Friday, May 29, 2009

Large Print editions of the diaries!

Good news for those of you who prefer your books in large print - Captain Wentworth’s Diary and Edmund Bertram's Diary are now available! You can buy them from Amazon or, if you're in the UK, you can order them from your local bookshops or take them out of the library!

And here is a very useful site for finding out if a book is available in large print and, if so, where you can get hold of it - click here

Happy reading!

Amanda Grange

Monday, May 25, 2009

Summer in Jane Austen's Bath, 1799

Isn't the weather glorious? It got me wondering what Jane Austen might have been doing at this time of year. In May, 1799, Jane Austen travelled to Bath with her mother, her brother Edward and his wife to sample the waters and electricity particularly for Edward's health. Jane wrote home to her sister at Steventon. I love the descriptions of their activities and those which mention what was to be seen in the shops - wouldn't strawberries have been a gorgeous addition to one's bonnet?
13, Queen's Square, Sunday June 2nd 1799

I am obliged to you for two letters, one from yourself and the other from Mary, for of the latter I knew nothing till on the receipt of yours yesterday, when the pigeon-basket was examined, and I received my due. As I have written to her since the time which ought to have brought me hers, I suppose she will consider herself, as I choose to consider, still in my debt.

I will lay out all the little judgment I have in endeavouring to get such stockings for Anna as she will approve; but I do not know that I shall execute Martha's commission at all, for I am not fond of ordering shoes; and, at any rate, they shall all have flat heels.

What must I tell you of Edward? Truth or falsehood. I will try the former, and you may choose for yourself another time. He was better yesterday than he had been for two or three days before - about as well as while he was at Steventon. He drinks at the Hetling Pump, is to bathe to-morrow, and try electricity on Tuesday. He proposed the latter himself to Dr. Fellowes, who made no objection to it, but I fancy we are all unanimous in expecting no advantage from it. At present I have no great notion of our staying here beyond the month.

I heard from Charles last week; they were to sail on Wednesday.

My mother seems remarkably well. My uncle overwalked himself at first, and can now only travel in a chair, but is otherwise very well,

My cloak is come home. I like it very much, and can now exclaim with delight, like J. Bond at hay-harvest, "This is what I have been looking for these three years." I saw some gauzes in a shop in Bath Street yesterday at only 4d. a yard, but they were not so good or so pretty as mine. Flowers are very much worn, and fruit is still more the thing. Elizabeth has a bunch of strawberries, and I have seen grapes, cherries, plums, and apricots. There are likewise almonds and raisins, French plums, and tamarinds at the grocers', but I have never seen any of them in hats. A plum or greengage would cost three shillings; cherries and grapes about five, I believe, but this is at some of the dearest shops. My aunt has told me of a very cheap one, near Walcot Church, to which I shall go in guest of something for you. I have never seen an old woman at the pump-room.

Elizabeth has given me a hat, and it is not only a pretty hat, but a pretty style of hat too. It is something like Eliza's, only, instead of being all straw, half of it is narrow purple ribbon. I flatter myself, however, that you can understand very little of it from this description. Heaven forbid that I should ever offer such encouragement to explanations as to give a clear one on any occasion myself! But I must write no more of this. . .

I spent Friday evening with the Mapletons, and was obliged to submit to being pleased in spite of my inclination. We took a very charming walk from six to eight up Beacon Hill, and across some fields, to the village of Charlecombe, which is sweetly situated in a little green valley, as a village with such a name ought to be. Marianne is sensible and intelligent, and even Jane, considering how fair she is, is not unpleasant. We had a Miss North and a Mr. Gould of our party; the latter walked home with me after tea. He is a very young man, just entered Oxford, wears spectacles, and has heard that Evelina was written by Dr. Johnson.

I am afraid I cannot undertake to carry Martha's shoes home, for, though we have plenty of room in our trunks when we came, we shall have many more things to take back, and I must allow besides for my packing.

There is to be a grand gala on Tuesday evening in Sydney Gardens, a concert, with illuminations and fireworks. To the latter Elizabeth and I look forward with pleasure, and even the concert will have more than its usual charm for me, as the gardens are large enough for me to get pretty well beyond the reach of its sound. In the morning Lady Willoughby is to present the colours to some corps, or Yeomanry, or other, in the Crescent, and that such festivities may have a proper commencement, we think of going to . . .

