Fall Back in Time!

As Sandy mentioned earlier, The Historical Romance Network is celebrating historical romance with a special event. Today, authors and readeres are posting selfies taken with romance novels, using the hashtag #FallBackinTime.

So in no particular order, here we are!

Sandy, with The Wastrel by Margaret Moore.


Elena, with The Captain’s Dilemma by Gail


Carolyn of the Awesome Hair, with Rogue Spy by Joanna Bourne.


Myretta, with The Last Hellion by Loretta Chase


Gail, with Fly with a Rogue by Elena


and Diane, who couldn’t pick just one!


Feel free to join the Fall Back in Time event and post your own selfie wherever you’d like. Help historical romance trend by using the hashtag #FallBackinTime.

The Risky Regencies

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Ghosts and Witches in the UK

raynhamghostSince my blogging day has fallen on Halloween, I’ll do my best to get into the spirit of things. (Get that? “Spirit”? Feel free to groan!)

I checked out the Internet and found many suggestions for “10 Most Haunted whatever”. Here are a few.

Listverse’s Top 10 Most Haunted Places (anywhere) has the following in the United Kingdom: Borley Rectory, Raynham Hall in Norfolk, where this famous ghost lady picture was taken, the Tower of London and Edinborough Castle.

Lists for the top 10 in the UK vary. Interestingly, Raynham Hall didn’t appear on either of the lists I checked. Haunted Rooms’ Top 10 Haunted Places in England lists the following places: Borley Rectory, Ancient Ram Inn, Pendle Hill, Berry Pomeroy Castle, Woodchester Mansion, Pluckley Village, Athelhampton House, Tower of London, Salmesbury Hall, Chillingham Castle. Visit Britain’s Top 10 Most Haunted Places lists Highgate Cemetery, Borley Rectory, Pendle Hill, Red Lion in Avebury, Ancient Ram Inn, Glamis Castle, Tower of London, Culloden Moor, Llancaiach Fawr Manor, Berry Pomeroy Castle.

borleyghostBorley Rectory seems to always hit every list. I’d already read tales of the hauntings, supposedly due to a monk from a monastery that had existed on the site falling in love with a nun. According to the story, he was executed and she was bricked up alive within the convent walls. According to the Haunted Legend of Borley Rectory, this legend has no historical basis. However, there were strange incidents, reports of ghost carriages, an apparition that could have been a nun. However, there’s also some suspicion that a paranormal researcher, Harry Price, faked the phenomena he reported, and also that a subsequent resident, Marianne Foyster, may have faked paranormal activity to cover up her affair with a lodger.

Here’s an image of a purported ghost sighting at Borley.

Another of the places that seems to hit a lot of the lists is Pendle Hill, around which 12 women who in 1612 were tried and hanged as witches in what became known as the Lancashire Witch Trials. Check out this Youtube video to learn more. Given the superstitious nature of the time when these hangings occurred, some are now urging for these women to be pardoned.

The legend of the Lancashire Witches forms some of the backstory for Lucy in Disguise by Lynn Kerstan, one of the Regencies in the ebook set Regency Masquerades. The set also includes the RITA-winning Gwen’s Ghost, co-authored by Lynn Kerstan and Alicia Rasley.

Regency Masquerades will be on sale for 99 cents only for a few more days, so if you’re interested, buy it now at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks and Kobo.


What ghost or witch stories or haunted places do you find the most interesting?

Wishing you a happy Halloween!



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Thoughts on Death Comes To Pemberley

castYes, I enjoyed it but let me quibble. Because what else is blogging for? I loved Anna Maxwell Martin in The Bletchley Circle where she played a smart woman trapped by domesticity who brought her formidable intelligence to solving a mystery … oh. I see what they did there. Never mind. But Lizzie? Fine eyes and all that? There was some sweet lovie-dovey stuff with Darcy in the beginning (were they really planning an afternoon bedroom tryst or just planning to meet for a nice cup of tea?). After that she seemed to treat him like a large, unpredictable dog, lots of pats on the shoulder and consolatory treats for the Great Darcy.

