Barbara Miller: Christmas Fete

Cotillion Christmas Feasts

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2014 is the final year of Ellora’s Cave’s Cotillion Christmas anthologies. Enjoy these sweet Regency Christmas tales this year while you still can!

Message From Barbara

Barb July 08When the theme of a holiday feast was presented for the 2014 Christmas novella challenge I wanted something different, so I pulled out a Regency cookbook by Verity Isitt called Take a Buttock of Beef. You could say I made up the menu for the novella before I made up the characters. Of course I just mention the dishes without giving the recipes but most are straightforward.

I had experienced only a dessert fete, but decided to make the background for the story an all day fete at a country house, almost like a winter country fair. Who would put on such an event? Only someone who is passionate about Christmas. My heroine Dinah Claypool has never had a truly perfect Christmas but keeps trying. When she meets Richard Chandler she finally finds someone who cares about all the things she does. But he has a secret that could ruin Christmas for Dinah forever.

I started writing Christmas Fete during Christmas week 2013 to keep myself in the spirit. I thought back to what Christmas used to mean to me and it was always about making other people happy. The anticipation of them opening their surprises far outweighed any joy I got out of my presents. What was true for my parents and siblings is still true today for friends and relatives. I spend all year thinking about the perfect gift for them and the items just leap out at me. Frequently they are books, sometimes even the very novella I’m working on.

About Christmas Fete

511yitb0k3L._AA160_When Dinah’s father inherits an estate, he decides she and her brother must go settle the matter. They arrive to find the place in need of much repair—and holiday spirit. As Dinah plans a cheerful fete for Christmas in hope of winning over the locals, she finds herself winning over someone else as well—Richard, the handsome man who lives next door.

Richard never expected to meet someone like Dinah—a woman who is headstrong and decisive. A woman he could spend his life with. Unfortunately, Richard needs a Christmas miracle to extricate himself from a tricky obligation.

If it’s a miracle he needs to be free, Dinah is determined he’ll get it—that way they can spend their Christmas fete together and everyone can enjoy their happily ever afters.

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Richard wet his lips, which had gone numb. “I’m not sure how it happened.”

“You were compelled to offer for her,” Dinah whispered.

“Somewhat reluctantly. Later I suspected she manipulated me into it, but that does her an injustice. I did offer.” He saw tears sparkling on Dinah’s lashes and raised a finger to brush them away but she ducked her head.

“Should we announce your engagement during the festivities? People will hear of it soon enough.”

“Please don’t. I keep hoping something will happen to prevent it, the earth crack or a violent storm that will blow the two of us away from here, never to return. I want to be with you, only you, always. Life with Ophelia will be living a lie.”

She smiled at his fantasy. “And yet you are bound to honor your generous impulse.”

“I don’t want to. I only offered because I had never met anyone like you before, never met you, who seem to be the only like-minded soul I have ever found on this earth. You understand me.”

“I am in the same case. I never thought about marriage until I met you, someone who actually cares, who takes me seriously.”

He took her in his arms and kissed her, the heavy coat falling to the floor. If only this moment could go on forever. He could imagine their future life, lose himself in it, but then she dipped her head with a sigh.

“I am so glad we did that at least once,” she said.

SusanaSays3Susana Says

…heartwarming & sweet Regency Christmas tale: 4/5 stars

At a time when marriage is considered the ultimate destiny of all young women, Dinah Claypool is remarkably content with her role as the sensible one of the family, her father being rather unworldly and eccentric and her older brother, a good-natured rakehell. It isn’t until her father sends her to Hammersmith Hall, the estate he has just inherited, that she meets Richard Chandler and begins to think seriously about the wedded state.

What she doesn’t know is that just prior to her arrival, Richard rather half-heartedly offered to marry Ophelia, the daughter of the previous earl, when she wailed to him about having nowhere to go. No matter that he regrets it almost immediately, particularly after meeting Dinah; he can’t jilt Ophelia without causing a scandal.

And speaking of scandal, Dinah discovers to her surprise that her father has been reviled in the area for twenty-five years for jilting Ophelia’s mother. Why has he never mentioned it before? Could that be the reason he sent her instead of coming himself? Could it be true that Ophelia’s mother was his one true love and not Dinah’s own mother, who died when she was small?

Christmas Fete is a delightful Midsummer Night’s Dream sort of story, where the Spirit of Christmas must work its magic to untangle one mismatched couple before true love can prevail.

About the Author

Barbara Miller teaches in the Writing Popular Fiction graduate program at Seton Hill University and is Reference Librarian at Mount Pleasant, PA Public Library. She has published historical and contemporary romances, mysteries, young adult books, a story book and a paranormal novel. Two of her plays have been performed at the Pittsburgh New Works Festival. You may email or visit

Katherine Grey: An Unexpected Gift

Interview With Katherine Grey

Susana: What inspired you to start writing?

