WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Humbug

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Humbug

It’s finally the Christmas season, and I’m finally getting into the Christmas spirit. I’m not one who subscribes to Happy HallowThanksMas, and can’t abide the appearance of Santa next to jack-o-lanterns and horns of plenty. I’m perfectly fine with those who decorate their homes early; I’d just prefer not to be assaulted by skeletons and candy canes on the same end caps at grocery stores in September each year.

It’s also that time of year when I discover words that do not mean exactly what I think they mean. Bah, humbug!

Humbug

To deceive, or impose on one by some story or device. A jocular imposition, or deception. To hum and haw; to hesitate in speech, also to delay, or be with difficulty brought to consent to any matter or business.

Humbugging, or Raising the Devil by Thomas Rowlandson, 12 March 1800, Metropolitan Museum of Art.

My association with the word humbug of course comes via Ebeneezer Scrooge of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol (1843), which has absolutely no relevance to the slang definition above. Mr. Scrooge’s exclamation ‘bah, humbug!’ is itself its own slang expression that conveys “curmudgeonly displeasure,” according to dictionary.com.

What I discovered, much to my surprise, is that humbug also refers to a confection. Wikipedia dates the first record of a hard boiled sweet available in the United Kingdom in the 1820s. And as any historian will tell you, by the time something shows up in the printed record, it has likely been in existence for many years; that means many of our Regency friends likely enjoyed a humbug or two.

The sweets are striped in two different colors, and were traditionally flavored with peppermint, although many varieties are available today. They can be shaped as cylinders with rounded ends, or tetrahedrons with rounded ends (rounded ends seem to be the common denominator here). The candy made its way into pop culture, having been featured in the televised version of The Adventure of the Six Napoleons by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. When Dr. Watson offers Inspector Lestrade some of the sweets in the midst of an investigation, Holmes scolds, “Watson, this is no time for humbugs!”

That one time arsenic got into the humbugs

In studying 18th and 19th century England, one finds that arsenic gets into the darnedest things: clothing, beer, and now candy. In 1858, the Bradford Sweets Poisoning involved the accidental poisoning of over 200 people – and death of twenty – when sweets were accidentally made with arsenic. It sounds suspicious, until one realizes that the high price of sugar often lead distributors to cut the amount of sugar in half or thirds, and mix in cheaper substances to sell the product to the working classes. These cheaper substances, such as limestone and plaster of Paris, were known as ‘daft’ and, while not palatable, were perfectly safe for consumption.

An operator of a sweet stall in Bradford, known to locals as “Humbug Billy,” purchased his daft from a local druggist. Due to a mistake in labeling, and the fact that the powdered daft and arsenic powder resembled each, Humbug Billy left his supplier with 12 pounds of arsenic trioxide. Even though the finished confection did look different from the usual product, the mistake still wasn’t caught during manufacturing. Forty pounds of peppermint humbugs were produced; each humbug contained enough arsenic to kill two people.

Humbug Billy began selling his sweets that night. Within a few days, the mistake was known and deaths and illnesses were rampant. All involved in the Bradford poisoning were charged with manslaughter but none were convicted; it truly was an accident in every sense of the word. The Bradford poisoning scandal did lead to new legislation to prevent future tragedies. The 1860 Adulteration of Food and Drink Bill changed the way ingredients could be used, mixed, and combined. The UK Pharmacy Act of 1868 tightened regulations on the handling and selling of poisons and medicines by druggists and pharmacists.

