Cover Reveal for Wicked, My Love!

At last, I can share the cover of my upcoming Sourcebooks release Wicked, My Love. Isn’t the cover sexy? I love the chemistry between the couple. Ooh, they are up to something wicked.  Here’s a little blurb to tantalize and tempt you:

 A smooth-talking rogue and a dowdy financial genius

Silver-tongued politician Lord Randall doesn’t get along with his bank partner, the financially brilliant but hopelessly frumpish Isabella St. Vincent. Ever since she was his childhood nemesis, he’s tried— and failed—to get the better of her.

 Make a perfectly wicked combination

When Randall’s political career and their mutual bank interests are threatened by scandal, he has to admit he needs Isabella’s help.  They set off on a madcap scheme to set matters right. With her brains and his charm, what could possibly go wrong? Only a volatile mutual attraction that’s catching them completely off guard…

Will Randall fall in love with his old enemy? And will Isabella fall for Randall or an exotically handsome railroad baron? Oh, the suspense!  Untangle this crazy knot of lovers and enemies in March 2015.


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Mrs. Beeton Picnics, Throws a Ball, and Serves a Wedding Breakfast

While searching for information on afternoon teas, I stumbled across Mrs. Beeton’s picnic menu for forty. It’s a little overwhelming unless you’re a historic caterer. I decided to post it on my blog in case any of my characters were ambitious enough to throw such a picnic. Also included are menus for a ball and wedding breakfast.

Yikes! Hasty author’s note: When I originally posted this article, I stated that Beeton’s book was published in 1866 as listed on Google Books. Upon closer examination, I realized that no date was listed on the actual text. I searched on the famous author’s bibliography and quickly learned that Isabella Beeton had died in 1865. I knew she had led a short life, but I never knew the actual dates of her birth and death. This book may have been published after her passing. This is an interesting tidbit about Mrs. Beeton on the PBS site “The Secret Life of Isabella Beeton.”

“Isabella died at the age of 28 after giving birth to her fourth child in January of 1865. Her death is officially attributed to puerperal fever, an acute type of septicemia usually caused by an unsanitary environment. She was buried at West Norwood Cemetery in the London borough of Lambeth.

Samuel Beeton and subsequent publishers kept the news of Isabella’s death quiet, and continued to publish updates to Household Management, as well as completely new books, under her name.”

Isabella Beeton

The illustrations in this post can be found in La Mode Illustrée 1866 



Bill of Fare for a Picnic for 40 Persons.

A joint of cold roast beef, a joint of cold boiled beef, 2 ribs of lamb, 2 shoulders of lamb, 4 roast fowls, 2 roast ducks, 1 ham, 1 tongue, 2 veal-and-ham pies, 2 pigeon pies, 6 medium-sized lobsters, 1 piece of collared calf‘s head, 18 lettuces, 6 baskets of salad, 6 cucumbers.

Stewed fruit well sweetened, and put into glass bottles well corked; 3 or 4 dozen plain pastry biscuits to eat with the stewed fruit, 2 dozen fruit turnovers, 4 dozen cheesecakes, 2 cold cabinet puddings in moulds, 2 blancmanges in moulds, a few jam puffs, 1 large cold plum-pudding (this must be good), a few baskets of fresh fruit, 3 dozen plain biscuits, a piece of cheese, 6 lbs. of butter (this, of course, includes the butter for tea), 4 quartern loaves of household bread, 3 dozen rolls, 6 loaves of tin bread (for tea), 2 plain plum cakes, 2 pound cakes, 2 sponge cakes, a tin of mixed biscuits, 1/2 lb. of tea. Coffee is not suitable for a picnic, being difficult to make.


Things not to be forgotten at a Picnic.

A stick of horseradish, a bottle of mint-sauce well corked, a bottle of salad dressing, a bottle of vinegar, made mustard, pepper, salt, good oil, and pounded sugar. If it can be managed, take a little ice. It is scarcely necessary to say that plates, tumblers, wine-glasses, knives, forks, and spoons, must not be forgotten ; as also teacups and saucers, 3 or 4 teapots, some lump sugar, and milk, if this last-named article cannot be obtained in the neighbourhood. Take 3 corkscrews.

