Excerpt from : Beguiled by a Baron

His brother may have failed to find an appropriate housekeeper in the last woman to hold the post, but there could be no doubting this one’s skill and knowledge. “Shall we?” Not waiting to see if she followed, he guided her from his most rare Collection Room to the one in the next hall. “In here, you’ll find all works of Western artists. From Shakespeare to his friends Herminge and Condell, you’ll find all the greatest here.”

He stole another peek at his housekeeper in time to detect the disapproving way in which she wrinkled her nose. “Only Western artists?”

Tamping down a grin, he guided her across the hallway to the adjacent room. “The finest of the Oriental literary masters is shelved in here.” Letting them inside, Vail displayed some of his finest books. “The Tale of Genji—”

“Genji Monogatari,” she whispered, touching a hand to her mouth.

“As well as Makura no Soshi,” he finished, supplying that Japanese title. He tamped down his tangible surprise at the depth of her proficiency in text. He wasn’t so snobbish that he’d be startled by a young woman’s mastery of Oriental literature, but neither was he so connected to women who had a grasp of even Western texts. His appreciation grew for the composed Mrs. Hamlet. “Shall we?”

The lady nodded eagerly. “Have you read all these titles?” she asked, as they resumed their tour.

“Many. Not most. My collections are too vast,” he said without inflection. It was a matter of fact, more than anything. “Not as impressive as Lord Dandridge’s, whose floors caved in from all the books he kept.”

A startled laugh spilled from the lady’s lips. Enchanted by the husky beauty of it, he looked over.

“You joke,” she charged, a sparkle in her eyes.

He swallowed hard. Blast if he wasn’t captivated by her wit and her bloody smile. “Indeed, not,” he forced himself to answer. Affixing a grin to his face, he leaned close to her ear. “Hardly as shocking as Lord Templeton who has a problem with rats and shoots them at all hours of the night to keep them from his texts.”

The lady widened her eyes. “Surely you jest now?”

Actually he’d didn’t. Mrs. Hamlet revealed her naiveté where his world was concerned and he far preferred her as just a woman with a deep appreciation for literature. Not wanting to disillusion her with the ugly he’d witnessed, Vail winked, earning another laugh. The sound of it did funny things to his heart’s rhythm. Unnerved, he hurried through the remainder of the tour, showing his housekeeper the seven rooms where his titles were kept. After they’d finished, the lady fell silent.

“Well?” he urged as they arrived at his office.

She gave her head a wistful shake. “It is a shame someone else will have possession of all these great works.”

And just like that, she’d brought them ’round back to her earlier disapproval. Not knowing why that should matter, just that it did, Vail rang the bell, needing for a restoration of his own logic where Mrs. Hamlet was concerned. “Mr. Lodge will show you to your rooms. You may have the day to familiarize yourself with the residence and have Mr. Lodge perform your introductions to the staff.”


This delightful excerpt from Christi Caldwell’s wonderful new historical romance hints at the hero’s knowledge of the Regency phenomenon – bibliomania. The author does an amazing job of setting a passionate love story in the middle of the world of the antique book dealer and the lengths to which Regency gentlemen went in order to acquire new volumes for their collections.

To read more about bibliomania, check out our previous post here :


And to read a poignant, witty, and moving love story set in the world of books and mania, check out Beguiled by a Baron, out today !!

A Lady with a Secret… Partially deaf, with a birthmark marring her face, Bridget Hamilton is content with her life, even if she’s been cast out of her family. But her peaceful existence—expanding her mind with her study of rare books—is threatened with an ultimatum from her evil brother—steal a valuable book or give up her son. Bridget has no choice; her son is her world.

A Lord with a Purpose… Vail Basingstoke, Baron Chilton is known throughout London as the Bastard Baron. After battling at Waterloo, he establishes himself as the foremost dealer in rare books and builds a fortune, determined to never be like the self-serving duke who sired him. He devotes his life to growing his fortune to care for his illegitimate siblings, also fathered by the duke. The chance to sell a highly coveted book for a financial windfall is his only thought.

Two Paths Collide… When Bridget masquerades as the baron’s newest housekeeper, he’s hopelessly intrigued by her quick wit and her skill with antique tomes. Wary from having his heart broken in the past, it should be easy enough to keep Bridget at arm’s length, yet desire for her dogs his steps. As they spend time in each other’s company, understanding for life grows as does love, but when Bridget’s integrity is called into question, Vail’s world is shattered—as is his heart again. Now Bridget and Vail will have to overcome the horrendous secrets and lies between them to grasp a love—and life—together.





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USA TODAY Bestselling author CHRISTI CALDWELL blames Julie Garwood and Judith McNaught for luring her into the world of historical romance. While sitting in her graduate school apartment at the University of Connecticut, Christi decided to set aside her notes and pick up her laptop to try her hand at romance. She believes the most perfect heroes and heroines have imperfections, and she rather enjoys torturing them before crafting them a well deserved happily ever after!

Christi makes her home in southern Connecticut where she spends her time writing her own enchanting historical romances, chasing around her feisty seven-year-old son and caring for her twin princesses in training!