Katherine: It wasn’t so much something that inspired me to start writing as a person. I have always had an active imagination and would make up stories. I would often share with friends some of the stories or talk about the characters that peopled those stories. After much encouragement from one of those friends, I decided to try to write a book. That first book took me 9 months to write and currently resides on a shelf in my closet. Like most first books, it’s no where near publishable but I learned a lot while writing it.

Susana: What author or authors have most influenced your writing?

Katherine: This is a hard question to answer. I would have to say Johanna Lindsey, Suzanne Enoch, and Lisa Kleypas. Johanna Lindsey was one of the first historical writers I ever read so I have to give her the most credit. I love how each of these wonderful writers immerse their readers in the worlds within their books, how each of them write such strong female characters yet keep them grounded within the time period, and the way they convey the depth of emotion and conflict in their books.

Susana: What advice would you give to writers just starting out?

Katherine: One of the pieces of advice I first received is to write every day or at least five days out of the week even if you can only manage one page a day. I learned from experience that by writing every day, you keep the story in the forefront of your mind so that your subconscious is working out plot points even when you’re doing something else. If you write only when the mood strikes, odds are it will take you years to finish a manuscript if you finish it at all.

An Unexpected Gift copySusana: What is your work schedule like when writing?

Katherine: I’m lucky enough to get out of work at 3:00 p.m. so I write from 3:45 to 5:15 Monday through Friday. I sit on one side of the dining room table typing away and the boy child sits on the opposite side doing homework so there are the occasional homework question interruptions. I try to write between 20 and 25 pages of new material each week.

Susana: What are you reading now?

Katherine: I just finished Her Sudden Groom by Rose Gordon. Rose Gordon is a new author to me. Someone recommended that I read the book. I’m always on the lookout for new authors to read.

About An Unexpected Gift

Known only as Lazarus to the band of cutthroats and thieves he leads, William Prescott will do anything to find his missing sister, even blackmail a fragile young woman into helping him. But he never plans to fall in love with this mysterious woman with a troubled past.

Haunted by the memories of war, Olivia St. Germaine wants nothing more than to live a normal life. But when her brother, a doctor, suddenly leaves town without a word, she is forced to use her medical knowledge to help an injured man who puts her life in danger. Can she keep herself safe as she tends Lazarus, or is her heart more vulnerable than she realizes?

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“If you don’t leave, I shall have Jennings call the constable.” Olivia headed for the door.

“And how will you accomplish that?”

She halted in mid-step.

“Yes, I know there are no servants in residence.” Lazarus sauntered closer. “Did you play the benevolent mistress and give them the night off?”

Eager to keep him at a distance, she scooted around him and stood at the end of the bed. “What do you want?”

“What do you think I want?”

“Why don’t we dispense with the games, and you just tell me?”

Lazarus closed the space between them in two strides. He pushed her backward onto the bed. Olivia bounced against the soft mattress. She dug her elbows into the thick counterpane in an effort to scramble backward away from him.

Grabbing her ankles, he pulled her toward him in one quick jerk. He leaned over her. His hand closed over her hip, freezing her in place. The warmth of his hand burned through her clothes to her skin.

Feeling truly terrified for the first time since he’d announced his presence, she searched his gaze for some kind of sign this was all a great joke. No, it was no game. His eyes were as hard and cold as glass. “What do you want?” she repeated, her voice a near whisper.

“Stop asking questions about me. Forget you ever heard the name Lazarus.”

About the Author

At the age of four, Katherine pestered her mother to teach her to read. From that point on, she spent the most of her childhood lost in the pages of one book after another. Soon she began writing stories of her own, populated with characters doing all of the things she was too shy to even contemplate doing herself.

A chance meeting with another author led Katherine to seriously pursue a writing career. Her debut novel, Impetuous, was released by The Wild Rose Press in August 2011.

Katherine lives in upstate NY with her family though she threatens to move south at the beginning of each winter season.


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Kathryn Kane: Deflowering Daisy 

Interview with Kathryn Kane

Susana: What inspired you to start writing?

Kathryn: After college I was a museum curator and later the curator of a historic house. I enjoyed working with historic furnishings and artifacts and learning how they were made and used in their own time. Some years ago, having left the museum field for the tech industry, I realized I could put my knowledge of social and cultural history, as well as the history of things to use. As an author, I could create historically accurate environments for my characters and enable those characters to use those objects as they were originally intended. Many of those objects have interesting aspects to their use which I though would enrich my stories for my readers.

Susana: How long have you been writing?

Kathryn: In terms of scholarly articles, I have been writing for over twenty years. But when in comes to romance, about six years. I went through a number of different stories, with multiple drafts, as I honed my romance-writing skills. I think now I have found the right balance in my work, telling a heart-warming romance within a historically accurate setting.

Susana: What advice would you give to writers just starting out?

Kathryn: Read. But not just romance novels. Take the time to read lots of reviews of romance novels, particularly in your preferred genre. Doing that gave me the confidence to write the stories I wanted to write, since I discovered there were quite a lot of readers out there who liked the same kind of stories I did. I think that kind of confidence improves your writing and helps you to write with your own, true voice.

