Thursday, June 20, 2019

HIS TEMPTING GOVERNESS! A nibble of my new cherry? YESSS! And it hit 3 bestseller lists and took BUTLER and MAID up with it! Tickled!

Thanks to all my readers who love a Regency, a good laugh, a series, and a whisper of mystery!

All of you have taken DELIGHTFUL DOINGS IN DUDLEY CRESCENT books 1, 2 and 3 and made me a very happy author!

So, on that, how about an excerpt from HIS TEMPTING GOVERNESS?
Dancing at midnight? It's what we do!

HIS TEMPTING GOVERNESS Dancing at Midnight excerpt, Copyright 2019, Cerise DeLand.

Win, the Earl of Cartwell, cannot sleep and as he emerges from his bedroom suite he sees a stirring sight! 

The mantel clock in his bedroom struck midnight as Win gave up the quest to fall asleep. He threw back his covers and reached for his banyan flung over his wing chair.
Tying his sash, he sighed ruefully and slid on his slippers. Ever since his interview of Miss Swanson this afternoon, he’d thought of nothing but the woman. She shouldn’t occupy his mind…but his satisfaction to have found her challenged his curiosity that she needed employment.
Clearly, she’d been well educated. Once, she’d been well dressed. Both indicated a background of some status. Yet she had none now and needed money. Moreover, she had the courage to ask for more than the going wage. Which begged the question: Why?
She certainly owed him no explanation. Yet his preoccupation with her led him to hope that in time, she’d tell him.
He paused at the connecting door from his suite to the library. Tonight he did not wish brandy. Hot chocolate was what he really craved.
So instead, he turned toward his sitting room and the door to the hall.
He’d taken two paces and halted at the vision swaying in the silver moonlight. In a dark robe, her feet bare upon the hall runner, Miss Isabelle Swanson executed steps from a formal country dance. Her eyes closed, her ebony hair swishing about her shoulders, her arms out, her elegant fingers brushing the air, she made her steps in silence. And to accompany her movements, she hummed.
He stepped backward, never wishing to frighten her. Nor did he wish to stop her.
How often did anyone express their happiness by dancing in the dark? Alone?
Never had he known anyone to do it. But her delight in it ignited a flaming desire in his soul to join her. 
“Oh! Oh!” She froze in mid-move. “Sir!”
“I’m so sorry, Miss Swanson.” He had one hand up. “I did not want to frighten you. Nor stop you, either.”
“Oh, sir.” She swallowed hard and crossed her arms over her bosom. She was attired in a black velvet robe, her bare toes peeking from the gold-trimmed hem. “I apologize. You must think me mad.”
“No, indeed.”
“I—I was happy. Hadn’t been happy in a— And I couldn’t sleep.”
“Happiness is a reason to dance. Here. Anywhere. At any time of night. Or day, for that matter.” He stepped toward her, overjoyed with her. “Spontaneity is a condition to be nurtured. I value it and hope you will encourage it in Daphne.”
She tipped up her lovely heart-shaped face in question. “That, sir, is most unusual.”
Laughter stole across her features. “But do you believe Daphne needs encouragement to be more spontaneous than she already is?”
“Ah, well.” He chuckled. “Good point. But yes, we all need it.”
“Even you, sir?” Immediately with a hand to her chest, she looked startled, as if she repented the question. “Oh, I didn’t mean to insult you.”
“You haven’t.” He moved closer. She was an angel in the rays of the moon, her skin so pure, her eyes so luminous, her embarrassment so endearing. “Even I, Miss Swanson, need to be more spontaneous. Children—I do remember from my own years—can be impulsive. Education often drains it. Like many, I took what was given, made the most of it. Forgot to take inspiration and run with it. In the army, one works with the possible and banks on the probable. I acquired fine horses for battles, good equipment from winnings at gambling. If I learned on my own to like French poetry, if I enjoyed Italian cantatas, I gained those pleasures from allowing myself the rapture that came from instant, illogical desires to learn of them.”
“How noble of you, sir,” she breathed.
And as her gaze absorbed each feature of his visage with careful consideration, he felt the hot flush of her admiration.
He reveled in it. Moreover, he knew not what to say that might show him as humble at her praise. But he did not wish to dismiss her approval of him. He welcomed it.
Lured by her, he nonetheless stepped backward. “I am awake and walking the house in search of hot chocolate, Miss Swanson. May I ask you to join me?”
She stared at him a long moment which told him she did consider it. “Thank you. No, sir.”
“Very well. Another night then.” He let his hope shine in his eyes that soon she might agree. “I’m going to the kitchen. And you should continue your dance.”
He took the stairs down, feeling the welcome regard of emerald eyes upon his back.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Servants run the house...and fall in love with their employers? GASP!

