Tag Archive | Regency

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Waiting Game

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Too Hot to Handel

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Commenters

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

Check out this great offer from Sheri!

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

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About the Author

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

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.

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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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Mariana Gabrielle: Royal Regard

RR Memes 10-22-14-3 copy

Facebook Launch party Nov. 28, 3-9pm MST, https://www.facebook.com/events/299686360237365/

About Royal Regard

When Isabella, the Countess of Huntleigh, returns to England after fifteen years roaming the globe with her husband, an elderly diplomat, she finds herself in a locale more perilous than any in her travels—the Court of King George IV. As the newly elevated Earl and Countess settle into an unfamiliar life in London, this shy, not-so-young lady faces wicked agendas, society’s censure, and the realities of a woman soon to be alone in England.

Unaccustomed to the ways of the beau monde, she is disarmed and deceived by a dissolute duke and a noble French émigré with a silver tongue. Hindered by the meddling of her dying husband, not to mention the King himself, Bella must decide whether to choose one of her fascinating new suitors or the quiet country life she has searched the world to find.

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Excerpt

Royal Regard cover100x150Her hand shot like a musket ball into his shoulder. Arms flailing for a handhold, his feet went right out from under him, dumping him gracelessly and painfully on his behind, legs sprawled on the tiled floor. Next to him, on top of a pile of broken pottery and loam, sat a crumpled shrub he had dragged off the table when he fell. Rosemary, he assumed, as it smelled suspiciously like the capon his cook served at least once a week. Examining the punctures and scrapes on one hand, using the other to rub his hip, he stretched to ease the bruise he would have by nightfall, finally kneeling to right himself.

She looked down her nose at his undignified position, then swept past him to the greenhouse entrance.

About the Author

Mariana Gabrielle is a pseudonym for Mari Christie, a mainstream historical and Regency romance writer. She is also a professional writer, editor, and graphic designer with twenty years’ experience and a Bachelor’s in Writing from the University of Colorado Denver, summa cum laude. She lives in Denver, Colorado with two kittens who have no respect at all for writing time.

Mari Pic2 copy

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The Fashionable Gentleman

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Regency gentlemen had a serious obsession with fashion, especially after Beau Brummell arrived on the London scene. More about him next week.

During the Regency, knee breeches gave rise to trousers, although it was a good long time before trousers were accepted at Almack’s Assembly Rooms. By 1816, after Brummell’s flight to the continent, trousers became all the rage, with breeches reserved for very formal occasions (except for older gentlemen who did not adapt well to change).

Pantaloons and trousers were made of light colors, such as buff or yellow, and clung tightly to the body. Pantaloons had side slits with buttons to keep them tight, and straps under the instep to keep them in place.

shirts

A gentleman’s shirt tended to be long, shapeless, and white. Over the shirt would go the waistcoat (white for evening wear, colorful and eye-catching for day wear). An elaborately-tied cravat would spill over the shirt and waistcoat. Over that would be a dress coat with tails—cut in a straight line from the waist down), or a morning coat or riding coat, which also sported tails, but was cut away in front. Following Waterloo, a frock coat with a military design became popular for informal occasions. Over all of this would be a great coat, worn all year round, often with capes of various lengths along the top.

cravat

greatcoat

greatcoat

morning coat or riding coat

morning coat or riding coat

Black boots were the daytime shoes of choice for a Regency gentleman, particularly Hessians, which were knee boots that sported a tassle in front. Hessians were worn over the trousers, but at the end of the Regency, Wellington boots, which were worn under breeches, which were tied at the foot, became popular. For evening wear, black pumps—perhaps made of the new patent leather—and silk stockings were worn. Hoby was the bootmaker of choice.

Regency gentlemen wore top hats of various shapes and sizes, and hats made of beaver were quite popular. Lock’s was the hatter of choice for the exclusive Regency gentleman. Gloves, jewelry (cravat pins, rings, and fobs), snuff boxes, quizzing glasses, and scents were also important to a gentleman’s toilette. Thanks to Beau Brummell’s fastidious cleanliness, bathing also become de rigueur in the Regency.

Beau Brummell

Beau Brummell

Just as Regency ladies required a personal maid or abigail to assist them with dressing and care for their wardrobe, gentlemen required the services of a valet.

