WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Lushey

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Lushey

I hope everyone had a Happy Twelfth Night!

It’s a holiday that goes largely unnoticed in the United States, so in case you missed it, consider reading up on it and possibly practicing it a few days late. That way, you’ll be ready for it next year! And you won’t fall into the wassail bowl like this week’s word.

Twelfth Night by Isaac Cruikshank, 1807, British Museum.

Lushey

Drunk. Example: The rolling kiddeys hud a spree, and got bloody lushey ~ the dashing lads went on a party of pleasure, and got very drunk.

First came the ancient Roman holiday Saturnalia, the December celebration of the god Saturn, and making of all things debauched and merry. As little gods were gradually swapped out for one single God, the old customs centered around the winter solstice morphed into traditions and customs of a Christian nature, that of the birth of the single Savior. The ‘Birthday of the Unconquered Sun‘ became the Birthday of Christ by the Medieval era.

Twelfth Night festivities resulted in response to the 40 days of Advent the preceded Christmas. And what better way is there to break a fast than with tons of food, drink, and a bit of frivolous mayhem? The Advent fast would break on Christmas day; partying continued for twelve days and ended with a Twelfth Night feast the evening before January 6th, also known as Ephiphany.

True devotees of Twelfth Night fun would appoint a Lord of Misrule. It was his job to organize all the feasting and fun. Selection of the Lord was also part of the entertainment and entirely up to chance: a bean was baked inside a cake. Receive the slice with the bean and be crowned Lord of Misrule, you lucky devil. The Tudors even included a pea in their cakes, to be crowned Queen of the Pea. I’m not sure of her honors beyond that dubious title.

Traditional Porter Cake for Twelfth Night, made with Porter Ale, courtesy Historical Foods.

By the Regency era, beans and peas were replaced by silver trinkets and charms, and Twelfth Night traditions became purely secular in practice. The Victorians gilded the lily by wrapping their cakes in crowns.

I knew about the infamous Twelfth Night Cake, but not so much about the drinking. It’s time for recipes! And for authenticity’s sake, they’re metric!

Buttered Beere

Forget whatever Harry Potter drank. This here be Tudor buttered beere. The kind that puts hair on your codpiece. (That sounded better in my head.)

Tudor Butterbeer Recipe
(‘Beer’ means what today in the UK is called a ‘real ale.’ It is not a lager, or German-styled beer.)

Recipe Ingredients:
1500 ml (3 bottles) of good quality British ‘real ale’
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
200g demerara (brown) sugar (adjust to taste)
5 egg yolks (yolks only are needed)
120g unsalted butter (diced)

For The Chilled or Warm Milk Version:
1500 ml of chilled or warm butter beer (as above).
1500 ml of cold or warm milk to mix with the butter beer

Authentic Recipe Method:
Pour the ale into a saucepan carefully (without exciting it too much) and stir in the ground ginger, cloves and nutmeg. Gently heat this mixture to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer on a low heat – the frothy ale will now clear. If this butterbeer is for adults then only simmer it for a few minutes on a low heat; for any younger adults, heat the ale like this for 20 minutes at 140C, (use a cook’s or jam thermometer). This will burn off almost all of the alcohol.

Whisk the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl until light and creamy. You may need to make this drink for the first time and then decide on how sweet you like it (if it comes out too sweet for you, make it again using less sugar next time). However the amount of sugar stated is from the authentic recipe, (if later blending with milk, then it is the perfect amount).

Once the spiced ale is simmering, remove the pan from the heat and add the egg yolk and sugar mixture, stir constantly, and return to a low heat, (you must stir constantly) until the liquid starts to thicken slightly. Be careful not to let the saucepan get too hot again or the egg yolks will scramble and the sugar will burn on the bottom before dissolving. Simmer at this low temperature for 3 minutes.

After 3 minutes, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the diced butter until it melts. Then froth the Butterbeer mixture with a hand-whisk until it looks like frothy, milky tea – you can also follow the Tudor advice and pour the Butterbeer from serving jug to serving jug to froth it up (like Mr. Carson would pour wine from decanter to decanter to aerate it and let it breathe). Allow to cool to a warm, drinkable temperature, pour into small glasses or small tankards, and serve immediately.

Authentic buttered beere of 1588, served warm in small pewter goblets. Photo courtesy Historical Foods.

Traditional English Wassail

This is not hot, mulled cider. Let’s just get that misconception tossed in the rubbish bin straight out. It is hot, and it is mulled, but it’s closer to beer than any cider you’ve ever had. To be fair, we’re talking Medieval recipes here. Apples were involved, although more as a garnish. Slices of bread even factor into the ingredient list; original wassail had toast in the bottom of the pot, with hot wassail poured over.

