Above painting: Louis Jean Francois - Mars and Venus an Allegory of Peace


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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

NELLIE BLY, Pioneering Journalist ~ by Tara Kingston

Bold...Brilliant...Brave...Heroines Throughout History ~
Nellie Bly

Today, I’m taking a look at the fascinating reporter known as Nellie Bly, a pioneer of investigative journalism. In an era when women were expected to tend home and hearth, Nellie Bly’s undercover investigations exposed corruption, inhumane conditions in a mental health facility, and poor working conditions in factories.

Five Facts about Nellie Bly:

~ In November 1889, Nellie Bly embarked on a journey around the world. Striving to travel the globe in less than the eighty days that it took fictional character Phileas Fogg in Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days, Nellie Bly employed an assortment of transportation, including ship, horse, rickshaw, and burro to accomplished the feat. Her journey took seventy-two days and six hours, which at that time was a world’s record.

~ Working for Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World, Nellie Bly’s daring undercover investigation of a mental institution exposed deplorable treatment of the mentally ill. Feigning amnesia and insanity, she was committed to the Women’s Asylum on Blackwell’s Island in New York for ten days. Her subsequent exposé prompted an investigation of the asylum and reforms to the treatment of patients.

~ Nellie Bly was born Elizabeth Jane Cochran in 1864 in Pennsylvania. The third of her mother’s five children, she was considered the most rebellious child in her family.

~ In 1885, her rebuttal to a column in the Pittsburgh Dispatch that criticized working women brought her to the attention of the paper’s editor, who hired her and gave her the pen name, Nellie Bly.

~ Working for the Pittsburgh Dispatch, Nellie Bly published articles on the experiences of factory girls and traveled to Mexico to serve as a foreign correspondent. After her return, she was assigned to the women’s page, covering subjects such as fashion and gardening, prompting Nellie to leave Pittsburgh to New York.

These are only a few facts about Nellie Bly’s trailblazing life and journalistic accomplishments. Next month, I’ll take a more detailed look at her experiences on her travels around the world.

To learn more about Nellie Bly, check out these sources:

Photographs of Nellie Bly used in this post are in the public domain.

Click here to learn more about When A Lady Deceives

News About My New Release, When A Lady Deceives.

I’m thrilled that my Victorian romantic thriller, When A Lady Deceives, is now available. Like Nellie Bly, the heroine of When A Lady Deceives is a crusading investigative journalist. Jennie Quinn, star reporter for a London paper, is a daring woman who will overcome daunting obstacles to get the facts and fight for justice. She anticipates the danger of her investigation of an informant’s murder. But she doesn’t expect to fall in love, especially not with a very dangerous man. Here’s a little about the story:

A woman with a secret and a dangerous man forge an undeniable passion.
In Victorian London, reporter Jennie Quinn employs deception as a weapon. Going undercover to seek justice for a murdered informant, she’s drawn into a powerful criminal’s seductive game of cat and mouse. Enigmatic former lawman Matthew Colton is as dangerous as he is clever, but the passion in his kiss is too tempting to resist. She aches to trust him, but she will not abandon her quest for the truth.

Colton is a man with secrets of his own. Thirsting for vengeance, the disgraced Scotland Yard detective has infiltrated the criminal world he’s vowed to destroy. Jennie intrigues him, even as she breaks down the barriers around his heart. He yearns to uncover her secrets—in and out of his bed. Driven to shield her, he’ll risk everything to protect the woman whose love heals his soul.

To read more about When A Lady Deceives and enjoy an excerpt, please click here.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Entangled Summer Carnival Photo Booth!

Step right up to the Entangled Summer Carnival Photo Booth! Who doesn’t wish they could step back in time and dress up in some of those fantastic fashions? Our Scandalous and Select Historical authors are talking about which historical figures they would dress up as for our historical photo booth. Let us know who you would want to dress up as and snap a photo of yourself for your photo album.

