Thursday, October 30, 2008

Inns in Regency England

Regency romance fiction often has an incident or event taking place in a country inn in England. The first thirty years of the nineteenth century saw the growth of such hostelries as the rise of coach and post-chaise travel expanded and peaked.
I really like to read contemporary descriptions which help inspiration for writing. The first is by the English writer, George Borrow. army of servants... was kept; waiters, chambermaids, grooms, postillions, shoe-blacks, cooks, scullions, and what not, for there was a barber and hair-dresser who had been at Paris, and talked French with a cockney accent...Jacks creaked in the kitchens turning round spits, on which large joints of meat piped and smoked before great fires. There was running up and down stairs, and along galleries, slamming of doors, cries of "Coming, sir," and "Please to step this way, ma'am," during eighteen hours of the four and twenty. Truly a very great place for life and bustle was this inn.

The next description is from an American writer, Henry Tuckerman.

The coffee room of the best class of English inns, carpeted and curtained, the dark rich hue of old mahogany, the ancient plate, the four-post bed, the sirloin or mutton joint, the tea, muffins, Cheshire and Stilton, the ale, the coal-fire and The Times, form an epitome of England; and it is only requisite to ponder well the associations and history of each of these items to arrive at what is essential in English history and character. The impassable divisions of society are shown...the time-worn aspect of the furniture is eloquent of conservatism; the richness of the meats and strength of the ale explain the bone and sinew of the race; the tea is fragrant with Cowper's memory, and suggestive of East India conquests; the cheese proclaims a thrifty agriculture, the bed and draperies comfort, the coal manufactures; while The Times is the chart of English enterprise, division of labour, wealth, self-esteem, politics, trade, court-life, "inaccessibility to ideas" and bullyism.

I can think of a few inns still existing today which still embody most of the above and where, as you walk in, the ghosts of the past seem thick in the air about you.

The top print shows the west country mails at the Gloucester coffee house, Piccadilly, an engraving after James Pollard, and the second shows a bedroom at an inn from Eugene Lami's Voyage en Angleterre, 1830.

Jane Odiwe

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Alluring Secrets

I have a new release this month! Alluring Secrets, the story of Severus and Penelope! It hit number four on the Samhain top ten this week, the highest I've ever been!

Severus Granville, Earl of Swithland, finds himself dealing with a wholly unfamiliar urge—to settle down and produce an heir. But among the bevy of beauties vying for his attention, none hold his interest except for one: Penelope. Clumsy, intelligent, appealing Penelope is the one woman with whom he could escape…but she’s expected to marry another.
Afraid she’ll be labeled an unmarriageable bluestocking, Penelope’s family forces her to go without her badly needed spectacles in public, and to hide her intelligence. Though she has loved Severus for years, the best she can hope for is a loveless union with a perfectly suitable—and perfectly boring—cousin. Except Severus seems to have changed his mind.
Hours spent in his rooftop observatory leads to a passion they couldn’t deny. Yet just as their eyes are opened to the possibility of lasting love, Penelope is embroiled in a plot to destroy her family and take her away from Severus forever.
If he wants to keep his heart’s treasure, Severus will have to fight for her with everything within him—mind, body and soul.

