Tuesday, October 29, 2019

La Belle Assemblée for the Win


I rather think that this Kensington Garden Walking Dress from the July 1809’s La Belle Assemblée can only be described as a complete and utter show-stopper. Can't you just see eyes widening and heads whipping around as our young lady, attired thus, ambles through the park on a fine early summer day!

The accompanying text reads as follows: A spenser bodice of pale pink sarsnet. White muslin dress, with double row of scollop lace forming a light flounce round the bottom, over which is worn a black lace mantle and train. Egyptian bonnet, composed of pink sarsnet and antique lace. Shoes and gloves of pale yellow. Amber necklace and earrings. Hair after the Egyptian manner. Parasol of pink and brown shot, with white fringe.

The pink spenser (with a slightly military air lent by the simple frogging down the front) and white muslin dress with rows of lace around the hem seem ordinary enough for a nice stroll along garden paths. The Egyptian bonnet, which looks like the offspring of a tricorn hat and a turban, wakes things up a bit, and the pink and brown shot (taffeta? silk?) parasol with white fringe is charming…

But then the ensemble takes a turn into Hollywood fantasy costume with that black lace mantle, set on the shoulders with a dramatic flaring collar (tied with a prosaic little cord!) Its got an almost science fictional feel to it, that collarbut the lace turns that on its head and into I dont know what! 

And dragging on the ground (yes, that’s right—a lace mantle as part of a walking dress.) Is it conspicuous consumption, utter frivolity, or...or what?

I think I need a little lie-down now—this print packs a wallop! How about you? Would you wear this on your next foray into Kensington park?

Friday, October 25, 2019

Tall Tales of Smugglers, and Napoleon

File:Smugglers-resting-1833-smal.jpgI’m researching smuggling along the Dorset coast of England in the early 1800s. (Lovely, lovely research!) My next self-published series will be set in the area in the days leading up to the Battle of Trafalgar. If you’re interested in the subject, I recommend Smuggling in Hampshire and Dorset 1700 to 1850 by Geoffrey Morley. Fascinating stories! I expected to find tales about secret tunnels and midnight raids, but some of the stories are so amazing, I couldn’t wait to share them with you.

Legend has it, Isaac Gulliver, called by some the King of the Smugglers, once covered his face with the white chalk of the Dorset soil and laid in a coffin to hide from the Excise Men. But legend also has it he foiled a plot to assassinate King George III, who praised him and vowed to let him smuggle all he liked. Smuggling increased dramatically in the area of Weymouth whenever the King came to visit.

Another story tells of two Preventers, as the Customs Officers were known, who were caught spying on a smuggling gang. The gang hung them by their feet over the edge of a cliff, then proceeded to unload their cargo in full view. When the smugglers were finished, they hauled up the officers and dumped them bound in a nearby field, where their colleagues would eventually find and release them.

And then there’s the story about a Dorset farmer’s wife, who happened to be French. She vowed she’d seen Napoleon standing on the headland not far from her home in 1803, studying the English defenses. This was at a time when England’s fear of invasion from across the Channel was at its highest. According to the legend, Napoleon looked down the coast, compared what he saw to a map in his hands, rolled up the map, uttered the word, “Impossible,” and was never seen again.

That one’s going in my book. 😊

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Such Language! Part 24

It’s definitely time for more fun with 19th century slang and cant, courtesy of that compendium of all bygone bad language, the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue. Enjoy!

Addle plot: A spoil-sport, a mar-all. (Jane insisted on wearing a heavy veil to Richmond Park because of an outbreak of spots on her chin, and was a horrid addle plot at what was supposed to be a lovely spring day’s picnic.)

Grig: A fellow as merry as a grig: an allusion to the apparent liveliness of a grig, or young eel. (But she was as merry as a grig after she read that rubbing lemons on them would make then vanish.)

Duke of limbs: A tall awkward fellow. (Cousin Ralph has grown eight inches since last Easter, and is the veriest duke of limbs.)

Bell swagger: A noisy bullying fellow. (Ernest, Ralph’s bell swagger of an elder brother no longer dares to try to thrash him during school holidays.)

Crabbed: Sour, ill-tempered, difficult. (My Great-aunt Agatha’s toy spaniel is so dreadfully crabbed that even Uncle Fred’s gamekeeper is afraid of it.)

All the crack: The fashionable theme, the go. (Of course, the only reason Aunt Agatha even has a spaniel is because she had heard that lap-dogs were all the crack, and she never passes up a chance to demonstrate just how fashionable she is.)

