Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

And looking forward to the holidays.

As you know, I am an author and once in a while I like to do authorly things here on my blog. Today is such a day. Today I would like to introduce you to my fellow authors from Casablanca and their books, just in case you are going shopping over the next couple of days and you realize what a great reasonably-priced gift a book can be. Whoever your favorite author is, why not buy a book for you or someone else to enjoy over the holidays? Of course, me, being me, I am going to start with my favorite.

The Lady Flees Her Lord
By: Michele Anne Young
She’s desperate for peace and safety… Unfashionably plump Lucinda, Lady Denbigh, is running from a husband who physically and emotionally abused her because she has failed to produce an heir. Posing as a widow, she seeks refuge in the quiet countryside…
He’s returned from the wars, wounded and tormented… Lord Hugo Wanstead, with a wound that won’t heal, finds his estate impoverished, his sleep torn by nightmares, and brandy his only solace. When he meets Lucinda, he finds her beautiful, body and soul, and thinks she just might give him something to live for… Together they can begin to heal, but not until she is free of her violent past…

"This is a wonderful book. Beautiful historical background with two characters who just are not perfect. It makes the story so much more real when you can relate to them. I look forward to reading more from this author. Armchair Interviews says: Highly recommended for those who love historical romance." —Arm Chair Interviews


Line of Scrimmage
By: Marie Force
The Hail Mary play of a lifetime . . . An NFL quarterback has just 10 days to convince his soon-to-be ex-wife to give him another chance, and he has to act fast—she’s already engaged to her ex-boyfriend. Readers will laugh and cry and hope—that at the end of the day, these two lovers, who clearly belong together, will somehow find their way back to one another.

“With its humor and endearing characters, Force's charming novel will appeal to a broad spectrum of readers, reaching far beyond sports fans.” —Booklist


Dating da Vinci
By: Malena Lott
A gorgeous young Italian, with nowhere to go . . .His name just happens to be Leonardo da Vinci. When he walks into Ramona Elise's English class, he's a twenty-five-year-old immigrant, struggling to forge a new life in America - but he's lonely, has nowhere to live, and barely speaks English . . .She knows she shouldn't take him home . . .Picking up the pieces of her life after the death of her beloved husband, linguist and teacher Ramona Elise can't help but be charmed by her gorgeous new student. And when he calls her "Mona Lisa" she just about loses her heart . . .

"Delightfully affirming romance!" —Booklist


Romeo Romeo
By: Robin Kaye
Rosalie Ronaldi is a woman focused on her career. She has no intention of ever getting married nor is she a domestic goddess—both major points of contention with her traditional Italian Catholic family. However, when she gets a flat tire and is stranded on the side of the road, a mechanic with a tow truck pulls over, and gives her a hand.
Turns out that “mechanic” is actually Nick Romeo, “Brooklyn’s Donald Trump,” a self-made millionaire and serial dater. He’s instantly attracted to Rosalie, even though she’s far from his usual type of girlfriends who are fortune-hunting sticks with breasts. He quickly realizes, though, that he would have no chance with her if she knew who he was—the multi-millionaire playboy who, back in his misspent youth, got her older brother arrested. So he neglects to mention that detail. Somewhat inexplicably to both of them, they click instantly (helped along by Nick’s protective instincts when Rosalie gets pneumonia), and Nick suddenly becomes her live-in caretaker, cook, housekeeper, and lover, all rolled into one. Looming over his head, though, is his hidden identity and the fact that his company is at odds with Rosalie’s.

“Wonderful Laugh Out Loud Humor, a sexy and precious love story with twists and turns until the very end. Do Not Miss This Treasure!!” —Single Title Reviews


The Wild Sight
By: Loucinda McGary
Cursed with the Irish clairvoyance known as "The Sight," Donovan O'Shea fled to America to escape his "gift." Fifteen years later, his father's illness has forced him to return to the family homestead where years earlier, Donovan's mother disappeared into the fens and was never seen again. Now the same fens are offering up secrets, both ancient and recent, and restoring a terrible legacy that just may drive him mad. And if this were not trouble enough, a beautiful woman walks into his life, claiming to be his half-sister.

