Sherry Ewing: To Follow My Heart (The Knights of Berwyck, A Quest Through Time) + Giveaway

To_Follow_My_Heart 400x copyI’d like to thank Susana for allowing me the opportunity to showcase my latest medieval/time travel release: To Follow My Heart: The Knights of Berwyck, A Quest Through Time Novel (Book Three). If you’ve never read one of my novels, I’m Sherry Ewing and write historical and time travel romances to awaken the soul one heart at a time.

I don’t know about you, but I’m a huge fan of any book that throws a knight and a modern day woman together. I never had any intention of writing time travels. Somehow they just came about and I now have a whole series going on with secondary characters from my free medieval romance If My Heart Could See You. Who knew?

To Follow My Heart follows the story of Jenna Sinclair, a modern day woman living in San Francisco who is heartbroken over the breakup with her fiancé. Fletcher Monroe, a 12th century knight and captain of the guard of Berwyck’s garrison knights, has his own issues of attempting to get over a woman who would never be his. Image how surprised both my characters are when Jenna mysteriously slips through time and falls at his feet on an ocean beach.

The second Cliff House, circa 1900

This book, in particular, is near and dear to my heart because I have showcased some of my favorite places around the city by the bay. The Cliff House, along Ocean Beach, has a long history in San Francisco and is managed by the National Park Service; specifically, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, one of the largest urban parks in the NPS system.

CliffHouseStorm PD image

I’ve spent a lot of years walking this beach contemplating my own life, much like Jenna, and felt the need to have her falling through time beneath the rock face under the Cliff House. I was wonderfully surprised when one day, right before the release of To Follow My Heart, my daughter and I took advantage of a beautiful summer day and I was actually able to walk all the way around the cliff from Ocean Beach to the Sutro Baths side. In all the years I’ve walked there, the tides were never right since the water is usually right up against the cliff. It gave me a whole new perspective of how my characters felt doing the very same thing. If you’d like to learn more about the Cliff House, check out this NPS website at https://www.nps.gov/goga/learn/historyculture/cliff-house.htm. The NPS is celebrating their 100-year centennial so it’s a great time to Find Your Park and enjoy what these special places can offer you and your family!

In case you’re wondering, all my books can be read as stand-alones but if you read them in order, you’ll see characters as they’re introduced. I just love when I read a series and see returning characters that I’ve come to love, don’t you?

My Books

Haven’t read my books? Then start with a free download of the start of my series with If My Heart Could See You. It’s up on all major online retailers. Here’s the Amazon link: http://amzn.to/1LV1qnk. Need the next two books in the series? I’ve got a special deal on a box set called Hearts Across Time for $0.99. It includes For All of Ever and Only For You. Amazon Link: http://amzn.to/1BV0DM4

box set pic from FB copy

Giveaway!

I’ll give one random comment an e-copy of my medieval romance A Knight To Call My Own so just answer me this:

Do you visit a national park where you live? If not, then tell me one of your favorite places you like to visit.

Thanks again to Susana for allowing me to spend some time with her readers. Keep reading to learn more about To Follow My Heart, along with finding the buy links!

About To Follow My Heart: The Knights of Berwyck, A Quest Through Time Novel (Book Three)

Love is a leap. Sometimes you need to jump…

After a gut wrenching break up with her fiancé, Jenna Sinclair heads to the coast to do a little soul searching. To say everything is subject to change is putting it mildly. Her world is not only turned upside down, but pretty much torn asunder when she is pulled through a time gate on the beach beneath the Cliff House and transported more than eight hundred years into the past.

Fletcher Monroe, captain of the garrison knights at Berwyck Castle, has wasted too much time pining for a woman who will never be his. When he finally decides to move on with his life and focus on his duties, he is suddenly confronted with a woman who magically appears at his feet. This could either be the best thing that has ever happened to him or another cursed event in a string of many. He soon finds he is wildly attracted to her, but she’s scared to death of him – not a very encouraging beginning.

From the shores of California to twelfth century England and back again, Jenna and Fletcher must find a way to reconcile their two different worlds before Time forever tears them apart.

Excerpt

Jenna came back from her musing, only to blink in shock at the distortion directly in front of her. The disturbance in the air was almost akin to the ripples one found in a lake or pond after a stone had been cast into its smooth waters. She reached out to touch it, but before she knew what was happening, some unseen force pushed her forward, even while at the same time she became surrounded by an icy fog. The wind in her face screeched at a high pitch in her ears in the same tone as a ghoulish banshee on Halloween. Her body seemed as if it were being pulled, stretched, and sucked through a tight tube, much like a dust mote stuck within a vacuum cleaner. She was tossed and turned around and around as her own screams echoed all about her.

Unsure what was happening, she cried out, hoping for someone to come and help her. No one answered her call, yet she continued to yell, all the same. Had she somehow fallen into the ocean, and was she being pulled out with the tide? No…that couldn’t be right, since she didn’t have the feeling of water filling her lungs. Time seemed to have no meaning, and she had no idea how long she had been in this state of…falling into nothingness and unbeing.

And then, everything stopped its frantic pace, abruptly, as though she were in a car that had come to a sudden halt at a red light causing her to lurch forward in her seat. Jenna was thrust headfirst to face-plant into the beach while her purse flew through the air when she hit the ground. She coughed, spitting out copious granules of sand. Wiping her mouth, she tasted a bit of blood from her cut lip and raised her hand to shield her face from the glaring brightness around her. Sunlight? She closed her eyes and reopened them, not believing what she was seeing, for the sun was as bright as in the height of a new day. But how could that be, she wondered? It was almost evening, with darkness about to settle down to caress the earth.

As if she hadn’t been mistreated enough, nature decided to continue its torment of her when a rogue wave came up from behind, knocking her into the frigid water. She came up sputtering, completely drenched, and began crawling her way up the beach to catch her breath.

