Giveaway, The Guise of a Gentleman

theguiseofagentlemanSince I have a new cover for my Regency romance, The Guise of a Gentleman, book 2 of the Rogue Hearts Series, the original version (pictured to the left) has been discontinued and is no longer available. However, I have some paperback copies on hand with this original cover, and I don’t want to sell them at book signings, because, well, it’s the old cover.

So, what’s an author with extra paperback copies to do? Give them away!

If you’d like a free paperback copy of The Guise of a Gentleman, just enter the Rafflecopter below with your name and email address so I can notify you if I draw your name. Never entered Rafflecopter? Don’t worry; it’s super easy.

I have 5 copies to give away, so your odds of winning are excellent.

Here is the back cover blurb:

The widowed Elise is a perfect English lady living within the confines of society for the sake of her impressionable young son. Her quiet world is shattered when she meets the impulsive and scandalous Jared Amesbury. His roguish charm awakens her yearning for adventure. But his irrepressible grin and sea-green eyes hide a secret.

A gentleman by day, a pirate by night, Jared must complete one last assignment from the Secret Service before he can be truly free. Elise gives him hope that he, too, can find love and belonging. His hopes are crushed when his best laid plans go awry and Elise is dragged into his world of violence and deceit. She may not survive the revelation of Jared’s past…or still love him when the truth is TheGuiseofaGentleman_432revealed.

And, just in case you’re curious, here is a picture of the new cover to the right :)

Sooo…for the giveaway, enter this Rafflecopter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Chocolate, an age-old love

Since I’m up to my eyeballs with planning details for my daughter’s wedding next month, I’m re-posting a popular post on chocolate from a few years ago. I hope you enjoy it (again).

I am a total chocolate fan. Well, perhaps I should say, I have a sweet tooth that demands something creamy and decadent. I’m not really a chocolate connoisseur, and I prefer milk chocolate to dark, which apparently, proves I’m don’t have a sophisticated pallet. Whatever. If it’s sweet and creamy and sinful, I love it.

This made me wonder; what was candy, and more specifically, chocolate, like in Regency England? Or were my poor heroines in my Regency romance novels all doomed to life without chocolate?

People of Regency England had quite a variety, actually. These were not the chocolate drops such as we can buy today and were not like a box of Russell Stover or Godiva chocolates. But there WERE candies, among them, chocolate. In Savoring the Past: The French Kitchen and Table from 1300 to1789, culinary historian Barbara Ketcham Wheaton cites a respected 1750 cookbook that specialized in desserts:

“There are also some chocolate candies: the still familiar diablotins — flat disks of bitter chocolate, thickly sprinkled with nonpareils, chocolate “olives” (which we call chocolate truffles), and a conserve of chocolate, which turns out to be very like fudge.”

There were also ices much like our Italian Ice, ice creams, and custards flavored with chocolate, though of course Wheaton adds that “dipped chocolates… were not invented until the nineteenth century.”

Unfortunately, there aren’t any chocolate recipes included in the two dozen or so Wheaton reprints. Although this is a book about France and not England, many French chefs employed by aristocrats decamped for England after the revolution, so it makes sense to use it as a resource for writing Regency Romance Novels.

“In 1657 the first chocolate house was opened in London by a Frenchman. The shop was called the The Coffee Mill and Tobacco Roll. They served what would look to us like hot chocolate. Costing 10 to 15 shillings per pound, chocolate was considered a beverage for the elite class. 1674 – Eating solid chocolate was introduced in the form of chocolate rolls and cakes, served in chocolate emporiums. (So they were what we refer to as candies, although they did not refer to them as such, but rather “rolls” from my understanding)

1730 – Cocoa beans drop in price making it within the financial reach of those other than the very wealthy.

The French were known for always being savvy in their cooking and were invited into British society before the French Revolution. In 1657 the first chocolate house was opened in London by a Frenchman. The Brits were reputedly horrible cooks and even today, most culinary schools are extensions from French culinary cuisine. When the Brits did roasts during medieval times, the French already had fine cuisine. The French like to think they were born with it.

