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The Trouble to Check Her Blog Tour: Guest Post by Maria Grace

We have a guest with us today.  Please enjoy this excellent post by Maria Grace.  Maria Grace is currently engaged in a blog tour promoting her new book, THE TROUBLE TO CHECK HER, a Pride and Prejudice re imaging focused on Lydia Bennet.  I have read it and enjoyed it very much.

 

The Dance of Courtship

To be fond of dancing was a certain step towards falling in lovePride and Prejudice, 1813

 

Jane Austen’s society was governed by strict rules regulating the interaction of the sexes. Young women were always chaperoned in the company of men, leaving the dance floor one of the only places that young people could interact a little more freely. Under cover of the music and in the guise of the dance, young people could talk, flirt and even touch in ways not permitted elsewhere, making it an ideal place to meet potential spouses and carry on a courtship.

 

Dance Partners

 

Every dance required a partner. During a public assembly, the Master of Ceremonies assisted couples by making introductions and suggesting partners to those who wished them. At a private ball, everyone was considered introduced, so any young man could ask any young woman to dance. A young lady signaled she was interested in dancing by pinning up the train of her gown. If asked to dance at a private event, she could not refuse unless she did not intend to dance for the rest of the night.

 

Gentlemen were expected to engage a variety of partners throughout the evening. Failing to do so was an affront to all the guests.  The way a gentleman asked for a dance could begin a subtle and powerful conversation with a woman which would not otherwise pass by the watchful eyes of chaperones.

 

The offer might be made with eye contact and a quick gesture toward the dance floor; a smile, a bow and flowery words; a sweaty palmed, stammered request; or even a shrug and an eye roll of ‘well, I suppose you will do.’ A gentleman might request a dance in advance—a definite compliment to the lady. On the other hand, saving more than two dances for a particular partner was detrimental to a young lady’s reputation. Even two dances signaled to observers that the gentleman in question had a particular interest in her.

 

Dancing

 

Balls might begin with a mixer dance in which dancers switch partners frequently, enabling dancers to ‘sample’ every partner on the floor. These provided an excellent opportunity to scope out partners for future sets, particularly if one was looking for someone of a particular skill level or personality to pair with.

How much can one learn in a fifteen- to thirty-second set of steps with a partner whose name you do not even know? Quite a bit actually. One might meet ‘Henry who lists to the left’ who leans to the left, does not hear the caller well, and easily confused. ‘Bob the leprechaun’ might be all smiles, but unable to count rhythm to save his life or his partners. ‘Dashing Dandy’ might be all too aware of the dashing figure he cuts to care much for his partner. ‘The Colonel’ could take himself and the dance very seriously and disapprove of missteps deeply.

Ladies too demonstrated their disposition on the dancefloor. The Bingley sisters, in very fancy gowns indeed, could be inclined to looked down their noses at less experienced dancers and effectively put them in their places. In contrast, Lady Congeniality might make it her place to make everyone feel welcome. Whomever might be there, the ball room floor was lively and full of characters.

The dances for the evening were all built from an array of standard steps.  Most of them were simple maneuvers like: partners turn by the right hand and two couples all join right hands and turn once around. Complex movements like figure eights, ‘hays’ and dancing down the set were included as well.  In many of the line-based dances, couples would ‘take hands four from the top’, that is they would form groups of two couples who would dance together for one repetition of the music. In simple dances, both couples would perform the same steps throughout the dance. More complicated dances might have the first and second couples executing completely different steps with one more complex than the other, as in Mr. Beveridge’s Maggot (featured in recent movie adaptations of both Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Emma.)

At the end of that repetition, the final steps ‘progress’ couples into new groups of four, first couples moving down the set to be first couple in the group one down from their previous position, and second couples moving up. In order for progression to work, couples at the top and bottom of the set would wait out a repetition of the music and not dance. This waiting out period offered a prime opportunity for couples to interact relatively privately on the dance floor.

In the span of a several minutes-long repetition, dancers might exchange pleasantries, flirtations, or even cross words. Whatever their conversation, though, they still had to pay attention to the music and other dancers so as not to miss their entry back into the set. At the next repetition they would rejoin the set, switching their role in the dance from first to second or second to first couple.

Not all dances offer these ‘time out’ periods. Circle dances and those done in sets of two or three couples required dancers to participate constantly, so little or no conversation might take place.  Even so, a great deal of dance floor communication is possible without dialogue.

Speaking without Words

Eye contact could play a huge role in dance floor tête-à-têtes.  From a practical standpoint, the eye contact made for a useful way to stave off dizziness from many rapid turns, but it has the potential for so much more. Eye contact might range from friendly and flirtatious to downright intrusive. Some partners engaging in constant eye contact, could hold their partners an intense, almost physical grip. Such exchanges could become demanding and intimate, isolating the couple in a room full of people.

Some partners might offer little in the way of eye contact, even to the point of avoiding any direct gaze with their partner. An avoidant partner could silently communicate a variety of things, from their own insecurity with the dance steps to distain for their partner.

