Thursday, November 15, 2018

Soap was the answer to many problems! Posters!

Cleanliness continued to be a challenge in the 19th century. Keeping the River Thames clean was the first issue many wished to address, including Prince Albert. Cholera was the result of filthy water.

But keeping bodies clean was a major challenge. Running water was not considered a public need and many poor still went to public fountains and troughs to drink and wash. Perfumes and colonies might cover the odors but soap was the solution.

Soap became a desired commodity! Commercially produced, too.
Here are a few advertisements from that era!

Monday, November 12, 2018

Medicines of yore that killed!

I've been doing research in old newspapers and many offer insights into products for sale and their ingredients. One of them that fascinates me is the category of medicines. Home remedies they were called. And many of them were dangerous.
Cough syrups for children contained cocaine. Pills for women who were "hysterical" often contained laudanum. Children and adults died of continued use and overdose.
Here are a few of the ads.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Travels with Cerise, TV, research trips and scullery maids!

Have you watched the BBC/Netflix series Bodyguard? If so, you've seen the Home Secretary pull up to the home of the Prime Minister.

Later they ID it as Chequers, the home once of Winston Churchill, now the PM's.

Well! This one in the show is not the real Chequers! No!

It's Ham House, a marvelous 17th century darkly gorgeous brick home in suburb of London along the Thames! Built for the Dysarts, this home is a wonderful example of Stuart, early Georgian architecture and a wonderful place to visit.

The interior is rich with black walnut walls and tiled floors of many colors. Done in parquet designs too. Many of the furnishings are of the period, too, including a Queen's Bedchamber done in rich reds and gold.

One aspect of touring the house and kitchen gardens was for me the informative plaques describing servants' duties. Here for you is Mary Hobley's. Mary was a scullery maid. Do read about her work, her pay and her superiors.

Monday, October 22, 2018

TRAVELS WITH CERISE a new element in my novels for you!
Inside THE VISCOUNT'S ONLY LOVE is a treat for the historical romance lover in you.
I've decided that another wonderful way to share my research with you is to include in my novels addenda about my trips abroad! Yes, I've done a few Live Chats on FB called Travels with Cerise (and do go watch them please), but I wanted to give you something more permanent to relish. 
You know that in each novel, I take great care to give you accurate history from all my research in books, monographs and travel abroad. Many times those little details that I like to put into my novels can naturally go unnoticed or undocumented.
Now to thrill you more, I've taken advantage of the new technological ability to include my photos inside my works. So you see my great pictures like this one of Azay-le-Rideau and you can read what and why I've included those pictures in my text! 
I'm very excited about this. That means that I will first go back into all 3 of THOSE NOTORIOUS AMERICANS, then CHRISTMAS BELLES to show you my pix and explain how those items or places are reflected in my novels. When I put those in, I will notify you here and you can go to your provider into your account and download the newest version! So tickled to share these with you!
In box set, NINE LORDS
Do write to me and let you me know what you think and what you've loved!


Thursday, September 20, 2018

A Christmas House Party with 3 spinsters, 3 war heroes, card-sharps, smugglers, Aunt Gertrude and a Shakespeare-quoting butler! October 29

                               99 cents on Amazon or Free on KU
Christmas begins October 29 when I debut 3 novellas in same series on same day! The first, THE EARL'S WAGERED BRIDE, is on pre-order now!
Second, THE VISCOUNT'S ONLY LOVE comes on same day soon to be on pre-order.  The third book, THE DUKE'S IMPETUOUS DARLING is in a boxset with 4 other authors, all Regency romances, out on October 29!
Countess of Marsden invites you to her house party! Seven nights and days of frolic, gossip, dancing…and match-making for her three nieces. 
Sad, isn’t it, that none of the Craymore sisters wishes to wed?
Exciting, isn’t it, that three war heroes arrive who know precisely what they want for Christmas? 
Wonderful, isn’t it, that each might gain the most precious Christmas gift of all?

