Louisa Cornell: Christmas Revels II (Giveaway)

How to Survive a Regency Family Christmas

With Christmas a little over a month away, the thoughts of any lady of the house must turn to…

“Who invited all of these people and how will I keep them entertained?”

There are all sorts of possibilities available to the discerning hostess of today. Many guests simply require a place to plug in their phone or their laptop. A television and a stack of Christmas DVD’s can provide hours of amusement to guests of all ages. Video games, board games, bowl games, and music to suit every ear and every pair of dancing feet can be provided at the mere touch of a button. And let us not forget, if all else fails, a nice Christmas punch laced with a suitable spike can keep those hard to please guests quiet if not entertained.

Think of the dilemma faced by the mistress of the house in England two hundred years ago. Unpredictable weather, no electronic options, and each and every friend, acquaintance, and relation looking to be fed, housed, and amused. What is a Regency era lady of the manor to do? Fortunately there are a number of Regency Christmas traditions designed to keep the guests occupied and the lady’s reputation as the consummate hostess secure.

As many Christmas gatherings might last as long as a month (from St. Nicholas Day to Epiphany or Twelfth Night,) a good hostess had to provide a bounty of entertainment for her guests. Trapped in a house, no matter how large and stately, with friends and relatives for an entire month could be trying at best and akin to a wartime siege at worst. In addition to the usual Regency party games – charades and whist, here are a few sources of entertainment common to a Regency Christmas.

On St. Nicholas Day (December 6th) small gifts were exchanged among friends. This marked the official beginning of the Christmas season. After this the rounds of Christmas balls, parties and visits ensued.

While Christmas carols might be sung around the piano by friends and family, caroling as we know it was not something members of the ton did, save perhaps a group of young people out for a lark.

However, while there were no Christmas carolers in Regency England, there were wassail groups who would go from house to house singing begging songs in the hope of receiving food, drink, and money. Wassail was a mixture of beer, wine and brandy and was usually served to the singers at each house.

The house was not decorated for Christmas until Christmas Eve. To do so earlier was thought to bring bad luck. Whilst servants often “brought in the greens,” as it was called, a more creative hostess might send her guests, especially the younger ones, to make up a party and go out into the estate’s forests and woodlands in search of greenery to festoon the manor. The guests enjoyed a bit of fresh air and exercise and there were many opportunities for young men and women to end up under the mistletoe for a surreptitious kiss as they cut it for kissing boughs to be hung in each open doorway and out of the way corner for later “accidental” meetings. Men had the opportunity to show off for the ladies as they dragged the yule log into the house to be lit from a stub from last year’s log and burnt in the hearth until Twelfth Night.

Another source of entertainment were troupes of players called mummers, a tradition dating back to the medieval era. These varied from professional players to groups of lower class men who went from door to door asking if mummers were wanted. A good hostess might even hire a specific troupe to stop and entertain her guests. They were dressed in elaborate costumes with high paper caps – gilded and spangled, and ribbons of every color tied to their clothes. The characters of St. George and the Prince were also armed with ten swords. Their performance was called a “mysterie,” a very specific sort of play, which ended with a song and the collection of funds from those who had enjoyed the performance.

It is thought these mummers’ plays were the forerunners of a Regency tradition still alive today in England – the Christmas pantomime. It usually opened on Boxing Day (December 26th) and was performed in local theatres. Drury Lane hosted one in London and even Astley’s Amphitheatre held a special Christmas spectacular.

Another Boxing Day activity for the men in attendance, and some of the more adventurous ladies, was fox hunting. The Boxing Day Hunt was a long standing tradition, one I observed when I lived in England as a child.

Under the heading of a Regency version of “Hey y’all, watch this!” comes the Christmas game of Snapdragon. Raisins were soaked in brandy in a large shallow bowl. The lights were snuffed out, and the brandy lit. People had to try and grasp a raisin and eat it without burning themselves. I think you’d have to soak me in brandy to get me to try it!

A more tame version of the game was called bullet pudding and is described here in a letter from Jane Austen’s niece, Fanny Knight, to a friend.

Godmersham Park, 17 January 1804

…I was surprised to hear that you did not know what a Bullet Pudding is, but as you don’t I will endeavour to describe it as follows:

You must have a large pewter dish filled with flour which you must pile up into a sort of pudding with a peek at top. You must then lay a bullet at top and everybody cuts a slice of it, and the person that is cutting it when it falls must poke about with their noses and chins till they find it and then take it out with their mouths of which makes them strange figures all covered with flour but the worst is that you must not laugh for fear of the flour getting up your nose and mouth and choking you: You must not use your hands in taking the Bullet out.

I think this might be a successful game even today. It sounds like a great deal of fun.

Christmas trees were not prevalent during the Regency, although some houses were known to put up small ones bedecked with small gifts. They were made more popular in England by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in the middle of the 19th century. However, on Epiphany Eve, men would gather round a tree, usually in an orchard, with cider and guns. In an ancient ceremony, they would drink to the tree and fire the guns to drive away evil spirits and promote the vigor of the trees. Horn-blowing was an alternative to firing guns. One would hope the lady had a physician in attendance, just in case.

