Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Crazy Things I Researched Today

In the category of completely useless information, I present: Crazy Things I Researched Today.

What wine to serve with liver. As a side, found a recipe for cooking liver with two orange slices and stout Irish ale. I may try it, as I love good liver. Have you ever had foie gras?

The best legal/law book of the 1800’s. Blackstone’s Commentaries of the Law of England.

A London club (not the usual White’s or Boodles.) The Alfred Club, known as the “dullest club in existence”. Bingo!

Regalia. I was misusing this word. I didn’t realize it was so closely related to royalty. I think I was confusing the word with regale. Yes. Yes, I was.

English country dance music/Best dance music from the Regency period. Found a lovely group, which I will share later after I get their CD, who perform traditional music such as the Roger Decoverly but I am loving their performance of the Sussex Waltz with the violin in the background. It’s on YouTube. Check it.

Regency men’s jackets. I’ve been to the Gentleman’s Emporium website before but dwam! I love the awesome looking jackets with their cut and tails and collars. I think of James Purefoy and Colin Firth.

English coffeehouses. Was disappointed to learn coffeehouses had mostly disappeared at the end of the 18th century.

Do I underline book titles? Yes. Or quotes. Depending on the style manual used. I don’t know why I have to look this up every time.

Unnamed author on Amazon. Again, surprised by the sheer numbers of authors I have never heard of who are best sellers. How is this possible? I read a ton.

Dean Winters. Okay so I was watching Law and Order: SVU and Dean Winters was on in those early seasons (and the last seasons) as Det. Brian Cassidy. I really like him. I think in the world of fake boyfriends, he is the closest to what I would really feel comfortable with. I may blow about David Gandy being all that but, let’s face it, there are few women in his league and I ain’t one of them. Oh and Dean is too adorable as Mayhem.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Release Day! The Day After, Mad Duchesses, Book Four

Today is the release for Mad Duchesses, Book Four, titled The Day After.

The woman he loves. His best friend's wife.

What happens the day after his best friend's death?

Dashiel Hamilton has loved Laura since the day he met her, only she choose Wallace, his best friend. Instead of jeopardizing his friendship, instead of making a mistake, he departs to India.

When Wallace is hurt in a riding accident, Dashiel returns to his best friend's aide.

The day after his death, Laura seeks comfort in Dashiel's arms but determines she has made a horrible mistake and betrayed her love for Wallace.

The Day After...

Available now from Ellora's Cave and Amazon, and soon at other fine retailers.



Sunday, August 24, 2014

Ten Reasons Kilts Rock

Subtitle: Yes, I know there are more than ten reasons.

So here they are:

10) Makes bagpipes sound better

9) Braveheart

8) Rob Roy

7) It's a kilt, dumbass. It's only a skirt if I'm wearing underwear.” 
Damon Suede, Hot Head

6) Blanket. Cloak. Formal wear.

5) “There can be only one.”

4) McCloud, McCallister, McDubh, McYummy

3) Underwear. Or not.

2) Braw laddies

1) Jamie Fraser or Sam Heughan – take your pick

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Lady's Guide to Perfect Gentility - Regency Perfumes

One of the great things about being a historical writer is the process of discovery. I just finished a Regency Christmas story (that will be available late November) and I needed to know what my hero smelled like – which got me to thinking about scents and smells in general. Who were the Dolce and Gabanna’s and Chanel’s of that day? Or did they only make perfumes at home?

My first discovery led me to Floris London, a quaint little shop on Jermyn Street that sold perfumes, combs and shaving implements. Floris is still in London and still run by Juan Floris’ ancestors.

Here’s where you can find them.

So, I was really excited about their perfume processes. Today they have a unique experience available in their shop: bespoke perfume design. I so want to do this the next time I am in London. “Using rare and precious essential oils and floral essences gathered from around the world, the Floris perfumer will custom blend an exclusive and individual fragrance.

At their website, there is also a Fragrance Finder. Why do I like this? Well, I got to thinking about my hero – a dashing widowed duke. I made my selections and – viola – my hero was a vetiver and sandalwood kind of guy.

They use many other exotic fragrances as well, among them:  bergamot, jasmine, marine, pink peppercorn, oleander, peony, rose, summer berries, musk, patchouli and sandalwood - and this is for just one perfume!

Other famous perfumeries including the French company Roger and Gallet with its Jean Marie Farina perfume launched in 1806: Truefitt and Hill, the oldest barbershop in the world and famous for its Freshman colognes and shaving creams; and another company Carthusia makes a perfume Fiori Di Capri which blends amber and sandalwood and is created from a medieval recipe from 1380.

Naturally there were also many homemade formulations.

Rose water is frequently mentioned in romance novels.

Here’s the recipe: “Put roses into water and add one or two drips of vitriolic acid. The water assumes the color and becomes impregnated with the aroma of the flowers.”

Or this one for perfumed oils: “These are prepared by soaking cotton in fine olive oil and spreading it in layers over which such flowers as violets, jessamine or roses, should be lightly strewn. The oil will thus imbibe the scent of the flowers and should then be pressed from the cotton, and, if necessary, filtered through flannel. Most of the French scented oils are made by this process.”

