Heiress Stories and a Sale

This month, I’m continuing my series of ebook sales for good causes. The Redwyck Charm is currently on sale for just 99 cents.

Here’s the blurb:

Marcus Redwyck, Earl of Amberley, reluctantly agrees to wed an heiress in order to save his estate. But his equally reluctant bride, Juliana Hutton, runs away and masquerades as an opera dancer. When they meet, passion leads them to the edge of scandal. Even when all is revealed, it will take all of Marcus’s resolution and the fabled Redwyck charm to win the spirited Juliana’s heart.

I realize that it’s a bit of a stretch for a properly raised young woman to impersonate an opera-dancer. I work around that a bit by not having her dance that well! But also I did have some historical justification. In The Mirror of Graces (by a “Lady of Distinction, 1811) I read that young ladies sometimes took ballet-lessons to improve their ballroom performance.

“Extraordinary as it may seem, at a period when dancing is so entirely neglected by men in general, women appear to be taking the most pains to acquire the art. Our female youth are now not satisfied with what used to be considered a good dancing-master; that is, one who made teaching his sole profession; but now our girls must be taught by the leading dancers at the Opera-house.

“The consequence is, when a young lady rises to dance, we no longer see the graceful, easy step of the gentlewoman, but the laboured, and often indelicate exhibitions of the posture-mistress. Dances from ballets are introduced; and instead of the jocund and beautifully-organized movements of hilarity in concord, we are shocked by the most extravagant theatrical imitations. The chaste minuet is banished; and, in place of dignity and ease, we behold strange wheelings on one leg; stretching out the other till our eye meets the garter; and a variety of endless contortions, fitter for the zenana of an eastern satrap, or the gardens of Mahomet, than the ball-room of an Englishwoman of quality and virtue.

“These ballet dances are, we now see, generally attempted. I say attempted, for not one young woman in five hundred can, from the very nature of the thing, after all her study, perform them better than could be done any day by the commonest figurante on the stage. We all know, that, to be a fine opera-dancer, requires unremitting practice, and a certain disciplining of the limbs, which hardly any private gentlewoman would consent to undergo. Hence, ladies can never hope to arrive at any comparison with even the poorest public professor of the art; and therefore, to attempt the extravagancies of it, is as absurd as it is indelicate.”

The picture above is a waltzing scene from La Belle Assemblee, February 1, 1817 which I think clearly shows the influence of opera-dancing on social dances.

This was a fun book to write, definitely in the category of “romp”. It was also a stretch for me to write a heroine like Juliana, who did things I’d never have dared. One reader did complain that Juliana is spoiled. But the way I look at it, even now a woman can be born to wealth and material advantages but still have to fight to determine her own destiny.

When Juliana is faced with the prospect of a marriage of convenience with Marcus, she is finally swayed by the fact that he needs her money to save his estate from falling into the hands of a man who would neglect his tenants for a quick profit. Juliana’s compassion surpasses her personal desires (at the time at least—once she realizes she’s in love with Marcus, it’s all good).

So I think it is fitting to donate the proceeds of this sale to the Flint Child Health and Development Fund, dedicated to the “long term health and development needs of Flint children exposed to lead”. If you are not familiar, here is some background on the Flint water crisis and a more recent update.

The ebook version of The Redwyck Charm is on sale at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks and Kobo.

If you’d like to donate directly, go to Flint Kids and just use the “Donate” button.

Do you like “heiress” stories? Do you have any favorites?

Elena

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Voices from Old London

The Strand, with Somerset House and Mary-le-Strand church. Published by Ackerman, 1836 (from Wikipedia)

This year I’m back in Victorian London, and as it so happens I’ve got a couple of new research books, among them Voices from Dickens’ London by Michael Paterson from 2006 (republished as Inside Dickens’ London). Right in the introduction Paterson makes a claim that I found both daring and electrifying:

“The city of Dickens is a place lost to us beyond recall. It is difficult to imagine its dirtiness and dnager and its extremes of wealth and poverty. Its people did not look, speak, smell or behave like us. The ways they dressed, the times at which they ate, the slang they used and the accents in which they talked, the ways in which they worked or celebrated or took their amusements, often bear no resemblance to our experience” (10).

