Duchess Releases
  • Sept. 2014

  • Aug. 2014





  • June 2014



  • May 2014

  • April 2014

  • February 2014

  • January 2014



  • Oct. 2014



  • Nov. 2014





  • Dec. 2014

  • Mar. 2015

Maire Claremont Tells of Lady Wild

First, let me take a big curtsy! Thank you so much Duchesses for having me in your dashing company.

 

LadyWildCoverLady Wild is very dear to my heart as is the cause I’m raising money for. Almost exactly two years ago at this time, I started writing Lady Wild. My mother had been diagnosed with breast cancer, had a double mastectomy, and radiation. Sadly, the cancer entered her bones and I moved in with her to be her full time caretaker. I wrote the majority of Lady Wild spending the evenings with her. We did many things. We watched Dancing With The Stars, we read her very favorite books aloud, Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe Series (my mother was secretly in love with Richard Sharpe I think, devil that he was). We cried, we laughed, and she always supported my dreams. I was blessed. My mother was alive when I sold my first book, and she became the inspiration for the story closest to my heart.

 

Sure, Lady Wild has some dark themes. All my books do, but this story is perhaps my most hopeful and romantic. The one thing my mother taught me was that love and hope are essential. Oh, and a life well lived is a beautiful thing. It’s never too late to start living well. I think my mother was more alive and more at peace in her last months than in her entire life. It was an incredible thing to see. Lady Wild is full of love and hope, something my mother would be very proud of.

 

DesperateRomanticsOn the note of living well which also means having fun, we watched some really fun TV. One of the BBC shows we watched was Desperate Romantics an over the top, incredibly fun romp about the Pre Raphaelite Brotherhood, a group of rebellious and revolutionary artists in the mid 19th century. Ophelia by John Everett Millais is the most famous painting from the group. The colors are stunning. Seeing it in person is an amazing experience because the colors just burst off the canvas. This painting plays a central role in the story as done the very naughty and genius artist Dante Gabriel Rosetti who famously buried all his literary endeavors in the locks of his wife’s glorious red hair. . . Only to dig her up and snatch them out seven years later for publication. He was quite an odd fellow. A genius, but odd, to say the least. If you love historicals, I really recommend this show. It’s too fun and a fascinating glimpse into the lives of amazing people. My mom and I loved it!

 

And the Brotherhood and my mother began to intertwine. I think

Ophelia by John Everett Millais

Ophelia by John Everett Millais

she would have loved being part of a story that was full of rogues. I needed to tell a story about beautiful things such as the art of the Brotherhood, Ophelia’s dream is to be an artist, and the journey of facing this life without one’s parents. Luckily, our heroine doesn’t have to do it alone. Andrew Colton, Viscount Stark is a fellow who thinks he doesn’t deserve love, but through Ophelia and his mother, he finds that to get love, one must first love one’s self. The whole story is about letting go of fear, embracing life, and surrendering to love. Much like Ophelia’s mother and father, my parents were deeply in love and it was wonderful to add that layer to this novella.

 

Lady Wild is now part of a personal cause. Twelve years ago my father passed away, dying from pancreatic cancer. It was so hard to lose him to such a rapid and painful disease. And then two years ago, my mother joined him after losing the battle with cancer. They were both on Hospice care at the end.

 

katiephoto1 001Death and dying is such a delicate and painful subject. In our society, we focus on cures rather than ends and in many ways, that’s a great thing! We want to find those cures, but for many people a cure will never come. They must face the end. They must face their fears. And they must find the ability to let go. Hospice specializes in helping terminally ill people and their families make this transition. So, with this novella I’m hoping to raise 10,000 dollars to donate to Hospice. If you can pick up Lady Wild, thank you. Every little bit helps to ease another person’s passing, making it one of dignity and love.

Summer is For Reading

I hope you all had a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend! As we celebrate the unofficial start of summer (pull out those white pants and white shoes!) our 18th and 19th century heroines are preparing to hie off to their country estates for the summer. No Duchess worth her salt would be seen in Town after Parliament went on summer recess and the London Season drew to a close.

What does a Duchess need for those long, languorous summer months? Reading material, of course. Hopefully something informative to tempt the brain and something scandalous to titillate the senses. I asked our 20th century Duchesses for some recommended reads.

Ta ta. I’m off to my cottage for the summer.

