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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

 

 

New Release–Shadows of the Soul

DeniseEagan_ShadowsOfTheSoul_200pxWhat do you do when you discover your imaginary friend is real?

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:

 

Available 99 cents on kindle

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. . .

 

Excerpt:

PROLOGUE

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.

 

 

Early Amazon release of The Physician’s Irish Lady

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?

Excerpt:
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

Now available on Amazon KDP select http://www.amazon.com/The-Physicians-Irish-Lady-ebook/dp/B00FDXQ684/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1380111260&sr=1-1&keywords=the+physician%27s+irish+lady

Visit my website for info on all my books: http://susanmacatee.com

New Release–The Wild Half

the wild half blog 2So my next book, The Wild Half is out, as an ebook both at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.  It’s a Western, set in 1876 in Colorado.  This was the first historical that I completed, started as a teenager and finished when I was in my early 30’s.  I’ve finished it a lot more times since then–in my mid 30’s and late 30’s and early 40’s and. . .well you catch my drift.   I’ve rewritten, revised, polished, edited and basically practiced on it for years. It is also a book that defies many romance writing rules because when you’re a teenager, you don’t know there are romance writing rules.  By the time I learned them, it was too late–the characters and basic plot was set in my mind.

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

This comes a third of the way through the book, after Lilah’s escaped Rick and the Bar M.  He finds her in the back room of a saloon, playing poker.  Afterwards he follows her back to her hotel room–a private room, with a lock that she’s paid extra for.  He’s angry that she ran, he’s angry that she won’t tell him what kind of trouble she’s in and he’s very angry that he’s been worried sick about her for 3 weeks, but she appears entirely unharmed and perfectly fine.

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.

The New Woman

In my new time travel romance release, Thoroughly Modern Amanda, the heroine lives in a small town in Pennsylvania in 1881. She’s from a middle-class family, in her early twenties, unmarried and works as a reporter and writer for a magazine, although her ambition is to move to a big city, like Philadelphia, and work as a reporter for a city newspaper.

At the end of the nineteenth century, women’s lives were going through dramatic changes on different fronts. And this change was most visible for middle and upper class daughters.  Fifty-five percent of high school students and sixty percent of graduates, in the late nineteenth century, were women. All but three state universities, Virginia, Georgia and Louisiana, admitted women by 1900. And those admittances were on the same terms as that of men. By 1920, women made up a growing portion of college undergraduates, at a time when only a small number of Americans pursued college educations. Higher education signified women had goals beyond domestic occupations. White, native born women joined white foreign born and black women in the labor force despite the exploitative conditions which most labored under. And women increasingly sought employment in historically male professions. Female’s professionally reached their peak in the early twentieth century.

In the late nineteenth century, where my story is set, most women employed outside the home were clerical workers. These “new women” represented a “vanguard of social usefulness and personal autonomy” leading to independent womanhood. Women sought to extend their boundaries and raise the stakes through the woman’s movement.

These were the new feminists, described by Randolph Bourne, a progressive intellectual at Columbia University:

“They are all social workers, or magazine writers in a small way. They are decidedly emancipated and advanced, and so thoroughly healthy and zestful, or at least it seems so to my unsophisticated masculine sense. They shock you constantly…They have an amazing combination of wisdom and youthfulness, of humor and ability, and innocence and self-reliance, which absolutely belies everything you will read in the story-books or any other description of womankind. They are of course all self-supporting and independent, and they enjoy the adventure of life; the full, reliant, audacious way in which they go about makes you wonder if the new woman isn’t to be a very splendid sort of person.”

http://www.library.csi.cuny.edu/dept/history/lavender/386/newwoman.html

This new feminism was a spirit of rebellion at the turn of the century. The woman’s movement became severed from Christianity and conventional respectability. The movement was seen as a “revolt against formalism” in American culture. Women refused to be defined under the definitions of character and nature attributed to females that had been handed down for generations. These women wished to “achieve self-determination through life, growth, and experience.” Charlotte Perkins Gilman described the “new woman” in this way: “Here she comes, running, out of prison and off the pedestal; chains off, crown off, halo off, just a live woman.”

Feminists sought to change society’s expectations regarding male dominance. In order to do this, they needed to create a community of women struggling against patriarchy. The suffrage and feminist movements overlapped as the organizations broadened to include working women, leftists and pacifists. And the suffrage campaign provided feminists with a platform.

But while the suffragists stressed the importance of women’s duties, including female nurturance, selfless service and moral uplift, feminists fought for a woman’s rights. Their struggle was against social, political and economic discrimination based on sex.

On this final day of my blog tour for Thoroughly Modern Amanda, be sure to leave a comment on this post to be entered to win a PDF copy of the ebook and a $10.00 gift certificate for The Wild Rose Press.

And be sure to stop by fellow Victorian, Isabel Roman’s blog http://www.authorisabelroman.blogspot.com/ for my interview and another chance to win a prize.

Anyone who left a comment on all my blog tour posts will also be included in the drawing for the grand prize, a $50.00 Amazon gift card. And if no one left a comment at every stop, I’ll pick the one who left the most comments and draw a winner if I have a tie. All winners will be announced here http://susanmacatee.wordpress.com tomorrow.

Blurb for Thoroughly Modern Amanda:

Believing anything is possible, magazine reporter Amanda Montgomery dreams about being a modern woman in a nineteenth century world, much like her exceptional step-mother.  But society expects well-off young ladies to focus on finding a suitable husband and raising a family.  And then Jack appears—with no past and unconventional ideas. Does he hold the key to another century as well as her heart, or is she destined to stay in her own time?

