Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Sunday, September 25, 2011
In Lady \Seductress's Ball, the heroine, Olivia finds herself in a loveless, pleasureless marriage to a man three times her age. Her situation was not abnormal during a time when marriages were made for convenience, money, power, prestige, property. Because marriages were made based on contracts and not attraction and desire for your spouse, the bedroom could often be a cold and lonely place.
On top of that, women were taught that desire, pleasure were taboo. To want your partner was a sin, and only women with loose morals, and harlots had sex for pleasure. If men wanted to enjoy sex and have their partner return their sentiments, they sought out a courtesan or mistress. Wives were only available for breeding heirs. An awkward, coupling in the dark that was most often painful to a woman who was not properly prepared for the joining, and embarrassing in its quick, sudden and messiness. This would also be why often after a woman had an heir and the requisite spare, she would banish her husband from the bedroom.
Despite all this, Olivia does catch snippets here and there of women enjoying their lovers. She also feels and intense yearning for a man that is not her husband. He promises her pleasure... Pleasure she should not want, as it makes her wicked, wanton. What will she do? Will she succumb to her own desires and the scintillating whispers of an earl--Tristan, the man she dreams of making love to?
If she were to do so, it could dash her entire reputation into the fire--and a lady's reputation meant everything to her.
Guess we'll find out in December...
Thursday, September 22, 2011
This topic is top on my mind right now because I have a romantic comedy releasing from Carina Press next week. Bang in the middle of my two medieval scottish romances - Betrayed released last year and The Devil of Jedburgh releases next February.
I'm throwing a pre-launch party on my blog this week, giving away party bags of the book and Amazon gift vouchers, so please stop by to join in the fun :):)
Right, back on topic... While I was scrutenizing my reading experiences, I realised that many of the historical authors I read tend to genre-hop to suspense/thriller rather than straight contemporary. Maybe that's just me and I need broaden my reading circle, lol. Maybe it's a natural co-habiting genre because many historical romances do contain suspense elements - there's nearly always a dastardly villian ready to kidnap or torment the heroine.
So, my random thoughts on this...
One of my all time favourite historical romance authors is Judith McNaught, but until a year ago I'd never read any of her contemporaries. Then my mother sent an old contemporary of hers my way, Remember When, and, oh gosh, I really couldn't get into it. I do want to try her widely acclaimed novel, Paradise, and hope for better luck.
I can read Julie Garwood across the board, no matter the genre, I love this woman.
So, I guess, I fall into the category of not automatically following authors across genres, but I do like to give them a try.
One real win for me was Karen Marie Moning. I absolutely love her Highlander series and, because of this, I dipped my toes into the paranormal genre (which I'd been avidly avoiding). But I love her so much, I was willing to give her Fever series a shot, and oh boy - she got me well and truly hooked not only on her Fever series, but on the entire paranormal genre.
I'd love to hear your experiences and thoughts of following authors across genres and if it worked out for you.
Monday, September 19, 2011
This is my first post on Romancing the Past, and I'm so pleased to be joining the authors here! Since my first two regencies won't be coming out until 2012, I thought I might tackle a general topic today. Have you ever wondered why some medical men in historical romances (and during the regency, they were uniformly men) are referred to as "Doctor," and some are called just plain "Mister"? I'd like to discuss the differences between the three major medical practitioners working in nineteenth century England: physicians, surgeons, and apothecaries.
But first, a word about the state of medicine during the regency. Doctors had no sonograms, no X-rays, no MRIs; they didn't even have a germ theory of disease. Hippocrates had theorized centuries before that poor health stemmed from an imbalance of bodily humors, so doctors routinely bled or cupped their patients. Illness was also attributed to unhealthy vapors, leading medical practitioners to prescribe "a change of air." Because antibiotics were still unknown, compound fractures and other serious wounds usually meant either amputation or death, and frequently both. Childbirth, too, was often fatal, especially in maternity wards, where hospital-acquired infection drove the mortality rate as high as forty percent. Operations were performed only as a last resort, not only because of the high risk of sepsis, but also because the poor understanding of blood group compatibility made transfusions so risky they were not even attempted successfully until 1818. The use of modern anesthetics was still decades away. Want to read something harrowing? Try novelist Fanny Burney's letter to her older sister, in which she gives a first-hand account of her 1811 mastectomy. The operation required seven men and a nurse, most of whom were needed just to hold the patient down.
