Big thanks to everyone who visited on Thursday and if you haven’t snapped it up yet, the novella that kicks off the series, Lost in a Royal Kiss, is available on Amazon and free (at the moment) for Nook.
Having finally finished the clean-up from Thanksgiving (the wedding crystal goblets I have to wash by hand tend to decorate the kitchen counter for days), I am now looking ahead to the next holidays, and more meals to be planned in celebration. Special occasions and special food always go together. Do you have a traditional holiday food you make or fondly remember? For Christians, this past Sunday was the first Sunday in Advent, the season leading up to Christmas, and in some parts of England, is also known as “stir-up day” –the day you are supposed to stir-up the batter for your Christmas cake or pudding so it will have enough time to age properly. (The day can also be the last Sunday before the start of Advent.) There’s a double meaning to the name, as one of the old texts used by the church for the start of Advent begins “Stir up , we beseech thee O Lord” and one site claims “this activity of stirring-up the ingredients symbolizes our hearts that must be stirred in preparation for Christ’s birth.” Christmas cakes (aka fruitcakes) have a pedigree as long as the technique of using rum or brandy to preserve food. “Plum Pudding” was also around long before the Victorians popularized it as “Christmas pudding”. Either one could include meat with the dried fruit in their early forms, but one is baked and the other was boiled –steamed in later times.
For someone who’s not a great cook, maybe it’s ironic that I’ve always been interested in period food, but it comes honestly from my interest in the daily life of other times. The Regency isn’t my only pet period –I’m a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism and indulge in medieval interests, too. I collect cookbooks on period food, and recently added Dinner with Tom Jones: Eighteenth Century Cookery Adapted for the Modern Kitchen, by Lorna Sass (1977, the Metropolitan Museum of Art). Sass also wrote To the King’s Taste (Richard II) and To the Queen’s Taste (Elizabeth I).
I can’t believe I found this treasure in my church yard sale!! I recommend it as a research gold-mine; it has notes about menus, how dishes should be arranged on the table, and all sorts of extra goodies besides the recipes, and while it covers a period slightly earlier than our beloved Regency, back then things did not change as rapidly as they do now. Casting about for what to feed our characters, a ragoo of asparagus or heavens, yes, a chocolate tart(!) might be just the thing we need to serve them. And the book is illustrated with delightful sketches of county life by Thomas Rowlandson (behaving properly for a change).
On my Christmas list is another cookbook just released last month which should also be of great interest to us all –Dinner with Mr Darcy by Pen Vogler, a new addition to the existing canon related to food in Jane Austen’s books and life. Besides recipes inspired by Jane’s novels and letters, it also promises notes about table arrangements, kitchens and gardens, changing mealtimes, and servants and service, etc.
Both of these books use Hannah Glasse’s first cookbook, The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy (1747), as a chief source. A reviewer of Vogler’s book (http://tinyurl.com/mlrxl6j) says this was “one of the first commercial cookbooks to capture the public imagination and was used by middle-class families like the Austens well into the 19th century.” Does food history interest you? Do you care about what our story characters eat? (The book I’m editing now for reissue, The Captain’s Dilemma, has a running joke about the family’s inventive but not very good cook.) What are some of your favorite resources?
I wish you all very happy holidays and some memorable meals with friends and family, whatever you celebrate!
I’m delighted to welcome Vanessa Kelly to the Riskies today, with a contest to win an ARC of the first book in her Renegade Royals series, Secrets for Seducing a Royal Bodyguard. The novella Lost in A Royal Kiss–just released– introduces the series, in which readers are transported to the court of King George III, where a London street urchin unwittingly plays Cupid, ushering in a new era—and ultimately a new kind of royal…
Welcome, Vanessa! What’s the premise of the Renegade Royals series?