I am quite pleased with Martha and Mrs. Lefroy for wanting the pattern of our caps, but I am not so well pleased with your giving it to them. Some wish, some prevailing wish, is necessary to the animation of everybody's mind, and in gratifying this you leave them to form some other which will not probably be half so innocent. I shall not forget to write to Frank. Duty and love, &c

Yours affectionately,


My uncle is quite surprised at my hearing from you so often; but as long as we can keep the frequency of our correspondence from Martha's uncle we will not fear our own.

Jane Odiwe

Sunday, May 24, 2009

My latest Regency from Mills & boon

I think this is my day. I haven't made it here for a while so apologies if I have it wrong.

The first in the Hanover Square trilogy was published this month and the paperback for the next - An Innocent Debutante in Hanover Square is in paperback in September. The third should hopefully be out either in December or January. That will be the Mistress of Hanover Square.

I have been busy working on a huge manuscript for mainstream and I have my fingers crossed for news soon. Meanwhile various ebook and print versions have been coming out. Cassie's Shiekh and Chateau Despair are now in print here as well as America.

Love to you all, Anne Herries, Linda Sole

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Linford Romance Library

UK readers may be familiar with the Linford Romance Library series which are short novels, in large print type, available in public libraries. They cover contemporary romances as well as historicals including Regencies, and I'm delighted to announce they've accepted a third Regency from me - The Smuggler Returns.

When Daniel Locke returns to Penhaven, the Cornish village of his childhood, he is intent on revenge against the smuggling gang who betrayed him as a young lad. What he doesn’t count upon is the distraction of beautiful Jane Tregarron, who has become involved with the local smugglers to save her penniless family from losing their home. Can Daniel still inflict his revenge or will his plans be muddied by love?

I really love the covers I've had so far from Linford (pictured) so fingers crossed that The Smuggler Returns will get equally as great a cover. I'm not sure yet when it will be published, but hopefully before the end of this year.

If you're not a library user, or would just prefer your own copy, Linford Romances are also available to buy from amazon (including and book shops.

Kate Allan

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

New Website - New Books

My new year’s resolution this year was to have a radical redesign of my website in time to launch the final three titles, plus an Historical Undone e-book, in the Those Scandalous Ravenhursts series.

I hadn’t quite counted on the amount of work, and the number of decisions to make, even with a great website designer - or perhaps the better the designer, the more options there are.

It was great fun to choose prints from my collection of Regency originals to send off to Bekke at DreamForge Media to incorporate into the design and I’m thrilled with the result. Have a look at and see what you think - I’d love to get feedback.

I’ve two very different books out this month. One is a short, sizzling, contribution to the Historical Undone e-book series. Disrobed and Dishonoured links the two sets of Ravenhurst books and features a young lady with a problem - her highly inconvenient virtue - and a dashing highwayman who is only too happy to assist her with this burden.

The other is the first of two books being reprinted in the lovely new Regency High-Society Affairs series from Mills & Boon. The Earl’s Intended Wife is one of my favourites and is set in Malta, occupied Spain and England. I think the covers for this series are just gorgeous.

Louise Allen

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Schonbrunn Palace

This is the garden entrance to Schonbrunn where, in 1814 during the Congress of Vienna - the period of my next book - Napoleon's wife, Marie-Louise, eldest daughter of Austrian emperor Franz-Joseph, was held with her young son. She had wanted to accompany her husband into exile, but Metternich, the Austrian chancellor - a skilled manipulator and the driving force behind the Congress - persuaded her father it would give them greater bargaining power if she remained in Austria. In effect she was a hostage.
It was in under the personal supervision of Marie-Louise's grandmother, Empress Maria Teresa, that this former hunting lodge dating back to the Middle Ages was transformed over a period of forty years into a splendid palace, elaborately ornamented both inside and out in the Rococo style. Yet after the Empress's death in 1780 Schonnbrun remained empty until the early 1800s when Marie-Louise's father started using it as his summer residence in order to escape the heat and the stench of the river. During the Congress, Marie-Louise and her son lived there virtually alone but for servants, relying for company on visits from the wives and mistresses of the crowned heads of Europe, all of whom had their own agenda. The heroine of my book is a young and gifted artist who for a short time becomes Marie-Louise's friend. I'm so looking forward to following her adventures.
Jane Jackson.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Busy, Busy

I’m a bit late with my blog this month. I’ve been in London all week, doing research, meeting my editor to discuss what I’m going to write next, and attending the RNA AGM and summer party. The party was great, as ever, and a wonderful opportunity to catch up with old writing friends, plus agents and editors. The Joan Hessayon Award was presented to a very worthy winner, Allie Spencer, for Tug of Love, though sadly Dr Dave Hessayon wasn’t well enough to attend. We all raised a glass to him and hope he is better very soon.

