Sunday, February 27, 2011

English Jacobites

Loaded by Jen Black

It is often forgotten that there were Englishmen amongst the Jacobite supporters who rose in rebellion in 1715. If one name is remembered, it is usually that of James Radcliffe, 3rd Earl of Derwentwater, a Northumbrian and an illegitimate grandson of Charles II on his mother's side. (Anya Seton's novel Devil Water may have brought him a little fame.) He owned huge estates in Northumberland and Cumberland, and his loyalty to the Stuarts was undisputed.

He and his brother Francis went to Saint-Germain in 1702 as companions to James Francis Edward Stuart and became ardent Catholics. His first attempt to help restore James Stuart to the throne occurred during the failed invasion of 1708, when he was unlucky enough to be captured in a French ship.

In 1709 he settled on his estates in Dilston, Northumberland, and very quickly developed a wide range of friendships among the Catholic and High Anglican gentry of Northumberland, Durham, Cumberland and Lancashire. He worked constantly to promote James Stuart’s cause and married a Catholic heiress, Anna Maria Webb, who was a devoted supporter of the exiled Stuarts.

Another key local Jacobite was William, 4th Baron Widdrington who had spent much of his youth at Saint-Germain. He lived at Stella on the Tyne, had extensive mining interests and was well known among the region's Catholic community. Both Derwentwater and Widdrington had large extended families of co-religionists across Northumberland and Durham. Other important Catholic Jacobite families were the Haggerstons, the Swinburnes of Capheaton and the Erringtons of Beaufront, near Hexham.

The Catholic families of Northumberland and Durham represented a wealthy and powerful force with considerable influence, and all favoured the cause of James Stuart.
Two local MPs, William Blackett of Newcastle and Thomas Forster of Bamburgh, though not Catholic, were deeply involved in Jacobite plots. Thomas Forster was High Anglican and Tory, and he believed that many Tories could be persuaded to come over to the Jacobite side once a rebellion had begun.

William Blackett was a successful Newcastle merchant who had bought Wallington from another Jacobite family, the Fenwicks. He was a Tory and was also a secret Jacobite. Being a successful member of the mercantile community, it was hoped he would be able to bring over the political establishment of Newcastle. These men were the ring leaders of Jacobite activities in Northumberland and Durham and were to be key players in the failed Rising of 1715.

Lords Derwentwater, Widdrington, Nithsdale, Carnwath, Wintoun, Kenmure and Nairn were impeached for high treason. Forster, John Clavering, Thomas Errington, William Shafto and eight Lancastrians were also impeached for conspiring against church and state, inciting the people and raising rebellion in Northumberland, Durham, Cumberland and Lancashire.

On 19 January all but Wintoun admitted their guilt before the Commons. Lord Chancellor Cowper asked each of the Lords if they had anything to say before sentence was passed. Derwentwater gave a strong assurance of his future loyalty and appealed to Cowper to consider his wife and children. Widdrington, Kenmure and Nairn made similar pleas.

Cowper was unmoved. All seven lords were immediately sentenced to death. The Countess of Derwentwater, together with several family members and influential friends, gained audience with the King and begged for clemency. Her heart-rending pleas were in vain, though a reprieve was offered on condition that the Earl renounced his religion and conformed to the Established Church.

Derwentwater turned the offer down down on grounds of honour and conscience. Nairn, Widdrington and Carnwath were more fortunate, being reprieved shortly before their execution. Nithsdale and Wintoun managed to escape from the Tower.
Derwentwater was led out to Tower Hill and just after midday 24th February 1716 had his head severed from his body by the axe-man. Kenmure followed him to the scaffold.

Meanwhile, in Liverpool on 12 January trials had been prepared against thirty-six Scots and thirty-eight English. Four were Northumbrians. Thirty-four of them were executed in various towns in Lancashire. They included John Hunter and George Collingwood. Collingwood's wife desperately tried to win a reprieve for him, but in spite of Lord Lonsdale's involvement, he was hung, drawn and quartered on 25 February.

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Putney Debates

By summer 1647, the Roundheads were winning the English Civil War. Oliver Cromwell's New Model Army had crushed the Cavaliers at Marston Moor and Naseby, and King Charles was in custody at Hampton Court Palace; albeit an easy captivity for he was allowed to see his children, entertain his friends, play bowls and go hunting.

At this time, the New Model Army officers, among whom were Puritans and Levellers, could see an end to their usefulness and the generals, the ‘Grandees’ feared Parliament, who, suspicious of the religious fanaticism of the army, feared they would disband them.

Keen for a final settlement with the King, Parliament also wanted to cut soldiers' pay, disband regiments, refuse indemnity for war damage and pack them off to Ireland. Worse, they looked set to betray the religious and political ideals the New Model Army had spent five years fighting for. The soldiers complained: ‘We were not a mere mercenary army hired to serve any arbitrary power of a state, but called forth ... to the defence of the people's just right and liberties.’

The ‘Grandees’ responded by inviting the Leveller Agitators to debate their proposals before the General Council of the Army at a gathering that took place between the 28th October and 9th November. With Oliver Cromwell in the chair, the New Model Army came together at St Mary the Virgin Church at Putney, in October 1647, to argue the case for a transparent, democratic state free from parliamentary or courtly corruption.

The Debates

The leading grandees were Sir Thomas Fairfax, Oliver Cromwell and Henry Ireton, The prominent Levellers were, Colonel Thomas Rainsborough, ‘Honest’ John Lilburne, Richard Overton, Edward Sexby and John Wildman.

The Issues:

- Should they continue to negotiate a settlement with the defeated King Charles I?
- Should there even be a King or a House of Lords?
- Should suffrage (a civil right to vote, known as the franchise) be limited to property-holders?
- Would democratic changes lead to anarchy?
- Would religious toleration be granted to Puritans, Quakers, Anglicans and Presbyterians?
- As King Charles made no effort to negotiate and had brought ‘foreigners’ [Scots] into the country to fight his people – what should be done with him?


The Grandees submitted, ‘The heads of the proposals’ – a conservative document that did little to challenge the existing power structures, in effect offering to hand the crown back to King Charles with few concessions.

The Levellers offered their own manifesto entitled the ‘Agreement of the People’, which set out a constitutional settlement urging religious toleration, a general amnesty, an end to conscription, a system of laws that applied equally to everyone with no discrimination on grounds of tenure, estate, charter, degree, birth or place. They also demanded regular, two-yearly parliaments and an equal distribution of MPs' seats by number of inhabitants.

They believed in human liberty and a conviction that politicians were as dangerous as princes when it came to undermining personal freedom, and that all those who placed themselves under government should have the right to elect it.

The wealthy, socially conservative Grandees were horrified, assuming this would mean anarchy and corruption with wealthy politicians buying up the votes of the uneducated, dependent masses.

Instead, Cromwell's son-in-law, Henry Ireton, proposed that the franchise be limited to those with a ‘fixed local interest’, that is, the independent property owners.

Colonel Rainsborough declared this a betrayal of the civil war sacrifice, and finally a compromise was reached that the vote should be granted to all adult males - excluding servants, apprentices, foreigners, beggars and, of course, women.

As for the King, the mood had by this time hardened against that ‘man of blood’ and general opinion turned to putting him on trial for high treason.

