What is a Regency Romance?

awonderfulwickedduke-200We’ve discussed many times what exactly a Regency Romance is, a period of time in English history when King George III was unable to conduct the country’s business and his son was appointed in his place as a “Regent.”  I call the stories of that period a relaxed read and hope readers agree. Certainly I enjoy writing these light stories with a sweet rating and a historical setting.  I tell folks to remember that Jane Austenscandalousdesign-200 wrote the first Regency novel, but for her it was a contemporary. This wonderful author gave us a firm glimpse of life in the English countryside for a gentleman and his family.

Georgette Heyer was probably the next most influent author for the Regency period. Her light touch and sense of humor (writing in the ’50’s) keeps her books popular long past her own lifetime. Aficionados of the genre appreciate the many examples which follow and are now available.  Examples of this short period of time, 1811 until King George IV was crowned in 1820, are still popular and a favorite genre.

DukeAndMissAnabel

 

Welcome guest blogger Alina K. Field

In Bella’s Band, the heroine, Annabelle Harris, takes a coach trip on a snowy December day. Research for her journey led me to E. W. Bovill’s English Country Life, 1780-1830, and a fascinating discussion of English hedgerows.

Because timber was a valuable commodity needed in ship construction, landowners planted trees in the boundaries of enclosed fields. Oak was too slow-growing to be an effective commodity. Ash was favored for its quick growth, but it competed with crops for nutrients. Landowners settled on the elm as the perfect hedge tree. Faster-growing than the oak, a good neighbor to other crops, it yielded a durable under-water timber used for ship keels, drain pipes, and canal gates.

Horticulturalists have been hard at work developing cultivars that are resistant to the Dutch elm disease that devastated the species in the last century. When Annabelle Harris was making her journey, the stately elms still ruled the hedgerows of England.


Award winning author Alina K. Field earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English and German literature, but she found Alina K. Fieldher true passion in reading and writing romance. Though her roots are in the Midwest, after six very, very, very cold years in Chicago, she moved to Southern California and hasn’t looked back. She shares a mid-century home with her husband and a blue-eyed cat who conned his way in for dinner one day and decided the food was too good to leave.

She is the author of the 2014 Book Buyer’s Best winner in the novella category, Rosalyn’s Ring, a Regency novella; and the novel-length sequel Bella’s Band, both Soul Mate Publishing releases.

Visit her at:
http://alinakfield.com/
https://www.facebook.com/alinakfield
https://twitter.com/AlinaKField

 

Excerpt for Bella’s Band:

Bullets, bladeBella's-Band-Final-(med)-copys, and incendiary bombs—Major Steven Beauverde, the latest Earl of Hackwell, belongs in that world, and is determined to get back to it. His brother’s murder has forced Steven out of the army and into the title, but he has no interest in being the Earl, and worse, no idea how to salvage the depleted estate. A rumor that his brother had a son by a woman who may be a) the murderer, and b) his brother’s wife, sets Steven on a mission to find her, the boy, and—Steven ardently hopes—proof of a secret marriage that will set Steven free.

Annabelle Harris is a country heiress and a confirmed spinster resettled in London to find her sister, the mistress to the Earl of Hackwell. While she searches, she fills her home with orphans and street urchins. When the Earl is murdered, Annabelle’s sister thrusts the Earl’s illegitimate child into Annabelle’s care and disappears. Now, with suspicion pointing at her sister, Annabelle has begun a new quest—to find her sibling and clear her name.

When their paths converge, the reluctant Earl and the determined spinster find themselves rethinking their goals, and stepping up to fight back when the real murderer shows up.

Buy Bella’s Band at Amazon.

Gardening Fall ‘14

Mums are starting to fade and some growers swore to you they were perennial, right? You planted them last year and initially they came up, then died. What did you do wrong? Nothing, I assure you. Mums are shallow rooted and sometimes spring freezing and thawing will heave them out of the ground and they actually die from lack of water.

They came up but grew tall and straggly. Well, did you pinch them a couple of times during the growing season? Professional growers do just that to cause them to bunch up and form those lovely, smooth mounds. Natural growth is what you see when they are not pinched. Either way is pretty, but your expectations probably need adjusting.

Mums need to be separated and moved about every other year. They are prone to diseases and this keeps them healthy. In the spring take a small spade and cut the clump into quarters. Then pick a new location in your garden or share with a neighbor.

Now is the time to bring in all your house plants. (Inspect for bugs.)When the night temps are around 40 degrees or below, they must come in. Initially the new acclimation will cause them to drop leaves. Probably they will recover; don’t over water. Some easily adjusted plants are spider plants, asparagus fern, and wandering jew. A pot of geraniums will thrive in a bright window and bloom most of the winter.

 

MMurderintheNeigh_850URDER IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD, a COZY MYSTERY set in the Fall in small town America, Hubbard, NY.

