For the Beauty of the Earth, A Hymn of Thanksgiving

autum and Thanksgiving

One of the most well-known American Thanksgiving songs is “For the Beauty of the Earth.” Folliott S. Pierpoint originally wrote the lyrics in gratitude to the beauty around him. It became a hymn with a first-known appearance in 1864 in a book of Eucharistic Hymns and Poems entitled “Lyra Eucharistica, Hymns and Verses on The Holy Communion, Ancient and Modern, with other Poems.” Often, the song is sung to the tune of “As with Gladness, Men of Old,” a Christmas carol tune also known as “Dix” composed by Conrad Kocher in 1838. Though other tunes often accompany these grateful lyrics, my favorite is an arrangement by Mack Wilburg.

Here is my favorite arrangement sung by the world-famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir accompanied by a full symphony orchestra, and the video has beautiful scenic photography:

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday filled with  many reasons to feel grateful.

Feel free to share some of the things for which you are grateful. I’d love to hear from you.

Happy Thanksgiving.


Book Giveaway

Original cover

It’s time to celebrate the upcoming release of book 4 in my award-winning “Rogue Hearts Regency Series,” The Suspect’s Daughter, available December 3, 2015.  Celebrating is always more fun with friends. So, I am giving away five copies of book 3, A Perfect Secret which features Grant who is the hero of book 4. Winners have a choice of receiving a paperback copy or a digital copy for ebook readers.

Since its original release, A Perfect Secret has received a new cover, but the story is the same. The version I am giving away has the original cover, which is pictured to the left.

It is my hope that these copies will go to someone who has not yet read any of my books, but anyone can enter the drawing.

Here is the back cover blurb for my “clean and wholesome” Regency Romance:


new cover

Desperate to protect her father from trial and execution, Genevieve breaks off her engagement to Christian Amesbury and marries her father’s blackmailer. After a year of marriage, she flees her husband’s violent domination only to have fate bring her back to Christian. Just when she thinks she’s started a new life of safety and freedom, her husband tracks her down, stalks her, and threatens everyone she loves.

Still brokenhearted over Genevieve’s betrayal a year ago, Christian can’t believe she’s come back into his life–and worse, that she’s done it on the anniversary of his brother’s death, a death that haunts him. Though tempted to throw her back into the river where he found her, he can’t abandon her, nor can he leave her at the mercy of the terrifying man she married. When her husband torments Genevieve and puts the Amesbury family in danger, Christian will do anything to protect those he loves…anything except give Genevieve another chance to break his heart.

To enter the drawing, simply put your name and email address in the comments section below. If you want a second chance to win, “like” my author Facebook page and put “I liked your page” in your comment.


No purchase necessary.

Giveaway open to everyone; US and Canada may receive paperback copies or digital upon request.

International winners will receive digital copies. Void where prohibited.

And the winners are:

Sireena, Julia, Heidi, Jerika, and Heather. Whoo hoo! (throws confetti)

Thank you so much to everyone who entered my giveaway.



Dance Cards


The dance card, the programme du bal or Carnet de bal, is a little booklet, usually with a decorative cover, which lists dance titles, and provides a place for a lady to write in the name of the gentleman who promises to partner her for each specific dance.

Opinions vary as to when dance cards came into popular in England. One source suggested it may have been made in Birmingham, England as early as 1803, but no other sources I found listed that early date. Even if that date were correct, dance cards clearly were not common. This is in part due to the lack of need.

In the previous era, formal balls began with minuets, danced one couple at a time, in a rigidly prescribed order defined by the social rank of the dancers. The highest ranking couple led off the first dance. The man would withdraw, and the lady would dance with the next highest ranking gentleman. She would withdraw and then he danced the next minuet with the next highest ranking lady, and so on until everyone had a turn. Traditionally, they gave over the second half of the evening to country dances, done in a lengthwise formation. Even so, rank again became important in deciding who led off the set. That person also chose which dance they all would do. Remembering partners clearly was not an issue–remembering everyone’s rank was the trick.