A more ambitious hostess might engage her guests in performing their own Christmas play. With a month to write and rehearse it, some of these plays were quite elaborate. And on Twelfth Night (the official end of the Christmas season) gifts were exchanged again and a masquerade party was held. To add to the fun, guests sometimes had to search the house for elements of their costumes. Sometimes they would draw names of characters they were to play throughout the party. The characters’ names usually described the sort of person the guest was to portray. Mrs. Candor – a lady who always speaks with perfect frankness. Miss Tittletattle, who speaks nothing but gossip. Lord Bumblefoot, who trods on ladies’ toes when dancing. The character must be maintained throughout the party.

Once the Twelfth Night festivities were over it was time to take your leave until next year. As you can see, a lack of electronic devices did not hinder the ladies and gentlemen of the Regency era from celebrating Christmas with a great deal of laughter, joy, friendship, and love. Exactly what I wish for each of you during this most wonderful of seasons!

Do you have any unique Christmas traditions or forms of entertainment enjoyed by your friends and family? Tell us about them! A random commenter will receive an e-copy of either Christmas Revels or Christmas Revels II – winner’s choice.

CR - ebook cover copy

About Christmas Revels II

Let the Revels begin—again! Four new stories with four distinctive voices:

The Vicar’s Christmas by Anna D. Allen

Margaret Trent never needs anything or anyone, but when two London solicitors show up on her doorstep, she needs a hero. Enter Henry Ogden, mild-mannered village vicar. Hardly the stuff of heroes . . . until adversity brings out unexpected talents.

A Christmas Equation by Hannah Meredith

A chance meeting between a reluctant viscount and a self-effacing companion revives memories of their shared past—a time when they were very different people. With secrets to keep, Sarah Clendenin wishes Benjamin Radcliff gone . . . but he’s making calculations of his own.

Crimson Snow by Kate Parker

A trail of blood drops leads Jane Merrywether to a wounded stranger—the only person standing in the way of her wicked guardian becoming an earl. John Rexford, long-thought dead, has returned to claim his inheritance and his promised bride . . . if he can survive a murderous Christmas.

A Perfectly Unregimented Christmas by Louisa Cornell

After years at war, Viscount Pennyworth returns to his ancestral home to find some peace and quiet and to avoid the holiday he loathes. But four naughty boys, a bonnet-wearing goat, a one-eyed cat, a family secret, and one Annabelle Winters, governess, make this a Christmas he’ll never forget.

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A Perfectly Unregimented Christmas

“And what of Christmas, my lord? Are the boys to have no part of the holiday?”

“I have not celebrated Christmas in twenty years, Mrs. Winters. Soldiers seldom have much chance on the battlefield.”

“This is not a battlefield, my lord. This is your home. And theirs while they remain.”

He crossed the room to where she sat. Putting one hand on the table and the other on the back of her chair, he leaned over her. The scent of soap, leather, and cloves made her want to move closer, but she did not dare.

“I have been pelted with snow-covered potatoes, knocked down the stairs, attacked by some unidentified one-eyed creature—”

“Attila. He’s a cat.”

“By what right does that thing call himself a cat? I have had my breakfast poisoned, my patience tried, and my sanity called into question. What would you call it, if not a battlefield? There will be no Christmas in this house.” He blinked. Slowly removed his hands. And took a step back. With a brief nod he turned to go.

“We’ll just see about that,” Belle muttered.

“Do not go to war with me, madam. I have years of experience and tricks you cannot begin to imagine.” He threw open the parlor door and stalked down the corridor, his boots delivering a ringing celebration of his temper.

“So do I, Colonel Miserington. So. Do. I.”


About the Author

100_0239[1] (3) Revise2 copyLouisa Cornell read her first historical romance novel, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, at the age of nine. This inspired her to spend the next three years writing the most horrible historical romance novel ever created. Fortunately, it has yet to see the light of day. As Louisa spent those three years living in a little English village in Suffolk (thanks to her father’s Air Force career), it is no surprise she developed a lifelong love of all things British, especially British history and Regency-set romance novels. (And Earl Grey tea!)

During those same three years, Louisa’s vocal talent was discovered. Her study of music began at the London College of Music and continued once she returned to the States. After four music degrees and a year of study at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria, Louisa was fortunate enough to embark on a singing career in opera houses in Germany, Austria, and most of Eastern Europe. As a traveling diva, Louisa discovered playing a role costumed in lingerie in March can be a chilling experience, and in most Romanian B&B’s hot water is strictly a matter of opinion.

Now retired from an active career in opera, Louisa has returned to her first love— writing Regency-set historical romance. Her publishing debut, A PERFECTLY DREADFUL CHRISTMAS (from the anthology Christmas Revels,) won the 2015 Holt Medallion for Best Romance Novella.

Two time Golden Heart finalist, three time Daphne du Maurier winner, and three time Royal Ascot winner, Louisa lives in LA (Lower Alabama) with Frodo, a Chihuahua so grouchy he has been banned from six veterinary clinics, several perfectly amiable small dogs, one large, goofy dog named Duke, and a cat who terminates vermin with extreme prejudice.