Chocolate houses preceded the coffee and tea houses, and many people drank chocolate hot. In fact, many researchers say that up to the through the Regency period, chocolate was a drink and that it was not much used in cooking and not eaten by hand. However, I have also discovered that since we have more access to more records and period papers, many old “facts” have been exploded. I think a large part the information about chocolate is in need of a footnote. I have only tasted modern block baking chocolate and not 18th century chocolate but I don’t imagine plain chocolate was any sweeter then than now.

We are still discovering their food habits as documents, diaries, and so forth, are still being discovered. As far as chocolate not being sweetened since its induction, the Spanish started adding cane sugar and flavorings such as vanilla and spices to cocoa beverages which caught on across Europe at the very beginning of the 1600’s. So early cooks realized the potential of chocolate with sweet. And I’m certain people experimented on their own, which of course unless it was recorded no one would know about. The problem with a lot of recipes back then is that most of them had ingredients but lacked amounts, as it was assumed how much was needed/used. Which makes it difficult to replicate, obviously.

Chocolate had to be sweetened and they did find ways to sweeten it, (honey is eons old, after all,) even though supposedly it was more bitter than we would like. Sugar was also sold in bulk and was not as refined as it is today. Chocolate as we know it today had to await further refinements of sugar and chocolate as well as stabilizers or emulsifiers and that this later development is the time from which most historians date eating chocolate. I like my chocolate pretty sweet which is why I like milk over dark. There are those that prefer it very dark and hardly sweet at all.

Drinking chocolate was probably similar to drinking coffee. Some people prefer black coffee; others like theirs fairly sweet with cream. It always amazes me that anyone would like chocolate without sweetener, but they did, and some even said they could not drink it any other way. Maybe the caffeine in chocolate gave a rush people craved just as they get from coffee.

Without a doubt chocolate is indeed an art. Refined sugar is key, cocoa butter is key and temperature is key.  The temperature of your own fingers and body affected rolling, molding and shaping. Trial and error was the name of the game back then, even more than today. Perhaps England’s damper and colder climate affected the candy. When one considers all that had to be done to the chocolate and the quality of the sugar, it’s a wonder they made chocolate anything.

In my Regency romance novels, I often show my heroines drinking chocolate, and sometimes mention that they like to sweeten it. It’s what I’d do, so I have them share my opinion on chocolate.

So the next time you enjoy fine chocolate, spare a thought for the science, and art, that goes into its creation.

Writer’s Conference for writers of ALL levels

Final Week to Register for the  2015 ANWA Time Out for Writers Conference

February 19-21, 2015 in Mesa, AZ at the Phoenix/Mesa Hilton

 

Keynote Speakers:

#1 New York Times bestselling author BRANDON MULL

and Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award winner REGINA SIROIS!

Agents and Editors:

John Rudolph with Dystel & Goderich Literary
Pam Van Hylckama Vlieg with D4EO Literary Agency
Lisa Mangum with Shadow Mountain Publishing
McKenna Gardner with Xchyler Publishing
Heather Moore with Precision Editing Group

Thursday evening Query/Critique Camp taught by Lisa Mangum

Faculty:

Brandon Mull, Regina Sirois, Sarah M. Eden, Lisa Mangum, Angela Morrison, Betty Webb, Dr. Christina G. Hibbert, Heather Moore, Dave Eaton, Janette Rallison, John Rudolph, John Wincek, Josh Oram, Julie Wright, Kelly Oram, Liz Adair, McKenna Gardner, Pam Van Hylckama Vlieg, Penny Freeman, Tanya Parker Mills, Laurie Schnebly Campbell

Don’t miss this opportunity to attend amazing classes taught by expert faculty, network with fellow writers and authors, pitch your manuscript to literary agents and/or professional editors, and be inspired by our two incredible keynote speakers. Classes will cover craft, marketing, industry knowledge, and so much more for writers interested in all forms of publishing and of all ability levels.

