Slip of the Tongue – Or – The Foundation Series – Or – The Stays the Thing.

I may have mentioned that I write Regency Romances. Published nothing so far, but come pretty close a time or two. Under and assumed name so my sister won’t be ashamed to acknowledge me in public, I am writing erotica. I have a fun scene where the hero dances the heroine outside and into a hedge maze, and does unspeakable things to her. That’s why I wrote it down, instead of making a recording.

One reader was amazed that the hero could simply pull her sleeves down her arms a bit, and all her glorious bounty lay exposed before him. “Didn’t they have bras?” she asked. No. No, they did not.

I’ll let Uncle Wiki fill you in on the history of the brassiere. Suffice to say bras were not used until the late 1800s, and the Regency era really slipped into the Victorian era about 1820. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_brassieres

What did the women do to keep the “girls” in line? There were several options. Much depended on the social status of the woman. Regency women dressed like an onion, in layers. First there was the chemise, also called a shift. Often this was the nightgown, too. Over this light and easily washed shift, would go the stays. https://mantua-maker.com/Corset_Patterns.html The breasts were lovingly placed into the stiff cotton twill garment, and a wooden (usually) busk (yardstick) is inserted in the front, in a pocket designed just for that use. The stays were expected to flatten the stomach, but lift and separate the bosom. This is more flattering than the Georgian flat from neck to toes style, and much more comfortable than the Victorian corset.

The shoulder straps, as you can see here: http://www.songsmyth.com/underthings.html can be undone from the front and tucked in the back, if your ball gown had a wide neckline. So my hero could easily have pulled the stays down the slender heroine, with no impediment.

Shall we finish dressing our Regency Heroine? Why not! Over the stays, her ‘tiring woman or abigail places the petticoat. The bodice of the petticoat would be of a cheap, coarse fabric, and the had open sides for eas of dressing. Strips of fabric tape tied it all closed. The chemise would not be ankle length, but the petticoat was designed to fill out the shape of the dress, so that the wearer’s legs could not be easily perceived under her gown. It went to the hem and had at least one ruffle, properly called a flounce. http://janeaustensworld.wordpress.com/2010/11/17/why-petticoats-and-chemises-were-worn-under-regency-gowns-jane-austens-world/

Drawers, you ask? Oh, no. Only fast women and prostitutes would wear drawers! http://janeaustensworld.wordpress.com/2010/11/06/ladies-underdrawers-in-regency-times/

But that’s a step backward. Here are a few more wonderful links on the subject, and next Thursday we’ll look at the outer layers, and that wonderful hobby, laundry! Have a good week.

http://wordwenches.typepad.com/word_wenches/2007/10/undressing-your.html

http://www.kristenkoster.com/2011/11/a-primer-on-regency-era-womens-fashion/

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The Formula of Love

Well, it’s a tie. Only one vote came in on the three possible candidates for modeling my heroine after, and then there’s my vote. But as the official tie breaker, I get to pick the one I want. My friend and fellow writer who voted picked my least favorite of the three, to my amazement. She felt the first picture was too sleek and modern-looking, and the third, my favorite, looked too inactive to be a heroine.

I’ve been large size since sometime after my 2nd birthday. I’ve juggled emotional issues and depression and low self-worth, and by some luck managed to stay alive long enough to meet a man who loves me more than I love myself. I’m not saying being overweight is not a problem. I found a plan that works for me and I have lost 70 pounds in the last two years. I’m taking a break and doing maintenance currently while dealing with financial stress (that is going away, hooray!) and getting through the last months before my retirement.

One thing that made the weight loss work is a support group that I found, and that I in turn support through my gift, writing. I take the notes for the group, and keep the information fresh in their minds. We have a great facilitator who is a certified nutritionist, and once a month we have a special speaker who has an amazing alphabet soup behind her name. She works with mostly young women who have eating disorders. She’s lost a few patients, too. It’s a very deadly condition that usually starts with a negative remark from another person. Or maybe just a friend tells you how to drop a few pounds quickly by purging. Size bigotry is killing more people than we realize.

