Posted by Anna Campbell Jun 10 2013, 12:01 am in A Rake's Midnight Kiss, Anna Campbell, Chatsworth, Days of Rakes and Roses, e-books, England, Grand Central Forever Yours, historical romance, novellas, Regency, research, Seven Nights in a Rogue's Bed, Sons of Sin, stately homes, travel
I don’t think it’s any secret to regular visitors to the lair (or to my website where I tend to salivate with embarrassing regularity – not a sentence I write every day!) that I LOVE old houses.
One of the really fun things about writing historical romance is designing houses to suit the aristocratic setting. I’ve been lucky enough to visit a lot of big houses in England and Scotland.
You really don’t want to go with me – I dig and delve into every corner, I pester all the attendants, I try and get into the places you’re not supposed to go, and I tend to arrive at opening and then they have to drag me kicking and screaming out of the gates after closing.
I’ve got two Sons of Sin releases coming up soon – in July and late August this year. The first, an e-novella called DAYS OF RAKES AND ROSES will get its day in the sun next month when I hold a launch party. The next A RAKE’S MIDNIGHT’S KISS (Richard Harmsworth’s story) will suffer an infamous lair launch in September.
In the meantime, I’m busy writing the third book in the series which will be Cam’s story. I’ve already had some lovely people telling me they’re looking forward to this and I must say it’s lovely seeing Mr. Control losing it when he falls in love with his very inconvenient bride!
Cam’s story isn’t out till 2014 so I thought I’d give you a bit of background to DAYS OF RAKES AND ROSES, the novella which comes out 2nd July from Grand Central Forever Yours. And in the process, I thought I’d share some luscious pictures of the house that features in that novella as well as in Cam’s story.
DAYS OF RAKES AND ROSES is the story of Lady Lydia Rothermere, Cam’s very proper sister, and the childhood sweetheart she’s never been able to forget – yup, lovers reunited is pretty much the theme of this one.
While most of the action takes place in the very glamorous London season on 1826, it opens ten years earlier in a prologue set at the family seat of the Dukes of Sedgemoor, the very extravagant Fentonwyck in Derbyshire in the English Midlands.
A ducal seat in Derbyshire?
Could Fentonwyck possibly be based on the actual ducal seat in Derbyshire, Chatsworth, where the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire live?
Does Grumpy Cat scowl in the morning?
This gave me a lovely excuse to dig through my photos and research materials on Chatsworth which I was lucky enough to visit in 2007. And then an even better excuse to share some of the pictures with you.
It’s a glorious house and with justice called “the Palace of the Peaks” (it’s in the Peak District National Park). And the gardens are breathtaking.
Here’s a link to Chatsworth’s official site, just in case you want to join me in salivating!
No? I agree! Salivating is better done in privacy, isn’t it?
In my imagination, I’m actually living in Chatsworth right now (well, the Fentonwyck version of it anyway!). Because Cam’s story has a marriage of convenience theme, much of the action takes place in the glorious English countryside as Cam and his new bride, Penelope, wrestle with falling in love against their better judgement.
At least I’m having fun being on this wonderful estate. Too bad for my characters, although at least there’s quite a bit of bedroom action so there’s SOME fun involved, snicker. And check out this photo of the State Bedroom at Chatsworth!
If you were lying back and thinking of England here, you’d at least have a very nice ceiling to contemplate!
You can read the blurb and an excerpt for DAYS OF RAKES AND ROSES here. And don’t forget to pick it up on 2nd July – it’s a bargain at only 99 cents!
So do you like old houses or modern houses? Have you been to Chatsworth? Do you have a favorite old house somewhere in the world? And should I write a four-poster into Cam’s story? That, of course, is the most important question! If there’s going to be much hanky panky, perhaps I should give it a suitably ducal setting!
