Saturday, December 22, 2012


Francois Boucher - La Toilette, 1742

Louis-LĂ©opold Boilly (1761-1845) 

Morning routine, 1750s

James Gillray caricature, 1795 

James Gillray, 1810 

Eva Gonzales - Le Petit Lever, 1875-1876

Frederick Frieseke, 1922

Franz Joseph tools - image: Hofmobiliendepot

Chamber Pot : V & A
Francois Boucher leaves little to the imagination.


Also available in print!

Blurb: Charity Barlow wished to marry for love. The rakish Lord Robert wishes only to tuck her away in the country once an heir is produced.

A country-bred girl, Charity Barlow suddenly finds herself married to a marquess, an aloof stranger determined to keep his thoughts and feelings to himself. She and Lord Robert have been forced by circumstances to marry, and she feels sure she is not the woman he would have selected given a choice.

The Marquess of St. Malin makes it plain to her that their marriage is merely for the procreation of an heir, and once that is achieved, he intends to continue living the life he enjoyed before he met her.

While he takes up his life in London once more, Charity is left to wander the echoing corridors of St. Malin House, when she isn’t thrown into the midst of the mocking Haute Ton.

Charity is not at all sure she likes her new social equals, as they live by their own rules, which seem rather shocking. She’s not at all sure she likes her new husband either, except for his striking appearance and the dark desire in his eyes when he looks at her, which sends her pulses racing.

Lord Robert is a rake and does not deserve her love, but neither does she wish to live alone.

Might he be suffering from a sad past? Seeking to uncover it, Charity attempts to heal the wound to his heart, only to make things worse between them.

Will he ever love her?

In this excerpt, Charity prepares for a ball.

Brigitte had just begun the finishing touches to Charity’s toilette, when a knock sounded at the door. Charity gave a nervous start. “That must be Robert.” Had he come to inspect her and see if she looked regal enough?

She swallowed as feelings of inadequacy consumed her.

A footman bowed. “Lord Southmore is below, my lady. He wishes to attend while you dress.”

“Watch me dress?” Appalled, Charity frowned into the mirror and pulled her wrap over her bosom. “What can he mean?”

“He asks to come to your boudoir, my lady,” Brigitte said, “to assist with the placing of your patches, jewelry and hair adornment. It is often done.”

“Indeed?” Charity thought this a most deplorable fashion.

“You would insult him should you refuse, my lady.”

Charity remembered Robert’s warning about his friend, but it only served to make her rebellious. Would Robert be just a little jealous to find he’d been here? “This is the way of things?”

“Oh yes, my lady. I have seen it many times.”

She was sure that Lord Southmore didn’t wish her to look regal. “Have him come up,” she said.

Shortly afterward, the elegant man, dressed in peach satin, entered the room and came to kiss her hand. “Lady St Malin.”

How civil he was. And quite attractive, she hadn’t noticed that before. She felt sure that a man such as he would never give a woman a moment’s heartache. “Lord Southmore.”

He settled on a chair beside her as Brigitte opened the box containing patches. “Now let me see. One here, I think.” He traced her cheekbone with a feather light touch. “And one at the very corner of your mouth, to highlight one of your best features.” He brushed her bottom lip with the tips of his fingers before withdrawing his hand.

Charity wanted to giggle, but as Lord Southmore appeared quite serious, she said, “Thank you, my lord. I appreciate your assistance.”

His gaze moved over her, the warm light in his eyes failing to match his impersonal tone. “Now for the hair.” He turned to study her waiting gown. “An excellent choice. That lovely shade of green will pay homage to your eyes. For your hair, those silk gardenias are perfect.”

Brigitte began to tuck the flowers into Charity’s hair. “Superb,” Lord Southmore said. “Now, I recommend — “

“Emeralds,” a sharp voice came from the doorway.

Charity turned to find her husband entering the room, a muscle clenching in his jaw. She trembled at his steely expression, but raised her chin and held his gaze.

Lord Southmore rose and bowed. “St Malin. You are just in time for the gown.”

“So I see,” Robert said through his teeth.

