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Guest: Patty Henderson

Today the Scandalous Vics would like to welcome Patty Henderson. Patty writes Gothic Victorian romances with a twist: the intrepid heroine is a lesbian. Please welcome Patty as she talks about her newest release, Passion for Vengeance.

About Patty:

After writing four books in the Brenda Strange Supernatural Mysteries series and one vampire book, I have Imagefound a genre that I absolutely and thoroughly enjoy. As a history buff, I can finally immerse myself completely in the fantasy world of dark, brooding castles and mansions, walking hallways by the light of a single candle, and spinning tales of lovely women stumbling across deadly secrets and meeting and falling in love with mysterious mistresses of decaying estates. What fun.

I hope you can come and discover my Gothic Historical Romances and share some of the fun I have writing them. All three of my Gothic Romances are available in paperback via Amazon.com and in eBook at Amazon.com and ePub versions at Barnes and Noble.com. And aside from my writing, I am also a graphics professional and book cover creator. If any of you who are self-published are in need of a book cover, I offer the best rates in the market for a complete trade paperback cover or eBook cover. I’ve provided the link to my graphics web site, Boulevard Photografica.

I want to take the time to thank Isabel (Patty, you’re always welcome!) for letting me escape my dark castle and come here to Slip Into Something Victorian and talk about my books. I’ve included some links below. Come and say hello at my Facebook page, my web site or Twitter.

LINKS:

Facebook

Twitter

Author Website

Book Covers

Gothic Romances. Some of us remember those paperback racks in the late 1960s and 1970s filled with Gothic Romances, all of them resplendent with covers mostly featuring a heroine running from a menacing castle or decaying mansion. The plots were truly romances, some set in current times while others were historicals set in Victorian times. All of them contained a dashing, mostly brooding dark hero, sometimes coming across as an unsavory character only to be revealed as the knight in shining armor, and our intrepid heroine. Gothic Romances were always filled with a sense of foreboding and dripped with atmosphere and suspense. But they always remained true to the romance.

I write Gothic Historical Romance, mainly set in the Victorian years, but with a big….big difference. The dark, dashing hero is a heroine. Girl meets and gets girl. I keep all the trappings of the traditional Gothic Historical Romance, but the romance is between two women. I write in the lesbian fiction niche. A very small, but vibrant and thriving niche. The readers are voracious and demand quality fiction from the authors who write lesbian fiction.

I’ve written and published three Gothic Historical Romances, The Secret of Lighthouse Pointe, Castle of Dark Shadows, and my very latest, Passion for Vengeance. The latest Gothic tackles a darker and deeper subject matter and was the hardest of the three romances to write. All three come to happy and satisfactory endings for the reader and for the characters, but in Passion for Vengeance, the path is more painful and more fragile. I had to pull some of my own and deeply buried personal issues of loss of faith, strength in faith, salvation and forgiveness. The problems of seeing only gray and white, good and bad, is also a topic I deal with all these in Passion for Vengeance.

Some of my Gothic Historical Romances have crossed into mainstream Romance readers, gaining sales and reviews from mainstream readers and not only lesbian readers. While I recognize that reading a sexy Romance with two women instead of the hero and heroine may not be everyone’s cup of tea, some are enjoying my Gothic Romances and for that, I am delighted, and hope many more might give them a try.

Here is the blurb for my newest Gothic Historical Romance, Passion for Vengeance:

It’s been a long time since Jane Havens, Mistress of Havenswood, felt the joy and promise of by-gone days when her family home, Havenswood, was a thriving and powerfulImage farming estate. Together with her elder brother Cole, who drowns his sorrow in alcohol, Jane does what she can to lead the fading estate through the hard times that fell upon the family after their father, a Union Army Colonel, died shortly after the Civil War.

    Jane and Cole try to raise their little brother, Henry, a wild young boy with no direction, no manners and no one to marshal his considerable natural abilities into a productive, young gentleman. But when his new governess, Emma Stiles, arrives, the whole household goes into shock as Henry shapes up, Cole doubles down on the amount of drink he consumes to drown his failures, and Jane Havens falls madly in love with her little brother’s governess. Then the trouble begins.

    Accidents begin to happen to the residents of Havenswood—incidents that increase in seriousness and danger. Some within the household point fingers at Emma Stiles. Jane will not believe her new lover has anything to do with the terrifying accidents until a chance visit by a new doctor in town raises the specter that Emma Stiles may not be quite who she seems. As the reality of Emma’s tortured soul descends upon Havenswood and Jane, it is clear that the demons of vengeance can only be saved by love and forgiveness. Or is it too late for forgiveness and too late for love?

