Virtual Regency Ball and clip from “The Prisoner of Zenda”

chateau-du-vie

Today I’m doing a virtual Regency ball hosted at Wyckberg Castle. You, too, may join the merriment for a dance.

You alight from your family coach and arrive in the grandeur of Wyckburg Castle and the sparkle of a thousand candles. The butler takes your wraps and the major domo announces your name as you enter the grand ballroom.

regency ball drawing room (2)Crystal sconces graced the walls, and enormous chandeliers hung from lofty ceilings which might have been painted by the great Michelangelo. The walls are lined with the finest French paper in a crimson and gold fleur de lis. Through tall windows you watch snow flakes lazily fluttering down, but the flakes don’t stick. You flick out your fan against the heat radiating from two huge fireplaces at either end of the long room.

Dancers weaved graceful patterns as they move through the steps across the marble dance floor. A friend smiles as she whirls past. The music of the orchestra lilts, and the harpist plays an arpeggio. You ease through the crush to great your host and hostess, the Earl and Countess Wyckburg. You make your curtsy and turn, breathless with anticipation.

He is here. You glimpse him coming toward you. Your heart speeds. You smooth the skirt of your velvet ballgown, glad you have donned your best for this wonderful night. He approaches, bows, and lifts your hand to his lips, a question, and a promise gleaming in his eyes.

I hope you enjoy this clip from the ball scene from the Prisoner of Zenda.

You can read more about Wyckberg Castle and its mysterious earl with his terrible secrets in my Christmas novella, A Winter’s Knight.

awintersknight_medwebA young lady’s fascination with a murdering earl and his dark castle lands her in the heart of an ancient and terrible secret. It will take more than a Christmas kiss underneath the mistletoe to break the curse and find happily ever after.

 

You also are invited to another ball at Pennington Hall on Murphy’s Law Blog.  Do come!

 

 

 

Book Giveaway for US Military Personnel

EXTENDED: THE CONTEST WILL REMAIN OPEN UNTIL DECEMBER 10TH.

WINNERS ANNOUNCED DECEMBER 11TH.

christmas-military-book-giveaway-bannerIn honor of my son serving in the Air Force and deployed to the Middle East, I am having a giveaway to thank those brave, unselfish men and women who serve in the US Military. As any reader knows, reading can be a great escape to help ease homesickness which strikes harder during the holidays.

Do you have a family member or close friend serving in the US military who will be on deployment over the Christmas holidays? If so, I’d like to thank you and them by giving him or her a free book. Several other authors have generously donated a book (some donated several) to this loving cause, so you have many genres from which to choose. If your serviceman or woman is chosen in the random drawing, he or she will receive the author-signed book of your choice.

Pretend you are in a bookstore shopping for your serviceman or woman. What would he or she like? Simply browse through the novels listed here–we have everything from sweet historical romance to adventure, fantasy to speculative fiction, and even military-themed action stories! Once you’ve chosen a book, go to the Rafflecopter below, and scroll through the books listed in the Rafflecopter until you find the book you’d like to give. Follow the directions to enter. It’s easy!

BTW, if you find a book you want to read, most titles are a live link to Amazon so you can order your own copy today.

Remember, this is a drawing so there are no guarantees.

Winners must be active duty in US military serving away from home during the 2016 holiday season.

Winners will be announced December 2, 2016 ***EXTENDED: THE CONTEST WILL REMAIN OPEN UNTIL DECEMBER 10TH. WINNERS ANNOUNCED DECEMBER 11TH.***

Here are your book choices:

heartstrings2_fullHeartstrings by Donna Hatch (3 copies)

Gently bred young ladies don’t run away from home to find employment, but when forced to choose between marrying a brutish oaf or becoming another man’s mistress, Susanna makes an unconventional decision. Following her passion for music, she flees to London with dreams of securing a position as a harpist. Becoming entangled with a handsome violinist who calls himself Kit, but who seems too aristocratic for a working-class musician, may be more problematic than sleeping in the streets.

Kit’s attention is captured by Susanna’s breath-taking talent, admirable grace, and winsome smiles…until a lawman exposes the new harpist as a runaway bride and a thief. With peril lurking in the shadows, Susanna’s imminent danger not only forces Kit to choose between his better judgment and his heart, but he must also embrace the life to which he swore he would never return.

Undercover Target by Frank Holdaway (2 copies)undercover-target2

When Matt Knight left his career as a spy to marry the woman of his dreams, he thought he was in for a life of domestic bliss. But after adopting a baby girl and her teenage brother from China, he finds that being a father comes with its own set of challenges— problems for which his work as an antiterrorism agent did nothing to prepare him. Or so he thought. When a Scout campout with his teenage son takes a terrifying turn, Matt realizes his past and present have just collided, with devastating consequences.

