Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Cover Love

People say one of the advantages of self-publishing is being able to choose your own cover. In my opinion mostly No. The art department at Avon produces beautiful and professional covers and I didn't have to do a thing about them. On the other hand, working on my indie anthologies, I discovered the hard, stressful work of scrolling through stock photos. Few of them are attractive and the ones that are have been used by other authors, frequently.

For Secrets of a Soprano I ended up with a custom photo shoot, even having a Regency-style gown made by a friend. I am thrilled with the result thanks to a wonderful team. Many thanks to all of them.

Cover art by Phatpuppy
Photography: Teresa Yeh Photography
Model: Jennie Ross

Makeup/Hair: Nadya Rutman,

SECRETS OF A SOPRANO will be out April 11th and possibly available for order earlier from some vendors. 

Sunday, January 24, 2016

What Did a Special License Look Like?

Since the Special Marriage License often plays a part in romances, I’ve always been curious to see one. During a trip to London I visited the library at Lambeth Palace, the headquarters of the Archbishop of Canterbury who, following passage of the Hardwicke Marriage Act in 1753, was responsible for issuing a license allowing a couple to be wed without calling the banns, without a waiting period, and at any time and place.
I had a notion there was a printed form in which the names were inserted, but I was wrong about that. The library possessed no “blank” licenses, only a few dozen completed ones for marriages that had been performed in the Lambeth Palace chapel. This indicates that after the marriage was performed the license was retained by the officiating clergyman.
A license was handwritten on parchment approximately 18 inches wide by 12 inches high, quite an impressive document. All the couple of dozen I saw (dated between 1754 and 1806) looked much the same. In a couple of instances the names of the parties were written in different handwriting from the text (which was boilerplate, scarcely varying by a word) as though a clerk had prepared a blank license when he had nothing better to do. More often the document had been written all at once, not something that could be dashed off in ten minutes.
A license was signed by the “Register” and finished with the Archbishop’s seal, affixed as follows: Red sealing wax is dribbled on a square of paper about three inches square; a ribbon or string is looped through holes in the parchment and the ends laid over the wax; another square of paper is laid on top to form a wax and string sandwich; the large oval seal is impressed on top of the whole thing.
The men are described as either widower or bachelor, the women as widow or spinster. In the case of a spinster, the name of her father is given, for a widow, her late husband’s. For the man the father is recorded if he’s a peer or someone else notable. As you can see by the list of titles for the bridegroom in the following license, they seemed to like to make the whole business seem important.
Here is the text of a typical license, that for the 1806 marriage of Prince Bariatinsky to Lord Sherborne’s daughter. There is absolutely no punctuation and, yes, the word “Honorable” is spelled in what we would call the American way.

Charles by Divine Providence Archbishop of Canterbury Primate of all England and Metropolitan by Authority of Parliament lawfully empowered for the purposes herein written To our beloved in Christ John Prince Bariatinsky of Russia privy counselor to the Emperor of Russia Chamberlain and Knight of the Military Order of St. George and also Knight of Malta now of Sackville Street London a Bachelor and the Honorable [sic] Frances Mary Dutton of Sherborne in the County of Gloucester a Spinster daughter of the Right Honorable James Dutton Baron Sherborne Wheareas As it is alleged ye have proposed to proceed to the solemnization of a true pure and lawful Marriage Earnestly desiring the same to be solemnized with all the speed that may be that since your reasonable desires may the more readily take due effect We for certain causes as thereunto especially moving do so far as in us lies and the Laws of this Nation allow by these presents Graciously give and grant our License and Faculty as well to you the parties contracting as to all Christian People willing to be present at the solemnization of the said Marriage to Celebrate and Solemnize such Marriage between you the said contracting parties at any time and in any church or chapel or other meet and convenient place by any Bishop of this Realm or by the Rector Vicar Curate or Chaplain of such Church or Chapel or by any other Minister in Holy Orders of the Church of England Provided there be no lawful Let or Impediment to hinder the said Marriage Given under the seal of our office of Faculties at Doctors Commons this twenty first day of April in the year of Our Lord One Thousand eight hundred and six and in the second year of Our Translation.

I am sorry I don’t have a picture of a special license. My visit to Lambeth Palace was several years ago, before phones had cameras. I don’t even know if I would have been allowed to photograph one. I hope the description is helpful to historical readers.
Update: Thanks to Julia (@mizzelle on twitter) for directing me to this picture of a special license.  

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Two Bonus Scenes

Just before my last book was published, I wrote a transitional scene set between the action of Lady Windermere's Lover and The Duke of Dark Desires.  I offered it as a New Year’s gift to my newsletter subscribers.

Now the scene, entitled  DENFORD AND WINDERMERE ON THE ROAD TOGETHER, is available to all on my website.  (Not that I want to discourage you from signing up for my newsletter — it’s the best way to be informed of my new releases and future plans. If you haven’t signed up yet you may do so here!)

But that’s not all! If you’re curious about exactly how Henrietta Cazalet got her man and Oliver Bream became engaged to be married, I’ve posted OLIVER'S PROPOSAL, a deleted from The Duke of Dark Desires.

I’ve posted additional material about several of my earlier books, details and inks to be found on the individual book pages.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

What People Think of Denford

One of the enjoyable things about writing a series is seeing characters develop over two or three books until they are ready for their own story.  Julian, Duke of Denford, has been a favorite of mine right from the start. My other heroes and heroines don't always share my enthusiasm! There are mixed feeling, to say the least.