No, really, the cast were all fine, although Sir Selwyn Hardcastle’s (Trevor Eve) facial hair scared me a little but I’ll get over it. The trouble is, that the depiction of  well-meaning people doing their best to behave well can be rather tedious TV, which is why Lydia (Jenna Coleman, and OMG that military hat and jacket) stole the show: all that screaming and swooning and deshabille made for a lot of fun. She even upstaged Mrs. Bennet.

castle-howard-antiquepassageBut this is a series where everyone is upstaged by the settings. Ooh boy. Pemberley is depicted by Castle Howard and Chatsworth House. Here is the Antiques Passage at Howard, where various characters stride. It is a space that demands striding. And here are Lizzy and Darcy in Chatsworth House:

chatsworthQuite a lot of the interiors were from Chatsworth, including the Turquoise Room:






hcragsHardcastle Crags in Yorkshire were used for the woodland and waterfall. In real life, the stepping stones across the stream lead to somewhere completely different, Stang End Cottage at the Ryedale Folk Museum in Yorkshire, a reconstructed early eighteenth century moor cottage. And I cannot Ryedale_CruckCottageresist pointing out that the Museum is at a place called Hutton-le-Hole.

Altogether I thought it was an excellent example of better TV from an indifferent book, and the producers certainly worked hard to make it entertaining and, I think, historically correct. What did you think of Episode I?

Filming at Chatsworth
Posted in Jane Austen, TV and Film | Tagged | 7 Comments

Historical Selfies

This week, I’m going to start with:


This Saturday is the #FallBackInTime event on Twitter, Facebook, and what not, where your favorite romance authors (and we hope, you, too!) will post a selfie with their first or favorite historical romance novel. And so far, my selfies all ended up looking really dreadful. (More suitable for Halloween, really…)

Selfies are, of course, nothing new. Back in the day before smartphones & cameras they were called self-portraits (and they tended to look fab!) (oh well, but then we typcially only get to see the self-portraits of, you know, real artists instead of those done by amateurs). Some of them are very serious (and done in oil), others are far more cheeky – and naturally, self-portraits by the artists of Punch tend to fall into the latter category.

One of my favorite staff portraits in the magazine itself is the border for the preface to volume 7 from 1844. It was done by Richard Doyle and shows the writers and artists bringing their offerings to Mr. Punch:

Selfie from British magazine Punch
Between Mr. Punch and Toby, his dog, you can see Mark Lemon, the editor, and (I think) one of the publishers, while behind Toby the artists and writers are queuing and waiting to hand over their work. The short guy at the front is probably John Leech, followed by Thackeray (tall + curls + small, round spectacles = super-easy to recognize!) and, at the far end of the queue, by Dicky Doyle himself, holding a gigantic pencil.

Kinda cute, isn’t it?

Well, the same cannot be said about my own selfies, I’m afraid, even though I have a smartphone with a camera and don’t even have to sketch my portrait. But…


Sandra Schwab's Horrible Selfie No. 1
The second attempt turned out even worse:

Sandra Schwab's Horrible Selfie No 3
And the third attempt… At least I managed to keep my eyes open. That’s progress, right???

Sandra Schwab's Horrible Selfie No 2
But still not particularly, er, nice. *sigh*

So I’m coming to you, hoping that you might have some tips for me how to improve my selfie-taking skills before this weekend so that I won’t end up traumatizing the rest of the world with my truly bad selfies. HALP!!!!!

And, of course, I hope you’ll join us on Saturday for the #FallBackInTime event and post your own selfies with historicals that you particularly enjoyed or that started your love affair with the genre. :-)

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Winners! And Stuff

The winner of the DVD of The Lady and the Highwayman is—Bibliophile!  Please email me at amccabe7551 AT yahoo and I will get it mailed out to you.  Be sure and let us know what you think of it!