At the time of the Vienna Conference, country dancing and formal minuets were becoming less popular. Precedence and etiquette which dictated to whom one could dance had begun to fade, and the long country dances were replaced by shorter pair dances like the waltz, polka, cotillion, and quadrille. Because of the new, less formal dancing and shorter dances, people could do more of them each evening. By the Regency, dances were done in sets, meaning pairs, and they were long, so most balls only had five or six different dances. It would have been fairly easy to remember only a few partners, even if the gentlemen asked the lady in advance.

As the dances shortened, and more partners became possible, it probably became harder for young ladies to remember to which young gentleman she’d promised a dance. Some sources mention ladies writing names on the underside of their fans to help them remember promised dances but I don’t know how often or when that occurred. At one point, ladies reportedly used decorative notebooks to keep track of the name of each gentleman who’d asked for her to “stand up” with him. Many ladies already carried in their reticules small notebooks that opened like fans to jot down shopping lists and so forth. Naturally, they used them to record their evening’s dance partners. Many preserved them as a souvenir of the evening.

According to my research, Austrians used dance cards long before they caught on in the rest of Europe. As people returned home from the Congress of Vienna, which was basically a big party disguised as a series of series of negotiations  that officially ended the Napoleonic Wars. Dance cards gained popularity at balls and assemblies sometime during the 1830s, during Queen Victoria’s reign.

Each dance card was is different. Many of the ones I’ve seen in private collections had elaborate covers made from precious metals and jewels like silver, ivory or mother of pearl, bone ivory, tortoise shell. Some were metal, others were made of shells or carved bone. It’s possible that some were plainer, but weren’t saved. It’s also possible, considering the Victorian’s penchant for anything ornate, sometimes to the point of ostentatious, that they were all ornate. The ones that have survived to today vary in both size and style.

A few are inscribed with the words “Bal” which is French for ball. The ones with images I could use look like fans, others I saw are booklets with ornate covers.

Later in the century, dance cards became pre-printed booklets of paper which listed each dance the musicians would play. Dance cards became progressively more decorative and elaborate as the century progressed. Ribbon or cord attached tiny pencils to the card or program by which ladies let the cards dangle from their wrist.

Fellow Regency author, Marissa Doyle, has a wonderful collection of dance cards in her private collection. You can view her post on Dance Cards, and admire her pictures, here on her blog, Nineteen Ten.

As far as I can tell, dance cards began to lose popularity sometime in the 1920s. Now, dance cards are a treasure from a by-gone era.

Happy Halloween

Balai_sorcière_admin“Eye of newt, and toe of frog,
Wool of bat, and tongue of dog”
“Adder’s fork, and blind-worm’s sting,
Lizard’s leg, and owlet’s wing”

“For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and babble”

“Double, double, toil and trouble,
Fire burn, and caldron bubble”

~ William Shakespeare

Historians believe Halloween dates back over 2,000 years ago to the ancient Celic people, the origin of the Irish, Scottish, and Welsh. Back then, they celebrated the coming of the New Year, or Samhain, pronounced sow-an (sow, as in cow), in November. On the eve of each New Year, people dressed in costumes to ward off evil spirits they believed were walking about causing trouble. Despite the change of the New Year, and the arrival of Christianity, the tradition continued, with the new name “All Hallow’s Eve.” Various Christian sects tried to change the purpose from the pagan holiday, to one that honors Saints, and to offer prayers to the departed. But of course, as with most holidays, the church ended up with a mixture of pagen and Chrisitan customs. The dates also moved around until they finally settled on October 31 for All Hallow’s Eve.

In Great Britain, the belief in witches dates back thousands of years, and unfortunately, many beautiful women, as well as women who served their communities as healers, were often labeled witches and died a witch’s death, usually because of someone’s jealousy or spite. Immigrants brought superstitions about witches to America, along with tales of evil spells and transformations. These superstitions meshed with African slaves’ belief in back magic, and in some cases, Native American folklore, to further the belief in witches and everything supernatural.

However, witches’ association with Halloween appears to be a fairly modern concept. Apparently in the 1800’s a legend cropped up of a gathering of witches every spring and fall, arriving on flying broomsticks to party with the devil. Before that, witches were only believed to have used broomsticks for the mundane task of cleaning an area before performing a healing ritual. Aren’t you terrified?