Construction worker Jack Lawton wants to preserve an old home that’s scheduled for demolition.  But when he sneaks inside for a final look, a loose beam falls on his head, and upon waking, he finds himself in the arms of a beautiful woman.  His only problem—he’s no longer in the twenty-first century.  Can he find his way back home? Does he really want to?

Excerpt:

“Mother, before I leave for work, I’d like to have a word with you in the parlor.”

Erin quirked a brow, but nodded. With the cook occupied at the sink, she gathered her skirts and followed Amanda from the room.

At the parlor door, Erin frowned. “Is there a problem, Amanda?”

She nodded and opened the door to the empty room. She had to find out the truth about Jack and was sure Erin knew more than she admitted.

Motioning her step-mother to take a seat on the settee, Amanda waited, tapping her foot.

Erin sighed, eyeing her. “So, tell me what’s wrong.”

“Where did Jack come from, Mother?” Amanda propped both hands on her hips.

Erin spread her hands. “How would I know? From his clothing and the place you found him, he must be a workman. But I don’t understand why no one else was in the house at the time. He surely wouldn’t have been working alone.” She shook her head. “And he doesn’t seem to remember anything except his name.”

Amanda bit her lip. “I don’t believe you, Mother. I heard you and Jack talking upstairs.”

Erin’s eyes widened, but she said nothing.

“He was saying something about the future. And he also uses those phrases peculiar only to you.”

“Amanda, I told you those were only stories I made up to entertain you when you were a child.”

“So I believed. But no longer. You have a connection with Jack.”

“I never met the man before. I swear.” Erin raised her hand.

The door creaked open, startling Amanda. Her father stood in the foyer.

“Something wrong, Will?” Erin asked.

Her father stepped into the room. “I was just upstairs with Jack. He needs attending to.”

“I’ll go.” Erin stood. “There are breakfast leavings in the kitchen if you’re hungry.”

He nodded. “I’ll get a quick bite, then I have to get to the bank.” He stepped forward and kissed Erin on the lips.

Her step-mother’s face flushed. “See you tonight.”

Her father pecked Amanda’s cheek, then stepped out, leaving the door ajar.

Amanda grasped Erin’s arm. “I’ll see to Jack, Mother.”

Erin’s brows rose. “Nonsense. You get yourself ready for work, I’ll take care of Jack.”

Amanda scowled. “But they can do without me for a half hour. You can get started on your new book.”

Erin opened her mouth, but hesitated. “I’ll have plenty of time to work after I take care of him.”

Amanda huffed and left the room. She’d catch her father before he left for the bank, but intended to see Jack and question him further.

Thoroughly Modern Amanda is available from The Wild Rose Press

And is now an Amazon Kindle book

And a Nook Book at Barnes and Noble

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!

Women’s Rights in the 19th Century

My newest historical romance, Cassidy’s War, takes place five years after the American Civil War in 1870. My character is fighting for the right to attend formal medical school in order to establish a licensed medical practice, but women all over the United States faced a long, hard road for the rights that every man enjoyed.

The nineteenth century was a tumultuous time for the establishment of women’s rights, as women fought for their freedom at the same time many men sought to hold them back.

In 1870, the 15th Amendment gave voting rights to all men, including blacks, but women were excluded.

In 1845, a female reporter, Margaret Fuller, wrote ‘Women in the Nineteenth Century’. She insisted that “individuals had unlimited capacities and that when people’s roles were defined according to their sex, human development was severely limited”.

During the 19th century, women in the United States both organized and participated in many types of reform movements. They sought to improve education, initiate prison reform and ban alcoholic drinks; and in the pre-Civil War period, rallied to free the slaves.

In this time period, a woman speaking before a mixed audience, was frowned upon. But abolitionist sisters, Sarah and Angelina Grimke from South Carolina, spoke out against slavery in public meetings. A few of the male abolitionists, notably, William Lloyd Garrison, Wendell Phillips and Frederick Douglass were supportive of women speaking and participating in antislavery activities.

Women compared their position with that of slaves. Women and slaves were supposed to remain “passive, cooperative and obedient to their master-husbands”. Many feminists were also abolitionists, including Stanton, Lucy Stone, Lucretia Mott, Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth.

Dorothea Dix led a movement for prison reform in the mid 1800s. She also worked to provide mental-hospital care for the needy.

In July 1848 the first women’s rights convention was held in Seneca Falls, N. Y. Elizabeth Cady Stanton wrote that “all men and women are created equal” and that “the history of mankind is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations on the part of man toward woman”.

Women abolitionists were disappointed after the Union victory in the Civil War. They’d hoped the fight for freedom for blacks would also help advance women’s rights. However, the 14th and 15th Amendments granted citizenship and suffrage to black men, but women, whatever their color, were excluded.

Women finally did win the right to vote, but it was long hard struggle. Although women in the western states of Wyoming Territory, Utah Territory, Colorado and Idaho all won the vote by 1896, but eastern states resisted granting that right. Also an amendment to the Federal Constitution granting woman suffrage, failed to pass by the end of the 19th century.

For more info on women’s rights, visit there sites:
http://lcweb2.loc.gov/ammem/naw/nawstime.html
http://www.now.org/issues/economic/cea/ireland.html

For more on my novel, Cassidy’s War, and to read the opening chapters, visit my website http://susanmacatee.com

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