I’ve often delighted in touring English houses. In every nook and cranny, I’ve found little joys that I’ve tried to add in my novels.
Regency Town House
Brighton, England
In my fictitious Dudley Crescent that I invented for this series, Delightful Doings in Dudley Crescent, I take bits and pieces from a few houses I’ve visited in England. Most often, I reference floor plans for a house in Brighton that I recommend everyone visit. This house, officially dubbed Regency Town House, is currently being restored by volunteers who are specialists in home construction and Regency period lifestyles. They have formed a non-profit organization and promote their work in Brighton, offering tours, dinners and other entertainments to educate everyone. 
When I last visited, this group was involved in discovering the original paint colors on the walls, ceilings and fittings. Here I show you the intricate design on drawing room shutters. Each house in Brunswick Square originally sold in the 1820s for approximately three thousand pounds. This did not include cost of such items as chandeliers, elaborate moldings, draperies or furnishings. A buyer could expect to purchase his or her own embellishments, according to his means, to make the house a home.
Butler's Wine Cellar,
Brighton England
When completed, a townhouse would be home not only to the owners’ family but also a team of servants. In this Brighton home, for example, servants could enter the house from the front street with steps down to the basement. There the housekeeper had her spacious room, the butler his wine cellar, the servants their dining room, an exit to the center kitchen garden and the servants’ privy! From the center hall in the basement, servants waited upon their masters upstairs accessing their own staircase. This rough-hewn wooden set of steps was narrow and lit only by one window. Near this staircase is the kitchen, a wide expanse with cupboards, a glass ceiling and a huge fireplace. Maids slept in an alcove in the kitchen and footman slept on the cold stone floor. From the kitchen, one could exit to the mews.
Shutter decor
Regency Town House,
Brighton, England
While my Dudley Crescent townhouses most nearly resemble the Brunswick Square Brighton townhouses, they haves similarities to the Royal Crescent in Bath and to those in Earl’s Court in London. A few similarities also exist with architect Sir John Soanes’ house in London. Do visit this house when you are there next. Wonders abound, especially his device for hanging and displaying his precious collection of paintings. 
Door Decor
Syon House,
London, England
Townhouses showed the owners’ wealth and status. These homes often rivaled the nobles’ main country homes and their London residences in quality and appointments. Owners brought in sculptures, paintings and furnishings and even built little libraries. Whether in London or in smaller cities and towns, the different layouts and styles offer a treasure trove for a happy tourist!
Noting how Belle, my heroine in HIS TEMPTING GOVERNESS, hid her documents in secret drawers, I will tell you that the cabinetmaker acclaimed for this was George Hepplewhite. An Englishman, he crafted desks and other types of cabinetry with hidden compartments. His work, often imitated by other lesser known craftsmen, was popular. Belle’s family could have owned quite a few pieces that resembled his style.
Kentish Chronicle, August 4, 1820
I will say as an aside that the auction of Belle’s house was a usual phenomenon. Numerous advertisements appeared daily in newspapers, detailing the auction of houses and contents. Some were estates owned by titled men and women, others had been those of tradesmen or those who had gone bankrupt. Contents up to bid could include everything in the house! Auctions were a means for many families to survive financial ruin.
Be sure to pre-order HIS TEMPTING GOVERNESS now for half price! After release, it will be $3.99!  BUY HERE!