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
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Winter Blog Hop, Day 12 – Victorian Cookies

SecretPromise_w9701_750Today’s scheduled guest is unable to be here, so I’m filling in with a Victorian era recipe for Cinnamon Cakes, which are actually cookies. I found it in Eliza Acton’s Modern Cookery, and featured them in Secret Promise. Here’s an excerpt:

Zachary was curled up in a chair in the sitting room, reading.

“Zachary,” Anna said, “I have a surprise for you.”

Zachary’s head snapped up, and he sniffed the air. “Have you been baking, Mam?”

“I have not, but Mrs. Graham has.” The woman herself appeared at the top of stairs, smiling in welcome. She removed a cinnamon cake from the bag she carried and held it out to Zachary.

Zachary leapt out of his chair. “Is that for me?” He hesitated, looking from a smiling Mrs. Graham to Anna for verification.

Anna nodded. “Yes, it’s for you. Mrs. Graham spoiled me with treats when I was young, and I have no doubt she’d very much like to spoil you, too.”

Zachary took the cake, inhaling its sweet, spicy smell before devouring it in three bites. “Thank you, Mrs. Graham. It was delicious!”

Here’s the original recipe from the 1845 edition of Modern Cookery:

CINNAMON, OR LEMON CAKES

Rub six ounces of good butter into img_4520a pound of fine dry flour, and work it lightly into crumbs, then add three quarters of a pound of sifted sugar, a dessertspoonful of pounded cinnamon (or half as much when only a slight flavour is liked), and make these ingredients into a firm paste with three eggs, or four, if needed. Roll it, not very thin, and cut out the cakes with a tin shape. Bake them in a very gentle oven from fifteen to twenty minutes, or longer, should they not be done quite through. As soon as they are cold, put them into a clean and dry tin canister, a. precaution which should be observed with all small sugar cakes, which ought also to be loosened from the oven tins while they are still warm.

Flour, 1 lb.; butter, 6 ozs. ; sugar, 3/4 lb.; cinnamon, 1 dessertspoonful (more or less, to the taste) ; eggs, 3 to 4.

Obs. Lemon cakes can be made by this receipt by substituting for the cinnamon the rasped or grated rinds of two lemons, and the strained juice of one, when its acidity is not objected to. More butter, and more or less of sugar, can be used at will, both for these and for the cinnamon cakes.

And here’s my modern variation, which is a bit easier to follow:

CINNAMON CAKES
Makes about 4 dozen large or 6 dozen small cookies

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

6       oz. (approx 1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold, cut into cubes
1        lb      cake flour (approx. 3-1/4 cups)
1        tsp    baking powder
1/4    tsp   salt
3/4   lb      sugar (approx. 2-1/4 cups)
1        tsp    cinnamon
3        lg      eggs

img_4518Cut the butter into the flour with a pastry cutter or your fingers until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Mix together the baking powder, salt, sugar, and cinnamon and add to the flour. Add the eggs and beat just until mixed. If the dough is too dry, add up to 1-2 tablespoons of milk, just enough so that the dough holds together.

img_4519Roll out the dough on a floured board to about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into rounds with a your favorite cookie cutters. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Sprinkle with decorating sugar (or if you really like cinnamon, use cinnamon sugar).

Bake in a 375 oven for 10-12 minutes, or until the cookies are lightly brown on the edges.

Cool on a wire rack.img_4521

Just as an FYI, I omitted the salt in one half of the dough and compared the two versions. I liked the salt version a little bit better, but my kid noticed no difference in taste–so if you’re limiting your salt intake, go ahead and try them without.

Feel free to experiment and let me know what changes you made. 🙂

Book Blast Friday: Cover Reveal!

Happy Friday, everyone! I’m sure you’ve all been waiting with breathless anticipation–or possibly not–but finally, the time has come to reveal my beautiful cover for my third book featuring the Tenwick family.

Tempting Mr. Jordan is set six years after my first book, Stirring Up the Viscount, and features Jonathan Tenwick’s younger sister, Julia, all grown up.

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.

So without further ado, here’s the cover, designed by cover artist extraordinare, Rae Monet:

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Stay tuned for a release date! In the meantime, check out my Pinterest page for some of my inspiration for this book.

Ah, Valentine’s Day…

‘Tis the season of love, and once again the snow is piled high and the skies are dreary and gray. In light of the ancient holiday of St. Valentine, I thought I would continue the practice I started last year (hey, now it’s a tradition, hurray!) of posting selections from Victorian Valentine’s Day verse books.  I suggest reading them aloud to your beloved while drinking champagne and slurping oysters.

