Would you like arsenic with that?

Happy Sunday, everyone! I’m back, finally, with a historical post.

The book I’m working on now is more mystery than romance–my penchant for killing people off in my books suggested I ought to go in the mystery direction, although so far I’ve killed off fewer people in this book than in all the others. Go figure.

Arsenic makes an appearance in the book, largely because it was hands down the most prevalent poison in the Victorian era. Believe it or not, many of the deaths from arsenic poisoning were actually unintentional. Arsenic was a component of many commonly used products, including cosmetics and soaps, fabric, and wall paper. 

Arsenic cleared the complexion of blemishes and produced the pale skin popular at the time. (Of course, they used lead too, which is another issue entirely.)

 

Arsenic was also the main component of lovely green pigments and other colors that adorned Victorian walls–wallpaper was very trendy (between 1834 and 1874, the number of wallpaper rolls produced in Britain rose by 2,615%), and the same colors were used on toys, clothing, even artificial flowers women wore in their hair.
Although doctors began sounding the alarm of the dangers of arsenic exposure in these materials in the early 1850s, they were dismissed as hysterical. It wasn’t until the demands of the market changed in the 1870s (and after Queen Victoria had all the green wallpaper removed from Buckingham Palace in 1879) that British manufacturers began to change their practices. It has even been hypothesized that Napoleon was murdered by wallpaper.

 

There was plenty of deliberate arsenic poisoning in the Victorian era as well. In 1851, Parliament passed the Sale of Arsenic Regulation Act, which required those who sold arsenic to maintain a written and signed record of sales (as we do in the U.S. now with pseudoephedrine), and it demanded that no one could sell arsenic to someone unless they knew the purchaser. It also required arsenic, with some exceptions, to be colored with soot or indigo before sale.

When I first started researching this, I discovered the 1851 act as originally written only restricted children from purchasing arsenic, but I also found several articles which noted an amendment to the law, added at the last minute, restricted women as well.  Unfortunately, I can’t find any proof of this, which is making it somewhat more challenging to write the book. I may actually have to darken the doors of my law school library. Update: Some days I’m unable to stop researching, so I found this snippet about the provision barring sales to women, which in the end was NOT included in the final legislation: “…sales would be restricted to those of full age though not, as Carlisle, the PMSA, and the Pharmaceutical Society would have preferred, to men only, the decision to discriminate against women being dropped ‘owing to the indignant remonstrances of ladies’.” Thank goodness for indignant remonstrances of ladies. 🙂  And now excuse me as I head off to rewrite three or four chapters…

James Marsh

Arsenic poisoning was so prevalent that it was one of the first compounds for which a toxicology test was created. Although a test to detect the presence of arsenic had been developed in 1775, in 1832, British Chemist James Marsh was asked to analyze a cup of coffee that had allegedly been used to poison a man. Marsh did so, but by the time of trial, the substance had deteriorated. The man, John Bodle, was acquitted. When Bodle later admitted he had actually committed the crime, Marsh was determined to develop a more stable test that could be successfully used in court. By 1836, he had done so, and the Marsh test was first used in France to convict Madame Marie LaFarge of killing her husband.

And now, just for fun, I will leave you with this clip from Arsenic and Old Lace

Sources:
http://www.historyinanhour.com/2012/09/08/the-dawn-of-forensics/
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/you/article-2335464/Whats-poison-Easy-buy-tasteless-lethal-tiny-doses-arsenic-regarded-perfect-murder-weapon.html
http://nymag.com/thecut/2013/12/most-dangerous-beauty-through-the-ages.html
http://hyperallergic.com/329747/death-by-wallpaper-alluring-arsenic-colors-poisoned-the-victorian-age/
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1851/13/contents/enacted
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1851/13/pdfs/ukpga_18510013_en.pdf
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/you/article-2335464/Whats-poison-Easy-buy-tasteless-lethal-tiny-doses-arsenic-regarded-perfect-murder-weapon.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marsh_test

 

Winter Blog Hop, Day 5 – Becky Lower

Good morning, all! Welcome to Day 5 of the Winter Blog Hop. Today features the first visit from historical (and a few contemporaries) romance author, Becky Lower. Many authors are content with releasing one, maybe two, books per year. But Becky, who has the creative energy of most of the people I know combined, is releasing three this month.  The first is a boxed set of her beloved Cotillion Ball series.

