Today is the day! Welcome to the MY LADY GAMESTER discussion — complete with some excellent prizes!

To learn about the prizes (which include the book pictured here — an 80-page 11″ by 9″ softbound book full of pictures and info on last year’s movie of Pride and Prejudice, given to Oscar voters), and to see the complete rules, click here.

Remember: there will be at least two winners, and if there are a lot of comments, there will be three winners. So comment early, and comment often!

To refresh your memory — to enter the contest, just leave a comment today (September 26) on this post talking about my Regency, MY LADY GAMESTER. Your comment doesn’t need to be brilliant or funny or clever, and you don’t need to say anything nice about the book either — just as long as the comment basically means something, and has something to do with the book, it will count.

Feel free to say what you like, to introduce a new topic, or comment on one already going!

If you need ideas to get started, here are a couple that occurred to me recently…

I was recently reading some comments made on an early version of the manuscript a long time ago by various people… One of them complained that the whole idea of my plot was flawed — that during the Regency, a woman in Atalanta’s position would just have gone out and caught herself a rich husband to help her family, and the idea of gaming for money would never have crossed her mind. My first thought was “what a silly comment!” My second thought was “Hmm…come to think of it, I am quite certain that such an idea never crossed Atalanta’s mind. But why not?” Setting aside the revenge factor, what was it about Atalanta that made her do what she did? Or, conversely, did I fail to show sufficient motivation for her actions? Did she do what she did merely because the author wanted her to? πŸ™‚

When my brother read the book, he gave me detailed comments on it. (Which I love to get! This, of course, is why I’m doing this remarkably self-absorbed contest.) I was intrigued to learn that he didn’t care for Atalanta’s brother, Tom. What interested me was that I’d found that most readers liked Tom, or at least thought he was a good character…and, in fact, if they disliked a younger brother in the book, it was Edmund, who some found to be a rather two-dimensional character. So. Brothers. Is Tom funny, annoying, lovable, unbelievable, or what? How about Edmund? Is Edmund just a cipher there, a tool in the plot, and a device to reveal Stoke’s character? Will Tom and Edmund end up friends once they’re living together, or will they be like oil and water? πŸ™‚

Poor Sir Geoffrey, living in a dead-end alley with his treasures. So — what’s his problem? How many mental illnesses does he suffer from? Could Malkham really have got him to play cards, like he does at the end? Have you ever heard of an alley in Regency London that had a dead end? πŸ™‚ (I haven’t. That bit was fudged.)

By the way, I fudged something else — the upholstery in the Covent Garden Theatre was not royal blue — it was pale blue. Shocker!

So — please comment! Hopefully this will be fun!

Cara King — egomaniac, and author of MY LADY GAMESTER, winner of the Booksellers’ Best Award for Best Regency of 2005

About Elena Greene

Elena Greene grew up reading anything she could lay her hands on, including her mother's Georgette Heyer novels. She also enjoyed writing but decided to pursue a more practical career in software engineering. Fate intervened when she was sent on a three year international assignment to England, where she was inspired to start writing romances set in the Regency. Her books have won the National Readers' Choice Award, the Desert Rose Golden Quill and the Colorado Romance Writers' Award of Excellence. Her Super Regency, LADY DEARING'S MASQUERADE, won RT Book Club's award for Best Regency Romance of 2005 and made the Kindle Top 100 list in 2011. When not writing, Elena enjoys swimming, cooking, meditation, playing the piano, volunteer work and craft projects. She lives in upstate New York with her two daughters and more yarn, wire and beads than she would like to admit.
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34 Responses to MY LADY GAMESTER Contest!

  1. Minna says:

    It’s been a while since I read the book, but I remember that did like Tom more than Edmund.

  2. KimW says:

    Good morning, Cara! I read your book during my Christmas vacation last year. In book reads, that’s a long, long time ago. lol I’m a light reader and don’t dig too deeply into the books I read. I just read for sheer pleasure and details of books are something I can’t usually remember. When I looked at the rating in my database for your book, I gave it a B+. My notation was “A heroine who gambles – very different.” I put you on my watch for next book list.

    I won’t be able to stop back in till later tonight. I’m off to work and then have a stop afterwards before coming back home. I’ll catch up when I get back.