We also saw cover flats of the forthcoming RNA short story anthology, Loves Me, Loves Me Not, which will be out in hardback in the autumn and in paperback next year, the RNA's 50th anniversary.

For Regency fans, there are quite a few Regency stories, by authors including Louise Allen, Elizabeth Bailey, Nicola Cornick, Amanda Grange, and (I’m proud to say) me.

The cover jpeg here doesn’t do it justice — it’s really a beautiful gold, with foil decoration.

Then, this morning, when I was just about to start on the blog, the postman arrived, bearing a box of hardback books. At last, I get a chance to see the UK cover of the third book in The Aikenhead Honours trilogy, His Forbidden Liaison.

I had assumed the UK cover would be the same as the US one, focusing on the sexy legs in stockings. In fact, the UK book uses the inside cover from the US edition, so you get a chance to see what hero and heroine look like, plus a fair sample of sexy stocking as well. I hope you like it as much as I do.

The hardback is out in June. The UK paperback will be out in September. (In the meantime, the paperback of book 2 of the trilogy, His Reluctant Mistress, is out in the UK next month.)

Touch the past, taste the passion

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Venice is for lovers

Recently, Samhain reissued "Venice," the third Richard and Rose story.

I wrote the book after getting so immersed in the history of eighteenth century Venice, I could hardly stop.

When you write a Georgian or Regency novel, the book is most usually set in Britain, or in France, Spain or Belgium in the Napoleonic era. This book is mid-eighteenth century, long before Napoleon upset the apple-cart, and this was the first one I wrote that was set outside Britain (there is at least one more ‘foreign’ Richard and Rose to come).

Before I started researching, I hadn’t realised that by the mid eighteenth century, Venice was in a steep decline and could well have slid into the watery Lagoon if it hadn’t been rescued by culture-vultures like Ruskin a century later. Leghorn had taken a lot of the trade that had made Venice great. That, and expenditure on wars and battles, had led to Venice’s economic decline. The great families had either lost their money and influence, or moved somewhere else. So by the Georgian era it had become a place of culture, very much secondary to Rome, and sleazy goings-on. Carnival was a time for uninhibited fun, one respectable people tended to stay away from.

Perfect for Richard and Rose to hide out in while they searched for their would-be assassins, and perfect for the card-sharps who form a lot of the story. Courtesans, card-sharps and other tricksters ruled the city, and the old, grand palazzos were either left to fall into ruin, or split into smaller dwellings. Richard owns an apartment in a once-grand palazzo, and if you read carefully, you can discover which one!

Venice - Richard and Rose, book three
Venice is perfect for their honeymoon. Unless an assassin plays his cards right…
ISBN: 978-1-60504-517-7

Here’s the blurb:

Venice is perfect for their honeymoon. Unless an assassin plays his cards right…

Richard and Rose, Book 3

At long last, it is Lord and Lady Strang’s wedding day. Yet no sooner do Richard and Rose leave their wedding breakfast than two shots ring out, forcing a hasty change in honeymoon plans. Instead of traveling together by yacht, Richard goes on ahead, making sure the road to Venice is safe for his beloved.
Rose is by no means alone, however. Along her journey by packet, coach, even mule, she befriends young couple, the Ravens, who have a strange confession to make. They are traveling incognito—and are really the newlywed Lord and Lady Strang!
Once reunited in Venice, Richard and Rose heat up the sheets, making Richard consider the delightful possibility of keeping his wife in bed for the rest of their stay. Except Venice is as full of knaves as London, and one of them is still trying to find them with a bullet.
The Ravens could hold the key to the assassination attempts. Or perhaps they are playing a deadly game of their own…

