Posts Tagged ‘19th century’
Art collecting has been going on since the first cavemen figured out how to draw horses (although their drawings weren’t very portable). But the Regency collectors took their efforts to new extremes. Some of this was borne out of a necessity to fill the walls of their lavish new townhouses and country estates. Some stemmed from a more serious interest in antiquities – the Georgian period, and the Regency period in particular, saw the early precursors to what we would consider serious historical study (although their archaeological methods left much to be desired). And some, of course, was the result of vast shifts in wealth that created in a newly-rich upper class that wanted all the trappings of aristocrats’ homes even if they would never have their titles.
Any Regency house party worth its salt would have the opportunity to peruse the owner’s art collections, often in picture galleries. The biggest houses might have a purpose-built ‘museum’ to house their collections.
Because of this interest in antiquities and art, some of the best homes built during the Regency were designed as showcases for their owners’ hoardings. Sir John Soane’s house in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London, is a prime example (one that you can still visit in its original state today! It’s a must-see for any Regency-lover who visits London).
Soane started off as the son of a brewer, but he became a highly skilled architect and designed the Bank of England, his own homes in London and the countryside, and a wide variety of other public and private buildings. His house, which is really three townhouses that he combined over the span of thirty years, was constantly remodeled to accommodate his growing collection. He wasn’t above knocking out a wall to be able to get a statue into the house. And when he acquired the sarcophagus of Seti I, he held a three-day party with almost nine hundred guests to celebrate his triumph.
Soane, like many of his contemporaries, opened up his home for public viewings. His collection is a jaw-dropping hoard of some 3000 catalogued objects spanning an insane variety of styles and time periods. He collected vases, urns, sculptures, paintings, a whole series of famous images by Hogarth, spoils taken from the fall of Seringapatam in India, a whole bunch of memorabilia related to Napoleon (including a lock of Napoleon’s hair in a gold ring), first editions of books by Shakespeare and Milton, two copies of the Decameron from the 16th-century, and tons of other stuff. Soane, disappointed that his son was a reprobate who didn’t care for architecture, got an Act of Parliament passed to disown him and donated his house and its contents to the nation as a museum upon his death.
Soane wasn’t the only hoarder of his day. Christie’s auction house was founded in the 1760s, and by the Regency it was possible to buy many different kinds of art via public and private sales. And there were more infamous collectors circling through London, peddling artistic goods that had often been looted (see the Elgin Marbles) or fabricated entirely. So if you were living in the Regency and had a steady supply of income, you could outfit your house to look like a Grecian temple, an Egyptian fantasy, a Chinese dream, or some weird amalgamation of all those decorating schemes.
The reason I’m thinking of Regency art collectors is because the fourth book in my Muses of Mayfair series, The Earl Who Played With Fire, comes out later this month. It features Miss Prudence Etchingham, a proper spinster who is responsible for some of the best antiquities forgeries in London. Read on for the description, and one random commenter will get an ebook copy of the book when it comes out!
A woman courting ruin…
No one would suspect prim, proper Prudence Etchingham of lusting after her best friend’s brother. Nor would anyone guess that she’s responsible for dozens of the best forgeries in London’s antiquities markets. But if her love for Alex is doomed to fail, she must raise enough money to escape the marriage mart. She just needs one last, daring forgery to set herself up for life…
A man evading disaster…
Alex Staunton, the rich Earl of Salford, lives a charmed existence. No one knows that he’s dangerously attracted to his sister’s best friend. Nor has he revealed that he suffers from an ancient curse — one that has given him everything, but prevents him from marrying the woman of his dreams. But when an enemy from his past takes an unseemly interest in Prudence’s future, Alex must find a way to break the curse…or risk losing her forever.
A love they’re destined for…
Every seductive encounter brings them closer together — but their secret, smoldering desires will inevitably burn them. And when Prudence’s illicit forgery collides with Alex’s desperate search, more than their hearts are at stake. Can they break Alex’s curse and save Prudence from her unwanted suitor? Or will their love become a weapon that will destroy them both?
