Thursday, January 31, 2008

Regency Romance for Valentine's!


Tuesday 12 February, Northfields Library, London 6.30pm

Kate Allan - Regency Romance

In time for Valentine's Day, romantic historical novelist Kate Allan talks about her Regency romances including Perfidy and Perfection, The Restless Heart and Fateful Deception. She also writes as "one half of " Jennifer Lindsay, author of The Lady Soldier. Free. Please contact Northfields Library to reserve your place. Tel: (020) 8567 5700

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Brighton Entertainments


The social round of events at Brighton was a major attraction for visitors. As an important pleasure resort Brighton boasted two sets of Assembly Rooms, which were based at the Castle Inn and the Old Ship Inn. Balls were held on Mondays and Thursdays respectively, card assemblies on Wednesdays and Fridays, a Promenade and Public tea on Sundays. The ballrooms were designed in Adam style, the Castle being considered the more elegant with its plaster mouldings, classical columns and friezes of Dawn and Night.
Captain Wade officiated for some time as master of ceremonies. Bath was mainly a winter resort and Brighton a summer one, so he was able to preside over both until he made himself unpopular at Bath. Apparently, he openly ridiculed an admirer’s love letters and as a result became unpopular, leaving Bath for good in 1770 to make his home in Brighton.
The circulating libraries provided entertainment in the day time. Not only could books be borrowed or bought, but trinkets, music, sketching materials and subscription tickets for the balls could also be purchased. Donaldson’s library was a timber-boarded building, painted white with an arched verandah under which ladies could sit and gossip. As it fronted the Steine, which was a popular place for parading, one can imagine there was plenty to talk about! Sometimes a band performed in the Rotunda, a wooden octagonal building, so gossip and music went hand in hand. Shops of all kinds along the Steyne tempted the passers by. China, tea, lace, muslins and without doubt, Lydia’s favourite, millinery and ribbons, had ladies parting easily with the contents of their pockets. St. James’s Street was compared to London’s Bond Street for its quality of shopping and variety.
Perhaps one of the most popular activities was the evening stroll upon the Steine within the sight of the sea –
Though in pleasing excursions you spend the long day,
And to Lewes or Shoreham, or Rottingdean stray;
Or to drink tea at Preston, to vary the scene,
At eve with new raptures you’ll fly to the Steine.

The print shows the Pavilion and Steine in 1806, Donaldson’s library is on the far right, facing the Castle Inn on the opposite corner. The Pavilion in its early form can be seen further along with a central dome. The Prince of Wales is on horseback just in front of the library.
Jane Odiwe
www.janeaustensequels.blogspot.com

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Newsletter

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Monday, January 28, 2008

Can you be accurate and entertaining?

I think you can. Stay true to the period, but provide a strong, entertaining story.
This post was inspired by someone complaining to a yahoo group that yet again, a young respectable woman in a novel turns to prostitution as a "last resort." In the real Regency, that is so unlikely as to be off the scale. Prostitution led to an early death by violence or disease, and the pay was appalling. Very few prostitutes made it off the streets and into the courtesan line, but even if our respectable young lady wanted to become a courtesan, she'd have little chance. it was a "closed shop." How on earth would she introduce herself to the people she needed to know, for a start?

Today, when the nuclear family is the norm, we tend to think that once the immediate family has gone, that is that.

It was a question of honour for a man of any standing at all to make sure his relatives were looked after. Even if he had to employ them himself, marry them off or, (shudder), lock them away in an asylum, they weren't left alone. The scandal, when it became known that his second cousin was walking the streets as a doxy would have been too much for him to bear. Even in relatively recent years, 2 relatives of the Queen Mother were found in an asylum, locked away, not because they were mad or mentally ill, but to keep them tucked away somewhere. Any
respectable female would be taken up and sent to do something, she just wouldn't be allowed to wander the streets.

We do have some weird and wonderful professions in the world of the Regency romance that really have nothing to do with the 'real' Georgian and Regency, and everything to do with the made-up one, the imposing of current assumptions and values on ages past. To take a few:

The Regency spy. Since James Bond, everyone assumes that a spy's life, at least fictionally, was glamorous and aspirational, but in past eras it was the complete opposite. A spy was considered not a gentleman, since he had to do very ungentlemanly things to be effective.

The pirate who happens to be a peer of the realm. A ducal pirate stood to lose, not only his own life and fortune, but everyone else's in his family, since piracy was legally treason.

The Honourable Suicide. A suicide stood to lose his property, leaving his relatives destitute (they were usually seen as "accidents" for that reason) since a suicide's property and estate was forfeit to the Crown

The peer who murders people and gets away with it - because he is a peer. A peer
accused of murder was front page news pretty much forever, and a peer convicted of it made his name virtually immortal (Lord Ferrers).

The daughter of a peer who works in a noble household to spy on the owner, or disguises herself. Firstly, someone is going to notice she is missing. Yes they are, society then was extremely close-knit. Secondly, a lady working as a servant is just not done. Servants had their families an heirarchies too, and they wouldn't easily accept a stranger. And she just isn't going to be able to do the level of work needed. It was destructive to health, if you weren't used to it. No faked ID's are going to get you very far if you want to work in a trusted position in a noble household.

