Friday, March 29, 2019

Feet on the Ground, Head in the Clouds by Guest Blogger Charlotte Henry

People often ask me how I do my research—in a library? Google? Or do I travel to the places I write about?

The answer is, as you might imagine, all of the above. Since I’ve just launched my debut novel (a classic Regency titled The Rogue to Ruin, book one in the Rogues of St. Just trilogy), the research curve has been fairly steep. But you know what? I discovered that I’ve been preparing to write these books for twenty years.

When I decided to write my first Regency, I did an inventory of research books on hand. I found I had at least a dozen, from biographies of Jane Austen and Queen Charlotte to books of cant and custom to small books published in tiny towns in Cornwall about local dialect and folk tales. (If you ever need a Cornish name for your house, talk to me. I’ve got the book.)

With the groundwork laid in books and maps, it was time to put my feet on the ground. When I know I’m going to be rooted in a location over several books, it’s worth it to me to go there so that I can describe the scenery, the plants, the sea, and the houses in ways that make them feel immediate and real to the reader. When I wrote Amish women’s fiction, this was particularly important, because those readers want to sink deeply into that world, and they expect true, not fictional, facts and details. And as everyone knows, there is no stickler more serious about period detail than the Regency reader. I knew what I was in for, and a trip to England was worth it to make sure I got the details right.

One of the most beautiful stretches of coast in the world is the Roseland Heritage Coast in Cornwall, where I already knew my fictional parish of St. Just would be located. The first and most important location was my heroine’s home. I found the house (thank you, National Trust): Trelissick, which is famous for its gardens. It transformed itself in my mind into Morvoren Manor, home of  the Penrose family (morvoren is Cornish for mermaid), who obtained their wealth from mining china clay. (See below, and note the pine cones on the chairs to prevent visitors from sitting on the antique furniture.)

Who knew that Cornwall was famous for its china clay, the fine white clay from which porcelain is made? Not-so-coincidentally, the best known of the china clay pits isn’t far from the Manor. I merely gave it a new name and a new owner, and made it so productive that my three sisters will bring forty thousand pounds apiece to their marriages.

My hero in book one, Sir Perran Geoffrey, is a destitute baronet desperate to repair the family pile and give his grandmother and sister a decent place to live. He cannot ply a trade, and he hesitates to marry for money, so what is the third option?

You are quite right. Smuggling.

As it turns out, smuggling was the third most productive industry in Cornwall during the Regency, along with fishing and tin mining. (See a fascinating treatise by Chatterton called King’s Cutters and Smugglers, 1700-1855 for more.) It was so respectable that even the local clergyman might keep his coach house door unlocked in order that the gentlemen of the free trade might leave barrels of French brandy there safely until the coast was clear. A gentleman like Sir Perran might agree that his shore and cove could be used to “sow a crop.” The boat would come over from France with the barrels of brandy, and should it be pursued by the preventive men (brave and persistent souls who eventually became the Coast Guard), the barrels would be roped together in a long line and pushed over the side, to sink to the bottom. The next night, my hero might see fishing boats in his cove, “creeping,” or trawling the bottom with gaff hooks to bring up the “crop.”

Sometimes wonderful details like these are difficult to find anywhere but in the location I’m researching. The only difficulty is to make myself concentrate on facts and notes, when my head is in the clouds turning them into scenes and pages!

Under two other pen names (Shelley Adina and Adina Senft), Charlotte Henry is the author of 24 novels published by Harlequin, Warner, and Hachette, and a dozen more published by Moonshell Books, Inc., her own independent press. As Charlotte, she writes the Rogues of St. Just series of Regency romances. She holds an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction, and is currently at work on a PhD in Creative Writing at Lancaster University in the UK. She won the Romance Writers of America RITA Award® for Best Inspirational Novel in 2005, and was a finalist in 2006. When she’s not writing, you can find Charlotte sewing historical dresses, traveling for research, reading, or enjoying the garden with her flock of rescued chickens. Look for more information about her and the Rogues of St. Just at her website.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Welcome "Debut" Author Charlotte Henry and the Rogues of St. Just!