Charity hurried behind the painted screen. She slipped off the wrap. Brigitte helped her step into the gown, then her deft fingers worked at the hooks.

Brigitte smoothed a silk ruffle. “There, my lady.” Charity stepped out to face the two men.

“Perfect. I was right about the color enhancing your eyes,” Lord Southmore said, a mocking smile playing at the corners of his mouth. “Wouldn’t you say, St Malin?”

Robert’s eyes narrowed, and he didn’t answer. He opened a velvet box. She expected the diamonds, but he drew from it an exquisite emerald necklace. The deep green stones, set in a bed of diamonds, looked like pretty spring flowers. He tossed the box to the maid and clasped the necklace around Charity’s throat.

Charity felt his fingers at the nape of her neck. She anxiously watched his face in the mirror. He looked as if he would prefer to throttle her rather than adorn her with jewels. She would not allow him to spoil the evening.

“Thank you, St Malin.” The use of his title felt strange on her tongue, and she saw by the surprise in his eyes that she’d scored a hit. “Another beautiful necklace. I declare you spoil me.” She turned to Lord Southmore. “And my thanks to you, my lord, for your skillful artistry.”

Lord Southmore bowed. “A pleasure.”
She took her cloak and gloves from Brigitte. “Shall we go, gentlemen?”

Compliments of the Season!

Maggi Andersen
Join me on FB: Maggi Andersen Author
Twitter: @maggiandersen

Research: My thanks to Silouette for the images.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

O, Christmas Tree, Part 1

Viggo Johansen 1891

By: Stephanie Burkhart

Ah, there's nothing like the woodsy outdoor smell of a Douglas Fir to put me in the Christmas spirit. Throughout the years a Douglas Fir or a Scotch Pine have been the most popular types of Christmas tree. I remember growing up as a little girl in New Hampshire, we'd go cut us down a pine. The smell was invigorating to the bones. Nowadays I have an artificial Douglas Fir that I put up in the my California home. Thank goodness for Yankee Candle who have a great selection of Christmas scents including pine, balsam, and fir. I may be missing the snow, but for me, the Christmas tree is an announcement that Christmas is coming. Now is the time to prepare.

In my research, I discovered Romans, Egyptians, and Celtics used to hang evergreen boughs to keep away evil spirits or decorate homes during the winter solstice. The customs weren't quite the same thing as a Christmas tree, but they speak to the tradition during this time of the year, setting a prescient for the trees to come.

Interestingly, evidence of the first Christmas tree comes from modern day Latvia and Livonia dating back to 1510. The use of the Christmas tree spread to Germany. There's a reference to a tree that one was put up in Bremen, Germany in 1570. The tree was decorated with apples, nuts, dates, pretzels and paper flowers. Bremen is a town in northwestern Germany. I would pass by it on my way to Bremerhaven during the late 1980's.

Martin Luther even has a footnote in the Christmas tree saga, adding candles to the tree because they reminded him of the stars that appeared on the night Jesus was born. The intent of the tree is to tell the story of Christ's birth with a star or angel topper and lights. Other decorations help to fill out the tree.

The Christmas tree became popular in Germany and followed the Hanovers to England. When Anne died, George 1 from Hanover, Germany was invited to take the throne. He brought his Christmas tree with him. The tree, however, didn't catch on with the public in Britain. Several European courts though began throwing up trees. Princess Henrietta put one up in Austria in 1816. France began putting up trees around this time. Denmark's Countess Wilhemine of Holsteinborg decorated hers in 1808.

13-year-old Queen Victoria even had a Christmas tree. In 1832 she wrote in her journal:

"We then went into the drawing room near the dining room. There were 2 large round tables on which were placed 2 trees hung with lights and sugar ornaments."

But the Christmas tree still hadn't caught on.

Victoria goes public with her tree.

In 1846 (or 1848, I find conflicting dates) Victoria, now Queen posed with Prince Albert and her children around her Christmas tree for the "Illustrated London News."

She was a big hit. Everything Victoria did was fashionable and that year she made the Christmas tree a household tradition.

