Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Guest Post: Concerts on the Rock by Alissa Baxter

I had the delight of reading an advance copy of Alissa Baxter's February 2023 book, so I happily invited her to share some of her research for her series on intrepid ladies with us at Nineteen Teen. Enjoy! Regina

I set the second book in my Linfield Ladies series, The Viscount’s Lady Novelist, partly on an estate near Bristol. It was fascinating to research the area as it is not a popular setting in Regency romances. During the course of my research, I found out about the concerts which once were held at St Vincent’s Rock. Here is an excerpt from Chilcott’s Descriptive History of Bristol, Ancient and Modern, Or, A Guide to Bristol, Clifton and the Hotwells by John Chilcott:

“To an observer on the Clifton side of the river, the opposite woods in summer present a most charming appearance: they contain almost every forest tree indigenous to this country; among which the broad-leaved sycamore, the majestic oak, the sombre ewe, the lofty elm, the graceful mountain ash, with many others, are seen blending their hues together, and forming a scene of foliage that for variety and exuberance is scarcely to be equalled. Here it is not uncommon, during fine summer evenings, for a band of musicians to assemble, at which time the opposite side is covered with an attentive crowd. The soft sounds wafted across the water are truly enchanting!”


And here's how it played out in The Viscount’s Lady Novelist:


As Oliver made his way across to her, strains of music began to waft across the river, indicating the musicians had begun their rehearsal. “Have you attended such a concert before, Miss Linfield?”

“Yes, indeed, my lord. You will find it quite remarkable.” She pointed in the direction of the trees. “Inside the recesses of that wood is a cave. On fine summer evenings, a band of musicians assembles within to play by torchlight. The music reverberates over the river in the most delightful way.”

The crowd hushed as the band performed their first piece. The notes carried across the water, multiplied by the endless echoes of the rocks.

“It’s truly enchanting!” Harriet’s glanced up at him, her expression rapt. “Do you not think so, my lord?”

He inclined his head. The venue and the talented musicians provided a unique experience for any music lover. An attentive crowd of men and women stood quietly amongst the rocks while the musicians played a range of melodies, from popular folk songs to more formally arranged pieces by Handel and Vivaldi.

As the concert drew to a close, Oliver murmured, “We are like so many Thracians, but Orpheus never performed so beautifully.”

Harriet smiled. “Indeed. Orpheus may have been able to charm all living things and even stones with his music, but our musicians must surpass even him in the sweetness of their playing.”

You can find The Viscount's Lady Novelist at fine online retailers such as

Amazon US 

Barnes and Noble 

Alissa Baxter wrote her first Regency romance during her long university holidays. After travelling the world, she settled down to write her second Regency novel, which was inspired by her time living on a country estate in England. Alissa then published two chick lit novels, The Truth About Clicking Send and Receive (previously published as Send and Receive) and The Truth About Cats and Bees (previously published as The Blog Affair). Many years later, Alissa returned to her favourite period with her Linfield Ladies Series, a trio of Regency romances that feature women in trend-setting roles who fall in love with men who embrace their trailblazing ways... at least eventually. Alissa currently lives in Johannesburg with her husband and two sons. She is a member of Regency Fiction Writers. Her website is https://www.alissabaxter.com/.

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Ride a Cock Horse to Banbury Cross…

I don’t know if her horse is white or what she might be wearing on her fingers and toes, but this is one fine lady in a Riding Dress from La Belle Assemblée, June 1816.


The original description reads

No. 2.—RIDING DRESS. Of fine blue Merino cloth, embroidered and ornamented round the bust and cuffs in a novel and unique style. This new equestrian costume, by fastening on the back of the shoulder, preserves all the contour of the form, which habits, in general, are apt to destroy. A full double ruff of fine Vandyke lace is separated from the shirt collar by a Chinese silk handkerchief of blue and white. Small round hat of fine beaver or of moss silk. Half boots of blue kid; with Limerick gloves worked and seamed with blue.”

A few points to discuss here…

  • While the embroidery and ornamentation around the bust and cuffs are described as “novel and unique”, that doesn’t actually say much. So did the engraver decide what that meant? I mean, “novel and unique” could also mean bright orange ostrich tips sewn down with gold thread, or rows of black bugle-bead fringe, or…well, take your pick!

  • Why is it that almost every riding habit I’ve seen in both La Belle Assemblée and Ackermann’s Repository is light blue?

  • I would like to know precisely how the habit fastens on the back of the shoulder. Does the front of the bodice come up like a bib and get pinned somewhere near the shoulder blades? Inquiring minds need to know.

