A Legend to Love: Her Wild Irish Rogue by Saralee Etter

A Legend to Love: Her Wild Irish Rogue by Saralee Etter

Releasing tomorrow, 16, October, is Her Wild Irish Rogue by Saralee Etter. It’s a retelling of the legend of Cuchulainn and Emer of Irish mythology.

Cuchulainn (pronounced “Cook-Hullen”) is the mighty warrior hero of the Ulster Cycle, an amazingly good-looking young lad who defeated entire armies with his wild berserker rages. He fell in love with the beautiful daughter of Forgall the Wily, Princess Emer, who declared she wouldn’t have him until he completed a series of heroic tasks. When he returned to claim Emer’s hand, her father forbade it. In the end, Forgall was defeated by his own trickery and the two lovers were united.

According to the legend, the Princess Emer had the six womanly gifts: beauty, a good voice, sweet speech, needlework, wisdom, and chastity. She was intelligent and lively, with great dignity—our hero had to work hard to deserve her!

The hero of Her Wild Irish Rogue, Captain Stephen Killian, is based on the legendary Irish hero, Cuchulainn. He is a mighty warrior, and so young and handsome that his friends all beg him to get married so their own girlfriends and wives will stop sighing over him!

Loving a warrior is dangerous business. Trusting a spy is foolish.

The Napoleonic Wars are over. To continue serving his country, war hero Captain Stephen Killian is determined to learn the subtle tradecraft of a spy. He never knew attending glittering balls and masquerades would be such a dangerous pursuit.

Miss Emma Forgall is a spy whose grace and charm wins her the confidence of the rulers and diplomats who have gathered to carve up Napoleon’s former empire. But now she’s working with a hot-headed former cavalry officer who starts a sword-fight at the opera!

When a plot to derail the Alliance that defeated Napoleon threatens to re-ignite the turmoil of war, can Killian and Emma join forces to catch the culprits?

Miss Emma Forgall waved her fan lazily. “Where in Ireland are you from?”

“I’m from Macha’s Brooch,” Captain Killian replied, hands clasped behind his back and feet set sturdily apart. Somewhere in the back of the elegant Parisian ballroom, the orchestra struck up a tune.

Lord Parkington snorted. “Impossible. Macha’s Brooch isn’t a place.”

It’s a riddle, you fool, Emma wanted to say. Why wouldn’t Lord Parkington go away? Just because Emma’s father approved of him, that didn’t give him permission to act like he was her keeper.

She ignored him and thought about the riddle. In Celtic legend, the goddess Macha used the point of her brooch-pin to scratch the boundaries of the city of Ulster into the ground and made her vanquished enemies dig its fortifications for her.

Macha’s Brooch meant Ulster.

“Ulster is a great distance from Paris,” Emma remarked casually, watching Captain Killian’s face for signs that she’d gotten it right. “Where did you stop along the way, when you traveled here?”

He shrugged his wide shoulders. “We stopped in the home of the man who herds the cattle on the plain of Tethra.”

“The what?” demanded Lord Parkington, who still hadn’t gone away. The man simply never could take a hint. “What are you talking about?”

Another riddle. She was beginning to enjoy herself. Good thing she knew her myths – Tethra was an ancient guardian deity ruling over the waters, and the “plain of Tethra” was the sea. Therefore, the cattle of the sea were…fish. Captain Killian had stayed at the home of a fisherman.

“So your host was a fisherman,” she said coolly. “No doubt you had excellent fish for dinner?”

He grinned at her. “Most excellent fish.”

Right, again! Emma’s heart gave a little hop of excitement. She smiled back at him and asked, “And where did your travels take you then?”

“Simple enough,” replied Captain Killian. “We went over the Great Secret of the men of Dea, down the Great Crime, across to the Land of the Red Dragon, to the Ford of Oxen, and then to Caer-Lud. Then on to Lutetia.”

“What nonsense are you spouting?” Lord Parkington howled. “Surely you can’t pretend that you understand him, Miss Forgall!”

Emma waved a dismissive hand. She knew her Celtic mythology and her ancient Roman history. Besides, it was worth it just to see Lord Parkington’s purple-faced frustration.