Posted by Donna MacMeans Nov 12 2012, 12:15 am in Christmas, Mistletoe, Regency, vanessa kelly, Wassail
Vanessa Kelly and I met at the Moonlight and Magnolias conference last year and bonded instantly. I can’t wait to read His Mistleto Bride, her latest release. Vanessa was named by Booklist, the review journal of the American Library Association, as one of the “New Stars of Historical Romance.” Her Regency-set historical romances have been nominated for awards in a number of contests, and her second book, Sex and The Single Earl, won the prestigious Maggie Medallion for Best Historical Romance. Vanessa also writes contemporary romance with her husband under the name of V.K. Sykes. You can find her on the web at www.vanessakellyauthor.com or at www.vksykes.com. Without further ado, here’s Vanessa -
If there was one thing they knew how to do during the Regency period it was party. That was especially true during the Christmas Season, which ran from Christmas Eve through to Twelfth Night on January 6. The final party on Twelfth Night was usually a real wing-ding, roughly comparable to the kind of blow-out we now celebrate on New Year’s Eve.
Much of the action in my new historical romance, His Mistletoe Bride, takes place during the holiday season. One of my favorite scenes happens at a family get-together, when the wassail bowl first makes its appearance. Wassail, a very boozy and sometimes alarming beverage depending on the ingredients, was the high point of many a Christmas party, and family recipes were often closely guarded secrets.
In this scene from His Mistletoe Bride, my hero, Lucas, and some of the characters are explaining the ins and outs of the wassail tradition to my heroine Phoebe, who was raised in a very quiet Quaker household in America. This is her first English Christmas, and it all seems pretty strange to her.
Cousin Stephen began ladling out the wassail. The guests crowded around the table, each taking a cup.
“Here you go, Phoebe,” said Robert, handing her one. “You wouldn’t believe it, but in the old days everyone had to drink directly out of the wassail bowl.”
He glanced over at one of the guests, an elderly gentleman who seemed to be wearing half his dinner on his cravat. “Take Sir Mortimer, for example. Could you imagine having to drink out of the bowl after he’s had a go of it?” He gave a dramatic shudder.
Annabel elbowed him in the ribs. “That’s disgusting, Robert. And you know poor Sir Mortimer has terrible eyesight. I’m sure he doesn’t mean to keep dropping his food down his front.”
“Just be grateful you didn’t have to sit across from him,” Robert parried. “Almost put me off my feed.”
“Nothing puts you off your feed,” said Lucas. “Your stomach is a bottomless pit. How you manage to remain so thin is a miracle of nature.”
“No such thing,” Robert protested.
Annabel laughingly agreed, and the young couple fell into a good-natured argument. Smiling, Phoebe raised her cup and took a cautious sip. Both sweet and highly spiced, the brew was strong enough to burn a trail of delicious fire down her throat.
“Careful,” Lucas murmured. “Wassail is very potent. If you drink too much I’ll have to carry you up to bed.”
Actually, Phoebe wouldn’t mind that very much since she and Lucas are just recently married.
What were the ingredients that made wassail such a potent beverage? Well, the base was usually mulled apple cider with sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg, sometimes topped with slices of toast. Apples and oranges could be added to the mix too. In earlier times, the base often consisted of either mulled beer or mead, and any wassail recipe could be topped off with brandy or sherry. Do we really need to wonder why folks had such a great time at Regency Christmas parties?!
What about you, readers? What’s your favorite beverage during the holidays? Does your family have a secret recipe for punch, eggnog, or even wassail? One person who comments will win a copy of His Mistletoe Bride.
BLAME IT ON THE MISTLETOE…
When Major Lucas Stanton inherited his earldom, he never dreamed his property would include the previous earl’s granddaughter. Phoebe Linville is a sparkling American beauty, yes, but with a talent for getting into trouble. Witness the compromising position that forced them into wedlock. Whisked away to Mistletoe Manor, his country estate, it isn’t long before she is challenging his rules—and surprising him in and out of bed…
Phoebe has no intention of bowing to Lucas’s stubbornness even though he offers all that she wants. His kisses and unexpected warmth are enticing, but Phoebe is determined to show the Earl of Merritt what real love is all about. And if that takes twelve nights of delicious seduction by a roaring fire, she’s more than willing to reveal her gifts very slowly…
Posted by Donna MacMeans Feb 4 2012, 1:55 am in Donna MacMeans, fashion, Regency, superbowl
A friend recently sent some beautiful pictures of Regency dresses. Take a look – aren’t these lovely? The one on the left is from 1805. The white wedding dress on the left is from 1804.