A lady bets her future.
Miss Marjorie Craymore wants to surprise her two sisters with a wonderful gift this Christmas. A house. A home! One they can call their own. After their father gambled away their dowries and drank away the family reputation, the three young women have lived with their Aunt Gertrude. While that lady’s generosity is most kind, her charity chafes their pride. This Christmas at their aunt’s house party, Marjorie plans to employ the one talent she learned well from her notorious papa. She’ll gamble at cards and dice against every wealthy guest—and win. But she encounters one big problem. The man she’s craved all her life appears on Aunt’s threshold and challenges her. Tested by combat, he’s bolder. Dashing. A distraction. And suddenly too charming to resist.

A gentleman weighs the odds.
Griffith Harlinger, the war-weary fourth earl of Marsden, returns home from his duties in Paris with the Duke of Wellington to celebrate the joys of the Season. At urgent request of his step-mama, he must stop her niece Marjorie from creating a scandal by fleecing her house guests! Griff’s thrilled to engage the one woman who’s tormented him and beguiled him all his life. So he makes Marjorie a bet she can’t refuse: he’ll play her for enough money to buy the house she wants.
But can he let her win if he loves her too much to let her go?
And who really wins when both want what’s best for those they love?

Cerise's Website for more info on series!
If you love swoon-worthy historical romance, starring endearing heroes, sassy heroines and a house full of rogues and cardsharps, this book is for you! Buy THE EARL’s WAGERED BRIDE to attend this Christmas house party!

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Waterloo's heroes: men after our hearts in CHRISTMAS BELLES series! Debuts October 29

'Capture of the Eagle' by Royal Dragoons, 1815, Battle of Waterloo,
only capture of French Eagle by British cavalry.
By William Holmes Sullivan, 1898

Outfitting a Waterloo hero for my CHRISTMAS BELLES series I spent many hours combing pictures of Waterloo period memorabilia, diagrams and more!

Here are a few for your enjoyment. First, the Victorian era painting by William Holmes Sullivan of the 'Capture of the French Eagle' by the Royal Dragoons. A dashing scene, this depicts the impression Sullivan gave of the cavalry unit that brought home the only French Eagle from that famous battle at Waterloo in Belgium. This uniform is that of my hero in THE EARL'S WAGERED BRIDE, Book 1, of CHRISTMAS BELLES.  Here I imagine he looks like Luke Evans, but he is really Griffith Harlinger, Earl of Marsden! And yes, I really do have A Thing for Evans, so I show him to you in period and contemporary!
Luke Evans. Love the hair!

Luke Evans
Two friends travel with Griff from Paris to Brighton for the Christmas house party. One is Alastair Demerest, new Duke of Kingston,  Viscount Lowell, the hero of THE DUKE'S IMPETUOUS DARLING. This novella debuts in a box set with 5 other marvelous Regency authors. (I promise to post that book cover when it becomes available along with a buy link!)

Griff's other friend is Neville Vaughn, Viscount Bromley, a major in the Foot Guards, Coldstream Guards. Their uniform you see here too! Bromley is about to resign his commission and return home to his profitable estate. He hopes to take one of the charming Craymore sisters with him as his second wife! Look for him in THE VISCOUNT'S ONLY LOVE, BOOK 2. I imagine he resembles this charming man whom you know as actor Cillian Murphy.

Perhaps the biggest surprise in this series is a man who is charmingly handsome, in his mid-thirties, and is recently hired by the Countess of Marsden, Griff's widowed step-mama. Not only is Simms, the butler, (that's Octavian Simms please) droll, dapper and decidedly opinionated, but he spouts quotes of Shakespeare at any opportune moment. and like any self-respecting butler, he knows everyone everywhere, even the staff at Prinny's Royal Pavilion. And who, pray tell, represents Simms in our modern era? Why this super(b) man, of course. Another heart-throb, Henry Cavill! Just where did Simms acquire his marvelous education? And why, for heaven sakes, is he in service?

