Welcome!

Hello everyone, and welcome to my blog! I’ve done a round-up of some of my own favorite posts over the years (both here and when I’ve guested at other blogs), for people who are visiting for the first time:

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Teaser Tuesday #4

TruePretenses_220Time for another teaser excerpt from True Pretenses! (Remember, you can read the complete first chapter and pre-order the book here.)

In this scene, Ash has just met Lydia’s little brother.

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Teaser Tuesday #3

TruePretenses_220Time for another teaser excerpt from True Pretenses! Remember, you can read the complete first chapter and pre-order the book here.

(And an exciting annoucement: the first Lively St. Lemeston book, Sweet Disorder, is in the process of going on sale for 99¢ EVERYWHERE and it’s already kicked in at most retailers! Nook should drop in the next few days.

kindle * kobo * other buy links

And now back to your regularly scheduled programming.)

In this scene, Ash has just shaved and Lydia’s into it.

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A pair of living turtle doves on a little bed of roses

Okay, I have discovered something AMAZING. I was reading The Facts of Life: The Creation of Sexual Knowledge in Britain, 1650–1950 by Roy Porter and Lesley Hall, as you do, and I read what may be the greatest phrase of all time:

Graham was, perhaps, a wizard showman flourishing in the lubricious twilight world of sex aids

I’m going to let you read that again

Graham was, perhaps, a wizard showman flourishing in the lubricious twilight world of sex aids

YES. A WIZARD SHOWMAN FLOURISHING IN THE LUBRICIOUS TWILIGHT WORLD OF SEX AIDS. Here is what his business cards might look like:

Dr. James Graham, wizard showman flourishing in the lubricious twilight world of sex aids

In fact, I think I’m just going to start carrying those and passing them out at conferences.

Dr. James Graham was a sexologist (quack?) whose greatest claim to fame was his Celestial Bed, built in 1780, which he described as “12 ft. long by 9ft. wide, supported by forty pillars of brilliant glass of the most exquisitive workmanship, in richly variated colours. The super-celestial dome of the bed, which contains the odoriferous, balmy and ethereal spices, odours and essences, which is the grand reservoir of those reviving invigorating influences which are exhaled by the breath of the music and by the exhilarating force of electrical fire, is covered on the other side with brilliant panes of looking-glass.

On the utmost summit of the dome are placed two exquisite figures of Cupid and Psyche, with a figure of Hymen behind, with his torch flaming with electrical fire in one hand and with the other, supporting a celestial crown, sparkling over a pair of living turtle doves, on a little bed of roses.

The other elegant group of figures which sport on the top of the dome, having each of them musical instruments in their hands, which by the most expensive mechanism, breathe forth sound corresponding to their instruments, flutes, guitars, violins, clarinets, trumpets, horns, oboes, kettle drums, etc.

At the head of the bed appears sparkling with electrical fire a great first commandment: ‘BE FRUITFUL, MULTIPLY AND REPLENISH THE EARTH’. Under that is an elegant sweet-toned organ in front of which is a fine landscape of moving figures, priest and bride’s procession entering the Temple of Hymen.

The chief principle of my Celestial Bed is produced by artificial lodestones. About 15 cwt. [hundredweight] of compound magnets are continually pouring forth in an everflowing circle…

Any gentleman and his lady desirous of progeny, and wishing to spend an evening in the Celestial apartment, which coition may, on compliment of a £50 bank note, be permitted to partake of the heavenly joys it affords by causing immediate conception, accompanied by the soft music. Superior ecstasy which the parties enjoy in the Celestial Bed is really astonishing and never before thought of in this world: the barren must certainly become fruitful when they are powerfully agitated in the delights of love.”

Lively St. Lemeston #3 is a go!

Toogood and Sukey’s story, titled Listen to the Moon, will be out from Samhain probably in January 2016. This isn’t the official backcover copy (which doesn’t exist yet), but it should give you the general idea:

Laid off and blacklisted through no fault of his own, gentleman’s gentleman John Toogood is stuck in the small town of Lively St. Lemeston until he can find a new job. His reputation for discreet, skilled professionalism has never been more important, so the instant attraction that flares between him and his happy-go-lucky young neighbor couldn’t come at a worse time. Maid-of-all-work Sukey Grimes works hard, but her manners are provincial, her respect for authority nonexistent, and her outdated cleaning methods—well, the less said about them, the better.

