WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ To Sham Abram

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ To Sham Abram

It’s always been a thing for kids to fake an illness to stay home from school. The classic movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is predicated on this very concept. Now, I think more adults use this excuse to skip a day of work, having been the creators of the concept back in the day. After all, youth is wasted on the young. Fun Fact: this concept, rather than direct quote, is most likely attributable to George Bernard Shaw instead of Oscar Wilde, according to the Quote Investigator.

But I digress.

Visiting the Sick by James Gillray, published 28 July 1806 by Hannah Humphrey, National Portrait Gallery.

To Sham Abram

To pretend sickness.

So how does one succeed in shamming wise Abram?

The Sick Prince by James Gillray, published 16 June 1787 by Samuel William Fores, National Portrait Gallery.

So glad you asked.

Consulting the modern-day oracle again, Ferris Bueller, we find the secret is the cold, clammy hands . . . but avoid the phony fever at all costs. That’s a one-way ticket to the doctor, and that’s worse than enduring whatever you have going on in your life. So even though Ferris is describing the parental fake-out, I think it could work on the job as well. There’s nothing like showing up “sick” to make your co-workers scream for you to take the day off. No one wants to catch what you’re trying to share.

Punch Cures the Gout, -the Colic, -and the ‘Tisick by James Gillray, published 13 July 1799 by Hannah Humphrey, National Portrait Gallery.

To start your Monday off well, let’s learn how To Sham Abram from the master.

 

Slang term taken from the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.

Keep Calm and Read This: No Rest for the Wicked by Cora Lee

Keep Calm and Read This: No Rest for the Wicked by Cora Lee

This week I get to welcome author Cora Lee. She adores her new dog, the Marvel Universe, and all things Regency. I think she may be the sister I never knew I had! Today she shares some of her research for her new novella (which is free!), No Rest for the Wicked, the kickoff to the new series, The Heart of a Hero.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dublin’s Hell

When I started developing No Rest for the Wicked, I knew I wanted it to be set somewhere other than London. For the record, I adore London…but so many books are set there, and I wanted something different for this one. My hero had decided that he was the type of guy that protects vulnerable people, so I wanted a seedy, crime-ridden area where lots of vulnerable people needed to be protected. That meant a big city. Some random googling turned up a section of Dublin, Ireland called The Liberties that was known for its high population of poor folks and high rate of crime.

Then I hit the jackpot.

Within The Liberties was a neighborhood called Hell, and in the late 18th century it was everything you’d expect it to be: brothels and crime and taverns with cheap liquor. There was even a Hellfire Club at one point—a gathering place for rich gentlemen to do (sometimes illegal, often crazy) things they didn’t want other people to know about. The neighborhood was named for a little wooden statue of a devil that adorned a gate on a lane leading up to…wait for it…

…Christ Church Cathedral. That’s right, Dublin’s Hell included a Church of Ireland cathedral. And the neighborhood was next door to the old Four Courts building, which was where justice was dispensed. How’s that for irony?

The story gets even stranger, though. The crypt of the cathedral was actually used as a market, with vendors arriving on the appointed days to set up their stalls and sell their wares. At another point in time, that same crypt housed taverns and pubs. After a hard day of work, locals could go have a tankard of ale in the crypt of the cathedral (and yes, this was while it was still a functioning place of worship).

All this in the same church whose choir sang the world premiere of Handel’s Messiah.

That sealed the deal for me. It didn’t matter that the infamy—and the population—of Dublin’s Hell was waning by the turn of the 19th century, and that Wicked was going to be set a little later on. It was just what I was looking for, and I couldn’t resist a place that had been named for a devil living on the grounds of a cathedral. My hero then became the Demon of Dublin’s Hell (Demon rather than Devil because the devil was already there, on the gate), terrorizing those who preyed upon the defenseless and trying his best to clean up his little corner of the city.

