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, September 21, 2011

Video of the Week: Horrible Histories Cleopatra Lyrics


This weeks video was posted on the Historical Novel Society Chesapeake Bay are authors Facebook page, by one of my fav authors, Stephanie Dray, who found it on YouTube. Enjoy! It is very entertaining!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Historical Fiction Review: Holy Warrior by Angus Donald

This is the first Angus Donald book I've read, and I found it exhilarating! An adventure in reading, I felt as though I were within the pages, holding my brief, reaching out with my sword to block an assault. I cannot wait to get my hands on the first in this Robin Hood series, OUTLAW and the third, THE KING'S MAN when it releases.

ABOUT THE BOOK

After the events ofOutlaw, Robin of Locksley—and his sidekick and narrator, Alan Dale—finds himself in a very different England and a very changed world.
In 1190 A.D. Richard the Lionheart, the new King of England, has launched his epic crusade to seize Jerusalem from the Saracens. Marching with the vast royal army is Britain’s most famous, most feared, most ferocious warrior: the Outlaw of Nottingham, the Earl of Locksley—Robin Hood himself. With his band of loyal men at his side, Robin cuts a bloody swath on the brutal journey east. Daring and dangerous, he can outwit and outlast any foe—but the battlefields of the Holy Land are the ultimate proving ground. And within Robin’s camp lurks a traitor—a hidden enemy determined to assassinate England’s most dangerous rogue.

Richly imagined and furiously paced, featuring a cast of unforgettable characters, Holy Warrior is adventure, history and legend at its finest.

St. Martin's Griffin, August 2011

ISBN: 978-0-312-67837-1, ISBN10: 0-312-67837-1,
Ebook, Hard Cover, Trade Paperback / 400 pages

MY REVIEW

From the opening pages you are pulled into a dramatic, vivid, violent medieval tale, told from the first person point-of-view of Alan Dale, one of Robin Hood's men. All our favorite Robin Hood legendary men are within the tale, but while this is a novel of Robin Hood, it is a tale never told before, and it is this once band of outlaws charging into the fray that was the Holy War, in search of spreading Christianity and saving the Holy Land. Except that Robin Hood was not especially Christian... And deceit, greed, pillaging and fighting take precedence.

Young Alan Dale, sees many things that change him--violance, love, greed, treachery--and through it all, he comes out on top, strong for having learned his lesson and staying true to his honor.

Mr. Donald, did a fabulous job on his research and should be applauded for his authentic historical details. I cringed, I gasped, I exclaimed loudly, I was sad, I was happy. Holy Warrior, is definitely a book that moved me through many emotions! The author truly immersed himself in the tale and it comes through. He knew Robin Hood and his band, he knew about the events of the Holy War and the events of the time period in England. Because of this, Angus Donald was able to pen a brilliant tale that combined actual historical events with legend. I believed this story. I believed it could have taken place. It was real within those pages.

And I must say, I looked forward to what curses Little John was going to come up with next! "God's hairy bollocks!" Hilarious!

Be warned, this is not a tale for the faint of heart. Be prepared and travel on with shield in place, for this brutal tale awaits your reading pleasure. A recommended read for history and Robin Hood fans!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Happy Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Today is Talk Like A Pirate Day!  So, I'm re-posting a blog I wrote for Victoria Gray's blog earlier this summer.  Enjoy!

How to Write a Pirate Hero

This summer saw the release of my very first pirate story, and I had a blast writing it—not to mention the research. Before your mind starts wondering to the bedroom—which yes, those scenes are fun to imagine and write—I’m talking about acting like a pirate! I like all of my stories to be as authentic as possible, and when you are writing a pirate story, there is a certain amount of language and actions that must be incorporated into the story to make it more realistic.

Here are some examples of pirate speak I used to make my story sound more authentic. I have also translated for fun!

“Avast, ye wretches, down ye go, else prepare to feed the fish!”

Attention, prisoners, please exit the ship via the gangplank, or I shall be forced to throw you overboard where you shall be made into a meal for sea creatures.

***

“Might be best to toss her to the sharks.”

Perhaps instead of letting her live, it would be best if we killed her and let the sharks eat her.

***
“Avast, men! You landlubbers! Back to the ship! We sail within the hour or I shall see you to Davy Jones!”

Attention please, good crew! My wonderful ship workers! Let us board the ship. We will sail within the hour, or I will be forced to sentence you to an eternity at the bottom of the sea with the devilish ghost of the heartless Davy Jones.

***
What are some other things you need to make your pirate story authentic?

~A ship of course (which I described on my last post here) or at least the need to get one’s ship, like the sexy Jack Sparrow we all know and love… sigh…

~A crew. Every pirate captain needs a crew!

~At least one peg leg, and some eye patches. A pirate story is just not complete without them.

~A pirate flag for your ship, to put fear in the minds of those you intend to dominate.

~A sword fight.

~A hot pirate captain–which you will most definitely find within my novella, A PIRATE’S BOUNTY. Captain Wraith Noir is totally drool worthy! He can capture me anytime! Here is an brief excerpt from the story when Faryn first lays eyes on him:

Faryn chanced a glance above her and was taken aback by what she saw. A man dressed completely in black, from shining leather boots leading to mid-calf, black leather breaches, black linen shirt and cape. His face was darkly tanned, lips covered by a neatly trimmed dark beard on his chin and a mustache. Hard gray eyes stared out at her from beneath raven brows. His hair was not pulled back but left to hang to his shoulders in sleek black locks, and atop that black head was a black cap, various accoutrements attached to it. Beyond beads, feathers and bones, she couldn’t make out more of what hung from his cap, nor did she care. She was sure she stood staring directly at the devil.