9781507202487

You’ll fall in love with the spirited Fitzpatrick family as they find romance in turbulent Civil War-era America. Raised to defy societal convention and follow their passions, these siblings’ rebellious hearts meet their matches. Settle in to enjoy these 10 tales of independent, passionate, and strong American heroines and heroes, set in the 1850s and 1860s. American history comes alive as each child in the family comes of age.

Hop over to Becky’s blog to read more about the Fitzpatricks, and stop by tomorrow to hear from author Landra Graf!

 

Winter Blog Hop! Day 3 – Cynthia Blackburn

Today’s guest is Cynthia Blackburn, one of my critique partners from the Passionate Critters. Cynthia is celebrating a bunch of firsts this weekend–her first regency romance, her first self-published book, and her first book blast with me! 🙂 Her Regency romance, A Rogue of One’s Own, releases Sunday, December 4. Happy book birthday, Cyn!

A Rogue of One’s Own

cyn-bookLady Georgina Pelham has accepted her fate. After one disastrous season, she knows she’s not ever going to be more than a wallflower, and her only chance for marriage is to allow her half-brother and stepmother to contract her to the highest bidder. But their choices are dreadful. If only she could find a husband who loved her instead of one who would treat her as if she didn’t exist.

Sebastian Raphael Martin Locksley, Earl of St. John, has a reputation as a rogue. He also has a mistress problem, because Miranda—his convenient of three years—took it into her head to introduce herself to his mother and sisters in front of everyone in the ton. It’s a social disaster for his sisters and especially for his family. He needs to save face and save his sisters’ chances to marry, and that means dismissing Miranda, something he’d rather not do.

So when the opportunity arises to escort Lady Georgie and make her appear appealing to eligible bachelors of her choosing, he realizes the gossip-mongers will focus on that instead of Miranda’s faux-pas. He’ll be able to keep his mistress, and Georgie will find a man of her own choosing. It’s the perfect solution for both of them. Until they start to fall in love…

Excerpt:

“And what sort of husband are you seeking, Lady Pelham?” Sebastian asked, not expecting her to answer.

But then, she lifted her face, and he caught his breath. She wasn’t even close to being an Incomparable by ton standards, but Lady Pelham had the biggest, most luminous eyes he’d ever seen. Framed with long, dark lashes, they were an unusual shade of blue that appeared almost lavender when the light hit them the right way. Like right now. He blinked, and so did she. “I’m not,” she said quietly. “Not really.”

“Oh, bosh. Yes, you are, Georgie.” Charlotte stamped her foot. “You need a husband. A good one, not one that Percy and Eudora pick for you. Why, you could end up with someone ancient!”

In “Georgie’s” eyes, Sebastian could read so many things. Tolerance, for one. Suffering, for another. Embarrassment. Annoyance. And love. She wanted to throttle Charlotte, he could tell, but because she loved her friend, she was allowing her to push her about this way.

Plus, she didn’t expect to succeed in her own quest for a mate. How he knew that, he didn’t know, but he was absolutely positive that Miss Georgina felt her friend was fighting a losing battle in her defense. Which was silly. She was perfectly lovely—it’s just that she needed to let herself… “Glow,” he murmured.

“I beg your pardon?” Miss Georgina murmured back.

“I—excuse me. I was just thinking aloud. Forgive me.” Of what he was thinking, he had no idea. Sebastian straightened his shoulders and cleared his throat. Damn spring in London. The fresh air was giving him fits of poetry, and worse–gallantry.

You can find A Rogue of Her Own on Amazon.