“So, down the Boyne, over the River Delvin, across the sea to Wales, and then through Oxford to London. And here you are in Lutetia—or, as we call it, Paris.”

“Exactly.” Captain Killian nodded. “Now tell me about yourself.”

 

Grab your copy today!

 

 

Saralee Etter always knew that writing was the only career for her. Writing down the stories she imagined in her day-dreaming moments seemed like the perfect job.

Instead, she wrote other things: Newspaper articles, public relations releases, legal briefs. After working as a legislative analyst for a state-wide trade association, she worked as a local weekly newspaper reporter and a public school district communications coordinator.

Now Saralee is writing the stories that she dreamed up so long ago. She enjoys history, romance, adventure, and mystery. She has published a full-length traditional English Regency romance novel and two Regency-set Christmas romance novellas.

She is working on a Victorian-set cozy mystery featuring Gilbert and Sullivan.

Find Saralee at her WEBSITE, AMAZON, and TWITTER.

 

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A Legend to Love: Lady Soldier by Jillian Chantal

A Legend to Love: Lady Soldier by Jillian Chantal

Matilda “Maud” Somerset is a disaster. Her parents and uncle, the Duke of Beaufort, want her to make a spectacular match to a suitable beau. Maud is more interested in galloping across the fields on her stallion, Khan, and shooting arrows at targets. Her mother despairs of her and her father bears the brunt of his wife’s and the Duke’s anger for allowing the girl to learn all the arts of war when he was teaching them to his now-deceased older son.

When Maud’s father is recalled to the Army to fight Napoleon in the Peninsular Wars, Maud sneaks off to join his regiment in his place. His vision isn’t what it used to be, and fearing for his life if he fights, she disguises herself as a man and leaves before dawn. She’s determined to uphold the family honor, even at the cost of her own reputation.

Get your copy today!

 

 

Jillian Chantal is the writer of romantic stories with an international flair. She enjoys history and has penned a few early twentieth century historical romances. She also loves the modern era and has contemporary fiction stories available as well. She lives on the gulf coast of Florida in a little slice of paradise.

Connect with Jillian at her WEBSITE, AMAZON, or TWITTER

 

Watch for the weekly release of all the legends in the Legend to Love series available at your favorite online vendors!

 

A Legend to Love: The Lady and Lord Lakewood by Aileen Fish

A Legend to Love: The Lady and Lord Lakewood by Aileen Fish

The Lady and Lord Lakewood

A man on a quest to save the heir of his dearest friend.
A woman in possession of an enchanted weapon.
Can they protect the young duke from those who are out to kill him?

Almost from birth, Vivienne has known that one day she would play an important role involving a family heirloom, a sword called Excalibur. Her Aunt Nimue says she’ll know what to do when the time comes—but she had no idea the man she waited for would be so handsome, so powerful.

Richard, 5th Earl of Lakewood, must save Arthur, the new young Duke of Camelot, from a woman seeking revenge. Killing Uther, Arthur’s father, wasn’t enough; now she’s after Arthur. A series of mysterious clues leads Lakewood to an even more mysterious woman, Lady Avalon. What role does she play in this battle, and what’s this spell she’s cast on Lakewood’s heart? Her distraction might just lead to his death.

June 1818
Near Glastonbury, England

A violent dream held Vivienne, the widowed Viscountess Avalon, deep within its darkness and wouldn’t let her escape. Shadowy figures swarmed around her, threatening and maleficent. Heavy fog kept her from seeing exactly where she was, but some inner sense told her it was the woods near Lake Avalon. The shadows gathered behind her, guiding her—no, forcing her—toward the shore. Her heart pounded in fear of what had taken control of her. She held her breath as if the sound would reveal her location to the enemy.

When she cleared the trees, the fog thinned, allowing her to see a few feet ahead. Still the shadows closed in, and she stepped into the cold water to stay beyond their reach. Hesitantly she inched forward. First her half-boots grew damp, then her hems soaked up the cold water. Vivienne shivered, but a glance over her shoulder showed the shadows still approached. What evil wanted to control her?