  3. Kelly says:

    Hi Cara! This is Kelly from LARA. I enjoyed your book. The gaming was fascinating, and written so well as to be exciting even if you have no idea exactly what is going on with a double piquet or whatever.

    I’ll give you a comment and a question.

    Comment: The one thing that I moaned about with the book was poor Stoke always asking himself, ‘Why am I doing this?”, “Why am I so attracted to her?”, “Why am I calling again?” I wanted to hit him upside the head and say “Damn it, you’re in love!” He needed a good friend to say, “Stoke, idiot, don’t you know you’re in love?” LOL

    Question: On etiquette. Stoke and Atalanta go driving together, and walking together — alone. How proper was that? I struggle with this in my own writing all the time: what was kosher, what was not. From my Austen reading it seems that walking and driving was best done in a group setting, wherein I suppose they were all supposed to be monitoring each other (though I’m sure many a blind eye was turned).

    Atalanta was such a social outsider I figured maybe she really just didn’t care what people might think of her. But was it “risky” for them to be seen together, alone, in public?

  4. Cara:

    Is there one piece of criticism your early readers gave you that you think was very helpful? And did you use it in your finished ms.?

    (I know I’m invalid for the contest, I’m just curious).

  5. Another ineligible here, Cara–but a question. Were there minor characters shouting “Me! Me!” demanding books of their own, and have you obliged them yet?

  6. Cara King says:

    Okay, I’ll answer the questions in reverse order, because it’s easiest that way!

    Janet — no. I confess I don’t hugely like the character of Edmund — he’s too weak, I think, to make a good hero in any other book, and I hate the sense of entitlement he has — so though I could turn him into a nice secondary character in a later book, I couldn’t handle him as a hero. (Shocking author prejudice!)

    The others, who I liked better — Tom and Louly — are just too young! By the time they’re old enough to have their own stories, the Regency period would be over. πŸ™‚


  7. Cara King says:

    Megan wrote: Is there one piece of criticism your early readers gave you that you think was very helpful? And did you use it in your finished ms.?

    I glanced over my notes to be sure, Megan — and I think the answer to the first is, basically, no — at least on this manuscript. I wrote an earlier Regency which underwent many many rewrites, revisions, contest critiques, etc etc… And that was pretty much my Regency learning curve. (I’d also written several other manuscripts, and learned a lot from those).

    One of the last (and best) pieces of advice I got on my first (as yet unpublished) Regency was when the wonderful author and writing teacher Gail Eastwood told me that the book would probably do a better job of grabbing the reader, and also create a more emotional experience, if it were written with a deeper POV.

    So when I wrote GAMESTER, I went with deep POV from the first draft — and it did help. The plot worked out very cleanly from the get-go — just one of those lovely plots that comes to you and all makes sense.

    Various chapter members also helped me brainstorm on such questions as whether I should bring the heart-tugging little sister “on-stage,” as it were — and if I did, how I could possibly keep her from stealing the show from then on (and hogging all my heroine’s time.) πŸ™‚


  8. Cara King says:

    Hi, Kelly! Delighted you’re here!

    By the way, the times that I wanted to hit Stoke upside the head were when he kept feeling so sorry for Atalanta, being a female and therefore of course not a very good card player. (Whap!) I had a lot of fun when she showed him a thing or two! πŸ™‚

    You wrote: Question: On etiquette. Stoke and Atalanta go driving together, and walking together — alone. How proper was that?

    It was my understanding that a gentleman could take a lady for a drive in an open carriage (which this is) in Hyde Park. (And I believe he also has a tiger with him, for what it’s worth!) Closed carriages were more frowned on, because there could be secret kissing and whatnot involved. πŸ™‚

    I think walks were even safer. The streets of London were very crowded, and so it was rather like taking a stroll with her in a crowded art museum. Much chaperonage. πŸ™‚ Though I suppose it might have looked better if she’d had a maid trailing behind her.

    I have read that during the 18th century, there was a danger of heiresses being kidnapped and forced into marriage — and so a lot of the “never go out alone, at least take a footman” thing was actually to foil kidnappers as much as anything. (The reform of the marriage laws in the late 18th century I believe really put an end to the kidnap marriage thing.)