    Set in the tumultuous decade after the Civil War, Passion for Vengeance is a Gothic Romance tale of betrayal, revenge, love and forgiveness.

 Where to buy Passion for Vengeance:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble

Lizzie Borden, Sensational Victorian Murder, Part II

  

Front Parlor

Judging from the amount of “views” to my Lizzie Borden blog post a couple years back, people are relatively interested in her story. So I thought I’d add just a few more facts in case people want more info.Here’s one thing that jumped out at me—Lizzie’s biological mother, who died when Lizzie was 2, was prone to fits of unexplained rage and suffered from migraines.  Of course at this period of time (1845) we knew very little about psychology.  Freud, the father of psychology, wasn’t even born yet.  That being the case, we can’t really know what caused these symptoms, whether it was physical or psychological.  If it was physical, such as a brain tumor, that would explain the migraines, the temper and Sarah’s death.  In that case, there’d be no link to Lizzie, as there’s no indication that she suffered from migraines. 

 

the sitting room, where Mr. Borden died--a view from the sofa

 One thing we do know is that earlier in the summer of 1892 (the murders occurred in August) Andrew reported that his house was robbed.  Lizzie, her sister, Emma, and their maid were home at the time.  Andrew reported that the thief must have slipped past them up to Abby Borden’s bedroom, stole some jewelry and about 40 dollars.  It occurred in broad daylight, without anyone having seen the thief.  A short time later, Andrew asked the police to drop the investigation, and the case was never solved.    

 

Dining room--Bridget had just cleaned these windows before the murder of Andrew. It's believed that Abby was already dead.

 

 What do you think?  Mental illness? Building rage due to a terribly dysfunctional family?  Or was there another culprit and Lizzie is actually innocent, though suspected because of her odd behavior? 

Info from Lizzie Borden: A case book of family and crime in the 1890’s, Joyce G. Williams, J. Eric Smithburn, M.Jeanne Peterson

and from a tour of the property: http://www.lizzie-borden.com/

 Did he suspect Lizzie of the theft?  Did Lizzie actually steal the money and items?  Or was there a thief, who possibly came back later and killed Abby and Andrew Borden? Questions, questions, questions.  If only we had a time machine and could send a couple good detectives and a crime scene investigation team back.  Lacking that, all we can do is speculate.  Which is sort of fun in itself. 

 If, however, it was a psychological illness that had some genetic component, Lizzie may have inherited it, which may have contributed to the death of Andrew and Abby Borden, (assuming Lizzie did kill them—legally, she did not).  Certainly the woman was an odd duck.  She had a penchant for staring in such a way as to make people uncomfortable.  Those who knew her believed it was an attempt to establish control.  She was also known for petty thefts, although never charged.  Storekeepers and the like would merely go to Andrew, who would pay for whatever trinket Lizzie took. A sign of mental illness, or just a way for Lizzie to get what she wanted when the $4 a week allowance her father gave her didn’t cover it?

The Murder of Dr. Chapman

murder-of-dr-chapmanAnyone who’s read Slip Into Something Victorian for a time knows that I’m fascinated by murder.  Can’t tell you why, but I’m drawn to read about it, thus the Lizzie Borden blog and a few others.  Today, it’s Dr. Chapman, which isn’t technically a Victorian murder, having occurred in 1832.  But I figure that’s close enough, and certainly the story of it went on into the Victorian Era.  This information came exclusively from the book, The Murder of Dr. Chapman, by Linda Wolfe–great book!

Basically it’s the triangle love story that ends up in tragedy, one we’ve heard time and time again.  Wife falls in love with another man, husband ends up dead.  Here are some of the facts of the the story-which is true, of course! 

1.) The wife, Lucretia was a teacher and mother. At the time of the murder was approximately 43 years old.  Her lover, Lino, was approximately 22. In today’s parlance that makes Lucretia a cougar.  A murderous one.  Or a woman in the throes of a horrible mid-life crisis. 

2.) Lino was Cuban. 

3.) Lino was living at the Chapman’s home at the time of the murder, with Dr. Chapman’s approval.  He was a conman,  who told the Chapmans his father was a Mexican general and the governor of California.   The Chapmans believed him. 

4.) The doctor attending Dr. Chapman believed that he was suffering from Cholera Morbus (the  Cholera that killed massive amounts of people had yet to hit the U.S, or England for that matter.  Cholera Morbus was a summertime illness and I personally suspect it was food poisoning brought on by poor food preservation).  It was considered a mild stomach complaint.  Except that he got worse and worse and it killed him. 