These are from The Lady’s Own Fashionable Valentine Writer.

To a Frenchman:
For fashion and politeness, you may claim,
Respect from all who venerate their name,
Endowed with fertile genius you must find,
Nature has been to you a parent kind;
Careless and gay you pass life‘s hours away,
Happy you seem whate’er may cloud the day;
Monsieur, believe me, to you I incline,
And fain would have you for my Valentine,
Not doubting but in love you‘ll nobly shine.

To an Irishman (poor sod):
Indeed, friend Pat, I don’t to you incline,
Reject, I must, you for my Valentine;
l neither like shilelah, nor your bluster,
Sure you of brass a sample rich can muster;
Honor and you long since have left each other,
My Emerald lad, an ass is sure your brother,
At any rate with beasts, you nature share,
Next to your bulls I’d take you for a bear.

 

To a Welshman:
Where flows the Vye, where of’t its waters swell,
Enured to toil, the ancient Britons dwell;
Love o’er the world is known to hold great sway,
Cambria’s sons, well pleased, its calls obey;
Honest, but poor, they live in rural peace,
Making their rugged soil produce encrease,
A Valentine from such l’d gladly take,
Nor yield him up for any English rake.

To a German:
Great ugly beast! can any woman think,
Ever with such a bear her fate to link;
Rough in your manners, to tobacco prone,
Much good may do the wife you call your own;
At any rate, such state will ne’er be mine,
No Mynheer Von shall be my Valentine.

Ouch.

 

To Adam:
Abroad, at home, no matter when or where,
Delighted friends rejoice your voice to hear;
Among the throng there’s none to you incline,
More than the writer—your own Valentine.

To poor Benjamin:
Base wretch, begone! your mumming will not do,
Endless my mis’ry, should I wed with you;
Nature he made you of such vile complexion,
Juggler! you’re only fit to breed infection;
A cabbage stalk cut down to a mere stump,
Mounting upon your back a decent hump;
Indeed, indeed! you never shall be mine,
No, Mountebank!—I’m not your Valentine.

 

 

 

As I feel compelled to give the gentlemen equal time, the following verses are from Hymen’s Rhapsodies, or, Lover’s Themes, A Collection of Valentine Verses, Written Expressly for this Work, For Gentlemen, To Address Ladies in Sonnets, Superior to Any Other.  (The title is longer than some of the verses.)

To a Lady without Fortune:
I Ask not wealth—the rich, we see,
Oft wretched ‘midst their pelf:
Thy merit is enough for me;
A treasure in thy self. – –
Oh, had I bags of massy gold,
Those bags wou’d I resign, . . .
As mine, my charmer to behold,
And be her Valentine.

I had to look up pelf, which turns out to be a Middle English term for booty. No kidding. And just in case your lover happens to have some, there’s another verse for her:

To a Lady with a Fortune:
Do not suppose,
My metre flows,
‘Cause fortune is thy boast;
Ere this I knew,
I swear ’tis true,
Thou’st been my constant toast!
Oh, had I got Thy better lot
And thou wer’t poor like me !
I’d say, with pride,
None else beside
My Valentine should be.

To a Prude:
BE not fastidious, over nice,
Because the squeamish and precise,
May every chance decline;
And the capricious fair one may
Regret she did not love re-pay,
And choose her Valentine.
Be wise—for beauty soon will fade
You’ll find in me no gasconade,
Then love for love assign:
Be wise—for time is on the wing,
Nor will each February bring
A faithful Valentine.

Well, okay then.

 

 

Sorry, one more. I can’t help myself.

To a Lady of any Rank:
LIFE, they say, is but a span:
Let’s be happy while we can—
Life is short, then don’t decline
The offer of a Valentine.
There is danger in delay—
Therefore make your choice to-day:
Let me pray thee to be mine
Oh, my dear, sweet Valentine.
You’re not sure, my dearest dear,
Of a Valentine next year;
Pray then answer, by a line,
If you’ll be my Valentine.

Nothing says romance like knowing you’ll probably die tomorrow.

Happy Valentine’s Day, peeps.

**All images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, from an 1876 collection of Valentines held by the British Library.  Click on images for more info.**

Historical Book Blast Friday: Becky Lower

This October–my favorite month–I’m starting something new. I love historical fiction of every kind–romance, mystery, fantasy, young adult, you name it–and I want everyone else to love it too. So to introduce you to some historical authors you may not have encountered before, I’ve started a Friday Book Blast series for historical fiction. (If you’re an author interested in scheduling a Book Blast, contact me here.)

