Working Out With Baby In 1900

Last night, in that state of sleepy but too tired to get up and put on PJs, I got swallowed into a  Pinterest  wormhole which led me through many archives until finally dumping me out at Google Books. I didn’t find what I was looking for but came across these fun images in Woman’s Physical Development of a mother working out with her baby in 1900.




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Wicked, My Love – World Tour

Dear wonderful readers,

It’s that time! The Wicked, My Love book release world tour.  Yay!


We are playing a wicked little game for this release called Kiss, Marry or Kill.  Bloggers give me the names of fictional characters or celebrities, and I decide if I will kiss, marry, or 86 them.  I’ll be posting each blog stop here and on my Facebook page and Twitter.  There will be many chances to win a copy of Wicked, My Love. So have some fun and play the game along with me!

But that’s not all! I’m touring with the Enemies to Lovers Tour, which features the amazingly talented Bec McMaster, Kristen Callihan, and Sara Humphreys.  We’re hopping around the web, talking about what makes the Enemies to Lovers trope so fun to write and read.

If you need a little break (and laugh) in your day, check out the prologue to Wicked, My Love posted below.

Thanks  for stopping by and I look forward to chatting at one of the tour spots.


Susanna Ives

———- Wicked, My Love excerpt ———–



Nine-year-old Viscount Randall gazed toward Lyme’s coast but didn’t see where the glistening water met the vast sky. He was too lost in a vivid daydream of being all grown-up, wearing the black robes of the British prime minister, and delivering a blistering piece of oratorical brilliance to Parliament about why perfectly reasonable boys shouldn’t be forced to spend their summer holidays with jingle-brained girls.

“You know when your dog rubs against me it’s because he wants to make babies,” said Isabella St. Vincent, the most jingled-brained girl of them all, interrupting his musings.

The two children picnicked on a large rock as their fathers roamed about the cliffs, searching for ancient sea creatures. Their papas were new and fast friends, but the offspring were not so bonded, as evidenced by the line of seaweed dividing Randall’s side of the rock from hers.

“All male species have the barbaric need to rub against females,” she continued as she spread strawberry preserves on her biscuit.

She was always blurting out odd things. For instance, yesterday, when he had been concentrating hard on cheating in a game of whist in hopes of finally beating her, she had piped up, “Do you know the interest of the Bank of England rose by a half a percentage?” Or last night, when she caught him in the corridor as he was trying to sneak a hedgehog into her room in revenge for losing every card game to her, including the ones he cheated at. “I’m going to purchase canal stocks instead of consuls with my pin money because at my young age, I can afford greater investment risks,” she’d said, shockingly oblivious to the squirming, prickly rodent under his coat.

Despite being exactly one week younger than he was, she towered over him by a good six inches. Her legs were too long for her flat torso. An enormous head bobbled atop her neck. Her pale skin contrasted with her thick, wiry black hair, which shot out in all directions. And if that wasn’t peculiar enough, she gazed at the world through lenses so thick that astronomers could spot new planets with them, but she needed them just to see her own hands. Hence, he took great glee in hiding them from her.

“You’re so stupid.” He licked fluffy orange cream icing from a slice of cake. “Everyone knows babies come when a woman marries a man, and she lies in bed at night, thinking about yellow daffodils and pink lilies. Then God puts a baby in her belly.” He used an exaggerated patronizing tone befitting a brilliant, powerful viscount destined for prime ministership—even if “viscount” was only a courtesy title. Meanwhile, Isabella was merely a scary, retired merchant’s daughter whom no one would ever want to marry. And, after all, a female’s sole purpose in life was to get married and have children.

“No, you cabbage-headed dolt,” she retorted. “Cousin Judith told me! She said girls shouldn’t be ignorant about the matters of life.” Isabella’s Irish mother had died, so Cousin Judith was her companion. Randall’s mama claimed that Judith was one of those “unnatural sorts” who supported something terrible called “rights of women.” He didn’t understand the specifics, except that it would destroy the very fabric of civilized society. He would certainly abolish it when he was prime minister.

“Judith said that for a woman to produce children, she, unfortunately, requires a man.” Isabella’s gray eyes grew into huge round circles behind her spectacles. “That he, being of simple, base nature and mind, becomes excited at the mere glimpse of a woman’s naked body.”

