Monday, November 29, 2010

Blog Tour

The month of December is shaping up to be super-busy, so I am going on a hiatus of regular blogging activity! At the end of the month, I'll be back with Hottie Mondays and Heroines of the Weekend. For now, I'm on a blog tour promoting Duchess of Sin, so be sure and visit me on some of these fun sites! (I'm also extending the contest on my own Laurel site for a few days...)

Don't forget! Books make wonderful holiday gifts!



11/29/2010 http://thebooktree.blogspot.com

11/29/2010 htttp://www.renees-reads.blogspot.com

11/29/2010 http://simplystacie.net

11/29/2010 http://theromancereviews.blogspot.com/

11/29/2010 http://ashleysbookshelf.blogspot.com

11/29/2010 http://threeboysandanoldlady.blogspot.com/

11/29/2010 http://yankeeromancereviewers.blogspot.com/

11/29/2010 www.kmomjdk.blogspot.com

11/29/2010 www.mybookaddictionandmore.wordpress.com

11/29/2010 http://dreyslibrary.blogspot.com

11/29/2010 http://nhertel85.blogspot.com

11/29/2010 http://dkay401-challenges.blogspot.com/

11/29/2010 http://marthasbookshelf.blogspot.com/

11/30/2010 http://theseasonforromance.com/

11/30/2010 http://SimplyAli.blogspot.com

11/30/2010 http://maryinhb.blogpsot.com

11/30/2010 http://cuzinlogic.wordpress.com

11/30/2010 http://paranormalromanticsuspensereviews.blogspot.com

11/30/2010 http://fredasvoice.blogspot.com

12/1/2010 http://www.libslibrary.blogspot.com

12/2/2010 http://mindingspot.blogspot.com

12/2/2010 www.becksbookpicks.blogspot.com

12/3/2010 www.thebookgirl.net

12/3/2010 http://www.rundpinne.com

12/3/2010 http://chrissysworldofbooks.blogspot.com/

12/5/2010 http://martasmeanderings.blogspot.com

12/5/2010 http://bridget3420.blogspot.com

12/5/2010 http://j-rabbits-corner.blogspot.com

12/5/2010 http://booksandmakeup.blogspot.com

12/6/2010 http://www.kballard87.blogspot.com

12/6/2010 http://sosaloha.blogspot.com

12/7/2010 www.rexrobotreviews.com

12/7/2010 http://justanothernewblog.blogspot.com

12/7/2010 http://inthehammockblog.blogspot.com

12/7/2010 http://inthehammockblog.blogspot.com

12/9/2010 http://bookslikebreathing.blogspot.com

12/9/2010 www.tarmyblogspot.blogspot.com

12/10/2010 www.lovetoreadforfun.com

12/10/2010 http://onebookshy.blogspot.com

12/10/2010 http://startingfreshnyc.com/

12/10/2010 http://candidclevercosteffective.net

12/10/2010 http://www.mybookaddictionandmore.wordpress.com

12/15/2010 http://bordersblog.com/trueromance/


There's also a fabulous contest going on this month with the Harlequin Historical authors! Tons of prizes, with a Grand Prize of a Kindle. You can visit my Amanda site and click on the Harlequin Historical Contest button on the right for more details...

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Risky Sunday!


I'm at the Riskies today (not my regularly scheduled blog day!) with Nicola Cornick, launching our December releases! Come visit me there and comment for the chance to win TWO books

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Heroine of the Weekend

Happy post-Thanksgiving weekend, everyone! I hope you all had a lovely holiday, and if you ventured out to the shops yesterday you didn't get crushed by the crowds. :) I stayed safely home and did my shopping online, and then I brought in the boxes of Christmas decorations. I love that part of the holidays.

I'm also thankful to be doing these Heroine of the Weekend posts! They can be a lot of work, gathering the research and pulling it together, but I've learned so much about a variety of interesting and inspirational women. I can't wait to see who pops up here in 2011!

This weekend's Heroine is Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace (usually called Ada Lovelace), daughter of Lord Byron and mathematician supreme (she's sometimes called "the world's first computer programmer"). She died on November 27, 1852, long before Microsoft was even a gleam.

