Friday, September 29, 2017

Better Than the Sound of Silence

Two people dear to me are beginning to lose their hearing, and both are too proud to wear hearing aids. I find myself raising my voice a lot and attempting to enunciate more clearly than usual. Had they been born in the upper class in the early nineteenth century, however, they might have used an ear trumpet.

You may have seen the horn-shaped things in old movies or read about them in books. Basically, the cone collected sounds and funneled them to the ear. Made from silver, horn, or wood, some were custom designed for a particular client. In 1800, Frederick Rein opened the first commercial shop in London.

Most had to be hand-held or placed on a stand on the table, and thus were quite visible. Some were collapsible for easy transport, but still evident in use. Like my two darlings, not everyone wanted to advertise their loss of hearing. So, Rein also developed less noticeable types, such as twin flower-shaped horns worn over the top of the head like today’s headphones. He also developed an acoustic urn that sat in the center of a table, collected sounds from around the room, and funneled them down a long tube to the listener. For the King of Portugal, he designed a special chair, where open-mouthed lion heads on the arm rests channeled sounds to the top of the chair, near the king’s ears. Talk about stealth hearing devices!

Other famous people besides the king said to have used ear trumpets during the early nineteenth century include the painter Joshua Reynolds and Beethoven.

Now, allow me to trumpet a little. I’m delighted to report that I have an audio book for the first time! “An Engagement of Convenience” has been recorded as part of the Summer House Party audiobook by Brilliance Audio. I can’t describe my delight when I heard my words being read aloud for the first time by someone other than me! 

And I hope Daisy and Lynn Lovegreen will be equally delighted. Lynn won the $25 Amazon gift certificate from last week, and Daisy won a copy of one of my books (e-book for Edwards and Williams’ titles, print copy from my stash for my Love Inspired titles). Contact me at reginascott at owt dot com with your physical address, and I’ll send those right out. Thanks for being part of Nineteen Teen as we head into our next 10 years!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Regency Fabrics, Part 16

Here’s another post in our ongoing series on Regency fabrics.

As I have in previous posts, I’ll be examining actual fabric samples glued into several earlier editions of Ackermann’s Repository, samples supplied by the manufacturers and published by Ackermann in order to boost the British cloth-making industry at a time when exporting British goods to Europe was almost impossible because of the Napoleonic war. I'll give you a close-up scan of each sample, the published description if available, and my own observations of the color, weight, condition, and similarity to present-day materials, to give you as close a picture as possible of what these fabrics are like.

Today’s three samples are from the October 1810 issue of Ackermann’s Repository. The overall condition of my copy is moderate; while the physical integrity of the fabric samples is good, there’s a lot of spotting on the top sample that obscures the pattern somewhat—mildew, perhaps? The other two samples are in good condition.

Here we go!

No. 1 and 2. A most lively and appropriate furniture print, from Mr. Allen’s 61, Pall-Mall, adapted principally for drawing room curtains and sofas. Boudoir draperies have a most pleasing effect when composed of this article. The most happily contrasted linings are, shades of green, blue, and purple, with variegated fringes to correspond.

My comments: I will confess that my first impression of this pattern was a memory of the little circular gummed reinforcement labels for three-hole punched paper (remember those?) The fabric itself is very finely and evenly woven, with a smooth glazed chintz finish and sufficient weight to mean this fabric definitely draped well. But, um, paired with green, blue, or purple lining? Not in my boudoir, thank you very much!

No. 3. This is an article very superior of its order, forming a neat and delicate intermediate kind of robe, and procured at the most modest expence [sic], being offered from 8s. to 14s. the dress, at Millard’s, in the city. The proprietor of this fashionable resort, which we have had occasion to notice in the foregoing numbers of our Repository, has, we are informed from the best authority, succeeded in forming connections with the great commercial cities in Russia, India, China, South America, Germany, France, Spain, Scotland, and Ireland; and thus rendered the establishment a grand depĂŽt of every article which in elegance or utility can render a mansion comfortable or attractive, as far as relates to the requisite and ornamental furniture for drawing-rooms, eating and sleeping-rooms, nursery, &c. Ladies’ dresses of every degree, and of a superior description, as well as those for general use, are exhibited in abundance; and selections for forming new establishments made be readily made, and executed without delay. Here the nobility and gentry, the merchant, the country trader, and the public, are regularly supplied; and we cannot withhold the just portion of merit which belongs to the proprietor, whose persevering industry, ingenuity, and taste, have completed a depot on so vast and useful a scale. The assemblage of valuable India shawls, and of those manufactured in this country, are, we understand, immense in this establishment.

