Sunday, September 21, 2014

LOVE IS BLIND ~ BRIDELOPE ~ The earliest word for a marriage custom by Maggi Andersen

BRIDELOPE dates back to A.D. 950 when it was called brydlopa. Part of this custom, called the ‘run for the bride-door,’ was an ancient tradition in which the bride was both symbolically and physically swept off on horseback to her husband’s home by him and sometimes a helper who was later known as the ‘best man’.
The Anglo-Saxon root word wedd (‘to gamble, wager’) first referred to livestock or other payment by the groom to the bride’s father, as a more civilized alternative to abduction.

In the 17th Century, before it became associated with romantic images, elopement was a legal term for the act of a woman who leaves her husband and ‘dwells with the adulterer, by which she shall lose her dower’. (Thomas Blount Glossographia 1656.)
As a symbol of resistance, the well-prepared Saxon bride’s wedding attire often included knives, which she ‘gracefully hung from her girdle’.
John Heywood listed other bridal equipment in his 1545 work The Four Ps:
Silke swathbonds, ribbands, and sleeve-laces,
Girdles, knives, purses and pin-cases,
Fortune dothe give these knives to you,
To cut the thred of love if’t be not true.

Bridesmaids were originally a maid’s closest friends who might attempt to defend her from an unwanted groom and make sure she didn’t panic and run off, especially in arranged marriages. In a custom known as ‘charming the path,’ the bride was hidden or disguised when the groom’s party came for her.
‘This was a common practice at old-fashioned weddings in Wales, among other places. The bride is generally expected to make a great show of resistance to her departure, and to lament loudly.’
(Burne, Charlotte S. The Handbook of Folklore. London 1883)

As late as the 18th Century, a custom that often accompanied weddings in Wales was a race by the male members of the wedding party to the couple’s future residence, with food or a silk scarf (originally the bride’s garter, a potent love charm) typically awarded to the winner.

At Scottish country weddings, a related custom, to ‘ride the brose,’ with the first to arrive receiving a ‘cog of brose,’ or ‘good fat broth made for the occasion.’ (John Jamieson. An Etymological Dictionary of the Scottish Language 1808)
 ‘The boast of the winner was how far on with the brose he was before the rest of the company arrived.’


The Folly at Falconbridge Hall is a Victorian marriage of convenience story.
Nominated for the Rone Award, it is an Amazon bestseller. 

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, a huge rambling mansion 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 in search of exotic butterflies. An enigmatic man, he takes a keen interest in his daughter's education, but Vanessa feels that he may disapprove of her modern methods. As she prepares her young charge to enter into the modern world, 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?


