A Pea-Souper

It’s been cold enough this winter that I’ve had to turn on my heater more than a few times (some winters I never use it). Moving through my hundred year old house, I find the cold pockets and drafty spots, and I think about how my characters must have experienced winter in their much colder climate and high-ceilinged homes.

Gillray, “Taking Physick”

Note the coal basket in the fireplace in the image above, with the small attached stove or “hob”.

Especially when most people relied upon coal to heat their homes (coal does not put out much in the way of heat when you get any distance from it). In Cruickshank and Burton’s “Life in the Georgian City” they say this about London and coal:

“Foreigners were not only shocked by the ‘black smoeks [and] caustic vapors’ and the way they ‘poison the air we breath’, but also by the fact that, after all this, coal gave off so little hat. As Geijer observed: ‘They…do not know what a warm room means. Porcelain stoves are unknown…A few forgotten coals like in the grate when it is cold, but the warmth goes the same way as the smoke and the smell, out through the chimney.”

 

Rowlandson “The Miseries of Human Life”

Again, in the image above, note the coal basket, this time somewhat larger and more impressive.

A visitor from France further observed that ‘None but people of the first quality burn wood at London, and they too only in the Bed Chamber; yet I do not find that wood is very expensive in England…The smoke that rises from this [the coal fire] is horribly thick…all things considered, a wood fire must be owned to be much more agreeable.’

It was this smoke that made London buildings grey and grimy and caused the peculiar yellow fogs for which the City was infamous (the “pea soup” descriptor dates to 1820 in print and was thus probably around colloquially long before that).

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Shipwrecked with the Captain

I have a new book out in paperback and ebook. Shipwrecked with the Captain is Book 2 in my Governess Swap series.

Here is the back cover blurb:

“All she remembers…

…is feeling safe in his arms!
Shipwrecked governess Claire Tilson wakes in Captain Lucien Roper’s arms—with amnesia! Her handsome rescuer believes she’s a member of the aristocracy he detests, yet he risks all to see her “home,” where she learns she’s betrothed to a wealthy stranger. Claire is convinced she doesn’t belong here…and Lucien is the only man she trusts to uncover her past and claim her future!”

Part of Shipwrecked with the Captain takes place in Bath, that beautiful Georgian city where Jane Austen lived and set two of her novels, Persuasion and Northanger Abbey. I visited Bath in 2017 with my friend Kristine Hughes Patrone of Number One London tours, and it was wonderful to walk the same streets and see the same sights as Jane Austen. It was also a treat to make my hero and heroine walk those streets and visit all the important Bath sights.

Like the Royal Crescent

Or Bath Abbey

Shipwrecked with the Captain is available in paperback or ebook from online vendors in North America and in UK bookstores.

Get your copy today!

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Real Regency Heroines, for Women’s History Month

from http://www.squarepianotech.com/?page_id=376

March is Women’s History Month (in the U.S.). It’s also National Reading Month and National Nutrition Month. I thought of writing about how these can be related. (Reading feeds our minds, and how about reading about women? And writing about them, of course.) But instead, let’s talk about real heroines of the Regency period. (See giveaway details at the end.)

Wikipedia lists fifty-three “Women of the Regency Era” who have their own pages. They range from the obvious (Jane Austen) to the notorious (Harriet Wilson) to the questionable (Princess Caraboo). But rather than list them here, or try to even scratch the surface of this topic, I’d like to invite you to chime in with your favorite candidates. Who were the real heroines of our period?

I would hold that merely existing in the period isn’t enough. What qualities do we expect heroines to demonstrate? Courage, for one, I’m sure you’d agree –no matter what time period she lives in. Certainly in real Regency heroines, courage was necessary to pursue any course outside of normal expectations. Tenacity is another one I am sure was needed just to live any kind of satisfying life as a woman in the early 19th century. What else? And who comes to your mind?

Let’s think about the various ways in which women could be “significant”. Which of these women contributed to the betterment of society, or added to the knowledge or literacy of our world? Or gave their support (sometimes invisibly) to men who accomplished significant things? What other ways did they make impacts?