Rylie Powell never knew her real father. Her mother would only say he was a charming Irishman who seduced her, married her, and then abandoned her and his baby daughter. But after her mother's death, Rylie finds tantalizing clues about her father that send her off to Northern Ireland and an archeological site on Dermot O'Shea's property, the man listed on her birth certificate as her father.

Did Dermot O'Shea father both Donovan and Rylie? What is Donovan's connection to the Celtic High King Niall of the Nine Hostages? And what secrets do the fens hold that invites murder?

"...brings elements of the supernatural into this smashing romantic suspense novel. ...McGary never shortchanges the sizzling romance... as she weaves in ancient legend and recent murders, building to a dramatic, memorable conclusion." —Publisher’s Weekly Starred review


By: Cheryl Brooks
Looking for something different? If you'd like a strong heroine, plenty of adventure, steamy romance, and hot, erotic sex with an irresistible alien lover who can purr, then this first book in The Cat Star Chronicles series is for you! Join Captain Jacinth "Jack" Rutland and Carkdakund "Cat" Tshevnoe on their rescue mission on a planet with facscinating world customs, danger, and a surprising secret!

"A hugely remarkable first foray into the written word, SLAVE will enthrall and entice. The sexual tension and compatibility of the two main characters are hot enough to start a fire. Add in a thrilling new world and my reading experience was complete." —Romance Junkies


By: Cheryl Brooks
Action, adventure, sizzling romance, and another irresistible Zetithian lover are the hallmarks of this second book in The Cat Star Chronicles series. Join the powerful witch, Tisana, and Leccarian "Leo" Banadansk, a golden-haired Zetithian warrior, in their race to find two kidnapped boys and earn Leo's freedom from a lifetime of slavery! Plenty of laughs are provided by the local animals with whom Tisana can communicate telepathically, but watch out: This witch can set you on fire!

"Ms. Brooks masterfully combined Sci-Fi fantasy, paranormal elements, hot and sensual alien attributes and hilarity with characters that wiggled their way into my heart and dreams. My advice is to rush out and grab a Warrior of your own." —Whipped Cream Erotic Romance Reviewers


50 Ways to Hex Your Lover
By: Linda Wisdom
What’s a witch to do? 700 year young Jazz Tremaine lives the good life as a curse eliminator and driver for All Creatures Car Service even if ghostly Irma haunts her precious 1956 T-Bird convertible and magick bunny slippers Fluff and Puff make life crazy for her. Now her PI ex vampire Nick Gregory is back in town and needs her help with a serial killer of vampires that’s using dark magick. Can Jazz work with the sexy vampire without reliving the past? What do you think?

“With clever writing, a high sensuality factor and an unfettered imagination, Wisdom makes a sparkling entry into lite urban paranormals.” —Publisher’s Weekly


Hex Appeal
By: Linda Wisdom
Jazz’s life is never boring. Now she’s having disturbing nightmares that involve Nick and he’s having them too. Someone doesn’t want them together and to make matters worse, Jazz’s beloved magick bunny slippers, Fluff and Puff are accused of eating a carny were-weasel! Once again Jazz is doing her hexy stuff to find out who’s messing up her usually blissful dreams and who dared to frame Fluff and Puff when everyone knows were-weasels taste nasty.

“Bless Jazz Tremaine’s witchy, Prada-loving heart – she’s captured mine! I can’t get enough of Jazz and her vamp lover Nick. Kudos to Linda Wisdom for a series that's pure magic!” —Vicki Lewis Thompson, NYT bestselling author of Wild & Hexy


SEALed With a Kiss
By: Mary Margaret Daughtridge
Even a hero needs help sometimes… Navy SEAL Lt. Jax Graham is as at home in the water as…well, a seal, but he’s completely out of his depth when his ex-wife dies and he must find a caregiver for the son he hardly knows. He intends to let
Tyler live with his grandmother—until he spends the weekend from hell with the two of them, that is. One look at bright, bossy, and sweetly sexy Pickett Sessoms and Jax knows she’ll expect more than he has to give. But right now, he needs help with his sad and silent son, and she knows a lot about kids. What about Tyler? Well, Tyler is only four years old. He doesn’t know a lot about anything. But he's sure he needs a mommy who isn’t dead, a daddy he can trust, a dog, and a bed of his very own.