But the only job John can find is for a married couple, so when Sukey is fired for the second time in five years, they tie the knot against both their better judgments. John is determined to prove that he deserves his cushy new job as butler, but it’s going to be a challenge when his most difficult underling is also the wife he’s rapidly falling in love with. As for Sukey, she knows that John’s impeccably impassive facade hides a lonely man with a gift for laughter, but she underestimated just how vexing it can be to be married to the boss…

I’m really enjoying working on the story and I can’t wait to tell you more! In the meantime you can take a look at my Pinterest boards for the book: casting and reference images.

Teaser Tuesday #2

TruePretenses_220Time for another teaser excerpt from True Pretenses! Remember, you can read the complete first chapter and pre-order the book here.

In this scene, Ash brings his little brother Rafe to meet Lydia for the first time, hoping they’ll fall in love.

Backstory: Lydia’s father Lord Wheatcroft (Lady Tassell’s arch-nemesis from Sweet Disorder) died shortly before the book starts and Lydia really misses him.

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Fifty to sixty pounds of chocolate

One of my favorite research books for True Pretenses was The Jews of Georgian England 1714–1830 by Todd Endelman. Check out this excerpt (which, by the way, gives a pretty clear demonstration of how what we would consider “bribes” were a normal and accepted part of Regency civic and political operations):

*

Because of the opposition of the great London merchants, the number of licensed Jewish brokers continued to be limited to twelve until 1830. Whenever one of the twelve Jewish brokers died or resigned, there was intense competition to obtain the vacated position. [Would this be a great plot for a romance or what?] This allowed the Lord Mayor, who had the right to nominate a successor, to exact a substantial fee from whomever he nominated. In 1815, for example, Moses Montefiore’s uncle paid £1,200 to obtain a broker’s medal for him[…]

At a meeting of the Court of Common Council in May 1830, Pellatt suggested that the Court increase the Lord Mayor’s allowance by £100 annually to compensate him for the loss of income that would result from abolishing the restriction on the number of Jewish brokers. Interestingly, he mentioned that he had discovered a precedent for such an increase. In 1782, the Lord Mayor had been granted an additional £50 a year for abandoning his right to an annual gift from the Spanish and Portugeuse Jews’ Synagogue[…] The records of the Sephardi congregation reveal that, from very early on, the Jewish community made an annual gift to the Lord Mayor. In 1671, it was a pipe of wine, costing £48; some years later it became the practice to present him with a purse containing fifty guineas; ultimately the money gift was replaced by a specially designed silver salver. (In 1679, the salver contained sweetmeats; in 1716, fifty to sixty pounds of chocolate.)

salver

One such salver, in the collection of the Jewish Museum. “This lord mayor’s tray was fashioned by John Ruslen, a well-established English silversmith who had for twenty-eight years provided Jewish ritual objects for Bevis Marks. Aside from his five existing presentation salvers, records indicate commissions for a sanctuary lamp in 1682; a pair of Torah finials (rimmonim) in 1702; and the Hanukkah lamp of 1709, depicting Elijah and the ravens.” From thejewishmuseum.org

Offering bribes to powerful and arbitrary officials was, of course, the practice in every Jewish community in the premodern world. The Dutch and French Protestant communities in London also presented the Lord Mayor with an annual tribute—a pair of silver flagons—but they gave up this practice in 1739, when they considered it unnecessary. The Jews, on the other hand, continued to make an annual offering for another forty years.

Funny search terms Sept – Nov 2014

These are all terms people searched for that somehow brought them to my site.

 
September:

best lesbian romantic couple photos only [awww]
heyer s characters true behaved to their time [hahaha hope you weren’t looking for confirmation when you came here because I STRONGLY DISAGREE]
gaze wandering over her intimately
if you need somebody but you got nothing
voldemort slaps lucius
henry ii shame on a conquered king [I probably did mention this somewhere because they are my favorite dying words EVER]

 
October:

house of commons opera hat
historical crushes
roger moore with cigar and glass [I know exactly the photo you mean, searcher]
name of some website to lerner chemistry for her main [???]

