Monday, May 27, 2013

On a Regency Street

    Come and take a walk with me down a Regency street.

    By the end of the Regency period, the City of London had more than a million inhabitants. 

    As you can imagine, there was an enormous amount of noisy traffic and streets vibrated from the constant pounding by wheels of all sorts.

    Coach loaded with passengers. 

    Public coaches, private carriages, hackney coaches, merchant wagons, vendor carts, and wheelbarrows.   

    Hackney Coach 

    Apart from the stage coaches which stopped at inns on their routes to more distant places, there was no public transport.  Ordinary people walked or occasionally used a sedan chair and the rich used carriages or rode horses.

    Couple in a Curricle. 

    A sedan chair designed by Robert Adam for Quee...
    A sedan chair designed by Robert Adam for Queen Charlotte, 1775. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    London inhabitants mainly kept to the quarter of the city where they lived and worked.

    The wealthier classes rarely ventured into the more crowded areas like the East End and docklands but stayed in their own area of Westminster and St. James’s.

    So the streets of St. James’s were crowded in the afternoons with the fashionable throng as they shopped, paraded, met acquaintances, bowed or curtseyed, raised their hats, and were introduced to those they didn't know.

    The time of day was passed with a lot of polite conversation and young bloods would stroll the streets in pairs or groups and plan their next entertainment. Perhaps a prizefight, a cock fight, or perhaps a visit to one of the many gambling houses.  

    Street markets and annual fairs had been replaced by lots of little shops, mainly occupying the ground floor rooms of houses with street frontage.

    Small paned bow-windows displayed goods for customers to view, though it was thought vulgar for goods to carry a price ticket. Shops opened at six in the morning and closed at eight, or later, in the evening and merchandise was stacked in parcels at the back of the shop.

    Shoplifting was common. Thieves waited to strike until a shopkeeper turned his back to collect a package for a customer.

    Besides the elegantly dressed nobility, the streets were full of the poor. Dirty and ragged beggars, men, women and children, lurked in alleyways and begged for money.

    Crossing a Dirty Street. 

    Small children as young as five were apprenticed as chimney sweeps under the control of harsh masters who dragged them from house to house and forced them to climb inside sooty or even hot chimneys. The children had sores on their knees and elbows, lungs filled with soot and dirt, and sometimes they were severely burned while they brushed inside chimneys.

    London was pushing its boundaries out into the countryside in the areas of Chelsea, Highbury, and Pimlico. Livestock could still be seen on the streets of London and cattle and sheep were driven through the streets every morning to provide food for the growing population.

    Pigs still rooted in the waste in Westminster and droves of turkeys moved along streets. St Martin Church was still in the fields and cows walked along Kensington High Street. 

    All in all, London streets during the Regency Era were a rowdy and dirty mix of classes and cultures.  

    In Embracing Scandal, my latest historical romance, Lady Rebecca Jamison is familiar with many of the streets that a well-bred lady would never even drive past. But Becca is different. She teaches women who have been left in financial distress how to manage their finances and invest, secretly, in lucrative railway shares so they can rebuild their nest eggs. 

    Hope you enjoyed strolling down a Regency street with me,

    Suzi Love    

    Embracing Scandal took second place in the prestigious Emerald Award for Romance Writers Australia, a three round, full manuscript, reader judged contest. 

    Where can you find Suzi Love?

    Suzi Love's Magazine -
    Suzi Love's Daily Gossip Newspaper -
    Web / blog  -
    Pinterest -
    Goodreads -
    Suzi Love Face Book -
    Suzi Love's Face Book Author Page

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Monday, May 20, 2013

A look at the Country House Servant by Maggi Andersen

As my new release, THE FOLLY AT FALCONBRIDGE HALL is set in a gentleman's Victorian house, I had to research how these huge houses operated. I’ve focused today on the footman, and some of the interesting facts I found. There wasn’t a footman at Falconbridge Hall – you have to read the book, to find out why!


“…Well developed calves and a supercilious expression. Several times a day he partakes freely of nourishing food, including a surprising quantity of beer,” says Lady Violet Greville in the National Review in 1892. Footmen have had bad press. Called ‘lackey’ and ‘flunkey’, ‘peacocks among domestics’ and ornamental parasites.
It was true that many footmen were heavy drinkers and liked to gamble. It didn’t get much better in the 20th Century. When Mr. and Mrs. Chichester’s household went out for the day, the moment their carriage was out of hearing, down to the cellar the butler would go and ring the bell to summon all stable hands, gardeners and workmen …And the beer would flow… both the butler and a footman died of drink. Many an insurance company then would refuse to insure a butler because of his ready access to drink. They were given beer and ale allowances as normal practice. But when you examine the kind of life they lived, it’s not hard to understand why they drank.

