Tag Archive | Christmas

Mrs. Barlow’s Tasteful Advisements to Young Matrons and Overwrought Mothers of Daughters: the Bill of Fare

Introducing Mrs. Barlow

Mrs. Leah Barlow

Mrs. Leah Barlow, mother of five lovely daughters herself, has graciously condescended to provide Susana’s Parlour with some of her tasteful advisements on housewifely matters, such as meal planning and the rearing of children, in hopes that our readers will find them informative. Having recently set up a Twitter account where she will be sharing her most treasured household tips, she hopes many of you will follow her: https://twitter.com/lucybarlowsmom

 

Much of her advice comes from this manual, which she insists should be in every housewife’s possession:

The Cook and Housewife’s Manual, Containing the Most approved Modern Receipts for Making Soups, Gravies, Sauces, Regouts, and All Made-dishes; and for Pies, Puddings, Pickles, and Preserves; Also, for Baking Brewing, Making Home-made Wines, Cordials, &c.

Mrs. Margaret Dods (Christian Isobel Johnstone), Edinburgh, 1826

Available free on Google

Bills of Fare

As landmarks to the inexperienced housekeeper, we subjoin a few bills of fare, observing, at the same time, that these must, in every instance, be let to individual taste and discretion. Bills of fare may be varied in endless ways,—nor can any specific rules be given for selecting dishes for the table, which must depend wholly on fortune, fashion, the season of the year, local situation, and a variety of circumstances. Neatness and propriety alone are of universal obligation in the regulation of every table, from the humblest to the most splendid. To the credit of the age it may be remarked, that modern fashion inclines more to a few dishes, well selected and elegantly disposed, than to that heterogeneous accumulation of good things with which notable British housewives used to conceal their table-linen.

The manner of laying out a fashionable table is nearly the same in all quarters of the united kingdoms; yet there are trifling local peculiarities to which the prudent housewife in middle life must attend. A centre-ornament, whether it be called a dormant, a plateau, an epergne, or a candelabra, is found so convenient, and contributes so much to the good appearance of the table, that a fashionable dinner is now seldom set out without something of this kind.

…[O]ne important art in housekeeping is to make what remains over from one day’s entertainment contribute to the…next day’s repasts. This is a principle understood by persons in the very highest ranks of society, and who maintain the most splendid and expensive establishments… [V]egetables, ragouts, and soups, may be re-warmed; and jellies and blancmange remoulded, with no deterioration of their qualities. Savoury or sweet patties, potted meats, croquets, rissoles, vol-auvents, fritters, tartlets, &c., may be served with almost no cost, where cookery is going forward on a large scale…

At dinners of any pretension, it is understood that the first course shall consist of soups and fish, succeeded by boiled poultry, ham or tongue, roasts, stews, &c.,; and of vegetables, with a few made-dishes, such as ragouts, curries, hashes, cutlets, patties, fricandeaus, &c., in as great variety as the number of dishes permits; as a jelly and a cream, a white and a brown, or a clear and a stew-soup. For the second course, roasted poultry or game at the top and bottom, with dressed vegetables, omelets, macaroni, jellies, creams, salads, preserved fruit, and all sorts of sweet things and pastry, are employed. This is a more common arrangement than three courses, which are attended with so much additional trouble both to the guests and servants.

But whether the dinner be of two or three courses, it is managed nearly in the same way… In the centre, there is generally some ornamental article, as an epergne with flowers, real or artificial, or with a decorated salad… Two dishes of fish dressed in different ways, if suitable, should occupy the top and bottom; and two soups, a white and a brown, or a mild and a high-seasoned, are best disposed on each side of the centre-piece: the fish-sauces are placed between the centre-piece and the dish of fish to which each is appropriate; and this, with the decanted wines drank during dinner, forms the first course. When there are rare French or Rhenish wines, they are placed in the original bottles (uncorked) in ornamented wine-vases, at the head and bottom of the table,—that is, between the centre-piece and the top and bottom dishes; or if four kinds, they are ranged round the plateau.