    But I also had a safety here — I knew that even if I was wrong, or slightly wrong, on these points, that I was fine because Atalanta really wouldn’t care. She wasn’t looking to get married at all — she intended to win money, and then retire with Louly to the country. And, indeed, being a lady gamester was much more of a risk to her reputation than anything else. (You will note that Edmund is making slighting remarks about her virtue near the beginning — this is the price she paid for her reputation as a gamester.)

    I struggle with this in my own writing all the time: what was kosher, what was not. From my Austen reading it seems that walking and driving was best done in a group setting, wherein I suppose they were all supposed to be monitoring each other

    But even with Austen, there’s a lot of variation. I think Marianne really only gets in trouble when she goes off with Willoughby in the carriage because they don’t go the way everyone else does — they go off somewhere private — which really didn’t exist in London! And even given that, her reputation survives — just a tiny bit tarnished.

    Elizabeth is alone with Darcy in a room with the door closed! Something many Regency writers imply was absolutely NOT DONE.

    Elizabeth takes long walks across the countryside alone. Anne walks with Wentworth in Bath. And poor Emma is in a closed carriage alone with Mr. Elton. (Though see what that got her! Much better not to, in that case!)

    But I agree, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what the “rules” were — particularly as they varied from decade to decade, from place to place, from sub-class to sub-class, etc etc.

    Anyone else want to chime in here?


  9. eliza says:

    Hi Cara,

    While it’s true that trying to marry her way out of her troubles would probably be more true to the period, I just loved that Atalanta relied on her brains instead. And the aspect of the punishment fitting the crime helped build sympathy for her and a feeling of satisfaction with the plot.

  10. Elena Greene says:

    Well, I felt the revenge plot was the critical difference. At the end you have her learn to separate that from the more honorable need to help her family–nice character growth.

    One thing I was particularly impressed by was your handling of historical details. One didn’t need to understand Regency card games (an area I’m weak on, I confess!) to appreciate the gambling scenes.

    Elena πŸ™‚

  11. Lois says:

    Oh, finally, I made it on here!! I don’t know if it was just me or what, but anything google related, the search engine, gmail, blogger just did not want to work for me. Anyhoo. . .

    First off, I reread it this past weekend. I apparently read way too much because no matter what I think about a previous book, I could have loved the thing to death, I forget it as soon as I start the new one. So I had to reread — I read it when it came out. And I loved it; see, I very rarely get rid of any books, I’m a saver. But I do have this cabinet that I keep the books I refer to as the ones I “really, really, really, really love”, and the rest go in the boxes. This one was in my cabinet. πŸ™‚

    Anyhoo, again. . . I think Tom and Edmund would be friends, because they get each other. And it looks like that if you were to do a sequel, Edmund’s would be next with a lady that would kept him on the straight and narrow path like he started to at the end.

    But, as I was trying to think of something to show I actually have and read the book (I’m not good at reviews, and it’s been a loooong time since I’ve done book reports! LOL), I did remember that I liked this one point — I was rather happy with what happened with Minerva and Icarus. I mean, they could have ended up getting killed by some drunk lord who didnt’ know what he was doing at the time or such. But that they were in the calvary and saving their lives, especially Minerva. I really liked that.

    And Sir Geoffrey. . . could have been an act too. Never know. LOL πŸ™‚


  12. Lois says:

    Just starting to look at the other comments, and I guess it’s easy for a non-writer to see a potential for Edmund to have his own story. LOL But yeah, the others were too young. πŸ™‚

    Yeah, those were good parts. . . When Stokes lost. Well, it is always nice when a man loses to a woman. So I’m biased there. LOL πŸ™‚

    And I’m absolutely no expert at the rules and etiquette, it also could be that it wasn’t as strick as we think of it. Also too, I’m sure JA used it as a device when needed like authors today, or when it wasn’t necessary to point out or use, it didn’t matter. But like I said, I’m really not an expert. LOL πŸ™‚


  13. Cara King says:

    IMHO, Lois, Sir Geoffrey is certifiably bonkers! πŸ˜‰ The weird thing was, I had no idea he was when I first went to write the scene. If I put my 21st century hat on and analyze him, I’d say he was neurotic, but not psychotic — suffering from obsessive/compulsive disorder and paranoia. (Though surely Dr. House would discover he simply has a pituitary disorder or an enzyme deficiency or something…) πŸ™‚ In any case, in Regency speak, I guess he’s either eccentric or a lunatic, depending on how rich one thinks he is. πŸ™‚

    Glad you were content with the horses’ fates. One of my critiquers said she ended up only skimming several chapters of the book because she HAD to find out what horrible thing had happened to the horses… And I think it probably really hurt her enjoyment of the book. So I’m very glad it didn’t do that for everybody!