Deep in the rugged mountains of Utah, a band of mercenaries lies in wait. The target: Matt Knight. Their orders come from a dangerous enemy from the former agent’s past, one who is bent on destroying everything Matt holds dear. While struggling to protect his son and the other Scouts, Matt is horrified to learn the full extent of the plan: his wife and baby have been taken too. Now the agent-turned-family-man must draw on his years of combat training in an explosive battle to save those he loves— or die trying.

uncommon_blueAn Uncommon Blue by R. C. Hancock

In Télesphore, the glowing color of a person’s palm determines their place in society, and touching hands with another mixes the colors permanently. When sixteen-year-old Bruno accidentally kills a royal soldier, he goes from favored to fugitive. Now Bruno’s only chance at survival is to become someone else. That means a haircut, a change of wardrobe, and most important, getting rid of his once cherished Blue. Now he’s visiting parts of town he never knew existed, and making friends with people he would’ve crossed the street to avoid only weeks ago. At the last minute, Bruno’s parents arrange a deal to clear his name and get his life back. All Bruno has to do is abandon those in the Red slums that look to him as a leader and let an innocent Green boy die in his place.

thumbprint-cover-pic-1000-pixelsThe Dragons of Alsace Farm by Laurie Lewis (2 copies)

The granting of a favor lands loner Noah Carter on ramshackle Alsace Farm, owned by Agnes Deveraux Keller, a French WWII survivor with dementia. The unique friendship that develops between the unlikely pair is threatened when Agnes’s estranged granddaughter, Tayte, arrives save her grandmother, even if it requires her to betray the secret Agnes has guarded for seventy years.

The issue strains the fragile trust between Tayte and Noah, who now realizes Tayte is hiding her own secrets. Her own dragons. Ill-equipped to help either woman, he remembers Agnes’s example of courage and love. In order to save Agnes, the student must now become the teacher, helping Tayte heal—for Agnes’s sake, and for his.

Emerald Bound by Teresa Richards (1 copy)

emeraldboundevernightpublishing-jayaheer2015-finalcover
A princess, a pea, and a tower of mattresses. This is the sliver that survives of a story more nightmare than fairy tale.

Maggie Rhodes, high school junior and semi-reformed stalker, learns the tale’s true roots after a spying attempt goes awry and her best friend Kate ends up as the victim of an ancient curse. At the center of the curse lies an enchanted emerald that has been residing quietly in a museum for the past fifty years. Admirers of the gem have no idea that it feeds on life. Or that it’s found its next victim in Kate.

Enter Lindy, a school acquaintance who knows more than she’s letting on, and Garon, a handsome stranger claiming he knows how to help, and Maggie is left wondering who to trust and how to save her best friend before it’s too late.

If only Maggie knew her connection to the fairy tale was rooted far deeper than an endangered best friend.

detrimentDetriment by Christoff Orr (5 copies)

All it takes is one moment, one event for evil to take hold and change a nation.  When America’s power grid was knocked out, all was lost. No longer the land of the free, but the land of the oppressed and ruled.  Follow the brave men and women who fought back, who risked everything in order to reclaim what mattered most, Freedom.  The Lost Nation Series is a compelling story of survival and sacrifice.  A story, though fiction, that is based on a very real possibility. What would you do, if your own country turned against you? How would you survive? Are you prepared? Are you willing to fight, to save a Nation lost in itself?

nopeacewiththedawncoverNo Peace with the Dawn by EB Wheeler (2 copies)

 In 1917, the Great War seems far from Logan, Utah, but soon it will transform the lives of Marine Corps volunteer Reed, suffragette Clara, Swiss-German immigrant Trudi, and Shoshone seeking U.S. citizenship Joseph. This novel weaves real events with compelling fictional characters into a sweeping tale of war, romance, self-discovery, and sacrifice.

wilds_wanda_luceIn the Wilds of Devon by Wanda Luce (1 copy)

Lord Rupert Carrington, former captain in finds Majesty’s Royal Navy, finds diversion and adventure by helping the London detectives of Bow Street take down criminals. When Rupert ferrets out a ring of smugglers and is marked for death, the prince regent banishes him to a remote corner of England, where he is only to be known by his title of captain, until the villains are arrested and brought to court. On the first day of Rupert’s exile to the “wilds of Devon,” he meets Alexandra Dancy, a beautiful, but impoverished, country miss whose complex character and extraordinary courage stir in him a degree of affection and admiration he has not yet felt.

Alexandra and her family hide their aristocratic origins to protect a dark secret known to only one man, Cecil Bedford, who wields a cruel power over them. Can Rupert save her from Bedford’s clutches and topple the seemingly insurmountable barriers to winning her love and her hand?

soul_wand_luceThe Soul of a Lady by Wanda Luce (1 copy)

At six and twenty, Lydia Hathaway has endured years of heartbreak, longing for a love that never came. Her deceased fathers foolhardiness has left her family bankrupt, and she is eventually left no alternative but to take a position as a companion to Susan Ashcroft of Danbury Park in Surrey. Early one morning, Lydia rambles across the muddy wilds of the Ashcroft estate, where she has a most unimaginable encounter with Connor Parkhurst, the notorious Viscount Denton. As their paths continue to cross, Lydia falls ever deeper in love with the charming rogue while battling against his growing assault on her heart. In spite of his forward attentions, she considers his behavior toward her as nothing more than idle flirtation. And why should she think otherwise? As the wealthy son of an earl, Lord Denton may choose from among the most beautiful women of England’s first circles. Tormented in a relentless battle to suppress a love she cannot overcome, Lydia resolves to leave the Ashcrofts and Danbury Park forever. After all, she is nothing to Lord Denton isn’t she?

