Once upon a time I invented a rake… by Jude Knight

Hey Bookworms!

abfb jkI was so impressed by this author and her book, that I invited her to stop by with a guest post. After I was done with ‘Baron for Becky’ I was extremely intrigued by the secondary character of Aldridge and I wanted to know if his book was in the works. It’s not often that authors go out of their way to fully develop secondary characters, only to abandon them, never giving them their own happily ever after.

Have you ever read a book or seen a movie in which the secondary character is so well-developed and interesting that he/she literally takes over the story? I have. And although this is not the case with Aldridge [this author knew exactly when to rein him in], I was intrigued enough to ask the author how in the world did she create him.

And here is what she had to say …



Thank you for inviting me today. I love talking about my creative process, at least in part because it is a mystery to me.

You asked about how I created the Marquis of Aldridge. Here’s his very first appearance on a page, in my work-in-progress, Embracing Prudence. David Wakefield, base-born son of the Duke of Haverford, is investigating a case of blackmail.

A knock on the door heralded Aldridge’s arrival. A maid showed him into the private parlour. He’d clearly been treating her to a display of his facile charm; she


was dimpling, blushing, and preening.

David examined him as he gave the girl a coin “and a kiss for your trouble, my darling.” The beautiful child had grown into a handsome man. David had heard him described as ‘well-put together, and all over, if you know what I mean.’ The white-blonde hair of childhood had darkened

to a light brown, and he had golden-brown eyes under a thick arch of brow he and David had both inherited from their father.

Aldridge navigated the shoals of the marriage market with practiced ease, holding the mothers and their daughters off while not offending them, and carrying out a gentleman’s role in the ballroom with every evidence of enjoyment.

But his real success, by all accounts, was with bored widows and wives, where he performed a role in the bedroom with equal enjoyment. Society was littered with former lovers of the Merry Marquess, though he had the enviable ability to end an affair and retain their friendship.

He ushered the laughing maid out of the room and closed the door behind her, acknowledging David’s appraisal with a wry nod.

“Wakefield. You summoned me. I am here.”

David ignored the thread of irritation in the young aristocrat’s voice.

“I have some questions I wish to ask about the story your brother tells.”

Uninvited, Aldridge grabbed a chair and straddled it, resting his chin on his forearms. “Our brother,” he said, flatly.

I should, perhaps, explain that I’ve been creating an entire fictional world these last five years, peopled with enough characters for at least the forty books for which I have plot


lines. Many of the characters are just names in my database and spreadsheet, but if I need a mother, or a cousin, or villain, or an old school friend, I look there first before I invent someone new. So when David needed a case to investigate, I involved his patroness, the Duchess of Haverford, and her son Aldridge came with the territory.

I knew Aldridge existed, and I knew he was a rake. There’s a crusading social zealot growing up in my world who will one day need a hero who is as much a challenge to her as she is to him. But I hadn’t given him much more thought than that, till I inserted him into David and Prue’s story. I generally start a book with tidy character descriptions (eight pages for protagonists and major antagonists, and one page for anyone else with more than a walk-on part), a plot outline, and maps. After I start, though, the plot elves take over and anything might happen. And so it was with Aldridge.

Very soon, he proved to be a larger part of Prue’s past than David knows. He is also deeply concerned about his younger brother Jonathan, who becomes David’s assistant in the investigation. What with one thing and another, by the time Prue, Jonathan, and David disappear from England, Aldridge has enough guilt riding him to dive into a bottle and hide there for months, as explained in this deleted scene from ‘Baron for Becky’.

“Cousin, I don’t believe you’ve been sober since June—this business with Jonathan is not your fault, you know.”

Aldridge shook his head. He didn’t agree. Jonathan was his younger brother, and he’d promised to keep him safe. He’d promised Mama.

“Do you remember the frogs in your tutor’s bed?” Rede asked.

Aldridge was not fooled by the seeming change of subject. He’d taken the blame for that, though the prank had been Jonathan’s. “The tutor was a vicious fool, and would have beaten Jonathan until his arm fell off. And His Grace would have done nothing; Jonathan was only the spare. Disciplining me was reserved to His Grace, and the tutor would not disturb him for such a minor infringement.”

It was Rede’s turn for the dismissive shake. “Jonathan’s not nine any more, Aldridge. The scandal was of his own making; quite deliberately from what I heard. ”

Aldridge grinned. He was worried, and he felt guilty, but he still admired his brother’s strategy. “He wanted to travel and His Grace said ‘no’. So Jonathan arranged to be exiled. Pudding-brain. Doesn’t he know there’s a war on? I hope David finds him.”

Rede slid the brandy decanter towards him. “David? David went after his… after a lady that he loves.”

Aldridge busied himself pouring another glass and exerted every ounce of control not to tip it straight down his throat. There was the crux of it—not Jonathan’s defection, though Aldridge still believed he should have been able to prevent it. But Aldridge’s contribution to the loss of his other brother, his father’s bastard; Aldridge’s treatment of the woman David loved.

“Did you not know? She went with Jonathan. And I don’t think David will ever forgive me, Rede.”

I was about at that point in Embracing Prudence when my group of Historical writers, the Bluestocking Belles, embarked on a three week marathon of interactive


storytelling on Facebook.  We invented a magical inn that allowed our fictional worlds to collide, and brought along our characters for an impromptu party.

I contributed one drunk and depressed Aldridge to the fun, and it was fun! Poor Aldridge. He had a frustrating time, with his advances to one lady after another being rejected, sometimes violently.