1894 Clapham, England
Chapter One
Vanessa Ashley planned to arrive at her destination cool and composed, but she felt like a wilting lily. She dabbed her handkerchief at the sweat trickling into her collar as heat gathered
beneath her chip-straw bonnet. Clapham High Street Railway Station was a noisy and smelly hub of activity, luckily the residence that was to be her new home lay in the countryside.
A short, bearded man approached her and politely touched his hat. “For Falconbridge Hall, miss?”
“Yes, I’m Miss Ashley. Thank you . . . Mr.?”
“They just call me Capstick, Miss Ashley. This way.” He led her to a trap. After he’d loaded her trunk and her bicycle on board, they seated themselves. He slapped the reins and told the horse to walk on. “You’re the new governess?”
She smiled. “Yes.”
“Another one,” he muttered and shook his head.
Startled, Vanessa stared at him. “How many have there been?”
“A few. They don’t stay long.”
“But why?”
Capstick declined to comment. He just grunted and shook his head.
“Well, I intend to.” Vanessa straightened her shoulders. It was true she had never wished to be a governess. Even though she was still quite young, her wish for children of her own now seemed unlikely, and if this was to be her fate, she intended to make the best of it. A person without funds, indifferent looks, and a lack of grace had no other course open to them.
“Good luck to yer, then.” Capstick grinned at her, revealing a large gap in his front teeth.
With reassuring skill, he negotiated around a horse-drawn tram as they passed the bandstand on the common and then drove down tree-lined avenues. Villas were soon replaced by streets of gracious homes set amid beautiful gardens. A sign, reading Clapham Park Estate, appeared, followed by larger country houses on acreages.
They passed the last of the houses and were out in the countryside now. Green fields crisscrossed by hedgerows stretched away to a line of forest in the distance. The trap followed
the road beside a high brick wall for about a mile until they came to a pair of impressive wrought iron gates with Falconbridge Hall emblazoned on them in gold lettering. Capstick drove through,
and a house appeared above the trees. Many chimneys rose from the massive slate roof.
Ahead of them, a stocky dark-haired man rode a magnificent bay horse across the lawn and vaulted a hedge. Vanessa had a glimpse of dark, gypsy eyes and a white smile beneath a black moustache. Before they drew level, he turned the animal and rode towards the woods.
“Who was that?” she couldn’t help asking, watching him disappear into the trees.
“That’s the groom, Lovel, exercising the master’s horse.” Capstick shook his head. “The gardeners will not be pleased.”
The gravel drive bordered by lime trees curved around through formal gardens to the front of the house where he left her, disappearing with her trunk and bicycle toward the rear
entrance and, she presumed, the coach house and stables.
The sprawling red brick house had sandstone trim around the windows and a tower at one end, ivy covered its walls. It was older and far bigger than those they’d passed on their way from
the station. The house had settled into its surroundings, and she had the feeling it had been here for a very long time while the urban sprawl of Clapham edged ever closer.
Conscious that she looked rumpled and untidy, Vanessa smoothed the skirt of her olive green linen dress and straightened the limp white collar with travel-stained cotton gloves. She picked up her bag and stepped up to the paneled door flanked by stout white columns.
Before she could knock, a maid wearing a mobcap and a white apron over her grey floral dress opened the door. “Miss Ashley? Please come in.”
Surprised not to be met by a butler in such an establishment, Vanessa stepped into the wide entrance hall. One of those new inventions, the telephone sat on a table. A fine Persian carpet ran the length of the parquet floor, pale green satin papered the walls, and fringed and tasseled emerald velvet drapes hung from the windows. Potted ferns clustered in corners, and a gracious staircase led upward. Despite fractured light filtering down from a stained-glass window above the stair, the house was so gloomy inside dusk might have fallen.
“The master’s in his study, miss. Please wait here while I announce you."
Vanessa sank gratefully onto the edge of a straight-backed chair. It had been hours since she’d had a drink, and her mouth was horribly parched. Now her knees had developed a worrying tendency to tremble. To distract herself, she studied the remarkable flesh tones on the naked woman’s torso of the oil painting hanging on the opposite wall. A Fran├žois Boucher if she was not mistaken. More flesh than was decent, surely.
Her father had preferred the sea and boats as his subjects. He considered the naked body
to be soft pornography and not fine art but altered his opinion after nudes became an important asset to any wealthy man’s collection and began to fetch high prices. More than once, Vanessa
had come across nude models posing in his studio, barely covered by drapery and, sometimes, wearing nothing at all.
At the thought of her father and their home in Cornwall, a wave of homesickness passed over her; she had never envisaged such a drastic change in fortune. She swallowed and focused her mind on the letter and the offer that had brought her here.
In his fine script, the viscount had been brief and to the point. He was a widower with a young daughter in need of tutoring. An associate of her uncle’s had approached him on her behalf. She’d read his words with disquiet. He sounded so business-like and … unsympathetic.
He had been informed that her mother and father died from the influenza, but his few words of condolence failed to make her more confident of what lay ahead.
The maid’s head appeared over the banister rail. “The master will see you now.”
Vanessa walked up the wide oak stair to where the maid awaited outside a door. A deep voice answered her knock. Vanessa turned the knob thinking how she would have liked to wash before meeting her new employer; it was difficult to appear cool and in control when so hot.
The room she entered was also gloomy. A gas lamp glowed where a man sat in shirtsleeves and braces, his dark head bent over a desk. She took two uncertain steps and paused
in the middle of a crimson Persian rug. Vanessa clasped her hands together and inspected the room. Shelves of leather-bound books lined one wall. Heavy bronze velvet drapes, pulled halfway across the small-paned windows, framed a narrow but magnificent view of parkland
where broad graveled walks trailed away through well-grown trees. She suffered a sudden urge to walk across, pull the curtains back and throw open a window.
Lord Falconbridge put down the butterfly under-glass he had been examining and pushed back his leather chair, rising to his feet. As she edged closer, he donned his coat and came to shake her hand. “Miss Ashley.”
“How do you do, my lord?”
He motioned her to sit then sat himself.
He would be in his mid-thirties, she guessed. His good looks made her feel even more untidy. His dark hair swept off a widow’s peak, and he had a deep cleft in his chin. He removed his glasses, and his eyes were a similar bright blue to the butterfly. Dark brows met in an absentminded frown as if she was an unwelcome distraction. “Welcome to Falconbridge Hall. I hope you had a good journey?”
“Yes, thank you, my lord.”
“You’ve come quite a long way. You must be tired.”
“I broke my journey with an aunt in Taunton, my lord.” Her aunt was quite elderly, and Vanessa had slept on the sofa, but she didn’t feel at all tired. She expected fatigue would strike once the initial rush of excitement had faded.
“My sympathies for your loss, Miss Ashley.”
“Thank you.”
“You have had no experience as a governess, I believe.”
“Do you like children?”
“Very much, my lord.”
“Then you have had some involvement with them.”
“Yes, I was very fond of my neighbors’ children. I minded them quite often as their parents were both in business.”
“You had no opportunity to marry in Cornwall?”
“I had one offer, my lord.” The widowed vicar, Harold Ponsonby, had offered, in an attempt to rescue her from the heathenish den of iniquity in which he found her.
He eyed her. “And you refused him?”
Might he think her imprudent? “Yes.”
“Do you have a particular skill, Miss Ashley, which you can impart to my daughter?”
“No, my lord.” She drew in a breath. She had not expected such a question. “Sadly, I did not inherit my father’s artistic talent, but I have my mother’s enquiring mind and her interest in history and politics.”
“Politics?” He stared at her rather long, and she wished again that she’d had time to tidy herself. “We shall see how you get on. The rest of the day is your own. We will discuss your duties in the library tomorrow at ten. Mrs. Royce, my housekeeper, will show you to your room.”
With an abstracted glance at his desk, he rose and went to pull the bell.
The mahogany desktop was completely covered with pens and papers, a microscope, a probe of some kind, a set of long-handled tweezers, a large magnifying glass and a small handheld
one, tomes stacked one on top of the other in danger of toppling, and the butterfly in its glass prison, its beautiful wings pinned down, never to soar again. Caught by its beauty and premature death, Keats’s poem Ode to a Grecian Urn, rushed into her head. 