Finding Sheba by HB Moore (1 copy)

51nip-2rebl-_sx332_bo1204203200_For centuries, historians have speculated that the Queen of Sheba is nothing more than a seductive legend; but when undercover agent Omar Zagouri finds a tomb in a tunnel beneath Jerusalem, he unearths cryptic clues that may lead to the queen’s final resting place.

This discovery, if authentic, could throw into question the governmental claim to the Holy Land—and prove the Bible false. Wealthy collectors, ruthless archaeologists, and officials from Egypt, Ethiopia, Israel, and Yemen scramble to find and lay claim to the secret site.

Dr. Richard Lyon of Brown University, the world’s leading expert on the queen, is found murdered in his office, setting off a chain of deadly events. Omar desperately works to piece together the puzzle to locate the queen’s burial ground, fearing another assassination will take place. He teams up with one of Lyon’s protégées as well as with his ex-girlfriend, agent Mia Golding, in order to unravel the truth about the queen, expose a murderer, and reveal a timeless story of love, revenge, and sacrifice.

existenceExistence, (book 1 in the Quantum Faith Effect series) by Carolyn Twede Frank (1copy)

Genre: YA speculative fiction with inspirational and historical twists
 
What if a book really could take you into another world?

A strange girl …
A creepy teacher …
A cool invention …
And the hardest question anyone has ever been asked. 

Josh Sawyer’s big mouth usually gets him in trouble, but when his high school debate coach challenges him to prove the existence of God, Josh uses the things he learns at the feet of such amazing people as Joan of Arc, William Tyndale, and George Washington while traveling through books to prove his point . . . and ultimately to solve a murder. 

jpeg-coverElemental by Tiffany Dominguez (1 ebook copy)

Hidden within the Blue Ridge Mountains, an elite private school trains students born with the Elemental powers of Earth, Air, Fire and Water. Luke Huntington, Earth Elemental, is tired of incompetent teachers, easy classes and most of all, competing with Eva Sarantos. Soon-to-be valedictorian Eva, Air Elemental, has trained for years for the chance to prove herself to her advisor, to the Council and to the infuriating Luke. In spite of their tricky past, these two high school seniors are paired together on a covert mission for the ruling body of the Elemental world. After destroying an airplane hangar and watching one of their closest teachers die in their defense, the two students fly to Italy, pursued by an army of black-cloaked elitists. In Italy, they discover Luke’s ancient legacy, the secrets of two of the most powerful men in history and whether they can overcome their own tricky past to team up against a secret society gathering forces in the highest ranks of world leadership.

Big unnamedin Japan by Jennifer Griffith (1 copy)

Buck Cooper can’t remember when he became socially invisible-probably when he hit 300 pounds. Now he’s working a dead end job, getting no notice from his boss and no love from the cute secretary he pines for. But when he gets shanghaied to Tokyo, all of that changes for the mild-mannered Buck-because this blond Texan is about to go sumo! Peek inside the secret world of sumo, and cheer for Buck as he fights his way through the ranks- against bullies of incredible size-to win the heart of the girl he loves.

 the-seerThe Seer by Jared Garrett (1 copy)

Nathan gains insight into people’s souls from the ancient cloak of Joseph and has to dodge assassins and stop a murderous, cursed traitor.

lakhoniLakhoni by Jared Garrett(1 copy)

Lakhoni faces assassins, terrifying conditions, family betrayal, and a harrowing journey to find and kill the king who murdered his family. 

healing-stoneHealing Stone by Brock Boohe (1 copy)

Abandoned in a graveyard and a mother who was never found — that’s all Stone Molony knows about his birth. But now he needs to know more. A tragic accident has awakened a powerful gift inside him that changes everything. As the town stirs up around him, Stone journeys through corruption, racism, and violence to uncover the truth about his past.

unnamedThe Charity Chip by Brock Booher(1 copy)

 Life on the streets of Lima is already difficult for Julio, but now that digital money has replaced hard currency, survival is virtually impossible. Isak comes to his rescue and offers him a chance at a better life through a hi-tech humanitarian program. The only catch is a microchip implanted between the thumb and forefinger of the hand. At first life improves dramatically, but when another participant dies mysteriously, Julio suspects that the chip does more than just dispense charity. Now he must uncover the truth behind the charity chip before someone else suffers the same fate.
dangerous-obsession

Dangerous Obsession by M.M. Roethig

A dancer and a Marine—two worlds collide.

