Above painting: Louis Jean Francois - Mars and Venus an Allegory of Peace
***All photos accompanying posts are either owned by the author of said post or are in the public domain -- NOT the property of History Undressed. If you'd like to obtain permission to use a picture from a post, please contact the author of the post.***

Wednesday, October 12, 2016


Releasing in just a few weeks!

November 1st!

5 NEW Novellas set in the enchanting Highlands!

Watch the trailer...



While on a siege, Laird Douglas Hay discovers a lass’ half-frozen body. Though she’s his enemy, he cannot abandon her. As his captive, she could bring a hefty ransom. He revives her, a task easier managed than dealing with her fiery temper, and the intense desire heating his veins. Taken prisoner by a brutish warrior, Lady Annora Comyn is determined to escape. Secretly, she believes the war between Scots is ludicrous, that the vying for the crown should have ceased when her royal brother was murdered. Annora struggles with the notion of letting men fight their battles, or offering herself as collateral to unite the warring Scots. After all, there are far worse things than having to kiss Laird Hay everyday for ever and ever…


Lady Aila MacIntosh hopes she doesn’t regret the king’s marital choices for her and her sister. Until one braw Highlander bumps into her at the king’s gathering. He’s as taken with her as she is with him, until she learns he is but a commoner, when she is a lady. The king would never make a match between them. Alban of the Clan Daziel meets a beautiful woman at the king’s court, only she is a lady and out of his reach. When the lady and he meet under awkward circumstances, they chance to overhear a plot to assassinate the king. Their lives spiral out of control and losing his heart to Aila is only one of his pressing concerns. Protecting her from those who wish the king dead—his greatest.


When Lady Mairiana MacKerrick witnesses her fiancé, Alec Lindsay, committing a murder three days before their wedding, she decides she must run away. Darack Grant, secretly an outlaw MacGregor, is on a secret mission, but when he finds Mairiana hiding in the stables, he decides to help her escape. He remembers the lovely lass from their one meeting a few years before. Though he was drawn to her, he always saw her as far beyond his reach. Mairiana finds her hidden inner strength and trusts the Highland renegade to protect her on their journey through the Scottish Highlands. On the way, they find an astonishing passion. But Alec will stop at nothing to reclaim his betrothed and destroy Darack, even pin a murder on him.


TARTANS AND TRYSTS by Victoria Roberts
Sorcha Gunn has realized the error of her ways and wants to make amends for everything she’s done. But when her cousin mysteriously disappears and Sorcha suspects her father is responsible, she needs to make a choice: betray the man who has given her everything or seek help from his enemy. As captain of the MacKay guard, Doughall Forbes will do anything to protect his clan from the ruthless Gunn laird. The last thing he needs is a wily female luring him into a nefarious trap. But he believes Sorcha, even though he can tell she’s holding something back. He’s determined to help her but soon discovers he’s the one who needs protection…from losing his heart.



Iain Brodie is a fierce warrior and passionate lover, but to prove he’s responsible enough to be the clan’s chief, he must find a bride—quickly. One of the three Rose daughters fills his mind—and heart—even when he discovers she is not who she claimed to be. Annie Rose doesn’t want to be a bride, not even deliciously and annoyingly sexy Iain’s. But her father wants an alliance with Iain’s clan, and he’s chosen her to forge it. Then Annie falls under Iain’s seductive spell at the spring known in old tales as the fairy pool. When her father suddenly decides against their match, Iain must risk losing everything he values—the clan he was born to lead and even Annie—his only love.


Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The Ghost Ship Mary Celeste

It’s October and what better way to gear up for the holidays than with a spooky tale.

Have you ever been on a boat suspended between the horizon and the ocean? That wondrous place where the blue sea meets the equally blue skies? Or when the sun tucks in for the evening and liquid black blends into the star-studded night? If so, you know how incredibly small you are. Nothing but water for miles and miles can be daunting. When the sea is smooth as glass, it is a peaceful place. But when angry, lashing out with slaps of waves, the sea can be unforgiving. Calm or rough, the ocean is dangerous...and scary.

