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.***

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Castle of the Week: Bodiam Castle

This week's castle is Bodiam Castle in England, and one that I find so incredibly enchanting. So much so in fact, it is the backdrop for my website and facebook page.

Bodiam was built in East Sussex in the late 14th century, to help defend against the French invasion during the Hundred Years War. The castle is surrounded by a moat, houses seven impressive towers, a main twin-towered gatehouse and an outer barbican. The very center of the castle was a large courtyard, which the castle surrounded with its various towers (3 stories high each) and then its connecting buildings within the curtain walls which were 2-stories high: apartments, chambers, a chapel, the pantry, great hall, service rooms, kitchen, stables, etc... There would have been a few bridges to the castle, one at the postern tower at the rear, a drawbridge would have connected the barbican to the main gatehouse. The barbican and outer causeway were on their own sort of island and beyond them was a bridge leading over the massive moat.

Note: all of the garderobes drained to the moat... Any enemy attempting to swim would essentailly be swimming in a large sewer.

Bodiam Castle is now operated by the National Trust, so you can visit it!

Now for some pics...

Looking into the interior of the castle

A view from the moat

The main twin-towered gatehouse

An aerial view of the castle and moat

This painting was done in 1906 showing the overgrowth and  lack of maintenance on the castle, which was then shortly after taken over by the National Trust, cleaned up and restored.

My favorite picture, a sunset surrounds the castle.

Friday, May 25, 2012

HER CAPTAIN RETURNS (Regency) Giveaway!

Do you own a Kindle or Nook (or have the aps on your computer)?

Email me by midnight tonight and I will gift you a FREE copy of HER CAPTAIN RETURNS, the first in my Men of the Sea series. Only the first ten people to email me will receive a copy.

Happy Memorial Weekend!

Cheers,
Eliza

Enchanted Chocolate Pot Blog Fest


I received a very interesting email from Sarah at Open Road Media, the publicist of Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer. She informed me that the authors recently re-released three books together in ebook format: Sorcery and Cecelia, The Mislaid Magician and The Grand Tour.

Here is what Sarah said...

"Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer began writing to one another "in character" as part of a Letter Game (Wrede as Cecy and Stevermer as Kate), neither author intended for a novel to come of it! After about six months of writing back and forth, they compiled all of their letters and decided they would make a really neat book. It wasn't until this point, when the game was over, that the two went back through their notes and edited everything to fit into a cohesive novel." 

 
So today, I'm giving you the links to the original letters and what they turned into for the book. I love sneak peaks like this into the making of a story. I hope you enjoy it too.





Isn't that fascinating? I love that these two authors got into character and wrote to each other for entertainment. That they then turned their fun into a book is even more awesome. See how much fun authors are?

After reading the letters, what are your thoughts?


I found it very interesting that in the original letter to Kate, the Cecy is more telling and leading Kate on things that Kate would probably already know, like her age, Reverend Fitzwilliam's full name. Also, the second letter is much more conversational in my opinion, it flows better. I adored how in Kate's reply her personality shines. 

This is a great example of how using letters in fiction can give a 1st person point of view to the reader of our characters.

Can't wait to check out the books!



Kathleen's Historical Erotic Review: Improper Relations by Juliana Ross


IMPROPER RELATIONS

By Juliana Ross

Dorset, 1858
When Hannah's caught watching her late husband's cousin debauch the maid in the library, she's mortified—but also intrigued. An unpaid companion to his aunt, she's used to being ignored.
The black sheep of the family, Leo has nothing but his good looks and noble birth to recommend him. Hannah ought to be appalled at what she's witnessed, but there's something about Leo that draws her to him.
When Leo claims he can prove that women can feel desire as passionately as men, Hannah is incredulous. Her own experiences have been uninspiring. Yet she can't bring herself to refuse his audacious proposal when he offers to tutor her in the art of lovemaking. As the tantalizing, wicked lessons continue, she begins to fear she's losing not just her inhibitions, but her heart as well. The poorest of relations, she has nothing to offer Leo but herself. Will it be enough when their erotic education ends?
22,000 words

I have a confession to make. I fell in love with the cover of this novella. Then I read the blurb and knew I had to read the story. I wasn’t disappointed.

Debut author Juliana Ross is off to a great start in her career with a story that captivates from the first page and doesn’t let up until the last. Not a word is wasted in this erotic novella that reads like a full-fledged novel. Miss Ross tells a story like an artist paints—first with broad strokes and then with fine attention to detail.

Leo and Hannah seem to be complete opposites. He’s a wastrel. A handsome one, but nonetheless, a lazy, debauching-the-servants dissolute nephew of Hannah’s deceased husband, while she, older than Leo by five years, is a prim widow who has explored little in her mundane world other than books shelved in the library. It is this library, her sanctuary of sorts, where she peers down from the loft and spies Leo trysting with a maid in a most shocking manner. Hannah should be scandalized. She should run. But she cannot extract herself from the gripping scene before her.

