Wednesday, November 30, 2011

WIP Wednesday - Honest writing

For WIP Wednesday, I wanted to talk about writing honestly, no matter how much it bothers you, as the author, to do so. 

In my WIP, the heroine's sister just confessed something she witnessed. I felt a tightening in my gut the whole time I wrote it, then heavily considered removing it for two days after. In the end, I left it in and I'm glad I did. The story would have been paler, and probably more confusing without it.

In The Devil Wears Plaid, by Teresa Medeiros, we learn some pretty terrible stuff about Jamie's past. I have to wonder how different the story would have been if Ms. Medeiros had been to afraid to include it. Jamie's entire past wouldn't exist, a large portion of the motivation for the story wouldn't exist, and the reader would find it far harder to become invested in the story.

Sometimes, as writers, we might want to remove or avoid something that's hard to write. We might tell ourselves that it's not appropriate for the story, or it's not the kind of feelings we want to inspire in our reader, but I suggest thinking on it a few days before hitting delete. 

You might be glad you did. 

Please, feel free to share your favorite book with an indispensable shocking moment.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Opening Sentence Sunday

The 18th century is sometimes considered a placid, peaceful time. It hardly seemed so then.

Any guesses as to the book this belongs to? Click here to see the answer.

Last week's was . . .

Friday, November 25, 2011

Fashion Friday

Los Angeles County Museum of Art - 1790 -1795

Here we have an antique clothing display at the LA Museum of Art.

The tailcoat is brown silk and cotton weave with deep brown silk satin stripes with a short waist and three buttons on each side and an open collar. The vest is silk as well, which was a popular fabric for upper class clothing in the 18th century.

The shirt has ruffles at the wrist and neck. The breeches are tan cotton and the shoes appear to have bows rather than buckles.

What do you think? does this gentleman-equin have style?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Thursday News - Obituary

 April 10, 1789
Death: Last week died John KEY, Esq., of this city [Lincoln], aged 65 years. He served the office of High Sheriff for this county for the year 1773. He has been a liberal benefactor to the General Hospital here and in his Will has bequeathed a legacy of £800 to that excellent Institution.

January 1, 1783
Death: At Bonby, near Barton, Lincolnshire, W KIRBY, aged 102. He was a labouring man, but for the last five or six years looked after cattle; and what was very remarkable, he could leap over the cart dikes with a pole about three years ago. He retained his senses to the last.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

WIP Wednesday - Unusual Duels

Duel au pistolet au XIXème siècle 1857 Bauce et Rouget

During this week, I've been researching duels for a plot line running through my WIP. I found some very interesting tidbits I thought I'd share.

While most duels were fought with sword or gun, some were far more unconventional.

On the 4th of September, 1843, in the commune of Maisonfort, France, two young men named Lenfant and Melfant, quarreled while playing at billiards, and agreed, at last, to settle their disturbance by a duel with billiard balls; after which they drew lots to see which one should get the red ball and throw first. Melfant won the red ball and the first throw, and the two at once took their positions in a garden at a measured distance of twelve paces from each other. Melfant, when the signal was given to throw, made several motions, saying to his adversary, “I am going to kill you at the first throw.” And then he hurled the ivory sphere with deadly aim and effect, for it struck Lenfant in the middle of the forehead and he dropped dead without uttering a word. The survivor was arrested and tried for willful murder, and convicted of manslaughter.

The Field of Honor: Being A Complete and Comprehensive History of Dueling In All Countries; Including the Judicial Duel of Europe, the Private Duel of the Civilized World, and Specific Descriptions of All The Noted Hostile Meetings in Europe and America by Benjamin C. Truman.

And let's not forget the hot air balloons. The staple for any duelist. 
Two Frenchmen chose to fight from balloons over Paris because they believed they had ‘elevated minds’. Monsieur de Grandpré and Monsieur de Pique quarrelled over a famous opera dancer called Mademoiselle Tirevit, who was mistress of one and lover of the other. So,at 9 a.m. on May 3 1808, watched by a huge crowd, the two Parisians climbed into their aircraft near the Tuileries and rose gently up into the morning air. At about 2,000 ft, when the balloons were about 80 yards apart, de Pique fired his crude blunderbuss and missed. De Grandpréaimed his more effectively. De Pique’s balloon collapsed, the basket tipped, and he and his second fell headfirst to their deaths on the rooftops below. De Grandpré and his second, however, drifted happily away in the light north-westerly breeze before landing safely 20 miles away.