Books fit for a Duchess

Ashlyn Macnamara

Screen Shot 2014-05-26 at 8.27.49 PM

 

I’m working on Sarah MacLean’s NO GOOD DUKE GOES UNPUNISHED. I only say working on, because I made the mistake of starting it before RT and then I had NO TIME to read while I was there. I can’t wait to get a chance to finish Temple and Mara’s story.

 

Next on the TBR pile is Maire Claremont’s LADY WILD novella. Maire is donating a hefty sum of her royalties to Hospice.  (Maire will be here on the Duchesses thursday to talk about her new novella!)

 

Leigh LaValle

SecretsofaRunawayBride-cover-hi-resI just had a baby in April. Everyone is healthy and happy but I am holding on to my quiet R+R time with both hands! There is much cuddling and reading happening in the LaValle household. Some books I have enjoyed:

Secrets of a Runaway Bride by Valerie Bowman. One word: Jordan. I agree with the heroine’s BFF-Lord Ashbourne is a swoon worthy hero! Pair him with a feisty heroine bent on trouble and much fun ensues.

It Happened One Wedding Julie James is always a favorite and this book did not disappoint.

Between the Devil and Ian Eversea by Julie Anne Long is next up!

Diana Quincy

Screen Shot 2014-05-26 at 8.40.11 PMI’m reading an ARC of Duchess Kathleen Bittner Roth’s THE SEDUCTION OF SARAH MARKS. Not only is the romance steamy but this book is one unpredictable ride with a wild twist in the middle that I did not anticipate!

 

I’m also reading TAP OUT by Michelle Mannon, who is one of my critique partners (although I had not read this manuscript before). The hero is a super-sexy MMA fighter/underwear model inspired by David Beckham. Need I say more?
And I’m listening to THE GREAT GATSBY on tape while I go on my daily walks. It’s been a long time since I’ve read this novel and often find myself rewinding so I can listen to a particularly perfectly written passage more than once.

Valerie Bowman

Darius by Grace Burrowes
A fantastic story about a heroine in need of a baby and a hero in need of funds. He agrees to allow her to live with him for three weeks and get her pregnant. Oh, and he just so happens to be super hot! Am loving it!
Jane Austen’s England by Lesley Adkins
A fascinating look into Regency England including interesting facts: one woman was reported to have given birth to 32 children. Yikes!
Once Upon a Wager by Julie LeMense
A beautifully written tale of a bet gone horribly wrong and a couple struggling to overcome their past mistakes. I j’adore a reunion story and this one is really captivating.

Kathleen Bittner Roth

engagingtheearl
I am reading an ARC of Diana Quincy’s June 9th release Engaging the Earl (most definitely an engaging read). Diana has a way of taking you into the heart of the characters with such graceful ease, you are lost in the story before you know it.

I am also reading an old school book called Pale Moon Rider by Marsha Canham. I love the author’s yummy prose!

Jennifer McQuinston

Right now, I have 3 books in partial stages of “read”-iness. Normally I finish each book before starting another, so this is a definite state of weirdness for me. 

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (Not really a romance, not a YA….it refuses to be categorized.) Imagine a circus that mysteriously shows up at night. No one knows when it is coming or when it will leave. Now imagine under those tents two young magicians locked in an epic battle to the death….only they might be falling in love.

Always on My Mind, by Jill Shalvis (This is the book we got free in our bags at the Romantic Times convention.) Contemporary Romance really isn’t my thing usually, but I forgot my e-reader on that trip and I had to read SOMETHING. This story follows Leah the baker and Jack the hot hot hot fireman, both of whom are running from their past in a charming little town called Lucky Harbor (wink wink). I must admit… I can’t wait to finish it. I even spilled soy sauce on it trying to cram a few more minutes of reading during lunch yesterday. It seems like Ms. Shalvis puts something addictive on her pages.

Screen Shot 2014-05-26 at 8.37.16 PM

Allegiant by Victoria Roth (a YA I am reading to be able to discuss with my daughter). I loved Divergent, and loved even more going to see the movie with my preteen daughter. This seemed requisite reading for me, but I am just not able to get into it like I enjoyed Divergent. Maybe that’s why I haven’t finished it?