One and two-day options available.

Open to the general public.

For more information and to register, go to www.anwa-lds.com/events/conference

ANWA Conference

BooksAre you or is someone you love afflicted with an obsessive need to read (or watch) the entire story? Do you hear voices in your head? Do fictional characters often seem more real than people you know? Do you have notebooks or computer files filled with finished and unfinished stories, novels, or memoirs?

If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, you may have a serious disorder called “writer.”  Yes, it is every bit as terrifying as it sounds. But it doesn’t have to ruin your life. While there is no known cure for this pervasive affliction, there are coping skills that can turn these inner demons into your inspirational muse. How? Taking classes and workshops from the experts to discover if your secret fantasies of becoming a writer can become a reality.

Join others in a type of group therapy to help you learn skills to become a published author in whatever genre you love. Embrace your inner demons! Nurture them! Teach them to tell the story in you.

Time Out For Writers Annual Writers Conference

Feb 19-21, 2015

Phoenix Area

General Public Invited
Brandon Mull and Regina Sirois are our keynote speakers
John Rudolph with Dystel & Goderich Literary Agency
Pam Van Hylckama Klieg with D4EO Literary Agency
Lisa Magnum with Shadow Mountain Publishing
McKenna Gardner with Xchyler Publishing
Heather Moore with Precision Edition Group
MORE GREAT FACULTY:
Janette Rallison
Julie Wright
Kelly Oram
Liz Adair
Penny Freeman
Sarah M. Eden
Tanya Parker Mills
Dave Eaton
John Wincek
Joshua Oram
Angela Morrison
Betty Webb
Dr. Christina G. Hibbert, PSY. D.
For more info and to register see:

Arranged Marriages and True Love

English brideThe 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.  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.

Such arrangements are a favorite for the romance reader and author alike, inspiring countless historical romance novels about love springing from an arranged marriage. Such was the case for my very first published Regency Romance novel, The Stranger She Married.

Which begs the question; why were arranged marriages so common?

I can’t speak for other countries, but in England, the institution of marriage appears to be more a union of rank and property rather than of love. Though many popular ballads and plays of the era praised true love, in reality, practicability ruled more heavily than affairs of the heart.

During the Regency era, women, even ladies of the gentry and aristocracy, possessed very little independence. They were, in essence, property of their parents until they married, at which time they became property of their husbands. Therefore, parents cautiously settled their daughters in what they deemed were ‘good matches.’ They valued security over love because in a time when divorce was almost unheard of–and scandalous–marriage was a lifetime commitment, for better or worse. Parents searched for a men who would keep their daughter fed and cared for. They could only hope that love, or at the very least, regard, would bloom later.

Queen_Victoria_1847The Victorian era introduced the idea of romantic love and marriage among the upper classes (Think of Queen Victoria; hers was a love match). Prior to that, while it did happen and people dreamed of it, and it happened in all of Jane Austen’s novels, it really wasn’t something most people expected from marriage. Love sometimes happened with the wrong person which ruined families financially. Men understood that marriage was a duty.  Love itself, if it came, was a bonus.  In fact, most men had mistresses because marriage wasn’t usually a romantic relationship–it was more a business relationship.

Mistress often became an aristocratic man’s ideal of ‘lust and love.’  Heaven forbid a man fall in love with another man’s mistress!  Such a sin often meant death to that man because a man’s relationship with his mistress was intimate, one where men chose a woman to pleasure him, as opposed to duty being his deciding factor in choosing her.  It wasn’t just about sex with these mistresses–it was finding a woman who was everything his wife wasn’t.  Yeah. It makes me shudder, too. But that’s how it was, according to many sources including THE FAMILY, SEX, AND MARRIAGE in ENGLAND 1500-1800 by Lawrence Stone.