And also, I would make a distinction between fame and significance. Certainly Lady Emma Hamilton’s beauty and choices made her infamous in her own time and famous even today. Do you think she made the best life out of the limited choices she had? Does she belong on the list of significant women?

Mary Wollstonecraft

I’ll start, offering Mary Wollstonecraft. While she lived almost too early to be included, she was only 38 when she died in childbirth, producing the daughter who would become Mary Shelley. That was in 1797, five years after she published her Rights of Women. Can you imagine what her life might have been like, or what controversies she might have stirred up, if she had lived on into the full Regency era? And I would say she gave us a daughter who also became a significant woman of the Regency.

Perhaps I’ll print the names on Wikipedia’s list a bit later this month, after we’ve had some time to discuss this topic. I wonder how many of them we can come up with on our own, and how many we’ll feel can be classified as heroines?

I’ll even offer this: a free ebook to one commenter, either chosen randomly or if one person stands out as offering the most interesting response, by the end of March. Offering a book feels right during National Reading Month!!

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Elena status update

Hi, everyone. I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted. I’ve been missing the Riskies while dealing with an eye issue that has been flaring up off and on since last May and taking longer to heal each time. I won’t go into details, but I have dry eyes and something additional going on in the right which several good cornea specialists I’ve seen haven’t been able to treat to their satisfaction, though I’ve been slowly getting better. I have an appointment in early April with one of the top experts in dry eye and related conditions, and I’m hopeful that she will figure this out–and how to keep it from happening again.

In the meantime, I’m trying some general health changes (like taking fish oil pills) that may help and can’t hurt. I’m also trying to get better about resting my eyes–as soon as they feel better, I start overdoing.

Since the left eye works OK, I can drive, read, write, work on the computer, etc… The problem is with how long I can do these things. Even covered by the patch, the right eye is somehow trying to focus along with the left and starts to hurt after about 10-15 minutes of eye-intensive activity. Which means I now set a timer, work in 10 minute spurts followed by as much as 30 minutes of rest. Not great for an writer and avid reader!

This is why I’ve been largely off the blog and off Facebook. I need to save my eyes for mundane things like paying bills, working on taxes, and filling out financial aid paperwork.


Anything left I’m trying to devote mostly to writing–which is progressing slowly. I’ve thought about trying dictation software, but I have a messy writing process–crappy first drafts and lots of rearranging and rewriting. I’m not sure there’s a way to use dictation software that way, or if I’d need to change my process so the messy parts happen in my head and then I can dictate the cleaner result. For now, I’m just accepting slow progress and hoping for healing. (People have recovered from conditions like this, but it takes time.)

In the meantime, things that are helping me stay sane are audiobooks and music. I’ve taken up the piano again, and since I’m starting with pieces I used to play, there’s little reading required. I’ve also recently unpacked my classical CDs and have been finding all sorts of forgotten treasures amongst them. I’ve been playing some of my favorites as a way to wind down before going to bed, since gratitude journaling and Zen doodling are out for now.

Here’s an example of the sort of piece I like to listen to before bed and a great piece for Anglophiles–“The Lark Ascending” by Ralph Vaughn Williams, performed by the Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields, with Iona Brown as the violin soloist and Neville Marriner conducting. It’s just what I need, reminding me of walks I took through the English countryside years ago.

Do you have favorite pieces of music that help you through rough patches? Please share.

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What to Wear in Winter Redux

I wrote the original of this blog post six years ago, almost to the day. Even though today it reached near 60 degrees F in Northern Virginia, last week we were in the teens and the midwest had reached record lows. So this blog post seemed very apropos! Here it is (with minor editing):

We’ve just been through a very cold patch of winter here in Northern Virginia, with snow and ice and below freezing temperatures. Parts of the US had been seeing even worse. So bundling up and keeping warm have been on my mind these days.

I searched “winter” on the Regency Encyclopedia, and came up with What To Wear In Winter in The Regency.

From A Lady of Distinction   –   Regency Etiquette, the Mirror of Graces (1811)
R.L. Shep Publications (1997)

1812 Nov

Satin, Genoa velvet, Indian silks and kerseymere may all be fashioned into as becoming an apparel for the slender figure as for the more en bon point and the warmth they afford is highly needful to preserve health during the cold and damps of winter.