The issues of the Putney Debates - liberty of conscience; a government dependent upon the sovereign will of the people; equality before the law - would, via the ministrations of John Locke, make their way into the American constitution. In Britain, these philosophies remained buried late into the 19th century mainly thanks to ASP Woodhouse's 1938 work, Puritanism and Liberty, which implicitly conjoined the struggle against fascism with Rainsborough's cry of liberty.

What the Levellers proposed nearly 400 years ago was precisely the kind of secular constitution that guaranteed freedom of conscience and speech alongside a sovereign parliament.
Why Putney?

Putney in 1647 was a small Thames-side town of about 900 people, strung out along the High Street and the river bank, with London six miles away and easily accessible by horse, coach or boat.

The inhabitants of the town no doubt bitterly resented having soldiers billetted upon them without being paid compensation. There were plenty of attractive billets for officers both in Putney and Fulham, Lord Thomas Fairfax stayed at William Wymondsold’s, the largest house in Putney. Cromwell lodged at Mr Bonhunt’s, [possibly Thomas Bownest], and Henry Ireton, stayed at Henry Campion’s near the corner of the High Street and Putney Bridge Road.

The New Model Army’s headquarters were at Putney, so officers and soldiers must have been a familiar sight on the streets. Thomas Rainsborough was able to stay at his brother’s house in Fulham, while the agitators lodged at Hammersmith, and presumably passed to and fro on the Fulham ferry, but they met at least once at Hugh Hubbert’s house, close to Putney church.

Inscribed inside St Mary’s Church, are the immortal words from the Debates of Colonel Rainsborough, the highest ranking officer to support the ordinary solders:

'I think that the poorest he that is in England hath a life to live, as the greatest he’

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

I Just Had To Share!

Hi everyone,

I was so taken aback to see this and so excited that I just had to share! Both my novels are in the best sellers list for Historical Fiction at Fictionwise, Ebookwise and! All companies owned by Barnes and Nobel. Call Me Duchess is #2 and Angel of Windword is #12!

Best Sellers in Historical Fiction | View more
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The Clan of the Cave Bear: with Bonus Content
by Jean M. Auel
This eBook includes the full text of the novel plus the following additional content: • An exclusive preview chapter from Jean M. Auel’s The Land of Painted Caves, on sale in hardcover March 29, 2011 • An Earth’s Children® series sampler including free chapters from the other books in Jean M. Auel’s bestselling series • A Q&A with the author about the Earth’s Children® series This novel of awesome beauty and power is a moving saga about people, relationships, and the boundaries of love. Thro... more info>>
Sale Price: $1.99


Call Me Duchess
by Maggie Dove
A rapist is loose in London?and he has plans for Marguerite Wiggins. Grippingly suspenseful and romantic, CALL ME DUCHESS is one young woman's stunning journey to find love in 1870s London while a dashingly handsome chaperone, a heinous villain, and her own lofty aspirations stand in her way. Left penniless by their father, Marguerite Wiggins and her sisters must find husbands during the London season or find work as governesses by season's end. Determined to become the next Duchess of Wallingf... more info>>
Sale Price: $6.95


A Prize for Princes
by Rex Stout
In this novel of intrigue and suspense, the masterful Rex Stout follows the fortunes of Aline Solini, whose angelic face hides a demon's soul. It is the face that captivates Richard Stetton, a wealthy young American, when he rescues Aline from a Balkan convent about to be sacked by marauding Turks. Stetton also enables Aline to escape Vasili Petrovich, the husband she tried to poison, and introduces her into society's highest circles. There Aline proves her talents for deceit and chicanery among... more info>>
Sale Price: $3.99


Charming the Prince
by Teresa Medeiros
He never lost a battle until he met the one woman who might succeed in... Charming the Prince.Dear Reader,My enemies know me as Lord Bannor the Bold, Pride of the English and Terror of the French. Never in my life have I backed down from any challenge or betrayed so much as a hint of fear--until the war ended and I found myself a reluctant papa to a dozen unruly children.Realizing that I couldn't lop their little heads off or throw them in the dungeon, I sent my steward out to find them a mother... more info>>
Sale Price: $7.99


A Secret Affair
by Mary Balogh
Beloved New York Times bestselling author Mary Balogh has written her most beguiling novel yet, in which the black sheep of the scandalous Huxtable family finally meets his match—in a woman of even more wicked reputation. “The Devil was about to be tamed.” Her name is Hannah Reid. Born a commoner, she has been Duchess of Dunbarton ever since she was nineteen years old, the wife of an elderly duke to whom she has been rumored to be consistently and flagrantly unfaithful. Now the old duke is d... more info>>
Sale Price: $7.99


Paper Roses
by Celia Collier
The dying wish of a childhood friend binds feisty Ciara Mackintosh in marriage to her family's sworn enemy, the bold laird, Alastair MacDonell. Through fragile roses crafted of paper, Ciara reveals her most secret dreams--dreams that must be powerful enough to erase the treachery of the past and free her once and for all to embrace the love of a lifetime.
Sale Price: $4.50


Catherine's Ring
by Elena Dorothy Bowman
In a small fictional town in the northeast corner of Massachusetts a mysterious package from out of the past had the residents buzzing. The original recipient had long since passed, and the sender of the package had died at sea in a tragedy that stunned the world. Where had this package been all these years, and why, even if it was postmarked the year it was sent, was it never delivered? When the present day recipient received the mysterious package, he wondered if he opened it, would he be open... more info>>
Sale Price: $6.50


Dark Angel/Lord Carew's Bride
by Mary Balogh
From New York Times bestselling author Mary Balogh come two classic tales of love turned dangerous, set amid the splendor of Regency England...a time rife with passion, betrayal, and intrigue. DARK ANGEL Jennifer Winwood has been engaged for five years to a man she hardly knows but believes to be honorable and good: Lord Lionel Kersey. Suddenly, she becomes the quarry of London's most notorious womanizer, Gabriel Fisher, the Earl of Thornhill. Jennifer has no idea that she is just a pawn in th... more info>>
Sale Price: $7.99


The Crystal Heart
by Katherine Deauxville
Emmeline, the wife to a powerful guild master, needs to provide her aging husband with an heir. Forced to make harsh decisions, she pays her servant to go out and to pay a man for a night of 'service' that will leave her with the child she needs to give her husband. She knows nothing about the nameless man who takes up her offer. For coin, he will give her what she needs. However, instead of paying the man and them parting with little thought to what happened, she gets a night of passion that ha... more info>>
Sale Price: $5.49


The Forever Girl
by Mike Bonner
A romantic, yet unsparing and authentic novel of the destruction of the ancient cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum that far surpasses The Last Days of Pompeii. Young Kara is taken into captivity after Roman legionaries and their allies overrun her village. Within the space of a few months, she goes from being a cherished daughter of loving parents to an orphaned and exploited Roman slave. At the age of eight, she is cast adrift in a culture that has little regard for human life-especially a slave... more info>>
Sale Price: $4.99


A Breath of Snow and Ashes
by Diana Gabaldon
Eagerly anticipated by her legions of fans, this sixth novel in Diana Gabaldon's bestselling Outlander saga is a masterpiece of historical fiction from one of the most popular authors of our time. Since the initial publication of Outlander fifteen years ago, Diana Gabaldon's New York Times bestselling saga has won the hearts of readers the world over--and sold more than twelve million books. Now, A Breath of Snow and Ashes continues the extraordinary story of 18th-century Scotsman Jamie Fraser a... more info>>
Sale Price: $8.99