--The Last Duel: A True Story of Death and Honour By James Landale

Dueling was not always this conventional. One man actually threw off some surprising constraints when he dueled. 
A Member of Parliament once duelled in the nude. Humphrey Howarth, the MP for Evesham, was attending the races at Brighton in 1806 and dined one night at the Castle Inn. There he fell into discussion with the Earl of Barrymore, an Irish peer. Discussion turned into quarrel and they arranged to meet on the race course early next morning. Both men were rogues, and much given to taking the piss. But even Barrymore was astonished as his opponent took his clothes off and presented himself on the duelling ground armed solely with pistol and pants. The seconds and other witnesses burst out laughing, not least because Howarth was by then a fat old man. But Howarth was in earnest. He had spent much of his earlier life as an army surgeon for the East India Company. He knew gunshot wounds were often infected by the dirty clothing that preceded a bullet into flesh. In the end, however, his precaution was redundant. Both he and his opponent missed their targets  and  resolved their dispute without bloodshed.

--The Last Duel: A True Story of Death and Honour By James Landale

There you have it. Truth really is stranger than fiction.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Farewell to the Wet Nurse

Sometimes when doing research, I come across something that brings historical life into very tangible reality for me. When I was researching pudding caps (a post for another day) I came across this image, Farewell To The Wet Nurse, which did just that.
It was common for wet nurses to raise the children of noble women, at least until they weaned, and sometimes for longer. Since child mortality was so high, during the 18th century, there are stories of wet nurses exposing the baby and keeping the money paid to nurse the child. Babies were left swaddled too long and sometimes even tied to a peg on the wall, according to Society: a brief introduction by Ian Robertson. One gentleman wrote a letter to his wife during her vacation, telling her that he had removed their ten month old son from the care of the nurse because she'd broken his leg, and hidden it for weeks. 
However, say things went well. Your child happily lived with a wet nurse who cared for him as she should. You might end up with a scene like the one we have here. 

From a distance, this  appears to be a sweet farewell, with whispered goodbyes between mother and nurse. However, when we see the close up, the horror of the situation is clear. Even this scenario brought misery. The poor attached child must look at the wet nurse as mother, after a year or more nursing at her breast. the poor baby, and the wet nurse herself, are having a hard time saying goodbye.
I'm just thankful I live now, where I can raise my beautiful babies myself, with the means to keep them safe and the desire to keep them happy.  

Feel free to leave a comment. If you want to, you can share the practice that most shocked you about 18th century living.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Opening Sentence Sunday

The ominous drip, drip of water echoed against the rough-hewn walls of the hidden chamber. It was true, the idol was here.

Any guesses? Want to share your first sentence? Comment here. Click here to see the answer.

Last week's was . . .

Pride and Prejudice

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Spotlight Sunday - Jillian Stone

Today, our visitor is Jillian Stone, a wonderful debut author of dark Victorian novels with a fantastic and original voice. Her debut novel, An Affair With Mr Kennedy, comes out January 31st 2012 and is available for pre-order on Amazon. Please help me welcome her.

I'd love to find out a bit about you as a writer. When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?

I have always been a storyteller and have been fortunate to work in the creative arts my whole life. In 2005, I experienced the loss of three deaths in my family. If anything jolts you into getting on with the work you are meant to do in life, it is the realization that we are here on the planet for a brief moment in time––so best get your stories told! 

I can understand that drive to get a manuscript complete and polished. After that was done, how long did it take you to publish your first novel? 

About three years. In the year I was marketing the AN AFFAIR WITH MR. KENNEDY manuscript, I wrote another novel, THE SEDUCTION OF PHAETON BLACK, a paranormal, steampunky story about an eccentric occult detective who lives in a basement flat below a brothel. On a layover in the Dallas airport on the way to RWA Nationals in 2010, I received "the call" from Kensington Brava editor, Audrey LaFehr, offering a contract for Phaeton! Oddly enough, my first book offer came before I had an agent or had won the Golden Heart for AN AFFAIR WITH MR. KENNEDY. Such a strange business!

That does sound pretty crazy. Now that we know a bit about your writing, let me ask some fun questions.
What is your favorite dessert?  
A coconut cream cupcake from Zov's Bakery!

Ooh, that sounds yummy! Speaking of yummy, let's move to a subject near and dear to all romance writers (and readers) hearts. Men. 
What most attracts you about a man?  
His mind and his sense of humor. I look forward to the day when men return the compliment!

Lol. Anything else you'd like to share? 

Just to give thanks to all the many wonderful editors and writers (April Dawn included) who have helped mentor me through the process of becoming an author. 