Mind you, I do like to twist a cliche every so often, and make it work. I did it in "A Chance To Dream" where my heroine is - yes - the daughter of a courtesan and the hero is - wait for it - an impoverished earl whose father drank and gambled his fortune away. The hero rebuilt
his fortune slowly, and his initial capital was from when he demolished his big London mansion and went into partnership with a builder to create a small housing estate on the land. The heroine was the daughter of a famous courtesan, but her mother, fleeing from an abusive husband in Italy, always insisted that her daughter went masked in public. (Not spoilers, all that is in the first 3 chapters, that's the set-up).

In "Last Chance, My Love," the heroine needs desperately NOT to get pregnant, even though she's married. Another child could kill her, and I don't cheat. It's true. In an age when contraception was uncertain, this means her husband and herself, still in love, have a big problem.

In the upcoming "Met By Chance" the heroine runs away to do something (which would be a spoiler if I told you) and manages time on her own, but there are consequences. And her hero is a painted fop who isn't all he seems (the Scarlet Pimpernel had a lot of inflence on me, but I
promise, no spies!)

So it can be fun to make a cliche and make it work. But in all those books, I took real instances from the era to make the thing work. I found several peers who increased their fortunes by speculating in the building boom of the mid 18th century (that's where all the mansions
and palaces went!) and I found some extravagant behaviour by courtesans that makes my La Perla seem calm in comparison. In the third one, I made sure there were consequences, this was no hoyden running off on an adventure and she was worried sick most of the time.

If a would-be Regency writer spends even an hour at the Bow Street site online, reading a few cases, she'll have fodder for no end of books! I've culled a few from there, or at least got some ideas. So there's really no excuse for the hackneyed, inaccurate book any more.

None at all.


Sunday, January 27, 2008

A Shameful Secret



A Shameful Secret is my new Regency with Amira Press. It comes out in ebook soon and in print in March. I also have a new saga out with Severn House this month - Love is not Enough. My new Regency with HMB comes out in hardback in Feb and in paperback in April.

I would like to apologise to readers for not finishing my serial The Journal of A Regency Lady. This was due to too tight a schedule last year. I am hoping to finish it soon. When I do I shall put the whole thing up on my own blog and give you the url. Best wishes, Anne Herries

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Carstairs Conspiracy

The Carstairs Conspiracy, my latest Regency romance due to be published by Robert Hale on the 31st January, follows the fortunes of Abigail Carstairs, sole heir to the late Duke of Penrith's vast estate. Seldom seen in public, eighteen-year-old Abby is to make her debut at the Duchess of Albion's ball. The event is crowded, everyone anxious to gain a glimpse of the heiress, but Sebastian Denver, Marquess of Broadstairs, in not one such, having no appetite for chits straight out of the school room. He would have much preferred to play cards but is persuaded by his two closest friends to attend the ball. Frustrated by the crowd surrounding Abby, Sebastian's friends fear they have no chance of dancing with her. Sensing there might be some sport to be had at this dreary event after all Sebastian strikes a wager with them, predicting that he will succeed in securing Abby's hand for a dance. This is what happens when he is introduced to her.

Sebastian executed an elegant bow and raised the girl from her curtsey, releasing her hand without inflicting further punishment on her bruised fingers and smiling only in the most perfunctory of manners. 'It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance. I have heard much about you.' But he ensured that the statement sounded merely polite, bordering on the indifferent.

'Thank you, my lord,' she said, her surprise at his casual manner, following so closely on all the flummery she had had to endure during the course of the evening, clearly apparent. Recovering quickly though her eyes lit up with amusement and predictably, a degree of interest. 'And I you.'

She turned towards his companions, who were treating her with much greater civility than he had been prepared to muster, responding to them with a degree of maturity that again surprised him. There was a marked lack of the giggling and simpering he might have expected, and for that he was grateful. If he had to stand up with the baggage for half an hour, the experience would be less painful if she managed to conduct herself with some degree of decorum.

'Your parents were well known to me, Lady Abigail,' he said to her in an aside when the attention of the others was diverted, 'and I know they would be inordinately proud of you this evening.'

Several mentions had been made to Abby of her parents that evening, but Sebastian could not know that none had been expressed in such simple language, without the intention of making any sort of impression upon her, other than one of genuine regret.

'Thank you, my lord.' She turned a dazzling smile upon him, which was the last reaction he had expected, leaving him feeling somewhat disadvantaged; especially as he felt himself responding to it somewhere in the region of his groin. 'You know,' she said in a contemplative tone, 'I rather believe that they would.'

Sebastian inclined his head in the direction of the dancers. 'I believe a quadrille is about to form up. If you are not already engaged, can I persuade you to stand up with me, Lady Abigail?'

Confident that she would acquiesce, he did not wait for her answer but merely reached for her hand.

'Thank you, my lord, but I find myself fatigued and am not inclined to dance again at this juncture.'

Sebastian dropped her hand as though it had scorched him and looked at her askance, his expression of temporary bewilderment soon replaced by one of abject shock. Had she actually just declined his invitation? Impossible! He must have misheard her. Sebastian could not recall the last time a female had rejected his advances, whatever form they might happen to take. He looked at her with renewed interest. Jenkins and Trump meanwhile appared to be having difficulty maintaining their respective countenances, whilst both Lady Bevan and Beatrice let out small gasps of dismay.