Angel of Windword
by Maggie Dove
Evil forces are at play surrounding Angelique Beauvisage, but she has no clue. Sensuous and suspense-filled, ANGEL OF WINDWORD, begins with a murder that takes place four years before and turns into a perilous cat and mouse game played by two reluctant lovers, who spin a web of deception that only their love can unravel.
Sale Price: $6.95


Daughter of Spain
by Jeannine D. Van Eperen
Spain is in turmoil. In the 17th century, Inquisitor Sarmiento is zealously continuing the Inquisition, ridding Spain of those he considers infidels and also increasing his own land holdings at others' expense. A victim of the Inquisition Isabela and her mother are incarcerated in one of Sarmiento's dungeons. Her father has been killed. She is rescued when Don Carlos, Duque de Malagon, breaks into the castle to rescue his brother. He is too late to help his brother but Don Carlos takes Isabela a... more info>>
Sale Price: $7.50


In the Eye of the Storm
by Douglas R. Mason
In the Eye of the Storm. When the Roman peace was a memory and the Conqueror's peace a distant murmur, the land was in limbo. There was an uneasy calm and the jackals were in. It was a waiting time, with a swirl of undercurrents and secret power moves. There was space enough, as ever, for a man and a woman to make a life. But for a hardened warrior and a Thane's new bride? Garth acted out his destiny as Rider in Thane Ordlaf's household. Then, a swing of chance, a savage Northmen's raid and a la... more info>>
Sale Price: $6.99


Moon of the Falling Leaves
by Diane Davis White
Alone in the Wilderness. Jessica Maxwell finds out just how uncertain life can be when she and her children are stranded on the side of a mountain with winter looming. The Lakota Warrior. Swift Eagle has discovered his destiny in the flames of a vision that leads him to help this white family. Compassion Becomes Passion. Duty becomes desire when Jessica and Swift Eagle are forced to fight for their love, their survival in the old West.
Sale Price: $5.95

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Windsor of the North

This is the wonderful Middleham Castle at Middleham in Wensyldale, Yorkshire. Once the home of King Richard the Third, it is a wonderful place. I love to visit whenever I can. Once inside the grounds you can feel an atmosphere. I always experience a warm feeling when I am there.

When I was young I thought Richard was the monster created by Shakespeare. Shortly Kevin Spacey will take on the role, and it is a good play and for me a bit of a hoot, but it has nothing to do with Richard. This is a play based on Tudor propaganda. The Tudors had much to lose by not besmirching Richard's reputation.

It was coming across Josehine Tey's wonderful book Daughter of Time that made me want to look at Richard more closely. I found out for example that he was not "hunchbacked" and that he was in love with his wife Anne Neville. That he was cultured and actually quite handsome.

I knew I wanted to write something about him and so my very first published novel " A Sprig of Broom" was born. (Soon to be published again as an e-book). In order to write the book I felt I had to visit Middleham and John and I set off one warm summer's day. It was magical. I was captivated. We often used to go and hire a cottage and stay there for a week or so. The wonder has never left me.

When I arrived home from my first visit my dad phoned. He asked where we had been and I thought he won't have heard of Middleham so I just said The Yorkshire Dales. He wanted me to be more specific so I told him. "Oh," says my dad,"Mark Johnson trains there." Ugh? Dad had two loves, cricket and horse racing and so knew where all the trainers of horses were based. Never underestimate a dad.

It is an added attraction a couple of times a day, to hear the horses' hooves on the cobbles as they go to the gallop on Middleham moor. Talk about atmosphere!

Many years after A Sprig of Broom, I returned to the theme of Richard and how good he was and so wrote Dangerous Enchantment. In this novel I took an entirely different tack but it is quite feasible. I am adding a review by fellow author John Lindermuth, for he explains perfectly the plot.

If you haven't been, do visit Middleham. Let me know if you are similarly entranced. Like me you might even wish that Richard had stayed there, safe and happy, in his beloved Yorkshire. I wonder what would have happened to England if that had been? Hm, might be a novel in that!

"A common belief, fostered by literature and film, is that Richard III, last of the Plantagenets, was a villain and may have been responsible for the murder of his own nephews. A number of writers and historians have advanced alternate theories, showing Richard as a just and honest ruler and attributing the deaths of the princes to others or dismissing it as a vile rumor spread by supporters of the dastardly Tudors.

Dangerous Enchantment offers another alternate theory in which the younger prince, Richard, Duke of York, survives and is protected by the lady in waiting of the king's wife and other loyal servants.

Kate accedes to Richard's command and marries Lord Mellor, going into hiding at his Yorkshire estate where the young duke is passed off as her stepson, scion of her husband. After Richard and Mellor are killed at Bosworth, Kate and her ward hope to escape to Burgundy with other loyalists.

But, before they can do so, Efan Caradoc, a Welsh supporter of the Tudor, arrives with his retinue and inform them he has been awarded the property of her deceased husband. The bastard son of a kitchen wench, Caradoc and Kate clash at first. Eventually both succumb to love, which sets the stage for other dangerous conflicts.

As a supporter of the good Richard theory, I was intrigued by Margaret Blake's version which offers captivating characters, an action-packed plot with plenty of twists and suspense, including a reasonable explanation for the fate of the younger Richard. Throw in the spicy romantic development and you've got a sure winner."

Sunday, February 20, 2011

George II and Caroline of Ansbach - A Love Match

By: Stephanie Burkhart
My story in the Cupid Diaries is one that is close to my heart – that of George II and Caroline of Ansbach. It's one of the first historical romances I've ever read and it really inspired the love I have for historical fiction.

I discovered this interesting couple back in 1988 when someone sent me a book called "Queen in Waiting" by Jean Plaidy in a care package. While I was waiting to take the Duty Train to Berlin, I sat down at a German Café and decided to give the story a try.

I loved it!

Jean Plaidy is a pen name for Victoria Holt and Victoria Holt was one of my favorite Romantic Gothic authors. I had no idea she did historical fiction, but she totally enthralled me with George and Caroline's story.

Historically, George and Caroline were a love match – a love match during a time when love matches were frowned upon.

George's father was George I of England, but before he ascended to the kingship, he was Elector of Hanover and his marriage was arranged. He couldn't stand his bride, Sophia Dorethra of Celle. He did his duty by her, had two children, then ignored her. She said what was good for the goose was good for the gander and CHEATED ON HIM. Well, George would not be cuckolded. He sent a young and vivacious woman to the tower. She grew old and died in that tower. George II was only a boy when it happened, but it left a mark on him.

When it came time for his son to marry, George I wanted George II to be in love with his wife. Surprising considering the times, but not so surprising considering what he went through in his marriage. His mother, The Dowager Electress Sophia suggested Caroline of Ansbach.

Caroline grew up in the small Baravian town of Ansbach. She was orphaned by ten and went to live with her mother's friend, Sophia Charlotte, the Electress of Prussia. Sophia Charlotte was the Dowager Electress's daughter. Caroline loved living with Sophia Charlotte. She grew up in a sophisticated court and one of her best friends was a philosopher, Liebnez.

Sophia Charlotte was on her way to Hanover to arrange the marriage of Caroline and George II when she died. George and Caroline seemed destined to never met.

The Dowager Electress whispered into her son's ear. Why not have George II marry Caroline? George I liked the idea, but wanted his son to be in love with his wife. He sent George II to Ansbach in disguise to meet Caroline and to see if a love match could be made. After all, his son had faults. He was short, short tempered, and a nag. Caroline was reputed to be beautiful, mild mannered, and quick-witted.