 

Vicious Ragweed vs beautiful Goldenrod

golden rod

Goldenrod

Much maligned Goldenrod (Solidago) has burst onto the scene with the first bright hints of fall amidst groans and complaints from hay fever victims. No matter how many times a correction is offered, most refuse to release from blame the poor golden wild flower. Innocent, I claim! Bright gold with lots of pollen beloved by the bees, goldenrod is falsely accused.

rag weed

Ragweed

Ragweed (Ambrosia) is the culprit. Quietly creeping onto the fall canvas with tiny white flowers, it is frequently growing along side its more beautiful neighbor. Its potency is well known to allergists who diagnose allergic rhinitis. The difference between the two plants is mainly in the pollination. Ragweed is carried aloft by the wind far and wide, quite capable of reaching your nose and causing your sneezes. Goldenrod pollen is heavy and doesn’t travel far from the plant. Its nectar is beloved and mostly pollinated by insects, bees, and butterflies. So enjoy the brilliant golden wildflower as it trumpets the beginning of fall while you avoid that noxious weed nearby.

Q and A Gardening July ’14

My flower basket is fading. All the flowers seem to have finished blooming. What can I do?
A couple of suggestions for that one. Perhaps three. One: clip off all the dead blooms (called deadheading). Annuals live to reproduce. When they have enough seeds, they stop blooming so keeping them clipped keeps them in blossoms. Two: Use a liquid fertilizer called “bloom fertilizer” mixed according to manufacture’s directions. Different companies present different names, but look for something that promises to help blossoms. Three: Give the basket a haircut. Just take scissors and give it a trim. Not so drastic, but tidy it up. Especially petunias. Let it rest somewhere out of sight and soon it will reward you with renewed color. Never as large as at first, but still pretty.

No matter what I do, my basket always seems to be sun faded.
Oops. You forgot to ask the seller whether this type was for shade or sun. Move it into a dappled shade and see if it will recover. Water if needed. Begonias of any kind, tubers, fibrous, angle wing, etc. should be watered sparingly. Just when dry. Too soggy will water log and weaken the stems.

When do the Lilies bloom?
July is the season in the eastern part of the country for lilies of all sorts. Asiatic starts them off, followed by oriental with heavenly fragrances, then large trumpet. Plant the bulbs in the spring and then just forget about them (hide from rabbits). Day lilies that open and close in the same day are gorgeous and offer many, many varieties from the orange naturalized ones roadside to the miniature to the hefty, strong tetraploids. Deer and rabbits consider them tasty, but aside from aggravating us because they eat the blooms, grazing animals usually do not kill the plant. Day lilies require very little care and will even tolerate shade although they do not bloom as heavily. I like to plant them around a tree trunk as they suppress weeds and grass.

What’s next?
Sunflowers are beginning to show color. Rudbeckias, “black eyed Susie” have been smiling at us for a couple of weeks already. Echinanacea and Rudbeckia Goldstrum will take us right into mum season. Both these hardy perennials are easy, peasy to grow. Forgot to mention Shasta Daisies for strong white. Who doesn’t love a daisy?

Weeds?
Overwhelmed? Take it one section at a time. When you conquer the weeds, mulch heavily. Next year consider container gardening. You can move the patio pots around the yard when you need a spot of color and weeds are MUCH easier to handle.

 

Next post. Gardening made easy. Send in your questions.

News from the greenhouse

I am happily spending prime time in the greenhouses, a small “mom and pop” nursery where “Gardening is spoken here.” Young couples in beginning gardening stop by, and at any point, you might find us plotting a new raised bed or chatting about identifying the more mature plants. My favorite thing to do at work…oh, well, I enjoy it all.

Selecting a hanging basket? Be sure to ask your clerk these important questions: Which plants tolerate shade? Which thrive in sun? Remember, while a basket is a handy way to enjoy the blooms, it is a pretty restrictive environment and requires more care. One of the more popular items right now is a cherry tomato called ‘Tumbling Tom’ which lives quite happily in a ten inch plastic basket. Water when you have your morning coffee.

Sick of weeding? Try container gardening. Add plenty of some type fertilizer to your potted soil—long, slow release is best, but a commercial liquid is okay. Follow directions. Suggest tall for your middle: Grasses, coleus, spikes are popular. Next: color scheme. I love pink and blues or yellow with orange-red for a hot splash and some sort of dangler like sweet potato vine. Any annual will love your container, but perennials may be added as well. They don’t bloom as profusion zinnialong, but their foliage is pretty. Plant more than one pot and cluster on your deck or edge of your patio. Remember to water.

A drought resistant plant flying out of the atrium right now is a bedding type called  Profusion Zinnia in 5 different colors. They grow to about 10 inches by 10 and are a riot of color, pretty carefree and very rewarding. Happy Gardening!
Leave a comment with your question.

The Still Room

awonderfulwickedduke-200During the Regency era, which some say includes half of the 1700’s and well into the latter part of the 1800’s, a specific room in the great houses of the day had been created near the kitchen called the Still Room. Its use changed over the years as medicine became more specialized and apothecaries opened. Before that, the woman of the house was expected to study and become adept at creating medicine and recipes for various household tasks as well as food recipes for the cook.

