We’re Beautiful.

Beautiful.  What does that word even mean?

The Oxford English Dictionary defines beautiful as “excelling in grace of form, charm of colouring, and other qualities which delight the eye, and call forth admiration.”  Yikes.

look great see no one

The most popular definition at Urban Dictionary says, “Beautiful is a woman who has a distinctive personality, one who can laugh at anything, including themselves, who is especially kind and caring to others.”  Now this definition, I love.

sweat pants cheerleader

Different cultures have different standards of beauty, and those standards have evolved over hundreds of years under the such diverse influences as economics, norms, fashion, and even religious beliefs.

Author, historian, researcher, and all-around Wonder Woman, Geri Walton, blogged this week about Ideas of Female Beauty in the 1700s and 1800s.  It’s a fascinatingly specific essay on what people – and especially men – considered beautiful two and three hundred years ago.  Some ideals seem a touch odd today, like round knees, white shoulders, an unaffected air, or a smooth, high forehead.  Perhaps not surprisingly, the majority of the characteristics called beautiful are still used as measures today: youth, smooth skin, straight teeth, and plenty of bosom.

If there’s one thing history can teach us about beauty, it’s that someone will always be around to judge who they think is or isn’t qualified to wear the adjective.  So it’s up to us to set our own standards, create our own definitions, and find what fits for us.

It’s just like Mr. Knightly said: “Perhaps it is our imperfections that make us perfect for one another.”  (For the purists: I know it was 1996 movie Mr. Knightly, or rather screenwriter Douglas McGrath, and not Jane Austen who gave us these words . . . but I’ll take them.  And Jeremy Northam.)

Do the clicky thingy and head over to read Geri’s post at 2Romance, and check out the beauty standards of yesteryear.  You might be surprised to see that a  few of the things we search for in our mirrors were the same things searched for in a foggy pier glass in a Georgian town house.

beauty isnt perfect

5 Easy Questions


Did you catch my answers to 5 Easy Questions at fellow author Kayelle Allen’s Romance Lives Forever blog?  The questions are designed to be easy and fun, and they were!

In case you missed the post, click here and find out some of my favorites, and if I have a book boyfriend.

It’s no surprise that I do, but who he is might be.  Here’s a hint: he’s never been repped on the big screen by Colin Firth – although that’s not a bad idea….

boyfriend material

An Irresistible New Release!

For your reading pleasure this weekend – the latest release from author Stacy Reid – a steal at 99¢ through Monday, August 18.  It’s on my kindle.  Go grab a copy for your e-reader, too! ~RR

The Irresistible Miss Peppiwell

A Scandalous House of Calydon novel by Stacy Reid

With a longing for adventure, the last thing Phillipa Peppiwell wants is to marry. After a painful betrayal by a man she trusted, she is wary when she unwittingly catches the attention of roguishly handsome – and sinfully tempting – Lord Anthony Thornton. Forbidden desires she secretly yearns for threaten to crumble her icy facade and reveal a past scandal best kept buried.

Dissatisfied with his empty life, Lord Anthony seeks a deep and lasting connection… and finds himself intrigued by the Ice Maiden of the haute monde. Undaunted by Phillipa’s aloof nature and her distaste for the idea of matrimony, he sets out to thaw the bewitching beauty by enticing her with adventures of the most sensual type. But he, too, hides a scandalous secret… and if it’s discovered it could rip them apart.

The Irresistible Miss Peppiwell
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About The Author

Stacy is an avid reader of novels with a deep passion for writing. She especially loves romance and adores writing about people falling in love. Stacy lives a lot in the worlds she creates and actively speaks to her characters (out loud). She has a warrior way, never give up on her dreams. When Stacy is not writing, she spends a copious amount of time drooling over Rick Grimes from Walking Dead, watching Japanese anime and playing video games with her love, Dusean Nelson.

Find her here:

@st_reid | Facebook | Website | Good Reads

Sign up for her Newsletter to be among the first to hear about her new releases, and read excerpts you wont find anywhere else. She also does giveaways for subscribers, a winner is chosen every month!

Stop, thief!


Plagiarism.  It’s not borrowing.  It’s not expounding.  It’s theft.

Fellow author Rachel Ann Nunes discovered something no writer ever wants to see: her work, slightly embellished, being passed off as another’s.  Third person voice was changed to first. Adjectives were rearranged. Sex scenes were added.

Ms. Nunes contacted the other “author.”  Multiple contradictory excuses were offered, but none rang true.  It was almost as if the other “author” couldn’t think up an original explanation; a sad reality for a plagiarist.