Lake Avalon shimmered in a radiating circle in the direction Vivienne felt compelled to go. Tiny waves rippled outward as if a pebble had broken the surface. In the center a face appeared. A kind, gentle face. Her great-aunt Nimue. She remained just below the surface. Vivienne’s heart raced in fear. Was this vision saying her aunt was going to die soon? Vivienne shook her head, pleading, “No, please no.”

Nimue raised her arms and a magnificent sword appeared in her hands. She lifted the weapon above the water but her body and head remained below the surface.

Compelled to reach for the sword, Vivienne hesitated to do so. “What am I to do with this?”

Nimue was silent, not even sharing her thoughts. She simply lifted the sword again, displaying it with both hands like a gift, and motioned for Vivienne to take it.

As soon as Vivienne did, the last of the fog lifted. The shadowy figures vanished and Nimue swam away. A gruff voice called her name from within the trees. Merlin, who some claimed was a magician, stood watching her.

“What am I to do with this?” Vivienne repeated, this time asking him.

The old man with stringy white locks blending into his long, graying beard said, “You will know when the time comes. Since you are having this vision, the time must be soon.”

She hated answers like this. You will know… Would she ever trust her second-sight enough to be confident in what lay ahead?

“You will,” Merlin said, and Nimue’s voice echoed the words in a whisper from the distance.

Looking down at the magnificent weapon, Vivienne marveled at the workmanship. The bronze grip and hilt looked like a little primitive man. The cross guard curled downward on either side creating legs, and the arms of the man curled upward around the head to create a pommel. It even had a face of sorts, and a belt carved into the middle of the body. It was heavy, with the broad blade of an old weapon of battle. Someone had put great pride and love into making it. Given the way the metal shone, it was clear others had polished it and cared for it in the centuries since. Who did it belong to?

And as she studied it, it faded away, leaving her hands empty. She lifted her gaze to Merlin only to find him gone, too. She was alone at the edge of Lake Avalon, her skirt and boots wet but nothing else to show for the odd events.

Then she jolted awake in her bedchamber, snuggled deep under her heavy woolen blankets, barefoot and wearing her nightgown. Moonlight streamed between the draperies on her window, and the castle was silent. Her dream was so vivid she felt certain she’d lived it, yet her nightgown was dry.

Vivienne hated these visions and the period of waiting afterward as she watched for clues to guide her toward the meaning. Aunt Nimue might be able to shed light on the clues, but she couldn’t visit her until daylight. Knowing she’d never get back to sleep, she got up, pulled on her robe and slippers, and went downstairs to make tea. Not having seen her aunt for several months, she’d enjoy a brief visit. Nimue was a font of memories and the history of the village of Avalon, and their family’s part in it. Time spent with her was never dull.

The Lady and Lord Lakewood releases tomorrow, October 2, at all online vendors, but you can pre-order a copy at iTunes today!

 

 

USA Today Bestselling Author Aileen Fish is an avid quilter and auto racing fan who finds there aren’t enough hours in a day/week/lifetime to stay up with her “to do” list. There is always another quilt or story begging to steal away attention from the others. When she has a spare moment she enjoys spending time with her two daughters and their families. Her books include The Bridgethorpe Brides series and the Small Town Sweethearts series.

She also writes steamy romance under the pen-name Ari Thatcher.

Connect with Aileen at her WEBSITE or follow her on

 

 

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Grub Street

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Grub Street

Being a romance author, I can identify with the adjectival meaning of this week’s word.

Grub Street

A street near Moorfields, formerly the supposed habitation of many persons who wrote for the booksellers: hence a Grub-street writer means a hackney author, who manufactures books for the booksellers.

From London Its Celebrated Characters and Remarkable Places.

According to The Grub Street Project, for true 18th century writers such as Alexander Pope and Jonathan Swift, Grub Street represented the worst of the pretender lot: “base commercialization, hack writing, and the prostitution of literary ideals.” Picture the look of horror on the face of your English teacher that time she assigned the class book reports, and you chose Stephen King.

Even the buildings in Moorfields seem to highlight the difference between the hack and the authentic literati. It’s pure speculation on my park, but I’d expect to see Grub Streeters in the former and Jonathan Swift in the latter.