When she was at last able to manage it, Jenna stood, but she did so on wavering legs. She attempted to get her bearings. Her hands shook uncontrollably. Some things hadn’t changed. Her heels were still held by the straps in her fingers. She was still on the beach…the ocean was on her left. Her purse was lying on the ground, and she bent to pick it up to place it on her shoulder. She began to wonder if she had somehow passed out when she lifted her head in the direction of the Cliff House.

What the hell? Where is it, and why is a friggin’ castle sitting in its place? Dammit! This isn’t even San Francisco. She felt herself begin to panic, because the terrain was nowhere close to what she was used to. Her pulse quickened, and she swore her heart was about to burst from her chest.

“My lady, keep calm.”

The sudden vibration of sound caused her to let out a shriek. Her lips quivered in fright. She brought her hand to her mouth to stifle yet another scream that automatically burst from her mouth. She was so disoriented it took several moments of trying to adjust her vision before the deep baritone of a man’s voice actually began to register in her head.

Then, she saw him, leaning casually up against a bolder of considerable size with his arms folded against his chest. A horse stood behind him with no tether of any kind to keep him from returning to a barn. The steed just waited for the stranger to come and fetch it, that is, if that was what you did with a horse besides go for a ride. The beast shook its black mane, nostrils flaring as though it were angry.

Jenna’s hand moved down to her throat, her eyes wide, as she gaped at the man. Everything about his appearance screamed dark, mysterious, and even a little dangerous. She should be wary of him. Thick black hair hung in soft waves down to broad shoulders. A muscular chest narrowed down to lean hips, and his dark shirt only accented the ruggedness of his body as it clung to him in the blowing wind. She swore she saw a sword hanging from the belt at his waist and could only imagine what kind of a man would keep a weapon of that kind on his person. He was clothed completely in black with the exception of the dark red cloak billowing out behind him, whipped by the ocean breeze. Was it her imagination, or did its color remind her of the same shade as blood?

Good God Almighty! How far could she run before he would catch her? Surely, from the look of him, he had something sinister in mind. Panic set in, and she dug inside her purse to pull out a container of mace. Trying her best to appear in control of the situation, she extended her arm. “Stay away from me,” she yelled. “I’m not afraid to use this and call the cops.”

He pushed off the rock with a smirk upon his face, as if he knew some inside joke of which she wouldn’t be allowed to know the punch line. The closer he came, the farther she backed up until the waves of the ocean splashed up to her thighs. The coldness of the water gave her another shock, as if she hadn’t already had enough in the last few minutes to last her a life time.

“Come out of the water, mademoiselle, for surely one dunking is enough for one day.” He held out his hand. “You shall catch a chill, and we are not in need of another ghostly apparition giving us advice, no matter how he may feel ’tis needed to guide us.”

“Sweet Jesus, I’m dead,” Jenna whispered in fright. Trying to determine which direction she should run so she could get away from this lunatic, her gaze darted back and forth.

“You are most certainly not dead, my lady. And, I assure you, I mean you no harm.”

Again, he extended his hand for her to take, but she had no plans to go anywhere with this handsome stranger towering over her. Handsome? Where did that thought come from?

About the Author

sherrySherry Ewing picked up her first historical romance when she was a teenager and has been hooked ever since. A bestselling author, she writes historical & time travel romances to awaken the soul one heart at a time. Always wanting to write a novel but busy raising her children, she finally took the plunge in 2008 and wrote her first Regency. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, The Beau Monde & The Bluestocking Belles. Sherry is currently working on her next novel and when not writing, she can be found in the San Francisco area at her day job as an Information Technology Specialist.

Sherry enjoys interacting with her readers. You can email her on her website or find her on these social media outlets:

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Romance of London: The Duke of Newcastle’s Eccentricities

John Timbs (1801-1875), who also wrote as Horace Welby, was an English author and aficionado of antiquities. Born in Clerkenwell, London, he was apprenticed at 16 to a druggist and printer, where he soon showed great literary promise. At 19, he began to write for Monthly Magazine, and a year later he was made secretary to the magazine’s proprietor and there began his career as a writer, editor, and antiquarian.

This particular book is available at googlebooks for free in ebook form. Or you can pay for a print version.

From Wikipedia:

512px-1stDukeOfNewcastleOld

Thomas Pelham-Holles, 1st Duke of Newcastle

Thomas Pelham-Holles, 1st Duke of Newcastle upon Tyne and 1st Duke of Newcastle-under-Lyne KG PC (21 July 1693 – 17 November 1768) was a British Whig statesman, whose official life extended throughout the Whig supremacy of the 18th century. He is commonly known as the Duke of Newcastle.

A protégé of Sir Robert Walpole, he served under him for more than twenty years, until 1742. He held power with his brother, Henry Pelham (the Prime Minister of Great Britain), until 1754. He had at this point served as a Secretary of State continuously for thirty years—dominating British foreign policy.

Walpole gladly welcomed the young Newcastle into his coterie, firstly because he believed he could easily control him, and secondly because it would strengthen his hand against the rival Whig factions. Newcastle joined with Walpole because he, correctly, believed that he was going to dominate British politics for a generation.

Robert Walpole, 1st Earl of Orford

Robert Walpole, 1st Earl of Orford

After Henry’s death the Duke held his late brother’s position for six years, in two separate periods. While his first premiership was not particularly notable, Newcastle precipitated the Seven Years’ War, which would cause his resignation from his high position. After his second term as Prime Minister, he served for a short while in Lord Rockingham’s ministry, before retiring from government. Few politicians in British history matched his skills and industry in using patronage to maintain power over long stretches of time. He was most effective, however, as a deputy to a leader of greater ability, such as Walpole, his brother, or Pitt.