5.) Nine days after Chapman died, Lucretia and Lino married.  Lino declared that he needed money for their honeymoon.  He took from her jewelry, silver, horses and left for Philadelphia and other cities to sell it.  She never saw her items again, although technically they weren’t hers anymore regardless.  What was her husbands became hers-then became Lino’s when she married him. 

6.) It was after this the Lucretia started to realize she may have been taken for a ride.  Investigation revealed he was not where he said he was, he appeared not to be who he said he was, and she sent letters scolding him for both.  One letter unfortunately fell into the hands of the police with the line  “But no, Lino. . .I am constrained to acknowledge that I do not believe that God will permit either you or me to be happy this side of the grave.”   That and other circumstances brought about the arrest and trial of both Lino and Lucretia for murder. 

7.) A pharmacist testified in court that Lino bought a quarter pound of arsenic.  The doctor who attended Chapman testified that it was possible that arsenic poisoning had caused a majority of the symptoms of the “illness”  that killed Chapman. That and the autopsy conducted with the “opinion” of an expert was all that they could go on to determine if Chapman died of arsenic poisioning.  There was no forensic test at this period that could be conclusive.  The Marsh Test to detect arsenic, was not used successfully in a murder trial until 1840. 

8..) The two were tried separately.  During her trial, the public by and large believed that Lucretia was innocent.  Much of the more damning information was kept from her trial and she was acquitted. 

9)  The damning testimony came out at Lino’s trial.  He was convicted and later hanged.  The damning testimony came before the public, who changed their minds about Lucretia.  Whether guilty or not-you can read the book and make your own decision-she lost credibility with the public and lost all her pupils.  Between that and Lino’s spending before she stopped it, she eventually lost everything.  She drifted off into obscurity and died ten years later flat broke.

These are the facts and it’s a far more interesting story than what I can put out in bullet points.  For those interested in the criminal justice system and Philadelphia it’s very interesting to see how it worked at this point in time.   As for me, well reading any Victorian history is useful, and this particularly so because it helped solidify some ideas for a future book.  Hint-there will be arsenic!

Lizzie Borden, Sensational Victorian Murder

Entrance way to the house.  The door leads to the sitting room, where Andrew died on the sofa

Entrance way to the house. The door leads to the sitting room, where Andrew died on the sofa

Every year I take the week (or two) after Christmas as a vacation from Life. I play computer games, avoid family (all but those living at my house), friends, the internet, television, radio, newspapers. This year though, the vacation stretched longer and finally my husband and I decided we needed to get out of the house. Where did we go? Well naturally to see Lizzie Borden’s house!

I’ve spent the majority of my life in New England, so I pretty much grew up with the lore of Lizzie Borden, along with the famous ditty, “Lizzie Borden took an axe, gave her mother 40 whacks, when she was done she gave her father 41″. I’m not quite sure if this is something the rest of the U.S knows about, never mind other areas of the world. So for those who don’t know the story–a little history. In 1892, Fall River Massachusetts, the police were called to the home of Andrew and Abby Borden. When they got there they discovered a horrific murder, even by today’s standards. Abby died in the upstairs guest room, Andrew on the parlor sofa. Abby had been hit by a sharp instrument in the back of the head many, many times. Andrew in the front of the head, pretty much obliterating his face. His nose was gone, an eyeball cut in half. If you look at the pictures (I don’t have one, but they do at the house) you can only make out Andrew’s face by finding his ear, and then his chin. What is left is indiscernible.

The only plausible suspect was Andrew’s 32 year-old-daughter Lizzie.

At the time of the murder, there were 5 people living at the house–Andrew, Abby (his second wife, and stepmother to his two daughters) Emma (his older daughter and 10 years Lizzie’s senior), Lizzie, and the maid Bridget. Emma was away and had been for almost two weeks. Bridget had nothing against her employers. A relative staying with them for one night had only amiable relations with the Bordens. That left Lizzie. Lizzie did NOT have amiable relations with Andrew and Abby. In fact, she called Abby Mrs. Borden.

The guest room, where Abby died, between the bed and the mirror.

The guest room, where Abby died, between the bed and the mirror.