Subtle physical contact on the dance floor, usually restricted to taking hands or joining arms at the elbow for a turn, also speaks volumes. Hands might be taken, barely touching and only as long as necessary, or held reverently, lingering as long as possible in the connection. In moves like passing ones partner in the middle of the line or circling back to back, how close or how far away ones partner remains communicates a strong message.

The way partners dance together creates a conversation of facial expression and body language as eloquent as the finest speeches.  A more experienced dancer can subtly and patiently assist a less certain dancer through complex steps with glances and subtle gestures, encouraging and praising with eyes and smiles.  Conversely, experienced dancers can declare disdain and even judgment on a struggling dancer even to the point of rough pushing or pulling that dancer into their correct position.

Partners who are equally anxious about getting the steps right, and good humored in their anxiety, could assist one another, laugh at missteps, and celebrate their victorious achievements progressing through a series of complicated steps. The experience could create a bond over the shared challenge. A gentleman might even kiss a lady’s hand after surviving such a trial—a most romantic gesture indeed.

When two proficient dancers partner, the flow of their coordinated movements could create a connection between them, linking them in purpose and action. The communication and energy flowing between them can be visceral and compelling, poignant as the deepest conversation.

Each dance itself possessed its own character, some being staid and elegant and others playful and flirtatious. Lord Byron’s Maggot—by the way, a maggot referred to a catchy tune, what we would today call an ‘ear worm’—suits its namesake. One set of steps involved a woman a man with a flirtatious ‘come hither’ beckon to follow her. The three couple dance, Hunt the Squiril (sic) requires the first couple to chase each other, weaving through the other dancers.  These suggestive moves could be made as token gestures or with sincere energy.

It is easy to see how in the period, where conversation was restricted to ‘polite’ topics and interactions between unmarried individuals were strictly chaperoned, the dance floor offered the one place where open expression was considered acceptable. There, individuals could be dramatic, funny and flirtatious without censure from society at large—provided of course that they did not take their self-expression too far. Therein lays the power and allure of the dance floor for hero and heroine, for there alone might they express what they could not say directly.

The Trouble to Check Her Cover

Take a peek at the book blurb for THE TROUBLE TO CHECK HER!

 Lydia Bennet faces the music…

Running off with Mr. Wickham was a great joke—until everything turned arsey-varsey.  That spoilsport Mr. Darcy caught them and packed Lydia off to a hideous boarding school for girls who had lost their virtue.

It would improve her character, he said.

Ridiculous, she said.

Mrs. Drummond, the school’s headmistress, has shocking expectations for the girls. They must share rooms, do chores, attend lessons, and engage in charitable work, no matter how well born they might be. She even forces them to wear mobcaps! Refusal could lead to finding themselves at the receiving end of Mrs. Drummond’s cane—if they were lucky. The unlucky ones could be dismissed and found a position … as a menial servant.

Everything and everyone at the school is uniformly horrid. Lydia hates them all, except possibly the music master, Mr. Amberson, who seems to have the oddest ideas about her. He might just understand her better than she understands herself.

Can she find a way to live up to his strange expectations, or will she spend the rest of her life as a scullery maid?

Buy Links:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01CTLTE6I

BN NOOK:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-trouble-to-check-her-maria-grace/1123601415

KOBO:  https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/the-trouble-to-check-her

Meet the Author!

Though Maria Grace has been writing fiction since she was ten years old, those early efforts happily reside in a file drawer and are unlikely to see the light of day again, for which many are grateful. After penning five file-drawer novels in high school, she took a break from writing to pursue college and earn her doctorate in Educational Psychology. After 16 years of university teaching, she returned to her first love, fiction writing.

 

She has one husband, two graduate degrees and two black belts, three sons, four undergraduate majors, five nieces, six new novels in the works, attended seven period balls, sewn eight Regency era costumes, shared her life with nine cats through the years and published her tenth book last year.

 

She can be contacted at:

author.MariaGrace@gmail.com

Facebook:

http://facebook.com/AuthorMariaGrace

G+:

https://plus.google.com/u/0/103065128923801481737/posts

On Amazon.com:

http://amazon.com/author/mariagrace

Random Bits of Fascination (http://RandomBitsofFascination.com)

Austen Variations (http://AustenVariations.com)

English Historical Fiction Authors

(http://EnglshHistoryAuthors.blogspot.com)

On Twitter @WriteMariaGrace

On Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/mariagrace423/

Maria Grace, author

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Filed under 19th century England, Blog Hop, Jane Austen, Writing

The Writing Process Blog Hop

Best-selling author Patrick Redmond (his latest novel is THE REPLACEMENT) was kind enough to tag me for the Writing Process blog hop. You can visit his blog here: http://patrickredmondbooks.com/blog/2014/04/21/writing-process-blog-hop . He had been tagged by Marie MacPherson, author of THE FIRST BLAST OF THE TRUMPET, (Her blog is HERE http://mariemacpherson.wordpress.com/2014/04/14/writing-process-blog-hop-2 ) who encouraged me to participate. I thank them both!