But if medicine was more art than science, the artists at the top of the professional ladder were physicians. Distinguished and expensive, they were socially respected figures who hailed from genteel backgrounds and obtained their educations at universities like Edinburgh, Oxford, and Cambridge.
Surgeons were not nearly so well regarded. Though respected today, in the early 1800s they had yet to live down their origins as medieval barbers. More numerous than doctors—in 1815, there were only 14 physicians attached to the Royal Navy, compared to 850 surgeons and 500 assistant surgeons—they were looked on not as true professionals but as technicians, sawbones who treated the distasteful aftermath of accident and infection.Blood and Guts: A History of Surgery how the famous surgeon Robert Liston could remove a limb in under thirty seconds—but once accidentally sawed off his assistant's fingers in the process. "The patient died of infection, as did the assistant, and an observer died of shock. It was the only operation in surgical history with a 300 percent mortality rate." In the face of such bold measures, cleanliness was considered an affectation; Liston reportedly operated in Wellington boots, and to free his hands when switching between the scalpel and the bone saw, he clamped the bloody knife between his teeth.
So physicians were for the rich, and surgeons were for the desperate, but for most everyday medical complaints, patients consulted an apothecary. Apothecaries could trace their origins back to medieval grocers, who in turn grew out of the Guild of Pepperers. They were the nineteenth century equivalent of pharmacists (or chemists, if you're British), only they dispensed medical advice along with their pills. Up until 1704, apothecaries were supposed to know their place—namely, behind the counter of a shop, keeping their opinions to themselves and concocting remedies prescribed by a real physician. Then a disgruntled patient named John Seale sued his apothecary, William Rose, for "practicing physic"—that is, for charging the staggering sum of fifty pounds to sell Seale medicines that left him "never the better but much worse."
Throughout the nineteenth century, the accelerating pace of scientific advances changed medicine profoundly. The social and legal distinctions between the professions evolved, until by 1900 they had assumed much the forms they have today. Sterile operating conditions and the advent of anesthesia reduced mortality rates considerably, raising the surgeon's prestige, while the apothecary's role narrowed to the more limited duties of the modern-day pharmacist. Physicians, meanwhile, remained as pleased with themselves as ever.
Alyssa Everett is married to a handsome doctor with an excellent sense of humor. Her debut regency, A Tryst With Trouble, is available now for pre-order from Amazon. She hopes you'll visit her website and follow her on Twitter, where she promises not to spam you relentlessly.
Saturday, September 17, 2011
There are pages of commendations for the book written by many prominent people in 1902 including Elizabeth Cady Stanton.
Women who were forty-five and older were considered "old" in 1902. Drake advises them on life during and after menopause when they are no longer able to produce and raise children, which has been the major role of their life. Some of it is very amusing compared to how we think and act now. Such as: "The Creator fitted you for child-bearing and when this period has run its allotted course, He reconstructs your physical nature for another line of work. In doing this you pass simply and easily, from the reproductive or child-bearing period into one of sexual inactivity."
Yet, the author encourages women to assume new activities and seek happiness during this period in their lives rather than giving up. And, there are truths that remain so today. Drake states: "Mothers are as a rule too unselfish...they too often unconsciously instill...the thought that mother can do everything best and is always read and willing and so comes the too frequent result, 'Let Mamma do it'."
Some funny instructions that could find it way into dialogue between characters:
On no account dye the hair for it cannot be concealed and you will deceive no one.
Rub table salt twice a week on the scalp for dandruff.
Drinking tea in immoderate amounts overstimulates the nervous system and produces constipation.
In Ireland, reports state that tea as prepared and drunk by the peasants is a strong contributing factor to insanity.
Finally, some wonderful rules about living from "a well-preserved old lady" that Dr. Drake included,which are applicable today:
Don't worry and don't hurry
Simplify, Simplify, Simplify
Don't overeat. Don't starve. Let your moderation be known to all men.
Court the fresh air night and day
Sleep and rest abundantly. Sleep is nature's benediction
Be cheerful. A light heart lives long
Think only healthful thoughts.
Seek peace and pursue it
Don't carry the whole world on your shoulders.
And, my favorite from 1902:
Never despair. Lost hope is a fatal disease.