    And thank you so much for the compliment of keeping my book in your cabinet, Lois! That puts a big smile on my face. πŸ™‚ (See?)

    Elena — glad the way I handled the historical info worked for you. One of my early critiquers could tell you that I originally had WAY MORE piquet details in there — far, far too much. She was not a card player herself, so she was very helpful in telling exactly where she felt it got tedious, and which parts she confusing. (Thanks, Katy, wherever you are!)

    And then I really lucked out in getting an editor who didn’t make me cut all the card game mechanics out.

    I’ve read quite a few different Regency-set romances (most after I wrote this ms) and I was sort of disappointed to find that they rarely had any actual card-playing in them! The gambling was similar to how sex used to be in romances — referred to, talked about, oh-now-they’re-about-to-do-it, time jump, oh-now-they’ve-finished-doing-it, but the actual act is taboo. But I love cards! And Heyer’s FARO’S DAUGHTER proved to me that actual card playing could be a clear (and fun) part of a dramatic scene. So I went for it! And lucked out, as I said, in my editor…


  14. Kalen Hughes says:

    Ok, MLG is in my TBR pile. It’s going to have to move to the top (just as soon as I get this pesky MS off to my editor).

  15. Cara King says:

    Wow — my last post left some random words out! I don’t usually do that.

    So, here’s my errata page:

    — where it reads “which parts she confusing” it *should* read “which parts she found confusing”

    — where it says “I’ve read quite a few Regency-set romances” it should then go on to say “with card-playing in them”

    Okay, there’s my pedantry for the day!


  16. KimW says:

    I agree with your comment Cara regarding the rules Who really knows? Just like today, what is done in the suburbs may not be the same as what is done in the city. I think could apply from state to state, too.

    I’m facinated by the time period but I suppose what I know came mostly from the books I read. I tend to believe that authors do their best to portray the accuracy of the times and the rest falls under the “who really knows”. lol

  17. Todd says:

    I’m ineligible for a prize too, because I already own half of everything Cara does–which I guess means that half of these prizes are from me. Wow, I must be a generous guy! Fancy that.

    The thing I love about this book–and I admit that I am not entirely unbiased–is the way the plot and characters fit together so very well. The external conflict is all based on events beyond the control of the hero and heroine–but the conflict between the hero and heroine flows directly from who they are. Atalanta: proud, stubborn, intelligent, stubborn, fiercely protective of her family, and (just a trifle) stubborn; and Stoke: proud, stubborn…gee, this list is starting to look familiar. πŸ™‚

    So in many ways, the very things that make these two people so strongly attracted to each other are the ones that keep them apart. Which also means that when the conflict is finally resolved, it has to be more than just one of them saying, “Gee, I guess I don’t really care about X, Y, and Z after all.” They have to compromise, and it isn’t easy; but once they’ve done it, they can be together. (And, I firmly believe, live happily ever after, raising horses and complaining about their younger siblings. Much like me! Except for the horses.)

    There is a lot to like in this book; but for me, this tight connection between character and plot really makes it work.


  18. Cara, I really enjoyed seeing the tussle between Atalanta, the enigmatic strong heroine, and Stoke, the socially hesitant earl. Many stories set in the Regency era portray the hero as the “strong mysterious type,” so this reversal of roles made for fun reading. What made you choose to portray Stoke, a leader of men, a war hero, and a veteran of horrific battle sights, as someone who is not as adept and as confident of himself in aristocratic society as he is on the battlefield?

  19. Cara, would it be possible for you to please divulge your research secrets, especially where Regency games are concerned? I learned far more about card games in MLG, than I’ve learned in the previous three years of reading Regencies and Regency-set historicals.

