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.***

Friday, February 25, 2011

Royal Watching with Guest Author Sharon Buchbinder

Today I'd like to welcome a new guest author to History Undressed, Sharon Buchbinder.  Sharon is a statuesque blonde, whose virbant personality shines with intelligence and wit. I think you will find her post to be very informative and entertaining as I did.  Welcome Sharon!


Royal Watching
by Sharon Buchbinder

He was the reluctant heir to the throne of a desert kingdom.

She was a virgin queen living far away in the south.

A little bird told him of her beauty--he had to meet her.

A travelling merchant told her of his wisdom--she had to meet him.

Something greater than either of them conspired to bring them together. When they met, could there be any doubt they were meant for each other? But would duty to country prevail over their pledge to one another? Only time and love would tell.

Sound like the stuff of romance novels? Yes, this was a romance writ large because it was an affair of state and royalty. And these characters appear in no less than four holy books: the Torah, the Koran, the King James Bible and the Kebra Nagast (The Glory of Kings).

In Biblical times, he who could kill or overcome enemy tribes became king. With lots of children and careful planning, his heirs would succeed him. But not all countries had the same traditions. In some parts of the world, women ruled by might or by right to the throne. For the royals, marrying and having children was an affair of state. Right up until recent times, it was not uncommon for the royalty of different lands to marry for the mutual benefit of their countries. In our modern era, heads of state and heirs to thrones have been granted the freedom to marry whom they choose--within reason.

Millennia before Prince William and Kate Middleton’s time on the world stage, people have been royal watchers. Some watched to see if they were in favor and able to gain, others to see if they were out of favor and about to lose--their heads! Still others watched because it was simply the best show in town. So when the royalty of Israel met the royalty of Sheba, all eyes were upon them. Based on the appearance of these two royals in no less than four world religions, no one could resist watching the wise King Solomon and the beautiful Queen Makeda.

In researching my work-in-progress, Kiss of the Virgin Queen, I, too, have become a royal watcher--from a distance of over three thousand years. My historical voyeurism has taken me down a circuitous path across time and cultures to their mythic romance. Destinies entwined, some would say the Makeda/Solomon romance was beshert.

With construction on the first Temple well underway by the time King Solomon greeted the extravagantly generous Queen of Sheba,* he already had seven hundred (700) wives and three hundred (300) concubines. By marrying princesses of rival kingdoms, he had built an extraordinary alliance and ensured the safety of the trading routes. Curious about the man behind the legend, Queen Makeda traveled fifteen hundred (1500!) miles from Ethiopia to meet the wisest man on earth--and to ask him “hard questions.” When they met, the Queen was “left breathless by Solomon’s magnificence” (Coogan, Brettler, Newsom, & Perkins, 2001, pp. 508). The attraction was mutual--but there was nothing they could do about it. Or was there? The eyes of the world were upon them.

The Queen, while madly in love with Solomon, had to return to her country a virgin, or risk losing her throne. For his part, King Solomon was besotted with her and had to have her. In a cagy move, Solomon feasted with Makeda and made her promise never to steal from him. If she broke the promise, she had to sleep with him. Offended, Makeda pointed out that she had no need to steal from him, that in fact she had more gold and spices than she needed in her home country. However, unbeknownst to the Queen, the King had her food heavily spiced. That night, she became terribly thirsty and searched the palace for water. The only pitcher available was in King Solomon’s room. When she drank, he leaped up and demanded that she come to his bed. That night Solomon dreamed the sun travelled from Israel to her home country, Ethiopia.

Much as she wanted to stay, Makeda insisted on returning home carrying within her a very special gift from Solomon. Saddened by the loss of his true love, King Solomon gave her a signet ring and told her that if she had a son, to send him back to Israel with the ring so he would know him. Nine months later, Menelik was born just outside of Ethiopia. He grew up strong, healthy--and the spitting image of King Solomon. When he turned twenty-two, he insisted on meeting his father. Queen Makeda gave him the signet ring, but there was no need for it as everyone in Jerusalem could see he was his father’s son. King Solomon rejoiced and anointed his son, renaming him David, after his grandfather.