It seems like for this audience I ought to toss a historical or two or four into the mix, and I will say that in the last two months I finished an AMAZING historical, Fool Me Twice by Meredith Duran. Imagine a duke on a brink of madness, his new housekeeper-with-a-secret who plans to steal incriminating letters from him, some of the hottest intimacy scenes I’ve read in a historical, and some serious trust issues. Now throw in Meredith Duran’s spectacular prose and you have a truly amazing read.

Alyssa Alexander

I just finished FEARLESS by K.M. Fawcett. It kept moving to the top of my TBR pile, and I finally got a chance to sit down and read it. Loved it! Next up is HARD AS YOU CAN by Laura Kaye and LOVING LORD ASH by Sally MacKenzie. Can’t wait!

What about you, Dear Readers? What books do you recommend for some summer amusement?

A Mother’s Love

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there. Being a mom is hard work – that goes without saying. From temper tantrums to those helpless moments where you have to watch your child learn a lesson on their own. There are smiles and tears and everything in between. And it all starts with that little thing called birth.

In today’s world, we have the joys of private rooms in the maternity ward and the beautiful reprieve granted by epidurals and other fabulous modern inventions. Such was, unfortunately, not always the case.

Miniature_Naissance_Louis_VIIIOne of the atrocities women had to deal with for several centuries was the awfulness of lying in. When the birth of her child was drawing near, a woman would be confined to her bed in a room designated as the birthing room (not always her bedroom). It was kept hot with a roaring fire and a plethora of blankets piled on the expectant/new mother with all windows were tightly shuttered. This was done in an effort to keep the mother from catching a draft and falling ill. Now we know that heating a room breeds bacteria and can actually cause illness rather than thwart it.

On the topic of germs, that was one of the primary killers of not only children, but also their new mothers. In 1840, a hand wash of chlorinated water and lime solution was implemented by physicians and resulted in a 30% decrease in death. Prior to that, it was expected that 66% of children died before the age of 5 and half were dead by the age of 5. Even a child’s wet nurse could pass infection to her ward with poor hygiene.Wet Nurse

In addition to the perils of germs, women also faced complications of birth. There were accounts of caesarean sections done on mothers in history, though most involve a dead mother and the urgency to remove the child post-mortem lest the child die as well. Several attempts were still made on women who were alive, but the mortality rate ran about 85%. Not good odds.

The invention of forceps revolutionized difficult childbirth in that it allowed the user the firmly grasp the baby by the head and pull it from the mother. Prior to this, midwives would typically put her hands into the mother, grab the child by the head and pull. This took exceptional strength on the midwives part and was not only incredibly painful for the mother, it also exposed mother and child to germs.

ForcepsForceps were designed in the 1500’s, but were kept as a family secret, only to be brought out in an empty room with the mother blindfolded. One member of the family finally tried to sell the invention, but his public display of its use resulted in the mother and child both dying. Eventually, it was brought back out and finally caught on. Part of its popularity during the Regency time period had to do with Princess Charlotte’s death. After 50 hours of labor and a stillborn child, Princess Charlotte died under the care of Dr. Croft. The public had their faith rattled in doctors performing labor (and turned back to midwifery), they also were more inclined to try forceps rather than face the same fate. Dr. Croft was so ruined and disheartened by his failure, he ultimately took his own life.

In addition to the pain of death also came the pain of fear. Epidurals may be modern, not really seen until the 1940’s and even then not successfully, but the idea of foregoing pain during labor was not. For centuries, the church deemed it a woman’s fate to suffer childbirth for Eve’s sins. But that concept only held on so long. In the 1800’s, a chloroform concoction was devised for women to breathe. This would knock them out, they would wake up and lo and behold, they’d have a beautiful baby having never suffered through the pain of its birth. This was made enormously popular in 1847 when Queen Victoria used the anesthetic for the birth of her eighth child and raved about the experience. In 1914, a morphine/scopolamine mix was given to mothers, but this quickly lost popularity as the babies sometimes died from overdose and the mothers sometimes failed to wake up after delivery.

461px-Queen_Victoria_the_Princess_Royal_Victoria_c1844-5

80% of Regency mothers made it through childbirth. She survived the laying in which lasted two weeks to two months after birth, the heated rooms with a liquid diet that slowed her digestion, the risk of having a chunk of placenta left inside (ultimately going gangrene in all that warmth) and all the risks of infection. The Regency mother (and all those in the centuries before her) was a survivor who lived to see another birth and risk it all over again. And all for the glory of motherhood. So, raise your glasses to the mothers of history and the mothers of today for all they went through during the birth and all the laughter and crazy times that come thereafter.

