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, November 28, 2013

Video of the Week: 28 Thanksgiving Things

The first Thanksgiving at Plymouth.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!


Today I'm posting a video I found hilarious...and a bit disturbing...




And a video that is a bit more historical...

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

History of Men’s Leg Wear (Pants) Through the Regency Era by Suzi Love

Welcome to History Undressed, Suzi Love!!! She's written a fascinating piece on Regency clothing for us -- specifically men's leg wear. Love it! Enjoy!

History of Men’s Leg Wear (Pants) Through the Regency Era
by Suzi Love

Many names have been used for men’s leg coverings through history : Latin braccae, loin-cloth, breech-cloth, breech-clout, braies,  britches, Scots Breeks, trousers, pants, pantaloons, knickerbockers, plus fours, jodhpurs etc. Or even Oxford bags, a baggy form of trousers worn by members of Oxford University , especially undergraduates, in England during the early 20th century.

By the early 1800s, men’s clothing was rapidly changing. Culottes, or knee breeches, and their previous distasteful association with rich aristocrats, particularly in France, were being replaced by first pantaloons, and then trousers. ‘Showing-a-leg’ no longer seemed important as clothing, and lifestyles, became more relaxed.


Breeches before the turn of the century were looser fitting around the hips and made of wool, cotton, or linen, while some silk breeches were still worn on very formal occasions or at court. But coats became  higher cut in the front, so waistcoats and pants were more exposed and the style of pants needed to change.  

Breeches were fall-fronted with a broad fall, the early ones being very wide, hip to hip,  and gradually becoming narrower, hip bone to hip bone. Waistbands were buttoned and then the fall closed and buttoned over the top like a bib. A French Fly was fastened down the centre, but Englishmen resisted this style as it was considered a racy French style.


Riding breeches, or buckskin breeches, were still worn for comfort. These were tighter fitting and had either, or both, button and ties for fastening at the knees. They became longer, to the tops of long boots, while for daywear, pantaloons and trousers replaced breeches.

The word ‘Pantaloon’ comes from the French pantalon, from Italian Pantaleone, a traditional character in 16th-century Italian comedy and literally means a covering for each leg from waist to ankle.


Trousers were fairly close fitting and ended around the ankles, with slits on the sides for foot access. Some had under-the-foot straps to keep them anchored in place. For day dress, stirrups were worn under the shoe but for evening wear, under the foot.

Evening dress pantaloons and trousers were generally of white or black kerseymere or cashmere. Peg-Top Trousers, named for a peg-top cone-shaped spinning top,  were wide and pleated at the top and had very narrow ankles.

Evening dress stockings, whether worn with breeches or pantaloons, were white or natural colored silk, though by the 1820s black silk was popular.

Suzi Love is an Australian author of historical romance, from Regency to early Victorian, and from sexy to erotic.

You can find more of her historical articles at http://www.suzilove.com
And more historical men’s fashion at :







Friday, November 22, 2013

Gracianna by Trini Amador -- Review + Giveaway!



I had the pleasure of reading a wonderful tale recently, based on the life of a real woman--Gracianna. It was fascinating and inspiring. I highly recommend it! Leave a comment for your chance to win a copy (US only).

About GRACIANNA


Publication Date: July 23, 2013
Greenleaf Book Group Press
Hardcover; 296p
ISBN-10: 1608325709

The gripping story of Gracianna–a French-Basque girl forced to make impossible decisions after being recruited into the French Resistance in Nazi-occupied Paris.

Gracianna is inspired by true events in the life of Trini Amador’s great-grandmother, Gracianna Lasaga. As an adult, Amador was haunted by the vivid memory of finding a loaded German Luger tucked away in a nightstand while wandering his great-grandmother’s home in Southern California. He was only four years old at the time, but the memory remained and he knew he had to explore the story behind the gun.

Decades later, Amador would delve into the remarkable odyssey of his Gracianna’s past, a road that led him to an incredible surprise. In Gracianna, Amador weaves fact and fiction to tell his great-grandmother’s story.

Gracianna bravely sets off to Paris in the early 1940s–on her way to America, she hopes–but is soon swept into the escalation of the war and the Nazi occupation of Paris. After chilling life-and-death struggles, she discovers that her missing sister has surfaced as a laborer in Auschwitz. When she finds an opportunity to fight back against the Nazis to try to free her sister, she takes it–even if it means using lethal force.