Decorations consisted of homemade crafts, apples, nuts, quilted snow flakes, paper baskets with almonds, and tinsel.

Did you know?

In 1610, Tinsel was invented in Germany. They used real silver for tinsel right up until the mid-20th Century.

Glass Christmas ornaments made in Lauscha, Thuringia, Germany became popular in Britain and were often used to decorate the tree.

In the late 1880's in Britain, trees grew tall and were packed with decorations. Themed trees like the "Oriental" tree or "Egyptian" tree became popular.

Victorian passed away and so did the nation's passion for Christmas trees until the 1930's. Christmas offered a sense of security and Britain was ready to capture that feeling with the uncertainty festering around the world at the time.

Next: How did the Christmas tree get to America? Look for part 2 coming soon on my blog on 20 DEC 2012.

Question: What do you put on the top of your tree? A star? An angel? Something else? What theme or story does your tree tell? I'd love to hear your decoration ideas.

Author Bio: Stephanie Burkhart is a 911 Dispatcher for LAPD. Prior to that she spend 11 years in the US Army. Her latest release is "A Gentleman and a Rogue," Book 2 of The Windsor Diaries, her steampunk romance series.


"I was hooked in it and did not want it to end. All of you romantic historical fans don’t miss this one – it is a winner." - 5 Stars, Trudi LoPreto for Reader's Favorites

"It’s the Amazing Race with energy sources in Stephanie Burkhart’s second steampunk." - 5 Stars, Muddy Rose Reviews












Monday, December 10, 2012


Queen's Theatre, Haymarket, the 18th-century predecessor of the theatre; watercolour by William Capon (V&A)

When my heroine, Miss Horatia Cavendish, attended the theatre in London for the first time in A Baron in Her Bed, in1816, it was very different than it is today. Opera goers gossiped with friends, peered at the audience through opera glasses and hissed weak performances while appreciating a well-performed aria.
Today, opera is regarded as a ‘work’ based on the composer’s intentions for that work.  In the 18th and early 19th centuries opera and theatre was seen as an event. And as an event, people were free to roam around during the performance and converse, as the actors and singers performed. The event itself was the focal point, even from the perspective of most composers, and the spectators were important participants in the event, although talent onstage was necessary to draw a full house. As The Times acknowledged in 1789, for instance, “The total want of variety at this once elegant Theatre, (the King’s Theatre) the wretched dancers, have driven away those who used to make it a point to see and be seen.

The social aspects of opera going were not entirely distinct from aesthetic concerns, Although many spectators attended for social reasons, the interactive behavior of the Georgian opera audience was framed within the context of the event orientation.  
As mentioned in the letters of Lady Sarah Bunbury in 1764, members of the elite were more interested in the singers than the composers, to the arias particularly, and were not centrally concerned with the story. She wrote: “I hear the Opera is in high fashion, & Manzoli is vastly liked; the woman is a good singer, & I am told is excessively like me.” At the opera that Saturday: “I had a vile place & nobody to speak to, so I attended to the Opera, & I assure you without affectation that I was vastly amused, & liked the man vastly; so I did the woman, but she was not fashionable, which mortified me, for she is really very like me, only she squints a little.”  It was the talent of the singers which drew them. Many spectators, even those who were not connoisseurs, were quite knowledgeable about music and opera, but the scope of their knowledge was defined by Georgian tastes and standards, and thus it differed from the ideal laid out by supporters of the work-concept
Because of their focus on solo arias, Georgian spectators were not required to give unrelenting attention in order to understand and appreciate an opera. This freed them up to socialize.
By the 1820s, members of the elite usually knew the names of the leading singers but focused on similar characteristics. Harriet Arbuthnot was one of the many opera-goers who reflected on the rivalry between Giuditta Pasta and Henriette Sontag in 1828: “We have got a new singer over who is, they say, to faire furor, Mlle Sontag. She was cried up before she came as the greatest beauty that ever was beheld but, however, in that respect she is not particularly admired. She sings beautifully, not equal to Pasta but with a facility & execution that is really enchanting.” Like Lady Bunbury, Harriet Arbuthnot focused on the singer’s beauty and technique.
The introduction of Mozart’s operas, which dominated the repertoire at the King’s Theatre from 1816 to 1820, began to change the concept of opera as an event when audiences revered Mozart as a musical genius and flocked to hear his 'work'.  His operas began to solicit silent, inwardly focused attention, while Rossini’s music could be enjoyed while socializing with friends. 