His hands stilled, and his head bowed over the papers. “Yes, but on an amateur basis. I’m an enthusiast, not a Newton.”
Rising, she went over to him, and looked at the papers. It was difficult to make anything out in the dusky light but she could make out symbols and colored diagrams, as meaningless to her as her graphs had been to him earlier. “I’m trying to map Venus,” he told her. “I don’t think I’ll be able to, but it gives me a reason to come up here and look.”
“I have every confidence in you.” With one finger, she gently traced the curves of a gleaming brass instrument lying in a case on the table. “A sextant,” he told her. “They use them at sea to calculate their position.”
“It’s lovely.” The gleaming curves fascinated her. She looked up at him and realized he was watching her, not the sextant, in what she could only describe as a noticing way. He seemed to be looking at her with a new awareness. She felt the same. “They do have a—a beauty of their own, don’t they?” Suddenly shy, she looked down.
He reached out, put a finger under her chin and guided it up, so she met his intent gaze. “It seems appropriate.”
“At least you don’t look right through me.”
All humor gone, he glared at her. “Who does that?”
She tried to smile, but failed and settled for a shrug. “Most people do. Women don’t see me as a rival in their matrimonial aspirations.”
“Why not?”
She was astonished by his response. That should have been obvious, she thought. “Look at me. Add that to my clumsiness, and social ineptitude and you can see why they do that. They think I’m slow, they laugh at me. I don’t mind, really I don’t, but I don’t court their company, either.”
He looked at her, studying her until she felt uncomfortably warm. Then he lifted a hand from her arm and caressed her cheek. She didn’t mean to, but she leant into his hand, loving the feeling of being cherished, however false.
Because she’d closed her eyes for a moment she missed his bending his head to hers, but she felt the soft pressure of his lips. He slid his hand around her neck, and when she didn’t withdraw, touched her lips with his tongue. She shuddered, and heat spread through her. When she opened her mouth slightly, he took advantage of it, sliding his tongue just between them to taste her.
Toby had kissed her once, about three years ago, a kiss stolen in the orchard one summer. She’d allowed it, but escaped soon afterwards and felt no inclination to repeat the experience. Sev’s kiss wasn’t like that. It felt wonderful, as unlike Toby’s wet, messy embrace as possible. Penelope responded instinctively, reaching up to hold on to him. His response was to draw her closer and deepen the kiss.
Penelope tasted the brandy on his lips and knew that if he wasn’t drunk, he was well-to-go. She didn’t care. If he hadn’t been, he would not be kissing her like this, in this hot, demanding way that drove tingles to the tips of her toes. He broke the kiss, took a quick breath and returned to the fray. He caressed the back of her neck, his fingers moving slowly over the small curls clustered there. He seemed to be enjoying himself. Or perhaps, Penelope thought cynically, he wanted flirting without any expectations. If he’d done this with any one of the other young ladies in the house, taken her up to a private room and then kissed her, she would have expected a proposal of marriage in the morning. Penelope wouldn’t insist, wouldn’t tell anyone or demand anything from him that he wasn’t willing to give. With one small touch of his lips against hers, he drew back, and gazed at her, his eyes dark in the gloom. They were both breathing quicker, and Penelope followed his gaze to see her breasts rising and falling above her tight-laced, low-cut evening gown. “Sir?”
“Sev. Penelope, I’m sorry, I don’t know what came over me—”
Was he apologizing because he remembered, rather belatedly, that he was a gentleman, or because he didn’t find the kiss interesting? “Sev, I—no, I’m sorry. I don’t expect—well, I’m not officially—” She stopped, floundering.
“It makes me wish you were,” he murmured, still too close to her for comfort. He rested his forehead against hers before drawing back. His gaze remained intent on hers as he withdrew his hand from her neck and touched her face, drawing his fingers down her cheek and tracing the line of her lips.
She stared up at him, the dim starlight softening his face. She wasn’t averse to another kiss, but she was unsure what to do. Should she behave like a lady, and deny all pleasure, or invite further caresses and perhaps the sobriquet of wanton?
Her experience didn’t extend this far. Nobody had looked at her in such a caressing way, or shown any inclination to kiss her. She’d assumed her lot in life was to be taken for granted and perhaps laughed at for her clumsiness. Now she was rapidly reassessing that. If such a connoisseur of women as Severus Granville took notice of her, she must have something worth looking at.
He bent to kiss her once more, this time briefly. “I didn’t mean this to happen. I wanted to reciprocate—show you my obsession. Believe me, this isn’t an attempt at seduction. It’s just that I haven’t—noticed you before this visit and I like what I see. Very much. I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be.” The words were out before she could suppress them. “I’m glad you wanted to show me this. And it was only a kiss.”
“Yes.” His mouth twisted up at one corner. “Only a kiss.”

Alluring Secrets - the Second in the Secrets trilogy
True Love Sees With The Heart
ISBN: 978-1-60504-214-5
From Samhain Publishing

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A Reason to Rebel

I´m very excited to share my good news with you. My latest Regency romance, A Reason to Rebel, has been accepted for publication by Samhain in America. It will appear as an e-book in April 2009 and then as a paperback in February 2010.

The book examines the difficulties faced by a young widow. Left penniless by her late husband her father tries to force her into another marriage in order to further his own ambitions. Estelle is dutiful to a fault but this time she has been pushed too far and has a reason to rebel. She flees to the estate of Alexander, Viscount Crawley, posing as Miss Tilling, a displaced governess, and takes up a position as companion to Lord Crawley´s mother. These are the thoughts that pass through Alex´s head at his first sight of her.

Miss Tilling was attired in a russet-coloured travelling gown. It was trimmed with green braid and complemented with a matching bonnet that struggled to contain an abundance of wayward auburn curls. Several had escaped and trailed across her shoulders in arresting spirals but if Miss Tilling noticed their rebellious turn she did not attempt to rectify the situation. To Alex´s eye her costume appeared rather grand for a governess. He would have expected something more serviceable and less fashionable, but the colour became her so well that he did not dwell upon the incongruity.

The girl was exceptionally thin and walked slowly up the steps to the door which Phelps was holding open for her. She leanred heavily on the coachman´s arm the whole time. Alex raised a brow. Either she really was unwell or she was an exception actress. She drew closer to his vantage point and he suspected it was the former, as what little he could see of her face beneath the wide brim of her bonnet was deathly pale.