As far as witches’  association with black cats, some believed cats were ‘familiars’ of the witches, meaning cats served witches, spied for them, and helped cast evil spells. Others believed witches could transform into cats. I suppose if a vampire can become a bat, a witch can become a cat, right?

Do you believe in evil, spell-casting witches and black magic? What is your favorite Halloween Tradition?



Deleted Scenes: Unmasking the Duke

Since I’m the kind of writer who writes by the seat of my pants, I have to do a lot of editing, revising, rewriting. Sometimes that means I need to cut a scene, either because it takes the story off course, or it isn’t meaty enough, or it paints the character in a less than ideal light. Sometimes, I need to delete a scene to stay under a certain word count. For all of those reasons, but mostly to keep under the word count limit, I cut a scene from Unmasking the Duke. I love seeing cut scenes from favorite movies, so I thought it would be fun to share this cut scene with my fans.

In the original draft of the story before I started cutting scenes, Hannah is trying to determine if she is truly in love the the duke, or if she is merely reacting to his kiss. Since she has never been kissed before, she has nothing upon which to base a comparison. So she calls in a servant, someone who saved her life in a previous story and who is young and handsome. She asks him to kiss her. It’s a dangerously scandalous request but she’s desperate to prove that being kissed by anyone is amazing and earth shaking so she can discount her reaction to the duke’s kiss.

So, for your pleasure, a deleted scene from Unmasking the Duke:

Was it possible that every man’s kiss was as heavenly as Bennett’s? Perhaps all men’s kisses were as beautiful and moving. She might be confusing love with desire. But how to learn the difference? She certainly couldn’t ask Cole to kiss her, nor the Buchanan twins, and certainly to not Mr. Hill. As she thought of men of her acquaintance, a terrible, naughty, delicious thought struck her.

In an uncharacteristic act of daring—not to mention impropriety—she summoned Cole’s valet, Stephens.

He arrived, his handsome dark looks as striking as she’d remembered. “You wanted me, Miss?”

“Yes. Please close the door.”

He obeyed and waited for her to approach.

She pushed past the butterflies having a war in her midsection. “If I asked you to do something, would you do it?”

“Of course, Miss.”

She gathered her courage. “I need you to kiss me.”

He gave a start. “Miss?”

“I have only been kissed by one man, and I need to know if I’m so shaken by the man, or by the kiss. I need to know if all kisses are that…nice. So I need you to kiss me. If what Cole has implied is true, you are something of a ladies’ man, so you ought to be experienced enough to know how to do a proper job of it. And you’re certainly handsome. Did you know I actually had a crush on you for over a year?”

He glanced sideways as if afraid someone might be listening and took a step back. “Ahhh…”

“If your kiss makes me feel the way his does, then I can more easily put him from my mind.”

His mouth opened, but nothing came out. Finally, he shook his head as a slow grin curved his mouth. “I’m sorry but I can’t do that, Miss.”

She self-consciously touched her hair. “I’m not pretty enough.”

“Oh, Miss, you’re more than pretty enough. You’re one of the fairest girls I’ve ever seen.”

“Then it should be no hardship for you to kiss me.”

He choked. “No, Miss. I admit, I’ve wanted to kiss you a fair long time. Pretty girls have that effect on me. But if Lord Tarrington found out I’d touched you, he’d skin me with his bare hands.”

“He won’t find out. All the men are out for the afternoon hunt, and my sister thinks I’m lying down with a headache.”

He grinned but eyed her uncertainly. “Are you sure? Kissing is no trifling matter.”

“I’m afraid I won’t know the answer to my problem unless I kiss a man, and I daren’t kiss one of the guests, lest they get the wrong idea. Please? Will you help me?”

Stephens chuckled. “Putting like that, how can I refuse?”

He stepped in. All the butterflies in her stomach doubled their efforts. Not only was she behaving in a scandalous manner, this moment might reveal more than she wanted to know.

He put a finger under her chin, lifted it, leaned in, and kissed her. His lips were soft and warm and gentle, and he was clearly a skilled kisser. But none of the awareness raced over her body, none of the thrill tingled in her nerve endings, none of the joyful completeness settled in her heart as it had when Bennett kissed her.