 

Duchess On Dits: Appearances, News and Events

RT.63.May2014CoverThe Duchesses are aflutter with activity and you, dear readers, are about to become privy to the latest on dits.

The 2014 RT Booklovers Convention will take place on May 13th-18th in New Orleans.  If you plan to attend the grand bash of Romance novel readers and Romance novel writers, here’s where you can meet a duchess:

Duchess Valerie Bowman will be hosting How to Be a Hooker: The High-Concept Premise with a panel of bestselling authors known for their high concepts. Join their a fun mix-and-match card game designed to show how to hook readers, agents and editors using fun titles, fresh premises and compelling characters on Friday, May 16, 2014 – 11:15am to 12:15pm.

Duchess Ashlyn Macnamara will be joining her fellow Bantam, Ballantine and Love Swept authors as they host an hour of romance trivia games with prizes and giveaways called It’s All Fun and Games Until Someone Falls in Love On Thursday May 15th, 1:30-2:30

You’ll also be able to find Duchess Ashlyn Macnamara at the Mardi Gras World Carnivàle on Wednesday, May 14, 2014 – 7:15pm to Thursday, May 15, 2014 – 12:00am. They’ll be food, a second-line band and some up-close time with the Mardi Gras floats.

Duchess Jennifer McQuiston will be participating with more than 50 Avon, Avon Impulse, William Morrow and Harper Voyager authors in Avon’s Krewe of Muses celebrating Erato, the muse of love and poetry. Get your complimentary books and ebooks signed on Friday, May 16, 2014 – 6:15pm to 7:45pm

Duchess Sara Ramsey will be participating in Cover Wars: From Muse to Magic which will include a full LIVE photoshoot! Find out how to stand out in a crowded marketplace. Designers and authors will break into teams with audience members to design covers, Wednesday, May 14, 2014 – 1:15pm to 2:15pm

Duchess Heather Snow will be part of a Krewe of Notorious Scribes turning the Grand Oaks Mansion at Mardi Gras World into Vieux Carre — the heart of New Orleans, circa 1718. Be one of the first 350 attendees and receive a goodie bag with books, swag and more. The Pirates, Scalawags and More party will be held Wednesday, May 14, 2014 – 6:00pm to 7:00pm.

You can also find Duchess Heather Snow at the The Cajun Queen Riverboat Casino Morning Mixer, where she’ll join other authors dealing cards so you can rake in booty! Thursday, May 15, 2014 – 8:30am to 9:45am.

Lastly, be sure to visit The Duchesses at The Giant Book Fair on Saturday, May 17, 2014 – 11:00am to 2:00pm, where more than 700 authors will be autographing books, posters and bookmarks (tickets are included in the general registration conference fee or can be purchased separately on the day of the event).

In Other News…

Duchess Alyssa Alexander revealed the Georgous cover to her upcoming release, In Bed with a Spy, in USA today’s Happily Ever After Column. Check out her cover and fall for its blue beauty.

Duchess Màire Claremont‘s The Dark Lady won the Romantic Times Award for Best First Historical Romance…winners and nominees are selected Romantic Times reviewers and the Duchesses are overjoyed this fabulous book earned this honor.

Duchess Kathleen Bittner Roth, who lives in Budapest, will be coming to the US in June for six-month promotional tour including signings, television appearances and other events. Here’s when to look for her books: The Seduction of Sarah Marks – June; A Duke’s Wicked Kiss – August 26; When Hearts Dare Series Celine – October 7, Alanna – November 4 and Josette – Sept. 2015.

And, yes, that is Duchess Valerie Bowman‘s The Unexpected Duchess gracing the cover of Romantic Times Magazine‘s May issue! Huzzah for Duchess Valerie.

Duchess Jennifer McQuiston‘s What Happens in Scotland made the New York Times Bestseller list! Let’s raise our teacups in a celebratory salute. Cheers to you, Duchess Jennifer.

Duchess Kate Parker recently appeared at Malice Domestic 26 speaking at the panel titled “One is Not Amused by Murder.” Sign up for her newsletter so you can be sure to catch her next event. The next book in her Victorian Bookshop Mystery Series, The Counterfeit Lady, will be out August 5th.

