Winter Blog Hop – Merry Christmas!!

Wow–this Christmas season has been a bit of a whirlwind. Over the last 24 days of the Winter Blog Hop, we’ve seen new books and Christmas traditions, cat-butt coasters and ornaments, cookies and mince pies, buxom snow-women and silver bells. It’s been a blast and I thank all of my guests and my readers for joining me.

I’ll be taking the next week or two off of blogging but will (I hope) be rested and ready to start a fabulous 2017 full of new words and new challenges.

Wishing you and yours a wonderful holiday season full of love, laughter, food, and family, and a healthy, happy New Year.

 

Winter Blog Hop Day 19 – Happy Book Birthday to Me!

Today on the hop I’m featuring yours truly. 🙂  Today is release day for my third book, Tempting Mr. Jordan. I really love this book, which tells the story of Julia Tenwick (Jonathan’s little sister from Stirring Up the Viscount, all grown up). I hope you like it too! (And do scroll to the end of this post for a chance to win a Maine gift basket from me and Becky Lower!)

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Tempting Mr. Jordan

After four unsuccessful London seasons, Lady Julia Tenwick despairs of ever making a love match. With spinsterhood looming on the horizon, she and a friend set sail for America on one last adventure. When her travels take her to northern Maine, Julia meets a reclusive but handsome artist, whose rudeness masks a broken heart Julia feels compelled to mend.

Still haunted by the betrayal and death of his pregnant wife two years before, Geoffrey Jordan is determined never to risk his heart again. Certainly not with the gorgeous and impetuous aristocrat who intrudes upon his small-town solitude, and is far too similar to his late wife to tempt him to take another chance on love.

But when Julia and Geoffrey find themselves united in a reckless plan to save Julia’s friend from ruin, they discover that temptation is impossible to resist.

Excerpt:

Cranberry Cove reminded her of home, her family’s estate in Durham, where ton rules were abandoned in favor of lazy days riding, reading, caring for her pets, or playing the piano. It occurred to her that she had not played in weeks. Her fingers itched to touch a keyboard, and she flexed her hands inside her calfskin gloves. She vowed to play soon. She thought she had seen a harpsichord in the drawing room of Maria’s enormous house.

Reaching the end of the little lane on which Maria lived, she took a right onto Main Street. It consisted of several houses similar to the one in which she was staying, so she turned left onto Maple Street, which was much more interesting. There was a green grocer, a bookseller, a milliner, a tailor, a blacksmith—everything one could want in a village. The streets were clean—much cleaner than London—and the air was crisp and fresh, even if it smelled ever so slightly of fish.

Julia was staring into the newspaper office—a badly written but oddly gripping tale about missing lobster traps was plastered to the window—when she was nearly knocked off her feet.

“Oh, I beg your pardon!” She managed to right herself, wondering why she should be the one to apologize. She looked up into the hooded eyes of Geoffrey Jordan, who held a book in one hand. “Mr. Jordan!”

“Lady Julia.” He reached out to steady her, the touch of his hand on her arm causing a charge to shoot up her spine. “Please forgive me. Are you hurt?”

“Are you in the habit of running over tourists on your streets?” She freed her arm, flustered by her own reaction, and busied herself with adjusting her hat. When she regarded Mr. Jordan again, he was smirking.

“No, just the ones who stop in the middle of the street,” he said.

Julia opened her mouth to retort, but he held up a finger to silence her. “Nevertheless, I am sorry. I wasn’t paying attention. And the scintillating prose of our local newspaper could halt anyone in her tracks.”

She laughed. “It is not The Times, to be sure.”

His lips quirked up at the tips in something approaching a smile. Julia thought she hadn’t seen him do that before and found it oddly entrancing. “Where are you headed, Lady Julia?”

She forced herself to look away from his lips. “Um. Nowhere in particular. I was in need of a walk after luncheon, so I thought I would explore a bit.”

“The Universalist church, just around the corner, is particularly beautiful, and you will need to sample lobster from the establishment run by the Maclays, on the pier. It will melt in your mouth.”

The way he looked at her as he made the remark made her own mouth dry. Her cheeks burned.