As Amador tells the imagined story of how his great-grandmother risked it all, he delivers richly drawn characters and a heart-wrenching page-turner that readers won’t soon forget.

My Review



I absolutely enjoy reading books about people who really lived, and with Gracianna, I had a particular interest, given that members of my own family had lived through the difficulties of World War II. Even more intriguing is that the author is the great-grandson of Gracianna. He isn't simply reliving the past through research, but also through personal connection, and while a lot of it is imagined, we can't help but hope that Gracianna is truly this heroine that Mr. Amador brings to life.

Gracianna is a woman with heart and dreams. She doesn't accept the life she's told she must live, but strives for more, believes wholeheartedly that there is more to her future than working her fingers to the bone as a maid in a small village. And so instead of just dreaming like so many women of her time did, she takes life by the horns and demands satisfaction. She travels to Paris and hopes to soon make her way to America. But then the terror of war hits close to home. Paris is occupied by Nazis. Gracianna's own sister is in the hands of enemy, and she must find a way to free her at all costs. The story deals with an intense and terrifying time. A dark and gritty period in history that will leave you both cringing and praying and turning the pages.

A powerful, poignant page-turner, Gracianna takes you into the darkest parts of humanity and shows you that strength of human spirit can prevail over evil. 

Praise for Gracianna


“Gracianna is a riveting and remarkable narrative. The characters come alive through their unassuming but compelling stories, as Nazi-occupied Paris unfolds before our eyes. We come to care deeply about the characters, which makes putting down the book almost impossible. Highly recommended.” – Stacey Katz Bourns, Director of Language Programs, Dept. of Romance Languages and Literatures, Harvard University

“While wine is obviously a significant part of life’s enjoyment, the story behind the wine can be even more gratifying. You will be fixated on this thrilling story written by Trini Amador which was inspired by Gracianna, his great-grandmother, the French Basque namesake of his family’s award-winning winery in Sonoma County.” – Bob Cabral, Director of Winemaking & General Manager, Williams Selyem Winery

“Gracianna is a gripping story about human courage and determination. This book truly deserves a movie because of the action and emotions in it. Trini Amador has done a fantastic job in bringing the story of his amazing grandmother to life. A must read for fiction and non-fiction lovers alike.” —Felipe Korzenny, Ph.D., Director of the Center for Hispanic Marketing Communication, Florida State University.

About the Author


Trini Amador vividly remembers the day he found a loaded German Luger tucked away in a nightstand while wandering through his great-grandmother’s home in Southern California. He was only four years old at the time, but the memory remained and he knew he had to explore the story behind the gun. This experience sparked a journey towards Gracianna, Amador’s debut novel, inspired by true events and weaving reality with imagination. It’s a tale drawing from real-life family experiences.

Mr. Amador is a traveled global marketing “insighter.” He is a sought-after guru teaching multinational brand marketers to understand how customer and consumer segments behave based on their needs, values, motivations, feeling and values. He has trained over five thousand brand marketers on how to grow brands in over 20 countries in the last 15 years. His counseling has been valued at global brands including General Electric, Microsoft, AT&T, Yahoo!, Sun Microsystems, Google, Jack Daniel’s, The J.M. Smucker Co., DuPont, Mattel, and Rodale, Inc..

Amador is also a founding partner with his wife and children of Gracianna Winery, an award-winning winery located in Healdsburg, California. The winery also pays tribute to the Amador Family’s maternal grandmother, Gracianna Lasaga. Her message of being thankful lives on through them. The Gracianna winery strives to keep Gracianna’s gratitude alive through their wine. Learn more at: www.gracianna.com, like Gracianna Winery on Facebook or follow them on Twitter @GraciannaWinery.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Castle of the Week: Dunstaffnage Castle by Vonda Sinclair

Welcome back to History Undressed, my good friend, Vonda Sinclair! She's sharing with us today Dunstaffnage Castle, where she visited recently. Fascinating post, awesome pics! Enjoy!

Dunstaffnage Castle
By Vonda Sinclair

Dunstaffnage Castle sits on a rocky promontory where Loch Etive meets the Firth of Lorn in Argyll, not too far from Oban.  The name Dunstaffnage comes from the Gaelic  dun or 'fort' and two Norse words, stafr 'staff' and nes 'promontory'. Staff may refer to an office-bearer or official. This castle guarded the approach from the sea to the Pass of Brander which leads to the heart of Scotland.

