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Monday, January 28, 2013

Can a leopard change its spots?

Written by: Julie Johnstone
Let's pretend for a moment that a rake, aka a womanizer, is a leopard. A leopard and men, who are rakes, are actually alike in several ways. They are opportunistic hunters who adapt to whatever environment you throw them in. Leopards and rakes have notorious abilities for being stealthy. Also, the leopard consumes virtually any animal it can hunt down and catch, much like a rake will seduce any woman he can convince.

Yet though leopards and rakes do indeed seem to have many things in common there is one way they are distinctly different. I bet everyone knows the saying a leopard can't change its spots. This links back to the notion that a person cannot change their basic nature.

Not true! Just ask any lover of romance in which the premise is that a man can be reformed. And there is no higher cause to spur a man to change than love. Just ask Andrew Whitton, Earl of Hardwick who just happens to be my hero in my newly released novella The Redemption of a Dissolute Earl.

I stand firm in my belief that a woman cannot change a man, but a woman can induce a man to want to change. That's exactly what my heroine Charlotte Milne did for my hero Drew.

Here is a little blurb: 
The day Andrew Whitton, Earl of Hardwick chooses his fortune over the woman he loves, Drew discovers that money makes for a cold bed partner.  Now, no matter how far he runs, the memory of his betrayal haunts him, and there’s not enough liquor to dull the past or diminish his disgust. * Charlotte Milne trusted in happily ever after until her knight turned out to be wearing rusty armor.  Drew, the scoundrel, seduced her, though she very much enjoyed the seduction by the man she’s loved since childhood.  Left scandalously ruined, Char flees her home intent upon forgetting Drew and proving her worth. * Separated by disloyalty and pain, each struggle to bury the memories of the other until a mandatory summons from the Duke of Danby sets them on a path of collision to Danby Castle.  With the tides of irrevocable change rising, Drew must find a way to show Char that even the most selfish of rakes can be redeemed by love before the woman of his heart becomes the wife of another. 

I first wrote Drew and Char's story in Gift of Seduction which was part of an anthology called A Summons From Yorkshire (Regency Christmas Summons Collection 1). Drew and Char were so much fun for me to write, but I always wished I could develop their story more, so this last month I did! I took their short novella of 38 pages and expanded it to a longer novella of 84 pages. During the expansion, I not only more fully developed Drew and Char's story, but I flushed out the character of Drew's exasperating and mysterious cousin, Nicholas Beckford, Lord Edgeworth, who henceforth in my mind shall be known as Edgy-thanks to one of my humorous critique partners.

It has been such a thrill to be able to expand on Drew and Charlotte's story and lay the foundation for Edgeworth's story, which if the stars align as I hope will be published in the later part of this year.

I hope if you loved Drew and Char's story, or if you loved Edgeworth or perhaps you loved them all, you will check out The Redemption of A Dissolute Earl and continue the romance with me.

Now for a little taste of the story:

None of Drew’s heated fantasies of Char this past year had included her demanding in a most unfriendly tone that he let her go. Which was precisely why he was sure he was not having another one of his lovely daydreams about her. Her angry tone―along with the fact that some man was staring fiercely at him―increased Drew’s confidence he wasn’t dreaming. He’d had some debauched fantasies in his life, but never had a man been in any of them.
Drew curled his fingers tighter around Char’s warm, silky arms. Normally, he prided himself in the ability to remember precise details of situations and people, but even his memory was not so superb that he’d been able to perfectly conjure up the way his heart jerked when she was near, the way her smell of freesia immediately relaxed him, or the way her burning skin warmed him to his soul.
This was definitely real. Char was here, in the flesh, an answer to a prayer he’d been too ashamed―too afraid―to plead. He breathed deeply of her and pulled her close.
“Char,” he whispered in her ear, the soft curls of her fiery red hair tickling his nose.
“Let me go, you drunken imbecile.” Char’s slippered foot ground down on his toe in a manner that certainly did not say, “I forgive you.”
Let her go?
Ha, ha, and bloody ha. He’d sooner cut off his hand than let her go a second time. Fate had finally decided to crown him the golden son again, and he was not about to argue with fate. Though his mind was a bit fuzzy from the copious amounts of liquor he’d consumed to withstand the choppy boat journey from France and―if he was being honest, which from time to time he managed to be with himself―to forget the flaming-haired temptress glaring at him, he was determined to embrace this gift and immediately set things right.
In the spirit of embracing the offering, he pulled Char tighter, wincing when she tried to squirm away from him. Fate may have given him a gift, but he suspected a hearty payment of groveling was due before he could claim his prize. “I see you’ve not forgotten or forgiven.”
“Surely you jest?” Char’s perfectly kissable red lips turned down into a frown.
His groin pulsed to painful awareness of the woman he held so close. He cleared his throat. “I was a weak, damnable ass.”
She jerked one arm free and then the other. “At least we agree on that.” She was good at deftly maneuvering out of his grasp, but she was no match for him. He smiled the roguish smile he knew she once loved as he tapped his fingers, now twined securely around her waist. “You’re fast, but as usual, I’m faster.”
The line that had served to send them both into bales of laughter in the past, elicited a deeper frown from Char. Perhaps reminding her of how he had always managed to capture her and undress her before she could stop her laughter and protest was not one of his wisest decisions. “I’m sorry,” he hurriedly supplied. By God he was. His heart throbbed with just how damnably sorry he was.
“You’re precisely twelve months too late."

