Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Comfort Reads, Part 2

We last talked about comfort reads here a couple of years ago…and hoo boy, if ever a topic should be discussed again, it’s that one. And right now.

I keep track of the books I’ve read on LibraryThing, a wonderful book cataloguing site that I’ve been a member of for nearly ten years now.* It had been a good reading year up till late March—I’d read several new books at a fairly brisk clip. And then—well, you know what happened. So what did I do?

I read Georgette Heyer, of course. I pounded back Sylvester and Frederica and The Unknown Ajax and Devil’s Cub and The Quiet Gentleman one after another, with scarce a pause in between. And it helped—it truly did. So I ventured into some new-to-me books again, prompted by a generous deal from Tor Books, and jumped into a series that’s received a lot of love in the book world but is perhaps one that NineteenTeen readers aren’t quite expecting to hear about here…but if you at all like science fiction (and yes, I do—very much!) you HAVE to read the Murderbot Diaries series by Martha Wells, beginning with All Systems Red..

Yes, you read that correctly. The Murderbot Diaries.

While that sounds dreadfully…icky and not at all comforting, this series of novellas qualifies as just that. Yes, it has all the usual trappings of science fiction—interstellar space travel, asteroid mining, robots and AIs and cyborgs, shady planetary surveyors. But it also has Murderbot, a cyborg security unit who is deeply, unabashedly, addicted to the future’s equivalent of Netflix. And a cyborg addicted to story somehow comes across as much more human than machine. If you’re at all a science fiction reader, you should give these books a try.

So that’s my comfort reading for the month. What are you reading that’s helping you through these troubling times?**

*And if you’re interested in checking LibraryThing out, accounts are now free for members to catalogue unlimited books. I tell you, this site has more than once kept me from buying second copies of books I’d forgotten I already owned. Of course, being a member has also meant I’ve bought a lot of books based on the recommendations of friends, so it’s probably a wash. 😊
**And by the way—hugs, my friends.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Welcoming an Heiress

The Heiress’s Convenient Husband, the second book in the Grace-by-the-Sea series, launched this week. I hope you’ll want to return to where romance and adventure come home.

The magistrate over the little Regency coastal village, James Howland, takes pride in protecting Grace-by-the-Sea from ne’er-do-wells, including his distant cousin, the Earl of Howland. So, when he discovers a young lady hiding in the family’s castle, his heart cannot decide which comes first—her rescue or his duty.

Outspoken Eva Faraday has been exiled to the castle for refusing to marry the man the earl picked for her. Her late father appointed the earl trustee over her considerable inheritance, which she cannot access until she turns twenty-five or marries. And if she marries, her husband controls the money. She’s not about to trust any Howland, but James seems ripe for rebellion. To thwart the earl’s power, the two agree to a marriage of convenience, only to discover there are others intent on using the earl’s castle for nefarious purposes. Eva and James must work together to solve the mystery and stop the earl once and for all so they can make a marriage that is far more than convenient.

I want to give a shout out to two bloggers who honored the book with their reviews. Hott Book Reviews gave it an A+ and said, “I have to be honest, I’ve read most of Regina Scott’s books. And loved them. BUT The Heiress’s Convenient Husbandis extra-special. There is just something about the characters that pulled at my heart. I’ll definitely be reading this one again!”

Among the Reads awarded it five stars and said, “Regina Scott’s books make me happy! I can always count on her to provide a story that is witty, adventurous, and sweetly romantic.”

You can find the book at fine online retailers in e-book (and print on Amazon) such as the following:

Friday, April 17, 2020

Earls Can Talk Too

I received lovely news this week. With all that has been going on, it took a bit to finish, but the audiobook for Never Envy an Earl is now available. Yvette de Maupassant, my heroine, was always a sassy lass, so I was absolutely tickled when the ever-talented Jannie Meisberger voiced her with such a delightful French accent. She truly brought the story to life.

The saucy Yvette de Maupassant is used to danger. She’s spent the last 10 years spying for England in Napoleon’s court. Now that her work has been discovered, she must hide, and what better place than the remote wooded estate of the Earl of Carrolton? Her friend Miss Thorn and that delightful cat Fortune place her in a position where she can pretend to be companion to the earl’s sickly mother. Yet one look at the earl has Yvette rethinking why she wants to stay.

Gregory, Earl of Carrolton, is used to power. So why does one moment in the company of his mother and spinster sister leave him feeling powerless? And why does the look in a certain Frenchwoman’s eyes leave him weak at the knees? As danger draws closer, Gregory and Yvette must work together to protect her, his family, and the future of England, as they discover the greatest danger and delight is falling in love.

And, to celebrate the upcoming release of The Heiress’s Convenient Husband (Monday, April 20), I’ve made The Unflappable Miss Fairchild, the first in my Uncommon Courtships series, 99 cents.


Whether you decide to listen to an earl, read about an unflappable miss, both, or neither, stay safe and healthy! We’ve got this!

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Snippets: The Lady’s Magazine, January 1811

I do enjoy reading periodicals from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries—the articles, the stories, the illustrations, and even the ads. They don’t necessarily offer a completely accurate picture of their eras: overall, most general-consumption magazines present an aspirational picture of their worlds —how its readers would like their lives to be. After all, does any magazine you read truly reflect the reality of your everyday life?