Stephens kissed her thoroughly and then stepped back, eyeing her. “Well?”

“It was pleasant, and you obviously know what you are doing.”


“It wasn’t the same as his.”

Grinning, he shook his head “Well, I’m a little offended that I can’t make every girl swoon at my kiss, but it sounds to me like you have your answer. Is it what you’d hoped?”

“No. It means I have a problem.”

He nodded, his dark eyes solemn for a moment before they twinkled. “Well, any time you need a second go, I’m at your beck and call, Miss Palmer. I think I’d risk Tarrington’s temper for another taste of your sweet mouth.”

Autumn Masquerade ebookIf you haven’t read Unmasking the Duke, you can find it on Amazon here.

Carriage Accidents Cliche?

WLA_nyhistorical_Beekman_Family_Coachby Donna Hatch

Throughout most of history, travelling, especially long distance, was a dangerous undertaking. Some of the many dangers a traveler in Regency England faced included highwaymen attacks, most of which only resulted in loss of valuables but often injury and death as well. To offset this risk, the wealthy generally had armed outriders who rode horseback in front and behind the carriage to guard and protect them but not everyone could afford that and sometimes highway men attacked in alarming numbers.

Travelers also faced broken down carriages which caused delays and inconveniences and injuries, especially if their coach traveled at high speeds at the time of the malfunction. In addition, weather accounted for difficulty and danger. There are accounts of passengers riding on the top of a mail coach arriving frozen to death. But by far the most dangerous part of travel came from carriage accidents.

Now, don’t roll your eyes. I’ve heard readers complain that it’s too easy to kill off a character by arranging a convenient carriage accident so that they have become cliché. However, as cliché as it may seem, carriage accidents were every bit as common as car accidents are today. And since I’ve been in seven car accidents, either as a passenger or as a driver, ranging from minor fender benders to car-totaling collisions, and several people I love have suffered life-threatening injuries as a result of car accidents, I’m painfully aware how frequently that happens.

High_flyer_phaeton_carriage,_1816Just as there are many reasons for car accidents today, carriage accidents could be caused by any number of difficulties. Traveling at high speeds increased the likelihood of a major wipe out. (No, that’s not a Regency term J High-perched carriages such as the High-flyer phaeton were top heavy and easily overturned, especially in the hands of an unskilled driver. But carriages in general were subject to all kinds of problems and breakdowns. Maintenance was up to the coachman, but if he wasn’t especially diligent, there were any number of parts to a carriage that could break and cause accidents.

Roads were another cause of difficulty. They were poorly maintained, often muddy, rutted, narrow and windy. They were also snowy or icy. Toll roads usually fared better, but not always. Also, the horses themselves could throw a shoe or stumble over a rut or uneven ground which posed a threat to the carriage.

But other drivers were some of the greatest perils on the roads. There were no speed limits, and no driver’s licenses, and driving while intoxicated wasn’t policed. Drunk drivers or young dare devils careening around bends caused an alarming number of accidents. And since there were no seat belts or crash safety engineering, passengers could be thrown around or crushed or ejected.

It paints a terrifying picture, doesn’t it? The next time you read a book where the heroine’s parents died in a carriage accident, remember that they were an alarmingly common and therefore very realistic form of premature death. Instead of rolling your eyes and uttering the dreaded C word, nod sagely and applaud the author’s realism.




Autumn Masquerade Available NOW

Autumn Masquerade ebookI am very pleased and honored to announce that I have joined award-winning Regency Romance authors Josi S. Kilpack and Nancy Campbell Allen in a new TIMELESS Anthology, The Regency Collection, entitled AUTUMN MASQUERADE.

This Regency anthology includes three 100 page romance novellas based around the theme Autumn Masquerade, presented by the publisher of the #1 Amazon bestselling “A Timeless Romance Anthology” series in New Releases for Clean Romance.