Marissa and I always love finding new stories set in our beloved Regency period. That's only one of the reasons we are thrilled to share this interview with Shelley Adina, writing as Charlotte Henry, whose first Regency romance came out March 20. Please welcome Charlotte, and be sure to come back Friday for more on her new series!

19Teen: Though you are making your debut in the Regency period, you are, shall we say, connected to another author renowned for writing thrilling steampunk adventures. What drew you to the Regency period?

Charlotte: Yes, we are very intimately connected! While I’m writing the Magnificent Devices series, I’m very much aware of the language—Victorian, more precise, with slightly different meanings to words and different sentence structure than today’s use. So as far as the writing went, it was more of a sidestep into the Regency than a leap, because I can use those same skills.

I made some odd discoveries in my own writing space ... research text after text came to hand. Notes from a Beau Monde conference in the nineties. A photocopied compendium of Regency terms and cant that I’d bought nearly 30 years ago. All were squirreled away, just waiting for me. I literally only had to buy one reference book on the Cornish china clay industry in order to begin work on the Rogues of St. Just series. I had everything else on my shelves, just waiting for me.

19Teen: The Rogue to Ruin is the first in a series, and your heroes are all rogues. We heart rogues at Nineteenteen. Why do you think they have such an appeal?

Charlotte: Ah, the bad boy redeemed by love! We romance readers love them. Part of their appeal, I think, is that secretly these heroes are turning to the dark side because there is an emptiness inside them that only the heroine can fill. And I have to admit that I love the courtship story because something entirely new is created from the bond of two separate individuals. This bond is the hero’s reward ... and the reader’s!

19Teen: Tell us something about The Rogue to Ruin.

Charlotte: He is a penniless baronet. She is the wealthy great-granddaughter of a tradesman. Can these childhood friends find their way back to each other when scandal strikes them both?

Sir Perran Geoffrey needs a wealthy bride to repair his family estate and to bring his sister out in Society. But what woman with money and standing will accept him as a husband—practically penniless, his title under a cloud thanks to his ne’er-do-well father, and an estate far away in Cornwall?

Alwyn Penrose and her two sisters are in London for their first Season. Imagine their surprise when they meet the heirs of the neighboring estates—gentlemen whom they are barely allowed to acknowledge. For to be seen with the Rogues of St. Just means the death of one’s reputation. Except that Alwyn is seen. More than once. And the gossip spreads all the way to the sacred portals of Almack’s, which close in her face and end her hopes for a good marriage forever.

The ruin of her Season is Perran Geoffrey’s fault. And when they are both forced to return to Cornwall, only one thing is clear: One good ruination deserves another.

19Teen: This story is a classic Regency romance, yet your heroine Alwyn has another goal besides marriage. What’s so important to this Regency miss?

Charlotte: Alwyn’s family owns a china clay pit and pottery on the south coast of Cornwall, where clay mining was a huge industry during the Regency period. All the Penrose sisters are artistic, and Alwyn’s particular talent is for painting. She wants to create the designs glazed on the porcelain dinner sets that the pottery makes, but because she’s a woman, she can’t. It would be seen as “dabbling in trade” and she’d shame her family. So she fills her sketchbooks with china patterns and designs ... which may or may not come in useful in future books ...

19Teen: What was your best research moment writing this book, when you gasped in delight and knew you had to put that in the book?

Charlotte: China clay! I needed something that would have made the family rich in prior generations. When I read that Cornwall is one of the few places in the world where this fine white clay can be dug out of the ground, I knew I had my family income source. And Alwyn’s desire to paint fit right into that. It wasn’t much of a leap, then, for her sister Karensa to become a sculptor.

19Teen: What bit of research surprised you the most, even if it didn’t make it into the book?

Charlotte: It was quite a surprise to discover in the books I’d bought in Cornwall in the 90s (see? even then I was buying Regency research books and I wasn’t even published yet) that the smuggling industry was seen by everyone as a perfectly legitimate and practical way to make a living. Even the clergy would leave the vestry door open. Barrels of brandy would come and go discreetly in the dead of night, with an offering left in the plate as a thank-you. So I did use this surprising bit of research. In that place at that time, when Sir Perran is desperate for money, the solution he seeks would be viewed as unusual by no one. Except possibly the preventive men, whose business it was to prevent the success of the gentlemen of the free trade.