A few simple rules apply to this blog hop: 1. You publish on a Monday the week after being tagged and answer four questions and 2. Link back to the blogs of the person who tagged you to let him or her know you appreciate it. On to the questions…

Question1: What am I working on right now? I am working on another novel set in the late Georgian/Regency era, a romantic historical novel involving a young woman coming into her own. She is rather shy and uncertain of her place in her world, and is not very trusting of her own abilities and choices. I also have notes for a sequel to my first published work in process, as well as a non-fiction project.

Question 2: How does my work differ from others of its genre? This question is almost impossible to answer. I would like to think that my personal tastes, values and interests influence my characters and their stories. However, since one or another of my characters takes over at some point, other issues and viewpoints can creep in. It is impossible to keep my own feelings out of the story, but sometimes the characters take the story into directions I had not planned initially.

Question 3: Why do I write what I do? I write what I enjoy reading. I have always loved historical novels, whether romantic or otherwise. Historical novels can provide painless doses of historical information that inspire the reader to find out more. They take the reader away to another time and place. They introduce the reader to characters that will hopefully become almost alive, people one would like to befriend or the villain that one loves to hate. Novels explore the human condition, emotions, reactions-characters in a novel sometimes show us something about ourselves. Historical details of time and place can give us parallels to our own time and place-we can see how far we have come in some respects and how some things remain constant in others. Although I love novels that have a grand sweep of stirring events, my favourites tend to involve the personal, the interactions of normal people in their own daily lives and, if possible, a happy ending.

Question 4: How does my writing process work? I must confess that I don’t have a set process. The beginning varies. It may start with a “What if…” question. Sometimes a character wakes up in my mind. Occasionally, scraps of a dream become an inspiration. Once I have the initial idea, I try to identify the characters whose voices will be the main ones for my story. I flesh out those characters first: name, description, likes and dislikes, talents and interests, family background. Research is crucial. Although I tend to focus on the personal lives of my characters, sometimes real people creep in. I also want the place descriptions to fit, the locality to be accurate. While I want my characters to be unique and appealing, I also want them to be true to their time and place. I make a general outline of the plot, and add notes of details I want to include. Then I do more research. Sometimes the writing comes quickly, other times, not so much… Then that little piece fits into the puzzle and I’m off again. I reread and edit as I go along, to make sure that the story line fits together.

Who is next? I would like to tag

Barbara Monajem
Barbara Monajem writes award-winning historical romance and paranormal mysteries, including THE MAJIC OF HIS TOUCH, UNDER A NEW YEAR’S ENCHANTMENT and her most recent BACK TO BITE YOU, due out May 1st! She blogs with the Pink Fuzzy Slipper Writers HERE http://pinkfuzzyslipperwriters.blogspot.com/ and has her own website HERE http://www.barbaramonajem.com/
Barbara Monajem-Under A New Years Enchantment-Harlequin 2014

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Filed under Blog Hop, Uncategorized, Writing

This Castles Blog Hop Giveaway is closed…

Haddon Hall copy (2)

My giveaway is now closed. A winner will be drawn and contacted. Good luck to all who left a comment. Watch this space for an announcement of the winner!

CASTLES, CUSTOMS, AND KINGS True Tales by English Historical Fiction Authors was released last week on Monday, 9/23/13 (the second anniversary of the English Historical Fiction Authors blog). It’s a great book, and I’m very proud to be a part of it! Please take a look at it. You can see it here on Amazon.com (http://www.amazon.com/Castles-Customs-Kings-Historical-ebook/dp/B00FCEJ10Y/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1380747176&sr=1-1&keywords=castles+customs+and+kings+true+tales+by+english+historical+fiction+authors ) where it is available in print and Kindle formats. Don’t miss it!
Final Front Cover

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Filed under Blog Hop, Castles, Giveaway, History

A Visit to Hampton Court Palace and A Giveaway!

Haddon Hall copy (2)

First, Let me say that I am proud to be a tourist. I love to visit new places, and I’m always taking pictures where ever allowed. A huge dream-come-true for me was my first trip to England. Another was when my mother accompanied us on a later trip. She and I had talked for years about visiting England together, and it was so wonderful when my husband suggested that we take her with us when we made another trip.

My mother and I had the opportunity to visit Hampton Court Palace on a lovely day.

Hampton Court Palace, taken by me

Hampton Court Palace,
taken by me

We went all over the palace, and thoroughly enjoyed it all, looking for the initials of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn that were overlooked when he redecorated after her death, walking in the beautiful gardens, the William and Mary rooms, and all. It was a delightful day, a memory that I cherish.

However, Hampton Court is so much more than a wonderful place to visit. Its history is fascinating. In the 13th century, there was a manor house at Hampton, which was acquired by the Knights Hospitallers of St. John Jerusalem. They used the site to store produce, basically as a barn. As time went on, it was noticed that this was a convenient location between the royal palaces at Sheen and Byfleet, so new construction was done to improve accommodations for royal guests in transit. The property was leased out to tenants of increasing importance. Henry VII’s Lord Chamberlain Giles Dubeney leased the property in 1494 (before becoming Lord Chamberlain) because of the site’s convenience to London. As he rose in prominence at court, he began receiving visits from members of the royal court who required suitable accommodation. After his death in 1508, the next tenant was Thomas Wolsey who acquired the lease in 1514.