Chloe Johnson is no stranger to the spotlight. A prestigious member of the LA Laker Girls, she’s in the public eye regularly. Her world is perfect.Eric Taylor, on the other hand, is damaged, both body and spirit. Injured overseas, he returns home with fresh physical wounds, invisible emotional scars, and a bad attitude.

When Chloe becomes the object of affection to an unknown stalker, she must leave her life behind and rely on a total stranger, and the only man she’s ever met who’s never happy to see her—Eric. Can she trust this hardened soldier with her life?

Slayers by C.J. Hill (aka Janette Rallison)

slayersDragons exist. They’re ferocious. And, in this novel from C. J. Hill, they’re smart: before they were killed off by slayer-knights, they rendered a select group of eggs dormant so their offspring would survive. Only a handful of people know about this, let alone believe it―these “Slayers” are descended from the original knights and are now a diverse group of teens that includes Tori, a smart but spoiled senator’s daughter who didn’t sign up to save the world.

The dragon eggs have fallen into the wrong hands. The Slayers must work together to stop the eggs from hatching. They will fight; they will fall in love. But will they survive?

Drawing out the Dragons: a Meditation on Art, 15045754_10211563460226982_539114594_nDestiny, and the Power of Choice, the original paperback edition by James A. Owen (10 copies)

I believe in you. You have a great destiny. You are meant for great things. And it s possible to live a wonderful, extraordinary life.” That is the promise offered by bestselling author and illustrator James A. Owen in this remarkable and inspirational meditation. In Drawing Out the Dragons, James shares personal stories and the deep truths he learned while navigating past obstacles and adversity toward a life of lasting belief and joy. We all have a grand destiny, but sometimes we feel we lack the power to achieve it. But we always have the power to choose. Every drawing, every life, is nothing but a series of choices and actions. Make your lines. Make your choices. . . . What you create from there is entirely up to you. Drawing Out the Dragons has the power to uplift, inspire, and change your life.
Did you find a book your US military loved one would enjoy? Go to the Rafflecopter below, scroll through the books listed until you find the book you’d like to give. Follow the directions to enter. It’s easy!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The King’s Theatre, London

250px-opera_house_haymarket_editedToday a prominent theater in London is the the Haymarket Opera house, also known as the Queen’s theater which has shown critically-acclaimed, Broadway-style productions such as Les Miserables and Phantom of the Opera. This theatre has a long history from the time of Queen Anne. It has gone by many names: the Queen’s, the King’s, Her Majesty’s, His Majesty’s, and even simply, The Opera House.

In 1789, this theatre suffered near-total destruction due to a fire believed to be set by a disgruntled ex-employee. It again suffered that same tragedy in 1867. Each time, it was rebuilt. In 1890’s it was demolished and rebuilt to include “modern” features. Today, it is still decorated with a definite flair for the Edwardian Era.

The theatre’s financial success has undergone the same turbulence as its structure. Initially, the Opera realized only modest success in London, and it faced closures on and off throughout its existence. It wasn’t until Handel performed that such entertainment became popular. Between 1785 and 1830, if featured works by sixteen different composers.

Operas and ballets were performed in this theatre, and soon going to the theatre became a fashionable pastime for the rich and poor alike, with seating to accommodate every income level. Those wealthy enough to purchase seats in the boxes were spared having the sit with those of the lower classes, which, of course, members of the beau monde would have found intolerable. Over time, going to the theatre to see and be seen became more important than watching the production and there are numerous reports of the audience noise level being so loud that one could hardly hear the music or singing.

haymarket-fig45Not every Opera house had an orchestra pit, but this was did as of a remodeling  1782. In addition to adding the pit, stage was reduced in depth to add length to an auditorium planned on the conventional lines of an Italian opera house, with a large pit and five shallow tiers of horseshoe form.

According to British History Online:

George Saunders, in his Treatise on Theatres (1790), describes the building at this stage of its existence. ‘The form was then made an oblong rounded off at the end opposite the stage. The length was, from the stage-front [apron] to the opposite boxes, about 58 feet, and 23 feet more to the scene; the breadth between the boxes 43 feet; and the height 44 feet from the centre of the pit to the ceiling. There were three ranges of boxes, 34 in each range, besides 18 in a line with the gallery; in all 116, allowing the space of two for entrances into the pit. Each box was from 5 to 6 feet wide, from 7 to 7 feet 6 inches high, and 6 feet deep.’

haymarket-fig46‘…a chain of foyers extended across the north end. The carriage entrance was in the Haymarket, where patrons passed through a vestibule into an apse-ended hall containing the grand staircase. The short middle flight descended to the pit and the two side flights ascended to the second-tier level, where the horseshoe corridor serving the principal boxes was approached by way of two linked foyers, an octagon and a rotunda, the last centred on the main axis of the auditorium. West of the rotunda was an oblong hall containing the staircase from the chairs’ entrance in Market Lane. All the box corridors were served by two staircases, rising in semi-circular wells formed in the north-east and north-west spandrels. The ‘portrait’ plan shows secondary staircases of spiral form at the proscenium end of the corridors, but these, if built, would have been demolished in 1796 when the auditorium was lengthened. Novosielski’s original arrangement of the auditorium is shown in an engraved ‘Plan of the Boxes of the New King’s Theatre—September 1790’. (fn. 206) There were five closely spaced tiers of horseshoe form, the first three each divided into 37 boxes. The fourth tier contained the gallery with 13 boxes on each side. The central part of the fifth tier was omitted to give headroom for the gallery, and each arm contained 13 boxes. In all, there were 163 boxes in the tiers, and 8 pit-boxes on each side of the capacious pit.’