Sara Ramsey writes fun, feisty Regency historical romances. You can usually find her in San Francisco, drinking Champagne while trying to keep her tiara on straight. Her next book, The Earl Who Played With Fire, comes out in November. Find out more at www.sararamsey.com.
Welcome Guest Duchess Rose Gordon!
Dearest readers, USA Today Bestselling Author, Her Grace, the Duchess Rose Gordon is joining us today. Duchess Rose has written quite a few Regency romances, which makes her right at home in the drawing room with us, but she’s knee deep in the middle of a series that takes place on the Western American frontier. Rose is an extremely prolific writer and I want to learn to be like—ahem, I think it would be fascinating to learn about her processes. So, without further chit-chat, let me introduce Duchess Rose!
Thank you for joining us today, Your Grace. I’m in awe of how quickly and efficiently you write. Can you share your typical day with our readers? How do you juggle work with family and find that elusive balance we all seek in our every day lives?
Rose: Thank you for having me, I’m thrilled to be a guest duchess! My day is crammed. I get up about six and don’t go to bed until 10 p.m. with the following activities thrown in: shower, wake my husband and kids up, cook breakfast, go make sure my kids and husband are actually up, pack lunches, put on my “stern mom” look and check on my husband and kids who are still in bed and tell them it is time to get up NOW, serve breakfast, find that elusive sock, ask everyone if they brushed their teeth, comb my son’s hair because it still looks like he just woke up despite his telling me he brushed it, shoo everyone out the door, drop my kids off at school, then my husband, head to the library for three hours to write 2,000 words and answer emails, pick up my husband for lunch, go home write another couple thousand words on my current book, then answer blog comments and make another post (if time allows), do an hour or so of research on whichever topic my book took me today or I think will take me tomorrow, ride bikes with my husband for 20 or so miles, shower again, then start dinner, eat dinner, resist my urge to collapse and help my boys with their homework, put back on the “stern mom” look and get them showered and ready for bed, then read until it’s time for bed and I dream of my characters throughout the night. Busy day. I do have a loose “schedule” that I fill in each evening for the next day where I schedule five to ten minute breaks between each interval of writing or each task. During this break, I’ll either: walk around, comment on a few Facebook posts, write out bills, etc. Stopping to do these tasks—some fun, some mundane—really helps keep me moving. I also try to spend breakfast and dinner at the dining table with my husband and kids without the TV to stay connected with my family.
Does anyone else notice how she casually threw “ride bikes with my husband for 20 or so miles” as if it were simply another task in her already chock-full day? Which I suppose it is. But I fear Duchess Rose might be my new hero. Tell us more about your writing. Do you have any interesting quirks?
Rose: I like to write in chunks. I will do these “speed writes” for intervals of 30 or 60 minutes with the goal that I MUST get a certain number of words written during those segments. While I usually aim for 500 words in thirty minutes or 1,000 in an hour, I’m always thrilled when I beat it, but on tough days, I’m even more pleased that I just reached it. It helps keep me moving forward and not second-guessing things too much. It also helps, at least for me, to stop mid-sentence or mid-thought, because when I come back to it, it’s easier to pick up and take off again.
Excellent way to keep yourself on task. I’m doing this more and more myself and find I’m much more productive. You took a research trip that included a very surprising adventure. Can you tell us about that?
Rose: Last year, I drove to Charleston, South Carolina to do a research trip for one of my earlier novels, His Yankee Bride. While Charleston is absolutely beautiful and one of the most charming cities I’ve ever been to, I did not enjoy the night I camped there along the way and was run out of my tent by a cougar—and I don’t mean an older woman who wanted my husband. More recently, however, I have made several trips to Fort Gibson, the setting of the three books in my Officer Series. Every time I go, I learn something new that I can incorporate into my books. One of my favorite things to do while I’m there is to hear the stories about the wild, ill-mannered men who lived at the fort in the 1800s. It’s great inspiration that leads to all sorts of good mischief to write about!
Oooh, that sounds so . . . arousing! Where else would you like to travel?
Rose: I’ve been writing about Regency England for years now and I’d love more than anything to go visit London, Bath and even make my way to Scotland. Unfortunately, my unease about flying over the ocean keeps me safely at home. (For now.)