Bio:

Cynthia Blackburn is better at writing than at taking selfies. Her favorite thing to write is romance. When she’s not writing, she can be found mucking out stalls for Horses Bring Hope, a non-profit organization, or mucking out the house for her three children, two dogs and one husband. A native of Rhode Island, she guzzles coffee (hot or iced), and enjoys haunting historical cemeteries and deserted local beaches.

 

 

It’s NaNovember so this will be short…

typewriter-801921_1920It’s NaNoWriMo–National Novel Writing Month–for many of us in the writing world, that crazy time of year when we are glued to our laptops for an entire month, even more antisocial than usual, vomiting at least 1667 words per day for a total of 50,000 by November 30. I’ve spent the latter part of this week catching up to the first part–Election Day put a wee hitch in my stride–but for the first time in several years I’m reasonably close to being on target to finish (knock on wood).

Although I was planning to write a futuristic dystopian I plotted during the RNC, it was far too depressing. So I’m writing a romantic historical mystery instead, and I am completely pantsing it. Other than knowing who killed the odious Clive in the very first scene, I’m playing everything by ear. This is usually a recipe for disaster for me, and trying to do it with a mystery is likely to be incredibly stupid. But I was trying to finish the last book before this one, so I didn’t have time to plot. We shall see if I still manage to get through the middle without flying off the rails, but so far the words are flowing with minimal obstruction. (Knocking again.)

Are you trying NaNo this year? How’s it going? Words flowing? Not so much? Take a little break and share!

Victorian Fashion

I am not a fashion maven. I am a jeans and t-shirt kind of girl, unless I’m wearing Chico’s Travelers Collection, which look stylish but feel like pajamas. (Need I say more?) I have one favorite pair of shoes for each season and I wear them until they fall apart, at which time I spend hours online looking for the exact same pair. I almost never wear shorts because of my pasty white Cleveland legs, but the pair I don’t mind being seen in I bought in 1998. Seriously.

Despite my embarrassing anti-fashion proclivities, I am a writer of historical romance, and in the Victorian era, women of a certain class were very concerned with fashion. And if I am to write about them, I need to care about what they wore. Or at least how to get it off them. 😉

To that end, I spent Saturday taking a field trip with my NEORWA chapter mates to the Kent State University Museum of Fashion. The most interesting exhibit, at least for me, was one called Inside Out, which featured clothing literally inside out so you could see how it was constructed. And they had Darcy’s puffy shirt! Colin Firth wasn’t even it–more’s the pity–and we were all still drooling. You can find pictures at https://insideoutksum.wordpress.com/–I can’t get WordPress to cooperate with the photos I took. 

The Victorian era lasted from 1837 to 1901, and fashions changed drastically during that timeframe.  And don’t even get me started on men’s facial hair–that is deserving of its own post.

In the 1830s, as at right, the ideal form was a long torso with a slim silhouette, so corsets were tight and movement was restricted. (Isn’t that an odd picture? The upper half seems oddly disconnected from the bottom, but I sometimes wonder if that’s how women felt…)

 

Starting in the 1840s, skirts became wider–the fuller the skirt, the more petticoats underneath, which was a sign of wealth. I love this relaxed portrait of Queen Victoria and her prince from 1841.

Illustration of cage crinoline from Punch, 1856

 

The 1850s saw the invention of bloomers, as well as the cage crinoline–a miraculous contraption that held the skirts out in lieu of a dozen petticoats, returning women to a comparative freedom of movement.

 

There is an adorable scene from Mrs. Gaskell’s Cranford in which a fancy cage from Paris is ordered for Miss Pole’s bird. Unfortunately, it’s the wrong type of cage. It’s just the first minute and again at about 3:45, but if you like BBC period programs, you have to watch the whole series–it’s delightful.

The 1860s saw skirts at their widest and waists at their narrowest–remember this scene from Gone With the Wind?

 

In the 1870s, skirts deflated quite a bit, hoops replaced by a flatter front and layers in the back, as in this painting by Pierre Auguste Renoir from 1874.

 

 

In the 1880s, the bustle was the dominant feature in women’s fashion (and the top hat for men) as seen in this 1883 painting by James Tissot.

