Saturday, January 29, 2022

Heroine of the Weekend: Colette

 This weekend's heroine is the writer Colette, born on January 28, 1873!  

Born in the Burgundy village of Saint-Saveur-en-Puisaye to a war hero father and his wife, the family was orginally prosperous but suffered finanical reversals.  She married in 1893 to Henri Gauthier-Villars ("Willy"), a writer and publisher 14 years her senior.  Her first 4 books (the "Claudine" titles) were published under his name and copywright.  When they separated in 1906 (and later divorced in 1910), she had no income from her own writings.  She worked in journalism and on the music hall stage, as well as practicing as an amateur photographer.  She also had relationships with several women, including the famous Natalie Barney, as she continued her writing.

In 1912, she married Henri de Jouvenal, and in 1913 had her daughter ('Bel-Gazou").  She published her very popular (and scandalous!) Cheri in 1920, and her writing career took off quickly.  She was divorced again in 1924, and in 1925 married Maurice Goudeket, who was her husband for the rest of her life.

The 1920s and '30s were very productive for her work, and she was acclaimed as France's greatest female writer.  She was 67 when the Germans occupied France, and she stayed in her Paris apartment on the Palais-Royal despite the arrest of her Jewish husband in 1941 (he was quickly released, and they spent the rest of the war quietly).  In 1944, she wrote her most famous work, Gigi.  Postwar, she was famous but ill with arthritis, nursed by her husband, and continued to write.  (She was nominated for the Nobel Prize in literature in 1948).  When she died on August 3, 1954, she was the first French woman of letters to receive a state funeral, and was buried in Pere Lachaise.

A couple of sources for her fascinating life:

Judith Thompson, Secrets of the Flesh: A Life of Colette (1999)

Annie Goetzinger, The Provocative Colette (2018)

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Pre Order Sale

 Barnes & Noble is having a pre-prder sale through the 28th!  You can use it for "Winning Back His Duchess," if you feel so inclined 😀

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Burns Night

 No haggis here, but there may be a wee dram later!


O my Luve is like a red, red rose
   That’s newly sprung in June;
O my Luve is like the melody
   That’s sweetly played in tune.
So fair art thou, my bonnie lass,
   So deep in luve am I;
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
   Till a’ the seas gang dry.
Till a’ the seas gang dry, my dear,
   And the rocks melt wi’ the sun;
I will love thee still, my dear,
   While the sands o’ life shall run.
And fare thee weel, my only luve!
   And fare thee weel awhile!
And I will come again, my luve,
   Though it were ten thousand mile.

Monday, January 24, 2022

Monday Cocktail

 Orange Pineapple Margarita

2 oz Tequila
1 oz Triple Sec
1 oz Fresh Orange Juice
2 oz Pineapple Juice
1/2 oz Fresh Lime
Combine all in a shaker with ice. Mix it up and pour into a rimmed glass...

Sunday, January 23, 2022

Historical Wedding Weekend


On January 24, 1874, Prince Alfred, son of Queen Victoria, married Grand Duchess Marie, daughter of the Russian tsar, in an amazingly lavish ceremony in St Petersburg!  In my book Playing the Duke's Fiancee, I sent my characters off to Russia to attend the wedding, and absolutely loved researching the grand event!  Here's a bit about how it all went...


When I started writing Violet’s story, I was so excited to combine two of my old passionate interests into one book—the history of the British royal family, and nineteenth century Russia!  I also got to bring in another interest of mine, which might not really seem to fit into the 1870s—1930s screwball comedies!  I love it when strait-laced Cary Grant begins to enjoy life thanks to Katherine Hepburn or Irene Dunn, learning to have fun at last.  I also got to learn something quite new to me, Victorian photography.