Rose: Second Lt. Jack Walker doesn’t always think ahead and when he decides to defy logic and send off for a mail-order bride, he might have left out only a few details about his life. When she arrives and realizes she’s been fooled (again), this woman who’s never really belonged, sees no other choice but to marry him anyway—however, she makes it perfectly clear: she’ll be his lawfully wed, but she will not share his bed. Now Jack has to find a way to show his always skeptical bride that he is indeed trustworthy and that she does belong somewhere in the world: right here, with him.
Which is your favorite kiss in this book? Our readers adore details, please!
Rose: My favorite kiss—other than the one that leads to something more—happens when the hero is trying to teach the heroine to shoot his gun. When she becomes confused about what something is and its purpose, he decides it’s his duty as a husband to explain things the best way he knows how: with a kiss so passionate it sparks flames in both of them!
How about sharing a teaser from The Officer and a Southerner?
“Ella, I’d like you to meet two of my friends. This fellow with wide eyes and his mouth hanging agape is Captain Grayson Montgomery and this—” he jerked his thumb in the direction of a man who wore an expression of amusement— “is Captain Wes Tucker.”
“Captains Montgomery and Tucker, it’s nice to finally meet you. I’ve heard so much about you from Jack’s letters that I feel as though I practically know you both already.”
“You do, do you?” Gray said with an overdone frown. “Interesting; he’s never mentioned anything about you.”
Stung, Ella blanched.
“But then again, why would he have made mention?” Gray continued as if realizing his earlier words hadn’t been as flattering as he might have intended them to be. “Had he announced your impending arrival, dozens of men—myself included—would have been there to greet your stage and fight for your hand.”
She flushed at his compliment and was thankful for it, all the same, as it seemed to evaporate the tension that had begun to choke them all. “Thank you, Captain.”
“Gray,” he corrected. “And now that you know what I prefer to be called, I must take it upon myself to ask who you are since Jack here lacks the manners to complete a proper introduction.”
“Ella. Ella Walk—Davis.” She blushed. She’d been telling everyone she encountered on her trip that she was already married and on her way to meet up with her husband. It didn’t seem as dangerous that way.
“And to what do we owe the pleasure of making your acquaintance, Miss Walk-Davis?” Wes asked, garnering him a jab in the ribs by one of Jack’s elbows.
Ella smiled. “That’s just the thing, Captain. I’ve come here to drop the Davis and add an ‘er’ on the Walk.”
It sounds like such fun! And one of our lucky readers today will win an ebook copy of The Officer and a Southerner. Just leave a comment for Duchess Rose and we’ll announce the winner on Friday.
Rose: Thank you, Duchess Darcy! It was my pleasure.
Ah, summer. When the days are long and hot and the drinks are cold and bottomless (you hope). It’s the perfect time to lounge by the pool, read a great book (or several!), or take that time-honored rite of passage: the family road trip. Let’s jump into our way, way back machine and see how they did that Regency-style!
Taking a road trip in early nineteenth century England was not quite so easy as jumping in your coach and taking off for your destination. Depending upon your financial means, you could travel in a variety of ways. The good news is that by 1800, there was a fairly decent (I didn’t say good) road system. Turnpike trusts—small companies directed by Parliament to build gates and toll bars along the roads—had built around 8,000 tollgates on the roads. A percentage of the tolls charged to travelers (both on horseback and in coaches) paid for the maintenance of the roads. While this was good for the roads, it could be a hassle for travelers who experienced long delays. I can just hear the children in the coach, “Are we there yet?!”
Some travelers may travel by stage or mail coach. The mail coach could get you to your destination quickly and afforded an armed guard (for the mail) in case you preferred to pack your real jewels for your holiday instead of paste. However, for a leisurely ride that included overnight stops at wayside inns, a stagecoach was the way to travel. These stops were necessary to change the horses, but became part of the charm of traveling in this manner, because of the offerings of the various inns. It behooved an innkeeper to provide excellent food and lodging because that’s how they made their money. The horse-changing portion of their service as a stage stop was not very lucrative.