I have a passion for collecting stories of eccentric women throughout history who dared to step outside the dictates of society. If I were to dress like any of these women, I would choose the most willful one of the bunch. Daughter of an earl, Lady Hester Stanhope (12 March 1776—23 June 1839) was niece to William Pitt the Younger. She acted as his secretary while he was prime minister of England. The government knew that Lady Hester Stanhope was the brains behind Pitt, so upon his death, she was awarded a lifetime pension, which she promptly used to pursue an outrageous life in the Middle East. Off she went by sea, only to have her ship crash on the rocks in Rhodes. She lost everything but the clothes on her back, and had to borrow from the Turks. That's when she discarded tight corsets and heavy layers of fabric and took on their manner of dress—the men’s dress, that is. Thereafter, Lady Hester never wore anything but robes, turbans, and slippers while she tramped about in the desert, slept in the tents of Bedouin sheikhs, traipsed through Turkish palaces, and learned to smoke a water pipe. Oh, and for a while, she took a British lover twelve years her junior. I simply had to weave unconventional Lady Hester Stanhope into my series Those Magnificent Malverns, so I created an eccentric grandmother who’d been Lady Hester’s accomplice on those scandalous desert journeys.

If I could dress up as a historical figure, I’d pick Lady Jersey of the Regency period. She’s perfect for me because I write Regency period historical romances. Lady Jersey was one of the patronesses of Almack’s, the exclusive club where young ladies hoped to find a desirable marriage match. Gaining a voucher to Almack’s was like a Quest for the Holy Grail. Only the patronesses—a select group of ladies—decided who could cross the club’s threshold. For a night at Almack’s, I’d love to dress as Lady Jersey in an exquisite ball gown. My dream gown would be cerulean blue crepe with short sleeves over a slip of white satin. The bodice would be cut low and adorned with silver beading, and the hem would be delicately embroidered with silver flowers. My hair would be in the Grecian style with soft curls around my face and the back pulled into a chignon and decorated with a simple wreath of white flowers. A diamond necklace, diamond drop earrings, two diamond bracelets, long white gloves, and white satin slippers would complete the outfit. Who wouldn’t feel beautiful wearing this for a night out?

I would dress as Anne Bonny, a pirate in the 1700s. She disguised herself as a man and sailed the seas with her lover, Jack Rackham. Anne was a strong woman who fought alongside her brethren as an equal. She was tough and demanded respect—although she dressed as a man, many knew she was a woman. You could almost say she was a pioneer in feminism before the word actually existed. What a woman!

If I could dress up as any famous historical figure it would have to be Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire. I’ve always found this woman fascinating, and strong of character, and the fact she’s related to Diana, Princess of Wales is just another boon against her name. For a woman who married at just 17, she became one of the most famous, and at time scandalous figures of the Georgian period. She partook in political speeches, was a leading fashion icon (which many tried to emulate) and gambled away what we would consider small fortunes. She fell in love with a future prime minster of England and had love affairs. Who’d not want to dress up as the Duchess of Devonshire, if only for a day.

Though Catherine the Great is often remembered for her scandalous personal life, her accomplishments as the Empress of Russia were remarkable, which is why I choose to dress up as her. Well, that and the amazing gowns and jewels she owned. Catherine wasn’t a native of Russian, but just six months after marrying the Emperor, with the help of her loyal guard, she was able to oust her husband and become the empress. During her rule, she triumphed over several uprisings, greatly expanded Russia’s territory, and was an enlightened ruler who wrote several books, was a champion of the arts, and was responsible for amassing much of the treasures that are housed in the Hermitage Museum. Oh, and just in case you were wondering, the rumors about her engaging in inappropriate activities with a horse are not true. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Superstitious Minds