As somebody who has walked through London several times, often with the specific intention tracing the sights and buildings of the early 19th century, I found Paterson’s claim rather outrageous at first. After all, isn’t it our shared human experience that allows us modern readers to connect to characters in the literature of the past as well as to characters in historical fiction?

Today’s London is noisy and dirty and smells of exhaust fumes. Add to that the stink of piss and garbage in the back streets. How much worse could 19th-century London have been? There would have been different smells, of course, not of exhaust fumes, but of horses and…

Open sewers.

Cess pits.

A river that stank to heaven and spread illness and disease.

The smell of this old London, Paterson writes,

“must have been overwhelming. First, there was the smell of coal fires.. The vast forest of reeking chimneys filled the air with smoke, which covered buildings with unsightly layers of soot and left dirty black smuts on clothes and faces. There were the multifarious stenches of industry: breweries, foundries and forges, chemical works and, worse than all of them, tanneries […]. There was also the aroma of horses, on which so much of London’s transport and commerce depended — the smell of a stable multiplied millionfold. There was the scent of hundreds of thousands of people, whose tightly packed lives did not allow them opportunities to keep themselves, their clothes or their homes clean” (18).

And as to the noise —

“However noisy today’s traffic may be, it is insignificant by comparison with the din that filled the city in Dickens’ time. Countless iron-shod wheels rattled all day over cobbled streets behind clopping horses. Shouting was constant as, without any form of traffic control, drivers relied on aggression to push their way through the crush of vehicles. The sounds, thrown back by the walls of narrow streets, was so loud that it would not be possible to hold a conversation on the pavement, nor to leave street-facing windows open in summer” (17).

An exaggeration? Perhaps, for after all, the street sellers were still able to hawk their wares. And there were street musicians, too — Italian boys with barrel organs or harps — and street performers of every kind.

No Big Ben, of course.

Some of the things Paterson considers strange — like the closure of all shops and museums on Sunday — don’t seem quite so strange to those who have a different cultural background than the author (in Germany, shops are closed on Sunday).

And yet, the London that emerges from the pages of Paterson’s book is indeed very different from the London of today. It also differs markedly from the London you get to see in most of those pretty TV adaptations of 19th-century literature (with Dickens adaptation being the big exception).

As the title suggest, Voices from Dickens’ London relies heavily on primary texts by Victorian journalists, authors, and everyday people, which are quoted extensively (though not always quite accurately: ellipses are often unmarked). This makes Paterson’s book both fascinating reading material and a rather fantastic source — one I can highly recommend.


I wrote this post yesterday. Today, London was once again hit by catastrophe: This morning, a devastating fire started in Grenfell Tower in Kensington and killed and injured many people. My thoughts are with all those affected by the fire.

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Celebrate London!

George VI spoke those words in a broadcast on September 23, 1940, during the London Blitz, but are they not as true today?

I wish I were in London today to stand with Londoners, resolute and undismayed.

On Saturday night, June 3, a white van hit pedestrians on London Bridge, then three men got out and stabbed people in Borough Market. Seven people were killed and 48 injured. The police shot and killed the three attackers.

My friend Kristine Hughes Patrone of Number One London Tours is in London with our friend Denise from the Duke of Wellington Tour. Their Sunday plans were to include  visiting Borough Market. She said on Facebook yesterday that they walked across Waterloo Bridge and that Londoners were out and about.

Resolute and undismayed!

Last May Kristine and I wandered through Borough Market…

It is difficult to believe anyone would want to terrorize such a lively, unique, nurturing place.

The Borough Market dates back to medieval times. During the Regency, the market was an institution of national significance, devoted solely to the fruit and vegetable wholesale trade. Now it offers retail food items from both British traders and International ones.

My heart is there, at Borough Market, today. I know that in no time it will return to its former vitality.

Because that is the spirit of London and Londoners.

Tell me something you love about London! Let’s celebrate the city that features so prominently in our Regency romance novels.

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Shameless Self-Promotion & Mumps (Begging Your Indulgence)

I’ve never missed my Riskies blogging date (except one time we switched dates), and here I am, but I have to tell you I have been sick all month. ALL MONTH!