Susana: Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?

Kathryn: Occasionally. Fortunately, I have a few solutions, or perhaps I should say, distractions, available to me. I have found that the easiest way for me to break through writer’s block is to get my mind off the blockage for a time. Physical exercise is often the best distraction for me, so I go for a long ride on my bicycle, if the weather is fine. If not, I am fortunate to live near a property which is now a large park, but used to be one the greatest country estates in New England in the early nineteenth century. Since I wrote my Master’s thesis on the estate, though the buildings are all gone, I know not only what they looked like, but how they were furnished. As I walk, I imagine life on the estate when it was at its peak. Usually, by the time I get home, new ideas are bubbling up and my writer’s block dissolves away. If a walk or a bide ride don’t do the trick, I switch gears and work on an article for my Regency history blog. It takes a lot of concentration, and by the time I finish a new article, the next chapter in my current romance does not seem quite so daunting.

Susana: Tell us something about your newest release that is NOT in the blurb.

Kathryn: My debut Regency romance is called Deflowering Daisy, so, as a play on the title, I have woven a number of snippets of floral history into the story. Daisy is the heroine of the story, who got her name after I did quite a lot of research into a number of flowers with names which start with “D” to find just the right characteristics. Though daisies seem to be quite common flowers, they have several valuable properties, one of which is that of healing. The hero of the story, David, is a former spy who is war-weary, soul-sick and desperately in need of healing. And the heroine, Daisy, thinks she is just as common and seemingly insignificant as the flower after which she is named. Through the course of the story, Daisy and David give each other forgiveness, self-esteem and peace, with the help of a lot of flowers.

Susana: Are you working on something at present that you would like to tell us about?

Kathryn: It is a change of genre for me, a romantic fantasy with ecological overtones. I am working on the story of a young woman who offers herself as the human sacrifice to save an ancient forest. The guardian of the forest, a powerful wizard who hates humans for the damage they have inflicted on his forest, accepts her offer. However, as he comes to know her, he finds he cannot bear the thought of her death. Yet, without it, he will die along with the forest.

Susana: What author or authors have most influenced your writing?

Kathryn: Georgette Heyer. She created the Regency romance genre, which is my favorite. She was also a diligent researcher who did her best to write historically accurate stories. I do my best to emulate her efforts in my own work, since I so much enjoyed reading hers.

Susana: What did you want to be when you grew up?

Kathryn: A librarian, since I thought all the books were kept at the library and I love books. Then, after reading lots of books by Georgette Heyer when I was in high school, I decided I wanted to study history when I went to college. But I still love libraries, because I still love books.

Susana: What is your favorite food? Least favorite? Why?

Kathryn: My favorite food is ice cream, because it is sweet, cool and creamy.
My least favorite food is liver, because it is liver.

Susana: What is one thing your readers would be most surprised to learn about you?

Kathryn: That I love progressive rock and roll, especially Rick Wakeman, Yes, and Emerson Lake and Palmer. I don’t listen to prog rock when I write, because I find it too compelling and am not able to concentrate. But I often listen to it when I am working around the house or relaxing and can give it my full attention. I find the rich layers of sound in prog rock very satisfying. Since I like those layers in music, I also try to incorporate them into the stories I write.

Susana: If your publisher offered to fly you anywhere in the world to do research on an upcoming project, where would you mostly likely want to go? Why?

Kathryn: England, in particular Bath. I have never been there, though I have read a lot about it. Jane Austen and her family spent several years there, and quite a lot of the city which remains today was there during the Regency. To me, it is the most “Regency” city in England and I would love to have the time to walk the streets and visit places like the Pump Room and the Assembly Rooms to soak up the atmosphere and get a sense of the space.

Susana: Do you have a favorite quote or saying?

Kathryn: It is the last line from the poem, To Lucasta, Going to the Wars, by Richard Lovelace.
“I could not love thee (Dear) so much,
Lov’d I not Honour more.”

Susana: Do you write in multiple genres or just one? If just one, would you consider straying outside your genre?

Kathryn:  I write primarily in Regency romance, but in the past couple of years some stories in the fantasy genre have just popped into my head and I had to write them down. It was the only way to get those characters out of my head. I am currently re-working one with an eye to publication.

Susana: What are your favorite pastimes?

Kathryn: I enjoy riding my bicycle, but I freely admit, I am a fair-weather cyclist and only ride on sunny days. However, my real passion is needlework. I love all forms of needlework. I love to crochet and tat, and I am learning to make cord with a lucet. Embroidery is also a great pleasure for me, particularly when it involves beads and silk ribbon. I love to sew, especially quilting, and have made a number of “straight” quilts, but crazy quilts are my real favorites.

Susana: What is the one modern convenience you can’t do without?

Kathryn: A washing machine. Working with fabrics requires they be washed before using to remove the chemicals with which they are treated, so a washing machine is the most important modern convenience to me. Though I am also quite fond of my clothes dryer, my iron and my steamer.