Old House in Sweedon’s Passage, Grub Street, Drawn July 1791, taken down March 1805, via Spitalfields Life.

Houses on the West Side of Little Moorfields, May 1810, via Spitalfields Life.

But what truly separated the drudge with a quill from the literary nobility? Style? Substance? Subject? The quality of the paper?

Samuel Derrick was the Grub Street hack generally credited with composing the annual Harris’s List of Covent Garden Ladies. The pocket publication was sold for two shillings and sixpence; about 8,000 copies were in circulation each year. The list contained all the details would one expect for a directory of prostitutes, some specific, some general, some complimentary, and some warnings. The content began with suggestive drawings, a long essay on the benefits of prostitution, and eventually politically-tinged arguments for the support of the sex trade as a means of benefit to the public, or a call to scorn not the seller but the buyer. The descriptions of each prostitute ranged from explicit and florid to matter-of-fact.

Miss B—lt—n, No. 14, Lisle-Street,
Leicester Fields.

Why should they e’er give me pain,
Who to give me joy disdain;
All I ask of mortal man,
Is to————-me whilst he can.

These four lines were not more applicable to Miss C—tl—y, than to this present reigning lover of the sport; she is rather above mediocrity in height and size, with fine dark hair, and a pair of bewitching hazel eyes; very agreeable and loving, but she is not so unreasonable as to expect constancy; it is a weak unprofitable quality in a woman, and if she can persuade her husband or keeper that she has it, it is just the same as though she really possessed it. Miss B—lt—n is conscious she loves variety, as it conduces both to her pleasure and interest; and she gives each of her gallants the same liberty of conscience, therefore she never lessens the fill of joy, by any real or affected freaks of jealousy; when her lovers come to her, they are welcome, and they are equally so when they fly to another’s arms. Indeed, when they do so, it is generally to her advantage, as she finds they return to her with re- doubled ardour, and her charms are in general more dear, from a comparison with others; and although her age is bordering upon twenty-four, and she has been a traveller in our path four years, her desires are not the least abated, nor does she set less value on herself.

 

Miss H—rd—y, No. 45, Newman Street.

Her look serene does purest softness wear,
Her face exclaims her fairest of the fair.

This lady borrows her name from her late keeper, who is now gone to the Indias, and left her to seek support on the wide common of independence; she is now just arrived at the zenith of perfection, devoid of art and manners, as yet untutor’d by fashion, her charms have for their zest every addition youth and simplicity can add. She has beauty with- out pride, elegance without affectation, and innocence without dissimulation; and not knowing how long this train of perfections will last, we would advise our reader to make hay whilst the sun shines.

While there is no doubt that this is the 18th century man’s version of the Neiman Marcus Christmas Book, a buyer’s guide for acquiring companionship of a certain nature and duration, some of the writings of the so-called true artists have some questionable attributes.

I’ve never been a fan of Pope’s The Rape of the Lock. Yes, it’s satire. Yes, it’s a parody of the heroic. But yes, it’s also demeaning to women, specifically Belinda. Someone stole something of hers. Something from her person. Without permission. I don’t like the presumption that others decided whether Belinda had the right to be angry, affronted, or saddened by the loss of her lock. Whether her lock was of any value or worth pursuit. Whether she had the right to fight to get it back.

Satire, by definition, is “the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices.” I don’t like where the satire in The Rape could lead: it’s okay to ridicule Belinda’s upset over her lock, and she is being stupid. The passive aggressive chiding to ‘get over it’ as unimportant in lines 25-34 in Canto V has always made me uneasy. Especially since a man, who held all the power in that era, was the one giving the condescending scold.

But since, alas! frail beauty must decay,
Curl’d or uncurl’d, since Locks will turn to grey;
Since painted, or not painted, all shall fade,
And she who scorns a man, must die a maid;
What then remains but well our pow’r to use,
And keep good-humour still whate’er we lose?
And trust me, dear! good-humour can prevail,
When airs, and flights, and screams, and scolding fail.
Beauties in vain their pretty eyes may roll;
Charms strike the sight, but merit wins the soul.

Boy, did I chase a rabbit there. Let’s keep chasing.