~ Said pirate captain, must: swagger, be full of confidence, have a wicked smile, kiss sinfully and have a tortured past.

~ And of course, what kind of a pirate story would it be if our sexy dread pirate didn’t find a lady to love?

Some great links to visit if you’re writing a pirate story are the following:

The Pirate’s Realm: http://www.thepiratesrealm.com/
The Pirate King: http://www.thepirateking.com/
Pirate Info: http://www.piratesinfo.com

A PIRATE’S BOUNTY – Now Available at Ellora’s Cave!

1764. When Faryn is captured by the mysterious and sensual dread pirate Captain Wraith Noir, who delivers her as a slave to the flesh-hungry court of the pirate queen, she expects her future will be bleak and death imminent. Lucky for Faryn, Wraith doesn’t plan for that to be her end, as he wants her for his own.

Duty, desire, passion, revenge and treachery besiege Faryn and Wraith. With the future uncertain, only fate, love and the truth will set them both free.

Reader Advisory: Contains a heroine experiencing the diverse pleasures of a pirate queen’s court, including f/f touching and scorching public sex, as well as mentions of traditional pirating endeavors.

To read reviews and an excerpt visit: http://elizaknight.com/APiratesBounty.aspx



Friday, September 16, 2011

Romance Writing Contest for Published and Pre-Published Authors


SHORTAGE of ENTRIES in SOME CATEGORIES

DEADLINE EXTENDED to OCTOBER 1, 2011 in the 2011 REVEAL YOUR INNER VIXEN CONTEST

From Maryland Romance Writers

There is still time to enter the Reveal Your Inner Vixen Contest!!!!!

Although we continue to accept submissions in all categories, we are currently low on entries in the following:

Historical
Series Contemporary
Alternative/Paranormal
Young Adult
Erotic

Maryland Romance Writers is proud to announce the 2011 "Reveal Your Inner Vixen" Contest for writers of romantic fiction. Send us your most sizzling scene showcasing sensual tension between your hero and heroine.

Your scene can be a flirtation, a kiss, or a hot and heavy love scene,  just as long as the reader can feel that tension!

WHAT DO I ENTER?

Up to 20 pages of any scene that showcases your use of sensual tension, plus an unjudged 1-page set-up (optional).

WHO CAN ENTER?

Anyone! Membership in Maryland Romance Writers or Romance Writers of America is NOT required. The author can be published or not yet published, but the contest entry must be original and uncontracted as of Sept. 1, 2011.

CATEGORIES AND FINAL ROUND JUDGES:

Series Contemporary: (1950-present, 40,000+ words) Gail Chasan, Harlequin/Silhouette; Rhonda Penders, The Wild Rose Press

Single Title: (1950-present, 40,000+ words) Allison Brandau, Penguin/Berkley; Bethany Morgan, Samhain Publishing, Inc;

Historical: (BCE-1950, 40,000+ words) Mary Altman, Ellora's Cave Publishing Inc; and Deb Werksman, Sourcebooks, Inc

Alternative: (Time travel, fantasy, futuristic, paranormal, 40,000+ words) Alicia Condon, Kensington Publishing; Amanda Barnett, The Wild Rose Press

Erotic Romance: (40,000+ words) Raelene Gorlinsky, Ellora's Cave Publishing, Inc; Angela James, Carina Press

Young Adult: (40,000+ words) Krista Marino, Delacorte; Lindsey McGurk, Samhain Publishing, Inc.

HOW DO I ENTER?

Reveal Your Inner Vixen is a fully ELECTRONIC contest. To enter, you will need to visit the Maryland Romance Writers Web site at http://www.marylandromancewriters.com/ and visit the Contest Page to download the Entry Form. The Entry Form will include complete instructions for formatting and submitting your manuscript.

There's also a link to pay for your entry via PayPal, if you wish to do so.

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?

$20 MRW members
$25 Non-MRW Members--U.S. entries and International entries

WHEN IS THE DEADLINE?

Entries must be time-stamped no later than Oct. 1, 2011.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Email the 2011 "Reveal Your Inner Vixen" Contest Coordinator, Jackie Gray, mrwvixen@live.com





Thursday, September 15, 2011

Fun Facts -- Regency Terminology

For today's Fun Facts post, I thought I would give you a few Regency terms and their translations... which might be a bit different than you'd expect!

~ Abigail -- a lady's maid

~ Black pudding -- sausage made with blood.

~ Bob -- slang for shilling.

~ Climbing boy -- a boy who climbed chimney's to clean them.

~ Expectations -- strong likelihood of inheriting wealth.

~ Gig -- a one-horse carriage.

~ Joseph -- a sort of old-fashioned, long riding coat for women with buttons down the front.

~ Knock up -- wake someone up by banging on their door.

~ Quiz -- a peculiar person or thing.

~ Small clothes -- knee breeches (also referring to men's undies)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Historical Video--Terry Jones' Medieval Lives: The Knight

As you know, I've started a weekly post of a historical video I've found on YouTube. Terry Jones' Medieval Lives: The Knight, is part of a series and was originally uploaded by BBCWorldwide. Beware, today's video is about 30 minutes long, so, get yourself a cup of coffee and enjoy!

Here is the description from YouTube: "Terry Jones examines the romantic notion of the Knight in Shining Armour had little interest in rescuing damsels in distress. They were far more interested in the fine arts of killing people, making money and becoming famous. Terry discovers some unsavoury truths."





Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Historical Romance Review: It's Always Been You by Victoria Dahl



I've been a fan of Victorian-era romance for quite some time, and I've heard many good things about Victoria Dahl's books, so I was eager to read her latest release, It's Always Been You, the second book in her York Family series--and I am eager now to read the first book.