Each individual Regency story includes a sweet, unforgettable romance of overcoming obstacles to find and embrace true love and reach for happily ever after. These shorter novels are perfect for a quick afternoon pick me up. My novella, Unmasking the Duke, features Hannah, the younger sister of Alicia in The Stranger She Married. Hannah, as it happens, is much more than meets the eye, and the oh-so-dreamy Duke of Suttenberg soon discovers he has not only met his match, but has found the girl who can save him.

Josi and Nancy’s tales were absolutely wonderful and I wanted to immediately read them a second time. This delightful collection will be available October 1, but please pre-order yours now to ensure a fantastic opening day by clicking on this live link. 

A MERRY DANCE by Josi S. Kilpack. When Lila overhears her uncle talking about a man coming to look for property in the county, she doesn’t think twice, until her uncle says he hopes Lila will find enough interest to marry the man. How can she marry someone named Mortimer Luthford, not to mention that his advanced age of thirty-three, and especially since she’s already in love with her absent cousin Neville? But when Mortimer arrives, Lila has to try every trick known to women to act not interested in the rather fascinating man, which proves a very difficult façade to maintain.

UNMASKING THE DUKE by Donna Hatch. The last thing Hannah Palmer wants is to flirt with men in a crowded ballroom, but when her sister throws a Masquerade Ball, Hannah can’t say no and takes shelter behind a mask. She dances with a delightful masked man, matching him wit for wit, and falling for his charms. When the glorious evening culminates in a kiss, and they remove their masks, Hannah is horrified to discover the man she’s been flirting with all night is the despised Duke of Suttenberg. No matter how charming the duke was at the ball, and how wonderful the kiss, he is the last man she’d ever accept.

WHAT’S IN A NAME by Nancy Campbell Allen. Penelope Timely has a terrible secret. She’s been writing letters to the Duke of Wilmington, pretending to be her ever-proper twin sister, Persephone. Now, the duke has written that he’ll be coming for the Autumn Masquerade Ball and Festival. Penelope will have to continue the charade while the duke is in town in order to protect her sister. The Duke of Wilmington isn’t fooled for a moment, but instead of confessing that he knows about the deception, he finds himself utterly charmed by Penelope and jumps into the game of deception to see how far the twin sisters will take it.

The collection is available on any ebook reader including Kindle. If sales are good, this collection will also become available in print in the future, so please tell a friend. (Or a 100) Pre-order your copy now for only $4.99 here.

For more on Regency Anthologies and Regency Collections, see Donna’s other historical romance collections



Dukes and Duchesses in Regency England


Sir Thomas Lawrence, Portrait of Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington

Next to the royal family, the most distinguished and highest ranking title in England is the Duke. They are usually in possession of great wealth and power, owning vast amounts of lands, tenants, and other properties. However, the title itself is fairly recent in England’s history.

Originally from the French word Duc, the duke was first used only as a title of power and responsibility for the sons of the king. Being a mere prince suggested he was something of a wastrel who had no responsibility or power. A duke, or royal duke, meant the king trusted this son to rule on a more local level and enjoyed a higher level independence.

During the Medieval, earls and barons owned and managed their land in a feudal system. They were knights who answered the call to aid the king in war. But unlike other mere knights, these lords had vast lands and responsibilities. They provided the land that the tenants or serfs farmed, and they collected rent. They offered (ideally) protection in times of need to the serfs who fled to safety of the castle walls when enemies attacked. Local sheriffs had the charge of keeping law and order but sometimes the ruling lord took on that duty as well.

During Medieval England, earls and barons were the highest ranking lords–behind the royal dukes, of course. Later the monarchy created other titles which included marquis (a word that by Regency had the odd pronunciation of mar-kwiss). The spelling of marquis eventually changed to marquess to sound more English but for many years, both spellings were considered correct. Marquess ranked just below duke and above earl. Another newly added title was that of viscount (vi-count) which ranked below earl and above baron.