"With a hero who's not only a tough Navy SEAL but also an insecure, vulnerable father and a pretty but unsure heroine with a big heart and a huge amount of love to give, how can this story miss? It doesn't; it delivers in a huge way. Throw in a lost little boy and some great dogs and you get a heart-touching story that will keep you smiling and cheering for the characters clear through to the happy ending." —Romantic Times, four and a half out of five.


Books to Look Forward to in 2009

Monday, November 24, 2008

Regency Food - Part II

I thought, during this time of Thanksgiving, it might be fun to do another post on food.

Special Celebrations deserve special things to eat and in the Regency era sculptured sugar will often be mentioned as the piece de resistance. Pictured above is a desert from the 1820's all made from sugar, known as pastillage. Can you imagine the work that went into it? And then to eat it!

Here is a mould and then the final result.

It was common to serve bonbonniere at the table in pastillage baskets. Here we see a pastillage basket containing 'jewell fruit', which are in fact vegetables, cauliflowers and cucumbers.

I was particularly enchanted by the following design. A sculpture where the ornaments hung from a central column and would have trembled as the guests touched the table.

I think we can see where the ideas of our fancy wedding cakes came from, don't you think.

I used to love helping make my mother ice our Christmas cake each year, and it was always my job to pipe on the royal icing decoration. Of course what I liked was getting to snack on the little silver balls when she wasn't looking and eating the left over icing in the metal tip that goes on the end of the icing bag. I always did have a sweet tooth.

In those days I had no idea about pastillage, and the designs of two hundred years ago. If you would like more detail on this check out this link.

Have a sweet week, and until next time, Happy Rambles

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Revolution in Regency Britain

While the course of English political History is such that there was no revolution of the sort which took place in France, or indeed in America, all was not a sweet and light in Britain for the laboring poor. The feudal system still in place in France had long gone, the power of the monarchy being severely limited by Parliament after Cromwell's time and that followed on from the Magna Carta.

There were several periods of general unrest and small uprisings. One such was the Pentrich Rebellion in 1817.

The men of the Derbyshire village of Pentrich formed themselves into a small army and on the night of June 9th 1817 and marched towards Nottingham led by Jeremiah Brandreth, a stocking maker (pictured here). They expected to meet up with many thousands coming from the North of England and join with them in a great march towards London, where they expected to see the overthrow of the government and the establishment of a republic.

Unfortunately, no one else showed up and the men were either executed or exported to Australia. I decided not to used the pictures of the hanging, and beheading of which there are several. Suffice it to say, it was brutal and it was public.

The reasons for this uprising were many and would take a whole history book to outline, but in summary, there were laws introduced by Parliament which made bread, a staple food, very expensive, soldiers returned from the war to find themselves with no work, except badly paid factory work in the cities, and the lack of representational government. On this latter for example: Of the 558 members of parliament, most of them represented electorates of under 500 people. Major industrial towns such as Manchester, Birmingham and Leeds had no MPs at all. The government argued that an MP was not “the agent of the place that chose him, but of the whole community.” The unpopularity of the Prince Regent and his extravagant lifestyle was also a factor in disgruntlement.

There is also evidence that the actual march was incited by the Government agent William Oliver.

On that cheerful note, I will wish you Happy Rambles until next time.

Monday, November 17, 2008

What Did the Aristocracy Do for A Living?

This topic came up because of a question posted by a reader. I will attempt to answer it briefly - though I may find I am doing Ryan's homework, it is too much fun to resist.

When you think about the 1800's remember that a peer would have one male heir. That heir would inherit most of the wealth, the estate, and most of the income, depending on what previous generations had arranged. So, indeed, in each generation, there would be a small number of rich landowners, who were peers. As Ryan suggested in his question on my last post.