The Second Course, when there are three, consists of roasts and stews for the top and bottom, Turkey or fowls, or fricandeau and ham garnished, or tongue, for the sides; with small made-dishes for the corners, served in covered dishes; as palates, stewed giblets, currie of any kind, ragout, or fricassee of rabbits, stewed mushrooms, &c. &c. Two sauce-tureens, or glasses with pickles, or very small made-dishes, may be placed between the epergne and the top and bottom dishes; vegetables on the side-table are handed round…

The Third Course consists of game, confectionary, the more delicate vegetables dressed in the French way, puddings, creams, jellies, &c.

Rummer (a water glass)

Water-bottles, with rummers, are placed at proper intervals. Malt liquors and other common beverages are called for; but where hock, champagne, &c. &c. are served, they are handed round between the courses. When the third course is cleared away, cheese, butter, a fresh salad, or sliced cucumber, are usually served; and the finger-glasses, where these disagreeable things continue to be openly used, precede the dessert. At many tables, however, of the first fashion, it is customary merely to hand round quickly a glass vessel or two filled with simple, or simply perfumed tepid water, made by the addition of a little rose or lavender water, or a home-made strained infusion of rose leaves or lavender spikes. Into this water each guest may dip the corner of his napkin, and with this (only when needful) refresh his lips and the tips of his fingers…

The Dessert may consist merely of two dishes of fine fruit for the top and bottom; common or dried fruits, filberts, &c. for the corners or sides, and a cake for the middle, with ice-pails in hot weather. Liqueurs are at this stage handed round; and the wines usually drank after dinner are placed decanted on the table along with the dessert, and the ice-pails and plates removed as soon as the company finish their ice. Where there is preserved ginger, it follows the ices; or is eaten to heighten to the palate the delicious coolness of the dessert wines.

About A Twelfth Night Tale

Without dowries or the opportunity to meet eligible gentlemen, the five Barlow sisters stand little chance of making advantageous marriages. When Lucy, the eldest, attracts the attention of a wealthy viscount, she knows she should encourage his attentions, since marriage to a peer will be advantageous to all. The man of her dreams was Andrew Livingston, her best friend’s brother. But he’s always treated her like a child, and now he’s betrothed to another. Perhaps the time has come to accept reality… and Lord Bexley.

Andrew returned from the Peninsular War with a lame arm and emotional scars. Surprisingly, it’s his sister’s friend, “little Lucy”—now a strikingly lovely young woman—who shows him the way out of his melancholy. But with an eligible viscount courting her, Andrew will need a little Christmas magic to win her for himself.

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Mary Darby Robinson: The Mistletoe—A Christmas Tale

The Mistletoe—A Christmas Tale

By Laura Maria (Mary Darby Robinson)

A Farmer’s Wife, both young and gay,

And fresh as op’ning morn of May!

Had taken to herself a Spouse,

And taken many solemn vows,

That she, a faithful mate would prove,

In meekness, duty, and in love;

That she, despising joy and wealth,

Would be, in sickness and in health,

His only comfort, and his friend—

But mark the sequel, and attend.

This Farmer, as the story’s told,

Was somewhat cross, and somewhat old;

His was the wintry hour of life,

While Summer smil’d before his Wife;

He was both splenetic and crusty,

She, buxom, blooming, blithe, and lusty;

A contrast, rather form’d to eloy

The zest of matrimonial joy!

‘Twas Christmas time, the Peasant

Assembled gay, with dance and song,

The Farmer’s kitchin long had been

Of annual sports the busy scene;

The wood fire blaz’d, the chimney wide,

Presented seats on either side;

Long rows of wooden trenchers, clean,

Bedeck’d with belly-boughs, were seen;

The shining tankard’s foamy ale

Gave spirits to the goblin tale,

While many a rosy cheek grew pale.

It happen’d that, some sport to shew,

The ceiling held—a Mistletoe:

A magic bough, and well defign’d

To prove the coyest maiden kind:

A magic bough, which Druids old

In sacred mysteries enroll’d;

And which, or gssip Fame’s a liar,

Still warms the soul with vivid fire,

Still promises celestial bliss,—

While bigots snatch their idols kiss.

The Mistletoe was doom’d to be

The talisman of destiny!