During Wolsey’s tenure at Hampton Court, the estate was transformed out of all recognition. In a five-year period, he expanded a private home into a grand palace. He lavished money on the place, establishing luxurious rooms for himself, and magnificent accommodations for Henry VIII, Katherine of Aragon and Princess Mary. The palace was laid out in a design of two eight pointed stars side by side, from an Italian Renaissance design. Fabrics, plate, everything was ostentatiously of the best, to the point it caused talk that Wolsey’s palace was grander than the king’s court. In 1528, Wolsey gave the palace to Henry VIII, in a bid to save himself after he fell from grace for failing to procure Henry’s divorce from Katherine of Aragon. (Wolsey’s coat of arms can still be seen at Hampton Court.)

Henry VIII also devoted time, attention and money to Hampton Court Palace. His building program expanded Hampton Court into a modern and lavish royal palace, complete with the Great House of Easement (a multiple lavatory which could seat 28 people)with piped-in water that flowed through lead pipes, and a huge kitchen. Henry’s fondness for outdoor pursuits resulted in pleasure gardens, a hunting park kept filled with game, bowling alleys and tennis courts. An eight-acre tiltyard had five towers for spectators to watch jousting. Henry provided for accommodations for his children and for courtiers, servants and guests. A beautiful chapel was constructed as well. (I think this is my favorite part of Hampton Court.)

Hampton Court Palace Chapel by Charles Wild 1819

After Henry’s death, his surviving children used Hampton Court. However, it was in such good and modern condition, little additional work was done. Mary Tudor spent time at Hampton Court with her husband, Philip of Spain. Elizabeth I used it as a place to welcome and impress foreign diplomats and delegations. Under the early Stuarts, it was used for relaxation and as a party palace. Cromwell also enjoyed it. Under William and Mary, however, major changes were completed.

William III thought the palace should be razed and a new one built. He and Mary hired Christopher Wren to do the work. Wren’s original plan demolished all but the Great Hall. Unfortunately for his plans, time and money did not allow for such a drastic scheme. Ultimately, a remodel was the result. Construction stopped in 1694 when Queen Mary died, and did not resume until 1697. William III increased the pressure to finish, and brought in Wren’s assistant William Talman to get it done. Hampton Court Palace evolved from the modern Tudor palace that was Henry VIII’s pride to an elegant baroque structure with moldings and fireplaces carved by Grinling Gibbons. Amazingly, it also came in under budget! William III also commissioned the yew tree maze sometime around 1690-1700, which has been and is still a draw for visitors.

After William III’s death, Queen Anne used it for hunting and as a country home, but preferred Windsor Castle and the palace at Kensington. After her death, the Hanoverians took over. George I spoke no English and spent most of his time back in Hanover. His wife, the queen, never came to England. His son and daughter-in-law, the Prince and Princess of Wales (later George II and Queen Caroline) took great interest in Hampton Court and the Queen’s Apartments were finally completed-a painted ceiling, magnificent furnishings and an elegant state bed resulted in a magnificent suite of rooms. Unfortunately, as the result of multiple issues, the King banned the Prince of Wales from the royal palaces in 1717. George I held court and Hampton Court Palace for a brief period, and did finally reconcile with his son. However, St. James Palace became the chief official residence of the king, and Hampton Court was seldom used between 1719 and the death of George I in 1727.

George II and Queen Caroline returned to Hampton Court, and George II constructed rooms for his son the Duke of Cumberland. However, this was the last time Hampton Court was used by the royal family as a home. George III chose not to live there. Subsequently, other than the royal suites, the palace was divided into individual units used as “grace and favor” residences by persons granted rent-free homes there after giving great service to king or country. Former residents include the Duke of Wellington’s mother Lady Mornington and his sister. Hampton Court Palace was listed in Regency era guide books as a popular excursion destination, with the park, gardens, maze and State Apartments available for viewing. (In 1803, it cost 1 shilling to view the State Apartments.) Queen Victoria threw Hampton Court open to the public, and during her reign interest in the surviving Tudor parts of the palace rose. Money was spent on restoring and conserving the palace.

In the 20th century, tourism at the palace was a primary focus which resulted in various activities and exhibitions and improvements. A fire in March 1986 damaged the Kings Apartments. The repairs resulted in a recreation of William III’s King’s Apartments, with various items that had been removed being returned including art, tapestries and furnishings. Other areas were refreshed and restored. While there are still some ‘grace and favor’ residences at Hampton Court, more of the palace is now available for viewing. The Royal School of Needlework is also located at Hampton Court Palace, which is well worth a visit all on its own. The Queen still retains certain privileges, and it has been used for state occasions, such as the state dinner given by visiting Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands for Queen Elizabeth II and the Queen Mother in 1982.