After Leo finishes servicing the maid, he confronts eavesdropping Hannah and sets his sights on proving he can rouse something in her that she swears does not exist. Deciding there is nothing to lose, Hannah agrees to Leo’s scheme. Soon, she learns she was wrong in both her shallow self-assessment and in his capabilities. Very wrong.

At first, the two don’t appear to bring much to the table other than their carnal appetites—his sated with little thought given to consequence, hers stimulated by delightfully sinful treats never before tried. Soon, their passions move beyond the physical and they are transformed into self-empowered individuals ready to take a stand in life, for themselves and for one another.

Miss Ross’s obvious familiarity with British social history and her wonderful author’s voice give resonance to a smoldering yet tender tale that unfolds in a sensuous world filled with a blend of rich prose and just the right amount of erotic pleasure. One would think Leo would be an unlikeable hero, but I found him to be quite an enjoyable character. The only thing disappointing for me was the ending. It came too soon.
Enjoy a good read by a debut author with a great future ahead of her. 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Video of the Week: Horrible Histories - Plague Song

The black death aka the plague that hit Europe in the middle ages was devastating to the population, wiping out nearly half of the people. But here's a little ditty that makes it sound cheerful :)


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Castle of the Week: The Tower of London

I look forward to the day I can visit the Tower of London. In my two completed historical fiction novels (currently unpublished), the Tower plays a major roll in my character's lives. They've either been arrested and placed in prison there, had a family member imprisoned, there or it housed a member of their family who was crowned king or queen.

The Tower of London was built by William the Conqueror in the late 11th century after his Battle of Hastings victory. The Tower is situated along the River Thames, and can be accessed by boat through Traitor's Gate. The castle consists of the White Tower, an imposing building. Tall, solid, thick with four towers. All who've looked upon this great fortress have felt overwhelmed by its sheer power and what it stood for. There are numerous outbuildings, thick outer walls, and perhaps most daunting--Tower Green. Some of the more famous executions on Tower Green were: William Hastings, Queen Anne Boleyn, Queen Catherine Howard, Lady Jane Grey (the nine days queen). Tower Green was for private executions--still observed by many notable witnesses. Tower Hill was a public execution spot that could be seen by anyone who pleased. William Wallace was executed on Tower Hill as was Guy Fawkes.

The Tower has served as a prison, a house, a fortress, home for the crown jewels, the royal mint, the treasury, the royal menagerie, and home to many scandals. Every heard of the two princes of the Tower? The young princes entered the fortress and were never seen or heard from again, their remains never found. It is said once you're locked in, there is no escaping--although a few notables have in fact done just that.

Want to escape the Tower yourself? There's an ap for that! Not kidding... I just found it, looks awesome!

Some pictures...


The White Tower

St. John's Chapel inside the Tower

The Tower of London outer wall

Traitor's Gate


Monday, May 21, 2012

Less Like Shane, More Like Mr. Darcy By Celia Hayes

Welcome back to History Undressed, guest author Celia Hayes! If you missed her two wonderful previous posts they are located here:  True to the Union & Goliad--The Other Alamo. Today she has another great post written for us! Enjoy!


Less Like Shane, More Like Mr. Darcy


I think very fondly of re-enactors when I am working up a book. I consider them as open-air historians. What better way is there to get an idea of how something was accomplished; starting a fire from flint and steel, to learn the heft and feel of an 1836 Colt Paterson revolver and the method of loading it with lead ball and black powder, or how a gentleman of the 1830s on the Texas frontier might have combined the height of fashion with local accessories. Re-enactors do exacting research about every finicky detail, and the results can be viewed in detail and in three dimensions.  Movies and television are a less than satisfactory substitute. This is because of the dimension thing, and often because the movie costumer doesn’t take nearly enough care to be faithful to a specific period. Visualizing the clothing worn on the American frontier may be an especial challenge, since nearly 70 years’ worth of genre movie westerns have fixed a certain image in the imagination – that of the cowboy, who was really only peculiar only to a very limited part and for a relatively short period of time.



Thinking ‘old west’ and most readers and movie goers have the image of form and fashion set in the last quarter of the 19th century, never realizing sartorially speaking, it wasn’t all John Wayne and Shane. Quite often, it was rather more like Mr. Darcy. No cowboy hats or boots, no jeans, nothing like what people are used to think of as "western" dress, which reflects a much later, post-Civil War and industrial era. A movie costumer could fit out a movie set on the early 19th century frontier with costumes taken from a Jane Austen or Charles Dickens movie, and it would be perfectly authentic … but with certain allowances given. Far west outposts like Texas were not entirely cut off from communication and fashion - from Europe or anywhere else - but local influences, economic necessity and custom did add certain rustic touches.

