Wednesday, March 31, 2010

What I'm Reading Today


I'm in the Author Spotlight today at eHarlequin with Rogue! No spotting of the books on the bookstore shelves here yet, but it's almost April...

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Rogue Review

A new review of To Catch a Rogue (out this week!) from Cataromance...

Risky Tuesday

It's Tuesday, so I am over at the Riskies talking about more historical hotties!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Risky Sunday

I'm over at the Riskies today, launching my new book To Catch a Rogue! Come visit me there for a chance to win a signed copy

Sunday Historical Etsy Find

Today's find: Versailles magnets from Pendredkeller! (Only $6.00, to give your fridge a French flair...)

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Heroine of the Weekend

Today marks the anniversary of Charles I's ascension to the British throne, so I thought we would take a look at Queen Henrietta Maria for our Heroine of the Weekend! Though perhaps not everyone's ideal of a heroine (she was said to be rather cranky, for one thing!) she was valiant in fighting for her husband and theirs was a true love story (a rarity in royal circles).

Henrietta Maria was born on November 25, 1609 in the Louvre, the daughter of King Henri IV of France and his wife Marie de Medici. She was brought up in luxury as a Fille de France, and she and her elder sister Elisabeth were considered beauties and great "catches" on the royal marriage market. Before she was a year old, her father was assasinated and her brother became King Louis XIII; her mother was eventually banished from the court in 1617, and in 1619, when Henrietta's oldest sister married, she took on the high title of Madame Royale.

Henrietta met Prince Charles of England, son of King James I, in 1623, when he was on his way to Spain to try and arrange his own marriage with the Infanta Maria Anna, which ended badly (the Infanta's father demanded that not only should Charles convert to Catholicism but he should also stay in Spain for a year after the wedding to insure England's compliance with the treaty. Charles declined). Charles then looked to France for a suitable bride, and remembered the pretty young princess. They were married by proxy on May 11, 1625, a couple months after Charles became king and despite the problem of Henrietta's own Catholic religion, which she refused to give up. They were married in person at St. Augustine's Church, Canterbury on June 13, but her religion made it impossible for her to be crowned with him in an Anglican service. She maintained her own private chapels where she and her household could hear Mass.

At first their marriage was not "all that." Henrietta was strong-minded, and they often quarreled and had misunderstandings. She had brought a very large and costly retinue with her from France, most of which Charles sent home, allowing her to keep only her chaplain and 2 ladies-in-waiting, which caused a great deal of strife. Henrietta also took an instant dislike to her husband's best friend the Duke of Buckingham. But after Buckingham's death in 1628 their relationship improved steadily, and they came to understand and love each other very much. They had 7 children, of which 3 sons and 3 daughters survived infancy Despite the fact that her religion often alienated her from some of the powerful courtiers, and even from the English people, she took on more and more of a part in national affairs as matters came to a boil in the 1630s. She hated Puritan courtiers and Parliamentarians who would take away any of the powers of the king.

When war broke out in August 1642 she was abroad raising money and support for the Royalist cause, and she did not return to England until early 1643, landing at Bridlington in Yorkshire with troops and arms. She stayed with the army in the North for several months, making her headquarters at York, before joining her husband at Oxford where his armies were in retreat. After the Scottish intervention on the side of Parliament, and Charles's refusal to accept their terms for a settlement and determination to fight on, Henrietta fled back to France with some of her children, leaving in July 1644. She never saw her husband, who was executed in 1649, again, but she never stopped trying to raise support for him.

She settled in Paris, left almost destitute in her exile and increasingly bitter about her husband's death and the loss of her position. She returned to England after her son's restoration to the throne as Charles II, and lived as "Dowager Queen" at Somerset House in London before returning to France in 1665. Pepys described her at this time as a "very little plain old woman, and nothing more in her presence in any respect nor garb than any ordinary woman." In her younger days, though, she had been very fond of masques and dances, and beautiful clothes. She founded a convent at Chaillot with her generous pension from England and lived out her final days there. Through her daughter Henrietta Anne (Minette), who married the duc d'Orleans (brother of Louis XIV) Henrietta became the maternal forebear of not only the French royal family but also that of Spain and Luxembourg.

