Above painting: Louis Jean Francois - Mars and Venus an Allegory of Peace
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Sunday, February 14, 2021

Happy Valentine's Day! And a Bit of History


Happy Valentine’s Day! 


What *is* this day we celebrate every February 14th with cards, chocolates, flowers and words of love? Believe it or not, this day of love is not something drummed up by modern culture. In fact it’s been around for hundreds of years. There is not one specific Saint Valentine that can be attributed to the holiday as the Catholic Church recognizes three sainted Valentine’s, all martyred. Here is where legends come in to form where the celebration of love was derived on this saint day. 

 

One legend states that in Rome, Emperor Claudius II (3rd century) banned young men from marrying so he could use them as soldiers to fight his wars. A local priest named Valentine rebelled by secretly marrying young couples in love.  When his treachery was discovered, he was executed.

 

Yet, another legend decrees that Valentine while in prison sent the first Valentine’s card himself to a woman who was his beloved, and signed it, “From Your Valentine”.

 

Why February? Some suggest it is because this is the anniversary of Valentine’s death. Others say that it is because when the Roman’s were trying to convert Pagans to Christianity, they chose a date that coincided with the Lupercalia Festival (a festival celebrated between February 13th and 15th that was meant to chase away evil spirits to release health and fertility.) Judging from how many Christian holidays and saint days fall on or around Pagan celebration days, it would be my guess that the latter was the beginning of it, and the legends created afterward—but that is only my opinion.

 

It was in the year 498 A.D., Pope Gelasius declared that February 14th was Saint Valentine’s Day.

 

It is said prior to Chaucer that links to Saint Valentine and February celebrations were mostly about sacrifice and not love. In 1382, Chaucer recorded what is noted as the first indication of Valentine’s Day being romantic. Now, is that to say that there were not previous stories told? No. It just means this is the first piece recorded and used as evidence of an origin date. The problem with history is that we are only as good as the facts we have on hand…

 

Here is what Chaucer wrote in Parlement of Foules (yr. 1382):

“For this was on seynt Volantynys dayWhan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make.”

(Translates as: For this was on Saint Valentine’s Day, when every bird comes there to choose his mate.”)

Perhaps this is where we get the term, “love birds”?


The oldest Valentine’s Day card still in existence today, was written by Charles, Duke of Orleans, in 1415. He wrote the poem for his wife while imprisoned in the Tower of London after the Battle of Agincourt (French and English battle took place in Agincourt, France—English, by what some deem a miracle, won.). The card can be seen at the British Library in London, as part of the manuscript collection. Here is an excerpt:

 

Je suis desja d'amour tannéMa tres doulce Valentinée...

 

(Translates as: I am already sick of love, my very gentle Valentine.)

 

Shakespeare, in the 16th century, even noted the love-day holiday in his play, Hamlet (Act IV, Scene 5)

 

To-morrow is Saint Valentine's day,All in the morning betime,And I a maid at your window,To be your Valentine.Then up he rose, and donn'd his clothes,And dupp'd the chamber-door;Let in the maid, that out a maidNever departed more.

 

In the 17th century Valentine’s Day became even more popular, another chance for not only courtly love to endure, but every one to celebrate love and romance. By the 1700’s pre-made cards became available for purchase. In strict contrast to the romantic period of the 15th and 16th centuries, during the 18th and 19th centuries, expressing ones emotions was frowned upon. Cards that were already made with devotions and admonishments were eagerly grabbed up and given to those who wanted to share romance and love.

 

 

In the 1840’s mass-printed Valentine’s Day cards became available in the United States when Esther A. Howland created her beribboned, laced cards.

 

One of my ALL TIME favorite poems about love was written by Elizabeth Barrett Browning (and one of the reasons I took 18th and 19th century Lit in college), here it is:

 

How Do I Love Thee? (Sonnet 43)

 

How Do I Love Thee? Let me count the ways.

I love thee to the depth and breadth and height

My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight

For the ends of Being an ideal Grace.

I love thee to the level of everyday's

Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.

I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;

I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.

 

I love thee with the passion put to use

In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.

I love thee with a love I seemed to lose

With my lost saints,- I love thee with the Breath,

Smiles, tears, of all my life!- and, if God choose,

I shall but love thee better after death.

