Home » Victorian romance
Category Archives: Victorian romance
A warm welcome today to our guest blogger, Rachel Brimble
My Favorite Victorian books, films and TV shows…
What A Woman Desires is my third Victorian romance for eKensington/Lyrical Press and I am in the process of writing my fourth. I love the Victorian era! Many people initially think of Queen Victoria in mourning, Dickensian poverty or cruelty, or ladies dressed in high-neck dresses, looking down their noses at anyone even thinking an immoral thought, let alone acting on one.
These passing assumptions are not entirely true…although they are true of some people and places from that time. If you have read any of my previous books, you will know my Victorian romances tend to be darker than most on the market, and focus on the lower classes of society, rather than the upper-middle and middle classes.
It is my mission to prove even people not born into money deserve a happy ever after!
Many authors, including me, garner a lot of inspiration from what we read and watch. It is because of my favorite books, films and period TV series that I became so interested in Victoriana. I am lucky enough to live just a short drive from the city of Bath, England in one direction and the beautiful Cotswolds in the other. It would’ve been a sin for me to not take advantage of my location in my books.
What A Woman Desires and my previous books (The Seduction of Emily & The Temptation of Laura) are all set in and around Bath. Here are some books and viewing I highly recommend…albeit most of them are set in London. Enjoy!
Tipping The Velvet, Affinity & Fingersmith by Sarah Waters
A Glimpse at Happiness by Jean Fullerton
The Victorian House by Judith Flanders (non-fiction)
Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Mr Briggs’ Hat by Kate Colquhoun
North & South – (British TV)
North & South – (US TV) – these are two VERY different stories!
Bleak House – (British TV)
The Young Victoria – film
Gangs of New York – film
What a Woman Desires
From country girl to actress of the stage, one woman dares to live her dreams—but is she brave enough to open her heart…?
Monica Danes always wanted more than the village of Biddestone had to offer. After a failed courtship to a man of her parents’ choosing, she fled for the city of Bath and never looked back. Today, Monica is the undisputed queen of the theater—a wealthy, independent woman. But when she is called home in the wake of tragedy, Monica returns—intending to leave again as soon as possible.
Thomas Ashby has been a groom at the Danes estate since he was a boy—and has been enamored with Monica for almost as long. He knows he isn’t a suitable match for his master’s daughter, despite the special bond he and Monica have always shared—and their undeniable attraction. But now that she’s returned, Thomas has one last chance to prove himself worthy—and to show Monica a life, and a love, she won’t want to give up…
Thomas clenched his jaw as Monica tightened her arms around his waist. He longed to feel the weight of her head on his back, too, but knew well enough she would not lean on him considering the dark cloud under which he left Marksville the night before. He purposely kept Jake at a slow walk, wanting this closeness between him and Monica to last as long as possible. He’d been foolish enough to wake this morning, thinking the night apart had strengthened his resolve and he would be strong enough to accept her as his employer and nothing else.
Now he was with her, the notion was laughable—but one he must adhere to.
He needed to play nice and convince her staying at Marksville wouldn’t mean the future she dreaded. If he could do that, he would keep his father’s legacy intact and maybe, one day, his son would take the reins and become a groom to the Danes family as two generations had before him. She had to understand positions like his and Mrs. Seton’s weren’t just jobs, they were a livelihood, a lifestyle, and treasured way of life.
He’d come out of the stable yard astride Jake, and as soon as he had seen Monica standing alone, her head back and her breasts thrust forward, nothing of his job entered his mind. Only pure, unadulterated attraction had surged through him. The sun glowed on her dark hair like a million dancing lights and, with her hands on her hips, her delicate figure taunted him with forbidden possibility that had lingered in his subconscious forever. Even in mourning, the woman was beautiful.
Rachel lives with her husband and two teenage daughters in a small town near Bath in the UK. After having several novels published by small US presses, she secured agent representation in 2011. In 2012, she sold two books to Harlequin Superromance and a further three in 2013. She also writes Victorian romance for Kensington–her debut was released in April 2013, followed by a second in January 2014 and the third is released Jan 2015.