Historian Harry Dickinson says that he became:

notorious for his fussiness and fretfulness, his petty jealousies, his reluctance to accept responsibility for his actions, and his inability to pursue any political objective to his own satisfaction or to the nations profit…. Many modern historians have depicted him as the epitome of unredeemed mediocrity and as a veritable buffoon in office.

The Duke of Newcastle’s Eccentricities

Horace Walpole

Horace Walpole

There is scarcely any public man in our history of whose manners and conversation so many particulars have been preserved, as of the Duke of Newcastle, the well-known leader in the Pelham Administration under George II. Single stories may be unfounded or exaggerated. But all the stories about him, whether told by people who were perpetually seeing him in Parliament, and attending his levées in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, or by Grub Street writers who had never more than a glimpse of his star through the windows of his gilded coach, are of the same character. Horace Walpole and Smollett differed in their tastes and opinions as much as two human beings could differ. They quite different society. Walpole played at cards with countesses, and corresponded with ambassadors. Smollett passed his life surrounded by printers’ devils and famished scribblers. Yet, Walpole’s Duke and Smollett’s Duke are as like as if they were both from one hand. Smollett’s Newcastle runs out of his dressing-room, with his face covered with soap-suds, to embrace the Moorish envoy. Walpole’s Newcastle pushes his way into the Duke of Grafton’s sick-room to kiss the old nobleman’s plasters. No man was so unmercifully satirised. But in truth he was himself a satire ready made. All that the art of the satirist does for other men, nature had done for him. Whatever was absurd about him, stood out with grotesque prominence from the rest of the character. He was a living, moving, talkng caricature. His gait was a shuffling trot; his utterance a rapid stutter; he was always in a hurry; he was never in time; he abounded in fulsome caresses and hysterical tears. His oratory resembled that of Justice Shallow. It was nonsense effervescent with animal spirits and impertinence. Of his ignorance many anecdotes remain, some well authenticated, some probably invented at coffee-houses, but all exquisitely characteristic:—”Oh—yes—yes—to be sure—Annapolis must be defended—troops must be sent to Annapolis—Pray where is Annapolis?”—”Cape Breton an island! wonderful!—show it me in the map. So it is, sure enough. My dear sir, you always bring us good news. I must go and tell the King that Great Britain is an island.”

And this man was, during near thirty years, Secretary of State, and during near ten years, First Lord of the Treasury! His large fortune, his strong hereditary connections, his great parliamentary interest, will not alone explain this extraordinary fact. His success is a signal instance of what may be effected by a man who devotes his whole heart and soul, without reserve, to one object. He was eaten up by ambition. He was greedy after power with a greediness all his own. He was jealous of all his colleagues, and even of his own brother. Under the disguise of levity he was false eyond all example of political falsehood. All the able of men of his time ridiculed him as a dunce, a driveller, a child who never knew his own mind for an hour together; and he overreached them all round.—Lord Macaulay, on Walpole’s Letters.

Alicia Quigley: Lady, Lover, Smuggler Spy (Giveaway)

It’s exciting to be guest blogging here at Susana’s Parlor on Bastille Day! The storming of the Bastille radically changed the path of French and European history in ways that are integral to the period in which most of my stories are set, the English Regency. One minor (but fun) example is the way in which the heavy full-skirted gowns and immense coiffures and hats of 1788 had completely given way to the simple, slim, “classical” silhouette by 1795.

Photo 1Photo 2

In revolutionary France, this mode of dress was associated with democratic societies such as ancient Greece and the Roman republic.

More important in the long term, the political instability that resulted from the overthrow of the French monarchy also opened the door to the Napoleonic era, and wars that not only extended throughout Europe and into the Middle East, but into North and South America. These military campaigns, and the fear of democratic radicalism crossing the Channel from France, hugely impacted English society at the time, hardening the conservative views of many English aristocrats about the importance of birth and breeding even as the industrial revolution and trade with India created a rapidly growing class of nouveau riche.

Photo 3Only six years after Bastille Day, Napoleon, who was then just 26, and had joined the French Army to promote Republican ideals, had undertaken his first campaign against Austria and Italy after saving the French Directory, the successor to the first revolutionary government. He conquered Italy and became a national hero, and then embarked on an invasion of Egypt that was his launch pad to becoming the ruler of the entire country in 1799 as First Consul.

Napoleon successfully replaced the unstable revolutionary government with a more sustainable populist regime, albeit one that was rather authoritarian. Napoleon is remembered most today for his wars, ill-fated campaign in Russia and eventual defeat, and his government reforms are often ignored. In spite of the Declaration of the Rights of Man by the first revolutionaries, Napoleon was in many ways far more the basis for the modern state that recognizes the rights of the individual than the Revolution itself. The revolutionaries were disorganized, philosophically polarized and devolved into the violence, irrationality and bloodshed of the Terror.

Photo 4Napoleon however, had a positive mania for organization and codification and introduced secular education, replacement of feudalism with modern property law, and the Napoleonic Code that set forth clear civil and criminal law that specified and codified the rules of due process that protect people living in functional states today (as well as numerous other reforms).

Napoleon’s mania for organization was pervasive; he not only set up vast and detailed bureaucracies for military and civil administration, he personally took a hand in facilitating the meetings. One weird manifestation of this was his largely successful effort to control the smuggling trade between England and France for his own benefit. His success was remarkable when one considers the strenuous efforts the English had made for centuries to bring smuggling under control with minimal results.

Napoleon’s job was perhaps easier, because he didn’t want to abolish or heavily tax the trade as the English did, but rather to centralize it and document the comings and goings of the smugglers, at least partially in order to facilitate the smuggling of gold guineas badly needed by his government to pay his troops and prosecute his wars.