 

 

  • Slang term taken from the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.
  • Need some humbugs? There are no doubt sweet shops on this side of the pond that make humbugs, but here are two I can personally vouch for across the pond: Jenny’s Homemade Sweets from Scotland (also try Edinburgh Rock and Puff Candy!) and Mrs. Beightons Sweetshop in Haworth, West Yorkshire (also try their yummy Lemon Bon Bons!).
  • Read all about Dying for a Humbug, the Bradford Sweets Poisoning 1858 at Historic UK.
  • If you’re a tweeter, be watching for the date of our #livetweet of A Christmas Carol at the end of this month. @JaneAustenDance and I live tweet various Jane Austen movies throughout the year, but thought Christmas called for this beloved classic. We simply cue up the movie, pop some popcorn, and all watch and tweet our observations together. It’s great fun!
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A Legend to Love Series: His Duchess at Eventide by Wendy LaCapra

Lovers reunited & a dukedom reclaimed—the Regency meets the Odyssey

Lord Cheverley, son of the Duke of Ithwick, never wanted to go to war, but when he eloped against his father’s wishes, the furious Duke forced him to choose—either take a naval commission, or have his marriage annulled. Devastated physically and emotionally by seven years of war, a shipwreck, and six years in the captivity of a brutal pirate, Cheverley returns to England to find that the courts have declared him dead, and his wife is entertaining suitors. Should he demand his rightful place, disrupting his family’s lives, or should he return to sea, seeking vengeance against the pirate? He sets out to find the answer in disguise.

Penelope once believed in love, but then the man who swept her off her feet deserted her, leaving her and her unborn child utterly alone. Now a widow, she will do anything to protect her son, including enlisting the aid of a mysterious sea captain to uncover the true intentions of her devious suitors. When the captain awakens something in Penelope she thought long dead, she begins to suspect he is no stranger. But, as they peel back the layers of a deadly plot, can this broken family heal their wounds in time to save what really matters?

“You even smell like him, not that I can remember what he smelled like because that would make me sound mad. But your scent makes me confused and hot and longing and I’m fairly certain his did as well, however that could have been the fact we were sixteen and sixteen is entirely too, oh, blast, I can’t, I tell you! I just cannot—”

“Shh,” he soothed. Tentatively, he rested his hand against the small of her back.

“No! Not shh! It’s terrible. A complete muddle.” She splayed her hands against his chest. “I’m still bold and you’re still impossibly hard but you aren’t a toff—and I’m me and you’re not you and I’m—well—I am going mad, aren’t I? That’s the only explanation.”

“Shh,” he repeated, crumbling inside.

“Stop shushing and just—” she grabbed his wounded arm and wrapped it around her waist. Then, she placed her hand on his nape, curled her cheek into his neck and sighed. “There. Now I will shush. This is right.”

This was anything but right. “I’m sorry,” he whispered.

“That helps,” she replied.

“Helps make you feel better?”

“No. It helps to make you, you, not him.” She sighed. “Chev never apologized, you see.”

 

Get a copy of His Duchess at Eventide at your favorite online vendor:


 
 

 

A Legend to Love: The Duke of Darkness by Cora Lee

His enemies called him the devil.
There were few people in the world the Duke of Rhuddlan could trust, least of all his scheming brother Nicholas. So when a spate of violence is perpetrated against people with a connection to the duke, Rhuddlan knows who is behind it. But how can he end this vicious campaign when Nick is backed by the King’s own son?

Hers call her a temptress.
Olivia Stone wants nothing more than to live quietly in her little cottage, but with a cruel suitor determined to possess her and an income that is steadily diminishing, she’s left with no choice but to appeal to her wealthy cousin–whom she’s never met–for assistance. Will he give it? Or will she be forced to marry a man she fears?

Can they see past the rumors to find true love?
When Rhuddlan knocks on Olivia’s door with a plan to help them both, she’s skeptical but sees no other option. Working together sparks a flame between them neither could have predicted, but when Nick discovers the relationship, he becomes determined to destroy their hope for happiness. Can Rhuddlan finally put an end to his brother’s devastation before someone is killed? Will Olivia still want him when she sees how ruthless he can be?

“You do have one option.”

Olivia straightened, keeping one hand on Artie’s furry head as she faced Mrs. D. “Teverton?”

Mrs. D. didn’t react to the name, but she didn’t have to. It was a discussion they’d had before. Lord Teverton was Olivia’s closest living relative and head of her family, but the only thing she knew about him was that he owned an estate near Liverpool.

“What if he turns me away?”