But the Elders and the seven hundred wives and the three hundred concubines grew worried. What if this David took over? What of the other sons of Solomon? After a meeting of the Council of Elders, Menelik/David was sent home much to his pleasure, but against his father’s wishes. King Solomon decided that since his eldest son had to leave, so should the eldest sons of all the other tribes. Amid great noise and with many wagons and animals, David departed. But little did King Solomon know at the time, the Ark of the Covenant went with him.

When the loss was discovered, King Solomon sent his horsemen after the travelers. To their amazement, the ark and the retinue were gone. Sped on by the Ark’s own desire to be with Menelik/David, its supernatural powers enabled it to move faster than the horsemen. To this day, the Ark of the Covenant is kept in Axum, Ethiopia, watched over by a priest for his entire lifetime.

This story, like many other wonderful legends, takes place in the space between religion and the paranormal. Kiss of the Virgin Queen will explore that space and the effects of the epic romance between King Solomon and Queen Makeda that continue to ripple down the centuries to their descendants. Stay tuned.

*(“Then she gave the king 120 talents of gold, a great quantity of spices, and precious stones, never again did such spices come in such quantity as was that which the queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon” (Kings 10:10 in Coogan, Brettler, Newsom, & Perkins, 2001, pp. 508-509).

If you are interested in reading more about this topic, here are some books for you.

Budge, W. (Translator). (2007). The Kebra Nagast (The Glory of Kings). Lexington, KY: Silk Pagoda.

Clapp, N. (2001). Sheba: Through the Desert in Search of the Legendary Queen. New York, NY: First Mariner Books.

Coogan, M.D., Brettler, M.Z., Newsom, C.A., & Perkins, P. (Eds.). (2001). Kings 10:1-13 in The New Oxford Annotated Bible. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, p. 508-509.

Fraser, A. (2004). The Warrior Queens. New York, NY: Anchor Books.

Razwy, S.A.A. (Ed.) & Ali, A. Y. (Translator). (2009). The Qur’an Translation. Elmhurst, NY: Tahrike Tarsile.

*****
Sharon Buchbinder has been writing fiction since she was in high school and has the rejection slips to prove it. After graduating with a BA in Psychology and no job, she realized her dreams of working in the attic writing great prose would have to take a back seat to the simple pleasures of eating, drinking, and having a roof over her head. Fast forward a few decades, and she had a career path that would make all but the kindest say, "What were you thinking?" After working in health care delivery for years, she became a researcher, then a professor. She had it all--a terrific, supportive husband, an amazing son, and a challenging job. But that itch to write (some call it obsession), kept beckoning her to "come on back" to writing fiction. Her genres include horror, mystery, romance and weird blends of the three. When not attempting to make students and colleagues laugh, she can be found herding cats and dogs, golfing, deep sea fishing, or writing. Visit Sharon at http://www.sharonbuchbinder.com/ to learn mor about her stories available for your reading pleasure.
 

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Historical Romance Review: Moonstruck Madness, by Laurie McBain

I recently finished reading Laurie McBain's book, Moonstruck Madness, re-issued this month with Sourcebooks (originally pubbed in 1977).  The book takes place in both Scotland and England, during and a few years after the Battle of Culloden.

I like the new book cover.  The one of I have on the ARC I received pictures a much older heroine, which I found disturbing since Sabrina is only about 17 in the book, and the woman on the original cover looked to be in her mid-thirties.  So kudos for updating the cover!

Book Info...

She’s one thing by day, something else altogether by night…After escaping the slaughter of her clan at a young age, Scottish noblewoman Sabrina Verrick provides for her siblings by living a double life, until the night she encounters the Duke, and her secret and all she holds dear is threatened…

He’s so disillusioned, he’s completely vulnerable…
With his inheritance at stake, Lucien, Duke of Camareigh, sets a trap for the Scottish beauty with the piercing violet eyes, never imagining what will happen when the trap is sprung…

As their lives become irreversibly entangled, Lucien and Sabrina become each other’s biggest threat, as well as their only salvation…

ISBN: 9781402242434

Pubbed in February 2011
Available now from Sourcebooks in Trade paperback

My Review...  **there are spoilers in this review, so don't read any further if you plan on buying this book**

This book was a quick read, with a lot of sensory and scenery detail. I was able to completely immerse myself in the story and visualize everything that was happening. The historical details were mostly good, except, I don't see how the Dowager Duchess could prevent the Duke from inheriting his seat, as that would be the pervious Duke's ability--but I could be wrong.

