The Holyhead Road: The Coachmen “More Celebrated Even Than the Most Celebrated of Their Rivals” (Part II)

dust jacket

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

Sam Hayward: “An artist of a finer mould”

An artist of a finer mould was Sam Hayward, who drove the Wonder from Shifnal to Shrewsbury (18 miles). Not only was he a fine performer on the Road—but he did a deed in the usual way of business when he got into Shrewsbury which made spectators stare. The Lion yard is just on the top of the hill in Shrewsbury, and is so placed that to coachmen not demigods, to turn into it off a sharpish pitch with a heavy load was to attempt the impossible to an accompaniment of breaking poles and shrieking passengers. All other coaches coming from London went in therefore ignominiously by the backway, though they came out at the usual entrance. Not so Sam Hayward on the Wonder. Secure in the knowledge of accomplished strength he smilingly hugged the kerbstone on the near side, passed the entrance for a few yards—but yards accurately calculated—then described a round and imperial circle, and shot in under the archway a victorious, a classic charioteer. People at first thought him mad—I read, when they saw him thus as it were defying the thunder—but they soon saw that he knew what he was doing, and could do it.

Winterbotham: “amazing fresh”

Of quite a different type was one Winterbotham—who drove the Holyhead Mail four stages out of Holyhead and who on one occasion when Mr. Birch Reynardson—the great authority in this part of the world—approached the coach, was described to him by the guard as being “amazing fresh.” “Amazing fresh” is not only good in my eyes: it is delicious. And how when Winterbotham presently put in an appearance did he answer to this poetic description? Why, amazingly. “He approached rolling about like a seventy-four in a calm: or as if he were walking with a couple of soda-water bottles tied under his feet.” The peculiarity of this gait, which might have been much appreciated on the Metropolitan boards as an eccentric dancer’s new departure, did not appeal to the teller of this tale as prophetic of safety from the box-seat of a crack coach. So Winterbotham in all the meridian of his freshness was included, a solitary passenger in the stuffy inside—and Mr. Birch Reynardson himself assumed the ribbons. At the change near St. Asaph, sixty miles from Holyhead, inquires were made after Winterbotham’s condition. But all his freshness had deserted the cooped-up charioteer! He was however found fairly rational though excessively dejected, and expressed himself thus on an unique experience— “Well I think I’d better get outside now! I aren’t used to this. Well! This is traveling like a gentleman, and inside the Mail to be sure! Well! I never travelled inside a Mail or a coach before; and I dare say I never shall again! I don’t think I like the inside of a coach much; and so I’d better get out now! it feels wonderful oldd somehow to be inside the Mail; and I really hardly know how I got there.”

Dan Herbert: “perfected in his quiet method of driving bad teams without punishing them”

On the same coach, but further up the road, Dan Herbert did his twenty-four miles between Eccleshall and Lichfield with two changes, and his twenty-four miles back the same day,—an artist perfected in the quiet method, driving bad teams punctually without punishing them, rather by the medium of fine hands and temper coaxing them along. He was upwards of thirty years on the Chester and Holyhead Mail, and in consideration of his faithful and correct attention to business was awarded a scarlet coat on every anniversary of the King’s birthday.

mail coach?

George Clark: “an artist of the same calibre and of like style”

And George Clarke was an artist of the same calibre and of like style. He took the Umpire at Newport Pagnell (fifty-one miles from London), and met the down coach at Whetstone returning about nine o’clock. The most valuable of servants, because the first coachman in England for bad horses. Having always had weak horses to nurse, the ordeal had worn him down to a pattern of patience. With these and other great weights upon severe ground, he was steady, easy and economical in thong and cord, very light-handed, and sometimes even playful!

John Marchant and Bob Snow: “demigods whose steel nerves their passengers implicitly trusted”

…these men [John Marchant of the Manchester Telegraph and Bob Snow of the Defiance] drove opposition coaches, in which speed was the one thing looked up to, associated in a mild degree with a more or less reasonable amount of safety. And they drove furiously to beat the record—careful of nothing so long as the coach kept on its wheels, demi-gods whose steel nerves their passengers implicitly trusted, well knowing as they did that if those steel nerves had for an instant failed their owners the whole stock and lot would have gone to the Deuce in an instant.

'The Opposition Coaches', 1837 (1927).Artist: Charles Cooper Henderson

‘The Opposition Coaches’, 1837 (1927).Artist: Charles Cooper Henderson

It was this sort of fiery opposition kept up between the two crack Manchester coaches which called forth some such comment as the following, comments constantly to be culled from contemporary magazines:—

“Whoever takes up a newspaper in these eventful times it is even betting whether an accident by a coach or a suicide first meets his eye. Now really as the month of November is fast approaching, when from foggy weather and dark nights, both these calamities are likely to increase, I merely suggest the propriety of any unfortunate gentleman resolved on self-destruction, trying to avoid the disgrace attached to it by first taking a few journeys by some of these Dreadnought, Highflyer, or Tally-ho coaches; as in all probability he may meet with as instant a death as if he had let off one of Joe Manton’s pistols in his mouth, or severed his head from his body with one of Mr. Palmer’s best razors.”

mr. palmer's razors

Trade card of Mr. Palmer, cutler and razor-maker

 

 Index to all the posts in this series

1: The Bath Road: The (True) Legend of the Berkshire Lady

2: The Bath Road: Littlecote and Wild William Darrell

3: The Bath Road: Lacock Abbey

4: The Bath Road: The Bear Inn at Devizes and the “Pictorial Chronicler of the Regency”

5: The Exeter Road: Flying Machines, Muddy Roads and Well-Mannered Highwaymen

6: The Exeter Road: A Foolish Coachman, a Dreadful Snowstorm and a Romance

7: The Exeter Road in 1823: A Myriad of Changes in Fifty Years

8: The Exeter Road: Basingstoke, Andover and Salisbury and the Events They Witnessed

9: The Exeter Road: The Weyhill Fair, Amesbury Abbey and the Extraordinary Duchess of Queensberry

10: The Exeter Road: Stonehenge, Dorchester and the Sad Story of the Monmouth Uprising

11: The Portsmouth Road: Royal Road or Road of Assassination?