George was honored to be courting Caroline – even in secret. After all, she had refused the heir to the Spanish throne. If she was good enough for a king, well, she was a prize to have indeed. When he met her, the sparks flew on both sides and he realized it was more than pride – it was love.
They went on to marry and had 9 children. George I was offered the British throne and he accepted. George and Caroline became the Prince and Princess of Wales. Caroline was the FIRST Princess of Wales since Katherine of Aragon back in 1501.

Eventually, George II took mistresses. Initially Caroline was distressed. Wasn't she enough for him? They were a love match. Then she learned he only did it because he thought it was expected him to have a mistress. With that mind, she picked the mistresses out for him. Still, George loved her until the day she died. On her deathbed Caroline told him to marry again. He said he wouldn't. And he didn't.

Again, it was a story I admired because in a time when arranged marriages were the norm, George and Caroline were in love and then got married.

I hope you enjoy "Royal Pretender" in The Cupid Diaries.


Saturday, February 19, 2011

Marguerite de Valois

Marguerite de Valois, known as Margot, was the youngest of the three daughters of King Henry II and Queen Catherine de Medici. Catherine was a widow by the time our story begins, her eldest son Francis II also dead. In addition, none of her three surviving sons enjoyed good health, so while in theory the crown was safe, there was no certainty they would all survive into old age, and these were risky times. France had been involved in civil war between the Catholics and the Huguenots for some years. As with all royal princesses, Margot was expected to bring political benefit with her marriage, and various suitors were considered and rejected. In the end the Queen Mother, who’d never showed much affection for this daughter, decided Margot should marry Henry of Navarre, a Huguenot, in order to bring peace to the realm.

Since the Valois were a Catholic House, this was something of a risky undertaking. Margot wasn’t at all pleased by the prospect. Henry was a third cousin whom she’d known from an early age, and she considered him something of a country bumpkin with garlic-tainted breath, and grubby feet from climbing mountains barefoot. There was some resistance from his mother, Jeanne d'Albret, but after she died, in somewhat suspicious circumstances, the wedding went ahead.

Days later the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre took place where thousands of Huguenots were killed. Margot’s new husband was in danger of losing his head, and, as a Catholic married to a protestant and therefore accepted by neither, Margot too was far from safe.

But Margot was no average woman, rather one born before her time. She had long enjoyed a passionate love affair with Henri de Guise, and fully intended to maintain her right to continue with it, should her husband prove unfaithful, which naturally he did. Intrigue and scandal surrounded her at every turn, even when she was innocent. Margot soon took the view that she might as well live life to the full, and match her husband, affair for affair.

Both her brothers, first the half mad Charles IX, and then the bi-sexual Henri Trois with his mignons, and pet dogs and monkeys, made furious attempts to control her. Admittedly with very little success, but certainly caused her considerable grief. Henri frequently accused his sister of licentious behaviour, despite being far more guilty of that charge himself. He behaved like a rejected lover, jealous of the least attention she paid to any other man. He was even jealous of her love for their younger brother, Alençon, accusing the pair of plotting against him. It was almost as if he worked on the principle that if he could not have her, then no one else should. He kept her a virtual prisoner in the Louvre for four years, and throughout that time Margot lived in fear of her life while recklessly flouting convention as far as she dare. Somehow she had to save her husband's life, help him to escape, and then follow him to safety. A task fraught with danger.

This early part of Margot's life is told in my book Hostage Queen, which is out now in paperback, and as an ebook.

Click on Amazon for more details.

Or for the US edition, click here:

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Regency Hygiene, or the Lack Thereof, Part I

Regency England was a dirty place--and not only because of the large amount of horse manure around. Although the proverb "cleanliness is next to godliness" was known at this time, its meaning was different from today's interpretation.

For most of the era, cleanliness meant the daily washing of hands, face, and neck and wearing a clean shirt (for men), or a clean chemise (for women). The notion of immersing the entire body in water was anathema in Western Europe, and had been for the previous several hundred years.

Such an attitude did not exist in the ancient world. In the days of the Roman Empire, everyone--men, women and children, free and enslaved--visited the public baths every day. The Romans built baths in every corner of their far-flung empire. Even chilly Britannia, at the outer edge of their rule, had baths. Aquae Sulis (The Waters of the Goddess Sulis), now known as Bath, pictured right, received its Roman name from the hot springs located there.

As the Empire waned, so did its legacy, including baths and bathing. Public baths acquired the seedy reputation of encouraging licentiousness, although they remained fixtures in European life for centuries after Rome's demise.

The death of bathing occurred as a result of another death--the Black Death.

The Black Death (bubonic plague) was the worst pandemic the western world has ever seen. 30-60% of fourteenth-century Europe's population perished in agony due to this scourge. Panicked physicians, unaware that fleas transmitted the terrible disease, made a frantic search for any method of prevention.

The standard explanation blamed the planets for causing noxious vapors to rise from the earth and enter the body through the lungs. A new theory arose that skin softened by hot water became porous and provided the infection another entry. In terror for their lives, people stopped bathing. Bath houses fell into disrepair.

From the Black Death to the Regency, Western Europe grew dirtier and dirtier. Clothing, often tightly woven as another barrier to disease and made of hard-to-clean materials such as wool and silk, went unlaundered. The rich wore strong perfume to mask the often-overpowering stench of their neighbors' unwashed bodies. The poor just stank. Lice and fleas were rampant on everyone, regardless of class. The title of this 1638 Georges De La Tour painting is Woman Catching A Flea.

Dirtiness reached its peak--or nadir--in the Georgian era. By the time of the Regency, England had begun to clean up its act. The single person who was most influential in the resurgence of personal cleanliness was George "Beau" Brummell.

Next time—Beau Brummell.

Thank you all,
Linda Banche
Welcome to My World of Historical Hilarity!

Monday, February 14, 2011

I'm delighted to be part of the launch of Embrace Books with my Georgian Romance - The Reluctant Marquess

ISBN: 9781844718425

Salt Publishing Buy link:
Amazon Kindle Buy Link:

Author website:


A country-bred girl, Charity Barlow never expected to become a Marchioness. Nonetheless, she is determined to make her marriage of convenience into the ton work. Yet despite the strong attraction between them, and Charity’s bold attempts at intimacy, the rakish Lord Robert does not believe a husband should be in love with his wife. Can she ever make him love her?


The footman knocked on a solid oak door.


She stepped with trepidation into the room to be embraced by warmth. A fire blazed in the baronial fireplace where a liver-spotted spaniel lifted its head to study her. After a thump of a tail, its head sank to its paws again, lulled back to sleep by the heat. Above the fireplace, the painting of a hunting scene featured several dogs. Two tall china spaniels flanked the fireplace mantel. The heavy oak beams across the ceiling, and walls covered floor to ceiling in shelves of tomes made the room seem snug. Charity rushed over and crouched on the Oriental rug beside the animal, giving it a pat. The dog’s tail thumped harder. ‘You’re a nice fellow, aren’t you?’ Her stiff cold muscles loosened, and the icy pit at the base of her stomach began to thaw. Maybe she could be happy here. She loved dogs.

‘Welcome to Castle St. Malin.’

A man rose from behind a massive mahogany desk strewn with papers in the corner of the room. He crossed the room to greet her. He was not her godfather. She caught her breath. He was tall, his dark hair drawn back in a queue, and there was something of the marquess’ haughty demeanour about his handsome face, but she doubted he’d yet reached thirty.