She was born December 10, 1815, the only child of the brief and ill-fated marriage between Byron and his wife Annabella Milbanke, Baroness Wentworth. She was named after Augusta Leigh, Byron's half-sister (whom he may or may not have been having an affair with, scandalous!), but called Ada by everyone. She never knew her father. Her mother left the couple's London house on January 16, only a month after Ada's birth, taking the baby with her to her parents' home at Kirkby Mallory. Though fathers were always given custody in those days, Annabella and her family were very powerful and had strong ammunition in their scandalous allegations against him. In April, Byron signed the Deed of Separation giving custody to his wife, and left England. He died when Ada was 9, and never saw her again, but his legacy always had a powerful hold on her.

In childhood, Ada was often ill, with severe headaches and stomach troubles, and a bout of measles in 1829 that left her temporarily paralyzed. Her mother was not a kind and soft mummy; she was determined to root out the Byron evil from her daughter and save her from that family's insanity, and decided her own passion of mathematics would do it (Byron called Annabella "the princess of parallelograms"). Ada was given tutors in math and science from a young age, including the well-known Augustus De Morgan. He wrote to her mother that Ada's skill could make her "an original mathematical investigator, perhaps of first-rate eminence." (As someone who struggled with math in school, I am in complete awe of her!)

By 1834, Ada had made her debut and was a regular at the Royal Court, much admired by almost everyone who met her. In July 1835 she married William King, Baron King, later the first Earl of Lovelace. Lady Lovelace's new estate was at Ockham Park in Surrey, and she went on to have 3 children, Byron, Anne Isabella, and Ralph Gordon. But Ada's ill health continued, especially after the births, though she had a wide circle of intellectual friends, including scientist Mary Somerville, and Charles Dickens.

Mary Somerville introduced Ada to Charles Babbage, who became very impressed with her intellect and skills at writing and numbers. He called her "the enchantress of numbers," and in 1842-43 she worked on translating his work on an early mechanical general purpose computer (his Difference Engine), adding her own notes. The notes actually became longer that the work itself, and she has a section with a detailed method for calculating a sequence of Bernoulli numbers with the engine. Modern mathematicians say it would have run entirely correctly if the engine was ever built, and this is sometimes called the world's first computer program.

She died at 36 of uterine cancer, and was buried next to the father she never knew at the Church of St. Mary Magdalene in Hucknall. Her legacy still lives on, though. The US Department of Defense's computer language is called "Ada," since 1998 the British Computer Society has awarded a medal in her name, and in 2008 started a competition for female students in computer science. March 24 has been named Ada Lovelace Day to celebrate the achievements of women in the sciences (I participated in this day myself last year, with a post on Mme. de Chatelet!)

A few sources on her fascinating life:
Benjamin Woolley, The Bride of Science: Romance, Reason, and Byron's Daughter (2002)
Joan Baum, The Calculating Passion of Ada Byron (1986)
Dorothy Stein, Ada: A Life and Legacy (MIT Press, 1985)
Catherine Turney, Byron's Daughter (1972)
Betty Alexandra Toole, ed. Ada, the Enchantress of Numbers, Prophet of the Computer Age (1998)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Wednesday Blog Visits

I'm at the Word Wenches today, talking about Duchess of Sin! Come and comment for a chance to win a copy (plus a copy of Nicola Cornick's latest! It's a two-for-one today...)

This is just the launch of my blog tour, too. This weekend I will post a full schedule, so watch this space!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Risky Tuesday


At the Riskies today (because it's Tuesday!) talking about favorite movie dance scenes! Join me there....

Monday, November 22, 2010

Hottie Monday

We return to Hottie Monday this week, and just in time too, as People has released their annual Sexiest Man Alive issue!




As usual, People and I don't entirely agree. Not that it's a travesty or anything (unlike, say, the latest round of Project Runway), he's undeniably good-looking. But somehow I don't get the "sexy-sexy" about him. Maybe I haven't seen the right movies.

I would have gone with one of the runners-up.

Like Jon Hamm.


Or True Blood's Joe Manganiello

Or maybe someone else entirely, like James Franco.

What about you??? Who would you have picked?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Heroine of the Weekend

I'm back! It was a lovely holiday, but now I'm home again with revisions to work on, laundry to do, and Thanksgiving to plan. I'm also much too excited about the engagement of Prince William and Kate Middleton, and looking forward to a royal wedding! (I still remember when Princess Diana got married, I was a pre-schooler and got to get up extra early to sit on the couch with my mom and watch the wedding. I spent weeks wearing my dance recital tiara and a bedsheet tied around my waist for a long train. I don't think I will do that this time, but you never know...)

