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, June 28, 2012

Video of the Week: Horrible Histories -- Victorian Slang

This week's video is another Horrible Histories clip (I can't get enough of it!!!) -- Victorian Slang. What do you think, could you figure it out without a translator?


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

History is Going Digital - Bringing Historical Newspapers Online by Christina Appleworth

Welcome to History Undressed, Christina Appleworth. She has written an enlightening article about the future of documents and the digital age.

History is Going Digital - Bringing Historical Newspapers Online

by Christina Appleworth

More and more Internet users will be able to access local, national and historical newspapers online as more and more papers are being digitised. With schemes like the British Library’s Newspaper Archive leading the way, and helped by partnerships with major search engines, older copies of papers can be used to provide access to the UK and world history. Some of the chief benefits of this access, with key titles including The Times and The Economist, as well as multiple local papers, will be the ability to more accurately search for and collate data than ever before.

Offering a contrast to the patience and time consuming nature of researching bound volumes and microfilm, online history through newspapers will be much easier to bring together, either through a limited paywall or free. With more and more archives becoming available, and becoming linked to major search engines and university access, a number of different groups stand to specifically benefit from the expansion of digital newspapers. From people completing historical projects to family histories and school use, and including the importance of preservation and archiving, the digital turn for newspapers has many key appeals:

1 - Historical Projects

Being able to access newspaper archives online, and being able to search through different papers and cross reference stories will represent a major time saving achievement for researchers. The ease of use, speed and quality of these searches will arguably help researchers to complete work remotely, cutting down the need for site visits and long waits for material to be released. Moreover, while much of the online papers being archived will be tied to paid subscriptions, university affiliation and links to search engines and academic databases will gradually help to spread costs.

2 - Teaching and Schools
The availability of many more primary sources will be a great resource for different schools and teaching projects. Particularly important will be the easier access to local papers, which will allow schools to draw on more detailed documents without having to make field trips to visit archives. The main benefits of this access will therefore be to widen the field of reference for schools willing to invest in the archives.

3 - Family Histories

The availability of newspaper archives also means that family and local historians will have much more content at their fingertips with which to research individuals and areas. Local newspapers, preserved in high quality digital copies, will be particularly useful in this regard, and should encourage a greater cross referencing and archiving of family trees, as well as photographs and particular stories.

4 - Preservation

Perhaps the key benefit of making newspapers available as a digital archive will be the better preservation of that archive. While many newspapers are being kept in excellent physical conditions, having a reliable and world class digital resource means that it will be much easier to avoid damage and losing files. While having the physical copies in storage will still be important, having data archives and back ups will help to strengthen the consistency of and wide access to archives.

Christina Appleworth, freelance copywriter and avid historian, is currently working along in partnership with Gale Cengage, a leading provider of innovative teaching, learning and research solutions for the academic, professional and library markets worldwide.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Scottish Highland Games-What’s the Big Deal? by Nancy Lee Badger

Welcome back to History Undressed, one of our regular guest bloggers (who is sure to entertain you once more!) Nancy Lee Badger!

Scottish Highland Games-What’s the Big Deal?
By Nancy Lee Badger

My husband and I have attended the New Hampshire Highland Games since they started back in 1975 (before we were married). Later, my husband decided to volunteer at the three day festival. I stayed home with the boys until the youngest showed an interest in his Scottish lineage, then we joined him as volunteers. Later, my other sons also joined in the good times. We watched a small family picnic of a few hundred like-minded people turn into a massive undertaking where over 40,000 people participate.

What’s the big deal? Why do people travel hundreds (or thousands) of miles for a few days of marching bands, ethnic food, and colorfully dressed kilts? When coupled with the spectacular fall foliage of the New Hampshire White Mountains, their visit makes for a memorable experience.

These types of celebrations—often called Games—are held up and down the coast of North America and Canada. The main goal is to continue the heritage and to further the sights, sounds, and flavors of Scotland. There are more people of Scottish heritage living in the United States and Canada then there are in Scotland, and the exodus was a massive undertaking. Even now, Scottish tourism is reaping a boon of business from those seeking their Scottish roots.