Rachel is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and Romance Writers of America, and was selected to mentor the Superromance finalist of So You Think You Can Write 2014 contest. When she isn’t writing, you’ll find Rachel with her head in a book or walking the beautiful English countryside with her family and beloved black Lab, Max. Her dream place to live is Bourton-on-the-Water in South West England.
She likes nothing more than connecting and chatting with her readers and fellow romance writers. Rachel would love to hear from you!
That’s the tag line of the book I just published after a long hiatus due to family difficulties. I’ve got a heroine who has grown up in a town that has labeled her as “crazy”, and a hero who was psychologically tortured by the aunt who raised him, and is a Civil War veteran to boot. I’ve set it in Iowa 1871, which makes it neither a Western or typically Victorian. Honestly, I am the queen of choosing settings and topics most people shy away from. I couldn’t help it though, because in addition to the romantic plot of the story I wanted to see how a small farming town would react to a serial killer (although obviously not labeled as such in the book).The only way for me to do that, was to write it.
So here’s the blurb, and an excerpt following it:
She thought she’d imagined him
Beth Hartwell is a little bit crazy. Or so her hometown of Mayfield believes, due to her long-ago obsession with her imaginary friend. Although in 1871, at the age of twenty-two, Beth has long since forgotten him, the phrase sticks to her like prickles to wool. If she’s ever going to be normal, she must marry a nice, normal man, have nice, normal children and live a nice normal life. She’s one reluctant yes away from accepting the only man who’ll take her, when handsome, mysterious Luke Devlin comes to town. Upon touching him, visions of fire beset her, along with a deep, unexplainable familiarity. . .
But he was real
Calamity and suffering follow Luke everywhere he goes. An orphan from birth, Luke was raised in the shadow of a mad aunt who insisted that he was evil incarnate—Satan’s son. After years of seeking proof that she was wrong, he finally accepts her ravings as prophesy. To fulfill that prophesy, he must claim his “dark angel,” the little girl with whom he had a telepathic relationship as a boy.
Trapped between love and a prophecy
Unfortunately Beth, a midwife and sister to the town’s preacher, is hardly “dark.” In order for Luke to win her, he must use everything in his arsenal, including seduction, lies and trickery. In order for Beth to pull him out of the shadows, she must uncover the secrets behind his sad, dying eyes. As the battle lines are drawn, however, a murderer strikes in Mayfield and the town accuses Luke. . .
So farewell hope, and with hope farewell fear,
Farewell remorse: all good to me is lost;
Evil, be thou my good.
John Milton, Paradise Lost
The fire rose like a monster from the depths of Hell, its only purpose to consume the building it enveloped. Its yellow head towered over the fragile wooden structure, orange hair jumping and leaping with a life of its own, scraping the underbelly of the star-studded heavens. Long, pointed fingers wrapped around the corners of the building and crawled through windows, and everything they touched turned black. The building hissed, crackled, cried, and its windows shattered under the heat. The people inside, unimportant to either building or fire, screamed for mercy.
A short distance from the building, Luke Devlin stood under a tree, the shade of new spring leaves concealing his expression. He made no attempt to assist the panicked rescuers, who threw buckets of water on the flames in a futile attempt to save the inn. Luke watched the burning stoically as words and memories passed through his mind, just across the border of conscious thought.
You killed her, you wicked, wicked boy. My sister’s dead because of you!
They’re all gonna die, son. That friend of yours is goin’ next.
It’s yellow fever. It’ll take more than half the souls that get it.
She’s a witch, a dark angel. How else could you talk to her in your mind?
You’re evil, destined to cause naught but misery and death for the good folk of the world. But you shall stay away from me. Do you understand me, boy? You stay away from me!
The last thought crept into consciousness, and Luke winced at the sound of a slamming door echoing in his head, an attic door locking him in darkness. And his soul, locked in the same.
God didn’t give you a soul.
Death and destruction shadowed him, followed him, preceded him—undesired at first, then expected, finally anticipated.
A roar filled the yard, and a piece of the roof caved in. Flames leapt through the opening; shrieks of pain clawed the air. As the fire burned, the remnants of the boy who had once chosen to stay in prison to save a friend instead of escaping burned with it. Luke could all but see his own image peering out of a cracked, soot-stained window—a shaggy, blond boy, the rough anger in his stare eclipsed by gut-wrenching fear. A spirit from years past when he’d still believed his aunt was wrong, before Andersonville and Galveston, before New York and Chicago and all the miles of misery between.