Romance authors are often treated like Grub Street hacks, as we’re considered the redheaded step-children of the world of books. If we could write, we’d write literature. You must read that italicized sentence with your nose wrinkled in distaste.

Even statistics showing the dominance of the romance novel industry are trivialized, with the hardly-subtle jabs hitting both the authors and the romance readers: romance = sex. Poor frustrated authors and readers.

At $1.44 billion, Romance and Erotica are #1 in sales. That figure includes self-published romance as well. With 30 million dedicated readers, it’s hard to miss if you write in this genre. As anyone in advertising knows, sex sells. ~Erica Verillo, The Writing Cooperative

Do you know which book genres make the most money? I surely didn’t before doing some research. To be perfectly honest, I never really thought about it. We usually focus on which books do well, or what the top books of the year were, but we never really consider which genre is the one bringing in the bucks. 1) Romance/Erotica – $1.44 billion. From the success of the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy and the number of novels written by people like Danielle Steele, there’s no surprise that romance and erotica are #1. ~Mahogany Turner-Francis, Bookstr

I wish I had a dollar for every time romance genre data and conclusions are mentioned in the same breath as FSOG. There’s a hilarious meme that explains FSOG better than that.

At least laughter is good for the soul.

This post took a long trip this week to say that writers or a certain skill set in the long 18th century were known as Grub Street hacks. And that there were likely some in the bunch that didn’t deserve the moniker.

 

  • Slang term taken from the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.
  • Dive deep into The Grub Street Project. There’s a wealth of fascinating stuff pertaining to the long 18th century, from maps to people to works to trades in its archives.
  • Check out the collection of gorgeous engravings of John Thomas Smith curated by The Gentle Author at Spitalfields Life.
  • You can read the entire Harris’s List of Covent Garden Ladies from 1788…but it’s pretty ick.
  • Read Pope for yourself in his Complete Works.
  • I’m not giving a bulleted list shout-out to sneerers of the romance industry. Nor did I tag them in this post. Links are provided at the end of the quotes above.
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:

Website
Facebook
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Amazon
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LinkedIn
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And always remember to #ReadARegency!

 

Sources:

Keep Calm and Read This: A Most Handsome Gentleman by Suzan Lauder

Keep Calm and Read This: A Most Handsome Gentleman by Suzan Lauder

It’s a holiday week here in the US, and that means it’s time to find a comfortable chair, a favorite beverage, and curl up with a good book or three. If you’re like me and love to read and reread about the Bennets, Darcys, and Bingleys (or at least one of the Bingleys), I have just the recommendation for your reading pleasure: A Most Handsome Gentleman by Suzan Lauder. This is a laugh out loud farcical comedy starring my favorite characters, but with a twist.

Elizabeth Bennet’s life is uncomplicated until she meets a quartet of new men: the haughty but handsome Mr. Darcy, the pert-with-a-pout Mr. Bingley, the confident and captivating Mr. Wickham—and then there is her father’s cousin, the happy man towards whom almost every female eye has turned.

Mr. Collins is HOT—well, incredibly handsome in Regency-speak—beautiful of face, fine of figure, elegant of air, his perfect clothing and hair matching his Greek god-like form. Unfortunately, when he opens his mouth, Elizabeth wishes he were mute. With affected servility and prideful self-conceit, he capitalizes upon his exquisite appearance and fixes on Jane Bennet as his bride.

Can Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy form an alliance to stop Jane’s suitors from issuing challenges—and will Elizabeth coax a smile from Mr. Darcy?

Here’s a sneak peek at a snippet of Chapter One from A Most Handsome Gentleman:

Bestselling Regency romance author Suzan Lauder delivers a hilarious Austenesque romance suitable for all readers of Pride and Prejudice. Grab your copy for a Thanksgiving reading treat!

 

 

A lover of Jane Austen, Regency period research and costuming, cycling, yoga, blogging, and independent travel, cat mom Suzan Lauder is seldom idle.

Her first effort at a comedy, A Most Handsome Gentleman is the fourth time Lauder has been published by Meryton Press. Her earlier works include a mature Regency romance with a mystery twist, Alias Thomas Bennet; a modern short romance Delivery Boy in the holiday anthology Then Comes Winter, and the dramatic tension filled Regency romance Letter from Ramsgate.

