Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Nineteenth Century Christmas Wish List, 2023 Edition

I hope those of you in the states had a lovely Thanksgiving. The day after, my thoughts always turn to Christmas. So, as I have in years past, I thought I’d share some goodies you might want to put on the gift list for yourself or anyone else who loves the nineteenth century!

An Etsy shop with the intriguing name of Neurons Not Included has a delightful beveled glass ornament showing the spines of Jane Austen’s beloved books.

And if you want to be certain your books are returned to you, you might turn to Pickled Stamps on Etsy for embosser stamps declaring the book’s ownership.

Perhaps you intend to do some entertaining over the holidays. Café Press has some lovely notecards designed to look like an invitation to the Pemberly ball. Who wouldn’t want to attend that! 

And if you need coffee while penning those invites, you might find this mug just the thing to keep you warm. As the temperature of the mug changes with its contents, so does the finery of the ladies on it. 


Then again, what lady would despise reproduction jewelry pieces? Lady Detalle on Etsy has a number of Victorian and Regency reproduction jewelry pieces.  As does Dames Alamode on eBay, although those tend more to the Georgian

And I simply have to mention our own Marissa’s Ladies of Almacks magnets and 2024 calendar. I ordered several sets of the magnets this year, as I keep thinking of friends who would love her unique blend of history, fashion sense, and snark.

Remember, if you want to keep up with what Marissa and I are doing, be sure to sign up for our newsletters, which give you access to all kinds of lovely free stories. You can find mine here and hers here.

May all your shopping be hassle-free, and your thoughtful gifts greatly appreciated!

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Retro Blast: Happy Thanksgiving!!

I can’t say it any better than I did back in 2011—Regina and I wish our American readers the very happiest of Thanksgivings. I’m still making that cranberry ginger sauce as posted below (which I’ll have to go do as soon as I post this—it does best if it has a day or two in the fridge before serving) as well as another family favorite Thanksgiving side dish—garlic and rosemary marinated mushrooms.

And speaking of recipes, Book View Café’s BVC Eats: Recipes from the Authors of Book View Café is now available in print as well as in e-book form from all the usual suspects, as well as directly from Book View Cafe.

* * * * *

Although Thanksgiving was not a holiday that would have been celebrated by the 19th century British young ladies of our books, Regina and I certainly celebrate it…and one of the things we’re most thankful for is you, our readers. You’re truly what keeps us blogging every week…so thank you!

Now, just because Thanksgiving isn’t a 19th century British holiday doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate it in our own way…so Regina and I would like to offer you some recipes with a 19th century flavor that might do well at your own Thanksgiving feast.

This first one is from Beeton’s Book of Household Management, first published in England in 1861 by Mrs. Isabella Beeton. Remember that name…you’ll be hearing more about her in the coming weeks. This sounds like a terrific way to use up leftover Thanksgiving mashed potatoes:

Potato Rissoles

Mashed potatoes
Salt and pepper to taste
Minced parsley
Egg (number depends on how much mashed potatoes is available)
Bread crumbs (likewise)

Beat the egg in a shallow dish. Set bread crumbs aside in another shallowdish or plate. Add a seasoning of pepper and salt and a little minced parsley to the mashed potatoes. Roll the potatoes into small balls, dip them into the egg and then cover them in bread crumbs. Fry in hot oil or butter for about 10 minutes. Drain and dish them on a napkin, then serve. Note.-The flavour of these rissoles may be very much increased by adding finely-minced tongue or ham, or even chopped onions, when these are liked.

And here’s a recipe from Queen Victoria’s chief chef, Charles Francatelli:

French Beans with fine herbs

Pick over, trim, and wash string beans, and boil in lightly salted water until tender. Put two pats of butter into a stewpan with a tablespoonful of chopped parsley and also two shallots finely chopped, a little nutmeg, mignionette pepper [a mix of black and white pepper and coriander] and salt, and the juice of a lemon; simmer this over a stove-fire until melted, and then add the beans, tossing the whole together, and serve.

This last recipe isn’t 19th century, but it makes its appearance every year on my Thanksgiving table:

Pickled Ginger Cranberry Sauce (from Cooks Country Magazine, October/November 2008)

Pulse one 16 ounce can cranberry sauce (I prefer whole berry myself—gives a better texture), 2 tablespoons drained pickled ginger, and 1 teaspoon wasabi powder or dry mustard in foor processor until combined. Refrigerate, covered, for 30 minutes. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Have a pleasant Thanksgiving, full of good food and good company!