“Thou, silent form,
dost tease us out of thought…As doth eternity.”
The viscount swiveled, and his eyebrows shot up. “Pardon?”
Vanessa jumped to her feet as heat flooded her cheeks. She'd said the words aloud. She must have had too much sun. “Keats, my lord.”
“Are you a devotee of the Romantics?”
“Not especially.” Annoyed with herself and, irrationally, with him for pursuing it, she said, “Forgive me, it was a random thought.”
He folded his arms and studied her. “You are given to spouting random philosophical thoughts?”
She tugged at her damp collar. “Not usually. I’m a little tired, and it’s been so hot.”
Hastening to change the subject, she stepped over to the wall covered in framed butterflies of all sizes and colors. One particular specimen caught her eye. “Exquisite.”
She felt his presence disturbingly close behind her. “Which?”
She pointed. “This one, with patches of crimson and deep blue on its wings.”
“You have a good eye. That’s a Nymphalidae from Peru. Do you know much about butterflies?” She looked at him, finding his blue eyes had brightened.
“Very little, I’m afraid,” she said, aware her contribution to this discussion would prove disappointing. “We get many orange ones with black spots in Cornwall.”
“Dark green Fritillary.” The interested light in his eyes faded.
“That can’t be. They’re orange,” she said.
“That is their name, dark green Fritillary.”
“Why would they call it dark green when …?” Her voice died away at the impatience in his face.
“That species is common and of little interest.” He studied her. “Unless you took notice of some interesting aspect of their habitats?”
“No, not precisely, my lord … uh, they seemed to gather in trees and grasses ….” She nipped at her lip with her teeth, as he nodded and turned away. Would a governess be required to know much about butterflies or botany? Beyond Cornwall, her knowledge of flora and fauna was barely worthy of comment.
A woman entered the room, her neat figure garbed in black bombazine, with a lacy cap over her brown hair and a watch pinned to her breast. A large bunch of keys jangled at her waist.
Vanessa thought her to be in her early-forties. She had a pointed nose and sharp eyes that looked
like they would miss little.
“Ah. Mrs. Royce, this is the new governess, Miss Ashley. Please give her a tour of the
day nursery and school room and introduce my daughter to her before you take her to her quarters.”
“Yes, milord.”
“Miss Ashley.” His lordship nodded. “I shall see you here again at ten o’clock tomorrow.
We’ll discuss your plans for teaching my daughter. I’m extremely keen that she becomes proficient in mathematics, the French language, and botany.”
“Botany, my lord?” Vanessa’s fears were realized. Completely unprepared, she looked around wildly at the books lining his shelves. Might she have time to bone up on it? She read
some knowledge of her discomfort in his eyes and lifted her chin. “Surely English and history are equally as important?”
“That goes without saying.” He turned back to his desk. “Tomorrow at ten.”
Summarily dismissed, Vanessa followed the housekeeper along the corridor. Did she catch a satisfied gleam in his eye before he turned away? Her mind filled with questions. Was it going to be difficult to work for him? Might it be why governesses did not stay long here?

Source: Forgotten English Jeffrey Kacirk, Quill William Morrow NY.S
Further reading:
Thomas Blount recognized that many of the new words entering the English language were those spoken in the street. He saw that tradesmen and merchants were collecting words as well as wares on their journeys overseas. And therefore many of these new words, such as coffee, chocolate, drapery, boot, omelette or balcony, were those used in shops or other public places - drinking houses, tailors, shoemakers or barbers.
Charlotte Burne (1850–1923) served the Folklore Society (FLS) for forty years. She was editor of the massive Shropshire Folklore (1883–6), and the second revised edition of the FLS's only official guide, The Handbook of Folklore (1914). She authored over seventy folklore papers, notes and reviews in Folklore and its predecessors, as well as several articles in newspapers and magazines; she was the first woman editor of this journal (1900–08) and the first woman President of the FLS (1909–10). This appreciation is the first part of a two-part study of her life and works. The second part will be a provisional bibliography of her published works.
John Jamieson FRSE (3 May 1759 – 12 July 1838) was a Scottish minister of religion, lexicographer, philologist and antiquary.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Finding Research for a Historical Novel.

Researching Bath
By Maggi Andersen


Letters and historical novels can give us a great idea of how life was lived in another era.
Jane Austen lived in Bath for five years and before that was a frequent visitor to the city. Two of her novels are set there: Northanger Abbey and Persuasion. Separated by fifteen years, Jane’s experiences of a changing Bath color her novels. She wrote Northanger Abbey in the 1790s after a pleasant short stay.
Although Catherine leaves Bath without regret when she, and the narrative, move on to Northanger Abbey, she has experienced no sense of confinement during her sojourn in the city, and has shown no longing for the country. There is a fresh and simple enjoyment of the pleasure of Bath in this novel, expressed by Catherine when Henry warns her that it is de rigeur to become tired of Bath after six weeks:
“Well, other people must judge for themselves, and those who go to London may think nothing of Bath. But I, who lives in a small retired village in the country, can never find greater sameness in such a place as this, than in my own home; for there are a variety of amusements, a variety of things to be seen and done all day long…I really believe I shall always be talking of Bath, when I am at home again – I do like it so very much…Oh! Who can ever be tired of Bath?”

In November 1800  Mr. and Mrs. Austen retired to Bath,and a great wrench for Jane, at twenty-five to leave Steventon. Books, pictures, piano – everything had to be disposed of, everything she had grown up with. But it was place, rather than property, which was so hard to leave.

In the new century, the Bath of perpetual confinement was Jane’s own reality when she wrote Persuasion. A thousand houses had been built in Bath in the 1790s alone, although the surrounding country remained unspoiled. As Fanny Burney wrote, “There is always the town at command and always the country for prospect, exercise and delight.”