  20. One last question, Cara. I’m curious about the backstory for Tom James. How did a viscount’s son, even if he was young when he was orphaned (for all practical purposes since his mother abandoned him after his father died), turn out to be such a scruffy urchin? After all, Atalanta did pay for him to go to Eton. While I can see awkwardness as part and parcel of teenage years, some of Eton’s polish must’ve surely rubbed off on him. So, I’m curious about what exactly happened to him in the intervening years after his father’s death to when “Gamester” opens, to make him the way he is.

    OK, this is really two questions. πŸ™‚ Are you planning on giving Tom James a makeover as a hero in a future book?

  21. Well, maybe I’m outnumbered in disliking Tom, but I still find him annoying. I think he just felt out of place to me: like was the impetuous junior member of a gang of juvenile detectives, who is always spoiling the plan by talking too loud when the criminals are nearby. (Although, now that I think about it, the detectives in most juvelile detective stories — Hardy Boys etc. — are unrealistically “perfect”, so this doesn’t quite fit Tom.)

    Sir Geoffrey and Malkham may be my favorite characters in the book.

    And Atalanta was so obsessed with revenge that I can’t imagine her abandoning her quest and choosing to get married. Maybe things were different for women and men back then… but it still seems to me that people of either gender have always been able to become obsessed with revenge. If there is anything unrealistic at all about this, it might be that Atalanta’s obsession began when she was so young. I’m not sure how common it is for very young people to dedicate their lives to revenge, in the absence of any adult role model who encourages them to do so.

    Even so, until your blog entry mentioned that someone had questioned Atalanta’s life-long dedication to revenge, I never thought of doubting its reasonableness!

  22. Cara King says:

    Thanks for your interesting take on it, Larry! I will say, in Tom’s defense, that he was very competent about certain things, like finding out where Sir Geoffrey lived — but that was all “off stage,” so I expect for you it was dramatically much weaker than anything Tom did on stage. But yes, I do recall that you felt Tom really just got in Atalanta’s way, and made her job more difficult. Which he does do. πŸ™‚

    Keira, you ask a lot of hard questions — thanks! I will try to answer them as best I can.

    What made you choose to portray Stoke, a leader of men, a war hero, and a veteran of horrific battle sights, as someone who is not as adept and as confident of himself in aristocratic society as he is on the battlefield?

    My idea was basically that he’d joined the army when he was fairly young — and “found” himself there. Before that, he’d been vaguely like Edmund, I suppose — doing the fashionable things, gambling too much, and not having all that much of a sense of who he was. Then he joined the army, found a place for himself, found what he could do, what he cared passionately about.

    So then when he was told he’d inherited the title which he’d never expected to inherit — it was a big change. He couldn’t go back to being the younger brother leading a life of indulgence, even if he’d wanted to — so he couldn’t (and wouldn’t) go back to his old character. So he chose to stick with his army self… Of course, he could have formed a new version of himself, using the core of that army self, but changed for his different circumstances…but he is kind of rigid. πŸ™‚

    And I think it also was because he came back to an estate that was sort of a mess, in chaos… That was one thing that was hard to convey precisely — that the estate didn’t really have money troubles, but that all the management and such that his father should have been doing really hadn’t been done in a while. So the extremely responsible and serious-minded Stoke comes home, finds things a mess, feels like he’s in a new sort of battle, and never really feels like he has time to take a vacation… Sort of a Regency workaholic, I guess. (Lucky he marries Atalanta — she’ll make sure he takes breaks.) πŸ™‚

    Also, just for dramatic purposes, I liked the idea of the fish out of water. It’s always fun to write.

    And I think it was partly Stoke’s feeling of not really fitting into his world that drew him to Atalanta — he saw a similar state of not-belonging in her.


  23. I enjoyed Atalanta’s character and delighted in the fact that you just know she really is a better cardplayer than Stoke (or Malkham). Even putting her playacting tricks aside, in a fair game, I’m confident she’ll win. It’s refreshing that she doesn’t have to lose at cards to the love interest so that he still be all manly for us.