Vauxhall Gardens: An Era of Change (1786-1822), Part I


The Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens is one of the places I’d love to slip back in time to visit, just to catch a glimpse of what it was like. After recently splurging to buy this lovely coffee-table book, I thought it might make a wonderful subject for a new blog series. But do buy the book too, if you can!

While the years from 1732 to 1786 were the undoubtedly the heyday of Vauxhall, the years following the Jubilee continued to attract large numbers of visitors and was the most popular outdoor entertainment for many years. Charles Burney’s daughter Sarah wrote in 1807:

You should quit your Devonshire Shades were it only to share in the universal rage there is for going to Vauxhall. I never knew anything like it. The whole London World seems to be seized with a fit of the fool.

Vauxhall fashions

Vauxhall Fashions, engraving (David Coke’s collection) from La Belle Assemblée no. 7 (August 1806). Many dressmakers and retailers advertised their wares as representing the latest fashions seen at Vauxhall.

Scenes from Vauxhall were presented on stage, authors such as John Keats, Pierce Egan, and William Thackeray wrote about it, and others tried to copy it, in London and elsewhere. Bath’s Sydney Gardens, opened in 1795 and much visited by Jane Austen, was modeled on Vauxhall in London, as was Tivoli in Copenhagen. Vauxhalls started appearing everywhere.


One half of the world don’t know how t’other lives, Sung by Mr. Dignum in Vauxhall Gardens, etching, 1805 (British Museum, London, 1861.0518.1087). A very popular tenor at the gardens, Dignum also gave the farewell address at the end of several seasons.

A change in clientele

In the early nineteenth century, however, with England’s middle and working classes rapidly expanding due to the Industrial Revolution and the rapid growth of London’s population, Vauxhall’s clientele began to change as well.

The social balance was changing too; the old aristocracy watched nervously as France spiralled into revolutionary chaos, and several of the great families decided to move back to the country, to avoid the potential dangers of urban unrest… In addition, social circles were becoming more restricted and inward-looking; the London aristocracy was being rapidly overtaken in terms of numbers by the professional middle classes of industrialists, businessmen, doctors and lawyers. To support them, huge numbers of labourers, tradesmen and servants moved to the capital.

Because of this influx, houses began to pop up in and around Vauxhall, which meant that the Kennington Street area was no longer a country hamlet, but a part of the city itself, and the residents didn’t always appreciate all the racket coming from Vauxhall in the early hours of the morning.

Picturesque Elevation of the Iron Bridge created over the Thames at Vauxhall, engraving, 1816 (David Coke's collection). Designed by the engineer James Walker, the new bridge greatly shortened the land journey from London to Vauxhall Gardens.

Picturesque Elevation of the Iron Bridge created over the Thames at Vauxhall, engraving, 1816 (David Coke’s collection). Designed by the engineer James Walker, the new bridge greatly shortened the land journey from London to Vauxhall Gardens.

A significant advantage was the completion of the new Vauxhall Bridge in August 1816, which shortened considerably the route from the West End.

The bridge remained open all night, both for pedestrians and for coaches, catering for those revellers who stayed on into the small hours, to the annoyance of the local residents who were trying to sleep.

A change of attractions

The form of the entertainments at Vauxhall remained traditional to the end of the eighteenth century. Various new attractions were introduced only gradually and these were directly in response to new forms of popular entertainment that had sprung up elsewhere in London.

One of these was Philip Astley’s enormously popular shows, with “daring displays of horsemanship”, as well as jugglers, tight-rope walkers, and great pageants of historical events. See my post of Astley’s Amphitheatre here.

Vauxhall had always promoted patriotic songs and military bands, and later added battle reconstructions and victory celebrations, after Astley’s model. The Battle of Waterloo was considered to be the “most spectacular event ever staged at Vauxhall.”

Boat races on the Thames was another innovation, which including a rowing race for watermen and a sailing match for ‘gentlemen’s pleasure sailing boats’. Which was followed by a grand gala in the gardens, of course. In 1812, the contest was called the Vauxhall Grand Regatta.

Vauxhall Sailing Match, engraving, 1800 (Minet Library, London, Lambeth Archives Department, V. fo. 57). This appears to be the only surviving image of one of the Vauxhall sailing matches.

Vauxhall Sailing Match, engraving, 1800 (Minet Library, London, Lambeth Archives Department, V. fo. 57). This appears to be the only surviving image of one of the Vauxhall sailing matches.

Advances in science and technology brought ballooning to the gardens, the first balloon ascension beginning in 1802, but not becoming a regular feature until the 1820’s. André Jacques Garnerin, the first Vauxhall aeronaut, experimented with making parachute jumps from balloons. One of his flights included releasing a cat from a height of 600 feet, who descended safely into some resident’s garden. George Colman the younger, a playwright, wrote

Poor Puss in a grand parachute
Was sent to sail down through the air
Plump’d into a garden of fruit,
And played up old Gooseberry there:
The gardener transpiring with fear,
Stared just like a hundred struck hogs;
And swore, tho’ the sky was quite clear,
‘Twas beginning to rain cats and dogs.