Then along came Mrs A. Mrs Angel is the invention


of Catherine Curzon, and she is a wonderful character, mistress to princes, owner of brothels, and a rollicking good-time girl. Aldridge’s pursuit of Mrs A. jumped from thread to thread and took days, with one accident after another keeping him from his goal.


I decided to write it up as a light-hearted romp; the story of Aldridge and the golden-hearted harlot who saved him. But I soon realised that Aldridge needed quite a different kind of experience at this point in his life. Becky began to take shape in my mind – a broken bird, rescued by Aldridge but carrying scars from her past experiences. The book became Becky’s story, and the elderly baron Catherine and I had first envisaged became Hugh, Aldridge’s best friend, a man with his own scars.


And so, in the end, Becky and Hugh took over what began as Aldridge’s story, and the book is a far better one than I originally intended.

Where to from here? I have a vague idea, but quite a distance to travel first. In the main stream of my novel writing, I have yet to finish 1807. Aldridge will be a bit player in several more books before 1814, when his own story begins with a social reforming spinster bursting into his bedroom demanding that he come save his bastard son from a molly brothel. I’m looking forward to finding out what happens next.

Jude KnightAUTHOR BIO: Jude Knight writes strong determined heroines, heroes who can appreciate a clever capable woman, villains you’ll love to loathe, and all with a leavening of humour.

Jude Knight is the pen name of Judy Knighton. After a career in commercial writing, editing, and publishing, Jude is returning to her first love, fiction. Her novella, Candle’s Christmas Chair, was released in December 2014, and is in the top ten on several Amazon bestseller lists in the US and UK. Her first novel Farewell to Kindness, was released on 1 April, and is first in a series: The Golden Redepennings.

SOCIAL MEDIA: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Newsletter / Blog / Goodreads


Happy Valentine’s Day from b2b & Jon Paul Ferrara!


Today, b2b is in seventh heaven because Jon Paul had agreed to stop by and share his new cover art and a bit of himself with us.

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*To enlarge, click on the image. You’ll love it more enlarged 😉

When it comes to romance book illustrations, this man is on fire! He is the best, and if you’re lucky to have one of your books illustrated by him, you know what I’m talking about. His illustrations are not just mesmerizing but can tell the story that’s within the pages of the books he’s doing the cover art for. Seriously, I could go on and on about how much I love his illustrations, but I won’t because they speak for themselves.

Ever wonder where the starting point is when it comes to illustrations? Check these out!

Behind the Scenes. Photo reference to the left, art to the right.




The blue dress illustration… which piece do you like better on a cover The full art on the right or the cropped version on the left?


Entertainment Weekly Magazine approached me last year to do an illustration for the inside of their magazine. It was in the Oct 24th issue and it is an eight page article about how big the Romance Industry is. My art was a double page spread. Models: John DeSalvo and Colleen


This is my version on the right. Before and After…”Woman photoshopped to fit the definition of beauty in 25 countries.”

Five Questions With Jon Paul Ferrara

Melanie: Jon, as you know, today a lot of fans of EL James’ ’50 Shades of Gray’ will be taking their significant others to the opening of the movie, so my first question is: Tell us your favorite book to movie/series?

Jon Paul Ferrara: Without question The Thorn Birds 😉

Melanie: Oh, that’s a good one! I loved the series, but never read the book.

My next question is in regards to book illustrations. What’s your favorite book illustration that is not done by you?

Jon Paul Ferrara: ‘The Midnight Fury’ by Susan Ellen Gross. I was only twenty-one when I saw the illustration of it which was done by Pino Daeni. I fell in love with the art when I saw it in person at Pino’s studio before I got in the industry. I have a copy of the book next to me when I work. It symbolize the inspiration of what made me want to be a romance illustrator in the first place.

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Melanie: This one looks familiar! I have a very similar illustration you sent me with you in it. It is my favorite!

Who is your favorite musical artist?

Jon Paul Ferrara: It’s Paul McCartney and his version with the Beatles “And I Love Her”

Melanie: What are you favorite song lyrics?

Jon Paul Ferrara: Buddy Holly’s ‘True Love Ways’


Melanie: Gotta a favorite poet, or two?

Jon Paul Ferrara: I’m a romantic at heart Melanie, you know that! I love reading Ralph Waldo Emerson and John Keats. And how about we put your readers on the spot too, and see if they’ll answer at least 3 out of the 5 you just asked me? Anyone wants one of my signed illustrations can jump right in 😉


Melanie: Dude, thanks so-so-so much for stopping by today and sharing this Valentin’s Day with us.


If I were commissioned to do your portrait, which piece do you see yourself in? I’m curious to see what your choice would be 😉


To learn more about Jon Paul, please visit his website or FB page and in the meantime check this fan made You Tube video. I loved it!

HEA Journey Matters by Erica Monroe [Guest Post]

ADI EMThank you so much to bookworm2bookworm for letting me come by today as part of the release tour for my début novel, A Dangerous Invitation‘. The first book in my new series, The Rookery Rogues, A Dangerous Invitation is the story of Daniel O’Reilly and Kate Morgan.

Have you ever wanted to atone so badly for a mistake that you’ll risk everything—even your life—for forgiveness? That’s what motivates Daniel to return to London after three years as a fugitive. One wretched night in 1829 sent him reeling toward destruction, when he was accused of murdering a warehouse laborer for the shipping company he worked for (and Kate’s father owned). He faced almost certain death, for he’d been caught at the scene of the crime with the victim’s mangled body. Worse, an “affidavit woman,” a 19th century term for a woman who was paid to give a false statement of evidence, claimed to have seen him commit the murder. So to survive, Daniel flees the City, thinking that he’s going to give his affianced Kate a better life without him.