About Deflowering Daisy

“She cannot remain a virgin!”

For so she was, after nearly a decade of marriage. When she was sixteen, Daisy had willingly, happily, married a man more than fifty years her senior, to escape a forced marriage to a man she abhorred. Though Sir Arthur Hammond had been a wild rake in his youth, he was so deeply in love with his late, beloved first wife that he never considered consummating his second marriage, certainly not with a woman he considered a daughter. But now, knowing he was dying and that he would be leaving sweet, innocent Daisy ignorant of the physical intimacies which could be enjoyed between a man and a woman, he felt that it was imperative she be given the knowledge which would prepare her for the life of a wealthy widow. Armed with the knowledge of physical intimacy, she would be much better prepared to deal with any fortune hunter who might try to seduce her into marriage for her money. And who better to initiate Daisy into the pleasures of the bedchamber than his godson. David had become nearly a recluse since a tragedy which occurred while he was serving the Crown against the forces of Napoleon Bonaparte. Prior to that, his skill as a tender and considerate lover had been bruited about in certain circles. Therefore, Sir Arthur believed that David was just the man to introduce Daisy to physical pleasure. And what might spending time with true and gentle Daisy do for David?

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May 1816

She cannot remain a virgin!”

“You want me to rape your wife?” David Everard rose from his chair, shocked to his core. Sir Arthur Hammond, a man whom he had admired and respected all his life, his godfather and the man he loved as dearly as a father, was asking him to deflower his wife.

“No!” exclaimed Sir Arthur. “No, of course not. She is as dear to me as a daughter.”

Deflowering Daisy-96dpi_200 copy“And yet, in six weeks’ time, you propose to give this young lady into my keeping for the express purpose that I violate her person and take her virginity. A young lady, I might add, whom I have never met, a young lady to whom I will be a complete stranger.” His eyes narrowed as he fixed his godfather with the same withering stare which had broken more than one enemy agent under intense interrogation. “She does not know who I am?”

“No, I am sorry to say, she does not,” the older man responded with equanimity, and a note of sadness. Sir Arthur met his gaze without flinching. “I have not spoken of you, David, to anyone, even George, from the day I gave you my word I would not. I keep my promises, young man!”

“Yes, sir, I know. It gave me hope you would be safe.”

“I made that promise to you only because you asked it of me. I was never afraid.”

“But I was,” he admitted. “It was necessary that everyone believed my friends and family had cast me off. I did not want to take the chance anyone might think they could get to me through you or George. I wanted the world to think I was nothing to you, nor you to me. I had to know you were both safe in order to do what I had to, for England.”

“And you have, my boy,” Sir Arthur said. “But the war is over now and Boney is put away for good, in no small part thanks to you, I am sure.”

“Don’t try to make me into a hero, Arthur,” he said. “I am nothing of the sort.”

“Hrrmph! I will never think you anything else, no matter what you say,” came the staunch rejoinder.

Though he did not reply, deep in his soul, David felt again a wave of infinite gratitude for his godfather’s unconditional loyalty to him. Without it, he was not sure he would have been able to endure these past few months as the social exile he had become since that day on Beachy Head.

“You have spent most of this past decade risking life and limb here and on the Continent, to protect England. Have you not the courage to spend one week to protect a kind and gentle young lady and a host of orphans?”

“Protect her by taking her to bed? If she is as you say, I am sure you can find any number of men willing to bed her.”

“There is no one else I can turn to, no one else I can trust. You are like a son to me.”

“So, now you are advocating incest?” David asked, his voice thick with sarcasm. “You want a man you consider a son to violate the woman you consider a daughter?” Was it possible for this to get any more repugnant, he wondered to himself.

“God’s teeth, David!” the older man shot back. “You bloody well know that is not what I am asking. Or why.” He took a long, slow, deep breath. “You have a reputation for having a way with women. It is said you give your bedmates pleasure equal to what you take, that you are a kind and considerate lover. That is what I want for Daisy. She is a complete innocent. She should be initiated tenderly, gently, by a man who will appreciate her quality.”

“Then find a man of quality to initiate her, not some spawn of hell unfit to associate with civilized people.” David walked the few paces to the fireplace as his bitter words fell into silence. When Sir Arthur did not speak, he turned. “I have not touched a woman in nearly a year and I have never taken a virgin,” he admitted. “I am the last man of whom you should ask this.”

“You are the only man I can ask, David,” the older man replied. “Despite your words, I know you to be the most decent and honorable man of my acquaintance. And Daisy is a very special girl, a loyal and generous soul whose sweet spirit should not be crushed by a cold-hearted bedding. I know you would never do that to her.”

“She is your wife. You can do the deed yourself,” David reminded him.

“No, my boy,” Sir Arthur said on a sigh. “Even if I were not much too old for her, there was only ever Millie for me. From the day I met her I never wanted another woman. Even though she is more than eleven years gone, there will never be anyone else.”

“Then encourage her to take a lover,” David suggested, trying to keep the desperation from his voice. He dropped back into his chair.