Still, they do provide a window into the past that is often useful and informative. To this history geek, they can be at times surprising, eye-opening, and—sometimes—utterly delightful.

I have before me the January 1811 edition of The Lady’s Magazine, or, Entertaining Companion for the Fair Sex; Appropri-ated Solely to Their Use and Amusement (gotta love the snappy title.) The “top story” is the beginning of a biography of the then-General Viscount Wellington (on the first step up the ladder leading to his eventual dukedom) who was busily engaged in the Peninsula. Like most of the pieces in this magazine, it is one installment of a longer piece; aside from letters to the editor and a few shorter extracts from essays and books, most of the articles here are continuations from issue to issue. The accompanying portrait engraving, purporting to be “an accurate likeness”, makes him look considerably younger (and plumper) than most of the portraits I’ve seen!

Of universal interest, I’m sure, is a brief but alarming piece titled “Ladies’ Clothes on Fire”, advocating for heavy woolen “fire cloaks” to become an accepted part of the dĂ©cor of “every parlour and ’drawing-room in the kingdom, and deemed as necessary an article of its furniture, as the hearth-rug, the fire-screen, or the fender.”

Then there’s a touching story of “The Remarkable Docility of a Sow”, detailing the story of pigs who have been raised alongside hunting dogs and trained to point as well as their canine step-siblings.

Of course, there’s a fashion plate, showing “London Morning and Evening Dress” in shades of black and gray as mourning for Princess Amelia was still in effect. The black velvet evening dress, trimmed “with velvet and gold cord twisted together would pass muster today at an evening event, I think.

But the piece that surprised me the most was a brief item in the Births, Marriages, and Deaths section: on January 9 was listed the death “At Gretna Green, aged 79, the celebrated Joseph Pasley, first (it is said) a tobacconist, afterward a fisherman, and finally, without ordination or commission, a volunteer, self-constituted priest of Hymen, better known by the appellation of the Gretna-Green Parson*” The asterisk indicates a note reading, “On a trial respecting the validity of one of his marriages—on which occasion, he appeared in court as a witness—we recollect the judge characterizing him as a blacksmith.” This is, of course, the famous performer of clandestine marriages for eloping couples from England who fled just over the Scottish border—and out of the reach of English church law...and evidently a news-maker even then!

Friday, April 10, 2020

A Simply Wondrous Cover Reveal (and a free read too!)

Last year I related how thrilled I was with the publisher of my American Wonders Collection, Revell, for creating the amazing cover for the first book in the collection, A Distance Too Grand. I truly didn’t know how the super-talented Art Department was going to top it.

But when you have the thermal features of Yellowstone National Park as your backdrop, lightning really can strike twice.

Without further ado, I give you the cover for Nothing Short of Wondrous, set in Yellowstone in 1886.

As before, the model’s dress was borrowed from a museum and comes from the right time period. Her hairstyle was patterned after a picture in a ladies’ magazine from that time. Kate, my heroine, is a hotel owner in the park, but she sees it as her job to protect the wonders of Yellowstone from any who might despoil it. The Art Director and I debated how we would indicate her role on the cover. Rifle in her arms? Guidebook in her hand? The Art Department opted for a felt hat reminiscent of the early park rangers. I couldn’t be more pleased.

We also debated which amazing feature to include on the cover. Old Faithful? Yellowstone Falls? Neither plays a particularly large part in the story (in fact, none of the characters even reaches the Falls). The artist wisely chose one of the hot pools in the Lower Geyser Basin, where Kate has her hotel. Delightful!

Nothing Short of Wondrous will be out October 20, but the hard cover and paperback are available for preorder, and I expect the e-book to be not far behind.

Indie Bound (an independent bookstore near you) 
The Book Depository, free shipping worldwide 

Looking for something to tide you over until then? I have put up a free online read in the Everard Legacy series, set between The Captain’s Courtship and The Rake’s Reform: “Lady Everard’s Easter.”

Speaking of which—Happy Easter!

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Just Charming!

It’s lots of fun to find outrĂ©, outrageous, and out-to-lunch fashion images to share with you. But sometimes it’s nice to see a dress that you or I might actually not have minded wearing out to a party or ball…like this Ball Dress from the January 1817 La Belle AssemblĂ©e.

Isn’t it just adorable?

The original description reads: A frock of tissue gauze, the ground white, flowered with amber, flounced round the border, and the flounce elegantly surmounted by a wreath of yellow crocusses. Full long sleeves of tulle. The hair dressed in the modern British style, with a full plume of white ostrich feathers tipped with amber, and placed rather backward on the summit of the head. Amber necklace in two rows. White satin slippers; white kid gloves; and small white crape fan richly embroidered in silver of a Vandyke pattern.
The fabric is lovely, though I wonder if it was a print or if the flower pattern was embroidered. I rather expect the former, as we've seen plenty of print fabrics in our Ackermann fabric sample posts. In another year or two the hems of dresses will be overburdened with flounces, appliques, wreaths, and any number of other decorative elements, but for now, a flounce, a ruffle, and a wreath of flowers suffices…and crocuses! What an inspired choice for an early spring outfit, and so dainty! 

I also like the gauze sleeves, with the ribbon trim and small ruffle at the wrist, more crocuses at the upper arm, and the graceful neckline with more ribbons and ruffles.

What do you think? Would you have worn this dress to Lady Thingummy’s ball? ☺