She and Mr. Suze split their time between a loft condo overlooking the Salish sea and a 150 year old Spanish colonial home near the sea in Mexico.

Suzan’s lively prose is also available to her readers on her blog, road trips with the redhead.

You can also find Suzan on Facebook, Twitter, and her Amazon Author Page.

 

And remember to always #ReadARegency!

 

Keep Calm and Read This: A Marchioness Below Stairs by Alissa Baxter

Keep Calm and Read This: A Marchioness Below Stairs by Alissa Baxter

I’m so pleased to welcome Alissa Baxter this week. She’s visiting with her latest release, A Marchioness Below Stairs, and sharing some fascinating discoveries she made while researching. If you love traditional Regency romances, you’ve found your next indulgence!

Plus she’s having a giveaway!

Gambols on the River Thames. Feb 1814 by George Cruikshank and Thomas Tegg, Museum of London.

While researching my upcoming release, A Marchioness Below Stairs, I came across some interesting information about the winter of 1813/14, which inspired some of the events of the novel, particularly the Frost Fair on the Thames in 1814.

Between 1600 and 1814, the River Thames could sometimes freeze over for up to two months at time. There were two main reasons for this; the first was that Britain (and the entire of the Northern Hemisphere) was experiencing what is now known as the ‘Little Ice Age’. The other catalyst was the medieval London Bridge and its piers, and specifically how closely spaced together they were. During winter, pieces of ice would get lodged between the piers and effectively dam up the river, meaning it was easier for it to freeze.

Although these harsh winters often brought with them famine and death, the local Londoners decided to make the most of iced-over Thames and set up the Thames Frost Fairs. Between 1607 and 1814 there were a total of seven major fairs, as well as a number of smaller ones.

Shops made out of sail cloths, blankets and oars were set up on the river, along with pubs and ice skating rinks… everything that you would expect in the crowded streets of London – but it was on ice.

The 1814 Frost Fair began in London on 1st February, and lasted four days. An elephant was led across the river below Blackfriars Bridge. George Davis, a printer, published a 124-page book called Frostiana; or a History of the River Thames in a Frozen State. The entire book was type-set and printed in Davis’s printing stall, which had been set up on the frozen Thames. This was the last of the famous Frost Fairs which took place during the Little Ice Age, roughly between 1350 -1850.

As the climate grew milder, the replacement of the old London Bridge in 1831 with a new bridge with wider arches, allowed the tide to flow more freely, and the embanking of stages of the river in the 19th century prevented the river from freezing over again as it did in 1814.

(Sources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/River_Thames_frost_fairshttp://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-25862141http://www.historic-uk.com/HistoryUK/HistoryofEngland/The-Thames-Frost-Fairs/)

Escaping from Bath and the news that her former love is about to marry another, Isabel, the young widowed Marchioness of Axbridge, accepts an invitation to her cousin’s house party. Yet, instead of finding respite, she stumbles into a domestic crisis of majestic proportions: The kitchen servants have succumbed to the influenza.

If that weren’t bad enough, her former sweetheart arrives with his fiancée, seeking shelter from the increasingly hazardous snow storm. Trapped inside Chernock Hall with a volatile mix of house guests, including abolitionists and slave owners, Isabel wishes she could hide below stairs for the duration. But, alas, she cannot. While helping in the kitchen, Isabel is cornered by her cousin’s disreputable friend, Marcus Bateman, who challenges and provokes her at every turn.

At last, the storm subsides. However, the avalanche of repercussions cannot be undone. Caught in the grip of the terrible winter of 1813, will Isabel’s greatest threat come from the weather, her abolitionist views, or from falling in love again?

They entered the drawing room, and Lady Kildaren beckoned her imperiously. “Would you care to play the pianoforte, Lady Axbridge? Your mama informs me that you play very well.”

“I’m sadly out of practice, your ladyship.”

“Come, my dear. It will be delightful to listen to some music.”