Rum Ned: A very rich silly fellow. Cant. (Lord Lucre’s waistcoat buttons set with pigeon’s blood rubies have earned him a reputation as a very rum Ned indeed.)

Friday, October 18, 2019

Grouping for the Love of the Nineteenth Century

Facebook Groups are all the rage for a variety of organizations, but readers and authors are also using them to connect and share their love of books. Here are a few you might not know about, related to romances from our beloved nineteenth century.

I am delighted to join with Gail Eastwood, Charlotte Henry, Mary Kingswood, Anna St. Clair, Martine Roberts, Catherine Tinley, and Lynn Winchester to share sweet Regency-set romances with readers. Our patroness, Lady Catherine, hosts an author a week, with special guests, games, reviews of Regency novels, and historical tidbits. We are planning a big party for Twelfth Night in January. Come join us!

Sponsored by the Regency Special Interest Chapter of Romance Writers of America, this Facebook group is a diverse collection of readers and authors who all have a love of the Regency Era. The purpose of the group is to celebrate quality in the subgenre and the efforts of the authors who write the stories we love to read. Many Regency romance authors announce their new releases here.

This is an open page for all readers, writers, and aspiring writers of Jane Austen and Regency-inspired fiction. All are welcome to discuss their favorite Austen works and variations, and any original stories in the works.

Love more than the nineteenth century? This book club looks across historical romance set in any time period or location, whether recently published or older.

Prefer your romances connected to Jane Austen? This group is for Jane Austen Fan Fiction authors and readers to share new and newly discovered books to love.

If you know of others, please post them! There’s something magical about connecting with other readers who share your passion!

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Regency Fabrics, Part 26

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 September 1812 issue of Ackermann’s Repository. The overall condition of my copy is very good; the page itself is free of foxing and barely, if at all, toned; the sample in white has suffered some foxing, but that's probably unavoidable.
Here we go!

No. 1. A celestial blue imperial striped sarsnet, adapted for pelisses, spencers, evening robes, and mantles. Silk fringe of the same colour, matted crape, Spanish binding, and thread lace, or net, are the only appropriate trimmings for articles of this delicate and pliant material. It is sold by Messrs. George and Bradley, mercers, No. 19, Holywell-street, Strand.

My comments: Alas, it’s no longer possible to see just how celestial the blue was in this sarsnet was: only a hint of color can be seen now. The fabric itself, though, is lovely stuff: it possesses a delightfully silky hand and a shimmer that would indeed make for a beautiful “evening robe.”  

No  2. A sea-weed ground printed cambric, so evidently calculated for the humble order of morning and domestic wear, that no further remark is necessary, than to recommend robes of this article to be made high in the neck, with long sleeves, and frills or collars of lace or needle-work. We are furnished with this print from the house of Harris and Co. No.1, Picket-st. Temple Bar.

My comments:  A nice, sturdy cambric fabric, evenly woven. The background seaweed print is finely printed in a tannish orange; the larger brown pattern has either run, or wasn’t as well printed in the first place, having left brown streaks on the background.

No. 3. A beautiful fancy silver paper for ladies’ work-tables, boxes, card-racks, &c. When made up, it exhibits the appearance of the red sea-weed, strained on a white satin or silver ground. Work-tables, with ebony and gold frames and feet, or japanned to that effect, are a most unique, elegant, and useful article for the boudoir. For card or work-boxes the narrow embossed gold or silver border is a appropriate finish at the edges. This simple and tasteful article is from Ackermann’s, 101, Strand.

My comments: Okay, forget what I said about the samples being in good condition. While it’s just possible to see the seaweed pattern and a hint of red on this sturdy but not too thick paper, the silvery background has long since oxidized away, alas—it must have been pretty. I have to wonder, by the by, why there's a paper sample amongst the fabrics; did a fabric merchant forget to send along his samples?

No. 4. A striped Scotch jaconot muslin, designed for the morning dress and children’s ware. Lace, or borders of double or plaited muslin, are the only becoming and consistent trimmings for robes of this article. It is sold by Charles Cooper and Co. No. 47, Fleet-street.

My comments: Very finely woven and, as a result, very sheer...but also very pretty and delicate. Charming as a child’s smock, or in a morning dress over a lining or slip.

What do you think of this month’s fabrics?

Friday, October 11, 2019

Glamping in the Trees: Storybook Perfect!

I recently had a birthday, turning over another decade. And I wanted to do something special. Some poking around for opportunities led me and my husband into the woods to the north of us, to Treehouse Place at Deer Ridge, near Lake Stevens, Washington. I thought you might get as big a kick out of visiting as I did.

To start out, the approach to the house begins on Sasquatch Lane. (Big fan of Sasquatch, the Ape Man of the Northwest—have been since I was a kid.)