Julian's book, The Duke of Dark Desires, will be released two weeks from today.  Meanwhile you can enter my Goodreads drawing for two printed copies.  And here's a reminder of how some of Julian's friends and non-friends saw him in previous books.

Monday, December 1, 2014

A Tour of St James's

When I was in London last month, I met a college friend for breakfast at the Wolseley in Piccadilly (pricey but worth it) then I took a walk around the area known as St. James's, site of so many places beloved of Regency romance.  I'm a fairly rubbish photographer but I posted my iPhone snaps on Facebook over the next couple of weeks. Now I've gathered those brief posts in one place.
Almack's now
If you read Regency era romances, you almost certainly know about Almack's, the exclusive Marriage Mart, home of warm lemonade and haughty patronesses. The building in King Street, St. James's, London is long gone but the name lives on in a rather boring modern office building on the site. And here's a historical view of an Almack's assembly.
Almack's then

Paxton & Whitfield, cheesemonger, has been in Jermyn Street since 1797. The aroma is divine. (I like the -monger suffix. Why aren't there bookmongers?)
Floris, the perfumer, has always been one of my favorite shops. The lily of the valley soap is sublime and a man cannot smell better than Floris No. 89. (James Bond wore Floris products FYI). Mary Shelley & Byron are both on record as favoring Floris scents but the shop is even older, having been in Jermyn Street since 1730.

Berry Bros. & Rudd as been at No. 3 St. James's Street since 1698! One of the world's oldest wine merchants, it started out also selling groceries. The famous 18th century scale, used by Byron and other notables, originally measured tea and coffee (the latter presumably in quantities to feed even my habit!). Years ago, when I worked around the corner on King Street, I used to sometimes buy their house wine which is called Good Ordinary Claret 
Byron's bum rested on this sitting scale!
Berry Bros. beautiful premises in St. James's Street

Lock's Hatters
Lock's, at No. 6 St.James's St. is the oldest hat shop in the world, dating back to 1676. It is still a family owned business. The hatter's website has a detailed and fascinating history of a business that has supplied hats to many notables, including Nelson and Sir Winston Churchill.
Hatchard's Book Shop
Hatchard's. No Regency heroine would dream of missing a trip to the Piccadilly book shop (founded in 1797) to feed her secret bluestocking habit. And quite often she runs into an attractive rogue there. I cannot say that's ever happened to me in the multi-floored old building, packed with a marvelous selection of books of all kinds. During a visit earlier this month I found Stephanie Laurens, Julia Quinn, and Eloisa James in the historical fiction section. No Miranda Neville, but that's something to aspire to!

Truefitt & Hill
Truefitt & Hill is the oldest barbershop in the world, established in 1805 by William Francis Truefitt. Truefitt styled himself as hairdresser to the British Royal Court. Sorry about the picture - I had to shoot it across St. James's St. and cars & taxis kept getting in the way. How dare they? Wouldn't a nice carriage have improved the picture?

The bow window of White's
There's no sign outside White's, London's oldest and most exclusive club - if you're a member you know where it is. It's easily identified by the famous bow window, whence Brummell and other Regency dandies disdainfully watched the world go by. (St. James's Street pretty much was the world for these guys). I have no idea what it's like inside because I've never been in: no ladies allowed, ever.

Brooks's Club was founded in 1764 as Almack's Club (not to be confused with the assembly rooms) by a group of Whigs who had been kicked out of Tory White's. The moved to these new premises in St. James's St. in 1777 and was renamed Brooks's. The club was famous for politics and gambling. Here's a photo taken lately and a 19th century view of the "Gaming Room." I have been inside. The reception rooms are let out for functions, including weddings, so women are allowed in!
A Regency era view of the Gaming Room at Brooks's
Brooks's today
Finally, no trip to St. James's is complete without popping into Fortnum & Mason, one of the most famous groceries (if one can use such a mundane word to describe it) in the world. In early November Fortnum's was Christmased up and stocked to the gills with holidays goodies. I cruised the aisle, fingering my credit card (it's not cheap) and considering the size of my suitcase. 

Fortnum & Mason, Piccadilly front

Inside, Fortnum's was ready for the Christmas rush
When something caught my eye, I emailed my fellow authors of the Christmas in the Duke's Arms anthology and they said "buy it!!!!"  If you'd like to win a hamper full of Fortnum's goodies, courtesy of the four of us, hurry over to Carolyn Jewel's website before December 18th.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Coming Soon!

I have a busy Fall coming up, in the publication department.

First of all, around October 15th, Christmas in the Duke's Arms, a Regency holiday anthology, will be available. I am incredibly excited to join up with Graces Burrowes, Carolyn Jewel, and Shana Galen for this project. Here's the cover which is, I think, as charming and Christmasy as the stories.

I've joined up with my old posse, The Lady Authors, who brought you At the Duke's Wedding, for another anthology: At the Billionaire's Wedding. And guess what? It's set in 2014! That's right, Maya, Katharine, Caroline, and I have gone contemporary. Don't worry - none of us is abandoning historical romance. We thought it would be fun to do something different and it is!

Lastly, the Wild Quartet concludes with The Duke of Dark Desires, Julian, Duke of Denford's story. It's out December 30th, just in time for New Years. I've been excited about Julian's story every since he first appeared in The Importance of Being Wicked. And I believe I have found of heroine strong enough to tame him!