Beverages.—3 dozen quart bottles of ale, packed in hampers; gingerbeer, soda-water, and lemonade, of each 2 dozen bottles; 6 bottles of sherry, 6 bottles of claret, champagne a discretion, and any other light wine that may be preferred, and 2 bottles of brandy. Water can usually be obtained  so it is useless to take it.







Author’s note: After publishing this blog, I realized that the only date

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Lovely Hats and Gowns in Les Modes 1908

The children are going back to school tomorrow! I’m celebrating by creating a gallery of beautiful fashion from Les Modes 1908. Click on an image to enlarge it. 

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The Proper Gentleman Cyclist – Bicycle Etiquette from 1896

I must warn my gentle readers that in this post “we are not dealing with the new woman…we prefer the good, old-fashioned kind, the gentle woman, in fact, although we have mounted her upon a pair of wheels. She has broadened her intellect, but we want the same sweet, coquettish feminine woman just the same.”

That’s right, because “it is not customary at this period of the nineteenth century to indulge in the ceremonious chivalry of the knights of old, but the attitude of a gentleman toward a lady is still founded upon the same old-fashioned notions. Let the new woman prate as much as she please about her independence of man, but she is the first, nevertheless, to rise up in indignation if any of the same old time chivalry is omitted…Therefore, the man will do all in his power to make the ride pleasurable for the lady.”

And we all know every sweet, coquettish lady loves a pleasurable ride! So, thank heavens for John Wesley Hanson’s Etiquette and Bicycling for 1896! Ladies, I’m sure after reading this excerpt, you’ll want to grab your bike (and your chaperone) and run over some chivalrous gentleman cyclist.


It is not strictly correct for a young lady to ride unaccompanied. There appears to be a growing tendency among people of refinement in this country to be more rigid in the matter of chaperones, although as yet we can hardly be said to have approached the strict rules of the French, who do not allow a young woman to cross the street, to say nothing of shopping or calling, without being accompanied by a woman of mature years.

The unmarried woman who cycles must be chaperoned by a married woman, but as ever one rides nowadays, this is an affair easily managed. Neither must the married woman ride alone. If unable to provide herself with a male escort, she must be followed by a groom or a maid. In this latter connection a woman is very fortunate if among her men or women servants one knows how to ride a bicycle. Women occasionally go to the expense of having a servant trained in the art.

In mounting, a gentleman who is accompanying a lady holds her wheel. She stands on the left side of the machine and puts her right foot across the frame of the right pedal, which at the time must be up. Pushing the right pedal causes the machine to move and then with the left foot in place, the rider starts, slowly at first, in order to give her cavalier time to mount his wheel, which he is expected to do in the briefest time possible. When the end of the ride is reached the man quickly dismounts and is at his companion’s side to assist her, she in the meantime assisting herself as much as possible.

A few hints…

Never pass by an accident without dismounting and inquiring what the trouble is, whether you can be of assistance; but bear in mind that any service you may render to a wheelwoman does not entitle you to her acquaintance without the usual form of introduction. It is always proper to speak to a wheelwoman who may be in need of assistance— humanity requires it.

Of course a gentleman will always remove his cap when making inquiries of a woman in reference to repairs or assistance if she is not one of his own party. Do not hesitate to leave your party temporarily to give assistance to a man or woman rider who really needs it. In following a path where there is not room for two abreast, let the woman go first, and be on the alert to dismount at a moment’s notice to help her in case of trouble. If a man were to go first on a bad road he might get a long way ahead of his companion without knowing that she was in distress.

A man always rides on the left side of a woman, because he can then have his right arm ready to give assistance. When riding in single file, a good distance should always be kept between riders, in order that those riding behind will not be upset in case of accidents to one in front. It is an imperative rule of good behavior that all women, handsome or otherwise, should receive the same attention; the latter are more than appreciative, and this fact is some recompense to a man doing his duty.