Do you know the surname you wish to explore? Come to the local Highland Games and visit Clan Village or the Genealogy Tent. Are you curious about life in merry old Scotland? Visit the Highland Games historical village. Have you ever thought about the culture that made you what you are today? Check out the dancers, bagpipers, and food vendors. It all comes together at any Highland Games.

The games part of the description is not the same as the athletics. Athletics are a vital part of Highland games. Where else can you watch a kilted man or woman toss a bag of hay over a high pole with a pitchfork? Where can you watch a man or woman toss a telephone pole? Where can you see 275# or larger muscled men wearing brightly colored skirts* (oops…call a kilt a skirt and you will be shunned)

*My husband wants you to know the difference between a skirt and a kilt is that you wear undies beneath a skirt.

Many states, communities, and organizations host their own Highland Games and Scottish festivals. They welcome everyone…a Scottish lineage or kilt are not required. If you enjoy harps, bagpipes, Highland dance, wonderful food and a sea of sexy men wearing brightly colored wool kilts, please visit a Highland games or Scottish festival soon and see for yourself what the big deal is all about!

I have taken my fifteen years experience as a volunteer at the New Hampshire Highland games to write a Scottish time travel romance that begins and ends at the Highland Games. Please check out MY HONORABLE HIGHLANDER, Book #1 of the Highland Games through Time series. For more information about the games where I volunteer each fall under the Information tent, visit www.NHScot.org

Book Blurb
Bumbling present day herbalist, Haven MacKay, gets more than she bargains for when her love spell goes awry, is cast back in time, and meets her true love -- Laird Kirkwall Gunn.
Kirk’s plans go slightly off course when he falls in love with a woman wandering through the Scottish Highlands. After all, he has pledged to marry another, from an enemy clan, in order to end a century-old feud.

All Romance EBooks:   http://bit.ly/JmqjXJ
ISBN 9781476417400

After growing up in Huntington, New York, and raising two handsome sons in New Hampshire, Nancy moved to North Carolina where she writes full-time. Due to a Scottish heritage, she and her family volunteer at the New Hampshire Highland Games each fall. Nancy is a member of Romance Writers of America, Heart of Carolina Romance Writers, Fantasy Futuristic & Paranormal Romance Writers, and the Celtic Heart Romance Writers. Nancy also writes romantic suspense as Nancy Lennea and is a proud Army Mom.

Twitter   @NLBadger
On Facebook as Nancy Lee Badger

Video of the Week: Horrible Histories -- Cliff Whiteley: Wyatt Earp, Billy the Kid and Pearl Hart

In honor of my wild western romance release yesterday, I thought it appropriate to entertain you with a westernish video this week! Quite funny and educational!

Scandalous Woman  
By: Annabelle Weston

Book two in the Desert Heat trilogy.

Carly Buchanan knows who and what she is. She’s the owner of the Lonesome Saloon, a bawdy place in the harsh West where any man can have his darkest desires fulfilled—for a price. But life at a saloon isn’t easy. After hearing too much one night, Carly is caught in the middle of a deadly dispute. Now no-accounts are shooting up the streets, good men are dying and no one will do a thing about it.

Until he comes to town…

Sheriff Jeddah Poole is lethally serious about cleaning up Tucson. But he can’t stop thinking of Carly’s bright eyes and passionate nature…or the way her lush curves feel pressed beneath him as he takes her again and again and again. In a town on the brink, caught in a divine passion they can’t escape, Jed and Carly have only each other to rely on. And only their love can help them survive.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

SCANDALOUS WOMAN now available!

YAY!!!! I’m so excited for the release of the second book in Annabelle Weston’s Desert Heat series — SCANDALOUS WOMAN. Another emotionally gripping, gritty–and of course completely HOT, western erotic romance.
Book Blurb:
Carly Buchanan knows who and what she is. She’s the owner of the Lonesome Saloon, a bawdy place in the harsh West where any man can have his darkest desires fulfilled—for a price. But life at a saloon isn’t easy. After hearing too much one night, Carly is caught in the middle of a deadly dispute. Now no-accounts are shooting up the streets, good men are dying and no one will do a thing about it.
Until he comes to town…
Sheriff Jeddah Poole is lethally serious about cleaning up Tucson. But he can’t stop thinking of Carly’s bright eyes and passionate nature…or the way her lush curves feel pressed beneath him as he takes her again and again and again. In a town on the brink, caught in a divine passion they can’t escape, Jed and Carly have only each other to rely on. And only their love can help them survive.