48988_1025007027_4423_nTo kick off this new series, it’s fitting that I feature an author who is a master of writing series romance: the award-winning historical romance author Becky Lower. Becky is a fellow member of NEORWA, a resident of the small college town I called home for four years, an exhaustingly prolific author, and an all around lovely person I am honored to call a friend.

Becky has two new releases this month (did I mention she was prolific?): The eighth installment in her Cotillion Ball series, and a novella about the couple who started it all.

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A Widow’s Salvation

In 1862 America, the Civil War has raged for twelve months. Pepper Fitzpatrick Brown’s heart was broken when her husband died with the first volley at Manassas. Now she’s a widow raising three young boys and plans to honor his sacrifice by volunteering at the army hospital.

 When Colonel Elijah Williams can grab a few minutes to nap between his duties as head surgeon at MacDougall Army Hospital in the Bronx, his sleep is invaded with nightmares of the atrocities he’s seen. His life has narrowed to nothing but the bloody war … until he meets Pepper Brown. But her father is concerned Elijah doesn’t have the best intentions, and Pepper is fearful of loving and losing again.

 It’s hard to find happiness in a war-torn United States, but these two stand a fighting chance—if they can save what’s left of their hearts.

A Widow’s Salvation and all the books in the Cotillion Ball series are available from Amazon.

9781440594458An Unconventional Courtship

George Fitzpatrick had boarded the new omnibus intent on nothing more than a ride from one point to another. Until a gorgeous young blonde named Charlotte Ashcroft suddenly claims he is her chaperone. What’s an up-and-coming young banker to do but help a lady out?

This story is featured in a collection of historical romance novellas called Rogues, Rakes, and Romance. You can find it at Amazon.

For more information about Becky and her books, visit her website at www.beckylowerauthor.com.

Author Interview: Marlow Kelly and a Giveaway!

I am very pleased to welcome author Marlow Kelly, whose most recent historical romance, A Woman of Love, was released by The Wild Rose Press on March 4. MarlowKelly

Thanks for visiting today, Marlow!

Tell us a bit about you. Where do you live, and how long have you been writing?

Hi, my name’s Marlow. I grew up in England and moved to Canada in my late twenties. As much as I love my adopted homeland, I do enjoy returning to London and soaking up the history.

I live in Northern Alberta, Canada – Think Ice Road Truckers. It’s cold in the winter and glorious in the summer. I love it.

I didn’t start writing until about seven years ago. I’d always had characters dancing in my head, telling stories. One day I woke up and realized if I didn’t write my stories down they might never be told.

What inspired you to write A Woman of Love?

It was two things. I read that the Victorians were a lot more liberated behind closed doors than they appeared on the surface, and then I read about wife selling. The terms of wife selling varied, sometimes it was used as a way to obtain a divorce and bring an end to an unhappy marriage, but occasionally, as in my book, it was used to pay a debt.

That got me thinking what if…

These days a woman can leave her husband, but in the Victorian Era women were owned, by their husbands. She was at his mercy. From there, the idea grew.

What does your writing process look like? 

At this point I have to say it’s a mess. The Honour, Love and Courage books are a series of novellas. I just held the stories in my head until I’d written them down. I can’t do that with a full-length novel. There are too many plot twists and details to recall. But if I plot the story too deeply then I’ve already told it and I don’t want to write it down. If I don’t plot at all then the story falls apart, normally somewhere in the middle. I’m trying to figure out an approach that’s right for me; I’m more of a work in progress than my stories.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

I spend time with my family, read, watch TV, and walk – I get my best ideas when I walk. I also love to travel. My mother says I should have been born a gypsy. I didn’t settle down until I was in my mid-thirties because I was too busy roving; luckily I married a man who likes to travel as much as I do.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on a full-length novel that follows A Woman of Honour. It’s called An Unacceptable Woman and is the story of Isabel’s brother, John, and a young street entertainer, Ellie. I’m also plotting a murder mystery romance to follow A Woman of Love.

Name one thing about you that most people don’t know.

I can walk on stilts. Actually, I’ve been married for twenty years and until recently even my husband didn’t know I had this skill. It’s just not something that comes up in everyday conversation. I mean how would that sound? 

“Hi honey, do you want a cup of coffee and by the way, I can walk on stilts.”

Okay, I have to admit the stilts I walk on aren’t very tall – about three feet high– but they’re still stilts, so I count it.

My father made us stilts to play with when I was a child. I really hadn’t thought about it for a long time, and then last summer we were at a street performers festival. The organizers had a large tent set up where spectators could try stilt walking. I looked at them and thought – I can do that. I climbed on and started to walk. It was as if I was ten years old again playing in my backyard.