Those who visited the castle found good anchorage in Dunstaffnage Bay. It still serves this purpose and you will usually see yachts anchored in the bay.

Dunstaffnage Bay
Dunstaffnage was built around the year 1220, probably by Duncan MacDougall, grandson of the famous and powerful Somerled. At this time, Argyll was the dividing line between the kingdom of Scotland and Norway. Neither king controlled the area, and by 1150 it was ruled by Somerled, a half-Norse, half-Gaelic warlord. He seized the Kingdom of the Isles from his brother-in-law and ruled until his death. When Somerled died, his kingdom passed to his three sons. Dougall (spelled Dubhgall in Gaelic), the oldest, became Lord of Lorn. Duncan was his son.

Stone steps of the castle
Dunstaffnage is one of the oldest stone castles in Scotland and it served as residence for lords for over five hundred years. It was only abandoned in 1810.

The curtain wall and three projecting towers survive from the 13th century as does the nearby chapel. As you approach the castle, you will see a strong, forbidding fortification. It's easy to see how it would have intimidated those who might have wanted to attack.

The castle has a long and violent history. It served as a key locale during the 14th century Wars of Independence. Later it served as a stronghold of the Campbells, earls of Argyll. The Campbells earned the king's favor, and therefore power, by policing the region, especially the Western Isles, against uprisings of clans such as the MacDonalds.

Although trees surround the castle now, back when it was a fortified castle, it offered its residents expansive views over the Firth of Lorn and Loch Etive.

From inside the castle
The castle sits on high rocky promontory, and the walls rise more than 6 more meters. The original tops of the walls are gone, so it's unknown if they were battlemented or covered in a timber structure. Excavations show that the castle was originally surrounded by an eight meter wide ditch. The only openings in the landward side of the curtain were narrow arrow slits. After 1500 these were blocked up and even smaller gun loops inserted.

Another view inside the castle
The original castle had no projecting corner towers, just the massive 11 feet thick walls. The stonework would not have been visible. The walls would've been harled (coated with white lime render.) Harling provides a long-lasting weatherproof shield and was often used on Scottish castles and other buildings. Traces of the harling still survive at Dunstaffnage.

Duncan's son Ewen probably built the three round towers onto the castle, and constructed or enlarged the hall inside.

Gatehouse
The building above the entrance, which looks like a house, is the gatehouse. It was rebuilt in the late 1500s. When we were visiting, repairs were being made on it. I didn't take many pictures of the scaffolding and tarps. :) The Captain of Dunstaffnage resided in the gatehouse. The man who filled this role in the 1500s probably had this gatehouse built to replace the poor accommodation of the old donjon. The gatehouse is three floors with one room on each floor. We were not allowed inside nor near it with the repairs to the roof, etc.


Entrance
The entrance dates from the late 15th century when the Campbells took over the castle. The doorway is within a pointed arch recess. The stone steps leading up to it were built around 1720. Before that, there must have been a drawbridge over the huge ditch. Evidence of a drawbridge pit remains.

Donjon
The donjon is a dilapidated tower at the north corner. This is the largest of the three towers and was added around 1250. It was built to allow archers a better view of the outer faces of the wall and to furnish the lord with better accommodation. It was probably three stories high. The ground floor was a storage cellar with no stairs leading from it to the upper floors. It had three arrow slits. The upper part held the lord's hall and chamber. There is a spiral stair linking the two and in it a latrine, sometimes called a garderobe.

The wall-walk
From the beginning, the castle had a wall-walk around the landward facing walls of the castle. This allowed the garrison to keep an eye out and defend this vulnerable side of the castle. The wall-walk has been repaired so visitors can walk on it. There's a great view from up here.

The courtyard
The area of the castle wall below the wall-walk has several recesses which originally gave access to narrow arrow slits. Later they were altered for guns. There may have been buildings here in early times.

