Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Medieval Church

The Church played an integral role in medieval society. In a time when the majority of Europe followed its teachings, the Church was seen as not only powerful but the keeper of the keys to heaven. Salvation and Heaven could only be obtained by piety, good works, following its doctrine, observing the saint days and paying for your dearly departed to get out of purgatory.

            The Church also attempted to regulate marriage during this period. For a wedding ceremony to take place the couple must be willing and not related by kinship. The laws of consanguinity stated that couples could not be married if they had a kinship tie. This was seen as problematic for some of the population, not because they wanted to marry their siblings but because the kinship link was far reaching. Even if you were distantly related you could not marry, which could vastly reduce your number of suitors if you lived in a small village.  Or another example would be if two brothers from one family wished to marry two daughters from another. Only one couple could wed because as soon as the marriage took place, the family ties merged and the remaining couple would be regarded as brother and sister and forbidden to marry. There were ways around the problem; some chose to ignore the law and risk their souls while others purchased special dispensation from the Church to allow the marriage to go ahead.

            Many of the monasteries were of the Benedictine Order. The Benedictine’s day was organised around a series of religious services called the Divine Office. These included Vespers (sunset), Compline (bedtime), Midnight Office (midnight), Matins (dawn), Prime (7 am), Terce (9 am), Sext (noon) and None, (3pm). The monks followed The Rule of St. Benedict. This set out a daily schedule for work and prayer, and taught them how to lead humble and unselfish live.

            Where some of the monks and nuns had a divine calling, many did not. Many were placed in monasteries and nunneries by their families. This led to unhappiness, frustration and disobedience. For those who refused to obey were punished. First with isolation and then if they continued to misbehave, by public beating in front of the entire monastic house.

Life for the parish or village priest was different. He was appointed by the lord of the manor and was given a house. He was obliged to carry money for alms with him, keep up the church, and provide hospitality to travellers.

The priest was usually a commoner by birth, though serfs were tied to the land and were not allowed to become priests. The priest officiated at church services, weddings, baptisms, funerals, and visited the ill. He earned his living from the income for parish lands, fees for services, and tithe money.
             Tithing was a system whereby each family was expected to give one tenth of their earnings to support the church. The tithe income was divided up evenly between the parish priest, the church maintenance fund, the poor, and the bishop.

In my latest book, Rain, I drew on elements of the medieval church and village life, and mixed it with a touch of the paranormal. And I hope that by joining the medieval period with a little magic, I’ve managed to create a lingering love story and a dark fairytale.

1216 AD
Nuri is caught between heaven and hell. Two men fight for her love and her soul. The first is Maras, an elemental being who follows the storms. The second is Brother Erebus, a pious monk whose tortured soul is twisted by his desire for her. But Nuri may sacrifice more than her heart when the Church brands her angel a demon. As Brother Erebus will do anything to protect her soul from the silver haired devil, even if he has to crush her body to do it.

Erebus woke with a start. Sweat covered his body, and his heart raced. The dream lingered, tormenting him. He sat up and heard the heavy drumming of rain; flashes of lightning lit up the darkness of his room. He rubbed his face with his hands, as if to rub away the very thought of her. Nuri haunted him constantly, not only in his waking moments, but even in his deepest slumber. He tried so hard to banish her from his day, but every night she came unbidden. Slowly, she caught hold of his dreams and beguiled him to the point of madness.
Erebus threw the coarse woollen blanket from him and stood on the cold stone floor of his cell. He went to the small wooden table that held a crude pitcher and bowl. He poured icy water into the large bowl and immersed his face in an attempt to cleanse himself. The water was so cold that it burned his face with tiny pinpricks. He forced himself to stay put until the pain and lack of air forced Nuri’s image from his brain. He sucked in a mouthful of air as he raised his head, and asked himself the same question that had been tormenting him for weeks.  Never before has a woman held sway over my mind and soul, so how has Nuri managed it? How can one small woman have this effect? Am I not devout and pious...and chosen by the Abbott himself?
Erebus took another deep breath. The chilled air made him shudder. He had taken the vows of chastity, obedience, and poverty, vows that he had always adhered to. And nothing and no one would make him renege them. He was Brother Erebus, and soon he would be solely in charge of this church and the souls of the entire village. So why had God seen fit to test him so, to tempt him with a woman? Mayhap it was not God, a small voice echoed at the back of his mind. Nuri, for all her beauty, was obviously the Devil’s device to test his resolve. Again, he dipped his head in the bowl of water – as he stood up, freezing rivulets cascaded down his smooth back.
“I am strong. I will meet this challenge and emerge untainted,” he whispered in the dark as he walked back to his cot and sat on the hard straw mattress. He took several more deep breaths in an attempt to clear his head, then dropped to his knees and bowed his head in prayer. Yet, as he closed his eyes, Nuri’s face floated before him.