Jillian Stone was born a storyteller. A skill that got her into considerable trouble as a youth until she solved the problem by becoming an advertising creative. And the career did seem to suit her as she won many national ad awards including the Clio and the New York Art Director’s Club Gold. What more could she ask for? Create her own worlds? Become goddess of her own universe? Yes! So, she began to write fiction. Her Victorian Romantic Suspense novel AN AFFAIR WITH MR. KENNEDY won the 2010 Golden Heart and sold to Pocket Books. Her sexy, supernatural Steampunk novel, THE SEDUCTION OF PHAETON BLACK, won the 2010 Romance Through The Ages Erotica category and sold to Kensington Brava. Jillian lives in California and is currently working on the next adventure for both series.

 An Affair With Mr. Kennedy

London, 1887. Part stoic gentleman, part fearless     Yard man, Zeno “Zak” Kennedy is an enigma of the first order. For years, the memory of a deadly bombing at King’s Cross has haunted the brilliant Scotland Yard detective. His investigation has zeroed in on a ring of aristocratic rebels whose  
bloody campaign for Irish revolution is terrorizing the city. When he discovers one of the treacherous lords is acquainted with his free-spirited new tenant, Cassandra St. Cloud, his inquiry pulls him unexpectedly close to the heart of the conspiracy and into the arms of a most intriguing lady.
     And Cassie is no Victorian prude. An Impressionist painter with very modern ideas about life and love, she is eager for a romantic escapade that is daring and discreet. She sets her sights on her dour but handsome landlord, but after she learns their meeting was not purely accidental, she hardly has a chance to forgive her lover before their passionate affair catapults them both into a perilous adventure.

We're having a holiday blog hop, so be sure to come back Dec 16-23 and comment on the blog hop post to have a chance to win an Author Signed, Advanced Reader Copy of this book. And one grand prize will be given away for one lucky commenter from the whole blog hop. A Nook Color. So be sure to check it out.This contest has concluded.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Fashion Friday - Madam Pompadour

Portrait de Madame de Pompadour François Boucher 1758
Next we have Madam Pompadour.
She's wearing her hair in a soft style with a floral decoration which matches the flowers on her skirt and the ribbons on her neck, sleeves, and stomacher.
The robe portion of the skirt on her robe a l'Anglaise is lined with the small flower decorations and ruffled material matching her dress fabric. Lace flounces form the lower portions of the sleeve. A large nosegay rests on her shoulder.
Her softly pointing heels also match the pink theme running through the outfit.

So, what do you think of our fashionista?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Thursday News - Races

December 25, 1789
On Wednesday last a mare belonging to Mr George ASHFORTH of Summerby near Gainsborough, trotted against time from Rosington Bridge to Raiford and back again (26 miles) which she performed with ease in one hour and 44 minutes including stoppage of five minutes at Raiford, carrying 15 stone and one pound. The wager was for 10 guineas that she could not do it in two hours.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

WIP Wednesday - word count checkin

Okay, so here's my wordcount - 44855.
I'm past the halfway point, which is awesome. But I'm doing Nano, and I started at 30k, so I don't think I'm going to make it on time unless I can get my mom to drive 8 hours to take the kids for two days straight. lol. Not likely.
That's all right though. I don't expect to finish. Never did. I have a 1 and 3 year old, and they take up most of my day, so even though I can write 1000 words in an hour, I can't often find an hour without my little ones around. Especially because after bed time, comes hubby time, and we spend most of the two hours before bed hanging out.
The point of my doing Nano was to get me working on the manuscript and hopefully get it finished by the end of December. That I should be able to do. And revisions should be done by mid January. That's the goal, anyhow.
I challenge you to make a goal for yourself that might seem ridiculous, then actually strive for it. The idea is not necessarily reach the goal, but to get as close as possible. Like using the goal of touching the stars to climb Mount Everest.

If you're a writer, good luck with your writing. If your a reader, I hope you enjoyed the blog.
Either way, I thank you for reading, and wish you good luck with your goals.
Robin Delany

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Romance Writers Are Amazing

When you think about all we go through, with no guarantee that anyone will ever know who we are, I'm pretty impressed with how we handle it. Here is my top ten list (in no particular order) of what I love about great romance writers.

 The Best Romance Writers -
  • 1  Share a world with us we could never live in without them.
  • 2 Share it in a vivid way that makes us love the characters like friends. (Or lovers.)
  • 3 Support each other (for the most part) and stick together in this difficult business.
  • 4 Know all sorts of fabulous facts. Mostly from all the research. lol
  • 5 Can make you happy with their fantastic prose, even when you are sad.
  • 6 Become an active part of your life, especially if you find one that is a must read.