Sources include:
Historic Royal Palaces website: http://www.hrp.org.uk
Edgar, Donald. THE ROYAL PARKS. London: W. H. Allen & Co., 1986
Feltham, John. THE PICTURE OF LONDON FOR, FOR 1803: Being A Correct Guide to All the Curiosities, Amesements, Exhibitions, Public Establishments, And Remarkable Objects, In And Near London. Originally published London: R Phillips (Preface is dated August, 1802). Reprinted by Nabu Public Domain.
Phillips, Charles. THE ILLUSTRATED ENCYCLOPEDIA OF ROYAL BRITAIN. New York: Metro Books, 2010, 2011.
Picture of the Royal Chapel is from Wikimedia Commons http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/b/b6/Hampton_Court_Palace%2C_Chapel%2C_by_Charles_Wild%2C_1819_-_royal_coll_922125_313698_ORI_2.jpg/381px-Hampton_Court_Palace%2C_Chapel%2C_by_Charles_Wild%2C_1819_-_royal_coll_922125_313698_ORI_2.jpg

The Castles Blog Hop is a celebration of the release of CASTLES, CUSTOMS AND KINGS True Tales by English Historical Fiction Authors. The official release day is 9/23/13, but it is available for purchase from Amazon.com (http://www.amazon.com/Castles-Customs-Kings-English-Historical/dp/0983671966/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1379798386&sr=1-1&keywords=castles+customs+and+kings) and other sites. Please don’t miss out!

Final Front Cover

GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY!
In honor of the release of our book, I am including a giveaway. I have a copy of CASTLES OF BRITAIN AND IRELAND by Rodney Castleden (with a surprise or two!) for one winner in the US or Canada. This is a beautiful book, filled with wonderful pictures and fascinating details. This giveaway is open from 9/23/13 until 10/1/13. Please leave a comment for a chance to win! Don’t forget to leave your contact information. Good luck!

Visit these other fine blogs which are also in the Castles Blog Hop. Who knows what treasures await?

Gillian Bagwell – http://nellgwynn.blogspot.com/

Maria Grace – http://RandomBitsofFascination.com

Susanna Calkins – Winchester Palace – http://www.susannacalkins.com

Helena Schrader – http://schradershistoricalfiction.blogspot.com/

Grace Elliot – Carisbrooke Castle – http://graceelliot-author.blogspot.com

Linda Root – http://lindaroot.blogspot.com

Katherine Pym – http://novelsbykatherinepym.blogspot.com/

Katherine Ashe – Kenilworth Castle – http://wwwlongview.blogspot.com/

Deborah Swift – Sizergh Castle – Www.deborahswift.blogspot.com

Teresa Bohannon – Cardiff and Caerphilly Ancient Welsh Castles
http://myladyweb.blogspot.com/2013/09/castles-and-customs-and-kings-blog-hop.html

Scott Higginbotham – Rhodes Castle – http://scotthigginbotham.blogspot.com/

Maggi Andersen – http://www.maggiandersen.blogspot.com

J.A. Beard – Porchester Castle – http://riftwatcher.blogspot.com

Prue Batten – http://www.pruebatten.wordpress.com

Sandra Byrd – Hever Castle – http://www.sandrabyrd.com/blog/

Elizabeth Ashworth – Hornby or Pontefract – http://elizabethashworth.com/

Debra Brown – Castello di Amorosa – http://authordebrabrown.blogspot.com/

Nancy Bilyeau – Stafford Castle – Http://nancybilyeau.blogspot.com

Peter St. John – Evacuation http://jennospot.blogspot.fr/

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Filed under Blog Hop, Castles, Giveaway, History

Tasty Summer Blog Hop-Lucinda Brant, Guest Post

Welcome to the Tasty Summer Reads Blog Hop!

It is my great pleasure to introduce the lovely and talented author Lucinda Brant, who will be posting her Tasty Summer Reads blog as my guest today. Lucinda writes Georgian historical romances with wit and adventure, and crimances (crime with lashings of romance). Her latest release SALT REDUX is the sequel to the internationally best selling SALT BRIDE, and is a 2013 Readers’ Favorite Book Awards Finalist. You can read more about Lucinda on her website http://www.lucindabrant.com And now for Lucinda…

Welcome to the Tasty Summer Reads Blog Hop!
New release:
SALT REDUX: Sequel to SALT BRIDE
Jane and Salt—four years of Happily Ever After
Sir Antony Templestowe—four years of Exile
Lady Caroline—four years of Heartache
Diana St. John—four years plotting Revenge

The time has come…
How does a brother cope with life knowing his sister is a murderess? How can a nobleman have the life he has always wanted when a lurking evil consumes his thoughts and haunts his dreams? What will it take for good to triumph over evil?
For readers who enjoyed Salt Bride, the story continues…
2013 Readers’ Favorite Book Awards Finalist
http://lucindabrant.com/salt-redux.php

Salt-Redux-Cover-500x750

Now for the Random Tasty Questions:
1) When writing are you a snacker? If so sweet or salty?
I drink coffee; lots of it! Making a cup of coffee gets me up out from in front of the computer screen. I have a Nespresso machine. I take my coffee black with one teaspoon of raw sugar. I usually just drink the coffee but occasionally I will indulge in a snack, usually a piece of the latest cake I’ve made – some faves are Zucchini and Carrot cake, Pear, Raspberry and Pistachio bread, Orange, Almond and Coconut cake.