According to Debrett’s, the first British subject to receive the rank of duke who was not a member of the royal family, nor one nearly related, was Sir William de la Pole, Marquess of Suffolk, who was made Duke of Suffolk in the fifteenth century. I am mystified as to why his name was Sir William, suggesting he bore the rank and title of knight (not to be confused with being a knight who wears armor and jousts), when he was, in fact, a marquess, a much higher rank. According to my research, he would have been called Lord William in that era which signified he was more than a mere knight. But I digress. Anyway, the title of duke was originally awarded only for exemplary loyalty and valor to the crown, so no more than 40 dukes ever existed, the last being created during Queen Victoria’s reign. The first time that happened under her rule was when the earl of Fife Married the eldest daughter of the Prince of Wales in 1889; the second when no male heir was born to that line, the title jumped to the male heir of Fife’s daughter—not a common practice.

When a peer failed to have a son, the practice of a title going to a female heir’s husband or son occurred anciently, but by the Regency, the title either went to the closest, eldest male relative, or it reverted to the crown. At that point, it either went extinct or (in theory but not usually in practice) the monarch had the power to bestow it upon someone else.

Therefore, the need for a male heir was of supreme importance. Many wives of peers, and even wives of untitled landowners, often gave their lives in the attempt to produce a son to guarantee continuation of the line and succession of a direct descendant. If you are familiar with Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, you will remember Mr. Bennett’s wife and daughters’ anxiety over the land and house all going to a distant cousin, and what that would mean to the family.

Princess Charlotte of Wales and_Duchess Caroline of Brunswick by Thomas Lawrence

Princess Charlotte of Wales and_Duchess Caroline of Brunswick by Thomas Lawrence

A duchess’s primary role was to bear at least one son, an “heir and a spare” as was the common phrase. In addition, she, at the top of the social ladder next to the royal family, had other demands. Just as we today idolize and follow celebrities, professional athletes, and the very rich and powerful who often find themselves in the news, the British adored and scrutinized the aristocracy and nobility, and even the gentry. Let’s face it, they were the beautiful people. They set the standards for dress and behavior and everyone wanted to emulate them. The Prince of Wales, the Regent who later became King George IV, was notorious for hedonistic ways which paved the way for the party lifestyle for his subjects, many of whom followed his lead. “Prinny’s” friend, Beau Brummell’ revolutionized men’s clothing as everyone hurried to adopt style of the prince’s favorite.

As a duchess is so high in rank, she, too, was constantly in the limelight either for good or ill, whether or not she wanted to be. A duchess, or any wife of a peer, was expected to throw lavish balls, dinner parties, house parties as well as support charitable organizations and sponsor musicians. And heaven help her if she wore the same gown in public or failed to have the best, most tasteful gowns, shoes, jewels, gloves, hats! Demands on her time, appearance, and favor probably led to a great deal of stress as she strove to uphold the ideal. The higher the rank, the higher the expectations, and the more subject she was to criticism from the bitter and jealous.

During that era, as today, public opinion delighted at faulting the very people the idolized. If a person of great importance slipped up, tabloids and social columns in the newspapers, as well as word-of-mouth gossips delighted in spreading the titillating news.

I can only imagine the pressure.

It is this standard of excellence, and all the burdens that go with it, that creates one of the stumbling blocks for my heroine to overcome in “Unmasking the Duke” part of Autumn Masquerade, the newest Timeless Romance Anthology, Regency Collection. This is one of three Regency romances included in this anthology.

Autumn Masquerade ebookHere are the first few pages from “Unmasking the Duke” in Autumn Masquerade:

Birthdays were overrated. People really ought to stop celebrating them after the age of sixteen. Snuggled into the featherbed of her sister’s country estate, Hannah Palmer toyed with a croissant. This evening she might very well die of humiliation. Or worse, embarrass her sister and brother-in-law, the Earl and Countess of Tarrington.

Alicia practically bounced into the room. “Happy birthday, Sis!”

Hannah smiled wryly. “I think you’re happier about it than I am.”

At odds with her rank as a countess, Alicia grinned and climbed into bed with Hannah, holding her tightly. “I am happy about it. How often does a girl get to wish her favorite sister happy eighteenth birthday?”

Hannah gave her a wry smile. “I’m so relieved to learn I’m your favorite, since I have no competition.”

Alicia laughed. “It would be sad if I claimed another for that auspicious honor.” She wound a strand of Hannah’s blond hair around her finger.

“You’re more energetic than usual today.”