If you’re a Londoner and you’re going to take a stage, you’ll pick it up at one of the many inns in London. If you’re heading west in 1800, you could start out at the Green Man and Still, The Bull and Mouth, or the Spread Eagle (ahem, really). Or, if you want to stay at one of the finest inns in London, you could begin your journey at the White Horse Cellar on the corner of Arlington Street. Some of the largest coaching inns in Town included St. Martin’s-le-Grand, the Belle Sauvage on Ludgate Hill, the Three Nuns in Aldgate, or the Saracen’s Head on Snow Hill.
Now, that you’ve selected your mode of travel and your starting off point, where will you go? What better place to go in the summer than the seaside! The sea was fast becoming the place to be for English folk, in part because of their dominion over the seas of the world and also because of the purported healing qualities of seawater for a host of ailments. But there was more to do at the seaside than being “dipped” in the ocean or going out in a bathing machine. There was walking, of course, and one could take a quite splendid stroll along the Chain Pier, which stretched out over the water at Brighton. There were carriage drives and picnics, dances at the Assembly Rooms, and the circulating library. Before you think the library sounds dull (though I doubt any of our dear readers would!), it was far more than books and periodicals. It was like a modern-day coffee and gift shop. Ladies could spend hours there gossiping, buying trinkets, and sampling treats and drinks. Sounds like a good time to me!
There are many seaside towns to choose from—Brighton of course if you want to be seen. (They’ll even toll a bell upon your arrival if you’re important enough.) Southend-on-Sea is lovely as is Weymouth. Both locations have had royal visitors, which can only recommend them. But, if the sea isn’t your thing, there are always the spas at Bath, Harrogate, or Tunbridge Wells. Whether you be of noble birth or simply from the middle class, you shall be welcomed!
I hope you’ve enjoyed our little time travel journey. Are you planning a road trip this summer? What’s your favorite road trip? I live on the west cost of the U.S. and I love the drive along the coast highway from Oregon into Northern California. It can get very twisty, so it’s not for the carsick, but it’s gorgeous.
My darling duchesses, today I am especially delighted to sit down to tea with fabulous historical romance author, Zoe Archer. Her grace and I happen to share the same agent and editor so I can personally vouch for her good taste. Ms. Archer is visiting us to discuss her latest release, Sweet Revenge, and to answer a rousing round of questions.
Sweet Revenge is the first book in her new NEMESIS, UNLIMITED series, and it came out this week! Zoe calls the new series “gritty historical romance that’s like Burn Notice/Leverage in Victorian England.” Ooh, it does sound delightful, does it not? So please gather round and grab a teacake.
One lucky commenter will win a copy of Sweet Revenge!
Duchess Valerie: Thank you so much for joining us today, Duchess Zoe.
Her grace, Zoe Archer: My pleasure.
Duchess Valerie: Let’s begin with a bit of writerly fun! Since becoming a writer, what’s the most exciting thing to ever happen to you?
Her grace, Zoe Archer: Selling a four-book series to Kensington was pretty amazing (The Blades of the Rose), and then getting a RITA nomination for Rebel was also incredible. When I got the call, my heart was pounding and I thought I was going to pass out…in a good way.
Duchess Valerie: Yes, the good kind of passing out. I completely understand. Now, on to food. (This teacake is distracting me.) If you could choose one dessert or snack food that you could eat as much as you want of (and never gain an ounce!) what would it be?
Her grace, Zoe Archer: Baking is one of my favorite non-writing activities. And of all the different kinds of desserts and baked goods I’ve made over the years, my favorite is a blondie—preferably with toffee bits and chocolate chips.
Duchess Valerie: Hmm. I want one right now. Where is the butler? Speaking of sweet, how did you get the idea for Sweet Revenge?
Her grace, Zoe Archer: My husband is Nico Rosso, who’s also a romance novelist, and we’d been talking about a secret organization in Victorian England. This organization would right wrongs perpetrated against those without power, like women, and those in the middle and lower classes. We started thinking more and more about this idea, and it really intrigued me. Victorian society was so stratified, and geared toward privileging men, especially men of wealth. It seemed like the perfect setting for gritty, exciting stories that could also be deeply romantic. And so Nemesis, Unlimited was born. Sweet Revenge is the first book in the series.