2) Are you an outliner or someone who writes by the seat of their pants?
I use an A5 20 ring binder full of notes for each WIP. I get dressed for work each day in my writing PJs. I buy my “writing” PJs from http://www.peteralexander.com.au which have funky designs for summer and winter. Ah, the life of the full time writer.

3) When cooking, do you follow a recipe or do you wing it?
I’ve been cooking now for a long time, so don’t follow recipes but my taste buds! But I am new to making cakes. My daughter, who has moved out of home, was the cupcake and sweets maker. So I will follow a recipe when making a cake or dessert.

4) What is next for you after this book?
I’m currently writing book 4 in my Roxton series, DAIR DEVIL, which begins on the night before book 3 ends. It’s about a minor character in book 3 Alisdair (Dair) Fitzstuart, heir to the earl of Strathsay, and Aurora (Rory) Talbot, granddaughter of England’s spymaster general. It should hit the cyber shelves before Christmas.

5) Last question…on a level of one being slightly naughty and ten being whoo hoo steamy, how would you rate your book?
My books have elements of naughty, but if you mean the mechanics of sex, then no. But there is enough sexual tension to get all hot and bothered, that’s for sure!

And now for the really tasty part: the recipe!

Brussels Sprouts, Cranberry and Almond Warm Summer Salad
(sorry, but I don’t use precise measurements – but this is easy to do!)

About 20 Brussels sprouts topped and chopped in half
a quarter of cabbage (any kind) chopped
a big handful of dried ready to eat cranberries
a big handful of slivered almonds
Rice Bran oil to mix

Steam Brussels sprouts in microwave until tender but firm (but not mushy)
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and toss to coat with oil
Place in an ovenproof dish and heat in a moderate oven until Brussels sprouts have caramelized

Serve as an accompaniment to lamb, chicken or beef.

I have tagged author Prue Batten to carry on the hop. Prue Batten writes Historical Fiction and Fantasy. Her fantasy novel A Thousand Glass Flowers received a silver medallion in the 2012 Readers’ Favorite Book Awards. Her latest book is the second in her Gisborne saga Gisborne: Book of Knights.

I’ll now have you hop on over to Prue Batten’s blog! http://pruebatten.wordpress.com/

Other Tasty Summer Reads Blog Hop participants are:
Christy English http://www.christyenglish.com/2013/07/17/tasty-summer-reads-blog-hop/

Anna Belfrage http://www.juditharnoppnovelist.blogspot.com/ or http://www.juditharnopp.com/

Diana Russo Morin http://www.donnarussomorin.com/index.html

Nancy Goodman http://rakesroguesandromance.com/2013/07/11/welcome-to-the-tasty-summer-reads-blog-hop/

Lauren Gilbert https://laurengilbertheyerwood.wordpress.com/2013/07/19/tasty-summer-reads-blog-hop

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Filed under Blog Hop, Cooking, Guest post, recipes, Romance, Writing

Tasty Summer Reads Blog Hop

Welcome to the Tasty Summer Reads Blog Hop!

First, I’d like to thank the lovely Christy English for inviting me to participate.

Here’s how the hop works! Each author invites up to five other authors to answer five questions about their current summer release or WIP and a tasty recipe that ties into it! It gives readers the opportunity to add these awesome treats (and reads) to your to do list 🙂 I have invited the delightful Anna Belfrage and the wonderful Lucinda Brant to join in the hop. Anna will be getting her post and recipe up, so just click on her link below to see what she’s got cooking! Lucinda’s treat will appear here as she will be a guest poster on this blog, so watch this space!
Well, I guess I’ll start us off!

In 2011, my first book HEYERWOOD: A Novel was published. At present, I am completing A RATIONAL ATTACHMENT (working title-I’ve a couple of others in mind as well!), which I expect to be released later this year. Like the first, A RATIONAL ATTACHMENT is a historical novel, set in the late Regency period. My heroine, Anne, is a young woman who falls somewhere between trade and Society, and has to find her way to her own happiness.

Now for the Random Tasty Questions:
1) When writing are you a snacker? Not really. I tend to save my snacking for afterwards. If so sweet or salty? Both! I love chips and dip, nuts, pretzels, and vegetables with bleu cheese dressing. However, I also have a serious fondness for ice cream!

2) Are you an outliner or someone who writes by the seat of their pants? I do some outlining, but mostly I’m a pantser.

And are they real pants or jammies? That depends… If I’m working after I get home from my day job, I’ve got real pants on. However, there are those non-work days, when I may get up and go straight off to write in my jammies. (There have also been the odd middle-of-the-night forays!)

3) When cooking, do you follow a recipe or do you wing it? I used to be religious about making a recipe as written first. Now, I read it and “take it under advisement.” I substitute herbs or other ingredients based on personal taste.

4) What is next for you after this book? My current WIP should be out sometime this year. A RATIONAL ATTACHMENT (working title) is my second novel. When this one is completed, several readers have requested a sequel to HEYERWOOD: A Novel, for which I have a broad outline and some notes already started. I also want to mention that the book CASTLES, CUSTOMS AND KINGS True Tales by English Historical Fiction Authors will be out on 9/23/13. This is an anthology of articles posted by some great writers on the English Historical Fiction Authors blog, to which I have the honor to be a contributor.