Mary Celeste
The mysteries of what lies beneath in the deep drink has stimulated the imagination for centuries. Since the first boat cast out to sea, tall tales of monsters, mythical beings, strange happenings, and phantom ships have been told. Some yarns and legends are merely fantastical explanations of odd sea creatures or weather occurrences from superstitious sailors. But some stories are real and unexplainable. One such story is the ghost ship Mary Celeste.

The Mary Celeste was launched in 1861 under her original name Amazon in Nova Scotia. As she prepared for her maiden voyage loaded with a timber cargo bound for London, her first captain Robert McLellan fell ill and died. That should have been an omen. The journey to London under a new captain would go on, but the voyage was hardly a smooth one. She collided with fishing weir causing a gash in her hull and needing repair before she ever sailed out into the Atlantic. Once she finally made it to London, she struck another ship, sinking it. Not really the best start for a brand new ship and it wasn’t the end of mishaps surrounding the vessel. Six years and many captains later, she was run aground by a storm off a Nova Scotia island and abandoned. Declared a derelict, Amazon was sold, repaired, refitted, and renamed Mary Celeste.

On November 7, 1872, the brigantine Mary Celeste sailed out of the New York Harbor and into the Atlantic bound for Genoa, Italy. Risky business considering the Atlantic often churns with volatile weather during the winter months. The cargo, 1701 barrels of denatured alcohol meant to fortify wine. She was captained by master mariner—and, ironically, teetotaler—Benjamin Spooner Briggs of Massachusetts. Along for the voyage was his wife, Sarah, 2-year-old daughter, Sophia, his trusted first mate, Albert Richardson, and six hand-picked crewmen.

Having left the port just eight days after the Mary Celeste, the Canadian brigantine Dei Gratia sailed within sight of the ship nearly one month later on December 5th midway between the Azores and Portugal. Repeated attempts to hail the ship garnered no reply and soon it was realized the aimlessly drifting Mary Celeste was deserted. Not a soul on board. Aside from weathered sails, the main halyard line hanging over the side of the ship, a faulty pump, and the soaking wet interior rooms from open hatches, Mary Celeste was in relatively good condition. She was well-stocked with provisions, her cargo untouched, and her occupants’ personal items still on board. Only the yawl (lifeboat) and a couple pieces of navigational equipment, the chronometer and sextant, were missing.

The last entry in the ship’s logbook on November 25th recorded her location within sight of the Azores island of Santa Maria. That was nine days earlier and 400 miles from where she was found adrift by Dei Gratia’s crew. Imagine boarding a seaworthy ship in the middle of the ocean to find no one on board and not a trace of what happened to them. That would be eerie!

Beautiful thief + sexy libertine = wicked fun
Click here for more!
The abandoned ship was sailed to Gibraltar by three of Dei Gratia crew members. Under maritime law, a share of the salvage of ships and/or cargo can be awarded to those who bring them in. But the British vice admiralty court suspected something amiss with the salvage. Perhaps the Dei Gratia crew ambushed and killed Captain Briggs and his family and crew, hoping to cash in a sizable salvage. Eventually, the court found no real evidence of foul play but awarded a much smaller reward.

Theories abound over what happened to the missing Mary Celeste crew, including marauding pirates, sudden waterspouts, an attack by a giant squid, a violent seaquake, and mutiny. All claims have been refuted. So what happened to her crew?

The most plausible explanation is something caused Briggs to order everyone off the ship and into the yawl. Perhaps strong vapors from the alcohol in the hold panicked the captain into calling for an immediate abandon ship. The lifeboat was probably tied to the thick rope that had been found hanging over the side of the ship. Whatever caused the captain to make that decision was likely a false alarm, but somehow the halyard snapped—whether by rough seas, a nefarious act, or something entirely mundane—and the little party was left behind, watching the Mary Celeste sail away without them. Ten people, suspended in the wondrous place between the horizon and the ocean, mysteriously vanished never to be seen or heard from again. More than 140 years later, the mystery still remains.

The Mary Celeste sailed for another twelve years until she was intentionally shipwrecked in an attempted insurance fraud. Seemed her fate all along was a doomed one.

Ghost ships like Mary Celeste have sparked my imagination, as well. One named Gloria is featured in my second full-length novel A Kiss In The Wind in the Romancing the Pirate series.

For a brief video on the Mary Celeste, click the link below.

