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Guest Blogger–Rachel Brimble

Rachel Brimble

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!

 Books

 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

 Film/TV

 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…

Excerpt

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.

 

Available:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Barnes & Noble

About Rachel

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!

Links:

Website

Blog

Twitter

Facebook

Facebook Street Team – Rachel’s Readers

 

 

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#Guest Cynthia Owens

Hi Victorians, and thank you for having me today. I’m thrilled to be returning to Slip Into Something Victorian, and I’m happy to be talking about both my new novel, Deceptive Hearts, Book I of The Wild Geese Series, and an item that plays a very important part in my story: the Derringer.

Deceptive Hearts is set in New York City in 1865, in both elegant Gramercy Park and the Five Points, where my hero, Shane MacDermott grew up – and where my heroine, Lydia Daniels, visits on a regular basis. Lydia is determined to save the girls and women there from their abusive fathers and husband, no matter the risk to herself.

“Jamie brought word of another one.”

Alex tensed. “Where?”

“Five Points. Again.” Lydia’s lips twisted. “Apparently the combination of joblessness and Guinness makes a man…difficult.”

Difficult. The age-old euphemism. Alex nodded. “What’s her name?”

“Nan Daly.” Squaring her shoulders, Lydia vowed, “I am going there first thing tomorrow.”

“Not alone!”

Lydia’s mouth set into a stubborn line. “I must Alex. You know I have to.”

“At least take Jamie with you.”

Lydia shook her head, capturing Alex’s hand in hers and giving it a quick squeeze. “You know how hard it is to win the trust of these women. Jamie will drive me, stand by me if I need him, but I must see her alone. He might intimidate her. Do not worry,” she added. “I shall be perfectly safe.” She waved a shaky hand in the direction of the little locked drawer in her night table. “I will be armed.”

The Derringer is Lydia’s weapon of choice when she ventures into the Five Points, a notorious area of New York City dominated by run-down tenements and desperate immigrants.

A Derringer was a tiny handgun frequently used by women because of its ease of concealment. It was not a repeating gun, which would add size and bulk to the weapon. The original cartridge Derringer held only a single round, and the barrel pivoted sideways on the frame to allow access to the breech for reloading. These pocket pistols were tiny enough to be carried in a woman’s reticule or stocking and proved good protection for the city’s prostitutes. Though not very powerful, the bullet’s slow speed made them more dangerous.

The most important feature of a Derringer—both for Lydia and for the woman on the street—is that, though the bullet moved slowly enough to be seen in flight, at close range it could easily kill.

Blurb:
…Like the Wild Geese of Old Ireland, five boys grew to manhood despite hunger, war, and the mean streets of New York…

He survived war, and returned to devastation

A hero of the Irish Brigade, Shane MacDermott returned home to New York to find his family decimated and his world shattered.

She risks her life to save the people she loves

Lydia Daniels will risk anything to protect the women she shelters beneath the roof of her elegant Gramercy Park mansion—even if she has to trust the one man who can destroy her.

Shane and Lydia both hide secrets that could destroy them – and put their lives in jeopardy. Can their love overcome their carefully guarded deceptive hearts?

Excerpt:
“We meet again.” Shane kept his voice quiet so as not to frighten Mary Kate any further. He let his gaze rest on her for a long silent moment. He’d learnedDeceptive_Hearts long ago that a piercing stare would make the guilty guiltier. Kieran once told him his stare could cut right though a Reb line to the plantation they were set to defend.

“So we do, Officer…?” Lydia let her sentence trail off, obviously hoping he would offer the information she sought.

Ah, no, my lovely one. Not yet.

He kept his gaze on her face. “May I ask what you are doing—here?” Satisfaction gripped him as her lashes flickered and her hands clutched the folds of her gown more tightly. “The Five Points is hardly a neighborhood for a gently-bred young woman such as yourself to be taking a stroll.”

Behind him, Mary Kate’s breath caught on a sob. But he couldn’t spare her a look. Not yet. “What business have you with this young lady, Mrs…?”

Her chin jerked up, her eyes snapping as she refused the bait. Reluctant admiration curled in the pit of his stomach. He watched in fascination as she moved to place a gentle hand on the girl’s shoulder. “It is all right, Mary Kate. I understand why you feel you cannot leave your father.” To Shane, she said defensively, “I offered Mary Kate a position in my household, officer. I thought it might improve her circumstances.”