“I have tried for years, but she has never shown interest in any gentleman to whom I have introduced her. Of which there are few, near our estate in Kent,” he admitted. “And I can seldom get her to leave the country in order to broaden her acquaintance in London. She is determined to be a devoted and faithful wife, even though I doubt she has any concept of what unfaithfulness would entail. And now, it is too late. I cannot leave her so exposed, at such risk.”

“Why? What is so different now?”

Please visit Kathryn’s Books page at her web site for an extended excerpt.

Historical Snippet: Embroidery

Early in the story, the heroine, Daisy is working on her embroidery, of flowers, of course. When she puts it away for the evening, she pauses to look at her thimble when she takes it off. It is a very special thimble which means a great deal to her. It has a tiny purple enamel pansy which marks it as the product of the famous Palais Royal in Paris. The needlework implements and workboxes which were sold at the Palais Royal were considered to be the finest available at the time. Daisy received a small Palais Royal workbox on her first wedding anniversary. She had never been given anything so fine in all her life and that gift was so important to her that it quite literally saved her life. (You will have to read the story to find out how).

Though the Palais Royal stitching implements and workboxes were available only in Paris, there were still quite a number of English ladies during the Regency who had a set. Some had been acquired by the English who traveled to Paris during the Peace of Amiens, but there were also those who had contacts in Paris who could make special acquisitions for them. Therefore, despite Napoleon’s blockade, these luxury items still made their way to the needlewomen of England. And it is almost certain that any lady lucky enough to receive a workbox or implement set from Palais Royal would treasure it. These items were beautifully made and quite a few of them had delightful little secrets. Some contained music boxes, others had secret compartments, and still others were made as realistic miniatures of other objects.

More information about the exquisite Palais Royal sewing implements and workboxes can be found at Kathryn’s blog, The Regency Redingote.

About the Author

KKane_AuthorAvatarAV300Kathryn Kane is a historian and former museum curator who has enjoyed Regency romances since she first discovered them in her teens. She credits the novels of Georgette Heyer with influencing her choice of college curriculum, and she now takes advantage of her knowledge of history to write her own stories of romance in the Regency. Though she now has a career in the tech industry, she has never lost her love of the period and continues to enjoy reading Regency novels and researching her favorite period of English history.

Allison Lane: Regency Masquerades

Late Georgian Carriage Travel

Have you ever wondered how long it would take to drive 200 miles in 1810 and whether the average person could afford the trip?

Building a macadamized road

Building a macadamized road

Long-distance travel in England during the late 18th and early 19th centuries was slow and very expensive, which explains why most people spent their entire lives within five miles of their birthplace. But the upper classes did travel—to London, to their secondary estates, to visit friends… Yet it wasn’t easy. Roads were bad—muddy, rutted, sometimes completely impassible due to weather. The turnpikes gradually improved as the 18th century progressed, but even with that, by 1800 only the Bath-to-London road was truly good – it had been moved and rebuilt from scratch in 1787. Macadamization, which produced a smooth, fast surface, did not start nationally until 1818, wasn’t finished on the turnpikes until 1828, and wasn’t affordable for secondary roads until well into Victoria’s reign. During the upgrade, many travelers encountered detours that sent them along secondary roads, country lanes, or worse. (I encountered a similar situation a few years ago when my European highway turned into a construction zone; the detour sent me down a winding country lane and across a muddy pasture to reach a second winding country lane that finally returned to the main road. Scenic, but I hadn’t expected the pasture…)

Private traveling chariot

Private traveling chariot

Anyone traveling more than twenty miles had to hire horses because using personal horses for a long journey doubled or tripled the total travel time. If the traveler owned a carriage, he would hire one or two pairs to pull it. The number of horses depended on his desired speed, the weight of the loaded vehicle, and how many hills the road climbed. Hired horses were changed out every 15-20 miles. Each pair of horses came with a postilion who controlled his pair, cared for their needs, and got them back to their home stable. Post horses were hired by the mile. Every ostler knew the precise distance to the next change, so travelers paid for the hire in advance, then tipped the postilions at the end of their stage.

If the traveler did not own a carriage, he could hire one from the post office. Post office vehicles were called yellow bounders because of their color and inadequate suspensions. They were rented for a single stage just like the horses, so the traveler had to change carriages along with the horses.

Another expense of travel was turnpike tolls. Every turnpike was littered with toll gates—by the Regency there were more than 8000 of them. Tolls were collected by turnpike trusts and used to maintain the section of road under their jurisdiction. Parliament established each trust as a way to provide good roads without the government having to pay for them. Secondary roads were maintained by the parishes, which rarely had much money, so anyone wanting to travel quickly without getting bogged down in mud used turnpikes whenever possible. But all those tolls added up—each trust set its own base price, but all charged according to vehicle type and the number of horses pulling it.