5) Last question…on a level of one being slightly naughty and ten being whoo hoo steamy, how would you rate your book? HEYERWOOD: A Novel would actually rate a 0-no naughtiness at all. A RATIONAL ATTACHMENT? Well, that’s still in process!

And now for the really tasty part:
Here’s the recipe! (Really two for one…) Parsnips, a root vegetable that resembles a white carrot with a spicy, sweet taste, is popular in England. This is a variation of a parsnip recipe; I have found many people are not that familiar with parsnips. They work well with carrots, which makes it a friendly combination.

Carrots & Parsnips
3 lbs (48 oz) carrots & parsnips, scraped & cut into pieces (approximately the same size)-this would be about 6 large parsnips & 6 large carrots.
Chicken stock or broth to cover, about 3 cups (24 fluid oz)*
1 or 2 large cloves of garlic, finely minced (depending on your liking for garlic)
1 large shallot or ½ small onion , chopped
Salt & pepper to taste.

Put all in saucepan & simmer until tender but still with some body.
These are good as a side dish as is. Be sure to save the broth for soup or gravy.
*This could be vegetable stock or water, depending on personal preference.

Carrots & Parsnips in Rosemary Cream
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Take above carrots & parsnips out of broth and place in 13” x 9” baking dish. Pour over about 1½ cups of heavy cream (about 1 inch deep, not quite covering the vegetables). Sprinkle about 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh rosemary over the top (again to your taste-could be more or less). Sprinkle about ¼ – 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese (I prefer the 6 Italian cheeses that come already shredded together) over the top. Sprinkle on about ¼ cup to ½ cup fresh bread crumbs over the top, and drizzle with 1 – 2 Tablespoons of melted butter. Bake approximately 20 minutes until bubbly, thickened & crumbs are golden.
Serves about 6. (Can be increased for more very easily.)
Be sure to save the broth for soup or gravy.

Note that, if you love parsnips, this is fantastic without the carrots-just increase the parsnips. If you’re not fond of parsnips, leave them out and go the other way… A wonderful side dish with chicken or pork; terrific at Thanksgiving!

LINKS TO OTHER TASTY SUMMER BLOG HOPPERS!

Christy English http://www.christyenglish.com/2013/07/17/tasty-summer-reads-blog-hop/
Anna Belfrage http://www.annabelfrage.com/Home/
Diana Russo Morin http://www.donnarussomorin.com/index.html
Nancy Goodman http://rakesroguesandromance.com/2013/07/11/welcome-to-the-tasty-summer-reads-blog-hop/

HEYERWOOD: A Novel available at Amazon.com and other fine book sites!

HEYERWOOD: A Novel available at Amazon.com and other fine book sites!

Castles, Customs, and Kings-coming 9/23/13!

Castles, Customs, and Kings-coming 9/23/13!

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Filed under Blog Hop, Cooking, summer, Writing

Guest Post: Coffee Houses-the Georgian Equivalent of Facebook? by Grace Elliot

As part of her Verity’s Lie blog hop, I am delighted to announce my very first guest poster! Author Grace Elliot is joining us today, with a fascinating post about coffee houses in the Georgian era. Grace is the successful author of historical romance novels, including her new book Verity’s Lie, and a regular contributor to the English Historical Fiction Authors blog in addition to maintaining her own blog. Be sure to check out the links below after enjoying her post. Take it away, Grace!

Coffee Houses – the Georgian Equivalent of Facebook?
by Grace Elliot

A Mad Dog in a Coffee House, by Thomas Rowlandson

A Mad Dog in a Coffee House, by Thomas Rowlandson

In the 18th century coffee houses were big business – much like today! A bit like the roll social media plays in the modern age, coffee houses were places for like-minded people to meet and debate issues or conduct business. In the previous century King Charles II recognised and was intimidated by the potential within coffee houses to organise rebellion and tried to ban them as:
“places where the disaffected met, and spread scandalous reports concerning the conduct of His Majesty [Charles II] and his Ministers”

Their history is such that it took just over two decades from coffee being available outside the Ottoman Empire, for a rash of them to appear all over Europe. England’s first coffee house opened in Oxford in 1652, and by 1675 there were over 3,000 countrywide! Indeed, coffee houses were the fore-runner of the private gentlemen’s clubs that became so popular in the late 18th century.

The popularity of coffee houses lay not so much in the hot beverages they sold, but as a meeting place. Each house had a distinctive clientele who gathered there to hear the latest news or gossip. By 1739, in London alone there were 331 coffee houses catering for various political groups, lawyers, doctors, stockjobbers, writers, artists or the like. A Frenchman, Antoine Prevost, visiting London commented that coffee houses were “the seat of English liberty”, a place “where you have the right to read all the papers for and against the government.” They also served another social function as a place to have mail delivered, to collect lost property or read newspapers.