ABOUT THE BOOK

ONCE SHE SLIPPED THROUGH HIS FINGERS...


Aidan York has spent ten years mourning the woman he once loved and lost. He's filled the void in the only way he knows—by distracting himself with wild behavior and scandalous trysts. It's a hollow existence, but it dulls the pain. Until the day he encounters a ghost: the woman he thought drowned at sea, alive and as enchanting as ever.

NOW HE'LL KEEP HER IN HIS ARMS...

When Kate Hamilton sees the man she once hoped to spend her life with, she is hit with a storm of memories and longing. But though resisting Aidan's passion proves impossible, Kate must try not to love him all over again. For her seemingly quiet London life shields a dangerous secret, one that will catch up to her the moment she lets herself fall. . .

ISBN: 978-1-4201-0484-4

Pub Date: August 2, 2011
Imprint : Zebra, Paperback
 
MY REVIEW
This book was fast paced, and started right where it should have, an action filled scene. The author has built a complex, detailed back-story for the characters which are revealed throughout the book (and at some points a little too slow, as I found I was getting confused.) It was a great unfolding, and kept me turning the pages to find out what happened to both Kate and Aidan.

Sensual love scenes that were unique to the characters and I felt moved the story along.

I liked that the majority of the setting was not in London. This makes the book unique and I also liked that the characters were not your typical Lord and Lady. Kate has a dark past. She's running a coffee shop, poor, hard working. Ms. Dahl obviously did her research on coffee. Aidan is also a man of business and has to build his own fortune. His wealth wasn't handed to him on a platter. I was easily engaged in the story, and the author elicited emotions from me for sure. I certainly wanted to strangle the h/h at points, hug them, laugh with them.

The secondary characters were also fun. I enjoyed both Lucy and Mr. Penrose. I also liked the small romance that went on between them.

The dialogue was excellent! Ms. Dahl really can write witty, engaging and entertaining dialogue. Additionally, you actually see these characters grow and change throughout the story.

One teensy weensy nit-picky thing... And normally if used only once I wouldn't bring it up, but it was used several times: Bullocks.  In the book it referred to a man's testicles, as in "with my bullocks intact," "located your bullocks" and it was also used as a curse word.  The problem is, "bullock" refers to either a castrated male bovine or a young bull.  When referring to a male's anatomy or for a curse, it is "bollocks" or "ballocks".  I've actually seen this mistake dozens of times. The reason most likely is spellcheck does not recognize "ballocks" or "bollocks" and changes it to "bullocks" and unless you are anal like me, you probably won't even notice.  In any case, it doesn't detract from the story, and I really like it when authors use period curses in their writing, it makes it more authentic.

I will definitely read more of Victoria Dahl's work.

Monday, September 12, 2011

“Jumps” – The Comfy & Sexy Alternative to Georgian Stays

Welcome back to History Undressed, Lucinda Brant, author of fascinating and sensual Georgian romance and mystery!  I'm excited to have you back and today's post is sure to captivate, one of my fav topics--underpinings! Leave a comment for you chance to win an ebook copy of Lucinda's latest release, AUTUMN DUCHESS!

“Jumps” – The Comfy & Sexy Alternative to Georgian Stays
by Lucinda Brant

Detail from Tight Lacing, or Fashion before Ease
Think Eighteenth Century female undergarments and usually the first article to come to mind is the corset, or stays. Worn over the chemise to cover the breasts and upper torso, stays were made from a variety of materials, cotton to silk, depending on the occasion and most often had a square neckline. The enduring image of a pair of stays is the caricatures of women being laced too tightly; the stays being laced together at the back, and thus requiring an attendant to help dress and undress the wearer. To ensure the requisite conical shape, stays were stiffened with all manner of materials, from buckram (hardened linen or cotton) to whalebone, which also ensured the wearer kept an upright posture. Contrary to popular myth, stays, if worn and laced correctly (it was almost impossible to lace too tightly because eyelets were reinforced with stitching not metal - metal eyelets being a nineteenth century invention) were not uncomfortable and the wearer was able to carry out most everyday duties without hindrance.

Detail of Figured silk jumps with metal closures
Detail Boucher’s La Toilette
A type of stays worn for at-home occasions and often by pregnant and nursing mothers were “jumps”. Jumps were an under bodice similar in shape to stays but without the bones. According to Valerie Steel, author of The Corset, the term comes from the French word jupe - short jacket. Made of silk, cotton or linen and often embroidered, jumps fastened over the breasts with ties such as silk ribbons, buttons and, sometimes, metal hooks. Jumps were looser fitting than stays and padded with cotton yet still provided support for the breasts while not being restrictive. While mostly worn at home they were sometimes worn out on social occasions as part of an ensemble.
Fragonard’s Young Girl Reading
Antonia in AUTUMN DUCHESS wears jumps every day as a matter of course, and not only for at-home occasions. Then again she can do as she pleases, she is a duchess and thus is a leader not a follower of fashion. But it is not fashion that drives her but comfort. She is a voracious reader and spends a good deal of her time curled up in her favorite wingchair with a good book. Fragonard’s Young Girl Reading reveals by her relaxed posture that she too is wearing jumps. Antonia’s husband, the all-powerful Duke of Roxton, Monseigneur, preferred her in jumps. And what man wouldn’t? Removal of stays required considerable effort and two people, with lacings to unravel at the back, when with a tug of a few silk ribbons jumps gaped open to expose as much cleavage as was warranted; the female wearer rendered bare breasted within seconds. Just this thought sends our hero Jonathon’s mind reeling when the widowed Antonia explains to him in a matter-of-fact way the construction of jumps without a thought to the effect her words might have on her rapt male audience of one.