The basis for the series was a tidbit of information in a book about the daughters of King George III. Queen Charlotte had taken in a boy as charity case to be raised as a companion to the royal princes. It was a misguided impulse since the Prince of Wales, for one, resented the unfortunate child. I found that historical snippet intriguing. What would life be like for a boy of humble origins raised with royalty and yet never truly a part of their world? And where in life did he end up?
In my series, this boy became Dominic Hunter, who grows up to be a magistrate, a spymaster, and a trusted liaison to the Court of St. James. But Dominic has never forgotten the ill-usage he suffered in his youth, and the bad behavior of the royal princes continues to irk him. For one thing, they tend to scatter the landscape with illegitimate children, some lacking a proper name or place in the world. So Dominic decides to track down these offspring who are royal in everything but name. He does everything he can to help them find their rightful places in society and make good marriages.
Lost in a Royal Kiss is set in 1786, but the first of the Renegade Royals series, Secrets for Seducing a Royal Bodyguard (January 2014), is set in 1814. What do you find most interesting in the differences between these two periods almost thirty years apart?
One interesting difference was in the way the royal court conducted itself. King George III and Queen Charlotte lived modestly, by royal standards, preferring a simple life and a more relaxed protocol at Windsor or Kew to a grand court scene in London. They enjoyed country pursuits and a life that revolved around family entertainments. This dismayed many courtiers, who found life at Kew Palace or Windsor to be boring and lacking in grandeur. Of course when the king fell ill there were even more restrictions, since the queen and her daughters all but lived in seclusion at Kew Palace.
Under the Prince Regent, however, court life was a great deal more extravagant and lively, often to the point of dissipation. But for all his faults, the Regent was a great patron of the arts and architecture, a legacy we see today in structures like the Royal Pavilion at Brighton. George III, often referred to as Farmer George, would not have approved.
Another significant change was with clothing. Georgian attire was quite different from Regency attire: more ornately decorated and with rich materials, particularly for the men. Long hair, wigs, powder…styles changed dramatically under the influence of men like Beau Brummel.
I too was introduced to the Regency by the books of Georgette Heyer, and you and I both read Regency Buck as our first. Do you still like to read/re-read Heyer and do you think she’s stood the test of time? What’s your favorite?
I re-read Georgette Heyer on a regular basis. She’s my go-to author when I’m sick or in need of a little comfort reading. I absolutely think her books stand the test of time, although I laugh now at all the exclamation points she uses—I never thought about things like that until I started writing my own books. My favorites are The Grand Sophy and Arabella. Such witty, entertaining books!
What do you love about the Regency?
The clothing, the architecture, and the absolute gusto for life in that era—Regency folk really knew how to have a good time, sometimes to an insane degree.
Hate about the Regency?
The profoundly disturbing levels of poverty, especially in the cities, and the crime rate. Life for the poor was incredibly grim, and their treatment by the middle and upper classes was often callous beyond belief. The way the Irish were treated was also horrible, although that had been going on for a very long time.
You have an alterego, V.K. Sykes, the combined writing genius of you and your husband. What’s your writing process? Do you find it difficult to switch gears?
Thank you for calling us geniuses! The V.K. Sykes books are contemporary romance or romantic suspense so it can be a bit of a challenge to get into the headspace. Fortunately, I don’t write the first drafts for those books. I do the revisions and the editing, and I write all the sex scenes (hubby just can’t seem to bring himself to do that). We rarely work on the same book at the same time, which is a good way to avoid wrangling over specific elements. Whoever is working on the book has ownership over it. It’s a process that is surprisingly stress-free.
What’s the last great book you read?
The Ape Who Guards the Balance, by Elizabeth Peters. I had read the first few books in the Amelia Peabody mystery series back in college, but I re-discovered them a few months ago. I’ve been tearing through them—they’re so skillfully written and the characters are fabulous. The books are witty and smart, and I love the setting and the archaeological background. Amelia Peabody and her family are the best kind of brain candy.
What’s next for you?