The chapel
The chapel ruin sits in a woodland behind the castle. It was a family chapel, serving the lord's household, instead of the parish. The remains show that it was once an extraordinary building which shows the wealth and sophistication of its builder, Duncan MacDougall. No other chapel of this date in mainland Scotland can match it for quality. It is 65 feet long and was at one time divided by a timber screen into a nave and chancel. The architecture was inspired by Irish churches but some features are similar to other churches in the area, such as Iona. It likely had elaborate arched doorways. The photo shows one of the paired lancet windows in the chancel. By 1740 the chapel was in ruins.



My Notorious Highlander: Chief Torrin MacLeod vows to possess and wed the spirited lady who stole his heart the previous winter. But Lady Jessie MacKay wants naught to do with the dangerous warrior, no matter how devilishly handsome and charming he is. When Torrin arrives unexpectedly at Jessie's home, along with Gregor MacBain, a man Jessie was formerly handfasted to, she is thrown off-kilter. She never wanted to see either man again, but now they are vying for her hand. Torrin promises to protect her from the devious MacBain, but how can she trust Torrin when she has witnessed how lethal he is?

The more time Torrin spends with the strong and independent Jessie, the more determined he is to win her heart. Once she allows him a kiss, he feels her passion flame as hot as his own. After she knows Torrin better, Jessie finds herself falling for the fearsome Highlander. But the odds are stacked against them. The sinister MacBain is bent on kidnapping Jessie, making her his bride and killing Torrin, while Jessie's conniving younger brother, Haldane, is determined to use Jessie to take over the castle in his older brother's absence. Jessie fears she can never be with the man she loves, while Torrin will do everything in his power to ensure they are together forever. In his heart, she is the only lady for him.




Vonda Sinclair’s favorite indulgent pastime is exploring Scotland, from Edinburgh to the untamed and windblown north coast. She also enjoys creating hot Highland heroes and spirited lasses to drive them mad. Her historical romances have won an EPIC Award and a National Readers' Choice Award. She lives with her amazing and supportive husband in the mountains of North Carolina where she is no doubt creating another Scottish story.

Friday, November 15, 2013

A Real-life Hero’s Profile From the First World War by Julie Rowe


Welcome to History Undressed, guest author, Julie Rowe! We're happy to host Ms. Rowe during her Aiding the Enemy virtual tour! Now onto a fascinating piece...

A Real-life Hero’s Profile from the First World War

by Julie Rowe

Former President Theodore Roosevelt called this man one of the “five bravest Americans” to serve in World War I.

Henry Johnson, the first American private to be awarded the Croix du Guerre, France’s highest military honor, in the First World War – was 5”4 and weighed 130 lbs. He was a porter at a train station in New York before he enlisted in the all-black 15th New York National Guard Regiment, renamed the 369th Infantry Regiment upon shipping out to France.

Henry and he fellow Harlem Hellraisers as many called them were poorly trained and worked at first at menial jobs such as latrine digging and unloading ships. The French army was short of men, however, so the Hellraisers were lent to them. They were given French helmets, weapons and a few useful words then put on sentry duty.

On Henry’s first night as a sentry, at about two am, a German raiding party made its way through the barbed wire. Henry and fellow Hellraiser Needham Roberts were stationed in a forward fox hole and heard their wire cutters. They began throwing grenades at the Germans. Return fire was fierce and Needham was wounded bad enough that he couldn’t do much more than hand Henry grenades. Henry was also wounded, but not as bad as his friend. When they ran out of grenades, Henry fired at the Germans until his rifle jammed. By this time the Germans were in their fox hole and were attempting to cart Needham off. Henry beat at them with the butt of his rifle until it broke. Then he pulled out his American bolo knife and hacked and slashed until the Germans dropped Needham and retreated. By then Henry had been injured several more times.

Dawn revealed the extent of the fight. Henry had killed four German soldiers outright and injured 10 to 20 more.


Giveaway!! Leave a comment with your email address for you chance to win one eBook of Aiding the Enemy + $10 Gift Card to an eRetailer of the winner's choice.  Open internationally.

About AIDING THE ENEMY

Publication Date: October 7, 2013
Carina Press
eBook
ASIN: B00E1UY67I

Book three of War Girls

German-occupied Brussels, Belgium
December 1915

Rose Culver is in grave danger. For months the Red Cross head nurse has been aiding Allied soldiers caught behind enemy lines, helping them flee into neutral Netherlands. It's only a matter of time until she's caught. Which makes it the wrong time to fall in love with a handsome German military doctor as devoted to the sanctity of human life as she is.