 

 

 

The last decade of the 19th century brought big sleeves, sharply defined waists, and slimmer skirts, as in this fashion plate from 1893…

 

 

 

 

…and this John Singer Sargent painting from 1896.

 

 

The turn of the century brought us more masculine attire for women, the Gibson Girl–see the Sargent painting at right from 1903–outrageous hats, and the rise of haute couture.

Londoners in front of Harrods, 1909

There is far more to seventy years of fashion than I have the time, energy, or inclination to share here, but if you’re interested in learning more, click on the link for each decade above, and check out these sites for more information and lots more pictures:

http://www.victoriana.com/Victorian-Fashion/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victorian_fashion
http://www.victorianweb.org/victorian/art/costume/index.html
http://www.fashion-era.com/the_victorian_era.htm
https://www.buzzfeed.com/niaalavezos/proof-the-victorian-era-had-the-greatest-fashion
http://www.fashionlady.in/victorian-era-fashion/855
http://vintagefashionguild.org/fashion-timeline/

 

Historical Book Blast Friday: More from Beth Trissel

I am pleased to welcome fellow Wild Rose historical author, Beth Trissel, back to the blog today. Beth, you may recall, released Traitor’s Curse in November, and today she’d like to tell you about the other books in the series. If you like 18th century American romance, you really should check out them out!

Enemyoftheking_w2243_680Enemy of the King (Book 1 Traitor’s Legacy Series)

1780, South Carolina.

While Loyalist Meriwether Steele recovers from illness in the stately home of her beloved guardian, Jeremiah Jordan, she senses the haunting presence of his late wife. When she learns that Jeremiah is a Patriot spy and shoots Captain Vaughan, the British officer sent to arrest him, she is caught up on a wild ride into Carolina back country, pursued both by the impassioned captain and the vindictive ghost. Will she remain loyal to her king and Tory twin brother or risk a traitor’s death fighting for Jeremiah? If Captain Vaughan snatches her away, he won’t give her a choice.

Traitors LegacyTraitor’s Legacy (Book 2)

1781. On opposite sides of the War of Independence, British Captain Jacob Vaughan and Claire Monroe find themselves thrust together by chance and expediency.

Captain Vaughan comes to a stately North Carolina manor to catch a spy. Instead, he finds himself in bedlam: the head of the household is an old man ravaged by madness, the one sane male of the family is the very man he is hunting, and the household is overseen by his beguiling sister Claire.

Torn between duty, love, and allegiances, yearning desperately for peace, will Captain Vaughan and Claire Monroe forge a peace of their own against the vagaries of war and the betrayal of false friends?

MediaKit_BookCover_TraitorsCurse_w9629_med (1)Traitor’s Curse (Book 3)

Halifax, North Carolina, 1783.

Captain Stuart Monroe returns home from the Revolutionary War to find Thornton Hall threatened by a peacetime foe: debt. He knows the location of a treasure amassed to pay for the capture of Benedict Arnold that would restore his manor to its former glory. The catch, it’s hidden in the graveyard, and coveted by old enemies.

Hettie Fairfax inherited the Sight from her Cherokee ancestors, and her otherworldly visitors warn her, and Stuart, away from the buried treasure. Half-dead from fever, she delivers a message: the treasure is cursed. But will he believe a girl half out of her mind with illness? Even when a very real enemy attempts to poison her? Stuart soon wants to marry Hettie, but she fears her “odd ways” will blemish his reputation. The spirits have their own agenda, however, and the battle against darkness tests everything the couple holds dear, including their love for each other.

A bit about Beth:

Author Beth TrisselMarried to her high school sweetheart, Beth Trissel lives on a farm in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia surrounded by her children, grandbabies, and assorted animals. An avid gardener, her love of herbs and heirloom plants figures into her work. The rich history of Virginia, the Native Americans, and the people who journeyed here from far beyond her borders are at the heart of her inspiration. She’s especially drawn to colonial America and the drama of the American Revolution. In addition to historical romance, Beth also writes time travel, paranormal romance, YA fantasy, and nonfiction.