I’m finishing up the second novella in The Renegade Royals before moving on to book three in the series. My husband and I are also working on a new contemporary romance series for Grand Central—small town romances set on an island off the coast of Maine. That will be out in 2015.
Vanessa is giving away an ARC of Secrets for Seducing a Royal Bodyguard as a prize today. She’s told us what she loves and hates about the Regency–to enter the contest, share what you love and hate about the period, and help spread the word!
And the winner is!!!
Gloria: Watch your email, and/or email me at carolyn AT carolynjewel DOT com with your mailing address.
I had a new book release this weekend!!! (I know, another one! It’s been a crazy book autumn, but now you will have a break from me until April, when my second Amanda Carmack mystery, Murder at Westminster Abbey, comes out…). This month it’s Running From Scandal, book two of the Bancrofts of Barton Park duet.
The past is always hot on your heels…
Emma Bancroft used to pride herself on her sensible nature, but good sense flew out the window during her first Season in London! Her reputation and her belief in true love in tatters, she reluctantly returns home to Barton Park.
David Marton is trying to live a quiet life—until Emma comes sweeping back. With whispers of scandal all about her, he knows she will never be the right woman for him, but sometimes temptation is just too hard to resist….
When I was working on book one (The Runaway Countess, the story of Emma’s sister Jane and her estranged husband), I knew Emma would be the heroine of book two, but I wasn’t sure who her hero would be. I loved her free-spirited, digging-in-the-dirt exuberance, and wasn’t sure who would match her! She followed her heart, which didn’t always lead her down the right path. Then I noticed the sparks she had with the seemingly strait-laced neighbor, David Marton, and thought…what if???
I loved spending time with Emma and David! Their romance was inspired by the 193os screwball comedies I love so much. Bringing Up Baby, The Awful Truth, The Lady Eve…all deliciously frothy and fun stories of madcap heroines teaching too-serious heroes how to have fun, while the heroes give the heroines stability and security in love. I also fell in love with David’s daughter Beatrice, who does not want a new mama–until the right one comes along.
“Including a darling little girl, meddling relatives, and a bit of suspense, McCabe’s story charms readers and gives them an enjoyable read…” –RT BookReviews
(Read an excerpt at my blog to see Emma and David’s meeting!)
What are some of your favorite romantic movies, with character pairings you love??? (One commenter wins a signed copy of Running From Scandal!)
And don’t forget the Harlequin Historical Advent Calendar contest, running all this month! My day is the 6th…visit me at my website that day for a chance to enter…
Temperatures in Virginia dipped into the teens this past week necessitating winter clothes. I pulled out my warmest coat and thought about what a Regency lady would wear in winter.
The Regency occurred during the little ice age in Europe and winters were cold. In the early 1800s ladies succumbed to a flu epidemic in great numbers. It was called the “muslin disease,” because the fashions of the day were too flimsy for the cold weather, with their thin fabrics and minimal underclothes. Ladies were not protected from the cold. Fashion had to find some way for ladies to stay warm.
Shawls were one popular fashion solution. They were made of long oblong pieces of fabric or were square and folded into a triangle. They could be fringed and embroidered or made of cashmere or woven into a paisley pattern.
The spencer was a close-fitting, waist-length jacket. With the empire waists of the Regency dress, the spencers could be quite short. In winter the spencer could be fur-lined, covered by a fur cape called a pelerine, or a fur tippet (a fur scarf).
A pelisse was an even warmer choice for winter. It also could be fur-lined. A pelisse was a full length, fitted coat.
As you can see, winter wear also included hats and gloves as well.
What is your winter wear?
Don’t forget! The Harlequin Historical Authors Holiday Giveaway has begun. Look here for the Advent calendar and click on today’s date to enter. You can also enter my part of the contest right now. Go here.