Hazard1In looking for “comfort watch” movies lately (as I still crawl on toward The End of the WIP), I found I had one more Barbara Cartland movie in my library (I know there were more–I especially remember one about a tall blonde heiress who pretended to be a ladies’ companion in order to warn the hero that his eeeevil cousin was going to kill him, though I can’t recall the title…).  The one I have is the fabulously ridiculous Hazard of Hearts, with a very young Helena Bonham Carter as the wonderfully named Serena Staverly, whose father gambles her off to an eeeevil rake, who in turn loses her to the hero, Lord Vulcan.  There is a castle in Cornwall, complete with cliffs and crashing waves, smugglers, and a wonderful villainess played by Diana Rigg.  I must watch it again.  (there are also some gorgeous Regency-fantasy costumes, as you can see from this bonnet…)

Speaking of costumes, Friday is my very favorite holiday–Halloween!  I don’t have a Regency gown this year (I’m going as Queen Elsa from Frozen), but I am hoping to see some lovely creations at the various parties.  What are you planning for Halloween???

Posted in Giveaways, Winners announced | 4 Comments

Horse Guards

One of the stops on the Duke of Wellington tour was Horse Guards. Horse Guards was the office of the Commander-in-Chief of the Forces during “our” era, and it exists today as headquarters of two major Army commands: the London District and the Household Cavalry. We were there to tour the Household Cavalry Museum, but we were able to see the retiring of the guards.
When we first arrived, a guard on horseback was posted at the gate and the tourists were using him as a photo op, which bothered me. But I took a photo anyway.
Here’s a short video of the Guards.

In Apsley House we saw this painting showing the Duke of Wellington leaving his command at Horse Guards for the last time. It is titled His Last Return From Duty. This is a drawing of that painting in the tunnel under the street between Apsley House and the Wellington Arch.

More lovely memories from my England trip!

Posted in Regency, Research, Uncategorized | Tagged | 7 Comments

Book Hangover: Mary Balogh’s Only Enchanting

Balogh-Only-EnchantingThis past week, I read Mary Balogh’s upcoming (10/28) release Only Enchanting. You know those books that make your heart squeeze tighter with each page? How you love the characters and are hoping they make it through? Yup. I got the worst book hangover from that one, I haven’t even wanted to read a romance since*.

Balogh has written some of my absolute favorite books ever, and she’s also written a few that I’ve DNFed. But even the ones I Didn’t Finish were written beautifully, I just didn’t connect with the characters or the plot in some way.

But Only Enchanting–it is just stunning, and it’s not like it’s got any kind of huge dramatic action. If the two characters didn’t end up Happily Ever After, it’s not as though the world would have shifted; they just both would have remained unfulfilled in their lives. Which would have been sad for them, of course, but not been a crisis.

Refreshingly, when there is a misunderstanding, the hero and heroine TALK to each other. And things aren’t always perfect after, but at least they’ve communicated.

So, beyond highly recommending this book–it got me to thinking about why writers write; we want to capture that heart-squeezing moment on the page and hopefully cause that reaction in our readers.

In me writing news, my editor accepted the revision for my February 2015 novella, When Good Earls Go Bad; this week, I’m revising Put Up Your Duke, which is due to my editor on Halloween (spooky!). And then, no deadlines for a while, good timing with the holidays approaching.

Hope everyone is having a great weekend reading and writing!


*I’m reading William Gibson’s Neuromancer, which is mind-blowingly awesome.

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NJRW Conference, NaNoWriMo and Histromnet

Sorry for the alphabet soup in the title!

Diane already talked about the New Jersey Romance Writers conference, where she, Gail and I were fortunate enough to hang out together and celebrate Diane’s finaling in the Golden Leaf with A Marriage of Notoriety. I enjoyed the published authors’ retreat (they serve wine and chocolate pretzels), workshops on the business and craft of writing, and just being with other Regency authors (there are none in my local writing circle). Here are pics of Gail and me at the booksigning.


Gail and I also spent some time on Saturday night brainstorming individual story ideas. I’ll leave it to Gail to talk about hers when she’s ready. All I’ll say is the beginning parts she read to me were delightful! As for me, I’m feeling more ready to go ahead and write prequel and sequel novellas to Lady Em’s Indiscretion.

nanowrimoIn fact, I think I’m going to join others in doing the National Novel Writing Month challenge. For anyone who’s unfamiliar with NaNoWriMo, the idea is to draft 50,000 words of a new novel within the month of November.