Bath had played a significant role in the establishment of pleasurable 18th century pursuits of pleasure, polished manners, social contacts and correct taste. People of a certain education, with leisure and enough money to spend, mingled and enjoyed civilized pleasures. As Smollett wrote: “Even the wives and daughters of low tradesmen…insist upon being conveyed to Bath were they hobbled the country dances and cotillions among lordlings, squires and the clergy.”

But no longer content to ‘hobble’ with anyone who could afford the subscription to the assemblies, the gentry developed a desire for greater privacy and exclusivity and began to prefer private parties. “The showy, tonish people who are only to be seen by going to the Rooms, which we never do,” as Fanny

Burney wrote in 1780.
Beneath this fastidious layer, which included such snobs as Sir Walter Elliot and Lady Dalrymple, came the ‘clergymen may be’, or lawyers from town, or half pay officers, or widows on a jointure.
But as the lower classes were more numerous than the aristocracy who had first patronized Bath, the city was more popular than ever, and the demand for houses steadily grew.
Jane Austen describes accurately the city she knew so well. The heart of the city has always been the abbey churchyard, called the pump-yard in Northanger Abbey. The spacious area where the sedan-chairs and their blue-coated attendants waited for customers. The churchyard is enclosed by the west front of the abbey; The Pump Room, with its inscription ‘Water is Best’ in Greek; the Colonnade on the west; and a row of shops on the north, between two of which is the archway which Catherine Morland and Isabella Thorpe passed through to Cheap Street. Bath_Abbey_Exterior,_Somerset,_UK_-_Diliff

Bath has many public parks, where the pursuits of seeing and being seen could take place. Chief among these were the lawns in front of the Royal Crescent, where it was fashionable to walk on a Sunday; Jane Austen, and her characters in Northanger Abbey, all did so.Bath city

My latest novels are Regency romances. New Release, WHAT A RAKE WANTS – The Spies of Mayfair, is available in print and e-book. WARW2
My webpage:
Twitter: @maggiandersen
(Reblogged from Embracing Romance)
#historicalromance, #Regency, #Romance, #Mystery #Adventure, #Spies

Friday, August 29, 2014


Mary Preston has won an ecopy of WHAT A RAKE WANTS. Enjoy, Mary!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Released! WHAT A RAKE WANTS - The Spies of Mayfair Book #3

Available now in print and e-book at certain stores!
Comment to win an e-copy!

King George sends his private investigator, an Irishman, Kieran Flynn, Lord Montsimon, on a mission, the reason for which is unclear. Is it a plot against the Crown? Or something entirely unrelated? Flynn's inquiries lead him to the widow, Lady Althea Brookwood. Known amongst the ton as a rake, Flynn is rarely turned down by a lady, and when Althea refuses not just him but many other men, he becomes intrigued. After her neighbor, Sir Harold Crowthorne informs Althea that he means to take her country property, Owltree Cottage, by fair means or foul, she must search for help. The first man she turns to is promptly murdered and the second lies to her. That leaves Flynn, Lord Montsimon, a man she has been studiously avoiding. But Montsimon is decidedly unhelpful, and more than a little mysterious. Her only option is to seduce him. Althea has little confidence that she will succeed, especially as before her husband was killed in a duel, he often told her she was quite hopeless at intimacy. When a spy is murdered, Flynn wonders just what Althea knows and what her involvement might be with the man the king wants Flynn to investigate.


County Wicklow, Ireland
Kieran Flynn, 4th Viscount Montsimon, reined in his horse and stared ahead at Greystones Manor. His father was dead, the malevolent force of his nature gone from the house. Perhaps now, a loving family would fill the empty rooms. He eased his stiff shoulders. Some other family, not his. Let the cursed Montsimon name die out with him.
In the depths of winter, heavy clouds hung low over the house, a blunted dark shape stark against the sky, like a blemish on the beautiful land it occupied.
With a sigh, which was half exhaustion, Flynn nudged the flank of his bay. He rode up to the house and dismounted.
Blackened stone glistened wet in the misty air, the mullioned windows blank eyes gazing inward to shadowy corridors and empty rooms.
A grizzled-headed groom hurried from the stables.
Flynn nodded. “Gaffney, isn’t it?”

“You be the young master, Lord Montsimon. I remember ye,” Gaffney said and led the horse away.
Flynn crossed the south lawn to the shallow set of stone steps, leading to a pair of solid, brass-studded doors. The family crest sat above it, gold and green, a knight’s helmet, a stag, and a boar. From the top step, he turned to look at emerald meadows stretching away to the east, where cliffs descended to the sea.
Despite the lack of a breeze to carry the salty spray, he tasted it on his tongue. Memories came uninvited of his boyhood, climbing those cliffs above the thrashing waves in search of birds’ eggs.
He had quit this place and his father as soon as he was old enough to make his way in England. If he’d thought he’d turned his back on his Irish roots, standing here, he knew they ran deep to his very marrow. Almost against his will, his pulse quickened at the sight of the fertile land. Now all this was his, every brown trout in the stream, every deer in the forest, every square of stone rising above him.