As though sensing his presence she lifted her head at that precise moment and turned it in his direction. Alex let out an oath of astonishment. He could see her features more clearly now but had not been prepared to encounter such wild beauty. His preconceived notion that all governesses had a duty to be unremarkable was immediately brought into question.

She looked exhausted, ready to drop with fatigue. Any air of vulnerability clung to her and her expression hinted at a great sadness. It overwhelmed Alex with a desire to banish whatever demons afflicted her and persuade her to smile. Miss Tilling´s features softened by a genuine smile would, he suspected, be an experience worth the effort it required to bring it about. He quickly suppressed the thought. She was to be a temporary guest in his house, a house in which he would spend precious little time over the next few weeks. Provided Miss Tilling proved to be an acceptable companion for his mother, naturally.

But still his eyes did not leave her person. Miss Tilling had resumed her ascent of the steps and he could no longer see her face but that was no impediment to his imaginatiion. The appearance of her arresting eyes seemed intent upon lingering in his mind, tormenting him with their compelling expression. They were quite the most remarkable eyes he had ever encountered in a female face. If this creature really had been dismissed from her position Alex had no difficulty in believing that a jealous wife had seized upon her illness as an excuse to remove temptation for her husband´s path. What man worthy of the name would be able to resist the allure of such exquisitely displaced features, enhanced by those damned eyes? They were expressive pools, blinking with a combination of curiosity and intelligence as she took in her surroundings.

But what colour were they? For some inexplicable reason it was important that he should know. Hazel to complement the hue of her hair he would be willing to wager, although he could not tell from this distance. What he did know as that in the brief seconds they had turned in his direction he could feel the weight of a great sorrow in their reflection. Something more than a slight fever afflicted this child if he was any judge. Once again he felt the overpowering need to act as her protector. For the second time in less than a minute he found himself desirous of witnessing her remarkable features enchanced by a smile.

Well, it would seem that Estelle has made quite an impression upon her host, without even being aware of it.

More next time.

Wendy Soliman

Saturday, October 25, 2008

A trilogy in four parts!

I have just finished writing the third story in my Regency trilogy, The Aikenhead Honours so I can now give you provisional publication dates.

In the USA and Canada, the three stories are to be published in consecutive months. Dominic’s story — His Cavalry Lady — should be published in March 2009; Leo’s story — His Reluctant Mistress — should be published in April 2009; Jack’s story, the third (but not final!) part of the trilogy — His Forbidden Liaison — should be out in May 2009.

In the UK, His Cavalry Lady was published last month (September 2009). The hardbacks of books two and three will be out in the same months as the North American editions. The paperbacks will be in the shops two months later: that’s His Reluctant Mistress in June 2009 and His Forbidden Liaison in July 2009, though they will probably be available earlier on the Mills & Boon website.

I’m afraid I have no information yet about dates in other markets such as Australia/NZ but I’ll let you know as soon as I hear anything. And I’m sorry that those UK readers who have already read Dominic’s story will have to wait so long for the next one. I admit it’s my fault; I just couldn’t write them any faster.

As I said, this is to be a trilogy in four parts! Yes, I do know that’s a contradiction in terms. It happened like this. There are actually four heroes in these books: the three Aikenhead brothers (Dominic, Leo and Jack) and Ben, Jack’s best friend. Together, the four of them make up the Aikenhead Honours spying ring. I hadn’t intended to give Ben his own story, but my editor suggested I might like to write it as a novella, for Harlequin’s new historical e-book line, Undone. So that’s what I’m planning to do. And that’s why this trilogy will, in the end, have four parts.

I hope that you enjoy them all. There is already an extract of Dominic’s book on my website. My next task is to put up extracts of Leo’s book and Jack’s. As for Ben’s story… Well, I have to write that one first! I’m hoping that the e-book will be published at the same time as Jack’s story, in May 2009, on the Harlequin website, so that you don’t have to wait to find out what happens. After all, it's potentially a matter of life and death, since he has a bullet in him...


Friday, October 24, 2008

The House Party - now an e-book.

I am delighted to be able to say that my latest regency from Robert Hale is now released as an e-book with What a wonderful cover they have found for it. I wish I knew where they find these images.
The House Party is there for you to read in three different formats! Robert Hale, hard back, to buy at amazon or any bookshop; to borrow from the UK library; and now to download as an e-book.
This is the sixth e-book has put up for me -and I love all the covers. I wish I could say that about all my other books.
Fenella Miller

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Rake's Rebellious Lady

This is my new book with Mills & Boon. Published in paperback in December. I am about to sign a new contract with M&B, which will take me up to fifty books. I find it hard to believe that I shall soon acheive something I would once have thought impossible.