Perhaps the association of wassail and apples came from the tradition of wassailing the apple trees, that of pouring leftover wassail around the roots of apple trees to ensure a good harvest the following year.

<insert your own joke here about how many people you know who ‘wassail their trees’ after a night of exuberant drinking at a party>

Lambswool (Hot Wassail)

1.5 Litres (3 x 500ml bottles or about 6 1/2 cups) of traditional real ale
6 small cooking apples, cored (Bramley apples)
1 nutmeg freshly grated
1 tsp ground ginger
150g (3/4 cup) brown sugar (demerara)

Ingredients for lambswool wassail. Photo courtesy recipewise.uk.co.

Preheat the oven 120C. Prepare the apples in advance and time it so that they are ready about half an hour before you want to put them into the Lambswool to serve. Core the 6 apples fully, getting rid of the pips. Lightly grease a baking tray, then place the apples on the baking tray about 6cm apart (they will swell up a little). Bake the apples for about an hour or so.

Now, while those are baking, grate yourself some nutmeg. In a large, thick-bottomed saucepan (they make the rockin’ world go ’round – still with me? Yes, it’s late and I should be in bed, and yes, I’ve taken my bronchitis cough syrup already.) with high sides, add the sugar. Cover the sugar in a small amount of the ale and heat gently. Stir continuously until the sugar has dissolved, then add in the ground ginger and the nutmeg. Stir, and keeping the pan on a gentle simmer, slowly add in all the rest of the ale. Leave for 10 minutes on a gentle heat as you deal with the apples.

Take the baked apples out of the oven to cool slightly for 10 minutes. Break open the apples and scoop out the baked flesh into a bowl, discarding the skin. Either mash them with a fork or purée them in a food processor until smooth, but not liquid. Think thick, dry applesauce. Add the apple purée into the ale – which is now called Lambswool – mixing it in with a whisk.

Let the saucepan continue to warm everything through for thirty minutes, on a very gentle heat, until ready to drink. When warmed through, use the whisk again for a couple of minutes (or use a stick blender) to briskly and vigorously froth the drink up and mix everything together. The apple and light froth will float to the surface, and depending on how much you have whisked it, the more it looks like lamb’s wool.

Ladle the hot Lambswool into heat-proof mugs or glasses, and grate over some nutmeg (to taste, because a little goes a long way). Or, pour the drink into a communal bowl (with several thick pieces of toast in the bottom if you want to be completely authentic) to pass around if you happen to be wassailing the local apple orchard.

Traditional Lambswool Wassail. Photo courtesy recipewise.uk.co.

Cheers!

 

  • Slang term from the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.
  • You can learn a lot about Twelfth Night at the more specifically-titled A History of the Twelfth Night Cake.
  • The Guildhall Library Newsletter also tells much about Twelfth Night in a post entitled merely Twelfth Night Cake.
  • Find the Porter Cake Recipe at Historical Foods. A cake from the Tudor era made with 300ml of Guinness? Yes, please!
  • Here’s the link to the Buttered Beere recipe from 1588 from ‘The Good Huswifes Handmaide.’ There’s also a link to the 1664 version from ‘The Accomplisht Cook.’
  • The Lambswool Wassail recipe came from Oakden, and my brother’s kitchen right before we bid farewell to Auld Reekie. Yum-o.
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Happy Christmas (and load your e-reader book sale!)

Happy Christmas (and load your e-reader book sale!)

The flu.

For two years running now, I’ve been thus victimized. At Christmas. It’s my favorite time of year to eat, and I’ve been denied by fever, chills, and all over ickiness. This year, the husband and I are both down at the same time; we are simply praying our house doesn’t turn into a trial run of Lord of the Flies.

But my brain fever is your barn sale. A Wulf in Duke’s Clothing is just 99¢ from now til New Year’s. In fact, all the lovely ladies of the A Legend to Love series have priced their novels at that low-low price so we can all feed our hungry e-readers! Simply click the graphic below to grab your copy from your favorite online vendor (or click HERE to go to Amazon).

Each one of the full-length novels in the A Legend to Love Series features a legend taken from its own time and woven into the Regency era. You’ll meet our very own versions of Robin Hood, Mulan, Cuchulainn and Emer, Vlad Dracula, Odysseus and Penelope, Romulus and Remus, the Lady of the Lake, Beowulf, Tristan and Iseault, Pygmalion and Galatea, and Dick Whittington and his cat.