For more on Beth visit her blog, One Writer’s Way, connect with Beth on Facebook and Twitter, and visit her Amazon Author Page.

Historical Book Blast Friday: Laura Strickland’s back!

I am pleased to welcome fellow Wild Rose author Laura Strickland back to the blog, since her latest book, Forged by Love, releases today (I wish I was so prolific!). Thanks for stopping by, Laura!

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Forged by Love
by Laura Strickland

Newly returned home to Lobster Cove from the War Between the States, blacksmith Douglas Grier can’t forget the horrors he’s witnessed or the beautiful young woman he helped break free from her shackles one dark night after her master’s plantation burned. He wishes he had at least asked her name, even though she and her family disappeared into the darkness and Douglas has no expectation of seeing her again.

Josie Freeman can’t remember the last time she felt safe. Even though she and her family are freed, they’re being pursued by slave hunters hired by their former owner. When their ship is damaged on the way to Nova Scotia, Josie is thrown into contact with the one man she never expected…the very man she had wanted to see. But will her past catch up with her before Douglas can free her heart?

EXCERPT:

“Hello, folks. Sir, I don’t suppose you remember me.”

Josie stared at the man who spoke, afraid to believe her eyes. Tall and with bare shoulders that gleamed in the sun, he had a crop of wavy black hair and skin almost as dark as her own. Though he spoke to Daniel, his brown eyes sought hers and held them, his wonder evident to see.

Not remember him? From the instant he stepped on the wharf, Josie’s attention had been snagged—and not just because he was a good-looking man. No, for the pull she’d felt from the first they sighted this place heightened almost unbearably, every one of her inner instincts sitting up and howling.

Not remember him? Had there been a moment since that night he hadn’t been, somehow, with her?

Her lips parted, but she didn’t speak. Daniel’s deep voice sounded instead.

“Of course, of course we remember you, sir. How could we forget?”

“Good to see you again.” The man focused on Daniel at last and extended a hand to him without hesitation. “But what sort of happenstance has brought you here where we might cross paths again?”

“A long story, sir, and one with a full measure of sorrow.” Daniel shook the man’s hand with the innate courtesy that always marked him.

The fellow’s gaze stole back to Josie, and she promptly went breathless. “I’m very glad to see you safe. That night—well, I never did get your names.”

“Daniel Freeman, sir. This here is my son Michael, his wife Eunice, and their child Hetty. And my own girl, Josie.”

“Douglas Grier, and I’m glad to meet you properly.”

Michael leaned forward to shake Douglas Grier’s hand. “I’m happy, Mr. Grier, to have a chance to thank you. It was a fine thing you did for us that night.”

Douglas Grier smiled, and his somber face transformed as if lit from within. Josie’s heart fluttered like a wild bird before resuming a double-time beat.

Calm yourself, girl. He’s done no more than look at you.

Grier turned to her. “Josie Freeman,” he repeated as if he memorized it, and took Josie’s hand.

She promptly went dizzy as sudden images pressed upon her, blotting out the present. His hands coming at her, so strong and yet gentle, out of the darkness that night. The way he’d touched her, with such care and respect, and the way he’d looked at her as if he could see right down to the bottom of her soul.

He smiled again and Josie’s poor heart pounded in response. “What a marvel this is. I’ve wondered a hundred times what happened to you after that night.”

Forged by Love can be found at these retailers:
Amazon
Amazon Canada
Amazon UK
The Wild Rose Press
Barnes and Noble
Good Reads
All Romance eBooks

Laura Strickland Publicity PhotoBorn and raised in Western New York, Laura Strickland has pursued lifelong interests in lore, legend, magic and music, all reflected in her writing. Though her imagination frequently takes her to far off places, she is usually happiest at home not far from Lake Ontario with her husband and her “fur” child, a rescue dog. Author of Scottish romances Devil Black and His Wicked Highland Ways as well as The Guardians of Sherwood Trilogy (consisting of Daughter of Sherwood, Champion of Sherwood, and Lord of Sherwood), she has also published two Steampunk romances, Dead Handsome: a Buffalo Steampunk Adventure, and Off Kilter: a Buffalo Steampunk Adventure, as well as two Christmas novellas: The Tenth Suitor and Mrs. Claus and the Viking Ship. Her Lobster Cove Historical Romance, The White Gull, is the prequel to her new release, Forged By Love, a Lobster Cove novella. Her next release will be a contemporary Candy Hearts Romance called Ask Me.

