Above painting: Louis Jean Francois - Mars and Venus an Allegory of Peace
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Showing posts with label Regency Romance. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Regency Romance. Show all posts

Thursday, November 8, 2018

History of Polio by Madeline Martin

That awkward moment when you go to write about a character who survived polio, only to realize it wasn’t called ‘polio’ back then.

In Mesmerizing the Marquis, the hero, Noah Hesterton has polio as a child and still bears his scars in the form of a weakened limb. However, in my research, I realized it was not referred to as ‘polio’ until the early 1900’s. However, it is believed to have been around in pre-history based off Egyptian carvings depicting people whose limbs appear shriveled by the effects of polio.

Mesmerizing the Marquis takes place in 1816 when the disease is referred to as a “debility of the lower extremities”. Though later in the century, you may see it referred to as Heine-Medin disease after two physicians working with sufferers and studying the effects.

Through the centuries this disease continued to plague our children, leaving some dead and many survivors bearing the tell-tale sign of twisted and shrunken limbs. America was not immune and suffered a terrible outbreak in the mid-1900’s that killed thousands and left tens of thousands with permanent milt to severe paralysis of the limbs as well as many other issues.

However, in doing my research on polio, it gave me an appreciation for what survivors had to overcome following their illness. One of the things I love about all the research I do for these books is the incredible people and circumstances I learn about along the way. There was the 32nd president of America, Franklin D. Roosevelt, of course, but there were so many others. Like Ray Ewry who won ten Olympic gold medals in jumping despite having spent part of his childhood in a wheelchair, and Wilma Rudolph who had polio as a child and had to wear a leg brace for years just to walk – she went on to win three Olympic gold medals for and set two world records.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt 

Olympian Ray Ewry

Olympian Wilma Rudolph

Ray Ewry and Wilma Rudolph and so many more like them are exactly the reason I love delving into research, to remember the names of people who overcame so much and persevered against the odds stacked against them.

Who are some admirable people you know of in history who defied great odds?


Madeline Martin is a USA TODAY Bestselling author of Scottish set historical romance novels. She lives a glitter-filled life in Jacksonville, Florida with her two daughters (known collectively as the minions) and a man so wonderful he's been dubbed Mr. Awesome. All shenanigans are detailed regularly on Twitter and on Facebook.

Madeline loves animals in sweaters, cat videos, wine and Nutella. Check out her FB page on any given Friday to see what great new book she's giving away by one of her fellow authors. 

She also loves connecting with her readers, so feel free to follow her on any one of her social media platforms, or send her a message :) 

Author website: www.MadelineMartin.com

Author Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/MadelineMartinAuthor Author Twitter: @MadelineMMartin
Author Amazon Profile page: http://www.amazon.com/Madeline-Martin/e/B00R8OGFN2/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1 


Noah Haskett, the Marquis of Hesterton, is a recluse. His late brother's actions in battle have forced him to shy away from the ton. When the sole survivor of his brother's company begins speaking, Noah is lured out of hiding. But the answers he seeks are slow to come and it appears someone might be trying to kill him. Of course, being enchanted by a woman is not part of his plan and is making matters rather complicated.

Miss Helen Craig has spent a lifetime hiding her ability to see the future. Despite her reluctance to accept her gift, she has also begun to have visions of the past. Concerned her gift may lead to madness, she volunteers at a hospital for the sick and insane in the hopes of learning how to avoid such a fate. But when an omen of death comes to her after an encounter with a sullen, brooding marquis, she is compelled to do something she's never done before: attempt to change the future.

When the past and future collide, will love be enough to save them or will the sins of others be their doom?

 Read the Book!

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

It All Started With a Cartoon by Virginia Heath

It All Started With a Cartoon
Guest post by Virginia Heath

I adore weaving real history through my stories, and this book is crammed full of genuine medical practices from the time. Researching it was eye opening. A Warriner to Tempt Her takes place during a deadly smallpox epidemic. Smallpox had been an indiscriminate killer throughout history, often killing hundreds as it worked its way around the towns and villages of England. By the Regency, physicians did know that it was highly contagious and quarantined victims to avoid passing it on.