Monday, May 11, 2009


The experts tell us it's going to be a hot summer in England this year. I wonder if that prediction, combined with the effects of the recession, will see a resurgence in the popularity of the British seaside resort.
Wars with France and other European countries over the Colonies, followed by the French Reveolution, made for dangerous and unsettled times during the 1790's. The ensuing Napoleonic Wars combined to put an end to the English upper class fashion for the European Grand Tour and holidays at continental spas, which offered mineral-rich water to drink and even mud-baths, (a bit like Glastonbury today then!).
In England inland spas such as Bath were long established on the Continental model of health spas like Lourdes. George 11's old Prime Minister, Pitt the Elder, retreated to Bath in 1768 suffering from flying gout - the polite label for mental health problems. The English seaside resorts came into popularity during the heyday of the up-and-coming Prince Regent in the years between the Storming of the Bastille in 1789 and Waterloo in 1815, which effectively ended the French threat.
George 111 suffered from mental health probelms and went into seclusion. His reappearance at Weymouth in the summer of 1789 to take the waters was a welcome sight, for the situation in France prompted a fear the English monarcy could also collapse. Watched by a puzzled crowd, the Kind entered the sea from a bathing machine for his royal dip whilst a band played God Save the King! It was the king's regular public dips at Weymouth through the 1790's that helped popularize the new spa idea that salt water sea-bathing had curative properties. Perhaps it was the king's example that made Mrs Bennet in Pride and Prejudice so enthusiastic for the idea of going to Brighton. She was sure a little sea-bathing would set her up for good.
So if you are obliged to clamber over packed rows of scorched bodies in order to bag a few square feet of sand this year, you could be excused for thinking that George 111, (and Mrs Bennet), have a lot to answer for.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

The Brides of Fortune Quartet!

This month the e-book prequel to my new series, The Brides of Fortune, will be on sale from HQN Books online. The Secrets of a Courtesan is a complete short story but it also sets the scene for the trilogy, introducing the little Yorkshire market town of Fortune’s Folly (a character in its own right!) plus some of the heroes and heroines of the following books. Fortune’s Folly seems an ordinary, respectable town on the surface and that is one of the reasons that Eve Nightingale, a former courtesan, chooses it as a place to hide when she runs away from her scandalous life in London. But Eve and her secrets are not safe in Fortune’s Folly, especially when her former lover, the Duke of Welburn, arrives intent on discovering why she left him.

Fortune’s Folly is a fictional spa town but I based it mainly on Harrogate, where I had previously set one of my books, The Chaperon Bride. I have very fond memories of Harrogate from my childhood (afternoon tea at Betty’s tea shop!) The discovery of medicinal springs at Harrogate was first made in 1571. The first well, the Tewitt Well, was located in the middle of the open area of land called The Stray where the villagers grazed their animals. In the 17th century the medicinal properties of the waters were more widely publicised by Edmund Deane who wrote Spadacrene Anglica, or the English Spa Fountain and by the later 17th and 18th centuries Harrogate had developed considerable fame as a spa town.

In Regency times Harrogate was known as "the Bath of the North" and noble families made regular visits. The air was bracing and invalids would take the waters -"the Cure" - at the Sweet Spaw in High Harrogate, which tasted better than the Stinking Spaw in the village of Low Harrogate! But Harrogate was not only a spa - there were also balls and assemblies, visits to the Theatre Royal and trips out to the medieval castle at Knaresborough. It was a lively place, busy with the red coats of young officers on furlough and older officers retired from Army life, lords on the hunt for an heiress bride and ladies looking to dance at the balls and snare themselves a husband... It seemed the perfect setting for a Regency Quartet and so I had the background to The Brides of Fortune!

These days you can take the waters at the Valley Gardens and the Royal Pump Room Museum. But be warned – the sulphur and iron in them is a horrible combination and I thought it tasted vile!

The Secrets of a Courtesan will be available online from Harlequin HQN Books from 18th May and The Confessions of a Duchess will be on sale in the US and online in June. There is also a contest on my website to win copies of both books!


Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Hero Spotlight on eHarlequin

There is now a new short story about Lord Jack Aikenhead, the hero of His Forbidden Liaison, here on eHarlequin which is featuring Historicals in May in its Hero Spotlight series.

You may need to scroll down the page to find Jack, but he is there. Hope you enjoy this sidelight on London life of a spy.


Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Fragment from Caroline Bingley's Diary Discovered

Below is a transcription of a rare document found revealing some hitherto unknown information about Miss Caroline Bingley, and providing our first evidence of the existence of a cousin to Mr Darcy. As yet, the cousin’s identity is unknown.

Note from the Editor: the following fragment was discovered among the coals in Miss Bingley’s bedchamber. Since it is a rare example of personal writing by her, we have here a discovery of monumental importance for those interested in determining the accuracy of Pride and Prejudice. One can only guess at Miss Bingley’s feelings throughout the piece, however. It is particularly unfortunate that the rest of the document is lost to us. We must hope that other evidence will be unearthed which will reveal more about this unknown cousin of Mr Darcy’s.