When coming up behind a rider going at a slower pace you should ring your bell until an answer is received, then swing off to the left. The rider in the lead will turn his wheel slightly to the right when he hears your signal to pass.

When riding past a vehicle going in the same direction always ring your bell. It is not good form to ring too frequently or too violently, except when exigencies of the case require it. To use a shrill whistle or a calliope is bad form at any time and indicates the novice.
When coming up behind a rider if you notice that his or her hind tire is flat, do not fail to call attention to the fact; it is a point of courtesy that is especially appreciated. It may happen when you go to the assistance of a woman rider who has had an accident you will have to take her wheel some distance to be repaired; it is then well to leave your wheel with her.

Always preserve your dignity and pay no attention to small boys or dogs, both of which are perfectly harmless to the average wheelman. Fancy and trick riding are not proper on the road; that sort of thing should be confined to the academy and riding schools.

What to wear…

Loud dressing is as much out of place upon a wheel as elsewhere, and, indeed, nowhere is refinement more apparent than as displayed in the cycling costume. The dress question for women is not yet settled by any means, but no self-respecting woman will wear a costume that is hardly distinguishable from a man’s, or that is otherwise conspicuous. Modesty is becoming at all times, and especially upon a bicycle.

The bloomer is being fast superseded by the more rational short-skirted costume that rather adds to, than detracts from, a woman’s appearance. A prominent physician advises women cyclists to wear woolen clothing, the head covering light, low shoes, leggings, and no corsets. A practical costume is designed to allow perfect freedom of movement. The Alpine hat is considered the proper head-gear for women.

Men should wear a short loose-fitting sack coat of some light woolen material, with knickerbockers to match, woolen stockings, cap, low shoes and a negligee shirt, or if the day is cold, a sweater.


And always remember…

In balancing a bicycle the body must be kept erect and in a direct line with the frame of the wheel, bending and swaying with its motion. The eye should be kept up and looking straight ahead. It takes three lessons to enable the average man to learn to manage a wheel, while a woman usually needs five.

Posted in Etiquette Through Time, Victorian England - General History | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Theresa Romain on Writing and Her New Regency Romance – To Charm a Naughty Countess

Excitement city! Theresa Romain is visiting my blog today AND she is giving away her latest release To Charm a Naughty Countess to one lucky commenter from the US or Canada! Theresa is an amazing writer. I’m in awe of her.  She performs magic on words and stories. When she agreed to visit my blog, I took the opportunity to pick her brilliant brain.


Brilliant but rumored mad, Michael Layward, the impoverished Duke of Wyverne, has no success courting heiresses until widowed Lady Stratton takes up his cause–after first refusing his suit.
Caroline Graves, the popular Countess of Stratton, sits alone at the pinnacle of London society and has vowed never to remarry. When Michael–her counterpart in an old scandal–returns to town after a long absence, she finds herself as enthralled with him as ever. As she guides the anxiety-ridden duke through the trials of society, Caroline realizes that she’s lost her heart . But if she gives herself to the only man she’s ever loved, she’ll lose the hard-won independence she prizes above all.

 In print: amazon • barnes & noble • book depository • books-a-million • chapters indigoindiebound • powell’s • posman • sourcebooks • walmart • watermark Ebook: kindle • nook • ibook

To Charm a Naughty Countess features a socially astute heroine and a logic-driven, socially backwards hero.  Yet, as with all your characters, they are completely sympathetic and complex.  How did you conceive and develop Caroline and Michael? 

 Thank you for hosting me today, Susanna! And thanks for your kind words about Caroline and Michael. I’m really glad you enjoyed their story.

 To Charm a Naughty Countess is the second book in my Matchmaker trilogy, and Caroline actually appears as a secondary character in the first book (It Takes Two to Tangle). As a popular and wealthy widow, she seems to have everything a woman in Regency society could want. But she didn’t marry for love and she’s never had a real romantic relationship—and in ITTT, there’s one brief scene in her point of view that reveals how lonely she is. Caroline’s character journey is to figure out what will really satisfy her heart and contribute to her sense of worth.