I continue to write sagas as well as historical and my total list, including ebooks, is now over one hundred books published. Wow!

I was interested in the post about Mr Darcy. It seems that the appeal of the Regency continues to strengthen. I wonder why. It can't be just the clothes - can it? I admit those tight trousers have something to do with it.

I shall soon have a new contest on my website because I have copies of The Rake's Rebellious Lady to give away. LOL Linda/Anne

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Mr Darcy Gift Set

I'm taking a break from Henry Tilney's Diary to tell you about The Mr Darcy Gift Set, available from the Jane Austen Centre in Bath.

The set contains:
- Mr. Darcy's Diary by Amanda Grange - allow him to tell you how ardently he admires and loves her.
- Mr Darcy Bookmark - Our favourite and best-selling Darcy item
- Mr Darcy Magnet - with Pride and Prejudice quotation
- Mr Darcy Keyring - So he will be with you wherever you go.
- Mr Darcy Luxury Writting set - Scribe as the mistress of Pemberly
- Mr Darcy Portrait Postcard

I was really excited to see that Mr Darcy's Diary was a part of the set and I hope it brightens up a lot of stockings this Christmas. What better present for the Darcy fan in your life!

Amanda Grange

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Meeting My Characters

I usually create the physical appearance of my heroes and heroines out of my imagination and whatever is lurking in my subconscious and rarely from photographs, but, for some reason, with the Regency continuity I am working on with five other authors, I keep stumbling over images that match my imagination in quite extraordinary detail.

The heroes of my two books in the series are brothers – serious Marc (right) and Bad Boy Hal (below).

I’d been thinking about them and they were becoming strangely familiar – and then I found them sitting in my ‘Faces Folder’ where they've been for more than five years. Now they are pinned up above my desk supervising my writing and making it to hard to concentrate sometimes. I hadn’t looked in that folder for ages, yet they’d obviously made themselves at home in my head.

Then, even though he isn't one of my heroes, I found I keep seeing Stephano, the mysterious dark man who haunts the entire series. First I spotted him in the Canadian Olympic men’s synchronised diving team, then I caused a minor domestic incident in the middle of Dijon (in the rain) by insisting that my husband photograph him modelling on a Diesel perfume poster in a posh beautician’s window and now he has appeared as Mr January in the French rugby team’s steamy Dieux de Stade 2009 calendar.

And further marital disharmony was caused by my spotting Julia, Hal’s heroine, in a Dijon museum and wanting her photographed, despite the fact that she was behind glass and thoroughly awkward to capture. The attendant was obviously in full sympathy with DH’s muttered monologue while he wrestled with filters and lenses, but I didn’t feel up to explaining, in French, why I was being so thoroughly difficult when the museum was full of much easier subjects!
Louise Allen

Saturday, October 18, 2008

More about colours - Ultramarine

Until 1836 the colour ultramarine used by artists was obtained by grinding the stone lapis lazuli. Ultramarine means over the sea and was so named because this rock, used by the ancient Egyptians to cure melancholy, enhance intelligence and confer the wisdom to use it, was first found in one place, above 5000 metres, in the mountains of Afghanistan. To protect the mines and deter thieves, any who were caught were put to death. Even the miners worked chained to the walls of the shaft. It is the tiny crystals of pyrite, that look like stars in a midnight sky, that prove the stone is true lapis. One company still makes the pigment using the ancient method. First, small pieces are heated then quenched. Now brittle, the material is ground and washed. Next, the washed pigment is mixed with dough formed from a little wax, rosin and linseed oil. The dough is kneaded in a weak solution of soda lye. The alkaline water extracts the finest particles of colour which settle out while the dough retains the impurites. This extraction can be repeated several times, but the first produces the purest and deepest colour.

Orpiment: Pigment of Gold. Used from the earliest civilsations, it was claimed that this could only be lightened by using white made from burned hartshorn, (deer antler) also used in Regency times added to water to revive ladies suffering from fits of the vapours. Orpiment is also known as arsenic yellow, which is a warning in itself. Nor should it be touched with an iron knife. (I haven't yet managed to find out what would happen if you did.) One form is known as King's Yellow. The other is red orpiment, sometimes called Realgar. Both are poisonous, not reliably permanent, and have only limited compatibility with other pigments. Painting has probably become considerably safer since they were replaced by synthetic colours.

Jane Jackson

Friday, October 17, 2008

Travelling fast!

Continuing the theme of transport, Jane Austen's heroes might drive a sleek, speedy curricle,

Georgette Heyer's Regency Bucks will aspire to a high perch phaeton:

as a writer of historical novels there isn't a lot of scope for fast cars, so writing Moonshadows gave me the opportunity to mix history with a modern day love story, and to think about more modern modes of transport. Recently I spent some time driving a Porsche and was transported (if you will excuse the pun) back to the months I spent writing Moonshadows. Roof down, wind in my hair, lots of speed – I loved it! Okay so it wasn't a yellow Porsche like the one Piers wanted to give to Jez, but it is sleek, smart and powerful – a bit like my heroes, actually.