In my book, Heart Strings, I take a deeper look at the lives of those who performed in the King’s Theatre through the eyes of my hero and heroine who are musicians in the orchestra.

Here is the backcover blurb from my newest novel, Heart Strings:

heartstrings2_fullGently bred young ladies don’t run away from home to find employment, but when forced to choose between marrying a brutish oaf or becoming another man’s mistress, Susanna makes an unconventional decision. Following her passion for music, she flees to London with dreams of securing a position as a harpist. Becoming entangled with a handsome violinist who calls himself Kit, but who seems more an aristocrat than an ordinary musician, may be even more problematic than sleeping in the streets. Kit’s attention is captured by Susanna’s breath-taking talent, admirable grace, and winsome smiles…until a lawman exposes the new harpist both a runaway bride and a thief. Now Kit must not only choose between his better judgement and his heart, but must also embrace the life to which he swore he’d never return.

Available on Amazon.

 

Sources:
British History Online

Theatre Historian, Margaret Evans Porter

 

Halloween Chocolate Giveaway

sharis-berries-halloween*****Contest now closed****

Congratulations, Danielle. In a random drawing, you were chosen as the winner of the chocolate giveaway! I will contact you at the email address you provided to get your mailing address. Thanks to everyone who entered!

*****Contest now closed****

I am geeky about all holidays, and as an American, I celebrate Halloween. What better way than to celebrate with chocolate? I am giving away some yummy treats to celebrate Halloween to my fans and followers. This treat includes 6 fancy chocolate-covered strawberries, and three fun Halloween cake pops from Shari’s Berries. To enter, simply answer the question in the comments below: what is your favorite treat–Halloween  or otherwise? And please leave your email address so I can’t contact you.

That’s it! Names will be randomly drawn Wednesday, October 26 at 6 p.m. Pacific Time so check back to see if you are a winner. Good luck!

Rules:

No purchase necessary

Offer valid only in US and Canada

Blog Tour for Courting the Countess and Lots of Chances to Win!

On Tour with Prism Book Tours.

Book Tour Grand Finale & Release Celebration for
Courting the Countess
By Donna Hatch

How can a convenient marriage that saves two men from dueling also win over two hearts? Check out the tour stops you may have missed and grab a copy, AVAILABLE NOW!

Launch – Fun Facts About Courting the Countess and Donna Hatch

What’s one thing readers would find unique or interesting?

Donna Hatch is reinventing the Clean and Wholesome romance novel with her unique style, weaving virtue and values into her stories, rich in authentic historical culture, and sweet yet sizzling romantic chemistry suitable for all readers of Regency romance.

Mel’s Shelves – Character Descriptions

At his silence, she glanced at him before her eyes darted away. Then, perhaps because she’d seen something reassuring, or unexpected, she met his gaze. Her clear, gray-green eyes danced back and forth between his as if to divine his thoughts.

deal sharing aunt – Interview

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating COURTING THE COUNTESS?

I learned sometimes characters come with their own backstories and decisions no matter what I have planned for them….which sounds neurotic, but, hey, that’s an author’s mind.

Nicole’s Book Musings – Excerpt

“Get your hands off my sister!” a voice snarled.

Tristan snapped his head back and stepped away. Alone, Elizabeth wobbled on her feet. Her brother, Martindale, stalked into view, bristling like an angry dog.

Book Lover in Florida – Rules of Dueling in Regency England

In England, dueling was part of a long-standing code of honor, far beyond a mere tradition. Gentlemen took their dueling very seriously; they would rather die than be dishonored. Does your heart go pitter patter just at the sound of that?

Falling Leaves – Excerpt

“This is my problem. I’ll duel him.”

“Absolutely not. I don’t mean to stand by and watch you get shot, or stabbed by a rapier. Even though you deserve it.”

Katie’s Clean Book Collection – Review

“I adore the way this story thrusts the reader back into Regency England. I felt like I was there, experiencing the sights and sounds of London during this time. My attention was captured and never released. There’s more than just a lovely romance to this story and I enjoyed those key elements, as they really added to the flavor and gave some meat to the book.”

Bookworm Lisa – Review

“I enjoyed the book. I liked getting to know Elizabeth and Richard and hoped they would find a happy life together. There were a few parts that seemed a little drawn out to me, but I did not loose interest in the story or the characters. This is a fun book to read just for the pleasure of a good clean romance.”