It’s unbelievable to think that thieves – because that’s what you call someone who steals – always think they will be the one to get away with it.

From Ms. Nunes’s blog (I added the italics):

It is with a very heavy sadness I take hours from my young children and my work to write this post. I rarely write such detailed blogs, and the necessity of it now breaks my heart. And if you read to the end, I promise, this is going to shock you that something like this really is happening. My life was torn apart this weekend when it came to light that an anonymous author on the Internet, who is known only by a logo and a fake name, had plagiarized my novel, A Bid for Love (formerly entitled Love to the Highest Bidder), which is the first of a trilogy.

It has been verified by four separate readers that Sam Taylor Mullens did, indeed, add steamy scenes to The Auction Deal, her revised version of my Christian novel, and claimed it as her own. Her subsequent emails to different people and contradicting statements online while trying to cover her tracks has shown a definite intent to do fraud. This path she has followed is far more outlandish than any novel I’ve ever read.

Excerpts from both books (see screenshots below for more):
Chapter Two, first paragraph, Rachel Ann Nunes 1998 – The Dark brown curls were everywhere. They were a curse, and had been for twenty-eight of Cassi’s twenty-nine years. They puffed out from her scalp and plunged halfway down her back as if they had lives of their own, helplessly tangled and twisted together. The bathroom lights above the double sink reflected from the brown tresses, bringing out the subtle gold highlights.

Chapter Two, first paragraph, Sam Taylor Mullens, Auction Deal 2014 – Dark brunette curls were everywhere. They were a curse, and had been for the thirty-one years of my life. They puffed out from my scalp and plunged halfway down my back. They helplessly tangled and twisted together. The bathroom lights above the sink reflected the brown tresses.

That ^^^ is plagiarism.

This Sam Taylor Mullens appropriated an original novel, written in 1998 and published in 1999, and attempted to pass it off as her own.  Did she think no one would remember a 15-year-old novel? Did she think readers and reviewers would not possibly connect a Christian Romance with her sexed-up NA offering?

Ms. Nunes decided to contact Ms. Mullens, and what followed were textbook examples of evasion, fraud, and cyber-bullying.  Please follow this link to read “the rest of the story,” as Paul Harvey would say.  It is well worth your time.

Excerpt taken from the blog of author Rachel Ann Nunes, post entitled “Standing Against Plagiarism,” at rachelannnunes.blogspot.com.

My Sexy Saturday

Every Saturday, a group of romance authors share sexy snippets from their published works or works-in-progress.  We share seven paragraphs, seven sentences, or seven words.  To read some selections from other authors, click here.

 My snippet comes from the second book in The Lords of Oxford Series.  I’m going to share seven paragraphs of a weak-in-the-knees moment from A Marquis For All Seasons.


A Marquis For All Seasons

“Close your eyes,” he commanded, chuckling slightly as she quirked her brows, both of course, without acquiescing. “Please.” He chuckled again as she harrumphed then closed her eyes. Stafford stepped closer until they were nearly touching from head to foot. He drew a finger up to stroke the outline of her countenance. “Your face is the shape of a heart, your jaw stubborn and proud, and the strength of your character and determination can be easily seen,” he began, “but it’s also soft as the finest silk, tempting a man to feel if it is as smooth as it seems.” He traced the line of her jaw, from ear to chin and back. She trembled slightly. He smiled. He moved his finger to her cheek.

“Your skin here is so fine, the color of the most delectable cream, and flushes a pretty pink with your every emotion.” At his words she pinkened but did not retreat from his touch.

“Your nose is neither aristocratically long nor snubbishly pert. I love the way it wrinkles when you have a problem to solve or find fault with something.” He drew his finger down the bridge, tapping her nose lightly on the end. He paused in his inventory, smiling to himself as she unconsciously scrunched her nose. He moved his exploration to her eyelid, tracing first one, then the other.

“These protective folds cover a most intriguing pair of eyes – blue as the most precious sapphire of India, yet bluer than the sky on the clearest summer day. They are as mesmerizing and captivating as water of the Channel you so love near your summer home.” A sigh escaped her and he moved to her brow.

“These specimens are most provocative; perfectly proportioned, slightly darker than your honey-colored hair, and so expressive.” He drew a light finger over each one, marveling at the tiny shiver it elicited from her. “I find it fascinating how they raise in simultaneous salute when you mock me, or think you return my quizzical stare.” She gasped and tried to open her eyes but he rested both forefingers against her lids. “You do, raising both brows rather than one, and it is most endearing. I hope that never changes,” he confided almost absentmindedly, distracted by his next object.