    Appropriately enough, one of the most detailed and involving scenes in My Lady Gamester was the scene with the two picquet games between Atalanta and Stoke and Atalanta and Malkham. I feel the urge to play picquet, so I can … what’s it call? capot someone! Or quint them! Or something! (I give a girlish giggle here).

    ObTrivia — the introspection was so hot and heavy in chapter 16, that I counted 42 (+/- 2) question marks in 8 pages . . . (I actually just re-read the book and noticed it on this reading. But I accept it as the price to pay for the great exchange where Atalanta and Stoke realize that with all their respective introspective they’ve traded positions in their last argument . . .)

  24. Cara King says:

    Cara, would it be possible for you to please divulge your research secrets, especially where Regency games are concerned? I learned far more about card games in MLG, than I’ve learned in the previous three years of reading Regencies and Regency-set historicals.

    Thanks, Keira! I’m so glad that that part of the book worked like I’d hoped.

    Here are some online resources:

    This page of mine has quotes from Jane Austen works that deal with various Regency card games, plus the rules of cassino:

    This has the modern rules for piquet; Regency rules were very similar. (If anyone cares, I can list the differences).

    Descriptions of loo, speculation, and quadrille:

    This page of mine has many excerpts from novels, plays, etc of the extended Regency period on the topic of private life — there is a whole section on gambling toward the bottom.

    Some of the books I found useful include various period Hoyle’s — two at the Guildhall Library in London, and one which someone I once worked with had. (I no longer have access to these, though I do have some notes.)

    Other books I used:



    FOOLS OF FORTUNE by John Philip Quinn

    brief bits in GEORGIANA, DUCHESS OF DEVONSHIRE by Amanda Foreman (the lovely Duchess had a serious gambling problem)

    brief bits in THE RISE AND FALL OF A REGENCY DANDY by T.A.J. Burnett

    If you’re interest in the rules of commerce, pope joan, or vingt-un, I can send them to you.

    Thanks for your interest! I am fascinated by the topic myself (as you can guess!)


  25. Cara King says:

    One last question, Cara. I’m curious about the backstory for Tom James. How did a viscount’s son, even if he was young when he was orphaned (for all practical purposes since his mother abandoned him after his father died), turn out to be such a scruffy urchin?

    Well, for starters, he wasn’t actually a viscount’s son — he was Atalanta’s stepbrother. So the rest of the James family had no interest in him, really, before or after Atalanta’s father died. And his mother wasn’t quite up to the James level of society… (I say very little about her in the book, I’m afraid… I tried to leave some things just implied, but I fear sometimes I should have been more explicit.)

    some of Eton’s polish must’ve surely rubbed off on him.

    Actually, from the reading I’ve done, it seems that Eton was a pretty savage place during the period. They sort of just locked the boys in at night and hoped they came out alive the next day. I think any polish they would’ve gotten would be from their families, or their tutors…

    And I guess I was theorizing that Tom’s own exuberant spirits and blockheadedness and boy-ness would have superseded most of what he’d been taught… Plus, he does not put on his polish when he’s just around his sister. πŸ™‚

    He does act rather more polished around Stoke — when he remembers. And feels like it. πŸ™‚

    Cara (who had two brothers of her own, and thought them utter savages when they were teenagers — at least, that’s how they behaved when they were around her.) πŸ™‚

  26. Todd says:


    Don’t you know that it is the primary job of younger siblings to get in the way of their elders? You wouldn’t want Tom to be untrue to himself, would you?

    Er…I mean younger brothers, of course. Younger sisters are all perfect angels. Yeah, that’s it.

    Pardon me while I go sit quietly over here.


  27. Cara King says:

    LOL, Heather!

    Yes, I’ve read too many romances in which the hero was (of course!) better than the heroine at everything. Or, at least, everything that wasn’t specifically feminine. Even in Heyer’s FARO’S DAUGHTER, which I love, the hero had to be better than the heroine at cards — and she ran a gaming hell! A bit annoying. So I made Atalanta very very good. Sort of James Bond good, in a way. πŸ™‚

    And yes, I’m sure she would have won in a fair fight too — but the amounts she won would have been too small to accumulate rapidly. Hence the subterfuge. πŸ™‚

    ObTrivia — the introspection was so hot and heavy in chapter 16, that I counted 42 (+/- 2) question marks in 8 pages . .