12: The Brighton Road: “The Most Nearly Perfect, and Certainly the Most Fashionable of All”

13: The Dover Road: “Rich crowds of historical figures”

14: The Dover Road: Blackheath and Dartford

15: The Dover Road: Rochester and Charles Dickens

16: The Dover Road: William Clements, Gentleman Coachman

17: The York Road: Hadley Green, Barnet

18: The York Road: Enfield Chase and the Gunpowder Treason Plot

19: The York Road: The Stamford Regent Faces the Peril of a Flood

20: The York Road: The Inns at Stilton

21: The Holyhead Road: The Gunpowder Treason Plot

22: The Holyhead Road: Three Notable Coaching Accidents

23: The Holyhead Road: Old Lal the Legless Man and His Extraordinary Flying Machine

24: The Holyhead Road: The Coachmen “More Celebrated Even Than the Most Celebrated of Their Rivals” (Part I)

25: The Holyhead Road: The Coachmen “More Celebrated Even Than the Most Celebrated of Their Rivals” (Part II)

26: Flying Machines and Waggons and What It Was Like To Travel in Them

27: “A few words on Coaching Inns” and Conclusion

Regan Walker: To Tame the Wind

The Coaching Inn—Tonbridge

Around the end of the Georgian period (1714 to 1830), the population of Tonbridge in Kent in Southeast England numbered about two thousand. It was a main stop for stagecoaches travelling from London to Hastings and Rye and was used as a staging post for the mail coaches, where horses could be changed and passengers provided with food.

Stage coach

The coaches the travelers rode in during the early eighteenth century were heavy, lumbering vehicles devoid of springs. They were generally covered with dull black leather, studded with nails and the frames and wheels picked out with red. The windows were covered with boards or sometimes with leather curtains. Pastor Moritz, who came to England in 1782, found a coach of this description still upon the roads, and having a taste for fresh air and sunshine he complained of a fellow traveller, a farmer “who seemed anxious to shun the light and so shut up every window he could come at.” It was not the light to which the farmer objected—no one in England minded light—but they did object to the air that came through the window. This was considered prejudicial to health.

Mail coach, London to Birmingham, 18th century

Mail coach, London to Birmingham, 18th century

Though the carriage or coach ride had to be jarring, the countryside in Essex would have been beautiful.

Countryside in Sussex

Countryside in Sussex

In To Tame the Wind, set in 1782, the hero and heroine flee London (and her French pirate father) for Rye via carriage, which is how the upper classes most frequently traveled (though some Englishmen might prefer to travel on horseback). It would take them two days from London with an overnight in Tonbridge.

The roads were very rough and they would be jostled around in what was essentially a padded box. In Sussex the roads were often impassable in winter. Fortunately, my hero and heroine traveled in summer.

Once they arrived in Tonbridge, they stayed at the Rose and Crown, a coaching inn open for business then and still serving travelers today. Located on High Street, it is just down from the Ivy Public House.

Rose & Crown, Tonbridge

Rose & Crown, Tonbridge

The original Rose and Crown inn was a Tudor house built in the 16th century. The front and porch display alterations made some two centuries later. Thus, as my hero and heroine saw it, the inn was a fine timber-framed building with an impressive brick façade. According to its current owner, it still features “many oak beams and Jacobean panels” inside.

 Rose & Crown sign

At the sign of the Rose and Crown, one could find a comfortable bed and a hot meal. It was known in the Stuart Court, to Roundheads and Cavaliers, to the diary writers John Evelyn and Samuel Pepys and to all the travellers who passed on their way to Rye, Hastings or “the Wells” in the wasteland to the south.

While a traveller had his choice of inns, he had to choose carefully. There were the grand establishments, the posting houses, such as the Rose and Crown, which entertained the quality who posted in their own carriages. Such inns might accommodate a riding gentleman if his servants accompanied him. Some of these inns accepted passengers from the mail-coach, some did not; but they would not to take in passengers from a common stage. Those people had to go to the inns that catered to them.

Even in good inns it was not unusual for strangers to share rooms or even beds, as my hero, Captain Powell tells the heroine. This was regarded in much the same way as the sharing of a ship’s cabin in later times.

On the whole, English coaching inns were good. Arthur Young, who had travelled through the length and breadth of England, described them as “neat inns, well-dressed and clean people keeping them, good furniture and refreshing civility.

About To Tame the Wind

ReganWalker_ToTametheWind - 800px copyParis 1782…AN INNOCENT IS TAKEN

All Claire Donet knew was the world inside the convent walls in Saint-Denis. She had no idea her beloved papa was a pirate. But when he seized Simon Powell’s schooner, the English privateer decided to take the one thing his enemy held most dear… her.

A BATTLE IS JOINED

The waters between France and England roil with the clashes of Claire’s father and her captor as the last year of the American Revolution rages on the sea, spies lurk in Paris and Claire’s passion for the English captain rises.

Amazon

About the Author

Regan Walker profile pic 2014 copyBestselling author Regan Walker loved to write stories as a child, particularly those about adventure-loving girls, but by the time she got to college more serious pursuits were encouraged. One of her professors suggested a career in law, and she took that path. Years of serving clients in private practice and several stints in high levels of government gave her a love of international travel and a feel for the demands of the “Crown.” Hence her romance novels often involve a demanding sovereign who taps his subjects for “special assignments.” Each of her novels features real history and real historic figures. And, of course, adventure and love.

Regan lives in San Diego with her golden retriever, Link, who she says inspires her every day to relax and smell the roses.