3 - chaise with two postillion driven teams copy

Chaise with two postilion driven teams

When using hired horses, speed on the turnpikes averaged about five miles per hour. Postilions operated under a strictly enforced speed limit of seven miles per hour along rural turnpikes, but they had to slow for all towns and villages and stop at every toll gate which slowed their overall speed. On secondary roads the average speed was less because the road surface was so bad. After macadamization was complete, the speed limit was raised so the average speed jumped to ten miles per hour during the golden age of coaching from 1830-1840. After 1840, long-distance travel mostly switched to trains, with carriages covering only the short distance to and from the nearest railroad station.

When heading to London for the Season, the travel party would contain a man, his wife, and any older children not in school—young children usually stayed in the country. Each family member had a lady’s maid or valet. There might also be a governess and/or tutor for the children, a secretary for the husband, and possibly a secretary or companion for his wife. They might even take their housekeeper and butler, along with a coachman to drive them while in town. Plus luggage. Obviously, this would require multiple carriages, so travel expenses would skyrocket. Another reason London Seasons were so expensive.

About Regency Masquerades

Six beloved bestselling and award-winning Regency authors bring you six full-length novels of disguise, deception and secret identities. From sweet to subtly sensual, these traditional Regency Romances demonstrate that true love can see through even the most elaborate mask! 

This special, limited-edition set includes:

Daring Deception, by NYT and USA Today bestselling author Brenda Hiatt
When her brother promises her in marriage to pay a gaming debt, Miss Chesterton dons a disguise to prove Lord Seabrooke a fortune hunter. But even as she gathers evidence, she finds herself losing her heart to the handsome Earl.

Lucy in Disguise, by RITA® Award-winning author Lynn Kerstan
A charming aristocrat in trouble is rescued by a young woman disguised as a Lancashire Witch. Love comes swiftly, but she’ll only agree to wed if they protect her friend, a fearful heiress, from a greedy and dangerous family.

The Earl’s Revenge, by award-winning author Allison Lane
A battle of wits unmasks the secret lives of the Earl of Bridgeport and his former fiancée Elaine Thompson. Only love might prevent ruination.

The Lady from Spain, by award-winning author Gail Eastwood
A young woman posing as a Spanish widow returns to England after Napoleon’s war, set on a dangerous quest. Can the handsome lord who must unmask her also turn her heart toward love?

Gwen’s Ghost, by RITA® Award-winning authors Alicia Rasley and Lynn Kerstan
An unredeemed rake must mask his true self so that he can undo the damage he caused with his life–and his death.

The Redwyck Charm, by multiple award-winning author Elena Greene
Heiress Juliana Hutton masquerades as an opera dancer to escape an arranged marriage to the Earl of Amberley, but fate has different plans…

Regency Masquerades cover copy

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About the Author

Since publishing her first Regency romance in 1996, Allison Lane has won numerous writing awards. Her current project is a digital boxed set titled Regency Masquerades, which contains six full-length novels by six award-winning authors, each involving disguise, impersonation, or masquerade. The characters hide behind false facades, but as you read, you will discover that their charades ultimately lead them to true love. Regency Masquerades is now available at an introductory price of $0.99 from Amazon, B&N, iBooks, and Kobo.

The Dover Road: William Clements, Gentleman Coachman

dust jacket

The following post is the sixteenth of a series based on information obtained from a fascinating book Susana recently obtained for research purposes. Coaching Days & Coaching Ways by W. Outram Tristram, first published in 1888, is replete with commentary about travel and roads and social history told in an entertaining manner, along with a great many fabulous illustrations. A great find for anyone seriously interested in English history!

Artistic License

While I mean no disrespect to Canterbury and its extraordinary history, there is so much already out there on this topic that I’ve decided to skip it and focus on a particular coachman well-known and much respected for his years of service on the Canterbury-Dover Road.

Coaches On the Dover Road

dover road

112 miles round trip proved too much in one day.

Of the coaches on this Dover Road I have refrained from speaking, not because I was reserving the best thing till the last, but in point of fact for an exactly opposite reason. An indisputable subject tells me that, considering its importance as the principal route for travellers between England and France, there were not many coaches running on the Dover Road. I fancy that most people who had the wherewithal and wanted to catch a packet when the tide set, posted, and congratulated themselves. Mr. Jarvis Lorry I know was not amongst this number, but then he travelled by the Dover Mail, which was always an institution, kept good time, and carried in its day historic matter.

Mr. William Clements: Gentleman Coachman

william clements

Mr. William Clements, “Gentleman Coachman”

Of the other coaches on the Dover Road I shall make no mention. For once in the way, a catalogue, if made, would contain no sounding names in coaching story, would register no records in the way of speed, catastrophes, or drivers especially cunning, sober or drunk. Yet one coach besides the Dover Mail on this road I will mention, because next to the Mail it took high rank—in some estimations a rank above it; because with its coachman in its best days, I have had the pleasure of shaking hands. Yes! I have shaken hands with a classic coachman! No tyro he when coaching was the fashion, but an artist to the tips of his fingers—one of the old school, whom I have heard described by one who knew them well, as Grand Gentlemen; parties capable of giving Fatherly advice, to bumptious pretenders—parties who at the end of a trying journey, etc., over heavy roads took their ease at their inn with an air, disembarrassed themselves of their belchers, and sat down to a pint of sterling port.