The mantle or cottage-cloak should never be worn by females exceeding a moderate en bon point and we should recommend their winter garbs to be formed of double sarsenet or fine Merina cloth, rather than velvets, which (except black) give an appearance of increased size to the wearer.

Red Morocco, scarlet, and those very vivid hues cannot be worn with any propriety until winter, when the color of the mantle or pelisse may sanction its fullness.

I love the emphasis on looking slim! Some things never change.  And look how similar the colors are to what we wear in winter. I love the rich deep colors of winter clothing.

From Buck, Anne M.   –   Contrib to The Regency Era 1810-1830
The Connoisseur Period Guide (1958)

White muslin was for the whole period pre-eminent for morning wear. Only in the months of mid-winter did the hardy Englishwoman abandon it for silk, poplin or wool.

Nothing sets the dress of 1800-20 so much apart from the style before and the style which followed as the scarcity of the underwear beneath it. A chemise of linen, long, reaching well below the knee; light flexible stays; a petticoat, cotton in warm weather, fine flannel in winter; and then the gown or slip. Many of the muslin gowns were worn over a silk slip.

Straw bonnets were worn during the summer months for walking, Leghorn or fine Dunstable straw, usually plainly trimmed. Fashionable for all the summers of 1815-30, they remained comparatively plain even in the years of excessive trimming. In winter black velvet replaced them.

Black velvet hats sound divine! And note how the lady was supposed to wear as little underwear as possible! Hearty Englishwoman, indeed!

From Cunnington, C. Willett – English Women’s Clothing in the Nineteenth Century
Dover reprint of 1937 original (1990)

The summer pelisse was unlined, the winter pelisse was lined.

And more on undergarments by Cunnington, C. Willett & Phillis – The History of Underclothes Dover (1992)

The petticoat was made of cotton, cambric, linen or for winter, sometimes fine flannel.

The idea of “fine flannel” underwear sounds lovely on a cold, damp day!

De Courtais, Georgine – Women’s Hats, Headdresses and Hairstyles
Dover Publications (2006) says

In winter caps and hats (1800-1810) were often trimmed with fur to match similar edging on robes and coats, but a wide range of materials was used both for the hats and for their trimmings.

I love the fur trimmings. Now we can do this in faux fur and still be animal-friendly! And washable!

Gentleman1812

And for the gentleman, from Kelly, Ian – Beau Brummell, The Ultimate Man of Style
Free Press (2006)

Brummell also ordered surtouts or greatcoats from Schweitzer and Davidson for winter wear. They were significantly heavier garments, so much so that they were noted in the weighing books at (wine merchants) Berry Brothers. Made out of even heavier worsteds and “Norwich stuff” – another feltlike beaten wool – they were still exquisitely cut and molded.

Yum!!!

What is your favorite winter garment?

I like the wool scarf and plaid gloves I bought in Scotland while on Number One London’s Scottish Retreat.

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A Background of War

British Infantry at Quatre Bras?

Have any of you already seen movie director Peter Jackson’s magnificent documentary about World War I, “They Shall Not Grow Old”? Today it is opening in 500 more theaters around the US after the preliminary viewings have been so well-received. What, you may ask, does this film have to do with the Regency? Bear with me.

My hubby and I went out in gusty minus 15 degree wind chills earlier in January to view this film, and I have to tell you, it is unforgettable. Jackson and his production teams delved through 100 hours of old, grainy film footage shot at varying speeds on hand-reeled cameras and 600 hours of oral history recordings made available by the British Imperial War Museum to pull together this amazing experience. By choosing a narrowly focused story and using every modern film and computer technique available to enhance the material, they truly captured an indelible, brilliantly rendered experience of being on the front lines in France during The Great War.

My brain always seems to pull things into a Regency frame of reference, and I felt that this film also captured a sense of what war in the Regency period would also have felt like. It probably captures it for any time, but the differences in technology between WWI and more recent wars are legion.