Doing a bit of a bar jig and singing a bawdy song!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Happy 111th Would-be Birthday to Anastasia Romanov of Russia (and Giveaway!)

Even now in 2012, one of the greatest mysteries has been the fate of Grand Duchess Anastasia Romanov of Russia, the last of four daughters born to the Tsar Nikolas and his wife Alexandra. After the tragic execution of the Russian Royal family in1918, officials were never able to recover the remains of Anastasia. Tales of her supposed escape from Russia have gripped thousands for decades, fueling speculation that a daughter of Russia’s last sovereign ruler survived the revolution that destroyed her immediate family.

June 18th marks what would be the 111th birthday of Her Imperial Highness Anastasia Romanov.

In honor of the lost Duchess, Sourcebooks has offered up one copy of The Last Romanov by Dora Levy Mossanen to giveaway to one lucky History Undressed reader! (US and Canada Only) Leave a comment to win.  Winner will be drawn on Friday the 22nd.

About the book...


She was an orphan, ushered into the royal palace on the prayers of her majestry. Yet, decades later, her time spent in the embrace of the Romanovs haunts her still. Is she responsible for those murderous events that changed everything?

If only she can find the heir, maybe she can put together the broken pieces of her own past-maybe she can hold on to the love she found. Bursting to life with the rich and glorious marvels of Imperial Russia, The Last Romanov is a magical tale of second chances and royal blood.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Castle of the Week: Arundel Castle

A lot of the time when I'm writing a novel, I pick a real place to base my setting off of. Sometimes I use the real castle and town  for my story and other times, I base my fictional setting off of a real place. The latter is the case in my historical romance, A LADY'S CHARADE for both castles used in the story. (Ebook on sale now for $0.99 at Amazon and Barnes & Noble for one week only! Also available in print.)

In A LADY'S CHARADE, my initial setting is at fictional South Hearth Castle, which I based off of Berwick Castle on the border of England and Scotland (will post next week!), the rest of the book takes place at Hardwyck Keep, based off of Arundel Castle, which is this week's castle.

*A note! I came up with the fictional town of Hardwyck seven years ago when I began planning the book. It was until a few years ago when working on a non-related Tudor project I found out there was a Hardwick Hall--quite beautiful, but is not in any way related to my fictional town. 

Arundel Castle was established in 1067 by Roger de Montgomery, built in West Sussex--named the first Earl of Arundel by William the Conqueror. Throughout the years it became the main family seat for the Dukes of Norfolk. The castle overlooks the River Arun and was meant to be used as fortification against the French.

Originally, the castle was built as a motte and double bailey--which I love. This is when the keep sits atop a man-made or sometimes naturally made hill, as extra protection against invasion.There is a walled inner bailey directly in front of the castle, then below that a second outer bailey also walled. The castle has been restored and is open for visitors. The interior is beautiful with period pieces and paintings, and outside you can enjoy a tour of the The Collector Earl's Garden.

In this era, the castle has been used in numerous productions such as The Young Victoria, Victoria and Albert, Antiques Roadshow and Henry VIII.

If you want to view a slideshow of the castle, here are some amazing pictures: Pictures of England

Here are a few other pics...

Showing the castle atop the motte and the baileys.

A 19th century painting.

A drawing of the town in 1644.
Enjoy a video tour of the castle I found on YouTube!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Guest Blogger: Elizabeth Bailey on The Georgian Gentleman's Little Black Book

Welcome to History Undressed today, guest author Elizabeth Bailey! Ms. Bailey writes historical fiction for Berkley books. I LOVE her cover for her new release, The Deathly Portent.

The Deathly Portent by Elizabeth Bailey

(Originally Published On May 19, 2012 at Sue Perkins Blog)

The Georgian gentleman’s version of the Little Black Book

Women who fell from grace in the 18th Century had few options open to them. Get married with speed was top of the list. Preferably to the fellow with whom you did the deed, but frankly anyone of respectability would do.