In the age of sail, superstition was prevalent with sailors and pirates alike. These bizarre and wild false beliefs are fascinating and great fodder for storytelling. From movies like Pirates of the Caribbean to pirate romances, bits of maritime myths can be found. While today’s mariners have science, technology, communication, and knowledge, sailors of old relied heavily on superstitions and folklore to guide them safely across the vast, powerful oceans.   
Red skies at night, sailor's delight; red skies at morn, sailor be warned
One recurring belief was that women on board were bad luck. They distracted men and kept them from their shipboard duties.  If passions were high, dropping an anchor with a woman may occur on the gun deck. Such coupling might have led to the term “son of a gun.”
Seagulls and albatross were believed to carry the souls of dead sailors. Killing one of these birds was considered very bad luck. But these birds flying above the masts in groups of three was a sure omen of death.
Flowers were considered unlucky to have on board as they could be used for a funeral wreath. Therefore, many sailors believed flowers on a ship also meant someone would die on the voyage.
Bananas were the fruit of death. Having bananas on board caused a ship to disappear. But there is truth behind this superstition. Bananas stored in hot hulls fermented quickly, releasing toxic fumes that became trapped below deck. Anyone in the hold would fall victim to the lethal gas. If that weren’t enough, add the venomous spiders that hid among the banana bunches. One bite and it was lights out. No wonder bananas were feared.
Here are a few fun mariner beliefs:
Beautiful thief + Sexy Libertine = Wicked fun
Click HERE for more
  • No whistling on board. The action stirs up the wind bringing storms.
  • Naked women on board were considered lucky as they shamed the seas into being calm (think figureheads). I know, this is a direct conflict to not having women on board. Pfftth–men.
  • Don’t set sail on Fridays – Christ was crucified on that day.
  • A shark following a ship was a death omen. (We’re gonna need a bigger boat. Na-na-na-na-na-na-ahhhh!) Conversely, dolphins swimming with the ship meant good luck.
  • A bell ringing by itself surely meant someone was about to die. (Sheesh, choppy waters must be a bitch.)
  • Wine poured on the deck would bring good luck. (Tongue splinters.)
  • Rats leaving a ship meant the ship is doomed.
  • Cats, especially black ones, were considered good luck. Cats were also thought to be indicators of weather by their behavior.
  • A silver coin placed under the masthead would ensure a good voyage. (Kind of like a bribe, I’d say.)
  • Avoid redheads. I’m guessing being a sailor was a hard occupation for gingers.
  • An anchor tattoo will keep a man fallen overboard from drifting away from the ship.
  • Gold earrings keep a sailor from drowning. It also ensured payment across the River Styx. (Boy, mariners sure were into bribery.)
  • A baby boy born on a ship was good luck. It is suggested that a boy born on the gun deck was also referred to as a “son of a gun”.
  • Never say pig – it’s bad luck and brings strong winds. It’s also bad luck say good-bye, drown/drowning, good luck, or to mention rabbit, hare, or fox. (The captain’s name in Blood And Treasure is Fox – tee hee.)
  • Don’t disrespect the sea. Never throw a stone overboard as that will surely create capsizing waves.
  • A stolen piece of wood linked into the keel will cause the ship to sail faster. (Because no one wants to be caught stealing.)
Like any sea dog worth her salt, I incorporated bits of maritime superstitions and myths into all the books in my Romancing the Pirate series—some obvious and some sneakily inconspicuous—to add flavor and authenticity. They were great fun to write, too. Yes, that was a shameless plug. I am a saucy wench, after all.
About the Author

Jennifer is the award-winning author of the Romancing the Pirate series. Visit her at www.jbrayweber.com or join her mailing list for sneak peeks, excerpts, and giveaways.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016


Welcome back to History Undressed, our regular first Tuesday blogger and author, Kathleen Bittner Roth! Kathleen Bittner Roth! 


Kathleen Bittner Roth

You must love reading historical romance or you wouldn’t be reading this, right? Ever since I swiped my mother’s romance novels off her night stand, historical romance has been my favorite—which is why I chose that subgenre when I began my writing career. If you’ve read any of my novels, it doesn’t take long to figure out that I include at least one very unusual woman in every story, one who dares to dance outside the perimeters of society’s stringent dictates. In Portrait of a Forbidden Lady, (Those Magnificent Malverns series—each book is also a stand-alone), we have such daring ladies in spades. All the Malvern women have a rebellious streak. They think nothing of leaving their side saddles behind to ride astride, be it bareback or using a man’s saddle. They’ve also raced straight through the corridor of their fabulous estate, in the front and out the back a time or two. Why not? Their wild brothers did it first.

I do a lot of research for my stories which is how I discovered that ladies of high breeding, when residing at their country estates, often dispensed with side saddles and borrowed or had made, more fitting (and certainly more comfortable) male attire. Empress Elizabeth of Austria was a famed horsewoman who rode astride whenever she could get away with it. 

