Friday, May 31, 2019

Celebrating a Duke's Birthday

One year ago this month, Fortune’s Brides debuted in Never Doubt a Duke at fine online retailers around the world. It was the first time I tried putting my own books into print as well. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it’s been a lovely year. The book earned a Gem award from Kathy’s Review Corner as one of the best books of 2018. It was also chosen by reviewers at Hope by the Book as one of the year’s best reads.

To celebrate the book’s birthday, I’ve put it for sale for 99 cents for one week only—May 30 through June 5. If you have a copy, you might let someone who would enjoy one know. If you haven’t read it, here’s a little about the book:

After spending the last ten years following her late husband on campaign, the irrepressible Jane Kimball finds herself badly in need of a position to support herself. Marriage holds no appeal; she’s not likely to find a husband like her Jimmy again. But when Miss Thorn of the Fortune Employment Agency offers her a post with the Duke of Wey, Jane feels drawn to help the lonely widower with his three daughters. He may seem a bit aloof, but Miss Thorn’s cat Fortune approved of him. Why should Jane doubt a duke?

Alaric, Duke of Wey, commands his staff, his tenants, and the halls of Parliament, managing vast holdings in England and across the seas. Why is it he cannot manage his own daughters? As an old danger rears its head, he comes to rely on Jane’s practical nature and her outspoken ways to navigate the waters of fatherhood. And when necessity dictates he take a wife, thoughts turn to an unlikely governess who might make the perfect bride.


Happy birthday, Duke!

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Regency Fabrics, Part 24

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. So here we go!

Today’s four samples are from the January 1812 issue of Ackermann’s Repository. The overall condition of my copy is very; the page itself is free of foxing and is only slightly toned; two of the samples (in white) have suffered some foxing.

No. 1. is an article of peculiar neatness and of great durability, particularly appropriated for ladies’ morning dresses, and children’s frocks and trowsers, the figure never being removed by washing. We are favored with this delicate article from the house of Millard, in Cheapside, where it may be obtained; and where it forms a part of the many elegant articles peculiar to that celebrated establishment, which certainly is unrivalled, both in the variety, richness, and elegance of its supplies; and possesses, at the same time, the advantages of a superior economy. We believe our fair fashionables are well acquainted with this Repository of foreign and British manufactures; but for the information of our correspondents who reside in the country or in distant climes, we must observe, that this house furnishes the greatest choice of fashionable articles for ladies’ wear and household use, as well as rich furniture for drawing-rooms, bed-rooms, &c. These may be purchased from the singularly low price of one shilling per yard, and upwards. The most costly and best productions of India are to be found here. Their Indian shawls, we understand, are offered from eight, to one hundred and fifty guineas each. Their linens of Russia, Irish, German, and Valenciennes manufacture, are of the first fabric. Their printed silks, bettillas, and muslins are of a unique description. Their white chintz, anjengos, and long cloths for children’s wear, are of singular durability and beauty. This house is of the first respectability, each article is warranted, and all goods purchased by the piece, or demi, are obtained at the wholesale price, as well as those purchased by the entire case of package.

My comments: Wow, that was quite a puff-piece, Mr. Ackermann! As the for fabric sample itself, it’s an attractive corded weave, with a pattern woven into the cording. It’s a little hard to judge how long-wearing this might be for children’s clothes, as the ground fabric is of very fine thread, like a muslin, though the threads are evenly spun. But it’s certainly pretty. A couple of definitions, by the way: bettilla is a muslin woven in southern India, and anjego appears to be a similar product of India; I found references to anjengo and anjengo longcloth.

Oh—and 150 guineas for one shawl?!

No. 2. is a delicate and animated printed cambric, for morning or domestic wear. The style of this article must be necessarily simple and plain, as will be obvious to the purchasers. It is sold by Messrs. Smith and Co. Tavistock-street, Covent-Garden.

My comments: More quilting fabric. ☺ The cambric is tightly and evenly woven, and the printing clear and well done...and, um, yeah, definitely no trimming needed on a dress made from this!