If Darcy had not intervened to get Lydia married to wicked Wickham, as Lizzie Bennet points out, not only Lydia, but her four sisters would have been tainted and probably doomed to spinsterhood since they had no money to bribe a prospective bridegroom into overlooking the disgrace.

The Bennet girls were lucky. In reality, the family would likely have disowned Lydia. When Wickham tired of her, she was young and pretty enough to have found herself another protector. As time went on, Lydia might have drifted in the direction of Covent Garden where she could well have found herself portrayed in a couple of extremely frank paragraphs in the annual publication of Harris’s List of Covent-Garden Ladies.

This fascinating little volume was started in 1757 by one Samuel Derrick, as a venture to get himself out of debtor’s prison. His lively descriptions of the ladies who made themselves available for a gentleman’s amours proved so popular that he not only procured his release, but he started a phenomenon that continued until 1795.

Almost all the ladies spoken of as being of good education evidently fell into “the life”, as it was popularly called, by way of seduction and subsequent abandonment.

Like Miss Char-ton of No. 12, Gress Street, who “came of reputable parents…yet the address of a designing villain, too soon found means to ruin her; forsaken by her friends, pursued by shame and necessity; she had no other alternative...”

Seduction was not confined to the educated classes. There was Miss Le-, of Berwick-Street, Soho, who “was debauched by a young counsellor, from a boarding-school near town, where she was apprentice.”

Then there was Miss We-ls, of No. 35, Newman-Street, daughter of a Welsh farmer, who is described as being “as wild as a goat, of a sandy colour, her features are small, and is a tight little piece.” She was sent to London when young where “a young gentleman ingratiated him so far into her graces, as to gain her consent to make him happy by her ruin, under a promise of marriage” and then he subsequently “abandoned her to the reproaches and calumny of a merciless world”.

The majority of the ladies featured in this entertaining little black book for your pleasure-seeking young buck were in their teens or early twenties. An example is Miss Townsend, nineteen, of whom we learn that “the use of the needle first fired this lady’s imagination with the use of a certain pin”. This sort of witty euphemism abounds.

Perhaps it is not surprising that the anodyne of choice for a number of the ladies is strong liquor. Like Miss Godfrey, a commanding female, who “will take brandy with any one, or drink and swear, and though but little, will fight a good battle.”

The women are delineated in detail, depending on their particular attractions: “she is amorous to the greatest degree, and has courage enough not to be afraid of the largest and strongest man that ever drew weapon in the cause of love”. Or non-attractions, as “but a middling face, with large features, a coarse hand and arm, and in stature short and clumsy”, but she is “an excellent bedfellow”.

Their looks are described: “of a middle size, black eyes, plump made and her skin good” or another with “fine blue eyes that are delicious”. We are told about good teeth and “sweet breath”, in a day where these ere rare. We hear about “yielding limbs, though beautiful when together, are still more ravishing when separated”. 

Disposition is mentioned, whether she is “agreeable” or “animated with no small degree of vanity” or indeed “a pompous heroic girl, without either wit or humour”. There is a figure to suit every taste, and an accommodation for every sexual whim. We learn whether or not she has a keeper (which doesn’t stop any lady selling her favours elsewhere) and what it may cost our young man about town to enjoy her charms.

One or two guineas appears the norm, with here and there a more expensive luxury on offer. The genteel Miss Le- above, who was led into sin, is only seventeen and a “has a piece of the termagant about her”, but she commands three or four guineas for her services, which include birching for those so inclined. While Miss - of Wardour Street, who is “but newly arrived” and “darts such irresistible glances as can scarcely fail to engage the hearts of the beholders” will not accept less than five guineas. Mrs Ho-fey, on the other hand, who “calls forth all her powers to give delight with uncommon success” will happily settle for half a guinea.

A guinea (one pound, one shilling) seems a pathetic sum to us. Yet these women were the middling class of prostitute. They could not aspire to the heights of high-class courtesans like the later Harriette Wilson, whose clients included the Duke of Wellington, but they were a good deal better off than the street corner girls who plied their trade for a few pence, or a few shillings at best.

But whether they earned a pittance or a fortune, many women ended up selling their bodies to make ends meet. There were 50,000 prostitutes in London in 1797, according to a contemporary magistrate’s account. That statistic argues a lack of opportunities for women to find gainful employment. The better bred, the fewer the options.