Cillian Murphy, or Neville Vaughn, Viscount Bromley
Henry Cavill or Octavian Simms,
Marsden Hall's butler

2nd Regiment of Foot Guards, 
Coldstream Guards

Uniforms of various Regiments,
Waterloo, 1815. Note #1 and #2 Dragoons.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Lace gowns for royal christenings, weddings! Setting a table in a different way, too!

1908 Wedding gown of
French Valenciennes lace.
   Wearing lace has long been the sign of wealth. The English, French, Germans and Italians make some of the loveliest, but others do too. Made by hand, with use of a bobbin, or by machines, laces come in different quality, patterns and affordability.

   Some can be turned into gowns as in this wedding gown, 1908 of Ivory silk and satin with French Valenciennes lace to adorn it.
   Many laces are strong enough to be incorporated into sleepware as in this fine lawn nightgown of Valenciennes lace, circa 1880s.

   But babies wear lace, too! The recent christening of Prince Louis was the occasion for the British royal family to bring out its newest version of Honiton lace christening gown. The previous one, worn by Prince George and Princess Charlotte, has been retired, it seems, after use by 62 royal babies including Her Majesty.

   In French towns, such as Chantilly north of Paris in suburbs, lace was a favored business. The local aristocrats encouraged the production of lace and Louis XIV, XV and XVI wore it, used it and were criticized for doing so. The French even decreed that a table should be set, fork tines down, so that one's lace cuffs should not catch on them!
Fine lawn nightgown with French Valenciennes lace, circa 1880.
19th century Honiton lace collar and cuff
    Do note this picture of 19th century English Honiton lace collar and cuff. You can readily see how a fork might well catch on these and destroy not only your pristine attire, but also ruin your dining experience!

   Here a picture I took in the Chateau of Villandry where the table is set for dinner, 19th century period, fork down.

Fork down for dinner to preserve your lace cuffs!
The popularity of lace and patronage of the business came from aristocrats. In France, lace became a marker not only of wealth, but before and during the French Revolution, a sign of corruption and disdain for the masses. In the Reign of Terror, not only Marie Antoinette and her friends suffered from the guillotine. But the lacemakers of Chantilly were accused of treason and sent to their deaths. Only years later did Napoleon patronize the development of new lacemakers and sponsor their renewed influence and prosperity.
French Alençon needle lace of 1775.
1890 French Valenciennes lace Wedding gown.
If you love historicals and can't get enough fashion or art or Paris (!!!), I hope you will read my saga of THOSE NOTORIOUS AMERICANS series.  Here is Book 2, still only 99 cents!
Want to go to Opera Garnier?
Drink champagne at House of Worth?
Dance at Moulin de la Galette?
Live in Montmartre with a charming sculptor?
B&N: (digital)
B&N: (Print)

Friday, June 29, 2018

Brighton, Regency Social Whirl and Victorian Seaside Resort: History and Pictures

To complement my latest TRAVELS WITH CERISE video and my travel pictures on Facebook, I post here some of my commentary, my own photos and a few historical references for you!

For references, do see listing at bottom of this page.

To view the video, do go to my FB author page:

Brighton, on the coast of Sussex, was initially a fishing village. On the Channel, the water is brisk, cold, fierce and gray...or I can say it certainly was when I was last there. The intriguing bit about Brighton is, I think, that like Bath, it retains many of the same characteristics of centuries ago.

Brighton, originally called Brighthelmstone, was small, a modest settlement on the coast for many centuries. With a rocky (not sandy) shore, the coast has an odd configuration. This features a beach and tall white cliffs, demarcated by a slope toward the sea which allows for a road on the beach and above it. Even today, you may walk along the Marine Parade (the road) atop the cliff or take the lower coastal level road to stroll along the shore of brown fist-sized rocks. Brighton has no natural harbor, although a modern man-made one for those who own pleasure crafts now exists. The better harbor is to the west, name Shoreham. There, a Custom House still stands and many of the 19th century references (such as newspapers) talk of Revenuers who went out to catch smugglers from Shoreham not Brighton.