But these Malvern young ladies aren’t the only daring women in this series. Their grandmother is the most unique, bazaar woman of them all and oh, did I have fun creating her! I fashioned her after Lady Hester Stanhope. Niece to William Pitt the Younger, the unmarried socialite acted as his hostess and personal assistant when he was England’s Prime Minister (he was a bachelor). Noted for her beauty, intelligence and conversational skills, Lady Hester did such a smashing job serving her uncle that upon his death, the government awarded her a lifetime pension, which she promptly used to pursue a scandalous life in the Middle East, dressing in male attire and taking on a string of lovers, one twelve years younger than her. I created a friendship between Lady Hester Stanhope and the Malvern grandmother, and let her share some of the rebellious lady’s escapades in her youth.

If you haven’t read Portrait of a Forbidden Lady, good news! It’s on sale until August 13th for .99! 
Pop over to Entangled Publishing where a Summer Carnival is in progress with lots of sales going on. Below are just a few of them at 99 cents: http://www.entangledpublishing.com/

Those Magnificent Malverns novel by Kathleen Bittner Roth

Lady Georgiana Cressington is living a nightmare. Coerced by her father into returning to her childhood home, the young widow becomes a pawn in another of his heartless games. Her return to Summerfield Hall reunites her with the man she once loved before their hearts were shattered by a devastating betrayal.

Sir Robert Garreck, an artist knighted by the queen, lives in a mansion near the family estate Georgiana’s father won in a crooked card game. Rob sets out to regain Summerfield Hall to keep Georgiana’s son from inheriting Rob’s rightful home. However, when he and Georgiana are thrown together, he craves the forbidden lady he never stopped loving. Facing danger and a long-hidden truth, Georgiana and Rob try to claim the powerful love they once had.

A Love on the High Seas novel by Tamara Hughes

With her son’s life in the balance, Catherine Fry is forced to locate and steal the priceless Ruby Cross of the Knights Templar. She knows who has it–it’s just a matter of coercing Thomas Glanville, the handsome and incredibly stubborn captain of the ship she’s captured, into telling her the exact location. Fortunately, Catherine knows that there are many ways to get a man to talk…

Captain Thomas Glanville has the cross and he’ll be damned if he’s going to hand it over now that he finally has the means to buy a ship of his own. He’s at the mercy of a fiery woman who will stop at nothing to achieve her goal. But Catherine has no idea who she’s dealing with–and Thomas has his own means of charming a woman into his mercy and his bed…

It's in His Kiss novella by Ally Broadfield 

Charlotte Lightwood has one season to find a husband or she’ll be forced to marry her guardian’s loathsome cousin. With no title or dowry, she doesn’t have much hope of making a good match. Sebastian Wilkinson, the Earl of Marley, has been the most eligible bachelor on the marriage mart for more years than he cares to count and is very aware of his duty to marry a woman who will add to the wealth and stature of his title. 

Sebastian makes Charlotte an offer she can’t refuse: he will pretend to court her to help her attract more suitors in exchange for her advice about which ladies he should pursue. As they work together, their mutual attraction grows. When they realize they just might be perfect for one another, they must decide whether to bow to the dictates of society or follow their hearts.

Kathleen Bittner Roth thrives on creating passionate stories featuring characters who are forced to draw on their strength of spirit to overcome adversity and find unending love. Her own fairy tale wedding in a Scottish castle led her to her current residence in Budapest, Hungary, considered one of Europe’s most romantic cities. However, she still keeps one boot firmly in Texas and the other in her home state of Minnesota. A member of Romance Writers of America®, she was a finalist in the prestigious Golden Heart® contest. Find Kathleen on Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, Pinterest and www.kathleenbittnerroth.com.

PORTRAIT OF A FORBIDDEN LADY is book two in Those Magnificent Malverns series: A young widow returns to her childhood home after a forced absence and faces her first and only love, but despite their powerful attraction, danger compels her to remain his forbidden lady.  ORDER YOUR COPY!

THE SEDUCTION OF SARAH MARKS is book one in Those Magnificent Malverns series: When a proper Victorian miss awakens next to a handsome stranger, she must rely on the man's benevolence as she struggles to regain her memory and hold onto her heart. ORDER YOUR COPY!