Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Waiting On Wednesday: The Rogue Pirate's Bride

It's WoW time.  Here's my can't-wait-to-read selection:

Author: Shana Galen
Genre: Historical Romance
Expected Pub Date: February 2012
The Marquis de Valère escaped certain death in the French Revolution and is now an infamous privateer.  Out to avenge the death of his mentor, Bastien discovers himself astonishingly out of his depth when confronted with a beautiful, daring young woman who is out for his blood...

British Admiral's daughter Raeven Russell believes Bastien responsible for her fiancé's death.  But once the fiery beauty crosses swords with Bastien, she's not so sure she really wants him to change his wicked ways...

Revenge.  A rogue pirate.  A fiery beauty out for blood.  What's not to like?
Sunday, November 27, 2011

Soap Dish

What to do when roast suckling pig sauce dribbles down your tunic or you're splattered with mincemeat pie? 

By 1450, housewives were boiling linens and wools in water and scrubbing them with the newest cleaning aid - homemade lye soap. 

Silk was a special problem - fuller's earth moistened with lye was applied to grease spots or, sometimes, the garment was left to soak overnight in white wine or viegar.

In England, soap made from candle tallow was used for bathing.  

But soap didn't become a big deal or a big business until the 1500's, when Castille soap was imported from Spain and Venetian soap was considered very elegant at a penny a pound.

 Castille Olive Oil Soap

By the 1600's, business really bubbled for Henry Broadstreet, who had the biggest soap store in London.  He sold pounds of soap at the rate of a hundred barrels a day.
Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Waiting On Wednesday: My Cursed Highlander

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine, and is a way to show of the books you can't wait to be released.  Here's my can't-wait-to-read selection:

Author: Kimberly Killion
Genre: Historical Paranormal Romance
Expected Pub Date: January 2012

Laird Taveon Kraig would do anything to recover a magical amulet powerful enough to break the curse that has plagued his clan for a hundred years - even marry a woman determined to hate him.  But the beautiful - albeit boldly defiant - woman stirs his passion like no other.  He never dreamed his quest would involve surrendering his heart.

Having survived two ruthless marriages, Viviana Gorini Dè Medici has no desire to take another husband - especially one who wants her most prized possession: a magical amulet that provides her with the gift of sight.  Despite her pleas, she is forced into the marriage and sent on a dangerous journey with a man whose charms melt her defenses, whose touch sets her on fire, and whose kiss stirs her body in a way she's never known.

Surrendering completely to an ecstasy that binds their hearts, neither of them foresees the sinister threat waiting to destroy both of their worlds.  In a family torn apart by a centuries old curse, will love be enough to save them all?
Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Teaser Tuesday: Mark of the Rose

It's Teaser Tuesday!  Anyone can play.

1) Grab your current read.

2) Open to a random page.

3) Share 2 "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page.  Be careful not to include spoilers - make sure what you share doesn't give too much away.  You don't want to ruin the book for others!

4) Share the title and author, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like your teaser.


"Verity felt for her dagger and crawled slowly toward the half-open door that led to the queen's bedchamber.  She could only hope that whoever was inside the room didn't have a candle, or they would easily see her pale nightgown." 

~ page 87 of Mark of the Rose by Kate Pearce 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Music Monday: The Twilight Saga

Breaking Dawn Part I, the penultimate movie in the Twilight Saga, hit theaters November 18th.  I wouldn't call myself a true Twihard.  Sure, I saw the movie on opening day.  Yeah, I dig sparkly bloodsuckers.  Yes, I've done the Twilight tour in Forks.  But my favorite fruit is not a red apple and I can't quote lines from the book verbatim.  However, I do love the movies' musical score.  The music is perfect for writing.  The somber songs are lush and brooding and romantic.  The chase sequence tracks are intense, but not too heavy.      


Composer: Carter Burwell

Composer: Alexander Desplat

Composer: Howard Shore

What music inspires you?  What's on your playlist this week?
Sunday, November 20, 2011

In My Mailbox (17)

In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren, and is a way to share your new books for the week, including those bought, swapped, won or received for review.


I ♥ Tessa Dare.  
I purchased this Spindle Cove Novella for just 99 cents.


Courtesy of The Celtic Rose blog.


I've read this one, but I still downloaded this free e-book because I'm crazy for the Dirk & Steele novels.
This is the first book in the contemporary paranormal series.
Thursday, November 17, 2011

Where There's Smoke...

Ah, the smoking jacket: a fashion that has fallen into the clothing abyss with leg warmers, hoop skirts and beloved parachute pants.  On occasion, you might glimpse a smoking jacket, seeing one in an old movie or an oil painting hanging over the fireplace mantel.  But chances are, you don't come into contact with this type of jacket very often.  Truth be told, it's a thing of yore.  Yep, that's right: the concept of the smoking jacket has been smoked out.