Amazon Link -
Manner and Customs in the Middle Ages by Marsha Groves
The Time Traveller’s Guide to Medieval England by Ian Mortimer
Medieval Churches and Monasteries by David Ross.
Images – Illuminated script – public domain.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Daily Life of a Young Regency Gentleman

Daily Life of a Young Regency Gentleman by Suzi Love

I was demonstrating the extravagance and ridiculousness of the Daily Life of an Aristocrat in Regency England through the caricatures prevalent at the time, and having so much fun that I thought I'd do a Young Regency Gentleman separately.  

The whole family can be found today at Historical Hearts sister group in America, Hearts Through History

 The Regency Son (Young Buck)

This young gentleman had very little to do in his day except ensure that he looked the height of fashion and to entertain himself, because no gentleman dirtied his hands with work, other than helping run his family estates or manage finances. Most though, left that to a parent or guardian.  

As he probably didn't crawl into bed until around four or five in the morning, he sleeps late, after which his valet will shave him and help him dress. If he is living in his parent's home, he'll wander down to the breakfast room and call for eggs and ale to help sort his fuzzy mind and prepare him for what is sure to be another long day of carousing.  

 If a young gentleman had money in his pockets from his quarterly allowance, there were plenty of places he could spend it.  All young men liked to think they were top-notch sportsmen so they may visit Gentleman Jackson's boxing rooms to limber up. 

Or perhaps the young buck preferred racing his curricle against his friends, neck or nothing, down the streets. Naturally there would be bets placed on the race because gambling was a way of life for these indolent gents.

Other daily pursuits may be a visit to Tattersall's to inspect the horse flesh, ice skating, riding on Rotten Row, and then there was always the five pm parading in Hyde Park to ogle the season's parade of young ladies. 

Because ballrooms were always such a crush that it was often impossible to even have a dance with the season's most sort after elegant young ladies.   

To be classed as a gentleman, you needed to have, not only money, but land. And the longer the land had been in your family, the higher on the social ranking you were.  

Not all the young bucks around London were titled, but if one had a title and money, they were chased by every eligible young girl and her matchmaking mama. Though, just as it was the ambition of every young lady to 'catch' a husband, it was the desire of every young man to avoid matrimony until they had sown plenty of wild oats. 

The young man's friends may help him decide what activities they would engage in. 

Perhaps a dog or cock fight? 

A mill where two burly boxers would pummel each other's faces until one was declared winner and bets could be settled? 

And later that night they would all head to the gambling hell in vogue for a few hours of cards. The dark rooms, smoky interiors, and drunken men could be ignored if a young buck had a buxom young girl sitting on his lap.  

Having filled in their morning, the men wander into Town James to meet their cronies for luncheon. 

Thanks goodness it's time for a few bottles of claret!!

 Just the thing for fixing a hang-over and a great place to discuss how to eke out their never-enough allowances until they can put the bite on their fathers for a little more spending money.

Sometimes, a young man's mother insists he do the rounds of the more conservative entertainments for the evening, playing escort to the women in his family. 

Heaven forbid he be forced to attend Almack's more than one Wednesday in a month, because the punch is insipid, the cake stale, and the dowagers control the ins and outs with a far-too-watchful eye. No chance to say more than hello to the pretty girls there.  

Much better to leave early and visit that lovely new actress and hope he could persuade her to have a late supper with him. 

And later in the week was the Cyprian's Ball, a much more exciting affair than the balls, routs, and musicals his family was invited to.  

He didn't have enough money to set up a mistress, of course, but it was a chance to openly flirt with numerous glorious ladies. 

And then, the next day, a young man's routine of entertaining himself started all over again.   What do you think? A good life for a bachelor? 

    Suzi Love can be found here : - 

SuziLove's Face Book  - Twitter -  Tumblr  -  AmazonAuthor 

Author of : - 
The Viscount's Pleasure House  Amazon USA - Amazon Australia
Embracing Scandal  - Amazon USA  -   Amazon Australia

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Friday, November 15, 2013

HH REVIEW - Teach Me by Cassandra Dean

Title: Teach Me
Author: Cassandra Dean
Publisher: Decadent Publishing (19 Feb 2012)
Language: English

I really enjoyed Teach Me, it was a fresh departure from some of the stiff ‘a lady would never do that’ type writing. If I want to read that sort of work, I go to Jane Austen. Cassandra Dean has crafted a great story. A word of warning, the sex scenes start early on in this story so hold on to your seats. That said, they were well written and believable. Having read a lot of badly written erotica, Teach Me is an example of how you can still write hot sex scenes while allowing a relationship between the hero and heroine to develop.