The Great War has caused Dr. Herman Geoff to question everything he once believed. He knows Rose has been hiding British soldiers in her hospital—he's even treated some of them, refusing to go against his own Hippocratic oath. As a doctor, he admires Rose's skill and conviction. As a man, he can no longer deny his attraction to her. But when Rose is arrested for treason, Herman must choose between love for her and duty to his country...

For more tales of love and war, download Saving the Rifleman and Enticing the Spymaster, available now!

About the Author

Julie Rowe’s first career as a medical lab technologist in Canada took her to the North West Territories and northern Alberta, where she still resides. She loves to include medical details in her romance novels, but admits she’ll never be able to write about all her medical experiences because, “No one would believe them!”. In addition to writing contemporary and historical medical romance, and fun romantic suspense for Entangled Publishing and Carina Press, Julie has a short story in the Mammoth Book of ER Romance (releasing Sept 15, 2013). Her book SAVING THE RIFLEMAN (book #1 WAR GIRLS) won the novella category of the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence. Her writing has also appeared in several magazines such as Romantic Times Magazine, Today’s Parent, and Romantic Times Magazine.

For more information please visit Julie Rowe's website.  You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.

For more chances to win, check out the other tour stops on the Aiding the Enemy Blog Tour!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

All About the Clothes by Janet Mullany

Welcome back to History Undressed, my dear friend Janet Mullany! I love her work and I think you will find her post today to be rather entertaining. Enjoy!

ALL ABOUT THE CLOTHES

by Janet Mullany

1790-1800 Men's Clothes
Victoria and Albert Museum Collection
Given by Messrs Harrods Ltd.
Thanks so much for having me visit, Eliza! It’s a pleasure to be here.

Ask any writer of historical fiction what drew them to their chosen genre, and sooner or later they’ll reveal the ugly truth: it’s the clothes. I can talk for hours about Georgian servants or the English abolition movement, but eventually I slow down and blurt out “And the tight pants.”

Yes, the tight pants, the shirts with the mancleavage reveal, the boots, and so on. All that starched white linen and other wonderful fabrics, wool, silks, satins, velvets, netting, knits. Women’s clothing of the Georgian-Regency period was comfortable, sparse—gown, petticoat, corset, shift—and the corsetry supported but did not restrict. It’s enough to make fetishists of us all. The stockings, however, are a bit of a disappointment—imagine a long tube sock that would slide down unless tied in place. The concept of sexy underwear did not exist. It was strictly practical, made to be washed over and over—no silks or satins, and no lace since for a long time war prevented the (legal) import of French lace. But women did not wear pantaloons or drawers until well into the nineteenth century and the garments remained crotchless until the twentieth. You didn’t need sexy underwear with the outer clothes revealing the lines of the body, male and
1775-1800 Drawers
Victoria and Albert Museum Collection
female, so blatantly.

Clothing sent other messages too, about your status in life, your income, and even, for a woman, your marital status. Unmarried and in your late twenties?—sorry, you missed the marital boat. You’d henceforth be destined to wear a spinster’s cap, as my heroine does at the beginning of A Certain Latitude.


What sort of historical clothing do you find sexy?

1800—Allan Pendale, lawyer and the youngest son of the Earl of Frensham, is bound by ship for the West Indies, to impart the news to his estranged father that his mother has died.  But he also has another mission—to find out the truth of his origins.

Miss Clarissa Onslowe is also on board, traveling to take up the role of governess to the daughter of the wealthy planter Mr. Lemarchand. There is nothing to keep her in England. An indiscretion five years before led to her reputation being ruined; her abolitionist family has disowned her and no gentleman would marry her now. But now she seeks redemption with her family by revealing the truth about the miserable lives of the slaves who work on the sugar plantations.