Fireworks, first introduced in 1783, were limited to special occasions at first, but pyrotechnic displays did not become standard until 1798.

When it was time for the fireworks to start, a bell was rung and everyone went to the firework ground at the far eastern end of the gardens. The hours varied, displays being advertised at 9, 10 and 11 p.m.; on gala nights there was often more than one show.

Changes in proprietors and prices

Jonathan Tyers the younger’s son-in-law, Bryant Barrett, managed the gardens until his death in 1809, when his sons Jonathan Tyers Barrett and George Rogers Barrett inherited. Jonathan Barrett became sole owner in 1818. In 1821, the gardens were leased to relatives and business partners Thomas Bish and Frederick Gye, later joined by Richard Hughes, “and the trio used their option to buy the property in 1825 for £30,000.”

In 1792, the price of admission was raised to 2 shillings for regular nights and 3 shillings for the Grand Galas (masquerades), which involved elaborate fancy dress.

Next week: An era of change (Part II)

Vauxhall Gardens: The Third Generation of the Tyers Family and the Jubilee of 1786


The Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens is one of the places I’d love to slip back in time to visit, just to catch a glimpse of what it was like. After recently splurging to buy this lovely coffee-table book, I thought it might make a wonderful subject for a new blog series. But do buy the book too, if you can!

Following Jonathan Tyers’s death in 1767, his son Jonathan Tyers the younger managed the gardens, along with the assistance of his sister Elizabeth Wood and other family members, until 1786. At that time, the responsibility for the park was passed on to Bryant Barrett, who was Tyers the younger’s son-in-law, married to his only daughter, Elizabeth.

Barrett was a wax chandler by trade, which was a fortunate coincidence, since Vauxhall Gardens must have been spending a fortune on candles and lighting fixtures.

The most visible aspect of Barrett’s initiative appears in the start of regular newspaper advertisements giving details of the musical programmes for each evening; but it was also at this time that proprietors began to sponsor sailing matches on the Thames.

Lean years at Vauxhall

The 1770’s and early 1780’s had been lean ones for Vauxhall, partly because of the increase in crime and vandalism within its walks; but bad behaviour was clearly not the proprietors’ only problem. …quite apart from financial depression in the early 1770’s and grim news from the American colonies, the appalling weather of the summers of 1775-7 had cost the Tyers family a great deal. …

Samuel Arnold finally had to close Marylebone Gardens in 1778… No clear reason is given for this, but the complaints of local residents, especially about the fireworks, are bound to have been a contributor factor. Ironically, Marylebone’s initial advantage in being so close to London had become its eventual downfall.

The Jubilee of 1786

J. Wooding, The New Temple & Ball Room, on the Jubilee Night, at Vauxhall, engraving, c. 1786. The circular Grand Temple at the junction of the Grand South Walk and the Centre Cross Walk, with the temporary ballrooms added to its north and south. The artist was keen to show all the different forms of lighting in use.

J. Wooding, The New Temple & Ball Room, on the Jubilee Night, at Vauxhall, engraving, c. 1786. The circular Grand Temple at the junction of the Grand South Walk and the Centre Cross Walk, with the temporary ballrooms added to its north and south. The artist was keen to show all the different forms of lighting in use.

The approach of the half-century mark of the opening of Vauxhall Gardens “must have come as a godsend to Barrett at the start of his proprietorship.”

The last great fashionable event had been the hugely successful Ridotto al Fresco of 1769. In a conscious attempt to remind people of the ‘good old days’, when the gardens had last been patronised by fashionable society, the design of the ticket for the vent of the event of seventeen years earlier was adapted for the 1786 Jubilee.

Ticket for the Vauxhall Jubilee, 29 May, engraving. Signed, dated and sealed by Jonathan Tyers the younger, although the management of the park was now in the hands of his son-in-law, Bryant Barrett.

Ticket for the Vauxhall Jubilee, 29 May, engraving. Signed, dated and sealed by Jonathan Tyers the younger, although the management of the park was now in the hands of his son-in-law, Bryant Barrett.

In preparation for the event, which took place on 29 May 1786, the following renovations were completed:

  1. The buildings around the Grove were painted in an elegant pale blue and white livery, and flowering shrubs were planted to appeal to the modern taste in gardening.
  2.  The Rotunda’s interior decoration was completely renewed, with modern mirrors, and the Ionic columns of the Pillared Saloon were renewed with a rich deep pink scagliola. Window frames were replaced and draped with tasselled crimson and silver fabric, and the Rotunda Orchestra was filled with evergreen plants under a decorated ceiling. In the other recess (where the original Rotunda Orchestra had been housed), the large transparent painting of George, Prince of Wales (later the Prince Regent and George IV) in a noble classical pose was replaced with another transparency depicting an amphitheatre of the Corinthian order, through which could be seen a perspective view of a garden. (Apparently, the original transparency was criticized by some as having nothing in common with the Prince’s true character.)
  3. 14,000 coloured lights and wreaths of artificial flowers were draped around the pillars and in festoons around the cornices of the Covered Walks.
  4. A circular Grand Temple was set up at the crossing of the Grand South Walk and the Centre Cross Walk, “little more than a dome on eight classical columns.”
  5. The Centre Cross Walk was partly built over to give more dancing space in two temporary ballrooms, attached to the Grand Temple on the north and south. “The walls of these ballrooms were painted with Arcadian pastoral scenes beyond a range of Ionic columns decorated with wreaths of flowers, while the ceiling showed a sky filled with ‘tender variegated clouds.’” …In each of the ballrooms was an alcove for the musicians, and others for tables stocked with lemonade, capillaire, and orgeat (soft drinks flavoured with orange flower or almond syrup.) The whole strucutre was of course illuminated with thousands of coloured lamps ‘producing a refugency of light that dazzles and surprises.’
  6. On the site of the former Prince’s Pavilion (built for George III’s father), a new room was created for Prince George and his party.
  7. The entrance to the gardens on Kennington Lane was renewed and enlarged, soon becoming the main coach-entrance, later to be expanded with cloakrooms, waiting-rooms, and other public facilities.

Handbill for the Vauxhall Jubilee, 1786. A very plain and understated piece of printing, designed only to impart information about the event.

The Jubilee was attended by somewhere between five and six thousand people, most in fashionable and elegant costume, a few in fancy dress, which in this period meant smart dress with added details, such as feathers, flowers, ribbons, ruffs, etc., not character costumes.

There were last night above 6000 persons present, and among them some of the first people in the kingdom, but as is always the case at Vauxhall, it was a mélange; the cit and the courtier jostled each other with the usual familiarity; the half guinea was no repellent to the middling order; John Bull loves to shoulder his superiors in rank, his betters he’ll not allow them to be; and where he pays as much for admission, he never considers them to be more than his equals.

Anon., Representation of the Grand Saloon in Vauxhall Gardens, engraving, after 1786. An unusual view of the renovated Rotunda interior, taken from the entrance off the Grand Walk. The Rotunda Orchestra is on the left, and one of Hayman's paintings from his Seven-Years War series is visible in the Pillared Saloon on the right.

Anon., Representation of the Grand Saloon in Vauxhall Gardens, engraving, after 1786. An unusual view of the renovated Rotunda interior, taken from the entrance off the Grand Walk. The Rotunda Orchestra is on the left, and one of Hayman’s paintings from his Seven-Years War series is visible in the Pillared Saloon on the right.

On the following day, the gardens were opened to four thousand people who were not able to get tickets after those for the first event were sold out.

A successful season

Barrett took advantage of the popular trend of holding military fetes to honor the huge numbers of soldiers coming home from North America by promoting a patriotic tone to this one, with large transparencies framed by martial and naval motifs.

Later that year, when George III escaped a “rather pathetic assassination” by a housemaid with a knife outside St. James’s Palace, Vauxhall celebrated the king’s survival with a new patriotic song by James Hook and an organ concerto with variations on God Save the King.

Barrett’s first season at the helm “once more confirmed Vauxhall as a popular and respectable venue for fashionable society during the 1780’s. However,

…the public attitude towards the gardens was beginning to undergo a fundamental change. The largely unquestioning indulgence was now a thing of the past, and questions were being asked as to whether a pleasure garden was more of a nuisance than a benefit. The establishment’s opposition to public entertainment was strengthening.

Neighbors who had complained for years about the disruption caused by those returning home in the early hours of the morning, were starting to be heard.

Next week: An era of change

Piper G. Huguley: A Treasure of Gold (Book 3, Migrations of the Heart)

A word from Susana

Piper Huguley and I first met in November 2012 when we were placed in a historical NANO group together by Savvy Authors. Although the four of us all wrote from different historical contexts—I was the only Regency author—we decided to continue our association and formed a Facebook group to help keep in touch. An offshoot of that is our History Lovers page.

We agreed to beta-read for one another, and Piper sent me her draft of A Champion’s Heart in December just prior to the entry deadline for the 2013 Golden Heart competition (which this story finaled in, by the way).

I was blown away.

Frankly, it’s not likely I would have picked up this book on my own. I prefer the Regency era, while I might read earlier Georgian or later Victorian, but I wouldn’t have expected to enjoy an African-American, depression-era, inspirational romance set in the South. I mean, if reading is a sort of escape from the negativity of the world, why would I choose to read a story that’s bound to be depressing?

But that’s not how Piper’s characters see things. Yes, there are some serious topics raised. But these characters learn to rise above them, depending on their faith, resilience, and determination to survive in a world that is biased against them.

And yes, there is a happy-ever-after. Piper does write romances, after all.

And you might just discover that multicultural romance can be just as satisfying and enjoyable as the ones you normally read… and that you really can identify with a heroine of another race or culture after all.

Susana’s Challenge

Multicultural romance comes in a wide variety of colors. Have you ever read one of Jeannie Lin’s Asian romances? Other highly-rated multicultural authors are: Zena Wynn, Sienna Mynx, Latrivia Nelson, Delilah Hunt, Ruthie Robinson, Mallory Monroe, Lena Matthews, and Theodora Taylor.