She died at the Chateau de Colombes near Paris on September 10, 1669 and was buried in the royal vault at St. Denis.

Some sources:
Brian Quintrell, Charles I: 1625-1640 (1993)
Carola Oman, Henrietta Maria (1936)
JP Kenyon, The Civil Wars of England(1988, reprint 1996)
Stephen Coote, Royal Survivor: The Life of Charles II (1999)

Friday, March 26, 2010

Poetry Friday

Today is Robert Frost's birthday (in 1874)! To celebrate, here is one of his most famous works, Mending Wall

Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun,
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
'Stay where you are until our backs are turned!'
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of out-door game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, 'Good fences make good neighbors'.
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
'Why do they make good neighbors? Isn't it
Where there are cows?
But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That wants it down.' I could say 'Elves' to him,
But it's not elves exactly, and I'd rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me~
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father's saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, "Good fences make good neighbors."

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Things I Love Thursday Part 2

Other things I love this Thursday--award nominations! I just heard my novella Charlotte and the Wicked Lord in Diamonds of Welbourne Manor is up for a RITA! I'm especially pleased it's this story, since I got to work on this novella with my good friends Diane Gaston and Deb Marlowe. (and also because I have two spin-offs from this story coming out! A novel about Nicholas and Lady Emily, and another novella, Mistletoe and Folly, out this Christmas...)

For a list of nominees (supposed to be complete by this afternoon), check here...

Things I Love Thursday

What I love this Thursday--Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs! They only come out around Easter and they are super-yummy, with just the right proportions of chocolate and peanut butter. Cadbury Caramel Eggs are also pretty good, but these are my favorite Easter candies. (The only problem is when I buy a 6-pack they're gone in 2 days. How does that happen??)

What's your favorite Easter candy??

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Ada Lovelace Day! has declared March 24 to be Ada Lovelace Day, "an international day of blogging to draw attention to the achievements of women in technology and science." Last year's day had over 2000 participants, and since this is a topic very close to my heart I hope they have many more this year! My own contribution is this Heroine of the Middle of the Week, one of my favorite historical women of science Madame du Chatelet, French mathematician, physicist, and author.

Gabrielle Emilie Le Tonnelier de Breteuil, marquise duChatelet was born on December 17, 1706 in Paris. Her father was Principal Secretary and Introducer of Ambassadors to King Louis XIV, a position that gave his family great status at Court and also put them at the center of nobility and intellectual leaders of the day. One of her father's friends was Fontenelle, perpetual secretary of the Academie des Sciences, who would talk astronomy with little Emilie when she was only 10 years old. Unusually for parents of the time, they recognized and encouraged their daughter's early precocity and arranged for tutors and also lessons in fencing and riding. By age 12 she was fluent in Latin, Italian, Greek, and German; she went on to publish translations of Greek and Latin plays and works of philosophy. She was also educated in dance and music (which she loved), mathematics, literature, and the sciences, and made enormous and quick progress. At that point her mother, Gabrielle-Anne de Froulay (who had received only the usual cursory convent education) became concerned about her daughter's unseemly intellectual pursuits and tried to have her sent to a convent.