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The Holyhead Road: The Coachmen “More Celebrated Even Than the Most Celebrated of Their Rivals” (Part I)

dust jacket

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

Poor Jack Matthews

…to begin with—speaking of coachmen’s fate—few I should surmise have met a more ignobly ironical one from a coachman’s point of view than did poor Jack Matthews, who drove the Oak and Nettle coaches from Welshpool to Liverpool, which were run in opposition to the Holyhead Mail and were often too fast to be safe. For poor Jack fell no willing victim to his own indiscretion, but was killed—it is with a blush for the departed that I write it—in a railway accident. In a foolish moment he took it into his head to go to Liverpool for a day’s outing, in a foolisher moment, if there be such a word, he got on the railway which was only half finished. He got on to this railway at Wrexham, intending to go as far as Chester. This feat the unfinished railway accomplished him, only however to throw him off a bridge (unfinished too, I suppose) when he got there. Well may his biographer exclaim, “Poor Jack! He would have been safer driving the Nettle Coach, in all probability!” (which “in all probability” gives us a very fair idea of the safety of the Nettle Coach! But this is a digression.) And Jack was as pretty a coachman as ever had four horses in hand. “A good workman in all respects, smart as a new pin.”

REYNARDS008871-1

Dick Vickers: “fell a victim to agriculture”

Another celebrated coachman on this road met as sad, but more consistent a fate, this was Dick Vickers, who drove the Mail between Shrewsbury and Holyhead. He fell a victim to agriculture. That is to say that though in stature he was so little “that he had to get on to six-pennyworth of coppers to look on to the top of a Stilton cheese” yet the deluded man pined to be a farmer. And he was fond of fishing too, a much more profitable pastime. However, a farmer Vickers became, in spite of his friends’ entreaties, who after a reasonable interval of anxiety found him sus per coll [hung by the neck]. This Vickers, not content with the lack of judgment he displayed while on earth, is said to haunt the scene of his indiscretion still. Though the Mail which he used to drive has long ceased to exist, they do say that at times a rambling is heard—and so on. Mr. Birch Reynardson, to get to something more tangible about Vickers, knew him well, as he seems to have known most of the crack coachmen on the Holyhead Road, through Shrewsbury, and has described them as well as he knew them in his Down the Road. The ill-fated Vickers, he writes, was a good little fellow, always civil, always sober, always most obliging, and a friend of every one along the road. And Mr. Reynardson had some opportunity of studying his model’s characteristics, particularly I should conceive on that one celebrated occasion chronicled, when he sat by him on the box-seat and saw him deal with a team comprised of the engaging attributes of “Three blind ‘uns and a bolter”, or in the coachman’s own words “Four horses, but they’ve only got two eyes among ’em, and it would be quite a well if that horse had not any so far as I know—for he makes shocking bad use of ’em at all times I can tell you.”

REYNARDSON

Old John Scott: “Hit ’em sly—hit ’em sly!”

A differently organized team was equally successfully coped with by one known to fame as Old John Scott. He drove the Chester and Holyhead Mail, and remarked to Mr. Reynardson, who was using all his art to boil up a trot going up Penmaenmawr (thirty-six miles from Holyhead), “Hit ’em sly—hit ’em sly!” And on being asked the reason for this dark advice alleged that if this particular team heard the whip before they felt it, they would never be got up Penmaenmawr at all. Nor was “hitting ’em sly” with the whip the ingenious Old John Scott’s sole method of dealing on heavy ground with this extremely sticky lot. No. He was accustomed, when the crisis came, and the coach threatened to come to a full stop where there was no proper halting place, to play a sort of rat-tat-tat with both feet on the foot-board—and lo! the sticky ones sprang up to their collars at once, as if the author of all evil was behind them. Much exercised by this extraordinary phenomenon, Mr. Reynardson with a praiseworthy impulse to arrive at the dark truth, remarked, “Well! that’s a curious dodge! What do they think is coming?” Upon which Old John Scott, saying, “Wait a pit. I’ll soon let you see what they think is coming,”—stooped down and produced from the boot a most respectable and persuasive looking “Short Tommy”. This sounds rather like a case for the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals—did we not have it on the best authority that Old John Scott was a worthy, good little, stout-made fellow, whose B was sounded like a P, and who when he said “Shall” pronounced it like Sall.

Next week: more noteworthy coachmen on this noteworthy road

Down the Road: Reminiscences of a Gentleman Coachman, by C.T.S. Birch Reynardson

BOOK

 Index to all the posts in this series

1: The Bath Road: The (True) Legend of the Berkshire Lady

2: The Bath Road: Littlecote and Wild William Darrell

3: The Bath Road: Lacock Abbey

4: The Bath Road: The Bear Inn at Devizes and the “Pictorial Chronicler of the Regency”

5: The Exeter Road: Flying Machines, Muddy Roads and Well-Mannered Highwaymen

6: The Exeter Road: A Foolish Coachman, a Dreadful Snowstorm and a Romance

7: The Exeter Road in 1823: A Myriad of Changes in Fifty Years

8: The Exeter Road: Basingstoke, Andover and Salisbury and the Events They Witnessed

9: The Exeter Road: The Weyhill Fair, Amesbury Abbey and the Extraordinary Duchess of Queensberry

10: The Exeter Road: Stonehenge, Dorchester and the Sad Story of the Monmouth Uprising

11: The Portsmouth Road: Royal Road or Road of Assassination?

12: The Brighton Road: “The Most Nearly Perfect, and Certainly the Most Fashionable of All”

13: The Dover Road: “Rich crowds of historical figures”

14: The Dover Road: Blackheath and Dartford

15: The Dover Road: Rochester and Charles Dickens

16: The Dover Road: William Clements, Gentleman Coachman

17: The York Road: Hadley Green, Barnet

18: The York Road: Enfield Chase and the Gunpowder Treason Plot

19: The York Road: The Stamford Regent Faces the Peril of a Flood

20: The York Road: The Inns at Stilton

21: The Holyhead Road: The Gunpowder Treason Plot

22: The Holyhead Road: Three Notable Coaching Accidents

23: The Holyhead Road: Old Lal the Legless Man and His Extraordinary Flying Machine

24: The Holyhead Road: The Coachmen “More Celebrated Even Than the Most Celebrated of Their Rivals” (Part I)

25: The Holyhead Road: The Coachmen “More Celebrated Even Than the Most Celebrated of Their Rivals” (Part II)

26: Flying Machines and Waggons and What It Was Like To Travel in Them

27: “A few words on Coaching Inns” and Conclusion

Alicia Quigley: Lady Morgan’s Revenge: Letitia’s Naughty Novella

Experimenting With Books: How Do We Get It “Just Right?”

by Alicia Quigley

Thank you for giving me a chance to be a guest blogger at Susana’s Parlour again!