No one could legally force Olivia to marry Sir George, but if she went to Teverton for help and he refused, her only choice would be between George and slow starvation as the demand for her work continued to decline and her past slowly caught up with her.

“But what if he doesn’t?”

Olivia pressed the heels of her hands to her eyes. What if Teverton was an honorable man who promised to protect her? Did she even have paper to write him a letter and ask?
“What about His Grace?” she said suddenly, dropping her hands to her sides. The breeze picked up, carrying with it the scent of the mint growing a few feet away.

Mrs. D. took a step back. “What about him?”

“Well…he’s here. Teverton is all the way in Liverpool. Or at a different estate completely. And the duke ought to be amenable to my situation—if I am hale and hearty, I can continue paying my rent every quarter.”

Mrs. D. shook her head faintly. “You can’t mean to ask him for help.”

“At least I’ve made his acquaintance,” Olivia replied slowly. “Better the devil you know.”

“Devil is right,” Mrs. D. said, her mouth pulling into a pucker as if she’d eaten something sour. “I know we helped him this afternoon, but that was basic decency. You know what they say about the man.”

Olivia did know. She’d borrowed a battered copy of a story called The Vampyre from a friend in the village the previous week, and had read it aloud to Mrs. D. and Mrs. H. after dinner one evening. They two older ladies had exchanged a knowing look, and it had taken some doing to get Mrs. Hatch to elaborate.

“The Duke of Rhuddlan,” she’d said with a shudder. “Some think he’s like that. A vampire.”

She’d refused to speak of it further, and Olivia had let it drop. But she’d made an inquiry or two when she returned the book a few days later, and Mrs. Hatch wasn’t the only person who thought there was something unholy about His Grace.

Get a copy of The Duke of Darkness from your favorite online vendor at:

 

 

A graduate of the University of Michigan with a major in history, Cora is the 2014 winner of the Royal Ascot contest for best unpublished Regency romance. She went on a twelve year expedition through the blackboard jungle as a high school math teacher before publishing Save the Last Dance for Me, the first book in the Maitland Maidens series.

When she’s not walking Rotten Row at the fashionable hour or attending the entertainments of the Season, you might find her participating in Historical Novel Society and Romance Writers of America events, wading through her towering TBR pile, or eagerly awaiting the next Marvel movie release.

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A Legend to Love: A Gift From A Goddess by Maggi Andersen

This week’s release in the A Legend to Love series is A Gift From a Goddess by Maggi Andersen. Her story is a Regency romantic suspense based on the Myth of Pygmalion and Galatea.

Pygmalion was a Greek sculptor from Cyprus who, disenchanted with women, dedicated himself to his work. He created Galatea, a beautiful statue of a woman, from ivory. As Pygmalion worked on the statue, it became more beautiful to him than any woman that had ever lived or been carved in stone. As he worked with hammer and chisel, he fell deeply in love with his statue. The goddess, Aphrodite, had given life to the statue; whose name was Galatea.

Hebe Fenchurch’s life has been turned upside down after her father became involved in a swindle and killed himself. Shunned by the ton and with her mother struggling to make ends meet, Hebe is forced to seek employment. Told she is unsuited for a governess and lacks the skills of a maid, Hebe finds work as an artist’s model.

Sculptor, Lewis, Lord Chesterton has shut himself away, working on his sculptures after his wife, Laura, left him and was subsequently murdered. Some in Society believe he was behind her death. When Lewis begins a new work titled Aphrodite, Hebe Fenchurch comes to pose for him.

Lewis prides himself on his professionalism. He never sleeps with his models although many in the ton believe he does. He finds himself drawn to Hebe, his work stalls, and he fears he won’t finish the statue of Aphrodite. Must he dismiss Hebe and lose his best model?

After another of Lewis’ models suffers the same fate as his wife Laura, the mystery intensifies and gossip spreads. Hebe is drawn into the fray.

Bow Street have had no success in finding the murderer. Will they strike again?