“Um. Yes. That sounds lovely.” She gazed down at her feet until she collected herself. Raising her head, she found herself caught in his sights. She swallowed nervously. “Well, if you’ll excuse me, Mr. Jordan, I really must get back. Constance will be wondering where I’ve got to.” She brushed past him, her shoulder tingling at the contact with his arm.

“Lady Julia?” His tone was vaguely amused.

She stopped and turned to face him. “Yes, Mr. Jordan?”

His thin lips turned up at the corners again, and he pointed behind him. “I believe your house is that way.”

“Oh. Yes. Of course.” She willed herself not to stumble as she passed him, at least not until she’d cleared the corner.

You can find Tempting Mr. Jordan at these retailers: Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ iBooksWild Rose Press.

And don’t forget to enter the giveaway for this fabulous gift basket Becky Lower and I are offering. In addition to the items pictured, Becky is offering an ecopy of her new Wild Rose novella, Love’s in the Cards!fullsizerender
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Winter Blog Hop, Day 18 – Tara Harlow

Today’s guest is the irrepressible Tara Harlow, one of my local writing friends. In addition to raising kids and writing young and new adult romance, Tara’s a movie extra!

Unlike our mutual friend Judy from yesterday, Tara’s not such a fan of the snow. Check out her blog at https://taraharlow.wordpress.com/. In addition to a very fun post, she’s offering a Starbucks gift card to a commenter.

 

Winter Blog Hop Day 10 – Lori Sizemore’s Cat-Butt Coasters!

Hello all! Today’s guest is one of my pals from Passionate Critters, Lori Sizemore. Lori’s debut novel, Infamous, releases from The Wild Rose Press on December 14. Happy almost book birthday, Lori!

Hop over to Lori’s blog today to learn about some of her favorite things at Christmas time, including Christmas music, handmade gifts (including cat-butt coasters), and giving to charity.

infamous-coverHere’s a bit more about Lori’s new book and Lori herself:

Justine Montgomery, daughter of a divorced beauty queen and TV magnate, is a tabloid disaster after her infamous sex tape. She’s so desperate to help save her family’s home she turns to her deal-making dad. Can she prove to him she’s cut out for a career in television or will she lose it all?

Sawyer has his own past and a successful career is his only goal. Seeing Justine fail would mean the promotion of a lifetime, but things get complicated when he develops feelings for her. Suddenly, the lines between work, life, sex, and love are blurry.

They will have to overcome the bitterness of a rejected ex, the controlling actions of her father, and the half-truths they’re telling one another to forge a lasting partnership both on the job and off the clock.

You can find Infamous at these retailers: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | All Romance | BookStrand | Goodreads

Lori Sizemore grew up in the mountains of West Virginia and never quite managed to escape them. Lori lives at home with her husband of twenty-plus years and two of her three daughters. She also lives with two dogs, a cat, and five hermit crabs. Yes, five of them. This menagerie and her family keep her busy.

She worked in mental health as a social worker for ten years before making the choice to write full-time.

You can find Lori online here: Website | FB Author Page | Twitter | Amazon |
Goodreads | Pinterest | Instagram

Winter Escapes

Here in Northeast Ohio (and most of the rest of the northern half of the US), March is roaring in like a lion. We’re expecting another ten inches of snow today to add to the foot or two already on the ground. The piles of snow on the sides of the streets now exceed the height of my car, and the simple act of pulling out of a driveway or turning a corner is fraught with peril.  Ice dams under the eaves are causing water to back up into my house, in places we’ve never seen them before.

Most years I manage to get away from it all and head somewhere warm in March, but sadly, that’s not happening this year. Instead I will hunker down and write about how the Victorians weathered winter.

Source: http://www.rmets.org

The weather in England is known for being less than ideal for many months out of the year. For about 400 years from the 15th to the 19th centuries, Britain even experienced a “Little Ice Age.” The annual mean temperatures for central England were below 0°C nearly every year from 1772 to the 1930s. In 1836, fifteen feet of snow fell on Christmas Day. Frost fairs, held on the Thames when it froze over, were common from at least 1608 until 1841.