Clarissa’s previous encounter with love has left her aroused and restless, and Allan is a man for whom lust is a daily pastime; thrown together belowdecks during the long sea voyage, they embark on a sensual odyssey where no desire is left untested. But if they thought their exploration and ecstasy could not be bettered, then there are more pleasures to be taken and boundaries to be broken at their island destination—where “March” Lemarchand, sugar king and master of seduction, awaits them both…

A marvel of sex, smarts, and wit—Pam Rosenthal/Molly Weatherfield
Unabashedly wicked … titillating, witty, and very, very sexy—Colette Gale
A torrid, twisting tale of a trio bound together by love, lust and tropical latitudes. Scorching!—Maggie Robinson

EXCERPT:


Allen had thought Miss Onslowe had gone below, but she was on deck, lurking around the henhouse, doubtless tucking the wretched birds into bed for the night. She wore, as usual, the unbecoming spinster’s cap and a long cloak. He drew his own cloak around himself, seeking a dark corner, and wondered if she had some sort of assignation with the First Mate Johnson, who had gazed foolishly at her all through dinner.
She looked around cautiously and raised one hand to her head.
He burst from his hiding place, grabbed the cap from her head, and tossed it overboard.
 “Why did you do that?” she shrieked, much as she’d done when he’d knocked her to the deck first within minutes of meeting her.
“Because it’s damned ugly and—”
The ship gave a decided lurch. She bumped up against him, grasped his coat for balance and shouted, “I wanted to do that!”
He burst into laughter. Together they watched the white cap bob on the waves—yes, definitely waves, here—and then sink from sight.
“Damn you, Pendale.” She bent forward to unlace her boots, kicked them off, and reached under her skirts.
“What—” he watched transfixed as her garters—pink ribbons—fell to the deck and those same dingy gray woolen stockings slid down her ankles.
She hopped on one foot and tugged one stocking off, then the other, with a swish of skirts, and maybe—or did he imagine it?—a flash of white thigh.
Barefoot, she tossed her stockings overboard, where they bobbed for a brief moment before disappearing from sight.
“Well!” She laid her hand on his sleeve for balance, grinning broadly.
He’d never seen her—or any woman, come to that—smile with so much abandon, her whole face lit up. She must be drunk—that was it. She’d had quite a few glasses of punch.
“I hated those stockings. I have been praying for them to wear out. I’m glad to see them go. Now I shall be forced to wear my silk ones, like a lady.”
 “Miss Onslowe, do you imply you are not a lady?”
She ran her fingers through her loosened hair. “I do not wish to shock you, Pendale. You seem like a very respectable sort of gentleman.”

“Oh, please, Miss Onslowe, do shock me.” He grinned back. The atmosphere was becoming pleasantly erotic—a woman who, if not exactly pretty, was certainly interesting and had shown no shyness in stripping off her stockings, stood before him, her hips swaying with the motion of the ship.


Buy:

Janet Mullany grew up in England and has worked as an archaeologist, performing arts administrator, classical music radio announcer, bookseller, and editor, and unexpectedly became a writer eleven years ago. Her first book, DEDICATION (2005, rewritten for LooseId, 2011), was the only traditional Signet Regency with two bondage scenes and she continued to break conventions with her comic Regency chicklit book THE RULES OF GENTILITY (2007, HarperCollins and 2008, Little Black Dress, UK). She’s written three more Regency chicklits, two alternate historical-paranormals about Jane Austen as a vampire (JANE AND THE DAMNED and JANE AUSTEN: BLOOD PERSUASION) and other Austenesque short fiction. She also pursues another existence as a writer of erotic contemporaries for Harlequin. She lives outside Washington, DC where she reads voraciously and teaches a cat manners. Find out more at http://www.janetmullany.com


https://twitter.com/Janet_Mullany


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Montmartre: Sin City of the Nineteenth Century by Caddy Rowland

Welcome guest author, Caddy Rowland, to History Undressed today. She's written a fun post Montmartre in Paris, France during the 19th century. Enjoy!

Montmartre: Sin City of the Nineteenth Century 

by Caddy Rowland


When I started writing The Gastien Series, it really surprised me that more fiction didn’t take place in the Montmartre section of Paris during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. That’s too bad. Few places have been such a haven of creative genius, free thinking, hard drinking, drug taking, sexual freedom, and general debauchery. Those are all things that can be used to make storylines both exciting and interesting.

Montmartre during that time was going through the bohemian art heyday. Impressionism was alive and well, along with many other painting styles that developed after branching off from it. Art would never again be the same. These artists were mostly poor, living in buildings that often housed several, with one well for water and no heat. Starving artist, indeed. Life was tough; making a living was even tougher.

