Friday, January 1, 2021

Welcome to the 2021 Series:; The Rebellious Sisterhood

 Happy New Year!

The Cornish Dukes are behind us and it's time to welcome in the 2021 series, the Rebellious Sisterhood. The series features three female artists looking to make a mark on the world and live life on their own terms. Book 1 features Artemisia Stansfield, a woman seeking promotion to the rank of RA (Royal Academician) at the Royal Academy of the Arts. Set in 1820, right after the death of one of the original Academy founders, Mary Moser, Artemisia struggles to overcome gender barriers despite her talent. The second book, Revealing the True Miss Stansfield, features Adelaide, Artemisia's younger sister (March 1, 2021) and the third book, A Wager to Tempt the Runaway, features an itinerant artist named  osefina Ricci who is caught in a bet between Artemisia and Sir Aldred Gray (May or June 2021). 

The stories are set in Seasalter on the Kent coast.  In this blog post I want to introduce to Seasalter as it was in 1820 when it was not much at all. It's primary industries were oysters and smuggling. It's the perfect place for Artemisia to escape to when she turns her back on Society and rusticates. I want to acknowledge the Blue Anchor Corner as a source I turned to for information about Seasalter in the 1820s.  If you are interested in the site, you can access it here:

Seasalter contained a few outlying farmhouses like the one Artemisia inherited from her aunt, St. Alphege's church, the Crown inn and a handful of fishing huts. The Crown Inn was later renamed the Blue Anchor, and it wasn't clear to me exactly when the re-naming happened, so I stuck with calling it The Crown for the series. I did embellish the town teeny bit with the invention of a bakery next door to the Crown where Elianora makes her delicious ginger biscuits on Fridays. But in truth, there was no bakery. Seasalter relied on the close proximity of Faversham and the larger village of Whitstable for what might pass as 'shops' in that rural area.  There is no High Street in Seasalter. 

Geographically, Seasalter is set in a marshy area that provides an estuary for birds. From Seasalter, one can see the Isle of Sheppey and the oyster beds are about a mile from the shore. 

It was interesting to learn that Seasalter had relatively temperate winters. They were not tropical by any means, but winters had a mild quality to them (45 degrees and rainy) which made it possible for an intrepid soul to tramp the marsh, beach and shingle year long if they so desired. This is important to Artemisia who spend a lot of her time outdoors sketching the wildlife and there are several scenes where Artemisia and Darius make good use of the isolated outdoors in winter to talk over campfires bundled up in blankets. 

Stay tuned for more weekly posts about Seasalter as we celebrate the Jan. 1 release Portrait of a Forbidden Love.


Sunday, March 22, 2020

Gool Peran! Or Happy St. Piran's Day.  It's not really St. Piran's day as I write this, but a few weeks after.  St Piran's Day is March 5th.  I thought this week I would give us a behind the scenes look at the first meeting of Penrose and Cassian in "The Passions of Lord Trevethow." Their first meeting takes place at the St. Piran's day fair in Redruth, not far from Hayle, where Cassian's family seat is located, and of course Penrose lives in Redruth.

St. Piran, himself, was a 5th century Cornish abbot, and later a saint. He was Irish, and today he is known as the patron saint of Cornwall and of tin miners (which seems to go hand in hand).  In modern Cornwall, a lot of towns have their own St Piran's festivals, like Truro and Golowan, but Redruth is generally acknowledged as the home and founding place of St. Piran's day festivals.  The festivals have changed little over the centuries--consisting of street fairs, fair food, vendors and entertainments. Here's a nice link to a brief story about St. Piran  Just a note, a lot of the easily accessed material on the internet, creates the impression that St. Piran's day was first celebrated in Redruth in 2011-- not so. However, there was a hiatus in celebrations and then a resurgence of them in the late 19th century in Cornwall. So, it is possible that I took a bit of license in bumping up the fair to 1824.

