Monday, 27 June 2011

Grace Elliot: Why the Regency is romantic - Satins and silks

Hello, and thank you to Lindsay for welcoming me to the HFE blog!

Recently I asked myself what it was that made me, a professional working woman, go all gooey at the thought of the Regency. I came up with several answers but today I’m going to share my thoughts about regency dress sense.

As a modern woman I take equality for granted, but the girly side of cant resist the allure of the silk gowns and gorgeous fashions of the Regency period.

“Mrs Powlett was at once expensively and nakedly dress’d.”

Jane Austen in a letter to her sister.

How much more sensual can you get than wearing a fabulous silk chemise next to the skin? And how daring were drawers with no gusset (even if this was for the decidedly unromantic purpose of making chamber pot use easier.) Not to mention stockings held up by silk ribbons - ripe for an experienced male hand to slip undone.

But I’m getting ahead of myself – let’s start with that essential Georgian and Regency article the hat. Even this item is romantic – a wide brimmed bonnet shaded the face, preserving that perfect ivory complexion, whilst the addition of a veil spoke of mystery and hidden identity. And then there was what you headwear revealed about you. A woman wishing to be taken seriously might wear a lace cap, ribbon trimmed bonnets spoke of innocence and ostrich plumes or turbans proved you a regency fashionista.

And then the gowns!

Gowns for every occasion and time: morning, walking, riding, evening and ball gowns. And the gorgeous fabrics: whisper thin muslin, clinging lawns, semi-transparent cottons, whispering silks and luxurious satins. Each gown high waisted with a tiny bodice, the wearer’s stays cunning thrusting the bosom upward so make a maiden seem a siren.

And then the act of getting dressed…or undressed!

Designed to make the wearer helpless with lacings and rows of tiny buttons down the back, again the scope for seductively undressing the heroine is mouthwatering, and the equally evocative risk of being caught half dressed just as tantalizing.

What do you think? Would you like to live in the regency or are you happy to savor it from a comfortable distance? Do share you thoughts in the comments below.

EXCERPT – A Dead Man’s Debt.

Easing kid leather slippers from aching feet, she rolled down her stockings, the air cool against her bare skin. Stretching her toes Celeste hoped that from sheer fatigue, if no other reason, she might sleep well for the first time in a month.

A cursory tap and, without waiting for a reply, the door opened.

“Evenin’ Miss.” Amy bustled in with a lighted candlestick, the faint aroma of boiled cabbage clinging to her skirts. “I thought as yer’d be needing this- sitting in the gloom an’ all.” Protecting the flickering flame with a cupped hand, she placed the candle on the dresser, the licking flame deepening the shadows.

“Thank you.”

“There’s a chill in the air Miss. Would yer like a fire set?”

“No need. I intend to retire directly.” With a humph Celeste struggled to reach the row of tiny pearl buttons at her back. “But please help me off with this gown. Honestly! Why fashion dictates such impractical garments is quite beyond me.” Only in her heart Celeste knew that women of her station were destined to be helpless.

“But if yer had yer way Miss, us lady’s maids would be out of a job.”

“I hadn’t thought of it like that.”

Amy’s fingers worked nimbly down the delicate fastening until the silk sheath slackened and whispered to the floor. Celeste braced against the bedstead as Amy tugged at stay laces until the knots gave way and Celeste filled her lungs for the first time all day. How she ached to sink between cool linen sheets, her eyelids pleasantly heavy, closing under their own weight. In a chemise Celeste stretched and arched her back, shaking away stiffness.

“Shall I brush yer hair Miss?”


With a sleepy nod Celeste settled at the dressing table. The weight of the chignon pulled at her scalp and it was sheer bliss as Amy deftly plucked out the pins, releasing the thick chestnut curls to tumble down about her shoulders…

[A Dead Man’s Debt is available from most eBook retailers including Amazon, Fictionwise and Smashwords.]

Amazon UK:

Amazon US:

Solstice Publishing:



Author Bio.

Grace Elliot leads a double life as a veterinarian by day and author of historical romance by night. Grace lives near London and is addicted to cats, acting as housekeeping staff to five mischievous moggies.

Grace believes intelligent people need romantic fiction in their lives as an antidote to the modern world and as an avid reader of historicals she turned to writing as a release from the emotionally draining side of veterinary work. Her debut novel ‘A Dead Man’s Debt’ is now available from most eBook stores including Amazon, price $2.99.

To find out more visit

Monday, 20 June 2011

PUMPKINNAPPER, Regency comedy, 2011 EPIC Contest Finalist

Pumpkin thieves, a youthful love rekindled and a jealous goose. Oh my!

Last night someone tried to steal the widowed Mrs. Emily Metcalfe's pumpkins. She's certain the culprit is her old childhood nemesis and the secret love of her youth, Henry, nicknamed Hank, whom she hasn't seen in ten years.

Henry, Baron Grey, who's never forgotten the girl he loved but couldn't pursue so long ago, decides to catch Emily's would-be thief. Even after she reveals his childhood nickname--the one he would rather forget. And even after her jealous pet goose bites him in an embarrassing place.

Oh, the things a man does for love.

"Emily, even with Henry, formidable as he is--" Hank glared at the goose. The goose glared back "--you need protection. I will send over some footmen to guard the place."

"No. Turnip Cottage belongs to Charlotte's husband. What will the townspeople think, with Lord Grey's servants about my house?"

Her refusal increased his fury. The sight of her hand on that damned goose's head didn't improve his mood, either. He balled his fists as his patience thinned and something else thickened. "I'll find you a guard dog. You must have some protection out here all alone."

"But I have Henry." She patted the goose's head and the bird snuggled into her hand. Again.

Heat flooded Hank, part desire for Emily's touch, and part desire to murder that damned goose, who was where he wanted to be. His insides groaned. "Very well, then, you leave me no choice. I will help you catch the culprits."


He changed his voice to the voice that either melted a woman or earned him a slap in the face. "Who knows, mayhap we would enjoy ourselves as I lie in wait with you." I would love to lie with you.

Her eyes widened. Had she understood the innuendo?

"I cannot stay alone with you, and you know it," she said, her voice severe.

"You are a widow in your own home and no one will see. I will make sure of it."

"No." She marched back into her cottage and slammed the door. Henry smirked and waddled away.

Hank grinned. He would be back, whether she liked it or not.

Buy links:
The Wild Rose Press:

All Romance Ebooks:

Barnes and Noble:

New! Now on Amazon:

Author Bio:

Welcome to My World of Historical Hilarity!

I'm Linda Banche, and I write witty, sweet/sensual Regency romances with nary a rake or royal in sight. Most contain humor, some fantasy, and occasionally a little paranormal. But comedy is my love, and I've created my own wacky blend of humor and Regency with stories that can elicit reactions from a gentle smile to a belly laugh.

Like many other romance authors, I read romances for years before I wrote my own. Once I tried, I quickly discovered how difficult writing is. Did I stop? No, I'm persistent--that's French for "too stupid to quit".

I live in New England and like aerobics and ducks.

So, laugh along with me on a voyage back to the Regency era. Me and my ducks. Quack.

I have four Regency novellas, all from The Wild Rose Press. LADY OF THE STARS (time travel, finalist in Science Fiction Romance in the 2010 EPIC eBook Contest), PUMPKINNAPPER (finalist in the 2011 EPIC Contest in the Historical Romance category. I'm two for two now. I've entered the EPIC contest twice, and I've finaled twice.), MISTLETOE EVERYWHERE, and my latest, GIFTS GONE ASTRAY (available June 29, 2011).

Thank you all,
Linda Banche
Welcome to My World of Historical Hilarity!

Monday, 13 June 2011

A New Historical Mystery: A Rose Before Dying

A Rose Before Dying has just been released and is available for $2.99 on the Kindle and Nook!

Only Sir Edward had the motive, the opportunity, and a garden full of the identical roses sent to each victim before their death.
The first victim was Sir Edward’s ex-mistress, a woman who threw him over for a younger man. After receiving a mysterious rose, she dies while alone with Sir Edward. Then a second rose is delivered and a deadly game commences, where roses are the only clues to save the next victim.
However, Charles Vance, Earl of Castlemoor, refuses to believe his uncle, Sir Edward, could commit the murders, even when the renowned head of the Second Sons Inquiry Agency warns him there may be some truth behind the rumors. The roses are Sir Edward’s attempt to cast suspicion elsewhere. Misdirection. Or so the whispers say.
Convinced he can prove his uncle’s innocence, Vance enlists the aide of notable rosarian, Ariadne Wellfleet, little realizing his actions will involve the Wellfleet household in the killer’s game.
Before the week is out, another rose is delivered.
And someone else is missing.
A Rose Before Dying is a witty, fast-paced historical whodunit in the tradition of Bruce Alexander’s Blind Justice and Victoria Holt’s The Mistress of Mellyn. This addition to the Second Sons mystery series includes an unwilling detective who refuses to let his earldom stand in the way of catching an elusive killer. It will keep you guessing until the unexpected end.

Charles stared at his uncle in disbelief. Sir Edward’s closest friend—mistress according to some accounts—dead? She was only thirty, barely three years older than Charles. No wonder his uncle’s valet was frantic with worry. “How—what happened?”

“Murdered, God’s teeth! And the bastard sent those bloody flowers—taunting me…” He choked again and stared down at his trembling hands, clenched over the brass knob of his walking stick. Bowing his head, he rhythmically tapped the cane against the floor with a soft, controlled beat that was, in its way, far more frightening than his previous flailing. The sound carried such a deep sense of grief that Charles glanced away.

“I’m sorry,” he said at last through a tight throat. His gaze shifted from his uncle’s bowed head to the spray of flowers. He’d never known Lady Banks, but anger filled him as he watched his uncle wrestle with the pain. How could anyone murder a woman? It was unthinkable. “What did the note say?”

Mr. Gaunt handed him a calling card. There was no name engraved on it. However, the small white square displayed an arrogant scrawl of thick black script reading, “Roses die quickly when cut.”

“That was the first one,” Mr. Gaunt said.

“The first?” Charles glanced up from the card.

“Some bloody-minded bastard sent it to her Sunday morning. Along with a cluster of those damn yellow flowers,” Sir Edward interrupted in a harsh voice. His face crumpled. Raising a shaking hand, he covered his eyes as if the pressure of his palm could hold back the anguished tears. “She thought…thought I sent them to her, for God’s sake. She laughed when I tried to tell her otherwise.”

Charles rose to stand behind his uncle’s chair and grip his trembling shoulder. As Sir Edward fought for control, Charles caught Mr. Gaunt’s dark, sympathetic gaze. “What happened?”

“Shot. The local constable thought it was an accident. Some poacher hoping to bag a rabbit for Sunday supper. At first. But…” Sir Edward’s voice drifted away, strangled by grief.

“But there was the note.” Charles studied the note. A small, useless bit of paper filled with deep, threatening taunts. “And undoubtedly, the servants heard Lady Banks tease you about sending her the flowers. So they assumed you sent them.”

Gaunt held up another small card between his long fingers. “And not just the one. A second note was delivered with another spray of these same yellow flowers.” His mouth tightened briefly. “Clearly intended to mock Sir Edward—or whoever read it.” He read the second card aloud. “The rose speaks for the doomed.”

“The rose?” Charles repeated. His gaze alighted on the spray of one-inch flowers shaped like yellow pom-poms. “That’s a rose?”

“Yes.” A brief smile glimmered over Gaunt’s face. “Your knowledge of horticulture is on par with mine, my lord. However—”

“She grew them because of the name.” Sir Edward interrupted. “That‘s the ‘Lady Banks’ rose.”

“Then he has left us a clue,” Charles said with a tight smile. “He knows at least a modicum about roses. And he’s literate enough to compose those notes. Or well-heeled enough to pay someone to write for him.”

“Reasonable assumptions.” Gaunt’s eyes glittered with an intelligence that lightened the grimness of his expression. “You’re more adept at this than many inquiry agents, my lord.”

I hope you enjoyed this sampling. For a look at the full, first chapter, check out: First Chapter
Amy Corwin

Monday, 6 June 2011

Peter Alan Orchard: short story - 'Starlight'

My short story Starlight takes place in Anglo-Saxon England at the time of the Viking raids of the later ninth century AD. I had already created Ulf, my main character, in a very short, lightish piece called Safe-Keeping (now one of the stories in my collection Voices from the Past) and touched in a backstory for him. It seemed reasonable to explore the backstory in a bit more depth, hence Starlight, which starts immediately after a raid on Ulf's village, with Ulf lying seriously injured under the stars.

Here's an excerpt from a little after the start:

When he woke, dazed, he was lying on a trestle. Roof-timbers stretched above him and smoke from a log fire idled out through the doorway. Somewhere a woman's voice muttered.

Ulf sniffed the air. 'Flowers?'

'Bonewort.' The voice belonged to Harald, herbalist and leech, from the next village. 'On your legs. Bonewort, elm and eggs. I've splinted them both, but don't try to move them. We had to give you poppy to carry you here, if only to stop you babbling.'

Harald's angular face appeared, grinning, between Ulf's face and the roof. There was a lump on his forehead.

'You too, eh? Did we see them off?'

'We did. There weren't many and there's not enough to attract them back here. Bigger pickings in bigger places.' Harald patted Ulf carefully on his bruised arm. 'You're a tough one, lying out there all night, but it's lucky we found you. You must have chased the Dane hard to be three fields away.'

'Oh yes, I chased him. He was in my house with two others and I could only chase one. I had a knife in my belt and cut him once or twice, but he had a sword and beat me down. He broke my legs with a branch from the wood then, and ran. He was laughing at me. I saw Hroswitha later, crossing the field, but she was dead.'

Ulf's chest heaved, fighting against tears in front of the leech. 'She was a lovely woman, like a little primrose…..' He tried to sit up, but Harald pressed him down. 'The children?'

'The children are safe. Oswy has them with him. Winfrith has been here all night, since we found you.'

'Then this is my sister's house. Of course. Last time I was here, there was a ham hanging up there.'

'The Danes took it.' Winfrith was standing beside him, her innocent, round face pink with indignation. 'I hope it chokes them.'

Starlight is around 3500 words and you can download it from Smashwords for $0.99c, where you can also find Voices from the Past. For more information on my writing, please drop in at my website: or follow my ramblings on Twitter.