“Lastly, your lips . . .” he began softly, tracing first the top, then the bottom, slowly, deliberately, focusing intently on the path of his fingers. Her lips parted slightly under his touch, her tongue darting out to moisten them. Stafford’s gut clenched, and he leaned in to whisper, so closely his lips might have brushed hers with certain syllables, but he could not be sure. He was falling under his own spell, and could not find cause to care one whit. “These are most enticing to a man, like the petals of a bud that has yet to bloom, its promise of secrets hidden within more intoxicating than the strongest of spirits.” He brushed his lips across hers. Miranda gasped and grabbed his arms for support. Her eyes popped open to stare deeply into his. Stafford felt as if all the air fled from the room, his gut clenching awkwardly again.

“You are not merely pretty, Lady Miranda, nor beautiful. You are enchanting.” She stared deeply into his eyes, possibly his very soul, before dropping her gaze to his lips. He swallowed convulsively at the sight before kissing her lightly again. Where these words and feelings were coming from he knew not, but the compulsion to speak them, then drown in another of her kisses, was irresistible.

So, what do you think?  Sexy?  Smoldering?  Yes, please?

Historical Assumptions

From Don N. Hagist at All Things Liberty, we find proof that less-than-proper conduct can be found in any era, and is not simply an invention of our modern society.  The “good ol’ days” weren’t always so good, and dirty laundry usually gets its public airing.

Ten marriages, both loyalist and patriot, bear witness to good people behaving very badly.


Top 10 Marriages Gone Bad

Wedding scene from Ramsay’s The gentle shepherd, Act V, Printed for G. Reid and Co., 1798 From The Lewis Walpole Library at Yale University

Every now and then I meet someone who thinks that people “back then” were all highly religious and led straight-laced, pious lives. Those people haven’t read newspapers of the era. Legal notices appeared frequently in which husbands and wives absolved themselves of responsibility for the debts and dissipations of spouses who’d abandoned them. Sometimes competing accounts appeared in which spouses attacked each other in the public media. While in most cases we have nothing more than a single legal notice, there are some for which additional information has come to light. There were even marriages that became so tumultuous or ended so tragically that they received national attention. And of course the newspapers reveal only a sample of the unions that yielded anger, tumult and tragedy.

Here are a ten examples of Revolutionary War era marriages gone bad, selected for no other reason than that they’re interesting and reasonably easy to learn more about. They’re a stark reminder that social issues such as marital discord transcend both war and time.

Thomas Melody and Hannah Andrews

When sent to Connecticut as a prisoner of war after the Battle of Princeton, Thomas Melody did not do as most British soldiers and await exchange or escape to rejoin his regiment. Instead, he married an American woman, Hannah Andrews. Sounds like a wonderful wartime love story – and maybe it was while the war lasted. By 1791, however, things had fallen apart, and Thomas placed a notice that Hannah had “forsaken my bed and board.” Some months later Hannah took the unusual step of publishing a lengthy notice defending her character and claiming that Thomas’s transgressions “would make a larger volume than I am able to get published, or any one have patience to read, and they would bring disgrace on me and all the human race;” he then published a response to these “aspersions of a malicious, vindictive, vagrant vixen.” The war of words continued; although we’ve found no resolution to the dispute, we can be sure it provided great entertainment to readers of the newspaper. Read more about this troubled couple.

Joshua Spooner and Bathsheba Ruggles

The daughter of prominent Massachusetts loyalist Timothy Ruggles, Bathsheba was a flamboyant character in her own right. Whether she married Joshua Spooner because of her own appreciation of his family’s wealth or because her father wished for her security is not known, but by 1778, after a decade of marriage, she’d grown quite bored of her husband. Although their Brookfield, Mass., home was far from the fighting, many American soldiers and British prisoners passed through the town. Bathsheba’s beauty and extroversion gave her great influence over men, and she saw in the itinerant soldiers a path out of her uninteresting marriage. She entered into a scheme with an American private soldier and two British prisoners of war to remove her husband from her life. Although the plot itself was successful, its secretiveness was not; the story ended with not one but five people dead. The entire tragic tale is detailed in Deborah Navis, Murdered by his Wife (Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 1999).