But Kate doesn’t get a better life, and Daniel certainly doesn’t thrive without her. The addiction to gin that he struggled with in London runs rampant, taking hold of his body until he’s nothing more than a withered husk of the man he once was. When his drunkenness starts to affect his family, he struggles to return to sobriety. With the help of his sister Poppy, he looks at making good on his past life. He comes back to London so that he can prove to Kate that he wasn’t culpable in that murder. He doesn’t know how he ended up in the alley, but by God, he’s going to find out who did kill that warehouse laborer. He’ll get justice not only for himself, but for the man who was murdered.

Kate now lives in the rookeries, the nineteenth century version of slums. She’s a fence for stolen goods, and the company she keeps is certainly not on the up and up. While Daniel works to make her see that he’s not the same man he was before, she struggles to let go of her memories. She’s got to stop resenting him for what he did in the past and also understand that people make mistakes.

I love the idea of two people being changed by their relationship, but still, they are at their core imperfect. In my story, Kate and Daniel have a second chance at love. The relationship they had before was inherently flawed. They had to become something different entirely to be able to accept each other completely.

IYGARAR SGAGU CGIn writing A Dangerous Invitation, I thought about what love really meant to me. I’m drawn to romance genres not just because of the implicit happy ever after, but because of the journey. I want to see two people transition into a relationship that makes them much healthier and happier. By the end of the novel, they’re not who they were when they started. I love romances especially that deal with a traumatic incident in a character’s past—by the end of the novel, the character has learned to accept that event as a shaping part of who they are now. Examples of this that I can think of are Shana Galen’s If You Give a Rake a Ruby with Fallon’s thieving upbringing, and Cecilia Grant’s ‘A Gentleman Undone’ with Lydia’s big reveal to Will.

ADI EMBook Blurb: One fatal mistake cost Daniel O’Reilly the woman he loved, spiraling him toward drunken self-destruction. Now sober, he’ll have to prove he’s innocent of the murder he was accused of two years ago. But pistol-wielding Kate Morgan hasn’t forgiven his sins.

Torn from her privileged existence by her father’s death, Kate Morgan has carved out a new independent life in the Ratcliffe rookery as a fence for stolen goods. Daniel’s invitation to assist him jeopardizes her structured existence. Yet Kate can’t resist his touch, or the wicked desires he stirs within her.

As their renewed passions grow reckless, their investigation takes them through the darkest and most depraved areas of the City. To catch a killer, they’ll have to put secrets behind them and trust only their hearts.

Buy Links: Amazon / B&N / Kobo / Smashwords

[iBooks and Paperback edition coming later in the month].

The excerpt below happens when Daniel and Kate have just finished interrogating a pugilist who knew the warehouse laborer.

THEY WALKED DOWN Shadwell High Street, the street alive with a vibrancy that failed to lift Daniel’s mood. Snow crunched under his feet. The smell of gin had left his nostrils, allowing him to breathe easier again, but the heaviness in his stomach came from the knowledge of Kate’s sacrifice. She’d given up part of her livelihood, all to answer questions from a man she shouldn’t have had to speak to, let alone develop an acquaintanceship with.

“You didn’t have to do that,” he said.

“Cyrus would never have told us anything otherwise.” Kate cocked her head toward him, her voice flat.

She walked with her hands shoved into her pockets, her shorter strides two to his longer ones. He slowed to match her pace. This city, with all its grit and crime, didn’t deserve the brilliance of Kate Morgan.

Devil take it, he didn’t either.

“That doesn’t make it right.” He halted her progress down the street, gripping her thin arm. “I’ll pay you back for what that watch costs, on top of what I’ve given you for your help already.”

“That’s not necessary.” She stiffened against his touch.

He didn’t release her arm. They stood in the middle of the street, the traffic diverting around them. If he got through to her—well, he didn’t know what he’d do then.

“I don’t want you to have to pay for my mistakes.” Reaching out with his other hand, Daniel brushed his thumb against her cheek.

Her eyes closed for a half-second, transfixed by the moment. His breath caught in his throat.

Her eyes fluttered back open, chocolate abysses deadened to his attempts. Steeled against what she must believe were lies. Maybe he’d never change. Maybe he was a drunk for life, doomed to repeat the same patterns.

He let out the breath he’d been holding, let it out like he wished he could free himself of doubt. Time flowed once more, rapid and bitter.

“I’ve paid for your mistakes and I’ll pay for mine.” Her voice was full of resignation.

“It shouldn’t have to be that way. Last night, in the wool warehouse—I couldn’t think of anything else other than the fact that you were in danger because of me.” His hand tightened on her arm, holding her close to him.

She shook her head. The feather stuck into the trim of her gray straw bonnet bobbed too. “Nothing is perfect. For all we know, that man was after me for my own activities. You talk as though things will change because you wish them to. I don’t remember you being that naïve.”

“It’s not naïve to dream. You used to know that.”

Erica Monroe

AUTHOR BIO: Erica Monroe writes dark, suspenseful historical romance. Her début novel, A Dangerous Invitation, Book 1 of the Rookery Rogues series, released in December 2013. She is a member of the Romance Writers of America, Heart of Carolina, and the Beau Monde Regency Romance chapter.

Erica can also be found blogging every other Saturday at Teatime Romance. When not writing, she is a chronic TV watcher, sci-fi junkie, lover of pit bulls, and shoe fashionista. She lives in the suburbs of North Carolina with her husband, two dogs, and a cat.