In No Rest for the Wicked, my Demon—otherwise known as Michael Devlin—receives a visit from his estranged wife on behalf of Sir Arthur Wellesley (known later as the Duke of Wellington). Sir Arthur is recruiting domestic intelligence gatherers before he goes off to the Iberian Peninsula to fight Napoleon, and he wants the Demon to be a part of his team. That meant that a chunk of the story would take place somewhere other than Hell, so I didn’t get to use to use the setting as much as I’d at first hoped. But I had so much fun learning about Dublin and Hell that I’m considering writing a sequel so I can us them again 🙂

Oh, and that wooden devil on the gate? Rumor has it that someone took him home and carved him up into snuff boxes.

A solicitor by day, Michael Devlin spends his nights protecting the people of The Liberties…until his estranged wife turns up with a summons from Sir Arthur Wellesley. A spy for Sir Arthur, Joanna Pearson Devlin has been tasked with escorting Michael to Cork to join Wellesley’s intelligence gathering ring. Can Michael and Joanna learn to trust each other again and help Sir Arthur fight Napoleon?

No Rest for the Wicked kicks off The Heart of a Hero series, and is available for FREE at Amazon and on Instafreebie.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 events, wading through her towering TBR pile, or eagerly awaiting the next Marvel movie release.

Catch up with Cora on the web!

 

 

 

And check out her research boards on Pinterest:

 

And don’t forget to always #ReadaRegency!

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Cruisers

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Cruisers

The sea hath no king but God alone…
Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Thinking about the American Revolutionary War conjures images of George Washington, tea in Boston Harbor, Valley Forge, and an ignominious surrender at Yorktown.

But what about The Pond?

Atlantic Ocean Map, 1544, Library of Congress.

The American Revolutionary War saw the birth of the United States Navy, but first there were privateers. For many, the word privateer is synonymous with pirate, but that’s too simplistic a view. Privateers sailed under Letters of Marque from a country for the purpose of striking a blow against that country’s enemies by capturing prizes – that is, enemy ships and cargo. They flew the flag of their sponsor country and were subject to all laws and treaties of that country. A pirate sailed for no man or country save himself, owed allegiance to no one, and plundered (stole, pillaged, and killed) at will. Some wily pirates did pledge allegiance to a country when the Marque provided access or legitimacy to big scores, but they quickly and indiscriminately dropped their loyalty when necessity withered.

Privateers have sailed the seas for centuries. Think Barbarossa Hayreddin Pasha (Turkey), Sir Francis Drake (England), Sir Henry Morgan (Wales), and Jean Lafitte (French Louisiana). After the American Revolutionary War, new names were added to that roll call: Esek Hopkins, David Hawley, Noah Stoddard, and Ephraim Sturdivant.

Cruisers

Rogues ready to snap up any booty on offer, like privateers or pirates on a cruise.

Privateer Snow by Joe Hunt Joseph, 1977. Inscribed “with goodstaken from British merchantment being rowed up the Piscataqua to Portsmouth for offloading ca. 1780.” Skinner Auctioneers and Appraisers, Boston.

Britain controlled the seas and coastline of its thirteen colonies prior to the American Revolution. In fact, they controlled most of the world’s seas, period. That all changed when the quarrel with the colonies developed, pitting loyal Englishman against disgruntled Englishman. Skirmishes steadily grew in frequency and severity as all-out war approached.

Because it lacked sufficient funds to build a navy of any count, the Continental Congress, in a bill signed by then-President John Hancock on 3 April 1776, gave privateers permission to disrupt the progress of any British ship involved in commerce. It read: “Commanders of Private Ships or vessels of War, which shall have Commissions of Letters of Marque and Reprisal, authorizing them to make Captures of British Vessels and Cargoes.” Congress soon upped the ante by issuing Privateer Commissions that allowed for direct harassment and attack of any British vessel regardless of purpose.

Privateer Commission 1813. Although this example is post-Revolutionary War, it’s a wonderful example of Privateering. Signed by President James Madison, the document authorized the New Hampshire schooner Dart to “subdue, seize and take any armed or unarmed British vessel.” After the successes enjoyed under the Continental Congress edicts during the Revolutionary War, a proviso was included in the U.S. Constitution to give Congress the authority to grant these commissions to private armed ships like the Dart.