Margaret Moncrieffe and Lt. John Coghlan

After losing her mother as an infant, Margaret Moncrieffe was sent away to school in Dublin instead of living with her father, Captain John Moncrieffe of the 59th Regiment of Foot. His remarriage gave her connections in America to both sides of the brewing conflict, and when she returned the colonies in 1774 she found both friends and detractors everywhere. She lived in the home of British commander Thomas Gage and then with American General Israel Putnam. She fell in love with an American colonel, but was forced to join her father who then forced her to marry a British officer, Lt. John Coghlan of the 23rd Regiment of Foot. She was miserable. So miserable, in fact, that in 1793, after sixteen years of marriage, she wrote and published Memoirs of Mrs. Coghlan (London: privately printed, 1794). She summarized the union that caused emotional, financial and legal dissipation: “My union with Mr. Coghlan I never considered in any other light, than an honorable prostitution, as I really hated the man whom they had compelled me to marry” (her italics). Her memoir was reprinted in New York in 1864 and again in 1971; it’s sad but well worth reading and includes many anecdotes of prominent figures on both sides of the war.

Henrietta Overing and Major Andrew Bruce

Unlike Margaret Moncrieffe, Henrietta Overing loved the British officer she married in 1778, a major in the 54th Regiment of Foot, part of the garrison in Rhode Island where she lived with her loyalist family. Twice her age, he stressed to her the importance of keeping the marriage secret until his elderly father in Scotland died, so as not to lose a substantial inheritance. She complied, and remained at home caring for her own sickly father when the British left Rhode Island and Andrew Bruce took a staff position in New York. Then he stopped writing to her. After her father died, she went to New York but he refused to see her. Her brother, although a junior officer in the same regiment, was unable to intervene favorably. Andrew Bruce addressed a final letter to Henrietta that coldly began, “My Dear Madam.” In 1783, with the British about to evacuate New York, she made a plea to the British commander in chief but to no avail. She returned to Rhode Island humiliated, with a meaningless marriage and an administrative nightmare because her loyalist family’s property was now in American hands. She did, however, remarry a few years later and eventually had her portrait painted by Gilbert Stuart; Andrew Bruce, on the other hand, died in obscurity soon after the war, while his elderly father outlived him. The full story will appear in the Spring 2014 issue of Newport History.

Isaiah Thomas and Mary Dill

Newspapers played a key role in fomenting rebellion in America, and Isaiah Thomas was one of the Boston printers who manned the presses. As a partner in the Massachusetts Spy, it’s not entirely clear whether he embraced the radical politics that he published or simply saw it as a good business niche; his 1770 marriage to Bermuda-born Mary Dill was as tumultuous as the politics of the era. He apparently didn’t know until after their marriage that she’d had relations with other men before him, and she never was happy in her union to him in spite of having three children together. Just two months before hostilities broke out, she went on a trip to Newburyport, Mass., with another man – Benjamin Thompson, a militia colonel from New Hampshire who became a British cavalry officer during the war, then became a prominent scientist and inventor in Europe. Perhaps Mary found him more interesting than her printer husband. Isaiah Thomas divorced Mary in 1777, and went on to have two other ill-fated marriages. There’s more about him and Mary Dill.

William and Mrs. Whitlow, 44th Regiment of Foot

Besides being a private soldier, William Whitlow was a member of his regiment’s band of music. He had spent his entire life in the regiment, and by 1779 had a wife and child; it was said that “there was not a happier Couple in the Regiment.” But only when he was in his right mind; as a child in Ireland he had fallen from a wall and hit his head, which was the supposed reason he was sometimes “out of his senses.” At such times he had been known to beat his wife (whose first name, unfortunately, is not known) because of imagined transgressions; sometimes his officers locked him up to protect her and their child until he regained his senses. In September 1779 when on board a transport ship, he had thrown himself overboard for no apparent reason. Still on board ship some days later, while accusing his wife of imagined misbehavior, he picked up a bayonet and pushed it into her chest. Other soldiers restrained him, but the damage was done; the wound festered and she died a few days later. At his trial for murder, although not disputing that he’d inflicted the wound, Whitlow testified that he had no recollection of the act and called many witnesses who described his bouts of insanity. He was acquitted of the charge because it was not considered a willful murder, and he served many more years in the regiment. One witness testified that during the days Whitlow’s wife languished “she frequently said she forgave him, and…that she believed the Cause of his Wounding her was owing to his having too much love for her.”

The Demarests of New Bridge

The cliché is that civil wars pit brother against brother, but sometimes it’s husband against wife and the whole family gets involved. David and Jane Demarest lived in New Bridge, New Jersey, on ground that was a front line and changed hands several times during the course of the war. When the British army seized New York in 1776, David Demarest went to join a loyalist regiment, the New Jersey Volunteers. His son Gilliam joined the Bergen County Militia on the other side of the conflict. Jane Demarest stayed home, espousing the American cause in spite of her husband’s proclivities. During the war father and son each spent time as prisoners of war on the other’s side; in fact, the son was captured by the father’s corps, and thrown into a harsh New York prison. Meanwhile, American authorities confiscated the family property and cast Jane out because the title was in the name of her husband who was serving on the British side. At war’s end, David Demarest went with other loyalists to Canada, while his wife and son remained in America. The full story can be read in Todd W. Braisted, Bergen County Voices from the American Revolution (Charleston, SC: History Press, 2012).