What few people realize is that during that time, Montmartre was also a den of pleasure. Hard drugs were legal and openly sold. At one time there were over 1,500 opium dens legally operating in Paris. Hashish, cocaine, heroin, were all common place. In fact, heroin was advertised in newspapers sold in candy form, and also as a medicine recommended for the whole family!

Let’s not forget the preferred drink of the artists of that time: absinthe. In fact, if you look carefully at some of the paintings done by artists from that era you will find a glass of green liquid somewhere in the painting. For many years we believed the chemical compound thujone was responsible for the brutal effect of the green fairy (as the liquor was called). Now we know that instead it was high alcohol content (90-148 proof)—and the fact that those who sold it to artists and the poor sometimes used rubbing alcohol in it to save money. They figured it was just the poor artists and peasants buying from them, anyway. Talk about class discrimination. No wonder some of those people suffered effects from it. Of course, the wealthy weren’t treated that way.


Drugs and liquor weren’t all one could find, either. Prostitution was rampant (and also legal). Not only could one buy girls, young boys were offered. Many of us are familiar with the Moulin Rouge. It’s respectable now (and has been for decades) but in the beginning? Not quite. There was a huge fake elephant outside that men entered to indulge in opium and whores. The dancers inside the luxurious club did the can-can to advertise their “wares”—many times failing to remember to wear undergarments. Puts a new light on the children’s old rhyme “There’s a place in France where the ladies wear no pants”, doesn’t it?



Yes, Montmartre was the place to be seen and a great many had fun there. Au Lapin Agile, Chat Noir, Moulin de la Galette, Moulin Rouge…all of these were places where the very wealthy traveled to slum it with the bohemian artists and other peasants, if only for the evening. One thing was for sure: not only could those artists paint, they could party. In fact, one evening, Modigliani tore off his clothes and stood on a table in one establishment and yelled “Aren’t I a god?” The women there overwhelming agreed that indeed he was. Suzanne Valadon (one of the few female artists of the time) once slid down a banister at a popular club completely naked—except for a mask.

Au Lapin Agile (The Nimble Rabbit)

And who could blame them for enjoying life when they could? Life was hard. Forgetting for a few hours by altering one’s mind had to be a great temptation, and often times a great blessing. They struggled constantly, but at night they indulged in parties that would make Rome or Las Vegas look like the Pope’s quarters.

Most of the artists that are now famous were part of that scene during different years. Picasso, van Gogh, Modigliani, Renoir, Degas, Matisse, Monet, Cezanne, and many others whose names most of us recognize were all part of the energy that was bohemian Montmartre. If you were an artist who took yourself at all seriously during this era you found a way to eventually get to there.

So many characters, so many vices, so much creativity, and yet so few novels about it. That disappoints me, as I thirst to be brought back to that time since I’m a painter myself. I tip my hat to the few that have used it as their setting for a novel. I also hope you join me in nineteenth century Montmartre yourself by reading The Gastien Series. The first two books of this five book series take place there:

Gastien: The Cost of the Dream Description


When young Gastien Beauchamp flees the farm for Paris, the late nineteenth century bohemian era is in full swing. Color has always called to him, beseeching him to capture it on canvas and show people a new way of seeing things. His father belittled his dream of being an artist and tried to beat him into giving it up. The dream wouldn’t die, but Gastien would have had he not left.

He also yearns to become a great lover. After the years of anguish he has endured at the hand of his father, it would be heaven to feel pleasure instead of pain.

However, the city of Paris has a ruthless agenda. Unless a man has money and connections, Paris unfeelingly crushes dreams and destroys souls. With neither of the required assets, Gastien faces living in alleys, digging in trash bins for food, and sleeping where a man is often killed for his threadbare blanket.

Left with nothing but his dreams, Gastien clings to the hope that the impossible is possible. He pushes on, regardless of the cost.
                                                                                                                                       
Adult fiction for men and women over age 18

Buy link for Gastien: The Cost of the Dream:
http://tinyurl.com/3ecu8ku For Kindle readers or paperback (This book is currently in Amazon Select.)
Sign up for New Release Newsletter by Email: http://eepurl.com/rfjaX
Author Email: caddyauthor@yahoo.com
Twitter: @caddyorpims
Additional books in the Gastien Series:

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Monday, November 11, 2013

Happy Veteran's Day

Today we give thanks and honor all those who've served our country, so that we may be safe.