Beneath its ample boughs, we’re told,

Full many a timid swain grew bold;

Full many a roguish eye askance,

Beheld it with impatient glance;

And many a ruddy cheek consest

The trimphs of the beating breast;

And many a rustic rover sigh’d,

Who ask’d the kiss—and was denied.

First Marg’ry smil’d, and gave her lover

A kiss—then thank’d her stars, ‘twas over!

Next Kate, with a reluctant pace,

Was led towards the mystic place/

Then Sue, a merry laughing jade,

A dimpled, yielding blush display’d;

While Joan, her chastity to shew,

Wish’d the “bold knaves would serve her so!

She’d teach the rogues such wanton play,”

And well she could, she knew the way!

The Farmer, mute with jealous care,

Sat sullen in his wicker chair;

Hating the noisy gamesome host,

Yet fearful to resign his post;

He envied all their sportive strife,

But most he watch’d his blooming wife;

And trembled, lest her steps should go,

Incautious, near the Mistletoe.

Now Hodge, a youth of rustic grace,

Of form athletic, mainly face,

On Mistress Homespun turn’d his eye,

And breath’d a soul-declaring sigh;

Old Homespun mark’d his list’ning fair,

And nestled in his wicker chair;

Hodge swore she might his heart command,

The pipe was dropp’d from Homespun’s hand!

Hodge prest her slender waist around,

The Farmer check’d his draught, and frown’d;

And now beneath the Mistletoe

‘Twas Mistress Homespun’s turn to go,

Old Surly shook his wicker chair—

And sternly utter’d,—“Let her dare!”

Hodge to the Farmer’s wife declar’d

Such husbands never should be spar’d;

Swore, they deserv’d the werst disgrace,

That lights upon the wedded race,

And vow’d, that night, he would not go,

Unblest, beneath the Mistletoe.

The merry group all recommend

A harmless life, the strife to end:

“Why not?” says Marg’ry, “who would fear

“A dang’rous moment once a year?”

Susan observ’d, that “ancient folks

“Were seldom pleas’d by youthful jokes.”

But Kate, who, till that fatal hour,

Had held o’er Hodge unrivall’d pow’r,

With curving lip, and head aside,

Look’d down, and smil’d in conscious pride,

Then, anxious to conceal her care,

She humm’d—What fools some women are!

Now Mistress Homespun, sorely vex’d,

By pride and jealous rage perplex’d;

And angry, that her peevish spouse

Should doubt her matrimonial vows;

But, most of all, resolv’d tomake,

An envious Rival’s bosom ache,

Commanded Hodge to let her go,

Nor lead her near the Mistletoe,

“Why should you ask it o’er and o’er?”

Cried she, “we’ve been there twice before!”

‘Tis thus to check a Rival’s sway,

That women oft themselves betray!

While, Vanity alone pursuing,

They rashly prove their own undoing!

About Mary Darby Robinson and this Painting

From the Wallace Collection:

Mary Robinson (1758-1800) was one of the best known actresses and writers of the 18th century. She was also one of the most painted and caricatured woman of the period. Having first appeared on stage in 1776, it was a later performance in The Winter’s Tale for which the actress became particularly famous; a part which earned her the nickname ‘Perdita’. It was in this role that Mrs Robinson first caught the attention of the Prince of Wales (later George IV), with whom she went on to have a brief but notorious affair.

This portrait was commissioned in 1781 by the Prince of Wales (later George IV). He had ended a brief affair with Mrs Robinson, who then sought financial compensation from him; after Robinson resorted to blackmail, he eventually agreed to a settlement in August of that year. Mrs Robinson is depicted holding a miniature portrait of the Prince (1735-1789), a gift from him during their liaison.

Gainsborough’s fluid brushwork and loose composition are particularly notable. The sitter appears to melt into the landscape, imparting a poetic dimension to the picture. Although it is recognised today as one of the artist’s masterpieces, he withdrew the portrait from the Royal Academy exhibition in 1782 after it was criticised for not conveying an exact physical likeness of the sitter, and was unfavourably compared to portraits of the same sitter by Reynolds and Romney.

The painting was presented to the 2nd Marquess of Hertford by the Prince Regent in 1818.