What struck me is that WWI’s ground war was probably the last that still somewhat resembled what wars had been like through history up to that point. In WWI, vehicles were still pulled by horses, and many officers still were mounted. Artillery cannon may have been more accurate and had a longer range, but the experience of loading and firing them (and receiving fire) had not changed much in 100 years. Infantry still used rifles with fixed bayonets. The misery of life in the trenches had not changed much, either.

The Napoleonic conflicts were just about as long past then as WWI is to us today. Jackson’s film does not try to capture the very different experiences of the air or sea parts of the Great War, where the technology differences would be more significant. But to me, the images of men trying to release a heavily-loaded team-drawn wagon from deep mud, or of the cannons rocking back when they fire, or simply of men waiting for battle, could have been pulled from Napoleonic France with very little added imagination.

Painting of the Battle of Waterloo by artist William Holmes Sullivan
Waterloo, by William Holmes Sullivan

Britain was at war with France from 1793-1815. There were impacts at home that may or may not inform the background of our Regency stories. The reality of men coming home wounded, or men who never made it home, of news events that people talked about, all form an underpinning to the era. Four of my Regency romances all feature heroes who served in the war, and in three of those, the effects of the war are deeply integral to the story.

Even impacts after the war, when the influx of soldiers coming home led to unemployment and other social problems, can figure in our stories, as a mere mention in passing or as an important part of plot or character.

Jackson’s film, at the end, shows exactly those same kinds of problems faced by the returning soldiers from WWI. We like to think the lack of gratitude or awareness was not as bad at the end of the Napoleonic Wars –people in Britain did fear the Little General might come right to their shores. Also, the population was not as huge, and every class felt some effect of war, whether it was the aristocratic families whose younger sons were officers, or the poor whose sons risked life and limb for the promise of pay. In WWI, the threat to Great Britain was perhaps not as vivid as it was before, or after. One soldier in Jackson’s film who was able to return to his old job after fighting in the war recalls being asked, “Where’ve you been, mate? Workin’ nights?”

I recommend this film to you, for a greater understanding of what the background of war can mean to our characters, and so to enrich our own storytelling. If it isn’t at a theater near you, it is also available online, at: https://tinyurl.com/y9ae3w2r . But the large screen version will be far more affecting, and it also includes a separate, fascinating short film about how Jackson made this amazing documentary. (Just be patient through the first few minutes.)

But be prepared –it isn’t pretty, and it is very moving. I managed not to cry until the end, but when the song Jackson chose for the credits began to play, I lost it. My paternal grandfather served in France during WWI (in the American army) and he used to sing that song all the time when I was a child. Hinkey-dinky-parlez-vous is embedded in my family memories. Although I must add, NOT most of the verses I heard sung for Jackson’s film!!

Have you seen the film? Do you think the similarities & emotion translate across 100 years of time to the Regency period? What do you think about the background of war in Regency romances?

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Let’s Talk Research

I believe that writers of historical fiction need this same type of knowledge base. I’ve occasionally been vilified/attacked for pointing out that some cherished facet of Romancelandia is, in fact, erroneous (men wearing wedding rings), anachronistic (scones in Regency settings), or just plain wrong (engagement announcements during the Georgian era). I’m open to being shown that I’m wrong, but doing so requires documentation (which does not consist of point out that Heyer did it in her books).

Extant silk shoe, c. 1780 Victoria and Albert Museum

I grew up in the world or re-enactors, so I have very definite ideas about what research is and what it takes to document the minutia of everyday historical life. In the re-enactment community, we talk about things being “documented” and “undocumentatable” all the time. We harp on it constantly, and argue over what is and what isn’t. We disagree about interpretations and conclusions. It’s a constantly evolving hobby, and this is part of the fun (really . . . no, really). And since we’re attempting “living history” we have to know not just the dates of battles and the names of major historical figures, but the little things like what food stuffs were available and, more importantly, common for the class and location of our persona.

There are three kinds (or levels) of sources/documentation: Primary, secondary and tertiary (and then there’s art).