This led Napoleon to establish a “ville des smoglers” or city of smugglers, initially located at Dunkirk and later at the more secure city of Gravelines nearby. French authorities received and documented the arriving English smugglers and their transactions with their French counterparts. They actively encouraged smuggling, even allowing the boats to be built there for British crews when the Inland Revenue Service and Royal Navy destroyed boats to prevent it.

I found the story of the City of Smugglers irresistible and a perfect backdrop for Lady, Lover, Smuggler, Spy the third book of my Arlingbys Regency romance and intrigue series. In this book, Valerie Carlton is the well born but impoverished widow of a soldier who lost his life in the Peninsular Wars, while Sir Tarquin Arlingby conceals his secret spying behind his wealthy gentleman of fashion persona. Their love story stretches from London across the English Channel to the City of Smugglers as they seek to uncover Napoleon’s secrets to support the English troops.

In the excerpt below, our daring duo is about to get their first glance at the fortress of Gravelines and the City of Smugglers.

About Lady, Lover, Smuggler, Spy

Mrs. Valerie Carlton is the widow of a soldier who died in the Peninsular Wars. Disowned by her family for “marrying down,” she survives working as a governess. When the elder son of the family makes unwelcome advances, Valerie leaves, seeking refuge with a close friend until she can find another position.

Sir Tarquin Arlingby, a wealthy, handsome bachelor on his way home, is staying at the same inn as Valerie and witnesses her being robbed before she can board the coach. He goes to Valerie’s aid and is instantly attracted to her. As her friend’s home is near his estate, he offers to drive her there.

An unfortunate accident forces the pair to spend a night in a village inn. Over dinner, Valerie talks about her experiences during the Spanish campaign against Napoleon and the sense of mission that she felt following the drum, which she misses in her current life. Sir Tarquin, who is secretly spying for the Crown by masquerading as a smuggler to pass information in and out of France, is intrigued by her bravery and his attraction increases. Valerie is also drawn to the handsome baronet.

Tarquin needs a French-speaking woman to pose as a smuggler during a mission to the “City of Smugglers” in Gravelines. When he discovers that Valerie speaks French like a native, he successfully recruits her for the job.

Will the pair survive their dangerous mission? Will they finally acknowledge the depth of their feelings for each other?

Find out in Lady, Lover, Smuggler, Spy, a Regency romance with intrigue, humor and just the right amount of moderately explicit sex for those readers who enjoy sensuality with their romances.

Lady, Lover, Smuggler, Spy

Excerpt

Much later, Valerie awoke to Tarquin shaking her shoulder. She looked around in surprise to note the sun just rising over the horizon.

“Madame Carleon, we are approaching the shoreline. You will wish to watch as we arrive,” he said.

Bien sur, Jake,” she replied, gathering her wits. She looked across the water to see the coastline clearly delineated before them. The golden-pink rays of the rising sun imbued the sandy, rolling shoreline with a pearly glow, and wavelets sparkled in the emerging daylight. As the shore grew rapidly closer with the long oar strokes of the rowers, she could see the narrow mouth of a waterway cutting through the beach. They glided into the channel and moved inland as rich green farm fields, dotted with cows and distant villages, scrolled past on either side.

Within an hour they were approaching the fortress of Gravelines. The looming walls, built hundreds of years earlier, reminded Valerie of the fortresses her husband had helped to besiege in Spain, and she shivered a little at the violent memories they awoke in her.

To banish her unwelcome recollections, she looked over at Tarquin. In the daylight she could see he had been correct in saying that a change of clothing and some walnut juice to temporarily brown his skin did much to disguise him. His blonde hair was tousled, his face looked as though work in the sun and wind had tanned it, and a day or two of stubble on his cheeks gave him the appearance of a farmer or deckhand. His billowing cotton shirt was partially covered with a leather vest, and the open collar allowed her to see the strong column of his throat. She acknowledged ruefully that the disguise made him no less attractive. Many a woman would take an interest in Jake West.

But there was little time for daydreams. As they drew up to a pier, the crew sprang into action. Tarquin shipped his oar and stood in one lithe movement, while Valerie grabbed her reticule from its spot atop the tarpaulin covering the golden cargo destined to support Napoleon’s armies. Seconds later, she found herself on the pier with the members of the guinea boat’s crew and other passengers, facing what appeared to be a small army of customs inspectors, coast guards, and police officers.

Unfamiliar with the procedure and somewhat intimidated by the crowd of officials, Valerie stood as close to Tarquin as possible, taking reassurance from his height and strength, while attempting to maintain an outward calm. A hard faced customs official wearing close fitting white breeches and an elaborate green coat crisscrossed with bright white leather straps approached her.

He looked her over briefly. “Qui etes vous, madame?” he barked.

Madame Carleon, une modiste,” she replied, handing over her papers. “I am here to select fabrics, trims and stock for my shop. Ces hommes ne peuvent pas selecter les mieux tissus.” For additional effect, she sniffed and cast a dismissive glance towards Tarquin.

Bien sur, madame,” the inspector said, giving her a more interested look and a smile. He rifled through her papers, pausing a moment to squint at one of them, as Valerie held her breath. “Allez, you may go.” He leered at her, his eyes raking over her figure. “A pity you live in England. France could use a fine woman such as you.”

“You never know,” said Valerie saucily, “I may return. Particularly if there are more strapping men such as you.”

“Not too many like me, but I’m sure I could satisfy you.”

Valerie laughed and moved on, giving him a teasing glance over her shoulder. The inspector, clearly recognizing Tarquin, nodded at him briefly, and he followed in her wake.

When they were out of earshot, Tarquin spoke in a low voice. “You did well there. That was a member of the Douane Imperiale, Napoleon’s elite customs unit. All of its members have served in the Army and they undertake armed missions when necessary.”