For further information:

Kristen Koster

Laudermilk, Sharon H. and Hamlin, Theresa L., The Regency Companion, Garland Publishing, 1989.

The Regency Gentleman series

The Regency Gentleman: His Upbringing

The Fashionable Gentleman

The Rise and Fall of Beau Brummell 

Gentlemen’s Clubs in Regency London

Captain Who?

Gentlemen’s Sports in the Regency

The Gentleman’s Passion for Horses

Riding to the Hounds

The Regency Gentleman’s Passion for the Turf

Another Sneak Peak of “A Home For Helena”

Lady P

Lady P

Lady Pendleton: Dear me! Susana has a special treat for you today, dear readers. She’s been working long and hard to tell the story of a young girl called Helena who came to me from the 21st century seeking my help in finding the family from whose arms she was snatched when only a babe.

In this scene, Helena is recalling her consultation with the gypsy lady who offers to help her travel back to the past to discover the truth about her origins.

**********

The sign painted on the window read “Genuine Gipsy Fortune Telling” in large red letters with “Palm Reading • Tarot Cards” in smaller print underneath with the bottom line proclaiming “Séances Scheduled at Your Convenience”. A mannequin dressed flamboyantly in a red peasant blouse and gold skirt stood in the window with outstretched arms, no doubt meant to lure the bystander inside. Although an attempt had been made to give her a gypsy appearance—black wig tied back under a bright red headscarf, and glittery gold dripping from every possible place—her expression was the typical bland stare associated with mannequins.

It was cheesy. The sort of place an educated person would never deign to enter. Certainly not Helena, who didn’t believe in psychics or fortune telling, let alone time travel. Was her coincidental meeting with Mrs. Herne simply a scheme to drum up business?

If so, she had been very, very good at it. Her dark eyes seemed to probe into Helena’s very soul, seeing things she could not possibly have known otherwise. A lost soul, she had proclaimed. Wrenched out of her time. Isolated and alone because her soul was out of sync.

“I have a friend who might be able to help you,” she had said cautiously. When asked what she meant, the woman had turned cagey.

“Come to my shop”—she pushed a card toward Helena—“and we can discuss it.”

Helena’s eyes narrowed. “Why not now? Here?” she asked, indicating the lively sandwich shop. “Why must I go to your shop?” She wanted to believe. Mrs. Herne’s words struck a nerve. She’d never fit in, no matter how much she’d tried. Perhaps…there was a reason for it. Something she could do about it. But…travel through time? That sort of thing happened only in science fiction. As Dr. McCoy explained in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home: “Sure, you slingshot around the Sun, pick up enough speed—you’re in time warp. If you don’t, you’re fried.

Helena and James

Helena and James

But here she was, standing outside Mrs. Herne’s fortune-telling shop, gathering up the courage to go inside. Well, she’d come this far. Might as well go for broke. She stepped forward.

The foyer was papered in red damask sprinkled with gold medallions. On a table between two gold satin wingback chairs was an antique ouiji board. On the adjacent wall was a showcase with a magnificent crystal ball in the center and zodiac plates on the side.

But what really drew Helena’s attention was the familiar-looking Zoltar fortune-telling machine in the corner. The gold-turbaned gypsy male had a narrow black beard and a thick mustache that turned up at the ends like a villain’s. He wore a black leather vest over a gold shirt, hoop earrings, and his eyes seemed to be laughing at her. The case of the machine was of elaborately-carved wood painted in black and gold, and the front of the glass box said “Zoltar” in gold-outlined red at the top, and “speaks” on the bottom. His right hand hovered over a crystal ball, and the left seemed to beckon her to come closer. Now where had she seen that before?

“It was the movie Big,

Mrs. Herne pushed aside some of the strands of colorful beads that obscured the interior of her shop as she approached Helena.

“They had one exactly like this, but mine is the original. I purchased it from Patty Astley herself when her husband refused to have it anywhere near his amphitheatre. She was a good friend of mine, was Patty. Quite the horsewoman, too. But then, Philip was an excellent teacher.”

Astley? Of Astley’s Amphitheatre? From upwards of two hundred years ago?

“How old are you, Mrs. Herne?”

She was tall and had a generous, but not zaftig, figure in her flowing crimson caftan. Her black hair was liberally streaked with gray, and her dusky face showed the beginnings of wrinkles. She certainly did not have the look of an aged woman.