If you’re like me, you probably have dozens or hundreds of unread books on your Kindle and may not be in the market for another book at this point. But I’d like to challenge every reader here to set a goal to read at least one multicultural romance per month, and then come back here next December to report back.

Which books/authors did you enjoy the most?

What did you learn (about yourself, about other races/cultures, anything)?

Do you think you will continue to seek out multicultural romances in the future? Why or why not?

I’ve created a Susana’s Challenge Facebook page so that we can all interact in the next year.

Are you game? Like my Susana’s Challenge page and let’s get started!


When you follow your heart, never count the cost.

Migrations of the Heart, Book 3

Trusting in the One who orders her steps, Nettie Bledsoe is determined not to deviate from her route to the charity kitchen. Don’t stop for anything, her sisters say. Pittsburgh isn’t like Georgia, they warn.

Yet when low moans of unholy suffering drift from an alley, she can’t help but investigate. It’s a man. The most beautiful man she’s ever seen. Despite his scandalous reputation, something within her responds to his sinfully rich voice.

Jay Evans is trying hard to stay on the straight and narrow, and doesn’t want help from any church do-gooder. But until his wound heals, he needs help caring for his young daughter, Goldie. Especially since Nettie saw fit to fire Goldie’s barely competent nanny.

Despite their mismatched backgrounds, Nettie and Jay fight a losing battle against their growing attraction. But it’s only when Nettie is kidnapped that Jay realizes that if he doesn’t get her back safe and sound, his heart will shatter into uncountable pieces.

Warning: Contains a single father with a photographic memory for numbers, and a country girl out of her element in the city. It all adds up to a heart-winning tale.

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About the Author

piper-huguley-rigginsPiper G Huguley is the author of the “Home to Milford College” series. The series traces the love stories at a small “Teachers and Preachers” college in Georgia over time, beginning with the love story of the founders. Book one in the series, The Preacher’s Promise, was a semi-finalist in Harlequin’s So You Think You Can Write contest,and a quarter-finalist in the 2014 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest. The Representative’s Revolt will be published in the Spring of 2016.

Huguley is also the author of “Migrations of the Heart,” a five-book series of inspirational historical romances set in the early 20th century featuring African American characters. Book one in the series, A Virtuous Ruby won the Golden Rose contest in Historical Romance in 2013 and is a Golden Heart finalist in 2014. Book four in the series, A Champion’s Heart, was a Golden Heart finalist in 2013. A Virtuous Ruby was published by Samhain in July 2015.

Piper Huguley blogs about the history behind her novels at http://piperhuguley.com. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband and son.

Other books by Piper Huguley

A Virtuous Ruby (Book 1 of Migrations of the Heart)

A Most Precious Pearl (Book 2 of Migrations of the Heart)

The Lawyer’s Luck (prequel to A Home to Milford College)

The Preacher’s Promise (Book 1 of A Home to Milford College)

The Mayor’s Mission (Book 2 of A Home to Milford College)

The Brightest Day (A Juneteenth Historical Romance Anthology)

Vauxhall Gardens: Thomas Rowlandson’s Painting (1785)


The Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens is one of the places I’d love to slip back in time to visit, just to catch a glimpse of what it was like. After recently splurging to buy this lovely coffee-table book, I thought it might make a wonderful subject for a new blog series. But do buy the book too, if you can!

I’m so excited! I just bought a mounted poster of this painting in color from art.com to hang in my bedroom/office here in Florida.

By the time this painting appeared, Jonathan Tyers had died and Vauxhall Gardens passed on to his wife and children, but it was his son Jonathan Tyers Jr.—that n’er-do-well younger son who wed a widowed lady much older than he and caused a giant rift among his parents—who assumed his father’s role in managing the park.



In the supper-box on the left we see, reading left to right, James BoswellMrs Thrale (who appears twice), Dr. Johnson, and Oliver Goldsmith.

The ‘macaroni’ Captain Edward Topham (scandalmonger to The World) is quizzing Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire and her sister Lady Duncannon (Sheridan’s Lady Bessborough), watched by a naval figure with an eye patch and a wooden leg (not included in the Mellon version), always called Admiral Paisley, but Paisley did not lose his leg and eye until 1st June 1794, so it cannot be him. To the left of him, a young girl (a young boy in the Mellon version) holding the hand of a man who could be the comic actor, William Parsons, or Rowlandson’s friend Jack Bannister.

Peering at the two ladies from behind a tree is a figure traditionally, though improbably, identified as Sir Henry Bate-Dudley, the ‘Fighting Parson’, editor of the Morning Herald; he is more likely to be Thomas Tyers (son of Jonathan Tyers the great entrepreneur and proprietor of Vauxhall Gardens from 1729 until 1767) who stands next to the Scotsman James Perry, editor of the London Gazette. The couple on their right could well be the artist himself and his current girlfriend. and to the right of them stands the actress Mary ‘Perdita’ Robinson, with her husband on her right and the Prince of Wales (later George IV) on her left.