Detail Boucher’s painting of
Mme de Pompadour and the inspiration
for Antonia’s jumps fastened with pink ribbons.

In 1770, Jacques Bonnaud wrote a treatise on the wearing of whalebone corsets arguing that not only was a woman submitting to a form of torture but that such an undergarment went against the laws of nature because stays prevented a woman from breast feeding her newborn infant. So it is not surprising that pregnant women wore jumps that not only had front lacings but side lacings to allow for the expanding bust and waistline of the mother-to-be and allowed nursing mothers to breast feed, something that could not be accommodated if wearing stays.

Detail from The Scottish Bedroom by Sir David Wilkie
And it was not until the 1770s when French fashion was leaning toward a simpler style of dress that there was less stiffening in a pair of stays. Women began to eschew whalebone and buckram, preferring quilted linen, and for ease of wear, stays began to be often fastened in the front with strings or ribbons and worn for deshabille, jumps had finally come into their own!
You can read more about Antonia, Dowager Duchess of Roxton and her preference for wearing jumps and the effect this sexy undergarment has on her suitor, East India Merchant Jonathon Strang in Lucinda Brant’s latest novel, AUTUMN DUCHESS, Book 3 of the Roxton Series.
Bibliography


Glossary of 18th Century Costume Terminology: http://people.csail.mit.edu/sfelshin/revwar/glossary.html#j


Figured Silk Jumps, mid-18th Century France http://coraginsburg.com/catalogues/2010/cat2010pg18-19.htm


Steele, V. The Corset A Cultural History, 2001, Yale,


Willett, C. and Cunnington, P.A. The History of Underclothes, 1992, Dover publications


Image bibliography


Image 1: Tight Lacing, or Fashion before Ease by Bowles and Carver after John Collet, London, England, ca. 1770–1775. From the collections of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.


http://www.history.org/history/teaching/enewsletter/volume6/may08/primsource.cfm


Image 2: Figured silk jumps with metal closures, French mid 18th Century, www.coraginsburg.com


Images 3, 4 & 5: Art Renewal Centre http://www.artrenewal.org/


Image 6: The Scottish Bedroom by Sir David Wilkie, in Steele, V. The Corset A Cultural History

*~*~*~*

Autumn Duchess

Roxton Series Book 3
Sequel to Noble Satyr and Midnight Marriage

A beautiful duchess mourns for her beloved.
A sun-bronzed merchant returns to claim a birthright.
Disparate souls in need of love and renewal.
Paths cross and the journey begins...
Set in Hampshire England in 1777, it is the story of Antonia, the heroine of Noble Satyr, and how she emerges from utter despair after the death of her husband and soul mate the Duke of Roxton to unexpectedly find love again.

Hardcover ISBN (coming soon)
Ebook ISBN 978-0-9808013-5-4
Kindle ASIN B005GLFCX8


To read an excerpt click here: http://lucindabrant.com/autumn-duchess.php

Friday, September 9, 2011

Elizabethan Fun Facts

Starting now! History Undressed will have a weekly post of fun historical facts.  Enjoy!

Elizabethan Fun Facts



  • Elizabeth, while Queen of England, rarely mentioned her mother. In fact she did not even attempt to have her birth legitimized as her sister, Queen Mary I had done before her. (Her father, Henry VIII, while he did put her in line for the succession had also claimed she was a bastard, as did her brother, King Edward VI after her.) With her reign tenuous in the beginning, and threats and plots throughout, bringing light to the topic of her birth would have only made her hold on her reign weaker. Many did not even believe she was Henry VIII's true daughter, despite how similar her appearance and bearing was to his.
  • Elizabeth I, imprisoned many of her ladies when they dared to marry without her approval.
  • Suspicion, to this day, surrounds Elizabeth I and her role in the death of her long time love, Robert Dudley's wife, Amy Robsart.
  • Elizabeth's Secretaries of State, Cecil and Walsingham, developed an intelligence agency and ring of spies that spanned all of Europe and more.
  • Elizabeth had forty pairs of velvet shoes until, in 1575, she decided to switch to Spanish leather. Don't panic! She didn't get rid of her shoes, simply had them refurbished.
  • Female characters in plays were played by men--not women.
  • Shakespeare became a popular playwright during the Elizabethan era, but in fact, it was very late into Elizabeth's reign. He was not even born until she'd been Queen for several years. His first play was published and acted in the 1590's. Elizabeth did see at least one or two of his plays. Many vicious rumors abound that Elizabeth is Shakespeare's mother, but these are just rumors.
  • People drank beer at breakfast.
  • Of every 100 babies born alive--not stillbirths--about 70% survived to their first birthday. Less than 50% would make it to the age of 5.
  • Farting and peeing were to be done in private. (If you farted in public, you were supposed to try and cough to cover the sound). Belching at the table was totally acceptable. But it you had to blow your nose or spit you had better turn away.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

On This Day in History...

Today is September 8, 2011...

On this day in history...

~Richard I of England was born. He went on to be called Richard the Lionheart, and was brother to Prince John, the two of them being forever legendized in tales of Robin Hood. Richard was a Holy Crusader, leading his men in the fight for the Holy Land, which is why his brother Prince John was left in charge of England in his absence. 

I am reading a REALLY good book right now, called HOLY WARRIOR: A Novel of Robin Hood, by Angus Donald.  Look for my review soon, because this book rocks!

A Bit of History on Drawers (See the drawers I made!)


Front of a pair of drawers I made.
 I love this history of underwear! I have so much fun with it :) Today, I wanted to give you just a tidbit on women's drawers.