One such example was the 1774 marriage between the 17-year-old daughter of the Earl of Spencer, Georgiana, and the Duke of Devonshire, a 26-year-old man of supreme wealth, power, and influence.  On the surface, the union must have appeared an excellent match. The Duke desired a young wife of high rank to provide him with heirs.  For Georgiana, her status would be elevated to the coveted rank of duchess. According to reports, the young couple met a few times, all well chaperoned, before they wed. Reportedly, Georgiana tried to love her untouchable husband, but he returned to the arms of his mistress. Their infamously unhappy marriage proved that money and status could not guarantee love or  happiness.

The true story inspired Hollywood’s 2008 film The Duchess. The wedding gown costume worn by actress Keira Knightly, above, is gold and white, though it looks more as a candlelit cream. Gorgeous, isn’t it?

On the other hand, Amanda Vickery, in her book A Gentleman’s Daughter contends that many people married for affection; that it was, in fact, more common than marrying for rank or wealth. Still, arranged marriages were common, often with the couple only having met a few times, or not at all, prior to the wedding.

thestrangershemarried 2013 tinyAn arranged marriage born of necessity is the premise of my first published Regency historical romance novel, The Stranger She Married, book one of The Rogue Hearts Series, available in digital and print.  Their marriage, though fraught with danger, turns into a great love story.

After all, I’m all about the happily ever after :-)

THE STRANGER SHE MARRIED by Donna Hatch

When her parents and twin brother die within weeks of each other, Alicia and her younger sister are left in the hands of an uncle who has brought them all to financial and social ruin. Desperate to save her family from debtor’s prison, Alicia vows to marry the first wealthy man to propose. She meets the dashing Lord Amesbury, and her heart whispers that this is the man she is destined to love, but his tainted past may forever stand in their way. Her choices in potential husbands narrow to either a scarred cripple with the heart of a poet, or a handsome rake with a deadly secret.

Cole Amesbury is tormented by his own ghosts, and believes he is beyond redemption, yet he cannot deny his attraction for the girl whose genuine goodness touches the heart he’d thought long dead. He fears the scars in his soul cut so deeply that he may never be able to offer Alicia a love that is true. When yet another bizarre mishap threatens her life, Alicia suspects the seemingly unrelated accidents that have plagued her loved ones are actually a killer’s attempt to exterminate every member of her family. Despite the threat looming over her, learning to love the stranger she married may pose the greatest danger to Alicia’s heart. And Cole must protect Alicia from the killer who has been exterminating her family before she is the next target.

Available now on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, and other book retailers.

Believe in Happily Ever After!

 

Regency Sunscreen a.k.a. the Parasol

Regency fashion plate, parasolUnlike the sun-kissed tans admired by some women today, (and let’s face it, chalk-white legs just aren’t coveted) a pale complexion was a fashion statement during much of England’s history. Since laborers often worked long hours outside, their skins got tanned and weathered from exposure to the sun and the elements. A lady with a creamy complexion loudly proclaimed, without uttering a word, that she was wealthy enough not to have to spend a great deal of time out of doors. But since a lady’s skin could become unfashionably brown simply by walking outside, even with the protection of a hat or bonnet, she had to take measures to protect her skin from the sun.

During previous eras, ladies and gentlemen of the upper classes powered their faces to maintain a pale complexion.  But by the Regency Era, people abandoned the powder, rouge, lipstick, and powered wigs, as well as ostentatiously ornate clothing, in favor of a more natural, comfortable look. They also started bathing on a regular basis, which I think is not a coincidence.Regency fashion plate and parasol

So, what was a lady to do if she wanted to spend time outside but keep her skin alabaster white without the use of powder? Sunscreen, obviously, was not the answer, since it had yet to be invented. Bonnets and hats certainly helped but there were times when those failed to protect a lady’s face from all angles of the sun.

Enter the parasol. Made of natural fabrics such as cotton and silk and often embellished with lace, these functional little beauties became so popular in England early in the 19th century that they became part of a fashionable ensemble.  Depending on how they were made, they could even protect a lady from a light rain.