He was about to interject that she was wrong again—girls were never right—but stopped, intrigued by the naked part. Nudity, passing gas, and burping were his favorite subjects.

“Anyway, a man has a penis,” she said. “It’s a puny, silly-looking thing that dangles between his limbs.”

He gazed down at the tiny bulge in his trousers. He had never considered his little friend silly.

“When a man sees the bare flesh of a woman, it becomes engorged,” she said. “And he behaves like a primitive ape and wants to insert it into the woman’s sacred vagina. My cousin said that was the passage between a woman’s legs that leads to the holy chamber of her womb.”

“The what?” Where was this holy chamber? He was suddenly overcome with wild curiosity to see one of these sacred vaginas.

“Judith said the man then moves back and forth in an excited, animalistic fashion for approximately ten seconds, until he reaches an excited state called orgasm. Then he ejaculates his seed into the woman’s bodily temple, thus making a baby.”

His dreams of future political power, the shimmering ocean, fluffy vanilla-orange icing, and a prank on Isabella involving a dead, stinking fish all seemed unimportant. He gazed at his crotch and then her lap—the most brilliant idea he ever conceived lighting up his brain. “I’ll show you my penis if you show me your vagina.” He flashed his best why-aren’t-you-just-an-adorable-little-thing smile, which, when coupled with his blond hair and angelic, bright blue eyes, charmed his nannies into giving him anything he wanted. However, his cherubic looks and charm didn’t work on arctic-hearted Isabella.

“You idiot!” She flicked a spoonful of preserves at his face.

“You abnormal, cracked, freakish girl!” he cried. “I only play with you because my father makes me.” He smeared her spectacles with icing. In retaliation, she grabbed her jar of lemonade and doused him.

When their fathers and nurses found them, she was atop the young viscount, now slathered in jam, icing, mustard, and sticky lemonade, pummeling him with her little fists.

Mr. St. Vincent yanked his daughter up.

“She just hit me for no reason,” Randall wailed, adopting his poor-innocent-me sad eyes. “I didn’t do anything to her.”

“Young lady, you do not hit boys,” her father admonished. “Especially fine young viscounts. You’ve embarrassed me again.”

“I’m sorry, Papa,” Isabella cried, bereft under her father’s hard gaze. Humiliation wafted from her ungainly body and Randall felt a pang of sympathy, but it didn’t diminish the joy of knowing she had gotten in trouble and he hadn’t.

The Earl of Hazelwood placed a large hand on the back of Randall’s neck and gave his son a shake. “Son, we didn’t find any old sea creatures, but Mr. St. Vincent has come up with a brilliant idea to help our tenants and provide a dependable monthly income.” He turned to his friend. “We are starting the Bank of Lord Hazelwood. Mr. St. Vincent and I will be the major shareholders and we will add another board member from the village.”

Even as a small child, Randall had an uneasy, gnawing feeling in his gut about this business venture that none of Mr. St. Vincent’s strange terms, such as financial stabilization, wealth building, or reliable means for tenant borrowing and lending, could dissuade. He was never going to get rid of that rotten Isabella.


Through the years, he and she remained like two hostile countries in an uneasy truce; a lemonade-throwing, cake-splatting war could break out at any moment. Randall would indeed follow his path to political fame, winning a seat in Parliament after receiving a Bachelor of Arts from St. John’s College, Cambridge. He basked in the adoration of London society as the Tory golden boy. To support Randall’s London lifestyle, the Earl of Hazelwood signed over a large amount of the bank’s now quite profitable shares to his son.

He came home from Parliament when he was twenty-three to witness Isabella standing stoic and haunted with no black veil to hide her pale face from the frigid January air as they lowered her father into the frozen earth. Having no husband, she inherited her father’s share in the bank and began to help run it. The two enemies’ lives would be hopelessly entwined through the institution born that fateful day in Lyme, when Randall learned how babies were made.

For the next five years, bank matters rolled along smoothly. Then the board secretary passed away unexpectedly, leaving his portion to his young bachelor nephew, Mr. Anthony Powers.

That’s when all manner of hell broke loose.

