Tuesday, March 30, 2021

The Rural Regency: Life in a Small Village, by Guest Blogger, Gail Eastwood

[Nineteen Teen is thrilled to welcome back traditional Regency author, Gail Eastwood, to the blog. Thank you, Gail, for sharing about your delightful village.]

We do love the grand London ballrooms, beautiful gowns and elegant lords and ladies of Regency romances, don’t we? But far more people in England during the early nineteenth century lived in the countryside than in the few major cities, most often in small villages. (The Industrial Revolution was only just starting to create the big changes that were yet to come.)

Romance can happen in a small village just as well as in an elegant ballroom, can’t it? What about all those popular “small town” contemporary romances? I wanted some of those rural Regency folks to find love, too. Welcome to Little Macclow!

My new Regency series, “Tales of Little Macclow,” is set in a tiny Derbyshire village well off the main roads and quite backward, especially by fashionable standards. The warm-hearted characters who live there, or pass through, have become quite real to me as I work on Book Three and prepare for the other books to come. I hadn’t intended to start a series when I invented the village. I just wanted to write a story set during the twelve days of Christmas and to strand a fashionable lord in this adorable small place still practicing ancient customs! I wanted a place with plenty of snow, but still not too far to the north, so I chose Derbyshire in the Midlands and fell in love with that setting.

The resulting tale, Lord of Misrule, is Book Two in the series, even though I wrote it first. Readers wanted more of Little Macclow, so for Book One, Lord of Her Heart, I went back eight months earlier and told the story of how the village seamstress, Sally Hepston, found her soul-mate (who isn’t an actual “lord”, by the way).

Little Macclow is full of features you would find in most typical small villages. The people aren’t wealthy. There’s a communal village well where the folks with no other source for water go to fetch it (and exchange gossip, of course). Many don’t even have an oven in their little cottages, so they depend on the village baker for bread or even cooking a roast for them! They are very dependent on the goodwill and care provided by the local squire and his wife who own the whole village. Little Macclow is very lucky, for Squire Hammon and his wife Lady Anne (who everyone knows was an earl’s daughter, so she is much revered) are benevolent, good-hearted people with a genuine fondness for all of the villagers.

Who are some of these other people? The heroine of Book Two is the vicar’s daughter, and her father is a crusty widower, so will he ever find love again? Sally Hepston’s sister Ellen works at the local inn, as does the innkeeper’s oldest daughter, Becky. Everyone thinks Ellen will marry her childhood sweetheart, Peter, the innkeeper’s oldest son, who works across the street at the livery stable. But will she? And who will Becky find, when a few more years have passed? There are plenty of tales to be told in a small village, and interesting people to meet!

Would you like to visit Little Macclow? Dip into Books One and Two in my Tales of Little Macclow series. To know when new books in the series come out (and get a free short story), please sign up for my newsletter! (or visit my website). Thanks, Regina and Marissa, for inviting me to visit the blog!

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Retro Blast (and a Future Hint): Doing Their Bit

Life has been very busy these last few weeks for me on several fronts...one of them being related to this post, originally made in 2014. I’ll be telling you more about it soon; accept this as a touch of foreshadowing (mwahaha!)

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Writing a story set in 1917 has been a fascinating experience for me. It’s not a time I knew a great deal about, so there’s definitely been a learning curve...but I’ve been having tons of fun with it (as you might have noticed!)

One thing that has struck me as I do my research to write this story is how much World War I was truly the first BIG media-covered war (though the Spanish-American War in 1898 was in many ways a rehearsal for it). By 1917 the cinema had become an important part of people’s everyday lives; in the newsreels shown in theatres, moving picture footage of actual battlegrounds and armies could be seen. Also, photography was now more easily reproducible in newspapers and magazine, and both of these served to bring the war “home” in ways that just hadn’t been possible before. And let’s face it, war is big news. It sells a lot of newspapers and magazines, so there was plenty of coverage of it in popular media.

That coverage extended to media intended for a female audience. World War I was probably the first war that called strongly on all American citizens, male and female, to help in whatever way possible. For men, it was enlisting, obviously. But women, too, were encouraged—heck, exhorted, as in the editorial above from the June 1917 issue of Ladies' Home Journal—to “do their bit.” The countries at war with the Kaiser not only needed soldiers, but support personnel, war materiĆ©l, and food to feed their civilian populations. Belgium in particular was experiencing famine conditions as no one could grow food when large swathes of the country formed the battlegrounds of the war, and cross-Atlantic trade had been severely hampered by German u-boat activity.

So in a very real sense, women did have to “do their bit” for the war effort. Since they were the homemakers, they were the ones in charge of purchasing and preparing food...and they were the ones who could cut down on the use of wheat, beef, and other food that could be shipped overseas to feed troops and hungry European civilians, and learn to make do with other food sources.