About the Author

Jennifer is the award-winning author of the Romancing the Pirate series. Visit her at www.jbrayweber.com or join her mailing list for sneak peeks, excerpts, and giveaways.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

The Scent of Roses by Kathleen Bittner Roth

Welcome back to History Undressed, our regular first Tuesday blogger and author, Kathleen Bittner Roth! Kathleen Bittner Roth! 


by Kathleen Bittner Roth

Budapest, Hungary became my home six years ago. This expat is forever tied to the U.S., but I have felt compelled to live in other parts of the world and experience a country’s history and heritage. I’ll start with a trip outside the city—my journey to Krakow, Poland.

Keleti Train Station, Budapest

My friend and I boarded a train to Krakow from the Keleti Train Station in Budapest. The facility, built in 1881, was considered the most lavish station in Europe at the time, and is still beautiful today. How novel—a slumber party aboard a sleeper train, and we’ll arrive first thing in the morning, fresh and ready to explore Krakow and its surroundings.
Near dusk, and about an hour outside of Budapest, a sweet scent of roses enveloped us. Bushes laden with lush, powdery-pink blooms appeared for miles beside the tracks, so thick it seemed as though delicate, tinted clouds had fallen from the sky. I have never seen such a sight. We closed our eyes and breathed in the intoxicating perfume that swept through the train, feeling as though we floated on a fragrance created exclusively for us.

Then a jarring thought gripped me: My God, we’re riding the very rails that carried Jews, Gypsies, and political prisoners beyond Krakow to Auschwitz and Birkenau!
Hundreds of thousands of innocents on their way to their deaths. Hundreds of people packed in each car—women, men and children cramped so tightly together they were forced to stand the entire trip with no food, water or toilets. Even the dead and dying could not fall in the crush. Suddenly, the small compartment we occupied didn’t seem so cramped.
And what of the roses?
Had these fragrant flowers lined the tracks back then? After all, wild roses can regenerate for decades. I choked back tears, and turned to my friend whose countenance told me she held similar thoughts.
“Do we really want to visit Auschwitz?” I asked her.
We grew silent for a long while as we gazed at the blur of pink, and breathed a scent no longer light and sweet, but suddenly heavy and funereal. Then, strange as it may seem, we came to the conclusion that we had to honor those who traveled these tracks before us by remaining focused on their plight during our train ride, and commit to visiting the camps upon our arrival. What would our decision produce? Would it heal any lost souls? Would it heal us? We didn’t know, but we felt fractured, scarred by the past, and compelled to see our journey through to the end.

Eventually, we left the roses behind and traveled for a long while beside a lovely river. We didn’t know which river, but the countryside was beautiful. Bucolic. I wondered if the farmers who lived alongside this lazy river back then, or the people in these tiny villages, knew what horrors the trains carried.
Had anyone realized they were death trains?
Had anyone ever wandered close enough to the tracks to hear the wailings of the forsaken?
Had there been any cries to even be heard at that stage of the journey? After all, the trains were nothing more than windowless cattle cars, their doors nailed shut once the people were packed inside, and the only light to be had was what seeped through cracks in the boards.
Interior of boxcar used to transport Holocaust victims

Dear God, how could this have happened?
While my friend did fairly well with sleeping in her little bunk, I slept fitfully. I awoke once feeling disoriented. For a moment, as the clickety-clack of wheels against rails filled my ears, I didn’t know if I was on a train some sixty six years ago or now. I felt like a dark-haired teenager, confused and wondering where we were going, and what and why everything was happening. It was almost as though I had inculcated a miasmic memory that still hovered above the tracks. I came fully awake feeling desolate. I could barely breathe. I curled up on the other end of the bed, next to the window, and gulped in fresh air until my racing heart found some semblance of normalcy.
But my mind refused to wander elsewhere.
Hundreds of thousands of people rode these very rails to their deaths. What were they thinking? How were they feeling? A great sob welled up in my chest, one that wouldn’t release—at least not yet.
Had the guards and engineers aboard those trains known what was happening? Had they known these people were to be worked until they dropped or would be gassed within hours of arrival if they were too old, too young or infirm? Did they know that any twins or ‘little people’ aboard would be used for hideous experiments by the death camp’s macabre Dr. Josef Mengele, ironically known as The Angel of Death? Or were these workers kept naive, only informed of their own jobs, and they saw nothing beyond where the train disappeared from sight? I would tend to think so, since it would have compromised the Nazi program of creating an Aryan society of healthy blue-eyed blonds had word leaked out of what they were up to.
Suddenly, I had a deep sense that for whatever reason, I was meant to ride this train, that I was meant to have these experiences. That I was meant to know and understand what the Hungarians had suffered through (Hungarian Jews comprised the greatest number sent to Auschwitz, but don’t forget the Gypsies and political prisoners—nuns, priests, businessmen, housewives. Any Hungarian labeled a spy became a political prisoner to be gotten rid of).
I’ve learned a great deal about the history in this part of the world, through my travels and by meeting Hungarians who have their histories to share. I have a story in mind that I hope will honor those who were taken from their homes in Budapest. I have four books to complete first, and then the story begins.