The Anglo-American gentlemen of early Texas and the far west wore the same fashionable tail-coats, neck-cloth, starched shirt-collar and tall top-hats or billed caps as anywhere else in America, Britain and Europe. They indulged in the same ornate waistcoats with the obligatory watch, watch-chain and fob, depending on taste or income. Sometimes they varied the wardrobe with wide straw planter’s hats, or a sash of vividly colored silk around the waist – but that was a very male bit of a splash and most often worn for best. It was also common for work and every-day to assume a hunting coat made of heavy canvas or buckskin, trimmed with fringe. This was a loose-fitting, A-line and wrap-around garment, often secured with a belt or sash at the waist. Such every-day wear was often accessorized with a huge hunting knife, boots and fancy spurs with Mexican-influenced jingle-bobs on them. (Yes, their spurs did go jingle-jangle.) The taste for large hunting knives was also a frontier influence – especially the Kentucky or Bowie knife, which could be almost as large as a small sword. Routinely carrying a single pistol or a pair of them on a belt holster was something which came at a later date, with the invention and widespread popularity of a practical repeating pistol, rather than a single-shot weapon.

Sometimes a gentleman preferred shoes, or brogans, rather than boots, worn with leather leggings – and when shoes were unavailable or an existing pair gone beyond repair, then Indian-style moccasins or buckskin leather served as footwear. There were a small minority of gentlemen – usually fur-trappers and others who spent much of their lives beyond the farthest frontier – who did go all the way toward wearing Indian-style buckskin shirts and leggings, for comfort and utility. But in the main and with the exceptions noted, the gentlemen of the frontier dressed very much in the same style as their contemporaries elsewhere.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Celia Hayes lives in San Antonio, Texas, and is the author of six novels set on the American frontier: To Truckee’s Trail – an account of the first wagon train to cross the Sierra Nevada, the Adelsverein Trilogy – which tells the story of the German settlements in the Texas Hill Country, and Daughter of Texas, and Deep in the Heart, a two-part account of a woman’s life during the years of the Republic of Texas. Visit Celia at www.celiahayes.com


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Video of the Week: The French Revolution ("Bad Romance" by Lady Gaga)

In light of my post on Versailles yesterday, and because I LOVE LOVE LOVE history set to modern music, this week's video is on the French Revolution--a parody of Bad Romance by Lady Gaga! Awesome!


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Palace of Versailles


I've always been fascinated by history. I can still remember watching Ben Hur and various documentaries with my father growing up. We were (I am still) museum junkies. I visited my first castle when I was eight. I do research for fun. On Mother's Day I sat and watched a two-hour long documentary on the plague.

That being said... I'm going to start a castle series on this blog! Today's the start, and I'm going to introduce you to the very first castle I was ever introduced to, the Palace of Versailles. Versailles is a magical place. Its beauty, grandeur, architecture, history, all of it combined pull you into an enchanted world. Gold and marble drip from every facet. Paintings grace the domed ceilings. Graceful and lifelike statues dot the premises, and the lines of the gardens are so precise!

Versailles is located in...Versaille, France--a suburb of Paris. The village of Versailles has been noted as far back as the 11th century, however Louis XIII didn't build a home there--a hunting lodge---until 1624. His successor Louis XIV expanded it into a palace. The palace remained the seat of the French royals until the French Revolution, when the people stormed the palace, pillaging and destroying many relics. You might recall the two famous royals at the time: Queen Marie Antoinette and King Louis XVI. Both were eventually executed.

Of course, when Napoleon came to power, he too had to live in the magnificence that is Versailles.

Here are some pictures/portraits of Versailles...

The inner courtyard.

Map of the Gardens and Palace in 1746
Painting of the palace and gardens

Bassin de Latone -- a fountain. See the canal in the background?
When I was a child and visited Versailles, they had the fountain running. It was glorious.

The orangerie in the gardens of Versailles. 

My favorite place in the palace--the hall of mirrors! I would have loved to dance here!

My heroine in A LADY'S CHARADE, spent time in France as a lady-in-waiting to Queen Isabeau. While the time period wasn't quite right for me to include Versailles, I made sure to put a tiny bit of my love of the French culture into my heroine.

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.


Available at Amazon / Barnes and Noble / Apple I-Books / Smashwords

Right now there is a contest giveaway for a printed signed copy of A LADY'S CHARADE at Goodreads!

Don't forget to check back next week for another castle installment!

Cheers,
Eliza

Thursday, May 10, 2012

All Around the World with Jane Austen!