No. 3. A white cotton velvet of a peculiarly delicate fabric, designed for the fashionable amusement of painting, an art now particularly in vogue with our fair fashionables, who have wisely relinquished the inelegant and unprofitable employ of shoe-making and book-binding in favour of their industrious, half-ruined, and more humble brethren*. This article, as well as the colours for painting, are sold at Ackermann’s Repository, No.101, Strand; and it is a peculiar advantage to the public, that they may obtain at this house drawings and patterns for copying on the following terms:
Yearly subscriptions, 4 guineas.
Half-year do............ 2 do.
Quarterly do............1 do.
The money to be paid at the time of subscribing, &c. &c. Printed particulars may be had at the Repository of Arts, 101, Strand.

*See the speech of PETER CORDOVAN, vol.4, page 16, Repository of Arts, &c.

My comments: Oh my word, more painting on velvet. I think I feel a blog post coming on...and a little research into the footnote as well! As for the sample of velvet itself, it’s very like what we would call cotton velveteen, with a short, plush nap.

No. 4. A fine Merino cloth, of Wellington bronze, a colour in the highest esteem in fashionable circles. It may be termed the orange colour sobered. It is adapted for robes, pelisses, and mantles, and should be trimmed with a tastefully contrasted fur, variegated chenille, or swansdown. We have seen the Carmelite mantle composed of this material, lined with white sarsnet, with white raised chenille borders, and confined at the throat with rich correspondent cord and tassels, to have a very tasteful effect. This cloth is furnished by Mess. Ghrimes, of Ludgate-hill, whose house is famed for producing the most brilliant in-grain colours in cloth ever exhibited. The present article measures two yards wide, and the price 36s. per yard.

My comments: Ooh, nice fabric! The color is a dark pumpkin—a brownish orange—but it’s the fine twill weave that makes this noteworthy—pliable and nicely drape-able, but sturdy. It would make a cozy winter gown, if a slightly scratchy one (so definitely a lining would be needed in the bodice.)

Any comments on this month's fabrics?

Friday, May 24, 2019

A Tall Ship in the San Juans

I had the delight of renewing my acquaintance with one of the most beautiful areas of my state recently: the San Juan Islands. My husband and I honeymooned and spent our fifth wedding anniversary there, and I have camped on one of the islands several times in college and during my early career days. But it had been a long time. The verdant green islands rising from a sapphire sea I expected. What I didn’t expect was to combine the visit with one of my true loves: tall ships.

My friends and I were staying in Friday Harbor, the largest city in the archipelago, on San Juan Island. After a sumptuous dinner overlooking the harbor, we strolled the docks looking at the marvelous crafts riding at anchor. (One is even a bed and breakfast—new bucket list item!) I kept seeing these tall cedar masts rising above everything else. We finally found her: the Spike Africa.

Isn’t she lovely? I envied the owners and crew. Then my wonderful critique partner, Kristy J. Manhattan, discovered that the ship was available to take visitors out on the water during the tourist season. She contacted the owner, who agreed to start his season a week early so we could sail Saturday evening.

Oh, what a lovely sail!

The Spike Africa is a two-masted gaff-rigged schooner. She was originally built in 1977 to designs reminiscent of 18th century coasting schooners. She takes her name from a famous West Coast sailor. She has won racing trophies, served as a support boat for other races, and been featured in a number of films (such as Joe Vs. the Volcano) and television shows. Can you imagine standing on her deck in a gentle breeze?

Olympic Mountains beyond the islands, anyone?

Perhaps another ship passing?

As many of you know, this is the third tall ship I’ve had the privilege of sailing on. She did not have all her sails up at the time of our passage, and one of the crew told us that she was fighting the tide, so the pace was more leisurely than on my previous jaunts. But the view and her sleek movement through the water was nothing less than spectacular.

If you are ever in the San Juans, I highly recommend a sail. You can find out more information at My thanks to the owner and Captain Kenny for allowing me to post pictures.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

On Fire!

Oh my goodness, what a cloak! It looks more like a prop from Game of Thrones than a Walking Dress from the April 1811 fashions in La Belle Assemblée...but a Regency miss and not a mother of dragons got to wear this beauty.