It’s tempting to withhold sympathy for our Covent-Garden ladies when you convert their earnings to the present day. In today’s money, a guinea is worth around £60. A lady’s maid was paid less than that in a year! And no doubt worked a lot harder. While Miss Le- with her five guineas was getting buying power to the tune of our £300 every time she lay flat on her back!

What’s more, these ladies of the night could afford to please themselves how they lived, which was more than could be said for most wives, be their husbands lord or boot boy. They lived in comfortable apartments, had a great deal of freedom, could pick and choose among their clientele, and enjoy all the entertainments on offer in the shops and theatres of the time. And all at the trifling cost of respectability.

The downside was the future. The lifestyle was no sinecure. There are very few females over thirty in Harris’s List. Assuming one could avoid a dose of “the pox” or any other disease and live, what to do when the charms of youth faded? How many of them were canny enough to salt away a quantity of takings as insurance?

A few, one assumes, if they had garnered sufficient fortune, might be lucky enough to marry. Others are mentioned as having moved into brothel-keeping themselves. But the rest?

What happened to Sally Robinson, who was given five shillings at the age of fifteen to cure her of the clap “which she got from her deflowerer”? On the town in 1761, what hope had “a tall, fat girl” of any kind of living thirty years later? Or Kitty Buckley, who was one of the few older females and already 35 in 1761? She was “reported to have ruined twenty keepers” because she was “as wicked as a devil, and as extravagant as Cleopatra”. Since she had been in the bailiff’s hands about three times a year, did she end her days in prison?

While Harris’s List is a delight in many ways, there is something a little distasteful in the warts-and-all public exposure of a whole generation of unfortunate females, whose only mistake was to succumb to the lure of sensual gratification.

Besides marriage or prostitution, was there any other way out for the fallen woman? If they were lucky, or had kind and generous relatives, there was hope. Transported to another place, perhaps with an allowance, they could start a new life under an assumed name - but with the shadow of the past always ready to catch up with them.

This is of course a familiar theme in our modern take on the historical romance. Our heroine is plucked from this life of shame and obscurity by the love of a good man. What better way to compensate her for enduring such punishment for what was, to our twenty-first century thinking, perfectly natural behaviour?

As for the luscious Covent-Garden Ladies, who had the gumption to use the only means they had of making a decent living - good for you, ladies!


Her charm and cajolery may fool the unwary.

Unscrupulous and cunning, as dauntless as she is resolute, the incomparable "Lady Fan" is as ruthless as the killer she is tracking in...

A violent murder has left the village of Witherley aghast. The locals are convinced that a witch doing the devil's work is to blame-a young woman believed to have second sight. The new vicar, Aidan, taking up the cudgels in her defence, fears the witch hunt is escalating out of his control. But help is at hand.

The bright and perceptive Ottilia, once a lady's companion and now bride to Lord Francis Fanshawe, is drawn to Witherley by an insatiable curiosity. Ottilia rapidly uncovers a raft of suspects with grudges against the dead man, one of whom is determined to incriminate the "witch." And as foul play runs rampant, Ottilia must wade through the growing hysteria to unravel the tangle and point a finger at the one true menace...

Elizabeth Bailey’s latest Georgian historical crime was  published by Berkley Books (Penguin) in the US on 3rd April 2012, and comes to the UK on 7th June.  Her sleuth Ottilia, now wife to Lord Francis Fanshawe, is drawn by insatiable curiosity to investigate the murder of a blacksmith in the village of Witherley, where Cassie, a young woman with second sight, is stigmatized a witch and blamed for the death. What terrible secret is Cassie hiding that makes her feel unworthy of the love of Aidan, the new vicar, who has taken  up the cudgels in her defence? More info at www.elizabethbailey.co.uk

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Featured Author: Elysa Hendricks (This Heart for Hire)


Elysa Hendricks is 5'6" tall. She has brown eyes and curly hair. She's an author, a wife, a mother and a daughter. Everything else is subject to change without notice. Oh, and she loves hearing from readers and other authors. You can reach through her Website or Facebook page.