The window exploded; the spirit vanished.
It was time.
He’d accomplished the worst possible on his own. It was time to seek out the girl, his dark angel. In one swift move Luke mounted up and turned west.
He’d been born on All Hallows’ Eve five minutes before lightning started the fire that had killed his family. In his mind he envisioned the charred bodies and smelled burning flesh; the visions fed a hunger in the sucking pit in his chest where a soul ought to have been. He was evil and he was death, and up ahead, in Mayfield, Iowa, was the woman he’d waited half his life to claim.
Hello again, Victorians and Victorian-era fans, and thank you for having me again today. I’m thrilled to be returning to Slip Into Something Victorian, and I’m happy to be talking about my new novel, Keeper of the Light, Book II of The Wild Geese Series.
Keeper of the Light is a very special story to me because it allowed me to combine several different elements into one book: Ireland and Irish mythology, a darkly sensual, brooding Irish hero, a story that’s close to the sea (one of my favorite places in the entire world), and best of all to this proud Canadian, a little- known but very important bit of Canadian history.
Shortly after the end of the American Civil War, the Fenian Brotherhood, a group of Irish Catholics dedicated to freeing Ireland from Britain, attempted to invade Canada.
Made up mostly of former Union soldiers, they hoped to take areas of the country, then known as British North America, hostage. The ransom? Irish freedom, of course.
Keeper of the Light was inspired by the Fenian Brotherhood’s “invasion” of Campobello Island.
Many of these “invaders” were former soldiers of the Irish Brigade who fought on both sides of the American Civil War. Their aim was to take Canada – then a British colony – hostage and force Britain to ransom the country with Irish freedom.
The raid, led by John O’Mahony, took place in April of 1866 at Campobello Island, New Brunswick. A war party of over 700 landed on the shores of Maine. The British responded with Royal Navy warships carrying over 700 British regulars. The fleet sailed to Passamaquoddy Bay, where the Fenian force was concentrated. Discouraged and out-manned, the Fenians quickly dispersed, but the attempted invasion had far-reaching effects for the fledgling country of Canada.
The attempted invasion reinforced the idea that New Brunswick would be protected by joining with the British North American colonies of Nova Scotia and the United Province of Canada to form the Dominion of Canada. The greatest impact of the raids was the increased sense of Canadian nationalism, which eventually led the provinces into a Confederation.
To this day, the Fenian raids are viewed as an important factor in creating the Canadian nation.
About Keeper of the Light
…Like the Wild Geese of Old Ireland, five boys grew to manhood despite hunger, war, and the mean streets of New York…
She was everything he despised…but he didn’t know it
Cathal Donnelly washed up on the shores of an Atlantic island one stormy night, with no memory of who he was or why he was there. But is his lovely rescuer his salvation…or his doom?
She dreamed of a very different life
Laura Bainbridge has spent her entire life on tiny Turtle Island, but she dreams of a Season in London and a presentation to Queen Victoria. Can a handsome Irish stranger with a golden tongue and a disturbing past change her heart and convince her to stay?
As Cathal’s memory slowly returns, both he and Laura must come to grips with his painful past…and fight for a future free of hatred and loss.
He moaned again, but made no further response. A cloud skimmed across the moon and away again, leaving her with an unimpeded view of his sleeping face. She caught her breath.
He was beautiful.
His skin was fair but for the nasty gash at his temple. A livid scrape slashed across one high cheekbone. His long black curls flopped wetly over his forehead, and Laura fought the urge to brush them back…
His brows were long, dark slashes against the pallor of his high forehead, the two vertical lines between them the only sign of his conflict. A soft moan spilled from his full lips, making her wonder what it might be like to be kissed by that oh-so-masculine mouth.
Her fascinated gaze roved over the freckles sprinkled across his long straight nose, the tiny dent in his chin that surely must deepen into a cleft when he smiled. He shifted restlessly, drawing her gaze to the broad shoulders encased in white wool, down the long body and along his well-muscled legs. His hands were large and square, calloused and bleeding. One of them clutched a canvas bag in a death grip.