There are naysayers who say it’s impossible to write 50,000 of publishable, readable fiction in one month. Actually, I know people who can do that (not me!) but for most writers, that is true. I’m sure loads of dreck is produced during NaNoWriMo. Probably some of it will make its way, unedited, into Kindle Direct Publishing but that’s no big deal, really. Others, like me, see the challenge as a fun way to generate ideas. We’re very aware that more time will be spent afterwards to rework and polish our ideas into readable fiction.

In years that I’m busy editing in the fall, I don’t do NaNoWriMo. But when it fits where I’m at in the writing–as it does this year–I join in. I admit, I love watching the progress meter rise! So wish me luck and anyone else doing the challenge, feel free to add me as a “Writing Buddy”. My NaNoWriMo ID is Elena Greene, with just a space in the middle.

Finally, something for all the historical romance lovers out there who would like to spread the word about this wonderful genre. A group of authors have created the Historical Romance Network. One project has been the creation of a video celebrating the variety of historical romance. Check it out here.

You’re all also invited to join the Fall Back in Time Facebook event. On November 1st, post a selfie taken while holding a historical romance. What a great way to celebrate historical romance (and an extra hour of sleep). :)


Posted in Reading, Risky Book Talk, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Austen, balloons, mystery purchase

L+DWho else is planning to watch Death Comes to Pemberley next Sunday? I thought the book was not one of PD James’s best, but quite often not so good books make good tv, so I’m cautiously optimistic. Here’s the preview. What do you think of Matthew Rhys/Anna Maxwell Martin as the dynamic duo?

More Austen news–I attended the JASNA (Jane Austen Society of North America) AGM in Montreal a couple of weekends ago and here are a few pics:

An amazing bonnet, with a booklet on how it was made, being offered at silent auction. It would be the sort of item that, if you could afford it, would have to be placed reverently under glass and gazed upon:

DSCN1796The view from my hotel room, early in the morning:


We gather, most of us all dressed up, for a banquet and ball (there were French officers [!!!] with very interesting headgear in attendance, but you’ll have to take my word for it because naturally I didn’t get any pics of them):

DSCN1813Old Montreal on a lovely sunny day:


And back to the topic of tv, did you see the amazing edition of NOVA this evening, Ben Franklin’s Balloons, in which French people, some of whom were descended from the Montgolfier brothers, and most of whom wore very stylish scarves, successfully duplicated early balloons and flights. You can view the preview here.

And now for the mystery household purchase:

Class Five Flushing Technology Provides Tremendous Bulk Waste Flushing Performance And Best-In-Class Bowl Cleanliness

Pure poetry.

And can you explain why not so good books make the best tv?

Posted in History, Jane Austen, TV and Film | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Rogue Spy – Interview with Jo Bourne – Giveaway

Interview and Giveaway With Jo Bourne

Welcome to the Risky Regencies, Jo Bourne! I am so excited to have you here to visit. Please, do come down from the pedestal I keep you on…

About Jo Bourne

Author photo of Joanna Bourne. She has short curly hair and glasses.
Joanna Bourne

Joanna lives in the foothills of the Blue Ridge with her family, a medium-sized mutt and a faux Himalayan cat. She writes Historical Romances set in England and France during the Napoleonic Wars.

She’s fascinated by that time and place – such passionate conviction and burning idealism … and really sexy clothes.


Where to Find Jo

Website: http://www.joannabourne.com/
Blog: http://jobourne.blogspot.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/joanna.bourne.5
Twitter: https://twitter.com/jobourne

About Rogue Spy

Cover of Rogue Spy by Joanna Bourne
Cover of Rogue Spy by Joanna Bourne
Ten years ago he was a boy, given the name Thomas Paxton and sent by Revolutionary France to infiltrate the British Intelligence Service. Now his sense of honor brings him back to London, alone and unarmed, to confess. But instead of facing the gallows, he’s given one last impossible assignment to prove his loyalty.

Lovely, lying, former French spy Camille Leyland is dragged from her safe rural obscurity by threats and blackmail. Dusting off her spy skills, she sets out to track down a ruthless French fanatic and rescue the innocent victim he’s holding—only to find an old colleague already on the case. Pax.

Old friendship turns to new love, and as Pax and Camille’s dark secrets loom up from the past, Pax is left with a choice—go rogue from the Service or lose Camille forever. . .