  • The text refers to a “shirt collar” around which a silk kerchief is tied. I wonder if she is wearing a full shirt under the woolen habit, or just a collar? Seems a bit warm for June…but then again, this was 1816, the infamous Year without a Summer, so maybe a shirt was a good idea.

  • The hat. It’s adorable. That’s all.

Overall, though, this habit doesn’t do it for me; I think it’s the floral embroidery and kinda goofy frill around the neck. Give me this deliciously over-the-top military-inspired habit from Ackermann's Repository any day... 

 

And though most Victorian fashions are off-putting, I have to admit that later Victorian ladies’ riding habits are about as elegant as they come.

Any thoughts?

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Launching a Lord

I have loved Petunia Bateman since the day she walked on screen as the youngest sister of Sir Matthew Bateman in Never Kneel to a Knight. She was outspoken, bighearted, and intrigued by the world around her. That hasn’t changed now that she’s all grown up and the heroine of her own story!

Spunky Petunia Bateman may be a commoner, but she is far from common. Anyone who cannot appreciate that is not worth her time. Then her best friend’s fiancé, the deposed crown prince of Batavaria, awards her a title, and the man she once loved decides she might be worth another look. Think again, sir!

Lord Ashforde had considered the lovely Miss Bateman for his bride three years ago. But his family history convinced Ash that cool heads and calm demeanors must prevail. There is nothing cool and calm about his feelings for Petunia, which have only grown since he rashly decided against her. But can he convince her, and himself, to give their love another try?

When the prince asks Petunia to persuade Ash to take up their cause to see their kingdom restored, the two are thrown together, and the enemies of Batavaria take note. Can love blossom amid skullduggery? Especially with an unlikely couple that might be made for each other?

The book is available in print and ebook at fine online retailers and soon a bookstore near you:

Smashwords 

Amazon (affiliate link)

Barnes and Noble 

Kobo  

Apple Books 

FYI—Marissa and I will be out November 22, celebrating Thanksgiving week with family and friends. Hope you have an opportunity to do the same. Be sure to catch Marissa’s post next week, and come back on November 29 for a special guest post by the amazing Alissa Baxter!

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Shenanigans at the Shore?

In Betrayal at Brighton, the eighth and newest addition to The Ladies of Almack’s series, Annabel and the Lady Patronesses are in Brighton to do the unthinkable: investigate one of their own.

Annabel has, much against her inclination, agreed to spend a few weeks in Brighton with her fellow Lady Patroness, Frances Dalrymple, and Frances’s brother Lord Glenrick, now the Duke of Carrick. But much of the time she expects to spend investigating Frances’s alarming actions in Windsor gets taken up by playing companion to Princess Charlotte, daughter of the Prince of Wales…until her investigation and the Princess intersect in a shocking way. And then there are the bathing machines, the hundreds of ghosts in the cellar…and, of course, Lord Quinceton.

Betrayal at Brighton is considerably longer than the previous installments; it just kept getting longer and longer, rather to my bemusement, and so is a book rather than a novella. My apologies if you preferred the shorter format of earlier stories—it took me by surprise as well. But there’s a lot going on here, including discovering at last just what it is that Frances and her brother are up to. And did I mention Quin? 😊

Betrayal at Brighton can be purchased directly from the publisher, Book View Café, in both EPUB and MOBI formats as well as from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Apple, GooglePlay, Smashwords, and elsewhere. Print versions can be found at Barnes and Noble and Amazon...or ask your local library to carry it.

In addition, Countess of Shadows: The Ladies of Almack’s Omnibus No. 1 is available everywhere after its initial release only from Book View Café. You can still find it at Book View Café as well as from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple, Kobo, GooglePlay, Smashwords, and elsewhere, and in print from Amazon and Barnes and Noble or from your favorite local bookstore...and don't forget your library!

 

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Baking Her Frontier Sweethearts

I have featured recipes and dinners—from elaborate multi-course events to simple fare cooked over a campfire—in many of my books. But Her Frontier Sweethearts, out now, was the first time I dreamed up an entire restaurant, complete with menus! I hope you’ll enjoy returning with me to the frontier of the Pacific Northwest in 1876.

Ciara O’Rourke learned to bake sweet treats from the best, her older sister. Now determined to step out on her own, she agrees to start the first cookhouse and restaurant at Wallin Landing, a tiny settlement north of frontier Seattle. But nothing goes as planned, from the local loggers, who seem more interested in courting than being paying customers, to the baby who’s thrust into her arms by a stranger who rides off whispering warnings. 