As Hebe sits for him, Lewis’ employs his skill as a sculptor to fashion the beautiful goddess from a block of marble. It is said that Aphrodite stands for love, beauty, pleasure, and procreation, and she can even mend a broken heart.

Can the goddess’ power be real?

And will Lewis be able to keep the model he’s fallen in love with from suffering the same fate as the others?

Grab your copy of A Gift From A Goddess today!

 

 

 

Multi-published, Amazon best-selling author in Regency and Suspense, Maggi Andersen, fell in love with the Georgian and Regency worlds after reading the books of Georgette Heyer and Victoria Holt. Maggi has raised three children and gained a BA and an MA in Creative Writing. She and her husband live in the beautiful Southern Highlands of Australia.

P.L. Travers lived in the house next door almost 100 years ago. Travers later wrote Mary Poppins and there’s a statue in her honor in the park.

Maggi’s free time is spent enjoying her garden and the local wildlife, reading, and movies. She keeps fit walking and swimming.

Apart from her Regency Series, The Baxendale Sisters and The Spies of Mayfair, and her stand alone historical novels, Maggi writes contemporary romantic suspense, mysteries and young adult novels. She supports the RSPCA.

Catch up with Maggi:

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A Legend to Love: Rogue of the Greenwood by Susan Gee Heino

A Legend to Love: Rogue of the Greenwood by Susan Gee Heino

Many have worn the clothes — and attempted the accent — of Robin of Locksley. The wilds of Sherwood Forest have seen many incarnations of the famous hero. But what of a heroine?

In author Susan Gee Heino’s version of the Robin Hood legend, her hero is a very reluctant rogue. He thinks Robin Hood is nothing more than a silly legend — until he finds himself hiding in Sherwood Forest and fighting against the Sheriff of Nottingham! And his childhood nemesis — Marianne Maidland — turns out to be even more of a rogue than Robin Hood.

1815, Nottinghamshire, England

Mr. Robert Locksley is not the great-great-grandson of the infamous Robin Hood. He just happens to share the same name. And an estate in Nottingham. And the shame of an addled grandfather who liked to don green hosen and rob from their neighbors. The legend is nothing more than a source of embarrassment for Robert and now that he’s come back from the horrors of war, he wants nothing to do with violence or suffering or Robin Hood again. It comes as quite a shock, then, when he discovers his peaceful home is in chaos and he is presumed dead! There’s a new sheriff in town and nothing in Nottingham is as it should be. There’s only one thing to do—bring Robin Hood back to life.

Marianne Maidland never quite outgrew her fascination with Robin Hood. She used to romp through Sherwood Forest and dream of adventure. Returning to Nottingham as a cultured lady, she is sad to hear that Robert Locksley is dead and his beautiful estate is falling to ruin. But the good people of Nottingham are suffering, and she isn’t sure why. She knows what they need, though; they need Robin Hood! If Robert isn’t here to fill that role, then she will have to. How handy that she’s an excellent archer and has just found Grandfather’s old Robin Hood costume.

Sparks fly—along with arrows!—when these pretenders collide. Would there be a happy ending for two daring rogues in the forest? Sure would!

Grab your copy today!

 

 

Susan Gee Heino is living out her own Happily-Ever-After in rural Ohio with an ever-changing menagerie of creatures, her very supportive husband, and the two most adorable — and frighteningly creative — children imaginable.They are all addicted to happy endings, and that seems to be working out just fine.

Connect with Susan:

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(If you’ve read my contribution to A Legend to Love ~ A Wulf in Duke’s Clothing ~ did you find the Easter Egg connected to Rogue of the Greenwood? This might just be a big hint!)

A Legend to Love: The Promise of the Bells by Elizabeth Ellen Carter

A Legend to Love: The Promise of the Bells by Elizabeth Ellen Carter

This week’s new release in the A Legend to Love series is based on a legend that’s a bit different: Dick Whittington and his cat.

Most have heard the story of the poor boy who went to London to make his fortune, believing the roads were paved with gold. He found work with a merchant, but the housekeeper was mean to him and he was miserable. Dick found solace in his cat (who was also handy at keeping away rats). One day, the merchant announced he was going to take a trip abroad, and servants were welcome to give him something of value to trade.