Today I want to talk a bit about experimenting with our work, and how that is a big part of where I am in my writing. I started writing Regency romances almost twenty years ago, but it was just so hard in those days to get published that although I had a few houses take a second look, I never got a book contracted. So, when I decided that the indie author route was interesting, I had quite a few manuscripts to work with. But, they were kind of dated. They needed some rework, and one of the questions I had was whether I wanted to do sweet traditionals, or handle sex in the more modern “pull up a chair next to the bed and get some popcorn” kind of way. In the end, the answer was “both” as I mentioned in my previous guest post.

What I’ve learned from that experiment so far is that the plot and the characters seem to dictate which stories will sell best in which format. So, in the Bluestocking series, which begins with The Secret Bluestocking (Traditional) and A Lady of Passion (After Dark), and continues with The Yuletide Countess (Traditional, no After Dark version) and most recently An Honest Deception (Traditional)/An Indecent Charade (After Dark) the sweet traditional version of the book has outsold the more modern one. These stories are all driven by the heroine, and her need for independence as well as love and the financial security that marriage was the only real provider of for women in the early 19th century. However, A Collector’s Item (After Dark) far outsold That Infamous Pearl (Traditional) in the first book of the Arlingbys series, which will all include a little suspense or intrigue as well as romance. As a result, there will probably not be a Traditional version of the second book, The Contraband Courtship, which I expect to release in the first half of June. It seems that romantic intrigue/suspense is a lot more interesting to readers when the sexual tension is overt.

Right now, I’m interested in whether there is a “just right” length for a romance as well. In December, I released my first novella, The Yuletide Countess, which was the #1 Historical Fiction book on Amazon in the US and UK for about a week, and a top seller for most of December and January. I wonder if this was related to the length, or just enthusiasm for Christmas-themed books. It definitely seems that shorter format works are growing more and more popular, especially in e-books. This makes sense for a lot of reasons – costs to produce and publish aren’t affected by length in e-books, and readers may find novellas more user-friendly if they are taking their e-reader on a road trip or just want something quick and easy to read on the airplane. They can also be priced well, which gets them a lot of promotion on sites that feature low cost books.

We received some feedback that An Indecent Charade was too long and slow, and that the troubles the heroine’s deceased husband and living male relatives cause her in the story detracted from the love element with the hero. So, as an experiment, we decided to do a third treatment of this book, which is titled Lady Morgan’s Revenge and we are subtitling it Letitia’s Naughty Novella because who doesn’t love alliteration? and some sex scenes that were “left on the cutting room floor” as being perhaps a bit too spicy for Letty’s character, have been included in this one. It comes in at a slim 47,000 words instead of 82,000, like the original book, so it is also an experiment in the shorter format.

We made these decisions after considering what readers said, and thinking that a stronger, more independent, take-charge Letitia might have greater appeal for our After Dark audience. So, we focused entirely on the hero/heroine relationship, as well as putting the “extra spicy” back in the text. We want to make an offer, by the way to any readers of this post who have purchased An Honest Deception or An Indecent Charade, and don’t feel they should have to buy the novella as well in order to enjoy the limited new content: email us at aheyerlove@gmail.com and we will send you a free copy of Lady Morgan’s Revenge.

Traditional publishers are finding that their business model, which doesn’t always serve authors or readers that well, but does seem to serve highly paid editors and executives with lovely offices in expensive cities very nicely, is being disrupted. Indie and small press authors are inventing a new business model, and I am all in favor of using the speed and lack of friction in e-book platforms to understand better what readers enjoy, what suits the amount of time they have in their lives to devote to books and to experiment with providing them those things.

To that end, I invite your readers (and their friends) to take the following survey. Their answers will be very valuable in helping me plot out (no pun intended) the course of my books for this year and beyond. As a thank you for participating, I’ll be randomly selecting five (5) survey takers and sending them a free copy of The Contraband Courtship when it launches in June. Thank you in advance and have a lovely summer!

Click here for the survey!

About Lady Morgan’s Revenge: Letitia’s Naughty Novella

Author’s Note: This version of the story is a “modified” version of An Indecent Charade. You spoke, we listened: you said that An Indecent Charade was too long and that Letty’s interfering male relatives bogged down the story. We agree! We want to present you with Lady Morgan’s Revenge: Letitia’s Naughty Novella, in which the bumbling idiot relatives have been removed, the hot sex scenes kept (one even extended!) and the inclusion of a very hot scene that was left on the cutting-room floor.

If you want the Traditional, no sex version, please see An Honest Deception: Letitia’s Traditional Regency Romance.

Lady Morgan's Revenge Cover copyWill passion purge her long-suffering heart of the sorrow from her previous marriage?

After the death of her wastrel husband, Alfred, Lady Letitia Morgan wants nothing more than to settle into the peaceful life of a widow. Her limited finances are enough to provide Letty and her two children that simple life.

Phillip Masham, Marquess of Eynsford and long-time friend of Francis, Lord Exencour, finds himself very much interested in Letty. Unfortunately for him, Letty’s opinion of men of the ton was quite soured by the late Baron Morgan. Not one to give up, the creative marquess becomes Mr. Phillip Markham, a solicitor in the Inner Temple, in hopes that Letty will get to know him for who his is, beyond his title. Letty and Phillip embark upon an affair that may deepen into love, but will it survive the truth?

More importantly, will Letty’s revenge for Phillip’s deception satisfy her and open her heart to happily ever after?

Find out in the latest by Alicia Quigley, chart-topping author of The Yuletide Countess and The Secret Bluestocking.

Amazon

Excerpt

Letty turned away, tears welling up in her eyes. “I have tried to tell you that I am too recently widowed, and that Alfred’s behavior and your deception make it impossible for me to know my true feelings toward you, but you will not listen to me!” she cried. “These past moments are the some of the first we have spent together since I became aware of the truth, and – and – and this what happened! I know no more about you than I did an hour ago, but I have learned I cannot trust myself near you. If you cannot wait for me, perhaps I am better off without you.”