Caroline has become proficient in the Still Room arts and sciences and, as we join them, is preoccupied with creating a poultice for the duke’s knee which is badly swollen (even as the duke’s mind seems to be centered on her seduction). Eventually she gives way to a groom who tends the horses and is familiar with folk recipes for joints. The duke suffers her administrations with ill-humour and gratitude intermingled.

“He nuzzled her neck and rubbed his face in her hair, then pulled back in surprise. Caro? Do you know you smell like an apothecary shop?” She laughed then and turned his face to her.”

The mystery of the impediment between Caroline and her duke is discovered and a chance for their happiness begun in A WONDERFUL, WICKED DUKE. Enjoy the journey toward their happily-ever-after with them.
Emma Lane

Click here for an excerpt from the book!

Buy Link: Amazon

Depths of Winter Gardening

There’s no denying the harshness of this winter ‘13-’14. Here in Western NY, the snow is deep, but not so deep. The sun is shining, the temps are in the 20’s (okay, down to single digits at night) and traffic is moving briskly. You might guess, as my friend from Atlanta says, we are used to this harshness. What can we gardeners do to survive these cold winter months?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASeed catalogs. Get on their mailing lists and learn, dream, order. Look up a plant online and you’ll probably be inundated with choices. Don’t forget to check out the gardening tools and the latest in deer repellents.

These catalogs contain valuable information. Hardiness zones, height, width of the plant, etc. Before you fall in love with a plant, check if it will survive in your agricultural zone. Mine is a 4/5. Anything higher and the health of the plant is in jeopardy.

Annuals – favorites for easy color without fuss, but keep the old blossoms trimmed (called ‘deadheading’) for continual blooms.

Pansies—Darlings of spring, they may fade in the heat but you can replace them with…

Zinnias—‘Profusion,’ any color. 12-15 inches high and about the same wide, they are spectacular bloomers.

Marigolds—French for quick, petite blooms and the African ones for tall, late. Pot up the large ones for fall patio color.

Sunflowers are a pure joy. Include a few here and there.

Petunias—it might be easier to buy plants, but they are not difficult to grow from seed.

Many, many more choices are available. Dream, plan! Spring will be here before you know it.

The Wonderful Wicked Duke

Blurb:

After a cruel family betrayal, Caroline Engelson vows the wicked duke will never regain her love unless he first earns her respect, no matter how fervently she longs for his kisses.

A serious accident delivers the wicked duke into Caro’s care. He is her long time love but she is shocked and hurt awonderfulwickedduke-200when he refers to her teen years as the ‘brat with tangled curls.’ Caro is all grown up now when the wicked duke tries to take advantage of her emotions, even as he turns the orderly household into total chaos with his ducal roars. To his astonishment, his best friend’s sister is made of sterner stuff. The situation changes when Caro learns of a shocking family secret. Will she tame the wicked duke and allow them to love happily ever after or will the betrayal damage her trust forever?

Excerpt:
“Come here and hold my hand, Brat.” She placed her hand into his big one which he held onto firmly then took both their hands and rested them on his chest. A grimace of pain flickered across his face, but was quickly gone.

“Do you hurt, Robert? I can get you more laudanum.” She tried to pull away to reach the bottle, but he tightened his hold on her hand.

“Yes, it hurts like the devil, but no, I do not want to be drugged again. Sit down beside me and tell me what you have been doing all these years. Did you miss me?”

“You know I did. Why did you not come visit me? A sad friend you turned out to be for all you are a duke.”  She listened but heard nothing from the sleeping household. Her aunt would not be best pleased to find her alone in a room with a man in his bedclothes, never mind he was a duke and a neighbor.

“I was waiting for you to grow up. When I left you were but a young chit, a bratty girl with dirty fingernails and tangled curls.” He smiled at her as he described the child she had been. She felt a pain shoot through her soul. He only thought of her as a bratty child while she had loved him with all her being. Still loved. Still worshiped and longed for his touch. Inadvertently she squeezed his hand in her distress.

His eyes opened wide as his face turned serious. “Did I offend you, Sweetheart? Never mind, you know I am a wicked duke. Yes, that is my nickname. ‘The Wicked Duke.’ Come closer, Caro.” He tugged her down on his chest. She rested her head and could hear the steady beat of his heart. How wonderful it felt to be this close to the one she loved. She could feel his arm tighten around her as his head rested against her hair.

“You are all grown up now, are you not, Caro? Sweet Caro?” He tilted her face up to him and placed a soft kiss on her lips. Which one of them groaned was not clear to her. Perhaps both.

Caroline sat up slowly. “You know I love you, Robert. You have always known it. But as deep as my love is for you…” She paused and took a deep breath while she withdrew her hand from his. “I will not allow you to ruin me.” With that she stood and rapidly left the room. Tears ran unheeded down her cheeks and she threw herself into her bed. Deep sobs wracked her body. She cried for her love lost now to her forever. It was crystal clear what he felt for her and it was unacceptable. Perhaps once she would have agreed to anything he asked. He was her whole life and she could not imagine another, but her thinking was that of an adult, no longer a child. Her self respect came before her emotions and she would not easily give it up.