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Friday, September 09, 2011
The History of Underclothes
For more detail about the Victorian period in the United States, there's the 1886 Bloomingdale's catalogue.
Still, this gives you a good idea of the sorts of clothing people from the period would wear. It also includes information on underclothing. (So much of it!) There's a whole section on corsets. Plus pages on children's clothing and all sorts of other merchandise.
For stories set in the medieval period, there are several works by Joseph and Frances Gies.
Tuesday, September 06, 2011
But I'd rather talk about my book than my neck, so...it's a historical romance with a (fictional) British general for a hero. The hero and heroine, Jack and Elizabeth, marry in 1804 to fulfill a deathbed promise and are soon separated by the demands of his military career. By the time they're reunited in early 1815, they've accumulated a long list of grievances against each other and wish they'd never married. Just as they're beginning to make their own peace, Jack is called back to war when Napoleon returns to power--only this time Elizabeth has no intention of remaining quietly behind in England.
In other words, I'm writing a Waterloo story. I think every Regency writer, at least those of us with even the tiniest degree of interest in the military side of the era, has one in her, and this is mine. Or possibly just my first.
Here's a brief excerpt for an early teaser--though keep in mind that the manuscript hasn't been edited yet, so this scene may or may not appear in the book itself. It's from the 1804 section of the story, where Jack is trying to explain his upcoming hasty marriage of convenience to his mother, who has early-onset senile dementia:
Jack paused in the doorway of his mother’s sitting room. It was a small chamber, warm and comfortably furnished but painfully neat. Years ago, her private rooms had been marked by the mild chaos of a busy woman, with baskets of mending, account-books and half-finished letters scattered here and there.
Mama sat at the window, paging through a book of engravings in the weak light of a gray morning. Before her mind had begun to go, she had been a creature of energy and alertness. If she sat during the day, she’d had a quill or needle in her hand. The only books she’d read were gothic novels—she’d claimed their horrors and thrills calmed the mind by contrast—and she had reserved them for the evening hours after her day’s work as mistress of Westerby Grange was done.
Seeing her so frail and faded broke Jack’s heart. How could Providence have been so cruel as to break such a fine mind, so vivid a soul? It would almost have been better if she had died, though Jack immediately sent up a guilty prayer assuring God he hadn’t meant it.
“Good morning, Mama,” he said gently.
She turned her head and peered at him out of gray eyes that had once been sharp and twinkling but had now grown soft, almost empty. She frowned. “Ned?”
“It’s Jack. Your younger son.” Her only child now—his older brother Ned had been killed in a riding accident shortly after Jack had gone into the army as an ensign of sixteen.
“Jack,” she said carefully. “You’ve grown so. I—I don’t remember.”
“It’s all right, Mama.” He sat in the chair opposite hers. “Do you remember Giles Hamilton?”
“Of course I do,” she snapped with a hint of her old spirit. “But you don’t. He died before you were born.”
Jack blinked in confusion of his own until he remembered that Giles had been named for his grandfather. “Never mind. I came to tell you I’m going to be married.”
“Married! You’re only a boy.”
What year was it in his mother’s mind? “I’m six-and-twenty, Mama. Full old enough to wed.”
She stared out the window. “Jack was such a sweet boy. Not so clever as Ned, and never could keep still, but he always had a smile on his face when he was a baby. Just like his father.”
Jack rubbed his eyes. He couldn’t conjure up a smile now. “The woman I’m marrying is named Elizabeth. Elizabeth Hamilton.”
“Giles had no daughter.”
“Not his daughter. His grandson’s widow. She will be here in a few days’ time, and she will look after you every day while I am in India.”
“Yes, Mama. I must go, for my regiment is there.”
“I’m in the army. A major now. You were so pleased when I got my first commission and came to show you my uniform.”
She shook her head. “Dick Armstrong’s doing. Didn’t raise sons to be food for powder, but your uncle was always filling your head with his tales of glory. What glory? Dick never won any...he helped lose the colonies.”
Jack bit his lip and looked away. Here was truth—Mama was past lying now—but she had made a convincing show of admiration ten years ago when he had appeared before her as a freshly-made ensign glorying in the splendor of a new red coat. “I love you, Mama,” he said at last. There seemed nothing else left to say.