Buy Links:
Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Smashwords

The Book Depository

Books-A-Million

 About Cynthia:
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, the first book in The Wild Geese Series, has just been released, and Book II, Keeper of the Light, will soon be released from Highland Press.

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.

Where to find Cynthia:

Website
Facebook
Twitter

 

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

Guest Blogger: Juli D. Revezzo

Our guest blogger, Juli D. Revezzo has a new release titled The Artist’s Inheritance. She’s here today to talk about her book and also the inspiration behind it, Fort Pickens in Pensacola, Florida.

Welcome Juli!

Thanks Susan and ladies for having me here today. 🙂

Researching can be fun and productive by Juli D. Revezzo

When I began working on what became my debut novel The Artist’s Inheritance, I thought, the story had to go back into history but I wanted it set here in Florida. I knew about Henry B. Plant and his hotel to which Civil War era soldiers came to recuperate, but somehow that didn’t work. I wanted battle. Now, I had an uncle who was a well-known historian on the Tampa area; unfortunately, he passed away several years ago. What little I could find in the library about the battles here (out on Bayonet Point, but mostly centered in Tampa Bay) didn’t quite fit the story.

I hit the Internet and sent a learned friend, Debra Glass, some emails and we ended up finding Fort Pickens up in Pensacola, Florida.

Now that wasn’t exactly the area I wanted, but it was still in the good ole Sunshine State so I thought okay, and took a look at the articles. The fort is still very much in tact and that fit the landscape I saw in my head. There were even some really nifty photos that fit the dark tone of the story. Oh, boy! Did those spark some ideas!

A few dozen runs through Google and I had a good working beginning.

Fort Pickens, it turns out, was built expressly for the war—the Union seized it and occupied it for the duration.

The Union? I couldn’t believe there was a Union-held Fort in Florida. My intrigue deepened and I noodled around for weeks, checking out books on the civil war and trawling Google and other search engines, combing through the archives of the University of South Florida (and bugging Debra and Susan and a few other pals). I even contacted a friend who lived in the area for some of his recollections.

Unfortunately, those were all based around the time of the Indian wars. Yeah, the little fort in Pensacola Bay started out as a Civil War base, and from what I gleaned, most people only knew it as the holding cell for Geronimo.

I kept reading and hit dozens, and dozens of sites (check out

http://civilwarflorida.blogspot.com/2011/01/january-16-1861-lt-slemmer-refuses-to.html

http://civilwarflorida.blogspot.com/2012/04/fort-mcree-lost-fort-of-pensacola-bay.html

(Battle of Pensacola Bay/Fort Pickens November 1861)

http://dmna.ny.gov/historic/reghist/civil/infantry/6thInf/6thInfMain.htm

http://www.nps.gov/guis/planyourvisit/fort-pickens.htm

http://www.militaryhistoryonline.com/civilwar/misc/barrancas.aspx

http://www.tulane.edu/~latner/Pickens.html

among many others). Then, my Trevor’s ancestor Roland popped up and said, “Lookee here, girl, you know I was at that fort. Trevor and his family may think I’m nuts but—”

Yeah, well, how can I believe anything out of his mouth? He’s not only crazy, but…well, a ghost. Would you believe him? *eyes crazy soldier* Well, Roland’s a little old school, and he’s got a hero streak a mile long (even if he is crazy—and did I mention, very transparent?), I suppose I’ll have to believe what he says.

Either way, after tons of research in a very short time, I think I got the fort right. I hope I did, because, you know what? I fell in love with the little structure. 🙂 See what a bit of research will do? It resulted in an interest, and a book, or more than one, if my dear Colonel Fulmer gets his way. 😉

I love ghost stories, Juli! Tell us more about your book.

Wanna know more about The Artist’s Inheritance? Okay.Here we go:

Trouble only a witch can solve…

Settling into a new home, Caitlin notices changes coming over her husband. When nightmares deepen and ghosts begin lurking—Caitlin knows something’s not right, and not just her newfound precognitive abilities. It’s the damned chair her husband’s carving, she’s sure. Could it be just what it seems: a mundane piece of furniture? If so, why is it attracting dark forces—the forces she suspects drove Trevor’s siblings to insanity and suicide?

Armed with a handful of allies–a coven of helpful witches–she must proceed with caution against the hellish forces besieging her family. If she fails, she may lose forever the one thing she cares about most: her beloved Trevor.

Sounds great! Could you share an excerpt?