“This happens” Phillip growled, “Because we love each other, even though you will not admit it.”

Letty gazed speculatively at Phillip. “So, you think I should simply forgive you for your deception,” she snapped.

He faced her squarely. “Yes, I do. I acknowledge my faults in pursuing your acquaintance before you were ready, and lying to you about my name and occupation, but I am in earnest when I say I love you and want your forgiveness.”

“What if I am not in the mood to just let bygones be bygones?” she asked, arching a brow at him enquiringly.

“Take some revenge on me then,” he exclaimed. “I hurt and disappointed you; what would make you in turn feel that the score is settled between us?”

Letitia pondered his words.   Her body still felt a lingering arousal from the lovemaking they had shared, and a pulse beat in her breasts and between her legs, a drumbeat reminding her of the desire his caresses always provoked in her. There was no denying that she missed Phillip’s company in bed as much as his conversation, and that she wished for a permanent break from their relationship as little as he professed to. So what might effectively banish the specter of his betrayal?

“What punishment would fit your crime?” she wondered aloud. Phillip eyed her from under his lashes.   How daring might his delightful Letitia be, he wondered.   As memories of her enthusiasm during their trysts ran through his thoughts, it occurred to him that she might be quite inventive, if given enough encouragement.

“I have gravely insulted you, Lady Morgan,” he responded. “You may need to discipline me rather, ah, severely.”

Letty looked somewhat surprised as he answered her, but she noted a bit of smirk on his handsome face, and a sudden recollection of her cousin’s complaints about discipline at his boarding school arose in her mind. “Indeed I may,” she answered coolly, allowing herself to look him slowly up and down, with a considering gaze.

Her insolent inspection sent a frisson of arousal through Phillip, and he felt himself begin to harden again as he waited, silent and impassive, for her to speak. Letty, who had noted his excitement, allowed her eyes to linger on his crotch just long enough to make him even more uncomfortable, before looking up at him.

“Very well,” she said imperiously. “You may present yourself at my house for your punishment in the afternoon, two days hence. Do not attempt to contact me before we meet.” She turned her back on him and walked out of the little passage, closing the door behind her. Phillip stood looking after her, astonished at the way their conversation had ended.

About the Author

AQ Twitter Avi copyAlicia 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.

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A Word About the Status of Catholics in Regency England

Painting-of-a-martyr-on-the-rack_large

“Sorry, but King Henry says your religion, which until very recently was King Henry’s religion, as well as our religion, as it had been for 9 centuries, is alien and un-English”

It wasn’t until recently when I read Philippa Carr’s Miracle at St. Bruno’s that I began to feel the English people’s pain as they were forced from Catholicism to Protestantism to Catholicism again and then finally back to Protestantism at the whim Henry VIII and his offspring. The heroine’s devout Catholic father must either accept his sovereign’s “reforms”—devised solely for the purpose of enabling him to divorce his wife—or offer his head on the block. Following Henry VIII’s death, his eldest daughter—granddaughter to the originators of the Inquisition, Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain—demanded that everyone revert back to Catholicism or likewise suffer the severing of their heads. When Bloody Mary died and was replaced with her Protestant sister Elizabeth, Catholicism was abolished. No more of this religious switching back and forth, chopping off heads of devout people who happened to align themselves with the “wrong” religion.

Sir Thomas More (by Hans Holbein): refused to accept Henry VIII as Head of the Anglican Church, was convicted of treason and beheaded

Unfortunately, that meant many years of religious persecution for the Catholics. Masses had to be said it secret. Priests had to be trained abroad, and if they were caught, it meant execution for them and those who harbored them. “Priest holes” or secret hiding places were constructed in homes harbor them in case of a search.

Persecution eased a bit when Charles II took the throne; he had a Catholic wife. By the 18th century there was much more social acceptance of Catholics—they were allowed to worship at the Embassies of Catholic nations in London, for example. In 1785, the Prince of Wales (later George IV) illegally married a divorced Catholic woman, Maria Fitzherbert (never officially acknowledged). Catholics were excluded from Parliament, magistristracies, military commissions, and universities, but most other fields were open to them. Catholic worship became legal in 1791, so Catholics no longer had to have masses performed secretly in their homes.

During the Regency, a Catholic could be an officer in the army or navy, but not hold a seat in Parliament. Catholic marriages had to be performed in an Anglican church with an Anglican minister in order to be valid, although a Catholic ceremony could be held afterward (doing it first could leave them open to fines). A mixed marriage with a Catholic wife was more easily accepted in Society than one with a Catholic husband. (Although, to be fair, the Catholics didn’t approve of mixed marriages either.) The Protestant husband had to take an oath abjuring the Pope, and generally, the children were to be brought up Protestant, although in some cases, the boys were Catholic and the girls Protestant.

Catholics could go about their business much the same way as Protestants, although there was still plenty of prejudice against them. Generally, most Protestant families steered their marriageable children away from Catholics, and vice versa.

In Lost and Found Lady, Catalina, born and bred in Spain, is a devout Catholic. Rupert has promised his father he will choose a “suitable wife,” so when sparks begin to fly between him and the lovely girl who saved his life, he has to keep his emotions in check because Catalina is in no way the sort of wife his father would accept. But as their relationship grows, Rupert finally realizes that his heart has already made the choice for him.

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Our Stories

Jillian Chantal: Jeremiah’s Charge

Emmaline Rothesay has her eye on Jeremiah Denby as a potential suitor. When Captain Denby experiences a life-altering incident during the course of events surrounding the Battle of Waterloo, it throws a damper on Emmaline’s plans.

Téa Cooper: The Caper Merchant

The moon in Gemini is a fertile field of dreams, ideas and adventure and Pandora Wellingham is more than ready to spread her wings. When Monsieur Cagneaux, caper merchant to the rich and famous, introduces her to the handsome dragoon she believes her stars have aligned.

Susana Ellis: Lost and Found Lady

Catalina and Rupert fell in love in Spain in the aftermath of a battle, only to be separated by circumstances. Years later, they find each other again, just as another battle is brewing, but is it too late?