Getting Your Read On – Review

“I love how this story unfolded, bit by bit. The more I knew about both Richard and Elizabeth, the more I loved them. Each had personal demons that tormented them daily, and kept them from letting go and loving. It was quite a journey for these two but it was well worth it as a reader.”

Becky on Books – Interview

What are you working on right now? What can readers look for from you in the next year?

I am juggling several stories right now; book two of Courting the Countess, book five of the Rogue Hearts series, book two of Songs of the Heart series, and I am trying to brainstorm a novella for another Timeless Regency Romance which will be out next spring.

Zerina Blossom’s Books – 10 Ways to Steal a Kiss

5 Ways to Steal a Kiss from a Lady

1. Catch her unaware, kiss her with firm yet gentle pressure, grin, touch her cheek, then saunter off while she’s still shocked and staring.

Wishful Endings – Stealing Kisses and Avoiding Scandal

Stealing kisses, and especially losing one’s virtue, was supposed to be very difficult during the Regency. Vigilant chaperones kept a sharp eye out on young ladies to protect both their reputation and their virtue. It was more than simple morality, more than keeping a marriage vow. It had less to do with love and loyalty and more to do with ensuring the purity of the line.

Kindle and Me – Review

“But in the end, I loved how Richard learns to love Elizabeth and the lengths he would go for her. Elizabeth too would do anything for Richard. The ending is absolutely perfect.”

The Silver Dagger Scriptorium – Regency Arranged Marriages

The idea that we’d let our parents or guardians arranged our marriages leaves the modern day man and woman laughing–or possibly cringing. Yet this was a common custom throughout history in nearly every country of the world. (Indeed, it still exists in some countries.) I’m sure a few of those marriages ended up as love matches, while most grew into a merely mutual amiability born of a determination to make the most of a difficult situation. However, many were supremely miserable.

Bookworm Nation – Review

“Elizabeth and Richard were great charaters to follow, I thought they had great chemistry and it was fun to be along on their bumpy ride to love. Overall, another hit from Ms. Hatch, I really enjoyed this one and look forward to reading it again!”

Heidi Reads… – Review

“Some suspense comes into play in the later part of the book when the family is placed in danger and it added another dimension to the story. Overall I enjoyed the interactions between Richard and Elizabeth the most as they slowly get to know each other’s true character and not just what they assumed from first impressions.”

I Am A Reader – Seven Ways to Win the Love of Your Betrothed Wife

Winning the love of a woman who already gave her heart to another can be problematic. Still, with a little patience and imagination, hearts can be turned.

Don’t forget to also enter the giveaway below…

Courting the Countess by [Hatch, Donna]

Courting the Countess
by Donna Hatch
Adult Historical Romance
Paperback & ebook, 388 pages
October 5th 2016 by The Wild Rose Press, Inc

When charming rake Tristan Barrett sweeps Lady Elizabeth off her feet, stealing both her heart and a kiss in a secluded garden, her brother challenges Tristan to a duel. The only way to save her brother and Tristan from harm—not to mention preserve her reputation—is to get married. But her father, the Duke of Pemberton, refuses to allow his daughter to marry anyone but a titled lord. The duke demands that Elizabeth marry Tristan’s older brother, Richard, the Earl of Averston. Now Elizabeth must give up Tristan to marry a man who despises her, a man who loves another, a man she’ll never love.

Richard fears Elizabeth is as untrustworthy as his mother, who ran off with another man. However, to protect his brother from a duel and their family name from further scandal, he agrees to the wedding, certain his new bride will betray him. Yet when Elizabeth turns his house upside down and worms her way into his reluctant heart, Richard suspects he can’t live without his new countess. Will she stay with him or is it too little, too late?

GoodreadsAmazonBarnes & NobleThe Wild Rose Press

Donna Hatch is the author of the best-selling “Rogue Hearts Series,” and a winner of writing awards such as The Golden Quill and the International Digital Award. A hopeless romantic and adventurer at heart, she discovered her writing passion at the tender age of 8 and has been listening to those voices ever since. She has become a sought-after workshop presenter, and also juggles freelance editing, multiple volunteer positions, and most of all, her six children (seven, counting her husband). A native of Arizona who recently transplanted to the Pacific Northwest, she and her husband of over twenty five years are living proof that there really is a happily ever after.

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Letters to Soldiers in Regency England During the Napoleonic War

la_rendicion_de_bailen_casado_del_alisal

                                        La Rendición de Bailén (Casado del Alisal)

During much of the Regency, England waged war with France — more specifically, with Napoleon Bonaparte who seemed bent on taking over the world. The Napoleonic War spanned roughly sixteen years, from 1799 to 1815 (including one-year of peace after which fighting broke out again.) Battles raged across much of Europe which meant thousands of men and boys of all ages, and yes, even a few women, left their homes to fight a war overseas to stop the “Corsican Monster.”