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Return to the Frontier with The Schoolmarm’s Convenient Marriage

I’m delighted to report that the fourth book in my Frontier Matches series, The Schoolmarm’s Convenient Marriage, is out in the world!

Once the darling of her Boston-area community, Alice Dennison has travelled across the entire country to start life over as a schoolteacher in the tiny settlement of Wallin Landing, north of frontier Seattle. No one there knows the humiliation and hurt hidden in her heart. Perhaps she can finally be herself. Then a storm forces her to seek shelter with a handsome logger for the night, and suddenly she’s facing marriage or scandal! Again!

One look, and shy Jesse Willets knew the pretty, proper schoolmarm wasn’t the woman for him. He saw the love between his mother and father, a love built on common values, shared experiences. He has nothing in common with Alice, except maybe a desire to make the world a little better.

The community comes together to help this unlikely couple find their way in a marriage of convenience, and Jesse and Alice begin to discover that they have more in common than they thought. When Alice’s past intrudes, revealing secrets, they must work together for their chance at happiness. In doing so, they may discover that true love is not so distant after all.

“This is a wonderful, sweet love story that I highly recommend for those who enjoy marriages of convenience or with an interest in the history of Washington state. There are many details that help ground the reader in the time and place, and I really love how this town has become almost a character in itself. This one should not be missed!” Lynda’s Reviews

Available at fine online retailers including

Directly from me 



Barnes and Noble 

Apple Books 


Looking for print? Try Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Now We're Cookin'!

We certainly are! I’m delighted to announce that Book View Café’s first cookbook, BVC Eats: Recipes from the Authors of Book View Café, which I co-edited with fellow BVC author Shannon Page, is out today.

So why did a bunch of fantasy and science fiction and mystery and romance writers decide to publish a cookbook? Several reason, actually...the main one being that most of us love to cook. After all, cooking is as much a creative endeavor as writing is, and writers tend to have an itch to create more than just stories: we knit, sew, quilt, carve, paint, draw…and cook. Over the years we’ve published dozens of recipes on our blog, and as a way to commemorate our fifteenth year in business, a cookbook seemed like a fun way to celebrate.

The fun part is that this isn’t just a collection of recipes. Each contributor has prefaced their recipes by an origin story, the inspiration for the recipe, or a memorable occasion at which they served it. It’s as enjoyable to read as it is to cook from, whether you wish to make cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, a Sunday brunch, an elegant dinner, a pig roast, or what's being served on Mars at a well-known girls’ school.

BVC Eats is releasing exclusively from Book View Café until November 20, when it will be available from all the usual online bookstores and in print. We hope you’ll check it out, because in this case, good eating is also good eating.

Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Posts That Go Bump in the Night

We’ve not had very much to say about Halloween on NineteenTeen, mostly because it wasn’t all that much of a “holiday” to the 19th century misses we often write about....though I can't imagine that they wouldn't have enjoyed parts of it as celebrated in the 21st century.

But that doesn’t mean that our 19th century misses didn’t enjoy a shiver or two, whatever day the calendar said it was … and those shivers could generally be found in a circulating library. Spooky stories had become to come into their own in the second half of the 18th century, and authors such as Horace Walpole, Ann Radcliffe, and Matthew Lewis wrote hugely popular "horrid" fiction—stories that would eventually be gently lampooned by Jane Austen. Later in the century and up to this day, tales of ghosts and the supernatural were more likely to be popular in Britain around a different holiday; authors like M.R. James wrote ghost stories for the Christmas season that still raise goosebumps on readers today.

And, after all, maybe Halloween was not widely observed because unexplained phenomena—ghosts and other echoes of the past—are so common in Britain. When unexplained footsteps and cold drafts happen every day, who needs a special spooky holiday?

Hmm. Then again, if Reece's Peanut Butter Cups are involved, I just may have to raise my hand...


Have a sweet, shivery evening, everyone!

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Not a Slippery Slope


Here’s a bit of a riddle to introduce today’s topic: can you guess what it is?

  • Jane Austen wrote her books on one.
  • The daughters of George III had them for their voluminous correspondence and artwork.
  • You can order one on-line right this minute, from a multitude of places.

What is it?