Looking up at the singer, the couple on the extreme left, have been identified as the actress Miss Hartley, in company with one of her many admirers, possibly Mr. Colman, but, suggested by their position apart from the crowd, they could also be members of the Tyers family (most likely Jonathan jr. and his wife Margaret, or their son-in-law Bryant Barrett and his wife Elizabeth. The large lady seated at the table on the right is Mrs Barry, the old Madam of Sutton Street, Soho, with two of her customers and one of her girls.

In the orchestra, we can see Jacob Nelson, the tympanist, who had played at Vauxhall since 1735, and died there after fifty years’ performing, Mr Fisher on oboe, probably Hezekiah Cantelo and Mr. Sargent on trumpet, and Barthélemon, the leader, who retired in 1783. James Hook, the composer, organist, musical director and prolific song-writer, may be seen between Barthelemon and the singer, the 38-year-old Frederika Weichsell, who was Rowlandson’s next-door neighbour in Church Street, and the mother of Mrs. Elizabeth Billington. Elizabeth had just (aged 18) married James Billington, a double-bass player, in 1783, much against her parents’ wishes.

A number of those present in this scene had already died by the time Rowlandson produced the painting, and the affair between the Prince and Perdita Robinson was already over.

Although there is no direct evidence for this, it seems likely, because of the dating, and because of the central position of the singer, that the painting was created by Rowlandson as a retirement gift for Frederika Weichsel, whether from him personally, or specially commissioned by the proprietors of the gardens.

Caroline Warfield: Dangerous Weakness (Giveaway)


Night Owl Reviews, in reviewing Dangerous Works, said, “There is nothing so entertaining as watching a man who is always in control lose that control.” I was delighted because that is exactly what I tried to accomplish in that story. The Marquess of Glenaire, cool, calm and in control, managed the lives of his friends through two novels and a novella. I was determined to muss his hear, rip his suit, and throw him into the unknown.

How about you? Do you like to see a man is just too perfect lose it?  I’ll give a Kindle copy of Dangerous Works to one person who comments.

About Dangerous Weakness

If women were as easily managed as the affairs of state—or the recalcitrant Ottoman Empire—Richard Hayden, Marquess of Glenaire, would be a happier man. As it was the creatures—one woman in particular—made hash of his well-laid plans and bedeviled him on all sides.

Lily Thornton came home from Saint Petersburg in pursuit of marriage. She wants a husband and a partner, not an overbearing, managing man. She may be “the least likely candidate to be Marchioness of Glenaire,” but her problems are her own to fix, even if those problems include both a Russian villain and an interfering Ottoman official.

Given enough facts, Richard can fix anything. But protecting that impossible woman is proving to be almost as hard as protecting his heart, especially when Lily’s problems bring her dangerously close to an Ottoman revolution. As Lily’s personal problems entangle with Richard’s professional ones, and she pits her will against his, he chases her across the pirate-infested Mediterranean. Will she discover surrender isn’t defeat? It might even have its own sweet reward.

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“Who invited Lilias Thornton?” Richard demanded under his breath. His eyes followed a slender young woman who paced out the steps of the Quadrille across the parquet floor of the earl’s ballroom.

“No ‘thank you for turning your country seat into a diplomatic snake pit for an entire week so the haut ton can mingle with exotic visitors from the East while the foreign secretary manages the fate of Greece over Brandy and cards?’” Will demanded.

Richard looked at his friend, one eyebrow raised. “Chadbourn Park fit the need precisely. I thanked your Catherine this morning.”

Will grunted. “My Catherine worked miracles when Sahin Pasha showed up with six extra people in his party.”

“We can’t predict how many retainers the Turks will impose,” Richard growled. The Ottomans danced to their own tune; the Foreign Office never knows what to expect. Richard loathed the unpredictable. He went back to surveying the overheated ballroom.

“Who invited Lilias Thornton?” he repeated while he moved along the mirrored wall of the earl’s spectacular ballroom to a position next to a massive marble urn that gave him a better view of his quarry. His eyes never left the dancers.

Will snatched two glasses of champagne from a footman stationed discreetly along the softly flocked wall, tray in hand. He handed one to Richard who took it without looking.

“Catherine also had to scurry when your mother demanded that she invite three more marriageable young ladies and their eager mamas,” Will complained.

“I would rather that she refused.”

“Refuse the Duchess of Sudbury? Surely you jest.”

Richard nodded without taking his gaze from the dancers. “I jest. I have less control over my mother than I do Sahin Pasha.” He loathed loss of control even more than unpredictability. He had been forced to sidestep the marriage-minded chits for two days.

Right now only one woman interested him, Lilias Thornton. He watched her throw her head back, send auburn curls bouncing, and laugh up at her partner. She dances with grace, I’ll give her that—grace and unbridled joy. A man could lose his senses over that look. The last thing he needed was to lose his senses.

Will followed his friend’s line of sight. “Beautiful woman,” he acknowledged. “Catherine called her dress ‘beyond perfection.’”