Hans Thoma, New Brighton, 1881. Source: Wikimedia.

Although it required trips to the Mediterranean to truly escape Britain’s winter weather–and plenty of wealthy Victorians did–there were also opportunities to holiday in England. Brighton was a favorite destination, as it remained reasonably warm through December.

At the start  of the Victorian era, visits to seaside resorts were the province of the wealthy. Only the wealthy could afford the journey, let alone the cost of staying in an inn. But by the end of Victoria’s reign, with the advent of the railway and the rise of the middle class, more and more people began to flock to the seaside.  Even the lowest classes, if they saved their pennies long enough, could afford to make the trip.  Resorts began to spring up all over the coast from Scotland to Cornwall.

Torquay, Devon, 1842. Source: Wikimedia.

It is, of course, human nature to want to escape one’s life for a while, to go somewhere warmer, or prettier, or cleaner, or simply different. The Victorians were just the same, and advances in technology during the era made it easier for more people to make that escape. They certainly had plenty of snow–more often and in greater quantity than we have now (as difficult as that is to believe).So as you watch the latest inch of snow fall outside your window, think about how much easier it is to escape the snow and cold now than it was then.

Curl up with a good book and think Spring.

Sources:
http://hadobs.metoffice.com/hadcet/
http://www.rmets.org/weather-and-climate/weather/frost-fairs
http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2010/jan/07/brief-history-snow-britain-charlie-english
http://www.netweather.tv/index.cgi?action=winter-history
http://www.victoriana.com/Travel/brighton.htm
http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/victorians/seaside_01.shtml
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_seaside_resorts_in_the_United_Kingdom

Because You Can Never Have Too Much Hockey

This post is late because of hockey.

This weekend my son was in a youth hockey tournament at our home rink, so not only did he play in three games, I scored two other games, and then we watched the championship game, which sadly, he wasn’t in. Six hockey games in three days.

It is perhaps not surprising (although it probably is crazy) that after all this hockey I should choose to write about its history. Games featuring a stick and ball, even on ice, have been around for centuries–possibly even millenia–but hockey in its current incarnation is a Victorian creation.

A young engineer/journalist/lawyer from Nova Scotia, Canada named James Creighton is considered by many to be “the father of ice hockey.” In 1872 he moved to Montreal, bringing with him ice skates (you can see pictures here) and hockey sticks. The skates featured blades similar to the ones still in use today, affixed to boots with metal clamps.

In 1875, Creighton organized an indoor hockey game–the sport had previously always been played on ponds, outside–at the Victoria Skating Rink. At least one source claims that Creighton invented the hockey puck, changing it from a ball to a flat disk to reduce the danger of it flying around and hitting spectators, but another source claims the word ‘puck’ was used in Montreal newspaper in 1867. (The OED records its first usage as 1886.)

In any case, Creighton practiced with his buddies for a month, and held a public exhibition on March 3, 1875. The game was one of the first to feature a predetermined set of rules (known as the “Halifax rules”). It included two teams  of nine players each, goaltenders, a referee, a wooden puck, a 60 minute game time, and a recorded score.

The following announcement ran in the Montreal Gazette:

Victoria Rink – A game of Hockey will be played at the Victoria Skating Rink this evening, between two nines chose from among the members. Good fun may be expected, as some of the players are reputed to be exceedingly expert at the game. Some fears have been expressed on the part of intending spectators that accidents were likely to occur through the ball flying about in too lively a manner, to the imminent danger of lookers on, but we understand that the game will be played with a flat circular piece of wood, thus preventing all danger of its leaving the surface of the ice. Subscribers will be admitted on presentation of their tickets.

Notice the lack of boards around the ice, and the spectators lined up at the edge. Definitely not today’s hockey.

Lord Stanley, then the Governor General of Canada, witnessed his first hockey game at the Victoria Skating Rink in 1889. (His children also played hockey–his daughter is rumored to be the first woman to be photographed playing the game.) The rink hosted the first Stanley Club playoff games in 1894. Hockey’s popularity spread across North America, with hockey clubs formed by men of all classes.