Kit Weatherly sailed away from his controlling family on a tea clipper to explore the world. He’s since found a true family in the Wallin Landing logging crew. That is, until the pretty new cook informs him he’s uncle to a niece he never knew he had! One look in little Grace’s face, and Kit knows he’ll do anything to protect her. And one taste of Ciara’s cooking has him wondering what he’d have to do to convince her to take a chance on them both.

Her Frontier Sweethearts was a winner for me. I love books about protecting children and books about fake engagements so this was a special treat for me. A+” Hott Book Reviews 

You can find the story in print and ebook at fine online retailers such as

Smashwords 
Amazon 
Barnes and Noble 
Apple Books 
Kobo 

Make your reservation for a sweet treat today.

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Blast from the Past: When Jane Austen Went Bump in the Night

 

I am fond of the topic of this post, because I've always thought the Gothic novel craze was both fascinating and fun--enough so that I played with the genre in The Vanishing Volume, the second installment in The Ladies of Almack's series. Enjoy!

* * *

Jane Austen must have enjoyed a good laugh. How else could she have created Mr. and Mrs. Bennett, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, Marianne from Sense and Sensibility, and today's topic, Northanger Abbey?

Much of the divine Jane's early work was outright comedic, written to amuse her family; she especially seemed to have enjoyed parody, gently making fun of existing works and genres (her A History of England, a parody of Oliver Goldsmith's book of the same name and dedicated to her sister Cassandra, is pure silliness.) We've discussed the Gothic novel craze as a brief thing of the past, a temporary blip on the history of the English novel...but Jane experienced it in real time. And just as there are people who find today's vampire craze amusing, it's pretty clear that Jane got a chuckle from Gothic novels.

Northanger Abbey, though not published till after her death in 1818, is one of Jane's earliest major works: a first draft, entitled Susan, was probably written in 1798 or 1799. It's also the most explicitly literary of her major novels in that it's very much a book about books. The story begins with the introduction of the heroine: "No one who had seen Catherine Morland in her infancy would have supposed her born to be a heroine. Her situation in life, the character of her father and mother, her own person and disposition, were all equally against her. Her father was a clergyman...and he was not in the least addicted to locking up his daughters. Her mother was a woman of useful plain sense...and instead of dying in bringing [her] into the world, as anyone might expect, she still lived on...."

Jane is poking fun here at the convention in Gothic novels that the heroine be perfect and either orphaned or subject to the whims of a parent who has suffered a clouded past which will of course rebound upon his or her hapless child. The book continues in this vein with frequent authorial intrusions to point out how boring and normal Catherine and her life are...much to Catherine's dismay, for she is a devotee of books "provided they were all story and no reflection." Poor Catherine, with a head full of stories and a life full of commonplaces, for "There was not one lord in their neighbourhood; not even a baronet. There was not one family among their acquaintances who had reared and supported a boy accidentally found at their door; not one young man whose origin was unknown....But when a young lady is to be a heroine, the perverseness of forty surrounding families cannot prevent her. Something must and will happen to throw a hero in her way."

Of course Catherine does find a hero while visiting Bath. Handsome Henry Tilney and his sister invite her to visit their country home, Northanger Abbey, and Catherine is in raptures at the thought: will it be infested with the ghosts of murdered monks and inhabited by ancient retainers who know all the awful secrets of the family they serve? Jane has a field day with Catherine's visit: the Abbey is no crumbling, battlemented ruin but a comfortable, modern house; a dusty scroll hidden in a strange Japanese cabinet turns out to be an old laundry list. But then poor Catherine does indeed get a fright when the Tilneys' father, hitherto almost fawningly nice to her, suddenly turns cold and declares her visit at an end. Catherine learns that being the heroine in a dramatic story isn't as much fun as she thought it would be, but all ends happily: Henry Tilney follows her home and proposes, explaining that his rather money-grubbing father had thought her an heiress, but is told (falsely) that she was a penniless adventuress. Papa is brought round when he learns that Catherine has a respectable dowry, and all live happily ever after.

Northanger Abbey is probably the most light-hearted of Jane's books, with even its central love story being something of a joke (Henry Tilney takes no real notice of Catherine until he realizes she admires him enormously: "in finding him irresistable, becoming so herself." Read it, and laugh along with its author across the centuries.

 

P.S. Amusingly, it was thought that Jane Austen had made up many of the titles of Gothic novels mentioned in Northanger Abbey, until some scholarly detective work in the 1920s revealed that they had all, indeed, been realio, trulio published works.