“Little Nicholas actually slept all night long.” A maternal tenderness crept into Alicia’s expression as it always did when she spoke of her infant son.

When the time came—if it came—Hannah planned to keep her baby in her room, rather than follow the convention of letting a nursemaid care for her child during the night hours. She vowed to be the devoted, loving mother her sister had already proved to be. Of course, she might never realize the sweet dream of motherhood.

Alicia twisted around in bed and fixed her amber gaze on Hannah. “And I’m so happy that you’re finally letting me throw a ball in your honor.”

Hannah winced. “Yes, I just love big parties filled with rooms of people I don’t know.”

“I know how you feel about it, dearest,” Alicia said soothingly. “But this will be a good practice for you before you go to London next Season. When I’m finished with you, society will toast you as the New Incomparable.”

“I’ll be a clumsy, tongue-tied idiot, just like always.”

“You’re only clumsy when you’re nervous. More practice at social events will help you not be nervous.”

Not be nervous in public? Hardly likely.

Alicia tapped her on the nose. “You are a beautiful and accomplished daughter of a respected gentleman, and the sister of a countess. No need to fear.”

“I hear blonds aren’t fashionable at present.”

“The only ones who say blond hair isn’t in fashion are those who are jealous. Just keep your head high and smile as if you know an embarrassing secret about everyone.”

Hannah stared into the flames writhing in the hearth. “It’s not that simple.”

“It is that simple.” Alicia squeezed her. “If you say next to nothing, everyone will think you are mysterious and will be all the more fascinated with you. Besides, you’ll wear a mask tonight. Surely anonymity will lend you courage.”

“I hope you’re right.”

Spending the evening alone with Alicia and her charming husband, Cole, would be preferable to a room full of strangers. But perhaps Alicia was right; a costume mask might help Hannah find some courage buried deep inside.

Hannah put a large spoonful of lumpy brown sugar into her chocolate, followed by a dash of cream. While Alicia rhapsodized about the ball, Hannah stirred absently before wrapping her hands around the china to warm her fingers.

Alicia ended on a sigh. “Maybe you’ll meet him tonight.”

“Him?” Hannah sipped the chocolate and snuggled into her pillows to drink the hot liquid turned decadent by the addition of the sugar and cream. Why most people chose to drink chocolate in its bitter form remained a mystery.

“Him,” Alicia repeated. “The man of your dreams. Your future husband.”

Hannah said dryly enough to be impertinent had she been speaking to a lady of rank who was not her sister, “Yes, meeting him at a ball would be convenient. I am persuaded that one must have a bit of cliché in one’s life to obtain a measure of happiness.”

Preorder your copy of “Unmasking the Duke” included in Timeless Romance Anthology, Regency Collection AUTUMN MASQUERADE.

And yes, in case you are wondering, Hannah is younger sister of Alicia Palmer in The Stranger She Married. I thought she needed her own story, too.

My special thanks to Joyce Dipastena, author of sweet Medieval romances, for helping me with some of the early history of Dukes.

You can read more about dukes and duchesses at:


What are you doing still here? Go Pre-order the book! “Unmasking the Duke” is in Timeless Romance Anthology, Regency Collection AUTUMN MASQUERADE.

Travel and Moving During the Regency


BEekman Family coach, courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Recently, my family and I relocated from Arizona’s Southwestern Desert to northern Washington. We loaded a moving truck filled with most of our worldly possessions, minus what we sold or gave away, our four younger children (our older two are married and didn’t come with us, unfortunately), and drove across Arizona, Utah, and Idaho to Washington. The entire trip took the better part of three days which seemed terribly long to us as our truck chug-chugged up the hills at about ten miles per hour. I felt like a pioneer of old, uprooting our family and taking a long journey to virtually the unknown in search of a better way of life. Yet, two hundred years ago, such a distance would have been a great deal longer, more difficult, and filled with danger.