“I’m glad I didn’t know that before I spoke with him,” Valerie laughed.

“I’m sure I did not encourage you to flirt with the officials,” observed Tarquin.

“It seemed to be the easiest way to convince him I’m harmless.” She glanced up at him. “Are you jealous?”

“Jake West has no right to be jealous of Madame Carleon’s doings,” responded Tarquin, and she had to be content with that.

She turned away and watched the crowd bustling around them with interest. “What do we do now?”

“Let us go find some bread and coffee first,” he suggested. “Then I will take you to the fabric merchants. We will spend one night here; it takes them some time to count the gold and be sure that all is accounted for, and that the manifest is accurate. There is an inn for the smugglers that is quite decent. Everything here is very well organized.”

Valerie looked about her. Although the walls ran close around it, and the primary language to be heard was French, she thought she could have been in a market town almost anywhere. There were counting houses, and a great many shops, inns, taverns, and other businesses.

“It seems to be,” she agreed. “I’m afraid I had another picture in my head, with dark, narrow streets and people skulking about in the shadows. Instead it is almost disappointingly ordinary.”

Tarquin smiled. “Everything required for the smugglers to conduct their business has been thought of. There is even a shipyard, for in some regions the tidesmen have taken to destroying the guinea boats, so they make them here, and then row them to England to pick up the cargoes.”

“That’s rather shocking,” Valerie replied.

Tarquin shrugged. “I suppose it is. I am doing all I can to improve matters, but that is the reality of the treachery we are contending with.”

Giveaway: Two lucky commenters will receive free copies of Lady, Lover, Smuggler, Spy. The winners will be randomly chosen one week after this post is published.

About the Author

Alicia Quigley is a lifelong lover of romance novels, who fell in love with Jane Austen in grade school, and Georgette Heyer in junior high.  She made up games with playing cards using the face cards for Heyer characters, and sewed regency gowns (walking dresses, riding habits and bonnets that even Lydia Bennett wouldn’t have touched) for her Barbie.  In spite of her terrible science and engineering addiction, she remains a devotee of the romance, and enjoys turning her hand to their production as well as their consumption.

Website • Twitter • Facebook • Amazon Author Page

Romance of London: Marlborough House and Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough

Romance of London: Strange Stories, Scenes And Remarkable Person of the Great Town in 3 Volumes

John Timbs

John Timbs (1801-1875), who also wrote as Horace Welby, was an English author and aficionado of antiquities. Born in Clerkenwell, London, he was apprenticed at 16 to a druggist and printer, where he soon showed great literary promise. At 19, he began to write for Monthly Magazine, and a year later he was made secretary to the magazine’s proprietor and there began his career as a writer, editor, and antiquarian.

This particular book is available at googlebooks for free in ebook form. Or you can pay for a print version.

About the Churchills

John_Churchill_in_his_thirties

John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, was a great military hero who reaped many honors and financial rewards from his service to five English monarchs. His wife Sarah was an intimate friend of Queen Anne… until Sarah’s hot temper and conceit earned her dismissal from court. For more about Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough, check out this article in Wikipedia.

Queen Anne (1705)

Queen Anne (1705)

Marlborough House

Marlborough_House_-_superior_version

Little can be said, architecturally, of Marlborough House, notwithstanding it was designed by Sir Christopher Wren, who was employed, not because he was preferred, but that Vanbrugh might be vexed. Respecting Marlborough House, Pennant says

To the east of St. James’s Palace, in the reign of Queen Anne, was built Marlborough House, at the expense of the public. It appears by one of the views of St. James’s, published before the existence of this house, that it was built in part of the Royal Gardens, granted for that purpose by her Majesty. The present Duke [Pennant writes in 1793] added an upper story, and improved the ground floor, which originally wanted a great room. This national compliment cost no less than 40,000l.

As regards the site, Pennant’s account is corroborated by other authorities, who say that the mansion of the famous John Churchill was built on ground “which had been used for keeping pheasants, guinea-hens, partridges, and other fowl, and on that piece of ground taken out of St. James’s Park, then in possession of Henry Boyle, one of her Majesty’s principal Secretaries of State.”

Entry to a Drawing Room at Marlborough House (1871)

Entry to a Drawing Room at Marlborough House (1871)

The Duchess both experienced and caused great mortifications here. She used to speak of the King in the adjacent palace as her “neighbor George.” The entrance to the house from Pall Mall was, as it still is, a crooked and inconvenient one. To remedy this defect, she intended to purchase some houses… for the purpose of pulling them down and constructing a more commodious entry to the mansion; but Sir Robert Walpole [whom she considered to be her greatest enemy], with no more dignified motive than mere spite, secured the houses and ground, and erected buildings [there], which… blocked in the front of the Duchess’ mansion. She was subjected to a more temporary, but as inconvenient blockade, when the preparations for the wedding of the imperious Princess Anne [does Timbs mean Mary?] and her ugly husband, the Prince of Orange, was going on. Among other preparations, a boarded gallery, through which the nuptial procession was to pass, was built up close against the Duchess’ windows, completely darkening her rooms. As the boards remained there during the postponement of the ceremony, the Duchess used to look at them with the remark, “I wish the Princess would oblige me by taking away her ‘orange chest!'”*

320px-Marlborough_House

Note: Currently the home of the Commonwealth Secretariat, the house is usually open to the public for Open House Weekend each September.