Caitlin tapped down a stack of pink birthday announcements. “Ex-boyfriends

changed into toads, 25¢ each?”

Heather wrinkled her thin nose. “Very funny, and here I come all this way to help you. Besides, I wouldn’t charge less than $25 each.” Her smile faded. “I found something for you.”

“Did you?” Caitlin tapped the copier, watching a set of copied pictures slide out, some beachscape in 16×20. “About the ghost?”

“I’ve got a list of the soldiers stationed at Fort Pickens.” She leaned closer, lowering her voice. “Your soldier’s regiment came from New York.”

Caitlin snatched the paper out of her hands. “Oh, my God. How did you find this?”

Heather studied her nails nonchalantly. “I have my ways. There are a lot of records I have access to in the county records office.” Heather leaned closer and lowered her voice. “Plus some friends in other offices around the city, if you know what I mean.”

Caitlin nodded. “Beryl said something to that effect.”

“Don’t spread it around, though.”

“I wouldn’t dream of it.” Caitlin turned her attention to the list.

“Alexander Johnson, David Andrews, Michael Southerland, Roland Fulmer.”

Fulmer?

Heather peered over her shoulder and whistled.

Caitlin folded the paper and slid it into her pocket. “He’s watching me, isn’t he?”

“The squirrely looking guy?” She met Caitlin’s eyes. “He your boss?”

“Unfortunately. I’ll look at this later.”

“Do y’all have a family bible at home?”

Caitlin met her eyes. “How’d you know?”

“Lucky guess. If this soldier really is related to you, it might be the best place to find out.”

I hope you find it intriguing. 🙂 Again, thanks to the ladies at Slip Into Something Victorian for hosting me and my lil ghostly soldier today!

Sounds fun, just in time for Halloween! Tell us where we can get it.

It’s available at Amazon:

http://amzn.to/SvEz4w

Barnes and Noble:

http://bit.ly/R7bkp4

Smashwords:

http://bit.ly/RH0GCI

and in paperback at Createspace

http://bit.ly/RkOdr0

About Juli D. Revezzo

Juli D. Revezzo is a Florida girl, with a love of fantasy, science fiction, and Arthurian legend, so much so she gained a B.A. in English and American Literature. She loves writing stories with fantastical elements whether it be a full-on fantasy, or a story set in this world–slightly askew. She has been published in short form, and recently released her debut novel, The Artist’s Inheritance.

She also has an article and book review or two out there. But her heart lies in the storytelling. She is a member of the Independent Author Network and the Magic Appreciation Tour.

You can find more about her at:

http://julidrevezzo.com/

And her blog:

http://julidrevezzo.wordpress.com/

You can also find her on Amazon

on Author’s Den

http://www.authorsden.com/visit/author.asp?AuthorID=167318

On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/JD-Revezzo/233193150037011

Good Reads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5782712.Juli_D_Revezzo

Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/111476709039805267272/posts

Shelfari: http://www.shelfari.com/authors/a1002694572/Juli-D-Revezzo/

and Twitter: @julidrevezzo

VICTORIAN JEWELRY and NO GREATER GLORY BY CINDY NORD

    VICTORIAN JEWELRY

The Victorians had a reputation for beauty & grace as evidenced in the exquisite pins, brooches, strap or slide bracelets, necklaces and crosses that were favored during this time period. The ladies needed just the right piece to wear to a candle lit dinner or an afternoon stroll in the park. The elegant jewelry chosen between 1837 to 1901 clearly underscores the Victorian love of accessorizing.  Known as first The Romantic Period and then The Grand Period in regards to jewelry, the Victorian years are broken down into: ‘Early Victorian’– from 1837 to 1845.  ‘Mid Victorian — from 1846 to 1886. And ‘Late Victorian’ — from 1887 to 1901.

Calla Lily Gold Locket
Photo courtesy Lang Antiques

Popular motifs throughout all three cycles were serpents (symbols of eternity), and pendants encasing locks of hair from a loved one or hair woven into beautiful pieces.  Filigree gold helped to stretch the costly metal and the addition of pink coral, turquoise and seed pearls alongside amethyst, aquamarine, blue zircon, citrine, emeralds, garnets, ruby, “pinked” topaz, and sapphires caught the candlelight and warmed the ladies skin. Natural resources like bog oak, gutta percha, jet, ivory, lava, and vulcanite were also extremely popular, especially for carved pieces and cameos. Along with the precious jewels and sterling settings, popular items such as love knots and carved clasped hands were coveted. Diamonds were worn in the evening and only by the married or the betrothed woman. And the emergence of colored stones grew with the young unwedded lady.