Thanks to Sam and Porsche Centre, Bolton.

Melinda Hammond
PS - the car isn't quite mine - yet!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Reprint News

THE LOVEDAY TRIALS was first published in 2001 and is book three of the Loveday Series. It is currently out of stock at the publisher's warehouse but due to continuing popularity and demand the good news is that it will be re-printed at the end of the year. All other titles in the series are available so no new fans will miss any of the Loveday romances or adventures.

Kate Tremayne

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Travelling in Regency England

I was thinking about Lynne's post yesterday and about the elements that might go into telling a Regency romance. I find illustrations very inspiring and I thought you might like this one by the illustrator of Jane Austen's books, Hugh Thomson.

Travelling in Regency England was just as hazardous as it is today. Apart from the possibilities of carriages overturning, if you were to travel for any distance you had to consider where you might stay on route. Not all coaching inns had the same level of comfort; bad food and uncomfortable beds, perhaps riddled with lice, were some of the hazards you might have to encounter.

Sharing a carriage could be equally troublesome for a lot of people, especially if they did not enjoy the close proximity of their fellow travellers. I love this poem by Swift.

Roused from sound sleep-thrice called-at length I rise,
Yawning, stretch out my arm, half close my eyes,
By steps and lanthorn enter the machine,
And take my place-how cordially-between
Two aged matrons of excessive bulk,
To mend the matter, too, of meaner folk;
While in like mood, jammed in on t'other side,
A bullying captain and a fair one ride,
Foolish as fair, and in whose lap a boy-
Our plague eternal, but her only joy.
At last, the glorious number is complete,
Steps in my landlord for that bodkin seat;
When soon, by every hillock, rut and stone,
Into each other's face by turns we're thrown.
This grandam scolds, that coughs, the captain swears,
The fair one screams and has a thousand fears,
While our plump landlord, trained in other lore,
Slumbers at ease nor yet ashamed to snore...
Sweet company! Next time, I do protest, sir,
I'd walk to Dublin ere I'd ride to Chester.

Jane Odiwe

Monday, October 13, 2008

Create Your Own Regency Romance

Somewhat lighthearted, so don't take it too seriously!

Writing a Regency Romance (excluding Scottish romances)
Choose one of the following in each section.

The hero is:
1. A rake about town
2. An army officer (captain or above, please, no lieutenants)
3. A widower with small children
4. A pirate duke (marquis or earl will do at a pinch)
5. A spy who is also a peer of the realm

The hero is never:
1. Geeky, spotty or bald.
2. overweight
3. Reasonably cautious and sensible.
4. Shorter than the heroine.
5. If he wears spectacles, he isn’t dependant on them and can lose them at convenient times without any ill effects.

The heroine is:
1. A clever, beautiful ingénue
2. A bookworm not interested in society or husband hunting
3. An older spinster looking for a husband for her beautiful younger sister
4. A governess or housekeeper, usually the daughter of a peer fallen on hard times
5. A young girl forced to wear a male disguise and work as a secretary/groom or something similar.
6. A young American heiress, despising English society.
7. A highwayman/urchin/thief by night, a respectable member of society by day.
8. A young woman fighting to save her family from financial ruin, caused by the gambling habit of her brother or father, or even both.

The heroine is never:
1. A respectable young woman with a good fortune looking for a future husband.
2. A war widow, who has lost her husband in the Napoleonic wars and has now returned to society.
3. The daughter of a City gentleman, looking to increase her social standing. This is Bad because it makes her look mercenary.
4. Less than stunningly beautiful, clever and accomplished, even if she tries to hide these facts at the start of the story.

They meet:
1. In a country inn, where they get snowed in.
2. In a ballroom, where she hates him on sight.
3. At the gates of a country house, where she mistakes him for the gardener or he mistakes her for a maid.
4. On the road, he in his phaeton, she in her travelling carriage.
5. At the altar.
6. In a gaming hell where she is the stake.
7. At a secluded lake where the heroine or hero is taking an impromptu bath.

They never meet:
1. By being introduced by their parents, who want to see if they would like to make a match of it.
2. By promenading in the park at the fashionable hour.
3. They have always known each other, because society is small, and they are, in fact, distantly related.

1. Hate each other on sight, but are filled with lustful thoughts
2. He loves her, she hates him.
3. She loves him, he hates her.

They never;
1. Take a liking to each other without it being accompanied by lustful thoughts.

