May 12

The Practical Uses of May Flowers


Texas Lover by Adrienne deWolfe, Wild Texas Nights, Texas author, Western Historical Romance, Western Romance, Historical Romance

With the spring season, Mother’s Day, proms, and Memorial Day, many of us on North America are celebrating events or decorating locations with flowers. Many of us don’t think about the uses of plants beyond beauty or a small home garden, but plants were essential to human survival in a much more tangible way until very recent history. I know plants play a valuable role in saving lives or creating a livelihood in at least two of my books, and they are symbolically or literally important in many of the Love Historicals authors’ works.

Vain by Jill Hughey

Vain by Jill Hughey

PLANT-BASED FABRICS and DYES – Back in the 800s people had only the materials and chemicals the natural world gave them to create anything they needed or wanted. In Vain, the heroine is the daughter of a tailor and must often weave and dye her own fabrics. One of the few fabrics available at that time was linen, made from collecting, spinning, and weaving the fibers of the flax plant. Natural linen’s color ranges from ivory to gray, so people who wanted a more exciting color had to find something in the nature to create it, plus have the time and energy to bother. The colors that can be achieved using leaves, roots, bark, nuts, and fruits fill a rainbow! Even lichen can be used as a dye, though different species result in a different color. In the course of the story, Lily uses sorrel root for green and dogwood bark for blue. Women would first have to collect the plants they wanted, then endure the arduous, smelly process of preparing and dying fabric, involving hot urine or a boiling vinegar water blend.  All of this just to add a little color to a wardrobe.


Barnes and Noble





You can find out more about the author of Vain and her other books at Jill Hughey’s page.

Cora by Cynthia WoolfAS A GIFT – In Cynthia Woolf’s latest book, Cora, The Brides of San Francisco, Book 3, roses are used as a ploy. The villain brings the heroine a dozen roses so he can get her to let him in to her shop. It works and, well, you’ll just have to read the book to find out the rest. All of us like getting flowers and not just women. Men like it too, probably because it is so unexpected. So the next time you want to make someone’s day give them flowers or a plant.

Check out Cora’s story on



Barnes & Noble


Google Play

You can find out more about the Cora author and her other books on Cynthia Woolf’s page


HeartsCrowns_CVR_MEDMEDICINAL PLANTS –  Plants were an integral part of medieval medicines. In here research, Anna Markland found this recipe for Dwale, a home remedy widely used to render people insensitive to pain. It appears in her book Heart and Crowns.  As you can imagine, too much henbane or hemlock, both highly toxic, could be fatal.

Three spoonfuls of the gall of a sow (bile)

3 sp. hemlock juice

3 sp wild neep (bryony)

3 sp dried juice of wild lettuce

3 sp pape (opium)

3 sp henbane

3 sp eysyl (vinegar)

Mix and boil ingredients. Put in potel (2.2 L)

Put 3 sp into wine and administer.

You may have noticed the size of the spoon isn’t specified, nor how much wine to dilute it with! Please don’t try this at home!

You can find Hearts and Crowns at


Amazon UK:

For more about this author, please visit Anna Markland’s page


A Vow To Keep by Lana Williams

A Vow To Keep by Lana Williams

MORE ABOUT MEDIEVAL HEALING – RESTORED VIRGINITY?  – In Lana Williams’ medieval romance, A Vow To Keep, Lady Alyna becomes a gifted healer with the help of her mother’s herbal journey. When researching the uses of herbs, it was fascinating to read the combination of practical advice (some of which is still relevant today) with the more interesting advice, such as bathing in comfrey to restore virginity or using mugwort to protect oneself from bad visions.

A Vow To Keep, Book I of The Vengeance Trilogy, can be found at:


Barnes & Noble:



To learn more about this author and A Vow To Keep, visit Lana William’s page.



#20winterwind20FINALlightenedHEALING IN THE AMERICAS – Plants continued to be used as the main source for medicines into the 1800s, in every human civilization, and the Indians of the Great Plains were no exception. In Winter Wind, Nancy Morse’s latest release, the hero, a Lakota warrior, is gravely wounded by a bullet from a soldier’s gun. He is nursed back to health by a Cheyenne girl who uses native perennials – Curly Dock (known to the Indians as red medicine) to help heal the wound and Silverleaf Scurf Pea (to-make-cold medicine) to bring down his fever – with unintended and far-reaching consequences.

Find out where it all leads on


And soon to be available at Smashwords, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and Google Play.

To find out more about Winter Wind and this author, visit Nancy Morse’s page.


A Knight's Vengeance by Catherine KeanPERFUMES AND COSMETICS – People have tapped the beauty of flowers to create perfumes and cosmetics for thousands of years. Fragrant plants, like roses, were often used in cosmetics and perfumed oils.  Catherine Kean personally loves roses, which are traditionally associated with romantic love. When writing her Knight’s series , though, she decided to put her own twist on that time-honored tradition by creating a beautiful, ambitious villainess whose signature scent is rosewater. She’s first introduced in A Knight’s Vengeance and is a pivotal figure in the rest of the series books. Whenever a character smells roses, the reader knows Veronique is near and something bad is going to happen. The fun of being an author!


To find out more about  A Knight’s Vengeance and the author, visit Catherine Kean’s page.


I find it really interesting that none of us chose to highlight the importance of plants as food, and also as almost the only source of heat available for thousands of years, with wood and peat being the most widely used fuels I know of prior to the growth of coal mining. (Coal is also plant-based if you want to get technical, which we don’t.)

In any case, you can see that flowers play a much wider role in historical romance than just as something pretty. Plants were—and are—necessary for daily survival and help bring the above authors’ stories alive.


Apr 11

Strange and Unusual Pets

DaliToday is National Pet Day. Before teacup poodles and pocket-sized Chihuahuas became fashionable trends among Hollywood’s rich and famous, some of history’s influential figures forged  friendships with some unusual pets.

Here are a few:

• While touring America in 1825 the Marquis de Lafayette received an alligator as a gift. Rather than lug the reptile around with him, it was kept in a bath tub in the East Room of John Quincy Adams’ White House. The President was greatly amused whenever an unsuspecting guest entered the bathroom and saw the toothy beast, but Lafayette took his pet with him when he left, and things in the White House bathroom went back to normal.