A fun contest from Sourcebooks!!!

In the June memoir, All Roads Lead to Austen the author Amy Elizabeth Smith took Jane Austen’s works along with her as she traveled to foreign countries. Her goal was to see if the magic of Jane Austen could hold its power across borders, languages and cultures.

Amy took Jane to far off countries – and we need your help to take her even further! We are holding a contest called All Around the World with Jane! Join us on our Austen love fest by printing out our Jane Austen “flat Stanley.” Take pictures of yourself with Jane in your hometown or on your vacation, and submit it from April 30th – June 30th!

We will award the following prizes to the individuals with the most creative picture:

1 Grand Prize Winner will receive:
  • An E-reader with all of our available Austen sequels/continuations downloaded on to it
  • A signed copy of All Roads Lead to Austen by Amy Elizabeth Smith
  • A Skype session with Amy Elizabeth Smith
3 Second Place Winner will receive:
  • A signed copy of All Roads Lead to Austen by Amy Elizabeth Smith
  • A choice of 5 Jane Austen sequels/continuations from Sourcebooks
5 Third Place Winners will receive:
  • A signed copy of All Roads Lead to Austen by Amy Elizabeth Smith

You can then submit your pictures on the All Around the World with Jane Facebook page or email your submission to landmark@sourcebookspr.com.

Below are some examples of where Jane has been already (Times Square, The Jane Austen Centre in Bath, and the Sourcebooks offices!) along with the flat Stanley that you can print off (also available on the Facebook page). 

One more thing! Barnes & Noble will be offering this title as a NOOK early exclusive and will be offering the eBook at $6.99 starting Monday April 30th for a limited time!





Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Video of the Week: Tony Robinson on Fact or Fiction: Braveheart

I've been doing some research the past couple weeks on William Wallace and the time period he lived because it plays a part in a book I'm working on. I came across this video and thought I'd share with you all.

Enjoy!

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Good Medieval Wife

Happy Monday!

Today, I'm blogging at History Ink on medieval culture and one of my favorite research books, The Good Wife's Guide.

Stop by to see if you're a good wife!

I'm also giving away a signed print copy of  A LADY'S CHARADE, so be sure to enter a comment for your chance to win!

Cheers,
Eliza

Friday, May 4, 2012

Historical Romance Review: Sweet Enemy by Heather Snow


SWEET ENEMY by Heather Snow--a must read!!!

KATHLEEN'S REVIEW...

Debut Author Heather Snow hit a home run her first time at bat with SWEET ENEMY. Liliana and Geoffrey are two very smart, snappy characters who invite you into their colorful world at first glance. Ms. Snow, a chemist in her own right, chose the perfect profession for her heroine—the detail the author injects into the story is so captivating, it makes you want to go back to school. Who would have thought chemistry would have been an interesting subject in a romance novel.

Where Liliana grabs your heart in the prologue, Geoffrey jumps off the page in the first two paragraphs of chapter one. You will definitely want to know these two. The author takes you inside even the least significant of sub-characters with such graceful ease, before you realize it, you’re lost not only in a well-crafted story, but you’ll want to highlight both the clever repartee between hero and heroine and the lovely prose so you can revisit long after you’ve turned the last page. I had to go back and read the part where they first met over again the scene was so delightfully unique, not to mention funny and steamy at the same time.

Well done, Ms. Snow.

Here’s an author who’ll be on my “must read” list for a very long time. I suspect she’ll be on yours as well. Her debut is the first in a series called Veiled Seduction, and this reviewer cannot wait for book two.

ABOUT THE BOOK...

A Veiled Seduction Novel ~ Book One

Geoffrey Wentworth, a war hero and rising political star, never wanted to be the Earl, but when his brother dies, he knows his duty—take up the responsibility for his family’s estates.  His mother’s definition of duty differs from his, however, and can be summed up in one word—heirs.  When Geoffrey rushes home to answer her urgent summons, he finds himself host to a house full of women, all vying to become the next Countess of Stratford.  But his love is Parliament, where he wields his influence and reputation to better the lives of ex-soldiers, until a tempting houseguest and a secret from his past threaten his freedom…and his heart.

Liliana Claremont, a brilliant chemist, doesn’t want to be any man’s wife, much less a Countess.  If she had tuppence for every time she’d been told her place was filling the nursery, not experimenting in the laboratory, she could buy the Tower Bridge.  However, when she receives a coveted invitation to the Earl’s house party, she trades in her beakers for ball gowns and gladly takes on the guise of husband hunter—for the chance to uncover what the Earl had to do with the murder of her father.

Liliana believes the best way to get the answers she needs is to keep her enemy close, though romance is not part of her formula.  But it only takes one kiss to start a reaction she can't control...