Abandoned by his father and betrayed by his half-brother and fiancĂ©e on the eve of his wedding, JAKE GALLAGHER no longer believes in love. Though he longs to go home, his undercover work for the Texas Rangers keeps him in a lawless Texas border town. Even though it jeopardizes his mission he refuses to stand by and watch outlaws rape and murder a young woman. Getting shot and losing his memory wasn’t part of his plan.

While fleeing from her stepfather’s plans to steal their ranch, CHRISTINA GOODWIN witnesses her brother’s murder and is left in the hands of a merciless band of outlaws. Raised in a strict convent, Christina has little knowledge of men or the world, its dangers and temptations. Frightened and alone, she is forced to accept the help of the dark gunslinger who rescues her. Though drawn to Jake’s potent masculinity, she hesitates to trust him, fearing her stepfather has sent him to bring her back. Unsure of Jake’s motives for helping her, she struggles against him, determined to find a way to avenge her brother’s death and regain control of her ranch from her stepfather.


"You did just fine. I'm living proof." Jake watched with pleasure as a smile lit up her face. He returned it. "Tell me how your brother came to hire me? Where we met? Maybe you can help jog my memory."

A panicked looked crossed her face and she went suddenly pale. "I-I, w-we..." Her gaze darted around refusing to settle on him. Then with an audible breath she regained control. "I'm not sure how or where Christopher met you. He never said. I was staying in, um, in Ramblin waiting for him. He brought you there and we headed out for St. Louis."

Jake listened to the girl's lies. Like before, she didn't do it well. Her nervous plucking at her skirt and the way her gaze avoided his gave her away. "If we met in Ramblin for me to guide you north to St. Louis, how did we end up in Peaceful which is southeast?"

Color crept into her cheeks as she stared at him in horror. "You remember?"

For some reason she didn't want him to remember, which made him more determined to do so. "No, but I know where Peaceful is and it isn't on the way to St. Louis from Ramblin. So how did we end up there?"

"You had some business there." Her chin came up, but her eyes didn't quite meet his. "I don't know what it was. You didn't say. But that's where Christopher died. Can we not talk about this anymore? Please." Her voice broke on the last word and she bent her head to hide the tears he saw gathering in her eyes.

As much as he needed the truth, he found himself unwilling to push her. Her tears softened the hard knot of anger inside him.

A tendril of hair fell forward across her face and he reached out to brush it away. His knuckles touched the tender skin of her cheek and lingered. She looked up with startled eyes, her lips parted in question. Her lies forgotten, his gaze locked with hers. He caressed her face then threaded his fingers through her hair. Like silk it flowed over his hands.

Cupping the back of her head in his hand, he leaned toward her. The tempo of her pulse increased beneath his fingertips. Her breathing grew shallow and her eyelids fluttered shut. At his gentle tug, she swayed into him. His other arm went around her back and pulled her into his embrace. With a soft sigh she surrendered to his caress. Without hesitation he slanted his lips across hers.

Sensations swamped him, his own hot, pounding hunger and her sweet, warm yielding. His arms tightened as he deepened the kiss. With a gentle probe he urged her lips apart. After a slight hesitation, she allowed him entrance and his tongue explored the moist recesses of her mouth.

Take it slow, gentle, Jake warned himself. One hand massaged the small of her back and molded her slim frame to his harder one. The other anchored her head so she could not escape his kiss, even though she showed no signs of wishing to. With difficulty he held his passion in check.

He filled his nostrils with her scent, the smell of warm, willing woman. Pulling his lips from hers he buried his face in her hair and struggled to control his desire.

"So sweet, so soft," he whispered. "Do you know how I want you?"

How he longed to strip her of her clothing. The urge to lay her in the fragrant grass and drown in her velvet warmth beat like a drum in his blood.

Her hands clutched his shoulders, her fingers kneading his flesh as she pressed herself against him. Her lips sought his. She whimpered when he pulled back.

"Slow and easy, Kitten."

REVIEWS for This Heart for Hire...