 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

What Did A Regency Lady Know? by Ella Quinn

Please join me in welcoming Ella Quinn to the blog today! She's written a great Regency piece for us today. Enjoy!


What Did A Regency Lady Know? 

by Ella Quinn


Most readers who love the genre can come away with a mixed idea of what a lady during the Regency era actually did. Not only books, but movies, and TV as well can give one the impression that they went to parties, shopped, and sat around the house doing needle work. The answer is a bit more complicated.
Most girls were taught, reading, maths, art, literature, at a minimum, French and some Italian. It was more unusual for them to have learned Latin or Greek, which most men studied, but it did happen, and yes, needlework, which amounted to everything from embroidering slippers and handkerchiefs, to the beautiful whitework.

Also pianoforte, and singing. Can you imagine preforming for your future husband and, <groan> mother-in-law?

Jane Austen describes it. “after dinner families and friends were obligated to entertain each other with conversation, musical performances, parlor games and cards, or reading aloud.”

 Let’s not forget horseback riding, and driving a carriage.

However, they also had to have knowledge of how to run a large house and possibly the estate, or estates, as well. Depending on size of her husband’s holdings, that job was the equivalent of running a small to large business.

For an idea on how many servants it took to manage a small place one can look to Georgette Heyer’s Friday’s Child, where the young couple decided to lease a small townhouse, and the number of servants needed to “ensure a moderate degree of comfort” amounted to a cook, butler, two maids, a page boy, groom, tiger, coachman, a lady’s maid, and valet. Since there was no housekeeper, that left the job of directing the maids to the lady of the house. If any of them were ill, it was her job to have the doctor called and pay for the expenses. Not to mention keeping the household accounts.

This was especially true of estates, where it was your responsibility to see to the health and welfare of your dependants, both in the house and tenants who rented plots for farming.

Which leads us to planning social events. There was no buying wine and beer, and throwing out some chips and dip here. Many events had hundreds of guests. If you hosted a house party, that could go on for up to a month, you had to plan the entertainment.

Are you tired yet? Let’s not forget, there is no phone, text or email. In order to keep in touch with family and friends, you have to sit down and write a letter. Unless your husband was a peer and could frank your letters, in which case you could go on for pages, you would make use of one sheet of paper and cross your lines, or even write across again diagonally so that the person receiving your correspondence didn’t have to pay as much. Try reading that.


When does your day end? Generally after dinner, when the men rejoin the ladies and tea has been served.

Available now! The Secret Life of Miss Anna Marsh


“Let yourself be seduced by this sexy mix of spies, smugglers, and happily ever afters.” —Sally MacKenzie
Since she was a young girl, Anna Marsh has dreamed of Sebastian, Baron Rutherford asking for her hand in marriage. But that was in another life when her brother Harry was alive, before she vowed to secretly continue the work he valiantly died for. Now as Sebastian finally courts Anna, she must thwart his advances. Were he to discover her secret, he would never deem her a suitable wife...

Sebastian has always known Anna would become his wife someday. He expects few obstacles, but when she dissuades him at every turn he soon realizes there is much more to this intriguing woman. Somehow he must prove to her that they are meant to be together. But first he must unravel the seductive mystery that is Miss Anna Marsh…


Ella Quinn's studies and other jobs have always been on the serious side. Reading historical romances, especially Regencies, were her escape.

After a stint in the Army, where she was the first woman to be assigned to a Green Beret unit, and serving in Guam and Germany, she decided to return to university where she earned a B.A., and MS in International Relations, and a J.D., which led to another term in the Army as a JAG officer. By day, she works as a family law attorney, helping clients resolve problems, and by night she crafts stories where characters always find happy endings. 

When Ella and her husband to be were dating, he convinced her he was really a Viking warrior. That was thirty-one years ago. They have a son and granddaughter, Great Dane and a Chartreux. After living in the South Pacific, Central America, North Africa and in Europe, she and her husband decided to make St. Thomas, Virgin Islands their home.

           Ella is a member of Romance Writers of America, The Beau Monde, Hearts Through History and is an active member of the Regency Romance Critique Group.

 She’s extensively researched the Regency era both while living in England for two years and aftwards. She imbues her stories with the flavor and feel of the age so that readers lose themselves in the time period.