• When I think of fish as pets, I naturally think of gold fish, not Moray Eels. Romans in general were fond of Moray Eels as pets. Some even adorned them with jewels and grieved when they died. Roman Consul Licinius Muraena apparently loved the slimy critters so much that he kept thousands of them in special pools. It is said he loved his eels more than he loved anyone else.

• When the Roman poet Virgil learned that the government was going to confiscate the lands of the rich, except for land that held mausoleums, he had a lavish funeral for a fly he claimed was a beloved pet and had the insect’s body put in a mausoleum. The whole thing cost him a small fortune, but he saved his land with the help of a pet fly.

•  In 1725 King George I of England found an abandoned child living in the German woods. Named Peter the Wild Boy, the poor kid could not be taught to speak and walked around on all fours. The king brought Peter to Kensington Palace where he remained for the rest of his life as King George’s human pet.

• The 16th century astronomer Tycho Brahe had a pet moose that was allowed to roam free during parties and was even encouraged to drink alcohol. Unfortunately, one evening the moose drank so much beer with his dinner that he fell down the stairs and died. The moral here is that if you’re a moose and you’re going to drink, do it on the ground floor.

• Lord Byron was known to have several unusual pets in his lifetime, but a pet bear had the distinction of being his roommate at Cambridge’s Trinity College.

• Salvador Dali had a pet ocelot, Babou, who the painter took everywhere. That cat must have been witness to some truly unusual goings on.

• Like many French aristocrats at the time, Napoleon Bonaparte’s first wife, Josephine, was fond of exotic pets. Her favorite was a female orangutan that was often at the dinner table dining on turnips while dressed fashionably in a white cotton chemise.

• It is said that the only creature Roman Emperor Nero ever loved was his pet tigress Phoebe. He first saw his tiger-love at the Coliseum. Impressed by her ferocity, he decided to spare her life and brought her into the palace where he had a special golden cage made for her. Often, however, she was allowed to have dinner with him and his guests at the table. It is not known what her dinner consisted of, but it can be assumed that anyone who got on Nero’s nerves surely made a delicious dessert for Phoebe.

Me, I’ll stick with dogs. What about you? Are there any unusual pets in your life?

Apr 02

Pangs of Spring: Childbirth through History

birthing stoolDelivering a baby is a rather singular event for most women. We  describe our individual experiences the way men talk about the fish that got away —where it happened, when it happened, how excruciating it was, and the enormous size of that fish/baby! Childbirth in the old days was a risky business, partly due to some weird “medical” practices and beliefs. I’m thinking about this today because it is Charlemagne’s birthday, and back in the 700s when he was born, bearing and raising a child to adulthood was hit and miss. So, today the Love Historicals authors share the some of the historical practices they’ve learned about childbirth through their research in history.

When you hear the term “Middle Ages,” you know you’re going way back, and as Anna Markland says, women didn’t have much choice but to endure.

Many women suffered greatly and many more died in childbirth regardless of whether they were rich or poor. A medieval gynaecological treatise from the medical school of Salerno called The Diseases of Women wrote of the horrors and dangers of childbirth with little to relieve the stresses of childbirth other than poultices and prayer.

Many options were available for the woman who was birthing but none were particularly effective. Largely these consisted of herbal poultices, folk remedies and devout prayer. Invoking the name of Saint Margaret, the patron saint of childbirth, was always believed to ease labour pains and assure a safe delivery.

Potions advocated for childbirth in the middle ages included rubbing the flanks of the expectant mother with rose oil, giving her vinegar and sugar to drink, or applying poultices of ivory or eagle’s dung.

Gemstones were also utilised to ease childbirth. Placing a magnet in the mother’s hand was believed to provide relief as was wearing coral around her neck. In the twelfth century, Hildegard Von Bingham wrote of the powers of the stone called sard.

In cases of difficult births for noble ladies, the mother-to-be could have been advised to put on a holy girdle. At Rievaulx Abbey in Yorkshire, monks guarded the girdle of St Ailred as it was known to be helpful to ladies lying in. The Sickness of Women, one of the texts attributed to Trotula, wrote of a beneficial girdle made of a hart’s skin and also wrote of jasper being beneficial.

Moving to the North American continent, Author Nancy Morse tells us how the Lakota also used an object, not to help the mother, but to protect the newborn.

Sioux 19th century quilled umbilical fetish

Sioux 19th century quilled umbilical fetish

In the days before epidurals and semi-private hospital rooms, childbirth for a Lakota woman on the Great Plains was a risky endeavor.

When a child was expected, the prospective mother, or one of the grandmothers, made a fetish in the form of a lizard or tortoise out of hide and decorated it with beads or porcupine quills. One such fetish is shown here. The purpose of this object was to hold the infant’s umbilical cord. Since both of these animals were hard to kill, it was believed that their protective power would be transmitted to the baby. When the child began to walk, the fetish was worn on the clothing. Thus, a child of five or six was known as a “carry your navel.” Later, the fetish was put away and retained as a keep sake by the mother.

Shortly prior to labor, the expectant woman’s mother, or some relative experienced as a midwife, spread a clean square of deerskin down to catch the baby and drove a waist-high stake into the ground. When labor began, the mother-to-be squatted at the stake, grasping the top, with her knees pressed against it. When the child was born, it was cleaned with sweet grass soaked in warm water, wiped with buffalo grease, wrapped in a blanket, and placed beside the mother to begin life as a new member of the tribe. The cord was drawn through a puff ball which acted as a fungus powder and sewn into the fetish. A matching fetish was made and hidden away to decoy bad spirits from the baby’s source of power. An elder was enlisted to swipe the infant’s face with fine lines of red paint as a symbol of the baby’s relationship to Wakan Tanka, the Great Holy mystery.Then, a valued family friend renowned for bravery in battle and goodness at home breathed into the infant’s mouth, transmitting the vital life principle known as ni. In the days that followed, a feast was held and the village herald announced the baby’s name.

Giving birth by squatting at a stake was difficult enough, but it was downright dangerous when the village was under attack by an enemy tribe.Then, a young mother in the throes of labor was forced to leave the safety of the tipi to hide in the short grass of the high plains. As the contractions worsened, she bit down hard on a stick to keep from crying out, and when the infant emerged into the world, she pinched its nose shut so that her child’s first cry would not give away their hiding place.

Author Jill Hughey notes that, historically, most of the hiding during labor and childbirth was done by men, specifically the father of the infant. Though in many cultures a father had his own rituals surrounding the safe birth of a child, his physical attendance at the event was not common, and certainly not in any authoritative role, for much of recorded human history.

This seems odd when you consider how important lineage and healthy heirs were/are in many societies, though really important people, like queens, often had to endure witnesses filling their bedchambers to guarantee no one switched babies. Can you imagine having a government official lurking in your delivery room while your own husband wasn’t?

In most cultures, men weren’t directly involved with the laboring mother until a new understanding of the importance of hygiene and quick response to hemorrhage, not to mention the lifesaving development of the C-section, brought maternal care into the medical arena. Back then, medical meant doctor and doctor meant man, and suddenly men were in charge of labor and delivery.

Dr. John Snow -  Rsabbatini at English Wikipedia [CC BY 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Dr. John Snow – Rsabbatini at English Wikipedia [CC BY 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

A combination of the natural childbirth movement and the women’s movement finally invited fathers to join in the big moment. Although there are exceptions, the majority of laboring mothers want their partners there. I, for one, wanted an advocate and someone to monitor the care of our child while I was dealing with the aftermath, not to mention the comfort of a loving hand to hold. I imagine many women through history felt the same way. Queen Victoria, for example, did have Prince Albert by her side for many of her labors. (And she vaulted the use of anesthesia into the acceptable forefront by using chloroform during her last two labors, supervised by Dr. John Snow, in 1853 and 1857. Thank you, Queen Victoria! This has proven to be much more effective than poultices and magnets.)



If you’ve enjoyed our discussion of childbirth through history, here is more information about books where we bring these facts into our fiction.

Conquering Passion by Anna Markland

Conquering Passion by Anna Markland

Here’s a brief excerpt from Conquering Passion by Anna Markland which tells of the birth of the son of Ram and Mabelle de Montbryce. Mention is made of a birthing stool and the picture above is of this medieval device.

“Fifteen hours later, sitting on the birthing stool brought days before in readiness, bathed in sweat and screaming loudly, Mabelle feared the hour of her death was at hand. But the experienced midwife told her calmly everything was normal, and saw no reason to be anxious. “It’s a good idea to scream. It will make you feel better.”

Bertha used simple and natural procedures, relying on pepper to provoke sneezing, which would in turn cause birth. She used various soothing herbal remedies and oils. “I’m confident you’ll not need the shroud you made for yourself, at the behest of the bishop. But it’s as well you obeyed his insistence on confessing your sins.”

Mabelle sought solace during her labors in praying to Sainte Margaret, the patron saint of pregnant women. As her child came into the world and her last cry of relief rent the air, Ram rode into the bailey.


Ram gasped her name as he threw open the door of their chamber. His wild eyes fell upon his wife as she lay back, spent and dishevelled, Giselle supporting her shoulders, and then their child made his presence known with a lusty wail.

“You’re beautiful,” he called to her as she smiled at him weakly.

“My Lord,” Bertha cried, ushering him out, “you shouldn’t be here. Don’t worry. You have a fine healthy son, but your wife needs to rest now. I’ll bring the child to you when we’ve cleaned him up. He too has had a long journey.”

As Ram was shooed out, the midwife said to Giselle, “Trust the father to turn up as soon as it’s over.”

The four women laughed, though Mabelle barely had enough strength left to do so as Myfanwy handed her a steaming bowl of chamomile tea.

Conquering Passion is available at Amazon and Amazon UK


Where the Wild Wind Blows by Nancy Morse

Where the Wild Wind Blows by Nancy Morse

Though Nancy Morse doesn’t describe a birth in detail in Where The Wild Wind Blows, you’ll want to check out this tumultuous love story between a white woman left alone in the world and a proud Oglala warrior. Find it on Amazon.










Jill Hughey, who talked about the rare involvement of fathers in the birth room, shares this brief snippet from Redeemed of a rather private and abrasive expectant father, left alone to wait, who can’t endure the sound of his wife’s suffering because he knows how little tolerance she has for pain.

Redeemed by Jill Hughey

Redeemed by Jill Hughey

When a new string of cries began with Philantha’s usual “Ow ow ow” then evolved into “no please do not make me!” Doeg could not stop himself. He burst into the room. Philantha was half reclined on the bed, her face contorted with pain, while the tyrant had one hand on each of his wife’s shoulders, apparently trying to hold her there.

“What are you doing to her?” he shouted.

“You should not be in here,” the tyrant answered calmly as she let go of her charge.

“Ow ow ow,” Philantha repeated as she rolled off the bed to stand, turning carefully to balance herself with her hands on the mattress. The ‘ows’ subsided into ‘ooohs’ as the pain apparently left her.

The midwife began to speak again, her wrinkled face jiggling in the candlelight. “Sir, she is fine – “

He cut her off with a wave of his hand. “Philantha?” he queried cautiously from the door.

“What?” she said shrilly.

“Should you not be in bed?”

“Bertha says I should but it is better when I am standing.”

He flicked his gaze back to the tyrant. He had forgotten her name, but yes, now it came back to him. Bertha. He glared at her.

Bertha held her ground. “She has hours to go yet, sir. She will need her strength and quite frankly, I am not sure I can manage her if she should begin to fall. We have tried the chair but she does not like it either. I cannot have her wandering all over the place and wearing herself out, sir.”

The two stared at one another and Doeg decided he did not like her at all. But he also did not know anything about childbirth or how to help his wife or whether she should be allowed to wander.

“Oh no,” Philantha moaned. “Oh no. Ow ow ow.” She leaned into the bed.

Mostly on instinct, he rushed to her, placing his hands at what used to be her waist and feeling every rock-hard muscle as her body did its work. “What can I do, Phee?” he asked softly. “Tell me what to do.”

He felt the contraction end and she straightened slightly. “I just want to stay on my feet. It is so much more tolerable.”

Doeg looked sharply over his shoulder at the midwife. “She wants to stand and so she will. If you are worried about her falling, do not be. I will stay here with her.”

Redeemed is available at the following.

Amazon –

Barnes and Noble






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Mar 24

A Lady’s Regency Bucket List

978-0-553-39117-6-200x267Dear Readers

I’m celebrating the release of book #3 in my USA Today bestselling Disgraced Lords series, A TOUCH OF PASSION.

I had a seriously sad year in 2014, with two deaths in the family. Not intentionally, but I think the realization that life is short and can change in a minute, helped shaped my heroine, Lady Portia Flagstaff.

Portia lost her best friend, the hero’s (Grayson Devlin, Viscount Blackwood) sister Lucinda, in a carriage accident when she was very little. Then, at sixteen Portia almost died of influenza and that’s when she vowed she would make the most of the years God gave her.

I don’t actually share her bucket list in the book, but I infer that she has a list in the story. I thought you might like to see what she has on her list….and when you read the book you can work out how many she ticked off during her journey to her happy ever after.

Portia’s bucket List…


  1. To fall in love
  2. To experience a kiss that makes you weak at the knees
  3. To travel internationally – anywhere interesting
  4. To help orphans (her family took in Grayson when his family died in the carriage accident)
  5. To ride a horse astride dressed in men’s trousers
  6. To smoke a cigar
  7. To see inside a brothel or Cyprian ball
  8. To run her own business
  9. To make her brothers proud
  10. To marry a man who is head over heals in love with her regardless of her reputation

Here’s the blurb and a teaser snippet (see how many bucket list items she ticks on this journey):

In the latest Disgraced Lords novel from USA Today bestselling author Bronwen Evans, a vivacious thrill seeker clashes with her dutiful defender—causing irresistible sparks to fly.

Independent and high-spirited, Lady Portia Flagstaff has never been afraid to take a risk, especially if it involves excitement and danger. But this time, being kidnapped and sold into an Arab harem is the outcome of one risk too many. Now, in order to regain her freedom, she has to rely on the deliciously packaged Grayson Devlin, Viscount Blackwood, a man who despises her reckless ways—and stirs in her a thirst for passion.

After losing his mother and sibling in a carriage accident years ago, Grayson Devlin promised Portia’s dying brother that he’d always watch over his wayward sister. But having to travel to Egypt to rescue the foolhardy girl has made his blood boil. Grayson already has his hands full trying to clear his best friend and fellow Libertine Scholar of a crime he didn’t commit. Worse still, his dashing rescue has unleashed an unforeseen and undesired consequence: marriage. Now it’s more than Portia he has to protect . . . it’s his battered heart.

Cyprians’ Ball, London, 1813

“I’m surprised Lord Blackwood has graced us with his presence. It’s common knowledge he’s enamored with the French ballerina Juliette Panache. I doubt he’s in the market for another mistress.”

“With his appetites, he no doubt has a stable of mistresses.”

“True. I heard he once pleasured ten women in one night.”

Lady Portia Flagstaff moved closer to the group of courtesans salivating over Grayson Devlin, Viscount Blackwood, as if he were a succulent feast to be devoured. Many years of experience allowed her to damp down her jealousy. She could hardly blame any woman for lusting after Lord Blackwood. She counted herself, along with most of England’s females, among his panting throng.

Being madly in love with Grayson was her penance for having being so mean to him when they were younger. She’d tried everything she knew to exile him from her thoughts, but it was hard to forget him when he was the talk of the ton.

Lord Blackwood had entered her life just before her tenth birthday. He had always been her elder brother Robert’s best friend, but the day he’d moved permanently into their home, she’d cried in her room for hours. Why did it have to be Grayson, a boy, who had survived his family’s carriage accident? She already had five brothers. How could life be so unfair?

Grayson’s sister, Lucinda, had been her friend, and she couldn’t understand why she’d died when Grayson hadn’t. Portia was too young and frightened to understand, so she’d blamed him.

Lucinda’s death was her first introduction to how precarious life could be. Almost dying from lung fever at sixteen had been her second lesson. From that moment on she’d made a vow to live her life to the fullest. She wanted no regrets when death finally came calling.

“They say he can outlast any man, and his lovers speak of his prowess with awe. He cares more about a woman’s pleasure than his own—rare indeed. His kind of loving is priceless. I’d even do him for free.” This statement was followed by a gaggle of giggles.

“I’m more interested in learning if he is truly hung like a stallion. If so, I’d love to explore the evidence.” More giggles.

“ ’Tis true. Claudette said she could barely walk for a week, but it was well worth the two days spent in his bed.” This statement was followed by a collective sigh.

Loveswept are running a Rafflecopter Giveaway ($25.00 eGift Card to Choice Book Seller, Loveswept Mug and Nail Polish)

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Advance praise for A Touch of Passion

“A fast-paced, passionate adventure!”—Gaelen Foley, New York Times bestselling author of The Secrets of a Scoundrel

“Wickedly witty and deeply romantic, A Touch of Passion is full of emotion and rich in sensuality.”—USA Today bestselling author Nicola Cornick

“Bronwen Evans spins a sexy romp in A Touch of Passion, as a lord who doesn’t dare love is locked in passionate battle with a woman who will accept nothing less. And may the best woman win!”—New York Times bestselling author Mary Jo Putney

“A Touch of Passion is everything a historical should be: daringly sexy and romantic as hell. I loved it!”—USA Today bestselling author Delilah Marvelle

“A Touch of Passion is an engaging, adventurous romp that kept me turning the pages all night.”—Sharon Cullen, author of Sebastian’s Lady Spy
Come join the release party and enter into the Loveswept contest.

Mar 21

The Romance of Perfume

perfume bottlePerfume inspires romance.

In ancient times,when bathing was infrequent, you can imagine that after a few weeks a loved one may have begun to smell less than lovable. So perfumes, oils and unguents were used to hide body odors.

The early Egyptians used perfumed balms as part of pre-lovemaking preparations by steeping rose and peppermint in oils until a perfumed unguent was formed and then rubbing into the skin. When Pharaoh Tutankhamen’s tomb was opened, over 3,000 jars of perfume were found that still preserved some of their fragrance after more than 30 centuries. Trade routes brought spices to other parts of the world, thereby offering a wider range of scents. People often mixed their own potions in a still room where essences were steeped out of flowers and herbs.

The word perfume comes from the Latin “per” meaning “through” and “fumum,” or “smoke.” Ancient perfumes were made by extracting natural oils from plants through pressing and steaming. The oil was then burned to scent the air.

Although perfume fell out of favor during early Christianity, it was revived during the medieval period.

Let’s take a look at how this romance-inducing stuff developed through the ages.

• In ancient Mesopotamia a man named Tapputi was the world’s first recorded chemist and perfume-maker.

• During the 1st millennium BC the Greeks developed the use of fragrances, with rose, saffron, violet, spikenard and cinnamon the most favored scents.

• The Romans were the first professional perfumers. Those Romans must have been some really hot lovers because the perfumers consumed nearly 3,000 tons of frankincense and 500 tons of expensive myrrh.

• The pandemics that swept through Europe during the 1300s were major catalysts to the usage of aromatic products. Some people used flowers, incense, and perfumed oils to try to ward off the Black Death. Not very romantic, I’ll grant you, but in order to be romantic you must first be alive.

• The Hungarians introduced the first modern version of perfume. Created in 1370 for the queen of Hungary, and notable for being the first alcohol-based perfume, it was called Hungary Water. If the fragrance wasn’t enough to arouse your lover’s interest, you could always get drunk on the stuff.

• King Henry I of England and France granted a heraldic shield to the Guild of Perfumers.

• The first books and manuscripts about perfumery techniques appeared during the 15th-16th century.

• Around the 16th century Nostradamus and his wife were famed as makers of herbal perfumes. I wonder if he foresaw that perfume would one day become a $10 billion industry.

• Charles I of England had a fragrance adviser. Around this time, scents were being applied to more than the skin, to furniture, gloves,  fans, and anything that would turn a sniffer’s thoughts to love.

• In 1708 a London perfumer introduced a revolutionary fragrance consisting of orange flowers, musk, violent and amber. During the Georgian era a non-greasy eau de cologne was developed and used for everything from bath essence to mouthwash.Not sure I’d want to gargle with perfume, but what could you do when Listerine wouldn’t be invented for another 150 years?

• It wasn’t until the 17th and 18th centuries that perfumes began to be stored in blown glass bottles in pear-shaped designs of opaque white glass.

• Out on the Great Plains the buffalo-hunting Lakota of the 18th and 19th centuries pulverized the roots of a plant called Field Sagewort, also called “sweet-smelling weed”, and used it as a perfume. Of course, it was also believed that if the powder was sprinkled over a man’s face, he would sleep so soundly that he wouldn’t notice that his horses were being stolen. Hopefully, he was dreaming about his beloved and not about one of his stolen horses.

• In 1879 perfume made its way into soap, and Yardley began exporting its scented soap to the United States.

• At the beginning of the 20th century perfumes of England, France and Spain were exported globally.

And now for some weird facts about perfume.

• Jean Carles, a famed French perfumer who created scents such as Miss Dior, was said to have insured his nose for one million dollars. That’s one pricey honker.

• And speaking of Jean Carles, he was told by the company that made Tabu to make it smell like prostitutes. Am I the only one who doesn’t want to know what a prostitute smells like?

• The most expensive perfume in the world is Clive Christian’s Imperial Majesty, priced at $215,000 for 16.9 ounces. It’s served in a Baccarat crystal bottle with an 18-carat gold collar and five-carat diamond. I wonder what a girl has to do to get one of those babies. On second thought, I’d rather not know.

And some facts you probably never wanted to know:

• Ambergris is a valuable raw material used in the perfume business. If it smells a little ocean-y, that’s because it’s produced in the intestines of sperm whales. Yes folks, it’s whale vomit.

• Musk, which used to be a popular scent, is potent, reddish-brown stuff secreted by male musk deer. Today, perfumers use a synthetic substance that mimics musk because it’s illegal to kill an endangered animal.

• Perfumes like Shalimar were made to smell like sexual bodies by the inclusion of overdoses of civet, an ingredient sourced from the anal gland of the mongoose-like Civet animal. I wonder how grandma would feel knowing she was spritzing herself with anal cream.

• Castoreum, used as a fixative in some perfumes, is collected from follicles in the genital area of male and female beavers. It has a very strong odor. Well yeah, I would think so.

My taste in perfume has changed over the years. During my Hippie Days, I wore Patchouli. Until I was walking out of a store one day and the woman behind me complained about a strong Clorox smell. It took me a few minutes to realize she was referring to my beloved Patchouli oil. I still have that Patchouli in a dark brown bottle on the shelf. Every now and then I open it for a sniff and am whisked back in time.

One year my husband gave me a fragrance called Chinese Flowers for Valentine’s Day. It was so sickeningly sweet that I thought I would throw up, but he was so pleased with himself that I sucked it up and wore it and suppressed the urge to retch.

I went through phases of Opium, Chloe, Vanderbilt, Bora Bora, Oscar de la Renta, and at the moment I’m into Cashmere Mist. None of them, however, evoke memories of Jimi Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane, and fringed leather vests like my old friend Patchouli.

What about you? Do you have a go-to fragrance, a favorite scent, or one that brings back memories?

Mar 13

Natural Events in Fiction

Twenty-three years ago tomorrow, I married my first and only husband, one of the best decisions I ever made in my life. Twenty-two years ago tomorrow we had one of the biggest blizzards in several decades. Obviously we spent much of our first anniversary wondering “what if?” What if this had happened last year and our guests couldn’t make it to our town, or the preacher got stuck in a drift, or the power went out, or….

Today, the Love Historicals authors will share how a natural event, like a blizzard, affected one of their stories.

First, Anna Markland talks about a frightening storm at sea in Wild Viking Princess.

Wild Viking Princess by Anna Markland

Wild Viking Princess by Anna Markland

The catastrophic event in Wild Viking Princess is a violent storm that causes the heroine’s ship to capsize and sink in the North Sea en route from England to Hamburg.

Ragna FitzRam is a plucky young woman who jumps into the roiling waves, with her dog, when a Viking longboat appears alongside the sinking ship and she realizes it’s her only hope.

Reider Torfinnsen rescues a drowning person he believes is a boy, since Ragna is travelling in disguise for safety.

Since childhood, Ragna has endured the nickname Wild Viking Princess in recognition of her fiery temper, inherited from a Danish grandmother, though she is English.

Reider is the dispossessed and exiled prince of a Danish principality.

Ragna and Reider don’t share a common language, but passion soon ignites between them. However, Reider’s first duty is to regain his kingdom and avenge his father’s murder. Ragna’s mission is to complete her journey to Hamburg to deliver a treasured family heirloom to her sister.

Such storms are not uncommon in the treacherous North Sea. The setting for the book is the island of Strand, which was more or less erased from the map a few hundred years after my story by a devastating storm tide. Once Danish territory, what remains now belongs to Germany.

Wild Viking Princess is Book Three of The FitzRam Family Trilogy, available as a set, or it can be purchased as an individual story at Amazon.  Amazon    Amazon UK. If you want to know more about the author, visit Anna Markland’s Love Historicals  page.



Nancy Morse tells us about two natural events in her Native American historical romance, Where The Wind Blows.

Where the Wild Wind Blows by Nancy Morse

Where the Wild Wind Blows by Nancy Morse

The first was the fiery cloud that appeared in the sky the morning Claw’s first son was born. The color of a cloud depends on the color of the light that illuminates it. At sunset or sunrise the color of sunlight can be fiery red as the light travels a longer path through the atmosphere. Of course, Claw knew nothing about this natural phenomenon, only what he saw in the sky. So he named his first-born son Mahpyua Peta , or Fire Cloud. In old Lakota tradition as a boy grew to manhood he changed his name according to a vision he might have had or a brave deed he might have done. Fire Cloud was a modest, unpretentious man with no warrior-like deeds to inspire a new name, so he humbly retained his birth name throughout his life.

Claw’s second son was born during a lunar eclipse, caused by the passage of the moon behind the earth into its shadow. The child grew to become the hero of WHERE THE WILD WIND BLOWS. A fierce-hearted warrior and a relentless defender of his people, he believed that his path was chosen the night he was born, so he took the name Wi Sapa, or Black Moon.

You can find Where The Wind Blows at Amazon Also visit Nancy Morse’s Love Historicals page.





Anyone who watches The Weather Channel knows about thunder snow. It is one of the lead anchor’s favorite weather phenomena and he absolutely loses his mind when he experiences it. Author Cynthia Woolf tells us how she incorporated it into one of her western romances.

Tame A Wild Wind by Cynthia Woolf

Tame A Wild Wind by Cynthia Woolf

In my book Tame A Wild Wind, the ranch gets hit by thunder snow. This usually happens in the spring and is a rare phenomenon. It literally is a thunder storm with snow instead of rain. In the book, the horses are all spooked by this, one of them, Goliath, breaks out of his stall and runs trying to escape it. Sam and Cassie, my hero and heroine, have to track the horse in the snow, which makes it easier until the sun melts the snow.

The Ute tribe in the area finds the horse and Chief White Buffalo knows exactly who it belongs to. He knows that Cassie will be coming for the solid black stallion. He is one of her prized thoroughbreds. Tempted as he is to keep the magnificent horse for himself, the chief instead cares for the horse until Cassie arrives.

Here is the link to the book, Tame a Wild Wind. You can also visit Cynthia’s Love Historicals page.




The night is dark.

The moon is bright.

She brings his heart

Into her light.

Jill Hughey’s natural event actually occurred. The heroine of her novella, Little Witch, is unfairly known as a sorceress who can charm the moon. Her family

Little Witch by Jill Hughey

Little Witch by Jill Hughey

becomes reacquainted with her brother’s childhood best friend, Nox, and he and Salena are attracted to each other. However, a neighbor wastes no time warning him that they believe Salena, through her witchcraft,  is responsible for the deaths of his father, mother, and brother years ago, as well as many other people. He is still trying to decide for himself about her guilt or innocence when he witnesses a partial eclipse, and it makes him wonder whether she could possibly be affecting the moon he sees.

The story is set in the years 847 – 848. People back then really didn’t understand celestial occurrences, and you can only imagine how freaked out you might be to see the moon changing to a bronze color and part of it going black, then returning to normal. I would have preferred a total eclipse, but those aren’t very common.

The fun part of using the eclipse was it helped me set the story in time. I checked moon charts to find when Europe experienced a lunar events in the ninth century. (Can you believe you can find out such things with a fairly simple internet search?) Timelines are my least favorite part of the writing process, so having a solid date to work with—in this case May 21, 848— helped me muddle through the grind and get to the rewarding part of writing Salena and Nox’s love story.

Visit Jill’s Love Historicals page here. Little Witch: Historical Romance Novella is available at most ebook vendors.

Amazon    Barnes and Noble    iTunes   Kobo



It is amazing how invisible yet important including natural events can be to making a story come alive. Our characters cannot live in voids. They have to get capsized, hear some thunder, be amazed by a crazy cloud, or see the moon so they come off the page and into our lives. Congratulations to all these Love Historicals authors for bringing a bit of the natural world into their scenes.


Feb 15

Winner of the Love Historicals Valentines Day Blog Hop!

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Congrats to Sheryl Stanley Nyary for winning the $100 Amazon Gift Card from the Love Historicals Valentines Day Blog Hop!

Thank you to everyone who participated. We hope you all had fun and discovered new authors to read.

We hope your Valentines Day was filled with romance!

Feb 13

Valentine’s Day Blog Hop and Giveaway

 Enter for your chance to win a $100 Amazon Gift Card!

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Welcome to the Love Historicals Valentine’s Day Blog Hop and Giveaway!  The Love Historicals authors know how romantic Valentine’s Day is and we are pleased you’ve chosen to spend part of your day with us! 

We’ve designed a fun way to enjoy this special day.  All you need to do is follow the links to each participating Love Historical author’s website where they have answered the question – What is the most romantic scene in our featured book? 

Get the name of the hero from each featured novel. (You’ll find the list of blogs to visit by using the “Click Here” link under the Powered by Linky Tools heading below.) Then come back here and enter them all into the Rafflecopter for your chance to win a $100 Amazon gift card.  Easy!  And fun!

But there’s more!  Each author will be giving away more prizes and goodies on their websites. 

Enjoy this super romantic Valentine’s Day Blog Hop and Giveaway!  Good luck!


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Click here to view the links to other Love Historicals authors participating in the hop.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Feb 13

Courtship Through The Ages

By Iulia Pironea ( [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By Iulia Pironea ( [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

These days, public displays of attraction are in our faces. Skin is bared, bodies and lips touch across every media from advertising to YouTube. But what was a couple a century or ten centuries ago allowed to do? How could a man show his lust and a woman show her willingness to be lusted after?

Our Love Historicals authors tell us about courtship through the ages!


Courting – Medieval Style – Anna Markland

In the 11th and 12th centuries, there was little courting as we know it today. Women often met their husbands for the first time at the altar, their fate having been decided by their parents in some cases before they were born. Marriage was for procreating heirs, not for love.

In several of my books, I describe betrothal ceremonies where the man and woman meet to agree to be married. We might call that an engagement. If these ceremonies took place at all, they were formal affairs. Often neither the noble nor his intended bride could write, and so they made their mark, witnessed by a scribe or scrivener, normally a religious of some kind.

It was considered inappropriate for unmarried men and women to be alone together. Women’s bodies were covered from head to toe, including the hair.

Yet this was an age when illegitimate children were the accepted norm. The notion of love in a marriage was laughable. The men of my medieval Norman family jokingly refer to the “curse of the Montbryces”. They consider themselves cursed because they are that most unusual of medieval things-noblemen in love with their wives.

King Henry I of England sired two legitimate children, but he openly flaunted almost twenty mistresses (most of them married to men in his court) and had untold numbers of royal bastards.

While it was acceptable, even expected, that a man would take a mistress, if a married woman so much as looked at another man…unless that other man was a king.

Visit Anna’s page


Detail from Half Moon ledger book, MS Am 2337, Houghton Library, Harvard University

Courting – Lakota style – Nancy Morse

Aside from chance meetings, brief conversations, and a well-aimed plum pit tossed at a girl to gain her attention, a young Lakota man a hundred years ago had little opportunity to get to know the girl of his dreams.To win her heart he might have obtained a love potion from the Elk Dreamer, a shaman skilled in such magic. But the love medicine was very powerful, and if not handled properly, it could make the young man very sick. So, most likely, he made himself as attractive as possible in his finest clothes and beaded moccasins and headed for the girl’s tipi with a blanket draped over his arm. Enfolded in the blanket, their heads covered from view, he and his heart’s desire could converse privately in public, shielded from the girl’s over-protective parents and curious onlookers. The custom was called ina aopemni inajinpi, or “standing wrapped in the blanket”. A popular girl might have several young men waiting for their turns beneath the blanket with her. She could, of course, refuse a man’s embrace or cut the “date” short which, in essence, gave her control overthe courting ritual. Because of close relationships within small bands, courtship was infrequent. It was only when many bands came together, as with the annual Sun Dance for instance, that courtships flourished. The practice continued into the reservation period, but faded in the late 19th century when young people began going away to boarding school. Today, although young Lakota lovers no longer stand wrapped in the blanket, the charming practice is kept alive through oral tradition and ledger drawings depicting scenes of the daily Plains life of their ancestors.

Visit Nancy’s page


Courtship in the Victorian Era – Christy Carlyle

Just as women today are sometimes advised not to “try too hard” or pursue a guy when he’s just not that into you, women during the Victorian Era were expected to let the man take the lead when it came to courtship. In most cases, men called on women, not the other way around. Etiquette books of the period encouraged young women to behave with modesty, propriety, and refrain from too much exuberance. Laughing too loudly, winking, or putting your hand on the person with whom you’re conversing would have been considered immodest. Ladies were expected to be chaperoned when they met with gentlemen or took a walk outside, but young people expected to conduct their courtship under the watchful eye of chaperones. Such a custom was meant to protect the young lady’s reputation. Only after a couple was formally engaged were they allowed a modicum of privacy and could hold hands, walk arm in arm, or even share a modest kiss.

Though flirtation was difficult within the constrained world of rules and chaperones, some guides provided ladies with tips on how to signal their interest, or disinterest, in a man through the use of their gloves, handkerchiefs, fans, or parasols. According to one guide, holding one’s gloves with fingertips down could indicate you desired to make a certain young man’s acquaintance. It seems young men would have had to do a good deal of studying the various secret languages of fans and gloves in order to read a young lady’s signals correctly. And you can easily imagine a comedy of errors in which the wrong gentleman receives a message that wasn’t intended for him at all. Interestingly, the etiquette manuals were quite vehement about being clear in one’s intentions and never leading a member of the opposite sex on or doing anything that might cause them to misconstrue your interest or disinterest. Some manuals provided wording examples of notes you could send to reject a suitor properly.

Another fascinating aspect of the Victorian period is that the companionable love match became a popular notion. Of course, couples fell in love in every era, but finding a beloved companion, a soul mate (to use a modern phrase), was never so much an objective of marriage as in the Victorian popular imagination. Victorian literature of the period contributed to the notion of the perfect romance, and such ideals actually made courtship a bit more challenging for young men and women. Conduct manuals, etiquette books, and newspaper articles advised women how to embody the feminine ideal and guides for men laid out just as many expectations for gentlemanly conduct. It was a lot to live up to! Still, despite the rules and rituals, Victorians couples managed to meet, fall in love, and marry. Indeed, the marriage rate and population/fertility rates increased in Britain throughout the Victorian period.

Visit Christy’s page


Courting in Charlemagne’s Empire – Jill Hughey

What courting?

Like many aristocratic societies, those in the upper echelons of the Carolingian Empire married to make connections, and often those matches were arranged by parents, with no regard for the youngsters’ preferences. This seems archaic now, but children were raised to expect such a marriage.

There is very little history left for us regarding the lower classes in the 800s. We know they lived in a much smaller world than the aristocrats, and may have at least been able to marry someone they knew. I like to imagine young couples meeting at mass or dancing together at a community holiday. However, small landholders or merchants might also benefit from arranging favorable alliances and probably would have followed the lead of the upper classes where possible.

So, as some of us anticipate cards or flowers for Valentines Day, and others might be getting together with good friends, we should remember the ideas of romance, courtship and marrying for love are not universal concepts. Entire empires  were built by couples who barely knew each other!

Visit Jill’s page


untitled (36)Our Valentine’s celebration is just beginning at Love Historicals. We’re having a blog hop and $100 gift card giveaway tomorrow, so make sure to come back, or subscribe to us so you never miss a thing!

Jan 28

Who Died? Notable Demises in History


By GO69 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons

This may seem like a bleak topic. You can blame it on Charlemagne. The anniversary of his death is today, January 28th, and that got me thinking about how the deaths of some people change history, and that got me thinking about all the Love Historicals authors who know their time periods so well, and the many interesting facts they have in their back pockets.

So why not ask them? Who died in your time period and what is interesting about them? I’ve decided to present their answers in reverse chronological order: most recent first.





1877 – Crazy Horse – author Nancy Morse

There will always be debate about the Lakota warrior, Crazy Horse. What impact did he have on the outcome of the Battle of the Little Bighorn? Why was he such a private person? One thing, however, cannot be debated—his leadership. He was not the biggest or strongest of the Lakota fighting men, but what he lacked in size and strength he made up for in courage. He led by example, by being the first to meet any challenge. As one of his close Lakota friends said of him, “When he came on the field of battle, he made everybody brave.”

Yet he was a humble man who wore plain clothing and sacrificed his own ego and reputation for the sake of his people. He was a good husband, a loyal son and brother, and a loving father. In many ways he was like other Lakota men of his time. But it was his fierce defense of his people during a tumultuous time that made this unrelenting warrior unlike other men. He was driven by loyalty, anger and patriotism, qualities that made him a threat to his white enemies and led to his killing by bayonet at Fort Robinson in 1877. No known photograph of Crazy Horse exists, and his burial place is unknown. Perhaps his remains are buried among the clay buttes along the White River, or at Wounded Knee, or in the Pine Ridge hills. Wherever his bones lie, his spirit lives on in the best place for him to be—the hearts and minds of the Lakota people.

Visit Nancy Morse’s page


1868 – Jess Chisholm – Cynthia Woolf

Jesse Chisholm’s father was Scottish and his mother, Cherokee. He was an interpreter and aided in several treaties made between the Republic of Texas, the US government and the local Indian tribes. He was also in the Indian trade, where he traded manufactured goods for animal pelts and cattle.

During the Civil War he remained neutral. Fearing they would be massacred as an accident of the war, he led a band of refugees to the western part of the territory. The Indian trade dried up during the war and he moved to what is now Wichita so he could continue the trade.

During this time he built up what had been an old trail used mainly by the military and the Indians into a road capable of carrying heavily loaded wagons full of his goods for sale to the Indians. The road became known as Chisholm’s Trail. Later the folks who used it for the Texas to Kansas cattle drives renamed it The Chisholm Trail.

In 1868 he died and is buried at his last camp near Left Hand Spring, a well known watering hole in present day Oklahoma.

Visit Cynthia Woolf’s page



By Edward Hodges Baily (1788-1867) (Own work, Yair Haklai on 21 August 2009) [CC BY-SA 3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons

By Edward Hodges Baily (1788-1867) (Own work, Yair Haklai on 21 August 2009) [CC BY-SA 3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons

1861 – Prince Albert – author Lana Williams

Prince Albert, husband to Queen Victoria of England, died of typhoid fever in November of 1861. He was a well-educated man, of a serious nature and extremely hard working. Victoria was said to be instantly attracted to him during his visit to England in October of 1839. They were married in February of 1840. The couple was said to have a rather amorous love life, which is a bit shocking, considering how conservative Victorians were in general.

Prince Albert was said to be a devoted father with the exception of his oldest son, Albert Edward. A combination of worries about his son and a tendency to work far too much took a toll on his health, and he contracted typhoid fever.

The queen, only 42 when her husband died, did not take his death well and forever changed mourning by spending the rest of her days focused on her deceased husband. She ordered his rooms to be maintained to look exactly like they did when he was alive. The servants laid out his clothes every night on his bed and were also required to bring hot water to his dressing room for his morning shave, just as they did when he was alive.

Victoria wore black for the rest of her life. She stayed at Windsor Castle much of that time in seclusion, avoiding public appearances as much as possible, and became known as the ‘Widow of Windsor’.

Visit Lana Williams’s page



1087 – William the Conqueror – author Anna Markland

William, Duke of Normandy is one of the most important historical figures who ever lived. His impact on history cannot be understated. He changed the course of Britain’s destiny, and hence the world’s.

Yet he was born a bastard, inheriting his father’s dukedom at the age of seven. He was luck to survive the many plots against him, and eventually became king of England. Unfortunately, this noble figure died an ignoble death. During a military campaign in 1087 he fell forward heavily against the pommel of his saddle. Internal damage led to his death in agony at the age of 59.

His burial can only be called comical, although it’s doubtful those in attendance thought so. William’s wish was to be buried in the Abbey he had built in Caen. A citizen came forward to say his family had never been compensated for the land and objected to the burial. This was proven true and the man was paid. However, the worst was yet to come. William had become very obese. The tomb in which he was to be laid to rest was too small. During the efforts to shove his bloated body into it, his bowels burst and the stench was overwhelming.

A sad ending for a mighty man.

Visit Anna Markland’s page


Charlemagne-Albrecht_Dürer_047814 – Charlemagne – author Jill Hughey

Charlemagne died on January 28, 814, after four years of declining health. Born to rule the Franks, he’d been sole king since 771 when his younger brother died, and amassed such an impressive empire that in 800 the Pope named him Holy Roman Emperor. Charlemagne crowned his son Louis as a co-emporer in 813. After Charlemagne’s death, the Carolingian laws for equal inheritance — along with the squabbling of Louis’s four sons — essentially doomed the vast empire. However, the eventual division of the empire into what we loosely know as France, Italy, and Germany; the wisdom of Charlemagne’s policies to unify divergent people, establish a common monetary policy, and support education; and the spread of the Church, laid the foundation for the Europe we know today. That is quite a legacy.

Visit Jill Hughey’s page

Your turn! What person’s death changed the course of history, and when did he or she die?

Next month, I’m going to ask the authors to describe how romantic interest could be appropriately expressed in the historical time of their books; i.e., the rules of courtship.


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