'I beg your pardon,' said Sebastian in a level tone. 'Do I understand you to -'

'No, my lord, it is I who must ask for your pardon.'

Sebastian's eyes rested on the flowers at her waist as he attempted to come to terms with the fact that he had, for the first time ever, actually been cut. His eyebrows snapped together, causing him to look positively lethal, as the truth stuck home. He had been cut direct, in the middle of a ballroom in front of half the ton, by a mere chit of a girl.

He watched her as she impulsively made an embarrassing situation worse by plucking a loose bloom from the corsage at her waist and, standing on her toes, slipped it into his lapel. Lady Bevan groaned and clutched her daughter's arm for support. Sebastian, who found the whole situation exceedingly diverting, spared a moment's sympathy for Abby's aunt, well able to imagine the thoughts that must be running through her mind as she observed her niece committing several simultaneous faux pas.

'So, my lady,' said Sebastian, recovering and feeling a stab of admiration for the child's courage, 'do you really imagine that you can fob me off with a mere flower?'

'I did not mean to -'

'If so,' he mused, cutting across her explanation, 'you have badly miscalculated.'

It is only after publicly embarrassing Sebastian that Abby realises he is probably the only person in London capable of helping her to discover who it is that has made several attempts on her life. But how can she, an unmarried girl who hasn't yet even be presented, possibly approach one of the most notorious rakes in London?

To find out more look out for The Carstairs Conspiracy. All Hale books are available from www.halebooks.com.

Wendy Soliman

Friday, January 25, 2008

Romance in Russia

I am currently writing a trilogy — The Aikenhead Honours — which is set in various locations around Europe. Part of one of the stories is set in Russia, in St Petersburg. (This is the famous frontage of the Winter Palace, alongside the Hermitage, taken from the river Neva.)

I hadn’t ever been to Russia, so I arranged to go on a trip to the Baltic last summer, including three days in St Petersburg. I planned to do the same kind of research I always try to do. I do lots of reading beforehand. Then, on the spot, I take pictures and make tape recordings of information about the places I’m in. I also keep a detailed travel journal, and gather books, leaflets and souvenirs. My baggage always weighs far more on the trip home than it did on the way out, largely because it’s full of books.

It all started out really well. I had with me one of those tiny digital recorders and had managed to record much of the information the various guides were telling me. And I’d taken loads of pictures. Then, disaster. I dropped my camera while it was in the middle of saving a photograph. I’d dropped it before and it had survived OK. But not this time. Its close encounter with a granite path was fatal. The camera’s zoom stopped working properly and the focus became unreliable. Believe me, I could have wept. What’s the point in making a research trip to St Petersburg if you don’t have a working camera?

I resolved to do the best I could with what I had. Point, shoot, and hope. Result? I have loads of pictures, but many of them are unusable. Still, I do have some that are in focus, as you can see.

St Petersburg is an amazing place to visit. It suffered greatly during the Second World War and many of its palaces and monuments were destroyed. These have been painstakingly restored by Russian experts over the last 50 years at huge cost.

Palaces like the Peterhof (left) show visitors the lavish lifestyle of the Russian monarchy and aristocracy. Peter the Great intended it to rival Versailles. It certainly has some of the most impressive fountain systems that I have ever seen.

At the beginning of the 19th century, Russians measured their wealth by the number of serfs they owned. Edward Clark recorded in 1810 that some of the nobles had “70,000 or 100,000 peasants, paying, on average, 10 roubles annually, in specie.” Huge incomes were needed to support palaces like this, Tsarskoye Selo, originally built for the wife of Peter the Great.

Below is the Cameron Gallery, added by Catherine the Great, who spent huge sums on her palaces and their grounds. Unusually, this piece of architecture is plain white, in the Greek style.
And if you’re wondering why everything is painted is such bright colours, I’ll give you the explanation that the guide gave to me. In St Petersburg, the sun shines for fewer than 20 days a year so the buildings are painted to add a little brightness to life.

Best wishes
Joanna
http://www.joannamaitland.com

Thursday, January 24, 2008

A Debt of Honour



Eliza Fox, devastated by the death of her father and fiancé recovers by assuming control of the family estate. She crops her hair and rides astride – believing matrimony has no place in her life.
Lord Wydale, a notorious rakehell, wins Grove House from Edmund Fox who returns to his older sister hoping she can save their home.
Mr Fletcher Reed accompanies Wydale to Dedham, under the pretext of wishing to meet John Constable, instead he meets Eliza who steals his heart and makes him realize Wydale is a villain.
Eliza is attracted to Fletcher, but her sister is abducted by Wydale and she sends Fletcher away.
But can she save her sister and herself from ruin or will Fletcher come to her rescue?

This, my sixth book for Hale is due to be released on 29th February. It will be available from www.halebooks.com, postage free and for only £13.95, for the first few weeks.
I am just aobut to begin my thirteenth Regency - this one for My Weekly Pocket Books. I have just heard that finally the copies of The Mesalliance, that came out in LP on January 1st, will be with me tomorrow. Guess what my next blog will be about?
Fenella Miller
www.fenellajanemiller.co.uk

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Stormcrow Castle


I've just heard that Stormcrow Castle has won a Reviewers' Choice Award from Single Titles! I'm very pleased about this, as you can imagine, particularly because it's one of my favourite books. And the good news continues, because the same book has just had a good review from Publishers Weekly.