However I look at these low necklines and I wonder how those ladies managed not to fall out of the dress? Did they not lift their arms? How did they manage those little hops in so many country dances? It’s like a wardrobe malfunction just waiting to happen.
My friend and Regency romance author, Susan Gee Heino, who is also a talented seamtress assures me that, as one who has worn regency fashions, such things did in fact occur. The occasional glimpse of a nipple would not be as profoundly embarrassing as it is today. Raising one’s skirts to show an ankle, however – scandalous!
By the end of the nineteenth century, showing one’s ankles was not quite as shocking, especially as more and more women took to riding a bicycle (though that activity was still frowned upon). Of course, any ankles flashed at that time in the course of a game of lawn tennis or a ride on a bicycle were still well covered by opaque stockings. Naked legs and ankles in public was simply not done.
Somewhere along the middle of the nineteenth century, women were allowed to publicly enjoy “swimming” though it would be difficult to imagine anyone actually being able to do more than stand in the combination of flesh concealing skirts and leggings that constituted a swimming costume. By the end of the century, that changed as well. One can see bare legs and arms, though the women were often hidden by “bathing machines” – big boxes on wheels that were pulled into the water so the bathers could dip in the water in private (obviously, as per this french postcard, there were voyeurs that hoped to catch a peek at the bathing beauties).
Fashions made drastic changes in the twentieth century and questions of morality weren’t far behind. Flappers from the 1920s were looked down upon, though I’m not sure if it was due to their bobbed hair or short skirts. Most likely it was the result of their independent attitudes, but their unique fashions helped push along the discussion of immoral versus moral attire.
Hemlines on skirts continually rose throughout the twentieth century. I recall the days of the miniskirt and hot pants. Interestingly enough, in those years, wearing thin barely-there stockings on one’s legs was de rigueur. Not wearing stockings, or nylons, was scandalous.
While Janet Jackson’s famous 2004 Superbowl wardrobe malfunction brought numerous cries as to the country’s declining morality, I have to wonder if that’s so very different from the occasional “slippage” experienced by those Regency ladies. It’s worth noting that the huge $500,000 fine levied against CBS for airing the malfunction was set aside by courts this past November 2011.
Can’t wait to see what happens tomorrow night .
In the spirit of what is old is new again, thought I’d add this image of a 4th century mosiac in what must be a precursor of a bikini. The image doesn’t show that she’s wearing a crown and carrying a symbol of athletic prowness.
So what about you? Any thoughts of what was once considered immoral and now is accepted? Any expectations about the Superbowl tomorrow night? I’ll send a copy of Redeeming the Rogue to someone leaving a comment.
Oh – and by the way – I think my bandita booty prize post from the taverns & pubs post was up for maybe ten minutes last night . Gena Robertson – please check the booty chest for the announcement and instruction on how to claim your prize.
Posted by Donna MacMeans Nov 23 2009, 7:00 am in debut, house party, Mistress by Mistake, Regency, Susan Heino, T-shirts
I have to admit that I’ve been waiting to host my good friend, Susan Gee Heino, and her new Regency historical debut for well over a year. She sent me a more traditional author photo to use for the blog but I prefer this one (he-he). Susan has a quick wit that is so evident in MISTRESS BY MISTAKE which has a release date of December 1st from Berkley Sensation. Treat yourself to an early Christmas present – or, more appropriately, reward yourself for surviving yet another family Thanksgiving celebration. Whatever the justification, discover this new author!
Thanks for inviting me to hang with the Banditas, Donna! You gals always know how to throw a party here. And speaking of parties, it’s Thanksgiving here in the states this week and you know what that means: the dreaded House Party.
Ah, yes. You get to stand in line for the bathroom, your vertebrae all crunch together after a night on the sleeper-sofa, and invariably somebody’s kid breaks a priceless family heirloom. All those lovely holiday traditions—beautiful and warm… except when you’re living through them.