Note: 2 and 3 must be accompanied by a Big Misunderstanding. They must always fancy each other’s pants off on sight, or It Isn’t A Romance.

The first time they make love is:
1. In the marriage bed (boring unless they met for the first time at the altar)
2. In a small antechamber set conveniently close to a ballroom
3. In a summerhouse
4. In a small cottage where they’ve taken refuge from the storm
5. In his library where she has gone in the middle of the night, barefoot, in search of a book to read. He is already there in his shirtsleeves, drinking.

The villain:
Choose one or two of the following:
1. The hero’s brother who wants the title. He is usually handsome, etc, but not as handsome etc as the hero.
2. The hero’s ex mistress (see below)
3. The heroine’s father. He is usually a gambler who has lost the family fortune and now wants to sell the heroine in a card game.
4. A man who wants the heroine, but isn’t prepared to marry her. He may abduct her, take her to Gretna, etc. to achieve his wicked end. He will not rape her, though it is usually a near thing. He often seems to be a pleasant character.

Secondary characters:
1. The hero’s best friend. Usually another peer, with a set of problems of his own. He will get his own story later. Repeat as necessary to create a series.
2. The heroine’s sister. She provides plot problems, adds comments, and is there because she’ll get her book later.
3. The heroine’s closest friends. See heroine’s sister.
4. The hero’s ex mistress. Jealous, experienced, may be the villain. When she is not, she is always jealous of the heroine, and she plots against her.

You may pick as many of the following as you wish, to give color to your story:
1. An urchin, cheeky but very poor, a boon companion of the hero or heroine. This may be actually the heroine in disguise.
2. An old retainer, a maid who used to be the heroine’s nurse. She is referred to by her Christian name and magically has all the skills required of a good lady’s maid.
3. A valet. He may be either scoundrelly and talk with Dick Van Dyke Mockney, or superior, and talk like Jeeves.
4. A butler. Superior, tall, talks like Jeeves, or short and fat and an old retainer who knows all the family by their first names, prefaced by “Miss” or “Master.”
5. A Bow Street Runner, usually less intelligent than the hero or heroine. Always on the side of good, he is upright and honest (unlike the usual run of BSR’s in RL)
6. An old man, who the heroine is required to marry to restore the family fortunes.

I have to confess to using one or two of these myself in my time. So what are you waiting for?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Guest blogger - Janet Mullany

Janet Mullany's new Regency, Rules of Gentility, is something different. Here Janet talks about her writing, her love of the Regency period, and of course her new book.

Thanks for having me as your guest here today and allowing me to talk about myself--oh, and the book.

Fashion and charitable works are all very well--but what's a Regency girl got to do to get married around here?

Regency heiress Philomena Wellesley-Clegg is not short of offers. Unfortunately those doing the offering--two lords, a viscount and a mad poet--all fall short of her expectations. But she's about to meet Mr Inigo Linsley. Unshaven, wickedly handsome and hiding a scandalous secret, he simply isn't Philomena's type--so why can't she stop thinking about how good he looks in his breeches?
Pride and Prejudice meets Sex and The City in this ravishing Regency romp about boys, bonnets and breaking the rules.

I started writing The Rules as a joke--light relief from the angsty ms. (as yet unsold) I'd just finished where everyone gave everyone else a hard time, the heroine laughed at the hero in bed, and the weather was atrocious. First I started imitating Bridget Jones' Diary (the US tagline was Bridget Jones' Diary meets Pride & Prejudice) but I couldn't find an equivalent to a daily weigh-in, cigarette, and calorie count. So I abandoned that format in about five minutes.

Then I thought I'd write a parody of trad Regencies (a la Signet Regencies)--although my first book, Dedication (2005), published by that line, had two (yes, two, count 'em) bondage scenes and some fairly grown-up sex. And I didn't feel like cruising the used bookstores for ancient Signets, so I decided to write both a parody and a get-back-to basics Regency: I chose a heroine who has some smarts but isn't particularly intelligent or gifted and frustrated because of it; her goal is to get married; and she's smart enough to trust her instincts in choosing a husband. She has some fairly silly hobbies (fashion and fashionably good works). And the hero is basically a nice guy, the youngest son of a normally dysfunctional family, who's done some stupid things but has grown up enough to get beyond them.

I should add that I have a very low tolerance for tortured heroes (and heroines). There comes a point, usually very early on, where I want to smack them and shout, Oh, get over yourself already. Grow up!

Basically it was a lot of fun to write. I threw in as many bad jokes as I could, because my experience of most romantic comedies is that they're not that funny, and I became very fond of Philomena, who is innocent but not stupid, and certainly very observant. Someone told me (I think it was my daughter) that I have the humor level of a twelve-year-old boy, something I'm quite proud of.