The big breakthrough came thanks to a country doctor called Edward Jenner in the late 1800s. He decided to test the validity of an old wives’ tale which claimed all those who worked with cows were immune to smallpox. Over the course of many years, he discovered that those new to working with cattle- such as milk maids- often caught a relatively harmless disease from them. Cowpox caused a mild fever and an irritating skin rash in humans which quickly cleared up of its own accord. Jenner began to suspect cowpox was the key to the immunity from smallpox. However, to test his theory he would need to infect a human with cowpox who had never come into any contact with cows before.

In 1796 he paid the parents of James Phipps to use the child as a guineapig, and then injected the pus from a cowpox pustule into the boy. A few weeks later, he exposed the boy to smallpox and when nothing happened declared it a resounding success. He called his new treatment vaccination as the word vacca is Latin for cow and was convinced it was the only thing capable of defeating the ‘speckled monster’. However, the Royal Society did not welcome his research with open arms. They declared it too revolutionary and asked for more proof. It took until 1798, and several more experiment with cowpox including one on his own baby son, before they published his findings.
Although conclusive, the people were less enthusiastic to this new miracle. There was an enormous backlash against Jenner’s vaccination accompanied by extensive propaganda. Aside from the fact the new prevention was more expensive than the old-fashioned inoculation, the widespread resistance came because of two things. Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, vaccination was seen as ungodly. The very religious masses listened to the anti-vaccination sermons preached from pulpits the length and breadth of the British Isles. After all, in Corinthians is stated quite clearly “All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts”. Mixing the two things was grossly unacceptable according to the scriptures.

Secondly, although Jenner was able to prove vaccination did work with none of the risks caused by inoculation, he had no earthly idea why. Even the educated struggled to justify agreeing to vaccination without knowing the science behind it.

This anti-vaccination cartoon from the period is my inspiration for A Warriner to Tempt Her. If you look closely, you can see Jenner holding down the reluctant patients and injecting them with stuff clearly scraped off the stable floor. Women are giving birth to cows. Men are sprouting horns and udders, and a biblical image of the followers of Moses making a fake idol to worship in the shape of a golden cow hangs front and centre on the wall. I adore this picture. I decided to use all those blinkered beliefs in my story and poor Dr Joseph Warriner and the intrepid heroine Bella have a battle on their hands trying to convince the locals to be vaccinated.

While history proved Jenner correct, vaccination remained unpopular with the masses and continued to be during Edwards lifetime and beyond. He died in 1823 with his vaccination still as controversial as it had been in 1796. It was only once the brilliant French scientist Louis Pasteur began to do more experiments on vaccination in the late 19th century, and was finally able to explain why it worked, that public objection lessened. Smallpox vaccination became widespread and the catastrophic epidemics died out. The last known case of smallpox was in Somalia in 1977 and in 1980 the World Health Organization declared the diseased eradicated. And all thanks an old wives’ tale and a tenacious country doctor from Gloucestershire.

(Gilray cartoon is out of copywrite and in the public domain. This copy came from The British Museum)

When Virginia Heath was a little girl it took her ages to fall asleep, so she made up stories in her head to help pass the time while she was staring at the ceiling. As she got older, the stories became more complicated, sometimes taking weeks to get to the happy ending. Then one day, she decided to embrace the insomnia and start writing them down. Fortunately, the lovely people at Harlequin Mills & Boon took pity on her and decided to publish her romances, but it still takes her forever to fall asleep.

A shy innocent She's wary of all men.

In this The Wild Warriners story, shy Lady Isabella Beaumont is perfectly happy to stay in the background and let her sister get all the attention from handsome suitors following a shocking incident. However working with Dr Joseph Warriner to help the sick and needy pushes her closer to a man than she’s ever been before. Is this a man worth trusting with her deepest of desires…?