Yes, in Mr. William Clements, who still enjoys a hale old age at Canterbury, I have chanced on a type now almost extinct, and which another generation will only read of in descriptions more or less fabulous, and wonder whether such people have ever been. Mr. Clements, who still takes a sort of paternal interest in those revivals of the coaching age which delight our millionaires during the prevalence of what we are pleased to call our summer months, lives in a snug house of his own, surrounded by memories of his former triumphs. A duchess might envy the Chippendale furniture in his drawing-room, and the bow window commands an extensive view of a rambling block of buildings which in days gone by houses the treasures of a choice stud.

As I listened to this man, it seemed to me that I came into direct personal contact with the very genius of coaching days and coaching ways—felt the impulse which throbbed in the brains of our ancestors to be at the coaching office early to book the box seat: sat by the side of a consummate master of his craft; was initiated in an instant into all its dark mysteries of “fanning,” “springing,” “pointing,” “chopping,” and “towelling.” I went through snowdrifts, I drank rums and milk; hair-breadth escapes in imminent deadly floods were momentary occurrences; I alighted at galleried inns; waiters all subservient showed me to “Concords” in all quarters of the empire. I revelled in the full glories of the coaching age in short in a moment! For had I not touched hands with its oldest, its most revered representative?

Baily’s Magazine of Sports & Pastimes, Volume 69 (Free on Google Books)

In the early 20’s, when agriculture was at its best, the farmers between Canterbury and London wanted a coach that would land them in London at noon on Monday and bring them back the same day… It was settled offhand to start a coach; Mr. Chapin said, “it must be a light coach and we will call it the Tally-ho!…It was started on that fortnight and either on its first start or soon afterwards, Mr. William Clements, whom I knew for the greater part of my life, was coachman, and at first he drove the early five o’clock Monday coach from Canterbury to London in one day, 112 miles all told; but it proved too much and afterward he drove up to London, 56 miles, and down the next day… The coach was almost always called “Clements’s coach,” and he went by the name of “gentleman coachman,” for he had quite the courtesy of Sir Roger de Coverley, combined with the most finished skill in driving his team, and he seldom went a journey without having a young lady who was travelling alone committed to his charge.

Baily says that he had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Clements and his “bright little wife, who was a very clever and well read lady,” and that, in fact, she had been one of the young ladies entrusted to him when he was a young man, and that they celebrated their golden anniversary before she passed away.

This is Why I Love Research!

In my next story, I believe I shall weave in a scene with this true-to-life “gentleman coachman.” In fact, it is beginning to take shape in my mind already! A young lady traveling to London unaccompanied in need of protection. Fabulous!

Henry Alken Sr. Dover to London Coach Summer

Henry Alken Sr.
Dover to London Coach Summer

The Dover Road: Rochester and Charles Dickens

dust jacket

The following post is the fifteenth of a series based on information obtained from a fascinating book Susana recently obtained for research purposes. Coaching Days & Coaching Ways by W. Outram Tristram, first published in 1888, is replete with commentary about travel and roads and social history told in an entertaining manner, along with a great many fabulous illustrations. A great find for anyone seriously interested in English history!

Comment to enter Susana’s October Giveaway, an Anne Boleyn necklace (see right) from Hever Castle in Kent.

Gad’s Hill Place: A Young Boy’s Dream


Gad’s Hill Place

John Dickens used to point out this stately home as an incentive to his nine-year-old son Charles to work hard. He meant, of course, that his son might someday own such a home, but his son took it literally and used to walk over from Chatham to inspect his future home.

I used to look at it as a wonderful Mansion (which God knows it is not) when I was a very odd little child with the first faint shadows of all my books in my head – I suppose.

Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens

Years later, after Charles had achieved fame and fortune, he heard the house was for sale and purchased it, and it became his country retreat in 1857.

Here too from his house on Gad’s Hill (and a very hideous house it is) Charles Dickens…gave novel after wonderful novel to an astonished world, which was never sated with a humour and an observation of life which were indeed Shakespearean; but kept craving and calling for more, and more—till the magician’s brain was hurt, and the magic pen began to move painfully and with labour, and the chair on Gad’s Hill was found one June morning to be empty forever.

I remember the shock of that announcement well. It was as if some pulse in the nation’s heart had stopped beating. There was as it were a feeling that some great embodied joy had left the world, and silence had fallen on places of divine laughter… Yes, the feeling was general, I think, that English literature had suffered an irremediable loss by Dickens’s death; and time has confirmed the fear. We have abandoned laughter in these days for documentary evidence, psychology, realism, and other prescriptions for sleep, and have entered on a literary era which has lost all touch and sympathy with Dickens, and is indeed divinely dull.