If I felt better, you’d get all the beautiful covers with direct buy links below. As I am passing out into my keyboard, I apologize for the lack of creativity and one simple link. But if you’ll scroll up to the A Legend to Love Series tab above, you will find my previous profiles of all the authors, with all their buy links at your preferred online vendor reflecting their sale price. Clicking the graphic below will take you to the Amazon series page, where all the novels are linked, too.

Through the relative safety of the internet, I wish you the Happiest of Christmases and Safest of New Year’s, and will see you back here for new posts after January greets us in all her (flu-free) glory!

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Waits

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Waits

T-minus one week to Christmas! Shall we go a-caroling?

Waits

Musicians of the lower order, who in most towns play under the windows of the chief inhabitants at midnight, a short time before Christmas, for which they collect a christmas-box from house to house. They are said to derive their name of waits from being always in waiting to celebrate weddings and other joyous events happening within their district.

Christmas-Carols by Henry Heath, 1835, The Lewis Walpole Library.

In my search to find out what Regency celebrants would sing – or have sung to them – while performing as waits at Christmas, I discovered a wonderful recording of two songs: The Gloucester Wassail and The Holly and the Ivy. While there are many more familiar Christmas songs to choose from during the Regency era (such as Greensleeves or Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella), I’ll leave those for other pens to illuminate. I’ve included links to other articles on those very songs, and others, but will focus my attention on the two mentioned above.

During the Georgian era, people would go from house to house singing the wassail song and carrying a wassail bowl, both of which were originally called waysail. Some carolers might use the bowl to hold actual drink or collect money, but most used it as a decoration, adorning their bowl with ribbons, berries, and greenery. This custom of “waysailing” was first noted in publication in the Times Telescope in 1813 Gloucestershire; however, the song is believed to date from as early as the middle ages. Nearly every village added their own lyrics to the song or tailored their customs to fit their burgh, but the general practices were the same, and remained relatively unchanged until the mid-20th century. The most popular version of the song remains as follows:

Wassail! wassail! all over the town,
Our toast it is white and our ale it is brown;
Our bowl it is made of the white maple tree;
With the wassailing bowl, we’ll drink to thee.

Here’s to our horse, and to his right ear,
God send our master a happy new year:
A happy new year as e’er he did see,
With my wassailing bowl I drink to thee.

So here is to Cherry and to his right cheek
Pray God send our master a good piece of beef
And a good piece of beef that may we all see
With the wassailing bowl, we’ll drink to thee.

Here’s to our mare, and to her right eye,
God send our mistress a good Christmas pie;
A good Christmas pie as e’er I did see,
With my wassailing bowl I drink to thee.

So here is to Broad Mary and to her broad horn
May God send our master a good crop of corn
And a good crop of corn that may we all see
With the wassailing bowl, we’ll drink to thee.

And here is to Fillpail and to her left ear
Pray God send our master a happy New Year
And a happy New Year as e’er he did see
With the wassailing bowl, we’ll drink to thee.

Here’s to our cow, and to her long tail,
God send our master us never may fail
Of a cup of good beer: I pray you draw near,
And our jolly wassail it’s then you shall hear.

Come butler, come fill us a bowl of the best
Then we hope that your soul in heaven may rest
But if you do draw us a bowl of the small
Then down shall go butler, bowl and all.

Be here any maids? I suppose here be some;
Sure they will not let young men stand on the cold stone!
Sing hey O, maids! come trole back the pin,
And the fairest maid in the house let us all in.

Then here’s to the maid in the lily white smock
Who tripped to the door and slipped back the lock
Who tripped to the door and pulled back the pin
For to let these jolly wassailers in.

The second song I’m profiling is familiar around the world to this day – The Holly and The Ivy. Holly and ivy have been the go-to decorations for British churches at Advent and Christmas since the 15th century, so it’s only natural a song would arise celebrating these beloved plants. Holly is often called Christ’s Thorn, while the ivy is said to symbolize Mary and her loving support of her divine Son. The words of this carol were first published in anonymous broadsides in Birmingham in the early 19th century, with William Hone first to document the title of the song in his 1823 publication, Ancient Mysteries Discovered. He dated the origin of the lyrics to the mid-17th century.

Ancient Mysteries Described by William Hone, 1823.

Various early 19th century sources do not provide music to accompany the lyrics, though by 1868 carolers are directed to sing The Holly and The Ivy to the tune of an unspecified “old French carol.” That’s not terribly helpful to the modern singer. The music we hear accompanying the lyrics today is immediately familiar to the listener’s ears, at a bare minimum, as a Christmas-y tune.

First verse from anonymous broadside of The Holly & Ivy, published by H. Wadsworth, Birmingham, 1814-1818.