This is the coat of arms of an earl.Peers, did have a lot of responsibilities to their tenants. Making sure they implemented modern farming knowledge, and this was an age of enlightenment in terms of advances for both industry and agriculture. They were also like the millionaire playboys of today. Fast horses (instead of cars), gambling, and flashy women. They also employed a great many servants, which in itself was an obligation. Men of rank weren't expected to put on their own clothes etc.. If they did, they were doing someone out of a job.

Also, there were always more than one offspring to each noble couple. These were the days when contraception was sketchy at best. And while infant mortality was also high, families tended to be large. Which meant there were lots of other ladies and gentlemen of the aristocracy who were not major landowners or peers of the realm.

They had to work. So what did they do.

Now there is a great deal of information about this, and I am going to give you only a smidgen of it here. You will find examples of some of this in Jane Austen's various works and lots of detail in social history books.

This is the House of Lords in 1808-1811.The heir, if he was titled, was expected to take his seat in the House of Lords. He was expected to make speeches and be a lawmaker. The relationship between the House of Lords and the House of Commons started to change around this time, but the Lords, (Dukes, Marquises, Earls, Viscounts, and Archbishops) had more of a role to play then than they do now.

The second, third and fourth... sons might receive some money set aside from their mother's marriage settlements, or even some funds she might have brought to the marriage. These funds they would be expected to manage through investments, in "the Funds" or perhaps they might bey property, but because they were gentlemen, they would not be farmers - not if they wanted to be taken seriously.

This is an officer in the fourteenth dragoons. There were careers that were considered suitable for a gentlemen, or a member of the aristocracy - the younger son of an earl for example. They might buy a commission in the military, starting with a cornetcy and working their way up. They could start higher. The higher the rank you bought the more it cost, and the greater the responsibility. In those days officers led from the front, and up close and persona, so they risked their lives for their country.

Similarly they might join the navy and rise from midshipman to Admiral, but they would never go as a common sailor.

I should mention that Britain was at war with France and Napoleon for a very long time during this period.

They might become ordained, so a vicar, or a parson. Church position, or livings as they were called, were often given out by the local Lord. So he might give one to a brother or a cousin. These men were still gentlemen, and they went to all the right parties, but tended to live in the country.

They might, if they had money, occupy there time dabbling in Science, inventing things. There were no research companies doing R & D, it was simply well educated men and those were usually the sons of noble houses or gentry, who had a thirst for discovery, natural history, archeology, science. If you look up inventions in this period you will start to see the beginnings of electricity, the steam engine, and of course the inventions that took us into the industrial revolutions.

Business was an acceptable occupation for a gentleman, provided he didn't talk about it. Poetry was also accepted, though they mostly did it for love not money. Look up Byron for example.

Here are the House of Commons in 1808. Still looking very gentlemanly, I would say.
Politics in the House of Commons was also very acceptable, another way of governing the country and again, elections and voting were very different than today.

What wasn't acceptable was anything that smacked of the "shop" or "trade". So no gentleman would sell produce or product, or make saddles, for example. This would make him unacceptable to his equals. It would be considered scandalous.

In Jane Austen's P & P we have soldiers who are gentlemen, we have a parson, we have a great landowner, we see that Lizzie's uncle is a man in business and not quite so acceptable, to Mr. Darcy who looks down on Lizzie's family for their low connections.

Look for books like these:

Mark Bence-Jones and Hugh Montgomery-Massingberd
Constable, 1979, ISBN: 0-09-461780-5.

THE AGE OF ARISTOCRACY, 1688-1830 ( Buy a new copy or Search for a used copy)
AUTHOR: William B. Willcox and Walter L. Arnstein

1. DC Heath and Company, 1992, ISBN: 0669397180.
2. Houghton Mifflin Company College Division, textbook paperback, 2000, ISBN: 0618001034.

You will find lots of information here for your Jane Austen reenactment Ryan.

The Jane Austen Centre In Bath

Well, this skims the surface and I could spend ages recommending books and posting links to great sites, but there are some on my website and lots more to be found surfing.

Ryan, I love the sound of what you are doing with your class. I would dearly love to hear all about it, and pictures too.