Let’s have a closer look: the text reads Round dress of cambric muslin, with a ruff collar, trimmed round the bottom with narrow purple ribband; cassimere crimson mantle, confined close to the back, lined with purple silk, embroidered round the neck, cape, and sides with purple fancy border; a deep cape falling from the shoulders, sloping to a narrow point, with tassels. A crimson velvet bonnet, turban front, and trimmed with purple to correspond. York tan gloves. Yellow kid boots.

Wow. It’s quite a garment, isn’t it? It reminds me a little of the Jubilee cloak we saw from 1810 with the purple-lined red, but this takes things a step further: the deep V detail on the back, the tassels, the purple embroidery—very striking! The fabric is cassimere, or kerseymere, a very fine, soft fabric woven of merino wool.

The accompanying hat is also striking: part turban, part Phrygian cap, and of crimson velvet to match the cloak. It rather reminds me of a very gorgeous seashell!

I do confess to being a tad disappointed that the boots are not also scarlet, but one can’t have everything. ☺

What do you think? Would you like a cloak like this?

Friday, May 17, 2019

Never Say Never, to a Marquess

So, this author sets out to write a Regency series about a matchmaking cat…

I can’t believe we are at the final book (for now, at least) in the Fortune’s Brides series. A huge thank you to those who have followed along as Miss Thorn and her beloved cat Fortune attempt to find positions for gentlewomen down on their luck, all of whom somehow end up married!

Never Marry a Marquess is now available for preorder. Shy Ivy Bateman has always felt more comfortable behind the scenes than front and center. She is happiest caring for her family and baking sweet treats. She certainly never expected the wealthy Marquess of Kendall to propose marriage, especially a marriage of convenience. It seems his baby daughter needs a mother, and Ivy cannot deny the attraction of the role, or the attraction she feels for the handsome marquess.

Kendall had asked Miss Thorn of the Fortune Employment Agency to find him a particular sort of lady. His heart went to the grave with his first wife. Now, all he cares about is ensuring his frail daughter doesn’t follow it. Installing Ivy Bateman as his next marchioness will not disrupt his life or make him question his love for his dead wife. But as he comes to appreciate Ivy’s sweet nature, he begins to wonder about their future. When an old enemy strikes at Miss Thorn and all her ladies, a grieving lord and a shy lady must work together to save the day. In doing so, they might just discover that love, and a good cinnamon bun, can heal all wounds.

You can preorder the book at fine online retailers and purchase soon in print:


I’ll share more when the book launches in June. Happy reading!

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

She Doesn’t Look a Day Over 180, Does She?

Cake? Check.
Party hats? Of course.
Two hundred candles? Umm...maybe we ought to call the fire department, just in case...

This coming Saturday is the 200th birthday of my favorite British monarch, one who should bewell known by now to NineteenTeen readers.

We’ve learned about theextraordinary circumstances surrounding her birth, her rather lonely upbringing, the challenges she faced as she grew ever closer to the throne during her uncle’s(King William IV) decline, and her triumphal ascension as Queen Regnant shortlyafter her eighteenth well as some of her early missteps. Sometimes controversial, often admirable, always fascinating (how often has a woman come to embody a historical era?)...let’s wish Queen Victoria a very happy 200th birthday!

And in case you want your piece of birthday cake home-baked...try this recipe for a Victoria Sponge, which was evidently one of her favorites for afternoon tea, courtesy of the New York Times:

Enjoy! And eat a slice for Her Majesty!

Friday, May 10, 2019

Four Things on a Friday

Hello, my dears! Several things related to the nineteenth century have come across my desk or screen recently, and I thought I would share them with you.

This post by Susanna Ives details information on nursing your nineteenth-century infant. Loved the pictures of the baby bottles! 

I have a board on Regency pets on Pinterest now. The 90 pictures are portraits and other paintings from the late eighteenth century/early nineteenth century, showing pets of some kind, including dogs, cats, birds, and--yes Marissa--bunnies. 

A very talented group of authors has created a wonderful resource to find romance novels written by writers of color. You can sort by theme or time period. Here’s the historical romance section. You might just find your next great read!