That being said, I wasn't exactly blown away by the heroine or hero, and this may be in part by what Ms. McBain played on as their faults, but they were just too darn arrogant and prideful for me to really get to know them or inside their heads--and yes in the end they do get over these flaws for the most part. The heroine never seemed to learn and was willing to put a lot of people in danger not necessarily for anything other than to stroke her own ego and need for revenge. I found her at times to be immature, naive, and so stubborn it was grating on the nerves.  Likewise with the hero.  Additionally, for a man that is supposed to be intelligent, I found it odd that he didn't figure out earlier that his cousins were setting him up.

I also had a problem with the ending.  There is this huge buildup, there is so much tension between the h/h that you aren't sure if they are every going to get together--and they don't solve their problems on their own. She just mulls it over in her mind and then after he saves her, they decide to love one another again.  I really missed watching them having to play out their emotional conflicts face to face. I also found the round-up of the cousins to be too fast, and not enough punishment done to them--in other words, unrealistic.

Now, despite the issues that I had, the book was entertaining, sensual, and the actual plot was very good. There were several places I laughed, and many things I couldn't wait to read further on. So, I wouldn't say don't read it. The book was good.  You just have to look over some of the more dated character flaws that you don't necessarily see from today's more modern writers.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Petticoat Spies: Rose O'Neal Greenhow aka Rebel Rose

Welcome back, Victoria Gray with her Petticoat Spies series!  Today she will delight us with her post on Rose O'Neal Greenhow, also known as Rebel Rose. If you missed the last post on "Crazy Bet", click here.

Rose O’Neal Greenhow: Rebel Rose
By Victoria Gray


As I discussed in my previous post, one of the Union’s most successful spies was a spinster who hid in plain sight, her eccentric, slightly mad persona the perfect disguise for their activities. Widely known as “Crazy Bet”, Elizabeth Van Lew rubbed elbows with Richmond elites while ferrying information to Union generals. The South also had its share of petticoat spies. Today, I’m going to share the story of Rose O’Neal Greenhow, possibly the most notorious of the Confederacy’s female spies.

Rose Greenhow was in many ways Elizabeth Van Lew’s opposite. A popular Washington, D.C. hostess, she flattered secrets out of the nation’s political and military elite. Married as a young woman to a State Department employee, Robert Greenhow, Rose associated with notables such as Dolley Madison and John C. Calhoun. Sophisticated and gracious, her charm proved as effective a disguise as Crazy Bet’s eccentricities when the war broke out in 1861 and Rose’s sympathy for the Confederacy led her to betray those who considered her a friend.

“Rebel Rose” quickly proved her mettle as a spy, providing Union general Beauregard with information that helped the South rout the North in the First Battle of Bull Run. Transporting the sensitive intelligence in the hair of a female courier, Rose demonstrated her ingenuity and her effectiveness.

Her activities were not without risk. Before long, she’d attracted the attention of Allan Pinkerton, who’d been brought in by the Union to combat espionage. Placed under house arrest, her home was occupied by Union soldiers and used to house other female prisoners. Confinement in Fort Greenhow, as her home came to be known, did not put a stop to Rose’s activities. Communications complaining of her mistreatment leaked out, creating great sympathy for her in the South. After several months, Fort Greenhow was closed. Rose and her young daughter were transferred to the Old Capitol Prison.

While in Old Capitol, Rose became a propaganda tool for the South, which portrayed the Northerners who’d imprisoned her as brutal for imprisoning both a woman and her child. Following a hearing that seemed to accomplish nothing, Rose Greenhow was exiled to Richmond. Mrs. Greenhow soon traveled to Europe, meeting with Queen Victoria, Napoleon III, and other members of the elite to garner support for the Confederate cause, while her book detailing her confinement in Washington during the first year of the war became a best seller in Britain.

Rose Greenhow’s European trip culminated in tragedy. On the last stretch of the voyage home, the ship on which she traveled ran aground off the North Carolina coast. While attempting to reach shore on a small boat, Mrs. Greenhow’s vessel capsized. She drowned and was buried with full military honors in Wilmington, North Carolina.