“They’re coming for us.” His deep voice vibrated with raw anguish. “We’ve got to…get out of here. Now!” He tried to rise, but fell back with a helpless half-groan.
Buy Keeper of the Light
I believe I was destined to be interested in history. One of my distant ancestors, Thomas Aubert, reportedly sailed up the St. Lawrence River to discover Canada some 26 years before Jacques Cartier’s 1534 voyage. Another relative was a 17thCentury “King’s Girl,” one of a group of young unmarried girls sent to New France (now the province of Quebec) as brides for the habitants (settlers) there.
My passion for reading made me long to write books like the ones I enjoyed, and I tried penning sequels to my favorite Nancy Drew mysteries. Later, fancying myself a female version of Andrew Lloyd Weber, I drafted a musical set in Paris during WWII.
A former journalist and lifelong Celtophile, I enjoyed a previous career as a reporter/editor for a small chain of community newspapers before returning to my first love, romantic fiction. My stories usually include an Irish setting, hero or heroine, and sometimes all three. I’m the author of The Claddagh Series, historical romances set in Ireland and beyond. The first three books in The Claddagh Series, In Sunshine or in Shadow, Coming Home, and Playing For Keeps, are all available from Highland Press. Deceptive Hearts and Keeper of the Light, the first two books in The Wild Geese Series, have just been released.
I am a member of the Romance Writers of America, Hearts Through History Romance Writers, and Celtic Hearts Romance Writers. A lifelong resident of Montreal, Canada, I still live there with my own Celtic hero and our two teenaged children.
My newest ebook, an American Victorian romance, is scheduled for release from The Wild Rose Press in late January 2014, but is now available early exclusively at Amazon.
I’m sharing the blurb today, plus an excerpt. Anyone who leaves a comment today will be eligible to win a PDF copy of The Physician’s Irish Lady. Winner to be announced in the comment section tomorrow. Be sure to leave a way for me to contact you.
Blurb: Keara Fagan is falsely accused of insurrection against the British and sentenced to indentured servitude in Australia. The Irish native escapes on a ship bound for America with no money and the clothes on her back. Now, she must stay on the run while trying to survive in a strange land.
As Dr. Elliot James travels by train from Philadelphia to York, a young woman faints at his feet. He’s sworn, as a physician, to aid the sick and injured, but fears this woman needs more than medical help. Enchanted by her beauty and touched by her dignity, he buys her a meal and offers her a place to stay in his small Pennsylvania town.
But a mysterious Irishman pursues her to the idyllic town surrounded by scenic farmland. Is he the abusive husband come to claim his runaway wife, or someone more sinister?
Dr. Elliot James studied his notebook as passengers stepped off the train. He’d be relieved to disembark at York. His trip to the medical conference in Philadelphia had been a huge success. The new techniques would aid his small practice encompassing the town of Fairfield and the neighboring rural area.
A crash and commotion a few seats behind him, sent his head swiveling.
“I think she’s fainted,” a man said.
Elliot glanced back at a young woman sprawled in the aisle. Her bonnet had slipped from her head, revealing red-gold hair. The conductor patted her cheeks in an effort to revive her.
Elliot rose from his seat. “Allow me to take a look.”
The conductor gave way as Elliot sank to the floor. The woman’s eyes were closed, but her chest rose steadily with each breath. He grasped her wrist checking for a pulse. A long strand of hair had come loose from her bun. He pushed the silky strand away from her pale cheek.
“She’s not dead, is she?” The conductor’s shaggy brows drew down in concern.
“No, she likely just fainted. Help me get her into the seat beside me. I’ll see if I can revive her.”
Elliot and the conductor lifted her into the window seat. The physician turned and faced the remaining passengers. “Is anyone traveling with this woman?”
Five men and two women shook their heads.
“I think she boarded alone,” the conductor offered.
“Fine then.” Elliot turned toward the woman, where she lay against the back of the seat, before he dug in his bag. Pulling out smelling salts, he lifted one of the vials under her nose and held the back of her head.