The life of a gentleman servant was not unlike a bird shut up in a gilded cage. They had to sit with other liveried servants in church on Sunday. They were chosen for their appearance and paid according to their height. Their livery was expensive. In 1863, a single bill for livery items bought by the 2nd Earl of Lichfield at Shugborough, totalled: 120 pounds 7 shillings and 10 pence. It was usual to provide one or two livery suits a year, plus court livery. In many houses, it was the custom to wait to see if a new footman was suitable before measuring him for livery. In some houses, a new male member of staff was shown a variety of second hand livery suits, hoping that one would fit.

Footmen had to powder their hair – a throwback to the eighteenth century when footmen wore a bag wig with queue and tail. It was universally disliked, as they believed it caused premature balding and colds. The hair had to be dampened, then stiffened with soap and powder. It was necessary to wash and oil the hair at night to prevent it turning a foxlike colour. Either the powder was provided, or the footman was given ‘powder money’ with which to buy it.

The footman was responsible to the butler. For carriage work, he answered to the coachman or the gentleman of the horse. He was expected to help out with valeting for male guests or family members. (You might have seen this in Downton Abbey) He was also expected to serve food and lay tables. He needed to develop a wide range of skills, many of which involved intricate rules of etiquette. He was also involved in menial aspects of large scale domestic management: cleaning, lighting, security and endless travelling. But the job was most closely associated with ‘waiting’. To stand on duty at a specific station waiting for his services to be required, perhaps to mend the fire, take a message to someone, or receive and announce guests.

In the nineteenth century, dormitory or single-bedroom accommodation was unusual. Footmen often slept in pull down beds in the servant’s hall. They were the last servants to retire for the night and considered it early if they got to bed at 12.15 am. Even if a footman was out on carriage duty until the small hours, he still had to get up early in order to vacate his bed when breakfast was being served in the servant’s hall.

In 1896 in London, it was usual for menservants to sleep in the basement, well away from the women in the attic.

The footman might have been called an ‘ornamental parasite’, but the footman was the mainstay of a household. They were a mark of status, and were essential in an age where male fashion was so elaborate no gentleman could dress himself; furniture was so finely wrought that it needed skilled cleaners, and even in the nineteenth century, being waited on at dinner by a  manservant carried higher status than a mere parlour maid.
Towards the end of the nineteenth century, however, the shortage of menservants became such that in many country houses parlour maids took over many of the duties of footman.

THE FOLLY AT FALCONBRIDGE HALL - released May 8th with Knox Robinson Publishing.
Vanessa Ashley felt herself qualified for a position as governess, until offered the position at Falconbridge Hall. Left penniless after the deaths of her artist father and suffragette mother, Vanessa Ashley draws on her knowledge of art, politics, and history to gain employment as a governess. She discovers that Julian, Lord Falconbridge, requires a governess for his ten-year-old daughter Blyth at Falconbridge Hall, in the countryside outside London. Lord Falconbridge is a scientist and dedicated lepidopterist who is about to embark on an extended expedition to the Amazon. An enigmatic man, he takes a keen interest in his daughter's education. As she prepares her young charge, Vanessa finds the girl detached and aloof. As Vanessa learns more about Falconbridge Hall, more questions arise. Why doesn't Blythe feel safe in her own home? Why is the death of her mother, once famed society beauty Clara, never spoken of? And why did the former governess leave so suddenly without giving notice?

Nominated for the RONE Award.
5 Star top pick:

The author deserves high praise

for her ability to capture the

reader's attention and engage
one in both the mystery and the
romance of this delightful story!
Margaret Faria
InD’Tale Magazine
Research: THE COUNTRY HOUSE SERVANT, Pamela A. Sambrook.
Historical romance, Victorian era, Maggi Andersen, mystery, arranged marriage, English murder mystery.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

I'LL GET BY release.

I’m late in posting my latest release – which is the third book in my world wars romances trilogy written around the Elliot family . . . but although it’s been released in the UK it’s official American release is not until June so I feel a bit justified about sliding in now without the door shutting on my foot. The first two novels (Tall Poppies and Secret and Lies) covered the lives and loves of sisters Livia and Esmé Carr. This final novel, titled, I’LL GET BY concerns Livia’s daughter, Meggie Elliot, and her love for a mysterious young aristocrat who leans towards larceny. Here are the reviews so far – one an Australian, the other American.  Also available in ebook.

I’ll Get By, Janet Woods

West Australian Newspaper 29th Feb 2013.

Set in London against the unfolding background of World War II, this is a story of a young woman’s journey to find love, happiness and the promise of a future amidst the destruction, uncertainty and horror of war.  The characters are familiar and endearing, without being too predictable and their efforts to retain some semblance of normality and social standing amidst the chaos and upheaval provides a warm-hearted glimpse of British stoicism in action.  There is a well-balanced mix of suspense, intrigue, and passion to suit avid romance readers, all capped off with a happy ending.

