Monday, April 15, 2013

Vain by Jill Hughey (Review & Interview)

Today we welcome author Jill Hughey and her book "VAIN". 

An amazing historical romance set in Charlemagne's empire in the 830s.

And the third installment in the "Evolution Series"

Before we get to the details of this story, how did you start writing historical romance? I really enjoy the journey a reader gets to take in historical fiction of any kind. An unfamiliar time and place in history, adjustments in language, and different social expectations all combine to carry us away.

Vain is part of a series. When is it set and how are the stories related?
I chose Charlemagne’s empire as the setting, during the rule of his son, Louis. The empire was unstable during the 830s. There were three civil wars in one decade because Louis’s sons by his first wife did not want to share the empire with a son he fathered with his second wife.

The first book, Unbidden, begins in 831 when Louis has just regained his throne. That turmoil sets the stage for the relationship between David and Rochelle.In Redeemed, the villain of the first story, Doeg, who is also David’s brother, strives to become a more principled man. He seeks a wife only for her housekeeping skills, but the quiet widow he chooses wants more in return than he ever expected to give.

Vain is set in 839. The male lead is David’s best friend, Theophilus (usually shortened to Theo). He is a nobleman in the thick of the political intrigue. He finds himself responsible for a very talented female tailor. They discover a mutual interest in fine cloth and interesting garments, while trying to ignore a physical attraction that neither intends to act on.

Readers may have noticed that each one-word title describes the hero. I know titles can be hard for authors to choose, but these were easy.

Tell us more about the main characters in the new book.Theo is vain, obviously, and if I was very brave I would describe him as a medieval metrosexual, but my husband assures me that that would just confuse readers. What I mean by metrosexual, though, is that he cares very much about his appearance. He gives attention to details like his hair, beard, and clothing. When he meets Lily, whose greatest pleasure is designing unique tunics, he finds a companion who shares a passion he never expected anyone else to really understand.

For her part, Lily does not aspire to become anything more to him than a tailor, and is shocked by the companionship they share and the physical attraction that starts to build.

I’ll digress a bit here by saying that I spend a great deal of time on character development. Nothing irks me more than characters acting in ways that make no sense based on what we’ve been told about them. My romances build slowly because I need to understand the appeal between the man and woman. I also do not make any character perfect.

It sounds like you are pretty detailed with your characters. What about setting? 
Setting is a little harder, especially in a story occurring almost 1,200 years ago. There are very few buildings still standing from that period, and most of them are the grand ones, not really representative of what commoners would experience. I rely heavily on resource materials so I can be accurate about what the surroundings and conditions would be like. Travel was slow and tedious. Farming was inefficient, and nearly half the grain yield had to be set aside for seed. Most people tolerated a subsistence lifestyle, with only a few merchants , the nobility and clergy surviving separate from agriculture.

Religion was important, with the church even telling people what days they could share marital relations. I didn’t even try to tackle that in my books. It would have taken ten pages to make our modern society understand such a concept, and then I would have had to check a calendar to see if my happy couple was allowed to hook up each day. That is a level of timeline plotting I don’t aspire to!

What comes next?I am writing two short stories to augment the Evolution Series. In those, I’m going to give some servants their happy endings too. We’ll get a little glimpse into their lifestyles while visiting David and Theo’s homes again.

You can find Vain on most online book vendors, including Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo.

If readers want to keep up with my projects, I can be found on my blog, on Facebook, or on Twitter @jillhughey.

Thank you for inviting me to visit you, and thanks for your support of indie authors!

Book Synopsis
Lily had her life planned, neat and tidy as thread on a spindle, until her mother died and her father snipped at the seams of her future by abandoning Lily in their shop. A nobleman unexpectedly gives her hope when he brings fabric for a special garment. Lily survives on his first payment, and immerses herself in sewing and embroidering an incomparable garment for him, as her tidy plan continues to unravel.