  • 7 Aren't afraid to show you the dark and ugly parts of their minds, if the manuscript calls for it.
  • 8 Look for alternatives when they must. So many writers have started in one genre, only to change to another and find their niche.
  • 9 Make us sigh and feel that all is right with the world, even when that is far from true.
  • 10 Persevere, even in the face of rejection. Imagine if Nora Roberts, Julia Quinn, or any of the others had quit after being rejected a few times. (Seriously, some have an amazing number of rejections under their belts.)
I will leave you to ponder that while I get back to my Nano project. Happy Nano, everyone.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Opening Sentence Sunday

Here's the opening line to my nearest novel.
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.
So, can you guess the book? Click here to see the answer.

 Last week's was ...

Friday, November 11, 2011

Fashion Friday - Elisabeth Freudenreich

Elisabeth Freudenreich 1760 By AnonymHere ous
Here we have Elisabeth Freudenreich.

Our girl, it seems, is partial to ribbons, which were popular decoration for gowns and hair during most of the 18th century. We see she's wearing a bouffant with ringlets curling down her back. Ribbons and what looks like pearls twist around her hair and trail down her back.                     

She holds a matching cap (which is not called a mob cap or mop cap--the mob cap was named for the mobs of women who wore them during the French Revolution)

The bodice of her silk gown is edged in ruffles with more ribbon at the breast and elbows. A bit of lace trims the sleeves and neckline.

What do you think of our lovely lady? Does she have style?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Thursday News - New Arrivals

August 20 1789
Last week arrived in this town from America, after nine weeks´ passage Mrs Eliza DAVIES with her two daughters, natives of that country, and wife of Mr John DAVIES of this City [Lincoln] who lived near twenty years as a merchant at Charles Town, South Carolina. This gentleman and his family were among the number of those unfortunate persons who suffered all the calamities and miseries incident to the Civil War during the unfortunate dissentions in North America. He was closely confined on board a loathsome prison ship seventeen weeks during the most sickly and hottest season of the year, for refusing to fight against his countrymen, and whilst imprisoned, his house and Plantation were plundered of every article of property by the opposite party and his family hourly exposed to the insult and abuse of a licencious (sic) soldiery who threatened to murder them on every complaint of their cruelty and ill-treatment, and deprived them of every provision. Such misfortune and such heartfelt distress are little known in this happy country where good laws and good government effectually protect every individual in his person and property.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

WIP Wednesday - Ear Trumpets The hearing aid of the 18th century

As a writer, we can often find ourselves looking up the most infinitesimal detail at length because we want to include one word in one sentence.

That was me today. My heroine's sister, Rinny, wanted to recall her grandfather's hearing device, so I found myself researching ear trumpets.

I thought I would share a bit of what I found here with you.

There were a number of different styles of ear trumpet going back into the 17th century for the hard of hearing. Most worked on the idea of focusing the sound waves toward the ear drum, like a backward version of the musical instrument they're named for.

It's hard to find many replicas or antiques from before the 19th century, however, but I had to include this picture to give an idea of what they looked like.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Romance Writers of America - RWR Nov 2011

Sorry this is late. I just realized I hadn't posted it. lol

Please enjoy my latest overview of the RWR.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Opening Sentence Sunday

Here's the sentence (or two lol) this Sunday.

Lily awoke to a rough shake on her arm. A searing ball of light hovered before her face.

Any guesses? Want to share the first sentence of the book closest to you? Leave a comment. Click here to see the answer.

Last week's was ...

Writing Romances

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Spotlight Saturday - Teresa Medeiros

Teresa Medeiros is my choice for this Saturday's Spotlight.

“It takes three things to be a success, both in writing and in life–talent, luck and perseverance. Out of those three, perseverance will take you the farthest.”


New York Times bestseller Teresa Medeiros wrote her first novel at the age of twenty-one, introducing readers to one of the most beloved and versatile voices in romantic fiction. She has appeared on every national bestseller list, including the New York Times, USA Today and Publishers Weekly lists. She currently has over seven million books in print and is published in over seventeen languages.

She was chosen one of the "Top Ten Favorite Romance Authors" by Affaire de Coeur magazine and won the Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice Award for "Best Historical Love and Laughter". She is a seven-time Rita finalist, two-time PRISM winner, and two-time recipient of the Waldenbooks Award for bestselling fiction.