As for Michael’s character, you could describe him in a nutshell as “Caroline’s opposite.” Where she’s socially accomplished but rudderless, Michael has an unshakeable sense of purpose. He’s a duke, and he has dedicated himself to the careful stewardship of his dukedom. But outside of that, when there’s no plan or script or ledger, he has no idea how to act. Social interactions seem like a time-sucking mystery to him.

As the story progresses, though, they prove not to be quite as opposite as they seemed at first. By the end of the story, both Caroline and Michael are stronger than they were at the beginning. And I hope they bring out the best in each other, too.


You write deep novels with less action and more dialogue and inner exploration. How did you plan this novel?

 I started with two ideas in mind.

1. Since the first book in the trilogy took place in 1815, the second would take place in 1816. That was known as “The Year Without a Summer,” and I wanted the terrible cold (due to the ash cloud from a huge volcanic eruption) to drive the story.

2. I wanted to write a virgin hero. I hadn’t done that before, and a virgin hero seemed like a good counterpoint to Caroline, who’s had some love affairs.

So you could say first I bashed the hero into a real-life historical event, and then I bashed him into the heroine. The character of Michael was shaped by both of those things, and the plot of the novel—a Pygmalion story in which he hunts for a wealthy bride after the endless winter causes crop failures—arose from there. I guess my plots tend to be driven by characters rather than the other way around. Exploring character is, to me, one of the most interesting things about writing romance.

Your prose is just stunning. Did you always want to be a fiction writer?  What other authors do you admire and have influenced your style?

Wow—well, thank you very much! That means a lot, coming from you. (Readers: if you haven’t read Susanna’s novels, grab them. The history is rock-solid and the characters are hilarious.)

Actually, I never expected to be a fiction writer. My older sister liked to write stories as a kid, and since I idolized her I tried writing them too. Blech. I did not enjoy writing at all; there were just no stories I wanted to tell. At the time, I much preferred to read or draw horses.

In college, I got an English degree by taking all of the literature classes and none of the creative writing classes. Nonfiction seemed to be my skill set, and writing NF got me through grad school, into my first post-graduation job, and even my first book. After years of NF, I was a little burned out, so in my spare time I started writing fiction. (Apparently “not writing anymore” was not an option?)

Learning to write fiction was like learning to write, period. I hadn’t expected it to be so different from writing NF, and it took me a long time to figure out my fiction voice. That happened over the course of years—and is probably still happening—as I read a lot, wrote a lot, and revised a lot. All my reading in British literature and history in college definitely influenced me, as did a slew of romance writers ranging from Jane Austen to Julia Quinn.

What was the hardest part in the development of this book? What was the easiest?

The easiest part was the plot. I know, I know: I said usually my characters inform plot, and it is true. But having a specific historical event—the Year Without a Summer—to hook plot details onto really helped shaped the story structure. Halfway through the book, the story shifts from London to Lancashire, and that new setting helped keep the story clicking along in my imagination.

The most difficult part was figuring out Caroline’s attitude toward Michael at the beginning of the story. I must have gone through seventy million drafts (conservative estimate), striking different tones in those first few chapters. Should she be flirtatious? Resentful? Offended? Cavalier? After all, these two have something. In the end, I think she wound up being pretty pragmatic, which is something the oh-so-logical Michael would respect and respond to well.

*          *          *

Thanks for the great questions, Susanna. Now I have one for readers. The first thing that catches Michael’s eye is Caroline’s social brilliance; the first thing that catches hers is his sense of purpose. (Ok, yes, they each think the other is easy on the eyes, too.) What qualities make you like a character or want to stick with a story? One random commenter will win a copy of To Charm a Naughty Countess! Open to US and Canadian addresses.

*          *          *

Historical romance author Theresa Romain pursued an impractical education that allowed her to read everything she could get her hands on. She then worked for universities and libraries, where she got to read even more. Eventually she started writing, too. She lives with her family in the Midwest, where she is working on her next book.



Twitter: @TheresaRomain



Posted in Interviews with cool people | Tagged , | 13 Comments