Aileen Fish: Captain Lumley’s Angel

Charged with the duty of keeping his friend’s widow safe, Captain Sam Lumley watches over Ellen Staverton as she recovers from her loss, growing fonder of her as each month passes. When Ellen takes a position as a companion, Sam must confront his feelings before she’s completely gone from his life.

Victoria Hinshaw: Folie Bleue

On the night of the 30th Anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, Aimée, Lady Prescott, reminisces about meeting her husband in Bruxelles on the eve of the fighting. She had avoided the dashing scarlet-clad British officers, but she could not resist the tempting smile and spellbinding charm of Captain Robert Prescott of the 16th Light Dragoons who— dangerously to Aimée— wore blue.

Heather King: Copenhagen’s Last Charge

When Meg Lacy finds herself riding through the streets of Brussels only hours after the Battle of Waterloo, romance is the last thing on her mind, especially with surly Lieutenant James Cooper. However, their bickering uncovers a strange empathy – until, that is, the lieutenant makes a grave error of judgment that jeopardizes their budding friendship…

Christa Paige: One Last Kiss

The moment Colin held Beatrice in his arms he wanted one last kiss to take with him into battle and an uncertain future. Despite the threat of a soldier’s death, he must survive, for he promises to return to her because one kiss from Beatrice would never be enough.

Sophia Strathmore: A Soldier Lay Dying

Amelia and Anne Evans find themselves orphaned when their father, General Evans, dies. With no other options available, Amelia accepts the deathbed proposal of Oliver Brighton, Earl of Montford, a long time family friend. When Lord Montford recovers from his battle wounds, can the two find lasting love?

David W. Wilkin: Not a Close Run Thing at All

Years, a decade. And now, Robert had come back into her life. Shortly before battle was to bring together more than three hundred thousand soldiers. They had but moments after all those years, and now, would they have any more after?

About Lost and Found Lady

On April 24, 1794, a girl child was born to an unknown Frenchwoman in a convent in Salamanca, Spain. Alas, her mother died in childbirth, and the little girl—Catalina—was given to a childless couple to raise.

Eighteen years later…the Peninsular War between the British and the French wages on, now perilously near Catalina’s home. After an afternoon yearning for adventure in her life, Catalina comes across a wounded British soldier in need of rescue. Voilà! An adventure! The sparks between them ignite, and before he returns to his post, Rupert promises to return for her.

But will he? Catalina’s grandmother warns her that some men make promises easily, but fail to carry them out. Catalina doesn’t believe Rupert is that sort, but what does she know? All she can do is wait…and pray.

But Fate has a few surprises in store for both Catalina and Rupert. When they meet again, it will be in another place where another battle is brewing, and their circumstances have been considerably altered. Will their love stand the test of time? And how will their lives be affected by the outcome of the conflict between the Iron Duke and the Emperor of the French?

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Lauren Smith: The Duelist’s Seduction

The Duelist’s Seduction Playlist

Have you ever heard a song that just fills your mind with images? That’s how music is for me. I can be standing in a crowded mall and hear the faint strains of a song and it just captures me. I see things, scenes, characters, stories not yet told, as they unfurl like brightly colored flags in my mind.

Music is true inspiration. For every song you can dream up a thousand stories. Music enchants us, spellbinds us, weaves emotions and tones into a beautiful symphony that leaves us bewitched. Because this connection for me and music is so incredibly powerful, I make sure to create a playlist for every story I write. Some characters have their own theme music, some scenes have a particular song, or the hero and heroine together have a song or songs that help me channel the emotions and the plot points of the story. In other words, music is magic for a writer like me.

When I set out to write my Regency romance novella The Duelist’s Seduction, I knew I’d need a special blend of songs because the hero, Gareth is dark and brooding, and the heroine, Helen is young and innocent, but full of love and hope.

So dear readers, settle back in your favorite armchair, with a cup of hot chocolate, your e-reader and your mp3 player and settle in for a great playlist!

The List:

  • Bad Company by Bad Company
  • Don’t Deserve You by Plumb
  • Elements (Orchestral Version) by Lindsey Stirling
  • Dead in the Water by Ellie Goulding
  • You Can Go Your Own Way by Lissie
  • Feel Me by Mecca Kalani
  • New York by Snow Patrol
  • Young and Beautiful by Lana Del Rey

Hope you all enjoyed the songs and get a chance to check out my novella, The Duelist’s Seduction, the first in the sexy Seduction series!

Meme1 copy

About The Duelist’s Seduction

Helen Banks is going to die. When her twin brother gambles away their fortune, she must save his life and take his place in a duel to satisfy the honor of a man her brother couldn’t pay. Disguised as her brother, Helen faces the one man she’s admired from afar, a widower with a dark past and eyes that scorch her very soul.

Since Gareth Fairfax lost his wife, the darkness in his heart continues to grow. Lashing out at anyone who opposes him, Gareth is stunned to face a lovely young woman opposite his dueling pistol. After discovering Helen’s deception, he offers her a choice: become his mistress or her brother dies.

Their devil’s bargain turns into a slow, sweet, intoxicating seduction. With each passing hour, Helen uncovers Gareth’s secret heartbreak and yet she can’t help but fall for the man who has ruined her. With Helen in his arms, Gareth wonders if he might yet be saved. All it takes is one passionate embrace, a kiss from the depths of his soul and a night of wild abandon.

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Excerpt

Chapter 1

The predawn sky shone brightly with flickering stars as Helen Banks readied herself for the duel. Her hair was coiled and pinned tightly against her head, concealing its thick mass and giving her a boyish look—a disguise she prayed would last. Checking the black mask covering her face, she resumed walking. She took a deep, steadying breath as she adjusted her breeches and the black coat she’d pinched from her brother’s wardrobe.

The open field near the spa city of Bath was quiet. Two coaches waited in the distance along the roadside, and ahead of her, two men waited, watching her approach. Not even a breeze dared rustle the knee-high grass as Helen walked up to her enemy and his second. Both men also wore masks to conceal their identities should someone witness the illegal duel. The paling skies played with the retreating shadows of night, lending a melancholy air to the moment she stopped inches from the men.

perf5.500x8.500.indd“You are late, Mr. Banks,” the taller of the two men announced coldly.