She coughed. Her eyes flew open, then widened. “What…where am I?”
Elliot nodded at the conductor who hovered over the seat. “I’m sure she’ll be fine. I’ll take care of her for now.”
The conductor nodded, then strode ahead to assist new passengers to board.
“You’ll be fine, Miss. I’m a physician. It seems you fainted in the aisle.”
“Fainted?” she sputtered.
“Yes.” He glanced at the station. “Did you wish to disembark here?”
“‘Tis to York I be needing to go.” She leaned forward clutching her stomach.
Elliot studied her. “Are you ill?”
A loud growl rose from her gut. Her lips quivered into the semblance of a smile. “Just a wee bit hungry, ’tis all. I’ll be fine.’
Elliot frowned. “Tell me, when did you last eat?”
“I—ah, I can’t be sure.”
The Physician’s Irish Lady coming 1/22/14
Visit my website for info on all my books: http://susanmacatee.com
At any rate, it’s out. Generally, announcing a book here on the Vic’s blog I would like to give you the piece of history that called me to a book, since history of the era is mostly what we’re about here. For Wicked Woman it was a fascination with the Boston Brahmins. With The Wild One, it was a continuation of that fascination, along with that of San Franciscan society and acting in the Victorian era. I suppose The Wild Half was a fascination of cowboys in general, but because the book was such a launch point for my historical research, there is really no one thing to talk about. Sure, there’s a lot of ranching history. But there’s also research on cholera in the Victorian era and research on tuberculosis (which is only a few lines, but many hours of work). There’s the research on laudanum, and research on Custer’s last stand and Colorado’s statehood. There’s treasure in the Sangre De Cristo’s, lots and lots of slang, and quite a bit of psychology as well. In the end, this book encompasses most of the posts I’ve made here at Slip Into Something Victorian over the years, some my fellow Vic’s have written, and some I’ve yet to write up.
So really, historically, it’s a mishmash. What I did with this book was try to put the characters not in the Wild West so much as put them in the Victorian era. It wasn’t on purpose; what I’ve learned over the years just bled into this book. In the end though, I’m happier with that. If there’s anything I would like to accomplish, it’s to write books that integrate the history of Victorian America, and maybe eventually the rest of the Victorian world. Sure, The Wild Half is a Western, in that most of it takes place on a ranch, but these characters are part of Victorian America, not just Colorado, 1876. It’s 11 years past the Civil War, 13 years past slavery, but it’s still in their minds, it’s still part of their lives. They’re excited about the invention of the telephone and Colorado’s statehood, and are emotionally and mentally affected by Custer’s last stand.
Sometimes I feel like we view history in a kind of vacuum. As if, for example, the Civil War ended in 1865 and that was it, no more thoughts on it. Sometimes it feels like we look at the history of the West like it was a separate country. Neither is true. Today, in 2013 we still, on a subtle level, feel the effects of the Civil War. It’s only realistic to consider that the people of the West also felt it, especially since the history of the Civil War was the history of the West. A lot of the cowboys were displaced southerners, and part of the need for beef back East was due to the destruction of that war.
And so. . .I hope that’s what I did with this book. I hope when you read it, that’s what you read, that’s what you feel–all the history of the era, and the characters living it just as we today live the triumphs and tragedies of our parents and the other parts of our country and our world. Let me know!
Blub: The Wild Half
Chasing her was his first mistake. . . .
Lilah Martin is a hunted woman who has roamed the West for three years, staying one step ahead of men who are trying to kill her. Fear is her only friend; staying alive is her only goal. Then she lands a job at the Bar M, a prosperous and well-protected ranch in Colorado, where she finds friendship, sanctuary and a life that is almost normal. Or so it seems until she falls prey to the wildly seductive and dangerously inquisitive Rick Winchester. . .
A former outlaw, Rick has spent five years searching for distraction from guilt over his wife’s death. He finally finds it in the simmering sexual attraction between Lilah and him, and the dark intrigue surrounding her. But the more he delves into her secrets, the more of a mystery she becomes, until, frightened, she flees the Bar M. Determined not to lose this woman, Rick races after her, catapulting them into a clash of wills, which can only end in the discovery of a deadly secret locked away in Lilah’s mind. A secret that could make them both rich. Or get them both killed. . . .