I give the police credit. They did run down leads, they did try to find other viable suspects. This was 1892 and the idea that anyone, never mind a woman and daughter, could do something so heinous was difficult to believe. But in the end, no one else had any motive, never mind real opportunity, to kill the two. The doors of the house were always locked. Although Andrew was mean (in Victorian parlance, meaning stingy) he was considered an honest man. He had no enemies. It’s difficult to establish an exact time of death for Abby, but due to testimony by Lizzie, Bridget and neighbors etc, we know Andrew died probably in a 20 minute time period, between 12 noon and 12:20. It’s just inconceivable that an outsider could have caused all that damage in the time period, never mind kill Abby (it is assumed a good hour and a half before, based upon stomach contents–but this was 1892 and I’m wary of the forensic abilities back then) as well. Without anyone hearing?

So Lizzie was brought to trial. And acquitted. Why? Lack of evidence perhaps, but without having read the entire proceedings (I’m in the process right now) I would speculate that it was due to the time period and the thinking of women back then. In 1893 a jury of Lizzie’s “peers” consisted of 12 men–women did not serve on juries at this time. She was a daughter and rather pretty and from a “good” home. No one wanted to believe she could have done such a thing, never mind 12 middle-aged men. So she was let go and went on to inherit her parents’ money and live many more years, even while most of Fall River believed her guilty, possibly up to and including her sister.   The jurors were so happy with their verdict that they had a picture taken of them the day of the acquittal and gave it to Lizzie.  It (or a copy, I’m not sure) currently hangs in the house.

I have always believed Lizzie did it. Never a doubt in my mind. From watching way too much television, I’ve concluded that viciousness of the murders and the fact that the murderer obliterated Andrew’s face indicates extreme anger and a personal relationship. The medical examiner determined that both victims died with the first blow. But the axe was swung an estimated 10 blows on one victim and 20 on another (I’m not completely sure of my facts). If this was just murder, you’d have though 2-4 blows would have sufficed.

But why? Well I knew from bits and pieces that Andrew was a skin-flint. But exactly how bad I didn’t know until I visited the house. Understand that Andrew at the time of his death was worth about 1/2 million dollars. In 1892. But the house was small–smaller than what I currently live in and we are middle-class–for 5 grown adults. Moreoever while it had radiators, thus a certain degree of warmth, there was no gas-lighting (never mind electricity) and no hot running water. Andrew refused to have either installed in the house–it was a waste. My characters in Wicked Woman had hot running water and gas lighting in 1855! And I researched this. Although both were new at the time in, Boston, just an hour or so away, the city had both.  And we’re not comparing the “luxuries” to something like cable television. Women in this period were required to take care of the house, even if they had a maid. To clean a house without hot water? Oh yes, I can see Lizzie’s rage.

Lizzie's room.  That's the doorway, there, between Lizzie's room and her parents.

Lizzie's room. That's the doorway, there, between Lizzie's room and her parents.

The other thing that struck me was the floor plan of the house. When Andrew bought it in 1870 or so, it was a two family house (which I found every enlightening, because I’ve got a similar layout for a book I’m currently plotting. Nice to know they exisited back then!). He had it made into a single family house, but still, there are no hall ways. This is fine for the lower floor. It makes sense to go from the dining room into the kitchen or the sitting area or front room. But the layout was the same upstairs for the bedrooms.  Thus in order for Emma to get to her room, she had to go through her sister’s, Lizzies. In addition, there was a connecting door between Lizzie’s room and her parents. It was locked, bolted and never used. That makes sense but Lizzie also had her bed kitty-cornered in the room, wedged against the door.  It makes me wonder if at some point there was some sort of sexual abuse. 

There’s more–everyone in the house locked the doors to their bedrooms.  Also, I wonder in the Victorian era why two not-horribly-ugly women would not marry? Ever–not even after their father died. It’s strange to me. It was strange to the people back then as well. Many referred to the Borden’s as “odd” and “peculiar”.

I could go on and on and on, but there are books out there. What I’m reading right now is Lizzie Borden: a Case Book of Family and Crime in the 1890’s, by Joyce G. Williams J. Eric Smithburn and M. Jeanne Petersen. You could too, if you’re ever in the area visit the home. You can take a tour–or you can actually sleep there! It’s a Bed and Breakfast now. Me, I happily took the tour, but sleeping? I don’t know. That’s something I’d have to give a lot of thought to!

Here’s the link to the house, for more information http://www.lizzie-borden.com/   I’ve also added a few more photos to our Picture Page–take a look!

***I’ve had a complaint that I didn’t include photos of the victims.  I don’t actually have them, but if anyone’s interested here’s a site:  http://www.lizzieandrewborden.com/CrimeLibrary/Crime%20Scene%20Photos.htm

These are, by the way, the photos that the owners of the bed and breakfast used to re-create the rooms to the best of their abilities.

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