But what if we were suddenly a great, omnipotent being who could reach down and control all the goings-on at this year’s family get-together? Wouldn’t that be cool? No more snobby mother-in-law taking over your kitchen, no stick-skinny cousin Tina bragging how she can eat anything and never gain an ounce, and for the first time ever Uncle Bob-the-Lush would leave some beer for the other guys.
If I were this grand omnipotent being I would drag my holiday festivities out of 2009 and back into Regency England. Wouldn’t that be just awesome? (As long as indoor plumbing and my blow dryer could go back with me, of course!)
Instead of piling the kids into the mini-van for a four hour drive to a bi-level in the suburbs, my family would board a well-sprung coach and journey to some pretentious country estate. I’d cast my darling husband as the put-upon nobleman who is traveling with us against his better judgment (not a stretch, he tells me) while I’d get to play the part of innocent Regency maiden desperate for a bit of adventure. (Er, that is a bit of a stretch, I’m afraid.)
But would Omnipotent Susan honestly be content to leave things well enough alone at that point? Heck no! Everyone knows a really great Regency house party must have a full complement of misunderstandings, secret affections, unlikely bedfellows and mischief galore. Throw in some honest-to-goodness emotion with true lovers longing, and that sounds like a gathering to remember!
This is what I tried to do when creating the house party scenes in my up-coming debut, MISTRESS BY MISTAKE. Clearly I did not leave well enough alone there, either.
What? Dashford was joining the group for dinner, after all? Did he not realize Evaline would be here? Oh, God. How could she face him so soon after they’d… well, afterward. She felt her nerves unhinge at the very thought.
She struggled to keep herself calm, but her hands shook. The glass of lemonade she lifted to her lips in an effort to soothe the choking dryness of her throat wobbled, then slipped from her grasp. Lemonade splashed around her and nearly covered poor old Mr. Peterson who’d been seated, unfortunately for him, at her left. What a disaster this dinner was turning out to be!
Yep, that dinner ends badly. And so do a few others before true love finally conquers all. And of course we see that in real life, too. Do we really want that Omnipotent Presence to reach down and spare us from an under-cooked turkey or an over-stewed Uncle? Probably not. It’s all these things that make our get-togethers special and our hearts grow fonder. Even for the snobby mother-in-law.
So, what would you change about your family get-togethers if you could? What would your fantasy House Party look like? Share with us and one person will win a signed copy of MISTRESS BY MISTAKE!
Posted by Anna Campbell Sep 2 2009, 5:30 am in A Most Lamentable Comedy, Anna Campbell, Bandita Booty, Janet Mullany, Regency
by Anna Campbell
I’m utterly delighted to introduce a fabulously funny writer to the lair. Janet Mullaney writes Regency comedies of manners (naughty ones!) and when she’s not busy there, she blogs with the Risky Regencies. For more information on Janet and her books, please visit her website.
Janet’s latest Little Black Dress book, A MOST LAMENTABLE COMEDY, is available from the Book Depository in the U.K. The Book Depository will post any book anywhere in the world with no postage!
For more information on Janet and her sparkling stories, please visit her website: www.janetmullany.com
Janet, welcome to the Romance Bandits. You and your madcap stories should fit in really well here with our wild cabana boys and Sven the masseur, not to mention our wonderful Bandits and Bandita Buddies. I recently read your latest Regency romance, A MOST LAMENTABLE COMEDY, and nearly strained something I was laughing so hard. What a fabulous read. Can you tell us something about this book?
Thanks for inviting me into the Bandit Lair and for your kind words about the book! After I wrote THE RULES OF GENTILITY (HarperCollins 2007) I realized I might have to prove I could do something similar, but I didn’t want to write about another babbling naïve fashionista like the heroine of that book, Philomena Wellesley-Clegg. For one thing, I’d made this loud public vow never to write about virgins prancing around drawing rooms, and had a red face. And I thought I’d like to write about a bad girl, a bad girl—not one being a bad girl for a worthy cause.