Speaking of royals, this week's Heroine is a queen, Caroline of Ansbach, wife of George II of England. She died on November 20, 1737, and by coincidence I recently read Lucy Worsley's new book The Courtiers, about the court of Georges I and II. It's a fascinating time period I didn't know a lot about, so I went out and read some more. Caroline was fascinating woman.

She was born in Ansbach in Germany (one of the very confusing and innumerable German kingdoms that seem to have produced so very many queen consorts in history! And prince consorts too...) on March 1, 1683, the daughter of the Margrave of Brandenburg-Ansbach. She was orphaned as a child and grew up with relatives, well-educated and admired (she was considered one of the wittiest and most intelligent princesses in Europe, as well as one of the prettiest with her blond hair, blue eyes, and zaftig figure). She had the chance to marry Charles VI, Holy Roman Emperor, but ended up refusing because she didn't want to leave her Protestant faith. She ended up marrying at age 22 to George August, son of the Elector of Hanover. It would prove to be an unusual but happy marriage, with nine children (seven of which survived). George wrote her long love letters throughout their marriage, declaring things like "In my heart, nothing is hidden from you."

When her husband's father became George I of England in 1714, her life changed dramatically and she moved to England to become Princess of Wales. She was the first lady of the kingdom, the royal hostess, since the king had divorced and abandoned his unfortunate wife (and Caroline's mother-in-law). She was the first Princess of Wales in England since Katherine of Aragon 200 years before! But things were not well within the family, the two Georges were always quarreling, until at last a major rupture occurred in 1717. Caroline and her husband were banished from St. James's Palace and their children were seized by the king--it was a very long time before they regained their custody, and the rift was never quite healed between parents and children. In 1720, Caroline was able to use her tact (and her friendship with Prime Minister Walpole) to bring about something of a reconciliation, at least in public. Her friendship with Walpole would stand her in good stead for a long time to come.

In 1727, George I died (not much mourned) and Caroline became queen. She came into her own then, indulging her love of intellectual pursuits and the arts (she brought Handel to England). She loved garden design, and her work at places such as Kensington Palace can still be seen. She was a leader of fashion Her intelligence far outstripped her husband's--he didn't always understand her passions, but allowed her to indulge them however she chose. He kept mistresses, as it was the custom of the day. The best known was Henrietta Howard, Caroline's own lady-in-waiting and friend. She and her husband also carried on the unhappy family precedent of feuding with the son and heir, they had a very antagonistic relationship with their son Frederick. George II would make his wife regent whenever he left the country, bypassing his son. And Frederick snuck his young wife out of Hampton Court when she went into labor to deprive Caroline the chance to be present at the birth!

She died in 1737 after an operation that was considered barbaric and incompetent even by the standards of time, to repair an old umbilical rupture from the birth of her last child. The surgery killed her, and her husband went into deep mourning. When she was buried at Westminster Abbey, Handel composed Funeral Anthem for Queen Caroline for the occasion. When George died 23 years later, he was buried beside her. She was much missed by the whole nation.

You may strut, dapper George, but twill all be in vain,
We all know tis Queen Caroline, not you, that reign





A few sources (besides the Worsley book, which I highly recommend!):
Ruby Lillian Arkell, Caroline of Ansbach, George the Second's Queen (1939)
Tracy Borman, Henrietta Howard, King's Mistress, Queen's Servant (2007)
John Van Der Kiste, King George II and Queen Caroline (1997)
Peter Quennell, Caroline of England, An Augustan Portrait (1940)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

On Holiday!

Gone for a few days--back next weekend!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Heroine of the Weekend

Today's heroine is "pretty, witty" (according to Pepys!) Nell Gwyn, actress and royal mistress, who died on November 14, 1687.

Little is known about her earliest life, except she was born around February 1650 to a mother named Eleanor (or Helen) Gwyn of the parish of St. Martin in the Fields, and a captain in the Cavalier army. It's not even certain where she was born, and three places make the claim--Hereford, London in Covent Garden, and Oxford. It's thought her mother kept a bawdy house (and possibly was an alcoholic), but Nell later declared when called a whore, "I was but one man's whore, though I was brought up in a bawdy house; and you are a whore to three or four, though a Presbyter's praying daughter!" (again according to Pepys).