 

Caroline Warfield: Lady Charlotte’s Christmas Vigil

This beautiful cover for Caroline Warfield’s 2017 Christmas novella comes with the announcement that the book is available for pre-order from various retailers.

Love is the best medicine and the sweetest things in life are worth the wait, especially at Christmastime in Venice for a stranded English Lady and a dedicated doctor.

About Lady Charlotte’s Christmas Vigil

Lady Charlotte Tyree clings to one dream—to see the splendor of Rome before settling for life as the spinster sister of an earl. But now her feckless brother forces her to wait again, stranded in Venice when he falls ill, halfway to the place of her dreams. She finds the city damp, moldy, and riddled with disease.

As a physician, Salvatore Caresini well knows the danger of putrid fever. He lost his young wife to it, leaving him alone to care for their rambunctious children. He isn’t about to let the lovely English lady risk her life nursing her brother.

But Christmas is coming, that season of miracles, and with it, perhaps, lessons for two lonely people: that love heals the deepest wounds and sometimes the deepest dreams aren’t what we expect. Pre-order it here:

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About the Author

Carol Roddy – Author

Traveler, poet, librarian, technology manager—award winning and Amazon best-selling author Caroline Warfield has been many things (even a nun), but above all she is a romantic. Having retired to the urban wilds of eastern Pennsylvania, she reckons she is on at least her third act, happily working in an office surrounded by windows where she lets her characters lead her to adventures while she nudges them to explore the riskiest territory of all, the human heart. She is enamored of history, owls, and gardens (but not the actual act of gardening). She is also a regular contributor to History Imagined, a blog at the intersection of history and fiction, and (on a much lighter note) The Teatime Tattler, a blog in the shape of a fictional nineteenth century gossip rag.

Her current series, Children of Empire, set in the late Georgian/early Victorian period, focuses on three cousins, driven apart by lies and deceit, who must find their way back from the distant reaches of the empire.

Click here to find out more.

Patricia Kiyono: Three French Inns

Thank you, Susana, for inviting me back to your lovely blog! I’m so excited about the chance to share my newest Christmas novella, Three French Inns. This is the third book in a series of holiday regencies – The Partridge and the Peartree and Two Tutor Doves are the first two. I’ve had great fun working on these novellas. Several people have asked how I came up with the idea to base a series on a familiar Christmas carol, so I thought I’d explain how this came about.

I never really intended to write a series. The Partridge and the Peartree was my contribution to a call-out for regency novellas set in 1812. I’d never written a regency, but I wanted to try. Originally, the request was for stories to be included in a multi-author series to be titled The Twelve Dukes of Christmas. Having spent many years teaching elementary music, the series title immediately made me think of the words to the song The Twelve Days of Christmas. I wrote a story about Lady Amelia Partridge and Phillip Peartree, Duke of Bartlett.

Happily, the book did quite well, although a few reviewers took me to task for creating events that would not have happened in that time period. So three years later, when I got my rights back, I did a lot of editing and re-released what I hope is a more historically accurate story. And then, the ideas started coming. What would happen after Phillip and Amelia married? I decided that the duke’s valet Robert and Amelia’s maid Jeanne needed their own story, and Two Tutor Doves was written and released last year. Robert and Jeanne’s story provided new problems. Since neither Robert or Jeanne are nobles, they had to speak and behave in different ways than their employers. This second book ended with Jeanne vowing to look for her missing brother, so of course that brother Peter became the hero for the next story, Three French Inns.

Researching this third story was an even greater challenge. Most available information about this time period is about the gentry, specifically English gentry. Most of my characters are French, and they aren’t nobles – so I spent a lot of time searching for the details I needed. Fortunately, I was able to reach out to a few author friends – one is English, and had already done research for a regency era book set in France. Another fabulous resource I stumbled on was a very kind history professor at a nearby university. Between them, I was able to produce what I hope is a believable story.

Will I continue the series? Probably. I have a few ideas simmering for the next book. But I’m quite sure I won’t continue all the way to Twelve Lords a-Leaping!

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About Three French Inns

Peter Brown joined His Majesty’s Army in the fight against Napoleon, but when he was wounded, a lovely French woman tended him. She was a recent widow, and they were on opposing sides of the war, so they went their separate ways. But he never forgot his “bel ange” — his beautiful angel.