Guest Post by Author C. C. Humphreys

Don’t judge a book by its cover?

TBOJA CCH4They say that, don’t they? But of course, that’s exactly what we do. I think marketing departments have commissioned studies that show the bookstore browser – and probably their online counterpart – look at a cover for perhaps seven seconds. You have to grab them, have to make them turn to the next vital item: the back cover (or fly) synopsis.

I was always lucky with my covers – I had the wonderful Henry Steadman as designer, and Henry was always keen to involve me, not always the case with designers. He and my original UK publisher had an idea: to show Jack on the front. And since the first novel in the series was ‘Jack Absolute’ and was set in 1777 when Jack was 35 they asked me to be the model. “It’s because you get me for no fee, right?” “Shut up,” they replied, “and put on the red coat.” It was quite strange posing as Jack, fifteen years after I played him on stage in ‘The Rivals’. Fun though!

This wasn’t an option with the second book, ‘The Blooding of Jack Absolute’. It is a prequel and Jack is only 16 when he goes to war. But Henry still involved me. We met in a pub to discuss his ideas over a beer – so civilized! – then he took me to the costumiers. I had done a lot of research on the British uniform in the French and Indian Wars. Knew it was more russet than scarlet, knew its trim. I then had a fascinating talk with one of the costume experts there and we enjoyed nailing down the exact shade, together with all the accouterments of crossbelt, musket, ball pouch, tricorn hat, hair sack etc. Henry then went and found a suitably dark model – Jack is a ‘black Celt’ from Cornwall. He then photographed him, then did what he did with the first novel: Photoshopped the print, making it look like a painting. I especially like the document laid under, making it out to be a memoir, a letter, a military dispatch perhaps.

The front and back covers are a lure. It’s what’s between them that’s most important.  But in order to get to that a reader must be tempted. I hope that many will be drawn enough to start reading this novel.

And, like a cover, I believe each subsequent moment must draw the reader on – from the opening line. Mine here is one of my favorites:

‘The End of Time came on a Wednesday – and Jack was missing it!’


Welcome past the terrific covers to Jack’s world. It’s a pretty wild time in there!

BOOK BLURB: Before he can become a man, he must first learn to kill…

London: 1759: Life is easy for Jack Absolute, a young raconteur loved by the ladies and envied by his schoolmates. With a place secured at university and a baronetcy at hand, his future seems bright—if he can just stay out of trouble. But when Jack is caught read-handed with a powerful lord’s mistress, his good fortune is destroyed, forcing him to seek a new fate in the dangerous New World during the brutal French and Indian Wars.

There, marooned amid hostile Indians and fierce colonial rivalries, the bawdy schoolboy disappears and a man emerges. Jack’s survival depends on winning the friendship and help of the natives, but those come at a high price. In order to become the man they could eventually trust, Jack Absolute must first be blooded. And in order to be blooded, he must do the unfathomable. He must learn to kill.

The gripping prequel in C.C. Humphrey’s riveting historical series, The Blooding of Jack Absolute sweeps readers into the ruthless wilds of North America and tracks the stunning transformation of a young dreamer into a daring, larger-than-life hero.

BUY LINKS: Amazon / B&N / Kobo /

***   ***   ***

EXCERPT part one: 

Chapter Five


Jack awoke from a dream of love. Though the images vanished with the opening of his eyes, their lingering effect was clear before him. He’d thrown off the heavier coverlets in the night and only a sheet lay atop him, in the nature of a tent held up by a single pole.

AH CCH1Jack reached down and grasped the structure in both his hands. To be alone in his bedroom at Absolute House and not in the dormitory at Porten’s where he boarded, with the dozen beds shaking each morning under their occupants’ exertions, this was a rare joy and he immediately thought of taking advantage of it. Hidden in his armoire were some quite extraordinary prints that Sommers, a schoolfellow who had developed a talent for the purchase and purveying of such choice items, had supplied. It would be a matter of moments to fetch them, study and learn, lie back…

Then, an image from his dream did come back to him and it halted his motion out of the bed. A face appeared in his mind’s eye, sweet, pure, unblemished, framed with the palest of fair hair formed in corkscrew curls. Clothilde! He was to see her today. And he could not, would not sully his thoughts of her with any actions now.

And yet…There was another whom he also planned on visiting this day, one whose face—­and body—­had also haunted his sleep and helped cause his by now quite painful physical display. She would be more than delighted if he used her in such a way. So long as he recounted every detail of it. Fanny liked details.

He groaned, then levered himself out of the bed. No. He knew a piss would help ease the AH CCH2strain and indeed, all the milk he’d drunk in Nance’s scullery the night before—­a fine way to prevent the morning headaches, he’d always found—­was taxing him now. He’d hidden there from his raging father until he’d given up the hunt and retired. Pulling the chamber pot from its drawer, he set to. There was relief in one sense, little in the other but, having decided, he would hold firm…or rather, not.

What he needed was to divert his thoughts, not away from the two faces of his dream but toward them in a different way. To utilize these feelings. For was that not what a poet did with his Muses? Nothing to write about, Mother? he thought. Ha!

Pulling the sheet off the bed to cover himself, he sat at the small writing table. Both his inspirations would require verse from him…but in quite different styles.

It was the labor of an hour. When the knock came at the door, he jumped and the sheet fell off him. Since he’d written Fanny’s sonnet last, the purity of his sentiments in his ode to Clothilde had been displaced by somewhat grosser thoughts. He’d returned to his waking state. And that was the moment that Nancy chose to walk in with a cheery, “Mornin’, young Master.”

He snatched up the sheet just in time. “Ah, Nance! What…ah…what time is it?”