I’m less active than I would like to be, but not long ago (within the last millennium) I took part in three times weekly aerobics classes, hiked with my dog on weekends, and went to as many social events as I could afford. Just last year I was in Tai Chi, my favorite form of exercise, and walk a few times a week at work, plus volunteer to walk dogs at the local humane society. Anything to keep from cleaning the house.

So to prove that size does not equal inactivity, I went on line. I found a wonderful site called Monica Wants It. This plus size beauty blogs about do it yourself decorating, crafts, entertaining, and weight loss. http://www.monicawantsit.com/search/label/fashion

I zipped over to Daily Venus Diva, a fashion place for beautiful and curvy women. I am so impressed and amazed that there are fashion models out there, working, and larger than I currently am. The site is for fans to follow large size celebs but it’s great for a quick boost of window shopping. http://dailyvenusdiva.com/

Tess Munster is a plus size beauty, a model, and a campaigner for acceptance for all sizes. I love her t-shirts that read “Eff Your Beauty Standards.” http://theplussizelife.blogspot.com/

There’s even a Plus Size Mag with the hottest BBW models in the business. http://www.plus-model-mag.com/2013/07/hottest-bodies-in-the-plus-size-modeling-industry-2013/

And I fell in love with The Militant Baker’s spoof of a certain clothing store’s ads. Who is that delectable eye candy she is posing with? I may have to pin him somewhere. http://www.cnn.com/2013/05/23/living/abercrombie-attractive-and-fat/

But I really wanted to find out more about the model in the photo that got my vote. You see, something clicked in my writer brain when I looked at her, and now I know a lot more about my hero. He’s a large man, tall, broad shouldered, big feet to go with it all, and learning to live on board a space-challenged sailing ship that he commands. A larger, softer woman would feel more comfortable in his arms. And that’s part of the equation, the formula that equals sexual attraction that unfolds into love. I am miffed that I have to put this story on ice for a bit, but it is unfolding in my brain.

Kate Dillon is the model. She is an active and interesting person. She’s educated, she survived her “non-trivial eating disorder” and she likes herself better every day. http://www.vogue.com/magazine/article/a-life-in-full/

And more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/you/article-541288/Supersize-Me-The-Top-Model-Who-Piled-Pounds.html

And this: https://shine.yahoo.com/healthy-living/model-kate-dillon-speaks-outa-about-being-too-skinny-too-plus-size-and-whats-up-with-the-crystal-controversy-2015056.html

What I want to say by all this is, don’t judge! Love yourself, and don’t let others judge you. You are Perfect, Whole, and Complete! See you Sunday for more book travels.

Around the World in 80+ Books, Part 9

Finally ready to get to the second to the last ear lobe of our journey. These countries are getting more remote and difficult to find books set there. Lots of work ahead! You tip the Sky Captain this time, will you?

161. Congo. As far as settings for novels, there seems to be little difference between the Democratic Republic of Congo and the plain Republic of Congo. (map on page two of this linked document shows that they are two separate countries. http://www.munoh.de/downloads/Sample_Research_Report.pdf) And I had found several books that interested me when I looked at the Congo as a location. The Witch Doctor’s Wife (Amanda Brown series #1) by Tamar Myers has everything you expect from Africa: daring rescues, diamonds, mystery, diamonds, intrigue, and diamonds. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6347797-the-witch-doctor-s-wife

162. Sao Tome & Principe. Slavery has been around as long as people found it worth while to subjugate weaker people to do what needed to be done. America has no copyright on the process, but we certainly helped make it profitable for many. In Sao Tome: Journey to the Abyss – Portugal’s Stolen Children, Paul D. Cohn explores the time in history when the Portuguese royals and the Catholic Church “exported” Jewish children to the sugar cane fields on Sao Tome. It’s 1485 when this practise begins, and soon the discovery of The New World impacts slavery, sugar production, and exploration of the Americas. Told from the point of view of a young boy and his sister, taken from their synagogue in Lisbon, this emotionally charged drama is historical fiction at its finest. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/517242.S_o_Tome?ac=1