Civil War earrings
Hair jewelry courtesty
whitneybria.blog

During the Mid-Victorian years we also saw a large introduction of mourning pieces due to the fact that Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s beloved husband, died in 1861 of Typhoid Fever. Upon his death the Romantic Period ended. To narrow the jewelry field down further, the two-year period between 1861 – 1863 became known to history as the ‘Victorian Mourning Era’ and the pieces that become most popular during this sad time consisted of jet, human hair, gutta percha, bog oak or other black material.  Natural Tortoise shell pieces are viewed by some as ‘Victorian half-mourning’ because the mourner would begin to re-introduce these choices only in the second year of their loved one’s passing.

Hair braid pendant
Oak and gold  earrings, pendant
Tiffany 
Civil War hair bracelet
set in 15 c gold

The Victorian years after the death of Prince Albert became The Grand Period (so dubbed because of the grand way in which gems, jewelry and metals were used) and it was during this time period, that gold was discovered. In 1849 in America and in 1852 in Australia. This greatly increased the availability of the precious metal to jewelry designers.  Incredible changes took place in the overall design of jewelry. With a technique passed down from mother to daughter, we see the popularity of locks of a loved one’s hair woven into intricate designs and then enclosed in a locket. Incredibly prevalent during the Civil War years, hair jewelry was used for both Memorial (mourning of a deceased loved one) and Sentimental (remembrance of a living, but distant friend or loved one at war) gifts.

Gold and jade watch fob
Courtesy archives.jewelry.oneof

As Judi Anderson said, “The late Victorian Period, known as the Aesthetic Period or Movement (1880-1901) was a direct response to the over indulgent fashions and to the stuffy formality and strict protocol of the Grand Period. And after 27 years of mourning, even the staid Victorians had lamented enough. During the Aesthetic Period a sense of fun and light heartedness returned to jewelry. Whimsical motifs such as griffins and dragons, crescent moons and stars, butterflies and salamanders, were crafted into jewels of astounding beauty.”

Speaking of jewelry, look at the cameo necklace on the cover of Cindy’s new release, NO GREATER GLORY.

Here’s a blurb for NO GREATER GLORY:

Amid the carnage of war, he commandeers far more than just her home.

Widowed plantation owner Emaline McDaniels has struggled to hold on to her late husband’s dreams. Despite the responsibilities resting on her shoulders, she’ll not let anyone wrest away what’s left of her way of life—particularly a Federal officer who wants to set up his regiment’s winter encampment on her land. With a defiance born of desperation, she defends her home as though it were the child she never had…and no mother gives up her child without a fight.

Despite the brazen wisp of a woman pointing a gun at his head, Colonel Reece Cutteridge has his orders. Requisition Shapinsay—and its valuable livestock—for his regiment’s use, and pay her with Union vouchers. He never expected her fierce determination, then her concern for his wounded, to upend his heart—and possibly his career.

As the Army of the Potomac goes dormant for the winter, battle lines are drawn inside the mansion. Yet just as their clash of wills shifts to forbidden passion, the tides of war sweep Reece away. And now their most desperate battle is to survive the bloody conflict in Virginia with their lives—and their love—intact.

EXCERPT: NO GREATER GLORY

October 1862
Seven miles west of Falmouth, Virginia

A bitter wind slammed through the tattered countryside, sucking warmth from the morning. Emaline McDaniels rocked back in the saddle when she heard the shout. She glanced over her shoulder and her eyes widened. Across the fields of ragged tobacco, her farrier rode toward her at breakneck speed. Lines of alarm carved their way across the old man’s ebony face.

Emaline spurred her horse around to meet him. “What’s wrong?”

Tacker pointed a gnarled finger eastward. “Yankees, Miz Emaline! Coming up da road from Falmouth!”

“Yankees?” Her heart lurched against her ribs. She’d heard of their thievery, the fires and destruction left in their wake. Teeth-gritting determination to save her home flashed through her. She leaned sideways, gripping his work-worn sleeve. “Are you sure they’re not the home guard?”

“No, ma’am. I seen ’em, dey’s blue riders, for sure. Hundreds of ’em.”

Two workers moved closer to listen to the exchange, and the farrier acknowledged them with a quick nod.