While she met a tragic end, Rose Greenhow lived her life defiantly, serving a cause she believed in quite passionately. She was a daring woman who stood up for her convictions, regardless of the cost, one of many women on both sides of the conflict who made great sacrifices for their beliefs.

Leave a comment for a chance to win an e-copy of Victoria's latest novel, ANGEL IN MY ARMS.

Victoria Gray writes sizzling Civil War era romance novels. Visit her at: http://www.victoriagrayromance.com/ or http://victoriagrayromance.blogspot.com/

Friday, February 11, 2011

Guest Blogging about Saint Valentine's Day

I am thrilled to have been invited to blog today at Victoria Gray's romance blog. I've posted about the history behind Valentine's Day! The romantic day dates back hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of years. Come on by to read up on it, and if you leave a comment you'll be entered in a drawing to win an e-copy of my novella, HER CAPTAIN DARES ALL.


Click here to read:  Saint Valentine's Day -- Not Just a Modern Gimmick

See you there!

Eliza Knight

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

SIR WALTER RALEIGH DID WHAT?! By Nancy Lee Badger

Welcome back to History Undressed, guest author, Nancy Lee Badger! Her article today is fascinating and of particular interest to me as it is about an Tudor courtier in Queen Elizabeth I's court. Enjoy!

SIR WALTER RALEIGH DID WHAT?!
By Nancy Lee Badger


Looking back, it seems that every article I have written for History Undressed has had a Scottish theme. Even before I sold my first historical paranormal, DRAGON’S CURSE, set on a Scottish island, I have loved everything about Scottish culture. But, I discovered historical society of a different sort, here in my adopted town of Raleigh, North Carolina.

Those who know me know the story. I ‘retired’ from public service at New Hampshire 9-1-1 and moved away from the snow and ice to a southern climate where I now write fulltime. My husband and I had visited Raleigh several times. Both of my sisters had moved here and it occurred to me that something had changed since our first visit.

The new Raleigh Convention Center is the diamond in the downtown’s revitalization plans. My sister and I drove into the city so she could register for a veterinary workshop. While driving by the front entrance, in search of a parking spot, there it stood…a larger than life bronze statue of the city’s namesake, Sir Walter Raleigh.

He used to be across town. That’s where I snapped his nighttime photo many years ago. How did he get here? (I have since discovered these new digs are the statue’s fourth home.)

Then I thought about the reason why his statue graced the newest building in downtown Raleigh, the capital of North Carolina. I dug around and came up with some interesting facts. Many tidbits of information confused me. I always thought of him as a larger-than-life hero for Queen Elizabeth. He was an English aristocrat, poet, writer, and explorer. The man has been romanticized in TV and movies. Did you see Simon Jones when he played Raleigh on the BBC sitcom Blackadder II in 1986? What about Clive Owen’s portrayal in Elizabeth: The Golden Age, a 2007 film? Unfortunately, his life was also full of wrong turns.

Born in England in 1552, he had a hand in suppressing rebellions and participated in a massacre in Ireland. Strike one.

He was put in charge of the first colonization of the “Colony and dominion of Virginia”. Settlers landed on Roanoke Island, an area that includes present day Virginia and North Carolina. This ended poorly when all the colonists disappeared off the face of the earth. To this day, they are remembered as The Lost Colony. Strike two.

Sir Walter was well known for popularizing tobacco in England. Strike three.

He secretly married one of Queen Elizabeth’s ladies-in-waiting, a big no-no, which earned him a stay in the tower of London. Strike four.

After the Queen’s death, he stood accused of participating in a plot against King James I. This ended in a lengthy stay in the bloody tower. Strike five.

When finally freed, he made two attempts to discover South America’s “City of Gold”, better known as El Dorado. Having no luck, his men ransacked a Spanish outpost. When he returned to England, he was arrested and beheaded in 1618. Yer out!

All is not lost. He had his great moments, too. Though wounded, he aided in the capture of the Spanish city of Cadiz. He was a member of parliament for both Dorset and Cornwall. He became governor of the Channel Island of Jersey. He wrote Volume 1 of The Historie of the World. He wrote poetry, such as The Lie and The Ocean to Cynthia. I cannot confirm the story everyone knows: Raleigh supposedly laid his cloak down to cover a puddle so that the Queen would not muddy her shoes. Was there a romance between these two powerful people? We might never know, but Sir Walter Raleigh DID write, “Romance is a love affair in other than domestic surroundings.”