The first women’s hockey game was reportedly played in Ottawa in 1891. The first international women’s hockey game was played in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1916. (There is always a Cleveland connection, even when I’m not looking for one!)

As for Mr. Creighton, he moved to Ottawa in 1882, where he became the Law Clerk to the Canadian Senate, a post he held for 48 years.  He died while at work in 1930, at the age of 80, and was buried in an unmarked grave. His role in hockey history faded away until the 1980s, when he was rediscovered by a Canadian hockey historian, Bill Fitsell. In 2009, Creighton was recognized in a memorial ceremony attended by the Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and a plaque and monument were erected near his gravesite in Beechwood, Canada’s National Cemetery.

Sources:

http://www.thepeoplehistory.com/icehockeyhistory.html
http://www.iceskatesmuseum.com/
http://www.thehockeyfanatic.com/2012/07/history-of-the-hockey-puck/
https://legionmagazine.com/en/2008/01/hockeys-forgotten-pioneer/
http://www.sihrhockey.org/new/p_creighton.cfm
http://www.dochertyfamily.com/hockey_history.htm
http://www.birthplaceofhockey.com/origin/jgac-montreal/
http://hockey-history.com/rules/
http://www.sihrhockey.org/__a/public/creighton_memorial.cfm

 

 

 

 

Christmas, Victorian Style

Christmas rapidly approaches, and I suspect no one who reads this blog will be surprised to see a post about Christmas in the Victorian era. Predictability is good, right?

Although Christmas as we know it today does celebrate the birth of Jesus (even though there is evidence to suggest he was not born in December), the many and varied traditions surrounding the holiday predate that event by thousands of years. The Yule log and singing of carols are Scandinavian in origin, a celebration of the Winter Solstice. The Christmas tree and the giving of gifts, some say, have their origins in the Roman festival of Saturnalia. The twelve days of Christmas are reportedly a throwback to the ancient Mesopotamian festival of Zagmuth, a celebration of their god Marduk’s defeat of the monsters of chaos each winter.

But Christmas as we celebrate it today has its origins in Victorian England. The Christmas tree was largely unknown in England until the German Prince Albert brought the tradition to his adopted country upon his marriage to Queen Victoria. After this engraving ran in the Illustrated London News in 1848, Britons flocked to put trees in their houses.

Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, and assorted offspring around the palace Christmas tree.                 From the Illustrated London News, 1848. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

 

Charles_Dickens-A_Christmas_Carol-Title_page-First_edition_1843

First edition of A Christmas Carol, 1843. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

 

Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol was published in 1843, and created a resurgence in the singing of Christmas carols, giving of gifts, and giving charity to the poor.

 

 

 

 

Firstchristmascard

First Christmas card, 1843. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

 

The first Christmas card is believed to have originated in 1840s England as well. In 1843, Henry Cole, an English civil servant, commissioned an artist, John Callcott Horsley, to create a card for Christmas. In 1880, 11.5 million Christmas cards were sold.

 

Christmas crackers, which for some reason never caught on in the U.S., were invented by Tom Smith, a London confectioner, in 1847.  Originally designed to help market his own bon bons, he added a popping sound upon opening (inspired by the crackling sound of a log on the fire), and inserted sweets, and a message.  Today’s crackers also include a paper crown, a small toy, a sweet, and a message akin to that inside a fortune cookie.

Gifts given at Christmas were modest in Victorian times–small trinkets, treats, fruits, and nuts–and were hung on the Christmas tree. As presents got bigger, they were stashed under the tree. Decorating for Christmas with evergreens, a medieval tradition, was adopted wholeheartedly by the Victorians. Family, so important to the Victorians, became the centerpiece of the Christmas celebration, and that tradition too we hold dear today.

And so I wish all of you a joyous holiday season, no matter which winter festival you celebrate. May you be blessed with family, friends, peace, and happiness during this season and the year to come.

Sources:
www.historyofchristmas.net
www.bbc.co.uk/victorianchristmas/history.shtml
www.history.com/topics/christmas/history-of-christmas
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Cole
www.victoriana.com/christmas/card1st-99.htm
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas_cracker

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