So I found a girl behaving badly in Rules—the only function she had in the book was to show that the hero was a naughty man and to snap up the catch of the season (not the hero). HarperCollins wasn’t interested, but Little Black Dress (UK) who bought Rules offered me a three-book contract that I accepted when the dollar was at an all-time low against the British pound. By the time I got my first advance the dollar had rallied. I think I got that the right way round—I mean I made a lot less $$ than I originally anticipated. But, heavens, I’m not that mercenary. I hope. Now I sound like my heroine Caroline, who is that mercenary. And worse.
And I have a hero who’s this gorgeous, exploitative con man. They manage to persuade each other that they have money and they’re both broke and lying through their teeth. Then she becomes a Duke’s mistress because, well, it’s almost a rite of passage for romance heroines at the moment. And there’s a dancing bear called Daisy.
It’s such a cool premise. Actually it reminded me of a rather obscure and very old Marlene Dietrich film called THE MONTE CARLO STORY. It’ modern (well, 50s) and they’re two con people who end up falling in love. What’s coming up next for the fabulous Janet Mullany?
Killing the mosquito that’s eating me, but after that … I’m currently working on the first of two books for HarperCollins, a paranormal-alternative historical about Jane Austen, a French invasion, and vampires. I call it “Blood Bath” because it’s set in Bath, but they’ve already told me to forget about that as a title and “Austen Powers” (my brother’s suggestion). It should come out next summer which is sort of scary. I have another Regency chicklit (written, whew) that may be called “Improper Relations” coming from Little Black Dress in spring (probably) of 2010.
I’m also contracted to write contemporary erotica for Harlequin Spice as Liz Diamond. Despite my whining that I don’t have a contemporary voice, my agent, who takes a firm hand with me, insisted I did and sold two books to teach me a lesson. So there. So I’m busy, and yeah, I’m complaining (a bit) but I’d be complaining more if I wasn’t.
Hey, fantastic! Here in the lair, we love call stories. Can you tell us yours? And I’d love to know a bit about your writing journey.
(Whining) When do I get the massage? Oh, OK. I was unemployed, unshowered, and had a broken phone that disconnected three times during the call. That was my first book, DEDICATION, which I’d written purely out of exasperation and deciding to write a book I wanted to read. I sold it to the now defunct Signet Regency line (of the famed polyester gowns and interchangeable heads covers) and the editor asked me to cut 20,000 words and I said “OK, but the sex has to stay.” I thought it might be a deal breaker but she said it was fine. I put STET in huge letters on the galley when the editor tried to change ‘cock’ to ‘manhood’ but they let me leave in all the grown up sex and rude terms—my h/h both knew what they were doing.
I’d been writing fiction about three or four years then, and while I couldn’t and can’t say that I’m a massive romance fan I thought I could write what I wanted to under the romance umbrella (exactly what sort of weather do you have when you pull out the romance umbrella?). It is, after all, a huge and diverse genre. And I thought the romance writers I met were extremely cool, and Chris aka Christie and I were in the same critique group. After DEDICATION, the line folded (I am not responsible for the demise of the trad Regency even though my book had that nasty sex stuff in it), my editor left, and … oh, publishing biz as usual.
Sven hasn’t been himself since we featured him in a blog. Sven? Sven! I think it was Oscar Wilde who said “Dying is easy, comedy is hard.” If it wasn’t OW, it should have been! You have one of the most sparkling and original comic voices I know. Can you give us some advice about writing funny?
It does sound like OW, but I became curious and looked it up–it was an English actor called Sir Donald Wolfit who may not be remembered for much else now. As for writing funny, I think either you have it or you don’t; I think it’s partly voice. And, uh, I don’t find it that hard; in fact I have to restrain myself. A lot of what I do is surprise comments, when a character pulls back from a situation and makes an observation. I also love physical humor and I’ve just spent some time unsuccessfully trying to find a guest blog from a couple years ago where I rewrote Elizabeth/Darcy’s first proposal in PandP and introduced a whoopee cushion as an example of how to write humor. I think you get the idea.