Duchess Anna Randol‘s Sins of a Ruthless Rogue has been nominated in the Historical category of the Romance Industry’s prestigious peer-judged contest, The Rita. Congratulations Duchess Anna!

Lastly, I have a bit of news of my own:

Duchess Wendy LaCapra sold her debut series, a Late-Georgian trilogy featuring three ladies whose friendship helps them survive society’s rejection and find both a new way of life and a new way to love to Entangled Publishing, where I’ll be joining Duchess Kathleen Bittner Roth and Duchess Diana Quincy.

Leave a comment and let us know . . . will you be at the RT Booklovers Convention in New Orleans this year from May 13-18? We hope to see you there!

It Was a Dark and Stormy Night…MEET THE EARL AT MIDNIGHT Giveaway

9781402294273-300 (1) Hello! Duchess Diana Quincy here. I am very excited to welcome author Gina Conkle to the salon. Duchess Gina’s books reach across two sub-genres of romance: adventurous Viking romance and sparkling Georgian romance. Her latest book, Meet the Earl at Midnight, received 4 stars from RT Book Reviews which said the story is “a delightful twist on Beauty and the Beast.” Enjoy!

 

It Was A Dark And Stormy Night…

 

Have those words ever lured you?

 

You find some version of the famous phrase in books and movies and we’re snagged before you know it. This was the same for Meet the Earl at Midnight, my newest Georgian romance.

 

A visual dark and stormy night kept playing in my head and wouldn’t leave me alone.

 

I live in southern California where it doesn’t rain much, and this character — a man — kept making his presence known. He’d show up wearing a long oiled cloak with the collar flipped over his face and a black tricorn pulled low. All you saw of him was a sliver of humanity, dark brown eyes and the top of a blade straight nose.

 

So, when we had the rare rainstorm, I sat down to write his story. In fact, the story was born as much from a light rainstorm as the need to balance the Norse hammers in my head (I also write Viking romance).

Author Gina Conkle

Author Gina Conkle

 

And the funny thing? I’m the organized sort. I have to plot first. In this case, before I knew it, not quite half the story was written with nary a plot in sight. The moment came, though, for some structure, and much historical research was had. But, I knew the story was set in 1768.

 

So, here are three things that came of that research:

1)   Women artists had a tough row to hoe. London’s Royal Academy of Arts opened in December, 1768 with two female artists in their league, Angelica Kauffman and Mary Moser. However, the two women were not “physically” featured in Zoffany’s painting, The Academicians of the Royal Academy which celebrated the Academy’s opening. Why? Zoffany’s work features nude male models, therefore, the women’s portraits were hung on the wall rather than showing them physically in the room.

2)   I kept having really bad weather during the winter of 1768…I mean lots and lots of rain. I decided to check the weather near London in 1768 and guess what? 1768 was an extraordinarily wet year even the summer with about 6 weeks of constant rain, not just light showers and gloom.

3)   The Age of Wonder was born. You probably know about the hot naturalist, Sir Joseph Banks, and the famous Cook expedition. With the race for knowledge on, King George wanted in on the intellectual action. In the 1760s, he bought 6,000 books from Sir Joseph to start a royal library of sorts.

 

The history nerd in me can wax on for a long time over the snippets and details I learned. Along the way I also learned that I need to refine my knowledge of the peerage (especially since I’m hosted by “Duchesses”). I tend to write less about dukes and earls and more about men from other walks of life. But, a good man no matter his walk in life makes a fine hero.

 

Meet the Earl at Midnight

 

It’s going to take a Beast to tame this Beauty 

 

The Enigma Earl. The Lord Phantom. That’s what the gossip pages call Lord Greenwich, a mysterious nobleman who doesn’t show his face in London Society. With a reputation like that, it’s no wonder that Lydia Montgomery is horrified to be dragged from bed and packed off to live with him to save her mother from penury.

 

While Lydia has received all of the training a lady should endure, she’s decidedly un-ladylike. She despises her corset and isn’t interested in marriage; in fact, she would prefer to remain unmarried so that she can spend her time improving her art. But if she wants a chance at happiness, she’ll have to set aside her fear of Lord Greenwich and discover the man hiding behind the beast.

 

 Amazon ~ Barnes&Noble ~ Kobo ~ iTunes ~ GooglePlay

 

Thanks to “Their Graces” for hosting me on this lovely blog. This is great and I much appreciate you, the reader, and the hosting authors for this opportunity.