My son left his home, wife, and infant daughter, and deployed to the Middle East for an eight-month tour of duty — his second in two years. We’ve been emailing him and corresponding with him via FB and instant messages, but I recently learned from his sweet wife how important physical letters and packages are to soldiers serving overseas. Those brave men and women who serve their country want desperately to stay connected with friends and family, to feel as if they are still a part of the life they left behind. Mail call becomes the highlight of the day, with each member serving in the armed forces anxiously awaiting a note or letter or package from home.

As a history nerd and historical romance author, I did some reading about rules and conventions of sending letters to soldiers during the Regency. Normally, a lady and a gentleman did not write a letter to one another unless they were married or engaged to be married. In Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, Elinor assumes her sister and the rascally Willoughby must have an agreement akin to a formal engagement because they write letters to one another.  Jane Fairfax’s letters to Frank Churchill was a clue they were engaged. Her frequent trips to the post office led people to assume they were corresponding and that they had a formal understanding.

However, as noted Regency researcher Nancy Mayer pointed out, Miss Milbanke carried on a correspondence with Lord Byron as friends before  marriage was thought of and continued to correspond after she refused him.
Apparently, parents decided to whom a young lady could correspond. That may have been partly because the recipient paid for 1813-ackermann-regency-morning-dressthe letter. I’m sure the parents’ opinion of the gentleman’s character and merit as a prospective spouse for their daughter influenced their decision. They might allow letters between the young lady and the gentleman in question if they hoped for a good match, or if they trusted his intentions.
Even a determined young lady might find it difficult to write a secret letter. Letters were put out on a tray to be mailed, so anyone could see the addresses on the outside. Also, servants delivered incoming post to the father and he distributed it. Additionally, it was customary for parents to open the letters addressed to their children. They probably stopped when the sons were of age, but often continued to do so for daughters. Letters received were generally read to the whole family. Only after a formal engagement might a girl be allowed to have her letters to herself.
I like to think that the rules might have been more flexible with writing to soldiers. Letters from home are important to a serviceman and woman’s morale, and I’m sure that truth was as important 200 years ago as it is today. Perhaps a parent during the Regency might be persuaded to break convention and allow a correspondence in the name of supporting the troops, as it were. I certainly hope so.
If you know someone serving overseas in any branch of the military, I hope you’ll take a moment to send a letter. Don’t worry, it probably won’t start any rumors of romantic involvement.  😉

Cover Reveal for new Regency Historical Romance Novel

I’m super excited to share with you the cover for my new book titled Courting the Countess. This all-new novel launches a new series, but still features a few characters you may recognize from my Rogue Hearts Series. And since this series pre-dates the Rogue Hearts, you’ll even get the meet the parents of the unconventional Amesbury siblings.

Haven’t read the Rogue Hearts? No worries; this is a stand-alone novel so you can start with this one if you are so inclined.

So, are you ready to see the new cover?

Okay, here we go:

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Ta da!

Isn’t it lovely?

This new novel will be available to purchase in October, but can be pre-ordered now so you don’t have to remember to order it when it is released. Just follow this link to pre-order your copy now.

Here is the back cover blurb for Courting the Countess:

When charming rake Tristan Barrett sweeps Lady Elizabeth off her feet, stealing both her heart and a kiss in a secluded garden, her brother challenges Tristan to a duel. The only way to save her brother and Tristan from harm—not to mention preserve her reputation—is to get married. But her father, the Duke of Pemberton, refuses to allow his daughter to marry anyone but a titled lord. The duke demands that Elizabeth marry Tristan’s older brother, Richard, the Earl of Averston. Now Elizabeth must give up Tristan to marry a man who despises her, a man who loves another, a man she’ll never love.

Richard fears Elizabeth is as untrustworthy as his mother, who abandoned him when she ran off with another man. However, to protect his brother from a duel and their family name from further scandal, he agrees to wedding Lady Elizabeth, certain his new bride will betray him. Yet when Elizabeth turns his house upside down and worms her way into his reluctant heart, Richard suspects he can’t live without his new countess. Will she stay with him or is it too little, too late?

Pre-order your copy of Courting the Countess here.

 

5 Fun Facts About Regency England

I share these with you partly to set the record straight about some common misconceptions, and partly just to celebrate the unique and remarkable era we know as the Regency.

chocolate_typesChocolate — Chocolate was a bitter, hot drink like coffee, not the decadent dessert we know today. It was considered very decadent and only the finest chefs knew how to prepare it. Therefore, only the very rich drank it.

Ankles — It was not scandalous for ladies to show their ankles. In fact, several drawings and engravings of the era show ladies with skirts barely reaching their ankles. Since their dancing slippers were similar to today’s ballerina flats, the ankles were clearly visible. As shoe styles changed from slippers into boots of the Victorian Era, it also became a sign of modesty to keep one’s ankles covered.  Hence, showing ankles was scandalous during the Victorian Era, but not the Regency Era.regency-ball

Unmentionables — Ladies did not wear anything under their gowns except a shift or a chemise, stays which are similar to a corset but less restrictive, and stockings. Layers of petticoats would have messed up the slender silhouette of the Regency gowns. During very cold weather, ladies may have worn petticoats to stay warm however, it was not a common practice. And no, ladies did not wear pantaloons or pantalets either–those appeared during the next era along with all the layers of petticoats.