On June 12, 1725 she married the Marquis Florent-Claude du Chastellet-Lomont (which later became the more known Chatelet). She had little in common with her new husband, but they seemed to get on well enough and were able to fulfill their duties. They had 3 children, after which Emilie considered her duty done and arranged to live separately from her husband while still maintaining appearances. The marquis was a military man and governor of Semur-en-Auxois in Burgundy, so often away from home anyway. Both spouses took lovers. At 24 Emilie fell in love with the Duc de Richelieu and embarked on a year and a half affair with him. The duc was also interested in literature and philosophy, and the two of them enjoyed intellectual debate. He introduced her to the works of Isaac Newton and inspired her to take more lessons in higher mathematics. She took geometry classes from Moreau de Maupertuis from the Academy of Sciences, and became very interested in the new theories. (She also used her mathematical knowledge in a practical way! After losing a tremendous amount of money to card cheats at a party at Fontainebleau, she repaid her debts by devising a financing arrangement similiar to the modern idea of derivatives, where she paid tax collectors a fairly low sum for the right to their future earnings, as they were allowed to keep a portion of the taxes they collected for the king, and promised to pay the court gamblers part of these future earnings).

Emilie's most famous (and longest lasting lover) was Voltaire. They were true partners in study as well as love, studying physics and mathematics. She also began to publish scientific articles and translations in their years together, where they lived most of the time at Emilie's estate of Cirey-sur-Blaise in northwestern France. Their friends and fellow intellectuals often joined them there for long house parties of scientific discussions and amateur theatricals!

In 1737 Emilie published her paper Dissertation sur la nature et la propagation du feu, based on her research into the nature of fire, which predicted infrared radiation and the nature of light. In 1740 she published her book Institutions de Physique, a review of new ideas in science and philosophy which she intended to be studied by her 13-year-old son. She combined the theories of Gottfried Leibniz and the observations of Willem Gravesande to show that "the energy of a moving object is proportional not to its velocity" (as had previously been believed by Newton, Voltaire, and others) "but to the square of its velocity." In the year of her death, she finished her crowning achievement, her translation into French, with her own commentary, of Newton's Principia Mathematica, including her derivation from its principles of mechanics the notion of conservation of energy. Her work is still the standard translation used in French education.

Emilie died on September 10, 1749. Her last affair, after the break-up of the relationship with Voltaire, was with the young poet Jean Francois de Saint-Lambert, and she died 6 days after giving birth to their daughter at age 42. She was only at the beginning of her important work.

A couple great online sources on her life can be found here and here. I have a couple of great recent biographies that I've used to dig up this information and highly recommend! Passionate Minds: The great love affair of the Enlightenment, featuring the scientist Emilie du Chatelet, the poet Voltaire, sword fights, book burnings, assorted kings, seditious verse, and the birth of the modern world by David Bodanis (how can you resist that title??) and La Dame d'Esprit by Judith P. Zinsser.

Who is your favorite woman of science?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Blog Day!

I'm over at Borders True Romance blog today, giving away a copy of Countess of Scandal! Come and let me know what your favorite historical time periods are...

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Auction Alert!

If you're in the New York City area on March 24th and are in the mood for an auction, don't miss Augusta Auctions' consignment sale of antique and vintage clothing and textiles (lots from various museums, including the Brooklyn Museum, ranging from the 15th to the 20th centuries). You can read all about it here. And if you do go, could you bid on this 1910 evening gown for me?? I seriously covet it...

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Heroine of the Weekend

If you're an opera fan like me, you probably know Cilea's opera Adrienne Lecouvreur, but (also like me) maybe not so much about the real woman who inspired the music. The French actress died on this day in 1730, and her life was certainly dramatic and tragic, and ripe to be made into an opera!

Adrienne was born in 1692 in the village of Damery, not far from Rheims. Her mother died in childbirth, and her father was a hatter. She often helped her aunt, who was a laundress, with her work, but even as a child people noticed her great beauty and preternatural intelligence. She liked to memorize and recite poems, and was soon able to earn money by declaiming at parties and such. When she was about 13, her father sent her to a cheap school in Paris, where gathered a group of other young people around her to form a sort of amateur theatrical group. A grocer let them have an empty store-room for their venue, and this is where Adrienne made her debut as a leading lady in a tragedy by Corneille. These performances gained a degree of fame, and a few members of the nolbility would come "slumming" to watch them. A Madame de Gue took a liking to Adrienne, and offered the courtyard of her home for a theater, which soon became crowded with members of the Royal Court and actors from the Comedie Francaise.