 

To celebrate books, I’d like to give away a copy of Meet the Earl at Midnight and a $10 B&N gift card** to a random commenter who answers the question below:

 

What’s your favorite period in history and why?

 

**Limited to residents of the US or Canada (the drawing done within a week of the blog post).

 

Learn more about Gina and her books:  Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Pinterest ~ Newsletter

Dashing Duchess Book Release: The Unexpected Duchess by Valerie Bowman (Giveaway!)

UnexpectedDuchessHello everyone,

Thank you for joining me in the duchesses’ drawing room today. I am beyond excited to announce that the first book in my new Playful Brides series, The Unexpected Duchess, will be released Tuesday 4/29/14! Why do I call it The Playful Brides? Well, each of the books in the series is based on a different famous romp play. Oh, I do adore a romp. The Unexpected Duchess is based on Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac. I call it a “reverse Cyrano” story because the heroine is trying to break up a couple instead of get them together.

The other books in the series, The Accidental Countess (10/28/14), and The Unlikely Lady (Spring 2015), are based on Oscar Wilde’s, The Importance of Being Earnest and Shakespeare’s, Much Ado About Nothing, respectively. I’m thrilled that this series has gotten off to such a fine start with The Unexpected Duchess earning a 4.5 star TOP PICK rating from RT Book Reviews, and a STARRED review from both Booklist and Kirkus!

The premise of my series got me to thinking about the theatre in Regency England. Here are a few facts I learned while researching the subject:

  1. Did you know that the theatres were called “Theatre Royal” only after they received Letters Patent by the Crown?
  2. Although we love to suggest in our books that it was possible to “turn down” the house lights, that was actually quite impossible (they were candles in huge chandeliers hoisted to the ceiling) and it was quite bright in the theatre on purpose to see and be seen. The gaslights didn’t begin until Drury Lane Theatre introduced them in 1817.
  3. Hot wax (from those same chandeliers) dripped on the patrons in the  pit. Hence, one of the reasons why it cost more to sit elsewhere.

    Theatre Royal, Covent Garden, 1810

    Theatre Royal, Covent Garden, 1810

  4. The theatre at Bury St Edmunds is the only Regency theatre still in existence and open for business. Who wants to go with me?!
  5. A night at the theatre did not merely consist of one play. It might also involve a comedy sketch, singing, animals, and anything else the owners of the theatre could dream up. Think 4 or 5 hours of entertainment.

So, any questions or comments about the theatres of Regency England? One lucky commenter will win a copy of The Unexpected Duchess (U.S.-only for print, anywhere for e-book, Void where prohibited).

 

Valerie-Bowman-author-photo-hi-res

Duchess Valerie Bowman is an award-winning author who writes Regency-set historical romance novels (aka Racy Regency Romps) with a focus on sharp dialogue, engaging story lines, and heroines who take matters into their own hands!

Valerie grew up in Illinois with six sisters (she’s number seven) and a huge supply of historical romance novels. After a cold and snowy stint earning a degree in English with a minor in history at Smith College, she moved to Florida the first chance she got.

Valerie now lives in Jacksonville with her family including her rascally rescue dog, Roo. When she’s not writing, she keeps busy reading, traveling, or vacillating between watching crazy reality TV and PBS. Valerie loves to hear from readers. Find her on the web at Facebook, Twitter, and at www.ValerieBowmanBooks.com.

Robyn DeHart Giveaway Winner

The winner of a digital copy of Robyn DeHart’s The Secrets of Mia Danvers is Lois Losh. Congratulations! Look for an email for further information about receiving your prize very soon!

image

 

On This Day in History

Frothy Petticoats!

Frothy Petticoats!

I love history. Obviously, or I wouldn’t write in a historical time period. Typically I think about the fun facts of history. Beautiful silk and lace gowns, lots of petticoats that swish and shush and froth around a lady’s legs. Hair curled and piled high, anchored with combs and pins embellished with jewels.

 

And of course, my Duchess tiara.

 

Then I think about the heroes. Oh. The heroes. (Sorry, I must pause here and fan myself, as a Duchess never gets hot and bothered). Romance heroes come in all shapes and sizes and, well, hotness levels. Highwaymen, pirates, smugglers. Lords and princes, alpha men from the rookeries who rise up despite all odds, and those rough men from the Colonies who make an English lady weak in the knees (among other things). I love all those parts of history and romance writing.