That dress radiates so damned much continental sophistication she makes the women around her look countrified, my esteemed mother’s protégées included. The woman laughed freely again, and Richard felt himself harden in spite of his determination; the surge of attraction irritated him. I have no time for such nonsense.

“Who invited her?” he demanded. “It’s a matter of some urgency.”

Will shrugged. “I believe Catherine included some regular attendees at your sister’s literary salon. She must be one of those. You said to invite women who could provide intelligent conversation to members of the diplomatic corps.”

“So I did. My men tell me she has been in conversation with Konstantin Volkov three times these past two days.”

“You’re tracking her conversations?”

“Volkov’s. He has no official role, yet he follows the Russian delegation and slinks through society in the shadows. I want to know who he works for, why he sought an invitation, and what he intends.”

The entire house party had been arranged to provide a discreet opportunity for the foreign secretary—or more precisely, Richard, his second—to persuade Ottoman officials to moderate their suppression of revolutionary rumbling in Greece. England did not want the kind of chaos that would tempt Russia. Expansionist Russia threatened all of Europe. The weak and floundering Ottoman Empire did not.

“Ask him,” Will suggested. “Unless diplomacy requires a more devious approach.”

“Lilias Thornton accompanied her father to St. Petersburg three years ago. The crown appointed him to the trade delegation at our embassy there,” Richard explained. “She returned without him rather abruptly in early January. I wonder why. Volkov arrived shortly after. It puzzles me.” He did not like puzzles.

“It isn’t unusual for a young woman of marriageable age to seek London before the Season starts,” a woman’s voice cut in. Catherine Landrum, Will’s countess, reached for her husband’s glass and took a sip. She tasted it slowly, seemed to pronounce it fit, and handed the glass back. “Lilias made it clear she’s seeking a good marriage,” the countess told Richard. “Who is Volkov?”

“She’s well beyond the age,” he answered. He ignored her question about the Russian.

“Surely not!” Catherine laughed. “Twenty-two may be somewhat older than the norm . . .” She paused when a young woman of seventeen pranced by and smiled coyly at the marquess over her partner’s shoulder.

“Well, perhaps quite a bit older,” she acknowledged when they passed.

“She served as her father’s hostess in his postings abroad since she turned sixteen. She has shown no interest in the marriage mart until this year,” Richard said. “I don’t care about the gossip. I want to know about her connection to Konstantin Volkov.”

“Ask her,” the countess suggested.

“I intend to,” Richard said as the last notes of the dance faded. He set out in the woman’s direction.

About the Author

Carol Roddy - Author

Carol Roddy – Author

Caroline Warfield has at various times been an army brat, a librarian, a poet, a raiser of children, a nun, a bird watcher, an Internet and Web services manager, a conference speaker, an indexer, a tech writer, a genealogist, and, of course, a romantic. She has sailed through the English channel while it was still mined from WWII, stood on the walls of Troy, searched Scotland for the location of an entirely fictional castle (and found it), climbed the steps to the Parthenon, floated down the Thames from the Tower to Greenwich, shopped in the Ginza, lost herself in the Louvre, gone on a night safari at the Singapore zoo, walked in the Black Forest, and explored the underground cistern of Istanbul. By far the biggest adventure has been life-long marriage to a prince among men.

She sits in front of a keyboard at a desk surrounded by windows, looks out at the trees and imagines. Her greatest joy is when one of those imaginings comes to life on the page and in the imagination of her readers.

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Bluestocking Belles • Bluestocking Bookshop

Other Books by Caroline

Dangerous Works

Dangerous Secrets

Susana’s Meme Contest: and the winners are—

Grand Prize: Mary Anne Landers

Grand Prize: Mary Anne Landers

Runner-up: Catherine Maguire

Runner-up: Catherine Maguire

Thank you to to all who entered the contest. It was a fun day seeing how many folks just love reading historical romance. At one time, #FallBackInTime was trending on Twitter!


Charlene Whitehouse

Charlene Whitehouse is the winner of the prize for the random entry. Charlene, your prize will be on its way tout de suite as soon as you tell me whether you’d prefer the mug or the portfolio.

Choice of a Susana Ellis mug or a Susana Ellis portfolio (notepad)


Mary Anne Landers’ memes were all equally clever and it was difficult to choose between them. In the end I chose this one, because its meaning aligns most closely with my own primary reason for reading historical fiction. Modern life is too modern. Mundane. Where’s the romance when couples jump into bed with each other on the first date? I think it’s better when both partners have to get to know each first… and the gentleman has to make an effort to win the lady.


Mary Anne Landers

However, I decided to award another prize to Catherine Maguire for creating a meme most like my own. And who doesn’t love a deliciously comfy chaise lounge for indulging one’s reading experience?

Catherine Maguire

Catherine Maguire

Until next May, when the next Historical Romance Network promo happens, may we all take the time to read lots and lots and lots of fabulous historical romance tales!


Mary Anne Landers


Mary Anne Landers


Mary Anne Landers

Charlene Maguire

Catherine Maguire

Catherine Maguire

Catherine Maguire

Catherine Maguire

Catherine Maguire

Molly Laird

Molly Laird

Charlene Whitehouse

Charlene Whitehouse