Much like Prince Charles and Lady Diana in the 1980s, Prince Alfred (second son of Queen Victoria, a career naval officer) and Grand Duchess Marie, only daughter of Tsar Alexander II (who had many, many sons!) was the wedding of the year.  They met in 1868, but neither family approved of the match, and they didn’t marry until January1874.  It was a very lavish wedding at the Winter Palace, an Orthodox ceremony followed by an Anglican blessing, then a banquet for 700 and ball for 3000 until the early hours of the morning.  It was the sensation of the newspapers, with a Who Is Who guest list of people like the Prince and Princess of Wales, Princess Royal Vicky and her husband, Prince Arthur, and the elderly Ernst, Duke of Saxe-Coburg (who had no legitimate children so Alfred eventually was his heir).  (For more wedding details, I love the sadly now defunct blog, Order of Sartorial Splendor, whose archives are a gold mine!). 

The couple had five children, one son and four daughters (including the famous Marie of Romania), but it was not a happy union in the end.  They had little in common, and the prince was often gone on his naval assignments.  They moved often, including to Malta and Coburg, and came to be titled Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh.  Marie did not like English life, and was a Russian Orthodox grand duchess all her life.  She died in 1920 in Switzerland, long after her husband, in reduced circumstances.  I am sure Violet and William are MUCH happier in their life together!

(One quick note on the photographic exhibit Violet visits—it’s based on a famous display in 1864, a “Bazaaar for the benefit of female artists” at the Horticultural Gardens at Chiswick.  The photographers Julia Cameron, Clementina Hawarden, Lewis Carroll, and Oscar Rejlander are of course real figures, as are the royal family.)

If you’re curious about the time period, I loved these sources for further study!  And visit me at for more info!



  • Todd Gustavson, Camera: A History of Photography (2009)

  • Alma Davenport, The History of Photography: An Overview (1991)

  • Bruce Bernard, Photo Discovery: Masterworks of Photography 1840-1940 (1980)

  • Victoria Olson, From Life: Julia Margaret Cameron (2003)

  • Victorian Giants: The Birth of Photography (exhibition catalog)

  • BEC Howarth-Loomes, Victorian Photography (1974)



  • Daphne Bennett, Queen Victoria’s Children (1980)

  • John Van Der Kiste, Alfred: Queen Victoria’s Second Son (2013)

  • Julia Baird, Victoria the Queen (2016)

  • Adrian Tinniswood, Behind the Throne: A Domestic History of the British Royal Household (2018)

  • Daphne Bernard, Vicky: Princess Royal of England and German Empress (1971)

  • Jane Ridley, The Heir Apparent: A Life of Edward VII (2013)

  • Marie, Queen of Romania, The Story of My Life (reprint 2019)

  • Richard Hough, Edward and Alexandra



  • Stefano Papi, Jewels of the Romanovs (2010)

  • Mathilde Kschenssinskaya, Dancing in Petersburg (1961)

  • The Last Grand Duchess: Memoirs of Grand Duchess Olga (1964)

  • Russia: Art, Royalty, and the Romanovs

  • Susan McCaffray, The Winter Palace (2018)

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Pre Order Time!

 Winning Back His Duchess, book 3 of the "Dollar Duchesses" series (Rose's story) is

up for pre-order now!  Isn't the cover lovely???

Sunday, January 09, 2022

Fun Weekend Links

 A little late in the weekend, but better late than never!!!  I hope you all had a lovely holiday season.  I've finally put the decorations away, and am digging out to try and concentrate on writing the new book.  In the meantime, here are a few fun reads I've come across lately...

Legendary Nights With The Bright Young Things

The Duchess of Cambridge Turns 40!

Everyone Is Dressing Like A Bookstore Regular

The Great Sidney Poitier Passed Away

The Last Letter Of Mary Queen Of Scots

Walt Disney Borrowed From 18th Century France For Princess Culture

When Montmartre Was Harlem On The Seine

An Intimate Glimpse Of Frida Kahlo's Blue House

Santa Fe's La Fonda On The Plaza Turns 100  (I used this gorgeous place a lot in my Santa Fe 1920s Mysteries!)

The Greek Goddess Athena In Shakespeare's Plays