‘Thank you.’ Charity could only stare at his attire, her gaze locked on his gold silk waistcoat as he bowed before her. He was in mourning, for black crepe graced the sleeve of his emerald green coat. With a sense of foreboding, she curtseyed on wobbly knees. ‘Where is the marquess, if you please?’ She looked around hoping her godfather might pop out of somewhere, but the room was otherwise empty.

‘I am the Marquess of St. Malin. My uncle passed away a short time ago.’

‘Oh. I’m so sorry.’ What she feared was true. Charity had an overwhelming desire to sit and glanced at the damask sofa.

He reacted immediately, taking her arm and escorting her to a chair. ‘Sit by the fire. You look cold and exhausted.’ He turned to the footman. ‘Bring a hot toddy for Miss Barlow.’

Charity sank down gratefully, her modest panniers settling around her.

‘I find the staff here poorly trained,’ he said. ‘I don’t know what my uncle was about.’

‘Why did you send a carriage for me?’ she asked, leaning back against the sofa cushions. ‘I wouldn’t have come had I known.’

‘I thought it best to sort the matter out here and now.’ He rested an elbow on a corner of the mantel and stirred the dog with a foot. ‘Shame on you, Felix. You might accord Miss Barlow a warm welcome.’ He looked at her. ‘My uncle’s dog; he’s mourning his master.’ He raised his brows. ‘Notice of my uncle’s passing appeared in The Daily Universal Register.’

‘We don’t get that newspaper in my village.’

‘You don’t? I wasn’t aware of you until the reading of the will. Then I learned of your parents’ death from my solicitor. I’m very sorry.’

‘Thank you. I’m sorry, too, about your uncle.’

‘My uncle fell ill only a few months ago. He rallied and then …’ The new marquess’ voice faded. He sighed and stared into the fire.

‘You must have been very fond of him,’ Charity said into the quiet pause that followed. Though, if she were honest, she felt surprise that the cool man she remembered could have provoked that level of affection.

He raised his eyes to meet hers and gave a bleak smile. ‘Yes, I was fond of him. He always had my interest at heart, you see.’ He sat in the oxblood leather chair opposite and rested his hands on his knees. ‘I am his acknowledged heir, and the legalities have been processed. I’ve inherited the title and the entailed properties. The rest of his fortune will pass to another family member should I fail to conform to the edicts of his will.’

'His will?’ Charity gripped her sweaty hands together, she couldn’t concentrate on anything the man said. Her mind whirled, filled with desperate thoughts. With her godfather dead, where would she go from here? Her heart raced as she envisioned riding off along the dark cliffs to join a theatre troupe, or become a tavern wench.

‘This must be difficult for you to take in, and I regret having to tell you tonight before you have rested. But I’m compelled to move quickly as you have no chaperone and have travelled here alone …’

She raised her chin. ‘There was no one to accompany me.’ She would not allow him to make her feel like a poor relation, even though she was quite definitely poor. And alone. She hated that more than anything. What had her godfather left her? She hoped it would allow her some measure of independence and wasn’t just a vase or the family portrait.

The footman entered, carrying a tray with a cup of steaming liquid. Charity took the drink and sipped it gratefully. It was warming and tasted of a spicy spirit. She found it hard to concentrate on his words, as her mind retreated into a fog and her eyes wandered around the room. She finished the drink, which had heated her insides, and allowed her head to loll back against the cushions. Her gaze rested on her host, thinking he would be handsome if he smiled. She was so tired, and the warmth of the fire made her drowsy. What was he saying?

‘It’s the best thing for both of us, don’t you agree?’

She shook her head to try and clear it. ‘I’m sorry, what did you say?’

He frowned. ‘The will states we must marry. Straightaway, I’m afraid.’

‘I … What? I’m to m-marry you?’ Placing her cup down carefully on the table she struggled to her feet, fighting fatigue and the affects of whatever it was she’d just drunk. Smoothing her gown, she glanced at the door through which she intended to depart at any moment. ‘I have no intention …’

His lips pressed together in a thin line. ‘I know it’s perplexing. I didn’t intend to wed for some years. I certainly would have preferred to choose whom I married, as no doubt would you.’

Her jaw dropped. What kind of man was this? She had been raised to believe that marriage was a sacred institution. He made it sound so … inconsequential. She stared at him. ‘The will states I must marry you?’

‘Yes, that’s exactly what it states.’ He rose abruptly with a rustle of silk taffeta and moved closer to the fire. She wondered if he might be as nervous as she. ‘Unless I’m prepared to allow my uncle’s unentailed fortune go to a distant relative. Which I am not. As I have said.’ His careful tone suggested he thought her a simpleton. Under his unsympathetic gaze, she sank back down onto the sofa. ‘You are perfectly within your rights to refuse, but I see very few options open to you. As my wife, you will live in comfort. You may go to London to enjoy the Season. I shall give you a generous allowance for gowns and hats, and things a lady must have.’ His gaze wandered over her cream muslin gown, and she placed a hand on the lace that disguised the small patch near her knee. ‘What do you say?’

She tilted her head. ‘I shall receive an allowance? For gowns, and hats, and things a lady must have.’

‘Exactly,’ he said with a smile, obviously quite pleased with himself. ‘I see we understand each other perfectly. So … do you agree?’

What was wrong with this man? Slowly, Charity released a heavy sigh. She could barely contemplate such a thing as this, and yet he acted as though he’d solved all the problems of the world with fashion accessories. She had hoped for a small stipend, but marriage! And to a complete stranger. She couldn’t! Not for all the gowns and hats on earth. She straightened up in her chair and lifted her chin. Her words were clipped and precise, and she hoped beyond hope he would accept her decision gracefully. ‘I say no, Lord St. Malin.’

‘No? Really?’

‘Yes, really.’

‘How disappointing,’ he said quietly.

She gulped as his heavy-lidded eyes continued to study her from head to foot. She was uncomfortably aware that the mist had sent her hair into a riot of untidy curls, and she smoothed it away from her face with both hands as she glanced around the room. She tucked a muddy shoe out of sight beneath her gown and then forced herself to meet his gaze. Might he like anything of what he saw? Her father loved that she had inherited her mother’s tiny waist, and she thought her hands pretty. His lordship’s gaze strayed to her breasts and remained there rather long. She sucked in a breath as her heart beat faster. When their eyes met did she detect a gleam of approval? It only made her more nervous.

In honour of the occasion, please enjoy excerpts from my top 12 favorite Love Poems

1. Sonnet 116 - William Shakespeare

Let me not to the marriage of true minds

Admit impediments. Love is not love

Which alters when it alteration finds,

Or bends with the remover to remove

Oh no! it is an ever-fixed mark,

That looks on tempests and is nevr shaken,

It is the star to every wandering bark,

Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.

2. Love One Another - Kahlil Gibran

Love one another, but make not a bond of love

Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.

Fill each other's cup, but drink not from one cup.

Give one another of your bread, but eat not from the same loaf.

3. Meeting at Night - Robert Browning

Then a mile of warm sea-scented beach;

Three fields to cross till a farm appears;

A tap at the pane, the quick sharp scratch

And blue spurt of a lighted match,

And a voice less loud, thro' its joys and fears,

Than the two hearts beating each to each!

4. My River - Emily Dickinson (complete)

My river runs to thee.

Blue sea, wilt thou welcome me?