Other than “butt in chair,” what piece of advice would you give to an aspiring author?

Read your work aloud before you let anyone else read it. I cannot emphasize this enough. You would be amazed at the mistakes your mind can overlook. If you don’t want to sound like a winged-nut sitting at the computer talking to yourself, then I suggest you get a program like Natural Reader.  You can plug in some headphones and listen as the computer reads your work. I find it invaluable.

Stilts, wow. 🙂  Thank you so much for joining me today, Marlow. A Woman of Love sounds wonderful and I can’t wait to read it. Best of luck with it!

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A Woman of Love, by Marlow Kelly

When her dissolute husband insists that Lady Annabel Peters bed one of his villainous cohorts to repay a gambling debt, she is scandalized. But she is forced to agree because he controls every aspect of her life.

A physically and emotionally crippled war hero, James Drake has retreated from society. At the request of his brother, he manipulates events so he can interrogate Annabel, a woman he thinks may be part of a ring of thieves.

Neither of them count on an instant and overwhelming attraction. James may now believe Annabel but she suspects her husband plans to kill her. As one of her husband’s friends, James is not to be trusted.

Yet how can she escape a man who has the ability to control her with a gentle kiss?

Excerpt

Lady Annabel Peters sat in the open-top carriage and realized she had left it too late. She should have escaped yesterday.

“Really, Annabel, I don’t want you to give your left eye. All I’m asking is that you go in there and do what comes naturally.” Lord Elliott Peters, her husband of two months, sat opposite her, smoothing his waistcoat against his flat, toned abdomen. A lock of blond hair fell across his brow, accentuating his startling blue eyes. He claimed all he had to do was crook his finger, and besotted society women swooned, but she couldn’t imagine it. His grotesque personality obliterated any physical beauty he possessed.

The warm summer breeze touched her face. She inhaled the scent of grass and honeysuckle. Frogs sang somewhere in the distance, and crickets chirped, a sure sign it was going to be a warm night. She looked out at the passing Berkshire countryside, and wondered how anything this ugly could happen on such a perfect summer evening.

“It is not natural for a married woman to bed a man who is not her husband.” She struggled to breathe; a vise tightened around her chest.

“You must be joking. Women do it all the time. That’s how they entertain themselves. You didn’t believe we would be faithful to each other for the rest of our lives, did you? What a ridiculous notion.”

The thought of copulating with Elliott was horrific enough. Now he wanted her to sleep with his friends, too. Bile rose in her throat at the idea of having to endure another man like her husband. He was totally amoral, and thought nothing of sleeping with a friend’s wife. He undoubtedly took pleasure in it. He never controlled his lust. If he saw a woman he wanted, he took her by any means possible.

You can find A Woman of Love at:
Amazon
The Wild Rose Press
B&N
iBooks

You can hear more from Marlow at:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/marlowkelly?ref=hl
Twitter: https://twitter.com/want2write
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/Marlowkelly14/

And finally, a giveaway!  Marlow is giving away a $10 Amazon gift card. Visit www.marlowkelly.com to get Marlow’s blog tour dates in March and follow the tour. The more you comment, tweet, and follow, the more chances you have to win.

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My Book Birthday, and a Giveaway!

Today’s the day!

My debut novel, Stirring Up the Viscount, officially releases today from The Wild Rose Press.

I am alternately excited and terrified.

It’s a funny thing, a book birthday. Not unlike sending your kid to school for the first time. Is she wearing the right clothes? Will the other kids like him? Will she say something stupid or mean and get expelled on her first day? (Yes, this is where my mind goes.)

In the end, all you can do as a parent, of child or book, is to wave goodbye and hope that you did a good job getting him ready to face the world.

StirringUptheViscount_w9340_750Stirring Up the Viscount, by Marin McGinnis

Seeking to escape an abusive husband, Theodora Ravensdale answers an ad in The Times for a job as cook in a country home. A fortuitous house fire enables her to fake her own death and flee to northern England and live under an assumed name. But Theodora’s refuge is not all she would wish, when she stirs emotions in the heir to the estate, Jonathan Tenwick, and in herself.

Meanwhile, as the connection between Theodora and Jonathan grows, her husband learns she did not perish in the fire, and searches for her. Fearing he is close to finding her, Theodora must flee again to protect the family and the viscount for whom she cares deeply. In the final confrontation with her husband, Theodora learns she is stronger than she ever knew, and love is worth fighting for.​

Available today from The Wild Rose Press and on Amazon.

I am also giving away an autographed paperback copy of the book: a limited, first edition with a typo on the cover! (Or you can have one without the typo, if you prefer.)

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