My comments: Well, it might have been nice to know a little more about the fabric and a little less about the industrious and ingenious (and unnamed!) proprietor in whose establishment this superior article could be purchased! It’s a very fine (and sheer—would definitely require a lining) muslin striped with a thin double line, of red and and white, twilled. Very dainty for a morning dress, I’m sure. Oh—did you notice the reference to the fact that the proprietor appeared to be trading with France? I would have thought that the little matter of being at war with that country might have interfered with trade, but evidently not!

No. 4 is a neat and appropriate article for gentlemen’s waistcoats, and is styled silk toilonet. It is ¾ yard wide, and sold by Messrs. Smith and Ash, fancy waistcoat warehouse, Prince’s-street, Soho, facing Coventry-street. The taste, utility, and reasonableness of this article, are too obvious to need further comment.

My comments: Hmm. I can’t help suspecting that further comment wasn’t forthcoming because the actual samples hadn’t been delivered to Ackermann’s offices before print time, but maybe I’m being cynical. It’s a curious fabric, without any modern counterpart that I can think of: heavier in weight, rather stiff, and in texture somewhere between flocked (like a velvet) and sueded, but not particularly soft to the touch. There’s a bar pattern woven in at wide intervals, of a single thread each of charcoal, brick red, and white. 

And did you think I forgot? The winners of our commenter drawing from my birthday party post last week are...

For the $25 Amazon gift card, veedham!
and for one of my print books (your choice),  mamafrog!

Ladies, if you would, please contact me via marissa @ marissadoyle dot com (removes spaces etc.etc.) so we can arrange for you to receive your prizes. Thank you all for commenting...and reading NineteenTeen!

(Oh, and a postscript: this is the last week By Jove will be on sale for 99 cents, so if you've been dithering on picking it up, now's the time to grab it before the price goes back up. You can snag it at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple's iBookstore, and Kobo, as well as at Book View Cafe's own store (in both epub and mobi formats.)

Friday, September 22, 2017

Nineteen Teen Turns Ten—Let Me Hear You Roar!

My word—ten years of blogging. Who would have thought? I wasn’t sure how I’d like it. I’d tried journaling and found that the writing pulled me away from my work in progress. Not good for a commercial author. At first the words for blog posts dripped out slowly, somewhat painfully, and at times I struggled to figure out what to cover on a given week. And then I realized—you like research too!

Oh, lovely, lovely research. I spent much of this week going down a long list of questions for the book I’m working on now. Were cats and dogs spayed and neutered during the Regency? (Verdict still out—anecdotal evidence suggests George Washington and other heroes of the Revolutionary War neutered dogs. But cats? More research!) What color are the stones in castles in Surrey? (Tan or warm gold, it seems.) Did cavalry officers’ wives lodge in tents with their husbands or in nearby towns? (Either and both). Which Hussar regiment saw duty in India before the Napoleonic wars? (Apparently none—foot soldiers only.)

Over the last ten years, I’ve learned about pedestrians, hobby horses, the original of matches, and the Grand Tour, research I hadn’t planned to undertake until a blog post beckoned. So thank you, Nineteen Teen readers, for making me smarter on the nineteenth century.

Now we stand on the threshold of a new decade of blogging. As we have in the past, we’d love to know where else you’d like us to venture. Please share your thoughts. We’ve done posts in the past because of your encouragement. What are you hungry to learn?

The writer of any comment with suggestions, or birthday wishes, or even just a stray “hi” will be entered in a drawing for a $25 Amazon gift card and one of my books (any of my self-published backlist as an e-book or select Love Inspired Historical print books from my stash, including this month’s Mail-Order Marriage Promise). The comment opportunity ends at midnight Thursday, September 28. Winner to be announced in my September 29th blog post.

Nineteen Teen—10 years strong. Let me hear you roar! 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Once Upon a Time...

It's story time, dear readers! 😁

One day, about ten years ago, I plucked up my courage and hit the “post” button on my first blog post, announcing to the world that the immortal words of two debut YA authors explicating the finer points of 19th century cultural history as it related to young adults would henceforth appear in this place (or something like that.) And with that, NineteenTeen made its debut.