19Teen: If you were to make your debut in Regency London, what would you look forward to?

Charlotte: Visiting all the best warehouses and having all kinds of lovely dresses made up! As it stands, I must make them myself. I just got a pattern for a set of short stays. Once those are complete, I have some royal blue silk and some antique black lace given to me by literary agent Wendy Lawton that I’m going to make up into a ball gown for the RWA National Conference in 2020. I even have a tiara.

19Teen: What would you dread?

Charlotte: The way people talk. It seems to me that gossip is a potent weapon even today. It becomes a strong theme in The Rogue to Ruin.

Popcorn Round:
What would you rather wear to your first ball--silk satin or dampened muslin? ;)
Oh my. Silk satin. I should not dare to sport dampened muslin!

You're going riding in Rotten Row at five! Will you wear a plain black wool riding habit or a peacock blue one with frog fasteners and epaulettes?
Peacock blue, definitely. I look terrible in black. Goodness. How pretty the fastenings and epaulets are. I may have to write this ensemble into the next story!

What's your favorite London destination--Almack's or Astley's Amphitheatre?
I adore dancing. If the Lady Patronesses approved of me, I could happily dance all night in society’s seventh heaven!

What is your next borrow from Hatchard's lending library--Sermons to Young Women by Mr. Fordyce, or The Monk by that fascinating Mr. Lewis?
::whispers:: . Isn’t it scandalous? But I declare I cannot put it down!

Three different gentlemen are clamoring for your hand in the next waltz! Whom do you choose? Mr. Farthing, an accredited fortune-hunter but divine dancer, the Marquess of Overstuff, with a pedigree a yard long but no conversation, or your dear, sweet seventeen-year-old cousin Waldo with spots who is attending his very first grown-up ball and is terrified of asking anyone else to dance?
Darling Waldo just needs a little encouragement. He has the steps down cold—fortunately, his dancing master was thorough—and a little style goes a long way in a country dance. After two dances, I will accept a waltz from Mr. Farthing, who can make any woman look like an angel in flight.

You're perishing of thirst after that waltz--would you rather ratafia or lemonade?
Ratafia would not help thirst in the least ... I will choose lemonade.

19Teen: How can readers learn more about you and your books?

Charlotte: I am at home to readers at, where there are photographs of Trelissick, the manor house I used as my model for Morvoren Manor. Morvoren is the Cornish word for mermaid. There are a number of legends of mermaids along that coast ... one of the most enchanting places I’ve ever been. I hope readers will join me in my fictional parish of St. Just—they would be most welcome!

Friday, March 22, 2019

Hobnobbing with the Nobs

File:Dukning i Stensale - Livrustkammaren - 87355.tifEver read a scene where a character wonders which glass to drink from or how to introduce one friend to another? In the early nineteenth century, members of the aristocracy didn’t have to wonder. They had been trained in the art of proper social etiquette since they were born, were surrounded by people who practiced it with some level of success. But the middle classes grew as the century wore on, and more and more people began trying to be seen as polished ladies and gentlemen. Where there is need, there is a booming business for instructions, and instructors.

My heroine, Charlotte Worthington, in Never Kneel to a Knight is one such instructor. Her job is to make sure her charges show to advantage among the aristocracy with whom they are attempting to hobnob. Other mushrooms (as those who suddenly come into wealth were called) turned to books. Etiquette books provided a knowable set of rules that promised to elevate you in the eyes of those around you. “Never dance with a gentleman to whom you have not been introduced.” “Moderate your tone when speaking—neither mumble nor shriek.”

Unfortunately, some of the advice was so specific or so vague as to be useless. I had Lord Snedley’s Guide prove such a diversion in my Lady Emily Capers. This fictious lord advised things like the following:

File:Dukat bord. Matsalen - Hallwylska museet - 30710.tif“On her first introduction to a gentleman, a young lady would do well to keep her eyes on his chin, unless of course he should have a pock or wart there. Raising her eyes to his will make her appear forward and staring at his feet will make the fellow uncomfortable. I also advise against staring at birthmarks or protrusions of any sort.”

“It is the darkest sin imaginable to make your hostess odd numbers at table, especially on a Tuesday.”