163. Benin. Is it the heat that makes stories in Africa and South America grim? I know that’s not true, it’s the basic human nature unchecked by love or kindness at work. Slavery and war and making money from the suffering of others is the basic story behind The Viceroy of Ouidan by Bruce Chatwin. Yes, that Bruce Chatwin. One reviewer liked the ‘multitude of minutia” in this novel. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/276795.The_Viceroy_of_Ouidah

164. Togo. In my youth, a friend of the family had a baby out of wedlock (this was not done in those days, or if done, was not talked about). The friend left the baby to be raised by her parents while she went off with the Peace Corp to do some growing up. I can’t imagine what her life was like, but this book can bring to me a sense of her adventures. Greetings From Jungleland by Michael Fortner recounts his adventures, and the best part is, some of the profits from book sales will go to the specific village where he worked. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7362435-greetings-from-jungleland?ac=1

165. Ghana. More series books! If you are like me, you hate to come to the end of a good book. So authors invented series! The trilogy came first, but now we are less constrained by that arbitrary number. I think Douglas Adams had something to do with that. Kwei Quartey writes the Darko Dawson stories, and after I got over thinking his name was just a typographic error, I found the idea of a motherless child growing up to be a detective fascinating. Wife of the Gods. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6105001-wife-of-the-gods?from_search=true

166. Cote d’Ivoire. On first glance at the summary of this book, I thought it was only about a white man in Africa trying to get laid. But that seems to be just one theme running through this rich tapestry of reasons people have to hate each other. One review says it’s “raw, interesting, tragic, beautiful, and funny.” Something for the whole family. Whiteman by Tony D’Souza. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/604589.Whiteman?ac=1

167. Burkina Faso. Yes, this is the first time I have ever heard of this country. So a story about a self-involved 15-year-old boy being sent there for misbehavior at school, and getting into a major scrape sounds like a good way to get to know the history and personality of this desert country. Outlaw by Stephen Davies is described by one reviewer as “Robin Hood with technology.” https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11052800-outlaw?ac=1

168. Liberia. Kids books can be great reading for adults, especially in learning about far-away places. Mamba Point by Kurtis Scarletta has an awesome premise. That which you fear most can become your greatest asset. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8320354-mamba-point?ac=1

169. Sierra Leone. Probably the country most likely to be wrongly assigned to South America, Sierra Leone is actually in Africa. And is in the heart of some of the worst military aggressions on the planet. This is the story of one boy who became a soldier against his will. A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah is told through glimpses he shares of his life with his American schoolmates. None of whom can guess at the true scope of his stolen life. One reviewer said, “I will never. Never. Complain about my childhood again.”

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43015.A_Long_Way_Gone

170. Guinea. Touted as a classic of African literature, The Dark Child by Camara Laye is another boyhood story from the continent that is least understood and most exploited throughout history. An autobiography, it stands out as an excellent work of literature. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/123773.The_Dark_Child?ac=1

171. Senegal. We can all use nonjudgmental friends. And who more than a widow whose heart overflows with sorrow? Told in the form of a letter to a friend, So Long a Letter by Mariama Bâ recounts the struggle of one woman through emotional turmoil for basic survival. Originally written in French, I imagine it will be best in that language, but still makes an impact as translated. Sadly, the author passed away in 1981. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/151374.So_Long_a_Letter?ac=1

172. Mali. Here we see 13th century assassins and heros, theives and conspirators, and actual history used to craft a story that deals with the continuation of life. An oath or pact made by warrior brothers continues on through their lives, the need to have an heir continues on through the lives of the children of these warriors. Sanakhou by Elizabeth Evans. I think this book will really take off once it is “discovered.” https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/9597141-sanakhou?ac=1

173. Mauritania. A close contender for the geographical challenge, as it sounds like a country that should be in Europe somewhere. However, Travels in Mauritania by Peter Hudson is firmly set in that African nation, and is an excellent recounting of his travels. Not an adventure book as such, it is an adventure of the widely traveled author in meeting the world at large. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6532983-travels-in-mauritania?ac=1

