Guest Author Joanna Chambers and Giveaway

Earlier today, May reviewed Unforgivable by Joanna Chambers. Joanna has stopped by to talk about forgiveness….

To err is human, to forgive, divine

You may not be surprised to learn that my novel, Unforgivable, is about, amongst other things, forgiveness, so Alexander Pope’s famous quote, To err is human, to forgive divine, couldn’t be more apt.

The quote comes from Pope’s Essay on Criticism (which despite its title is, in fact, a poem). But while Pope was talking about the qualities a critic should have (yup, seems like writers have been putting their tuppence in about that for centuries!) in my novel, the quote crops up in the context of marital misbehaviour. Infidelity, lies and betrayal.

Pope’s words are so simple, yet so profound, reminding us how difficult granting forgiveness can be, particularly when neither party has behaved well and both are burning with resentment at their treatment at the other’s hands.

And I don’t just need my H/H to forgive each other. I need the reader to forgive them too! That sort of forgiveness is way harder to earn. Readers are adept at instinctively and subtly balancing the deeds and misdeeds of the protagonists of romance novels (I know this because I am a reader first and an author second and a very judgmental reader at that). For this reader, the scales need to broadly balance at the end of the novel for true readerly satisfaction to be achieved. Having said that, as in life, charisma can buy a character a degree of undeserved forgiveness…

What romance character have you found it easiest, or hardest, to forgive? Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Unforgivable.

And finally, here’s an excerpt from Unforgivable. Rose and Gil are angry at each other while Rose is musing on Pope’s famous phrase…


She rested her head against the carriage window. To err is human, to forgive divine. She should tell Gil that. Give him something to chew on. Was that Shakespeare? Or Bacon? Or Pope? The trouble with detesting poetry was that one could never ascribe quotations properly. And in any event, she didn’t think Gil would be impressed by the sentiment. So she left the words unsaid and instead watched a raindrop meander down the carriage window, tracking its halting descent with bored fascination, ignoring the black, velvety night beyond the glass.

It was annoying, she reflected, how even when she was staring at her raindrop with rapt attention, she was still fully aware of the shape and presence of Gil occupying the opposite seat of the carriage; still aware of every tiny movement of his big body.

She watched her small, innocent raindrop and wondered whether he intended to come to her bedchamber tonight. Part of her wanted him to. At night, it was almost possible to pretend everything was all right. Almost. But tonight, the other part of her resented the thought of him following her to her room; resented that he would sit here now, practically vibrating with tension, then calmly appear in her bedchamber later to take his pleasure of her body. She swallowed hard.

She was beginning to realise she couldn’t just live for the nights, as good as they were. She’d planned to stay quiet and patient for as long as it took for him to get over her betrayal—forever if necessary, she’d naïvely thought. Now she realised it wasn’t in her to do it. Here she was after just three weeks, and already she felt rebellious and angry with him. Already it was an effort to bite back the sarcastic comments her tongue longed to utter.

“Are you aware of Grayson’s reputation?”

She was so deeply sunk in her own thoughts that she jumped at the sound of his voice, her hand going to her throat. She turned to face him and made herself smile politely, refusing to acknowledge his belligerent tone.

“I believe he’s accounted something of a rogue,” she replied lightly.

“You underestimate him,” Gil said flatly. “He is a scoundrel. I don’t want you associating with him.”

She stared at him for a moment before she spoke. “Sir Neville is a friend of my family. I’ve known him since I was a child. Good Lord, I only stopped calling him Uncle Nev a few years ago! I am not going to refuse to see him!”

“He’s been embroiled in numerous scandals. Duels, even. It is rumored that he killed a man in France.”

Rose shrugged. “And that is all it is. Rumour. He is accepted by polite society.”

“He’s a roué. A despoiler of women and a—a libertine.”

She would have laughed if she hadn’t been so angry. Coming from Gil, this was rich!

“Well,” she said tightly, “it takes one to know one.”

Gil glared at her. “I am not like him, Rose.”

She stared at him in sheer disbelief.


Today, Joanna is giving away an e-book of Unforgivable. Open to all through January 18.

You can find out more about Joanna Chambers at her website, on twitter or facebook.


  1. says

    Like I think a lot of romance readers, I got sucked into The Bronze Horseman trilogy at Christmas. I found it incredibly difficult to forgive Alexander what happened in The Summer Garden. Really, I’m still pissed.

  2. Lynnd says

    I like your comments about the reader’s need to forgive a characters bad behaviour and how that forgiveness has to be earned. I found it easy to forgive Richard in Courtney Milan’s “Un” series for his treatment of Margaret and the Turners because Ms. Milan was able to show that he wasn’t inherently a bad person and by the end of Unraveled we understood what was driving him and his actions and that the Turners (at least Smite) was not entirely blameless in the circumstances.