Ten years later—yeah, ten!—Regina and I are still at it, closing in on 1000 posts (this one will be # 972.) We’re still talking about the stray bits and piece of history we run across and how history can intersect with today, still talking about books, and still having a lot of fun.

There have been some unexpected develop-ments along the way. I started collecting early 19th century fashion prints mostly because I wanted to be able to show what young ladies were wearing in this era, and have ended up a 19th century fashion diva as a result with several albums of beautiful prints that give me a great deal of pleasure as well as knowledge (and they take up a lot less space than shoes!) I’ve met authors and read books that have become new favorites. I’ve been led down delightful paths of research on different topics, and hope that you have too.

But the best—the absolute best—part of blogging on NineteenTeen has been my partnership with Regina. We had just met back in 2007, nervous new acquaintances rooming together at the RWA national conference in Dallas that July. As I recall it (correct me if I’m wrong, Regina!) I suggested the idea of starting a blog together just as we were saying good-bye in the hotel’s lobby. And now, we’re here, still blogging...except now, I count Regina as one of my dearest, closest friends. So thank you, NineteenTeen readers, for reading our blog—and enabling a beautiful friendship along the way.

AND...since it’s a birthday party, there have to be presents—for you! Everyone who comments today will be entered to win one of two prizes—a $25 gift card to Amazon, and a print copy of any one of my book (winner's choice.) Comments close at 11:59 pm on Sunday 9/24/17, and will be announced in next Tuesday’s post.

That’ll be our 974th post, incidentally. Thank you for coming along for the previous 973. 

Friday, September 15, 2017

Nineteenth-Century Heroine: Taming the Frontier(sman)

One of the things I’ve enjoyed in my Frontier Bachelors series is discovering (or rediscovering) real-life heroes and heroines in my own backyard. We’ve talked about the irascible Doc Maynard, who some consider the rightful father of Seattle. That's him on the right. But that venerable gentleman was brought to heel by the powers of love, and Catherine Broshears Maynard is to blame. 

Catherine was born in 1816 near Louisville, Kentucky. She was 16 years old when she married her first husband, a dashing Mississippi river boat pilot. Israel Broshears gave up the river for her and turned to farming. In 1850, they joined a wagon train for Oregon, along with family members on both sides. Tragedy struck when the train reached Nebraska in the form of cholera. Catherine lost her husband, mother, and brother-in-law that day. But she gained a devoted follower.

Doc Maynard came upon the ailing party and tended the ill, even to the point of helping Catherine bury her family. Despite his work, several more died in the days that followed. He stayed with Catherine, helped her drive her team all the way to The Dalles on the Columbia River.

Doc had intended to continue to California. Instead, he followed Catherine to Olympia, where her brother had a business. In 1850, she was one of a handful of unmarried white women on Puget Sound, was pretty, and had an engaging personality. I wish I could have found a picture of her, but all were copyrighted.

Dark-haired, with a round, winsome face and maidenly curves, she was besieged by suitors, but she told her family she would marry Doc Maynard, or no one. One story says her family threatened to shoot him if he showed up at the door again.

See, there was a little problem. Doc was already married, though unhappily. He petitioned the territorial legislature to grant him a divorce, which they did in 1852. Unfortunately, no one told Lydia, his first wife. Without her consent, the divorce wasn’t legal. Catherine may not have known that, or she might not have cared, for she married her gallant doctor in January 1853 and never looked back.

Over the next 20 years, Catherine had many adventures. She made friends with Chief Seattle’s daughter, travelled by canoe up the Black and Green Rivers, and was nurse at Seattle’s first hospital. When Doc was sent to Port Madison to serve as Indian Agent, she lived without even a tent for shelter for some months. And when some of the Native Americans rose up in protest against the unfair treaties of 1855, Catherine and several Native American women canoed across Puget Sound to warn Seattle of the coming danger.

Album de la flora médico-farmacéutica é industrial, indígena y exótica (Pl. 81) BHL11238588.jpgAfterward, Doc too attempted to become a farmer, building Catherine a fine clapboard house on Alki Point. Alas, he proved a much better doctor than farmer. Catherine liked to joke she was the only farmer she knew who was always starving. Legend has it she planted the first dandelions in the area, as a medicinal plant. My dear husband would have a few words to say to her about introducing that plant.