174. Western Sahara. This country challenged me to find a book that took place there. As I learned, this is disputed land, with Morocco and Mauritania as chief players. In Western Sahara: Anatomy of a Stalemate, Erik Jensen takes a close look at all the players, and recounts the history of the struggle toward sovereignty. One of these days, I am going to write a romance in that setting. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/535956.Western_Sahara?ac=1

175. Cape Verde. So many of the books set in Cape Verde are about people getting the heck out of there. So I was pleased to find The Last Will and Testament of Senhor da Silva Araújo by Germano Almeida. Leading a secret life on a small island country isn’t easy, and I can’t wait to read how this was accomplished. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1200940.The_Last_Will_Testament_of_Senhor_da_Silva_Ara_jo?ac=1

176. Gibraltar. This is on my to read SOON list! The writers I hang out with on Scribophile and in RWA talk about the characters taking over the story. I’ve had the same thing happen when one of my characters revealed something about her past that blew me away. Now imagine that a character expects you to rewrite the story and have things work out with less conflict and stress. Tumbling Through Time by Gwyn Cready is right up my reading alley. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1888734.Tumbling_Through_Time?ac=1

177. Malta. The past is never what it seems. That makes perfect sense, because history is written by the winners. In The Sea of Forgotten Memories (A Maltese Thriller), Federico Chini explores a family where a death occurs in each generation. Murder or accident? https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11381181-the-sea-of-forgotten-memories?ac=1

178. Faroe Islands. Another place I had never heard of before, and now can’t wait to visit some day. In the meantime, I want to read The Last Refuge by Craig Robertson. The story delivers on every level. And here’s a great article by the author on why he picked this location. http://www.crimefictionlover.com/2014/05/never-set-your-book-in-the-faroe-islands/

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21411885-the-last-refuge?ac=1

179. Hawaii. Much as I love America, the annexing of Hawaii and the destruction of the Hawaiian culture will always shame me. People like to say the country has gotten worse, but greed has always been a motivational force. However, the book I picked is a fluffy romance, because I feel the subject of Hawaiian independence has not been properly told yet. The Ross Siblings series book #1, Unleashed by Cherrie Lynn looks at what happens when a man’s best friend’s husband runs off with his fiance. Oh, just read it.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7202825-unleashed?from_search=true

180. Macau. So many stories to choose here, but I thought ending this lobe on a happy note would be best. The Color of Tea by Hannah Tunnicliffe is filled with conflict and stress, but in the end there is all the tea in China. “A scrumptious story of love, friendship, and renewal.”

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13259388-the-color-of-tea?ac=1

Have a few macaroons and buy a few post cards. We have a couple more weeks of fun travel by book. And on Wednesday, something silly this way comes.

Around the World in 80+ Books Part 8

So have we gotten out of the time warp yet? Seems like more than a week has gone by with us exploring Tasmania. The devil, you say? Get on the plane.

141. Australia. Sometimes I can recommend a book because I have read it. Other times I have seen the movie. This is a movie recommendation. The Rabbit Proof Fence by Doris Pilkington is based on a true story. I like to believe the government program had the best of intentions with removing children from their families, but you know what happens to good intentions. They end up resurfacing a hot roadway. http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/150723.Rabbit_Proof_Fence

142. Papua New Guinea. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens does not take place in this country. However, Mr. Pip by Lloyd Jones uses the fascination with that story to pull a community together following a devastating war. Not a coming of age story or a novel of how bad it is to be a woman, instead it’s the story of how every individual is important for surviving tragedy. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/543873.Mister_Pip?from_search=true

143. Indonesia. I found this book and stopped looking for others. I just listened to the author’s book, Wild Fire, and if you read my Wednesday post, you’ll understand some of what pulled me into and out of that story. But I came away with a desire to know all about the other characters on the team, and I expect we will have that opportunity. Wild Rain by Christine Feehan is the second in the series Leopard People. At least Indonesia is a more likely setting for leopards than Central America.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/490196.Wild_Rain?ac=1

144. Singapore. Say what you will about Barbara Cartland, some of her stories were fun and taught readers some things about the world around them. Magnificent Marriage by La Cartland has a heroine that proves to be smart, a little older than Cartland’s usual virgins, and more important to the story than the alpha hero. One reviewer praised the fact that she learned some of the history of Singapore, Malaysia, and Sarawak. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3787343-the-magnificent-marriage?ac=1 A close second is The Elephant and The Tree by Jin Pyn Lee.