For your delectation, I present The Gloucester Wassail sung by the Waverly Consort, and The Holly and the Ivy sung by The Choir of King’s College, Cambridge.

And for those of a more modern nature, may I present English rock band Blur’s version of The Wassailing Song, presented and arranged by Gold, Frankincense, and Blur. So cool.

Let’s all go a-wassailing!

 

Keep Calm and Read This: Christmas Secrets by Donna Hatch

Keep Calm and Read This: Christmas Secrets by Donna Hatch

It’s Thanksgiving Day in the US and you need to treat yourself to a terrific book as a reward for the hours spent preparing, serving, and cleaning up after the holiday feast. Look no further than this week’s guest, bringing just the thing to present to give yourself for another holiday in the books. It’s a pleasure to welcome Donna Hatch to share with us what she’s learned about smooching under the yuletide greenery, and introduce us to her newest novel, Christmas Secrets.

Mistletoe Kisses

Is it just me, or does the image of sharing a long-awaited kiss underneath a mistletoe sprig create all kinds of delicious images? Mistletoe kissing is a time-honored tradition. Like many holiday customs, kissing under the mistletoe has pagan origins, and the custom has evolved over time. Most sources trace it back to ancient Scandinavia but it spread to England and much of Europe during the Middle Ages.

Probably because it was one of the few plants that stayed green during the winter, Celtic druids believed mistletoe contained magical properties of vitality. They seemed to have been oblivious to that fact that it is a parasitic plant that lives off trees. Apparently, they viewed mistletoe as the tree’s spirit revealing signs of life when the rest of the tree looked dead during winter. Also, oak mistletoe is rare compared to that found in fruit trees, so the druids believed mistletoe growing on oak trees was rare and more powerful. Since these druids thought mistletoe had life-giving powers, they conducted fertility and healing rituals underneath a bow of oak mistletoe for sick cattle and other animals.

People also looked to it for protection.

According to the Holiday Spot:

In the Middle Ages and later, branches of mistletoe were hung from ceilings to ward off evil spirits. In Europe they were placed over house and stable doors to prevent the entrance of witches. It was also believed that the oak mistletoe could extinguish fire. This was associated with an earlier belief that the mistletoe itself could come to the tree during a flash of lightning.

Eventually, a practice in Scandinavia developed for hostile parties to gather underneath mistletoe to negotiate peace. Even quarreling husbands and wives made up under the mistletoe, and kissed to seal their renewed love and commitment to their marriage. Other herbology claims mistletoe is both an aphrodisiac and an abortive plant, which might be why some of the earliest customs involved more than an innocent kiss. But we won’t go into that.

Over time, the custom of kissing moved indoors. Sometimes the ball or sprig of mistletoe was decorated with ribbons, holly, apples, oranges and other fruits. Some people hung mistletoe below figures of the infant Christ, Mary, and Joseph.

In some parts of Europe and Great Britain, arriving guests kissed their host’s hand under a sprig of mistletoe hung in a doorway. Eventually a custom sprang up to have maidens wait under the mistletoe in the hopes that a young man would kiss her with the expectation that he would marry her within a year. If she didn’t get kissed, she had little expectation of marrying that year, sorta like a marriage fortune teller.

A young man who kissed a girl under the sprig or bough of mistletoe traditionally plucked off one of the white berries. When all the berries were plucked, the kissing, at least while under the mistletoe, also ceased.

I often see people mistake mistletoe with holly. Mistletoe has soft, pale green smooth leaves and white berries. Holly has green, glossy, ragged-edged leaves and red berries.

By the Regency Era, the custom of mistletoe kissing no longer came with strings attached. It became an excuse for behavior not normally condoned among unmarried ladies and gentleman. Maidservants stood underneath a decorated ball of mistletoe in a doorway to indicate her willingness to kiss in exchanged for a coin.

In my newest novel, Christmas Secrets, an innocent mistletoe kiss leads to a startling realization.

A stolen Christmas kiss leaves them bewildered and breathless.

A charming rogue-turned-vicar, Will wants to prove that he left his rakish days behind him, but an accidental kiss changes all his plans. His secret could bring them together…or divide them forever.

Holly has two Christmas wishes this year; finally earn her mother’s approval by gaining the notice of a handsome earl, and learn the identity of the stranger who gave her a heart-shattering kiss…even if that stranger is the resident Christmas ghost.

Christmas Secrets is available now – get your copy right now!