Dick gave up his cat – his dearest possession. Again, he was treated poorly – and was about to leave London for good – when he heard the church bells that appeared to be calling him to return, and that he would be Lord Mayor of London three times.

He returned and discovered the merchant also returned with Dick’s fortune. One night, when the merchant was dining with an Eastern king, the dining hall was overrun with rats. The merchant told the king he had a cat who would deal with the rats. The cat did and the king was so delighted that he paid a fortune in gold for the cat.

But there is a twist in the tale – Dick Whittington was an actual historical figure. Richard (Dick) Whittington was actually Lord Mayor of London in the 14th century.

Unlike the legend that grew up from the late 17th century, Whittington was a younger son of a aristocratic family and a successful merchant. He was known for his probity, honesty and charity. He was also a shrewd political operator too. As Lord Mayor of London, he was in charge of great wealth and kept on the good side of both Richard II and Henry IV. He commissioned a great number of public works including sanitation and was also major benefactor of St Thomas’ Hospital, endowing a wing to look after unwed mothers and their babies. No one knows where the cat entered the picture, and there is no evidence that he ever had one but it is now so entwined with the legend that it is impossible to tell the story without it.

 

Young Richard Whiting comes from a poor family but he’s given a golden opportunity – to move to London to further his education. On the way there, he is befriended by Lord Ambrose and his young daughter, Catherine ‘Cat’ Swanston, and Richard and Catherine become sweethearts.

In order to make his fortune, Richard is pulled into a different life but the young couple vow beneath the tolllng bells of the churches of London to always be there for one another.

Years later, now an up and coming barrister, Richard learns that Catherine needs help. Her father is missing, and His Lordship’s business partner refuses to provide any information. It will take Catherine’s bravery and Richard’s legal cunning for there to be a happily ever after…

The Promise of the Bells is a sweet romance. Richard and Catherine are such a lovely couple – and you get to meet Mog, Richard’s Calico cat!

Get your copy today!

 

 

 

Keep Calm and Read This: Paradise Regained by Jude Knight

Keep Calm and Read This: Paradise Regained by Jude Knight

I am so pleased and honored to welcome back author Jude Knight this weekend. She has three new releases in just about as many weeks (House of Thorns released on 26 October, and Abbie’s Wish in Christmas Babies on Main Street released two days ago on 1 November) and I have the pleasure of featuring release number three today: the novella Paradise Regained. Best of all, this little gem is tucked inside a Bluestocking Belles Holiday Collection, so Merry Christmas to all!

Here’s a bit of background about the collection’s connective theme, and a sneak peek into Jude’s story.

The Magic of the Ring

Magic rings are at least as old as literature, and probably as old as rings themselves. There’s something in a solid circle – no beginning and no end – that calls to the story teller in us, by the time stories began to be recorded, these stories had coalesced in tales of rings that made the wearer invisible, rings that summoned powerful spirits or armies or teams of magical workers, rings that conferred the ability to travel great distances in a flash, or speak with animals, or increase wealth, or protect the bearer from harm.

Rings have also long been associated with love, or at least with marriage. The ancient Egyptians saw the circle as symbolizing the promise of eternal love between a man and a woman. Imagery from ancient artifacts shows rings worn on what we now think of as the ring finger. The Egyptians believed a special vein from this finger connected directly with the heart.

The connection between rings and marriage continued through the ages. A Roman groom would put an iron ring on the finger of his bride, symbolizing that she now belonged to him. In the Middle East centuries ago, a husband would give his wife a puzzle ring – several rings that connected together in a complex fashion to make a single band. The idea was that if the wife took the ring off, she’d have trouble putting it back together again, and the husband would know she had been unfaithful (or at least scrubbing the vegetables).

The gimmel ring was a more benign form of puzzle ring – two pieces, worn by a medieval swain and his intended bride. At the wedding, the two halves would be put together for the bride to wear.