Both levels of privateering drastically changed the War. By seizing British vessels and goods, privateers supplied their fledgling country (and enriched themselves in the process). They also dealt a stiff maritime blow to their Mother Country. An estimated 300 British ships were captured during the War. It’s important not to underestimate the importance of private American seamen capturing vessels of the country that heretofore ruled the seas: victories of both supply and morale. In effect, these colonial upstarts were hoisting the English by their own petard.

It’s likely impossible to determine which was the greater motivator for taking to the seas during this period – politics or profit – but New England was lousy with both whigs and privateers.  Huge prizes were taken and fortunes built as the war progressed. One such privateer, John Brown (1736-1803), used his newfound wealth to help found and construct the buildings for a new school in Providence known as Rhode Island College. That’s Brown University now, to you and me.

So as we celebrate our Independence from the tyranny of madness and taxation without representation (No More Kings!), let’s not forget to tip our hats to the unsung heroes of the Revolution. Those legal pillagers of all those who sailed under the flag, “His Majesty’s Jack.” Those harassers and despoilers of Redcoat ports and supply lines. Those usurpers of rum, sugar, and British nationalism.

American Revolutionary Cruisers.

 

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Waspish

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Waspish

Bitter and rancorous feelings can twist even the prettiest countenance or heart into an ugly thing. Some are more predisposed than others to unkind thoughts and actions, while others are warped by circumstance and hardship. Whatever the cause, the results are as nasty as the names: harpy, shrew, witch, harridan.

Waspish

Peevish, spiteful.

When I think waspish, I immediately conjure two images: Lady Catherine de Bourgh and the Real Housewives of *insert city here.* No one likes to be the object of tittle-tattle or meanness, but many like to be in on the hearing and observation of it, and television has brought the most specious, intriguing, and sometimes salacious news and imaginings straight into our homes.

When a stroll through the interwebs turns up Jane Austen/RHOetc. mashup, well, heaven help us.

Slang term taken from the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.

Keep Calm and Read This: The Demon Duke by Margaret Locke

Keep Calm and Read This: The Demon Duke by Margaret Locke

This week I extend a warm welcome to romance author Margaret Locke, who’s celebrating the release of The Demon Duke. This is the first in her new series – a series with the best title ever – Put Up Your Dukes. Read on to find out more, and for a chance to win an autographed copy of her new book!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A man tormented by a painful secret meets the bookish miss who just might save him from himself…

Behind every good man is a great secret.

Banished to Yorkshire as a boy for faults his father failed to beat out of him, Damon Blackbourne has no use for English society and had vowed never to return to his family’s estate at Thorne Hill, much less London. However, when his father and brother die in a freak carriage accident, it falls on Damon to take up the mantle of the Malford dukedom, and to introduce his sisters to London Society-his worst nightmare come to life.

He never planned on Lady Grace Mattersley. The beautiful debutante stirs him body and soul with her deep chocolate eyes and hesitant smiles. Until she stumbles across his dark secret.

Bookish Grace much prefers solitude and reading to social just-about-anything. Her family may be pressuring her to take on the London Season to find herself a husband, but she has other ideas. Such as writing a novel of her own. But she has no idea how to deal with the Duke of Malford.

Will she betray him to the world? Or will she be his saving Grace?

Chapter 1

 

Blackwood Abbey, Yorkshire, England
Late October, 1813

Please come home. Your father and brother are dead. Carriage accident. You are Duke now. We need you. Come quickly, Damon.
– Mama

Damon Blackbourne, youngest son of Silas Blackbourne, Duke of Malford, stared at the note without seeing it. He didn’t need to; he’d read it a hundred times already. He balled up the paper and threw it to the floor.

“Home?” he snarled out loud, although the room, as usual, was empty. “Home, Mama?”

He had no home. None other than Blackwood Abbey, at least—the cavernous abode to which he’d been banished seventeen years ago. Seventeen years. More than half of his lifetime—nearly two-thirds, seeing as he was now twenty-seven.

He paced the room, a library brimming with books, a place he’d long claimed as his own. Not that he’d had competition, given his only company was a few servants.