Teresa is a charter member of the Romance Writers of America Honor Roll, Kentucky Romance Writers, and Novelists, Inc. She lives in Kentucky with her husband and her cats Willow and Buffy the Mouse Slayer. THE DEVIL WEARS PLAID, her 20th novel and most recent New York Times bestseller, was released in August 2010. Her first contemporary women's fiction novel GOODNIGHT TWEETHEART, a book about a man and woman who meet and fall in love on Twitter, was released by Gallery Books in January 2011.

Some Like It Wicked

 Some like it dangerous...
When Highland beauty Catriona Kincaid storms Newgate Prison to seek the help of disgraced nobleman and notorious rogue Simon Wescott, she is prepared to offer him both wealth and freedom. She never dreams the wicked rake will be bold enough to demand a far more sensual prize.

Some like it seductive...
Simon is shocked to discover the tomboy he met long ago has blossomed into a headstrong temptress. Although he's sworn off being a hero, he can't resist striking a devil's bargain that may very well end up costing him his heart.

Some like it wicked...
Catriona comes looking for a hero. What she finds is a man...

In this scene, our intrepid heroine Catriona Kincaid visits Newgate Prison in the hopes of hiring a hero to escort her to the Highlands to find her missing brother...

By the time she followed the gaoler through the far door, it was all Catriona could do not to collapse in relief. But her relief was short-lived. The tunnel sloping down into the shadows was even danker and narrower than the one that had come before it.

She cleared her throat to mask the faint quaver in her voice. "Is this where you lock away the most incorrigible prisoners?"

The gaoler cast her a sly glance over his shoulder. "There's some that might say that."

By the time they reached the thick oak door at the foot of the tunnel, Catriona was beginning to question anew the wisdom of her quest. An iron grate was set high in the door, too high for her to peep through even if she stood on her tiptoes.

She reached into her reticule with shaking hands and handed the gaoler her crumpled permit. "I was promised an hour alone with my brother."

Holding the permit upside down, the gaoler squinted at it, his lips moving as he pretended to read. Catriona slipped a guinea from her reticule and waved it in front of his eyes, confident that its universal language would be understood.

He beamed at her, pocketed the coin, then unhooked a clanking loop of iron keys from his belt and slid the largest, most forbidding-looking one into the keyhole. As the door creaked outward on its massive hinges, Catriona drew in a deep breath, steeling herself for the worst.

That breath escaped her in a disbelieving puff as her gaze swept the interior of the cell. If it could indeed be called a cell. The room might not possess all the comforts of home, but it certainly possessed all the comforts of a lavishly decorated bawdy house. Or at least the comforts Catriona imagined a bawdy house might possess, having never visited such an establishment.

There was no bed in the chamber, but the overstuffed settee would doubtlessly serve just as well. As was proved by its current occupant. All Catriona could see from the doorway was a pair of shiny black Hessians crossed at the ankle and a graceful curlicue of smoke drifting up to join the faint cloud hovering near the ceiling.

"That you, Barney?" the settee's occupant drawled without even bothering to uncross his boots, much less rise to greet his guests. "Did Mrs. Terwilliger send over that girl I requested? You can't begin to imagine how bloody lonely it gets in here with nothing but your imagination to keep you company."

The gaoler scratched his head, giving Catriona an abashed look. "I'm afraid not, sir. But I 'ave brought you some company to ease your loneliness. It's your dear sister, come to bring you a dose o' Christian comfort."

The boots didn't budge. A thoughtful puff of smoke drifted toward the ceiling. Just as Catriona was seriously considering bolting and taking her chances with the men in the common cell, the prisoner sat up and swung his long, muscled legs over the edge of the settee.

As he came into full view, Catriona barely managed to swallow her gasp.

Simon Wescott was no longer a pretty boy.

His hair was in desperate want of a cut, spilling to a spot just past his shoulders. It was a shade darker than the honeyed hue she remembered, as if those silken strands had seen more of midnight than sunlight in the past five years. A day's growth of beard shadowed his jaw, accentuating its strong cut and the Slavic hollows beneath his high cheekbones. Dissipation had taken its toll around his eyes, carving a fine web of lines that gave his face more character than he probably possessed. A jagged white scar bisected his left eyebrow, as if he'd finally been punished for daring to fly too close to the sun by a lightning bolt hurled from the fist of a jealous god.

He stubbed out his thin cigar with deliberate care, then peered at her through the lingering haze of smoke, wariness darkening his eyes to the color of a forest glade in the breathless lull just before a storm breaks.