Is this why he traveled the world? Is this why he adored Queen Elizabeth yet fathered children with two other women? My point is, like Sir Walter’s meandering statue, I have ‘lived’ in various locations. I hope we both have found our home in Raleigh, North Carolina. I also believe in another quote attributed to my new friend, Walter.

I can’t write a book commensurate with Shakespeare, but I can write a book by me.”

Thanks for the advice, Walter. I have!

For more information on Sir Walter Raleigh, his statue, or his poetry, check these links:

http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P3-1607850821.html

http://the-lost-colony.blogspot.com/2010/04/sir-walter-raleigh.html

http://www.poemhunter.com/sir-walter-raleigh/

*****

Nancy Lee Badger is a member of Romance Writers of America, Heart of Carolina Romance Writers, Fantasy-Futuristic & Paranormal Romance Writers, Celtic Heart Romance Writers, and Sisters in Crime. She has four published novels and also writes contemporary romance and romantic suspense as Nancy Lennea: http://www.nancylennea.com/.

Website: http://www.nancyleebadger.com/

Blog: http://www.rescuingromance.nancyleebadger.com/

DRAGON’S CURSE is available from Whispers Publishing

Buy link: http://whispershome.com/erotic/romance/dragons-curse/

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Historical Fiction Book Giveaway!

Sourcebooks contacted me today to say they had an extra copy of Sins of the House of Borgia, by Sarah Bower, for one of History Undressed's lucky readers!!!

The book will be published next month, but you'll have a chance to have it in your hot little hands before then!

Book Info...

Violante isn’t supposed to be here, in one of the grandest courts of Renaissance Italy. She isn’t supposed to be a lady-in-waiting to the beautiful Lucrezia Borgia. But the same secretive politics that pushed Lucrezia’s father to the Vatican have landed Violante deep in a lavish landscape of passion and ambition.



Violante discovers a Lucrezia unknown to those who see only a scheming harlot, and all the whispers about her brother, Cesare Borgia, never revealed the soul of the man who dances close with Violante.

But those who enter the House of Borgia are never quite the same when they leave—if they leave at all. Violante’s place in history will test her heart and leave her the guardian of dangerous secrets she must carry to the grave.

Leave a comment with your email address!  I will draw the winner randomly tomorrow.

Cheers!
Michelle

Friday, February 4, 2011

Undressing for Bed and Pleasure with Janet Mullany

Welcome back to History Undressed Janet Mullaney!  And congrats on your latest steamy Regency release.  History Undressed readers are in for a tantalizing post today...

Undressing for Bed and Pleasure
by Janet Mullany


Thanks for having me as a guest today! I’m here as part of a blog tour—or possibly more of a blog dawdle—for my release MR BISHOP AND THE ACTRESS, a Regency chicklit. It doesn’t have US release but you can buy it with free shipping at Book Depository or, if you comment today, you’ll be entered into a drawing for a signed copy. You can also win a book from my backlist if you join my mailing list—sign up at my website www.janetmullany.com, where you can read an excerpt and more about the book, and you can also find me on facebook to enter a contest there.


Since this blog has such a provocative name I wanted to talk about beds today and what people—wore—or didn’t wear—when they were in them. There’s a bed that features prominently in MR BISHOP AND THE ACTRESS. It belongs to the heroine, Mrs. Sophie Wallace, a gift from a former protector, and is one of her most treasured possessions:

The bed is huge and ancient, its posts dark with age and carved with leaves and flowers, the hangings a dark red silk. A bed made for sin.

Later in that scene, the hero, the very proper Mr. Harry Bishop, is charged with dismantling and moving the bed:

I bristle with offended male pride. “I assure you I am quite strong enough to deal with dismantling your bed, Mrs. Wallace.”

“Oh, certainly.” She strolls over to the window and props herself against the window ledge. “Pray proceed. The steps double as storage. You will find a mallet and a wedge there. There is not a single steel bolt or screw in the whole piece except for the curtain rails. It’s very well made.”


I walk around the bed silently cursing myself for my arrogance. I am not sure that even the brawn of my brother-in-law Thomas Shilling, a huge ex-pugilist of some twenty stone of muscle, or even two of him, if they existed, could dismantle this monstrosity of fornication. I shall be like the minnow that swims alongside a whale. Grimly I unbutton my coat.