Primary sources are actual items from the period (what historians call “extant”). A hat. A shoe. A saddle. Also in the primary grouping are period documents like letters, journals, newspapers, household inventories, and period books (cookbooks are invaluable). Though you have to be careful with some of these, because they function almost like secondary sources, since they are one person’s viewpoint and they often require context in order to obtain full understanding (into this group I consign the single source [a letter] that mentioned French women dampening their petticoats to make them cling; it was by an outraged Englishman who didn’t like travel or the French and I without any other source to back it up, I call shenanigans).

Secondary sources are frequently underused in the writing community (with the exception of the Oxford English Dictionary), but re-enactors live for them! If you really want to know how the clothing fastened, what it looked like, what fabrics were used, what the layers were, Janet Arnold’s Patterns of Fashion: Englishwomen’s Dresses and Their Construction, c. 1660-1860 (where she deconstructs and details historical garments) is far more useful than an overview like 20,000 Years of Fashion by François Boucher. Overviews, of course, have their own purposes, and Boucher’s book is on the list of “must haves” for every writer in my opinion, but it doesn’t lead you into the lived history the way Arnold’s work does.

The next level down is tertiary. These are the sources that most writers and students are using: All the biographies and history books that we snap up in the non-fiction section of the bookstore. You have to be careful with tertiary sources. In the re-enactment community, these are not considered documentation in and of themselves. Only primary and secondary count for that (hence some of the arguments). Only tertiary works which are extensively documented should ever be relied upon (look for authors who are respected experts in their field and for books with lots of citations). Often, something that looks great on the surface will be found to be less than useful when you dig in. An example of this is something like What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew. The book skims the surface of many topics and fails to date them specifically within the 19th century, resulting in a mash-up of the late-Georgian, Regency, Romantic and Victorian eras. It’s a fun book, but it’s not all that helpful for an author trying to find out what her character might have served at tea (especially as afternoon tea only became an established “thing” in the Victorian era). Another is An Elegant Madness, which seems like a great book, but upon closer inspection is riddled with errors that leave my in doubt of pretty much everything the author says (such as the author’s inability to keep Frances Villiers, wife of the 4th Earl of Jersey and her daughter-in-law Sarah Sophia Child Villiers, wife of the 5th Earl of Jersey straight; some major blunders about who was having an affair with whom).

Gillray, c. 1800

Lastly, we come to art. This area can be tricky. The problem is that unlike having the physical item in your hand (for example, the actual dress), you’re looking at an artist’s interpretation of that item (so these act a lot like secondary and tertiary sources). Add into the mix that much of the art we look at is highly stylized, allegorical, political, and/or farcical (so the see-through dress over the shift with a “display” hole cut out over the bum can’t be taken as a literal example of the clothing being worn in France c. 1800) and it’s sometimes hard to know what you’re really looking at. And then there is the problem of reproduction. A lot gets lost when the paintings are photographed and reproduced. Fine details can entirely disappear. And often you have to have a strong background in the period already to know what you’re looking at, which makes art useful for the knowledgeable historian, but problematic for the novice (and it tends to be the go-to source for many novices, since it appears to be the most accessible form of documentation).

The one thing that should NEVER be cited as documentation is a work of fiction. Not my books. Not Diana Gabaldon’s books. Not Bernard Cornwell’s books. Not Georgette Heyer’s book. If you see something in a book that intrigues or inspires you, make a note of it and then double check it. Authors are fallible. We make mistakes. We fudge things. We cling to our own preconceived notions or to “facts” we were taught (which often have built-in cultural, religious, or socioeconomic biases of their own).

Some things are open to interpretation, and there is no “right” or “wrong” answer. For example, I like writing about strong, fast, wild, unusual women. Because these kind of women interest me, I read a lot of biographies and histories about the ones that really existed. Books like Jo Manning’s My Lady Scandalous (about courtesan Grace Elliot, aka Dally the Tall), Hallie Rubenhold’s The Lady in Red (about Lady Worsley’s disastrous marriage and divorce), the illustrated version of Amanda Forman’s Georgiana (about the Duchess of Devonshire), and Janet Gleeson’s Privilege and Scandal (about Lady Bessborough). I also read things like Harriette Wilson’s memoir, Sex in Georgian England by A.D. Harvey, and Broken Lives by Lawrence Stone.