  3. Lege Artis says

    Oh, I heard great things about Unforgivable…. I’m definitely interested, count me in!
    Character easiest to forgive…. Maybe character who commit error in judgment- it’s a sin I find myself guilty for more than once, so I can forgive that. Hardest to forgive- definitely making a conscious decision to put a loving person in danger- making a bait of someone without his/her knowledge or physically hurting, shitty moves like that. I really liked what you said about needing your readers to forgive characters, too. There is a lot of novels where I thought that hero didn’t grovel enough and heroine forgave to fast, or other way around…

  4. joanna chambers says

    Thanks for your comments! I’ll chime in with my favourite hero to forgive if I may? Sebastian Verlaine from To Have and to Hold by Pat Gaffney. His behaviour is awful but I forgave him totally even without a huge grovel. I think, in his case, it’s because Gaffney makes his sorrow and regret about his behaviour so very clear. And because he’s such a charismatic hero.

  5. Rebe says

    I’m very interested in this book – I’ve heard great things about it. I love the troupe of the ignored wife who tricks her husband.

  6. Pat L. says

    Rome from Sarah’s Child. He was so tortured from his family death – it was truly understandable the way that he treated the heroine. But aah, love conquers all in the romance world. Gutwrenching ending. Quik but great read.

  7. Jen G. says

    My favorite character to forgive was Evan in Courtney Milan’s novella Unlocked because he did his absolute best to earn the heroine’s (and, by extension, the reader’s) forgiveness. I’ve read it multiple times and it still makes me cry.

    On a side note, I’m really looking forward to reading this book, but am in the middle of “no-spend January.” If I could win it and start reading sooner, I’d be quite happy :-)

  8. Texas Book Lover says

    So far I have been able forgive all characters I have read. I think as long as whatever needs to be forgiven is explained thoroughly I usually good with it. Unless it is for something horrific bring it!

  9. JTReader says

    I’ve recently read An Infamous Marriage by Susanna Fraser which has a similar premise: somewhat forced marriage, abandoned wife, cheating husband. I found the hero pretty easy to forgive although I did think the heroine should have made him suffer longer.

  10. pc says

    The hardest I found to forgive was a story by Kat Martin in which a wife had miscarried and not long afterward the husband left, took up with his mistress (rather publicly), then the wife went to him a few weeks later and found him out with his mistress. I understood the author was presenting it as the hero’s way of dealing with the loss but infidelity is for me personally a really hard issue to forgive. She left him and he followed and subsequently saved her life and she forgave him thus redeeming himself. But I do think he should have suffered a bit more :)

  11. says

    Oh oh oh! I’ve had this book on my wishlist since I first glimpsed it, and it looks and sounds better and better the more I read about it!!

    I know many people can’t forgive Lucas Rain in Sierra Dean’s Secret McQueen series, but for the moment I’m undecided. I don’t think his actions make him a lost cause, he doesn’t enjoy having to shoulder all that responsibility and power, he really has to submit his own personal wishes to the greater good of the community as a true leader and at times that makes me even sorry for him, because when he hurts people (especially those he loves and cares for) it hurts him even more if he lets himself think about it.

    Thank you for the chance Joanna, keeping my fingers and toes crossed! ;-) Congratulations on the release of Unforgivable! :-D

  12. Sophia D says

    Unforgivable sounds enticing! I think a character that I found easy to forgive is Rochester in Jane Eyre even though it was heartbreaking to read.

  13. Justine says

    High five to Lynnd! I also thought of Courtney Milan’s Turner series in which all the book’s titles start with “Un” and include themes of forgiveness.

  14. says

    Dear Prof. Haran:Nice to see the invitation. This inaviitite in extending warm welcome to join hands in person and mae the global level delibrations is yet another proof to demonstrate your love for the languaage and concern for the community. In fact, I felt happy as if it was an invitation extended by the organisers of the gala event directly. Besides, this enables to impress my people at home to organize my travel arrangement to attend the forthcoming event being heard as rumour for the last couple of months. Through you, I seize this opportunity to thank the organizing committe to have thought of such an event. It’ll undoubtly be a meaningful celebrations for young and old alike who would attend from different parts globally.I pray Almighty to make the event a grand success and purposeful. In all probability, my sincere desire in attending the same would become a reality for as a person, I’m for meeting and greeting of everyone of our COMMUNITY.My regards to all. Look forward to meeting you at the venue.Rajamani, Bengaluru

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