Kathleen Bittner Roth thrives on creating passionate stories featuring characters who are forced to draw on their strength of spirit to overcome adversity and find unending love. Her own fairy tale wedding in a Scottish castle led her to her current residence in Budapest, Hungary, considered one of Europe’s most romantic cities. However, she still keeps one boot firmly in Texas and the other in her home state of Minnesota. A member of Romance Writers of America®, she was a finalist in the prestigious Golden Heart® contest. Find Kathleen on Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, Pinterest and www.kathleenbittnerroth.com.

PORTRAIT OF A FORBIDDEN LADY is book two in Those Magnificent Malverns series: A young widow returns to her childhood home after a forced absence and faces her first and only love, but despite their powerful attraction, danger compels her to remain his forbidden lady.  ORDER YOUR COPY!

THE SEDUCTION OF SARAH MARKS is book one in Those Magnificent Malverns series: When a proper Victorian miss awakens next to a handsome stranger, she must rely on the man's benevolence as she struggles to regain her memory and hold onto her heart. ORDER YOUR COPY!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Ghostly Stories Behind the Once Upon A Haunted Castle Collection

Happy Release day to wonderful collection mates! Today is the release of our fun anthology: ONCE UPON A HAUNTED CASTLE.

'Twas a dark and stormy night in the Highlands... 
5 Scottish Castles... 5 Restless Ghosts... 5 Epic Love Stories.

In our own words, check out a bit about the history of the ghost stories in our epic anthology!

Dunstaffnage Castle, the setting for Eliza Knight's LAIRD OF SHADOWS
A funny thing happened to me: two friends approached me with ideas that meshed perfectly. Ruth A. Casie wanted to do a ghostly Celtic collection and Madeline Martin wanted to write about Scottish ghosts that help a hero and heroine fall in love. Immediately my mind exploded with ideas! I’d worked with Kathryn Le Veque and Terri Brisbin and thought they’d be perfect for the project, too!

I love a good ghost story, and in my travels to Europe, I’ve often felt the otherworldly presence of those who lived in the past. One of my favorite castles in Scotland is Dunstaffnage Castle, and I was lucky enough to visit there on my last trip! The history behind it is fascinating and haunting. There is this tale of a glaistig, or green lady, who haunts the grounds of Dunstaffnage. She is called the Ell-Maid of Dunstaffnage, but no one knows who she might have been. She appears in green, gliding over the walls, and through the forest. Her appearances often were brought on by tidings of joy or sadness within the family. This gave me an idea—in fact, it sparked a whole series! LAIRD OF SHADOWS is the opening book in my new MacDougall Legacy series (and will be releasing with bonus/expanded scenes in January 2017). In this story, we learn the origin of the Ell-Maid of Dunstaffnage… It was exciting to write this story, and I can’t wait for you all to read it, and to see what happens as I follow the MacDougall family throughout generations in my new series!

In Eliza Knight’s LAIRD OF SHADOWS, a decade old vow and an attack of Vikings brings Lady Elle Cam’béal to Dunstaffnage Castle seeking the help of the new, handsome, provocative laird with a beastly temper—Beiste MacDougall. As battles and treachery rain down upon them, Beiste and Elle find an unlikely ally in a ghost, and discover that a few stolen moments of passion can bring light from the shadows… 

Find later Castle, the setting for Kathryn Le Veque's DEEP INTO DARKNESS

In my novella, DEEP INTO DARKNESS, I drew a huge amount of inspiration from one of my favorite poets, Edgar Allan Poe. This was also my first story set in Scotland and I really wanted to do it right - creepy castle + Poe = Delicious Eeriness! 