Rather unbelievably, I came down with the mumps. Yes, I had it as a child (we didn’t have the vaccine for it then), although I had a very light case. My sister had it much worse. Perhaps my case then wasn’t bad enough to give me full immunity, or something. At any rate, an outbreak of it on the state college campus close to where I work apparently spilled a bit into the nearby community, and WHAM!

I will tell you, having mumps at my age is NOT for sissies. Also, when you are that sick, not resting enough can prolong how long it takes to get well (what, you are not writing that down?), and can also lead to secondary infections…..

In my defense, allow me to explain that in my primary day job, I work in a one person church office, and as we are in between pastors at present, there is literally no one else who can do the work. And the work does need to get done. (sigh.) I was good about cleaning the office with Lysol in case anyone else came in there. Obviously I stayed home from Sunday services! But I did get more intentional about balancing work and rest, and I am finally on the mend.

So instead of an interesting research piece, I am begging your indulgence. I know I already announced that The Magnificent Marquess was coming out on May 15, and we only missed that by a couple of days. Not bad all things considered! But I do have buy links to share now. (Print edition is not done yet.)

AMAZON:   http://bit.ly/MagMarquess

B&N:  http://bit.ly/TMagMarq-BN

SMASHWORDS:  http://bit.ly/TMagMarq-Smashwords

I also –tah-dah –issued my first newsletter in literally YEARS. If by any chance you are interested in signing up for future ones (I will only send one out when there is actual news), then here is a link to sign up for that:  http://bit.ly/GEastwoodNews

Did you ever have the mumps? I don’t want to turn this into a rant about why people should vaccinate their children, but OTOH I am pretty steamed about having just lost the entire month of May while being in a lot of pain!! Feel free to reminisce or rant here if you want to.  🙂

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Stewards and Death Taxes

The Modern Land Steward by John Lawrence, published in 1806.

Note: A version of this was originally posted at my website. This post is expanded to include more about Stewards.

It will be sufficient fbr our purpose, to define the needful qualifications, of each, of three orders of stewardship, namely, of The Superintendant OR COMPTROILING AGENT, THE LAND-STEWARD OR Agent, properly so called, and of The HouseSteward. A thorough knowledge of common accounts, and of the nature of markets, bargaining, and of the proper modes of settlement with tradesmen, will, with the aid of common honesty and discretion, suffice to form the HouseSteward.
But with regard to the first description, or the Chief Agent, the trust is of a high and extraornary nature, nor do the opportunities of tilling such an office to advantage, frequently occur. It is even matter of great public concernment, since the well or ill-management of extensive estates may in a variety of views be highly interesting to the community’. How much then does it concern our great landholders and proprietors, both on their own private, and the public account, to search out the most capable men for this important department.
To be properly qualified for chief agent to a great estate, a man should have attained that thorough knowledge of the business of life, that tried experience in men and things[…]

 

Let the steward provide a Journal, or Day-book, and a Ledger, with two other books, having an alphabet, and the pages marked, to be styled the Memorandum Ledger, and the General Inventory, and let him always go provided With a POCKET-MEMORANDUM book.

Sidebar: I am using that pocket-memorandum in a novella I’m writing.

Here is a list of things logged by a Steward

Paid for bread and flour
Paid for a Cheshire cheese, 511b. at £3id.
Paid for oats, eight quarters, at 10*.
Paid grocer, for candles, &c …
Paid for a hunting saddle for Your .
Paid for ditto for My
Paid for a new set of harness for six cart-horses
Paid ironmonger, for tnxes, &c
Paid coachmaker, for chariot
Paid for a set of harness for six horses
Paid brazier, for a washing copper, wt.52lb. at £6d.
Paid for a garden engine
Paid for a garden roll six feet, at 2s. 6d.
Paid cooper, for six iron-bound hogsheads, at 22s
Paid Your——— by cash, bills, &c
Paid butcher’s bill
Paid for a cask of vinegar 16 gallons,at 16i
Paid for 20 ton of coals, at 10s
Paid for carriage of ditto
Paid housekeeper her bill for incidents
Paid myself my year’s wages
Paid housekeeper her year’s wages ….
Paid the keeper his year’s wages
Paid the butler ditto
Paid the head footman his year’s wages
Paid the under footman ditto
Paid huntsman ditto
Paid the dog-boy ditto
Paid the principal gardener ditto
Paid the under gardener ditto
Patd the head groom ditto
Paid the under groom ditto
Paid the coachman ditto
Paid the postillion dilto
Paid the game-keeper ditto
Paid labourers wages

There are several entries like this:

Paid collector, for two quarterly payments of the land-tax, from Lady-day to Michaelmas, 17—, for the manor of A. as appears by his receipt.