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Reading as a Writer by Callie Hutton

Today I'd like to welcome, Callie Hutton, not only a wonderful historical romance author, but one of our reviewers too! I can't wait to read her new Christmas story!

Reading as a Writer

By: Callie Hutton

            I’ve been a voracious reader all my life. My mom would take a book out of my hands and point to the door. “Go out and play.”
            At various jobs where I worked, I was known as the woman who always had her nose stuck in a book. When people would ask what I was reading, most times I had to check the cover because I read so fast I didn’t even have a book long enough to remember its name.
            Reading has been my main source of entertainment for years. It disturbs me that now that I have written several books, gone through critiques, contests, and editing with publishers, that now I read, not as a reader, by as a writer. It’s sort of like seeing the faults in your child. You love them anyway, but sad when you discover those little things that you wished wasn’t a part of their makeup.
            I’m currently reading a book by a very well-known romance author. Every time she head- hops, I cringe. I have no problem following the story, and frankly I never could understand the horror that particular issue creates, but I know it’s not acceptable. Then there’s the flat out mistakes. Missing words, wrong words, repetitive phrases. Reversed letters so it reads: “her won” instead of “her own.”
            I suppose at one time that would never have bothered me, or even if I would have noticed it. Or is it just editors are getting sloppy? I allow (but don’t accept) mistakes in self-published books because I realize it’s hard to find your own mistakes, even though any decent self- published author uses beta readers and critique partners to catch them.
            But when you’re reading a book by a well-known author, coming from a “big” house, and you see these mistakes, it irks me. Have I always been this fussy? Or is this a new trend? In any event, even though I never intend to give up my favorite past time, it’s now riddled with annoyance.
            How about you? Do mistakes bother you? Does it pull you out of the story? Do you think there are more mistakes in books now then, say, twenty years ago? And lastly, when you see mistakes in a book, do you try to contact the author and let him/her know?
            Inquiring minds want to know.

Callie has been making up stories since elementary school, and writing gave her a way to turn off the voices in her head.  She’s had a number of articles and interviews published over the years, and finally decided to put her writing skills to the test and write novels.
            Oklahoma is where she hangs her hat with her husband of thirty-six years, two young adult children, and three dogs.
You can catch her hanging out at Facebook, Twitter- @CallieHutton, and her home base, www.calliehutton.com. Stop by sometime and say hello.

Blurb for Miss Merry’s Christmas:

The Duke of Penrose is not happy with Miss Meredith Chambers, the American governess his new wards have arrived with. He quickly replaces her, happy to have his unwanted attraction to the unsuitable woman behind him. Until his mother hires her as a companion…

England, 1817.  David Worthington, Duke of Penrose dislikes Miss Meredith Chambers, the American governess who accompanied his new wards. He especially detests his attraction to the insufferable woman, and is anxious for her replacement to arrive.

Merry is thrilled when the Dowager Duchess Penrose hires her as a companion. Now she can stay with her beloved charges. But can she ignore how her heart thumps when the pompous duke gets close?

Two people determined to ignore each other, despite the pull between them, and the sparks that fly whenever they're together.



Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Guest Grace Burrowes, Author of The Virtuoso and Lady Sophie’s Christmas Wish

Welcome to History Undressed, today's guest author, Grace Burrowes! Writer of Regency romance, she has a lovely blog for us today. Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of her newest release, THE VIRTUOSO. (2 winners/ US & Canada only)


An author who’s going to make her Regency hero a piano virtuoso had first best determine whether such a thing existed at the time his story takes place. Fortunately for me and for Lord Valentine in The Virtuoso, it did—but only barely.

Most people are familiar with the term “wunderkind,” or wonder child, as it applied to Mozart (1756-1791) and his sister Nannerl. Their doting if profit-minded papa paraded them all over Europe in the years 1762-1773, including two trips to London (1764 and 1765). The English therefore had at least one precedent for a piano virtuoso. I was surprised to find that the first English piano virtuoso, and the first musician referred to generally as such, was none other than dear old Muzio Clementi (1752-1832).