All of this feeds in to my version of Georgian England, which is very different from the one created by Georgette Heyer or one created by one of my current peers who prefers to write ingénues or guttersnipes. Any of us being asked to justify our preference is ridiculous in my opinion, but this is utterly different than someone asking if it was really possible for Jo Beverley’s heroine Elfled Malloren to have a pair of lace stockings (and yes, it was; there’s an extant [primary source] example in a museum in Germany that belonged to Madame de Pompadour).

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Happy New Year and Twelfth Night!

How do you celebrate the January holidays? I think I have only just recovered from celebrating New Year’s Eve, when I hosted a group of old friends who gather to enjoy a festive dinner every year. My health has improved tremendously (9 months of physical therapy has helped a lot) but my stamina is still not what it was. And yet, tomorrow I am heading off to an all-day celebration of Twelfth Night (including a feast) in a beautiful Gothic church hall in Fairhaven, MA. I LOVE this event and am so pleased I’m well enough to go this year! I fully endorse the idea of twelve days in the Christmas season.

 

 

 

The characters in my new release, LORD OF MISRULE, celebrate both of these holidays in the course of the story, which begins on Christmas Eve day and ends on Twelfth Night (not counting the epilogue). On New Year’s Eve, they are traveling, so they celebrate with other strangers in the public room of an inn. On Twelfth Night they are back in the little village of Little Macclow, and they –well, I recommend you read the book, LOL.

We know that many of the old traditions surrounding Christmas and these January holidays had been forbidden by the Puritans in the mid-17th century. Celebrating Christmas in any form was actually illegal. (No doubt some families continued to celebrate secretly.) However, once the Puritans fell from power, it took time and an actual campaign by one man determined to see the customs revived to bring them back into fashion by the early 18th century. The revival faded a bit (too “old-fashioned” by Regency times) but was then not only revived again but expanded in the Victorian times, when new customs were added from the German traditions. But I only recently discovered how the revival really came to pass. While researching for LORD OF MISRULE I stumbled across a most excellent blogpost from 2009 on the Austenonly.com website, which addresses the misconception some people have that all the old customs weren’t being observed during the Regency. The article “But Surely Christmas in England didn’t exist until Dickens invented it?” talks about the role played by writer William [or Robert] Wynstanley, who through his annual publication of Poor Robin’s Almanac over a period of thirty-eight years [1663-1701] promoted the revival of Christmas traditions. How’s that for perseverance?

Later, a version under the same name was published by Ben Franklin’s brother and served as the model for his more famous Poor Richard’s Almanac. I see confusion between the different versions and end-dates that don’t pay attention to where these almanacs were published. (the researcher’s headache.) The publication continued to be issued by others (including possibly Robert Herrick whose name is also associated with it) as late as (pick one!) 1776? 1828?

From the 1664 edition:

“Provide for Christmas ere that it do come
To feast thy neighbour good cheer to have some;
Good bread and drink, a fire in the hall,
Brawn, pudding, souse and good mustard withal;
beef, mutton, pork, and shred pies of the best,
Pig, veal, goose, capon, and turkey well drest;
Apples and nuts to throw about the hall,
That boys and girls may scramble for them all.
Sing jolly carols, make the fiddlers play,
Let scrupulous fanatics keep away;
For oftentimes seen no arranter knave
Than some who do counterfeit most to be grave.”

I hope you have enjoyed a wonderful holiday season shared with people you love! We here at the Riskies wish you all the very best in 2019, and we thank you for following our humble efforts here. Do you have any special holiday traditions for New Year’s or Twelfth Night? We would love to hear about them.

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Databases of Advertisements for Fugitive Slaves

I love primary historical sources. Cornell University has just made public a database of historical fugitive slave ads, including one for a slave who ran away from George Washington! (Oney Judge escaped our first president and went on to marry a free black sailor and live out the rest of her life in New Hampshire; sounds like wonderful inspiration for a romance to me).