I'll Get By, Woods, Janet (Author), Jun 2013. BOOKLIST.

You can never really choose who you fall in love with, and no one knows that better than young Meggie Elliott. It all started the moment she arrived in London at the start of WWII. As love becomes entwined with a mammoth secret, Woods presents readers with a powerful historical love story that expresses her passion for storytelling and love of romance.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Excerpt from Virtue of a Governess

In 1867 Nicola Douglas attends a London lecture that inspires her to change her life. With no family, but a good education, she boards a ship to Australia with high hopes of a fresh start in a new country as a governess. But Sydney is full of young women with similar hopes and equally poor prospects. When Nicola is at her lowest, she meets Nathaniel West. Try as she might, her attraction to Nathaniel West grows. She also meets a visiting American, Hilton Warner. As both men shower her with attention, Nicola reaches a crisis. She came to Australia expecting to be a governess, but finding love, and being married, shows how empty her life has been since her parents' death. Her achievements at the Governess Home are vital to her. Can she have both? To reject both men would relegate her to spinsterhood, but if she makes that choice, would her career ever be enough to sustain her?

Nat shook the sweat from his eyes, ducking his head and weaving to the side, making sure he kept his shoulders and fists up high to protect his chin. From the corner of the chalked square, he made out the old hunched-back man, who stood and, holding the brass bell aloft, rang it heartily three times. Cheers and shouts went up, there was a surge towards the fighters but the organiser’s men held the rowdy mass back.
 “Christ man, what’s taking you so long?” Tristan thumped Nat’s back, laughing. “You should have had him in the first minute. The man is lead-footed.”
Nat wheezed the air into his lungs and wiped the sweat from his eyes. “I want to keep out of his reach, he can hit like a hammer.”
“Nonsense, man. He’s like a windmill, arms everywhere.”
“Shut up will you, and get me some water.” Nat closed his eyes for a moment, trying to block out the sight and noise of men baying for his blood. What possessed him to agree to this fight? He was no longer a young man of twenty. It’d been a few years since he celebrated his thirtieth birthday, which should have been enough warning to give up this sort of sport and stick to cricket. He hadn’t been practising in months, and it showed.
Tristan thrust a crude tin cup into his hands and water sloshed over his wrist. “It’s only water, perhaps you need something stronger.”
“Sod off.” He gulped the water down just as the hunchback rang the bell again. Surging to his feet, he berated himself once more in agreeing to this madness. Already his opponent, some dockland fellow with missing teeth, had jabbed him in the ribs, which ached when he moved. Another lucky punch had caught his eye and likely tomorrow he’d have the bruise to show for it.
He raised his fists, keeping light on his feet as he’d been taught as a schoolboy back home in England. His wiry opponent gave a little jab, testing the way it was to be in this round, but Nat was tired of the game. It’d been a spur of the moment decision to enter the square, a desperate need to burn off some restless energy that bedding with his current mistress didn’t do last night.
Weaving, ducking, he circled the opposite man, looking for a way to end the match so he could return to his club and drown his sorrows for another day. He thought of her then, the woman who’d haunted his mind. Nicola Douglas. His blood grew thick in his veins as an image of her face swarmed before him.
He never saw the punch, just felt the intense pain of the other man’s fist hitting his jaw. The impact made him bite his tongue and the stinging pain joined the thudding ache of his face. He staggered, tasted blood. The crowd, mainly all working class, shouted encouragement to their champion and jeered at Nat when he readied himself again.
Anger cursed through Nat and brought him awake and into focus. Thinking of that damned woman had been his downfall. He’d be on his back if he didn’t concentrate.
Uttering a filthy swear word, he pivoted on one foot, danced a side-step and taking the fellow unawares gave him a quick three jab attack that sent the man to his knees. Nat jigged away, hopping from foot to foot at the edge of the square, waiting to see if he regained his feet, but the fellow knew he was beat and surrendered the purse.
Declared the winner by Mr Kent, the organiser, Nat was given the purse of four guineas. The unruly crowd went into a frenzy, the shouts and yelling growing into a deafening roar, as not many had backed Nat. He knew their thinking, a workingman’s strength up against a toff who did nothing but sit around in his club all day. But who’d got the last laugh this time? Little did they know that he enjoyed physical pursuits and had been fighting since he was a small boy. Not many had the better of him.
“Excellently done, West.” Tristan once more thumped his back and gave Nat his shirt and coat. Nat winced, moving his shoulders to ease on the shirt over the wet stickiness of his sweat-soaked body.
“Let’s get out of here.” Nat grabbed the rest of his belongings from Tristan. Now the fight was over, it wouldn’t pay to stay in this rough neighbourhood. The four guineas was hardly worth it really, but then it’d never been about the money, just the sheer joy of beating another. However, today the win left him with a sour taste in his mouth that had nothing to do with the bloodied tongue and lip.
“Wait, I’ve yet to collect.” Tristan disappeared into the press of workingmen.
Nat groaned in frustration. Hanging around would only be asking for trouble. Already he was sensing a change in the atmosphere. He kept his head down but managed to glance around, taking in the situation. Mr Kent was arguing in the corner with five men, all baying for blood. They’d lost heavily by the looks of it. Shrugging on his jacket, Nat walked backwards a bit, heading towards the barn doors and the alley beyond. Damn Tristan, where was he?
“Mr West!”
Nat swung around and waited for Kent to wield a path through the thick of the crowd towards him. “I’ve an appointment, Kent, got to go.”
“Can I book you in for another fight next month?”
“No, not this time.” He wasn’t stupid. Kent had scored a high profit today.
Tristan joined them, hurriedly stashing coins into his bulging pockets like a child stealing sweets. “Nice afternoon’s entertainment,” he said with a grin.
“Let us go.” Nat made for the door, glaring at any man who made eye contact with him. Lord, he was stupid to risk his neck at these back alley fights. If anything happened to him, Frances would be alone.
Once clear of the old barn, he squinted in the harsh sunlight. The squeal of pigs came from the slaughterhouse on the right. He shivered, despite the mild spring warmth of the September day.
“Shall we have a drink at the club?” Tristan replaced his hat as they headed left. 
“I don’t particularly care. I just want to be clear of that lot in there.”
“You think it could have turned ugly?”
“I’m sure of it. Too much money changed hands. Kent has pulled a fast one I think. He’s seen me fight before but that was a new crowd.” As if to justify his words, a shout came from behind them. When Nat turned and saw the dozen or so men spilling out of the barn, yelling fit to be tied, his guts squeezed dread. He turned to Tristan and had to smile at the shock on his face. “Well, friend, I hope you can run fast.” 