The total amount of land taxes paid is £499.11.5

Total yearly expenses for this particular Lord —- are £6139.2.41

The ledger example is for recording income received and money spent for tenant and household-related expenses.

This line is what made me pause, the author has it labeled for the year 1800:

Agreed this day with R. S. to accept as a compensation for a heriot due at the death of his father…………… £26 5

I admit I had to look up “heriot”

her·i·ot
noun
British historical
noun: heriot; plural noun: heriots

  1. a tribute paid to a lord out of the belongings of a tenant who died, often consisting of a live animal or, originally, military equipment that he had been lent during his lifetime.

Right. Even if this is only a made up example and not drawn from an actual example, (which I think it is since the author says he got examples from his own work and others), it’s not something I’ve run across in any of my previous research in the Regency.

R.S’s father died, and he has to pay Lord Soandso £26 5. Sigh.

Also interesting is that J.B paid half a year’s rent of £79.5 and D.S paid a full year at £125
J.S. Sadler was paid the full amount of his bill £19.10 as was P.A. Smith in the amount of £21.5
The Groom was paid expenses of £4.3.11

I just paged forward, there are several examples, plainly drawn from documents lent to him, that mention heriots:

Received of (J. D. a composition for three heriots, instead of his three best beasts or goods, due at the death of his father E. D

There are many of them.

Trees were branded, and boy, they were quite profitable.

When an account of the timbers is taken, they may be marked with iron stamps, the rough part of the bark being taken off with the hatchet before the stamp is applied, that the impression may be made fair; and that it may be lasting, the stamp should go no deeper than the bark, but it may be renewed.

Then I came to a long rant about lazy poor people and how taking away the commons and giving them to “ingenious gentlemen” to rent back to the poors who would then be no longer lazy, and, well, I’ve had about enough of that kind of talk lately so I stopped reading.

Posted in History, Regency | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

A Documented Interracial Marriage in Georgian England

My ongoing research into free blacks in Georgian London has netted me two more books. I’m going to talk about the first today: Colonel Despard: The Life and Times of an Anglo-Irish Rebel by Clifford D. Conner. All I knew going in was that Despard had a black wife. I was hoping to find out about how their relationship was viewed and how it affected his career as an officer, but the book focuses vary narrowly on his military career and his trial for rebellion.

Colonel Despard

 

There were tiny bits about his personal life that could be gleaned though. His wife, Catharine, was the daughter of an English curate in Jamaica (no information is provided as to whether her parents were married). She was clearly well-educated, and obviously moved in the same circles as the English officers and their wives. Despard married her in the middle of his career (probably in 1785), and promotions continued to follow, so the powers that be in the army didn’t seem to care. Neither did Nelson, who was a friend and testified in Despard’s defense. Catharine traveled with him to his various postings, and appears to have acted as his hostess when he was governing various territories in the West Indies.

Despard’s family on the other hand clearly never accepted the marriage. They referred to Catharine as Despard’s “black housekeeper” and after Despard’s death they offered no assistance to her or to their son (his uncle, General Despard, said that James had “not even an illegitimate claim upon him.”) What we do know is that Despard’s friends took care of them after Despard was executed (they were reportedly given a pension by Sir Francis Burdett and Lord Cloncurry’s memoirs state that they lived with his family in Lyon for some years).
Their son, James Despard, went on to join the military (as an officer, which I think is worth noting). There are various reports of him (usually referred to as a “creole”) that scatter across the first decades of the nineteenth century. He was appointed a captain the London Milita in 1814 after serving in France and supposedly refusing an offer of a high position from Bonaparte (this I find doubtful given Bonaparte’s treatment of the Chevalier Saint-Georges). There are further anecdotes from his spiteful Aunt Jane suggesting that he ran away with an heiress.

So all in all, I read a lot of tedious military history and found the barest scraps of what I was interested in, but I’ll take what I can get when it comes to real life interracial marriages in the period.