And Hobbes. Thank God for Hobbes.

A fire crackled merrily in the fireplace, its warmth soothing him. It had turned unseasonably cold for October, a cold that now seeped into his bones, freezing his soul from the inside out.

He stopped in front of the flames, their flickering captivating him. What should he do? He hadn’t been to Thorne Hill, hadn’t seen his family since that awful day; the day he’d turned ten and his father turned him out.

“No son of mine shall exhibit such evil behaviors,” Silas had roared. “You are possessed by the devil. I cast you out. Do not show your face to me again. You are not my son.”

Not even the sound of his mother’s weeping had turned Damon around as he’d climbed alone into the carriage, numbness enveloping him. It was a welcomed state, the lack of feeling. It had dulled the pain of his back, which bore witness to the intense lashings his father had laid upon him, a desperate attempt to exorcise the demons Damon knew only too well.

His sisters had been mere babes in arms. They hadn’t even been present. But Damon would never forget the look on his beloved older brother’s face. It was the look of a boy torn—no, a man, perhaps, considering his brother at fourteen no longer had had the body of a child. Moisture had filled Adam’s eyes as their father had raged, but he’d raised no voice in Damon’s defense, made no attempt to stop the man. Adam had always been too dutiful for that.

Damon sighed. Should he go? Did he owe his mother—or anyone—that?

He’d never gone south, even though he’d come of age years ago. What would have been the point? And what would he have faced? More ridicule? Possibly Bedlam? His father never would have countenanced his return. Damon had been dead to Silas, dead to everyone, as far as he knew.

Except Adam and his mother, Felicity. She penned letters as often as she could, Adam less often, though both without his father’s knowledge. Silas certainly had never written. But Mama told the mundane details of life at Thorne Hill, of how his brother had fared with the estate’s management, how his sisters loathed practicing the pianoforte and hated their dance tutor.

He’d never had such things. A tutor came for a while—at whose bidding, he didn’t know—but Mr. Jensen had long since left, disturbed not only by Damon’s defiant manner but also by his rages.

For Damon had long struggled with his temper. It sometimes superseded even his odd body movements and frequently got him into trouble, which was one of the reasons he avoided company.

“Not like being exiled to Hell would assuage anyone’s anger,” he muttered as he reached for the glass of brandy he’d set on the side table.

Then it sank in. He was now the Duke of Malford. Unless his father had disinherited him. Was that possible? If so, his uncle, Fillmore Blackbourne, would be Duke.

And yet, his mother had written to him. Why?

Even if he were the legal heir, why would she want him back? Did she not fear he would be worse than before? Though he’d written her once, years ago, of how he’d mastered his demons, the physical ones, at least, in hopes of being called home. Had that been enough to convince her he could manage in polite society?

But he’d wanted the summons then. Not now.

He walked over to the window, staring out at the craggy moors glistening with snow. He knew in his heart what he had to do. For his mama, who’d done the best she could, he supposed, in circumstances beyond her control. For his sisters, whom he only remembered as tiny tykes who loved to pull his black hair. And for himself. To prove once and for all he was no devil. None beyond his own making, at least.

“Hobbes,” he bellowed.

A short man with thinning brown hair entered the room. Stiff-backed and with his nose in the air, he was the quintessential butler, who served also as Damon’s valet. Though his main role over the years had become that of friend. Despite the difference in age and status, they’d bonded, two lonely people bumbling about in this monstrous abbey, each with no family to call his own.

Still, the man loved to put on airs, to remind Damon both of his status as a ducal family’s servant—and Damon’s status as Lord. “Yes, my lord?”

“For Pete’s sake, Hobbes. It’s Damon. Damon.” Or rather now, Your Grace.

“I know.” The grin that cracked Hobbes’s cheeks softened his expression. “It merely amuses me to bait you.”
Damon smirked. “Ready the horses and coach.”

Hobbes’s eyebrows reached skyward. Damon nearly laughed out loud, which would have been quite the rarity, at the comical expression on the butler-come-valet’s face.

“We’re going to Thorne Hill.”