Winter Collection, 6 historical short storiesSo the next time your Regency lady goes for a walk, make sure she brings her bonnet and parasol to keep her face un-freckled and white, and her gloves to protect her hands, lest she fall under criticism of becoming “brown.” Horrors!

For more pictures, feel free to check out  my Regency Accessories Pinterest Board with lots of images and fashion plates of parasols, fans, shoes, and other fun Regency accessories.

Laura Boyl on Jane Austen Center has some lovely pictures of ladies and children carrying parasols.

Louise Allen, on her blog, History of Costume, has a great collection of pictures as well as how the “correct” way to hold a parasol evolved.

Sources:

http://janeaustenslondon.com/tag/history-of-costume/

http://www.janeausten.co.uk/parasols/

Spotlight on author Jennifer Bryce

Today my spotlight is author Jennifer Bryce and her very first published book, Haley’s Song. This romance is squeaky clean, with a courageous heroine and a dreamy hero.

I thought I had first met Jennifer at a writer’s conference when she sought me out upon the recommendation of a mutual writer friend to get help editing her first book. But she later reminded me that we had met about ten years before; she’d done my hair when I’d moved to her town. (Jenn has a much better memory than I do.) But my family only lived there about six months, so we’d only had a few chances to talk when she’d worked on my hair (and a fabulous job she did, too).  Anyway, years later, we met again and I made suggestions on how she could improve her book. Jennifer worked really hard on revisions, submited to a publisher, got a contract offer, and now her first book is available.

In Haley’s Song, the stakes are high, the heroine is smart and brave, the hero is as likable as he is realistic, and there is a full cast of fun, quirky characters. It has a vintage, wild west feel to it. Here is more info:

Big Haley's SongSynopsis:
Hayley’s father has a gambling problem that’s now become hers. He lost her in a bet. Now, she must either leave the only place she’s ever known or marry a brute who is only interested in a servant he can control.

On the run and scared, she finds sanctuary at a ranch with seven men and one little boy. Though hired as a cook and nanny, she quickly realizes she’s found a home. With brothers, Ben and Tate, vying for her affections, Hayley starts to believe she can have a life that doesn’t involve alcohol, abuse, and gambling. But the winner of the card game has other plans.

Ed Thompson tracks Hayley down, determined she’s going to become his wife. But Tate isn’t about to allow that to happen. He’ll move whatever mountain he has to for Hayley’s safety. And when she’s kidnapped, he’ll tear the town apart to find her. But Ed has an ace up his sleeve that could end up getting Hayley killed.

Here is a short excerpt from Haley’s Song:

“Hey Gummy, how did you get your name?” Curiosity pushed her to ask as she helped Johnny sit next to her on the bench. She expected him to say it was because he always chewed gum.

“I’m a natural born scrapper as a lad and got into plenty of fights.  Once when a fight was in full swing, my gum came out of my mouth and stuck in my hair. The name Gummy ‘stuck.’” The jack of all trades chuckled. “You’re a scrapper like me. We can handle a little opposition.”

About The Author

Jen BryceJennifer has a brain that is never quiet (even in her sleep). She uses writing as an escape to be and do anything she can create. Plotting is her favorite thing to do in her down time. Raised in southern Arizona, she was influenced by being raised a cop’s daughter (plenty of teenage angst material there), Mexican food, and the old West. She is a busy mother to three rambunctious boys, is married to her amazing cowboy, she’s  a full-time nursing student, and she desperately needs a long vacation. Her biggest fear in life is to be completely mediocre.