But food wasn’t the only place women helped. Since so many young men were being shipped overseas to fight, young women began to replace them on farms and in factories. And let’s not forget medical personnel and other support people, from clerks and secretaries in Washington to ambulance drivers on the western front.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Revealing A View Most Glorious

Those of you who have been following the blog know I have loved the covers for my American Wonders Collection. In case you missed them, here’s the first, A Distance Too Grand, set in the Grand Canyon of 1871:

And the second, Nothing Short of Wondrous, set in Yellowstone, 1886:

As my publisher, Revell, began working on the cover for the third, I told them my most fervent wish that the cover could look a little like this postcard of the first woman to climb Mt. Rainier, Fay Fuller. Miss Fuller reached the summit 3 years before my heroine, Coraline Baxter, in 1893. And she reached it in bloomers, a fashion nearly as shocking as a woman mountain climber.

But mimicking the picture wasn’t easy. Revell prides itself on period-correct clothing, going so far as to borrow historical clothing from museums or purchasing outfits from reputable antique dealers. Finding a blue flannel bloomer suit (long coat and bloomers) was a long shot.

But they did it.

I am delighted to give you the cover for my third book, A View Most Glorious:

That is my beloved Mt. Rainier in the background and the alpine meadows of Paradise around her. Here’s a little about the story: 

Headstrong Coraline Baxter has worked all her life to be more than the spoiled socialite others expect. When her beloved stepfather's bank is threatened by the Panic of 1893, she makes a deal with arrogant entrepreneur Cash Kincaid, who has been pressuring her to marry him. If she can climb Mount Rainier, he will bail out the bank. All Cora needs is a guide to get her to the top.

Nathan Hardee may look like a mountain man, but he once ruled the halls of high society. He left all that behind after his father broke under financial pressure from Kincaid. To best Kincaid now, Nathan agrees to guide Cora up the mountain.

Climbing Rainier will require all of Cora's strength and will lead her and Nathan to rediscover their faith in God and humanity. These two loners make unlikely partners in righting a wrong and may just discover that only together is the view most glorious.

You can preorder the book now at

Baker Book House (40% off and free U.S. shipping on all Revell preorders


Barnes and Noble 

Christian Book 


The Book Depository (free shipping worldwide) 

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Show and Tell!

I’ve written before about my delight in dance cards, those useful little notebooks that enabled fashionable young ladies to keep track of all the young men clamoring for the honor of a dance (that would so not have been me, by the way--just call me Miss Wallflower!), and have a new and exquisite one to share with you.

First, this one is in its original leather box (measuring 6 3/8 inches by 1 3/4 inches), which is just a dozen flavors of wow. See the teeny tiny hooks and loops that keep it closed?

On opening the velvet lined box, we find a fan-shaped carnet measuring 3 1/4 inches long (6 inches overall, including the chain and ring) made of what appears to be gold and silver vermeil over brass in an elegant, etched Rococo pattern. It is complete with double chain fastening it to a ring so that it could dangle from a young woman’s hand as she danced (because not all ball gowns have pockets!) Notice that the ring is a little outsized, to fit over a gloved finger.

When the “fan” is opened, there are five leaves of bone or ivory on which to write the names of dance partners…and the dainty pencil (all of 1 3/4 inches long!) with which to write them is still secure in its little loops.

I wonder what sparkling events this delightful little dance card was carried at, or what joys or heartaches it might have played a role in? There are plenty of signs that it was written on and erased…and then perhaps tucked away in a bureau drawer, based on the faint sachet scent still clinging to it. I do hope that whoever owned it kept it so well because of happy memories attached to it.

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

The Writer Who Hooked Me: Elizabeth Mansfield

For many writers, there is that moment when they *know* they are going to be an author. I’ve wanted to be an author since I realized about third grade that someone wrote the marvelous stories I was reading. But as I developed my skills, I found myself perplexed on what to write. I loved epic fantasy, science fiction, historical novels, and Westerns. Where should I dip my toes into the water?

And that’s when I first read Elizabeth Mansfield.

Elizabeth Mansfield (Paula Schwartz) was an author and playwright. She wrote more than two dozen Regency romances. My mother loved Georgette Heyer, so she was always bringing home Regencies of various sorts from the library. I picked up The Phantom Lover and couldn’t put it down.

I wanted to live in the world Mansfield had created, a world with noble heroes in dashing greatcoats and complicated cravats, with spunky heroines who were unafraid to take on Society, by either conquering it or taking different paths. Where love always triumphed in the end.

I devoured the rest of her catalog at the time, eagerly awaited each new book. When my mother discovered one I hadn’t known about, years after Elizabeth Mansfield had died, I nearly cried.

Besides her Regency novels, she wrote other romances under additional pen names, as well as plays. The one that most intrigues me is titled “An Accident at Lyme” and is based on Jane Austen’s Persuasion. A musical, it was staged in Baltimore. Oh, how I wish I could have seen it!

She passed away in December 2003 after fighting valiantly against ovarian cancer. In recent years, her daughter has brought out many of her books as ebooks, thrilling a new generation of readers and inspiring Regency authors today.