How many other men have unbuttoned their coats (and more) in the presence of Mrs. Wallace and her bed?

In Regencyromancelandia everyone gets naked to make love. But did they really?

I drank bohea in Celia’s dressing room:
Warm from her bed, to me alone within.
Her night-gown fastened with a single pin:
Her night-clothes tumbled with resistless grace,
Her bright hair played careless round her face;
Reaching the kettle made her gown unpin,
She wore no waistcoat, and her shift was thin.


Photo by Sharon Burnston
http://www.sharonburnston.com/quiltedwaistcoat.html 
It was quite usual for women in the early eighteenth century to wear some sort of waistcoat as their night attire, and although Lady Mary Wortley Montagu in 1716 doesn't mention it, sexy Celia would almost certainly have been wearing a night cap. The waistcoat Celia has so daringly discarded would have been a sturdy garment like this one of quilted white linen from the mid-eighteenth century.You can read the whole poem, Town Eclogues: Tuesday; St. James's Coffee-House here.

You really didn't need to take your clothes off for any sort of sexual contact (drawers were to remain crotchless into the Edwardian period); if you did, you'd then have the problem of lacing oneself back into the stays, which were nearly all back-lacing, unless you'd had the foresight to wear side lacing or front lacing ones.

Confusingly, the Regency definition of “undress” wasn’t ours. According to historical costume expert Cathy Decker, during the Regency period, "Undress" meant simply casual, informal dress. It was also called "dishabille" or "deshabille," the French word for the same type of dress. Another clue is anything "negligently worn" or "à la négligé" is probably either undress or designed to resemble closely undress. Undress is the sort of dress to be worn from early morning to noon or perhaps as late as four or five, depending on the engagements one had. Compared to half dress and full dress, undress was usually more comfortable, more warm, more casual, and much cheaper in cost.

In other words, clothes to slop around in at home, rather than some sexy little nothings for the boudoir—the Regency equivalent of sweatpants.

Where it gets really interesting, of course, is that historically you would only undress completely in front of your inferiors--your personal servants. So should there be an added frisson here, on the rare occasions when one or both (or all!) participants got their clothes off, that rules were being broken, the social order turned upside down?

Nakedness, or its absence, implies a lot of emotions: vulnerability, trust, arousal. It also implies a certain level of power, and that’s something we’re all aware of in reading and writing erotic historical romance: who has the power, who drives the scene, and when and how does a power switch takes place.

What do you think?

****

Back Cover Book Blurb...

What could be more important than a lady's reputation? Although initially alarmed by their unconventional ways, strait-laced Harry Bishop is content in the service of Lord Shad and his family. But when he is sent to London to rescue Shad's wayward relation from debt and self-destruction, he also has the dubious honor of dealing with the man's illicit lover - troublesome actress Sophie Wallace. A man of dignity and decorum, Mr Bishop is desperate to disassociate himself from the scandalous Sophie. Unfortunately, avoiding her proves harder than he could ever have imagined and soon she's causing him all kinds of bother...

About the Author...

Janet Mullany was raised in England by half of an amateur string quartet and now lives near Washington, DC. Persecuted from an early age for reading too long in the bathroom, she still loves books and is an avid and eclectic reader. She has worked as an archaeologist, classical music radio announcer, arts publicist, and for a small press.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Historical Fiction Review: Lily of the Nile

Wow, Stephanie Dray! I settled down onto my couch with your debut release, Lily of the Nile, amongst the upheavel in Egypt that is happening right now... And WOW! You blew me away. I've been amazed, fascinated, humbled, and enthralled by Egyptian history since I was very young.  My grandparents took a trip there, and brought back a carved wooden elephant, which sits in my living room today. It is one of the places on my "Must Visit" list and whenever a documentary comes up on The History Channel, I record it/watch it, whatever I can... As I write this review, I can spy, the book, Cleopatra, by Michael Grant across from me on my bookshelf, a book that I read years ago... So needless, to say, I was a fan of the Ptolemy House and Egyptian culture for years, so a new novel about Cleopatra's daughter was especially exciting to me... And I was not disappointed.

Book Info...