145. East Timor. Sometimes the best way to get to know a country is through fiction, and sometimes it’s through memoirs. The Crossing: A Story of East Timor by Luis Cardoso tells his story and that of his homeland during the important struggle for independence. One reviewer complained that it was too intense, with so much packed into a small book. Well, try to describe any such struggle in 20,000 words or less. http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/868194.The_Crossing

146. Madagascar. Did you ever wonder exactly what happened in detail between Tarzan and Jane, all those years in the forest? Well, apparently so did Collete Gale. Entwined is the first book in her series, The Erotic Adventures of Jane in the Jungle. I so want this book, and I so wish I had written it.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13432786-entwined?ac=1

147. Mauritius. You are a young boy on an island that is largely in ignorance of World War II. Your father works as a guard at a prison there, and through various events, you meet a Jewish boy your own age. Jews were refused admittance to Palestine, and ended up wherever they could find some acceptance. One reviewer says this is a sweet story with a hard pit. Coming of age with a purpose that would not have occurred had there been more love in the world. The Last Brother by Nathacha Appanan.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/9083994-the-last-brother?ac=1

148. Reunion Island. I picked a graphic novel because, one, I love and grew up reading comic books, and two, they are a great way to help kids and adults read more. The story of a young assistant to an ornithology professor looking for the nearly extinct dodo bird being swept away by the lifestyle of the island’s inhabitants got my attention. Bourbon Island 1730 by Lewis Trondheim looks delightful in both story concept and the art work. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3416560-bourbon-island-1730

149. Seychelles. Keith and Sally Pomeroy start their delightful Mathew Butler Adventures series with Butler Did It with a scuba diving photographer, a murder attempt, and lots of fun. Even the reviewers giving it a low star rating agreed that it’s a fun read. Those who liked it added exciting, but don’t expect a classic. And my favorite, it would make a better movie than a book. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11068144-butler-did-it?ac=1

150. Comoros. What do you know about the coelacanth? Here’s a cheat sheet: http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/fish/coelacanth/ Now you are ready to read A Fish Caught in Time: The Search for the Coelacanth by Samantha Weinberg. Long thought to be extinct, this possible link between the sea and the land is merely elusive, living in a very inhospitable ocean depth for humans. Can you feel the excitement of seeing a picture of one just caught, when the scientific world felt sure they no longer existed? https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/539138.A_Fish_Caught_in_Time?ac=1

151. Mozambique. Why does it seem that as soon as a person vows never to get involved with the opposite sex or the same sex in a romantic way if that’s their inclination, the perfect match for them walks into their life? Mozambique Mysteries by Lisa St. Aubin de Terán may not answer that, but you will read a personal story involving the remote coastal country and the various cultures that settled there.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2163834.Mozambique_Mysteries?ac=1

152. Zimbabwe. Now we turn to a story of coming of age in a country where it’s tough to be female, and cultures clash without thought. Two people find themselves and each other while a country grows in spite of national upheaval, and a mystery might tear their world apart. An intelligent read in the land of growing tension, as well as growing tension between the main characters’ falling in love. The Boy Next Door by Irene Sabatini.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6518071-the-boy-next-door?ac=1

153. Swaziland. Presented as a fantasy adventure, The Bird of Heaven by Peter Dunseith reveals the world and lives of Swazi tribes through their spiritual beliefs and customs. There’s a character who is a leopard in a man’s body, so maybe wereleopards aren’t that original. We receive the gifts of our ancestors for self-empowerment, and face the transcendent victory of a noble spirit. All in one book.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7717640-bird-of-heaven?from_search=true

154. Lesotho. I have struggled to find books about the countries written by natives, or at least citizens, of that country. Here I have a fictionalized account of the life of a great Zulu warrior. Chaka by Thomas Mofolo is compared by one reader to a Hindu myth. Written in the early 1900s, this book has taken a long time to come to any attention in the West, and for that I give it my complete attention.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1101837.Chaka?ac=1

