Nov 29

Forcemeat: Christmas Recipe with an Odd Name

Does “forcemeat” sound appealing? If someone says you’re dining on forcemeat this Christmas, you may think you heard “horsemeat,” which is definitely a turn-off.forcemeat tomato on a plate

The word first came into usage around 1680 (at least that we have record of). I have prepared it nearly that long…. Wait, no, I’m not that old!

I found the recipe for forcemeat-stuffed tomatoes in a Moosewood cookbook. Moosewood is a famous vegetarian restaurant in Ithaca, NY, and so my recipe is without meat. I mistakenly thought that “forcemeat” came from “faux” meat as in “there is no meat here.” I knew the recipe came from a time when the majority of the populace in Great Britain had little access to a plentiful meat supply. So it made sense to me, and it became part of the story of this recipe.

However, after a little research, I found that forcemeat can indeed contain meat, finely chopped, and that the term “force” is a variant of “farce,” an old word for stuffing. Each Christmas, I’ve stuffed this fragrant concoction into both tomatoes and green peppers, using the beauty of their Christmas colors to visually enhance the dish.

This year, I made it for Thanksgiving using only tomatoes in order to convert a couple of naysayers who couldn’t believe it would taste good, not with the pairing of such ingredients as raisins and parsley. But it is delicious! And now they believe me. One guest said that it had a hint of the Moroccan about it.

Try this easy recipe for something a little different–a little medieval–and I truly hope you enjoy it this holiday season.

Forcemeat-Stuffed Tomatoes

(I strongly suggest using fresh, not dried, herbs. You can substitute a quicker-cooking rice, such as flavorful basmati or jasmine, for the brown rice.)

forcemeat-stuffed tomato6 large ripe fresh tomatoes

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1/4 cup butter

6 ounces finely chopped mushrooms

5 leaves fresh sage, minced (or 1/2 tspn dried)

1/4 tspn minced fresh rosemary (or pinch of dried)

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 cup cooked brown rice

1/4 cup raisins

1/2 tspn sweet Hungarian paprika

bread crumbs

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Slice the tops off the tomatoes and scoop out the pulp. Chop the pulp and set aside.

Saute the onions in the butter for 2 or 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and saute a minute more. Stir in the tomato pulp, sage, rosemary, parsley, and salt and pepper. Cook on low heat for 5 minutes.

Add the rice, raisins, and paprika. Cook for a few more minutes, remove from the heat and let cool for a few minutes.

Stuff the tomatoes and mound and extra filling on top. Place in a buttered casserole dish and sprinkle the tops with bread crumbs. Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes.

Aug 11

Awesome Sale on Boxed Set

Defiant Hearts by Sydney Jane BailyHello everyone. I want to wish you a wonderful summer though it is a rather terrible day here in New England. Rain, rain, and more rain. And my PC just got shutdown by a split second power outage.

So I’m taking a break from working on a medieval with fellow romance writer and best bud since college, Marliss Melton, to spread the word of a great sale.

My Defiant Hearts series boxed set featuring the Prequel, Book 1, and Book 2 is on sale for a limited time for only $0.99! That’s a $5 savings. What is my publisher thinking? No, I’m kidding!

I hope anyone who enjoys the Victorian period set in America with a dash of the Western thrown in will pick up a copy of this set while it is such a fabulous bargain.

Here’s hoping for a sunnier day tomorrow!

Best wishes,

Sydney Jane Baily

Jul 01

Independent or Patriotic Characters #CanadaDay #July4th

Fireworks in Montreal By Michael Vesia (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

July 1 is Canada Day, when the citizens of that diverse and large country celebrate its formation from three separate colonies in 1867. Their neighbor, America, approaches July 4th, known as Independence Day, the date a group of revolutionaries formally stated the intention to become independent from British rule.

Love Historicals has authors from both these proud nations, and today three of us will share excerpts featuring our most independent, or independence-seeking, characters.


Defiant Passion By Anna Markland

Defiant Passion By Anna Markland

Anna Markland shares an excerpt featuring a Welsh patriot worried about his people as they face the the Norman Conquest.

In the autumn of 1066, the Welsh were fighting against encroachment on their lands by the Anglo-Saxons. Little did they know what lay ahead when the Normans replaced the Saxons as the rulers of England and William the Conqueror turned his attention to Wales.

In this excerpt from Defiant Passion we meet Rhodri, a Welsh rebel chieftain, in his mountain hideaway, on the eve of the Norman Conquest.

The nightmare came again. The keening lament of the dispossessed. Gaunt faces of hunger and desperation. Rhodri sat up abruptly, drenched in sweat. He held his breath and listened. The wind moaned through the timbers in its relentless descent from the surrounding crags. The sounds of men deep in slumber filled the air. They slept the sleep of the dead after long backbreaking hours spent erecting this impregnable fortification in the mountains of Wales. It had been no easy task, but they needed a secure, hidden base for their attacks on the arrogant English. Cadair Berwyn was the perfect location, tucked away where no one could find it.

Here they could speak their native language that was part of the identity they had fought to protect for hundreds of years. Here they could be the children of Cymru.

Dawn would break soon, bringing another day of challenges as the champion of an oppressed people.

He was reluctant to rise, a foreboding hanging over him they would receive bad tidings. His premonitions were not often wrong.

Messages had come two days before with news that the newly crowned king of the English Saxons, Harold Godwinson, was on his way back to the south with his army. Informants had told Rhodri that William of Normandie waited with a fleet to invade England, intent on seizing the throne he claimed his cousin, Edward the Confessor, had promised to him. The wind had only to change.

From what Rhodri knew of William, Duke of the Normans, his strength lay in his mounted knights. He had a reputation as a brutal man who brooked no opposition. Heaven help Cymru if the Normans were victorious! But how could the Normans get their horses across the Narrow Sea? In any case, a horse was no match for a Saxon axe.

Rhodri clenched his jaw. So many greedy men. Would his people ever be left in peace to live their lives in their own country, or would they be driven further into the wild mountains?

Today, Welsh patriotism is just as strong as it was all those centuries ago, and for many the struggle for independence is ongoing.

You can find Defiant Passion at the following links.

Amazon US       Amazon UK       Kobo      iTunes



Fire Hawk by Nancy Morse

Fire Hawk by Nancy Morse

Sometimes, patriotism is in a man’s blood and he doesn’t even know it. Such a man is Nathaniel Hawke, a half-savage frontiersman raised by the Mohawk. The year is 1757. As England and France vie for control of North America, an unlikely hero emerges. Here is an excerpt from Firehawk by Nancy Morse.

“Yer countin’ too much on me,” Nathaniel complained.

Alice shook her head adamantly,refusing to yield to the doubt she detected behind his tone. “I heard about German Flats. And the boy you saved from a Huron war party. And the farmer’s daughter you rescued from Abnakis. And the party you guided through enemy territory to Fort William Henry. At the Blue Bell they talked about those stories like they were myths. I thought so, too. But I know different now. And they talked about you like you’re some kind of hero.”

“I ain’t no hero,” he said suddenly. “I’m just an ordinary man.”

“Who do you think is fighting theFrench?” she said, a challenge in her tone that matched the tilt of her chin. “Farmers and settlers and blacksmiths and coopers. Men who left their homes and families to fight for something they believe in. Would you call them heroes?”

“Damn right, they are.”

“Would you also call them ordinary men?”

He didn’t answer.

“My pack is ready. I’ll get dressed and we can go.” She began to walk back to the longhouse.


She stopped and looked back.

“I won’t let any harm come to ya as long as I draw breath.”

In that instant she saw the old Nathaniel, the brave, fearless, ordinary man she trusted with her life.

You can find Firehawk at the following links.

Amazon     Smashwords    iBooks

Barnes & Noble     Kobo     Google Play



Jill Hughey‘s choice for today’s post is her only historical romance set in America. Sass Meets Class features a feisty heroine who falls in love with the least likely suitor, an English nobleman in Arizona Territory. It is a sweet romance and a well kept secret, perfect for your July 4 reading.

“What is wrong with my English?” Alexander asked.

Susan tromped down the steps to him. He straightened, his eyes widening in surprise at her aggressiveness. “I’ll tell you what is wrong, and it isn’t only your language. I like how you talk most of the time, and not just how you call me Miss Susan like I’m a real respectable person to you, and it isn’t just your fancy words and your nice accent that rolls out of your mouth like honey out of an upset bee skep. I do like how you talk. But Alex, you should take a lesson from the crick. It didn’t come down off its mountain all clear and pretty. Dirt and sticks and leaves joined every inch of the way.”

“Your point is?”

“You can’t travel across this whole country without picking up a stick every now and then. If you don’t want to be changed a little why’d you come?” Susan did not understand her sudden anger except that she sensed something more, some greater potential, hiding behind his proper mask. She had seen that different Alex under the wagon when the Apaches were shooting at them and again in the store when he told her she could call him Alex and she had seen it tonight when he asked about Ma. The real Alex would flash out at her like a streak of lightning then be gone. His absence irritated her.

Alexander tossed his stick toward the fence. “You want me to call this here little stream Cave Crick and change my name to Alex?” he asked mockingly.

“We ain’t talking about what I want. If you want a quality English girl who doesn’t dare sit on her own blasted porch after dark why are you here talking to me?”

You can find Sass Meets Class at the following links.

Amazon    Barnes and Noble     Kobo     iTunes


Thanks for joining these Canadian and American authors to learn more about their independent characters!


Jun 26

Collette Cameron, Regency Romance Author

Collette CameronThank you so much for having me as guest on Love Historicals!

 The Highland Heather Romancing a Scot Series is a spin-off of my first series, the Castle Brides.

I enjoy creating large casts of characters in my books, and there were so many great secondary characters in the Castle Brides series, I had to give them their own books.

The series features Scottish Regencies so you’ll find at least one character with a connection to Scotland. (I really just wanted to use the accent and  hoped to be able to catch a Highlander or two in kilts!)

Tell us about your newest release, Virtue and Valor. What inspired the story?

Both Isobel and Yancy are introduced in my first book, Highlander’s Hope, and I knew I wanted them to have their own stories.

It wasn’t until I was writing Triumph and Treasure, though, that I realized they were fated for each other. Naturally, I had to throw in a handful—all right, maybe more than a handful—of conflict.

In the earlier books, I had presented an outward  facade of what most people thought Isobel was like. In Virtue and Valor, I expose the real wperf5.000x8.000.inddoman.

Why Regency romance?

I adore the Regency time period . . . Well, all historical time periods, actually.

The Regency Era was a tumultuous time of transition and juxtapositions. For instance, it was wholly inappropriate for an unrelated man and woman to be alone together or for couples to touch bare skin, unless married.

However, nearly half of the brides wed during that period were expecting. Rather hard to do if you’re not alone and don’t touch skin.

The lexicon, customs, fashions, all things Regency I find fascinating, though I do tend to throw in a few non-traditional Regency elements just to keep things a bit different.

What is your writing routine? (Do you write every day, with music, with special surroundings, etc.)

I do something writing-related every day, though it may not be actually working on my WIP.  For instance, today I spend the entire day preparing posts for my blog, writing posts for blogs hosting me, preparing for Virtue and Valor’s 01eccbe953780ad8956ed0.L._SX750_SY470_release,  and a myriad of other things that need my attention as an author.

I get up by 5:30 am every day, do 1-2 hours’ worth of chores, exercise and/or go for a long walk before checking emails and social media. I used to check emails first but found that once I parked my hiney in front of the computer, I didn’t leave.

However, as the hiney grew rather dramatically from the habit, I now make sure I get my exercise in first.

What projects are you working on now and what can we look forward to next?

I’m finishing up Heartbreak and Honor, the third book in the six-book series, then I have three novellas to write for group projects before I dive into Schemes Gone Amiss, book 2 in the Conundrum of the Misses Culpepper Series.

I also promised a young man I’d start a young adult series this summer. I’m hoping I can get the first book started at least!

Sleep is optional this summer!

Bestselling, award-winning author, Collette Cameron, has a Bachelor of Science in Liberal Studies and a Master’s in Teaching. Author of the Castle Brides Series, Highland Heather Romancing a Scot Series, and Conundrums of the Misses Culpepper Series, Collette writes Regency and Scottish historicals and makes her home in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and five mini-dachshunds. Mother to three and a self-proclaimed Cadbury Chocolate chocoholic, Collette loves a good joke, inspirational quotes, flowers, trivia, and all things shabby chic or cobalt blue. You’ll always find dogs, birds, quirky—sometimes naughty—humor, and a dash of inspiration in her novels.

Her motto for life? You can’t have too much chocolate, too many hugs, too many flowers, or too many books. She’s thinking about adding shoes to that list. 

Website    Facebook    Twitter    Goodreads    Newsletter

 Blue Rose Romance Blog       Amazon Author Page


Virtue and Valor

Book One in the Highlander Heather Romancing a Scot Series, Book 2

Bartholomew Yancy never expected to inherit an English earldom and had no intention of marrying. Now, the Earl of Ramsbury and last in his line, he’s obligated to resign his position as England’s War Secretary, find a wife, and produce an heir. Only one woman holds the least appeal: Isobel Ferguson, an exquisite Scotswoman. Brought to Scotland to mediate between feuding clans, he doggedly woos her.

Disillusioned with men pursuing her for her attractiveness, rather than her unusual intellect, Isobel has all but abandoned any hope of finding a husband in the Highlands. Not only does she believe Yancy no different than her other suitors, he’s a notorious rake. She’s been told he’s practically betrothed. Therefore, his interest in her cannot possibly be honorable, and so she shuns his attentions.

When Isobel is mistakenly abducted by a band of rogue Scots, Yancy risks his life to rescues her. To salvage her compromised reputation, her brother and father insist she marry him. Yancy readily agrees, but Isobel—knowing full well she’s fated for spinsterhood by refusing his offer— won’t be coerced into marriage.

Can love unite a reluctant earl and a disenchanted beauty?

Soul Mate Publishing



“My lord?” Her tone indicated anything but respect and deference.

“I would be honored if you joined me in a game of chess, Miss Ferguson.”

Her pretty lips curled into a wide smile. “I had rather hoped you’d pick fencing. I would have enjoyed having a go at you with my sabre.”

“You fence?” A vision of her derriere in snug, white breeches sprang to mind. He really had become a lecher.

“After my parents allowed Adaira to learn, Seonaid and I insisted we have the same opportunity.” She turned and climbed the risers. The sway of her hips, even underneath the thick cloak, tantalized.

Isobel peered over her shoulder, a siren’s smile on her lips. “I suppose it’s only fair to tell you. I’ve never lost at chess.”

Confident little thing, wasn’t she?

Yancy released a hearty chuckle. He quite liked this unconventional morsel of womanliness. “Surely, when you first learned the game?”

“At seven.” Isobel shook her head and more silky strands spilled from the loose knot. She gave him a falsely honeyed smile.

“No. Not ever, my lord.”

She proceeded up the stairs, her voice floating back to him. “By the way, your lordship, if I win, I’m permitted to leave the keep without two escorts.”


Jun 19

Midsummer’s Eve and the Sun Dance

In Europe, many countries are beginning their Midsummer’s Eve and Midsummer’s Day celebrations, ancient holidays that coincide with solstice. Historical readers love to see events like these in books because they are actual events fictional people can experience on the page, and hopefully their favorite characters get to cut loose a little! Two Love Historicals authors would like to tell you about  Europe’s Midsummer’s Eve and the Sun Dance of the Plains Indians.


Where the Wild Wind Blows by Nancy Morse

Where the Wild Wind Blows by Nancy Morse

Nancy Morse starts out with information about the Sun Dance.

The annual Sun Dance was the most important religious ceremony of the Plains Indians. It was an occasion for the bands to come together to reaffirm their beliefs about the universe and the supernatural through rituals of personal and community sacrifice. Here is a passage about the Sun Dance from WHERE THE WILD WIND BLOWS.

When the days lengthened into heat and the sweet berries were ripe on the vines, all the bands came together in a ceremonial camp for the annual Sun Dance. Fire Cloud painted the sacred pole made from a cottonwood tree and decorated it with bundles of cherry sticks and tobacco offerings and a banner of reddened buffalo skin at its top. As a holy man, Claw worked with those warriors who had vows to fulfill and ordeals to endure in supplication to Wakan Tanka. Everyone was busy preparing. Only Black Moon remained uninvolved. He felt no compunction to have his breast pierced with the sharp skewers attached by long thongs to buffalo skulls. The scars that formed after a man danced for hours under the weight of the skulls were an ever-constant reminder of what some men were willing to give of themselves. Black Moon needed no such scars. He was willing to give more than mere pieces of flesh. He was willing to give up his life.

You can find out more about Nancy and her books at her Love Historicals page, and you can find WHERE THE WILD WIND BLOWS at the links below.

Amazon   Smashwords    iBooks

Barnes & Noble       Kobo     Google Play


Little Witch by Jill Hughey

Little Witch by Jill Hughey

Now I’ll share more details about Midsummer’s Eve. Originally a pagan celebration of the summer solstice, Christians tacked the birthday of John the Baptist onto it—they call it St. John’s Eve—so they’d have a legitimate reason to join in the traditional party where bonfires were lit to protect against evil spirits. As you might imagine, sometimes things believed to be evil were burned in the fires, such as witches or cats. Rituals varied across Europe, but included songs, food, leaping over the fire, fertility rituals, and visiting locations known to be powerful.

In my novella, LITTLE WITCH, a young woman suspected of being a witch is understandably frightened when a bag of cats is taken to the fire in Ribeauville during its Midsummer’s Eve celebration in the year 847.

She could not stop herself from backing away. She tried to avoid stomping on toes as she backpedalled through the crowd that, just a moment ago, had felt like a convivial group of friends. The strangers now pressed around her with the threat of a mob. A mob that burned things they thought were evil.

She cried out when a hand pressed at the small of her back to stop her retreat.

A familiar, reassuring voice spoke at her shoulder. “Salena,” Nox said calmly. “This has nothing to do with you.”

She whirled and could not stop herself from throwing her arms around his neck and burying her face in his shoulder.

“Oh,” he said, patting her awkwardly. “Salena, you are shaking.” He firmed his touch to rub her back. “I am here,” he said. “And Grant and Just,” he hurried to add. “You do not even need us because no one thinks anything bad about you here. It is a stupid old tradition that has nothing to do with you.”

She nodded against his shoulder, forcing herself to pull away even though she wanted nothing more than to stay in his protective embrace. Still, she was causing a spectacle. When she glanced sheepishly around, Therese and Just stared at her with raised eyebrows, Grant looked thunderous, and Firmina rushed forward to put a comforting arm around her shoulder, an oddly pleased grin on her face.

For more information about Jill Hughey, visit her Love Historicals page. Below are the links where you can find LITTLE WITCH.

Amazon     Barnes and Noble     Apple

Kobo     Smashwords

Thank you for visiting the Love Historicals page today.

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?

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