"Grange peppers her story with rich atmospheric details, from a masked ball to a cast of colorful locals. Fans of romantic suspense will enjoy this tale of intrigue and deception on the barren moors."


If you like Gothic romance, with gloomy castles and tortured heroes, then why not give Stormcrow Castle a try? You can find an extract on my website at www.amandagrange.com by clicking here

Amanda Grange

Friday, January 18, 2008

From Jane Jackson



I’m delighted to announce publication at the end of this month of my 24th book and 9th historical romance, Devil’s Prize.

Set against a background of the Revolutionary wars with France, Cornish smuggler Devlin “Devil” Varcoe braves ferocious winter weather and revenue men to fetch the contraband on which Porthinnis depends for survival.
Though drawn to Jenefer Trevanion, whose father finances the smuggling operation, Devlin is bewitched by beautiful wild-child, Tamara Gillis.
When fire destroys her home, killing her father, Jenefer is forced to work in the pilchard cellars.
Meanwhile, craving Tamara for himself, Thomas Varcoe, bitterly jealous of his brother, plots to kill him.
Rejected by Devlin, a pregnant Tamara is pressured by her mother to marry Thomas.
Betrayed by Thomas and captured by the customs cutter, Devlin negotiates freedom for himself and his crew by volunteering to rescue a British agent from France only to be caught in the worst storm in living memory.
It is only when he faces death that Devlin finally recognises the love he never believed he deserved. Then, within sight of the beach, disaster strikes, and he faces a terrible choice.


Excerpt:


He stayed where he was, holding the door and trying to ignore the quick clench in his gut. His attraction to her was wrong for both of them. He had plans for his future and they didn’t include her. He frowned.
“Are you mad, coming here like this? What do you think you’re doing?”
She swallowed. She had expected him to be surprised even irritated. But surely he realised she would never have called on him at home unaccompanied, not without a very good reason. “Getting wetter and colder, and wondering why I bothered.”
“Tamara, if this is your idea of a game - ”
“I don’t play games, Devlin. Not with you.”
His expression signalled disbelief. “Oh no?”
She tossed her head impatiently. “Of course I tease you. How else am I to get your attention? But I’m here now because of something I heard. Something you should know about. It’s important.”
“It could have waited until morning.” Damn the girl. What was he supposed to do? Shut the door in her face? Jenefer Trevanion wouldn’t dream of pulling a trick like this. She was a lady. While Tamara – how in the name of sweet Jesus did you describe Tamara? Able to mimic decorum when it suited her, her behaviour the rest of the time was determinedly unconventional. Yet for all that there was nothing common or vulgar about her. He almost wished there were. For then she would be easy to ignore, forget. Instead she had worked her way under his skin like a barb. Nuisance, irritant, impossible to dislodge she was …herself, unique. And should not be here.
“Oh yes?” Scorn lifted her brows. “I should call on you in broad daylight with all your neighbours watching? They’d enjoy that. Besides, how often are you at home in the daytime? If you’re not on a run you’re out fishing.” She shivered. “Look, are you going to invite me in or shall I just stand here and tell you? Of course it will be all round the village by tomorrow. But if you don’t mind everyone knowing your private business...”
“God’s blood, girl.” He wrenched the door wide. “It’s you they’ll be gossiping about.”
She shrugged, tilting her chin defiantly. “They’ve been doing that all my life.”
Ignoring the shadows in her eyes, telling himself they were caused by the wavering candle flame, he sucked in a ragged breath and clenched his teeth in frustration. Nobody had ever wrong-footed him the way she could – and did.
“If your parents had known what they were getting,” he stepped back, indicating with a jerk of his head that she should enter, “they’d have drowned you at birth.”
“Just think what you’d have missed.” She sailed past him, her shoes squelching as she snapped the umbrella closed and leaned it against the wall. Instantly a puddle formed on the wooden boards.
Closing the door he raked a hand through tousled curls still damp from his own soaking. “Do they know you’re here?”
“Who?”
He shot her a warning glare. “Your parents.”
Her brief wry glance gave him the answer. She fumbled the buttons on her coat, her fingers stiff and clumsy. “They’d only worry. Besides, this has nothing to do with them.”
“It’s late.“
“For heaven’s sake, it’s not even six o’clock yet.“
“But it’s dark. Tamara, you shouldn’t – “
“Do stop fussing, Devlin. I’m not a child.”
His gaze flicked from her heavy-lidded green eyes to her full mouth and down to the curves beneath her close fitting coat. He bit back an oath. She was young, not yet twenty. But she was right. That teasing gaze, husky voice and deliciously rounded body were certainly not those of a child.
She had come here of her own free will and more or less blackmailed her way inside. Trying to protect her reputation – such as it was – had won him no thanks. Indeed he had been ordered to stop fussing. So be it. She could go to the devil. Was probably well on her way already. Why should he worry? She was nothing to him. Oh no? His inner self mocked with bitter amusement. She fired his blood that was all. No, that wasn’t all. She was wild and unpredictable and he had trouble enough in his life.
He’d been enjoying women since he was fourteen. He’d learned how to give pleasure as well as take it: a valuable lesson that made conquest easy and left smiles and sighs when he moved on. But none had touched his heart. Nor would she.
Finally managing to unfasten her coat she pulled it off and dropped it across the table. Her hair hung about her shoulders, sodden tresses dripping water down the creamy swell of her breasts and soaking the lace that edged her bodice. She raised one arm to lift the dark curls off her neck and in the lamplight raindrops glistened on her face like diamonds.
As she looked up he turned away, his teeth clamped so tightly that his jaw ached. Deliberately increasing the distance between them he crossed to the hearth and dropped another log onto the bright flames.
“You might at least offer me a towel.” She forced the words through cold-numbed lips.
Anger roared through him: at her for coming here, at himself for being unable to retain his habitual detachment. She had invaded his home and when she had gone he would still see her here, still smell her delicate floral scent with its hint of lemon. So many of the women he went with smelled of fish. Snatching up the towel he had used he tossed it at her. She flinched as she caught it then swayed.
Devlin cursed under his breath. Her cheeks were pale as candle wax. “Here.” Grabbing her upper arm he pulled her forward. “Sit down before you fall down.”
“I’m perfectly all right.” But the words lacked her usual bite and she sank without protest into the wooden armchair. She just needed a moment and she’d be fine. Coming here had seemed the logical thing to do. She had a genuine reason. And an opportunity to see him alone if only for a few minutes was not to be turned down. Yet though she would cut off her tongue sooner than admit it, stepping over the threshold had taken far more nerve than she expected.
With his back to her he poured a small measure of cognac into a pewter mug then pushed it into her hand. “Drink this.”
She peered into the mug then up at him. “What is it?”
“Poison, what else? Surely your mother has warned you about men and their wicked ways?” Hearing the sarcasm in his tone he took a deliberate breath. “It’s cognac. Think of it as medicine. It will stop the shivers.”
Raising the mug she swallowed a mouthful, coughed, and pulled a face. “Ugh. It’s like drinking fire.” She thrust the mug at him.
Devlin found her violent shudder oddly reassuring. He had expected her to be accustomed to spirits. Most of the villagers used them as a cure-all. Brandy was rubbed on the gums of teething babies, added to bedtime milk to make children sleep, swallowed to ease hunger pangs, relieve the grief of bereavement or blot out the wretchedness of poverty.
“But it does the job. Are you feeling better?”
“I’m perfectly well, thank you,” Tamara lied. She tipped her head sideways and began to rub her hair with the towel, drawing on every ounce of willpower she possessed to force back the horrible dizziness. She was wet and chilled despite having run nearly all the way. Her heart was racing and though warmth from the brandy was creeping through her limbs, her head still felt light and strange. She needed a moment, just a moment, then she’d be fine.
Devlin watched her, relieved to see colour gradually returning to her cheeks. He knew all the little tricks that women employed to attract men or convey interest. He’d been a target more times than he could count. But there was nothing of the flirt in her action. In fact she seemed so absorbed in her own thoughts he might not have been there. What was she doing? What game was this? I don’t play games with you, Devlin. Exasperation flared – directed at himself as much as at her. Like hell she didn’t. He tried to look away but found himself transfixed by the gleam of her skin in the fire’s glow: soft curves and secret hollows, highlights and shadows. A log settled and flames rose. The soft sound broke the spell and increased his anger.
“Well?” His tone was brutal.
She looked up with a start. Her eyes were wide green pools, deep and
mysterious. Eyes a man could drown in. “This important information?” Even to his own ears he sounded unnecessarily grim. It was safer that way. “Are you going to tell me, or am I supposed to guess?”

Thursday, January 17, 2008

A Writer's Inspiration

Writers are often asked where their inspiration comes from so I thought I would try to show you what has inspired some of my own ideas. I live in a very beautiful part of England on the edge of the Pennines surrounded by wild, desolate landscapes. When I went out for a walk over the Christmas period I took my camera with me. Unfortunately it was a grey, wet day, so no dazzling winter snowscapes, just miles of open space.

The scenery here inspired me to write The Highclough Lady, the story of Verity Shore who inherits a house in just such an area. Even today it can seem bleak and harsh, and poor Verity is in danger from more than just nature. The picture on the left shows a typical steep-sided clough (pronounced “cluff”): you may just be able to make out the path, a straight line sloping down through the trees on the far side of the clough, separating the grazing land from the rock face. This is where I imagined Verity’s horse bolting, carrying her down the path with the sheer drop on one side: very exciting!

When I am following the bridleways and footpaths around here I think of how bad the roads must have been in the eighteenth and nineteenth century. The main coaching roads were in the best condition but even then it depended upon how well the local parish maintained them. There may have been cobbled streets through the towns but I
think long stretches would have been like the picture on the right, closely packed stone and mud. Imagine travelling in a coach over such a surface – no rubber tyres to cushion the ride! I have also included (below) a picture of a local crossroads, used now only by horses and the occasional small tractor. Many roads would have been like this, and the ravages of ice and rain would soon have torn apart the surface, making it almost impassable.
In A Rational Romance, my hero and heroine drive from London to Dover, then on to Paris: these days we think nothing of such a journey, but I am impressed when I consider how our ancestors travelled – the journey must have been quite gruelling. I admire their stamina.