“Straight up midday and a fine bright one it is.” She set a basin of water on the side table and dragged open the drapes. Sunshine streamed in.

“Midday?” Jack groaned. He was already late for his French lesson. Again.

“Aye. Your ma’s gone to the theater and your da’s still asleep. So quietly now, my lad, up and out.” She bustled about the room, straightened furniture, lifted the blankets from the floor, dumped them on the bed. Then she grabbed one end of the sheet still wrapped around him. C.C. Humphreys as Jack AbsoluteHe held onto it as she tugged.

“Nance! Leave go, I’m—­”

She looked down at his bare shoulders. “Nothing I haven’t seen before, young Jack.” When he’d been brought to London and before Westminster, Nance had had the care and washing of him.

You’ve never seen this, he thought, and held the sheet tighter.

“Why, Master Jack!” she said, coyly, still tugging gently. “What have you got to hide there from your Nance?”

He stopped pulling but didn’t let go of the sheet. Then with a hoot, she whipped it off him, turning away as she did, her laughter accompanying her out of the room. “There’s a note from your ma there, boy. And I’ve some cold meat and tatties in the kitchen for ye—­if you can get your breeches on!”

Her laughter disappeared with her down the stairs. Jack looked around, then saw it. Nance had laid a piece of folded paper down on his desk. As he took it up he reflected that it was just as well that she couldn’t read because his morning’s efforts were proudly on display. She might not have disapproved of his “Ode to a Merman” dedicated to Clothilde. But Fanny’s sonnet beside it, “On a Religious Conversion by Candlelight,” would have disturbed her.

His mother’s note was merely a reminder that he was expected that evening at eight sharp—­the “sharp” underlined three times—­at the Assembly Rooms in Dean Street where her play, which they’d discussed the previous night, was to be premiered. Away from the Garden, she had more chance of her satires escaping the Lord Chamberlain’s notice.

Jack sat on the edge of the bed, note in hand. He had forgotten this rendezvous with his mother, was late for his French lessons. Wasn’t there something else the day held, aside from his two poetry-­inspiring assignations?

Then memory came in a rush. The Mohocks! Tonight was the night for the Initiation. Yet the JA CCHclashing appointments did not perturb him longer than a moment; they’d agreed that most of the Rites were to take place in Soho anyway so he would have time to attend his mother’s play during them. The interlude might even help in his other plan—­to be restrained in all things despite what the other aspirant Mohocks might do. For another memory came: Craster’s challenge to billiards at noon the next day.

Jack rose and splashed his face in the basin of warm water Nance had set on the side table. He was excited, for it was to be a day of adventures. Yet there was also this need for moderation.

Yes, he thought, nodding to himself in the mirror above the basin, I will be moderate in all things.


Due to the lateness of the hour, he’d had a choice: breakfast or dressing. Since the former rarely delighted him and the latter always did, he spent some of his precious time in selecting suitable attire for what would be a long day. In the end, he settled on something new yet robust—­a coat so dark in its green it was nearly black but with shining buttons and gold-embroidered holes; a waistcoat of a crimson that was almost military and whose studs fastened into openings that were wreathed in gilded oak leaves. He chose black breeches and stockings, since the London streets were unforgiving to white; a pair of plain and solid square-­tipped shoes—­Nance had returned his collection, polished, while he slept—­albeit with a brace of fine silver buckles. He toyed with stocks but he had enough black on him and any other color jangled with the waistcoat. Besides, as he had discovered on his last outing into Covent Garden, people could grab you by the stock.

His thick, dark hair was, as usual, untamable. There was little chance of visiting the switzer in Half Moon Passage; the restraint of a cerise tie would have to do. Snatching up his silver-­topped stick and squeezing the tricorn on his head, he looked himself up and down. He was so glad he’d persuaded his mother to buy him this full-­length mirror. It reflected back a young man of the Town who would do. Who would do very well.

JA CCH2Then he was out onto the street. Since it was near one o’clock, it was crammed with people—­though the hour made scant difference; it seemed to Jack that Mayfair was now always crowded, day or night. It had changed even in the few years that Absolute House was bought and built. Formerly, his route to Berkeley Square would have encompassed many more gardens like Taylor’s but now every paddock sprouted a house or was in the throes of doing so. Builders scrambled up the wooden scaffolding, hammers beat in nails, bricks were slathered and slammed down, plaster slapped onto walls. Prosperous men stood about studying plans, gesticulating at the rising edifices, scarcely seeming to notice the thick dust that settled everywhere and gave them the appearance of ghosts. Jack coughed, cursing this dulling of his finery, glad every house and hostelry had a brush in the hallway. Yet, as always, it was the noise that struck him most forcefully. At Westminster, in the environs of St. Peter’s Abbey and the cloisters of the school, all was calmness, in the twinned dedications to religion and study. Here, aside from the construction, there was that dull roar that was the very sound of the Town, made up of the thousands—­hundreds of thousands—­of voices, competing to be heard. In his first hundred paces’ stride down Curzon Street, a dozen different street sellers noisily hawked their offerings. It mattered not that this was an area rising in gentility, for the offal seller pushed his barrow of neats and lights past a blind stationer and his penny-­priced memorandums; a ballad singer’s fair soprano clashed with the harsh cries of the Oyster-­and-­Eel wench; while a pudding vendor warred with a pie man in the extolling of their wares. Any who traveled in pairs—­and several who walked alone—­declared their business or opinions in bullhorn voices aimed at convincing not just the person beside them but anyone standing in Hyde Park as well! The JA CCH3scent was as assailing as the sound with the smoke gushing from the various building plots, the clashing of cooked and raw fishes and stewed meats, the horses leaving their deposits on cobbles already besmirched and steaming; while the miasma rising from hundreds of people, perfumed and unwashed and moving rapidly about their so-­important errands under the warm spring sun, was the strongest odor of all.