155. Zambia. Another good way to get to know a country is through the accounts written by those totally unprepared for what they encounter. Peeing in the Bush by Adeline Loh is one such story. I came back to it several times just based on the title. All she knew about the jungle she learned on Animal Planet. I can’t wait to get to know her paranoid vegetarian companion. A wacky retelling of an attempt to leave the comforts of civilization behind, it’s dubbed a wack-o adventure by one of the reviewers. I’m thinking Lucy and Ethel go to Africa. Sold!

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6579159-peeing-in-the-bush?ac=1

156. Angola. Truth or Fiction? Yes. Set in Diary form, Nzingha: Warrior Queen of Matamba, Angola, Africa, 1595 by Patricia C. McKissack is one of a series of books (The Royal Diaries) for young readers detailing the lives of girls from around the world and throughout history. Most of the reviewer readers are young, but not all. And in case it matters, Ms. McKissack is of the same blood as the heroine in her story. A strong main character and a fascinating story.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/440125.Nzingha?ac=1

157. The Democratic Republic of the Congo. There’s so much about the country that is fascinating to me. My mother had a friend who had lived there, when it was called the Belgian Congo. I loved her stories of the jungle and the changing world. I could have gone easy on myself with Congo by Michael Crichton, where I first learned that gorillas are afraid to cross running water or to be wet. But I hoped for something deeper. When you go to Goodreads and read the synopsis, you should know immediately why I picked this one. The Madman and the Medusa by Tchicaya U Tam’si.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3984715-the-madman-and-the-medusa?ac=1

158. Rwanda. I’ll give you a few minutes to get over any uncontrollable urges to giggle at the names Hutu and Tutsis. Because the horrid slaughter of families for no other reason than the circumstances of their birth and heritage is nothing to laugh at. Finding hope and love in the heart of slaughter and chaos would be worthy of praise, and so it is in Baking Cakes in Kigali by Gaile Parkin. The reviews are the usual mix of loved it/hated it/ it’s not so bad, but I found it disturbing that one opined that the book would be popular in America because the main character was a strong black woman. I think it more likely that the gift of hope in despair by a person of any gender or race is the key to popular fiction.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6088236-baking-cakes-in-kigali

159. Burundi. I feel like I have discovered something really special here. There are no reviews so far on Goodreads. But having grown up with Tarzan in all the various forms, and Jungle Book, and loved the idea that a human child could survive when raised by animals, I am all agog to read The Wild Boy of Burundi by Harlan Lane and Richard Pillard. A true case study of a child found living with primates in 1974. How did he get there? What happened to his parents? Is he any relation to someone named Greystoke? Well, I will have to read the book to find out.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1314957.The_Wild_Boy_of_Burundi

160. Tanzania. We’ll end this week with a trip in the Way Back machine, visiting prehistoric Tanzania, and the tribes that live in the shadows of Kilimanjaro. Great Sky Woman by Steve Barnes is a combination of anthropology, cultural history, and fiction. A great read and the first book in a series that I expect will become addictive.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/625845.Great_Sky_Woman__A_Novel

Enjoy the past, the huge herds of beasts that are no longer there, the people who changed to survive, and the foreshadow of a world to come. See you on Wednesday for a fun break, then on to some islands next Sunday.

Chance Encounters

I met my husband on-line. This was many years ago before the internet was such a big deal. We both belonged to a bulletin board system, a BBS, that specifically wanted people to get to know each other and make matches. I’d been on there for a couple years, and Mike had been on before that. He just happened to log on again, and we played in the nightly trivia game.

Many other things had to happen, and did, and we are still happy together, but I sometimes marvel that the chances of a moment brought us together.

I’m sharing most of the first chapter of my Regency Romance, The Dandy’s Wager. The chance encounter of Lady Elizabeth Underwood and Lord Robert Coleman in an old church yard sparks an attraction neither looked for. They are both there for a wedding, following which Elizabeth sneaks away in her quest for Roman artifacts and ruins. She is behind a hedge when Lord Robert and his friends come out to the yard. I hope you enjoy it.