You can read more about Laura and her books at www.laurastricklandbooks.com.

 

Historical Book Blast Friday: Jana Richards

It’s Book Blast Friday! My guest today is fellow Wild Rose author Jana Richards. Her newest novella, Home Fires, is set during World War II. Welcome, Jana!

Home FiresHomeFires_6865_680
by Jana Richards

Anne Wakefield travels halfway around the world for love. But when she arrives in Canada from England at the end of World War Two, she discovers the handsome Canadian pilot she’d fallen in love with has married someone else. Heartbroken, she prepares to return to London, though she has nothing left there to return to. Her former fiancé’s mother makes a suggestion: marriage to her other son.

Badly wounded and scarred during the war, Erik Gustafson thinks he’s a poor substitute for his brother. Although he loves Anne almost from the first time he sees her, he cannot believe she would ever be able to love him as he is – especially as he might be after another operation on his bad leg.  Anne sees the beauty of his heart. The cold prairie winter may test her courage, but can she prove to Erik that her love for him is real?

 Excerpt:

She whirled around to glare at him, her eyes blazing. “No! I’m not a child! I don’t have to be mollycoddled and babysat. I spent six years in a war zone, hiding in bomb shelters, never having enough to eat. I worked in a hospital treating blitz victims with wounds so horrendous grown men would gag to look at them. I faced those horrors every day. Sometimes things were so bad I thought I couldn’t go on. But I did. Because I had to. And I’ll face things here, too. So don’t tell me to give up, because I won’t!”

Erik pushed himself out of his chair to face her, awed by her spirit and courage. She lifted her chin as if defying him to contradict her, her hands clenched at her sides. Her dark hair curled in wild abandon as it dried, framing her pale oval face like a halo. Her beauty and ferocity were magnificent.

“I think you’re the strongest woman I know.”

Her eyes widened in surprise, her hands unclenching. He caught the quiver of her chin as she fought to hold back tears.

“I made such a mess of things,” she whispered. “I’m sorry for all the fuss I caused everyone.”

Erik took a step toward her. “It’s not your fault. I shouldn’t have let you go alone in the dark.”

“You didn’t know I would stupidly walk out onto thin ice.” She shook her head. “I wanted to help. I wanted to be useful. I can’t stand feeling so bloody useless.”

“You’re not useless. You’re an amazing woman. Anders is a fool for letting you go.”

She stared at him, her eyes filling with tears. “Thank you.”

He opened his arms and she stepped into them, wrapping her arms around his waist, clinging to him. He held her tightly, inhaling the sweet, clean scent of her, never wanting to let her go.

“Don’t cry. Everything’s all right now.”

“I know I’m being stupid. Tears don’t solve anything,” she said against his chest. “But I was so cold, and so scared. I thought I was going to die.”

He tightened his hold and kissed her hair. “Don’t think about it anymore. You’re safe now.”

He heard her sigh, felt her relax against him. “Yes. I’m safe.”

She lifted her head to look into his face, her dark eyes shiny with tears, her lips slightly parted, and Erik stared at her mouth, wanting desperately to kiss her, to capture her sweetness. He slowly lowered his mouth to hers. To his surprise, she didn’t run off or turn away in revulsion. He was so close her breath mingled with his, her breathing shallow and erratic. His heart slammed against his chest, his body thrumming with need. For the first time in over three years, he felt alive.

HOME FIRES (e-version) is on sale for .99 cents at all major e-retailers between December 4 and 17, 2015.