During the early eighteen hundreds in England and America, people relied primarily upon horses and oxen to take them long distances. Not only did horses or oxen pulling a heavy load plod along slowly, the teams had to either be changed frequently or allowed to rest. Depending on the roads, or the lack thereof, and the cattle pulling the heavy wagons or horses pulling lighter carriages, and the road conditions and he weather, they could have traveled anywhere from four to eight miles per hour. If they traveled non-stop for eight hours, they covered between thirty to sixty miles a day. But they had to stop to change horses, especially if the load were heavy, and they had to stop for the passengers to eat and, um, make a rest stop. By that calculation, our trip would have taken between two and four months if we had made that trip by wagon. In addition, wagons had breakdowns, horses or oxen could become ill or injured, and travelers were subjected, largely unprotected, to all kinds of weather. Most roads were poorly maintained and were always either very dusty or muddy, which always resulted in the weary travelers arriving “in all their dirt” and craving a wash and a change of clothing.

Some travelers used ships or barges which certainly would have been smoother for the most part than traveling over bumpy, rutted roads. However, travel was limited to rivers and canals. The train had been invented, but was still an untrusted curiosity with very limited railroad system and didn’t, as a rule, appear to be used to carry people’s furniture and household items. So, travel by road in some kind of wagon or cart, pulled by animals was of necessity, the primary method of moving or traveling. It was bumpy, slow, and without air conditioning or heating.

When the aristocracy moved, servants did a great deal of the work, but I’m sure the process of what to take and what to leave was as challenging for them as it was for me. When a house is so laden with memories, it’s difficult to leave it behind. Objects, curios, and even furniture each evokes some kind of memory. I also left behind my two older children. I can’t imagine how I would have done that if I didn’t know if I’d ever see them again. Fortunately, we are only a two-hour flight apart, and they both have plans to visit us with their spouses. Still, it was hard to leave them and give up Sunday dinners and weekend visits.

Though our modern life with all its conveniences and demands have created different lifestyles for us than what our ancestors knew, and many of our customs are different, and our clothing certainly bears little resemblance to fashions of bygone eras, basic human nature really hasn’t changed. The more I research the Regency, the more that basic truth stands out to me. We all love our families, worry about the future, try to make the best of what we are dealt, occasionally do and say things we regret, and look for a better tomorrow. If we are single, we look for someone to love who will love us. If we are married, we work through our challenges and try to keep that spark alive. And we often make difficult choices that bring challenges and heartache in the hopes that it will all be worth it. After all, we are all still looking for our own happily ever after, aren’t we?

Writing “Sweet” Romance

Regency Lady in whiteOften when people ask me why I chose to write romance, it surprises me a little. I didn’t honestly choose to write romance, it sorta chose me. I never woke up one day and said, “The romance market is really successful over other genres, so that’s what I’m going to write.” It happened over time. My earliest attempts at writing were adventure and mystery. Later, I turned to science fiction. By my teens, I was  writing fantasy. As an adult, I finally wrote historical–with elements of adventure, mystery, and even a little fantasy. In all these earlier genres, progressively more and more romance sub plots crept into the stories.

My favorite books and movies are very character-driven, meaning the characters are interesting and well rounded, with a good balanced of strengths and weaknesses. These favorite tales have characters who get a satisfactory ending, triumphing over their challenges, and are better at the end of the story than at the beginning. And if there’s a little romance, I like that even better.

Writing romance evolved over time, as what I wrote tended to center around characters overcoming obstacles to succeed in their goals and find love in the process. Now my stories center on romance, how characters find each other and realize that they are better, stronger, happier people as a couple than they were alone, AND overcome obstacles to succeed in their goals. Those are the best endings, don’t you think?

People also often ask why I write “PG-rated” romance, also known as “sweet” or “clean” romance. That answer is very simple; that’s where my comfort zone is. I prefer to read and write stories that don’t go into the very private, intimate details of bedroom scenes. Many people, including my own agent, have encouraged me to write hotter romances, or even put in “just one little sex scene” because, as we all know, “sex sells.” That may be true. I might sell more books and make more money, but that would feel as though I am selling out. I need to be true to myself, and that means writing romances that feel realistic, have plenty of chemistry, and even a few detailed kissing scenes. But anything beyond that either does not occur in the course of the novel, or it happens behind closed doors.

And I think Jane Austen would approve, don’t you?

What kinds of books do you love to read?

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