Catriona was about to open her mouth to stammer something—anything at all—when he spread his arms wide, his lips curving in the dazzling smile that had no doubt charmed countless young women out of their undergarments and into his arms. "Why, hello, sweeting! Why don't you come over here and let me bounce you on my knee as I used to when you were but a wee poppet?"

Given no choice but to play along with her own charade, Catriona edged toward him, clutching her reticule in white-knuckled hands. "Hello, brother, dear," she said stiffly. "I do hope they've been treating you well."

"Not as well as you always did, pumpkin," he replied, reaching around to give her rump a playful swat. Her outraged glare only deepened the sparkle of mischief in his eyes.

"Given your grim circumstances," she said, "I'm glad to find you in such high spirits." Her lips pressed into a rigid pucker, Catriona leaned down to brush a chaste kiss over his cheek. But he turned his head at the last second so that her lips grazed the corner of his mouth instead.
Blushing furiously, she straightened and stepped out of his reach.

Moved by their tender reunion, the grizzled gaoler drew a filthy handkerchief from his pocket and began to dab at his eyes. "Your sister wishes to have some time alone with you, sir, so I'll let the two o' you get reacquainted while I take my tea."

"No!" Realizing that she had made a terrible mistake, Catriona made a frantic lunge for the door. But it was too late. The gaoler had already slipped from the cell and was turning the key from the outside, leaving her locked in the tiger's cage.

And unless she wanted to become his dinner, she knew she had best try to repair her crumbling composure.

As she slowly turned to face him, Simon rose from the settee. He was taller than she remembered. Broader in the shoulders, leaner in the hips. He wore no coat or waistcoat, just a pair of doeskin trousers and a white lawn shirt with full sleeves laid open at the throat to reveal a wedge of muscular chest lightly sprinkled with golden hair. In her boldest imaginings, she had never dreamed that his charms would grow even more lethal with time, honed by that mysterious masculine alchemy of age and experience.

"I'm a wretched liar," she confessed.

"I know. That must be why Mummy always loved me best." At her reproachful look, he cocked his head to the side. "If you're not another one of my father's bastards, then why are you here? Did you come to assassinate me or"—his skeptical gaze dipped to the slender waist revealed by the flattering princesse-cut of her redingote—"to accuse me of siring your future progeny?"

"Why, I-I—" she sputtered before curiosity got the best of her. "Does that happen frequently?"
He shrugged. "At least once a week. Sometimes twice on Tuesdays." The wry twist of his lips made it impossible to tell if he was mocking her or his own reputation. "If you've come to assassinate me, then I'm afraid I'm at your mercy. I'd offer you my cravat so you could strangle me, but they took it away so I wouldn't hang myself. Wouldn't want to deprive the executioner of the pleasure."

"The last time I checked, getting oneself nearly seven thousand pounds in debt and seducing a magistrate's daughter wasn't a hanging offense."

"You haven't met the magistrate." He sank back down on the edge of the settee and reached beneath it.

Half expecting him to whip out a weapon of some sort, Catriona took a nervous step backward. But when his hand reemerged, it was brandishing a half-empty bottle of port.

He whisked two glasses out from under the settee with equal aplomb. "I've been remiss in my manners. Would you care to join me?"

"No, thank you." Watching him pour a generous splash of the ruby liquor into one of the glasses, she said, "I forgot that you were expecting company of a different sort altogether. You must be very disappointed."

He slanted her an unreadable look from beneath his gilt-tipped lashes. "I wouldn't say that. Surprised, perhaps, but not disappointed."

"We've met before, although I can hardly expect you to remember me."

Just as she could never expect herself to forget him.

"Then you do me a grave disservice"—Simon's gently chiding look could have melted an ice floe—"Miss Kincaid."

Catriona's mouth fell open in shock.

He lifted the glass in a mocking toast. "I never forget a lovely face."

Her mouth snapped shut. "You thought I was a boy."

His lips twitched with amusement as he glanced ever so briefly, yet boldly, at the generous swell of her bosom. "A mistake I can assure you I won't make again." He took a sip of the port, a teasing lilt infusing his voice. "Surely you didn't think I'd forget a bonny Scottish lass who smelled of fresh-cut hay and cinnamon biscuits and whose only champion was a savage orange kitten named Bonnie Prince Charlie."

"Robert the Bruce. I suppose you remember my cousin as well?" she could not resist asking.

He blinked at her, all doe-eyed innocence. "You had a cousin?"