I won’t be mixing up a batch of perfume on my oven anytime soon but I will be stopping at Floris the next time I am in London. And when you smell Adam, Duke of Sterling, in my Christmas story, you’ll know where he bought his cologne.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Books - As Television and Movie Props

Books are awesome. They are even more awesome when they are props used in movies and television and I am fascinated by every one of them.

One of my current favorites is John’s Journal from Supernatural. Sam and Dean’s dad, John Winchester, kept an amazing diary of notes of all the vampires, djins, demons and other assorted creatures that he had come across as a Hunter – and most likely had killed. It is a guide book of sorts that they’ve referred to many times during the show, especially since Dad was killed off.

One of the newer story lines in Supernatural has been the introduction of the Men of Letters. When Sam and Dean found the secret bunker with the special key, they found a treasure trove of books and documents to aid in the battle of good and evil.

From Supernatural Wiki: “It is described as containing every object, scroll and spell collected by the order for over a thousand years as well as research and books on a variety of subjects.” And it’s also located in Lebanon, Kansas, the geo center of the United States.

Another awesome favorite is from The Last Crusade—Indiana Jones’ father’s diary. How cool was that little book, also known as the Grail Diary? It held maps of neat little places in Jordan, like Petra. Pencil rubs from tombs of the Knight’s Templar. Everything a treasure hunter needed.

In the television series Alias, there was the Rimbaldi manuscript. The most famous page of that book was “Page 47” – the one Syd replaced at Sloane’s house. I was sure she would get caught!

It contained the most famous passage of the entire Alias series. Here’s the quote from The Prophecy. "This woman here depicted will possess unseen marks, signs that she will be the one to bring forth my works, bind them with fury, a burning anger. Unless prevented at vulgar cost, this woman will render the greatest power unto utter desolation."

And finally, there was the Book of the Dead in The Mummy. It was a creepy book opened with the awesome star-shaped key. Gah, I love these props.

All of these books portend some bad happenings but they show such creativity. This type of prop had to include drawings and text that could hold up to scrutiny on those close up shots.

Some other cool book props include the Book of Secrets from National Treasure. And there was the Standard Book of Spells from Harry Potter.

I’m also fascinated by all the treasure maps and scrolls they come up with. The Game of Thrones map that they have in the opening sequence of the show is awesome.

I would love to have these on my book shelves!

What famous book props have I missed?

Friday, August 8, 2014

Release Day: The Day After

My favorite day as a writer is always release day. This one coming up is extra special since it will be the release of the final novella in the Mad Duchesses' series.

The Day After is all about unrequited love, that of our hero Dashiel Hamilton. He has loved Laura since they first met but there was another suitor who won her heart and her hand - his best friend, the Duke of Mabry. He's loved her from afar because he would never do anything to jeopardize his lifelong friendship with Mabry.

Until the day after...

Mabry finally succumbs to the wounds of a riding accident and Laura is devastated. She turns to Dashiel for comfort but they get much more than they bargained for. The day after Mabry's death, Dashiel's greatest wish comes true but Laura is horrified she has betrayed Mabry.

Find out what happens the day after...

And did you know this about the Mad Duchesses' series...

In Book One, One Last Night, the famed Abbess Madame Alice Dupuis (from the Wicked Affairs' series) helps Lucinda fulfill her lustful dreams and that John Allen (our well-endowed hero) was once a gigolo at the brothel.

Or this?

In Book Three, the Honorable Ferdinand Ford, Ferddie to his friends, is the competitive sportsman who enjoys horses and boxing along with other sorts of manly pursuits and is the hero of Age of Innocence. He appears in Wicked Temptation, where he played billiards with the Duke of Pelham. And in Wicked Secrets where he was riding with Charles Standifer, the Earl of Archer.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Nothing Like A Good Book... And Chocolate

Hello. I'm just back from a long two week trip for the EDJ. For those who follow me on Facebook, you've probably seen a few of the pics I title: Chocolates From Around the World. Well, I'm going to post a few for you. Then, later this week, I'm going to post some really great shots from Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires. What a great opera house!

But let's talk chocolate to start.

Chocolate cake with ice cream and a dollop of vanilla - Milan, Italy. Beautifully plated. Gordon Ramsey would be proud.

A cute white chocolate cake with raspberry gelatin-like topping. In Sao Paulo, Brazil

Basically tricked out chocolate brownies. A nice hotel welcome also in Sao Paulo. The candy coating I didn't try but it was pretty.

It's a chocolate malt, with chocolate shavings and Oval-tine at my favorite burger joint in Sao Paulo, Brazil. I don't know if it's impolite to slurp. See the chocolate drips down the inside? There was a great, gooey clump of chocolate at the bottom of my glass!

Profiteroles at Mr. B's Bistro in NOLA. These were lip-smacking delicious. I almost went back a second day just to have these again. BTW, Mr. B's was excellent all around.

New Orleans. A fluer-de-lis candy with three layers. Mmmmm.

Chocolate mousse shots - Guayaquil, Ecuador

Fondant - Sao Paulo
Love this clever use of the spoon to sprinkle the chocolate powder.

There you have it! So I titled this "Nothing Like A Good Book... So I should also mention the good book I am reading right now. Mary Balogh's series The Survivor's Club, titled The Escape. Mary just has a way about making suffering beautiful especially when love is there to heal the wounds.