Transcription of diary fragment:

[I] do not keep a diary.

At least, I have never kept a diary until today. Only the direst circumstances could bring me to confess my feelings on a piece of paper. I have always found the idea utterly juvenile. Of course, I must have been juvenile once, but I did not keep a diary even then. For what is the point of writing one’s thoughts on paper, when one has already thought them, and no one will read them?

No one must read this, least of all my sister Louisa. I could [not?] bear to think of her as having even an inkling of how I feel.

However, there are moments in one’s life which demand to be recorded, and today is one of them.

Today was Mr Darcy’s wedding. To watch him slide the ring on Miss Eliza Bennet's finger, to hear him say his vows to her, to know that their lives are tied together, never to be split asunder -- I
the worst day I have ever experienced
to imagine that my outbu[rst]
watching me all the time
Mr Darcy’s cousin

By Monica Fairview, whose THE OTHER MR DARCY is coming out in June 2009

Sunday, May 03, 2009


Many of you will know that I take inspiration from the wonderful English houses owned by the National Trust. West Wycombe in Buckinghamshire is a beautiful mansion once owned by Sir Francis Dashwood (founder of the infamous Hellfire Club) and inspiration for Malberry Court, where much of the action takes place in my latest Sarah Mallory novel, The Wicked Baron. These are two of the views of West Wycombe that fired my imagination when planning the story: Carlotta frequently walks to Malberry from her house and takes a short-cut through the trees and bushes that bound the park. The second picture shows
the original entrance to West Wycombe is very like the frontage of Malberry with its newly-painted frescoes on the ceiling just beyond the portico.

My heroine Carlotta's father is an Italian artist, commissioned to decorate Malberry Court with murals and frescoes. He "signs" his pictures by painting a small snail, a "lumaca", somewhere in the scene. Imagine my delight when I read that an Italian snail was discovered at Cliveden, another National Trust property not that far from West Wycombe. It would appear that this tiny snail hitched a ride to England in 1896, when marble was imported from Italy to form a balustrade at Cliveden. This may be almost a century later than my own story, but it shows the importance of the Italian influence upon English landowners – and I like to think that this snail is something like the one Carlotta's father would have depicted in his pictures!


Friday, May 01, 2009

Maypoles, morris men and mayhem or the joys of a butterfly mind

Throughout the ages May Day has been a time of celebration, ritual and supposedly for blossoming creativity as it is the herald of nature bursting forth, fruit trees being pollinated, the fields are full of lambs and young livestock and birds are frantically feeding their newly hatched chicks.

I have been working this week on checking the printer's proofs of The Loveday Conspiracy and they were put in the post yesterday. My blog post being the first of the month completely sneaked up on me unawares and I awoke to a sense of panic and a blank mind on a subject to write. The dawn chorus of blackbirds, robins and the delightful calls of over thirty goldfinches who sing to me every morning was instantly calming. This is often my favourite time of day and I allow my mind to drift upon a scene or character I will be writing about that day. I have had some wonderful inspiration in this semi-dreamlike or dozy state. The idea to blog about finding our own inspirational time came to mind.

The melody of the blackbirds and robins can instantly transport me to a nostalic Cornish scene or a tender moment of romance. However when this moment was rudely interrupted by squawkinbg seagulls and argumentative crows which did not fill me with feelings of love and blessings upon the world, I was less than enchanted with this idea and gave the pillow a hard punch for good measure. As I huffed and puffed and tried to bury myself under the duvet for another hours sleep, I realised that this more raucous awakening had often given me ideas for more turbulent scenes of conflict. So perhaps the idea for the blog was not lost at all.

So with great enthusiasm I sat at my computer which informs me the date is 1st May. I have always loved researching ancient festivals and my head was filled with maypoles, morris men and Jack of the green and then on to all things Celtic. A photo of morris men seemed a good idea to illustrate the blog. Two hours later I realise I have become totally absorbed in the ancient rituals and folklore and how the Lovedays would celebrate this day - which so far I have not used in the novels, and I always need fresh images and ideas. Then I am panicking that most of the morning has disappeared, no blog is written and this was the day I was supposed to be checking research for the first chapters of the next Loveday book.

Thank goodness that as women we have butterfly minds which when allowed to roam free can come to our rescue. I now have all the information I need for my novel and hopefully you have found these chaotic ramblings an insight into the mind of a writer who is always open to receiving inspiration when it is least expected. Happy May day and inspiration and creativity to you all.
Kate Tremayne