I hope these pictures will give you some idea of how the countryside may have looked two hundred years ago: even Jane Austen’s Hampshire was not always the picture-postcard place we see when we visit today: I can just imagine Lizzie Bennett walking along lanes such as those above when she made her way to Netherfield to visit Jane: no wonder her petticoats were muddy!

Melinda Hammond

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

New Loveday Cover






I am thrilled that due to the increasing popularity of the Loveday Series the first book ADAM LOVEDAY is being re-issued in February with a fabulous new cover.Shown here with the sultry blonde woman on the front. The novel was first published in 1999 and has been in print ever since. This book introduces the family of three sets of cousins their loves, passions, rivalries, conflicts and adventures.

I am now writing the tenth book in the series and from the many emails and letters I receive from fans they all say that the Lovedays and their world have become part of their extended family

Review: 'Rich in drama and passion, with the atmosphere and flavour of eighteenth-centure Cornwall, ADAM LOVEDAY...is a story of family relationships that transcends time, and heralds the emergence of an exciting new storyteller' North Cornwall Advertiser,


The original cover shows the a woman's silhouette and the engie house of a tin mine. Which do you think is best?
More information on the series on my website.click here
Kate Tremayne

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Award


I am thrilled to announce that I have been given the Reviewers' Choice Award from Cataromance. Forbidden Lady/Anne Herries/ Harlequin Historicals.

Someone asked who had given the award. Cataromance is a Review and chat group on the Internet and their reviewers choose the books they liked best during the past year. Forbidden Lady/Anne Herries/Harlequin Historicals was given a really good review by them in April 2007.

Donkey riding and sea bathing in Brighton

Isn't January a gloomy month? I thought we'd head off to the seaside for the day!
I was interested to read what inspires Lynne Connolly when she is writing historical fiction. I often use paintings or prints as a starting point. When I was writing Lydia Bennet’s Story, this print presented me with an idea for a scene between Lydia and Mr Wickham.
Donkey riding was a very fashionable pursuit at this time and most popular with ladies; tours in a donkey cart could be taken out to the village of Rottingdean. This fad did not last long, the donkeys were soon replaced by ponies, which the ladies preferred.
Sea bathing (and drinking) was also popular as might be expected and was recommended as a health giving exercise. Ladies and gentlemen bathed in designated areas, firstly entering a bathing machine to change into a flannel gown before descending the steps to be ‘dipped’ in the water by the ‘dipper’.

There’s plenty of dippers and jokers,
And salt-water rigs for your fun
The King of them all is ‘Old Smoaker’
The Queen of ’em “Old Martha Gunn”.

The ladies walk out in the morn,
To taste of the salt-water breeze;
They ask if the water is warm,
Says Martha, “Yes, Ma’am, if you please.”

Old Brighton rhyme.

Here is an extract from the ‘Morning Herald’ August 28th 1806.

The beach this morning was thronged with ladies, all anxious to make interest for a dip. The machines, of course, were in very great request, though none could be run into the ocean in consequence of the heavy swell, but remained stationary at the water’s edge, from which Martha Gunn and her robust female assistants took their fair charges, closely enveloped in their partly coloured dresses, and gently held them to the breakers, which not quite so gently passed over them. The greatest novelty, however,….was in a Gentleman undressing himself on the beach, for the purpose of a ducking, in front of the town, attended by his lady, who sans diffidence, supplied him with napkins, and even assisted him in wiping the humid effects of his exercise from his brawny limbs, as he returned from the water to dress.

It is very typical of Lydia that she makes this comment on the view from her room at the Ship Inn where she is staying with her friend Harriet Forster.
'How wonderful is the sight of the sea, its sound so delicious on the ear and its vast waters swimming with gentleman bathers! We have rooms overlooking the water; which provide the most excellent looking post! It is heaven, indeed!'

Jane Odiwe

Monday, January 14, 2008

Regency invitations



Last year I happened to take a day off to go to London and visit The Foundling Museum, which tells the story of Britain's first foundling home for abandoned children, the brainchild of Thomas Coram and established in 1739. The exhibition was very interesting, telling the story of the hospital and what life would have been like for the children who grew up there.


For art lovers there are many interesting paintings, donated over the years, and originally encouraged by the artist William Hogarth who was one of the first governors of the hospital. The paintings were intended to encourage benefactors and in fact the Foundling Hospital was Britain's first public art gallery.


At last we came to the top floor where there is a room devoted to an exhibition about one of England's most famous composers, Handel. Handel was a governor and benefactor of the Foundling Hospital. As well as listening to works by Handel in some rather comfy armchairs, and looking at some original scores, my eyes were drawn to some invitations in one cabinet.

Dating from the turn of the 19th century were several original examples of concert invitations and tickets. I was struck that they did not simply have text but beautiful copperplate engravings. I shall certainly be making sure to include a wonderfully engraved invitation or ticket in a future Regency romance!