 Annoyed by the unforeseen emotion, he reminded himself that his future lay in England where he would return as soon as he settled matters, long overdue. He’d raked up enough blunt to have repairs done and would seek a good tenant.
The door flew open. A wizened male servant, dressed all in black with a smudge of dirt on his cheek stood beaming at him.
“Welcome home, milord.”
“Thank you.” Flynn didn’t know the fellow from Adam. Their butler had died of old age some years ago. He stepped inside the oak paneled Great Hall and caught his breath at the memory of it decked out with flowers for a ball when he was a young lad. The buzz of excitement in the air, that not even his father’s vicious temper could dispel. Flynn had watched from the stairs as his mother danced with Timothy Keneally, a ringlet of violets in her fair hair matching her gown. A month later, she was gone.

Question: What did Flynn do as a boy climbing the cliffs? 

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Sunday, August 24, 2014

Pre-Release Review WHAT A RAKE WANTS

Available 26th August 2014 
Amazon Print & Ebook


 About the Story: King George sends his private investigator, an Irishman, Kieran Flynn, Lord Montsimon, on a mission, the reason for which is unclear. Is it a plot against the Crown? Or something entirely unrelated? Flynn’s inquiries lead him to the widow, Lady Althea Brookwood. Known amongst the ton as a rake, Flynn is rarely turned down by a lady, and when Althea refuses not just him but many other men, he becomes intrigued. After her neighbor, Sir Harold Crowthorne informs Althea that he means to take her country property, Owltree Cottage, by fair means or foul, she must search for help. The first man she turns to is promptly murdered and the second lies to her. That leaves Flynn, Lord Montsimon, a man she has been studiously avoiding. But Montsimon is decidedly unhelpful, and more than a little mysterious. Her only option is to seduce him. Althea has little confidence that she will succeed, especially as before her husband was killed in a duel, he often told her she was quite hopeless at intimacy. When a spy is murdered, Flynn wonders just what Althea knows and what her involvement might be with the man the king wants Flynn to investigate.
My Thoughts: This story was highly entertaining, actually a joy to read. The series is certainly worth purchasing. The story held my attention long into the night. Ms. Andersen’s writing has considerable depth with descriptive words painting  scenes around me. Maggi Andersen’s story flowed smoothly, easily followed, while being absorbing. From the very first pages to its end, I felt I was there watching it all happen.
The hero, Flynn, Lord Montsimon, was not your ordinary rake. He had a heart, albeit a bit rusted. His circles included bestowing favors on widows. While at balls, widows’ eyes followed with the come-hither look, hoping they would be the one favored that evening. Flynn was happy as a rake. Marriage was the furthest thing from his mind. He also was employed as a spy for King George, a job at this particular moment frustrating. It wasn’t clear to him or the men he worked with what sort of problem they were tracking for the king.
His heart carried a hurt from his mother walking away from his father when Flynn was very young. Buried in his subconscious was the question, wasn’t he lovable enough? Why hadn’t she taken him with her? He was brought up by an austere and somewhat cruel father, but was given the education needed to continue the title of the family.
Lady Althea was a very inexperienced woman in the world of men, married at 17 to a man who didn’t know how to love her. When Lady Althea was approached by Flynn, looking for an eligible widow to woo, she pushed him away, wanting nothing to do with him. This only whetted Flynn’s appetite while challenging his manhood. Was he losing his touch? He was more intrigued than ever before. While pursuing the unpursuable Althea, both he and Althea became friends. She was feisty and wanted to take care of herself. Since Althea needed protection against the forces about, he had to protect to. He couldn’t help himself, and also couldn’t understand why he was acting this way.
I enjoyed the way the author introduced the softer side of Flynn. A stray dog had ‘adopted’ him and he hadn’t the heart to deny him when the mangy mutt, found in his stables, wouldn’t let Flynn leave London without him. He howled running frantically behind the carriage until Flynn stop and picked him up. (Who can resist animals in stories, anyway!)
The story was evenly paced with a continual ratcheting of danger surrounding Althea. She had no one who could help her so she turned to Flynn. Lady Althea was a level-headed and brave woman, only wanting to live simply, independently after an unsatisfying marriage. She didn’t want to be involved with another man for they weren’t to be trusted with her heart. Flynn was more than a handsome package, as Althea found out. As she started to get to know Flynn she genuinely liked him and then her heart followed her treacherous body, no longer listening to her good advice.
I plan on beginning the series from the beginning. I’d like to find out how all Flynn’s spying friends were snatched from the jaws of a loveless life.
Althea danced with several partners. But when the musicians struck up a waltz, Montsimon beat several other men to her side. She held herself stiffly at first, but the skill of both the musicians and Montsimon’s dancing could not be ignored. She began to enjoy herself.
“Sir Henry must have brought the musicians from London,” she said. “They are quite superb.”
“Accomplished certainly.” Montsimon swept her around the floor. “I find the country air invigorates one. But then, when one is suffused with energy, there is little of the right company with which to enjoy it. What does one do?”
Must he make every comment sound suggestive? “One could ride or hunt.” She raised her eyebrows. “Or play cards or backgammon.”
“I find no difficulty in employing myself.”
“How fortunate you are not to suffer ennui by the lack of society.”
“Sometimes society can be a bore.”
“Really?” He studied her thoughtfully. “You surely can’t be much above six-and-twenty.”
A soft gasp escaped her. The devil had added two years to her age. “How old I am has nothing to do with it.”
He quickly turned the flash of humor on his face into a concerned frown. “You’re not ill?”
She raised a brow. “I’m very well, thank you for your concern.”
“Of course you are.” His gaze roamed her face. “You’re positively glowing.”
“Dancing with you might contribute to my high color, my lord,” she said, her voice tinged with sarcasm.
“I’m pleased to hear it.”
“You may not be if I elaborated.”
A smile tugged at a corner of his mouth. “Surely you aren’t about to retire and become a recluse? I believe I heard a collective sigh from all the gentlemen in the ballroom.”
“Not at all,” she said crisply. Was he working up to request a liaison, as two other men here had done? She tensed, preparing to give him short shrift.
“Do you like dogs, Lady Brookwood?”
Startled, she gazed into his grey eyes, finding them sharp and assessing. How unpredictable he was. “I like all animals. I have a cat.”
“I seem to have acquired a dog,” he said with a rueful look. “Turned up at my stables in London. I tried to give it to my coachman, but Spot…” He shrugged apologetically when a laugh escaped her lips. “Yes, I know, not very attractive a name, is it? But he does have an awful lot of black spots – not at all handsome, I’m afraid.”
“What sort of dog is he?”
“Eh? Of indifferent breed. A bit of this and a bit of that, with a remarkably long curly tail.”
“Is he friendly?”
“Very much so to me, although not always to others.” He grimaced. “But a fine ratter as it turns out.”
“He won’t like to be left behind.”
“It’s only for a few hours.” He grinned. “Spot is spending the evening in Sir Horace’s stable.”
Her smile broadened in approval. “You brought the dog with you?”
Montsimon adopted a chagrined expression, although she doubted the validity of it. “I did try to leave Spot behind in London, but he would have none of it. Followed my carriage, so I had to take him up.”
Althea was still smiling when the dance ended. His kind heart was a nice surprise, but it may well have been a ploy to soften her attitude toward him. She considered it wise to keep him at arm’s length.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Regency History: Georgian architecture - a Regency History guide