Around 1662-3 she took a lover named Duncan or Dungan, who provided her with a room in Maypole Alley and may have helped her get a job at a theater being built nearby. They were together perhaps two years or so. At this time, Charles II was restored to the throne and frivolities that were banned under the Puritans (like the theater) were roaring back to life. Women were also allowed to act on the stage for the first time, but Nell's first job there wasn't as actress but as orange girl, working for a bawd named Orange Meg who had a license to "vend, utter and sell oranges, lemons, fruit, sweetmeats" in the theaters. Orange girls would also serve as messengers between men in the audience and the actresses. After about a year of this, she became an actress herself thanks to her pretty looks, clear voice, and fearless wit (and a judiciously chosen lover or two!). She was determined to succeed in a very competitive field, and worked hard to memorize her lines despite being illiterate.

She made her debut as Cydaria in John Dryden's The Indian Emperour, but she felt the drama didn't suit her. It was comedy that would make her a star, when she appeared in May 1665 in All Mistaken, or the Mad Couple as one of a typical Restoration theatrical couple of witty, argumentative lovers. She was a big hit, but the theaters were closed by an outbreak of the plague later in the summer. Nell and her mother spent those months on Oxford, where the royal court had taken refuge. They ordered theatrical entertainments while there, and she may have appeared.

Once the theaters reopened, Nell embarked on a series of her witty comic roles, many of them "breeches" parts that showed off her pretty legs. In 1667 she became the mistress of a Court wit named Charles, Lord Buckhurst, a passionate affair that was quickly over. The affair with Charles II was said to have begun in April 1668 (an anecdote says he invited her to supper after the theater with a party that included his brother James, Duke of York, but at the end they realized they had no money with them. Nell declared "Od's fish, but this is the poorest company I ever was in!"). She continued to act despite her new position.

She gave birth to her first child with Charles, a son named Charles, in May 1670 (by some counts the king's 7th son), but she had many rivals for his affections, including his longest-standing mistress Barbara Palmer and the newly arrived Frenchwoman Louise de Keroualle (who Nell called "Squintabella" and "Weeping Willow"--they were great rivals for years, though they also often had tea and played cards together). In 1671 Nell retired from the stage and moved into a fine house at 79 Pall Mall, where she would live for the rest of her life. In 1681 she had a second son with the king, James, who would die in Paris at the age of about 10. The boys were known by the last name Beauclerc and given titles of earls and dukes.

King Charles died in February 1685, entreating his brother "Let not poor Nelly starve," and Nell was given a pension. She didn't live long to enjoy it though, dying at 37 years old in 1687 of a stroke. She was buried at the Church of St. Martin in the Fields. She was remembered for her great wit, her beauty, and her kindness.

Some sources on her life and times:
Charles Beauclerk (her descendant!), Nell Gwyn: Mistress to a King (2005)
Elizabeth Howe, The First English Actresses: Women and Drama 1660-1700 (1992)
Derek Parker, Nell Gwyn (2000)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Winner!

The winner of Regency Christmas Proposals is...Ammy Belle! Please email me at Amccabe7551 AT yahoo.com with your snail mail info.

I'll be having a giveaway next month of my December Laurel McKee release, Duchess of Sin, so be sure and stay tuned!

(And I'm at the Riskies today, talking about historical trivia...)

Monday, November 08, 2010

Random Hottie Monday

A little Random Hottieness to start our week! (Plus a few more hours to win a copy of Regency Christmas Proposals! Scroll down to comment on the post for a chance to win...)





Saturday, November 06, 2010

Heroine of the Weekend

Not too long ago, I got a movie from Netflix called Mad Love (released in Spain as Juana la Loca), and I enjoyed Juana of Castile's very dramatic tale so much I had to find out more! (Before this I only knew the bare facts of her life--daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella, deposed from her rightful throne, died "mad," etc). I also found a novel of her life, CW Gortner's The Last Queen, and read some non-fiction. I thought she would make a great Heroine to look at this weekend, since her birthday is November 6!

Juana of Castile was born in Toledo in 1479, the third child and second daughter of Isabella of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragon (one of her younger sisters was Katherine of Aragon). As an infanta she received a rigorous education in languages, history, religious studies, music and dancing, the ways of Court life, and horsemanship (her mother was a renowned rider, as well as overly-zealous defender of the Catholic faith!). Like her sisters, she was groomed for a useful alliance of a marriage. She was described as having a pale complexion, blue eyes, and reddish hair (a family trait).

In 1496 she was betrothed to Philip of Burgundy ("the Handsome"), son of Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor. After a proxy marriage in Valladolid she set out to join him in Flanders, never to see her mother or most of her siblings again (she would see her father later, when they were at war with each other). The couple would go on to have 6 children (two emperors and four queens!) but the marriage was notoriously unhappy. It was said that Juana was hopelessly in love with Philip, but he was chronically unfaithful and always trying to usurp her political power for his own. Their heated quarrels led to rumors she was "mad," and by 1504 (the year of the death of Queen Isabella) they were living apart.