Doc passed away in 1873, leaving Catherine a grieving widow once more. But that didn’t stop her from contributing to the community she so loved. She opened a free public library in her home. During her later years, in her 60s and 70s, she rode astride over Snoqualmie Pass many times to visit family in Ellensburg, where she opened another hospital, birthed babies, sewed up gun-shot cowboys, and even amputated a man’s leg to save his life.  

Catherine died in Seattle in 1906 at the age of 90. Her funeral was one of the largest ever held in the City. She is remembered as a grand pioneer lady, who tamed not only the frontier, but the legendary Doc Maynard.

And speaking of legendary, next week we celebrate a legend in the making--10 years of Nineteen Teen! Join us for a very special blog birthday, with presents for you.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017


Mmm, another fashion print for my collection!

That’s what I thought when this charming Morning Walking Dress print from the November 1811 edition of La Belle Assemblee arrived in my mailbox last week. It’s an interesting design for a dress: the orange tunic trimmed with lace and navy blue braided frogging—a dashingly military touch!—over a muslin under-dress...the matching close-fitting hat with its bold, sweeping blue feather...the strappy shoes peeping out at the bottom... wonderful!

But as I peered closely at it to admire the details (regrettably, there are brown spots known as "foxing" around her face--after all, this is over two hundred years old), it slowly occurred to me to pay attention to what the lady in the snazzy ensemble was actually doing: she’s holding a small golden box in her left hand, while bringing the fingers of her right hand up to her nose...

Good heavens—I do believe the lady in this print is taking snuff!

Snuff—at it most basic, powdered tobacco—was popular in the 18th century and into the early 19th. The Prince Regent was devoted to snuff-taking, as were many of his friends: there were snuff shops where various blends of different tobaccos and other herbals were sold, and mixing one’s own preferred recipe was a hobby among some die-hards. Even some ladies took snuff—including the Prince Regent’s mother, Queen Charlotte—but its use wasn’t as widespread among women because...well, it could eventually stain one’s nostrils and upper lip a not very flattering brown, and often led to unattractive sneezing. Not an alluring lookbut obviously some ladies didn’t mind...!

On the other hand, here’s something to not sneeze at: for the next several days, you can get By Jove on sale for 99 cents! It’s available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and Apple’s iBooks store,
as well as directly from the publisher, Book View Cafe.

Friday, September 8, 2017

The Gentlest Wallin of All

Mail-Order Marriage Promise is the sixth book in my Frontier Bachelors series set in pioneer Seattle. Originally, I was only going to have three books in the series—one each for three friends who sailed from the East Coast to the West Coast after the Civil War to become brides for frontiersmen. The friends included Allegra Banks Howard (The Bride Ship), Catherine Stanway (Would-Be Wilderness Wife), and Maddie O’Rourke (Instant Frontier Family). But something funny happened when I wrote Catherine’s story.

I met the Wallins.

Pa Wallin was originally from Sweden. He immigrated to the U.S. and settled in the Great Lakes region, where he met and married Ma Wallin, who had Swedish and English blood. They proceeded to have five boys and a girl, the youngest of which was only four when they set off on the Oregon Trail, ending up in Washington Territory, just north of Seattle.

You see, Pa Wallin had a dream. He envisioned a graceful city along the shores of Lake Union, with parks and bandstands and libraries and schools. He wanted someplace people could feel at home, regardless of where they’d originated. When he died in a tragic logging accident, it fell to his oldest son, Drew, to lead the family and build the town that honored their father’s legacy.

So far, the noble Drew (Would-Be Wilderness Wife), pragmatic Simon (A Convenient Christmas Wedding), and charming James (Frontier Engagement) have had their own stories told. Mail-Order Marriage Promise tells the story of the next brother, John.

John is the dreamer of the family, the peacemaker. John’s strength comes from the books he devours. He  would rather think through a problem then raise his fists and fight to the end. Though Drew, Simon, and James are all within a few years of each other, John is actually 10 years Drew’s junior. He grew up looking at his older brothers as heroes. No one was a strong and dependable as Drew. No one was as smart and logical as Simon. No one was as witty as James. With them for comparisons, it’s no wonder John doesn’t consider himself hero material.

But then, sometimes all it takes is a smile of encouragement, a desperate need no one else can meet, and heroes are made.