Theophilus, Lord of Ribeauville, takes his responsibility to his townspeople seriously and, therefore, does not dally with local women. Desire wars with duty when Lily glances up at him while adjusting the hem on his Easter tunic. As her deteriorating circumstances push them together, Theo and Lily learn that the path to his heart just might be through his wardrobe, though the exquisite outfit she creates is the only part of her that fits in his precarious aristocratic world.

Quick Facts

Release Date: March 14, 2013.
Genre: Romance, historical, medieval
Formats: Kindle, Nook, Smashwords, iTunes, Kobo
Rating:  ★★★★

My Review

This story is historically accurate. By walking a fine line between historical reality and fiction Hughey is able to create a brilliant novel that the reader can fully immerse themselves into, living with the characters rather than simply drifting through the story. She employs tactful descriptions that vary in quantity, intensity, and length based on the tenor of the scene. She does so with the ability to invoke many emotions in her readers. Any book that can bring tears to your eyes while leaving you feeling happy and fulfilled at the end as this one does is well worth the time to read it.

I found myself liking the two main characters right from the very beginning. You want to see them succeed. They are also unique in that they go against the norm, while still trying not to upset the status quo. Regardless of the numerous heartaches, trials, and catastrophes that the main character faced throughout this novel she is one of those people that you just want to be. She is such a kind, generous, and unique individual who finds the life that she’s looking for after looking in all the wrong places. She also interacts with some amazing individuals throughout this novel. The entire cast is quite well developed and each individual is uniquely suited to their role in the story and in the world as a whole.

This story was absolutely captivating and kept me on my toes throughout. Nothing every seemed in disconnect from its predecessor or what came after, regardless of the number of twists and turns taken throughout. I was sad when the story ended, not for lack of completion on the author’s part, but because of my attachment to the characters and their world.


The Author

Jill Hughey has loved historical romance since sneaking peeks at her mother’s library years ago. She has enjoyed writing just as long. She prides herself on deep character development, and settings that take her readers on long, satisfying journeys to places they have probably never been in a book before.

Jill lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two sons. Her hobby is singing lessons, in which she studies classical soprano and some lighthearted works.
Learn more about the author at:

GIVEAWAY:Tour Wide Giveaways:


3 winners: - Paperback Copy (U.S only)
                 - E-copy (International)
                 - $15 Amazon Gift Card (U.S/International)


April 2: Black Lion Tour Blog: Introduction.
April 4: Love in a Book: Review and Top Ten List.
             Kimberly Lewis Blog: Guest Post.
April 6: Bunny's Reviews Blog: Guest Post.
April 7: A Novel Idea Live: Live Interview.
April 8: Deal Sharing Aunt: Review and Guest Post.
             A Novel Idea Live Blog: Promo
April 12: My Devotional Thoughts: Review and Guest Post. 
April 13: Tina's Book Reviews: Guest Post. 
April 15: Pure Jonel: Review and Guest Post. 
April 16: A Book Lover's Library: Guest Post. 
April 17: Black Lion Tour Blog: Wrap-up.


  1. Thank you for having me here, Jonel. I also really appreciate that you posted your review on Amazon. That was a wonderful surprise this morning!

    I look forward to any comments or questions from your readers!

    1. Thanks for stopping by Jill. Vain had me completely hooked and I can't wait until I get into your other novels!

  2. Although I am expanding my reading genres, I think my favorite is still fantasy...but as long as the book takes me away from my own life for awhile, I'm happy.

    1. Same for me. I have hard time enjoying contemporary fiction set in the US because it is too much like my real life. Books must take me away for a little while! Thanks for visiting!

  3. This is Becky Gardner and my favorite genre is YA books, mainly fantasy, but I do read a lot of various genres on a regular basis that I truly enjoy. Thanks for the great giveaway.

    1. Hi Becky! I haven't read much YA - I guess I'm too old. ;) Hopefully you'll win a copy of Vain and give my historical romance a try. Thanks for visiting!