I liked that Elizabeth was not prepared to live her life as society dictated. She had played the timid, unsatisfied wife role. Now as a widow she wanted more. In James, Earl of Malvern she finds the perfect man to teach her everything about pleasure. The fact that she did all this behind her rather stuffy family’s back had me smiling at times.

James has an interesting background, the males of his family seeming to have a long history of wicked debauchery. The slow changes which take place in him as he succumbs to love for the first time were strongly written. I liked him from the start and to watch him become a better man was thoroughly enjoyable.

The only moment of disappointment in this story was when James came to his senses and declared his love for Elizabeth. The fact that it took him four months to suddenly realise he loved her was just too long for me.

Teach Me is a great read and I look forward to reading more of Cassandra Dean’s work.

Lady Cowper

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Because They Were Dedicated Followers of Fashion

This English Illustrator wasn't  too impressed
with Directoire Fashion
Oh yes he is (oh yes he is), oh yes he is (oh yes he is).
His world is built round discoteques and parties.
This pleasure-seeking individual always looks his best
Cause he's a dedicated follower of fashion.
-- The Kinks

The 1789 Revolution in French brought with it more than just political change. 

For the first time political philosophies that had subjects of merely discussion in the salons of France, now had the opportunity to be the dominant paradigm.

These philosophies – harking back to Greek philosophers -- brought with it a change in fashion that threw off the strictures of the old order in favour of the ‘natural order’.

The female form - indeed la Raison herself was depicted as a young woman wearing diaphanous Greek robes - was to be celebrated and not artificially shaped with corsetry.

"I say, have you seen the bottom half of
your dress, m'dear?"
Gone were sumptuous fabrics, tightly corseted waists and large bustles of previous generations; satins and silks were replaced by cotton and muslin.

Waistlines were high and necklines were low - dangerously low in fact – something that didn’t go unnoticed by social commentators and political cartoonists of the day.

Despite the egalitarian intent of the simple and minimally adorned silhouette, the pastel colours and the popularity of white gowns were only practical for women who did not have to work for a living. The ones who gravitated towards it first were the remains of the aristocracy and the nouveaux riche merchant class.
"Your clothes are nearly see-through!"
"Hey, that's a bit ruff!"
Compare and contrast 1556 v 1796
Since the object of the Directoire-style (which later evolved into the Empire and Regency styles) was to celebrate the natural beauty of womanhood, some fashionistas dampened down the fabric to make it near-transparent. 

Just as Madonna’s penchant for conical bras and wearing underwear as outerwear in the 1980s led to the more desperate attention-seeking  stunts of Lady Gaga, so too did the succeeding generation of trend-setters seek to shock and outrage.

Following the brutal Reign of Terror, the young leading lights of the era  - the Merveilleuses (most comprising now adult daughters of guillotined aristocrats) – took the Greek-inspired fashion further by wearing ‘woven air’ - nearly see through dresses.

The bravest of them went sans-knickers, most however wore slim-fitting flesh coloured pantaloons made of stockinet to maintain the illusion, but preserve modesty.

They were fond of wigs, often choosing blonde because the Paris Commune had banned blond wigs, but they also wore them in black, blue, and green.

Another revolution was to change clothing styles 30 years later – the advances of the industrial revolution meant quality fabrics and quality clothes could be mass produced and therefore cheaper and fashion reflected this with the return of fuller skirts and bustles of the Victorian era.

And to prove that history does repeat, the slim silhouette fashion of the 1930s and 1940s – made necessary by the Great Depression and the rationing of World War Two – gave way to the lavish use of fabrics and full skirts of the late 1940s – 1950s, a style popularized by Christian Dior as The New Look.

About Moonstone Obsession:
Moonstone Obsession is a historical romance set in England in 1790:

For Sir James Mitchell, Lord of Penventen, it was a toss of a coin between which was more dangerous - being a spy or being considered husband material by the Ladies of the Ton.

With high stakes political machinations threatening to draw England into the violent wake of the French Revolution, the last thing James expected was to fall in love with Selina Rosewall, daughter of an untitled seafaring family.

From the privileged world of London society and the wild, dangerous beauty of the Cornish coast to the seething heart of revolutionary Paris, James reluctantly draws Selina deeper in a world of secrets, lies and scandals that threaten England itself.