 


So, for those of you who are skeptics that Valentine’s Day was created to make those in the flower, chocolate, card and jewelry business money, YOU’RE WRONG. While those industries may very well benefit every February, this traditional holiday of expressing one’s romantic feelings dates back hundreds and hundreds of years. For those of you who can’t wait to find the perfect card, or to write the most wondrous poem, I bow to you. Keep the tradition alive and celebrate love to the fullest!  But most of all, celebrate that we have the ability to love, and that in this modern age, we can voice it if we want to.

 

Happy Valentine’s Day!  What will you do on this special day?

Do you like podcasts? Check out this podcast I did with my pals, Madeline Martin and Lori Ann Bailey! 


Tuesday, November 17, 2020

#TuesdayTeaser from TRULY MADLY PLAID by Eliza Knight

I am so excited for December 29th when TRULY MADLY PLAID releases and you get to read it!! This is book 2 in my Prince Charlie's Angels series.


For now, how about a a little snippet from the prologue?


Icy rain had pelted the earth, threatening to freeze everything into a single slickened crystalized mass, and for now, it had waned at least enough that Lieutenant Craig MacLean felt safe moving out of his tent.

While most of the men were celebrating their victory of the most recent battle, the rest of them were battling the ferocious weather, exhausted and simply looking for a place to get warm.

Craig was of the latter group and trudged toward the house to check on the prince, who’d come down with the ague that had seized a number in his own company. The closer he drew to Bannockburn House, the more certain he was that he could hear someone retching. Dear God, how many more of them were to catch this illness?

Then he saw her, bent almost all the way over, a hand holding her balance on the stone facade of the wall.

Her brow was slick with rain or sweat or both, dark tendrils of hair plastered to her forehead and temples. At his approach she stood up straight, swaying. Her pallor was gray and ghostlike. He stood for a moment watching her, recognizing in an instant who she was. Sister to his friend Graham, Annie MacPherson, the prince’s own healer and a healer to many of the soldiers within camp. Yet it appeared she was the one in need of healing now.
She leaned her back against the stones, stared almost through him, and then turned slowly, pressing her forehead to the cool outer wall. The lass was seriously ill. Craig edged closer.

Och, he’d never seen so much vomit in his life, not even from a drunken soldier. She’d vomited up the entirety of the last meal she’d eaten and perhaps what she’d consumed for the last sennight. Over and over again, so much so he’d begun to think it an unholy thing.

“My lady,” he started, standing only a few feet away now, arm outstretched as though to aid her somehow. She might have been ill as the devil, but he had to help her.

Annie wiped her mouth and then pulled a dagger from her boot, brandishing it toward him with wild eyes. “Get away from me, Sassenach, or I’ll cut off your ballocks and shove them down your throat if ye come another step closer.”

📚WANT MORE?!!?!? Pre-order your copy today!

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2N45BEs
Apple: https://bit.ly/TrulyMadlyPlaid
B&N: https://bit.ly/EKTrulyMadlyPlaid
Kobo: Coming Soon!
Audible: http://bit.ly/ListenTrulyMadlyPlaid

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Monday, August 31, 2020

5 Things You Might Not Have Guessed About Highland Warriors by Eliza Knight

Being a history nerd, doing research for my books is A LOT of fun. I often get sucked down paths that don’t have anything to do with my story. Along the way, I’ve found a few fun things you might not have guessed about Highland warriors. 

 



 
  1. Scots fought for hundreds of years against the English, but maybe it wasn't such common knowledge that clans would often switch sides. Or perhaps, you might have known that but thought it was only for money or land. Many clans ended up switching sides during a battle, because of a vendetta. The chief of the MacDougall Clan for example was married to a relative of a the English king's "choice" for the Scots throne (his puppet). The “puppet” was murdered in a church by Robert the Bruce.  Many were appalled that Bruce would do such a thing, violating sanctuary, but didn't take into consideration that Bruce did this partly to avenge his wife, daughter, sisters and a countess who helped crown him, after they were taken from a church and held hostage, two of them hung in cages outside castles (his sister and the countess)... It was so brutal back then! During the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745, the Fraser Chief, also known as "the Fox" was famous for switching sides. There is a lot of blame placed on these two-faced leaders for what inevitably happened to the Scots during the Battle of Culloden.
  2. Kilts weren’t called kilts until the 1700’s. Before that, they were referred to as belted plaids. On the same note, tartans. In fact, specific colors in tartans weren’t a common thing until much later than the medieval period as well. Most plaids were neutral tones of brown and green.
  3. Most warriors would fight in their shirts only (which did reach mid-thigh), removing their plaids before charging into battle. 
  4. Their national animal is a unicorn—to this day. This means unicorns must exist, right? Scotland is steeped in myth and lore, so it’s no wonder their national animal would be such a majestic creature.
  5. Even the Vikings were weary of Highlanders. When they set sail to plunder they were warned that the natives were dangerous, their weather was deadly and their language incomprehensible. The trip, they were told, was worth it, if they were willing to risk their head!