Buy Home Fires at these retailers: The Wild Rose Press | All Romance Ebooks | Amazon | B & N | Bookstrand |Google Play | Kobo | iBooks | BAM

Jana RichardsJana Richards has tried her hand at many writing projects over the years, from magazine articles and short stories to full-length paranormal suspense and romantic comedy. She loves to create characters with a sense of humor, but also a serious side.  She believes there’s nothing more interesting then peeling back the layers of a character to see what makes them tick.

When not writing up a storm, working at her day job as an Office Administrator, or dealing with ever present mountains of laundry, Jana can be found on the local golf course pursuing her newest hobby.

Jana lives in Western Canada with her husband Warren, and a highly spoiled Pug/Terrier cross named Lou.

You can find out more about Jana and her books at these sites:

Website:  http://www.janarichards.com
Blog:  http://janarichards.blogspot.com
Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/JanaRichardsAuthor
Twitter:  http://www.twitter.com/JanaRichards_
Amazon Author Page:  http://www.amazon.com/author/janarichards
Newsletter Signup: http://www.eepurl.com/m3UnT
Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2892274Jana_Richards
Google+ Profile:  https://plus.google.com/100820406211390323245

Book Blast Friday: Sheridan Jeane and Giveaway!

This week I am delighted to introduce you to friend and NEORWA chaptermate, Sheridan Jeane, who writes action-packed Victorian era romance. The third novel in her Secrets and Seduction Series, Once Upon a Spy, released this week. Welcome Sheridan!

Upon Upon a SpyOnce Upon a Spy Cover
by Sheridan Jeane

Robert, Earl of Wentworth, isn’t a spy, and he never wants to be one, but when his brother is injured and needs his help stealing an important book from the Russian embassy, he can’t refuse.

Antonia has lost everything. If she wants her life back, she needs that book. The problem is, Lord Wentworth just stole it from the Russian Ambassador.

The reluctant spy and the daring thief find themselves at cross-purposes. Who will win in this dangerous game of nations— especially when their hearts are at stake as well?

Excerpt:

London, January 6, 1854

The turning point in a man’s life isn’t always accompanied by a crash of thunder. Sometimes it’s marked by something much more subtle and easier to miss, like the flash of a silver gown, or the rich hue of a twist of chestnut hair.

Lord Wentworth managed to dismiss his turning point.

As he caught sight of the woman across the ballroom, her strong allure caught his attention, certainly. But he ignored it, believing his immediate visceral response to be nothing more than a reaction to her beauty.

For him, there could be no future with her. Nor with any woman.

She represented a precipice. Danger. One he needed to avoid.

He chose to turn his back on the silver-gowned woman and her pull of destiny. Instead, he stepped out onto the patio to let the chill January air envelop him. It drove away some of the oppressive heat of the ballroom. 

“Robert, come over here,” his brother called to him. “Lord Percival is telling the most preposterous story.”

He closed the embassy door. The glow of the flickering torches allowed him to identify Frederick sitting with a group of men at a stone table near the edge of the lawn. 

As he strode across the paved patio, Robert considered how fundamentally wrong it was for the Russian Ambassador’s winter solstice celebration to be held in a building so overheated the temperature drove the guests outdoors.

 His brother shifted his chair and made space for Robert to join the group. The low oil lamps on the table illuminated the listeners’ rapt faces as Lord Percival recounted his latest yarn.

Everyone greeted Robert with brief smiles and nods before they returned their attention to Percival. He appeared well-groomed, with his neatly trimmed, sable-colored beard, his white gloves, and his perfectly tailored evening coat all speaking to the excellence of his valet, but something seemed slightly off about him. As expected, an aroma of tobacco emanated from this particular group, but Percival’s whiskey-laden breath came as a surprise. The evening was still a fresh, young thing, with flawless skin and a lively demeanor. Wobbly-looking Percival must have been drinking all afternoon to be so inebriated the odor oozed from his pores.

 “You’ll love this,” Frederick murmured as he glanced at Robert. The corners of his eyes crinkled as he smiled.