Drawers came about in the late 18th century for females, however they weren't a commonality until around 1830 when women began to wear drawers/pantaloons/pantalettes almost all the time.

Back of the drawers.
Drawers were calf to ankle or knee length, made mostly of linen or silk. They were however used more widely by the upper class than the lower class. So ladies…we’ve technically only been wearing some form of underwear for 181 years to cover our lady parts down under…not that long… and if our ancestors weren’t nobles—which mine were Irish dairy farmers… it may have been that women in your family were only wearing underwear for maybe a century or so.


There is a difference between drawers, pantaloons and pantalettes. Drawers were shorter. Depending on your social status/wealth, the craftsmanship, fabric and frills would be completely different. Most drawers were crotchless. Why you ask? Have you ever helped a woman lift her wedding gown and shimmy down her panties to pee?  It is a TASK!  If only the bride would have gone commando or worn crotchless undies. Ah-ha! So, it made certain tasks much easier, you see? I'm sure their male counterparts were also pleased :)

Shows the "crotchless" section of the drawers.
Pantaloons and pantalettes often had pretty lace and embroidery along the bottoms—much like on the sample drawers I made, and were meant to be seen when a woman lifted her skirts, to say, walk over a puddle or up some stairs. Pantalettes, were not only crotchless, they were in fact two separate pieces that covered the legs and tied around the waist. Pantaloons, were more like an extended version of the drawers—coming down to the ankles.

Hope you enjoyed this short lesson!

Cheers,
Eliza

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Video: Renaissance Fashion Show

Welcome to History Undressed!  Starting this week, I will be posting a weekly historical video that I've found interesting. This week, is a Renaissance Fashion Show done at Trinity Apse in Edinburgh by Julia from http://tudortalkandcatwalk.com/ -- they make Renn costumes, I recommend checking out their site.






Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Guest Author Maggie Robinson Giveaway!

Today on History Undressed, we have guest author Maggie Robinson here to talk about her newest release in her Courtesan Court Trilogy, Mistress by Marriage. Thanks for being here with us Maggie!


Maggie Robinson
Author of the Courtesan Court Trilogy


Serendipity: an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident.

I’m a big believer in serendipity. It’s happened to me way too many times to ignore. I’ll be going along writing about something completely random, and many days/months/years/words later, that random thing proves to be just the key to a locked door.

That’s how my Courtesan Court series came to be. On one page my unlikely-mistress heroine wondered what the other women on Jane Street were doing, and I discovered I could tell her in two more books. And since I wanted the titles to be similar, I had Mistress by Mistake and Mistress by Midnight. Ah, for the third one? I said somewhere Mistress by Menopause just didn’t have the same cachet. So Marriage it was.

I had a title, but no plot. How could you become your own husband’s mistress, especially when your husband was ice-cold Edward Christie and you were warm-blooded Caroline Christie, about to be scandalously and expensively divorced? (Not an easy feat in regency England) And how serendipitous to discover another Caroline about to be given the boot by her husband the King at the exact same time I set the book? One can’t argue with serendipity.

ABOUT THE BOOK
Too late for cold feet

Baron Edward Christie prided himself on his reputation for even temperament and reserve. That was before he met Caroline Parker. Wedding a scandalous beauty by special license days after they met did not inspire respect for his sangfroid. Moving her to a notorious lovebirds’ nest as punishment for her flighty nature was perhaps also a blow. And of course talk has gotten out of his irresistible clandestine visits. Christie must put his wife aside—if only he can get her out of his blood first.

Too hot to refuse

Caroline Parker was prepared to hear the worst: that her husband had determined to divorce her, spare them both the torture of passion they can neither tame nor escape. But his plan is wickeder than any she’s ever heard. Life as his wife is suffocating. But she cannot resist becoming her own husband’s mistress…

***

 
Edward decides in a fit of unusual-for-him emotion to take up with Caroline again while they wait to divorce. He thinks somehow he’ll get her out of his system in an organized, limited arrangement. Ha. Fate and the King have other plans for him. Here’s an exclusive excerpt where Edward reflects on his ruined summer and I give you some historical facts. :-)

***

“Hell and damnation!” Edward tossed the missive into the farthest corner of his study and set his eyeglasses on their tray. According to a friend in high places who knew the secret machinations of their monarch, it seemed he would now be condemned to stay in Town all summer to haggle over the marital situation of his king and his unlucky wife. A Bill of Pain and Penalties was being prepared, a completely apt name as far as Edward was concerned. There would be untold pain and penalties for him. He could of course send the children to the country for their planned holiday with his sister, but he was doomed to sit in the heat and misery to discuss the cold and miserable state of George IV’s marriage. Queen Caroline was already parading all over London, and every peer, bishop and judge would be required to attend the trial, which could go on indefinitely. Interminably.

Odd that two Carolines were the key to his discomfort. In the few days he’d returned to Caro’s bed, he had been unable to wean himself from wanting her with an intensity that was somewhat frightening. He’d looked forward to escaping to Christie Park to contemplate his newly single state. Now his days would be tied up in the stuffy confines of an annex to the House of Lords, and his nights---

Caro would know his plans had changed. The whole of England was privy to the Queen Consort’s and George’s difficulty, and this latest step of the king’s to remove the boil that was his wife from his backside was sure to attract the interest of all his subjects. Everyone knew they had been mismatched and unfaithful to each other for years, yet even after the ‘Delicate Investigation’ fifteen years ago, George had been unsuccessful in untethering himself from his German cousin.

Now there was this new movement afoot to be rid of Caroline of Brunswick once and for all. Once she returned from abroad, the fragile deal that had been forged splintered apart. Edward supposed he should consider himself lucky. His Caroline had never been quite as indiscreet as George’s unwanted wife, nor as demanding.