Duchess Valerie: Ooh, I do adore that idea. Power to the people! What kind of research did you have to
do to bring this story to life on the page?
Her grace, Zoe Archer: It’s not a spoiler to say that Sweet Revenge opens with the hero, Jack Dalton, breaking out of prison. And he’s been in prison for five years. So I did a lot of research into Victorian prisons, and based Dunmoor Prison on Dartmoor Prison. That was some pretty grim stuff. And then I just researched a lot about the structure of Victorian society, especially in London, and the ways in which women and the poor were disenfranchised. Victorian England may have worn a very proper face, but it was also quite brutal, and it took a tremendous amount of
strength to survive within it.
Duchess Valerie: I think that same thing every time I read a Dickens novels. Tell me, your characters seem so alive and real…what’s your secret?
Her grace, Zoe Archer: I try to think of them as people, rather than characters in a romance. So their responses and thoughts don’t necessarily have to adhere to romance conventions. They can be rude, angry, melancholy, afraid of their needs. I think that helps keep my characters rounded and real.
Duchess Valerie: On that note, who’s your favorite character in the book and why? Who was the most fun to write?
Her grace, Zoe Archer: I do love the heroine, Eva Warrick. She’s a woman who won’t tolerate any foolishness, and has a backbone of steel—though that isn’t to say she doesn’t have a softer side. But I absolutely loved writing Jack. He’s rough, tough, a little crude, and driven. Jack grew up in Bethnal Green, one of London’s toughest slums, and did some thieving before he became a bare knuckle brawler in underground boxing matches. Then he became a bodyguard to a wealthy peer. There’s nothing genteel or refined about Jack. He’s not a gentleman. And there’s nothing more fun to write than a character who’ll say or do anything.
But, in truth, it was fun to write the crew of Nemesis, Unlimited, from Simon, the well-bred gentleman to Marco, the spy, and the squabbling (but secretly intrigued) Harriet and Lazarus. I liked creating the dynamic between them, and that, even though they all work together for the same goals, they don’t always have to get along. Kind of like the Avengers. *wink*
Duchess Valerie: I’m loving this already, especially Marco, the spy. If your book were to be turned into a movie, would your dream cast be?
Duchess Valerie: I can’t stand it any longer! Tell us a bit about the book itself.
Sweet Revenge: A Nemesis, Unlimited Novel
The first in a breathtaking new series about the dangerous business of undercover revenge—and the undeniable pleasure of passion…
In the business of vengeance
When Jack Dalton escapes from Dunmoor Prison, he has only one thing in mind—finding the nobleman who murdered his sister and making him pay. But when he reaches the inn where the Lord Rockley is rumored to be staying, three well-dressed strangers are there to meet him instead. And the pretty blonde is aiming a pistol right at his head …
Desire is always dangerous
Joining Nemesis, Unlimited has made Eva Warrick much more than the well-mannered lady she appears to be—one who can shoot, fight, and outsmart any man in the quest to right the injustices so often suffered by the innocent. She’s not afraid of the burly escaped convict, but she is startled by their shared attraction. She and her partners need Jack’s help to get to Rockley, but Eva finds she wants Jack for scandalous reasons all her own…
Zoë Archer is an award-winning romance author who thinks there’s nothing sexier than a man in tall boots and a waistcoat. As a child, she never dreamed about being the rescued princess, but wanted to kick butt right beside the hero. She now applies her master’s degrees in Literature and Fiction to creating butt-kicking heroines and heroes in tall boots. She is the author of the acclaimed BLADES OF THE ROSE series and the paranormal historical romance series, THE HELLRAISERS. She and her husband, fellow romance author Nico Rosso, created the steampunk world of THE ETHER CHRONICLES together. Her new gritty Victorian romance series, NEMESIS, UNLIMITED, launches this Spring. Zoë and Nico live in Los Angeles.
Take a look at the tantalizing trailer!