The nature of this beach allows for sun-bathing even though walking on those rocks is very tough! The water seems deep enough to wade in or sport surf, and many do! In centuries past, many opportunists took the chance to land their various-sized vessels here to haul in cargo. Brighton, therefore, like many of the other seaside towns on the British coast, was an area were smugglers hauled in contraband. Do see the drawing below which illustrates the cliffs and various people above and below the Parade. Many said that women would often come to amuse the Custom officials while smugglers ran their boats upon the shore and quickly distributed their wares to those merchants who bought their products illegally!

Brighton, 1815

Brighton remained a small fishing village until 1783 when the Prince of Wales (later Prince Regent) visited the town to escape the attentions of his mother and father. Visiting his uncle, the Duke of Cumberland, Prinny came to Brighton often. Loving the sea air and the remoteness from London, he decided to build his own home here. He also decided to build one for his common law wife, Mrs Fitzherbert. While the plan for that house does not survive, Prinny's interest in the town influenced society to follow him. Over the decades, he came often. I currently write a series, CHRISTMAS BELLES, set in Brighton in 1815. Prinny was still Regent and his influence great. The ton came with him to visit for days, weeks, holidays or Christmas. Their presence had a great effect upon the very nature of the town and its residences.

Reward of 200 GBPounds for information
to Custom House, London about smugglers into Brighton!

At first, accommodations for the aristocratic visitors was minimal. They wished to attend His Royal Highness and so had to rent rooms in local homes. Soon it became vital that they stay longer and many wished for finer facilities than were available. A few hotels opened. One, popular then and in Victorian period, still exists.

A few of these larger homes still exist, but are re-purposed. Many of the townhouses we see in Brighton today are compact structures similar to those we see in London from this period. More striking are the Lanes (Laines)  the narrow walkways dotted with shops, pubs, restaurants huddled together a few streets north of the center of town, The Steine.

The Steine (Steyne) denotes the main vertebrae of the town, running approximately north-south. Along this major promenade one walks along a park and arrives at Prince George's marvelous attraction, the Royal Pavilion. This building, a fantasy of architecture, sports the feeling of the best of Mughul architecture outside and inside a fantasy of what was then the perception of Chinese interior decor. Few pictures are here of the inside as the Pavilion is privately owned and operated and on-line sites can offer you a good idea of the interior. (Sold by Queen Victoria to the City of Brighton, the building offers tours of its magnificent collection of art and furniture.)

When Prinny assumed the throne in 1820 on the death of his father, his visits to Brighton became fewer and fewer. Many however continued to enjoy the town, though it was no longer the center of royal activities. Townhouse development, like the marvelous Brunswick Square townhouses (and the must-see Regency Town House restoration) continued. Started in 1823, Brunswick Square boasts a wonderful U-shaped configuration that leads to the sea. The lovely butter yellow paint makes you smile to see it, even from atop British Air's i360 EYE miles up the coast!

When you are in Brighton, do take the tour of Regency Town House. For a pittance, you will have a marvelous afternoon listening to one of their curators tell you about the house, its architecture and those who bought and rented these houses. Other Georgian era townhouse squares exist and you should take a look at those, too.

During Victoria's reign, the town grew dramatically. In 1841, the first railroad line was completed. The railroad station is a beautiful example of 'muscular' Victorian architecture. Arriving there from London in less than an hour now, it took twice as long in the latter part of the 19th century. But with the railroad came Londoners who sought the sun, the sea and fun!