In Renaissance times, the poesy rings came into being – gold bands inscribed with a message of love and commitment. My own was such a ring. The message has worn away with nearly 50 years of wear, but it is still inscribed in my heart: Yesterday, today, forever.

And you can’t get more magic than that.

The Viking Ring in Follow Your Star Home

Follow Your Star Home, the Bluestocking Belles’ latest holiday box set, features a Viking ring, forged for lovers way back in the 9th century. In each of the eight stories in the box set, lovers are separated by space, misunderstandings, and the machinations of others. And in each, one of them has the ring. Is it magic? Does it have the power to bring lovers together? Read it and see.

Paradise Regained

Kopet Dag Mountains, 1794
In discovering the mysteries of the East, James has built a new life.
Will unveiling the secrets in his wife’s heart destroy it?

James Winderfield yearns to end a long journey in the arms of his loving family. But his father’s agents offer the exiled prodigal forgiveness and a place in Society — if he abandons his foreign-born wife and children to return to England.

With her husband away, Mahzad faces revolt, invasion and betrayal in the mountain kingdom they built together. A queen without her king, she will not allow their dream and their family to be destroyed.

But the greatest threats to their marriage and their lives together is the widening distance between them. To win Paradise, they must face the truths in their hearts.

“We are going home,” Yousef explained to Cecily, who had joined them for dinner at their fire, bringing her chief guard with her. James was happy to let him carry the burden of the conversation, while James brooded about the distance that still separated him from his family.

Yousef was also yearning for the valley. “We left in the spring, and it is now winter. It will be good to be at our own hearths again.”

Home,” she said, with a sigh. She looked down at the signet ring she wore on the middle finger of her left hand, a man’s ring surely, and an old one too, gold and crowned in a star. “A star to lead you home.” Looking up, she met James’s eyes. “The promise of the ring. It is from Viking times, or so they say, and is meant to be good luck for travelers.” More quietly, she added, “I, too, have been away from home for a long time.”

“What adventures bring you here, Cecily?” James asked. He had been burning with curiosity all afternoon. Had McInnes left her with enough wealth to travel? He would not have thought so, though she may have had other wealthy relatives to endow her in twenty years.

She chuckled, the wistful expression on her face disappearing as if it had never existed. “Too long a tale for such an evening, Lord James. We would be here all night, you and Yousef asleep from boredom, long before I was done.”

As she had all evening, she ignored Peter and her own guard, a Turk from Istanbul called Kamal. The Turkmen habit of regarding all men as equal, and of treating servants as family, was much more to James’s taste, but she could not help her upbringing. He would try not to hold it against her.

“Suffice it to say,” she continued, “that I left home to broaden my horizons, and I am now ready to return to England.” She turned to Yousef, leaning slightly toward him, and James was amused to realize she was trying to make him jealous. “I love the East, Yousef, but I miss my own land. I miss the green hills and the trees and flowers of home. I even miss the rain.”

“Have you been to Persia, Cecily?” Yousef asked. “You would love the gardens of Persia.”

“Persia, Lebanon, Turkey, Egypt.” Cecily sighed. “They all have their beauties. None of them are home.”

Yousef quoted the thirteenth century Sufi poet, Jalāl al-Dīn Rūmī.

“I burst my breast, striving to give vent to sighs, and to express the pangs of my yearning for my home. He who abides far away from his home is ever longing for the day he shall return.”

 

Paradise Regained is a novella in Follow Your Star Home, currently on prerelease and to be published on 4 November. Get your copy today!

 

 

 

For information about the other novellas in Follow Your Star Home, please see the Bluestocking Belles’ website.

 

Jude Knight wants to transport you to another time, another place, to enjoy adventure and romance, thrill to trials and challenges, uncover secrets and solve mysteries, and delight in a happy ending.

She writes everything from Hallmark to Regency Noir, in different eras and diverse places, short, medium and extra-long. Expect decent men with wounded hearts, women who are stronger than they think, and villains you’ll want to smack or worse. and all with a leavening of humour.

Learn more about Jude at:
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