 
November:

unrealistic expectations fictional men
the pie chart inventor [I was actually helpful on this one, because I DID post about the invention of the pie chart!]
mr.snively website [intriguing…]
angry responses to ronsard poem when you are old [I hear you, searcher]
how to tell someone you like them with a message on a rose

Teaser Tuesday #1

TruePretenses_220Well, guys, True Pretenses releases January 13th—just seven weeks away! So, I’m going to do three things:

1. Every Tuesday between now and 1/13 I will post a teaser excerpt from the book here on my blog, on facebook, and on tumblr. Remember, you can read the complete first chapter here.

2. Every Wednesday from now to 1/13 is Ash Wednesday! I’ll post a sexy picture of Mark Ruffalo to my tumblr and explain the different ways he served as an inspiration for my con artist hero Ash. Check it out if that sounds like your thing.

3. Every Friday from now until 1/13 is Free Book Friday! I will post a photo of a mysterious coded phrase either to Twitter, to Facebook, or to tumblr, so keep an eye out. The first person to decode the phrase gets a True Pretenses e-ARC!

And now…the teaser! Ash walks home after meeting Lydia for the very first time.

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Night Owl Review chat

Hey everyone, don’t forget that tonight at 5PM Pacific time, you’ll be able to ask me, Susanna Fraser, Cecilia Grant, and Olivia Waite all the questions that have been burning in your bosom! Because we’re doing a Night Owl Reviews live chat.

If you RSVP at the Night Owl site in advance, you’ll get a reminder email AND you’ll be entered into the prize drawings. I am giving away the reader’s choice of my Lively St. Lemeston books, so if you want a True Pretenses ARC this is your chance!

New contest: “The Suffragette Scandal” by Courtney Milan

suffragette scandal cover, showing a red head in a beautiful bright blue gownDo I need to remind y’all how much I love The Suffragette Scandal? Well, if I do, here is my Goodreads review in its entirety: “Probably my favorite book in the series. A con artist/forger with no self-esteem and a suffragette reporter, what is not to love? Also I cried. A lot.”

The back cover copy:

An idealistic suffragette…

Miss Frederica “Free” Marshall has put her heart and soul into her newspaper, known for its outspoken support of women’s rights. Naturally, her enemies are intent on destroying her business and silencing her for good. Free refuses to be at the end of her rope…but she needs more rope, and she needs it now.

…a jaded scoundrel…

Edward Clark’s aristocratic family abandoned him to die in a war-torn land, so he survived the only way he could: by becoming a rogue and a first-class forger. When the same family that left him for dead vows to ruin Miss Marshall, he offers his help. So what if he has to lie to her? She’s only a pawn to use in his revenge.

…and a scandal seven years in the making.

But the irrepressible Miss Marshall soon enchants Edward. By the time he realizes that his cynical heart is hers, it’s too late. The only way to thwart her enemies is to reveal his scandalous past…and once the woman he loves realizes how much he’s lied to her, he’ll lose her forever.

I am not exaggerating. I cried A LOT. Of course, Courtney’s books always make me cry—

(THE SCENE: a restaurant where I am meeting Susanna Fraser for lunch. I am weeping openly as I scroll on my phone.

ENTER SUSANNA.

SUSANNA: Are you crying?
ME: It’s just allergies!
SUSANNA: So…you’re allergic to Courtney Milan?

YES. YES, I AM ALLERGIC TO COURTNEY MILAN)

—but this one made me cry even MORE. And also laugh, and make joyous squeaking noises, and flap my hands around, and, and, and.

final

Not only is this a lovely signed trade paperback, but I also scored you a limited edition thimble bookmark and a Huzzah! Suffragettes! button (here pictured with spokesmodel T-Rex, click on the picture to see it larger).

cake popsI only wish I could also send you the cake pop Courtney gave me when I bought it, but alas, I ate it. I can assure you it was delicious though, and a beautiful sparkly blue, and, IIRC, red velvet on the inside.

The rules:

1. Comment on this post to enter.
2. The winner will be chosen at random using random.org.
3. US and Canada only.
4. Open for entries through December 24th.
5. I got this book signed at a conference. Courtney isn’t involved in the giveaway.

If you’d like to be alerted when new contests go up (wait till you see the gift basket I’m getting ready for the release of True Pretenses!), you can sign up for my newsletter.

Good luck!