One of the most famous coffee houses was Garraway’s, near the Royal Exchange in London. In the 1800’s you could purchase four ham sandwiches and a glass for sherry for two old pence, or feast on a pot of tea, six slices of bread, two crumpets and a muffin for a cost of ten pence plus a two pence tip for the waiter. But, men went there to do business, rather than dine. At Garraway’s people of quality met to buy and sell books, paintings and shipments of tea, coffee or wine. This was done by the famous “inch of candle” sales – a bizarre system of auctioning goods where the successful buyer was the last person to place a bid before a candle stub burnt out.

Coffee houses were great social levelers when men of different classes could meet. It was not unusual for a physician to meet his patient there, or a lawyer his client. Added to that the coffee houses were often gloomy, poorly lit places with smoky atmospheres – they were the perfect places to meet people without arousing suspicion.

In my latest historical romance, Verity’s Lie, the hero wishes to intruct a spy, so what better meeting place than a coffee house!

Excerpt from ‘Verity’s Lie’.

Needham’s Coffee House was a place of business rather than pleasure, and the rooms were decorated accordingly. In the hearth hung a cauldron of coffee from which the servers filled their jugs. Clean sand on the floor, and a candle lit each wooden table; the patrons preferring their transactions to be conducted in the anonymity of gloom.

Ryevale entered this thick atmosphere of tobacco, coffee and coal smoke, the sickly smell catching at the back of his throat. Like so many shadowy monoliths, an assortment of merchants, lawyers, physicians and stock-jobbers sat hunched around tablets, deep in conversation.

Giving his vision time to adjust, Ryevale ducked to avoid a beam and crossed to his favorite corner booth with a view of the door. Sitting, he placed a document on the table and ran a finger down a column of figures, as if there to meet to his broker.
“Coffee, my lord?”
“Thank you, Williams. Most kind.”
“Very good, I’ll see to it myself.”

Williams was Needham’s proprietor; a man both unobtrusive and tight lipped, his character reflected in the coffee house’s reputation for discretion. A well-dressed man wearing a pristine white neckcloth slid into the seat opposite, a copy of the Spectator clamped under his arm. His skin glowed with the freshly scrubbed appearance of a man come directly from the barber, a man who took pride in his appearance. Ryevale looked up and nodded.
“Hanley.”
“Coffee for me as well, Williams.”
“Of course, Mr. Hanley.” Williams melted backwards.
“Good of you to come at short notice. I appreciate it, Hanley.”
“No trouble.”

A serving wench brushed past the table, casting doe-eyes at Ryevale, who smiled back absent-mindedly.

“Anything in the news?” he asked, nodding to the Spectator.
“The usual from abroad: Napoleon’s antics on the run…another ambush…that sort of thing.” Hanley had a cultured voice with an aristocratic twang.
“How is business?”
“Stocks are booming, despite the unsettled situation.”
“Any tips?”
Hanley grinned. “After inside information?”

Williams approached with a coffee jug and two cups. “Here we are, your lordship, Mr. Hanley.”
“Thank you, Williams.” Ryevale pressed a shilling into his hand.
“My lord.” Williams discretely withdrew.

Once alone with no one to overhear, Hanley leaned across the table with a glint in his eye.
“Enough small talk. I take it you need information?”
“I do.”
Hanley smiled as he poured the coffee. “Good. Town has been dull lately; a diversion would be welcome.”
Author biography and links:Grace Elliot

Grace Elliot

Grace Elliot

Grace Elliot leads a double life as a veterinarian by day and author of historical romance by night. Grace lives near London and is passionate about history, romance and cats! She is housekeeping staff to five cats, two sons, one husband and a bearded dragon (not necessarily listed in order of importance). “Verity’s Lie” is Grace’s fourth novel.

Verity's Lie-400x600 Cover

Verity’s Lie – Synopsis:

Charles Huntley, Lord Ryevale, infamous rogue…and government agent.
In unsettled times, with England at war with France, Ryevale is assigned to covertly protect a politician’s daughter, Miss Verity Verrinder. To keep Verity under his watchful eye, Ryevale plots a campaign of seduction that no woman can resist– except it seems, Miss Verrinder. In order to gain her trust Ryevale enters Verity’s world of charity meetings and bookshops…where the unexpected happens and he falls in love with his charge.
When Lord Ryevale turns his bone-melting charms on her, Verity questions his lordship’s motivation. But with her controlling father abroad, Verity wishes to explore London and reluctantly accepts Ryevale’s companionship. As the compelling attraction between them strengthens, Verity is shattered to learn her instincts are correct after all – and Ryevale is not what he seems. So if Lord Ryevale can lie, so can she… with disastrous consequences.

BUY LINKS
Amazon .com http://amzn.to/13CxrN1
Amazon.uk http://amzn.to/12aEqI6

Links:
Subscribe to Grace’s quarterly newsletter here: http://bit.ly/V7T6Jd
Grace’s blog ‘Fall in Love With History’ http://graceelliot-author.blogspot.com
Website: http://graceelliot.wix.com/grace-elliot
Grace on Twitter: @Grace_Elliot
Grace’s author page on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Grace-Elliot/e/B004DP2NSU/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Grace-Elliot/173092742739684?v=wall&sk=wall

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Filed under Blog Hop, Guest post, Love story, Romance, Writing