 Wonderful article, reblogged from:

Regency History: Georgian architecture - a Regency History guide:   Guest post  I am delighted to welcome my husband, Andrew Knowles, to my blog today with Regency History's very first guest post....

Sunday, August 10, 2014

My first foray into self-publishing!

As my rights return to me from my earlier novels, I am refreshing the stories, giving them great new covers and self-publishing them with the help of a writing buddy, Anne Marie Brear, who is herself a successful self-published author of great Victorian and contemporary novels. So far, my first book has proved a run-away success. It's hit the top #100 in the Amazon Regency kindle/books and Historicals.

Amazon Reviewer: 5 Stars "Could not put down!"

AMAZON (On sale at 99cents)
Cover art by Erin Dameron-Hill

When a lady loses her memory, who better to rescue her than a seductive duke?
Viola, so named by her benefactor, Hugh, Duke of Vale, has lost her memory, along with her respectability, after being found unconscious near his estate dressed in a male servant’s clothes. She is a mystery unto herself, with her knowledge of books and Latin, and her skill at the pianoforte.

Thanks to the duke’s kindness, Viola has found a temporary home with his nanny in a cottage on his estate, while danger lurks in the shadows and darkens her dreams. She must leave beautiful Vale Park before Hugh marries Lady Felicity Beresford, the neighbor’s daughter; their marriage arranged when they were children. And before Viola and Hugh succumb to an impossible passion.

As the announcement of Hugh’s engagement draws near, he tries to accept the inevitable, he must marry a woman he doesn’t love. He is intrigued by Viola. Who is she and what has driven her to such an act? As the Bow Street Runners work to find the answers, Hugh grows more deeply and dangerously drawn to the mysterious lady.

Enjoy and excerpt:

She followed a meandering path around the cottage and down through a meadow of bright yellow buttercups to a river. The wide stretch of water flowed swiftly away through the meadows, its far side rimmed by forest.
A flock of swallows swooped overhead. The peace and beauty of her surroundings revived her. She bent to pick a wild rose. The pink flower had a delicate perfume, a surprise in such a hardy, prickly plant. She stood, pressing its petals to her nose, the scent a wistful hint from her past. Out of nowhere, a rush of fear made her tremble. She had seen these flowers before. Smelled that scent before. Her struggle to remember brought such anguish, she moaned.
At the sound of hoof beats, she swung round. A horse emerged from a copse of trees. The rider saw her and pulled on the reins cursing, as the horse reared. Viola jumped off the path and lost her footing, falling hard on her derriere in a patch of dew-laden grass. Two hounds bolted out of the bushes. One was upon her in an instant, nuzzling and licking her face.
“Oh, stop,” she cried with a laugh, attempting to push it away.
“Down, Henry!” His Grace growled from atop the tall chestnut, and the dog returned to his master’s side.
“What the devil are you doing out so early?” The duke leapt down. “Are you hurt?”
“Only my dignity, I’m afraid.”
He grasped her arm and pulled her to her feet as if she weighed no more than the fluffy head of a dandelion. His hands lingered on her back as if to steady her, but it seemed to have the reverse affect. She moved away her face hot and probably as pink as the rose she held. She dropped the flower and brushed down her skirt.
The duke’s gaze roamed over her sodden slippers and shabby dress with the new damp patch. He brought with him the bitter truth of her predicament, leaving her feeling grubby and foolish, and her brief delight in the morning ruined.
“I apologize for startling you. I never meet a soul on this path. What are you doing wandering around so early?”
“I thought it lovely, with the sleeping world awaking to a new day.” How flighty her words sounded. Did he think her a fool?
“Have you remembered something of your past?”
“No, nothing.” Perhaps he hoped this madwoman would disappear back to where she came from. Viola wrapped the shawl around herself more closely.
“Come, I’ll walk back with you.” He led his horse along the lane, his dogs following. The cottage appeared through the trees. “I assume you’re feeling better?”
“I am thank you. Nanny’s been wonderful. She is well versed in herbs. She gave me something that made me sleep like a baby!”
“Ah, yes. I well remember her potions. I’ll never forget some of the foul brews I was made to swallow as a child.” A devilish look came into his brown eyes, and a smile tugged at his mouth. “I’m sorry you had to endure them.”
Viola couldn’t help smiling back. “I suspect you aren’t sorry at all, Your Grace.”
His smile widened in approval. “One must not discourage Nanny, and I’m sure they are beneficial.” He continued walking. “We must make you well and quickly, Miss Viola. There may be a family somewhere worried about you.”
His words tumbled her back into reality. She trembled with frustration. If only she could remember. How long would it be before she outlived her welcome?