Cornelius and Mary Driscoll

Some marriages were torn apart by war but not by discord. Cornelius Driscoll joined the British army in 1767 and a decade later was a grenadier in the 10th Regiment of Foot. In a tangle with American troops under General Lafayette at Chestnut Hill near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, he was killed and his wife Mary was taken prisoner. She was confined with other British prisoners of war (it was typical for wives of prisoners to accompany them in confinement); although pregnant with twins, she escaped but was recaptured and put in jail. She gave birth to twins in captivity, but this did not prevent her from escaping yet again, with her children, and making her way with two other women to New York where she petitioned for support as an army widow. What she didn’t know was that her husband had not in fact been killed; he continued to serve, but was drafted into another regiment and sent to the West Indies before she arrived in New York. He continued in the army until 1791 when he received a pension, but it isn’t known whether the couple was ever reunited or even knew of each other’s survival. Read more about them.

The James Yates Murders

Everyone has read a news story where friends and neighbors of a perpetrator say that they saw no warning signs, no indication that anything was amiss. Such was the case with James Yates, a farmer from Pitts Town in Albany County, New York. Known as a person with “nothing remarkable in his character,” he awoke one morning in late 1781 and, supposedly following the voice of a spirit, used a club to beat his wife and four children to death, and also his dog and two cows. He then ran naked to his parents’ house a half-mile away and told them what he’d done. He was locked up in an Albany prison but we’ve found no evidence that he was ever tried for the crimes. The story made newspapers from Pennsylvania to Boston, and was talked about and written about for decades. Read more about it on Wikipedia, under “James Yates Murders.”

Demise of the Beadle Family

While James Yates seems to have acted spontaneously, William Beadle of Wethersfield, Connecticut, planned and contemplated for years. He was a highly successful merchant but he did not adapt well to wartime conditions. Believing himself a true supporter of the colonies, he adamantly refused to raise prices when the value of Continental currency declined during the war. This was noble but foolhardy; by 1780 he was going broke. He spent much of this and the following two years preoccupied with the impact on his family of this desperate financial situation, concluding that it was his duty to prevent them from suffering. He wrote of his contemplations to friends, including a set of letters to be delivered after his death. One night in December 1782 he sent the maid to fetch a doctor, claiming his wife was ill. He then carefully killed his wife with an axe, slit the throats of each of his four children, then held a pistol in each of his hands and took his own life. The horrid affair was recorded and discussed in broadsides and newspaper accounts all over the northeast for the next six months; the full story can be read in James R. Smart, A Life of William Beadle (Princeton, NJ: Senior thesis, Princeton University, 1989).

Reblogged from All Things Liberty ~ Top Ten Marriages Gone Bad ~ Don N. Hagist.  For more from this author, please visit his blog British Soldiers, American Revolution.

Cover Reveal and Giveaway ~ Ten Below Zero by Whitney Barbetti

If a picture is worth 1000 words . . . This. Cover.


Title: Ten Below Zero

Author: Whitney Barbetti

Release Date: August 28, 2014

Genre: New Adult Romance


“In here,” he said, pushing on the skin above my heart, “you’re ten below zero. And you’re closer to death than I am.”

My name is Parker. My body is marked with scars from an attack I don’t remember. I don’t want to remember. I choose to live my life by observation, not through experience. While people are laughing and kissing and connecting, I’m in the corner. Watching them live. I’m indifferent to everything, everyone. The only emotion I feel with any kind of depth is annoyance, and I feel it often.

A text message sent to the wrong number proves to be my undoing.

His name is Everett, but I call him rude. He’s pushy, he’s arrogant, he crowds my personal space, and worst of all: he makes me feel.

He chooses to wear all black, all the time, as if he’s waiting to attend a funeral. Probably because he is.

Everett is dying. And he’s spending his final days living, truly living. In doing so, he’s forcing me to feel, to heal. To come face to face with the demons I suppressed in my memory.

He hurts me, he fulfills me, he completes me. And still, he’s dying.


Ten Below Zero teaser pic

Ten Below Zero by Whitney Barbetti (Full Cover)


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