Until next time, Happy Rambles.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Regency Beauty - Part III

We were interrupted some time ago on this topic, I thought I would come back to it.
Cosmetics were often home made as can be seen from the entries in:
The New Family Receipt Book (1819)

We often here of elderly ladies and even young ones clutching their smelling salts. I have a story planned with a secondary character who uses hers to great effect. If you would like to make some, this is one recipe.

642. To make an excellent Smelling Bottle.
Take an equal quantity of sal-ammoniac and unslacked lime, pound them separate, then mix and put them in a bottle to smell to. Before you put in the above, drop two or three drops of the essence of bergamot into the bottle, then cork it close. A drop or two of ether, added to the same will greatly improve it.

Bergamot is a pear-shaped citrus fruit from south east asia and also grown in Calabria.

Rosewater was a homemade perfume, it is as the name suggests, distilled rose petals.

652. To make Rose Water.
Gather roses on a dry day, when they are full blown; pick off the leaves, and to a peck put a quart of water, then put them into a cold still, make a slow fire under it, the slower you distil it the better it will be; then bottle it, and in two or three days you may cork it.

Finally a recipe for Pomade, which you would put on your hair.

657. To make the celebrated Pomade Divine.
According to Dr. Beddoes, this composition is as follows, viz. beef marrow, twelve ounces steeped in water ten days, and afterwards in rose water twenty-four hours; flowers of Benjamin, pounded storax, and Florentine orris, of each half an ounce; cinnamon, a quarter of an ounce, clove and nutmeg a quarter of an ounce. The whole to be put in an earthen vessel, closely covered down, to keep in the fumes and being suspended in water made to boil three hours; after which, the whole is to be strained and put into bottles.

Can you imagine putting the beef marrow on your hair? It was to make the hair shiny.

I would think so.

Until next time, Happy Rambles

Monday, November 10, 2008

A writing day

If you would like to read an interview with one of the characters from my latest book, you can find one here.

And I am blogging over at American Title After experiencing some computer difficulties today. I will leave you to take a peak at the other blogs and catch up with you on Thursday.

In the meantime, Happy Rambles.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Flora and Fauna of Regency Britain

I just noticed I have two followers. How exciting.

Despite the weather in Ontario trying to pretend it is June, I know it's November, because the leaves are almost all on the ground. Did you celebrate Guy Fawkes Day, yesterday? I used to love those baked potatoes my mother made where she scooped the potato out, mixed it with butter and cheese, and then put it back inside the skin. The thought of standing outside by the bonfire, hot face, cold bum, with those handwarmers which also tasted delicious makes my mouth water. No fireworks here though. We have those in May and July. Which never makes any sense to me, because you have to wait hours and hours for sunset.

Now as you can see, none of that is really my topic for today and I suppose that is true evidence of writer's procrastination. Because not only should I be getting my blog done, I should be editing my next book, about which I will be telling you very soon.

Flora and Fauna or November

Our Naturist has this to say: the golden-rod must be particularly noticed, as it begins to flower when all the other flowers
have faded, and continues in bloom until the middle of November. This flower is always covered with bees during the last months of the summer, and the two first of autumn, provided the weather will permit the beesat that season of the year to leave the hive. This plant should be particularly cultivated in the vicinity of an apiary. It will grow in the worst of soils; and an acre of unarable land planted with the
golden-rod, would furnish at the close of the season a sufficiency for a hundred hives to complete their winter stock.

How about that. My research indicates that indeed golden rod is important for bees today. The native Goldenrod, Solidago virgaurea is of smaller size than the introduced species, with a less dense and not one-sided flowerhead. It is found in hedge banks, rocky places and open woodlands in the north and west of the UK, but is extremely scarce elsewhere. It had, and retains, many uses in herbal medicine, including the traditional one of healing wounds. Such was its importance in Tudor London, that the dried herb cost 12 1/2p per 25g! It might be deduced that this truly enormous price reflected truly enormous need at the time, (many knife wounds). It also says the another variety came from Canada in the sixteen hundreds. A more vigorous variety, no doubt to take advantage of that huge price, but it is larger and more invasive. I gather it was also used for kidney problems.