“Everyone back to the cabins,” Emaline snapped, sinking into the saddle. “And use the wagon road along the river. It’ll be safer.”

“Ain’t you comin’ with us?”

“No. Now move along quickly, all of you. And keep out of sight.” She flicked the reins and her horse headed straight across the fields toward the red-brick mansion that hugged the far edge of the horizon.

The spongy ground beneath the animal’s hooves churned into clods of flying mud. Aside from a few skirmishes nearby, the war had politely stayed east along the Old Plank Road around Fredericksburg. Her mare crested the small hillock near the main house, and Emaline jerked back on the leather reins. Off to her far right, a column of cavalrymen numbering into the hundreds approached. The dust cloud stirred up by their horses draped in a heavy haze across the late-morning air. In numbed fascination, she stared at the pulsing line of blue-coated soldiers, a slithering serpent of destruction a quarter of a mile long.

Waves of nausea welled up from her belly.

“Oh my God…” she whispered. She dug her boot heels into the mare’s sides and the nimble sorrel sprang into another strong gallop. Praying she’d go unnoticed, Emaline leaned low, her thoughts racing faster than the horse. What do they want? Why are they here?

Her fingers curled into the coarse mane as seconds flew past. At last, she reached the back entrance of the mansion. Quickly dismounting, she smacked the beast’s sweaty flank to send it toward the stable then spun to meet the grim expression fixed upon the face of the old woman who waited for her at the bottom of the steps. “I need Benjamin’s rifle!”

“Everythin’s right dere, Miz Emaline. Right where you’d want it.” She shifted sideways and pointed to the .54 caliber Hawkins, leather cartridge box and powder flask lying across the riser like sentinels ready for battle. “Tacker told me ’bout the Yankees afore he rode out to find you.”

“Bless you, Euley.” Emaline swept up the expensive, custom-made hunting rifle her late husband treasured. The flask followed and she tumbled black crystals down the rifle’s long muzzle. A moment later, the metal rod clanked down inside the barrel to force a lead ball home.

She’d heard so many stories of the bluecoats’ cruelty. What if they came to kill us? The ramrod fell to the ground. With a display of courage she did not feel, Emaline heaved the weapon into her arms, swept past the old servant, and took the wooden steps two at a time.

There was no time left for what ifs.

“You stay out of sight now, Euley. I mean it.” The door banged shut behind Emaline as she disappeared into the house.

Each determined footfall through the mansion brought her closer and closer to the possibility of yet another change in her life. She eased open the front door and peered out across Shapinsay’s sweeping lawns. Dust clogged the air and sent another shiver skittering up her spine. She moved out onto the wide veranda, and with each step taken, her heart hammered in her chest. Five strides later, Emaline stopped at the main steps and centered herself between two massive Corinthian columns.

She squared her shoulders. She lifted her chin. She’d fought against heartbreak every day for three years since her husband’s death. She’d fought the constant fear of losing her beloved brother in battle. She fought against the effects of this foolhardy war that sent all but two of her field hands fleeing. If she could endure all that plus operate this plantation all alone to keep Benjamin’s dreams alive, then surely, this too, she could fight.

And the loaded weapon? Well, it was for her fortitude only.

She knew she couldn’t shoot them all.

“Please, don’t turn in,” she mumbled, but the supplication withered on her lips when the front of the long column halted near the fieldstone gateposts at the far end of the lane. Three cavalrymen turned toward her then approached in a steadfast, orderly fashion.

Her gaze skimmed over the first soldier holding a wooden staff, a swallow-tailed scrap of flag near its top whipping in the breeze. The diminutive silk bore an embroidered gold star surrounded by a laurel wreath, the words, US Cavalry-6th Ohio, stitched beneath. Emaline disregarded the second cavalryman and centered her attention directly upon the officer.

The man sat his horse as if he’d been born in the saddle, his weight distributed evenly across the leather. A dark slouch hat covered sable hair that fell well beyond the collar of his coat. Epaulets graced both broad shoulders, emphasizing his commanding look. A lifetime spent in the sun and saddle added a rugged cast to his sharp, even features.

An overwhelming ache throbbed behind her eyes. What if she had to shoot him?

Or worse—what if she couldn’t?

The officer reined his horse to a stop beside the front steps. His eyes, long-lashed and as brown as a bay stallion’s, caught and held hers. Though he appeared relaxed, Emaline sensed a latent fury roiling just beneath the surface of his calm.

