned to write about life in stately home Eversley Hall, she jumps at the chance to escape into Regency England, even if it does mean swapping her comfy T-shirt for an itchy corset. Perhaps she’ll meet her own Mr Darcy…

But when her past resurfaces in the shape of Leo Allingham, Alice is brought back to earth with a bump. Reckless, unpredictable Leo reminds Alice of the painful price of following her heart. And the new Alice doesn’t live dangerously.

Or does she?

It’s out in November in hardback, and April in paperback. You can pre-order it here.


About Me

I write emotional, sometimes funny, often romantic novels.

This blog is about my writing challenges. Occasionally I also talk about good-looking men.

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