My river awaits reply.

Oh! Sea, look graciously.

I'll fetch thee brooks

From spotted nooks.

Say, sea,

Take me!

5. Love's Philosophy - Percy Bysshe Shelley

The fountains mingle with the river,

And the rivers with the ocean;

The winds of heaven mix forever

With a sweet emotion;

Nothing in the world is single;

All things by a law divine

In another's being mingle--

Why not I with thine?

6. Maud - Alfred, Lord Tennyson

COME into the garden, Maud,

For the black bat, Night, has flown,

Come into the garden, Maud,

I am here at the gate alone;

And the woodbine spices are wafted abroad,

And the musk of the roses blown.

For a breeze of morning moves,

And the planet of Love is on high,

Beginning to faint in the light that she loves

On a bed of daffodil sky,

To faint in the light of the sun she loves,

To faint in his light, and to die.

7. Annabelle Lee - Edgar Allan Poe

It was many and many a year ago,

In a kingdom by the sea,

That a maiden there lived whom you may know

By the name of ANNABEL LEE;--

And this maiden she lived with no other thought

Than to love and be loved by me.

8. Bright Star, Would I Were Steadfast as Thou Art - John Keats

Bright star, would I were steadfast as thou art

Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night,

And watching, with eternal lids apart,

Like nature's patient sleepless eremite,

The moving waters at their priestlike task

Of pure ablution round earth's human shores,

Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask

Of snow upon the mountains and the moors;

No yet still steadfast, still unchangeable,

Pillow'd upon my fair love's ripening breast,

To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,

Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,

Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,

And so live ever or else swoon to death.

9. To His Coy Mistress - Andrew Marvell

Now therefore, while the youthful hew

Sits on thy skin like morning glew,

And while thy willing Soul transpires

At every pore with instant Fires,

Now let us sport us while we may;

And now, like am'rous birds of prey,

Rather at once our Time devour,

Than languish in his slow-chapt pow'r.

Let us roll all our Strength, and all

Our sweetness, up into one Ball:

And tear our Pleasures with rough strife,

Thorough the Iron gates of Life.

10. Troilus and Criseyde  - Geoffrey Chaucer

To His Coy Mistress by Andrew Marvell

The double sorwe of Troilus to tellen,
That was the king Priamus sone of Troye,

In lovinge, how his aventures fellen

Fro wo to wele, and after out of Ioye,

My purpos is, er that I parte fro ye.
Thesiphone, thou help me for tendyte

Thise woful vers, that wepen as I wryte!

11. The Love-Song of J Alfred Prufrock by TS Eliot

And would it have been worth it, after all,

After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,

Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,

Would it have been worth while,

To have bitten off the matter with a smile,

To have squeezed the universe into a ball

To roll it toward some overwhelming question,

To say: “I am Lazarus, come from the dead,

Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all”—

If one, settling a pillow by her head,

Should say: “That is not what I meant at all.

That is not it, at all.”

12. John Donne's The Flea

Marke but this flea, and marke in this,

How little that which thou deny'st me is;

Me it suck'd first, and now sucks thee,

And in this flea our two bloods mingled bee;

Confesse it, this cannot be said

A sinne, or shame, or losse of maidenhead,

Yet this enjoyes before it wooe,

And pamper'd swells with one blood made of two,

And this, alas, is more than wee would doe.

If you have a favourite love poem you'd like to mention in the comments you may win a copy of the e-book.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Two Awards in the Preditors & Editors Readers Polls

I want to say a great big THANK YOU to everyone who voted in the recent Preditors & Editors Readers Award Polls. The final results are now available and I'm very proud to announce that Glastonbury won the Best Mystery Novel Award, and Requiem for the Ripper won the Best Thriller Award. I'm so grateful to all who voted in support of my nominations and hope a few of my friends and readers will check out the two award winners. Full results for all categories can be found at  Simply visit the page and then select a category to view the results. Glastonbury is available in paperback from
and Requiem for the Ripper is also available from in both paperback and e-book editions.


Glastonbury - Mystery and Misdirection. Hired by millionaire businessman Malcolm Capshaw to search for a fabled historical artifact in the shadows of Glastonbury Tor, Joe Cutler and his team from Strata Survey Systems are drawn into a web of sex, lies, deceit, murder, and betrayal. The artifact is revealed to be bogus, and the real purpose of their search is slowly exposed. A menacing background presence, in the form of an old-established London crime family appears, to display an abnormal interest in the goings-on in the ancient town where Christianity laid its roots in England. There, aided by the enigmatic and flamboyant university professor Lucius Doberman, Joe and his team must solve the mystery of Glastonbury before the sinister historian Walter Graves makes the discovery that could cost him and the whole team their lives.

Requiem for the Ripper

Criminal psychologist David Hemswell receives a desperate call from a worried man. William Forbes, former solicitor to serial killer Jack Reid believes himself to be threatened by the living soul of the notorious Victorian enigma, Jack the Ripper. Convinced that Reid was a descendant of the Ripper and that the evil that first entered the current era through the inheritance of the Ripper's journal by psychiatrist Robert Cavendish, Forbes turns to Hemswell as his last hope to free himself from the demons he believes are pursuing him. Forbes travels to Skerries Rock, David Hemswell's private island home off the bleak, barren west coast of Cape Wrath, Scotland, where Hemswell soon realises that there is much about his visitor that is disquieting and frightening. Hemswell summons help in the form of paranormal investigator Kate Goddard, and together, the pair attempt to free Forbes of whatever strange phenomenon has assaulted his mind. As their investigation gathers pace, however, they soon begin to believe that the three of them are not alone on the tiny island. Has the soul of Jack the Ripper found a way to encroach upon the present day? Is William Forbes the living embodiment of The Ripper, or is he too a victim of the curse that appears to have been handed down across time by the unfortunate Cavendish family? As time begins to run out, and the danger surrounding them grows ever stronger by the second, David Hemswell must face his own demons and is faced with the most terrible decision of his life, as the story that began with A Study in Red - The Secret Journal of Jack the Ripper and continued in Legacy of the Ripper reaches its shattering and terrifying conclusion!


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Guest Kiki Howell: Historical Wordsmithing

Linda Banche here. Today I welcome Kiki Howell and her latest book, the erotic Regency paranormal, Torn Asunder. Here she talks about the wonderful Regency language we fans of the genre love so much.

Welcome Kiki!

One of my favorite parts about researching Regency England is coming across new cant and common Regency phrases. The language itself, to me, lends a bit of magic to the time period even before I add in my own paranormal elements. *g*

I love playing with words. No surprise there I guess. But, no matter what I am writing, my favorite stage of the process is the rewriting where I look at each sentence, arrange the words just right to get them to come across just as I want them. When writing a historical romance set in the early eighteen-hundreds England, I also get to play with the cant in my dialogue.

I have read that most of this colorful slang came from London’s underworld, the seedier parts of town if you will, the pleasure haunts of London. Can’t tell you why I find it comical that the upper ten thousand may have adopted these words from the lower classes, but I do. It makes using it all that more rich somehow.