Caroline Bouchard Duval marched with her husband in Napoleon’s army, eager to leave her sleepy village and see the world. But after being widowed, she returned to her childhood home in the French Alps. When a bloody traveler enters her father’s inn, she recognizes him immediately. Could this man give her another chance to fulfill her dreams?

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Excerpt

threefrenchinns-500x750-copyOn the long road out of Lyon, her wagon had broken a wheel, and she’d had to walk the rest of the way. Three years of traveling with the army had prepared her well, and she’d trudged along, eating berries and whatever she could find along the way.

She’d been traveling alone and was within a day’s journey to her home when she’d heard a weak cry for help. She’d found him in the bushes. The stranger had been wounded — not badly, but enough that he wasn’t able to walk. A musket ball had pierced his calf and had done a lot of damage, though it had missed the bone. She’d dragged him to a clearing so that she could see well enough to clean the wound, remove the musket ball, and wrap his leg.

She’d found a rusty wheelbarrow and taken him to an abandoned barn, where she’d stayed with him until she was sure he’d recover. For two days they’d talked, told stories, and learned a lot about each other. He’d sympathized about the loss of her husband. She’d expressed sadness that he had no family waiting for him at home.

They hadn’t exchanged family names or any other information. Both of them had known that their meeting was a special moment in time meant to be remembered fondly.

She’d continued on to Ambérieu, back to her life as an innkeeper’s daughter. When her mother died, she’d taken over as cook and maid. But she’d never forgotten the handsome stranger. The man who now lay in her father’s inn.

headshots16-7-copyAbout the Author

During her first career, Patricia Kiyono taught elementary music, computer classes, elementary classrooms, and junior high social studies. She now teaches music education at the university level.

She lives in southwest Michigan with her husband, not far from her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Current interests, aside from writing, include sewing, crocheting, scrapbooking, and music. A love of travel and an interest in faraway people inspires her to create stories about different cultures.

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CL Gaber’s Before the Holidays Giveaway Hop

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Hosted by Teaser Addicts Book Blog

.•*´(¸.•*´(¸.•*´★`*•.¸)`*•.¸)`*•.¸

We have 20 stops giving you a great chance to win AMAZING PRIZES from some Amazing ‪#‎Authors‬ and ‪#‎Bloggers‬.

Each stop is a NEW chance to WIN something great.

Susana’s Giveaway

clgaberprize

A print copy of A Twelfth Night Tale and two lovely ornaments from the UK.

Every stop is different and have different instructions to follow, BE SURE TO READ CAREFULLY SO THAT YOU ARE ENTERED CORRECTLY TO WIN.

✔Read the post below about the Bluestocking Belles’ Holiday Anthology, Holly and Hopeful Hearts and comment on the post. A random commenter will be chosen on December 13th to win the above prize. International participants welcome.

The next stop on the hop is Teaser’s Book Blog.

To enter their prize, jump to the next stop here – Teaser’s Book Blog.

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8 novellas – 578 pages – $2.99

$0.99 through December!

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A Suitable Husband, by Jude Knight

As the Duchess of Haverford’s companion, Cedrica Grenford is not treated as a poor relation and is encouraged to mingle with Her Grace’s guests. Surely she can find a suitable husband amongst the gentlemen gathered for the duchess’s house party. Above stairs or possibly below.

Valuing Vanessa, by Susana Ellis

Facing a dim future as a spinster under her mother’s thumb, Vanessa Sedgely makes a practical decision to attach an amiable gentleman who will not try to rule her life.

A Kiss for Charity, by Sherry Ewing

Young widow Grace, Lady de Courtenay, has no idea how a close encounter with a rake at a masquerade ball would make her yearn for love again. Can she learn to forgive Lord Nicholas Lacey and set aside their differences to let love into her heart?

Artemis, by Jessica Cale

Actress Charlotte Halfpenny is in trouble. Pregnant, abandoned by her lover, and out of a job, Charlotte faces eviction two weeks before Christmas. When the reclusive Earl of Somerton makes her an outrageous offer, she has no choice but to accept. Could he be the man of her dreams, or is the nightmare just beginning?