It was farmyard, factory, and food shop. It was the main hall at Bedlam with the inmates unrestrained. It was London…and Jack loved it.

Late as he was, he had two obligatory stops. In Berkeley Square, the Pot and Pineapple was the best confectioner’s in the town and here he purchased half a pound of crystallized fruits and four peaches in brandy. It left him little change from ten shillings but he had shared in the winnings of Westminster at the cricket and, anyway, it was money well spent. Clothilde’s outrage at his tardiness would be swept away in her delight at her especial favorite sweetmeat. And Fanny…well, Fanny loved laced peaches.

His second stop was down an alley, just where Brewer Street turned into Knaves Acre—­an apt name for an ill place. So dark and dank it was that spring’s heat and light barely penetrated. Jack had found the little shop on some ramble. Part apothecary, the extent of strange potions, liquors, and philters was extraordinary, but it was the Curiosities that had drawn Jack into the gloom. Skulls hung from the ceilings, reputedly of well-­known heroes, highwaymen, and traitors to the realm, the proprietor, a wizened Portuguese, claiming that half the Jacobite Lords from the ’45 dangled there. Artificial eyes rolled in bowls; teeth, both human and animal, were threaded like rosaries to hang from the beams. False limbs were stacked around the walls, piled up like the endeavors of a particularly drunken surgeon after a battle while the taxidermist’s pride was displayed with native animals like lynx and fox moldering beside more exotic beasts from Africa and the East. It was among these that Jack had discovered the most curious of all. A half-­crown had secured it for a week, his purse light before his prowess at sport could fill it. Now he had returned with the guinea he required to make it his and delight the heart of his own true love.

EXCERPT part two HERE.

***   ***   ***

CCHAUTHOR BIO: C.C. Humphreys was born in Toronto, Canada, and grew up in Los Angeles and London. A third generation actor and writer on both sides of his family, he returned to Canada in the nineties and there his writing career began.

He won the inaugural playwriting competition of the New Play Centre, Vancouver with his first play, ‘A Cage Without Bars’ which was produced in Vancouver and London.

He was a schoolboy fencing champion, became a fight choreographer and thus turned his love of swashbuckling towards historical fiction. He is married and lives in Finchley, North London.

Social Media: WebsiteBlog / Facebook / Tweeter /

Sew on! Female Accomplishments and Female Friendships by Sandra Schwab

A Life Well Spent by James West CopeIn early 2009 I stumbled across Jane Brocket’s The Gentle Art of Domesticity: Stitching, Baking, Nature, Art & the Comforts of Home. It’s not a crafting book per se, but more a book in praise of “old-fashioned” things — baking, stitching, quilting, pineapple upside-down cakes, tea cosies, domesticlavendar-sachet1 novels, retro tablecloths, and granny blankets — well, you get the picture. In several chapters she also talks about paintings of domestic scenes, and one of the paintings she discusses is James West Cope’s A Life Well Spent (1878), showing a Victorian woman surrounded by her children. She is knitting socks while listening to her son repeat some lesson he has just learnt, and on the carpet at her feet sits her older daughter and reads. Brocket calls A Life Well Spent

“a favorite painting. I don’t care that it’s not great feminist thinking and that many women would be appalled by this portrayal of the mid-Victorian feminine ideal, because I believe that for some women this has been and still is, indeed, a life well spent. […] I wrote about A Life Well Spent for an MA essay, bringing out all the usual theories and arguments about this type of Victorian painting. And yet, despite this cleverness, my true regency era1response was to see that this mother was doing something incredibly valuable and enjoyable. Although the painting is loaded with symbols and evidence of Illustration_04[1]Victorian thinking, I see past those to a pivotal maternal figure, a relaxed but attentive son, a daughter who is already multitasking and just a little touch of happy disorder with books and yarn left on the carpet. And I reckon that any mother who knits red-and-white-striped socks while listening to her son’s catechism must have hidden depths.”

This passage completely changed the way I think about nineteenth-century domesticity. Yes, women didn’t have much of a choice in the nineteenth century; they didn’t have the same access to education as men; they couldn’t get a proper job; and most middle- and upper-class women were forced into a life of domesticity. Certainly, many of them would have felt that they were leading a circumscribed life and yearned to break free from the domestic ideal, to receive a proper education beyond taking care of the household, playing the piano, singing, watercolours, and regency era3needlework. But, as Brocket points out, there must have been just as many women who liked this kind of life, who liked needlework and taking care of the household, and found a deep satisfaction in what they did.

Exhibitions like the V&A’s Quilts 1700-2010 show that many women usedquilt2 needlework as a creative outlet. For example, in 1820 Annie West made a stunning patchwork quilt with fine appliqués depicting scenes from the Bible, and later in the century when scrap quilts became all the rage, fabric scraps were not just swapped between family and friends, but there also scrap exchanges organised via newspaper ads.