Eight authors of sweet but sizzling Regency romance have banded together to host Regency Kisses: Lady Catherine’s Salon, a Facebook group for readers. Join Gail Eastwood, Charlotte Henry, Mary Kingswood, Martine Roberts, Anna St. Claire, Catherine Tinley, Lynn Winchester, and yours truly. In fact, I’ll be the featured author Monday, May 13, through Friday, May 17, 2019.

And speaking of Friday, I am heading off today to Friday Harbor in the San Juan Islands to the north of me. I hope to come back with many more historical insights to share.

Happy Friday!

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Such Language! Part 23

Oh, the Rabelaisian banquet that is the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue! Here’s a sampling of some of the less salty words that might amuse you:

Clanker:  A great lie. (Don’t try to tell a clanker like that to Mama; she can sniff out the tiniest lie at fifty paces.)

Tears of the tankard: The drippings of liquor on a man’s waistcoat. (My younger brother Robert came home from his club insisting that he hadn’t had a drop to drink, but he was sporting quite a display of tankard tears.)

Juniper lecture: A round scolding bout. (Mama gave him quite the juniper lecture for his clumsy clanker.)

Looby:  A awkward, ignorant fellow. (Robert is a good boy at heart, but he can be the veriest looby at times.)

Trap sticks: Thin legs, gambs; from the sticks with which boys play at trap-ball. (Old Sir Matthew always wears padded stockings to cover up his trap sticks and make the ladies think he still sports a fine calf.)

Jessamy: A smart jimmy fellow, a fopling. (Of course, he’s been wearing them for the last sixty years, ever since he was a young jessamy just out on the town.)

Bienly: Excellently. (Our governess is teaching us to speak French most bienly; I am quite fluent already, don’t you think?)

What’s your favorite word or phrase this time?  I'm rather taken with tears of the tankard myself. ☺

Friday, May 3, 2019

Just Roman About

The British Museum has hundreds of examples of Roman artifacts, and many of them weren’t gathered on foreign shores. Romans occupied England, Wales, and a portion of Scotland from 43 to 410 AD. And some of the early archaeological evidence was uncovered in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Make no mistake. Roman forts had been incorporated into cities and towns by the Regency period. The city walls of Chichester in southwest England were largely Roman. Other forts had been dismantled, the stones being used to build more modern edifices. For example, the Maglona Fort in Cumbria was stripped to rebuild the town of Wigton. 

From 1731 to 1796, however, farmers, workers, and antiquaries (the closest Regency equivalent to an archaeologist) stumbled across a number of “hoards”—caches of Roman goods left buried. In 1796, a boy discovered one of the most significant hoards of the day while digging in a hollow near a river north of Manchester. Among the finds were a decorative helmet (see above), several shallow ceramic or metal bowls, a broken vase, and a bust of Minerva. The boy took the treasure to his father, who fortunately recognized its potential worth. Or rather, who might care about them. He took them to Charles Townley at nearby Towneley Park.

Charles Townley was a member of the Society of Antiquaries, that collection of gentlemen devoted to the “encouragement, advancement, and furtherance of the study and knowledge of the antiquities” of England and other countries. Antiquaries differed from historians in that antiquaries tended to study things while historians preferred texts. Distinguished lords held the presidency from 1810 to 1846, among them the Marquess of Townshend, Sir Henry Englefield, and the Earl of Aberdeen. I made my hero in Never Marry a Marquess (June 2019) such a devoted antiquarian.

Townley was definitely devoted. He was so enamored of these particular artifacts that he penned an article for the society’s journal, describing each find in detail. He also had legendary artist Johan Zoffany paint him with his entire collection. When he passed away in 1805, the cousin who inherited eventually sold that collection to the British Museum.

1811 saw another notable discovery, near the coal mining town of Backworth on the northeast coast near Newcastle, not far from Hadrian’s Wall. This hoard included two silver skillets, silver spoons, brooches, silver and gold rings, a bracelet, gold chains, and hundreds of Roman coins. Little is known about the one who discovered it, but it came into the possession of J. Brumell through a Newcastle silversmith. J. Brumell was also a known collector of antiquities. When he died in 1850, his collection was given to the British Museum.

The trend didn’t stop in the nineteenth century, however. Roman hoards were discovered as recently as 2017 in Cornwall and Gloucestershire.

Seems it pays to rome about. 😊