The little troupe soon disbanded, but Adrienne was befriended by La Grande, societaire of the Comedie Francaise, who trained her and found her acting work in the provinces (the theaters of Paris being super-tough to break into, especially for an unknown!). For about ten years she traveled the provinces, honing her art. She also had 2 daughters in this time. In 1717 she at last had her debut in Paris, in the title role of Crebillon's Electre with the Comedie Francaise. She had an immediate success, and for 13 years was considered the "queen of tragedy" on the Paris stage. She played over a hundred roles 1184 times, and was a sensation for her new, naturalistic style of acting and emotion that went against the traditional, more stilted method. She was all the rage, both on stage and in her salon, and became friends with people like Voltaire (who wrote poems in her honor, and on her death declared himself her "friend, admirer, lover" on her death).

She also fell deeply in love with Maurice, comte de Saxe, the handsome, dashing illegitimate son of Duke Augustus II of Saxony. He was married at a young age to the immensely wealthy Countess von Loben, but within 3 years had squandered her fortune and got heavily into debt, and then went on to seek greener pastures in Paris. He was very popular there (especially with the ladies) and Adrienne fell for him hard. They had a daughter together, who later went on to be the great-grandmother of George Sand. They were together for 9 tumultuous years, even through the disaster of his quest for the Grand Duchy of Courland. Adrienne sold all her plate and jewels to help him in trying to gain this throne for himself, but his election failed and he returned to her with all the money gone. They quarelled violently, which threw Adrienne into depression, but still they stayed together.

She wasn't the only woman in Paris to fall for Maurice's charms, though. The Duchesse de Bouillon, a notoriously licentious woman of the Court (shocking!) resolved to get him for herself, and devised a plan to get Adrienne out of the way. Adrienne was to star in a gala performance of Racine's Phedre, and the duchesse sent a contingent of her lackeys to jeer and hiss and throw things at the stage, humiliating her rival. The duchesse took her place in her box, and the curtain went up on Adrienne. The uproar began, and she knew right away what was going on. She threw her whole talent into the part, awing even the hired lackeys into silence. Adrienne walked to the front of the stage and declared, "I am not one of those women void of shame, who, savoring in crime the joys of peace, harden their faces till they cannot blush!" The whole audience leaped up, cheering and applauding, and the duchesse rushed from the theater. (Very operatic!)

But not long afterward, on March 15, 1730, Adrienne collapsed on stage with terrible stomach pains and was carried to her home. She died there a few days later, after a scene no less dramatic--a priest was summoned to give her the last rites, and refused to do so unless she repented of her life in the theater. She refused to do so, being proud of her life as "the greatest actress of her day." She was buried in unconsecrated ground.

A good source for her very eventful life is the biography Adrienne Lecouvreur: The Actress and the Age (1971)

Friday, March 19, 2010

Portrait Friday

Today's portrait--Serge Diaghilev by Leon Bakst. (Diaghilev was born on this day in 1872!). For more information on his life and on the Ballet Russes, you can go here...

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Things I Love Thursday

What I love this Thursday--looking at gardening books! Once St. Patrick's Day and Daylight Savings is behind us, it seems like spring is really on its way (at least I hope so! They're saying it might snow here this weekend...). I love anticipating the sun and warm temperatures, and planning what veggies I'm going to put in the garden this year. Tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, beans, lettuce, maybe another rose bush and some hollyhocks. This year I'm going to build some raised beds, so I can plant more--if I can just summon up the energy! (I'm also looking forward to the farmer's market opening in early May)

What are you planting this year?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Happy St. Patrick's Day, everyone! Have a Guinness and wear some green today....

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Today in History

Today (March 16) was an interesting day in history! Lots going on...

James Madison was born on this day in 1751 (let's hope Texas doesn't cut him out of their history classes, too!)