Isabel smiled and nodded, and sat down at the pianoforte. She spread her fingers over the keys, and started to play from memory, pieces ranging from Mozart to Beethoven to various Scottish and Irish airs. She had just begun a song for the popular stage composed by Dibdin, when the door opened and the gentlemen entered.

She glanced up, then swiftly focused her attention back on the music. She would play for the rest of the evening. It was an excellent way to avoid facing Mr Wetherby, or conversing with Lord Fenmore and Mr Bateman.

She looked at her fingers as she played, but even so, she could see Mr Bateman out of the corner of her eye. He sat beside Miss Wetherby, seemingly absorbed in conversation with her. The young woman giggled. Isabel hit a false note, and grimaced. He had said Miss Wetherby was not in his style at all and yet there he was, gazing at her and looking for all the world as if he found her company enthralling.

And when Captain Wetherby and his son walked over to them a short while later, he laughed and conversed with them, perfectly at ease in their company. Drat the man! How had she ever felt any sympathy for him?

Some Bach was in order. She started hammering out his Military Quintet No. 3 in B flat major, until she sensed someone standing at her shoulder.

“Bach’s Military Quintet?” Mr Bateman asked in a low voice, startling her.

“Yes.”

“You were playing such a cheerful ditty when we entered the room.”

“My mood changed.”

“Ah.”

“I prefer not to play with someone standing behind me. It throws me off.”

“Well, something has certainly thrown you off.”

She dragged in a deep breath and let it out slowly. Fortunately, she knew the piece by heart, so she gave it very little attention, while she contemplated a scathing set-down.

“Scoundrel, reprobate, traitor… will one of those do?”

Isabel’s shoulders stiffened. “Sir, I am unable to converse with you while I am playing the pianoforte.”

“Unable or unwilling?”

“Both!”

He chuckled. “Remind me to talk to your back in future, my lady. It appears to loosen your tongue.”

“There will be very few future conversations between us. Monsieur Martin is all but recovered and the thaw is about to set in.”

“I am living in hope of the thaw setting in.” He moved to stand beside her.

Something in his voice made her look at him, and the warmth of his gaze took her breath away. She returned her focus to the pianoforte, and shook her head. “We will be going our separate ways soon. I think that is, on the whole, a good thing.”

“There may be a few surprises in store for you in that regard. Good evening, my dear.”

He strolled to the other end of the room and engaged her mother in conversation.

Isabel tried to concentrate on her playing, but her mind was far away. What did he mean? Her life was ordered, peaceful and predictable. Surprises did not fit well into that paradigm. His relaxed air of assurance was especially irritating, as he did not appear at all abashed regarding his abominable behaviour – kissing her in the cow shed one evening, and flirting with another lady the next; purporting to care about the abolition of slavery, yet unashamedly socialising with the owners of slaves. He was a riddle of a man, a riddle that would have to remain unsolved, because if she were foolish enough to try to figure him out she could end up with a solution that was only the start of another problem.

With a defiant toss of her head, she played the opening notes of the folk song Lord Bateman. Across the room, her nemesis stiffened. Then his laughing eyes met hers. “Why, your ladyship, I must sing along – this song is my namesake, after all.”

He returned to her side and Isabel blushed at the wicked gleam in his eyes. She had well and truly thrown down the gauntlet now. When would she learn to leave well enough alone?

Grab your copy of A Marchioness Below Stairs today!

 

 

Alissa Baxter wrote her first Regency romance, The Dashing Debutante, during her long university holidays. After travelling the world, she settled down to write her second Regency romance, Lord Fenmore’s Wager, which was inspired by her time living on a country estate in England. Also the author of two contemporary romances, Send and Receive and The Blog Affair, Alissa currently lives in Johannesburg with her husband and two sons.

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Alissa would like to give away two ebooks to a lucky commenter: Lord Fenmore’s Wager (the prequel to A Marchioness Below Stairs) and A Marchioness Below Stairs. Just answer the following question… please tell Alissa about your favourite kind of hero in a Regency novel… Do you prefer the dark, brooding tortured type, or a more light-hearted kind of hero with a witty sense of humour?

The contest will close at 11:59pm Central Standard Time on Sunday, November 19th. The winner will be drawn by random and contacted via email.

Good luck, and remember to always

#ReadARegency!