The Dandy’s Wager

Voices from the other side of the hedge startled her out of her meditations. Smoke, too, drifted past the leaves. Some gentlemen had come out to the churchyard to smoke cigars. She shrank back to the wall, thankful for the lush coverage and concealment.

“Thank your brother for us, Rob,” one man called. “This wedding has inspired our mothers to push us toward parson’s mousetrap.”

A chorus of laughing agreement and ridicule followed. Then a different voice answered, “You know I tried to talk him out of it, Will. Being the last unmarried child, both my parents are on me now to settle down.”

Yet another man chuckled. “Perhaps we should just pick one of the pretty girls here today. None of them are hard on the eyes, and none too silly. If we have to marry, we can do worse than these, and we can make it interesting.”

A fourth man, at least Elizabeth thought this one had not spoken before, said, “We court then, wed them, and bed them–”

Shouts and comments interrupted him, mostly things she could not understand. Then Rob, the first speaker, said, “We must have heirs. Then our parents will be satisfied, and while the woman takes care of the child, we are free to return to normal life.”

“Gilbert, what say you? How can we make this interesting beyond the eventual bedding?”

“That’s simple. As long as we can each agree to which female we wish to pursue, the first one to marry will win the wager.”

Rob laughed. “A marvelous plan. Pick your intended bride and the first of us to wed will have twenty pounds from each of us.”

“Twenty pounds? And we still need to be leg shackled?”

“Indeed, Toby, a high price.” She thought this was the first speaker again, Will. “Surely 20 schillings would do?”

“Miss Twigg for me!” one of them called out. “And twenty pounds that she will marry me in three months!”

“Lady Elizabeth,” Rob pronounced, making her jump. “The only title in the bunch, and therefore my match.”

Elizabeth could not stop a gasp at this, but she covered her mouth in the next instant. The arrogance of the man!

“I will gladly try for Miss Sebastian. That leaves Miss Preston for you, Will.”

“She will do as well as any.”

A noise from the church put an end to this conversation. Elizabeth waited for the footsteps and comments to fade away. One more glance at the Roman well, and she hurried toward the gate.

She collided with something firm and unyielding as she rounded the end of the hedge. Her eyes traveled up several inches. Somber gray eyes studied her.

“Lady Elizabeth,” Lord Robert Coleman steadied her with a hand on her arm, but did not let her step back from contact with him. “You are in the habit of eavesdropping?”

“No! I wanted to see the well. Excuse me.” She managed to get her hands up to his chest and push herself away. She took a step back, and straightened her gown. Anything to not meet his disturbing gaze.

“If I promise not to court you, would you–” he hesitated and reached to take her chin in his firm grip. “Promise to not reveal what you heard?”

“I don’t know what you mean, my lord.” Elizabeth returned his look steadily. His hand, ungloved, burned against her skin, with heat and with steely strength. “But I vow I will not repeat a word of it, no matter what you do.”

He grinned and let her go. She walked around him, but before she passed the hedge, she looked back. A smile escaped her. “Perhaps I wish for you to court me.”

His eyebrows rose, causing a flutter in her chest, and giving wings to her feet as she hurried away.

***

The little vixen! Rob watched until the last flash of her peach muslin skirts were gone from his view. God, what a delicious pocket Venus she could be. Did she have any idea of the danger she flirted with?

He chuckled and glanced back at the well. Antiquities seemed an odd interest for a titled young woman. Intriguing.

Footsteps in the yard drew him out from behind the hedge. William St. James, his closest friend, had come back to look for him.

“Did you scare off the chit?” he asked, looking around.

“Apparently I did.” Rob clapped Will’s arm. “Come, let’s go wish the happy couple well and proceed to drink ourselves blind.”

They walked to the front of the old church. Rob’s brother, Viscount Miles Coleman, and his new viscountess Cassandra, nee Jennings, continued to talk to family and well wishers. The coach waited in the road, the flashy pair of bays showing signs of restlessness.