Can you tell us about your writing day?
How old are those cabana boys? They look very … youthful. My writing day is tedious and disorganized and I don’t want to depress anyone by describing it. I have a day job that gives me some contact with the real world (as much as working for a baroque music ensemble will) and gives me a steady but laughable income and a structure.
VERRRRRY young, Janet. That’s how we like them. Bwahahahahaha! I notice you write erotic stories under the pen name Jane Lockwood. Can you tell us about your alter-ego?
Jane’s having a bit of a lie-down after too much excitement (FORBIDDEN SHORES, 2007), and the sparkling Liz Diamond will burst on the scene with a Harlequin Spice that may or may not be called “Red Light” in 2011. I love writing erotic historical romance (the clothes! The lack of underwear! The lacing and rules and stuff! The jiggly carriage rides!) and I hope to get back to it sometime.
By the way, I burn really easily and I think I’d better get a cabana boy to help me with the sunscreen, but before I go, here’s several questions to ponder: I always wonder what makes a reader stay with a book to the end. Is it really all about the story? The characters?
I love the covers both HarperCollins and Little Black Dress gave me. But it’s not just the cover … what makes you decide to buy a book?
Do you think I’m right in saying that humor is something you have or don’t have? Do you think humor is appropriate in a romance or is love serious business?
Janet has very kindly offered one lucky commenter a signed copy of A MOST LAMENTABLE COMEDY today! Get commenting, people, I thought this was a fabulous read and so funny!
Posted by Christina Brooke Mar 11 2008, 4:00 am in Christine Wells, historical romance, Regency, Scandal's Daughter
by Christine Wells
When I was eight, my best friend was Tabitha. She told wonderful–and extremely
imaginative–stories about the things she did when she wasn’t at school. Now, for all I know, she really did live as magical and eventful a life as her namesake from Bewitched.
But for the most part, I devoured Tabitha’s stories with a hefty pinch of salt. I was never sure whether she really expected to be believed.
Another friend used to say, Why do you hang around with that girl? She tells lies.
Not about things that mattered. Tabitha never lied to get anyone into trouble or get herself out of punishment. So she embroidered, embellished and sometimes downright fabricated stories about talking to animals or the enchanted pottery fairies her mother sculpted and glazed. Tabitha made life more interesting. She was a good friend, and her stories seemed to give her that extra, sparkly shine.
But then I’ve always been a sucker for glamour.
I write historical romance. I love research. I love delving into the English Regency period, a time of social upheaval, war, extravagance, poverty, marvelous architecture…
…And great hats.
And psst, I hate to admit this, given
I’m *serious* about research–getting details, atmosphere, attitudes and expressions as accurate as I can, given reader expectations–but the thing I love most about the Regency era is the glamour. I love reading about aristocrats and balls and house parties.
The wit, the intrigue, the social mores and rituals, the sense of honour and tradition, the wealth of art and architecture, gardens and landscapes those old families collected, built and preserved.
The glamour of the Regency era wasn’t limited to aristocrats, though.
Highwaymen (or women), smugglers, spies, war heroes–for me, all of these glitter with a special kind of story magic.
Ordinary, middle class people finding love in a cottage? Not so much.
But glamour isn’t just about wealth and beauty. It’s about story, too, making it bigger, deeper, more. It’s about high stakes and wrenching emotion, thrilling adventure and momentous, life-altering events. I think there’s a place for the mundane, the ordinary, the obscure–but it’s not in Regency historicals. I want the excitement, the thrill. I want the glamour.
And great hats.
So now you know my guilty secret. And that, as we say in the lair, is in the vault.
If you’re a reader, what attracts you to a particular setting or subgenre? And if you’re a writer, pretend you’re my friend Tabitha. How would you ‘glam up’ your story?
And if you care to win a signed copy of Scandal’s Daughter, plus some good old Aussie TIM TAMS, pitch me your most glamorous Regency historical in twenty words or less. It can be as fantastic or as silly as you like.
Just don’t–please don’t–make it mundane.