The Character of the Duchess

Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough

Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough

From the Memoirs of Mrs. Delany:

The conversation turned upon the famous Duchess of Marlborough: among others, one striking anecdote, that though she appeared affected in the highest degree at the death of her grand-daughter, the Duchess of Bedford, she sent the day after she died for the jewels she had given her, saying ‘she had only lent them;’ the answer was that she ‘had said she would never demand those jewels again except she danced at court;‘ her answer was ‘then she would be —- if she would not dance at court,’ &c. … She used to say that she was very certain she should go to heaven, and as her ambition went even beyond the grave, that she knew she should have one of the highest seats.

A few of the Duchess’ eccentricities and extravagancies have been put together somewhat in the humorous manner of our early story-books, as follows:

This is the woman who wrote the characters of her contemporaries with a pen dipped in gall and wormwood. This is the Duchess who gave 10,000l to Mr. Pitt for his noble defense of the constitution of his country! … This is the Duchess who, in her old age, used to feign asleep after dinner, and say bitter things at table pat and appropriate, but as if she was not aware of what was going on! This is the lady who drew that beautiful distinction that it was wrong to wish Sir Robert Walpole dead, but only common justice to wish him well hanged. This is the Duchess who tumbled her thoughts out as they arose, and wrote like the wife of the Great Duke Marlborough. This is the lady who quarreled with a wit upon paper (Sir John Vanbrugh), and actually got the better of him in the long run; who shut out the architect of Blenheim from seeing his own edifice, and made him dangle his time away at an inn while his friends were shown the house of the eccentric Sarah.

This is the Duchess who, ever proud and ever malignant, was persuaded to offer her favorite grand-daughter, Lady Diana Spencer, afterwards Duchess of Bedford, to the Prince of Wales, with a fortune of a hundred thousand pounds. He accepted the proposal and the day was fixed for their being secretly married at the Duchess’ Lodge, in the Great Park, at Windsor. Sir Robert Walpole got intelligence of the project, prevented it, and the secret was buried in silence.

This is the Duchess—The wisest fool much time has ever made—who refused the proffered hand of the proud Duke of Somerset, for the sole and sufficient reason that no one should share her heart with the great Duke of Marlborough.

This is the illustrious lady who superintended the building of Blenheim, examined contracts and tenders, talked with carpenters and masons, and thinking sevenpence-halfpenny a bushel for lime too much by a farthing, waged a war to the knife on so small a matter.

This is the celebrated Sarah, who, at the age of eighty-four, when she was told she must either submit to be blistered or die, exclaimed in anger, and with a start in bed, “I won’t be blistered, and I won’t die!”

The Duchess died, notwithstanding what she said, at Marlborough House, in 1774.

*Dr. Doran’s Queens of England—House of Hanover

Romance of London: Sir William Petty and the Lansdowne Family

Romance of London: Strange Stories, Scenes And Remarkable Person of the Great Town in 3 Volumes

John Timbs

John Timbs (1801-1875), who also wrote as Horace Welby, was an English author and aficionado of antiquities. Born in Clerkenwell, London, he was apprenticed at 16 to a druggist and printer, where he soon showed great literary promise. At 19, he began to write for Monthly Magazine, and a year later he was made secretary to the magazine’s proprietor and there began his career as a writer, editor, and antiquarian.

This particular book is available at googlebooks for free in ebook form. Or you can pay for a print version.

Sir William Petty and the Lansdowne Family

220px-Sir_William_PettySir William Petty is commonly described as “the founder of the house of Lansdowne,” a statement which is not sufficiently exact for all readers.

The story of William Petty, from May 1623, when he was born at Romsey, in Hampshire, to the time of his interment in the Norman church of that town, in 1687, is one of those lessons of life which can scarcely be too often repeated.

Petty was the son of a clothier in humble circumstances, was sent to Romsey Grammar School, and determined next to study at the University of Caen, in Normandy. Thither he sped, supporting himself by the way, with “a little stock of merchandise,” as a pedlar. He returned to England, and apprenticed himself to a sea captain, who, however, “drubbed him with a rope’s-end for the badness of his sight. This ill-treatment disgusted him with the navy; he took to the study of medicine, and while at Paris for that purpose became so poor as to subsist for two or three weeks entirely on walnuts; but, by help of the pedlar trade, he came back to England with money in his pocket. Here he exercised his liking for mechanics by inventing a letter-copying machine, or, as he called it, “an instrument for the art of double writing,” which he patented, for seventeen years, in 1648; and this very instrument is the prototype of the manifold letter-writers of our times. Petty likewise practiced chemistry and physic; and at his lodgings in Oxford were held the first meetings to form the Royal Society. At Oxford, Petty acted as deputy to the anatomical professor there: he lodged at an apothecary’s house, “because of the convenience of inspecting drugs.” In 1652 Petty was appointed Physician-General to the Army in Ireland. In 1664 he undertook the survey of Ireland; and in 1666, he had completed the measurement of two million and eight thousand acres of forfeited lands, for which, by contract, he was to receive one penny per acre. Sir William Petty is better known in our day as a writer upon trade and commerce and political arithmetic.

typewriter

Language, Technology, and Society, by Richard Sproat (2010)

 

polygraph

Darren Wershler-Henry’s The Iron Whim: A Fragmented History of Typewriting (2005)

Among Sir W. Petty’s inventions was “a double-bottomed ship, to sail against wind and tide.” He wrote on dyeing and on woolen cloth manufacture; he speculated in ironworks, lead-mince, a pilchard fishery, and timber trade; and all this time took an active part in the discussions of the Royal Society. He also built Tokenhouse Yard, Rothbury, on the site of the Earl of Arundel’s house and garden: and he held property in the yard at the time of the Great Fire. His will, made in 1661, details his birth, boohoo, education, adventures, studies, attainments, and promotions in life, commencing “with three-score pounds at the age of twenty,” an being in the receipt of 15,000l per annum a short time before his death, at which time he was residing in the corner house on the east side of Sackville Street, Piccadilly, opposite St. James’s Church. The widow of Sir William Petty was created Baroness Shelburn. He left two sons and a daughter. The eldest son succeeded to the title; but, dying without issue, it was revived in Henry, the second son, great uncle of the first Marquis of Lansdowne.