“Always treat a guest in your home with the greatest civility, unless of course you catch the fellow slipping silver up his sleeve or ogling the picture of your great-aunt Bess. Then, by all means, throw him out on his ear.”

“The truly fashionable are never found at home unless suffering from bilious gout or the need to hide from creditors.”

You can find more sayings of Lord Snedley here.

And may I practice polite etiquette by alerting you to two upcoming delights? Next Monday, March 25, I will be guest-blogging at Number 1 London.  As you may know, that address was the home of the Duke of Wellington. Online, it’s the home of fabulous historian and travel maven, Kristine Hughes Patrone, and I am honored to be her guest, talking about boxing during the Regency period. Try not to get lost in the gorgeous pictures she posts of England!

And be sure to come back on Tuesday, when we have a special guest blogger of our own. “Debut” author Charlotte Henry, also known as the Incomparable Shelley Adina, will be here next week to introduce her new book and share some exciting tidbits about researching her location in Cornwall.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Regency Fabrics, Part 23

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 four samples are from the  November 1811 issue of Ackermann’s Repository. The overall condition of my copy is excellent; the page itself is free of foxing and is only slightly toned, and the fabrics themselves seem to be in excellent condition as well.

Here we go!
No. 1.  A fawn-coloured lustre for evening or half-dress. This appropriate article has not before been introduced of this becoming and delicate shade. It is usually trimmed with swansdown, or other light skin, or with falls of thread lace; and is sold by Mr. George, No. 19, Holywell-street, Strand. 

My comments: Oh, lovely! This appears to be a woven silk of a slightly uneven but still beautifully smooth hand, and the color is indeed becoming. I’m sure it drapes very well, and while fairly opaque, would do best over an underskirt.

No. 2. A new sea-weed printed cambric, whose warmth of colouring renders it particularly adapted for the approaching winter season.  It is calculated more immediately for the domestic or morning robe, and is worn with lace cuffs and frill. Sold by Waithman and Son, corner of Fleet-street, Blackfriars.

My comments: Heh—another vintage quilting fabric look-alike, looking very American Civil War era to my eyes. The weave is smooth and even and the printing very sharp and precise.

No. 3. A checked ladies’ Merino cloth for habits, German coats, pelisses, &c. It is similar to that represented in the walking figure of the present Number of this work. The trimmings most fashionable and consistent for coats of this article are, Spanish silk braid and frogs, with divers kinds of fur, happily contrasted with the colour of the cloth.

My comments: A cozy, lightly flocked woolen, not so heavy that it wouldn’t fall nicely. Very curiously, while the check pattern isn't visible to the naked eye, it can been seen when scanned. I cannot tell if the square pattern was woven in or printed as it just doesn't show up in person; also, the scan makes it look like the contrasting check is a sort of faded acid yellow, which is not apparent in regular light--the fabric appears a uniform vanilla color.

No. 4. A Persian kerseymere, worked in tambour, first introduced in this country by the late Persian ambassador, and is much in vogue with our male fashionables. Some gentlemen trim the waistcoat, formed of this unique article, at the collar and breast with a border or edging of sable; it has a most comfortable and becoming effect during the winter months. This article, together with No. 3, is furnished by Messrs. Maunde and Co. wholesale and retail drapers and mercers, in Cornhill.

My comments: Similar in texture but slightly lighter in weight that the woolen in No. 3...but that yellow...and the black, white, and orange pattern...! The yellow is brighter in natural light than it appears to be under the scan. I’m trying to picture a gentleman’s waistcoat made of this and trimmed with fur, and expect that Beau Brummel would have had to have a brief lie-down in a darkened room with a cold compress on his forehead had he spotted one of his friends wearing it.

And an interesting side note on this month’s samples: in the next month’s issue is a note that reads We forgot to mention in our number for November that the Persian Kerseymere, No. 4,  furnished us by Messrs. Maunde and Co., is worked in tambour by a society of unfortunate, but industrious French immigrants, residing in the west of England. An interesting footnote on many I feel a story coming on about an impoverished but nobly-born French emigré and the foppish earl who falls in love with the fabric of his new waistcoat and moves heaven and earth to find out whose dainty hands stitched it? Stay tuned...