Would Caro still expect him to provide her with a new schedule once she learned he wasn’t going to leave for the country after all? Could he even stick to a schedule, when every conscious minute of the day included thoughts of her? Resuming his marital rights had only reminded him how empty and dull his life had been without Caro in it. He had been well and truly hoisted on his own petard.

And how ironic that all his future days were to be tied up in the dissolution of a marriage not his own. What this would do to advance his own plight he had no idea. If the government was to rehash the scandal about Queen Caroline and her Italian secretary for the foreseeable future ---shades of Mary Queen of Scots!---there might not be opportunity to shoehorn in his own petition. Edward let out an uncharacteristic growl.

***

There’s nothing like bringing a composed, uncompromising, perfectly proper man like Baron Edward Christie to his knees. Once he falls, he rips society’s shackles off and does some surprising things indeed.

Do you believe in serendipity? Have you ever had a lucky conjunction in your life when all things fell into place? Tell me for a chance to win a signed copy of Mistress by Marriage!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
 
Maggie Robinson is a former teacher, library clerk and mother of four who woke up in the middle of the night, absolutely compelled to create the perfect man and use as many adverbs as possible doing so. A transplanted New Yorker, she lives with her not-quite perfect husband in Maine, where the cold winters are ideal for staying inside and writing hot historical romances. For more info on the book visit: http://www.maggierobinson.net/books/mistress-by-marriage/


Monday, September 5, 2011

Historical Romance Review: My Fierce Highlander by Vonda Sinclair

I'm a sucker for Scottish romance--love Highlanders! So when I had the opportunity to read Vonda Sinclair's debut historical romance, My Fierce Highlander, (LOVE the cover by the way) you bet I jumped on it, and loaded this baby up to my e-reader as fast as I could! I was not disappointed, and you won't be either!

ABOUT THE BOOK

Gwyneth Carswell, an English lady banished by her father to the harsh Scottish Highlands, wants nothing more than to take her young son away from the violence of two fighting clans--her own distant kin, the MacIrwins, and their enemies, the MacGraths. She risks everything to rescue the fierce MacGrath warrior from the battlefield where he’s left for dead by her clan. She only knows she is inexplicably drawn to him and he wants peace as she does. When her clan learns of her betrayal, they seek vengeance. Dare she trust the enemy more than her own family?


Laird Alasdair MacGrath is driven to end two-hundred years of feuding with the MacIrwins. But by taking in and protecting Lady Gwyneth and her son, he provokes more attacks from his mortal enemy. As the danger and conflict surrounding them escalate, Alasdair and Gwyneth discover an explosive passion neither of them expected. With the arrival of a powerful man from her past, a horrible decision confronts her--give up her son or the man she loves.

Available now as an ebook.

MY REVIEW

The book starts out with action, intensity, drawing you in immediately. Ms. Sinclair has penned both a heroine and hero the reader easily connects to and empathizes with. Both are stubborn, courageous, loyal, loving and fierce. And have a habit of saving each other's lives.

The stakes are high for both Gwyneth and Alasdair, and just when it seems that things might calm down, that they might both finally gain what they are yearning for--disaster strikes!  You'll be kept on the edge of your seat until the sweet end.

The historical facts were spot on. I love being able to visualize everything in the book, the clothes, the castles, the weapons, the fight scenes, the landscape, the horses, etc... In addition to a great deal of obvious historical and herbal research, the author did an excellent job with sensory details. I could smell, hear, feel along with the characters.

You will also find another sweet character in this book, Rory--Gwyneth's son. He was so adorable, and did all the things my own five year old does, even down to hopping across the room in excitement. I do enjoy a book that has a child(ren) in it, because as a mother, it makes me smile and remember why I had kids in the first place (especially when they are ripping each other's hair out while I'm reading...sigh. Thanks for the reminder, Ms. Sinclair!)

Beyond the intensity of this story, there is an enchanting love developing between the two main characters with explosive love scenes, that take your breath away. I liked watching how the author weaved their love together, it was vivid, and left no question of motivation in my mind--and toward the end when it looks like they just might not be together forever, I wanted to reach inside there and throttle them both!  But, Ms. Sinclair did not disappoint, and in the end I was a truly satisfied reader.

Well done, Ms. Sinclair! I highly recommend this book! And now I'm off to read the sequel, because I just have to see how Alasdair's brother fairs in love...

Sunday, September 4, 2011

What NOT to Include in a Medieval Romance Novel

**Originally this post was published at the Happy Endings Blog on June 16, 2011**

Often the things that fascinate me (and have me thanking that I live in present day) from the medieval era are more on the repugnant side, like the fact that maggots were used to clean up wounds–which I also heard has come back into play in modern medicine. *Shudder* Well, this got me to thinking… And I was chuckling to myself with the usual odd looks from my family, when I came up with the list of things NOT to include in your medieval romance novel (medieval fiction all bets are off!). And for that matter, you shouldn’t include these in any era of romance, as the point of a romance is to be romanticised, not disgusted by the hero and heroine. To be sure, I kept my own sound advice on:

What NOT to Include in a Medieval ROMANCE Novel
by Eliza Knight


~Without a doubt, do not talk about the shimmery film of grime that is giving your heroine her glowing look this morning (or tonight). There was no A/C, so even if she was a rare sort and bathed often, with layer upon layer of clothing on a hot 90 degree summer day with humidity of 50%, she is definitely going to be glowing…

~Zits… Heroine entered the great hall to gaze upon the hero, his dark hair curling at the ends, his muscles rippling beneath his shirt and a zit the size of volcano gracing the center of his chin. Nope, not sexy, lol

~As they lay together, limbs entwined, bed bugs burrowed beneath their skin, and nipped at the flesh around their ankles. *Shakes head* yeah, no, not this one!