"Elysa Hendricks keeps the pace of this story moving quickly and provides great detail. She weaves a rich plot that draws the reader in and keeps them turning pages to find out what happens next. Characters are well drawn, believable and lovable. I highly recommend this romance, especially for readers who want to fall in love all over again, right along with Christina and Jake."
Cindy Keen Reynders

"This is a very good romance with an old west setting that will keep you turning the pages. It did for me. Very enjoyable book."
Karen Bryant Doering,
Parents' Little Black Book

"If you like historical western romances, you'll love This Heart for Hire, by Elysa Hendricks. At $3.99 this more than 100,000 word story is great value for money. Elysa takes us, and her hero and heroine, on a harrowing odyssey across Texas and New Mexico. Her descriptions of the landscape are rich, and you can imagine yourself travelling with them."

Check out This Heart for Hire on Amazon or Barnes and Noble

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Video of the Week: Horrible Histories Tudor Football

You know... I was at my daughter's soccer tournament last weekend, and it was a bit like this...

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Castle of the Week: Bunratty Castle

Almost a decade ago, I left the airport in Shannon, Ireland, driving on the left side of the car and the left side of the road for the very first time. 'Twas a nightmare! I had no idea what I was doing and nearly killed myself. Luckily, I had seven days to get used to it, and before you know it, I was a pro--even driving at night on the treacherous cliff-side road in the Dingle Peninsula after a rousing evening at a local pub (but that's a whole other story!)

Back to my arrival in Ireland... We took the red-eye, and although we found little sleep on the flight we were determined not to lose a minute of touring time. Minutes after landing and getting our rental car, we found ourselves at our first Irish castle: Bunratty.

The castle as it stands today originally built in 1425, was the fourth castle to be built on the spot. The site has been used since 970 when it was held by the Vikings as a Trading camp. It has since been restored and filled with furnishing from the 15th and 16th centuries, along with tapestries and other art work. I often point people in the direction of this website to view the Bunratty Collection. 'Tis impressive!

Also, if you want to see a great picture of the layout of the castle, I suggest visiting this page: A Tour of Bunratty Castle. I actually use this model a lot for my fictional stories.

Shannon Heritage takes care of the grounds and has created a folk park surrounding the castle. A real-life little village with re-enactors, so you feel like you are really in that time period. It was truly a fascinating place. The scent of the peat fires still linger in my mind. I did not get to stay for the medieval banquet, but they do have one I think almost every day. There is also a hotel you can stay at to enjoy the park day in and day out.

While I was at Bunratty, I enjoyed the village, got put in the stocks and learned a lot about Irish history. We finished our tour with tea at the Bunratty Hotel. It was truly a memorable time, and I look forward to returning there soon!

Some pics...

The great hall

Outside the keep... just around here that I was put in the stocks

Part of the folk park

A very short bed. I asked if the Irish were shorter and the guide told me
 they slept sitting up as lying down was for the dead. 

Another folk park pic

The hotel where we had tea.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Non-Fiction Review: The Real Elizabeth by Andrew Marr


A surprising and very personal biography of a woman who may be the world's last great queen, published to coincide with the sixtieth anniversary of her reign
Elizabeth II, one of England's longest-reigning monarchs, is an enigma. In public, she confines herself to optimistic pieties and guarded smiles; in private, she is wry, funny, and an excellent mimic. Now, for the first time, one of Britain's leading journalists and historians gets behind the mask and tells us the fascinating story of the real Elizabeth.
Born shortly before the Depression, Elizabeth grew up during World War II and became queen because of the shocking abdication of her uncle and the early death of her father. Only twenty-five when she ascended to the throne, she has been at the apex of the British state for nearly six decades. She has entertained and known numerous world leaders, including every U.S. president since Harry Truman. Brought up to regard family values as sacred, she has seen all but one of her children divorce; her heir, Prince Charles, conduct an adulterous affair before Princess Diana's death; and a steady stream of family secrets poured into the open. Yet she has never failed to carry out her duties, and she has never said a word about any of the troubles she has endured.
Andrew Marr, who enjoys extraordinary access to senior figures at Buckingham Palace, has written a revealing and essential book about a woman who has managed to remain private to the point of mystery throughout her reign.