The remains of Sir William Petty rest in Romsey Church, where, on the south side of the choir, a plain slab bore the inscription, “Here Layes Sir William Petty;” but a more fitting memorial of his celebrated lineal ancestor was, in 1862, erected by the late Marquis of Lansdowne.

Monument to Sir William Petty, Romsey Church, Hampshire

Monument to Sir William Petty, Romsey Church, Hampshire

From Wikipedia:

Sir William Petty FRS (26 May 1623 – 16 December 1687) was an English economist, scientist and philosopher. He first became prominent serving Oliver Cromwell and Commonwealth in Ireland. He developed efficient methods to survey the land that was to be confiscated and given to Cromwell’s soldiers. He also managed to remain prominent under King Charles II and King James II, as did many others who had served Cromwell.

He was Member of the Parliament of England briefly and was also a scientist, inventor, and entrepreneur, and was a charter member of the Royal Society. It is for his theories on economics and his methods of political arithmetic that he is best remembered, however, and to him is attributed the philosophy of ‘laissez-faire’ in relation to government activity. He was knighted in 1661. He was the great-grandfather of Prime Minister William Petty Fitzmaurice, 2nd Earl of Shelburne and 1st Marquess of Lansdowne.

William Petty's great-grandson, William Petty-Fitzmaurice, 2nd Earl of Shelburne and 1st Marquess of Landsdowne, Prime Minister of England

William Petty’s great-grandson, William Petty-Fitzmaurice, 2nd Earl of Shelburne and 1st Marquess of Landsdowne, Prime Minister of England

Sheri Cobb South: Waiting Game (John Pickett #5)

quizzing glass copyLast Wednesday marked the release of Too Hot to Handel, the fifth novel in the John Pickett series of mysteries set in Regency England. I’ve so looked forward to this one, for a couple of reasons: it’s my personal favorite and, not coincidentally, it’s the one that finally resolves the romance between Bow Street Runner John Pickett and the widowed Julia, Lady Fieldhurst, whom he first met, quite literally over her husband’s dead body, in the first book of the series, In Milady’s Chamber.

But before there was Too Hot to Handel, there was Waiting Game—a novella that was never intended as part of the series at all, and yet sold more than 1,500 copies in the last month alone.

How did it happen? It’s a long story—no pun intended. Too Hot to Handel was originally scheduled for March 2016, but just before Christmas my publisher, Five Star/Cengage, announced that due to unforeseen circumstances, the entire 2016 publishing schedule was being delayed three months, pushing my March release date back to June. Now, a three-month postponement may not seem like much, but when marketing plans are measured in months, not weeks, every one of those months is crucial. My bookmarks had already been printed with “March 2016” as the release date—and I didn’t even want to think about what the interruption meant as far as ARCs, which would probably go out much too late for the major reviewers such as Publishers Weekly and Library Journal.

But the people I felt the worst for were my readers. I’d left them a romantic cliffhanger at the end of the previous book, Dinner Most Deadly, which concludes with [spoiler alert!] John Pickett recklessly declaring himself to Julia, who is too stunned—and too moved—to respond. I had assured readers they wouldn’t have long to wait for resolution on this, since the next book would be out in only six months, rather than the more typical ten to twelve, and now I discovered that I was wrong. Granted, it wasn’t my fault, but I still felt like I’d lied to them.

I felt like I owed fans of the series something to make it up to them. I’d had some success with a prequel novella called Pickpocket’s Apprentice, so I decided to write a short piece to self-publish in March, something that would fill in the gap in the timeline between the end of Dinner Most Deadly and the beginning of Too Hot to Handel. Ironically, that gap was also three months, from November 1808 to February 1809.

It was a good idea in theory, but I soon realized I’d written myself into a corner. The book’s setting made it practically imperative that the Christmas season be addressed in some way, but I didn’t want it to turn into a Christmas story, given that it would be released in March. Furthermore, since the text of Too Hot to Handel makes it very clear that there has been no interaction between Pickett and Julia during those three months, I somehow had to advance the romance without ever putting the potential lovebirds together.

Waiting Game 001 copyOne of the women in my writers’ group suggested that I let Pickett be actively trying to avoid being seen by Lady Fieldhurst, and it seemed to me that this situation would lend itself well to comedy. Since Pickett had extracted a reluctant promise from his magistrate not to send him on cases involving the aristocracy, where he might encounter Julia, I decided to create a scenario involving the merchant middle class. Of course there would be a marriageable young woman whose advances he would have to rebuff. (There’s always some girl after poor John Pickett; it’s a running gag throughout the series.) Throw in a big dog named Brutus who manages to steal almost every scene in which he appears, and the story practically began to write itself. And hey, since this story involved a linen-draper’s shop, wouldn’t it be fun to include a cameo appearance by a youthful Ethan Brundy, titular hero of The Weaver Takes a Wife, the most popular book I’ve ever written? (After writing three books about the man, I should have known him better than that. He refused to remain a mere bit player, and insisted on assuming a significantly larger role than I’d intended.)

It’s not strictly necessary to read Waiting Game to enjoy Too Hot to Handel, but I do strongly recommend reading at least one of the John Pickett mysteries before reading the romantic denouement. While the mystery will stand alone, the love story will be more satisfying if you’re at least somewhat familiar with the characters’ history up to this point. Besides, romantic resolution, much like book publication, is all the sweeter for having been delayed.

Waiting Game

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Too Hot to Handel

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Commenters

Win a copy of both John Pickett novellas (Waiting Game and the prequel novella, Pickpocket’s Apprentice) by leaving a comment.