Advertisement for a fugitive slave in the Oppenheim (New York, 1824) (via Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division, New York Public Library)

Though these ads we can discover details of the true lives of the enslaved, and hopefully find inspiration for creating works of fiction that reflect the diverse reality of the past. We can see what they wore, what skills they had, what work they did, and even what ruses they used to escape (we can also see the cruelty of their enslavers exposed in the descriptions of the scars they bore). But more than that, we can see that they were there. That they were real. That they had hopes and dreams and that they fought for those dreams every bit as much as we do today.

But, Isobel I hear you say, I write UK-set historicals. Well, there is another, similar database for researching this topic in the UK: Runaway Slaves in Britain. The ads of slave sales taking place in the UK in the 18th century send my imagination running wild. So many stories waiting to be told…

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Finally, finally!! Lord of Misrule

I could NOT be more excited to tell you that, as it says above, finally –FINALLY!! –I have finished LORD OF MISRULE. Not only that, but the ebook version is up at both Amazon and Smashwords –the Kindle version is on pre-order and will be delivered next Wednesday. Please, please head on over there and order a copy? You will have my undying gratitude.

I put “finally’ in caps because really, this is not just about the fact that the poor book kept getting interrupted and has taken a couple of years to complete. This is my first all-new book in sixteen years! Yes, THE RAKE’S MISTAKE was the last entirely new book I wrote, and it was published by Signet in 2002. (That’s the only one of my backlist I still have not re-issued. I’ll get to it, I promise.)

Coming back after that long a break is not easy. First, there’s the “rust” factor –you’re horribly out of practice after not writing for that long (teaching helps, but it’s not the same), and more, at least in my case, you lose your “voice” and have to spend a lot of writing time just finding it again. Second, and it’s related to the first, there’s the “fear” factor. Face it, writing is a scary business. You put your heart on the line every time you write a story and put it out there for people to judge. When you’re rusty at your craft and finding your way back, I think the “fear factor” is tripled! So, I have my fingers crossed and hope readers will enjoy my new effort.

But there’s another “finally” I’m celebrating with this new book. I was detoured during those years by a series of serious health issues in my family –my mom, my younger son, my husband. Each time I started to write again, a new crisis occurred and the correlation of the timing was worthy of the Twilight Zone! I began to believe I just wasn’t meant to be writing during those years, and still believe that. No guilt.

This time when I started again, the health crisis that occurred was mine. The reason to celebrate is not only because I managed to write anyway, but because I believe I have either broken the pattern, or come to the end of the period of not-writing. The joy is back, and I feel that part of my brain is working again. FINALLY! Yippee!

LORD OF MISRULE

On a snowy Christmas Eve day, a vicar’s daughter runs into the Devil himself, or is he just the Lord of Misrule? In a season of miracles and magic, can love bind two unlikely hearts in the days leading to Twelfth Night?

“a bit of Pride and Prejudice, a little Brigadoon and a dollop of Cinderella” –author Terri Kennedy

In trouble for causing a scandal in London, Adam Randall, Lord Forthhurst, is headed home to make amends on Christmas Eve day when he becomes stranded in the tiny village of Little Macclow. Before the night is over, he has become thoroughly entangled in the village’s celebration of the twelve days of Christmas, and fully intrigued by the vicar’s daughter, Miss Cassandra Tamworth.

Cassie has been raised by her widowed father to expect the worst from members of the aristocracy. Lord Forthhurst is a puzzle. Can she trust him? Or is he a devil, as he claims and warns her? Can her mind resist when her heart and body want to be his?

Note: This special full-length holiday book from Gail focuses entirely on the romance between Adam and Cassie and the shenanigans during twelve days of Christmas. In this one, no nefarious doings are afoot and there’s no mystery to be solved beyond the mystery of how two people who belong together ever manage to sort themselves out enough to find love!

BUY LINKS

Kindle:  https://tinyurl.com/y7rofpyo

Nook, Kobo, Sony, etc.:  https://tinyurl.com/y89v9odt

Have you ever had to persevere over a long period of time to complete something, or get back to something? I am so grateful to my readers who have been patiently waiting for me, and for new ones who are willing to give me a try!

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