At the fair, Cassian and Penrose eat some fun treats! Cassian is a bottomless pit and can eat all day. One of the first treats he buys for them is a traditional Cornish pasty. In the book, he eats a meat pasty right away upon arrival and then eats a potato pasty with Penrose.  Enjoy the picture and if you're interested in a recipe here's a link.  Another treat highlighted at the fair was 'fairings' which is a cookie.

This year, which is becoming a historical year (2020), St Piran's day celebrants were encouraged to practice social distancing.

Monday, March 16, 2020

The Passions of Lord Trevethow: The Hawaiian Royalty Visit Part I

Welcome to the third installment of "behind the scenes" of Lord Trevethow. One of my favorite parts of the book is the London visit of Hawaiian Royalty, which was one of the highlights of that year's Season. This gives Pen a chance to 'see the world' without leaving London, and a chance for Pen and her father to confront their fears of strangers--although in her father's case, those fears become truth which creates an interesting dilemma about moving forward despite known risks.
There were excellent records of the Hawaiian King's itinerary, from the hotel he stayed at, to the daily outings that he took, complete with dates and times, guests, and even the titles of plays and operas that he took in . In some cases, there was even detail down to the hour he would be somewhere. That's always a great find! In the book, Cassian takes Penrose to the Foreign Secretary's reception and the evening is just as historically recorded.  The Lifeguard band was the slated entertainment, the guests were high ranking peers, along with any highly ranked foreign ambassador or else-wise who were in the city, and the place the reception is held at is the one that was used. I'll say more about the political aspects of the visit in the part II next week of this post, since the visit was somewhat controversial.

On a sadder note, also true, is the fact that the Hawaiian King and Queen both die in London due to catching measles during their tour of the Duke  York's military school facility in Chelsea, and the funeral Cassian attends is true as well. I used a variety of sources to piece together the itinerary of the King and how that would work around Cassian's own social calendar. However, I was most grateful to the work done by J. Susan Corley in her article entitled: The British Press Greets the King of the Sandwich Islands: Kamehameha II in London, 1824.  This was an amazing and detailed resource. I wish I could post the link here so you all could read the exciting depth and descriptions but the link cannot be posted. 

I thought the inclusion of the royal visit was an important addition to Cassian and Pen's story since Cassian promises to show Pen the world, knowing full well he can't leave London with her. So, he brings the world to her--the visit to the Greek themed opera house, and a chance to meet  the Hawaiian royals. This was a great intersection of history and fiction.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

19th Century Roller Coasters

Lord Trevethow's passion--one of them at least--is to build a pleasure garden that bring experiences and the world to his small corner of Cornwall. One of the visions he shares with Penrose in the novel, is the vision of a Mountain, or a modern day roller coaster, like the ones he experienced on his travels through Russia and France (if you recall a brief reference from Unwrapping his Festive Temptation--Rosenwyn and Cador's novella, there is a mention of Marianne Treleven begging for tales of his travels and wanting to hear all about Russia). So, I thought I would share a little bit about the origins of the roller coaster here-- what would Cassian have seen and experienced?

In the 16th and 17th centuries, Russians began the idea with ice slides or 'flying mountains'  and sleds that crash landed into a pile of sand.  This article from Atlasobscura is confirmed in several other articles about the Russian Mountains, if you want to read more about how they were constructed and used.

From Russia, the coaster concept goes to France and the pleasures of the French Court. In France, the coasters are referred to as "Russes des Montagnes" Russian mountains. The most well known is the Russes  de Belleville.  How Stuff Works, has a nice informative paragraph or two on the topic of roller coasters in France if you'd like to read more:

Additionally, the French also improve on the steerless sled/cart idea by introducing the tracked cart that followed a groove.--pretty cool!  If you're wondering how the French conquered the lack of snow and ice that the Russian Mountains relied upon, they did it with wax--also a pretty cool fun fact.

And of course, Cassian has his own improvements in mind as well.