Rossini married Spanish soprano Isabelle Colbran in 1822

Artist Rosa Bonheur was born in 1822 (you can see her enormous painting The Horse Fair at the Met)

And The Scarlet Letter, the bane of high school students everywhere, was published in 1822!
And tomorrow is St. Patrick's Day! I'm over at Risky Regencies today planning the party. Come and join us!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sunday Historical Etsy Find

Today's Etsy find---the "Queen Victoria at the Coronation" necklace at Mata Hara Jewelry! For more information on the actual coronation, you can go here...

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Heyer Read-a-Long!

At Risky Regencies we're featuring a Heyer readalong all March--and today it's on Borders's True Romance blog! Come and see what it's all about...

Heroine of the Weekend

This week's heroine is women's rights pioneer Susan B. Anthony (February 15, 1820--March 13, 1906), who died on this date 104 years ago. Some good biographical info can be found at the Susan B. Anthony House website--I thought we'd look at some favorite Susan B. quotes here...

Independence is happiness.

Men their rights and nothing more; women their rights and nothing less.

Failure is impossible.

The older I get, the greater power I seem to have to help the world; I am like a snowball--the further I am rolled the more I gain.

It was we, the people; not we, the white male citizens; nor yet we, the male citizens; but we, the whole people, who formed the Union.

The fact is, women are in chains, and their servitude is all the more debasing because they do not realize it.

Modern invention has banished the spinning wheel, and the same law of progress makes the woman of today a different woman from her grandmother.

It would be ridiculous to talk of male and female atmospheres, male and female springs or rains, male and female much more ridiculous is it in relation to mind, to soul, to thought, where there is as undeniably no such thing as sex, to talk of male and female education and of male and female schools.

There is not the woman born who desires to eat the bread of dependence, no matter whether it be from the hand of father, husband, or brother; for any who does so eat her bread places herself in the power of the person from whom she takes it.

Cautious, careful people, always casting about to preserve their reputation and social standing, never can bring about a reform. Those who are really in earnest must be willing to be anything or nothing in the world's estimation, and publicly and privately, in season and out, avow their sympathy with despised and persecuted ideas and their advocates, and bear the consequences.

I can't say the college-bred woman is the most contented woman. The broader her mind the more she understands the unequal conditions between men and women, the more she chafes under a government that tolerates it.

What you should say to outsiders is that a Christian has neither more nor less rights in our Association than an atheist. When our platform becomes too narrow for people of all creeds and of no creeds, I myself shall not stand upon it.

I always distrust people who know so much about what god wants them to do to their fellows.

Before mothers can be rightly held responsible for the vices and crimes, for the general demoralization of society, they must possess all possible rights and powers to control the conditions and circumstances of their own and their children's lives.

Bicycling has done more to emancipate women than any one thing in the world. It gives her a feeling of self-reliance and independence the moment she takes her seat; and away she goes, the picture of untrammeled womanhood.

Friday, March 12, 2010


My friend author Emily Bryan has a fabulous contest going on at her blog! (Which includes a $100 bookstore gift card). Go and check it out...

Portrait Friday

Today's Portrait is Anne Hyde, Duchess of York, first wife of James II and mother of Mary II and Queen Anne (artist Peter Lyly, 1660s)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Things I Love Thursday

Last weekend I got to see Alice in Wonderland, which I had been excited about for a long time! (I love that story in all its wonderful weirdness...). I have to admit I was a bit disappointed. The story seemed sort of half-baked, as if Tim Burton spent so much time on the look of the movie he forgot stuff like character and plot arc. :) But those aesthetics, especially the costumes, were not at all disappointing! I especially loved Anne Hathaway's White Queen gown and want one like it...

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

What I'm Reading Today

I have 3 books going this week--a research book, a paranormal YA, and I decided to reward myself for finishing some revisions by actually reading a romance from my tottering TBR pile! (a rare treat these days). What are you reading today?

Monday, March 08, 2010

Hottie Monday

It feels like a good Monday for some Historical Hotties....