I hope you’ll give John Wallin’s story a try. Here are the buy links one last time:

An independent bookstore near you 
The Book Depository, free shipping worldwide 

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Keeping a Promise

When you start writing a series for a traditional publisher, there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to finish it. Tastes changes, priorities shift, lines fade away. Knowing that, I’m pleased that I will be able to finish my Frontier Bachelor series for Love Inspired, telling the stories of siblings John, Levi, and Beth Wallin in 1870s Seattle, beginning with Mail-Order Marriage Promise, releasing today.

Stunned that his sister ordered him a mail-order bride, John Wallin insists he’s not the husband Dottie Tyrrell needs. The scholarly logger knows Dottie will make the perfect wife—for some other man. Yet he’s compelled to invite the lovely widow and her infant son to stay with his family…but only until she can find her own way. 

Dreams of true love are for other women. Betrayed by her baby’s father, Dottie just wants a safe home for her precious child. But who could resist a man with John’s quiet strength? When her secret past brings danger to their door, they may yet find this mail-order mix-up to be the perfect mistake…

Here’s a little taste:

“I can’t deny that the wilderness holds dangers,” John told Dottie, pouring the milk into the steel can. “But my family has worked hard for nearly twenty years to tame the wilderness. If you look closer, you may find things to love about the area.” He set the pail on the floor. “Here, let me show you.”

He held out his hand. She looked at it as if the gesture was foreign to her. Then a shudder went through her. He refused to back down. He couldn’t see her going to sleep this worried.

He almost shouted a hallelujah when she slipped her fingers into his grip.

He led her through the house, pausing in the bedroom doorway to check on Peter, who had indeed fallen asleep, then out onto the porch. The velvet black of the night wrapped around them. He pointed up at the semicircle of stars. “See there?”

He could barely make her out in the darkness, but he saw her shadow move as she must have looked up. “The stars?” she asked.

“Exactly.” He leaned closer, caught that sweet apricot scent. “See that long dip down and across? That’s Ursa Major, the great bear.”

He heard the smile in her voice. “Peter would like that.”

“You might like this one better. See that M shape? That’s Cassiopeia, the queen.”

She must have turned her head to look at him, for he felt her breath brush his ear. “Where did you learn that?”

“I read about it in a book.” He felt a little self-conscious admitting it. Men were supposed to go out and discover things, not sit at home and read about them. “Catherine’s friend Allegra Banks Howard loaned it to me. It had the latest scientific theories about stars and galaxies. Do you know Earth is only one planet among a group of planets, and that group is only one of perhaps millions out there in space?”

“My word.” She sounded as awed as he’d felt when he’d read the book.

“Those stars look like tiny pricks of light to us, but they’re as big, or bigger, than the sun. We’re the ones who are tiny, in the scheme of things.”

“I feel that way sometimes,” she murmured, and he thought she was looking up again.

“But they’re so far away,” John told her. “There’s nothing there to harm us. Now, listen.”

She stilled beside him.

“Do you hear that shush-shush sound? That’s the waves on Lake Union.”

She nodded, and a curl caressed his cheek. “I didn’t know a lake could have waves.”
“I understand larger ones do. Lake Union isn’t that large, but the breeze from the Sound encourages the water to move. Now, take a deep breath.”

She inhaled.

“What do you smell?” he asked.

“Something dry and flowery, and just a touch of brine.”

“The pungent flowery scent is the cedar not far from the house. It’s a massive thing, probably been growing more than a hundred years. I didn’t have the heart to cut it down. I’ll show it to you and Peter. And the touch of brine is Puget Sound, beyond the hill behind us. To me, this is the smell of home.”

She drew in another breath as if she wanted to sense it, too.

He put his hands on her shoulders, turned her to look down toward the main clearing. “Now, see those lights? That’s Drew and Catherine, James and Rina, Beth, Harry, Tom and Dickie. You shout loud enough, and every one of them will come running to help you.” He turned her back to face him. “And so will I.”

“Will you?” Her voice begged him for the truth.

“Always,” John promised. “You’re safe here at Wallin Landing, Dottie.”

He felt her trembling in his grip. He only wanted to assure her that nothing could hurt her, that he wouldn’t let anything hurt her. It seemed only right to lower his head and kiss her.

As he’d expected, her lips were soft and sweet, and something rose inside him, demanding that he protect her, cherish her, take the risk that she could be the one for him.

He’d meant to comfort her, lessen her fears. Why was he the one who was suddenly afraid?

You can find Mail-Order Marriage Promise at fine online retailers and bookstores near you:

The Book Depository, free shipping worldwide