With his broad shoulders and muscular body, Gareth Fairfax cut an imposing figure. He seemed perpetually tense, as though ready to strike out at anyone who might offend him. Dark hair framed his chiseled features, and the eyes that glowered from between the spaces of his mask were a fathomless blue. They were the sort of eyes a woman lost herself in, like gazing into a dark pool of water that seemed to sink endlessly, drawing her in until she can’t find her way back to the surface. She recognized the sensual, full lips, now thinned by anger, and the gleam of his eyes on her. She was never more thankful that the early morning’s pale light did not expose her as being a woman.

If he ever discovered she was a woman, he would be appalled and furious. Especially given that she was only dueling him to save her brother’s life.

She briefly studied her opponent’s second. He was just as tall, his features nearly as striking as Gareth’s.

Helen choked down a shaky breath. “I was waylaid.” She prayed her voice sounded gruff and masculine.

Gareth’s eyes were dark orbs, burning with thinly controlled anger. He shifted restlessly on his feet, his imposing form momentarily revealed by the dark blue coat that contoured to his shape.

“Is this your second?” His growl sent shivers down her spine as his glaze flicked to the squat man in his mid-thirties standing behind her. She glanced over her shoulder, widening her eyes in silent encouragement for her second to come closer.

“I am,” Mr. Rodney Bennett replied and bowed.

“Mr. Banks, I am Mr. Ambrose Worthing,” Gareth’s second announced politely.

Well, finally someone was acting like a gentleman. “Mr. Worthing,” Helen said, making sure to keep her voice low. “Allow me to introduce my second, Mr. Rodney Bennett.”

Bennett passed by Helen, and he and Worthing shook hands. Bennett offered the pistols to Worthing for inspection. Since Gareth and Worthing had not brought the weapons, that duty fell to her as the challenged party. As the two men drew apart from her and Gareth, she tried not to stare at him. He was impossibly handsome, in that dark, mysterious sort of way that a woman simply couldn’t ignore. Like gazing upon a visage of an angry god, all fire and might, ready to burn her to ash with passion.

Her opponent glowered at her. “I suppose I should trust that you’ve not tampered with my pistol?”

His icy tone made her bristle with indignation. “You have my word it shoots fair,” Helen snapped. The nerve of the man to accuse her of cheating!

“Your word? We would not be here if I could trust your word. A man who does not honor his debts may not find it necessary to honor the rules of a duel,” Gareth retorted.

She wanted to scream. Her fists clenched at her sides. Her nails dug painfully into her palms as she struggled to calm down. She wanted to throttle her brother, whose rash and inconsiderate behavior had gotten her into this mess.

“Easy, Fairfax. Both pistols appear to be in working order,” Worthing announced as he and Bennett rejoined them.

Helen breathed a sigh of relief as Bennett resumed his position behind her. She’d paid him the last bit of money she’d had for him to appear as her second. She didn’t really know the man, having only met him briefly when she’d had to drag her brother away from the card tables a few nights ago. When she first approached Bennett with her plan, he had tried to talk her out of it, but when she offered money, he couldn’t refuse and had agreed to help her take her brother’s place in the duel. Even though he was a gentleman, the gambler inside him craved any bit of money he could get his hands on to return to the tables. She was lucky he hadn’t gambled away his pair of pistols, or else she would have been completely humiliated to turn up at a duel without weapons.

“Now,” Mr. Worthing said, “before we settle this, is it possible that you and Mr. Banks can reconcile the dispute?”

Helen started to nod, wanting desperately to find a way to settle the problem without bloodshed, but Gareth spoke up, stilling the bobbing of her head.

“Mr. Banks has run up a debt to me of over a thousand pounds. He has not been able to pay it back to me over the last three months. Furthermore, he created an additional liability of five hundred pounds last evening when he played with money he did not have.”

Helen swallowed hard, a painful lump in her throat choking her. Martin, you damned fool…

“Why did you accept his vouchers then?” Rodney spoke up. “I saw you agree to play with him. You didn’t have to.”

“Banks had money on him. I assumed he’d replenished his funds and would settle his debts to me.” Gareth shot a withering look in Helen’s direction. “Shooting him will be a bonus.”

A man who would now take her life as payment for a debt she didn’t owe. But what else could she do? She couldn’t let Martin die. A man had options to survive, a woman did not, at least not one that wouldn’t make her despise herself for the rest of her life.

Her memory of the previous night was tinged with fury and disappointment in Martin. Her heart had plummeted into the pit of her stomach when she’d retired for the evening and found his room empty. All of her hopes were dashed the moment she’d learned he’d gone back to the gambling tables.

She’d hidden in the shadows outside the gambling hell, trying not to be seen by anyone passing by. The smell of alcohol stung her nose, and the raucous laughter echoing from the entrance sent chills of trepidation down her spine. It would ruin her completely if she were witnessed outside such an establishment. Bennett had promised to bring Martin out to her, but when Martin emerged, he was being roughly hauled out by a dark-haired gentleman, a man she recognized, a man she’d admired for the last few months from afar.

About the Author

Lauren_Smith_2014 copyLauren Smith is an attorney by day, author by night, who pens adventurous and edgy romance stories by the light of her smart phone flashlight app. She’s a native Oklahoman who lives with her three pets—a feisty chinchilla, sophisticated cat and dapper little schnauzer. She’s won multiple awards in several romance subgenres including being an Amazon.com Breakthrough Novel Award Quarter-Finalist and a Semi-Finalist for the Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley Award.

Check her out at http://www.laurensmithbooks.com. You can sign up for her newsletter at her website, follow her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/LaurenDianaSmith and on Twitter at @LSmithAuthor. Her blog is http://theleagueofrogues.blogspot.com.

The Holyhead Road: Old Lal the Legless Man and His Extraordinary Flying Machine

dust jacket

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

The Holyhead Road enters Buckinghamshire at Brickhills… forty-five miles from London. …I must not leave these forty-five miles behind me without noting a curious sight which was often to be seen on this stretch from the topics of coaches before the legislature forbade the use of dogs as animals of draught. This sight was an old pauper, born without legs but with a sporting turn of mind. This natural bias led him to contrive a small waggon—very light, as may well be imagined since it had nothing but a board for the body. It was however fitted with springs, lamps, and all necessary appliances, and was drawn by a new kind of team in the form of three fox-hounds harnessed abreast.