The Bluestocking and the Barbarian, by Jude Knight

James must marry to please his grandfather, the duke, and to win social acceptance for himself and his father’s other foreign-born children. But only Lady Sophia Belvoir makes his heart sing, and to win her he must invite himself to spend Christmas at the home of his father’s greatest enemy.

Christmas Kisses, by Nicole Zoltack

Louisa Wycliff, Dowager Countess of Exeter wants only for her darling daughter, Anna, to find a man she can love and marry. Appallingly, Anna has her sights on a scoundrel of a duke who chases after every skirt he sees. Anna truly thinks the dashing duke cares for her, but her mother has her doubts.

An Open Heart, by Caroline Warfield

Esther Baumann longs for a loving husband who will help her create a home where they will teach their children to value the traditions of their people, but she wants a man who is also open to new ideas and happy to make friends outside their narrow circle. Is it so unreasonable to ask for toe curling passion as well?

Dashing Through the Snow, by Amy Rose Bennett

Headstrong bluestocking, Miss Kate Woodville, never thought her Christmas would be spent racing across England with a viscount hell-bent on vengeance. She certainly never expected to find love…

About the Belles

bluestockingbelles_smallThe Bluestocking Belles, the “BellesInBlue”, are seven very different writers united by a love of history and a history of writing about love. From sweet to steamy, from light-hearted fun to dark tortured tales full of angst, from London ballrooms to country cottages to the sultan’s seraglio, one or more of us will have a tale to suit your tastes and mood. Come visit us at http://bluestockingbelles.net and kick up your bluestockinged heels!

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The Bluestocking Belles proudly support the Malala Fund charity. You can find out more on our website: http://bluestockingbelles.net/belles-joint-projects/the-bellesinblue-support-the-malala-fund/

About Amy Rose Bennett

Amy Rose Bennett has always wanted to be a writer for as long as she can remember. An avid reader with a particular love for historical romance, it seemed only natural to write stories in her favorite genre. She has a passion for creating emotion-packed—and sometimes a little racy—stories set in the Georgian and Regency periods. Of course, her strong-willed heroines and rakish heroes always find their happily ever after.

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About Jessica Cale

Jessica Cale is the award-winning author of the historical romance series, The Southwark Saga. 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 North Carolina. Visit her history blog at www.dirtysexyhistory.com.

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About Susana Ellis

Susana has always had stories in her head waiting to come out, especially when she learned to read and her imagination began to soar.

A former teacher, Susana lives in Toledo, Ohio in the summer and Florida in the winter. She is a member of the Central Florida Romance Writers and the Beau Monde chapters of RWA and Maumee Valley Romance Inc.

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About Sherry Ewing

Sherry Ewing picked up her first historical romance when she was a teenager and has been hooked ever since. A bestselling author, she writes historical and time travel romances to awaken the soul one heart at a time.

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About Jude Knight

Jude Knight writes stories to transport you to another time, another place, where you can enjoy adventure and romance, thrill to trials and challenges, uncover secrets and solve mysteries, and delight in a happy ending.

A late starter, she now has the wind in her sails and a head full of strong determined heroines, heroes with the sense to appreciate them, and villains you’ll love to loathe.

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About Caroline Warfield

Traveler, poet, librarian, technology manager—award winning author Caroline Warfield has been many things (even a nun), but above all she is a romantic. Having retired to the urban wilds of eastern Pennsylvania, she reckons she is on at least her third act, happily working in an office surrounded by windows while she lets her characters lead her to adventures in England and the far-flung corners of the British Empire. She nudges them to explore the riskiest territory of all, the human heart.

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About Nicole Zoltack

Nicole Zoltack loves to write romances. When she’s not writing about gentlemen and their ladies, knights, or superheroes, she spends time with her growing family. She enjoys riding horses (pretending they’re unicorns, of course!) and visiting the PA Renaissance Faire. She’ll also read anything she can get her hands on.