 

But history still comes down to people. People lived in 1600, 1700, 1800, 1900—and all the centuries before that. They lived and breathed and laughed and loved. They bore children, they buried children. They worked hard to put food on the table and clothes on their backs. They suffered toothaches and stomach aches and colds. After all, the cold virus didn’t start a few years ago.

Dry Stone Wall, Yorkshire

Dry Stone Wall, Yorkshire…I don’t want my small boy jumping off of this.

 

Can you imagine that? This winter you had a cold, blew your nose, and suffered through sinus pressure. Two hundred years ago, ladies did the same thing, without the joy of cold medicine and tissues with lotion to help them. I worry about my 5 year old when he jumps off the top step of the deck and I worry about my husband when he starts using a chain saw. I imagine ladies in 1100 AD worried about their boys jumping off stone walls and husbands heading off to sword practice.

 

Decade to decade, century to century, millennium to millennium, we all have the same hopes and fears. We all love and we all laugh. Family is family, for good or ill. And everyone mourns and grieves.

 

So when I read this entry in the London Gazette, April 19, 1814, my heart grieved:

“The Prince Regent has also been pleased to command, in the name of and on behalf of His Majesty, that those badges which would have been conferred upon the officers who fell in, or have died since the battle of Vittoria, shall, as a token of respect to their memories, be transmitted to their respective families…

1st Regiment of Foot
To be Captains of Companies

Lieutenant D. McQueen, vice McNicol, killed in action. Dated April 12, 1814
Lieutenant L. Grant, vice Parvis, died of his wounds. Dated April 13, 1814
Lieutenant P. McGregor, vice Westerall, killed in action. Dated April 14, 1814”

 

These gentlemen’s lives were honored by being posthumously awarded a promotion, though that doesn’t make the loss of life easier.

 

There is always a connection, past to present to future. And that connection is humanity. The basic human connection of mother to son, father to daughter, husband to wife—none of that has changed. Perhaps, in the days where a mother might bear ten children and lose six in infancy, there was an easier acceptance of death.

 

But I doubt it. The death of a husband or brother or father—or child—is no easier to bear in 1814 as it is in 2014.

 

I think history is about humanity and relationships. People are people, with all the emotions that complicate and strengthen love. So I grieve for the families of 1814 as much as the families of 2014. And I wonder, what joys and heartaches did my ancestors experience?

 

So tell me, what joys and trials have your ancestors borne that reminds you we’re all human, whether it’s 1000 AD or 2000 AD—or the winter of 2013/2014 that I swear has still not ended here in Michigan.

Alyssa-Alexander-214x300

Me, without frothy petticoats.
Photo courtesy of Allie Gadziemski, who made me look halfway decent.

 

Alyssa Alexander writes about lords turned spies and ladies turned smugglers. Her next release features a Waterloo widow and the spy who loves her.

 

Petticoats: By Tranquil Garden (Own work) CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0), via Wikimedia Commons
Dry Stone Wall: By Gpmg (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Robyn DeHart Revisits Jack the Ripper in ‘The Temptations of Anna Jacobs’

What happens when a talented romance author with an expertise in deviant behavior decides to combine the two into a deliciously dark Victorian novel? Robyn DeHart joins the duchesses today with a little taste of her newest book, The Temptations of Anna Jacobs.

 

When I was in college I got my degree in Sociology with an emphasis on social deviance. Of course it wasn’t me that was being the deviant only that most of the classes I took focused on those topics. Juvenile Delinquency, Criminology, Violent Crimes, Social Deviance… I was fascinated. Yet when I had the meeting with my internship director and she asked me “if you could have any job in the world, what would it be?” I proudly declared, “an historical romance author.” Needless to say she was momentarily dismayed, but we worked it all out, in the form of my internship with Bestselling Author, Pamela Morsi. Of course that’s a whole ‘nother blog.image

 

But all my friends and family who knew what I studied in college kept asking when I was going to incorporate all my “kill your mama” stuff (as my sister calls it) into my writing. I’ve dabbled in it through the years, the body count is pretty high in my Legend Hunters series, but frankly I was dying (okay bad pun!) to write a romantic suspense. I wanted to write a serial killer book. And hello, I already write in the Victorian era so you know there’s that one killer…Jack the Ripper.