~She awoke in the morning, sun filtering through the window. Hero lay beside her, his full lips tempting her to kiss him, until she smelled his breath–manure. Ew…Morning breath, not sexy.

~He stroked his hand over her limber leg, covered in a thick layer of hair. She lifted her arms, revealing a patch of hair in each armpit. Yikes! Hairy heroines…
~She removed her chemise to reveal the Amazonian bush at the crux of her thighs…
~Do not include the rat’s nest within your heroine’s headdress… Why do you think we call it a rat’s nest when your hair is looking crazy in the back?

~They galloped together across the landscape, she holding him around the waist from behind, her gown rippling in the breeze behind them, until his horse stopped suddenly, to take a large poo, which happened to get caught up in the romantic ripplings of her gown.

~If your hero has a raging case of head-lice, best to leave this out…

~Crapping into a large hole, or chamber pot and wiping with moss, straw, leaves or maybe there was nothing available to wipe with…Really leave #2′s out all together… (unless of course the heroine gives the hero a laxative in a fit of anger and he rushes from the room, which my heroine, Chloe did happen to do…lol)

Now I want to hear from you! What else should we add to this list?

~*~*~*~
A Lady's Charade -- A Medieval Romance novel by Eliza Knight!

From across a field of battle, English knight, Alexander, Lord Hardwyck, spots the object of his desire—and his conquest, Scottish traitor Lady Chloe.

Her lies could be her undoing…

Abandoned across the border and disguised for her safety, Chloe realizes the man who besieged her home in Scotland has now become her savior in England. Her life in danger, she vows to keep her identity secret, lest she suffer his wrath, for he wants her dead.

Or love could claim them both and unravel two countries in the process…

Alexander suspects Chloe is not who she says she is and has declared war on the angelic vixen who’s laid claim to his heart. A fierce battle of the minds it will be, for once the truth is revealed they will both have to choose between love and duty.


~*~*~*~

To purchase this book...

Print
Amazon ($10.07) / Barnes and Noble ($10.07) 


Ebook
 Amazon Kindle / Barnes and Noble Nook / Apple / Other Electronic Formats
($3.79)




Saturday, September 3, 2011

Historical Fiction Review: Rival to the Queen by Carolly Erickson

As a long standing fan of Tudor fiction, I was extremely eager to read, Carolly Erickson's new release, Rival to the Queen, and I think historical fiction fans will find this tale intriguing!
ABOUT THE BOOK


From the New York Times bestselling author of The Last Wife of Henry VIII comes a novel about the bitter rivalry between Queen Elizabeth I and her fascinating cousin, Lettice Knollys, for the love of one extraordinary man.

Powerful and dramatic, this is the story of the only woman to ever stand up to the Virgin Queen—her own cousin, Lettice Knollys. Far more attractive than the queen, Lettice soon won the attention of the handsome and ambitious Robert Dudley, a man so enamored of the queen and determined to share her throne that it was rumored he had murdered his own wife in order to become her royal consort. The enigmatic Elizabeth allowed Dudley into her heart, and relied on his devoted service, but shied away from the personal and political risks of marriage.

When Elizabeth discovered that he had married her cousin Lettice in secret, Lettice would pay a terrible price, fighting to keep her husband’s love and ultimately losing her beloved son to the queen’s headsman.

This is the unforgettable story of two women related by blood, yet destined to clash over one of Tudor England’s most charismatic men.

St. Martin's Griffin, August 2011
ISBN: 978-0-312-61697-7, ISBN10: 0-312-61697-X
Available in print and ebook
 
MY REVIEW
 
I know I have often wondered about the relationship between Queen Elizabeth I and her rival cousin Lettice Knollys--after all, Lettice did the one thing Elizabeth had wanted to do most of her life, marry Robert Dudley.

This book gave quite a perspective I hadn't before seen--which is one reason I love historical fiction, there are so many different ways a person can view the events and tell a tale. I've heard of Elizabeth's tantrums and her jealousies towards others, even heard some horrid things she'd done to her ladies in waiting, but Ms. Erickson's novel brought it all to vivid light.

I felt a connection with Lettice, aka "Lettie", early on in the story, and I also found myself profoundly loathing her sister Cecilia. Goodness! It is the second book I read in August with a horrid sister! If I were Lettie, I think I would have tried to find a way to get back at Cecelia, or never spoken to her again. Her sister literally ruined her life at an early age.

Courtly life was alive and vivid with Elizabethan gowns, glamor, politics, etc... well explained and beautifully written. True to real-life historical figures, which I love to revisit again and again, were well captured on the page and in the plot of the story.

I did have some trouble with Lettie's ability to forgive and let gloss over Robert's infidelity. Although, that is a modern woman speaking. In that era, his infidelities would have been the norm, and it wouldn't have phased her, and in truth, Ms. Erickson captured it perfectly. I just had a hard time with the motivation for her forgiveness. I would have liked to see more how their romance developed that would make her defy the Queen in such a way. Why would she risk it all?

Despite Robert's infidelity, Lettie won. She triumphed over Douglas Howard, she triumphed over the Queen, something not very many women were able to do. And in fact, she must have held some considerable space in the Queen's mind because she held her close, and even found Lettice's son by her first husband one of her favorites--Robert Devereux.

I should also mention, this tale briefly touches on the mysterious death of Amy Robsart, Robert Dudley's first wife, a story that has often fascinated me. It was an interesting twist.