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Beppie Harrison: Two Rings for Christmas

Donegal, where my Christmas novella Two Rings for Christmas takes place, is as far north and west as you can go on the island of Ireland. It’s very beautiful but stark and harsh land there: making a living from the land has always been hard. It was hard in 1817, the time of this story, and always has been. The land is mountainous and rocky, with generous peat bogs but not much in the way of arable land. Most of those who live there now—or who lived there before the terrible Time of Hunger in the middle of the 19th century—were not there by choice. But the ancient aristocracy of Ulster, defeated in the Nine Years’ War in Ulster in 1603, escaped to the continent, hoping to rally Spanish support for the Catholic cause. They died in exile.

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Their lands were therefore defaulted to the British government, who took the opportunity to establish their Plantation Scheme, in the course of which the Catholic Irish tenants and owners of the land were displaced and Protestant settlers, primarily from Scotland but some from England, were given their land. The Catholic Irish fled west to Donegal. Even some of the Donegal land was given as plantation land to the Protestant incomers, but they found the effort of farming there too difficult and retreated east.

The time of Two Rings for Christmas is two centuries later, but the challenge of making a living in that hard and infertile place was as difficult as ever. The time of the great Irish potato famine had not yet come—that was 30 years in the future—but even then many of the young men of Donegal were heading west across the Atlantic Ocean to find some way of earning a living in America.

Fergus, a strong young man from Donegal, emigrates to Boston with the goal of earning enough money so that he can return and marry his sweetheart, Jenny. Three long years he works, until he can pay for his passage back, has some coins in his pocket, and a golden ring for Jenny. But when he returns to Donegal for Christmas, is Jenny still waiting for him?

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About Two Rings for Christmas

Two Rings for Christmas is the story of a young Irishman, Fergus, unable to find work in Donegal, who emigrates to Boston to make some money so he can return and marry his true love, Jenny. Three long years he works, until he can pay for his passage back, has some coins in his pocket, and has bought a golden ring for Jenny. But when he comes home to Donegal for Christmas, will Jenny still be waiting?

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Excerpt

“Could not wait for me, is that it?” His voice rang out now, a challenge.

“And how was I to know that you remembered me?” Jenny snapped.

“Did not I write you letters?”

She tossed her head, and her rich brown hair lifted and then resettled on her shoulders. “Letters. Well, yes. Three letters in three long years—and the last of them more than six months ago.”

Oh. As he remembered, there had been more, but she might have the right of it. He was not good at writing letters. Somehow all the things he wanted to say ran away from his pen before he got them down to paper.

“’Twasn’t enough, you know. Six months without a word, and me mam going on at me about how you were off to Amerikay and never would come back.”

“I’m here now.”

She closed her eyes and held her hands to her temples. “Aye, you’re here, right enough. Why could you not have written to tell me so? Why could I not have known two, three weeks ago? ‘Twas only then that Daniel Beatty came and me mam said he was my last chance and—and—”

And damned if she was not crying. Jenny crying, with the ring of Daniel Beatty around her neck. What was he to do now?

His heart went soft on him. “Jenny, sweet Jenny, I wanted to surprise you. I had a ring for you, Jenny my love.”

He pulled it out of his pocket and held it in his hand.

About the Author

BeppieHarrisonPHOTO copyBeppie Harrison had the great good sense to marry an English architect, and consequently has lived a trans-Atlantic lifestyle. They now live in Michigan between trips to the old country and Ireland (which she despaired of during the years of the Troubles) and she remains fascinated by the complicated relationship between England and Ireland. Their four children have grown up and left the nest but two indignant cats remain—as good an allegory for England and Ireland as she can imagine.

Cheryl Bolen: Ex-Spinster By Christmas (House of Haverstock, Book 4)

Interview with Cheryl Bolen

Susana: When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Cheryl Bolen copyCheryl: When the nun who was my third grade teacher explained about paragraphs and asked us to make up one, I thought, “Wow! This is something I love to do!” I was one of those kids who spelled well and absorbed grammar and punctuation rules like some women collect shoes. Therefore, when I went to college, I decided to major in journalism so I could be paid for writing. (Until the Great Digital Disruption, it wasn’t easy to make it as a novelist in New York publishing.) I did major in journalism, with a double major in English. Then I got a master’s in education in case I ever wanted to teach. I worked for two decades as a journalist, and I also taught English for six years.

Susana: Tell us about getting The Call.