Happy Reading,

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Book #2 The Passions of Lord Trevethow

Cassian's story is here! February has passed in a whirlwind of hard work finishing up the 4th book in the Cornish Duke's series. Now, it is time to celebrate with the release of Book #2, The Passions of Lord Trevethow.   Cassian's story is complex. He's a man on a mission that is part legacy and part revenge. Still struggling to come to grips with his brother's death by misadventure, Cassian wants to
make amends for his brother's errors by bringing jobs and economic diversity to Cornwall through the opening of a pleasure garden that would educate, entertain, employ and sustain the population.  There's only one catch: he needs land to build it on and the man holding the land refuses to let it go to anyone outside the family. Cassian's challenge: to become family by marrying the man's reclusive daughter. But before that can happen, Cassian meets an entrancing young peasant woman at the Redruth St. Piran's Day Fair and falls madly in love.  Now he has to decide between his heart and his legacy.

Does that remind you a bit of the scene in Sleeping Beauty where Prince Phillip falls in love at first sight with Briar Rose in the forest, then doesn't want to go home and marry the unseen princess? I hope so.  Cassian is a bit of  a 19th century Walt Disney with his dream of a pleasure garden that brings experiences to people, so it only seemed fitting to give him a story like one of the great Disney animated classics.  Cassian doesn't have spinning wheels or any pricked fingers, or even a Maleficent style Cornish pixie, but he does the Briar Rose/Princess Aurora dilemma, just as Penrose will have her own Prince Phillip/boy I met in the woods dilemma.

Stay tuned for more insights into Cassian's story throughout the month!

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Character inspirations for the Cornish Dukes

This week I got my revision notes back for Vennor Penlerick's story, the very last one in the dukes' series, so I will going into the writing cave shortly for a couple weeks while I tweak this finale to the series into shape. But, before I do, I thought it would be fun to take a look back at the inspirations for the four heroes. It's hard to believe this time last year, the series was just beginning to take shape and now it's out there for readers!  So here's how it began.

Eaton Falmage, Lord Lynford (heir to the Duke of Bude).
He's meant to be a regional fellow, more concerned with what he can do at home for his people than the glitter of London, and with his own secret to hide, he'd prefer to stay out of Society's eye. While he didn't physically embody Aidan Turner, he did embody some  of the similar attributes of Turner's character, Ross Poldark. So, I started there for some inspiration about Eaton. Fun fact: about three months after I finished the mansucript, revisions and all, I was watching Season Four of Poldark, the episode where Demelza cuts the ribbon for the new school. If you're a Poldark fan, you'll remember that Season 4 and 5 focused on education for the children. I saw that and at first I was like, "Aw, that was my idea to have schools!" (even though, we know historically, there was indeed a big push in the 1820s for schools at mines and at factories by those more civically minded. But then, I was like, 'oh that's so cool to see that story line get reinforced.' 
Cassian Truscott, Viscount Trevethow (heir to the Duke of Hayle).
Although Eaton is also an outdoorsman, Cassian is a rugged outdoorsman. He loves beaches and woods and riding and sailing and traveling. So, I definitely wanted someone who had that outdoorsy feel to them and that confidence. Here's my dirty little secret-- Gaston in the live action Beauty and the Beast is sexy!! What makes him unattractive to me are his personality traits and his belief system. But what if, he was good looking and good-thinking? Then, we'd really have something, in fact, we'd have Cassian Truscott.

Inigo Vellanoweth, Earl of Tintagel and the heir to the Duke of Boscastle
Inigo was a little trickier. Being raised in this group of young men and in Cornwall, he too loves the outdoors, but he also is very good with investments and he's the financial engineer of the group, partnering with Cassian in the Porth Karrek Land Development Company. And it's Inigo that Eaton calls in to mastermind the plan to save Eliza's mines.  So, for Inigo, I wanted a slightly more refined image that captured both his intellect and Town Bronze as well as his outdoorsmanship. I settled on Torrance Coombs from Reign-- he plays the king's bastard, Bash, whose character embodied a similar combination-- a man who had to navigate the nuances of French Court and all its politics, while also enjoying a robust outdoorsy life. I love how this cover came out--you'll notice that Inigo's cravat is actually tied whereas Eaton doesn't have one at all and Cassian's is rather untied and loose. The tied cravat is a nod to Inigo's polish. Readers will note that Inigo spends considerably more time in London than Eaton and Cassian.