 

 

Best-selling author, Donna Hatch, is a hopeless romantic and adventurer at heart, the force that drove her to write and publish twenty historical romance titles, including the award-winning “Rogue Hearts Series.”  She is a multi-award winner, a sought-after workshop presenter, and juggles multiple volunteer positions as well as her six (yes, that is 6) children. Also a music lover, she sings and plays the harp, and loves to ballroom dance. Donna and her family recently transplanted from her native Arizona to the Pacific Northwest where she and her husband of over twenty years are living proof that there really is a happily ever after.

Find Donna Hatch online at:

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Sources:

Keep Calm and Read This: A Secret Scottish Christmas by Regan Walker

Keep Calm and Read This: A Secret Scottish Christmas by Regan Walker

I love it when Regan Walker stops by for a visit. It always means a great new book and some fascinating bit of information gleaned from her research! She has a new release in her Agents of the Crown series, A Secret Scottish Christmas, and beautiful Gordon Setter dogs feature in her story.

The Early Gordon Setters by Regan Walker

A Secret Scottish Christmas, the newest installment in the Agents of the Crown series, is set during the Regency mostly in Scotland. When the Powell twins, Robbie and Nash, first encounter Miss Aileen Stephen, the sister of their Scottish host, they are both taken with her and thereafter compete to win her heart. The first night, as they go down to dinner, they encounter her and her two dogs on the stairs:

This short scene is from Robbie’s point of view:

They began to descend the stairs just as Aileen Stephen came through the front door, her cheeks rosy from the cold. She let her tartan scarf fall to her shoulders, revealing a bounty of bright red hair. A tempting picture to be sure.

Two great black and tan dogs bounded in after her.

“Why, hello,” said Robbie, giving her one of his sincerest smiles. Beside him, Nash tensed, none too pleased at Robbie’s initiative.

His brother smiled at the girl. “What dogs are these?”

She looked up at them, her dogs wagging their long tails, their paws on the steps sniffing at Robbie’s feet. “Goodness and Mercy, a gift from the Duke of Gordon. He raises them on his estate in Moray to the north.”

Robbie stepped down to the entry hall’s stone floor and patted the head of the closest dog, a friendly sort, then returned his attention to the girl.

Nash alighted from the last stair to scratch one of the dogs behind the ear. “How ever did you come up with those names, Miss Stephen?”

“You may call me Ailie. Most everyone here does. You are Robbie and Nash?”

“I am Robbie and this is my brother, Nash,” said Robbie, gesturing first to himself and then to his twin.

Her beautiful face lifted in a one-sided grin as she glanced between them. “’Twill be difficult telling you apart. As for the names of my dogs, do ye nae ken yer Scriptures?”

Robbie exchanged a look with his brother. Neither, he was certain, had a clue as to her meaning, yet she had spoken in the way of the Scots, intentionally deepening her accent. Perhaps she meant to suggest Englishmen might be ignorant of the Good Book’s teachings.

“The twenty-third Psalm ends,” she recited, “‘Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life…’ aye?”

“Clever,” said Nash. “I won’t be forgetting their names any time soon.” From the admiring look Nash gave the girl, Robbie surmised his twin wouldn’t be forgetting her either.

Robbie returned his attention to the large lean dogs he decided were setters, but not the black and white speckled ones he was used to. These two were mostly black with small bits of copper and white trim. “I can scarce see a difference between them.”

Her brows lifted. “This from two brothers who are made from the same mold? Really, ’tis easy to tell them apart. Goodness is the male and Mercy is the female.”

So what kind of dogs were these black and tan dogs?

Black and tan setters existed as far back as the 16th century in Scotland and England. But the man credited with developing the breed is Alexander Gordon, the 4th Duke of Gordon, known as the Cock o’ the North, the traditional epithet attached to the chief of the Gordon clan. At the time of my story, 1819, he was breeding setters for hunting at Gordon Castle near Fochabers not far from the River Spey in Scotland.

Alexander Gordon, Fourth Duke of Gordon,
(c) National Galleries of Scotland; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation.

The dogs Ailie named “Goodness” and “Mercy” were the early Gordon setters. The Gordon setter is an air-scenting breed, developed for the purpose of scenting game birds (mostly grouse) on the heather-covered Scottish moors. The Gordon Castle strain was mostly black, white and tan (a relic of the white can sometimes be seen today in the small white spot on the chest). Ailie’s setters would have been mostly black, as they are today, but marked with more white as well as tan.

In A Secret Scottish Christmas, Ailie’s setters go hunting for the pink-footed geese and stalk deer. Gordon setters are alert and lively, pleasant and exceedingly loyal. They tend to be devoted to members of their household, which you can see in the devotion Goodness and Mercy show the Stephens.

Spies and Scots and Shipmasters, oh my!