At that, Hobbes’s jaw literally dropped. He looked out at the snow-blanketed expanse of the abbey’s grounds. “In this weather?”

“Why not? If I’m going back home, it’s only fitting that Hell has frozen over.”

Grab your copy of The Demon Duke today!

 

 

 

Want to win an autographed paperback of The Demon Duke?

Just drop Margaret a line at AuthorMargaretLocke@gmail.com (please mention Renee Reynold’s blog so I know how you found me!) and you’re entered to win. Contest closes June 29th, 2017; winner announced on my Facebook page and contacted via email by July 1st, 2017.

 

As a teen, Margaret pledged to write romances when she was older. Once an adult, however, she figured she ought to be doing grownup things, not penning stories. Thank goodness turning forty cured her of that silly notion.

Now happily ensconced again in the clutches of her first crush (romance novels!), Margaret is never happier than when sharing her passion for a grand Happy Ever After. Because love matters.

Margaret lives in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley in Virginia with her fantastic husband, two fabulous kids, and three fat cats. You can usually find her in front of some sort of screen (electronic or window); she’s come to terms with the fact she’s not an outdoors person.

Connect with Margaret at her website, Facebook, Goodreads, GooglePlus, Instagram, Twitter, and Amazon, and sign up for her Newsletter.

She’s also been known to pin a thing or three over on Pinterest!

And don’t forget to always #ReadaRegency!

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Ape Leader

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Ape Leader

It could be argued that Jane Austen had a soft spot for spinsters, possibly since she was essentially one herself; spinsters feature prominently in four of her six novels. Tellingly, her spinsters are sympathetic and honorable characters, worthy of friendship and respect, and certainly not to be punished for their lack of husbands: Elinor Dashwood (Sense and Sensibility), Charlotte Lucas (Pride and Prejudice, until she marries far beneath her intellect to prevent spinsterhood),  Anne Elliot (Persuasion), and Miss Bates (Emma).

In Mansfield Park, the weak characters and morals of Maria Bertram Rushworth and Mary Crawford leave them both without a match at the conclusion of the story, the implication being that these deficiencies will likely lead them either to further ruinous behavior or soon to be past the age of interest. Maria is banished to “another country” with her Aunt Norris (and if two people ever deserved the other more…).

The same outcome could likewise be argued for Isabella Thorpe in Northanger Abbey. She played all angles to no positive effect, having presumed incorrectly that the Morlands had fortune, that Captain Tilney would make her an offer, and that Catherine would remain her trusty trout despite all the passive aggressive machinations.

So the two Austen novels without spinsters have sinu viperam habere – literally a snake in the breast. I daresay no one feels sorry for the likes of Maria Bertram Rushworth, Mary Crawford, or Isabella Thorpe, so I hypothesize that Austen refrained from placing them firmly on the shelf in the course of her stories. These ladies (and I use the term anatomically rather than dispositionally), are likely to get what they deserve in censure from society, and are unworthy to be lumped in with the genteel victims-of-circumstance that are spinsters.

Ape Leader

An old maid; their punishment after death, for neglecting increase and multiply, will be, it is said, leading apes in hell.

Portrait of Alexandra Nicolai Sicily (1787-1824) by Christian Albrecht Jenson (1792-1870), 1824, Hermitage Museum.

Because there’s nothing like finding a contemporaneous source to support your research, I give you an excerpt from The Repository of Arts, Literature, Fashions, Manufactures, &c., 1816, in which The Female Tattler relates a letter she received on the validity and suitability of use of the term ape leader. Fair warning: the “curious inquirer” author of said letter is a real dicked-in-the-nob peach.

 

Nadezhda Dubovitskaya by Vladimir Lukich Borovikovsky (1757-1825), 1809.

 

Keep Calm and Read This: The novels of historical romance author Erin Satie

Keep Calm and Read This: The novels of historical romance author Erin Satie

My guest this week is historical romance author Erin Satie. She’s deep in the throes of research on her next book and stops by to share some fascinating tidbits.