 

Oh, to have been a fly on the wall… Researching for my books, and then living history through my characters is pretty much like time-travel, don’t you think? The amazing thing about exploring history, beyond the rabbit-hole fun, is that I always find golden nuggets of record that mesh well with my plot, enhancing the storyline and bringing it all to life. I get to add a sense of realism to the characters and their stories, which I think makes the adventures I pen all the more appealing. Well, that and hot Highland heroes. So, that said, you'll find a little bit of "the Fox" in my latest release The Rebel Wears Plaid.

 

So, what did you think? Did you know them all? Have a few surprises?

 

Thanks so much for letting me share some fun facts with you all! Happy Kilt Reading <3









Tuesday, March 12, 2019

New Historical Fiction Release: American Princess by Stephanie Marie Thornton


So excited for Stephanie Marie Thornton's new book: American Princess!

Revel in the wild antics of presidential daughter and media sensation Alice Roosevelt in a novel that InStyle says is “as juicy and enlightening as a page in Meghan Markel’s diary!”

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2Hq6Ps8
Barnes & Noble: https://tinyurl.com/y9cvvc6e
Book Depository: https://tinyurl.com/y9484ss2

“I can either run the country or I can control Alice. I cannot possibly do both.” -Theodore Roosevelt

Alice may be the president's daughter, but she's nobody's darling. As bold as her signature color Alice Blue, the gum-chewing, cigarette-smoking, poker-playing First Daughter discovers that the only way for a woman to stand out in Washington is to make waves--oceans of them. With the canny sophistication of the savviest politician on the Hill, Alice uses her celebrity to her advantage, testing the limits of her power and the seductive thrill of political entanglements.

But Washington, DC is rife with heartaches and betrayals, and when Alice falls hard for a smooth-talking congressman it will take everything this rebel has to emerge triumphant and claim her place as an American icon. As Alice soldiers through the devastation of two world wars and brazens out a cutting feud with her famous Roosevelt cousins, it's no wonder everyone in the capital refers to her as the Other Washington Monument--and Alice intends to outlast them all.

Monday, March 11, 2019

GIVEAWAY: ARC of Meet Me in Monaco!



One printed ARC copy (open internationally) of MEET ME IN MONACO by Heather Webb and Hazel Gaynor, which releases in July this year!

Click this link to enter: https://bit.ly/2T2cCq4
Winners will be chosen Friday.

About the Book:

Set in the 1950s against the backdrop of Grace Kelly’s whirlwind romance and unforgettable wedding to Prince Rainier of Monaco, New York Times bestselling author Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb take the reader on an evocative sun-drenched journey along the Côte d’Azur in this page-turning novel of passion, fate and second chances...

Movie stars and paparazzi flock to Cannes for the glamorous film festival, but Grace Kelly, the biggest star of all, wants only to escape from the flash-bulbs. When struggling perfumer Sophie Duval shelters Miss Kelly in her boutique to fend off a persistent British press photographer, James Henderson, a bond is forged between the two women and sets in motion a chain of events that stretches across thirty years of friendship, love, and tragedy.

James Henderson cannot forget his brief encounter with Sophie Duval. Despite his guilt at being away from his daughter, he takes an assignment to cover the wedding of the century, sailing with Grace Kelly’s wedding party on the SS Constitution from New York. In Monaco, as wedding fever soars and passions and tempers escalate, James and Sophie—like Princess Grace—must ultimately decide what they are prepared to give up for love.

Pre-order the book!

B&N: https://bit.ly/2B9Cw3U
Amazon: https://amzn.to/2u2kjSN
Indiebound: https://bit.ly/2SDkkHb