Annulments — Marriages in Regency England could not be annulled by non-consummation. Period.

breadStale Bread — Due to the Napoleonic War and subsequent blockages, wheat was hard to come by. This meant that bread, a main staple in the Englishman’s diet, became scarce. In an attempt to prevent a massive shortage, Parliament passed the Stale Bread Act. This outlawed the sale and/or consumption of fresh bread, and only allow stale bread, or bread baked more than 24 hours ago, to be sold. Apparently stale bread filled bellies faster than fresh bread. Penalties for offense were severe, but as you can imagine, it was very hard to enforce. The government repealed it about a year later but the shortage persisted until after the war ended.

 

 

The London Season

regency ball drawing room (2)If you’ve ever read a Regency or Victorian Romance, or even a British historical novel set in the 18th or 19th century, you’ve probably come across the word “Season” (capitalized). Season does not refer to winter or spring but rather to the social whirl among the upper crust of British society during the spring. The Season originally began as a way for the families of men serving in Parliament to amuse themselves while staying in London, and so it remained for generations. Most families did not travel from their country estates to London during the autumn or winter months due to weather-related travel difficulties. However, after Easter, they were ready for society.

The dates which Parliament met varied from year to year. According to noted Regency researcher and author, Regina Scott, Parliament was in session during the following times:

  • 1 November 1810 to 24 July 1811
  • 7 January 1812 to 30 July 1812
  • General election: 5 October to 10 November 1812
  • 24 November 1812 to 22 July 1813
  • 4 November 1813 to 30 July 1814
  • 8 November 1814 to 12 July 1815
  • 1 Feb 1816 to 2 July 1816
  • 28 January 1817 to 12 July 1817
  • 27 January 1818 to 10 June 1818
  • General election: 15 June to 25 July 1818
  • 14 January 1819 to 13 July 1819, before the 16 August 1819 Peterloo Massacre
  • 23 November 1819 to 28 February 1820 (special session because of the massacre but ending early because of the death of George III)
  • General election: 6 March to 14 April 1820
  • 21 April to 23 November 1820 (including a special session beginning the third week of August for the trial of Queen Caroline).

Regency Lady in whiteParliament always went into recess for Lent, which precedes Easter. When Members of Parliament, also referred to as MPs, returned to London after Easter, they typically brought their families, especially if they had sons and/or daughters of marriageable age to participate in what was often referred to as the “marriage mart.”

The focus was not always to find a spouse. Some families simply came to renew acquaintances and amuse themselves after wintering in the country. Regardless, the ton descended on London en masse. Activities varied but popular amusements were dinner parties, balls, musicales, attending the theater or the opera, visiting museums, going riding in the park, visiting private zoos, and riding hot air balloons, to name a few.

There were also the coveted vouchers for weekly balls at Almack’s Assembly Rooms where the Patronesses kept a tight rein over who would and would not be granted entrance based on family connections and behavior. Young ladies wishing to dance the scandalous new dance called the waltz had to first receive permission from the Patronesses, Lady Jersey, Lady Cowper, Countess Leiven, Mrs. Drummond-Burrell, Lady Castlereagh, Lady Sefton, and Princess Esterhazy.

The London Season was also crucial for the working class. The wealthy arriving in London needed servants for their town homes because they typically transported very few of their servants from house to house. If a family did not own a house in London, they rented a townhouse. They also shopped. A lot. Ladies absolutely had to have fine gowns as well as shoes, hats, gloves, reticules—you name it. The wealthy attended the theatre and opera, which meant more performers and all those employed by the theatres were needed. As you can imagine, the cost to attending a season in London was staggering, but most considered it a worthwhile investment if their children found a good match.

In short, much of the prosperity of London depended on the Season and the beau monde who peopled it. Merchants and craftsmen earned a living, and the wealthy amused themselves and secure the future of their lines. It seems to have worked pretty well for most.

heartstrings2_fullThe London Season plays a major role in my book, Heart Strings, but not in the usual way.

When forced to choose between marrying a brutish oaf or becoming another man’s mistress, Susanna she flees to London with dreams of becoming a professional harpist. Entangling herself with a handsome violinist who calls himself Kit may be more problematic than sleeping in the streets.

With peril lurking in the shadows, Susanna’s imminent danger not only forces Kit to choose between his better judgment and his heart, but he must also embrace the life to which he swore he would never return.

Heart Strings is available now in Kindle here and paper back here.

 

 

Sources:

http://www.reginascott.com/parliament.htm

https://www.janeausten.co.uk/the-patronesses-of-almacks-the-arbiters-of-london-respectibility/