Vennor Penlerick, The Duke of Newlyn.  His cover isn't done yet, but he's meant to be the more classically handsome of the group. He's spent the entire series in Town, grieving the loss of his father, whose death opens the series, and trying to figure out who he is. So, I will leave this space blank for a little while and leave him to your imagination. He's blonde, though, the only blond of the bunch as readers of Lord Lynford will have noticed. Until then...get those imaginations warmed up. HINT: his physical inspiration is Dan Stevens in his Downton Abbey mode.

Friday, January 10, 2020

The Cornish Dukes Timeline

If you're interested in the progression of the series, here's a little time line with memorable events to guide your reading. 

Nov. 30, 1822 Cador Kitto arrives in Porth Karrek. The night of the storm and subsequent BIG rescue by Captain Penhaligon and Emily Faulkner (as featured in Marguerite Kaye's "The Captain's Christmas Proposal," in An Invitation to a Cornish Christmas.

Sun., Dec. 1, 1822, First Sunday in Advent.  Cador Kitto attends church in Porth Karrek. Meets the Treleven family.Has lunch with the Trelevens and the Cornish ducal heirs are present.

Dec. 24, 1822, Cador Kitto performs his Christmas cantata at the Porth Karrek church. Eaton Falmage offers him the role of headmaster with the founding of the Cornish Music Academy in Porth Karrek. Eaton Falmage, heir to the Duke of Bude, and the Marquess of Lynford, makes the offer so that Cador can marry Rosenwyn Treleven.

Jan. 1823  Rosenwyn Treleven and Cador Kittto  wed.They spend their honeymoon on the Continent looking for potential instructors for the school scheduled to open in the fall. Eaton Falmage cancels his planned trip to Italy in order to help prepare the school.

May 1823  Marianne Treleven makes her debut for the Season. Eaton and the ducal heirs are in Town to support her come-out.  Eaton plans to stay only a short time.

June 11, 1823  Richard Penlerick, one of the founding Cornish dukes (and father to Vennor) is killed by footpads along with his wife after attending the theater.

June 18, 1823  Richard Penlerick's funeral..  The 4 heirs see each other all together for the last time for the next three years.

June 19, 1823:  Eaton and Cassian return to Cornwall. Eaton to work on the school and Cassian to work on his acquiring his pleasure garden. Inigo stays in London to keep an eye on a grieving Vennor who is determined to bring his parents' killers to justice.  Marianne Treleven begins writing for the Society column in Lady's Magazine anonymously to augment her allowance.

July 1823:  The first sighting of the Vigilante is reported.

September 1823:  Eaton's musical conservatory opens. School patron, Eliza Blaxland comes to visit the school while on mining business at Wheal Karrek.  Cador Kitto tells Eaton that he and Rosenwyn are expecting a baby in March.

November 1823:  Eaton and Eliza marry at the school.

March 5, 1824  St. Piran's Day:  Cassian Truscott, heir to the Duke of Hayle, attends the Redruth St. Piran's Day fair and meets the mysterious Em.

End of March, 1824:  Rosenwyn and Cade's baby is born

May 1824:  Marianne Treleven has her second season in London as a Diamond of the First Water, Vennor is officially out of mourning. Hawaiian royalty come to town. Cassian begins his courtship of Penrose in order to win the land for the pleasure garden. The Vigilante continues to be a topic of interest among Society.
August, 1824  Cassian and Penrose wed and take a year long honeymoon throughout Europe.

October 1824:  Inigo is approached by Audevere Brenley with a plan to be free of her father./ The Vigilante rescues Inigo from an assault near St. James.

Late 1824:  Inigo and Audevere wed.

Late summer 1825:  Cassian and Pen return home from their honeymoon. Pen announces she is expecting a child in March or April.

March 1826:  Cassian and Pen's son, Richard Collin is born.

May 1826:  Marianne Treleven's 3rd Season begins