 

There are so many different theories about the identity of Jack the Ripper. Even today the mystery begs to be solved. Patricia Cornwall thinks she solved the case. I watched a fascinating documentary about a former NYPD cold case detective who thinks he’s uncovered Jack’s identity. He made a very good argument. At the time of the murders the theories ranged from a barber to a doctor to a member of the royal family. I came up with my own story for Jack, but I don’t want to reveal any spoilers.

 

The first book in the series, The Secrets of Mia Danvers, received some great critical acclaim. And now readers can return to my dark Victorian series with the sequel, The Temptations of Anna Jacobs. I really can’t wait for readers to step into the world I’ve created and I sure hope everyone loves it.

 

Love and justice…

 

When Drew Foster is released from prison, he doesn’t much care about salvaging his soiled reputation. Though he’s working undercover, everyone in Victorian London believes him guilty of the Jack the Ripper murders and that his brother paid for his “innocence.”

 

Despite her genteel upbringing, Anna Jacobs is intent on finishing medical school and becoming a physician. Society’s ridicule has never bothered her, but when her brother, the Yard’s best detective, is scorned for letting Drew go, she confronts the one man who can set the record straight at a ball. She certainly doesn’t count on the rogue being dashing and handsome, nor on him stealing a passionate kiss.

 

Anna’s brazen contempt for his dangerous reputation captivates Drew, but he is harboring secrets that make him unfit to court any proper woman. As he finds himself an outsider among his colleagues at Scotland Yard, the feisty beauty offers up her medical knowledge to assist him on the case. But when the real killer returns to London to continue his reign of terror, can Anna find safety in Drew’s arms?

 

 

imageSo how about y’all? Do you have your own theory of Jack the Ripper’s identity? Do you subscribe to some of the popular ideas?

 

Duchess Robyn has very graciously agreed to give away a digital copy of The Secrets of Mia Danvers, the first book in her Dangerous Liaisons series, to one lucky commentator.

In Which Duchess Kathleen Has Something to Reveal

I am thrilled to reveal the cover of Alanna, book number two in my When Hearts Dare series, a historical romance. It is due to release November 4th through Kensington Publishing.

Here’s a little bit about the book:

Alanna

Intent on shedding a fiancé handpicked by her social climbing parents, a high-spirited young woman embarks on a blazing love affair with an enigmatic lone wolf whose quest to find his mother’s murderer threatens their love—and their lives.

 

My first book, set to release in June of this year through Entangled Publishing is, The Seduction of Sarah Marks. My second book, the first in another series, A Duke’s Wicked Kiss is set to release August 26, is a 2012 Golden Heart® finalist. The first book in When Hearts Dare series about three different, but equally strong women who must forge their own path in life. Celine, will release October 7th. Alanna will release November 4th and the third book in the series, Josette, is currently set to release in September 2015. I feel really blessed to have had five books contracted all at once!

 

Oh, and I have another exciting announcement to make: The audio rights to both Celine and Alanna have already sold!

 

About Duchess Kathleen:

 

KathleenOnce Kathleen Bittner Roth realized that making a living was not the same as making a life, she founded an international well-being center. Her goal was to help others become self-empowered, and become aware that happiness and joy are daily choices. Little did she know when her journey began where the path would lead. She had no idea she’d one day walk on fire, marry in a castle in the Scottish Highlands, learn to ride English style, and spend hundreds of hours giving seminars of her own creation on self-empowerment. Nor did she have any idea she would be given the opportunity to guest on hundreds of radio shows and every major television network, including the History Channel.

 

“Making a life” for Kathleen includes writing Victorian romance novels. She considers this her perfect venue to create characters faced with difficult choices, and who are forced to draw on their strength of spirit in order to overcome adversity and find unending love.

In addition to being part of the Dashing Duchesses, Kathleen is a PAN member of Romance Writers of America® and belongs to the Hearts Through History Romance Writers chapter. She has been a contributing editor of an online romance magazine, and has been a guest on numerous blogs. She has won or finaled in various writing contests, including the 2012 Romance Writers of America Golden Heart®.

 

Although she has never considered herself a vagabond, she has somehow managed to live in six U.S. states and several foreign countries. Currently, she resides in Budapest, Hungary, but has deep roots in Minnesota and Texas. You can find her on Facebook; Twitter, or by visiting her website at: www.kathleenbittnerroth.com.