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Building a Literary World. The Landscape of Jane Austen's England by Maggi Andersen

“I love not Man the less, but Nature more,”
Lord Byron, Childe Harold 1812

Like so many other readers of Jane Austen over the last few centuries, I was  captivated by the charm of the Georgian England she wrote about in Pride & Prejudice. Jane Austen’s world was anchored in the turn of the seasons and in the sense of the countryside as a source of nourishment both physical and spiritual.
I thought it interesting to look at what influences  brought her settings to life.
When Jane Austen’s fine language transformed the landscape into literature, it was the result of a profound change in man’s attitude to himself and his environment, which had begun some 70 years before her birth. The new way of thinking shaped the landscape, while offering the means to appreciate it.
Not only was the countryside at its most loveliest, but discussion of it at it’s most stimulating.A_View_of_Box_Hill,_Surrey_1733
Box Hill, Surrey 1733. The renowned beauty spot which plays an important part in the plot of Emma.
In the past, Man had been a miserable creature, dourly battling against the forces of nature, pre-occupied by the state of his soul, but came to believe that rational happiness was attainable on earth through the cultivation of his mind and senses, and the educated enjoyment of the world’s delights. Guilt and superstition were shaken off. People became more sociable and acquisitive, and the concept of fashion influenced the way the country looked.
One of those places to first reflect this was Brighton. As travel became more popular, the southern English coast turned itself into a fashionable resort. Especially after the Prince of Wales began to build his Royal Pavilion there in 1787.
Two of Austen’s characters, Lydia Bennett and Maria Bertram were among the visitors to Brighton.
Brighton_West_front_by_Pugin_1824_editedThe Brighton Pavilion west front by Pugin. 1824
With fewer than 9 million people, the English countryside was mostly rural and only one-fifth lived in towns, none of which, apart from London, was very large.9492982-english-manor-with-sheep-and-yorkshire-moors 200
Georgian England was seen as a land of peace and plenty by those visiting the country. Households were self sufficient. The seasons, the weather and the the state of the harvest were of real importance and interest to everybody. Great landowners interested themselves in their estates and almost everybody at every level of society, cultivated something. Cottages grew vegetables and kept a pig, parsons had their glebe lands to farm. The game and garden-stuff furnished by Barton Park, the fruit trees and stew-ponds of Delaford and the greenhouse and poultry yard of Cleveland.
Barton Park
Characteristically, Jane Austen is sparse in her description of Barton Park,  the home of the affable Sir John and the sadly less than pleasant Lady Middleton in Sense and Sensibility:
Barton Park was about half a mile from the cottage. The ladies had passed near it in their way along the valley, but it was screened from their view at home by the projection of an hill. The house was large and handsome; and the Middletons lived in a style of equal hospitality and elegance.
Sense and Sensibility, Chapter 7

How reminiscent of Emma when Jane writes in a letter: “Tell Henry that a hamper of apples is gone to him from Kintbury.” Food production was the concern of all. A labourer ate better than the period before or afterwards. And while there was certainly poverty, it didn’t overflow into one’s consciousness.
It wasn’t until 1815 that grinding rural poverty became a large-scale problem. By that time, the old interdependence and self-sufficiency of country communities, perhaps under an enlightened, involved and benevolent landlord of whom, in George Knightley, Jane Austen gave such an admirable example, had been irretrievably lost.

The Spies of Mayfair Series
A Baron in Her Bed
Taming a Gentleman Spy
What a Rake Wants (Released 26th August)
Available for pre-order Amazon
More on My Webpage

Thursday, July 31, 2014

My 5 star review of THE HEIRESS OF LINN HAGH: The First detective Lavender Mystery.

The Heiress of Linn Hagh: The First Detective Lavender Mystery (The Detective Lavender Series) (Volume 1)The Heiress of Linn Hagh: The First Detective Lavender Mystery (The Detective Lavender Series) by Karen Charlton

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Karen Charlton's, The Heiress of Linn Hagh is set in a realistic Regency England far from the soiree's of London - very authentic indeed as she has drawn from her own family history. Detective Stephen Lavender and his partner, Constable Woods, of Bow Street, are sent to solve the case of a missing young woman they suspect has been murdered.  Their appearance in this cold, inhospitable village causes suspicion and they are made unwelcome among the townsfolk, farmers and gypsies. Helen Carnaby's disappearance immediately points to her decidedly unattractive brother and sister, but there is much more to the story than this. What a great character Charlton has created here in Detective Lavender. We learn more of him as the story unfolds, how cleverly and subtly he goes about conducting his investigation while piecing the clues together and dealing with all types. Woods makes his perfect side-kick, adding a touch of humanity and humor.
Charlton sets the eerie mood early on and gives us little reprieve. I couldn't guess the ending. I liked the touch of romance too! I hope that will develop further in subsequent books, which I look forward to reading. 