Nobody can quite figure out where the smoking jacket came from - the silk jackets worn in Chinese opium dens?  Originally developed for men to wear during times of smoking pipes and cigars, smoking jackets were waist length and typically made of expensive material, namely velvet and silk, in dark colors like burgundy and forest green.  The jackets had turned-up cuffs, button fastenings, and a high, shawl collar.


During Victorian times, the smoking jacket was among the most popular of clothing items.  The jacket offered supreme comfort and style, and was the sign of a true gentleman.  The jacket's development is believed to have been perpetuated by the belief that women were sensitive to the odor of tobacco.  Thus, before a man lit a pipe or a cigar, he would put on his smoking jacket, trapping the odors in the jacket instead of his everyday clothing.  The jacket also served as protection for the underclothing from ash and tobacco burns.

  Robert Downey Jr. (in smoking jacket) and Jude Law
Sherlock Homes 2009

Sometimes a smoking jacket was accompanied by a smoking cap.  Though never quite as popular as its jacketed counterpart, the cap (like the jacket) was worn to appease women by keeping the odor of tobacco smoke out of the hair of men.  For this reason, many smoking caps were made by wives or give as gifts to tobacco indulging husbands.

The smoking jacket served as the inspiration for the tuxedo. Hoping to escape from the stiffly formal tailed coat and white tie, back in the 1880's, the trendsetting Duke of Wales asked London tailor Henry Poole to modify a black smoking jacket into comfortable evening wear.  When tobacco heir Griswold Lorillard wore this jacket to a posh party at the Tuxedo Park Country Club, the garment got its name; although the French continued to call the tuxedo un smoking.

Smoking jackets for men (they were not considered appropriate for women) were at the height of their popularity in the 1950's. Many famous movie stars of the time were seen wearing a smoking jacket.  One of them, Fred Astaire, was even buried in his.  The popularity declined after this period, however, and smoking jackets began to be seen as too garish.

In 1966, Yves Saint Laurent introduced the now iconic Le Smoking Jacket to the fashion world.  At first, editors and buyers didn't react well to the collection.  One critic described it as "lumpy" and "outdated".  However, fashion influencers like Lauren Bacall and Bianca Jagger immediately fell in love with the menswear-inspired style and flaunted the design all over Paris.

The smoking jacket is not the part of life it once was, due to a modern culture that increasingly frowns upon smoking.  There is talk, however, of a comeback - even without smoking. That should make Hugh Hefner smile.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

WIP Wednesday

I've been so absorbed with my Medieval WIP these past few months, I haven't made much progress on any of my other projects.  But this week I'm back to work on my Scottish paranormal novella.  I confess I initially set this story aside because I wasn't quite sure what needed to happen next for my H/H to arrive at their HEA.  It's times like these when I wish I was more of a plotter than a panster, if only to avoid feeling like I'm wasting time thinking instead of writing.  Unfortunately, outlining doesn't come naturally to me.  I can't plot, outline and diagram everything from the get go.  I have to discover my characters and the story as I write.

Anyway, after a day of brainstorming I finally figured out a crucial plot point for my novella and wrote a new scene. *smiles* 

What have you been up to?  Have you made any progress on your story?
Monday, November 14, 2011

Music Monday: Water for Elephants

I love the book Water for Elephants.  I'm also quite fond of the novel's big screen adaptation and the film's soundtrack.  The musical score by Grammy-winning composer James Newton Howard is appropriately nostalgic for author Sara Gruen's circus-themed, Great Depression romance.  It's nice music to listen to while writing.

Composer: James Newton Howard

What music inspires you?  What's on your playlist this week?
Sunday, November 13, 2011

In My Mailbox (17)

I added a couple of new books to my TBR pile.  Here they are:


I've heard such great things about this series.  Plus I ♥ Highlanders!


I discovered this free read on Amazon. 
I've never read this author, but I enjoy books set in the 1940's.
Thursday, November 10, 2011

Black Widow

Lucrezia Borgia was the bad girl of the Renaissance, fabled for her treachery and lust. 

She was married three times by the age of twenty-one, thanks to the departures of a couple of unwanted husbands:  One was killed in a quarrel with her brother, and another was sent packing when the church annulment board declared Lucrezia to be a virgin - apparently it paid to have connections and a look-alike maid.  And just in case Number Three didn't last - or maybe in case he did - she kept a pack of lovers waiting in the wings. 

 Holliday Grainger as Lucrezia in The Borgias.

So did she poison her enemies, as the legend says?  No one will ever know.  Many believe, in fact, it was her evil relatives who did the damsel wrong. 