It is one of these: writing slopes!

Writing slopes are elegant little boxes (generally twelve to fourteen inches wide and ten to twelve inches deep.) They’re called slopes because they open like so, providing an angled surface (generally around twenty-five or thirty degrees), usually covered with fabric (blue velvet is a favorite) that provides an absorbent surface on which to write—in short, a portable desk.

The interiors are divided into small compart- ments in which one could keep writing paper, pens, ink, penknives, sealing wax, and all the other appurtenances of writing. The tiny ink bottles just slay me!


They could be relatively plain, like this one:



Or elaborately inlaid with decorative woods, bone, mother of pearl, and metal. They often had locks, so that one could store private correspondence in them; some even had secret compartments.

The world is fortunate that Jane Austen's writing slope, a gift from her father in the 1790s, has been preserved—along with are purported to be some of her spectacles! It is in the collections of the British Library; go here to see a couple of really cool 3-D manipulative images of it.

And as for writing slopes today, physical therapists, teachers, and orthopedists have found that using a slanted surface to write, read, or draw at, which is why slanted surfaces are readily available today. However, I’ve yet to see one as pretty as those from the 19th century!

* * * * *

Speaking of slopes…slide your mind back to March 2022, when NineteenTeen welcomed guest blogger Katie Kennedy to talk about which president she would most prefer to go bathing suit shopping with (among other things!) I’m happy to report that Katie’s The Presidents Decoded: A Guide to the Leaders Who Shaped Our Nation is out today!  You can find it at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or your favorite independent bookstore.

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Why Celebrate One Regency Holiday When You Can Celebrate Six?

We’ve talked about a number of Regency holidays over the years such as Christmas and Easter. I’m delighted to report that I have a Regency steampunk story, in the Regent’s Devices universe, out this Thursday. Like the other stories, which are more-traditional Regencies, it centers around a Regency holidays. We cover from May Day to Twelfth Night, featuring some of your favorite tropes—enemies-to-lovers, second-chance romance, forbidden love, friends-to-lovers, and more! The collection includes the following stories:

May Day Mayhem by Ann Chaney—Intrigue, death, and love come to Horsham-Upon-the-Thames as the small English village anticipates their May Day celebration. Home Office agents the Duke of Doncaster and governess Helen Stokes join forces to uncover a missing list of French agents before an enemy discovers it. Mired in May Day preparations while chasing hoodlums and gentry, Helen and Doncaster try to fight their mutual attraction in a romantic farce worthy of Covent Garden.

My Favorite Mistake by Courtney McCaskill—Sixteen years ago, lady’s maid Fanny Price was swept off her feet by a handsome horse trainer named Nick Cradduck. The very next day, he shattered her heart. But now, at the Cooper’s Hill Cheese Rolling and Wake, who should Fanny encounter but the man she crossed all of England to avoid… A second-chance love story featuring Fanny, the scene-stealing lady’s maid from How to Train Your Viscount!

His Damsel by Charlotte Russell—During her annual visit to Bartholomew Fair, Eliza Cranstoun is mistaken for a lady in distress when in fact she was attempting to avenge the honor of her cousin. Now, she insists Anthony Ripley, her savior, help her bring down a lordly scoundrel. Amidst the scheming however, the independent Eliza and the confirmed bachelor Anthony, discover that love finds even those who choose not to seek it.

When I Fall In Love by Cora Lee—The Harvest Festival is a chance for reunions and love, but perhaps not for childhood friends Sylvie Devereaux and Kit Mathison. When Kit returns to renovate the home he inherited, Sylvie’s financial burdens prompt Kit to propose a marriage of convenience. But Sylvie has always wanted to marry for love, and they don't love each other…do they?

Remember by Shannon Donnelly—Over the years, Beatrice Foxton keeps meeting up with Andrew Cliffs on Guy Fawkes Night, but these two friends are separated by her family’s expectations for her to marry a well-born lord and his family’s background in trade. And, yet, they can’t stay away from each other...

The Aeronaut’s Heart by Regina Scott—Josephine Aventure was on her way to earning a place in England’s Aeronautical Corps until the dashing smuggler she’d once loved showed up. Etienne Delaguard risked much to help England win the war against France. Over a Twelfth Night masquerade, can a gentleman of the sea win the heart of a lady of the air?

You can find all the links to your favorite online retailers here.

Time to celebrate!