Say hello to Elizabeth Ellen Carter:

Purchase Moonstone Obsession:

Extract from Moonstone Obsession:
In the south facing morning room, the furniture was rearranged to clear the centre of the room and allow the dressmaker and her two assistants space to show their wares. In one corner, a pair of screens were erected to enable the modelling of some sample outfits brought in a large travelling trunk.
Selina and Lady Elizabeth perused fabric swatches and fashion plates. It appeared that as philosophical fashion in France was harking back to the Greeks and Romans, so too was ladies' fashion.
Many of the fabrics were plain coloured cotton woven so thin it was almost transparent.
In the books, they saw square cut necklines, v-pointed corseted waists, and bustles in silks and satins giving way to scandalously low scoop necks. There were ribbons tied beneath to busts emphasise their shape while the bodice of these new fashion dresses lightly skirted the torso, the wearer free from restrictive corsets, to drape fluidly to just above the ankle.
Both English women were startled as a young woman stepped out from behind the screen and modelled the latest style for them.
“You can see all her legs!” Elizabeth exclaimed.
“Not to mention her breasts,” added Selina.
“But of course!” said the seamstress, dismissing their comments. “It is the latest style.
“You wet the dress like this...” She brushed a damp cloth across the décolleté and down the front of the dress.
“It reveals the natural silhouette, the magnificent form of la femme, and might I say that Mesdames would look glorious as such. You have outstanding figures!”
“Yes,” said Lady Elizabeth, “figures that our husbands would not be happy to see on display for everyone to look at.”
Selina noticed the model scowl almost imperceptibly and glance quickly to her co-worker who was watching from beside the screens. Believing herself to be unobserved, she mouthed two or three words silently.  Selina made out one of them—“bourgeois”.

Friday, November 1, 2013

HH Good News!

HH's fabulously talented authors
have more wonderful news to share this month.
And what a wonderful month it is being NaNoWriMo time!!!
So without further ado we congratulate...
Maggi Andersen's Regency spy series
The Spies of Mayfair, Book Two
Is available now for pre-order (releases Dec 4, 2013)
from Knox Robinson Publishing

John Haldane, Earl of Strathairn, is on an urgent mission to find the killer of his fellow spy. After visiting the young widow of one of his agents, Strathairn strengthens his resolve. A spy should never marry, and most certainly not to Lady Sibella Winborne, with her romantic ideas of love and marriage. Unable to give Sibella up entirely, he has kept her close as a friend. Then, weak fool that he is, he kissed her. Lady Sibella Winborne has refused several offers of marriage since she first set eyes on the handsome Earl of Strathairn. Sibella’s many siblings always rush to her aid to discourage an ardent suitor, but not this time. Her elder brother, Chaloner, Marquess of Brandreth, has approved Lord Coombe’s suit. Sibella yearns to set up her own household. She is known to be the sensible member of the family, but she doesn’t feel at all sensible about Lord Strathairn. If only she could forget that kiss.

Nicole Hurley-Moore's Victorian romance
Is available now from Escape Publishing
and all good online bookstores

Cinderella meets Swan Lake in this Victorian-era set story about a ballet dancer,  an aristocrat, and their class-crossing romance...
Lisette yearns for freedom, security and love, but none are offered on the run-down stage of The Imperial Theatre. Instead she has hard work, a tyrannical aunt, and the hope of one day becoming a prima ballerina. Dancing on the stage she catches the attention of two powerful men: Lord Gainsworth and Lord De Vale.
Lord Evander Gainswith never expected to fall in love, let alone with a woman so wholly unacceptable to his family and his peers. The sinister Lord De Vale covets Lisette's youth and strength, and is willing to pay well for it. Lisette may dance roles in fairy tales and fantasies, but the real world is about to intrude, bringing with it the harsh realities of life for a young girl with
dreams of rising above the demimonde.

Janet Woods Victorian romance
Is available now from Severn House
and all good online bookstores

1840. Miranda Jarvis would do anything to protect her sister - so when Lucy comes down with a fever, she thinks nothing of stealing a loaf of bread from a local landowner. After all, things can't get much worse: after their father died, they were turned out of their home, and their mother lost her life on the road giving birth to a stillborn infant. Robbed by strangers, the pair of them have nothing, and no one to help them. Miranda doesn't count on being nearly brained by the cook's rolling pin...but nor does she count on the house's owner himself. The seemingly respectable businessman Sir James, known for his philanthropy, takes a keen interest in Miranda and her sister, and they are soon established in his household. But Sir James has quarrelled with his nephew, the rakish but reluctant smuggler Fletcher Taunt, and - little does Miranda know - the hostility between the two men, one of whom she comes to love, will change her life forever