I thought I’d tell you a little about the research I’m doing for my next book, the first in a new series called Sweetness and Light. My hero, Orson Loel, is a baron but he’s lost access to the family coffers so he’s making ends meet by growing orchids.

This sounds a little more unlikely than it was. A mania for orchids swept through Britain during the mid-nineteenth century, when my book is set—sometimes called orchid mania and others, more picturesquely, orchidelirium. There are a few reasons for the sudden popularity of extraordinary tropical flowers so totally unsuited to the English climate. The sprawling British Empire allowed collectors to travel far and wide, in search of wondrous new specimens. Inventions like the Wardian case—effectively a luggage-sized greenhouse—made it easier to transport the plants home to England, once they’d been gathered. While in England itself, taxes on windows were abolished while technology improved, allowing for the construction of modern greenhouses, structures of glass and wrought iron.

All of this meant that nurseries were practical, profitable concerns. Common species of orchids could sell for as little as 30 pence and tracts were published in magazines explaining that orchids could be grown on limited means. But all the while, the rich competed to own the rarest blooms. Orchids were regularly sold at auction, sometimes for dizzying prices. A single flowering orchid of the species at the center of my novel, the Odontoglossum crispum Cooksoniae, sold for 650 guineas during the late Victorian era—a sum equivalent, in today’s money, to more than $450,000.

I find orchids interesting because the history of the British Empire is compressed into them. There’s the story of Britain’s rise, of course, the one I’ve just told: exploration, invention and prosperity combined in a single finicky flower.

Charles Darwin wrote a monograph on orchids—in fact, an orchid was named after him.

But there’s a dark side, too. Because rare orchids were so prized, orchid collectors could be very secretive about where they found a certain specimen. They often made up stories to exaggerate the dangers they faced while out searching for orchids—stories about primitive natives, pagan idols, and jungles crawling with disease. These stories were not benign; Empire has a dark side, even when the subject is flowers.

The orchid collectors were enhancing their reputations—and their bottom lines—by painting foreigners as villains. English hothouses became, like English museums, a resume of world conquest.

Perhaps most shocking of all, in order to corner the market on a particular species of orchid, collectors often made an effort to seize every single flower from a given area—leaving nothing behind for anyone who came after. There’s a particularly shocking story of a collector named Albert Millican, who hunted the Odontoglossum crispum in the northern Andes. Each time he visited the area he collected every flower he could find and each time he was surprised to discover, upon his return, that there were fewer and fewer to be had.

The Odontoglossum crispum grows fairly high up on the trunks of trees and in order to obtain it, Millican simply ordered his employees to cut down the trees. He cheerfully describes felling thousands—yes, thousands—of trees in a mature rain forest in order to collect the orchids he sought.

And most of the orchids wouldn’t have survived the return trip to England.

I hope this little excursion into the wild world of orchid mania has been of interest to you! My book, Bed of Flowers, won’t be out for some time. In the meanwhile, you might want to check out the series I recently completed, No Better Angels. It’s set in the early Victorian period and readers call it ‘darkly elegant’; the first in the series, The Secret Heart, is free everywhere.

I also wrote a novella for a collection that just came out called Sight Unseen. It’s a really exciting project featuring myself, Emma Barry, Meredith Duran, J.A. Rock and Sherry Thomas. Our names are on the cover, but nowhere inside—readers have to guess who wrote which story. We’re writing outside our usual genres, but I think fans of historical romance will really enjoy this guessing game. All will be revealed come September.

Note: Much of the information above comes from Orchid: A Cultural History by Jim Endersby. It’s the best of the research books I’ve read on the subject and I highly recommend it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Erin Satie is the author of the dark and elegant No Better Angels series, historical romances set in the early Victorian period. She’s currently hard at work on her upcoming series, Sweetness & Light, which should be just as elegant but not quite so dark.

Erin is a California native who’s lived on the coasts and in the heartland, in tiny city apartments and on a working farm. She studied art history in both college and graduate school—research is always her favorite part of starting a new book.

Her favorite part of finishing a book, whether reading or writing, is the happily ever after.

Find Erin at her Website, Facebook, or Twitter.