Preorder from Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Powell’s, Books A Million, Target,The Book Depository, or Indigo

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Taking a Sentimental Journey – Images of Rakes and Radishes

I was updating my website with excerpts from my books when I came across some graphics from an old version of my website from over seven years ago. These were images drawn for Rakes and Radishes when I was learning how to illustrate in Flash. Granted, I’m not a very good digital artist, but these images brought back happy memories.  Thank you for letting me share them with you.

graphicnovel excerpt_talk excerpt_ladykesseley
excerpt_kesseley excerpt_Henrietta excerpt_eyetoeye excerpt_crying


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Happy News! Wicked Little Secrets is a nominee for LASR 2014 Best Book of the Year!

I’m thrilled to announce that Wicked Little Secrets is a nominee for Long and Short Reviews 2014 Best Book of the Year! Now it’s the readers’ turn to vote for a winner. If you get a moment, please drop by Long and Short Reviews and cast your vote for one of the wonderful nominees. Thank you so much!



Posted in Wicked LIttle Secrets | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

Persuading Papa – Regency Love in Letters from 1809

Dear Gentle Readers,

Good grief! Background checks, letters of recommendation, applications. Even Regency love matches felt like business.  I have excerpted the saga of Polly and her Mr. Smith in letters from The London Universal Letter-Writer, Or Whole Art of Polite Correspondence published in 1809. Don’t worry, after much paperwork, there is a happily-ever-after. Your affectionate blogger.

p.s. The black and white images are from Le Conteur Des Dames.


A young Lady to her Father.

Honored Father, —MY duty teaches me to acquaint you, that a gentleman of this town, whose name is Smith, and by business a linen-draper, has made some overtures to my cousin Arnold, in the way of courtship to me. My cousin has brought him once or twice into my company, as he has a high opinion of him and his circumstances. He has been set up three years, possesses a very good business, and lives in credit and fashion. He is about twenty-seven years old, and is likely in his person. He seems not to want sense nor manners, and is come of a good family. He has broken his mind to me, and boasts how well he can maintain me; but I assure you, Sir, I have given him no encouragement, yet he resolves to persevere, and pretends extraordinary affection and esteem. I would not, Sir, by any means, omit to acquaint you with the beginning of an affair, that would shew a disobedience unworthy of your kind indulgence and affection. Pray give my humble duty to my honored mother, love to my brother and sister, and respects to all friends. I remain, your ever dutiful daughter.


Dear Polly,—YOUR letter of the first instant has come safe to hand, wherein you acquaint me of the same proposals made to you, through your cousin’s recommendation, by one Mr. Smith. I hope, as you assure me, that you have given no encouragement to him; for I by no means approve of him for your husband. I have inquired of one of his townsmen, who knows him and his circumstances very well, and I am neither pleased with him nor his character. I wonder my cousin should so inconsiderately recommend him to you, though I doubt not his good intentions. I insist upon it, that you think nothing more of this matter, and your mother joins with me in the same advice. Adieu, my dear girl, and believe me—Your affectionate father.

Another on the same Occasion.

Dear Polly,—I HAVE received your letter of the first instant, relative to the addresses of Mr. Smith. I would advise you neither to encourage nor discourage his suit; for if on inquiry’ into his character and circumstances, I shall find they are answerable to your cousin’s good opinion of them, and his own assurances, I know not but his suit may be worthy of attention. However, my dear girl, consider that men are deceitful, and always put the best side outwards. It may, possibly, on the strict inquiry which the nature and importance of the case demands, come out far otherwise than it at present appears. Let me, therefore, advise you to act in this matter with great prudence, and that you make not yourself too cheap, for men are apt to slight what is too easily obtained. In the mean time he may be told, that you are entirely resolved to abide by my determination in an affair of this great importance. This will put him on applying to me, who, you need not doubt, will, in this case, as in all others, study your good.— Your mother gives her blessing to you, and joins in .the advice you receive from—Your affectionate father.

Mr. Smith to the young Lady’s Father.