For women in the past, just as for women today, needlework clearly was also a means to form friendships and to strengthen friendships. This becomes apparent in Elizabeth Gaskell’s Cranford, a series of stories that first appeared in Charles Dickens’s magazine Household Words between 18515491314009_028ab8a59e_z[1] and 1853. Cranford is set in a small village filled with middle-aged and elderly spinsters and widows. Most of the characters are rather poor; lavendar-sachet2many of them are charmingly eccentric. They exchange small, homemade gifts: an apple stuck with cloves “to be heated and smell pleasantly” in an invalid’s room or dried rose leaves made “into a pot-pourri for some one who had no garden.” And needlework, too, is used as a way to build and maintain friendships: thus, when one of the ladies of Cranford, Miss Pole, is bit by the crochet bug, she asks Mary, the narrator, who lives in a larger town, to find crochet-related things for her. A few months later, Miss Pole invites Mary for a visit, which offers Gaskell the chance to stress the communal aspect of needlework, too:

Friendship in Regency Era“There was all the more time for me to hear old-world stories from Miss Pole, while she sat knitting, and I making my father’s shirts. I always took a quantity of plain sewing to Cranford; for, as we did not read much, or walk much, I found it a capital time to get through my work.”

I was very much enchanted by these descriptions, and I was determined that in Springtime Pleasures, my next novel, I would give greater room to needlework as well as other domestic details, and that I would create a heroine who was strong and adventurous, but who also liked needlework. Enter Charlie (short for Carlotta) and her best friend Emma-Louise, who know many interesting things about wild boars and gutting fish, but have also been instructed on the Importance Of Carrying Your Needlework With You At All Times:

The stagecoach rumbled along the turnpike road. Outside, the brownish-green landscape flew by,regency era4 while inside Carlotta and Emma-Louise sat squeezed between a shopkeeper from Berwick, a woman with a basket filled with cabbage heads, and a gentleman who was involved in demolishing a rather strong-smelling sausage. Unperturbed by the stench of the sausage, Emma-Lee was knitting. Click-clack, her needles flew as she created quiltblock after block of the blanket for her new baby niece. Charlie almost envied her best friend—at least Emma-Lee had something to keep her hands busy! She, by contrast… Knitting had never been her forte, and she had no wish to attempt some embroidery in the coach. She would probably end up with the needle stuck in her eye. Or, at the very least, with her fingers all pricked and sore.

Stifling a sigh, she lifted her carpet bag to her lap and rummaged around in it. “Good Dr Johnson,” she murmured as her gaze fell on her teacher’s goodbye present.

“Oh yes, good Dr Johnson, who even included some lines from our school song in his immortal poem.” Emma-Lee peered into Charlie’s bag. “Do you think we will ever actually use his dictionary, Charlie?” Click-clack, her needles went.

“We-hell…” Charlie tried to imagine some useful employment for Dr Johnson’s dictionary. “If your husband has very large feet, you can use it as a darning egg for his socks.”

The corners of Emma-Lee’s mouth quirked. “I hadn’t planned to wed a giant, you know. All Dr Johnson’s mighty tome has done, so far, is squish my knitting flat.”

‘Springtime Pleasures’ is now available on Amazon

You can listen to me reading an excerpt from the novel on YouTube: 

Book video:

Sandra SchwabAUTHOR BIO: Sandra Schwab has been enchanting readers with her unusual historicals since 2005, when her first novel The Lily Brand was published.

“These days I live in a small town near Frankfurt on the Main, Germany, with altogether too many books (have you ever heard of books procreating? I believe mine do!) and a neurotic cat. In my “other life” I hold a PhD from Mainz University, where I teach English Literature. When not writing, cuddling cats, preparing class, or correcting student papers – ah, yes, and the litter trays, let’s not forget cleaning the litter trays! (all my friends know that the litter trays are the bane of my life) – I work on my next academic book project about the famous British magazine Punch.”

You can find Sandra on her Website / Facebook / Twitter:

Help save “Copper” on BBCA by Carla Ives


Good Monday my bookworms!

Mel here….

This post is a bit personal for me. I’ve actually never done this before…try to bring back a TV show…but I do feel strongly about it, so here goes.

I really don’t watch TV much. I’d rather read a book However, there are some shows that are worthy of me lighting my tube and “COPPER” is just such a show that I thought was well written and executed.

Well, you could have knocked me over with a feather when last month, just before the cliffhanger of the second season, I find out the show had been canceled…WTH?! I mean, really?! In the midst of all these reality shows that we’re inundated with, we finally get a decent show that even men like, and BBCA just yanks it off…I don’t get it! Check out these videos and tell me what you think of the show….

Well, I found like minded people on Facebook and they’re not taking this ‘laying down’ and are willing to try and get the show back on the air….so, I thought to give them a spot today to appeal to some of my faithful readers and followers who either saw the show, or would like to see it, once they bring it back. Please help us sign as many people as we can to these groups so we can bring back this show….

Without further ado, I’d like to welcome Carla and her guest post!

It’s 1865. President Lincoln has been assassinated and John Wilkes Booth, the assassin, is dead. Loyal union soldiers Kevin Corcoran and Major Robert Morehouse, along with former slave Dr. Matthew Freeman, did their part to help bring Booth to justice. They’re back in Five Points and Detective Corcoran gets word that he’s wanted to replace the late General Brendan Donovan in Tammany Hall.

Normally, I would be excited over this type of a season ending. Sadly, for fans of the BBCA show “Copper,” it turned out to be a series ender. The network unexpectedly cancelled this very popular show with little to no reason.

“Copper” has a loyal following and they are very disappointed. Fans want the show brought back and are willing to work at it. Groups have been started to try to sway the producers to bring the show back, if not on BBCA then maybe on another network. Rumor has it that a movie is in the works, but diehard “Copper” fans want their weekly fix of the show that details the life of Irish immigrants in the mid-19th century.

If you loved the show, you can help. Get involved! Here are a number of ways you can do just that. Click on the blue links to access the information.