Kate Allan
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Sunday, January 13, 2008

Writing in two genres

As well as writing historical romance, I also write paranormal romance. The paranormals, being contemporary set, are often at a higher sensuality level than the historicals, so that's another difference.
The contemporaries are fairly new to me, but I was surprised at how well they went. True, paranormals are the new black - the bookstore shelves are crammed with them, and the newest names being touted for success do some kind of paranormal - Angela Knight, Lora Leigh, Nalini Singh and the rest.
But what does writing in two different genres mean to the writer?
Lots of things. For me, it's the chance to re-invent myself, write in different styles for different markets. I have always written historical romance, my first novel which I wrote when I was 13, was a historical romance (now, thank goodness, relegated to my mind since the manuscript is long gone). But I always wanted to do something set in the here and now, and I never got any real inspiration until I started to write the first paranormal.
I have found that my style naturally adapts to the genres, once I get myself in that mindset. I use music, more atmospheric than period-specific, for instance, Seal's "Kiss from a Rose" is a historical inspiration for me. I use my research to immerse me in the time, as well.
Now I'm about to start a new historical romance, the fourth Triple Countess book, I'm finding that coming to it fresh from two paranormals, "Topaz Delirium" and "Thunderfire," really gives me the impetus to move back to the ballroom!



Friday, January 11, 2008

The Carstairs Conspiracy

I'm pleased to announce that my fourth Regency romance, The Carstairs Conspiracy, is being published by Robert Hale at the end of January.


Abigail Carstairs suspects that someone is trying to kill her. As sole heir to the late Duke of Penrith's vast estate she can only surmise that her fortune is her aggressor's objective but cannot accept that any of her relations are culpable.


In desperation she turns to the notorious Lord Sebastian Denver. Unable to deny a lady in distress Sebastian inveigles his way into Abby's hunting lodge, where all the prime suspects are gathered. However, distracted by his growing attraction towards Abby, he is unprepared when a further attempt is made on her life.

Sebastian must now delve into Abby's past, laying a daring trap for her aggressors in a race against time to keep her safe.

All Hale books can now be purchased on line from www.halebooks.com.

The Carstairs Conspiracy - ISBN 978-0-7090-8485-3 - A must for all conspiracy enthusiasts!

Wendy Soliman

Sense and Sensibility costumes



Some of the costumes from the new adaptation of Sense and Sensibility will be on display at Chawton House, the home of Jane Austen, which is now a museum. The display will run from 8th March for eight weeks. You can find more details by clicking here


And don't forget, if you'd like a chance of winning some of our signed books, then subscribe to our newsletter. Send a blank e-mail by clicking here and we'll do the rest.

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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Resting in the Regency




The uncomfortable day-bed was where simpering misses could collapse, waving their fans - or perhaps while away an hour or two reading a lurid novel. I think the chair would have been a better option. The carved feet make both items of furniture look as if they could run away with the occupant at any moment.
'The Mesalliance', my fourth book for Robert Hale, came out on the 1st January in Large Print and I had hoped to be able to post the new cover today, but I haven't seen it yet. However it should be in a library next month, as are all my books.
I hope everyone had a good break and will have a happy and peaceful 2008.
Fenella Miller

Monday, January 07, 2008

Sense and Sensibility Part 2!


We are now two episodes in to the new BBC adaptation of Sense and Sensibility with one more left to go and I must confess that, like Anne, I am enjoying it immensely. The book had never been one of my favourites amongst Jane Austen’s novels and I seem to be one of the few people who weren’t enchanted by the 1995 film but I love this version. Andrew Davies commented in a recent interview that he had fleshed out the male characters in this adaptation and it shows. Edward Ferrers is much less bumbling and Colonel Brandon is masterful. The conversation between Brandon and Willoughby in Part 2 was a classic of male aggression barely cloaked in Regency courtesy!

The BBC Drama website has interviews with some of the cast and in them they raise some interesting issues about the period. Hattie Morahan, who plays Elinor, comments on the limited range of activities available to ladies at the time. When they were trying to decide what they should be doing in some of the scenes they only had a choice of playing cards, or sewing, reading or painting. She comments that unless you were a lady of enquiring mind looking to develop your interests, you would be lost. Charity Wakefield, who plays Marianne, sees her as the type of character who loves the outdoors and feels confined inside, penned in with other people, and again sees the conventions of the time chafing for a woman like that and creating some of the conflict between Marianne’s character and the dictates of society.


There are also fascinating interviews with the costume and make up people, giving an insight into their research and how they suited the choice of clothes to the individual characters. Click here for the site. Sense and Sensibility concludes in the UK on January 13th and is planned to show on PBS in the US on 30th March and 6th April.

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Sunday, January 06, 2008

Newsletter 2008

As many blog readers know, we run a monthly email newsletter which tells
readers about our new releases, as well as containing Regency snippets and
author news.

To celebrate 2008 we're going to be adding a new feature to our newsletters by running exclusive competitions as well.