    Ouch! That doesn’t sound good.

    You know, whenever I thought about the first half of that chapter, I got a terrible fear that Stoke and Atalanta just sat around thinking and brooding simply forever…and on and on and on… Though I will say, whenever I went back and read that bit, I thought it worked after all. I hope you were not overwhelmed by question marks! πŸ™‚ (Well, I guess you were! Sorry.)

    But I accept it as the price to pay for the great exchange where Atalanta and Stoke realize that with all their respective introspective they’ve traded positions in their last argument . . .

    Oh, good.

    BTW, I did think their almost ludicrous change of positions was only bearable because they both instantly realized that it was sort of ludicrous… πŸ™‚

    Anyway, delighted you could join us, Heather! (For everyone else’s info — Heather is the wise woman who originally introduced me to Regencies. She gave me a Heyer, a Joan Smith, and (IIRC) an Elizabeth Chater…and I was forever hooked.)


  28. Rob says:

    Ack! Missed by a day!

    While not a real Regency reader (I’m more here for the interesting history and friendship, not the stories – sorry for the sacrelege), I have been known to shuffle cards in the past.

    I had always assumed cards were printed front and back, if only to keep from seeing through them. Where did printing on the back of cards start, or did that come up in the research?

  29. Anonymous says:

    Here again is a man thinking that a woman cannot do something that well but yea for Atalanta showing that she could.

  30. robynl says:

    To be honest, I can’t really pick which one I preferred, Tom or Edmund. Both had their good qualities and both had some not so good qualities. I hate to choose.

  31. Cara King says:

    You didn’t really come late, Rob — the contest actually goes through noon today (Pacific time) — so the party’s still going. πŸ™‚

    Cards, I found, were much more complex than I had suspected. We think of our cards as standard — well, they have been, in the US, Britain & France for only about two hundred to 250 years. And that’s not counting the backs.

    During the period of my book, I think the Italian cards tended to have printed backs…. But they didn’t have quite the same cards! (At different periods and places the standard deck might have as court cards a king and two marshals, or a King, Queen, and two marshals, a queen and two marshals, or other variations, such as a knight — with suits being shields, flowers, bells, & acorns, or swords, batons, cups & coins — sort of sounds like Lucky Charms, doesn’t it? — or other varieties…)

    I’m pretty sure the cards were thick enough that one could not see through them. The debates I’ve read around the 19th century about whether or not to have printed backs all seem to center on which makes the cards harder to mark… With a patterned back, of course, a mark is easier to hide from your opponent, which makes it easier to cheat with… But on the other hand, it’s also a lot harder for the marker to see the mark! So the debate went back and forth…

    So to actually answer your question — I’m not sure when the first cards were that had printed backs. One thing I read said that in England & America, backs were plain until about 1850…but I know that Italy had printed backs at least by the 18th century.

    The Regency-era cards also had square corners, and didn’t have the little numbers to tell you whether it was a seven or eight…they expected people to recognize them right off. Or count. πŸ™‚

    Anyway, that’s the best I can do right now!


  32. Cara King says:

    This is so neat — I found a free random number generator online. I guess one really can find everything online nowadays! So I used an authentic mathematically correct random number generator to pick the winners. (How cool! How suave! How shiny!)



    Keira, just email me at and let me know which prize you want! (And if you like, you can ask me searching questions first about the condition, size, shape, etc of anything.)



    Lois, just send your email address to me at the above email addy, and once Keira has chosen, I’ll let you know your options for your prize.

    And because we had such great participation, we also have a

    KIM W!

    Kim, you can do the same as Lois — just send me an email, and I’ll let you know your choices once Keira and Lois have chosen.

    Congrats to the winners!

    And thank you all so much for participating!!!

    By the way — there will soon be more very (very very) nice giveaways on this blog — so stay tuned!


  33. Ooh! This is so exciting, Cara! I’ll write to you at the address you provided.

    Thanks so much for the detailed information on the different card games. Rather than just having cards be in the background for the interaction betweeen the characters, it is so much more fun to have the games be another character in the scene. I’m looking forward to using the information you provided to do just that.

  34. KimW says:

    Wow, thank you so much, Cara!!! It was fun reading all your answers to the questions.

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