Her hands weakened on the rifle and she leaned forward, a hair’s breadth, unwillingly sucked into his masculinity as night sucked into day. Inhaling deeply, she hoisted the Hawkins to her shoulder, aiming it at his chest. Obviously, in command, he would receive her lone bullet should he not heed her words. “Get off my land!”

CINDY NORD, AUTHOR

A member of numerous writing groups, Cindy’s work has finaled or won countless times, including the prestigious Romance Writers of America National Golden Heart Contest. A luscious blend of history and romance, her stories meld both genres around fast-paced action and emotionally driven characters.

Indeed….true love awaits you in the writings of Cindy Nord
http://www.cindynord.com

Buy NO GREATER GLORY from Samhain Publishing here:
http://store.samhainpublishing.com/cindy-nord-pa-1722.html

or from Amazon here:
http://www.amazon.com/No-Greater-Glory-ebook/dp/B008GWOI9S/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1343950898&sr=1-1&keywords=Cindy+Nord

Thanks for stopping by!

Guest: Rachel Brimble

Lovely Lucknam Park

The inspiration behind my July release, The Arrival Of Lily Curtis came from a house – a house steeped in English beauty and history. Today, Lucknam Park is a five star hotel and spa, boasting Michelin Star chefs and luxurious indulgence and I was thrilled when a friend treated me to afternoon tea there.

As soon as I sat in the astounding beautiful conservatory, I knew I had found my hero’s home. Writers and readers of Victorian romance have the uncanny knack of seeing beyond the modern changes, the dress of today’s visitors and nonchalant acceptance that these buildings exist all over the UK, to propel themselves back to a time when real people lived in such huge homes and rode their horses across such vast estates.

By the mid 1800s, the house had passed hands several times but it was during this time that the magnificent columned portico and bow wings were added to the house as well as acres and acres of country land. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any pictures of the exterior of the house which weren’t under copyright but I strongly urge you to visit the house website to see just how romantic looking a house Lucknam Park is, www.lucknampark.co.uk and how easily it became my mission to make it come alive with my characters and plot.

The rooms are amazing, the Jacobean paneling and crystal chandeliers breathtaking and the antiques scattered seemingly carelessly on side tables and shelving downright scary!

Here’s the blurb for the story I created to take place with Lucknam Park in mind:

At the mention of an arranged marriage, Elizabeth Caughley feels her life is over at the age of three and twenty….so she hatches an escape plan. She will reinvent herself as a housemaid. Overnight, Elizabeth becomes Lily.

Viscount Westrop wants nothing more than his legacy to be passed to his own son one day. Even though he feels insurmountable pity for the unborn child already, he knows how much pain a broken promise can cause and will do what is right. But with the arrival of his new housemaid, his plans are thrown into disarray. Lily is funny, feisty and the most beautiful creature on earth – Andrew is thunderstruck. But if anyone suspects how much he wants to ravish her and endlessly love her, Andrew’s lineage will be in peril. And he cannot let that happen…

Excerpt:

Lily lifted her head and met eyes as blue as a crisp winter sky. He said nothing as he continued to study her. His eyes hungrily brushed over her hair, her neck, her breasts. Lily flicked a glance left and right as her body traitorously heated beneath his gaze. The other gentlemen were carefully watching the exchange. Their curious eyes darted back and forth between the two, undeniable amusement twitching their lips.

“Are you ready to be seated in the dining room, my lord?” Lily said, standing a little straighter.

“I’m sorry?”

“Your meal, sir?”

He blinked and the tension broke. He hastily threw a look at his friends before turning to meet her eyes once more. He straightened his spine and regally lifted his chin. Lily held his gaze, noticed that his eyes now burned with something she couldn’t quite decipher but whatever it was triggered her natural defences to high alert. The curiosity when he had looked at her not a moment before had vanished, only to be replaced with mischief.

His smile turned wolverine. “Oh, I’m more than ready to eat, Lily. I’m positively salivating.”

Lily smarted as his friends burst into a flurry of mocking laughter. She gritted her teeth but kept her eyes locked on his. The tone of his voice had disguised neither the implication nor his obvious enjoyment at her expense. A flame of indignation ignited inside of her.

Her smile was slow and intentionally provocative. “I am so pleased, sir. For I would hate for you to have to endure cold soup.” Her gaze lingered down to his crotch. “After all, you and your guests are quite obviously still chilled from an afternoon of riding.”