It is a tragic tale with courtly drama, love and treachery. I did enjoy reading it, and I would recommend it to other fans of Tudor fiction.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Shana Galen Interview, Author of Lord and Lady Spy (GIVEAWAY!)


Welcome back guest author, Shana Galen, to History Undressed! Not only has she answered some of my questions, but she's giving away two copies of LORD AND LADY SPY to two lucky commenters! (US and Canada only).  Don't forget to leave your email address in your comment!


Eliza Knight: What was the idea behind Lord and Lady Spy? When I heard the title, saw the cover and read the blurb, I was immediately drawn in—thinking OMG, it’s like Mr. and Mrs. Smith Regency style!

SG: First of all, thank you so much for having me here today. I always enjoy visiting with History Undressed.



You are exactly right to think of Mr. and Mrs. Smith. In fact, the Brad Pitt-Angelina Jolie movie is where I got the idea for the book. I was watching the movie on cable a few years ago and started thinking, what is the year wasn’t 2005 but 1815? And what if Mr. and Mrs. Smith were Lord and Lady Smythe? I made the characters spies rather than assassins and forced them to work together to find a murderer. In the book, Bonaparte has just been captured, so Adrian and Sophia are out of work spies. There’s one open position, and the spy who finds the person who murdered the prime minister’s brother first, wins the position.



Eliza Knight: Fascinating! I can't wait to read the book. It is in my queue to review :) What interesting/unique tidbit did you find out while doing research for the book?

SG: This is a fun, adventurous book, but I also deal with the more serious issue of infertility and miscarriage in it. I know this is something so many of my readers have been touched by in one way or another.



I did quite a bit of research on conceptions—or rather, misconceptions—about infertility and miscarriage throughout history. Not surprisingly, women were told ridiculous things like a foul mood causes miscarriage. What did surprise me was how many women died from miscarriages. This is all but unheard of today. I could not find exact numbers, but one of the main concerns with miscarriage at the time was the very real risk of death to the woman from blood loss and hemorrhaging.



Eliza Knight: Wow, I am really glad at the way medicine/thinking has changed, even in the last couple hundred years. I've heard some pretty crazy stories too... What do you think makes your books unique to readers? Any fun past reader comments you want to share?

SG: My books have a lot of adventure in them. A lot of historicals set in the Regency period focus on balls and rides in Hyde Park and the fun play of manners. I love reading these books, but I also like to read something with a faster pace and more action. I guess I like a little danger in my books from time to time. That’s what I write.




Recently a reviewer told me she was reading an advance copy of Lord and Lady Spy while on her way to work and ended up weeping so hard she had mascara running down her cheeks. I’m sure her fellow passengers wondered what was wrong. That’s not really a fun comment, but it always means a lot to me when I know that something I felt emotional about when writing it, touches a reader as well.



Eliza Knight: That is definitely a reason why I like your books--the action and fast pace, makes the book not only a love story, but an edge-of-your-seat story too. That is very touching to hear you had such an impact on your reader--means you did your job right? What sort or research did you do to learn about female spies in the Regency period?

SG: I read a book called The Man Who Broke Napoleon’s Codes by Mark Urban. Urban tells the story of George Scovall, an engraver’s apprentice who became the Duke of Wellington’s decoder. Scovall deciphered Napoleon’s Great Paris Cipher, which reportedly contained over 1,400 elements.



The other source I replied upon was My Lady Scandalous: The Amazing Life and Outrageous Times of Grace Dalrymple Elliott by Jo Manning. Grace was an Englishwoman and a courtesan in France at the time of the French Revolution. She was an ardent royalist. Details about her work as a spy are sketchy, but it is known that during 1790-1791, she traveled to Spa, Belgium, which was a European crossroads and a place where spies and couriers met and exchanged information. She acted as a courier for Queen Marie-Antoniette and the cousin of the King, the duc d’ Orleans, her former lover.



Eliza Knight: Ooh, that sounds like fun research! Anything else you'd like to share with readers?

SG: I’m sure authors say this all the time, but I know I’ve never said it before. Lord and Lady Spy is truly a book of my heart. It’s incredibly special to me, and I’m so honored and pleased it’s finally on sale. I hope readers enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it because it really was a lot of fun to write.



Eliza Knight: Any advice for aspiring authors?

SG: Winston Churchill said, “Never, never, never give up.” I think that’s good advice.


Eliza Knight: Great advice!!!  Thank you so much for being with us today, and for the giveaway! Readers, don't forget to leave a comment with your email address to win! Two winners (US and Canada only) will be drawn tomorrow.



LORD AND LADY SPY BY SHANA GALEN – IN STORES SEPTEMBER 2011


No man can outsmart him...

Lord Adrian Smythe may appear a perfectly boring gentleman, but he leads a thrilling life as one of England’s most preeminent spies, an identity so clandestine even his wife is unaware of it. But he isn’t the only one with secrets...



She’s been outsmarting him for years...

Now that the Napoleonic wars have come to an end, daring secret agent Lady Sophia Smythe can hardly bear the thought of returning home to her tedious husband. Until she discovers in the dark of night that he’s not who she thinks he is after all...



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Shana Galen is the author of numerous fast-paced adventurous Regency historical romances, including the Rita-nominated Blackthorne’s Bride. Her books have been sold worldwide, including Japan, Brazil, Russia, Spain, Turkey, and the Netherlands, and have been featured in the Rhapsody and Doubleday Book Clubs. A former English teacher in Houston’s inner city, Shana now writes full time. She’s a wife, a mother, and an expert multi-tasker. She loves to hear from readers: visit her website at http://www.shanagalen.com/ or see what she’s up to daily on Facebook and Twitter.