Check out this great offer from Sheri!

Sheri is concerned that the three month delay might have a deleterious effect on sales of Too Hot to Handel to libraries. So… anyone who requests that their library purchase Too Hot to Handel can email a screen shot of their filled-out request form to her at Cobbsouth@aol.com along with their mailing address, and she’ll send them a handy-dandy jar opener and an 8-page coloring book featuring scenes from her novels. See photo below of both prizes. No drawing on this one; anyone who requests that their library purchase the book, and sends me a screenshot as proof, automatically wins.

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About the Author

Sheri Cobb South is the author of more than twenty novels, including the John Pickett mystery series and the critically acclaimed Regency romance, The Weaver Takes a Wife. A native of Alabama, she now lives in Loveland, Colorado.

Jessica Cale: How Royal Copenhagen Conquered Europe

Eighteenth Century Porcelain: How Royal Copenhagen Conquered Europe

13509851_263614374004128_2085781765_oThe Royal Porcelain Factory (Den Kongelige Porcelænsfabrik), better known as Royal Copenhagen, was founded in a converted post office in Copenhagen on May 1st, 1775 under the protection of Queen Juliane Marie. Although porcelain had been made in Germany since 1710, it was not produced in Denmark until chemist Frantz Heinrich Müller developed a method for its manufacture in 1774. Juliane Marie had an interest in mineralogy and porcelain was a family passion: both her brother, Charles I of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, and sister, who was married to Frederik II of Prussia, had founded porcelain factories in Germany.

The factory’s first pieces were dining sets for the royal family. Juliane Marie insisted each piece be stamped with the factory’s mark, three wavy lines that symbolized Denmark’s three straights–the Øresund, the Great Belt and the Little Belt–as well as the royal crown stamp to highlight the firm’s royal connections. Each piece is marked this way to this day.

Blue and white china became popular across Europe as early as the seventeenth century with the import of goods from the far east. The fine porcelain of China’s Ming and Qing dynasties sparked an enduring love for floral patterns in blue and white and Royal Copenhagen quickly developed their own. Blue Fluted Plain (Danish: Musselmalet) was their first pattern and at more than two hundred fifty years old, it is the world’s oldest china pattern still in production.

13467665_263614317337467_432371625_oBlue Fluted Plain was inspired by Chinese floral patterns and updated to include flowers native to Denmark. Cinquefoils were added to the stylized chrysanthemums to give the pattern a more Nordic appearance. The ultramarine blue pigment in the paint was originally purchased from the Blaafarveværket (“blue colour factory”) in Norway, a company that provided up to eighty percent of the world’s cobalt during the nineteenth century. Each piece was and continues to be hand-painted by blue painters who spend at least four years in training for the position.

Since its development in 1775, Blue Fluted Plain has appeared on more than two thousand different pieces and has inspired countless imitations. It reached the height of its popularity in the early nineteenth century and appeared on everything from tea cups to washbasins and chamber pots.

Lord Nelson brought Royal Copenhagen porcelain back for his mistress, Lady Hamilton, following the Danish defeat at the Battle of Copenhagen in 1801. While Denmark lost that particular battle, Royal Copenhagen’s invasion of Britain was a success. It qualified for London’s World Expo in 1851 and gained international fame by winning the grand prize at Paris’ World Expo in 1889.

13509748_263614310670801_2069635372_oThis pattern has also appeared in some well-researched historical films and television shows, so not only does the pattern “look right” for the period, but even newer pieces are historically accurate for any time after 1775. You can still find pieces in this pattern to this day, so if you would like to add a little eighteenth century elegance to your kitchen or a touch of the Regency to your cup of tea, look for Royal Copenhagen’s Blue Fluted Plain.

Note: For more images or shopping information, Replacements Ltd. has a spectacular assortment of pieces in this pattern here: http://www.replacements.com/webquote/rcoblfp.htm

About The Long Way Home

The Long Way Home, Book 3 in The Southwark Saga is a magical, adult fairy tale that will keep you entertained from start to finish. Find out what happens when a paranoid king, a poison plot, and hideous shoes prove… it’s not easy being Cinderella!

coverAfter saving the life of the glamorous Marquise de Harfleur, painfully shy barmaid Alice Henshawe is employed as the lady’s companion and whisked away to Versailles. There, she catches King Louis’ eye and quickly becomes a court favorite as the muse for Charles Perrault’s Cinderella. The palace appears to be heaven itself, but there is danger hidden beneath the façade and Alice soon finds herself thrust into a world of intrigue, murder, and Satanism at the heart of the French court.

Having left his apprenticeship to serve King Charles as a spy, Jack Sharpe is given a mission that may just kill him. In the midst of the Franco-Dutch war, he is to investigate rumors of a poison plot by posing as a courtier, but he has a mission of his own. His childhood friend Alice Henshawe is missing and he will stop at nothing to see her safe. When he finds her in the company of the very people he is meant to be investigating, Jack begins to wonder if the sweet girl he grew up with has a dark side.

When a careless lie finds them accidentally married, Alice and Jack must rely on one another to survive the intrigues of the court. As old affection gives way to new passion, suspicion lingers. Can they trust each other, or is the real danger closer than they suspect?

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About the Author

jessicaJessica Cale is a historical romance author, a Bluestocking Belle, and a journalist based in North Carolina. Originally from Minnesota, she lived in Wales for several years where she earned a BA in History and an MFA in Creative Writing while climbing castles and photographing mines for history magazines. She kidnapped (“married”) her very own British prince (close enough) and is enjoying her happily ever after with him in a place where no one understands his accent. You can visit her at www.authorjessicacale.com.

Her series, The Southwark Saga, is available now. You can visit her at www.dirtysexyhistory.com.