Email: Write to Tom Fontana. He is on the side of the fans and looking at doing the movie. Let him know you want the show back.

Sign: There is a petition at Change.org, among others. To sign this petition, click HERE.

Tweet: If you have a Twitter account, follow Save Copper TV HERE.

Facebook and Google +: There are many pages set up to save “Copper.”

Bring Back Copper

Copperholics Anonymous


One of the best things you can do is make a fan video. The video can be as simple as talking about why you love the show and think it should have been renewed. You can do this with your phone, a camera or even by creating a Power Point presentation with voiceover. Upload it to You Tube and then use the link to with your emails and page comments for added emphasis. You can upload the video to You Tube HERE.

If enough of us band together, the producers and powers that be have to take notice. The phrase, “There is strength in numbers,” has never been more applicable. If enough of us care, we can get Corky, Francis, Andrew, Major Morehouse and Dr. Freeman back where they belong!


GIVEAWAY by b2b!

“COPPER” Season One DVD to one commenter who signs up the most names to 

Bring Back Copper Facebook page!

*Make sure your friends mention you when they join the group. 

*Contest open until 10/12/13 


??????????????????????Carla Ives is the owner of the Ms. Atlantic City web site and Facebook page, the ultimate guides to casinos, entertainment, restaurants and hotels in Atlantic City, New Jersey. She is sort of a Jill of All Trades, master of a few.

She’s also a ghostwriter, freelance writer, editor and history lover. You can find her strolling on the Boardwalk, sitting on the beach or over at Ms. Atlantic City madly scribbling away. Please contact her HERE with comments, questions and suggestions.

Behind the Scenes: Winn and Elinor from True Spies

TS SGHi, I’m Shana Galen, and I write fast-paced, adventurous Regency romances. My latest is the follow-up to Lord and Lady Spy, and I’m here with Winn and Elinor to talk more about the book. Let’s start with Elinor. Elinor, you’re a mom of two girls. How do you find the time to plan Society functions, attend soirees—all the duties required of a baroness—and still spend time with your husband and kids?

Elinor: As you know, Shana, it has not been easy. The girls are older now and do not need me as much as they did when they were young. I miss that, actually. Winn travels quite a bit, and I find myself rather lonely and seeking a bit of adventure.

Winn: Is that why you’re contemplating an affair?

Elinor: I have no idea what you are referring to, my lord.

Shana: Baron Keating, you have a few secrets of your own. What’s it like being a spy for the Barbican group.

Winn: I’m rather tired of it, if the truth be known. I’d like to spend more time at home. I feel as though I looked around and my wife and my children have all changed and moved on without me.

Shana: That can happen even in my time when men become too wrapped up in work.

Winn: In my defense, I was out there saving the country from the diabolical plan of one of the most sadistic criminal underlords ever known. It was rather important work.

Elinor: And can you believe he kept that from me? I feel like I don’t even know him. We’re virtual strangers.

Winn: I can remedy that. Give me a half hour in your bed chamber, madam. We can very quickly become reacquainted.

Shana: Right, so let’s chat about something else. Readers have been asking about Adrian and Sophia from Lord and Lady Spy.

Winn: Wolf and Saint. They’re some of the best spies in the Barbican group, but they’ve retired.

Shana: Didn’t you meet with Wolf about the case mentioned in True Spies?

Winn: I might have met with him about…something.

Elinor: And I consulted with Sophia. She’s lovely.

Shana: I think the one thing many readers want to know is whether Sophia is indeed pregnant. Can you answer that?

Elinor: Shana, that’s simply not an appropriate topic for mixed company. Your readers will have to read the book to discover that (or a review with a spoiler).

Shana: I wanted to mention this book is based on the film True Lies. Elinor, at one point you have to perform a strip tease. Do you think you measure up to Jamie Lee Curtis’s performance in the film?

Winn: I haven’t seen the film—what is a film?—but personally, I was impressed.

Elinor: No comment.

Shana: Last question. Do you think there’s a chance for the two of you to reconcile? It seems there’s a pretty big chasm separating you.

Elinor: No. I think we must go on living separate lives. I don’t love Winn any more.

Winn: I don’t accept that response. She does still love me, and before the end of the book, I’ll win her back.

Shana: Thanks both of you. I wish you a wonderful happily ever after!

Melanie, thanks for hosting us. Readers, are there any movies you think would make good inspiration for a book? One reader who comments will win a copy of Lord and Lady Spy (U.S. and Canadian residents).

Warning! This agent’s secret identity—and his heart—have been compromised!

Winslow, an elite spy in Regency England, has managed to keep his identity secret from everyone—including his beloved wife Elinor. But his success with these covert affairs has taken a toll on their marriage, leaving Elinor to entertain the idea of a secret liaison with a rakish spy.

She believes she will finally have the danger and excitement her marriage has never afforded her—until things get too dangerous, and she ends up being kidnapped. In this world of intrigue, Elinor discovers that no one is who they seem to be—not even her own husband.


To Purchase True Spies:

Barnes and Noble

Shana GalenABOUT THE AUTHOR: Shana Galen is the author of fast-paced adventurous Regency historicals, including the Lord and Lady Spy Series, the Jewels of the Ton Series, as well as the Sons of the Revolution Trilogy. A former English teacher in Houston’s inner city, Shana now writes full time, and is working on more regency romance novels! She’s happily married to the Ultimate Sportsfan and has a daughter who is most definitely a romance heroine in the making. Shana loves to hear from readers: visit her website, or see what she’s up to daily on Facebook and Twitter.