RESEARCH: FASHIONABLE ACTS, Opera and Elite Culture in London, 1780-1880. Jennifer Hall-Witt, University of New Hampshire Press.

Maggi Andersen is an author of Historical Romance and Romantic Suspense novels. Her latest release is A Baron in Her Bed ~ The Spies of Mayfair Series, Book One.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Ellis Island

Ellis Island, the reception centre for all new immigrants to New York, newly opened in 1900 after the earlier wooden structure burned down. Ships arrived daily, filled with hopeful immigrants by the score, as many as 10,000 people to be processed. Russian Jews seeking escape from persecution, Hungarians, Slovakians, Poles, Italians, all speaking to each other in different tongues, eating strange foods, suffering the dangers and indignities of the crossing in grim silence. They came for free education, a free vote, low taxes, high wages, no religious repression, no kings or compulsory military service. They often left behind loved ones, poverty, starvation, unemployment, congested living conditions, oppression. In America they dreamed of living in a free land, with the hope of a good future.

Conditions on board had been deplorable, but arrival would surely end their agony? Unfortunately a new one almost instantly began. Thousands of people jostled ashore. Rations would run short, children crying, weather conditions, whether too hot or too cold, making the waiting almost worse than steerage, and anxiety was high. Uniformed officials alarmed those who had escaped from a military regime back home. Often they were brusque and rude, shouting and swearing at the frightened immigrants. They too were tired, hot and hungry, as well as overworked, often having done a 12 hour shift on low pay. Patience was short.

Immigrants arrived laden with sacks, carpet bags, small trunks, rolled-up bundles tucked under their arm or balanced on their head. Luggage would be stowed on the ground floor while they proceeded up the stairs.

Everyone must first walk up the stairs to be inspected. Children over two had to walk unaided to prove they weren’t disabled. Anyone limping or short of breath was hauled out of line for further health checks. Anyone too carefully watching their step was suspected of having an eye problem. Fractious children or sulky teenagers could be pulled out of line and given a test for the feeble-minded. These stairs came to be known as ‘the six second exam.’

When they reached the top they would indeed catch their breath in amazement at what they saw. A huge, grand, high-ceilinged hall divided into railed channels along which they were herded like cattle. 

After that came the inspections. There would be a long wait in a queue, often for hours. Some would strike up music on an accordion or banjo, and do a little impromptu dance, while waiting. At the end of each line a doctor, dressed in the blue uniform of the US Health Service, carefully scrutinised every man, woman and child for physical or mental defects. Hair, face, neck and hands were closely examined, including the scalp for ringworm. Coats were unbuttoned to check for a goitre or tumour, or pregnancy.

There followed many more tests in which the immigrant would be asked for the details as outlined in the manifest:Name, age, sex, marital status, nationality, occupation, last residence, destination in America, how much money they had, and whether the immigrant could read and write. Also, had they paid their own passage, and did they have tickets through to their final destination. Had they ever served time in a prison or poorhouse, or suffered from any deformities or illnesses. A lone female, unless met by a man, would be returned from whence she came, although sexual favours could gain admittance to the US. If she was suspected of being a prostitute she would be forced to endure a bodily search by a female attendant.

There were any number of reasons for rejection. If the person failed any of these rapid and perfunctory inspections, or gave the wrong answer, a chalk mark was placed on their back. C for conjunctivitis; Ct for trachoma; K for hernia; L for lameness; Pg for pregnancy; S for senility; and many more. One in five failed. These people were pulled out of line, even if wrongly labelled, in a most callous and impersonal manner, and made to wait in a special holding area, namely a detention pen which was enclosed by wire screens. Then they would be sent back from whence they came, often alone, on the same ship which had brought them to America, and was now obliged to take them away for no extra charge.