Mrs. Herne threw back her head and laughed loudly.

“How old do you think I am?” she asked finally.

“Oh…well…forty-five?” Helena hedged, trying to be diplomatic. She actually figured the woman for about a decade older.

“Right you are, Miss Helena. I stopped aging on my fifty-fifth birthday.” She smiled at Helena’s startled reaction. “You were trying to be kind, of course. To a young person, fifty years seems a long time. In reality, fifty is the best age. You know yourself well by then, and aren’t always trying to become someone else. And you don’t take things so seriously. Life is meant to be enjoyed, after all.” She looked Helena directly in the eye. “After all, fifty is the new forty, or so they say.”

“Come inside, and sit for awhile, and I’ll fetch some tea.”

She was personable and kind, and her words carried the semblance of truth. The tea had long grown cold by the time Helena left the shop, carrying a round gray stone flecked with gold and a list of instructions—mostly preparations for the trip and suggestions for what to do when she arrived. Mrs. Herne’s clairvoyant power pointed to the year 1792 as her birth year, and it was decided that 1817 would be the most opportune time for her return.

“And my good friend Lady Pendleton will be there to assist you!” she had exclaimed. “How very fortunate that she is in Town for the Season this year!”

Helena wasn’t entirely certain who or what Lady Pendleton was, but then, she hadn’t quite figured out Mrs. Herne either. Was she a fool to trust either one of them? Perhaps, but it wasn’t like she had to jump off a cliff or anything. She only had to clasp the rock tightly in her hands and concentrate on thinking about where she wanted to travel to.

“But you must truly wish it,” Mrs. Herne cautioned. “Reflect on your desire to be reunited with your true family and live the life you were meant to live.”

And how to return if things didn’t work out in the 19th century?

“Oh, Agatha will help you. Lady Pendleton, that is. Or you can drop by my shop on Gracechurch Street. Only thing is, I was traveling quite a bit myself that year, so you may or may not find me there. You have a better chance with Lady Pendleton.”

And what if she couldn’t find Lady Pendleton?

“Oh well, you’re a bright girl. Not like the silly chits typical of the period. Keep your wits about you and learn from your surroundings. You’ll be fine.”

Would she? Helena recalled Claire Fraser being branded a witch in Outlander and wondered if they burned witches at the stake in that era. Oh no, they were dunking her, weren’t they, before Jamie came to the rescue.

Mrs. Herne was frowning. “That was nothing more than a book.”

It was eerie how easily the gypsy lady read her thoughts.

“If this is where you belong, you’ll adapt. In time.”

Helena didn’t like the sound of “if.”

But in the end, she couldn’t resist. The past was pulling at her, drawing her, and she finally let it take her into its mysterious lair.

**********

Lady Pendleton: Yes, well, time travel does have that effect on people. I find it rather addictive, actually.

Oh, I wanted to tell you that Susana and I are having a wonderful time in Florida. It’s a bit cold today, but sunny and beautiful, and I was simply over the moon to catch my first glimpse of the baby sand hill cranes. Here are some photos of them. I almost got close enough to touch them! Aren’t they adorable?

babycranes

Baby sand hill cranes

Mama Crane

Mama Crane

Crane Family Having Luncheon

Crane Family Having Luncheon

Janice Bennett and “Catherine’s Star”

Long before becoming an author herself, Susana used to read just about every Signet and Zebra Regency that came out, not to mention older Fawcetts and Dells she found scouring eBay. How excited she was to discover Janice Bennett—an author whose books she’d read for years—in the group of Ellora’s Cave Blush Cotillion authors she herself joined a year ago! She finally screwed up the courage to ask Janice to write about what it was like to be an author in the days when print was supreme and New York ruled the publishing world. And how thrilled she was when Janice said yes!

Another surprise: Janice’s recently re-released book, Catherine’s Star, is a time travel, which is what I’m working on at present. I picked it up immediately and devoured it, hoping to pick up some tips. Excellent story—a very different approach from my A Home For Helena—but wonderfully engrossing and with a mystery to be solved as well!

If you’re a Janice Bennett fan, please stop and say hi. What did you think when publishers suddenly dropped traditional Regencies and went to the longer format? We’d love to hear from you!