It did lead me however to a post by Mike Jay who has also written a book about Despard (The Unfortunate Colonel Despard) that has a more detailed look at the marriage and Catharine. Let me quote it here:

According to Jay, this could well be the first known case of an English gentleman married to a free woman of color, which makes it all the more fascinating.

Posted in History, Isobel Carr, Regency, Research | 4 Comments

Regency Worlds and a Sale!

I’m in the middle of teaching an online class, “Introduction to Writing Regency Romance.” Preparing for the class helped me brush up on the basics and the participants seem to be enjoying it. I certainly am. It feels rather nostalgic to answer questions I asked about seventeen years ago when I started my first manuscript!

One thing I’m keeping in mind while teaching this class is that there are many types of Regency romance—traditional, inspirational, long historical, paranormal, erotic, and other variations. There are also many different readers—some who love specific genres, some who are more eclectic in their reading, some who prefer “sweet” romance, some who enjoy darker stories, etc… Even though the historical background is unchanging, I believe that readers have different ideas of what sort of Regency world they most want to visit and since romance is meant to be entertaining, there really is no right or wrong Regency world, only personal preferences. So in each lesson, I strive to provide accurate information, but also allow each participant to decide for herself how much she wants to use that information in her stories.

Within my books, I do strive to get the details right. My characters may bend the rules of society, but not without being aware of the risks they take. But I’m not a purist about every matter. I know perfectly well that the hero’s clothing on the cover of Fly with a Rogue is inaccurate. However, I chose this image for a specific reason. I’ve found that readers don’t always check my blurbs to gauge the sensuality of my books, so I used this image to help them recognize that this is one of my sexier books. So far, no one has complained about the sensuality, and no one has complained about the inaccurate clothing either. I think I’ve achieved my goal of making sure the right readers buy this story.

As a reader, I’m pretty eclectic. I’m OK with books that create rather different versions of the Regency. For instance, I don’t care if some of the details are over the top in a really funny story. In an angsty story, I want more realism. I try to be a forgiving reader regarding a lot of historical details, though there are a few that grate.

As someone who’s done a bit of riding, I find that errors regarding horses do bother me. The funniest one was the story in which the hero kept teams of black stallions posted at inns between London and his country home. I’m sure this seemed romantic to some, but anyone who knows much about horses would know just how unrealistic this would be. (Most male horses are gelded as this makes them easier to manage; generally only the ones deemed best for breeding are kept intact.)

The sort of things that bother me most, though, are those that paint a Regency society that is too different from what I imagine from my reading and research. These include books in which the characters behave as if they are completely unaware of social conventions—not merely rebellious, but unaware. These also include books in which the social conventions are stricter and feel more stuffy and Victorian than Regency. I’ve read books in which characters are declared “compromised” after a brief time alone, even though there are plenty of scenes in Jane Austen’s books where couples are not closely chaperoned. There might be gossip, such as there is when Marianne is out driving with Willoughby, but not the full-flown scandal of, say, Lydia running off with Wickham.

Anyway, I’m curious what others think. What’s your favorite kind of Regency world? Without naming authors, because this is a polite space, are there any pet peeves you’d like to share?

Also, the ebook version of The Incorrigible Lady Catherine is on sale this week for just 99 cents. Lady Catherine is one of my more rebellious heroines. Besides trying to elope with a rake, she shocks her family by playing Beethoven sonatas, which were considered too passionate for ladies. Since she derives so much pleasure and comfort from the arts, I’m going to donate the proceeds to PBS.

You can get The Incorrigible Lady Catherine for Kindle, Nook, Apple, and Kobo.

Elena

www.elenagreene.com

Posted in Reading, Regency, Research, Risky Book Talk | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Roman Rubber Duckie Goes to Market

Two weeks ago, I paid another visit to my favorite reconstructed Roman fort—but this time, I was not alone, oh no! I was accompanied by my Roman rubber duckie, who felt straight at home in front of the porta praetoria, the main gate…

The Roman rubber duckie in front of the main gate of the Saalburg
…and between the Emperor Augustus‘ feet…

Duckie between the feet of the Emperor Augustus

But I didn’t visit the fort just for a photo shoot with the Roman rubber duckie, no, it was market day at the Saalburg, and at various stalls spread across the whole museum you could learn about antique crafts such as pottery (did you know boiling earthenware in milk will seal off the pores and make it waterproof?), spinning, glass making, and bone carving. I was quite surprised to learn that objects made from bone can be dyed, e.g., with onion skins or even green rust, which produces a lovely turquoise color.