I've done novellas based on Poe's works before, so it's really my interpretation of his poetry. In this case, the 'host' that narrates one of Poe's most famous poems, "The Raven", is also the host in my story. He's an old Viking who takes in two travelers for the night. And that's when the fun happens. I loved my hero and heroine so much that I had to write a full-length novel for them - THE RED LION will be released October 4th so readers can see how Jamison and Havilland met. But the bottom line is that I had a great time writing about a highlander hero and a great time writing a Medieval ghost story. I hope readers enjoy!

In Kathryn Le Veque's DEEP INTO DARKNESS, Findlater Castle in the Scottish Highlands becomes a place of mystery and doom for Jamison Munro and his wife,Havilland. Traveling across the highlands one dark and stormy night, they stumble upon a lonely Host in Findlater Castle, a pathetic soul waiting for his wife to return to him. It is a terrible tale of a tragic love story that the Host tells the travelers but when Havilland becomes curious about mysterious tapping sounds that go on in the middle of the night, she soon realizes the danger that she and her husband are in. It becomes a race against time for Havilland to free a trapped spirit and save both their lives in the process.

Duntulm Castle, one of the castle's in Terri Brisban's UPON A MISTY SKYE

When invited to contribute to this collection, I was lost! LOL! All I knew was that it must somehow involved Duntulm Castle, which I’ve visited several times and is known to be haunted. Once I was set on that location, I looked at the clans in the area and knew that the MacLeods and the MacDonalds were rivals for control of the Isle of Skye for centuries. A perfect choice for battling families. . . and forbidden love!

    I kept hearing the opening line of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ as I was planning out my story – “Two households, both alike in dignity, In fair Verona, where we lay our scene, From ancient grudge break to new mutiny, Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean. From forth the fatal loins of these two foes A pair of star-cross'd lovers. . . .” Of course, I wanted a ‘happily-ever-after’ so I adapted my Romeo and Juliet to make sure that happens! I suspect I will revisit the MacLeods and MacDonalds of Skye again....

In Terri Brisbin’s UPON A MISTY SKYE, Alexander MacDonald and Isabel MacLeod were not supposed to meet or fall in love or marry. Now that they have, both of their parents plan to separate them, by any means possible. But the ghost of Duntulm Castle has other plans for the forbidden lovers and those who stand in the way of true love.

Castle of Park, the setting for Madeline Martin's A GHOSTLY TALE OF FORBIDDEN LOVE

I’ve always loved haunted castles and the stories behind them. When first starting coming up with the idea for A Ghostly Tale of Forbidden Love, I read through all the ghost stories in Scotland until I came to one about Castle of Park. There were two ghosts: one of a monk who had been walled into the castle and left for dead, and another of a woman in green who was a servant – she’d  fell in love with the laird, ended up pregnant and then leapt to her death after having been fired. Then I thought, what if I saved the servant? Don’t worry – there still ends up being a second ghost to placate history, but who will it end up being?  

I actually was fortunate enough to stay for two nights at Castle of Park while in Scotland a couple weeks back. While I didn’t see any ghosts, the stay was absolutely magical.

In Madeline Martin’s A GHOSTLY TALE OF FORBIDDEN LOVE, Gavin MacDuff is a laird with a cruel and bitter aunt he’s sworn to protect. Senara is the new lady’s maid at Castle of Park and has sacrificed everything for the betterment of her family. Their paths tangle and lead to a road of hidden longing and secret passion – all of which is threatened by the power of one ghost who is fixed on revenge.

Caerlaverock Castle, the setting for Ruth A. Casie's THE MAXWELL GHOST

When I wrote The Guardian’s Witch I developed a character, Jamie Collins. He’s the hero’s close friend, confidant and at times conscience.  I’ve wanted to give Jamie his own story I just didn’t know what it would be until we started planning this collection. Castles, highlanders, ghosts, these were the elements that screamed Jamie Collins to me. When I sat down the story almost wrote itself.