Excerpt: The Wild Half
In the mirror, Lilah watched Rick settle into a sagging, blue upholstered chair that she’d shoved into the opposite corner. The room was plain, with bare plaster walls and scratched floors, and so small Rick could sit in the chair and prop his feet up on the rope bed.
She tightened her grip on her glass. “Why are you here?”
“For you, naturally.” His honeyed voice glided over her body like a caress, promising hours of illicit—possibly deadly—pleasure.
As his eyes drilled into her back, she took another gulp of whiskey. “For what? What do you want?” Her voice sounded tight, nervous, not cold and repelling like she wanted.
“So suspicious, darlin’. Can’t a man visit an old friend without having ulterior motives?”
“We’re not old friends.”
He paused a minute. “New friends, then.”
“We’re not new friends, either.”
“All right,” he said slowly. “What are we? You tell me.”
She opened her mouth, then shut it abruptly. “Lovers” was not the right answer. Damn, but she had to get rid of him. Three weeks away from him, and she’d yet to regain control of her senses. Worse still was the fact that he’d followed her here, all the way from the Bar M, proving that he didn’t want her to regain that control.
But, a tiny voice asked, wasn’t that a little flattering?
As flattering as a mountain lion stalking an elk.
“I came to help you,” Rick interrupted her thoughts
“I don’t want your help.”
A movement in the mirror. He rose and approached the dresser, where he poured himself a drink. He brushed against her and her skin heated, anticipating a more erotic touch. Clenching her jaw, she stepped over to peer out the dirty windowpane to the dark alley below and waited for him to settle in the chair again. The bed creaked.
He’d seated himself on it, to her left. The dresser was behind her, to the right. To reach the door, she’d have to push past him. He’d trapped her. Her breath caught in her throat.
He peered at her. “A few weeks back I met a man who was looking for you.”
She froze as blood rushed to her head. Grabbing the windowpane to steady herself, she worked her features into blankness, then turned. “What did he look like? What did he want?”
His eyes were intense, penetrating. “Dark hair, medium height, thirty or so, with a mustache. He said his name was John Carpenter, from New Orleans. He claimed he was trying to help your brother find you, that you’d run off with some fella after quarrelling with your father.”
Lilah looked to the floor, combing her memory. Thirty with a mustache? That description could match many men. Had she heard the name before, though? She rubbed her temple. “I don’t remember.”
The words slipped out, more pieces to a puzzle she wanted to hide. With a harsh thump of her heart, she lifted her head. Their gazes locked. The tamped-down anger she’d seen when Rick first entered the saloon flickered to life. “You don’t remember what? Carpenter? Your family? Or the man you ran off with?”
“It’s none of your business!” she snapped. “How many times must I tell you that before you leave me alone!” He was too near—to the truth, to her. The air between them grew heavy and thick. If he’d just move back. . .
“And how many times do I have to tell you it is my business?” he growled. “I’m here to help you, whether you want it or not. Get that straight.”
It didn’t make sense. Unless Carpenter had told him about the price on her head. Had they’d joined forces? Rick had had a lot of money at that card game, more than she could attribute to a forty-dollar-a-month cowhand. Betrayal. . .
Her heart shook and then rose to clog her throat. “I don’t want your help,” she said, digging in her pocket for her derringer. “And I don’t have to take it.” She stepped toward the door.
He rose, blocking her exit with his large body as he grabbed her arm to prevent her from lifting her weapon. The smell of leather and dust and stale cigarette smoke enveloped her, making breathing even harder. “Give me the gun, Lilah.”
She swallowed. “No.”
A muscle jumped in his cheek and his eyes flashed angry blue lightning. “God damn it, woman,” he ground out as he slid his hand down to her wrist. “I spent three weeks traveling through this god-forsaken country looking for you. I’ll be damned if I’m going to let you shoot me, now.” His fingers grasped her wrist so tightly her hand went numb. She loosened her grip, and he pulled the gun free. Stepping backward, he emptied the two barrels and pocketed the bullets. He slapped the gun down on the dresser. “You’re taking my help.