Lord Percival took a puff on his cigar, pausing for effect, and said “…and I forcibly tossed him from the carriage. He landed directly in a steaming pile of manure!” He slapped his hand down on the marble table to emphasize his words, but he clipped one of the oil lamps.

The container flipped over. Oil flew out, splashing onto the table and the cigar Percival clutched. The cigar immediately burst into flame. He dropped it, letting out a sharp shriek of pain and fear. The cigar landed on the table in the spreading puddle of oil. The men jumped back, knocking the chairs to the ground. In less time than a the flutter of a hummingbird’s wings, fire swept down a large swath of the tabletop. 

Frederick jumped back too, but his thin evening gloves were already drenched in oil. With mounting horror, Robert watched as his brother froze for an instant. Flames erupted from his hands.

The sickening image chilled him. If Frederick had been a performer on stage, the audience would have burst into applause, but this was no trick. No sleight of hand. It was real, and Frederick’s hands were on fire. 

Find Once Upon a Spy and Sheridan’s other books on Amazon.

 

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Sheridan JeaneAbout Sheridan:

Sheridan Jeane writes exciting and emotion-packed historical romances set in the Victorian Era that confront issues of trust and conformity.

With the advent of the industrial age, life was changing. Many people tried to hold on to the old ways of life while others embraced the new opportunities open to them. Join Sheridan as she explores the clash between the old and the new.

Sheridan has always loved books, history, and stories about amazing people who blaze new trails.

Despite naming their daughter Sheridan because they thought it might someday look great on the cover of a book, Sheridan’s parents urged her in a more practical direction for college. Sheridan earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science with a minor in English.

Historical Book Blast Friday: Marlow Kelly

It’s (slightly delayed) Historical Book Blast Friday! This week I’m featuring the latest release from fellow Wild Rose author Marlow Kelly, entitled A Woman of Courage. Thanks for joining me today, Marlow!

AWomanofCourage_w9622_750A Woman of Courage
by Marlow Kelly

When an injured Fianna Byrne turns up at Connell O’Neill’s gate twelve years after their separation he knows this could be his last chance to find happiness with the woman he loves.

False accusations against Fianna had strained relations between their clans and forced Connell, under Irish law, to divorce her. Their disastrous three-month relationship left Fianna pregnant and heartbroken. She has avoided Duncarraig and her ex-husband ever since.

But with her home obliterated by the Vikings, Fianna must face her past in order to save her son, and prove once and for all she is a woman of courage.

Excerpt:

Connell held Fianna’s hand as he led her inside. Was this really happening or was it a dream? He had to turn around and check. He had imagined this moment for the last twelve years. His attraction to her was more than physical. He enjoyed her fire, and her spirit. She lived by her own moral code and did not bend to the will of others without reason. These were the characteristics his father had abhorred, but then, Seamus had enjoyed weak women. Pretty, mindless things he could hang on his arm.

Had his father been threatened by Fianna’s strength? After she was gone, Connell had come to realize her depth of character made her special. She had been his confidante, lover, and friend. Her intelligence did not overwhelm his intellect, as his father had suggested, but enhanced it. For those brief months he enjoyed her counsel, and had missed it every day since.

He glanced at her again. Even with everything that had happened this night she had the bearing of a queen, an indomitable woman who could never be conquered.

You can find A Woman of Courage at these retailers:
The Wild Rose Press
Amazon
Nook
ARE

Marlow Kelly Author PhotoAbout Marlow:

After being thrown out of England for refusing to drink tea, Marlow Kelly made her way to Canada where she found love, a home and a pug named Max. She also discovered her love of storytelling. Encouraged by her husband, children and let’s not forget Max, she started putting her ideas to paper. Her need to write about strong women in crisis drives her stories and her curiosity regarding the lives and loves of historical figures are the inspiration for her characters. You can visit Marlow at www.marlowkelly.com

You can also find her elsewhere online on:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/marlowkelly?ref=hl
Twitter: https://twitter.com/want2write
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/Marlowkelly14/

And for more about Marlow, check out the author interview I posted earlier this year.

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