Also there is no overt sex in the book, purely because of the characters. On the other hand I think it's one of the sexiest things I've ever written (and I also write erotic romance as Jane Lockwood, because of the intense awareness between the hero and heroine, and the acknowledgment of desire that cannot be acted upon--yet-- and the power of anticipation.

Being published by Little Black Dress is amazing. I'm their first historical writer, and my editor told me she loved my voice (writers take note: it's how you write as much as what you write). My first thought, very early on, was that I should sell it to a chicklit line in the US. It was a hard sell in the US--for one thing, it was written in alternate first person between Philomena and Inigo, and in present tense, which is unusual in US romance. HarperCollins published it as a historical in their Avon A+ line (2007), and told me it wasn't a romance (and here I was thinking I'd finally cracked the romance code!). They gave me a superb cover--as did LBD.

One warning--the LBD edition does not carry the Top 10 Things No One Would Ever Say in a Regency Romance that was part of my afterword in the HarperCollins edition. I've published them on my website, www.

In March 2009 a sort-of sequel will be published by LBD--A Most Lamentable Comedy. It's set six years later and most of the characters are still around, but the heroine is Caroline, who you meet early on in the Rules. I thought it might be fun to write about a bad girl, having written about a good girl in the Rules.

Thanks, Janet, the book looks terrific, and hooray for Little Black Dress for doing something different with the Regency.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

A Dangerous Deception

Last week my fourth novella for D C Thomson, My Weekly Pocket Novel, was released. It is a Regency romantic adventure but from the cover you would think it set in the middle ages. The girl is as beautiful as one might hope for a heroine, but her costume and the room setting are hundreds of years out of date.
What the black triangle behind her head is meant to be, I have no idea. Perhaps it is part of her head dress, but whatever it is, she wouldn't have been wearing anything like this in the early part of the 19th century.
I hope readers who bought this were not disappointed to find the contents did not fit the cover image.
Best wishes
Fenella Miller

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

It Isn't Christmas Yet, But...

Although we are only at the beginning of October, last Thursday was the day that UK publishers launched their titles for the Christmas market. Eight hundred books were published on what was called "Super Thursday"!

My own contribution to this pile of Christmas offerings is a novella in the book Regency Christmas Weddings, an anthology of three short stories. My story The Pirate's Kiss was first published in the US last year. Here is the blurb:

"Daniel De Lancey is a privateer - beyond the law and beyond love. He risks his life secretly in the service of his country but when he meets his childhood sweetheart again, he cannot risk his heart. Lucinda Melville bitterly regrets the youthful passion she shared with Daniel and has sworn never to fall into his arms again. But when she meets the dashing privateer again it seems that the love they shared has never died."

The Cataromance review site called the anthology "Pure Regency gold" and The Romance Readers Connection commented that it "brims with adventure, sensuality and romance."

It seems a bit early to say Happy Christmas so I'll just say happy reading instead!


Monday, October 06, 2008

Henry Tilney's Diary

I'm blogging over at Austenprose today, so simply click the link and go over there to read my latest update on Henry Tilney's Diary.


Sunday, October 05, 2008

Guest Blogger – Pia Tapper Fenton

We'd like to welcome Pia Tapper Fenton to the blog! Pia's here to tell us about her novella, Marry in Haste. Over to you, Pia.

Thank you!

Like many others, I’ve been a fan of Regency novels since I first discovered Georgette Heyer in my school’s library and fell in love with her domineering heroes and forthright heroines – so much more fun reading about those than doing homework. After many years of trying to write one myself, I am therefore thrilled that my Regency novella “Marry in Haste”, published by DC Thomson’s My Weekly Pocket Novel, will be in the shops on 1st October. I hope it will be the first of many!

“Marry in Haste” is the story of Amelia Ravenscroft, who has been forced to accept the position of unpaid housekeeper to her aunt, Lady Marsh. Because Amelia is destitute, Lady Marsh’s son Bernard thinks she is fair game, however, and she is desperate to escape his increasingly lecherous advances. While attending a ball with Lady Marsh, she happens to overhear Viscount Demarr tell a friend that he needs a wife immediately. She decides to take her chance and, defying convention, she proposes marriage to him. They strike a hasty bargain which both begin to doubt soon after, but by then they are already on their way back from Gretna Green. There are many trials and tribulations before they discover that although they married in haste, they will not have to repent at leisure.

Best wishes,


Thanks, Pia! It sounds great, just the sort of thing to brighten up a dull autumn day.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Fictional Reality?

In 2007 I spent two weeks on a research trip France, including a visit to the Vezelay region of Burgundy for The Disgraceful Mr Ravenhurst (number four in my Those Scandalous Ravenhursts series).
I had enormous fun walking in the lovely valleys around Vezelay, visiting villages and chateaux and, of course, the stunning basilica (right) which is the backdrop of the opening scene of Disgraceful.