The gentlemen’s sniggers instantly halted and the lord’s smile dissolved. He looked from her face to his crotch and back again. His eyes widened.

“Why, you….”

The Arrival of Lily Curtis is available from July 23rd at http://www.thewildrosepress.com but I will be giving a pdf copy to one lucky commenter tomorrow. Hope you enjoy reading Lily and Andrew’s story as much as I did writing it!
www.rachelbrimble.com

Guest: Paty Jager

My June release, Doctor in Petticoats has a heroine with a large scar. She was disfigured as a child while saving her younger sister from a run-away wagon. She’s from a prominent family, and her mother wasn’t about to have a daughter who couldn’t be seen in public. So after years of different treatments and finally realizing the best they could do was cover up the scar, they learned the tricks of makeup application for stage.

 Rachel mixes face powder with lard to blend in the wide ridge of scar tissue from her temple to her jaw.

In my research to discover how she could cover her scar and what types of makeup were available at the time of my book, I scanned the internet and purchased a helpful book. The Actor’s “Make-Up” Book-a Practical and Systematic Treatise on the Art of Making Up for the Stage by N. Helmer

Stage Makeup items available before 1850:

                        White face powder

                        India ink for drawing lines

                        Rouge (very bright red or pink)

                        Misc. artist’s pigment base powders, (like Bole Armenia aka “burnt umber” for a reddish brown tone)

                        Burnt cork (for dark brown/black)

                        Lamp-black (for mascara)

                        Burnt paper (for gray shadows)

                        Spirit gum

                        Wool crepe hair (for both facial hair and false noses)

 1850’s Germany – Mysterious invention of greasepaint (powdered pigments mixed with lard) by either German actor Carl Baudius, or Carl Herbert.

1870’s USA-Anglo-French actor, Charles Fechter, supposedly spreads the use of greasepaint to the US while on tour.

1873 Germany– Ludwig Leichner commercially produces non toxic ready-made greasepaint sticks. Leichner’s company goes on to be the main European theatrical makeup producer for over a century.

1877 England -The Art of “Making-Up” by Haresfoot and Rouge*, published by Samuel French, the first booklet in English on theatre makeup is printed, describing makeup application with powdered pigments. Suggested pigments in this booklet are 3 kinds of white, Dutch pink rouge, carmine red, and ruddy rouge, Mongolian brown, powdered blue, and chrome (yellow), and antimony (a metallic gray-black) used for shadows, which was toxic.

 Blurb for Doctor in Petticoats

After a life-altering accident and a failed relationship, Dr. Rachel Tarkiel gave up on love and settled for a life healing others as the physician at a School for the Blind.  She’s happy in her vocation–until handsome Clay Halsey shows up and inspires her to want more.

Blinded by a person he considered a friend, Clay curses his circumstances and his limitations.  Intriguing Dr. Tarkiel shows him no pity, though.  To her, he’s as much a man as he ever was.

 Can these two wounded souls conquer outside obstacles, as well as their own internal fears, and find love?

 Excerpt

“I’m going to look in your other eye now.” She, again, placed a hand on his face and opened the eyelids, stilling her fluttering heart as she pressed close. His clean-shaven face had a couple small nicks on the edges of his angular cheeks. The spice of his shave soap lingered on his skin.

She resisted the urge to run her cheek against his. The heat of his face under her palm and his breath moving wisps of wayward hair caused her to close her eyes and pretend for a few seconds he could be her husband. A man who loved her and wouldn’t be threatened by her occupation or sickened by her hideous scar.

His breathing quickened. A hand settled on her waist, slid around to her back, and drew her forward. Her hand, holding the lens, dropped to his shoulder, and she opened her eyes. This behavior on both their parts was unconscionable, but her constricted throat wouldn’t allow her to utter the rebuke.

Clay sensed the moment the doctor slid from professional to aroused woman. The hand on his cheek caressed rather than held, her breathing quickened, and her scent invaded his senses like a warm summer rain.

Blog Tour Contest

This day six of my fifteen blog/twelve day tour. Leave a comment and follow me to all the blogs on my tour and you could win an autographed copy of my June release, Doctor in Petticoats, a B&N gift card, and a summer tote filled with goodies. To find out all the places I’ll be, go to my blog- http://www.patyjager.blogspot.com to find the list.

Website: http://www.patyjager.net
Blog: http://www.patyjager.blogspot.com
Buy: http://www.thewildrosepress.com

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