I would love to know if you believe love can really reform a man!

If you would like to buy The Redemption of a Dissolute Earl simply click on the title, and it will take you straight to the Amazon page. The novella is also available at Barnes and Noble and will soon be available at all major e-book retailers.

Have a great day!


  1. I definitely think love can reform a man and has on many occasions. I don't think a woman can change a man, however, no matter how much she wishes it. I say, don't waste time on a man that doesn't treat you right from the start. :)

  2. I completely agree, Samantha! A man who does not treat you right from the very beginning is not worth the trouble or time.

  3. Hi Julie- Loved the blurb and excerpt. I do believe as you do-- a woman can't change a man but she can cause a man to want to change. It happens all the time in fiction and reality. I've been the friend on the sidelines watching someone I care about fall for a rake when slowly, "the change" starts taking place. It's fun to watch unless, of course, he doesn't change. In that case, like all good friends do, you threaten their manhood and they go gently into yon night.

  4. We have to believe that love can reform a man otherwise romance would be boring! It's the moment that the man realizes what he's lost and plans how to get it back that is so emotionally satisfying for me. And I agree with you both-no one can ever make anyone do something they don't want to do on their own.
    The novella looks great, Julie. Can't wait to read it!!

    1. Thanks, Nancy and thanks so much for stopping by!

  5. I agree with Nancy; believing that the hero can and will change is what emotionally satisfy readers. I believe that a 'reformed' rake works because deep down the hero possesses a good moral character and is therefore someone who wins our heart (and the heroines). : )

    1. Christi,
      So true! Good moral character is a must for any rake. It's up to him to rediscover the goodness within!

  6. I love Samantha's distinction--that it's love that changes the hardened rake, not a woman. Ah, and that journey he takes as he falls. Sigh. That's what I love about Romance!

    1. I think perhaps the fall, the raw emotion, if my favorite part!

  7. Hi, Julie!

    Can love reform a man? Well, it probably depends upon how far he has strayed from the straight and narrow. If he is a severe alcoholic, for instance, it may take more than love for him to overcome his addiction. However, he has lost his way in thinking he needs to be The Big Romance Man, then he could be reformed if the right woman shows him what is important in a relationship and the meaning of fidelity. While it may not always work, I'm thinking that some men can be reformed.

    1. Me too, Connie! Some men can be reformed but some are lost causes! Same for women, though.

  8. I think it's definitely possible for love to make a man want to be a better man. It can make all of us want to be better. Therein lies the beauty of love :)

    The new release sounds fabulous, Julie - congrats!

    1. Erin, so true! And thank you for the compliment!

  9. I don't believe one person can be another's Messiah. However, I think love can help things along, when a man decides on his own to be better. Or when a woman decides to be better. :)

    Another beautiful cover, Julie!Congrats on your new release! :)

    1. Marquita,
      You are so right that women have to decide to be better as well! And thanks for the cover compliment!

  10. Hi Julie! Once again, another lovely cover! I like your analogy with the leopard and the rake. I do think love can motivate one to reform, but I wouldn't date an leopard who didn't treat me right from the start. ;} Congrats on your new release!