Sir,—THOUGH personally unknown to you, take the liberty to declare the great value and affection I have for your amiable daughter, whom I have had the honor to see at my friend’s house. I should think myself entirely unworthy other favour, and of your approbation, it I should have thought of influencing her resolution, but in obedience to your pleasure; as I should, on such a supposition, other an injury likewise to that prudence in herself, which I flatter myself is not the least of her amiable perfections. If I might have the honor of your countenance, Sir, on this occasion I would open myself and circumstances to you in that frank and honest manner, which should convince you of the sincerity of my affection for your daughter, and at the same time of the honorableness of my intentions. In the mean time, I will in general say, that I have been set up in my business, in the line-drapery way, upwards of three years; that I have a very good trade for the time; and that I had a thousand pounds to begin with, which I have improved to fifteen hundred, as I am ready to make appear to your satisfaction; that I am descended of a creditable family, have done nothing to stain my character, and that my trade is still further improvable, as I shall, l hope, enlarge my capital. This, Sir, I thought but honest and fair to acquaint you with, that you might know something of a person who sues you for your countenance, and that of your good lady, in an affair that I hope may one day prove the greatest happiness of my life, as it must be, it I can be blessed with that and your daughter‘s approbation. In hopes of which, and the favour of a line, I take the liberty to subscribe myself, good Sir—Your most obedient humble servant.


From the cousin to the Parents of the young Lady.

Dear Cousin, —THE pleasure of having cousin Polly so long with us, demands my thanks to you both. She has entirely captivated a friend of mine, Mr. Smith, a linen-draper of this town. I would have acquainted you with it myself, but I advised cousin Polly to write to you about it; for I would not, for the world, any thing of this sort should be carried on unknown to you, at my house especially. Mr. Smith has shown me his letter to you, and I believe every tittle of it to be true; and really, if you and my cousin approve of it, and also cousin Polly, I do not know where she can do better. I am sure I should think so had I a daughter he could love. Thus much I thought myself obliged to say and shall conclude with my kind love to you all, and remain—Your affectionate cousin.

The Father, in Answer to Mr. Smith.

Sir,—I AM much obliged to you for the favour of your letter, as also for the good opinion you express in behalf of my daughter; but I think she is yet full young enough to alter her condition, and embark in the cares of a family. I cannot but say, that the account you give of yourself, and your application to me, rather than first to try to engage the affections of my daughter, carry a. very honorable appearance, and such us must be to the advantage of your character. As to your beginning, Sir, that is not to be so much looked upon as the improvement, and I doubt not but you can make proof of what you assert on this Occasion.— Still I must needs say, that I think, and so does her mother, that it is too early to incumber her with the cares of the world. As I am sure she will do nothing in so important an affair without our advice, so I would not for the world in a case so nearly concerning her and her future welfare, constrain her in the least. I intend shortly to send for her home, for she has been longer absent from us than we intended, and then I shall consult her inclinations. You will excuse me when I say, (for she is my daughter and a very good child) that I shall then determine myself by that, and by what shall appear to offer most for her good. I am, Sir, your friend and humble servant.

Mr. Smith to the young Lady, after her return home.

Dear Lady,—IT is with great pleasure I hear of your safe arrival at your father‘s house, of which I take the liberty to congratulate your good parents, as well as your dear self. I will not, Ma’am fill this letter with the regret I had to part with you, because I have no reason to merit, at present, to expect that you should be concerned for me on that account. However, I am not without hope, from the sincerity of my affection for you, and the honesty of my intentions, to deserve, in time, those regards which I cannot at present flatter myself with. As your good father, in his kind letter to me, assured me that he should consult your inclinations, and determine by them, I should humbly hope to pay you and him a visit. I think, far different from many in the world, that a deception in an affair of this weighty nature, should be less forgiven than in any other. Since then, dearest lady, I build my hopes more on the truth of my affection for you, and the honor of my intentions, than on any other merit or pretensions, I hope you will condescend, if not to become an advocate for rue, which would be too great a presumption to expect, yet to let your good parents know, that you have no aversion to the person and addresses of, dearest Ma’am—Your most affectionate humble servant.

Answer to Mr. Smith.

Sir,—THE letter you favoured me with I am happy to find my parents no less satisfied with than myself. Reserve, which is always disagreeable to generous minds, seems now unnecessary between us. My father is perfectly satisfied with the truth of every thing you have advanced, and I shall be obedient to his will. As soon as your business will permit of your absence from home, you will be welcomely received by my parents, as well as by—Your friend for life.




Posted in Etiquette Through Time, Regency England - General History | Tagged , | 4 Comments