Buy for Kindle or paperback from Amazon UK or Amazon USA:

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

HH Good News!

Another great month on the Historical Hearts
blog. Join us in congratulating the following
members on their excellent news!
New Members
Historical Hearts welcomes two new members:
Tea Cooper
Elizabeth Ellen Carter
Welcome ladies!
Contest Finals!

Joanna Lloyd has finaled in
with her historical romance
The Song that Stole her Heart Away

Cassandra Samuels has also finaled in
with her historical romance
The Wager

Maggi Andersen has been nominated for
for her Victorian mystery
The Folly at Falconbridge Hall

Alison Stuart has also been nominated for
for her historical
Gather the Bones

Alison Stuart has also finaled in
for her historical
Gather the Bones

Annie Seaton has finaled in
the Next Generation Indie Book Awards
with her e-book
Winter of the Passion Flower

Congratulations Ladies and Best of Luck with the final judges!
New Releases!
 Tea Cooper is celebrating the release of her book
Lily's Leap
Available May 6 from Lyrical Press

Maggi Andersen is celebrating the release of her book
The Folly at Falconbridge Hall
Available May 8 from Knox Robinson Publishing

Tamara Gill is celebrating the release of her book
Guardian (Daughters Of The Gods, Book II)
Available May 21 from Amazon
Venetia Green is celebrating the release of her book
A Hawk Enslaved
Available May 23 from Ellora's Cave
Christina Phillips is celebrating the release of her book
Bloodlust Denied
Available June 7 from Ellora's Cave
Here's the blurb to wet your appetite:
Tired of the thin-blooded aristocrats in 1815 London, Alexius yearns for better sport. He is drawn to a dark-haired seductress who shows no fear and refuses to obey his commands. Entranced by such novelty, he denies his bloodlust and decides to keep her to warm his bed.
Immortal vampire hunter Morana has never mistaken her prey before, but the dark stranger mesmerizes her, enticing her to forget everything but the dangerous pleasure she finds in his arms.
Neither one can deny the pull of the other, but there is something beyond the lust—a recognition neither can put a name to. The past and present collide and unless they discover the truth behind the lies, Death will triumph once more.

Want to really get your heart pumping?
Here's the link to the YouTube book trailer. Enjoy.


Christina Phillips received a 5 star review for her
Roman / Druid romance

"Tacitus is a wonderful hero, masterful and passionate...

The erotic scenes are beautifully executed and you could really sense the growing connection between the lovers, who, despite being sworn enemies were a perfect foil for each other. I feared that I, along with my Kindle, would spontaneously combust whilst reading it!

I recommend this novel to all lovers of erotic romance, especially those who like a historical theme and a strong heroine and a leading man who is the embodiment of male sexuality and virtue. I am looking forward to the next book in the series, Tainted."
See full review here
Congratulations everyone!
And until next time
happy reading.