Author Social Media links:

Facebook: Author Jennifer Bryce

BlogSpot: jenniferbryce.blogspot.com

Twitter: @JenniferBryce1

 

 

 

 

 

The Origin of Silent Night

Riedesel_Christmas_Tree

Riesdesel Christmas Tree

Christmas Eve 1818, marked the debut of the beloved Christmas carol, Silent Night. Father Josef Mohr composed the words in 1816 but waited until 1818 to present them to headmaster, Franz Gruber, and asked him to compose a melody for guitar and voice. Some believe it was a desperate measure to have music in church despite the damaged organ due to recent flooding. Other historians believe the organ was functional; they simply wanted something different for their congregation that year for their Christmas service. Regardless of their motive, they performed the song Stille Nacht on Christmas Eve on the guitar for church service in Nicola-Kirche in Oberndorf, Austria on December 24, 1818. It was, clearly, an unforgettable service with what has become one of the most popular carols of all time.

It is even known as “the carol that stopped the war,” at least briefly, when during World War II, German soldiers put down their guns and sang Stille Nacht to the British. British troops joined in, singing in English, resulting in a one-night cease fire and spontaneous celebrations between enemies. You can read more about that here.

I can hardly listen to my favorite version of that song, Stille Nacht by Manheim Steamroller, without it bringing tears to my eyes. Here it is:

I wish you and your loved ones a very Merry Christmas.

Christmas Fudge, a Hatch family favorite recipe

My daughter had an awesome 4th grade teacher named Mrs. Zimmerman, or Mrs. Z. She used to send home some of her favorite recipes for the children to try. Hers was the best fudge recipe I’ve ever had! No, this fudge has nothing to do with anything of historical significance.  I don’t even know when or where fudge was invented and right now I have too much holiday shopping to do some research.  But I love this fudge recipe, so I’m sharing it with you.  Without further ado, here is Mrs. Z’s Famous Fudge:

In large saucepan mix:

4 1/2 C sugar
1 12oz can evaporated milk
Bring to a boil over medium heat stirring constantly. Cook 6 minutes stirring constantly.
In large mixing bowl place:
2 cubes butter (not margarine)
1  12 oz pkg MILK chocolate chips
1  12 oz pkg SEMI SWEET chocolate chips
2 tsp vanilla
Pour hot mixture over ingredients in bowl and mix with mixer 3 minutes on high. Add chopped nuts if desired and stir in by hand.
Pour into well-buttered 9 x 13 pan. Cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator until fudge is cooled. Cut into squares and share only with those who deserve some :)
Hint: If you want to add a little holiday dazzle, you can top with crushed peppermint sticks.
Enjoy!

New Cover for A Perfect Secret coming soon!

APerfectSecret2

A Perfect Secret–new cover

APerfectSecret old cover

A Perfect Secret–original cover

A Perfect Secret is getting a new cover!! The old cover was lovely, but the male model, handsome as he was, didn’t look like Christian. The model was too rough-looking and too old.

In fact, at a book signing when I told a prospective reader about the book, she asked, “Is this the villain on the cover?”

Um, no.

So that propelled me to more actively seek a model who fit Christian’s description and didn’t look like the bad guy.  And, as you can see, I have enjoyed success.

You may ask why I settled for a picture that I didn’t love. Well, I’d spent months searching for images for the cover  and couldn’t find the right couple wearing the right kind of clothing (not to mention to right amount–you’d be surprised how many scantily-clad couples there are out there) . And I didn’t have the budget for a custom photo shoot. So rather than put off release date for an indeterminate amount of time until I found the right couple, I chose the image that fit the best and released the book.

Over the last year since the book’s release, I’ve been casually skimming pictures looking for Christian. Finally, I found my vision of Christian–young, blond, blue eyed, and so handsome that jealous brothers would call him pretty. I think this one is perfect, don’t you?

So don’t be surprised or confused when you see this new cover pop up.  Digital and print copies of the new cover will be available soon. In the meantime, you can still buy this book with the old cover on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, and other online book retail stores.

Here is the book cover blurb:

APerfectSecret2Desperate to protect her father from trial and death, Genevieve breaks off her engagement with Christian Amesbury and marries a 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 solitude, 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 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.