Rosie Belsfield feels as if her life has ended when she is rejected from Ellis Island and has to return alone to England leaving her family behind. But having boarded the ship with one identity, fate decrees that she leave it with another. The promise of a new life beckons, one of riches and even a title in beautiful Cornwall, but it is also one fraught with danger as she becomes caught up in a web of lies not of her making.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Victorian Fashion with a Steampunk Twist

By: Stephanie Burkhart

One genre picking up steam these days is steampunk. It's a bunch of fun to write but the genre insists on a certain look and feel to it.

In a nutshell, a steampunk story is generally set in the early industrial period, where steam power is more widely known. Popular settings include Victorian England and the American West, but the story can placed anywhere. I've read stories that take place in Brazil and Egypt. Steampunk adds a second element such as science fiction, speculative fiction, fantasy or paranormal. Also, the majority of steampunk stories are set in alternative/parallel universes.

HG Wells, Jules Verne, and Mary Shelley are considered some of the founding "fathers" of the genre. What I find fascinating is that they would all be considered steampunk contemporaries considering the time period they were writing in.

Dressing up your steampunk characters

Generally, steampunk characters are a bit "grittier" and "earthy." There's an emphasis on form and functionality in the clothes. They've got to give and stretch. Items involving brass, iron, wood, and leather are common in design.

There's no set design in the clothes which can include traditional gowns, corsets, petticoats, vests, cloaks, and boots, however in steampunk, there's always a twist – the gown is made of leather, the vests are black with steel rivets for buttons and the clothing always falls on the earthier side.

Accessories make the man or woman when it comes to steampunk fashion. Expect to find military styled garments and fantastical timepieces made of brass, iron, goggles, and even ray guns. (Transmogrifiers) And let's not forget the steel earrings.

In my novel, "A Gentleman and a Rogue," Lord Ridgecroft embodies the steampunk look:

What made Ridgecroft stand out in a crowd was his manner of dress. He looked like he belonged in a circus poster. Ridgecroft wore leather pants and black boots that came to his mid- calves. He possessed a heavy leather jacket, almost a copper-brown color with thick creases. He was never without his goggles and if he didn't have them on his eyes, giving him a bug-eyed appearance, they hung around his neck like an old friend. The cherry on the top was the stash of cigars he always seemed to be able to hide in the jacket, though Keira never knew where they would fit.

His daughter, Jocelyn, is the apple of his eye:

His daughter, Jocelyn, inherited her fashion sense from her father. Jocelyn was Keira's age, and while Keira had had a more traditional education at Cambridge, Jocelyn received hers from tutors her father approved of. Tonight she wore a dress made of leather that went straight down to her ankles. Her leather jacket accentuated her upper body and her goggles protruded out of the belt that hugged her waist. Keira thought Jocelyn didn't wear a corset simply because she had no idea how it fit. Her thick ebony hair tumbled over her shoulders and down her back. She wore a heavy layer of black mascara -- or was it midnight blue -- on her eyelids, but aside from the makeup around her eyes, her cheeks and lips were not done up. Brass hoop earrings hung from a clip on her ear. Most men avoided her like the plague -- except for Jonas and Jax Ruston. Jax worked with his father at the Ruston's metal works building heavy duty steam-powered equipment and locomotives. The Rustons were well known for their quality.

Steampunk fashion strives for a retro-futuristic look and is only limited by your imagination. As Jocelyn might say: "Accessorizing can be shocking."

Author Bio: Stephanie Burkhart is a 911 Dispatcher for LAPD. Prior to that she spend 11 years in the US Army. Her latest release is "A Gentleman and a Rogue," Book 2 of The Windsor Diaries, her steampunk romance series.


"I was hooked in it and did not want it to end. All of you romantic historical fans don’t miss this one – it is a winner." - 5 Stars, Trudi LoPreto for Reader's Favorites

"It’s the Amazing Race with energy sources in Stephanie Burkhart’s second steampunk." - 5 Stars, Muddy Rose Reviews