With her parents dead, the daughter of Cleopatra and Mark Antony is left at the mercy of her Roman captors. Heir to one empire and prisoner of another, it falls to Princess Selene to save her brothers and reclaim what is rightfully hers…

In the aftermath of Alexandria’s tragic fall, Princess Selene is taken from Egypt, the only home she’s ever known. Along with her two surviving brothers, she’s put on display as a war trophy in Rome. Selene’s captors mock her royalty and drag her through the streets in chains, but on the brink of death, the children are spared as a favor to the emperor’s sister, who takes them to live as hostages in the so-called lamentable embassy of royal orphans…

Now trapped in a Roman court of intrigue that reviles her heritage and suspects her faith, Selene can’t hide the hieroglyphics that carve themselves into her flesh. Nor can she stop the emperor from using her for his own political ends. But faced with a new and ruthless Caesar who is obsessed with having a Cleopatra of his very own, Selene is determined honor her mother’s lost legacy. The magic of Egypt and Isis remain within her. But can she succeed where her mother failed? And what will it cost her in a political game where the only rule is win or die?

Berkley Trade January 2011
# ISBN-10: 0425238555

My Review...

First of all, the research in this book was more than evident. The author writes in 1st-person point-of-view, which is very difficult to begin with, but Dray does it in such a way that I was captured by Selene (the main character, daughter of Cleopatra).  She had a story to tell, and I was her avid listener. This girl, because she truly is a girl, from age 12-15 or so in the book, but for all that she is a girl, she is a queen. She has an extremely regal bearing, her speech is royal, she is smart, she is intelligent, she is religious, and yet she's at war with herself. I felt for her, I ached for her struggles, I understood her fears, her desires.

This book gave me chills... I had to remember to breath. The level of intensity, the power of magic and Isis, and the dramatic tension, the danger, all kept me on the edge of my seat.  I really enjoyed the way Dray conveyed the setting and the era. She did it so subtly--so as not to interupt the story at hand, yet at the same time it was strong enough that I could "see" everything in my mind, from the statues, the silk robes, the wool togas, the courtyards, the people, etc... The subtle use of language in this book also added to the flavor.

I would highly recommend this book for all historical fiction lovers, and if you weren't a historical fiction fan before, you might be when you read it!

Now for the warning... Ms. Dray left us with an intense cliffhanger!  I am literally haunting her website to find out when the next book will be available.  Here's the info... The next book in the series is Song of the Nile, and it will release in Autumn of this year!!! There is a gorgeous preliminary cover pic at Goodreads if you want to check it out.

Speaking of websites, Ms. Dray has tons of cool articles and fun stuff on there, worth a check: http://www.stephaniedray.com/

Until next time...
Eliza and Michelle


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Book Review: The Mistress' House, by Leigh Michaels

I just had a delightful romp in Regency-era England... National bestselling author, Leigh Michaels' book The Mistress' House.

The book was funny, sexy and entertaining. I couldn't put it down!  I loved how the stores of Anne and Thorne, Fliss and Richard, and finally Georgie and Julian were intertwined around this one house. And while highly sensually charged, the stories were so romantic.  The men superb lovers and not only in the physical form. They truly had a way about their words that had my heart melting.  Additionally, all three heroines were strong, feisty, independent, and knew almost exactly what they wanted.  I say almost, because at first they had one intention only to see it melded into another much more satisfying end.

A definite recommended read if you're looking for a sensual bit of historical romance. 

Book Info:

Three beautifully intertwined love stories…


The rules are made to be broken…

When the handsome, rakish Earl of Hawthorne buys the charming house across the back garden from his town home, he never expects the lovely lady he installs there to ensnare him completely…

Again…

After Lady Anne Keighley marries the earl, it seems a shame to leave the house empty, so she offers it to her childhood friend Felicity Mercer, who discovers that the earl’s gorgeous cousin is precisely the man she’s been waiting for…

and again…

Finally, feisty Georgiana Baxter moves into the house to escape an arranged marriage, and encounters the earl’s friend Lord Julian Silsby late one night in the back garden. The handsome soldier is more than willing to give her the lessons she asks for…

There is plenty of gossip, scandal, and torrid speculations surrounding the “mistress’ house”, but behind closed doors, passions blaze…

ISBN: 9781402241352

Published by Sourcebooks, February 2011
Mass-Market Paperback and E-Format