I came home and wrote Disgraceful (out next year), using as far as possible genuine villages and walks as my settings, although the chateau and its shocking secrets had to be an amalgam of places.

Then this September I returned to Vezelay for a few days and was startled to discover how real my inventions seemed to have become for me and how vividly I could see my characters in these real locations.

"Look," I kept saying - "There's the dressmaker’s shop where Theo had lodgings (left), that was where Elinor and Lady James were staying in Vezelay (below), just there was where Elinor and Theo stopped on their walk along the river and fell asleep and just here is where Elinor literally bumped into Theo in the basilica under that carving of the temptation of a saint."

My husband, who had patiently followed me with the camera last year, found himself being towed around all the same places while I exclaimed and pointed out location after location. Finally, goaded beyond endurance when I stopped in what is now a car park, and which used to be a little quarry, and showed him the exact bank where Theo and Elinor kissed (now romantically adorned by a litter bin and a notice on a pole) he pointed out that it is only fiction. They hadn’t really kissed just there, Theo’s mistress hadn’t really ridden into the village of St Père at just the wrong moment and stopped opposite what is now the butcher’s shop – it was all in my head.

I was shocked. Of course these things had happened! It was a very strange experience, and one I had never had before, to go back to a real location and to find that I had given it a whole new history – in my head at least – by imagining it.

And to prove I was there, here I am, writing up
my notes outside the excellent
Hotel Les Deux Ponts
at Pierre-Perthuis just outside Vezelay.

Louise Allen

Friday, October 03, 2008

A Georgian Fancy

I am often asked where I find my inspiration – I am sure it is a question that crops up for all writers.
I find a new story begins to bubble up whenever I am getting to the end of my current work in progress. This happened with Lucasta. I just happened to catch a wonderful programme on tv – from one of those idiosyncratic little series that the BBC do so well: Meetings With Remarkable Trees. This particular episode featured the Pitchford Lime which has a three hundred year old tree house in its branches. This wonderful old lime tree is in the grounds of Pitchford Hall and such tree houses were used for dinner parties, meetings and secret assignations - plenty of scope for a creative imagination.
I thought this would make a super retreat for Lucasta, my heroine, where she could escape from her tyrannical father and her beautiful but spoiled sister. There are very few pictures of this tree house but I managed to find this one. Pitchford Hall, Shropshire, summer house in lime tree, Photo by L. C. Lloyd 1939; copyright Shrewsbury Museums Service.
Heaven knows how the Georgian ladies in their heavy cumbersome dresses managed to to get in and out of this tree house without loss of dignity - a hoist of some sort, perhaps?
I only used the tree house for a couple of small scenes in Lucasta, but I think I shall use it again in another book - so many stories spring to mind!
I am very grateful to Shrewsbury Museums for allowing me to use this picture.
Also, please note that Pitchford Hall is a private house, not open to the public.
Melinda Hammond
Lucasta is out now - published by Robert Hale Limited.

Thursday, October 02, 2008


I've been researching pigments used by artists in the C18th. The glorious colour in the picture is called smalt. I'd never heard of it before. Originally developed in Saxony in the 1600s, it was an improved version of a colour called Blue Frit used by the ancient Egyptians both for painting and as a glaze. That had used copper as a colourant, whereas smalt mixed cobalt ore heated with silica (sand) to produce saffre, or zaffre. The zaffre was then sold to glass makers who mixed it with potash, put the blend into a furnace for twelve hours and stirred it every so often. Once it had dissolved and formed glass it was plunged into cold water to make it brittle, then ground, sieved, washed, and graded according to colour. The best and most expensive was a deep violet-blue, the cheapest a pale sky-blue.

Important in European oil painting during the 1500 and 1600s, smalt was the only pigment made from cobalt for 200 years. The miners digging out the ore believed there were spirits in the mines which they called "Kobalds". It was these spirits that gave cobalt its name.

The most expensive blue pigment ever created was the original Ultramarine. This was extracted from the stone lapis lazuli and was even more expensive than gold. In the Middle Ages the only source of lapis lazuli, which means simply 'blue stone', was Badakshan, now part of Afghanistan.

Prussian blue was discovered purely by accident in 1704/5. Heinrich Diesbach was working in his laboratory in Berlin trying to make a cochineal red lake. (Cochineal was originally obtained by grinding up the bodies of cochineal lice!) He mixed the necessary ingredients of iron sulphate and potash, but instead of the strong red he expected, the result was a very pale one. When he tried to concentrate it he got purple then a deep blue. Because the potash he'd used was contaminated with animal oil, (he'd bought it cheap to save money) Diesbach had managed to invent the world's first synthetic blue pigment.

Next time - Orpiment and massicote!

Jane Jackson.