So, what was it like to write during the heyday of Regencies? Very, very different from now. And in other ways, very much the same.

When I started writing, all romances were still considered “trashy little books” by everyone except those who wrote them—and the vast number of people who read and loved them. Regencies were a very minor sub-genre—we had the smallest print run of any type of romance—but we had incredibly loyal readers.

Very few of the houses even published Regencies, and each only released two or three of them each month. And since there were always more authors with well-written books than there were available slots, it was much harder to get published. But that also meant the reader had fewer choices, so each book that came out sold far more copies.

Many of the houses wouldn’t even look at a book unless it was presented by an agent. It made sense, as the agents weeded out the poorly written ones and only handled the ones they were sure were good enough. Agents were also good for the writer. Mine would call me up about once a month, just to pass on the latest gossip in the publishing world—which house was introducing which new lines, which editors were looking for what kind of book, that sort of thing.

As for promoting, a writer might hold a book signing at her local store, and some took out ads in the review magazines. Mostly, we relied on potential readers to walk into a store, browse the shelves, glance through the pages and find a book they thought they’d like. And if they did like it, they’d usually buy other books by that author. There was no such thing as the internet. No chats, no blogs, no contests, no websites—in short, none of the means writers must employ today just to be noticed.

The lack of the internet also made research much harder. We didn’t have access to hundreds of historical research sites. We couldn’t hop onto a chat group and ask other writers and history buffs a question—which might receive dozens of answers in a matter of hours, some of them even correct. We had to do the research ourselves. I have a shelf of books and novels written about—and during—the Regency era. Some are vague, some are less than accurate, very few actually answer the questions that came up while I was writing. And sometimes I’d have to wait months to receive a book I’d requested from a university library, which would arrive after my deadline.

Ah, yes. Deadlines. My agent told me never, ever, to write the whole book until after it was sold. But once it was, the publishing house expected it to be written. And by a particular date. I admit, I’m strange. I love deadlines. I can’t write without them. I need the terror of that rapidly approaching date to make me sit down and focus.

And to focus, I have to be deeply involved in my current WIP. I’ve tried to keep my ideas fresh, different, a delight to write. I’ve pushed the boundaries of traditional Regencies about as far as they can go—with adventure stories, murder mysteries, ghost stories, vampires, time travels, even a fairy godmother. I can hardly wait to see what new idea grabs me and demands to be written next.

About Catherine’s Star

Every Regency reader’s dream—going back in time for a London Season. But hidden dangers lurk as she searches for a lost fortune—and love.

Blush sensuality level: This is a suggestive romance (love scenes are not graphic).

catherine's starWhile searching London to find all the places mentioned in the Regency novels she adores, Andrea Wells spots an intriguing gentleman in historic costume who mysteriously appears and disappears. She becomes obsessed with him after finding his portrait in a scandal rag, accompanied by the story of his death in 1810 and the tale of a cursed Russian icon known as Catherine’s Star, and visits his home, Greythorne Court, to learn more about him.

The current occupant of Greythorne is convinced Andrea can travel back through time, and she says Andrea must go back and find the missing Catherine’s Star to save the Court.

However, when Andrea dreamed of living in Regency England, she didn’t count on murderous spies or falling in love with a man whose imminent death is tied to the fate of a priceless icon.

A Blush® paranormal romance from Ellora’s Cave

Publisher’s Note: This book was published elsewhere in 1990 under the title A Timely Affair. It has been edited for EC publication.

Available

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About the Author

Janice Bennett never intended to be a writer, but with B.A degrees in anthropology and classical civilizations and an M.A. in folklore and mythology, all from various campuses of the University of California, what choice did she have? Her first jobs included the usual abc’s—archaeology, bookkeeping and college craft instructor. Then in desperation she submitted her first novel, a Regency, and life took on a new and rather fascinating twist. Shortly thereafter, she began presenting workshops on a variety of writing topics, teaching novel writing at a community college, serving as a writing panel member at WorldCons…and then became an editor, as well. So far, she has written twenty-six novels and more than twenty novellas and received a number of awards, including two Lifetime Achievement awards from Romantic Times. She lives in a tiny, rural town with her husband, far too many cats, a huge dog, a large organic garden—and a computer she swears runs on chocolate chips, not silicon ones, which explains a lot about her.