So if you'd like a chance of winning signed books, subscribe to the newsletter! It's easy to do and you can unsubscribe at any time. Just send a blank e-mail by clicking here and we'll do the rest.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Sense & Sensibility part one


My latest saga. Artwork copyright of Severn House


I have to say that I actually loved this version of Sense and Sensibility. Brandon looks younger and more like a Regency hero in this one, and I think Marianne's reaction was changed a little too. She did not deny him as vehemently as she normally does, which made it reasonable for Brandon to have hope of her and to be disappointed when she so obviously fell for the dashing young hero who carried her down the hill. He at least looked like a villain from the start and personally I would take Brandon over him anyday - but I am not Marianne's age. It may not be the version for the purist but I found it compelling viewing. I continue to be hooked on these films no matter how often they make them. However, I have a film of an earlier version and I think I prefer this one over the last

Friday, January 04, 2008

Sense and Sensibility 08 - Part 1

Andrew Davies caused a stir with the opening minute or two of Sense and Sensibility, but the adaptation quickly settled down into more familiar territory. There were some excellent moments, John and Fanny Dashwood being the stars of the episode for me. They were very well cast and, despite Austen's wonderful line about annuities being omitted, they were funny and awful in equal measure.

I thought Edward was too confident and Brandon too likeable. I would have preferred to come to know them more gradually, as the Dashwoods do, but this was perhaps because the entire adaptation is only three hours long. I thought Willoughby was not instantly loveable enough. However, I will be tuning in again for Episode 2!

Perhaps the best bit of the show was the scenery. I thought it was a good idea to set Barton Cottage on the coast. It was a bit of artistic licence, perhaps, but easily believable, because so much of Devon is on the coast, and I thought it showcased the English coast wonderfully.

"Barton Cottage" is actually Blackpool Mill which, despite its name, is not in Blackpool, but in North Devon, on the Hartland Abbey estate. The Hartland Abbey website is well worth a visit - click here to visit it - particularly as it has a page devoted to information about the filming of Sense and Sensibility. Apparently, the outside of the cottage was changed so that it was almost unrecognisable, to make it look older. There are more photos on the Hartland website.

But best of all, "Barton Cottage" is a holiday home and is available to rent! So if you fancy pretending to be Elinor or Marianne this year, check out the Hartland Abbey website for details.

So what did you think of this adaptation?

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Thursday, January 03, 2008

A Good Start to the New Year





I was delighted to receive two excellent reviews for A Rational Romance over the Christmas period. It is always cheering to find others enjoy reading my books as much as I enjoy writing them, and these glowing reviews gave me a real boost at this very drear and dismal time of the year. I am now fired up to get back to work writing even more! If you want to read these reviews, the links are below:-

http://redrosesforauthors.blogspot.com/2007/12/rational-romance.html

http://www.singletitles.com/index.php?p=230%20.

England 1803.

Elliot Malvern, seventh Marquis of Ullenwood is very content with his bachelor lifestyle, spending his fortune on the pleasurable pursuits of gambling and mistresses: Rosamond Beaumarsh is determined to remain unmarried and independent.

What, then, could persuade them plunge into an adventure that carries them to post-revolutionary Paris and takes them on a headlong flight across France?

Only the exercise of logic. The pair embark upon a romantic adventure and learn that rational thought has very little to do with true love……


A Happy New Year to you all, and I hope 2008 is a very good year for us all.

Melinda Hammond

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Coming in 2008 . . .

We don't have all the details of our 2008 releases, but here are some to whet your appetite!

Kate Tremayne
Adam Loveday, the first in the Loveday series reissued by Headline(February)
The Loveday Secrets, number nine in the series published by Headline (May)

Wendy Soliman
The Carstairs Conspiracy published by Hale(January)
A Bittersweet Proposal, all about a young woman struggling to keep her latefather´s cider business profitable, published by Hale (Summer)

Fenella-Jane Miller
The Mesalliance, Large Print published by Thorpe (January)
A Debt of Honour, published by Robert Hale (February) and by http://www.regencyreads.com/ (February)
A Country Mouse, published by Linford Romance (April)
Lord Thurston's Challenge, Large Print published by Thorpe (Summer)
The House Party published by Robert Hale (July) and by http://www.regencyreads.com/(July)
The Reluctant Bride, My Weekly published by DC Thomson (Summer) and www.regencyreads.com (Summer)

Anne Herries
The Unknown Heir published by Harlequin Mills and Boon

Nicola Cornick
The Last Rake in London published by Harlequin Mills and Boon (May)
Unmasked published by HQN Books (July)

Jane Jackson
Devil's Prize published by Robert Hale (January)

Amanda Grange
Stormcrow Castle Large Print published by Ulverscroft (January - out today!)
Captain Wentworth's Diary published in paperback by Penguin in the US (May)
Edmund Bertram's Diary published by Penguin in paperback in the US (August)
Colonel Brandon's Diary published by Robert Hale in hardback (2008)

Louise Allen
The Dangerous Mr Ryder published by Harlequin Mills and Boon(2008)
The Outrageous Lady Felsham published by Harlequin Mills and Boon(2008)
The Shocking Lord Standon published by Harlequin Mills and Boon(2008)
There will also be another three titles in the series, Those Scandalous Ravenhursts, a set of six books focusing on the loves and adventures of seven cousins.

Lynne Connolly
The third Triple Countess book, Met By Chance out in February from Samhain.
Further 2008 releases, but I don't have details yet

Jane Odiwe
Lydia Bennet's Story will be published by Sourcebooks in the US

Melinda Hammond
More than a Governess published by Harlequin Mills and Boon in the Us (April) under the name of Sarah Mallory
The Belles Dames Club and A Rational Romance Large Print




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