"You really should remember Alice. You were about to complete your seduction of her when I tumbled out of the hayloft onto your back."

"Ah, yes, how could I forget dear sweet..." He frowned. "What was her name again?"


"Ah, yes, dear sweet Amelia." He clapped a hand to his heart. "I've thought of her fondly nearly every day since the cruel hand of fate tore us apart."
Biting back a reluctant smile, Catriona reached out to flick the end of one of the scarves that draped the stone walls. "What sort of prison affords you the luxuries of wine, tobacco and women of easy virtue?"

"I hate to corrupt your delicate sensibilities, my dear, but incarcerated men of means have always honored the age-old tradition of bribing the gaoler." He hefted the glass in another toast, giving him a valid excuse to drain it dry. "God bless his money-grubbing little soul."

She frowned. "I don't understand. If you have means, then why are you locked up as a debtor?"

He winced. "Perhaps I should have said the illusion of means. Everyone here knows that the Duke of Bolingbroke is my father. And they believe that surely not even the most icy-hearted of noblemen would be so cruel as to allow his bastard son to rot away in Newgate. They expect him to charge up to the gates in his coach-and-four at any minute, tossing coins from his overflowing purse to the slavering peasants."

"Is that what you expect as well?" she asked lightly, trying to hide how critical his answer might be to her plans.

The ghost of a bitter smile tugged at his lips. "I expect him to provide the rope for my hanging. I'm afraid I've always been a dreadful disappointment to him. My most recent transgression was to survive my encounter with Napoleon while my brother Richard died an ignoble death from dysentery on a mud-soaked battlefield in Malta, leaving him with no proper heir."

"I'm sorry," Catriona said softly.

"That my brother died? Or that I survived?" He leaned back on the settee and patted the cushion next to him. "Enough about the rot in my family tree. Why don't you trot over here, rest your pretty head on my shoulder and tell me just how word of my sordid crimes reached ears as refined and lovely as yours?"

Ignoring his audacious invitation, Catriona gingerly settled herself on a rickety three-legged stool a few feet away. The thing tottered wildly, nearly upending her before she recovered her balance. She sought to reclaim her dignity by briskly removing her bonnet and resting it on the floor next to the stool.

"As I'm sure you're well aware, your most recent incarceration is the talk of every drawing room in London." She drew off her gloves and placed them on top of the bonnet. "But you really shouldn't be so modest about your accomplishments, Mr. Wescott. Or should I call you Sir Simon? You didn't just survive Napoleon. You were knighted for valor after Trafalgar because you saved the life of your captain on the Belleisle by throwing yourself in front of a musket ball intended for him. Upon your return from Spain, you were hailed as a hero before all of London."

He snorted. "This city has always been quick to embrace any fool with a handful of shiny medals and a bit of braid on his shoulders."

"Oh, but it wasn't your rise to glory that truly captured the city's imagination. It was your rather spectacular fall from grace. Or should I call it a plunge? Instead of accepting the promotion to commander that the navy offered you, you resigned your commission and proceeded to wench, drink, and gamble away every ounce of respectability your valor had earned you."

He stretched out on the settee and folded his hands behind his head, looking thoroughly bored. "You left off brawling and dueling. I haven't killed a man yet, but I've winged several."
She continued as if he hadn't spoken. "Not a fortnight has gone by since then without some torrid mention of you in the scandal sheets."

"Which you no doubt pore over every night in your virginal white nightdress before you slide between the cold sheets of your lonely bed."

His taunt struck uncomfortably close to home. He would never know how many times his memory had warmed both those sheets and her dreams.

She lifted her chin. "How do you know I sleep alone?"

"Because you look like you're in desperate need of a good—" He met her unwavering gaze for a long moment, then finished softly, "Husband."

Catriona rose to pace the cell, avoiding his eyes. "I've heard other rumors about you since your return as well. Rumors not printed in the scandal sheets but whispered in drawing rooms and back alleys. They say that you're willing to use the skills you acquired in the navy to provide certain services for those in need of them—protection, transportation, retrieval of lost items." She paused before one of the plaster statues, running one finger lightly along the nymph's dimpled cheek. "All for a price, of course."

"Devoting oneself to a life of debauchery doesn't come cheap, you know."

Behind her, she heard the settee creak as Simon sat up. "Is that why you came here today, Miss Kincaid? Because you wish to hire me?"

"No, Mr. Wescott," she replied coolly, turning to face him. "I came here today because I wish to marry you."