View all my reviews

Friday, July 25, 2014

Goddess Fish Promotions: Virtual NBtM Review Tour: What a Rake Wants by Mag...

 Begins 3rd September 2014! Prize:
$40 Amazon Gift Card plus one of my other books.
Goddess Fish Promotions: Virtual NBtM Review Tour: What a Rake Wants by Mag...: Goddess Fish Promotions is organizing a Virtual Name Before the Masses REVIEW ONLY Tour for What a Rake Wants - The Spies of Mayfair Se...

Regency History: Saltram - a Regency History guide - Great article!

Regency History: Saltram - a Regency History guide: Saltram Where is it? Saltram is a Georgian mansion just outside Plymouth in Devon. History Before the civil war, Saltram was owned...

(Well worth a read at the Regency History blog.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Enjoy some of my mother's paintings.

An Award winning artist, Mum is no longer with us in person, but she is still with us in spirit. Here she is with Dad.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

More on my Regency Spy Series

Marketing for Romance Writers' Books Hooks #MFRWhooks

It's Wednesday and time for the Marketing for Romance Writers Books Hooks mini hop! (see linky list below) Participants post 6-8 sentences from their novel.
THE SPIES OF MAYFAIR is a Regency series. Members of the ton, my three heroes and heroines all live in Mayfair during the Season, which is the most glamorous area in London. Each book is filled with intrigue, adventure and romance: The first, A BARON IN HER BED, features Guy, Baron Fortescue and Miss Horatia Cavendish. The second, TAMING A GENTLEMAN SPY, John Haldane, Marquess of Strathairn and Lady Sibella Winborne. In WHAT A RAKE WANTS, an Irish diplomat, Flynn,Lord Montsimon and widow, Lady Althea Brookwood tell their story in the final book (Released August 26th with Knox Robinson Publishing) All the stories stand alone, yet all men and women are connected by friendship.

King George sends his private investigator, an Irishman, Kieran Flynn, Lord Montsimon, on a mission, the reason for which is unclear. Is it a plot against the Crown? Or something entirely unrelated? Flynn's inquiries lead him to the widow, Lady Althea Brookwood. Known amongst the ton as a rake, Flynn is rarely turned down by a lady, and when Althea refuses not just him but many other men, he becomes intrigued.
How smug he looked. She would love to take men like him down a peg or two. She could never embark on such a scheme as her aunt suggested. It was too devious, even though she liked few men, and as for rakes, they deserved all they got. “Ah, Lady Brookwood, you disappoint me. Here I was thinking there was more to you than being content with the dull life you appear to lead.” He looked down at her as they joined the rest to leave the floor. “I sensed a desire for adventure, romance. I’m sure I glimpsed it in your lovely eyes.” “I am most concerned for your sight, Lord Montsimon. Perhaps a physician?” she said crisply, stung by his assumption that her life was dull.

Free Regency Short Story - Bart Seeks a Bride

 Enjoy a free short story featuring Bartholomew Winborne, one of the Brandreth men from TAMING A GENTLEMAN SPY.

by Maggi Andersen

 A stickler for correctness, Lord Bartholomew Winborne, second son of the Marquess of Brandreth, is about to take up his living as a vicar in India. Requiring a suitable wife, he has made a list of the most desirable qualities she must possess. The annoying Miss Emily Isherwood appears to have none of them.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Great 5 star review of Taming a Gentleman Spy!

Taming a Gentleman Spy by Maggi Andersen – Review

July 10, 2014 Historical Romance, Regency, Review 1 ★★★★★
Taming a Gentleman Spy by Maggi Andersen – Review
Book Description

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.

Taming a Gentleman Spy
Author: Maggi Andersen
Series: The Spies of Mayfair #2
Published by: Knox Robinson Publishing
Published on: April 17, 2014
Genres: Historical Romance, Regency Romance
Pages: 212
Format: eBook

Purchase at: Amazon USAmazon UKB&N
+ Add to: Goodreads

5 Stars
3 Flames
The Review
Taming a Gentleman Spy, the second book in the Spies of Mayfair series, is a spellbinding regency romance filled with mystery and suspense by Maggi Andersen.
John Haldane, the fourth Earl of Strathairn, is a spy who has been enchanted with Lady Sibella Winborne ever since she came out for her first season. While at the same time, Sibella has been attracted to John and wonders why he doesn’t propose. I thoroughly enjoyed the sexual tension that simmers between John and Sibella, especially knowing how strong their feelings are and that they are unable to act upon them. John is a sympathetic character since he truly loves Sibella but can’t see a way to have a wife with the job he has. As Sibella hasn’t accepted a marriage proposal, her older brother arranges for her to marry Lord Coombe. Although not happy about the arranged marriage, Sibella decides to make the best of it. Sibella is a spirited lady who tends to speak her mind, which I just adored about her. Widowed, Lord Coombe hopes to have an heir with Sibella. Since Lord Coombe is arrogant, distant, and secretive, Sibella begins to suspect that the death of Coombe’s first wife wasn’t just a horrible accident. Curious, Sibella investigates Coombe and figures out what happened to his wife, making her a perfect match for John and further endeared her character to me. Along with the love triangle, Andersen, intricately weaves in another mystery into the story, the murder of John’s partner. All of these elements combine to create a intriguing and page-turning novel. Without giving too much away, I loved how Andersen ends Sibella’s relationship with Coombe, a most fitting ending that paves the way for Sibella and John to have their own happily ever after.
With its multilayered plot, magnetic characters, and tense action scenes, Taming a Gentleman Spy is a gripping read from start to finish.

Thanks Lori Zalewski!