Cheryl: Sadly, I wrote seven complete novels before I got The Call 19 years ago from an editor at Harlequin Historical. I started in romantic suspense and won a lot of contests but never got a contract. Then I wrote a sweeping World War II love story which won even more contests but did not sell. It did, though, sort of get me in the back door at Harlequin because the editor judging the top three manuscripts in a contest in which it placed liked my writing and said if I wrote something that took place before 1900, she’d like to see it. The only historical genre I knew was Georgette Heyer. I’d read every one of her books; so, I sat down and began A Duke Deceived, entered the beginning in a few contests to see if it was good, and it placed in every contest I entered.  So I sent the first three chapters to that Harlequin editor, and she asked to see the complete manuscript. I sent it in and waited five months before I got The Call.

I was working as news editor of our community newspaper and came home for lunch, flipped on my answering machine, and there was a message to call the editor at Harlequin. I was shaking all over. I called my husband’s office to tell him, and he said, “Why in the heck are you calling me? Call her back.” I did, and she said they wanted to buy my book. “How does an advance of $5,000 sound to you?” she asked.  I was thrilled—and still shaking—but tried to calmly say, “That sounds fine.”

Susana: So how many books have you written now?

Cheryl: In August I received a pin from Romance Writers of America for writing 35 books. Since then, I’ve published two novellas. I’ve written for Harlequin, Kensington, Love Inspired Historical, and I’ve written one book for Montlake. It was a lighthearted, romantic contemporary mystery which I envisioned as the first book in the Stately Homes Murders, set in England. I began self-publishing in 2011 and have never been happier—and never made so much money! Of my 37 titles, all but five are Regency-set historicals.

Susana: What’s the heat level of your books?

Cheryl: My first ten years of publishing, I wrote to suit the New York publishers, and they wanted hot. Now that I’m my own boss, most of my books are sensuous with the bedroom door closed.

Susana: What’s next for you?

Cheryl: My next full-length novel will be the story of the third Birmingham brother—at readers’ request. The Birminghams, the richest bankers in England, were introduced in my Brazen Brides series. I haven’t started it and have zero plot ideas. This is a hybrid series, in that the first two (Counterfeit Countess and His Golden Ring) were written for Kensington in 2005, and I’m now continuing the series with my own imprint.

ex-spinster-by-christmas-copy

About Ex-Spinster By Christmas

“Delightful author, delightful characters, delightful stories.”—Austintatious

Ever pragmatic, Lady Caroline Ponsby has given up hope she’ll ever receive a proposal of marriage from Christopher Perry, the wealthy man she’s adored for almost two years. She is determined to be an ex-spinster by Christmas. To that end, she has invited a prospective suitor to spend Christmas with her family. She knows very well that Lord Brockton would love to get his hands on her dowry, and she’d love to be a married woman with a home and family of her own.

The very idea of his Lady Caroline throwing herself away on the likes of the vile Lord Brockton rankles Christopher Perry. A pity he cannot offer for her himself, but a duke’s daughter is too far above his touch, given his family’s humble origins. Nevertheless, Christopher attends the Duke of Aldridge’s Christmas house party with the intention of thwarting Lady Caroline’s grave misalliance with Brockton. If only he’s not too late…

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Excerpt

http://www.cherylbolen.com/ex-spinster%20excerpt.htm

About Cheryl Bolen

Since being named Notable New Author for 1997, Cheryl Bolen has published more than 35 books with Kensington/Zebra, Harlequin, Love Inspired Historical, Montlake, and independently. She has broken into the top 5 on the New York Times and hit the USA Today bestseller list. Her 2005 One Golden Ring won Best Historical, Holt Medallion, and her 2011 My Lord Wicked was awarded Best Historical in the International Digital Awards, the same year her Christmas novella was chosen as Best Novella. Her books have been finalists for other awards, including the Daphne du Maurier, and have been translated into a dozen languages. She’s also been the number 1 bestselling historical romance author in Germany.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and English from the University of Texas and a master’s degree from the University of Houston. Her favorite pursuits are reading diaries of dead English women, traveling to England, and watching the Texas Longhorns play football and basketball. She and her recently retired professor husband are the parents of two sons. One is an attorney, the other a journalist.

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