Even today, people come for the day. Many come for the weekend. During the Victorian era, as servants and laborers got their Half-Day, they journeyed to Brighton for the curative powers of the sea air! Ladies came with their long bloomers to wade in the water. They also changed their clothes in so-called bathing machines. Many preferred to dip in the ocean inside these little boxes on wheels!

Brighthelmston 1822

Brighton today still feels like a Victorian seaside. The long Pier, the Clock Tower and the Aquarium are all innovations of the late 19th century. You can still see them and inhale the crisp cool sea air.

Please see below for a few references, should you wish to learn more.

Brighton, 1830

Ladies of a certain reputation were known to distract those on the cliff walk as smugglers landed 
their boats and dispensed their wares to local merchants!

Brighton, 1890 showing Aquarium and clock tower along the Marine Parade! 

Seaside fun! This was the Brighton Top Hat Swim Club of the 1860s!

Antram and Morriss, BRIGHTON AND HOVE, Pevsner Architectural Guides, Yale University Press, lonond, 2008.

The Regency Town House

Brighton Pavilion

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Join me Saturday when I do another of my videos explaining the joys and delights of Prince Regent's Brighton and the town as Victorian seaside playground! Pictures, commentary! For all who love historical romance, readers and authors alike!

I will discuss who went to Brighton, how it grew into a playground for rich aristocrats during Regency period, how it declined, then resurrected once more as a seaside resort for middle and lower classes who had half days off during the Victorian period!

"An excursion to Brighton, 1820"

Prinny travels to Brighton and his Royal Pavilion!

The second in my Victorian series, THOSE NOTORIOUS AMERICANS, is currently only 99 cents! Get it now!

Want to go to Opera Garnier?
Drink champagne at House of Worth?
Dance at Moulin de la Galette?
Live in Montmartre with a charming sculptor?
B&N: (digital)
B&N: (Print)

Friday, April 20, 2018

Curator of Regency Town House on Travels with Cerise Saturday 4/28 11 EST

Join me Saturday 4/28 at 11 EST/10 CENTRAL/9 MTN/8 PACIFIC when my guest is one of the curators for Regency Town House in Brighton, England!

Last October, when I was in Brighton doing research for my Regency and Victorian historical romances, Paul was my tour guide to this wonderful house whom many professionals restore to its former glory.

Connecting with him on Twitter and Facebook, he saw that I did these LIVE CHATS and voluteered to join me!  I am tickled to have him with me and to answer your questions.

Please visit the website of Regency Town House for more info and do join us Saturday for a marvelous morning of fun and facts!

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

English Country Houses! You need to hear how they were built! Monday at 2 EST!

How were those huge country houses built? How much did they really cost? Who designed them? Who decorated them?

I've begun a series of short chats on Facebook to describe my research—both in books and in person—to help me portray these houses in my novels. A lot of what I've learned cannot go into every book. THAT would be "hanging the drapes" and telling you every tiny detail you don't need to know to enjoy a novel and get its verisimilitude.

Do come here to chat with me!
SWEET SIREN is Book 3 in my series,
At a reduced introductory price for a limited time!

But I give you a few tidbits, a few illustrations, most of which are my own pictures!
Join me, ask questions!

I began this research years ago to complement my novels and have continued, especially with my newest out now, SWEET SIREN. Here the hero—an American tycoon and robber baron—commissions an architect and his designer to build a country house for him in Brighton in 1879!

A posting in a newspaper about the opening of Harlaxton Manor House, the house you see in my post above! Marvelous, isn't it, that it was open to the public...for a price?
I will discuss my tour, among others, in Brighton of REGENCY TOWN HOUSE.
This building is owned by a non-profit and renovated by experts in period construction!
Do Follow them on Twitter for more info!

My picture of a part of Prince Regent's Royal Pavilion in Brighton!
I will talk about this in detail and tell you why and how it influenced the growth of seaside Brighton!

My picture of one facade of Spencer House in London.
I will discuss at a future date how this townhouse differs from many others, especially those in Brighton!