You climb up through the trees on a lighted path.

Until you see the house.

Now, it’s not completely up in the trees, but it’s on the edge of a hill, so the view out truly makes you feel as if you were singing with the birds.

Inside, it’s a darling cabin. Here's the main floor. Yes, that’s a soaker tub.


An Alexa is available to dim the lights for you. My husband and I got a big kick out of telling her what to do and asking questions. She answered my husband back more than she did me. Hmmm. 

If you need more to stimulate you, nearby Lake Stevens is gorgeous too!

Treehouse Place at Deer Ridge is on Airbnb and was mentioned in USA Today. If you’re in the area, I highly recommend. For this writer, it was storybook perfect. 😊

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Wheeee! A Sale!

Quick post this week because sometimes Life just piles up on you...

These last months have been spent getting ready for Evergreen’s release on November 5, but that doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten about my other children books. . .more specifically, about Between Silk and Sand. I’m delighted to announce that it is a finalist in the Young Adult category of Orange County RWA’s 2019 Book Buyer’s Best contest, which is both exciting and a great honor.

Partly in celebration of that, and partly as a pre-party for Evergreen’s release, I decided to have a sale on Between Silk and Sand. For the next two weeks, the e-book version will be on sale for 99¢ (regularly $4.99), available from all your favorite ebook vendors. So grab a copy now. . .and meanwhile, I’ll go deal with those big piles of Life (and no, not the breakfast cereal) I’ve got going here...

Happy shopping!

Barnes and Noble
Apple Books

Friday, October 4, 2019

More Popcorn!

On this fall Friday, I offer you two entertainments, so gather your popcorn and settle in.

The first is at Novel PASTimes, where the charming Ben Coleridge, hero of A Distance Too Grand, is being interviewed. I picture Chris Pine whenever I think of Ben. 😊

And what’s a good book without a good book trailer? I don’t have Marissa’s artistic eye, alas, so I was very glad when my publisher offered to make me a trailer for A Distance Too Grand.

Enjoy! And have some popcorn for me.

Here are those links, one more time:

Baker Publishing Group
Barnes and Noble 
Apple Books
Christian Book
The Book Depository, free shipping worldwide

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Having a Grand Old Time! A Distance Too Grand

It’s here! It’s been a while since I had a traditionally published book out, so excuse me while I squeal a little. A Distance Too Grand launches today from Revell.

Meg Pero has been assisting her photographer father since she was big enough to carry his equipment, so when he dies she is determined to take over his profession--starting with fulfilling the contract he signed to serve on an Army survey of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon in 1871. What she doesn't realize is that the leader of the expedition is none other than the man she once refused to marry.

Captain Ben Coleridge would like nothing more than to leave without the woman who broke his heart, but he refuses to wait even one more day to get started. This survey is a screen for another, more personal mission, one he cannot share with any member of his team.

As dangers arise from all sides, including within the survey party, Meg and Ben must work together to stay alive, fulfill their duties, and, just maybe, rekindle a love that neither had completely left behind.

Here's a little taste:

“Is there a problem, Corporal?” the man behind her asked. Oh, but she couldn’t mistake that voice, even ringing with command. It seemed God wasn’t going to answer this prayer either, just as He hadn’t seen fit to allow her father to survive his illness.

Corporal Dent squared his shoulders. “No, sir. This citizen says she’s to go on the survey expedition to the North Rim, but it’s clearly a mistake. I can deal with the likes of her.”

Meg bristled, but the voice behind her was now all commiseration. “No need to be rude, Corporal. I’d be happy to explain the situation to the lady. If you’d tell me your name, miss?”

So well meaning. That was one of the traits that had originally drawn her to him. That and his unrelenting confidence. Easy to turn now, to greet her long-lost love, to let him convince her she should go back home.

But there was no home and never would be if she didn’t win this commission.

She raised her chin and turned. Even though she knew who she would find behind her, the sight of Benjamin Coleridge still shook her. That shock of golden-brown hair, so thick and silky; those blue-gray eyes that could look deep inside her. The chiseled chin that could soften with emotion, that strong physique outlined in the navy wool of his uniform jacket, two silver bars on his shoulders. Oh, but she could hear the ladies sighing from here.

Once more she put on her best smile. “Good afternoon, Captain Coleridge. I must insist that I join your expedition. I’m your photographer.”

You can find the book in trade paperback, e-book, hardcover, and audio book from fine retailers such as the following:

Baker Publishing Group
Barnes and Noble 
Apple Books
Christian Book 
The Book Depository, free shipping worldwide