WoW! I started reading this book while riding a stationary bike at the gym... Let me just say my legs hurt incredibly the next day. This book was a fascinating, in-depth look at the life of Great Britain's Queen Elizabeth II.
A truly remarkable and admirable woman, Mr. Marr takes us through a history of her family, her childhood, her ascension, up until today. Queen Elizabeth has always been somewhat private, not allowing anyone to see inside who she really is, however this book shows us the kind, generous, intelligent, philanthropic leader that she is. We see the ups and downs, the history behind her decisions. Just fascinating.
If you've ever had an interest in the monarchy and the life of the current queen, I would highly recommend reading this book. And if you've never had an interest--I highly recommend reading this book!

Historical Romance Review: True Highland Spirit by Amanda Forester


Morrigan McNab is a Highland lady, robbed of her birthright and with no choice but to fight alongside her brothers to protect their impoverished clan. When she encounters Sir Jacques Dragonet, she discovers her fiercest opponent...
Sir Jacques Dragonet will give his life to defend Scotland from the English. He can't stop himself from admiring the beautiful Highland lass who wields her weapons as skillfully as he does, and endangers his heart even more than his life...


The book starts off right in the action, and our heroine is the one putting foot to arse. Normally when a heroine dressed up like a man, I find it to be rather cliche, but in TRUE HIGHLAND SPIRIT it fits our female Robin Hood to a T.  Normally, the woman dressed as a man is a cliche, but Ms. Forester truly makes this plot point unique again. Morrigan has so much pressure to take care of her poor and ill-reputed clan. She'll do whatever she can, including risking her life. The one thing she doesn't want to allow herself is love (even though she dreams of it!)--but her intense attraction to Dragonet thwarts her attempts to remain who she's become. I also truly enjoyed having a Scottish heroine and a French hero. Something new to the Highlander romance genre.

This story was filled with action, twists and turns, sensuality. A real page turner.

Loved it!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Featured Author: Callie Hutton


            An Angel in the Mail, set in 1861, unites newly penniless society belle Angel Hardwick and Nathan Hale, father of five, who is desperate for a wife to straighten his life out.  Nate’s looking for someone who loves children and can easily take over the cooking, cleaning and laundry.  Instead, he is getting Angel, whose culinary knowledge consists of weekly meetings with Cook to decide the family’s menu.
Angel is a strong-minded young woman, resigned to her fate, and determined to make the best of her situation.  But will her new husband allow for mistakes?  Or will he send her packing when she burns meals and misplaces children?
Nate just wants a peaceful, well run household, without the distraction of an attractive wife.  However, his beautiful wife with a very distractible body is not giving him peace.  Somebody lied, because despite what he was told by the Bride Agency, this beauty knows nothing about running a home, but she sure sets him on fire at night.
Nate and Angel have to come to a working arrangement, overcoming problems between them. But will they be able to find a happily ever after with someone desperately working behind the scenes to destroy their relationship?


A small wooden table in the corner drew her.  She placed the glass on the table and eased her sore and tired body onto the chair. One leg shorter than the other three, the chair rocked as she settled. A woman the size of the counterman came through a curtain separating the area from whatever was in the back. With a brisk nod in Angel’s direction, she headed her way.

“Y’all one of them new whores Dolly’s expectin’? She asked me to look out for ya.” She jerked her thumb in the counterman’s direction. “Jedediah’ll git you out there as soon as the stage pulls out. Dolly’s sure needin’ the help. She cain’t never take a break herself.”

Angel sat in silence, her eyes wide and mouth slack as the woman continued. “Ya’ll gonna have to git rid of them black clothes, though. Dolly’ll fix ya up nice and fancy.”

Tears sprang to her eyes and she gasped, vigorously shaking her head. “No, ma’am, I am not one of the new wh-whores.” She stumbled on the word, and backed the rickety chair against the wall.

“Well, gosh darn. Thadda be a pity.” The woman shifted a wad of tobacco from one cheek to the other, expelling a stream of juice right next to Angel’s shoe. Her gaze roamed over her. “A looker like you’d make a lot of money for yerself. Men around here are dying for some new faces.”  Then she thought for a minute and grinned. “And new bodies, too.”  She threw her head back in laughter, spaces from missing teeth exposed.

“Jedediah, git yoreself back to work.”  The woman shouted in the counterman’s direction as she returned to the back area.

Angel got up from the table and quickly headed for the door. I’d rather sit in the blazing sun.  What have I gotten myself into?


Visit Callie at:
Follow on Twitter: @calliehutton