So, many of my favorite phrases you will find in my new novel, Torn Asunder. I have made a list of them below, some include my own thoughts in parentheses after the meaning. I promise to leave the most colorful ones out. But, I have to start with…

Inexpressibles – breeches, clothing used as undergarments at the time (This for me is a shining example of the mentality of the time, ideas of propriety and all.)

ark ruffians -- thieves, in conjunction with watermen, who rob and sometimes murder their victims, then throw them overboard (I used this one since my heroine travels by water from England to a magical island in Ireland. I found it to be so primitive and appropriate.)

to raise a breeze – to make a disturbance, get upset about something (This term is like a metaphor for yelling. I love it!)

ardent – characterized by intense feeling, zealous, vehement

banbury tale -- nonsensical story (I’m an English major, what can I say!)

flush in the pockets – well off, has money

close-fisted –stingy

black spy – devil

Bygaged - bewitched

Bumblebroth – a tangled situation (This word brings about an image in my head of a woman trying to make soup by boiling live bees. Now wouldn’t that be a terrible predicament.)

Maggot in one’s head – a silly notion (Gross, but fitting.)

Grand Alliance – a marriage (Again, I feel they hit the nail on the head here.)

Rudesby – an uncivil fellow (LOL)

Shine everyone else down - pretty

As well, there are many terms and phrases which express strong emotions which all seem so appropriate to me, like: Devilish things!, Hell and Blast!, Gads!, He’s a blasted idiot!, A sillier notion I have never heard of! and more…

Quite colorful words, and most are quite appropriate, descriptive in a very metaphorish kind of way as well. I just love it. So, I hope you will enjoy my newest novel as much as I did writing it. Fraught with scenes of explicit intimacy, romantic spells and mystical shapeshifting, Torn Asunder is a unique blending of the age of manners with sexual magic.

Torn Asunder BLURB:
Aubrey Griffen is a witch whose true reasons for coming to London soon fall to the wayside when she catches the eye of Edmund Bryant, the Marquess of Dalysbury. He seduces her into a whirlwind romance until the lies and threats of his mother force her to flee to Triaill Brimuir, a secret island of her ancestors off the coast of Ireland. Edmund goes after her only to be hit by Aubrey’s confusion and anger when she magically transforms him into an elemental beast of her own creation.

However, it is when Edmund’s lust mysteriously turns him back into a man that the couple are forced to deal with a family secret and untold of powers. Now, Edmund must learn to shift himself into the beast in order to save her in a battle of black verses white magic.

Genres: Historical (Regency), Paranormal (Witches & Shifters), Erotic Romance

Purchase at in ebook or trade paperback at Excessica Publishing or Amazon as well as many other retailers.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Cleveland Street Workhouse Petition

In January I was made aware of a historical workhouse - the former Strand workhouse on Cleveland Street in England - being in danger of demolition. I signed the petition to help stop that from happening.
Today I received further news on the project.

Dear Friend,
I am writing to you because you were good enough to sign the e-petition in support of the Cleveland Street workhouse.
We have two bits of news for you, and an urgent request.
The first bit of news is that one of our supporters (yours truly) has discovered that Charles Dickens lived only 9 doors away from the workhouse!! His address was in a street called Norfolk Street, which is now the southerly part of Cleveland Street, and is now included in its numbering. None of the biographers seems to have noticed this - they knew the address, but did not notice the workhouse. Remarkably, the house still stands, on the corner with Tottenham Street. The fact that there was a workhouse so close to his home (he lived there twice before he wrote Oliver Twist, and for over four years in all) of course means that your support for the workhouse was not for just any old workhouse, but for the very one which may have been the inspiration for the most famous workhouse in the world!!

The Dickens Fellowship is supporting our efforts to get a blue plaque on the house.

The second bit of news is that we have made an appeal with new evidence to the government Minister, which thankfully has been greeted with a request to English Heritage to re-consider its earlier report. The earlier report recommended listing for preservation, and we are hoping the reconsideration will too - especially as the new evidence includes the Dickens connection. English Heritage is about to submit its report any day, and the Minister will then consider it. Of course we are hoping for the best.

The request is that we would very much appreciate it if you could get one other person (or more if you can!) to sign the petition as soon as possible ie: within 24 hours of receiving this!!! We have nearly 2000 signatures and want to get as many as we possibly can before we submit it to the minister later this week.

If you want to keep up to date with our news, look at - the petition is there too!

Thank-you SO MUCH for your support.
Warmest wishes,
Dr Ruth Richardson, historian
On behalf of the Cleveland Street Workhouse group.

So please go and sign the petition and help save an historic building. Once these places are gone they can never be brought back. We mustn't let that happen!

Thank you!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Mistaken Bride is up for a book club discussion book just in time for Valentine's Day

I'm so excited to have Mistaken Bride, book 2 of my Bride series, up for discussion on February 15. What a fun way to wind up Valentine's day 2011! Come by at

In Indentured Bride, book 1 Jenna Matthews flees Virginia and joins up with a wagon train that it's participants call the "Bride Train" because of a group of mail order brides on their way to Adler Creek, Wyoming. Jenna plans to ditch the group of women as soon as she can, but her plan goes awry and she soon finds herself walking down the aisle with deputy sheriff, Brett Parker. Brett has his own set of secrets which may ultimately destroy their relationship.

In book 2, Brett's older brother, Kendrick, is on his way to Wyoming with the information that could save Jenna's life. When he arrives in St. Louis he comes upon one of the most notorious bank robbers of all time, Black Bette. Taking her into custody with plans to bring her to San Francisco to stand trial, Kendrick soon realizes he has his hands full -- with the right woman. Or is she?

Indentured Bride was originally intended to be a stand alone book until I caught glimpses of Kendrick and his life. He's a man of his time, but even then, he stands on the crevase of two worlds. On the one hand he is an urbane Washingtonian, an attorney and at the same time a United States Marshal. On the other, he has loved his time in rugged Wyoming of the 1860's. Women flock to the good looking lawman, but nothing much about them appeals to him. The simpering misses don't see him as a man, just someone to get their MRS. from. When he meets the woman he is certain is Black Bette his world is turned upside down. Suddenly all the rules he's lived by are turned around. I loved writing him and getting to know him.

Bette, has a bit of me inside of her -- her love of language. You'll see what I mean when you read Mistaken Bride.

If you aren't a fan of, or haven't read westerns, in many ways, while in the historical western romance genre, the characters could, I feel, exist in any time and any place. They just happen to live in the 1860's.

Mistaken Bride is available from (among other venues) Awe-struck (, All Romance Ebooks ( and Smashwords (; Mobi-pocket (

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Model medieval hero

Sir William Marshall (Guillaume le Maréchal) is the plumb line for authors wanting to create medieval heroes, particularly of the chivalrous kind. Even among his contemporaries, he was considered the flower of chivalry, the ideal to which knights should strive, and described as “the greatest knight that ever lived” by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

But even if you like darker heroes, William could serve as an inspiration there because some of the deeds credited to him would require quite a bit of arrogance, stubbornness and anger.

Most of what we know about him comes from L’histoire de Guillaume le Maréchal, commissioned shortly after his death by William’s eldest son and based on his squire’s memories. William was born in relative obscurity (before him, the hereditary title of Marshal designated the head of household security for the king). He served four kings, (Henry II, Richard the Lionheart, John and Henry III) became a regent of England and one of the most powerful men in Europe and was referred to as simply “the Marshal.”