Clementi’s sonatinas remain in our repertoire as teaching studies. They’re pretty, not too long, not too complicated, and they make nice party pieces—they also show only the confectionary end of Clementi’s abilities. In Lord Valentine’s day, Clementi, who was raised and educated in England from the age of fourteen on, would have been the grand old fellow of concert, composition, and music publishing fame. Clementi also built pianos and some of his technological advances are still in use in our modern instruments.

I have a degree in music history and my instrument was piano, and yet I did not know that Clementi was credited with influencing Chopin, Lizst and a host of other romantic figures. I also did not know enough about the technical evolution of the piano.

The first pianos probably date from about 1700 and were built in Italy. By Mozart’s time, they were still smallish instruments, with five octave keyboards, and only a simple sustaining pedal. By Lord Valentine’s day, small pianos for cottage use were being built along the earlier, more modest dimensions, but so too were concert versions and salon versions with six octaves and even a few—Beethoven had one—reaching to a seventh octave.

There would be something un-heroic about a big, handsome fellow in fancy evening attire sitting down to impress the ladies by playing at an itty-bitty piano capable of only itty-bitty sound. I was much relieved to know that grands and imposing square pianos were the norm in better households during the Regency, and that Lord Val would soon have at his disposal pianos with ranges very near to what we play on today.

Then too, for a virtuoso to tour profitably, there had to be large venues for him to play in (the English frowned on women performing for money, while the Continent took a more liberal view).  During the Regency, the primary concert venue, His Majesty’s Threatre at Haymarket, was renovated to increase its capacity from 1200 seats to 2500.

So much to my relief, Lord Valentine arrived to his story at a point in musical evolution when both worthy instruments and worthy venues were on hand to showcase his talent… My only task was then to provide him a worthy lady to appreciate some of his other attributes—and his music too, of course.

The Virtuoso by Grace Burrowes – In Stores November 2011

A genius with a terrible loss…

Gifted pianist Valentine Windham, youngest son of the Duke of Moreland, has little interest in his father’s obsession to see his sons married, and instead pours passion into his music. But when Val loses his music, he flees to the country, alone and tormented by what has been robbed from him.

A widow with a heartbreaking secret…

Grieving Ellen Markham has hidden herself away, looking for safety in solitude. Her curious new neighbor offers a kindred lonely soul whose desperation is matched only by his desire, but Ellen’s devastating secret could be the one thing that destroys them both.

Together they’ll find there’s no rescue from the past, but sometimes losing everything can help you find what you need most.

Lady Sophie’s Christmas Wish by Grace Burrowes – In Stores NOW!

A luminous holiday tale of romance, passion, and dreams come true from rising star Grace Burrowes, whose award-winning Regency romances are capturing hearts worldwide.

All she wants is peace and anonymity…

Lady Sophie Windham has maneuvered a few days to herself at the ducal mansion in London before she must join her family for Christmas in Kent. Suddenly trapped by a London snowstorm, she finds herself with an abandoned baby and only the assistance of a kind, handsome stranger standing between her and complete disaster.

But Sophie’s holiday is about to heat up…

With his estate in ruins, Vim Charpentier sees little to feel festive about this Christmas. His growing attraction for Sophie Windham is the only thing that warms his spirits—but when Sophie’s brothers whisk her away, Vim’s most painful holiday memories are reawakened.

It seems Sophie’s been keeping secrets, and now it will take much more than a mistletoe kiss to make her deepest wishes come true…

About the Author

Grace Burrowes is the pen name for a prolific and award-winning author of historical romances. The Heir, received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Booklist, and was selected as a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year for 2010. Both The Heir and its follow-up, The Solider, are New York Times and USA Today bestsellers. She is a practicing attorney specializing in family law and lives in a restored log cabin in western Maryland without a TV, DVD or radio because she's too busy working on her next books. For more information, please visit http://www.graceburrowes.com/.