Here’s my follow-up to a mighty sweet Thanksgiving. I’ll start right here by admitting that I love food (I know – who doesn’t?). My extreme love of dessert is thwarted by the fact that certain factors make it impossible for me to indulge on a regular basis. Thursday was one of the exceptions. I also misbehave (culinarily) on Christmas and the occasional birthday.
In between bouts of gustatory vice, I manage this sorry state of affairs by vicariously indulging in food web sites. One of my favorites is Great British Puddings. There are some great recipes although, if you’re in the US, you’ll have to do some conversions to get the ingredients right. Happily, the site includes a conversion table.
The picture I’ve included is, Sticky Toffee Pudding, one of my favorites. I believe this is considered a rather low-class choice in England. But who cares? I make this every Christmas and it could only be improved if I could get my hands on some honest-to-goodness clotted cream. But, even without it’s yummy. So, whether you want to bake or, like me, indulge vicariously, this might be right up your alley.
Do you have favorite food sites? Please share. One can never have too much vice.
Janet is having technical difficulties, so there was no post yesterday. But the Riskies hope you’ve all had a lovely Thanksgiving and we are grateful for having such nice visitors!
As for today, since I’ve been working very hard lately, and so have my daughters (challenging academic loads and college applications for the oldest!) we’ve decided to do the opposite of the typical Black Friday.
The idea of a “Jama Day” came from this Peter Mayer song about spending a day in your pajamas as if “you don’t have a job, not even a resume.”
Our “Jama Day” is going to be a little more structured than in the song, partly because we’re doing it as a group and also because it’s not in my nature to be completely unstructured. Ironically, that would stress me out and being stressed out is not the point!
So we decided to do a Lord of the Rings marathon. We laid in a supply of easy munchies, some healthy (quacamole and chips, hummus and veggies) some not so much (M&Ms, donuts for breakfast and of course, cake). For dinner, we’ll have mushroom pizza in honor of the hobbits.
Soon I will be off to have some donuts and watch the first movie.
So what are you all doing today? I hope you’re enjoying the day in the way you like best.
Jane from Dear Author tweeted about a tin of 22 temporary Jane Austen tattoos, so I went to take a look. They looked pretty darn awesome to me! I’m told the tattoos have sold out, so they’re currently in short supply. Bummer, huh?
Here’s a picture of the tattoos that come in the tin:
“Imprudent” is my favorite. I am tempted to get that word as a real tattoo.
Perhaps you’re wondering why that’s such an amateurish photo. Well, because I took it with my phone and I’m only willing to work so hard on this sort of thing. Perhaps you are also wondering, if the tattoos sold out, HOW did Carolyn get a picture of the back of one of the tins?
Both good questions.
Answer: I bought 5 of them. So I guess it’s at least partly my fault they’re in short supply.
About now you may be asking, What’s she gonna do with 5 tins of Jane Austen temporary tattoos! (Besides put “imprudent” in 5 risky places and then dance around gloating.)
ANOTHER good question.
I’m giving one of them away here. Yes, that’s right. One lucky Risky reader will get a tin of 22 Jane Austen temporary tattoos. Because I am awesome that way. I’m giving another away at my blog, and one at my facebook page. I’ll do another giveaway on twitter, too.
Rules and other Stuff You Should Know
Void where prohibited. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 to enter. Winner selected at random from among qualified entrants. You have to enter before or at the deadline. No one related to me or employed by me is eligible to win. The deadline is 11:59:59 PM EST Monday December 2, 2013. (EST because that’s the time zone of this blog.) All prizes will be awarded.
How to Enter
In the comments to this post, complete the following question:
Jane Austen would approve of:
Like this: Jane Austen would approve of: grilled cheese sandwiches.
There you go.
Enter! Winner announced next Wednesday.
OMG, I totally forgot it is Tuesday!!! It must be holiday crazy brain. I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving, get great bargains over the weekend (if you’re into that–I am much too lazy to leave my house after eating so much turkey and pie!), and check back here next Tuesday for a proper post….
I am definitely thankful for all our Risky readers!