Key points about William:
  • Was born around 1144. A younger son of a minor noble, he would inherit no land, title or money.
  • Was given has hostage to King Stephen during the siege of Newbury Castle and almost hanged by the king when John Marshall (William’s father) broke the treaty. Allegedly, he told the king to go ahead and kill the boy because “I have the hammers and the anvils to forge still an even finer son.”
  • Fostered by cousin William of Tancerville, chamberlain to the Duke of Normandy. Although many social historians like to talk about the emotional distance between parents and children because of high death rate and/or political necessity, in his autobiography, William talks about crying when he says goodbye to his mother and siblings. Of note is he doesn’t mention his father.
  • Knighted in 1164 at approximately 20 years old.
  • Fought his way, almost alone, through the French army during a battle at Drincourt (now Neufchatel-en-Bray), sealing his reputation.
  • Spent two or three years on the tournament circuit, winning every contest and gaining a reputation for chivalry.
  • Was taken prisoner in 1167. Eleanor of Aquitaine pays his ransom and King Henry II acknowledges him as a gallant knight.
  • Becomes a knight-errant after vicious rumors about him and Henry, the young King’s wife are spread. He demands the right to prove his innocence, including by combat, but neither the king nor young Henry will contest him. In the end, young Henry sends his wife to her brother (king of France) and takes William back into his household.
  • Crusades in the Holy Land in place of the young Henry, who died before he could fulfill his obligation.
  • Unhorsed Richard the Lionhearted (possibly the only the man to do so). Richard eventually pardoned the unrepentant William.
  • Married the Earl of Pembroke’s daughter, Isabel, gaining wealth, land, titles and love. 
  • Was accused of treason by King John. William literally throws down the gauntlet (his armored glove), which John ignores. William then challenges every knight in the room to pick it up and let him prove his loyalty; none do.
  • Ruled as regent of England until King John’s son (Henry III) reaches his majority.
  • Died May 14, 1219. Reports say the King of France openly wept upon hearing the news.

A common theme in William’s life is the need to belong, to have a home, to belong. He was about 5 when his father gave him as a hostage and said, “Do as you will.” King Stephen should’ve (according to the terms of the agreement) have hanged the boy. However, if we use William’s life we can use William’s life as the plumb line for almost any hero that we’re going to use in a medieval-set book to develop a more accurate, yet just as conflicted and complex hero. Right there we have our wounded hero. 

Keena Kincaid writes historical romances in which passion, magic and treachery collide to create unforgettable stories. For more information about her books:

Friday, February 4, 2011

Good Mourning – memorial jewellery

At the beginning of my novel The Ladys Slipper, Alice is in mourning for her younger sister Flora. Whilst researching the novel I became interested in mourning jewellery. Although I decided it was not appropriate in the end for the character of Alice to wear it, I thought I’d share some of my findings with you - like most novelists I sometimes research things that end up not actually appearing in the book. But so they don’t go to waste ............
Mourning rings were presented as a memorial to the deceased to friends and family members. The earliest known example is a 15th c English ring, decorated with a skull, a worm and the name "Iohes Godefray."

from the London Museum

The skull as a symbol, though a little ghoulish to modern tastes, was still much used on mourning rings in the 17th century.

When the King was executed his friends bought rings and pendants to show their royalist allegiance. Such portrait pieces were made for Royalist supporters to mourn the martyred monarch and to support and further the cause of his exiled son. One of these rings presented in 1649 shows an intaglio portrait of Charles I on one side and a skull and a crown on the other. The interior inscription says, "The glory of England has departed."

 Whilst history documents the monarch's execution on the day of January 30, 1649, the date 1648 on this piece is based on the Julian calendar, which was used in England until the 18th century. Using the Julian calendar, the year did not commence until March, so many contemporaneous mourning pieces record the execution as having taken place in 1648. (Pictures on the right from Collector's Weekly Magazine)

Many ordinary people included instructions in their wills on how many mourning rings were to be given out at their funerals, and the design. I have had some fun thinking up what sort of a design I would have and what the inscription should say!

William Shakespeare in 1616 declared that in his will that his daughter and wife should have rings stating "Love My Memory."

Samuel Pepys specified 129 mourning rings to be given away at his funeral. When it eventually took place in 1703 the social implications had been carefully considered, with the rings being ordered in 3 grades of different quality.

"Posy" rings, typically bands with inscriptions, were popular for sentimental purposes during the 17th Century. Posy rings are so called because of the "poesy" or poetry inscribed and are nothing to do with flowers. They were exchanged as gifts between friends, and also lovers, and it was common for men to wear them too. For funerals enameled skulls on rings were de rigeur and crystals with gold wire cipher, hair and often silk underneath grew in use frequently during the latter 17th century.

In the 18th century their poularity grew even more and finely decorated and incised mourning rings were made with white enamel for the death of a single person and black enamel used for a married person. The name, age, dates of birth and death were all inscribed around the edge of the ring. Funeral urns, coffins, doves, serpents, or portraits of the deceased were set in the ring surrounded by small seed pearls like tears.

Take a look at this plaited hair bracelet on Henrietta Maria’s right arm in a painting of 1632. It is very unfashionable now to have a desceased's hair made into an item you can wear, though common in the 17th century. Howver, items made of hair were not always mourning pieces. Hair bracelets could include miniature portraits on ivory or a cameo and could be a memento of a living sweetheart or relative. Hair was used to evoke the missing person, being a part of them that could be preserved and left with the wearer for sentiment. Its use in memorial jewellery started in the late 17th century.

Although I decided that Alice’s mourning in the book should not be  characterized by the wearing of mourning jewellery I found this whole area fascinating. If you want to find out more, and look at more mourning jewellery from other eras you can visit

The Lady's Slipper is out now in a Reading Group edition published by St Martin's Press. More information from

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Review: A Confederate Girl's Diary

I downloaded the diary on my Kindle (I adore reading diaries), anyway, this diary by Sarah Morgan Dawson was written during the American Civil War. For anyone writing or interested in this era this book is a must read.

Just a small list of what Sarah writes about.
Her brother’s death in a duel in 1861.
Her father (a wealthy judge in Baton Rouge) dies very soon after.
Her feeling ashamed for wearing a confederate flag pinned to her dress in front of Yankee gentleman. Out of the crowd only she and 2 other friends wore them and she was later disgusted at showing herself up and being stared at.
The tale she writes of when the town is shelled and her mother and sister, sister-in-law, five babies and slaves fleeing with barely nothing. Their mother can barely run so a kind fellow stops and she catches a ride with him, leaving her two daughters alone to flee the city. They later return to their home only to nervously wait to do it all again at a moment’s notice. Sarah is embarrassed to be return atop a mule train and luggage.
She has a ‘fleeing bag’ which she straps to her hoops under her skirts in case they have to run from the house. Talks of grabbing toothbrushes, etc, as they flee.
Looking to buy shoes in the city and unable to find them and has to buy boy’s boots.
She is armed with a knife and her sister has a pistol.
She wishes only to be a boy and join her brothers fighting. She even contemplates dressing as a boy, but when laying out her brother’s clothes, she is too frightened to put them on, though she mentions other friends have done it and she applauds their courage to do so.
At one point she returns back to their home alone (after fleeing) to finish packing their belongings. She is alone all day packing while soldiers march outside. She cleans for the first time in her life and is mortified by the state of her hands. (what strikes me here is that before the shelling of the town, they had their sisters to chaperone them on a simple walk, but in the midst of a battle and with hordes of men stripping the city of valuables, she is allowed to return to the house and pack their belongings alone. In the evening her mother and sister finally join her. The slaves have gone, but some return. Also her sister, alone, went about the town getting passes etc.

Sarah’s writings of this time in history is like being there and makes for fascinating research.