My story is about Jamie and Laura Reynolds, two childhood friends who find themselves trying to solve a double murder not only to bring the murderer to justice, but to put a ghost to rest. Jamie and Laura’s relationship turns from friends to lovers but their whole story couldn’t be told in a novella. I have so much more to tell you about them that I had to write a full-length novel for them - THE HIGHLANDER’S ENGLISH WOMAN will be released in December. Readers will be able to see how Jamie and Laura’s relationship is tested and who helps Jamie along the way. This was a fun story to write. I hope you enjoy reading about them.

In Ruth A. Casie’s THE MAXWELL GHOST, traitors, deception, murders and ghosts run rampant at Caerlaverock Castle. Jamie Collins, a man of reality not hocus pocus, serves Lord Herbert in exchange for a his own farm.  Laura Reynolds, the Herbert's distant cousin comes to the castle to solve the murders and put the ghost to rest. The two, long-time friends find their destinies intertwined with hidden passions, but all is in jeopardy when Laura becomes the murderer’s next target. Jamie will find he needs some ghostly assistance to save Laura and declare his love.

Want to read more? Check out our anthology, now available in ebook and print!

Enter our Rafflecopter Contest for a chance to win a KINDLE!

Rafflecopter: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, September 23, 2016

Around The World With Nellie Bly ~ by Tara Kingston

Between November 1889 and January 1890, Nellie Bly, a 25-year-old reporter for the New York World, set a record for traveling the globe in seventy-two days, beating the time of the journey portrayed in the Jules Verne novel, Around the World in Eighty Days.

Nellie Bly’s journey was a fascinating endeavor:

~ Nellie Bly traveled light. She carried one piece of luggage that measured sixteen inches wide and seven inches high. 

~ When editors at the New York World were rumored to have selected a man for the trip, Bly responded with a challenge: “Very well. Start the man and I’ll start the same day for some other paper and beat him.”

~ She sailed from Hoboken Pier on November 14, 1889.

~ While on her journey, Nellie Bly met Jules Verne, the author of the novel that inspired her feat.

~ Bly’s journey included stops in Calais, Penang, Singapore, Hong Kong, Yokohama, San Francisco, and a return to New York.

~ Crowds cheered Nellie Bly on throughout her journey from San Francisco to New York City.

~ The New York World marketed a parlor game inspired by Nellie Bly’s journey, “Round the World with Nellie Bly.”

~ Nellie Bly had competition during her journey. The Cosmopolitan newspaper dispatched reporter Elizabeth Bisland from New York, traveling in the opposite direction as Bly. She completed the journey, but took four and half days longer.

~ Nellie Bly arrived in New York City on January 25, 1890, seventy-two days after she departed.

~ Nellie Bly’s account of her journey, Around the World in Seventy-Two Days” is available in the public domain.

To read more about Nellie Bly, check out these sources:

Photographs of Nellie Bly used in this post are found in the Library of Congress (in the public domain).

Click here to learn more about When A Lady Deceives

A Little About My New Release, When A Lady Deceives.

I’m thrilled that my Victorian romantic thriller, When A Lady Deceives, is now available. Like Nellie Bly, the heroine of When A Lady Deceives is a crusading investigative journalist. Jennie Quinn, star reporter for a London paper, is a daring woman who will overcome daunting obstacles to get the facts and fight for justice. She anticipates the danger of her investigation into an informant’s murder. But she doesn’t expect to fall in love, especially not with a very dangerous man. Here’s a little about the story:

A woman with a secret and a dangerous man forge an undeniable passion.

In Victorian London, reporter Jennie Quinn employs deception as a weapon. Going undercover to seek justice for a murdered informant, she’s drawn into a powerful criminal’s seductive game of cat and mouse. Enigmatic former lawman Matthew Colton is as dangerous as he is clever, but the passion in his kiss is too tempting to resist. She aches to trust him, but she will not abandon her quest for the truth.

Colton is a man with secrets of his own. Thirsting for vengeance, the disgraced Scotland Yard detective has infiltrated the criminal world he’s vowed to destroy. Jennie intrigues him, even as she breaks down the barriers around his heart. He yearns to uncover her secrets—in and out of his bed. Driven to shield her, he’ll risk everything to protect the woman whose love heals his soul.
To read more about When A Lady Deceives and enjoy an excerpt, please click here.