This is what our naturist says of the weather at this time of year.

This is, usually, a wet, cold and gloomy month; storms of wind and rain confine us to the house, and admonish us in the morning to seek amusement in the well-furnished library or museum, and to devote our evenings to music and the charms of intellectual society. With these powerful antidotes to melancholy thoughts, naturally inspired by the somber character of the season, we may listen to the ‘pitiless pelting of the storm,’ without, and be grateful for the security and accommodation we enjoy.

Clearly this dude never lived in Canada in the winter. Grumble grumble. Mind you, they didn't have central heating then, or cars, so all is forgiven.

He also says: Mushrooms are collected in abundance in this month.

This is a wood mushroom you find it in the mid afternoon, in oak and hazel woodland among the leaf litter. Oh and it has a strong aniseed smell. I can just see my wonderful heroine poking around among the leaves on a fine day between the storms and sniffing the mushroom. Very romantic.

Oh, please do not use this picture as a guide to picking mushrooms. I personally would not eat a mushroom that did not come from a store. However, in the Regency, people picked them all the time and indeed I believe my parents picked them as children. I browsed a website and saw several English varieties with a knife and fork beside them and picked this one, because it looks like November, with the brown curled leaves the tangled undergrowth.

That's it from me today. I hoped you enjoyed this little ramble through highways and byways and I look forward to chatting again on Monday. Now back to those edits.

Until next time. Happy rambles.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Regency Fashion For November

We put our clocks back an hour this past weekend. How very parsimonious of us to save an hour a day, Jane Austen might say. Sadly the early rising of today, will soon slip away. It was nice not to get up in the dark, I must say, but I do find the shorter days and dark evenings a gloomy herald to winter.

Which of course takes us to fashions for November. I have a couple of gems for you today, which I hope you will enjoy.

This one is and evening gown from Ackerman's Repository 1813.

A round robe of blossom-coloured crape, with demi-train, worn over a white satin slip, gather frock back and stomacher front; the sleeve unusually short, and back and bosom uncommonly (not to say unbecomingly) exposed. The sleeves and neck of the robe ornamented with puckered white satin, and a fancy border round the bottom composed of white satin and crape, the same as the dress; belt of the same round the bottom of the waist, confined with a pearl, or other appropriate clasp, in front. The hair in irregular curls, divided in front, and confined on the crown of the head with white beads and blended with small autumnal flowers of various hues. Necklace, a single row of pearl or the satin bead; a small elastic chain of Oriental gold, from which is suspended a large convent cross of diamonds. Earrings and bracelets of pearl, with diamond studs. French kid gloves, below the elbow. Slipper of white satin, decorated round the instep with silver fringe. Indian fan of carved ivory.

The level of detail in this description from the hair to the the indian fan are a writer's dream. Even using some of these details would bring an outfit to life. Note the blossom-coloured gown. Now what color is blossom? Clearly for this picture a soft pink. It sounds pretty.

This next gown, a walking gown, is also from Ackerman's Repository and is from November 1814, a year later.

An Italian striped sarsnet lilac-coloured dress, ornamented round the bottom with a double quilling of satin ribband; short full sleeve, trimmed to correspond; the fronts of the dress cross the bosom and form an open stomacher; a Vandyke French ruff, and full bordered cap to correspond. The satin straw hat, tied under the chin with a check or striped Barcelona handkerchief, crossing the crown with a small plume of ostrich feathers in front. French shawl, a white twill, embroidered with shaded scarlet and green silks, and fancifully disposed on the figure. Gloves, Limerick or York tan, drawn over the elbow. Half-boots of York tan or pale buff kid.

I find this one fascinating. Not because I like it, because actually I don't, but because there is so much frill going on. The Vandyke French ruff and the bonnet just don't make me want to rush out and buy it, but again the detailed descriptions are wonderfully helpful. Do you think it would be warm enough for blustery November? Even the shawl looks a little on the thin side.

Hope you enjoyed our usual beginning of the month feature and are looking forward to flora and fauna next time. The Lady Flees Her Lord is now available on Amazon and hopefully at a store near you.

Happy Rambles.