“Robert,” Miles flashed a strained smile while giving him a firm handshake. “Can you distract the crowd so we may leave? Cassie can’t stand much longer without collapsing.” He nodded amiably to William.

Rob looked at Will, smiling. “I don’t doubt we can think of something.”

“I know just the thing,” said Will, and he hurried off toward the church. He returned in a few minutes with his arms full of very young orange tabby kittens.

The women in the crowd sent up oos and ahs and moved in on Will. This shift opened the path to the carriage. Cassie smiled and took the arm of her husband.

“Thank you, brother.” She stretched up to kiss his cheek.

“I wish you both joy, sister. And if he does anything you do not like, be sure to send word to me. I will thrash him soundly.”

Bride and groom laughed, with Miles adding a low-voiced, “You would have to stand in line behind her uncles, you know.”

Rob managed a thoughtful look. “I suppose I will have to settle for thrashing whatever they leave of you, then.”

He watched them step into the carriage, watched the crowd realize the couple were making an escape, and watched the shower of flower petals follow the dust of their departure. An arm extended out of the carriage and coins rained down on the crowd.

William appeared, still clutching a kitten. “One left. Does she not touch your heart, Rob?”

He looked at the animal in horror. “Do you think I would allow orange fur on my black velvets or silks? Surely not!”

“I suppose I will take her, then. Perhaps Miss Preston likes cats.”

With a theatrical shudder, Lord Robert pulled a lace-edged handkerchief from his pocket and dusted the arms of his coat. But his thoughts turned to Lady Elizabeth and what sort of things she liked. With a surge of anticipation, he decided he would find out soon.

Rainy Day

Southern California is getting some much needed rain, which makes me want to stay home all day and write. However, that’s not in the plans today. So here are some videos of rain!

http://www.koco.com/entertainment/Beauty-of-an-Iowa-spring-rainstorm/19800816 In peace.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QhdRG54dHr0 In a city.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2551880/Baby-shower-Adorable-video-shows-moment-little-girl-sees-rain-time.html#v-3157121958001 In the eyes of a child.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S-E3I5MA3jQ In a car.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jobyxXqZCCg In Ireland.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8QntTInSS1A Rain for 15 minutes.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9lj1oFE0YB8 And for an hour.

Enjoy your day!

The Street Where You Live

I love my local chapter of Romance Writers of America. I might not always have the same opinions of the other members, but they usually make me laugh. For instance, our speaker last Saturday was saying, “Let’s assume your name, the name you write under, is not on the tip of the tongue with people on the street.” One of my table-mates leaned over, and said with a straight face, “That depends on the street.”

Now I am thinking about streets. In the Regency romances I write, I have to find information about London in the early 1800s, I’ve had to search out the best route from Yorkshire to the nearest port city, and I’ve searched and searched for the correct location in Dorset for the cottage I speak of.

Here is the very best thing I ever found on the web for that: http://mapco.net/ When I am rich, these people are getting lots of donations from me. I love maps. In fact, Windrose refers to the compass rose or compass star on older maps.

Looking for the most dangerous streets in the world, I found depressing, mortifying statistics at this site: http://alizul2.blogspot.com/2012/11/10-most-dangerous-neighborhoods-in-world.html Think of how many stories there are in these communities. It’s the only way to live with this.

To make up for it, here are videos and photos of the most beautiful streets in the world. http://www.weather.com/travel/driving-scenic-drives/most-beautiful-streets-world-photos-20130812 What tickles me is the idea that anywhere in China has an old town.

And everyone’s favorite voyeurs, Google Street Scenes: http://mashable.com/2013/12/19/google-street-view-beautiful/

What about the safest places on earth? For the most part, they are places most ordinary people can’t get to. Fort Knox, for instance. http://www.riskmanagementmonitor.com/the-10-safest-places-on-earth/

As I write romances, guess what’s the next thing I Googled? http://www.fodors.com/news/photos/15-most-romantic-getaways-around-the-world#!1-intro

I hope you have had some fun in checking out these links, and I leave you with a meditation video to help you relax, raise the consciousness of the earth’s people, and find inspiration for your writing. See you on Sunday.