Mr. Tristram goes on to quote from the numerous works in which Dickens featured Rochester and its environs: The Pickwick Papers, David Copperfield, Great Expectations and Edwin Drood.

According to Wikipedia, Dickens had in his study “dummy” books with titles such as:

  • Socrates on Wedlock

  • King Henry VIII’s Evidences of Christianity

  • The Wisdom of Our Ancestors: I Ignorance, II Superstition, III The Block, IV The Stake, V The Rack, VI Dirt and VII Disease.

  • A very thin volume entitled The Virtues of Our Ancestors

(I’m loving this man’s sense of humor. Aren’t you? I could think of a few such titles for my own office.)


Dickens’s chalet where he wrote many of his later works on the upper floor

In 1864 his friend, the actor Charles Fechter, gave him a gift of a Swiss chalet, in 94 pieces. Dickens had it assembled across the street and later had constructed a brick-lined tunnel so that he could go back and forth from his house unobserved. His works from then on were written from the upper floor of the chalet.

Note: The chalet was transferred to the now-defunct Dickens Centre at Eastgate House in Rochester, but you can still see the chalet in the garden.

Restoration House in Rochester

There is a passage in Great Expectations referring to this very Restoration House, a place which always took his fancy, and well it might.


Restoration House, Rochester

“I had stopped,” thus the passage runs, “to look at the house as I passed, and its seared red brick walls, blocked windows, and strong green ivy clasping even the stacks of chimneys with its twigs and tendons, as if with sinewy old arms, made up a rich and attractive mystery.”

This mystery held him to the end. On the occasion of his last visit to Rochester, June 6th, 1870, he was seen leaning on the fence in front of the house, gazing at it, rapt, intent, as if drawing inspiration from its clustering chimneys, its storied walls so rich with memories of the past. It was anticipated, it was hoped, that the next chapter of Edwin Drood would bear the fruits of this reverie. The next chapter was never written.

Eve Silver: Dark Prince

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Eve will be awarding a $15 Amazon GC to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour. Click here for the Rafflecopter. Click on the banner above to follow the tour and increase your chances of winning. Comment on the blog to enter Susana’s October Giveaway, a copy of Anne Boleyn’s favorite necklace (see photos at right).

About Dark Prince

Innkeeper’s daughter Jane Heatherington is sold into indentured servitude to cover her father’s debts, sold to Aidan Warrick, a man whose handsome face and form mock the rumors that skulk in his shadow, rumors that paint him a smuggler, a pirate…and worse.

On the rainswept Cornish coast, Aidan’s business is carried out in the darkest hours of moonless nights, his secrets are many, and death follows in his wake. Isolated and alone, Jane’s only companion is the man she dare not trust, the man who looks at her with heated desire that she both fears and craves.

As she finds herself ensnared in the twisted schemes carried out within the walls of Aidan’s looming estate, Jane must decide if Aidan Warrick is the dark prince of her dreams or a monster preying on the innocent…

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Leaning close, he stared down at her, eyes glittering in the meager lamplight. She could smell his hair, his clothes, his skin, rain-washed, a whisper of citrus, and underlying that the tantalizing hint of a scent that was his alone. Her chest felt tight, constricted by some unseen band.

2014HistoricalCoversDespite her innocence she recognized the sharp twist of yearning in the pit of her belly for what it was: her own accursed longing for this man. This terrible, beautiful man.

He recognized it as well. His awareness was there, in the darkening of his eyes, the deepening of his breathing. She caught her lower lip between her teeth, her own breath coming in short, sharp gasps.

Pulse beating a wild rhythm, mind screaming that she must retreat, must flee from his dishonorable intent, she sat where she was, mesmerized by the heat she read in the mercurial depths of his eyes. Oh, dear heaven! What was wrong with her that a tiny secret corner of her soul reveled in his obvious desire, even as fear made her galloping heart nearly burst from her breast?

She opened her mouth to demand that he unhand her, that he remove himself immediately, that he—

He kissed her. His mouth slanted across hers, his tongue tasting the edge of her lips, her teeth, and beyond. She smelled spiced wine, tasted it.

Only in her secret dreams had she ever thought to be kissed, and never had she imagined such a lush and shameless claiming.

The taste of him, cloves and wine and man.

The room spun away until there was nothing but Aidan, kissing her until she forgot to hate him, forgot all but the thrust of his tongue, the feel of his mouth, the wicked heat that poured through her like molten honey.

About the Author

AuthorPic copyNational bestselling author Eve Silver has been praised for her “edgy, steamy, action-packed” books, darkly sexy heroes and take-charge heroines. Her work has garnered starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Quill and Quire, two RT Book Reviews Reviewers’ Choice Awards, Library Journal’s Best Genre Fiction Award, and has been nominated for the Romance Writers of America® RITA® Award. Rush, her first book for teens was listed as a 2013 American Bookseller’s Association Best Book for Children and a Canadian Children’s Book Centre Best Books for Kids and Teens. Eve lives with her husband, two sons, an energetic Airedale terrier and an exuberant border collie/shepherd.

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