Scotland 1819

Twin brothers Nash and Robbie Powell of Powell & Sons Shipping, London, sail with their fellow Agents of the Crown to Scotland for a secret celebration of Christmastide, a holiday long frowned upon by the Scottish Kirk. But more than Christmas is being kept secret. The two brothers have accepted an assignment from the Home Secretary Lord Sidmouth to ferret out a fugitive fomenting rebellion among the Scots.

Aileen Stephen, the only daughter of an Aberdeen shipbuilder, had to be clever, devious and determined to gain her place in the family business. She succeeded to become a designer of highly coveted ships. One night, a man’s handsome face appears to her in a dream. When two men having that same face arrive on a ship full of Londoners, Ailie wonders what her second sight is telling her. Is the face she saw a portender of the future, a harbinger of danger, or both? And which of the two Englishmen is the one in her dream?

Older than Nash by a mere five minutes, Robbie has always been protective of his twin. When he realizes Nash is attracted to the sister of their Scottish host, he thinks to help matters along. But Nash wants no help from his brother, not where Ailie Stephen is concerned because Robbie is attracted to the girl himself!

Two brothers vie for the affection of the Scottish lass but only one stirs her passion. Which one will it be? And what will she do when she learns they are spies?

Graby your copy of A Secret Scottish Christmas today!

 

 

Regan Walker is an award-winning, #1 Amazon bestselling author of Regency, Georgian and Medieval romances. She writes historically authentic novels with real historical figures along with her fictional characters. Among the awards she has won are the International Book Award for Romance Fiction, the San Diego Book Award for Best Historical Romance, the RONE Award for her medievals and the Illumination Award for The Refuge: An Inspirational Novel of Scotland.

You can sign up for her newsletter on her website and get the “Readers Extras” there, too. Regan loves to hear from her readers. Connect with Regan here:

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And always remember to #ReadARegency!

 

Keep Calm and Read This: Forged in Fire from the Never Too Late Collection by the Bluestocking Belles

Keep Calm and Read This: Forged in Fire from the Never Too Late Collection by the Bluestocking Belles

I love it when Jude Knight stops by for a visit. There’s sure to be fascinating historical research woven into a romantic tale that keeps me spellbound. Forged in Fire, from the new Bluestocking Belles holiday collection, Never Too Late, looks to be another must-read for me! This time Jude is giving us a deeper glimpse into her heroine.

Lives of Quiet Desperation

“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” Henry David Thoreau

This quote set me in mind of many of my heroines. Thoreau was writing about men who do work that doesn’t bring them joy, simply because it was expected of them. Throughout history, women—even more than men—have lived lives of quiet desperation, stuck in circumstances not of their choosing, doing their best to survive each day with a minimum of pain and destruction.

Lottie in Forged in Fire is typical of the women I like to write. She retains hope of something better, while doing what she must in the meantime.

Once, long ago, she made a mistake, though not the mistake she was accused of. She lost everything: her home, her family, her chances of marriage or an independent future. For many years, she has been the unpaid companion of a bullying cousin. And she endures.

I don’t write heroines who sit around waiting to be rescued. I’ll have no Perils of Pauline plot arcs, thank you. Often, they can see no way out of their current circumstances, but they are making the best of them, finding humour in small things, counting their blessings, and waiting for an opportunity to escape. Quiet desperation, but not without a small measure of hope.

And my heroes have their own problems, usually from earlier emotional wounds. Any rescuing is going to be completely mutual. My Tad in Forged in Fire was exiled from home as a teenager, also because of a lie. He, too, has lost his home and his family. But men had more options than women in the nineteenth century British colonies. He has built a new, independent life; one he could never have had without his disgrace. He is doing what he loves, and now faces the prospect of giving it up in order to do his duty.

So if my heroes don’t rescue my heroines, what do they do? They offer the motive for the heroine to seize the opportunity, they help her with whatever action she chooses, and they love her for her quiet strength. That’s enough, surely? I like my heroines to reach the point where marrying the hero is a choice they make for love, not simply the better of two unsatisfactory options.

So a lot is going on in the story. My heroine is moving from quiet desperation to hope, inspiring the hero to make the same journey. At the same time, they’re getting to know one another in extreme circumstances because the emotional journey they make is set against a rather dramatic background. In 1886, Mount Tarawera in New Zealand’s Rotorua region erupted along a thirteen kilometre rift, shooting ash, rock and fire thousands of feet in the air, to settle on the surrounding ground and bury villages and people under metres of ash and mud.

Lottie and Tad have survived their families and their society. The volcano could be a bit more of a challenge.

They both fell silent when an explosion attracted their attention to a large inky black cloud that welled up above the mountain beyond the ridge between them and the lake, lit by constant flashes of lighting. Lottie sat up and edged closer to Mr. Berry.