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Cotillion Christmas Traditions: Kate Dolan and “Sense of the Season”

Christmas Traditions is the theme of this year’s Ellora’s Cave Blush Cotillion Christmas series. Eight stories focusing on Christmas traditions during the Regency will be released digitally, and then in print version as two anthologies.

The eight stories in the series are:

10/10/13: Twelve Days of Christmas, Barbara Miller

10/17/13: A Christmas Caroline, Christa Paige and Vivien Jackson

10/24/13: Festive Persuasion, Charlene Roberts

10/31/13: Lydia’s Christmas Charade, Saralee Etter

11/7/13: Snug in a Snowstorm, Cynthia Moore

11/14/13: Helena’s Christmas Beau, Aileen Fish

11/21/13: A Twelfth Night Tale, Susana Ellis

11/28/13: Sense of the Season, Kate Dolan

The inspiration for this story came from searching for a place to stay in England for the first night of our summer trip. Looking for someplace not far from Dover, I found a B&B called “Centuries” in the town of Hythe, right on the coast. It’s situated in an old ragstone building that served as an almshouse from the 13th Century up until the 20th Century. The pictures on the website looked so cool that knew I just had to stay there. Fortunately the rates were quite reasonable, they had vacancy (since this was several months in advance) and the owners love history as much (or more) than I do. Even though I hadn’t set foot in the place yet, I knew I wanted to use the building as the setting for a story.

It didn’t  fit my original idea for a “Christmas Traditions” story, so I picked a different tradition—giving alms to the poor.  Of course, then I had to write the story and submit it before I actually had the pleasure of staying at “Centuries,” but I knew I would have the chance to make some revisions before publication to add details about the place. I also used another historic home about ten miles away, Godinton House, and I incorporated as characters some members of the family who lived there at the time the story was set. And then during revisions, I decided I needed another site in the northern part of the county and was able to use another really cool house (with it’s own moat and clock tower) Igtham Mote.

senseoftheseason_msr low resBefore this trip, it had been over 20 years since I’d been to England, and it might be another 20 before I get to go again, so I was trying to soak up every detail and visit as many historic houses as I could to use in future tales. I can’t tell you how many times I made my husband stop the car so I could take a picture of something that caught my eye. Eventually I just started taking pictures through the windshield. They’re not exactly frame-worthy, but they will help me remember potentially useful details.

I would love to set another story in Hythe at an earlier period when the town was in its heyday as a medieval  port. Many pilgrims from the Continent landed at Hythe on their way to Canterbury Cathedral. Maybe someday I’ll write my version of Canterbury Tales. Who knows?

To learn more about “Centuries” including the archaeology work done on the site, visit http://www.hythekentarchaeology.com/.

About Sense of the Season

There are many people William Fletcher would prefer to never again encounter in life, but if forced to rank them, he just might put Matilda Blakethorn at the top of the list. She humiliated him at the age of nine, and truth be told, scared the wits out of him for years after.

So now, waking up after a night of heavy drinking to find her looming over him is a bit of an unpleasant surprise. Especially since he has no place else to go.

Matty Blakethorn doesn’t recognize the bedraggled stranger sleeping on the floor of the St. Bartholomew’s Almshouse. But when he unwittingly ends up staying to help with repairs, the old acquaintance is renewed.  And while neither Matty or William is anxious to admit the troubles that have driven them to such a humble place, Christmas is a time of sharing and giving and reconciliation. When William finally reveals his greatest failing, Matty must decide whether she can again face the demon that already destroyed her life once before.

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About the Author

headshotgoldjackethairstickingoutKate Dolan was a terrible lawyer, so her decision to turn her back on the corporate world was a great relief to everyone, especially those in the corporate world. Since leaving the rat race, she has worked as a newspaper columnist, preschool teacher, bookkeeper and jump rope coach. A self-proclaimed “history nut,” she volunteers as a living history interpreter at historical sites near her home outside Baltimore and loves to share facts about the past, especially the gross ones.  When she grows up, she hopes to become a professional roller coaster rider with her daughter. She writes historical fiction and romance under her own name and contemporary Christian mysteries and children’s books under the name K.D. Hays.  Connect with her on Facebook  or at www.katedolan.com.