Read an excerpt: http://www.joannabourne.com/

Our Risky Interview

Q: At the Riskies, we love research stories. Can you tell us about some of the research you did for this book?

The problem with talking about research in a book that’s hitting the shelf now, is that I wrote it and did the research for it a year or more ago. I have trouble remembering the research I did last Tuesday, (hint: it was about small rivers in Kent,) let alone what I was looking at in April a year ago.

I do remember Rogue Spy was stuffed with foreign language — Latin and Italian mostly — but with odd bits of this and that tucked in various places. I spent the whole writing year up to my keister in lists of Latin phrases, trying to find something Classical that would work in my dialog.

The Italian about drove me crazy. (Note to fellow writers — Google Translate is NOT sufficient.) I am soooo glad I was using Tuscan, the mother of modern Italian, rather than some other two-century-old Italian dialect.

Can I give a shout out to my publisher, Berkley? They gave me a copyeditor who apparently spoke all these languages (or knew how to do really good language research.) Anything I got right, the copyeditor did it.

Q: Have you ever come across a historical fact where you just went “Huh. Who’d a thunk it?”

One factoid that struck me recently . . .

In the Work in Progress I send my protagonists riding through deserted stretches of countryside, headed from London to the southeast coast of England. The Dover to Folkestone area.

Did you know the big road running down to Dover and Folkestone is a Roman road?

Okay. Okay. Everybody else in the world probably knows this.  Maybe I even knew this.  But I’d never thought about it.

The A2, Dover to London Road, is Watling Street, a Celtic trackway that was there when the Romans invaded and started paving everything. This is probably the road Chaucer’s Pilgrims travelled.

That was all not-so-useful factoid because I didn’t use the A2. My action was better suited to the A20.

I spend a lot of my time looking at period maps.

Q: Have you ever wanted to write in another historical period?

If I couldn’t write Regency/Napoleonic War books — let’s say the market dried up or became saturated or whatever — I’d probably scuttle over to Urban Fantasy.  It would be such a relief not doing half an hour’s research to find out when the bridge in Farningham, Kent was built. (It’s Medieval.)

If I were going to write in another historical period . . . Classical Rome. What delightful, ruthless, aristocrats. What politics. What clash of ideals.

Did I mention the really cool Roman clothing?

Q: Read any good books lately?

Oh yes.  Yes. Let me list a few Historical Romances that just came out or are about to:

  • Grace Burrowes, What a Lady Needs for Christmas.
  • Donna Thorland, Mistress Firebrand. (Okay. That’s not actually out yet.)
  • Mary Jo Putney, Not Quite a Wife.
  • Jeannie Lin, Gunpowder Alchemy. (Umm … that’s another one not quite on the shelves.)
  • Shana Galen, Love and let Spy.

Q: Volcanoes. For or against?

One has to applaud the showmanship. The edge-of-the-chair anticipation. The brilliant reds and oranges. The ionized lightning that flashes from the ominous plumes of black rising to the sky.

On the other hand, there’s the possibility one of them may bring civilization, as we know it, to an end. Or destroy all life on earth.

Not good.

So I’m fence-sitting on this topic.

Q: Favorite historical weapon?

Black, well-honed, carefully balanced throwing knives.  They are not so much weapons as works of art.  But you knew I was going to say that.

Q: What’s next for you?

I’m working fitfully and with varying levels of success on the Séverine story. We will see how that comes out. Eventually.


We’re giving away three copies of Rogue Spy! Digital or print, winner’s choice.

Rules: Void where prohibited. No purchase necessary. Must be 18 to enter. For a digital copy, you need to be able to accept a gift card from a US-based vendor.

Winner chosen at random from among the commenters at the blog. Comment before midnight Eastern, Friday, October 31, 2014. Alternate winners will be chosen for winners who do not reply to my notification after 10 days.

To enter, comment with your guess as to Jo’s favorite color. (Being right or wrong on this has no bearing on your chances of winning, so feel free to be creative.) Like, “Jo Bourne’s favorite color is the soft blue of the sky at dusk.”

Posted in Giveaways, Interviews | Tagged , , | 66 Comments