Have any burning questions about Victorian prisons? (I know I do!) Leave a thoughtful question for Zoe for a chance to win a copy of Sweet Revenge! (US and Canada only)
Do you have a friend who is so fabulous, sometimes you can hardly believe she’s your friend? Duchess Máire Claremont is like that for me. I adore her. Sometimes my phone will ring and I’ll look down and see her name (and, of course, her gorgeous author photo!) and I’m like, Me? Lovely Miss Máire wants to talk to me?
But the fact is, Máire and I go way back to 2006, when we met in Atlanta at the RWA National conference. I even have photographic evidence! It was love at first sight, and we’ve been critique partners–with BFF benefits–ever since. That is why I absolutely had to be the one to interview her on The Dashing Duchesses Blog. So, without further fangirling from me, here she is! Read the rest of this entry »
Ash: Greetings, and welcome today. I’m very excited because my debut is coming out tomorrow, and…
Ash: Oh, you’ve heard. It’s the day before my book release. It’s called A Most Scandalous Proposal. Thank you for dropping by to congratulate me. *smile smile*
Jen: Erm, actually… It’s the day before my book releases, too.
Never in my wildest dreams had it occurred to me that I would one day live in Budapest. Little old me, a girl from Minnesota, living in Hungary? A former Communist country? Eastern Europe?
What a remarkable and beautiful city Budapest is. What fascinating history. I have fallen in love with it all. It just so happens that my favorite royal fell in love with this country as well. The Empress learned the language, considered to be the second most difficult language in the world, and was so loved by the Hungarians, she became a historical icon. They built a summer palace for her just outside Budapest. One can find any number of statues bearing her likeness throughout the city, and one of the bridges crossing the Danube that connects Buda to Pest is named after her.
Happy (nearly) New Year Ladies and Gentlemen! May 2013 find you and your families in good health and good sprits. I, myself, have spent the last week a bit under the weather but realized about halfway through my bout of illness that sleeping, reading, and eating was actually a fantastic vacation after all. I quickly got over my melancholia at being bedridden.
Tomorrow is a big day for me! My first ever novella, A SECRET PROPOSAL, will be released on 1/1/13 by St. Martin’s Press and I’m so excited to share this story with everyone. It’s the tale of Amelia Templeton. Amelia was introduced as a minor character in my debut novel, SECRETS OF A WEDDING NIGHT, and in the novella, you finally get to find out what happened to her.
Amelia’s story is set against the backdrop of a Regency-era boxing saloon. I did a bit of research on the sport to ensure that my premise was sound. The Regency did, in fact, have a great love of pugilism and pugilists, the most famous of the lot being John Jackson or “Gentleman Jack.” He owned and operated a boxing school of sorts from rented rooms on Bond Street and this is the inspiration for the boxing saloon operated by the hero of A SECRET PROPOSAL, Thaddeus Hammond. Read the rest of this entry »
Today is the day I’ve been dreaming of for eight years! THE TROUBLE WITH BEING WICKED is available in the US at all of the major e-tailers, and will soon be available at The Book Depository for those of you outside the US. I hope this is a story you fall in love with!
THE TROUBLE WITH BEING WICKED is my debut novel and the first book in my Naughty Girls series. The Naughty Girls is a six-book series set to be released over the next two years, and can be summarized as a double trilogy featuring three courtesans and three country hoydens who marry into the notorious Alexander family. These five charming Alexander rogues (and their deliciously starchy neighbor) give my girls six excellent reasons for behaving badly. Read the rest of this entry »
Today, the Duchesses are thrilled to have a visit from Georgian historical author, Isobel Carr. Isobel is a former Golden Heart® finalist and her soon-to-be released, Ripe for Seduction, earned a starred review from PW and 4-stars from RT BOOK REVIEWS!
Her grace, Duchess Isobel is an expert on historical clothing and she’s stopping by to inform us about that delightful subject, the lady’s dressing room, specifically the apron-front gown. I had the pleasure of being in one of Isobel’s historical clothing workshops last summer at the RWA conference and was delighted by the details she shared with us and the items of clothing she passed around for all to see.