Friday, November 4, 2011

Fashion Friday - Charlotte Marie de Gasville

 Here we have Charlotte Marie de Gasville. Her hair is apparently powdered, and in a puffy bouffant. She's wearing a grey ribbon and flower, both nearly matching her hair.

 Her gown has a tent bodice (open at the bottom, closed at the top) with flowers embroidered on her modesty piece (or fishu) and a nosegay pinned to the front. Ribbons of blue dress material run along the front of the dress, ruffles line the neck, and lace flounces have been added below the tight sleeves.
 So, I'd love to know what you think. Does she have style?
English: Portrait of Charlotte Marie de Gasville
Antoine Vestier 1785

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Thursday Post - Music

The London Chronicle
  May 18, 1758
This Day are published, Price One Guinea, TWELVE CONCERTOS in Seven Parts, for VIOLINS, &c. Composed by Charles Avison, Organist in Newcastle upon Tyne. Opera Sefta, ? Sold by J. Jackson in Cheapside; and J. Walsh in Catherine-street. Also Proposals for publishing Mr. Avison's Concertos in Score, for the use of Performers on the Harpsichord.
This Day was published, Price bound 4s.
And this Day was published, The Seventh Edition of the First Volume.
Printed for L. Davis and D. Reymers, against Gray's Inn-Gate, Holborn; to be had also of Mr. Henderson, at the Royal Exchange.
This Day was published,
In Two Volumes Octavo, Price Eight Shillings bound, the Third Edition improved, ofThe General PRACTICE of PHYSIC; extracted chiefly from the Writings of the most celebrated practical Physicians, and the medical Essays, Transactions, Journals, and literary Correspondence of the learned Societies in Europe. To which is prefixed an Introduction containing the Distinction of familiar Diseases, the use of the Non naturals, and Account of the Pulse, the Content of the Nervous Parts, and a sketch of the Animal Oeconomy.By R. BROOKES, M.D.
Printed for J. Newbery, in St. Paul's Church-yard.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Work In Progress Wednesday - Archeology

Every Wednesday, I will be posting something about writing my current WIP, a historical romance set in 1785. It might be a writing tip I've got to share, a frustrating bit I'm working on, a fascinating tidbit of research, or perhaps even an excerpt one day. As long as it has to do with my story. In my WIP, the heroine's father is an archeologist.

Did you know, the term archeology didn't come into common use until 1837. (first known use, according to

However, archeology existed. Here are some of the early archeologists from before archeologists were archeologists. hehe.

Spanish military engineer Rocque Joaquin de Alcubierre

Mr. Alcubierre excavated places like Herculaneum and Pompeii.
"1748: Engineers led by Rocque Joaquin de Alcubierre, working for the King of Naples, dig into the ruins of Pompeii looking for Roman artifacts."
(Digging deeper: Archaeologists race to show Pompeii daily life  By Dan Vergano - USA Today)

William Cunningham (1754­-1810) and Richard Colt-Hoare (1758­-1838)

Sir Richard Colt-Hoare
 Mr. Cunningham and Sir Richard conducted the detailed scientific excavation of a series of barrows near Stonehenge, England, and were known for gentle exploration techniques. They even left plaques during excavation to explain what they'd done to future explorers.
"Sir Richard Colt Hoare who describes Cunnington's methods of excavating as being much more thorough than those of his predecessors dedicated to him the first part of his Ancient History of South Wiltshire on the ground that the existence of the work was mainly due to Cunnington's collections and discoveries From 1804 till his death Cunnington had placed all his materials at Hoare's disposal and made new investigations for the purpose His collection of antiquities was bought by Hoare and is now 111 the museum at Devizes. " (sic) (Dictionary of national biography, Volume 13 edited by Sir Leslie Stephen)

 So, now you've delved a bit into historical archeology. Tell me, do you like archeology and history? (If you're here, you must like it a little. lol ) Do you have any interesting tidbits to share?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

18th Century Rattles

Here we have a cute little one year old holding her rattle, so let's talk about ---
18th Century Rattles

Portrait of Marie Zéphirine de France
Jean-Marc Nattier 1751

Marie Zéphirine was self-willed and naughty as a dragoon, according to Nancy Mitford and Amanda Foreman, but to me she looks like an adorable little one with her puppy and her rattle.

Rattles in the 18th century had bells or metal charms for the rattle noise, and often had coral tips for teething.

Some were whistles as well, like this example which has been well preserved since about 1740.

Is the rattle a treasure? With the level of detail, coupled with the intense emotional attachment of their tiny owners, I'd say so. Well, what do you think?

Please join me next week for another Treasure Tuesday.