“It’s Tarawera,” he said, leaning in close and shouting to be heard. “It has erupted.”

The shakes continued, as they watched the mountain in awe.

Several men started up the hill from the hotel. Lottie was relieved they followed a path further along than the one she and Mr. Berry had taken. Mr. Berry watched them until they went out of sight around a curve in the path.

“They’ll be going to the old mission station. They’ll get a good view from there.”

A sudden explosive roar, louder than she had ever heard, brought her surging to her knees. A great curtain of fire rose heavenward from three points along the mountain. Another earthquake shook the ground, and Lottie clutched Mr. Berry’s hand as the billowing cloud began to shoot fireballs like rockets, showering down on the lake and the mountain side.

The explosions continued, battering their ears for several minutes at a time, dying to distant rumbles for a long moment, then returning to full force as the earthquakes kept coming. The cloud, now thousands of yards high, began to spread out from the column of fire, rapidly approaching across the sky towards Te Wairoa.

“We need to take cover,” Mr. Berry said. He grabbed her hand, and she followed where he led, stumbling over snags on the bush floor and pushing between ferns. A sudden vicious wind snarled into them, and stones and great dollops of mud began to fall, battering at the arms they held up to protect their heads.

Then, suddenly, they were in a dark space, and just in time, as the deluge thickened, drumming onto whatever protected them from above. When Mr. Berry wrapped his arms around her, Lottie did not object but leant into his comfort.

“It’s an abandoned house,” Mr. Berry said into her ear so he didn’t have to shout to be heard over the racket of the deluge of airborne missiles. “It’s still solid. I hope it’s strong enough to keep us safe.”

As the barrage continued, so did the same pattern of explosions and shakes: periods of sound and fury followed by brief lulls in which they could speak, raising their voices to be heard over the noise of the downfall.

“I beg your pardon, Miss Thompson. I am taking liberties.” Mr. Berry was apologising, but not, Lottie noted, letting go.

“I appreciate the comfort of being held, Mr. Berry. Do you not think you should call me Lottie, since you are taking liberties?”

She could hear the smile in his voice when he replied. “Lottie, then. For Charlotte? And I am Tad.”

Lottie shook her head. “For Otillie. At school, they used to call me Tillie, and I hated it. Is Tad short for Thaddeus?”

Forged in Fire is a novella in Never Too Late, the 2017 box set of the Bluestocking Belles. Eight authors and eight different takes on four dramatic elements selected by our readers—an older heroine, a wise man, a Bible, and a compromising situation that isn’t. Set in a variety of locations around the world over eight centuries, welcome to the romance of the Bluestocking Belles’ 2017 Holiday and More Anthology.

It’s Never Too Late to find love ~ 25% of proceeds benefit the Malala Fund.

1181
The Piper’s Lady by Sherry Ewing
True love binds them. Deceit divides them. Will they choose love?

1354
Her Wounded Heart by Nicole Zoltack
A solitary widow, a landless knight, and a crumbling castle.

1645
A Year Without Christmas by Jessica Cale
An earl and his housekeeper face their feelings for one another in the midst of the English Civil War.

1795
The Night of the Feast by Elizabeth Ellen Carter
One night to risk it all in the midst of the French Revolution.

1814
The Umbrella Chronicles: George & Dorothea’s Story by Amy Quinton
The Umbrella Strikes Again: St. Vincent’s downfall (aka betrothal) is assured.

1814
A Malicious Rumor by Susana Ellis
A harmonious duo is better than two lonely solos for a violinist and a lady gardener.

1886
Forged in Fire by Jude Knight
Forged in volcanic fire, their love will create them anew.

1916
Roses in Picardy by Caroline Warfield
In the darkness of war, hope flickers. In the gardens of Picardy, love catches fire.

Preorder your copy of Never Too Late at any of these online vendors:


 

 

 

 

 

Jude Knight’s writing goal is to transport readers to another time, another place, where they can enjoy adventure and romance, thrill to trials and challenges, uncover secrets and solve mysteries, delight in a happy ending, and return from their virtual holiday refreshed and ready for anything. She writes historical novels, novellas, and short stories, mostly set in the early 19th Century. She writes strong determined heroines, heroes who can appreciate a clever capable woman, villains you’ll love to loathe, and all with a leavening of humour.

You can connect with Jude at her website or newsletter, or on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.