Annie Seaton's romantic suspense
Is available now from Entangled Publishing
and all good online bookstores

A desperate search…
Schoolteacher Gracie James has never seen more danger than her kindergarten grade classroom, but when she goes searching for her missing sister, she’s thrown into a world of sex, crime...and passion. Following a hot lead, she sneaks onto a stranger’s boat—and gets caught. Their one-sided conversation convinces her of two things. One: the guy is seriously sexy. Two: he knows something about her sister. Oh, yeah. And did she mention he’s sexy?
And a sizzling attraction…
Jake Alexander, former cop, is staking out a yacht brimming with criminal activity, for an insurance company, when a woman, dressed to kill and totally irresistible, stumbles into his dangerous undercover op. If he hadn’t tackled her, she’d have tottered straight onto the questionable yacht in those ridiculous high heels. Then she’d be dead. Or worse. As much as he’d like to kick her off his boat, he can’t risk her going off on some hare-brained scheme—but he can’t keep her around to muck up his job. Oh, yeah. And did he mention she’s distracting as hell?
Lead to dangerous desire…
Unfortunately, she has a keen mind of her own. And a body any man would die for. Jake’s attempt to keep Gracie safe quickly morphs into a reluctant alliance. And a whole lot more... But Gracie finds herself knee deep in more trouble than she bargained for, with secrets revealed and the criminals coming after her. Unless they find a way to trust each other, they’re finished. Oh, yeah. And did they mention they’re in love?
Christina Phillips
fourth book in her mystical Roman/Druid romance
Is available now from Ellora's Cave - Legend
and all good online bookstores
A dangerous love that Rome will never allow…
Driven by his failure to protect his king and embittered at losing the woman he loves, Celtic warrior Gawain despises the lust he feels for the beautiful Roman patrician, Antonia. She is everything he’s never wanted in a woman, yet she ignites his passion like no other. Despite the danger of discovery, he embarks on an illicit liaison with her, determined to uncover the reason for the infinite sorrow that haunts her eyes.
Newly arrived in Britannia from Rome, Antonia is inexplicably drawn to the cold, tough Celt whose touch stirs a desire she long thought dead at the hands of her brutal former husband. With Gawain, she learns the pleasure of sex and his unexpected tenderness thaws her frozen heart. But she hides a deadly secret that could be her undoing, and knows her growing feelings for him can lead nowhere. When a shadow from her past threatens her future, Antonia is torn between the Empire of her birth and betraying Gawain, the man she’s grown to love.
Reviews for Tainted:

“Tainted is bursting with lush eroticism and riveting romance… Author Christina Phillips is in the Premier League when it comes to historical erotic Romance. Her novels have the perfect balance between erotic lovemaking and an exciting, credible and well crafted plot… ” 5 Stars A Readers Review.
“I was captivated with the time period and the characters… To say I loved this book is an understatement. This book is a must read! 5 books!!!” I Feel the Need, the Need to Read
Tamara Gill's Medieval time travel romance
is available now in ebook and POD format
at all good online bookstores
Unlucky in love, Maddie St. Clair hides behind an antique store and her mudlarking hobby. That is until she finds a medieval ring that throws her back to 1102 Cumberland and into the life of Lady Madeline Vincent, heiress to Norman lands and about to be married to an autocratic Baron, William Dowell, nine hundred years her senior.
Lord William Dowell protects his own. Usually, from his closest neighbor and long standing foe the Baron of Aimecourt. Forced to marry his dead enemy’s daughter, Lady Madeline, by King’s decree, he hides his growing respect for his wife behind a wanton mistress. Yet when Madeline’s life is threatened, William’s loyalty to his kin is tested by the astonishing desire that flares between them. Not to mention the love that Madeline ignites that would last an eternity. If fate will allow.

Contracts and Contests!!!
Annie Seaton has signed a contract with
Entangled Publishing
for Book 1 of a romantic suspense continuity series
The Emerald Saga (tentatively titled)
release date tba
Tampa Area Romance Authors (TARA)
announced the WINNERS of the
2013 TARA Contest
Series Contemporary
Bronwyn Stuart 3rd Place for
Mixing Business with Pleasure
2013 Selling Synopsis winners
Cassandra Samuel's 2nd Place
2013 Little Gems Cover Contest
Winner - Sheridan Kent
2014 Ripping Start Contest
(winners yet to be announced)
Cassandra Samuel's
Book Junkies Choice Award
Historical Winner
Sasha Cottman
Letter from a Rake
Available now from Destiny Romance
Congratulations everyone!
And until next time
happy reading.