Game counters made from bone
Game counters made from bone

There was also a stall with Roman cosmetics on display. Apart from a lead foundation (to make your face look all nice and pale) (it might get paralyzed a little, mind you, so perhaps you might want to use chalk powder instead, even though it doesn’t look as pretty as the lead), Roman ladies also used eyeshadow (the more colorful the better), rouge, and eyeliner.

Most make-up was available as a powder. A bit of powder would be mixed with a bit of oil and then applied to the face.

Roman cosmetics
Roman cosmetics

One of the highlights of the Roman market was definitely the military demonstration: a small group of auxiliary soldiers went through a number of exercises, while their (rather dashing) optio watched on with eagle-eyes. 🙂

Auxiliary soldiers & their optio
A Roman horseman going through a few simple weapons‘ exercises formed the crowning glory of that demonstration. He was in full regalia, including a silver mask, which the Roman cavalry wore on special occasions, e.g. for cavalry games.

Roman horseman
All in all, it was another delightful trip into the Roman past!

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Winners!

The winners of my Birthday celebration post are:

  • Cindy G
  • Susan B
  • Gaynor
  • SaraLC
  • Megan F

I’ve emailed each of you so please respond so I can get your winnings to you!
Thanks for celebrating with me.

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Dr Who and an Announcement—Finally!!

I am excited about two things to share with you! First, I can –FINALLY!! –tell you that the “new, improved” version of The Magnificent Marquess has a release date! May 15. (Cue the fireworks?)

I have worked on the revisions for months and months –it started to look like the improvement project that would never end. But I am happy with the final results, and delighted to share them. This book was originally published in 1998, so a lot of readers out there now never caught the first version. Just as well. This one is longer, so it is able to have greater character depth across the spectrum and even some new characters! The plot hasn’t changed, exactly, but I think it got more interesting.

I also love my new cover. How can anyone resist a hero with these amber eyes?

 But if you think those look a trifle haunted, you would be right. The Marquess of Milbourne may be newly arrived in London from India, immensely wealthy and handsome as sin, but he’s a wounded soul with a broken heart. I am a sucker for wounded hero stories!

The blurb: When all of London is enthralled by the newly-arrived Marquess of Milbourne, Mariah Parbury’s curiosity about his life in India undermines her resistance to his charm. Could he possibly care for her? But he has enemies. When dangerous secrets emerge about him, is she willing to risk her life as well as her heart for the chance of love?

“…a fascinating web of piquant romance and spine-tingling danger guaranteed to take your breath away.”—Romantic Times Magazine

I don’t have buy links yet, but the book will be available on all the usual ebook sources such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords for the other connections to iBooks, etc.

That said, are there any Dr Who fans out there reading this? Episode #3 of the new season that aired in the U.S. last weekend was set at the London Frost Fair of 1814!!! Just heavenly having the good doctor and his new assistant/”boss” running around in Regency dress among all the hoi polloi at the fair. The episode, titled “Thin Ice” of course involved so much more, but if you haven’t seen it I won’t spoil it by saying anything more. Just always happy to see our period used (when done well) as a setting for popular TV!! This great episode tribute painting was done by Thomas Chapman, who is apparently a huge Dr Who fan. You can see more of his artwork on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/thomaschapmanartworkandgraphics/  Want to know more about the frost fairs? Nice general background article at Radio Times: http://www.radiotimes.com/news/2017-04-29/what-were-the-thames-frost-fairs-and-why-dont-we-still-have-them-today

I would love to run around in a beautiful green pelisse like Billie’s in this episode, wouldn’t you? Are you a Who fan? ‘Fess up –I know you’re out there! I could totally envision Dr Who enjoying tea with my Magnificent Marquess in his “East Indian-style” refurbished home. But that would be in 1817, so instead I’m inviting you!

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Posted in Frivolity, Regency, Risky Book Talk, TV and Film, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments