Wednesday, 30 May 2012


Hi everyone,
Because I write about rakes in my historical romances and my new release, THE RELUCTANT MARQUESS features a rake, I thought I’d take a look at where it all began.

A rake (short for rakehell) is a historic term for a man of immoral conduct. His wealth allowed him to live as he pleased and he shirked duty and marriage for pleasure. In 18th Century England, a rake was seen to be someone who wasted his inherited fortune on gambling, wine and women incurring vast debts. He was also known to seduce innocent young women and desert them after they fell pregnant.
In Restoration English comedy  (1660-1688) the rake was a carefree, witty, sexually irresistible aristocrat. The merry gang of courtiers, of which the 2nd Duke of Buckingham and the Earl of Dorset were a part, combined riotous living with intellectual pursuits and patronage of the arts.
After the end of Charles II rein, however, the rake took a dive into squalor. His fate was sealed in debtor's prison, venereal disease or in the case of William Hogarth's series of paintings, A Rake's Progress, insanity in Bedlam.
In 1935 a ballet was made of The Rake’s Progress
In 1945 a movie
Ivor Stravinsky wrote an opera based on Hogarth’s paintings in 1951.  

 This thoroughly unattractive rakehell has been turned into a brooding hero by authors such as the Bronte sisters, and later, Georgette Heyer and Barbara Cartland. In modern historical romances, he continues to be redeemed by a feisty heroine.  These stories have a happy ending.

While not all rakes in current romances are quite so black, they are reluctant to give up their rakish ways and settle down. Lord Robert, Marquess of St. Malin certainly fits this description and it takes a country girl, Charity Barlow to tame him.

My books featuring Georgian and Regency rakes:  

            AMAZON BUY LINK
PG Excerpt
  Cornwall, 1786
The carriage rocked as it traveled along the cliff road. Charity Barlow grabbed the window frame with one hand, and the edge of her seat with the other, to hold herself steady. Following her parents’ deaths in a carriage accident some months before, she was a little nervous at the best of times.
The coachman’s curse was followed by a crack of the whip.
This rugged coastline was foreign to her and different from anything she had ever known. Through the mist, she glimpsed the white-tipped waves of the ocean pounding the black rocks below. The colors reminded her of death, and the rhythmic boom, boom, boom filled her with the same dread she experienced when a tolling church bell signaled a village disaster.
Tamping down the fear of tumbling to her death, Charity pulled her cloak closer, and directed her thoughts to what might await her in the castle on the cliff overlooking the sea.
Unfortunately, this produced anxieties of a different sort.
Charity had not seen her godfather, the Marquess of St Malin, since she was fifteen. Now, at two and twenty years of age, she found herself entirely alone and at his mercy. She
remembered him as tall and somewhat haughty. Her father
had saved his life when he fell overboard during a boat race
on the river at Cambridge, and after that, they had become
firm friends.
Now her fate lay in the marquess’ hands, for he had said as
much to her father years ago. She was grateful for his kindness,
of course, but would have much preferred to remain snug
amid the green fields of Oxfordshire with her old governess
who was like one of the family. This was now impossible,
for her father had left very little money after making bad
investments on the ’Change.
Her childhood home had been sold to pay off debts and
Nanny sent to live with her sister in Kent.
The carriage reached a bend in the road and the solid stone
walls of the castle loomed ahead, the outline of its battlements
imposing against the darkening sky. At the sight of the massive
structure, a prickling sensation rose up her spine. She half
expected to see knights in armor riding towards her.
Lights from the braziers along the walls danced on the
waters of the moat. The coach rattled across a drawbridge and
entered the arched gatehouse in a towering stone wall. They
came to a stop in a courtyard. Moments later, the groom put
down the steps and opened the door. The sense of relief at
finding herself on solid ground was short-lived as she stepped
down onto mossy cobbles and stood, disorientated, in the
swirling sea mist.
A door was flung open, spilling candlelight into the gloom
like a welcoming hand. She hurried towards it and entered a
lofty, stone-paved hall. Heavy Tudor beams and ornate timber
paneling spoke of its origins.
A liveried footman stood waiting. “I’ll take ye to the
master. He’s in the library.”
Her heart beat unnaturally fast as Charity followed the
servant up a stone stairway and along a corridor. Candles
flickered in their sconces along the walls, lighting huge
tapestries depicting bloody battles. She tried to rake up some
clear memories of the marquess, but he’d seemed of little
interest to her back then, beyond his eccentric manner. He
had smiled with warmth upon her father, she remembered.
But that wasn’t surprising; a cultured man who quoted
Shakespeare at the drop of a hat, Father had enormous charm.
Now she was in this man’s debt. Would he be kind to her?
The footman knocked on a solid oak door. “Enter.”
She stepped with trepidation into the room and was
embraced by warmth. A fire blazed in the baronial fireplace
where a liver-spotted spaniel lifted its head to study her. After
a thump of a tail, its head sank to its paws again, lulled back
to sleep by the heat. Above the fireplace, the painting of a
hunting scene featured several dogs. Two tall china spaniels
flanked the fireplace mantel. The heavy oak beams across the
ceiling, and walls covered floor to ceiling in shelves of tomes
made the room seem snug. Charity rushed over and crouched
on the Oriental rug beside the animal, giving it a pat. The
dog’s tail thumped harder. “You’re a nice fellow, aren’t you?”
Her stiff cold muscles loosened, and the icy pit at the base of
her stomach began to thaw. Maybe she could be happy here.
She loved dogs.
“Welcome to Castle St Malin.”
A man rose from behind a massive mahogany desk strewn
with papers in the corner of the room. He crossed the room
to greet her. He was not her godfather. She caught her breath.
He was tall, his dark hair drawn back in a queue, and there
was something of the marquess’ haughty demeanor about
his handsome face, but she doubted he’d yet reached thirty.

You might like to read my free Regency story: Caroline and the Captain on my website.
My Spies of Mayfair Series begins with A BARON IN HER BED on September 6th.
Any information about my books can be found at: MAGGI ANDERSEN'S WEBSITE

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Men in Kilts

What is it about men in kilts that fascinates romance readers so?  I’m not sure, but I have to confess I’m one of the fans of this genre.  I’ve loved romance stories set in Scotland since I first discovered there was such a thing, and I was therefore really keen to write a novel set in the Highlands myself.  Imagine my chagrin then, when I found that my hero couldn’t wear a kilt at all!

My story, Highland Storms, is set in 1754, eight years after the battle of Culloden, which as we all know, the Jacobites lost.  As a consequence of the failed rebellion, the victorious English tried to virtually eradicate all Highland culture and this included their clothing.  The New Disarming Act of 12th August 1746 banned them from wearing any type of Highland dress (as well as possessing weapons) and this meant no tartan/plaids of any kind and no kilts.  This didn’t stop me doing some research into Highland dress, however, and I was surprised to find that what we now refer to as kilts are very different to what most of the men wore before the Jacobite uprising.  I thought I’d share some of my findings with you.

The kilts in those days were not the tiny versions we have now, although something similar did exist – they were called feileadh beag (little wrap or Philabeg in English).  However, most Highlanders wore the old type of kilt, usually called a “great wrap”, “tartan wrap” or “belted plaid” back then.  They were a much larger and rougher version and wouldn’t have looked as neat and tidy as the ready-made ones available to us.

A plaid by itself could be just a length of woollen fabric worn over the body like a mantle, but a “belted plaid” was different.  It was made of a piece of material from about three to five yards long and two loom breadths wide, which equals around 50 inches.  This was set in folds and fastened around the waist to make a sort of skirt that reached half way down the thigh.  The rest was brought over the shoulders and fastened at the front, below the neck, usually with a bodkin, pin or sharp piece of stick.  It could also be brought up over the head to protect the wearer during bad weather.  It was a wonderful outfit for any soldier (especially the guerilla type, sleeping rough in the mountains) or anyone else travelling through the Highlands, as it served as bedding by night and clothes in the day time.

Made of wool, it must have smelled pretty bad (as did a lot of things in those days!) – the Englishman Edmund Burt, who lived in the Highlands for a while during the early 18th century, reported to a friend that “… one thing I should have told you [which] was intolerable … the number of Highlanders that attended at table, whose feet and linen, or woolen, I don’t know which, were more than a match for the odour of the dishes.  Of course, if you make wool wet, it smells more than usual (anyone who has a dog will know what I mean).  However, wetting it also has a benefit in that the moisture makes the wool thicker and thereby keeps you warmer.  In contact with body heat, it makes a sort of steam, which meant Highlanders could even sleep in snow if they had to and still stay fairly warm.  And Highlanders, from what I understand, were used to being wet – it didn’t bother them.

These plaids or tartans could be of many colors, but for warfare the Highlanders seem to have favored plainer ones, mostly brown.  That way, they were camouflaged when they lay down in the heather and this apparently annoyed the English no end!  In fact, the belted plaid was the garment the English objected to the most because they said it was ‘… calculated for the encouragement of an idle life in lying about upon the heather in the daytime instead of following some lawful employment … [it] serves to cover them in the night when they lie in wait among the mountains to commit robberies, composed of such colours as ... nearly resemble the heath on which they lie so you don’t see them until you’re very close, [and it] renders them ready at a moment’s notice to join in any rebellion’. Well, it seems very sensible to me so why wouldn’t they have worn it?

Natural dyes, like those made from nettles, lichen, leaves, heather and roots etc, were used for the wool.  Only rich people imported dye like red or blue and it’s amazing the range of colors you can get by just using what nature provides.  One of my aunts has experimented with colors made of different types of moss, for example, and although they are muted, they’re still very pretty.

The belted plaid was most convenient for those travelling in the mountains, as wearing breeches would not have given them the same freedom of movement.  And apparently they really didn’t wear anything underneath their belted plaid except a shirt - Mr Burt also reports to his friend that an Englishwoman he knew had been offended by the sight before her when a Highland guide climbed a hill ahead of her!

The “little wrap” evolved when the men needed a less cumbersome garment.  It consisted of only one width of material, pleated and belted round the waist, without the extra bit that was flung over the shoulders.  This was preferable for certain occupations where the large belted plaid would just have been in the way.

Women didn’t wear belted plaids, of course, but they did have a very similar garment – the arisaid.  This was more like a blanket or mantle used to keep them warm and dry in cold or wet weather.  They put it on by pleating about two thirds of it round the waist and fixing it in place with a belt, leaving a gap at the front. The left-over piece, you pulled up behind you and round the shoulders, fastening it with a crude pin.  Just like the belted plaid, it could be pulled up over the head.  The arisaids were often chequered before the Jacobite uprising, but afterwards, when they were still allowed, they were mostly plain, sometimes with a stripe at the edge.  They sound very useful, especially in a place like the Highlands which is so often wet and cold!

Highland Storms blurb:-

Who can you trust?

Betrayed by his brother and his childhood love, Brice Kinross needs a fresh start. So he welcomes the opportunity to leave Sweden for the Scottish Highlands to take over the family estate.

But there’s trouble afoot at Rosyth in 1754 and Brice finds himself unwelcome. The estate is in ruin and money is disappearing.  He discovers an ally in Marsaili Buchanan, the beautiful redheaded housekeeper, but can he trust her?

Marsaili is determined to build a good life. She works hard at being housekeeper and harder still at avoiding men who want to take advantage of her.  But she’s irresistibly drawn to the new clan chief, even though he’s made it plain he doesn’t want to be shackled to anyone.

And the young laird has more than romance on his mind. His investigations are stirring up an enemy.  Someone who will stop at nothing to get what he wants – including Marsaili – even if that means destroying Brice’s life forever …

Highland Storms - Winner of Romantic Novelists' Association's RoNA award for Best Historical Romantic Novel 2012 
 ISBN: 978-1-906931-71-1, published by Choc Lit, available from

(Quote from “Burt’s Letters from the North of Scotland”, ISBN 978-1-874744-90-0)

Friday, 18 May 2012

Love Hate Poetry: Interview with Harry

Love Hate Poetry: Interview with Harry: Hey hey everyone! Thursday morning and I cannot wait till tomorrow! It's Friday! yahooo....yeah I know I'm weird. Anyways today's author int...

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Grace Elliot: 'Eulogy's Secret'


Buy at:

In the four weeks since her guardians’ death, Eulogy Foster has lost everything. Penniless and alone she seeks the help of her estranged brother, Lord Lucien Devlin. But Devlin throws Eulogy out onto the streets and the mercy of a passing stranger, Jack Huntley. As Eulogy seeks the truth behind her birth, she is drawn into the world of art and artists, where her morals are challenged and all is deception. 
Jack Huntley: bitter, cynical and betrayed in love. He believes women are devious, scheming, untrustworthy creatures - and when he rescues a naïve Miss from being raped, his life is about to change forever. As his attraction to Eulogy grows, caught in a deadlock with both denying their true feelings, events take a sinister turn as someone seeks to silence Eulogy….forever.


Bright, moss-green eyes blinked back at her, as Eulogy realized he [Huntley] was waiting for her permission to stay. Her heart skipped and wondering if she’d misjudged him, cautiously, she nodded.
As the housekeeper fussed with the fire, Eulogy fought the discomfort Huntley stirred in her. His voice resonated deep in her body, and when he smiled she wanted to stare, to drink in that strong face, so masculine with its angles and planes, and yet somehow vulnerable. His presence filled her with unnamable sensations as she fixed her gaze firmly on the teapot.
They made an awkward party with Huntley gruff as a bear and Eulogy skittish as a colt. It didn’t help that she couldn’t make up her mind what to think. One moment he seemed high handed and arrogant, and the next a kind word to Mrs. Featherstone and her heart melted. Then there was the way his large hand folded round the teacup, that something so big could be so gentle did strange things to her insides.
Gilbert jumped onto his lap.
“No, Gibbe, get down this instant.” Eulogy leapt to her feet, trying to shoo the cat from a comfortable perch on Huntley’s long thighs and his immaculate buckskin breeches. But Huntley just smiled, ignoring the cat’s sooty feet, and started stroking the stripy ginger coat causing Gilbert to erupt into purrs.
“He really should get down. He’ll ruin your breeches.”
“It’s quite all right. Really.”
As if to emphasize the point, Gilbert bunted against Huntley’s hand as he found the sweet spot below the tom-cat’s ear.
“Oh. He obviously likes you.”
Eulogy sank back, nonplussed by this man who was overbearing, arrogant, domineering and yet strikingly handsome and utterly charming when he wished. That Huntley tolerated the old tom cat was unmistakably attractive and set Eulogy wondering if his bluster was just that…an act. His hooded eyes lifted to meet her gaze, and a moment of understanding passed between them that shook Eulogy to the core. 

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

How not to wake your man early in the morning...

Peering around the door, Frances noted two large windows and followed the sunshine to a tray, bearing the gnawed remnants of a cube of cheese and a heel of a crusty loaf, balanced precariously half on and half off the ottoman at the end of the bed. An old rocking chair stood in the corner between the two windows.

Frances pushed the door wider, stepped forward, and gazed at the bed.

The Marquess lay flat on his back, one wrist across his brow, the other hung over the edge of the bed as if reaching toward the fallen wine bottle on the floor. He had kicked off his boots and abandoned them where they fell. It looked as if he had struggled to remove his shirt and fallen asleep with the task unfinished.

Torn between amused horror at the widespread disorder and relief he was safe, Frances choked back an urge to giggle. He was safe and unharmed, though without doubt he would have a prodigious headache when he awoke. Now she ought to leave at once. He would not be pleased to find her here. And she most certainly did not wish to be found sneaking into a gentleman’s chambers. The impropriety of what she had done struck her quite suddenly and made her catch her breath.

She stepped back and caught a spur in her skirt.

Off-balance, she toppled back against the door. The solid wood banged shut with a noise like thunder, and she fell against it.

Oh Lord!

Petrified, Frances glanced at the bed. Streatham’s wrist slid down, his lids lifted, and he gazed at the bed canopy above him.

Jack stared at the ceiling.

Frances did not dare move, hardly dared to breathe. The slightest movement would draw his attention to her. She held her breath and hoped he would drift off back to sleep.

He would be furious she had invaded his home, his privacy, his grief.

How had she ever thought coming here had been a sensible thing to do? Arriving alone at a gentleman’s house was the height of folly. As she stared at him, her reasons suddenly seemed specious indeed. His well-being was not her concern and never would be.

Her thigh muscles ached from holding her in such an awkward position against the door. Skin prickling with unease, heart thundering against her ribs, she waited. Oh, dear Lord, she was going to collapse to the floor if he did not shut his eyes soon. Her thighs burned and trembled. She had to breathe—

His hand flopped to the mattress, his head rolled on the pillow, and his wide, vacant gaze slowly focused on her. “Why, Lady Rathmere…”

Through the thunder of blood in her ears, his voice reached her as if from a great distance.

His brows drew together. “What the blazes are you doing here?”

Frances struggled upright and took a step away from the door. “To, er…see you got home safely. After last night. You know. You were drunk and probably don’t remember.” Frances shook out her skirts and tugged the jacket of her riding habit into place without looking in his direction. Her face burned and prickled as blood suffused her skin.

He groaned.

He sank back against the pillows, a fingertip pressed to each temple.

Clearly he had a monstrous headache. Her mouth twitched. There was a God after all. If she simply opened the door and retreated, he might not notice until too late.

Her hand closed on the door knob.


She glanced over her shoulder and sucked in a shocked breath. His hollowed cheeks, tangled hair, and shadowed eyes spoke of sleepless nights, misery, and deprivation. With a huge effort, he pushed to his feet and stood there swaying as if a huge wind roared through the room.

Her breath caught uncomfortably in her throat and forced her to swallow. Her gaze skimmed over his brown skin, traced the strong tendons of his throat, lingered on the spreading collarbones, and glimpsed the strong muscled chest revealed by the crumpled shirt falling away from his shoulder.

Frances coughed and looked away. She had visited museums and galleries and marvelled at works of art depicting man in extremis, but now, when the real thing stood before her, she did not know what to say or do. Cold white marble was all very well, but gleaming brown skin was much more shocking.

“What the devil are you doing here?” He hitched the drooping shirt back onto his shoulder, swayed, and grasped the bed post to prevent toppling onto the mattress. “Well?”

He scowled at her. No statue she had ever seen looked as angry as he did at this moment. Frances blinked, cleared her throat, and turned to the door once again.

His eyes narrowed. When he took a step toward her, Frances bit back a wheeze of fright and wrenched the door open.

Reluctance by Jen Black available now from both and

Sunday, 6 May 2012



BLURB: Charity Barlow wished to marry for love. The rakish Lord Robert wishes only to tuck her away in the country once an heir is produced.

A country-bred girl, Charity Barlow suddenly finds herself married to a marquess, an aloof stranger determined to keep his thoughts and feelings to himself. She and Lord Robert have been forced by circumstances to marry, and she feels sure she is not the woman he would have selected given a choice.

The Marquess of St. Malin makes it plain to her that their marriage is merely for the procreation of an heir, and once that is achieved, he intends to continue living the life he enjoyed before he met her.

While he takes up his life in London once more, Charity is left to wander the echoing corridors of St. Malin House, when she isn’t thrown into the midst of the mocking Haute Ton.

Charity is not at all sure she likes her new social equals, as they live by their own rules, which seem rather shocking. She’s not at all sure she likes her new husband either, except for his striking appearance and the dark desire in his eyes when he looks at her, which sends her pulses racing.

Lord Robert is a rake and does not deserve her love, but neither does she wish to live alone.

Might he be suffering from a sad past? Seeking to uncover it, Charity attempts to heal the wound to his heart, only to make things worse between them.

Will he ever love her?

PG Excerpt:
Two days later, another of her gowns arrived, which produced a flurry of excitement from Brigitte, but after holding the glamorous creation up to herself in the glass, Charity was quickly bored.
Brigitte folded her new nightgowns of white lawn. “I once worked for a lady who was the mistress of a duke.”
Charity idly turned the pages of the latest fashion magazine, pausing to admire a woman’s outfit much like a gentleman’s regimental coat worn with a waistcoat, skirt and cocked hat. She doubted she was tall enough to carry it off.
“Did you?”
Oui. You should have seen the nightgowns she wore.”
Charity looked up. “Oh? What were they like?”
“You could see your hand through them. And the colors, mon dieu! Crimson and black with lots of lace.”
Charity’s interest was piqued. “Did the Duke visit her in her house?” Brigitte laughed.
Tout à fait. He brought her diamond bracelets, champagne and filled her boudoir with red roses.”
Charity thrust the magazine away. “And how did she act with him?” Brigitte dropped the nightgown and began to sway her hips provocatively, moving around the room.
“She danced for him in her nightgown while he sat and watched and drank the champagne. Spellbound he was. She touched herself as she danced.” Brigitte waved her hand over various parts of her body. “Then poof, he would dismiss me.”
She nodded sagely. “She knew how to please a man, that one.”
Charity’s cheeks heated. “My goodness.” Could she ever be that seductive? She could not imagine her mother behaving like that for the life of her. Why her father would have died of the apoplexy. But what would Robert do if she acted that way?
Robert was nothing like her father.