 Cast from The Borgias on Showtime.
But there was one sin Lucrezia was certainly guilty of - vanity.  She was inordinately proud of her long, blond locks, which she loved to adorn with jewels. 

In 1500, she postponed traveling to Ferrara - where she was to meet one of her fiancés - to give herself time to wash her hair.
Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Waiting On Wednesday: The Saint

Waiting On Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine, and is a way to show off the books you're eagerly anticipating.  Here's my can't-wait to read selection:


Highland Guard Series, Book 5
Author: Monica McCarty
Genre: Historical Romance
Expected Pub Date: March 27, 2012

Magnus MacKay is the ultimate Highlander: tough, proud, able to master any terrain, and best even the most ferocious enemy.  Called “Saint” for his refusal to discuss women, as well as for his cool and steady leadership, Magnus’s war name hides a far more painful truth. It isn’t virtue or piety that keeps him silent, but a wound of love and loss that cuts so deep he cannot bear to speak of it. But when the woman who refused him is betrothed to his friend and fellow Guardsman, Magnus is tested by love’s battle cry.

A wild and innocent beauty, Helen chose family duty over her desire for Magnus. Now the anger in his eyes mirrors the tormented regret of her heart. But as deadly subterfuge stalks the King and his Guard, Helen vows to right her youthful mistakes with a woman’s determined spirit. Still, Magnus harbors secrets and an iron will not to weaken to temptation—or heartache—again. But as danger looms, it’s not the kiss of a saint, but a sinner, that can save them.

Monica McCarty writes the best Alpha Highlanders!
Monday, November 7, 2011

Music Monday: Concerto for Cello

I wish I could play the cello.  It produces the most divine sound - so deep and rich and vibrant.  And that's why I love writing my most emotional romance scenes while listening to the soundtrack to Hilary & Jackie, a film about the brilliant but ill-fated concert cellist, Jacqueline du Pré.

The movie's musical score's highlight is the 1970 recording of du Pré performing Edward Elgar's Concerto for Cello and Orchestra in E minor, Op. 85 with the Philadelphia Orchestra.  The cello solo performance is hauntingly beautiful.  Every time I hear it, I get chills.

Movie: Hilary & Jackie
Composter: Edward Elgar
Cellist: Jacqueline du Pré

 What music inspires you?  What's on your playlist this week?
Thursday, November 3, 2011

The First Fashion Victim

It could have happened to you, too, if you'd been a blond, blue-eyed, porcelain-faced child fresh from Austria married to Louis XVI - not even in person, but by proxy - at the tender age of fifteen. 

Marie Antoinette arrived in France, a little wary at first.  Most agree that she was a good-natured girl, perhaps a little naive.  Certainly heady with freedom.  Finally freed from the strict restraints of her mother Maria Theresa's austere court, she started to have a good time.  And who could blame her? 

Marie refused to be restrained, not even by corsets; she gambled recklessly and ran up enormous bills - the expense of her toilette alone was rumored to be as high as 258,000 livres in just one year. 

 Actress Kristen Dunst as Marie Antoinette

 Marie's bedroom at Versailles

Indulged by her husband and aided by her newly appointed Minister of Fashion, Rose Bertin (a one-time errand girl who rose to become France's leading fashion designer), Marie quickly became the unquestionable arbiter of taste, albeit not always good.

You see, Rose never heard that less is more.  Under her guidance, hoops spread; breasts were pushed up; necklines went down; and there's was no such thing as too much tassle, fringe, ruffle, lace, plumes or artificial flowers. 

 From the film Marie Antoinette, directed by Sophia Coppola

 18th century court dress

The logical extension of these excessive costumes was excessive hairstyles, and Marie's hair was brushed up over towers of wire and crinoline, slathered in a papier mâchè mixture of pomade and four, and festooned with all the leftover lace, flowers and plumes that she didn't have room for on her dress. 

This created a hornet's nest: not only for potential lice and vermin to nest in, but for the public at large.  The economy was depressed: crops had failed; France was practically insolvent.  People were struggling for something to eat.  Maybe just a little flour for some bread, instead of pomade mixtures.  But you know what Marie said to that, an unfortunate remark if ever there was one because, truly now, if they couldn't find bread, where would they get cake?

Marie was vain, and certainly lacked a social conscience.  How could she ignore the starving masses in frivolous pursuit of a new dress, a new coiffure? 

But was Marie an insidious force in the collapsing French empire?  Certainly her excesses represented all that was wrong with an indifferent government and inadequate state. 

But did she deserve to lose her head over a hairdo?
Wednesday, November 2, 2011

In My Mailbox (17)

Take a look at the books I added to my TBR pile this week...


99 cent e-book on Amazon


Courtesy of The Season for Romance


free e-book on Amazon