In this flying machine of his own contriving, Old Lal, for such was the name of the old pauper born without legs—no name having been given him by his Godfathers and Godmothers at his baptism—Old Lal used to make the most terrific times. His teams were well matched in size and pace, cleverly harnessed, and he dashed by coaches making even their twelve miles an hour like the shot out of a gun, and with a slight cheer of encouragement to his team; but not in any spirit of insolence or defiances, as Captain M.E. Haworth (who in his Roaa Scrapings has preserved this episode of the North-western Road) is careful to tell us, but merely to urge the hounds to their pace.

ISLINGTON TO DUNSTABLE

This pace in the end proved fatal to Old Lal, after having lived for many years on the alms of passengers by coaches between the Peacock at Islington and the Sugar Loaf at Dunstable. For one winter, when according to the ostler of the Sugar Loaf’s version, “the weather was terrible rough, there was snow and hice, and the storm blowed down a-many big trees, and them as stood used to ‘oller and grunt up in the Pine Bottom so that he’d heerd folks say that the fir-trees was a-rubbing themselves against one another—”one such winter as this Old Lal had not been seen for three weeks. This fact did not cause any anxiety to his friend the ostler. But one Sunday afternoon, when he had “four o’clocked his horses” and was putting a sack over his shoulders, preparatory to going down to his cottage, who should come up to him but one Trojan—a fox-hound and a respected member of Old Lal’s team. The fact that Trojan had part of his harness on, set the ostler thinking that he had cut and run, and that perhaps he had left Old Lal in trouble.

PEACOCK INN, ISLINGTON

PEACOCK INN, ISLINGTON

This supposition proved correct; but it was never believed that old Trojan was the cause of Old Lal being found dead on the side of the road some distance off his waggon which was found stuck fast between two fir-trees, with one of the hounds still in harness lying dead beside it. No! It was believed by the ostler that the guilt of Old Lal’s death lay at the door of another of the dogs—one Rocket, who turned up at the Sugar Loaf shortly after the arrival of Trojan. For this Rocket, according to the ostler, possessed many traits calculated to give rise to suspicion. In the first place, he was “a younger and more ramblier dog;” in the second place, “he never settled nowhere;” and in the third place, the last that the ostler heard of him was that, “being allers wondering fond of sport,” he had joined a pack of Harriers at Luton. …All three which considerations put together induced in the ostler the very probable belief that Rocket was the instigator of the poor old man’s death; that he (Rocket) must have caught a view of a fox, or at any rate have crossed a line of scent and bolted off the road and up through the wood, and “after he had throwed the old man out, continued the chase till the waggon got hung fast to a tree and tied them all up.” The jury, it may be remarked in conclusion, who sat on Old Lal’s remains, did not rise to this very lucid explanation of the cause of their session; for according to the ostler, they contented themselves with observing “That Old Lal was a pauper wagrant, that he had committed accidental death, and the coroner sentences him to be buried in the parish in which he was last seen alive.” He was buried in a square box accordingly, and the ostler and Trojan the fox-hound were the sole assistants at the rite.

Click here for a vintage advertisement for the Sugarloaf Inn

SUGARLOAF INN

SUGARLOAF INN

Another Version of the Tale

Tales From Tring Brewery

In this version, it was Thomas Pickford, Chairman of the Turnpike Trust who built the cart for Old Lal—who had been an ostler until losing his legs in an accident—so that he could earn money running errands and such. However, Pickford didn’t expect that the cart would be used to race coaches for the passengers’ entertainment, and in doing so, prove to be a danger to travelers. According to this source, Old Lal’s death was caused by a fox enticing the hounds to chase after him “over fields and ditches,” before getting the cart caught between the two trees and causing Old Lal’s death.

 

 Index to all the posts in this series

1: The Bath Road: The (True) Legend of the Berkshire Lady

2: The Bath Road: Littlecote and Wild William Darrell

3: The Bath Road: Lacock Abbey

4: The Bath Road: The Bear Inn at Devizes and the “Pictorial Chronicler of the Regency”

5: The Exeter Road: Flying Machines, Muddy Roads and Well-Mannered Highwaymen

6: The Exeter Road: A Foolish Coachman, a Dreadful Snowstorm and a Romance

7: The Exeter Road in 1823: A Myriad of Changes in Fifty Years

8: The Exeter Road: Basingstoke, Andover and Salisbury and the Events They Witnessed

9: The Exeter Road: The Weyhill Fair, Amesbury Abbey and the Extraordinary Duchess of Queensberry

10: The Exeter Road: Stonehenge, Dorchester and the Sad Story of the Monmouth Uprising

11: The Portsmouth Road: Royal Road or Road of Assassination?

12: The Brighton Road: “The Most Nearly Perfect, and Certainly the Most Fashionable of All”

13: The Dover Road: “Rich crowds of historical figures”

14: The Dover Road: Blackheath and Dartford

15: The Dover Road: Rochester and Charles Dickens

16: The Dover Road: William Clements, Gentleman Coachman

17: The York Road: Hadley Green, Barnet

18: The York Road: Enfield Chase and the Gunpowder Treason Plot

19: The York Road: The Stamford Regent Faces the Peril of a Flood

20: The York Road: The Inns at Stilton

21: The Holyhead Road: The Gunpowder Treason Plot

22: The Holyhead Road: Three Notable Coaching Accidents

23: The Holyhead Road: Old Lal the Legless Man and His Extraordinary Flying Machine

24: The Holyhead Road: The Coachmen “More Celebrated Even Than the Most Celebrated of Their Rivals” (Part I)

25: The Holyhead Road: The Coachmen “More Celebrated Even Than the Most Celebrated of Their Rivals” (Part II)

26: Flying Machines and Waggons and What It Was Like To Travel in Them

27: “A few words on Coaching Inns” and Conclusion