Any thoughts on this month’s fabrics?

Friday, March 15, 2019

Never Kneel

To a Knight, that is! I’m excited to report that the 5th book in my Fortune’s Brides series, Never Kneel to a Knight, is now out in ebook and print and available at fine online retailers.

When the thoroughly poised Charlotte Worthington requests that Miss Thorn and her cat Fortune find her a position, she never dreams the savvy employment agency owner would reunite her with Matthew Bateman, her brother’s former bodyguard. Matthew is about to be knighted for an act of valor, and he and his sisters could use some polishing if they’re to enter Society after his elevation. Yet how can Charlotte maintain her calm, cool demeanor as their sponsor when she harbors a secret love for him?

Matthew Bateman cannot forget the beauty who is miles out of his league. Once a boxer called the Beast of Birmingham, Matthew would like nothing better than to be worthy of Charlotte’s hand. As old enemies and new ones attempt to bring him low, can Matthew prove to Charlotte that their love is meant to be?

Here’s a little taste:

Charlotte inclined her head. “Our approach for your sisters is settled, then. What about you?”

Matthew frowned. “Me? I’m fine.”

She was watching him. “You’ve been told what will be expected of you at the prince’s levee, then?”

By no less than three lords, all of whom had seemed certain he’d embarrass himself even with their wise counsel. He shrugged. “More or less.”

She puffed out a sigh. “Come now, Beast. You must know there are expectations for your behavior.”

He could feel his frown deepening. “Like what?”

“Like introductions, for one. How do you bow to the prince?”

He rose and inclined his head.

She stood and put her hand on his shoulder. “Deeper. He is the sovereign.”

“And I’m a knight,” Matthew reminded her. “Or I will be soon. Don’t I deserve some dignity? If you’re supposed to keel over for a kingly sort, do you at least kneel to a knight?”

“Never,” she said. “Your obeisance is tempered by the elevation of the person you are greeting. Knights, even the hereditary ones, are at the very bottom.”

“No, that’s reserved for us common folk,” he said.

Either the tone or the look on his face must have said more than he’d intended, for her eyes dipped down at the corners, and she removed her hand from his shoulder. “Now, then, you and your sisters may need to brush up on Society’s expectations, but you know many things I’ve never been taught.”

“Like what?” he asked, struggling to see her as anything less than perfect.

“Like boxing,” she said with certainty.

Matthew snorted. “Fat lot Society needs to know about that.”

“Some know far more than they should,” she informed him primly. “But my point was that you are an expert in that area. For example, how would you go about besting me?”

His brows shot up. “What? You think I fight women?”

She laughed, a warm sound that made him want to move closer, as if he’d stepped through the door of his own home for the first time in a long time. “No, of course not. But you must have a strategy. Appearing before the prince is no different. You have to know what you hope to achieve.”

Matthew stuck out his lower lip. “All right. But when I fight, I mostly think about staying alive, avoiding injury.”

She frowned. “All defense? No offense?”

“Well,” he allowed, “I did have one particular move that served me well. I can take a punch better than most, but if a fellow was especially trying, I’d wrap him up.”

“Wrap him up?”

“Yeah, like this.” He reached out and wrapped his arms about her, pinning her against his chest. Her eyes were wide in surprise, but he didn’t see any fear in the grey. She fit against him as if she’d been tailored just for him.

He knew he should let go. Yet everything in him demanded that he hang on, hold her close, all the days of his life, no matter the cost.



Tuesday, March 12, 2019

The Children of George III: Ernest

It’s been a while since we’ve met another one of George III’s numerous brood. As it happens, we’ve already met this particular son. But I’m getting ahead of myself...

The king’s fifth son and eighth child, Ernest Augustus, was born on June 5, 1771 at Buckingham House. His childhood seems to have been uneventful; it was spent growing up at Kew with his numerous siblings and sharing a household with his two younger brothers, Augustus and Adolphus. Ernest was a handsome, boisterous boy; unlike most of his brothers, he would never become corpulent, but remained lean his whole life.