Her life took an unexpected turn following the deaths of her brother John, her older sister Isabella of Portugal, and Isabella's son, which made Juana heiress to her parents' Spanish kingdoms. She was titled Princess of Asturias (title of the heir of Castile) and the Aragonese nobility swore an oath to her as heiress. She and Philip traveled back to Spain in 1502 to receive their fealty, after which Philip went back to Flanders and left a pregnant Juana in Madrid. After Isabella's death, Juana became Queen of Castile, depriving her father of that crown. Isabella's will stated that Ferdinand could govern in Juana's absence or as regent for Juana's son Charles, if she chose, but Ferdinand refused to accept this sop. He minted coins in the name of "Ferdinand and Joanna, King and Queen of Castile, Leon, and Aragon" and persuaded everyone that Juana was so ill she could not govern. He was then appointed her guardian and the kingdom's administrator, but Philip wouldn't accept this and fought back. Ferdinand then married the niece of Louis XII of France for a French alliance and in hopes of producing a new male heir.

But this marriage strengthened support for Juana and Philip in France-hating Castile, and the couple headed back to Spain to take control (a storm forced them to put in at England for a time, where they stayed with her sister Katherine at Windsor Castle). When they landed in Spain, the Castilian nobility abandoned Ferdinand and flocked to their banner, forcing him to hand over the government in June 1506 and promise to retire to Aragon. But Juana didn't win--her father and husband signed a treaty agreeing that her "illness" made her unfit to rule. (Ferdinand quickly repudiated this agreement, but it did him no good and he had to beat a retreat to Aragon).

Philip died on September 25, 1506 of typhoid (though there were rumors his father-in-law poisoned him!), leaving Juana pregnant with her last child, Catherine. When she tried to rule in her own name, the country fell into conflict (fueled by plague and famine and general unrest), and she fought a regency in the name of her son Charles (then 6 and being raised by an aunt in Flanders). Ferdinand returned to Castile to try and quell the unrest, and father and daughter met in July 1507. He persuaded her to return power to him and become queen in name only. She was confined to a convent and her loyal household dismissed. It was said she kept her husband's coffin with her for company.

But Ferdinand didn't end up very well. His second marriage produced no sons, and his efforts to bypass Juana's eldest son in favor of her second (who was raised in Spain) came to naught. He died in 1516 and the kingdoms passed to Juana and Charles (who came to Spain in 1517). He kept his mother in close confinement and ruled Aragon and Castile and Leon (united as Spain in 1519. He also became Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, and defeated revolt in 1520.

But poor Juana lived the rest of her life at the Convent of Santa Clara, becoming more and more ill as the years went on, becoming deeply depressed. Her son wrote to the nuns, "It seems to me that the best and most suitable thing for you to do is to make sure that no person speaks with her majesty, for no good would come from it." So her isolation increased, despite the fact that her youngest daughter Catherine lived with her until her marriage and her older daughter Eleanor visited and tried to organize a household in her convent rooms. She died on April 12, 1555 at the age of 75 and was buried at Granada near her parents and husband.

Some sources for her turbulent and sad life:
Maria Gomez, Phyllis Zatlin, and Juan-Navarro Santiago, Juana of Castile: History and Myth of the Mad Queen (2008)
Bethany Aram, Juana the Mad: Sovreignty and Dynasty in Renaissance Europe (2005)
H. Tighe, A Queen of Unrest (1907)

Friday, November 05, 2010

Portrait Friday

Happy Guy Fawkes Day, everyone! Remember, remember the 5th of November.... (and if you can't remember, here's a site with the history of the day!) I couldn't find a portrait of Fawkes himself, so here is James I, the monarch he was trying to blow up:

And you still have a couple of days to enter to win a copy of Regency Christmas Proposals! I'll announce a winner on Sunday.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Book Giveaway!


To celebrate my November releases, I'm giving away a signed copy of Regency Christmas Proposals! To enter just leave a comment here telling us some of your favorite holiday traditions or books you like to read at this time of year....









(And my new Undone! story is available at Eharlequin!)

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Riskies Tuesday


Celebrating Marie Antoinette's birthday over at the Riskies today!

Monday, November 01, 2010

Hottie Monday

Since it's so sad to let go of Halloween for another year, this Monday's Hotties are--vampires!