 

Keep Calm and Read This: A Chance at Christmas by Beppie Harrison

Keep Calm and Read This: A Chance at Christmas by Beppie Harrison

I’m honored to welcome Beppie Harrison this week, an author whose imagination has been fully and forever captured by the Regency period. She uses that imagination to bring to life vivid characters in stories rich with adventures, societal rules, and heartfelt romance. Beppie is sharing her new holiday novella with us, A Chance at Christmas.

 

 

Christmas is coming, and Catherine Woodsleigh and her crippled brother John have no hope of celebration until an invitation to spend Christmas with an old friend and her family arrives. But after the holiday, worse misfortune looms before them. Living on the diminishing number of coins drawn from a jar left by their dead father and mother, a dire future seems inevitable. Will this chance to share a wondrous sparkling Christmas not only provide a glorious holiday but a new turn in their futures and the astonishing possibility of romance?

 

There was indeed a man standing close by, his attention fixed on their carriage. There was no one else but them now. He must be the one sent for them.

It was going to be all right.

He was tall, a young man, clearly a gentleman by his elegant dress. His boots shone and his cloak was multi-caped. He looked at her directly, with cool grey eyes and long lashes that would have been spectacular had he been a woman.

“Miss Woodsleigh, I believe?” he asked as she stepped out of the coach. “My sister Katie sent me to fetch you.” His words were as smooth and well-spoken as might be expected of a fashionably-dressed Englishman. Was this then the brother on whom she had pinned her hopes? Elegant he was indeed. Warm-hearted? She hoped he might be.

“I am Viscount de Montjoy,” he said.

She looked into his face as she came out of the carriage, hearing John’s boots thud behind her as he descended the step. Did the man have some of the look of Katie? He did seem courteous, rather than annoyed to be sent on such an errand. A hopeful sign, perhaps. She smiled at him.

Automatically, she reached back to steady John as his left boot landed on the step. Then he shifted balance to his right before stepping, leading again with his left foot, down to the ground. She kept her hand on his elbow as he rocked a bit before standing upright.

Viscount de Montjoy, who had answered Catherine’s smile with one of polite welcome, stared past her to John, clearly taking in his lame leg, twisted arm, and all.

His forehead creased. “Who is he?”

Foreboding plunged from Catherine’s head down to her toes. She took John’s arm.

“My brother.” She did not feel her lips move. She made a valiant effort to keep her smile. She would not let disappointment overwhelm her. Not yet. This was Katie’s brother, after all. The man on whom her fragile hopes rested.

He surveyed John attentively and then nodded. “I see. Does he require assistance to reach my carriage?” He half turned to indicate a neat, well-maintained landau perhaps fifty feet away.

“I do not,” John said for himself just as Catherine began to speak. She folded her lips to cut off words she might have said.

The viscount raised his left eyebrow, as if surprised John could speak.

“My man will take your bags.” He lifted a peremptory finger and a man in livery approached. A footman, perhaps? A coachman? Catherine’s family had never run to menservants, and she was unsure of what his position might be. She would have to pay close attention when they were in Katie’s house to make sure she didn’t make mistakes.

The footman, if such he was, took the heavy bag from Catherine and as John had set down his lighter one, grabbed that one as well. He headed off in the direction of the carriage and the viscount started to walk briskly after him.

He came to a stop almost immediately.

“I am sorry,” he said directly to Catherine. “Is my pace too rapid for your brother?”

Again John spoke up politely but firmly. “I believe I can nearly keep up, sir,” he said. “You will not have to wait long for me.”

The viscount looked at him, the eyebrow raised again. “Indeed.”

Find your very own copy of A Chance at Christmas at one of these online vendors:

 

 

Beppie Harrison lives on Boston’s South Shore close to the ocean in a big white New Englandish house with her husband, a lawyer daughter, and an assortment of dogs and cats. They live a somewhat trans-Atlantic lifestyle. Her husband is an English architect, and they lived in London at the beginning of their marriage, only moving to the States when they had young children. Now the children are grown, they return to old friends and familiar places as frequently as they can. In many ways, England still feels like their second home.

For Beppie, the pull from across the Atlantic comes not only from the dales of Yorkshire and the buzz of London, but from Ireland. Did it start with its literature, its green beauty, or its wonderfully garrulous people? However it happened, both England and Ireland draw her now.

Her first fiction trilogy, the Heart Trilogy, is placed primarily in Ireland during the Regency period. The Grandest Christmas, a companion novella for the holiday season, is a warm and cozy read for Christmastime. Her upcoming quartet of novels is placed again in Regency times, but, as introduced by the novella The Dowager’s Season, introduces four cousins to the excitement and romance of London’s presentations and balls.

Connect with Beppie by signing up for her newsletter, or visiting with her on Facebook or her group blog, Romancing Yesteryear.

And always remember to #ReadARegency!