At fifteen and still with his two younger brothers in tow, Ernest was sent to study at the University of Göttingen in Hanover, and received his earliest military training there as well. By 1792 he was commissioned as a cavalry colonel, being an excellent horseman and shot, and went on to fight against the French in several battles over the next few years, receiving a saber wound to his head (that would eventually result in a loss of vision in one eye) and other wounds. Though he would continue to serve in the military for another twenty years, returning to the continent and eventually attaining the rank of field marshal, his battle days were past.

However, his interest in politics was just beginning. When his father awarded him the title of Duke of Cumberland and Teviotdale in 1799, he took his seat in the House of Lords and actually got involved. A dedicated Tory unlike his brothers Prinny and the Duke of York, he voted against bills for Catholic Emancipation and other liberal legislation and became a leader of the conservative end of his party. Also unlike his brothers, he was circumspect in his personal habits, which may have backfired on him as he acquired a reputation as a sinister figure who preferred to enjoy his vices privately. Rumors likely circulated by political opponents whirled around him, reaching their apex in the scandal around the death of his valet, Joseph Sellis.

The army and politics kept him sufficiently busy until 1813, when he became smitten by a cousin, Princess Frederica of Meckenburg-Strelitz. Though she was already married, the marriage was not a success and discussion of a divorce was underway when the princess’s husband died unexpectedly—a fact which became more grist for the rumor mill after Ernest and she married in 1815. Since Queen Charlotte did not approve of the marriage and would not receive her daughter-in-law, the couple eventually moved to Germany and had a son.

Over the next decade and a half, lurid rumors of murder and assault continued to circulate around Ernest, many of them probably politically motivated as he continued to involve himself in politics, being especially active in questions involving Ireland during the 1820s. The issue of the line of succession to the throne was an especially fraught one; after Prinny’s death in 1830, Ernest was next in line for the throne after young princess Victoria, and rumors that her life was in danger from her wicked uncle were rife even after she came to throne; only the births of her first children put those rumors to rest.

On the death of his older brother William IV Ernest became the king of Hanover, since Victoria as a female could not inherit the Hanoverian throne. He left England within the month to take up residence in his new kingdom, where he ruled according to his highly conservative bent (though he did eventually approve a more liberal constitution for Hanover.) He wasn’t very popular, but wasn’t unpopular either, and was appreciated for the fact that he kept Hanover out of the reaching grasp of Prussian expansionism. He died in 1851, at the age of 80.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Free, Free!

No, I’m not being redundant, although I am being enthusiastic. Until March 13, you have two ways to read one of my books for free.

1.  Sign up for my e-mail alert. I don’t call it a newsletter, because it’s not chatty. I figure you get enough of that here. 😊 What it will provide is a notification when a new book is out or an older book is on sale. I do not share your e-mail with anyone, and neither does MailChimp, my alert distributor. And after signing up, you will be directed to a webpage where you can download a free copy of my Regency novella, “An Engagement of Convenience,” originally published in Summer House Party

2.  Head to your favorite online e-book retailer and download a copy of The Husband Mission, book 1 in my Spy Matchmaker series. Lord Wescott cannot understand why he’s under surveillance, but it seems to be connected to the intriguing Katherine Collins. He’s been encouraged by England’s spymaster to marry, but what wife can compare to espionage? Unless, she’s up for a little espionage too.

Here are the links to the U.S. stores for your convenience (but it’s free in the UK, Australia, Canada, and India, too):

If you’ve read both, thank you! Feel free (see what I did there) to share with your friends and family. “An Engagement of Convenience” will remain free for a few months when someone signs up for my alert, but The Husband Mission will only be free through March 13, because Never Kneel to a Knight launches the very next day. Squee!

Happy reading!

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

A Good Habit to Emulate

I was so excited to acquire this La Belle Assemblée print! Riding habit prints aren’t all that uncommon (Ackermann did several, as did several of the French journals of the time) but this one is just so much fun: the saturation of the colors, the pose, and the fact that the person wearing the riding habit is, yanno, actually on horseback...!

Let’s look at the details.  The text at the bottom reads:

A French Lady on Horseback in the fashionable stile of Riding in the Long Champs & Elisée at Paris.
Engraven from an original drawing taken on the Spot for La Belle Assemblée.
Or Bell’s Court & Fashionable Magazine for March 1807

The text (from the April 1807 edition) reads Parisian Costume No. 3. Represents a Parisian lady, mounted in the most fashionable style, for the Long Champs and Elisées, at Paris.—An equestrian habit of fine seal-wool cloth, with elastic strap; the colour blue (but olive, or puce, are equally esteemed), with convex buttons of dead gold. The habit to sit high in the neck behind, lapelled in front, and buttoned twice at the small of the waist; a high plaited frill of cambric, uniting at the bosom where the habit closes. A jockey bonnet of the same materials as composes the habit, finished with a band and tuft in front. Hair in dishevelled crop. York tan gloves; and demi-boots of purple kid, laced with jonquil chord.

Isn’t it pretty? Note the long trained skirt (to keep the limbs modestly covered when riding side-saddle, the gold buttons detailing the back of the bodice and along what looks like decorative pockets to the side. The jaunty jockey cap decorated with a flower of the same fabric and the brim curling over the ears (excellent if one is wearing pretty earrings!) and the elegantly severe lapels—all wonderful. I’m also interested by the safety strap, to keep our stylish equestrienne safe in her (not illustrated, oddly enough) saddle. I’m only sorry we don’t get a glimpse of the purple kid demi-boots!

The one point I have to question is the “from an original drawing taken on the spot” part, as there is a basically identical print from an 1805 Journal des Dames et des Modes...but as we have seen before, copyright law as we know it was basically non-existent in the 19th century...

I hope you enjoyed today’s eye candy!

Friday, March 1, 2019

Oh, What a Knight!

A knighthood. Sounds like something King Arthur bestowed (and likely did). But being knighted wasn’t just something from medieval times (as we detailed here). During the early part of the nineteenth century, many gentlemen were knighted for various services to the crown, but the type of knight mattered in the level-conscious Society.

At the bottom of the knighthood ladder was the Most Honourable Order of the Bath, begun in 1725 for military or civilian service to the King. At ceremonial events like crownings or royal christenings, Knights of the Bath wore almost fuchsia silk cloaks emblazoned with a large gold sunburst with a center showing three crowns and the motto “Three joined in one” in Latin. In 1815, the order was split into three classes to include more military heroes from the war with France.

Near the top of the ladder was the Order of the Garter, founded in 1348. At ceremonial events, they wore deep blue velvet cloaks and short-brimmed hats with white ostrich plumes. Their emblem was an embroidered garter (see the buckle in the picture?) with the words “Shame on him who thinks ill of it” in Latin in gold.

Not to be outdone, the Prince Regent founded his own knightly honor in April 1818. The Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George awarded commanders serving on the Continent. Their ceremonial garb were blue silk cloaks, and their emblem was a silver star surmounted by a crimson cross, a picture of St. George slaying the dragon, and the words “Token of a better age” in Latin.

While quite showy at times, none of these knighthoods was hereditary. You might be Sir William Pompousface, but your son would be Mr. Pompousface. A baronetcy was considered a hereditary knighthood. You would become Sir William, and your son would become Sir Frederick. Note that neither is Sir Pompousface. A baronetcy was not considered an aristocratic title like duke, earl, etc. And you had to do something rather special to earn it.

Like save the Prince Regent’s life.

Such is the case of my hero in Never Kneel to a Knight, available for preorder now. Some of you may remember Matthew Bateman and Charlotte Worthington from Never Vie for a Viscount.

When the thoroughly poised Charlotte Worthington requests that Miss Thorn and her cat Fortune find her a position, she never dreams the savvy employment agency owner would reunite her with Matthew Bateman, her brother’s former bodyguard. Matthew is about to be knighted for an act of valor, and he and his sisters could use some polishing if they’re to enter Society after his elevation. Yet how can Charlotte maintain her calm, cool demeanor as their sponsor when she harbors a secret love for him?

Matthew Bateman cannot forget the beauty who is miles out of his league. Once a boxer called the Beast of Birmingham, Matthew would like nothing better than to be worthy of Charlotte’s hand. As old enemies and new ones attempt to bring him low, can Matthew prove to Charlotte that their love is meant to be?

Preorder now from fine online retailers such as


And look for more information when the book launches in mid-March.