Taking the waters during the Georgian age was prescribed by physicians for everything from stomach troubles, to gout, to a nervous disposition. This cure usually involved a trip to one of England’s many spa towns, like Bath or Tonbridge Wells. It might entail a trip to the sea, to Brighton perhaps, to enjoy the efficacious benefits of the ocean breezes and the salt air. These treatments were basically harmless and, at times, quite helpful (so long as one did not mind the taste of the water at the Roman baths. Shudder!)

However, the last thing one wanted by way of medical treatment was hydrotherapy or water therapy as it was administered for cases of mental illness or madness, as it was more often called in the seventeenth through nineteenth centuries. The various forms this treatment took in this era ranged from mildly discomforting to death, not to put too fine a point on it.

The original proponent of water therapy for afflictions of the mind was Jean Baptiste Van Helmont. His method was first  recorded in his magnum opus, Ortus Medicinae, which was translated into English in 1662. He believed in the full immersion of the patient in ice cold water to the point of unconsciousness. This near death experience would, he declared, result in the death of the mad idea which caused the derangement in the first place. Sometimes, in addition to the extermination of the mad idea, the treatment resulted in the extermination of… well, the patient. At least he was no longer mad. Dead relatives were far more acceptable during the Georgian age, especially the Regency era, than mad ones.

Yes, this is what you think it is. The patient is tied to a crossbar and dropped into an ice cold body of water until they stop struggling. Only then are they raised from the water. Miraculously cured of madness. Or dead. Whichever comes first.

To be fair, this form of water therapy was not widely used after its side effects became apparent. Yes, even in the 17th century death was seen as a side effect.

Eventually methods of hydrotherapy that did not involve drowning the patient outright became popular among mad doctors, as they were called. For some practitioners it was a particularly appropriate title. By the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the two major forms of hydrotherapy were the douche or cold shower and the balneum or bath.

The bath was used more often for nervous disorders, to calm patients. The shower consisted of cold water poured over the patient’s head or sprayed directly into their face, and it was for the more violent forms of madness. Rather like turning a hose on dogs fighting. Even into the Regency era, the theory was madness was a spiritual rather than a physical or mental disorder. Therefore, a mad doctor had only to arrive upon the proper method to change the patient’s spiritual thinking to invoke a cure.

These doctors came up with a wide variety of methods by which to dispense this cure. Patients were wrapped tightly in sheets and placed in a cold bath, sometimes for hours on end. More inventive facilities had tubs with wooden doors over them with a hole for the patient’s head to stick out. Thus, the patient might be locked into the bath and left there until they saw the error of their ways.

The shower was the more violent form of hydrotherapy and was used for everything from murderous rages, to fits, to refusal to sleep with one’s husband (but we’ll get to that one in a moment.) There were cold shower rooms where the patient might be locked in and sprayed with water from all directions. The most common method was for the patient to sit in a tub or barrel of cold water whilst a number of attendants ran up and down a ladder on the other side of a screen and doused them with bucket after bucket of water. These sessions might go on for anywhere from twenty minutes to several hours, or at least until the attendants ran out of energy and/or water. All of this was done to force the patient to let go of his or her mad behavior and revert back to what was considered normal, upright, Christian behavior.

Not a bad way to take a shower if it weren’t for the whole not being able to get out of the tub until the mad doctor said so. And the whole entire buckets of cold water being dumped on you one after another technique.

Enter the scene of mad doctoring in 1725, one Patrick Blair. He was firmly ensconced in the mental illness as spiritual failing camp of treating madness. Therefore, his use of water therapy was punitive to the point of torture. Eventually he created his own apparatus consisting of a pump capable of raising 18,000 gallons of water 35 feet and dropping it, in its entirety, onto a patient strapped into a chair. He even added water sprayed into the patient’s face at the same time as extra incentive.

If this doesn’t persuade you to resume your “marital duties,” nothing will.

Blair used this inventive piece of hardware most often to persuade women to return to their marital duties, aka go back to sleeping with their husbands. Yes, this was considered a form of madness no matter how nasty, abusive or sexually unimaginative the husband. His method consisted of stripping the patient naked, strapping her into the chair, blindfolding her, and subjecting her to the constant shower of cold water for thirty minutes to an hour at the time. This was done several times a day for as many days as it took for the woman to be cured of her dislike of her husband. Frankly, after this sort of treatment, most women would agree to go to bed with Jabba the Hut. One can only assume should the woman ever evince a further dislike of her husband, the threat of more of Dr. Blair’s cure would bring her back into line.

Modern psychiatrists, after reading Blair’s own account of this treatment on a number of women, have pronounced it nothing short of a kind of rape performed at the request of a husband to force the wife to take him to her bed. A fair assessment? I’d say so.

Whilst later practitioners in mad hospitals put aside water therapy in its most punitive forms in favor of good nutrition, pleasant environments, and what we call now, occupational therapy; water torture in the same form used by earlier mad doctors found its way into the prison systems. One of these techniques in particular is used today. It’s called waterboarding. Psychiatry has evolved. Mankind, a little less so.




When I was nine years old, my father’s Air Force career took our family to the little village of Kelsale in Suffolk, England. Some of the most magical memories of my childhood are of the three years we lived in this quaint and unique place. It did not take long for my brothers and I to become part of the “gang” of village children who played together every day. It was the 1960’s in a small, rural English village. Which means, our playground was the entire village and we had free run of it so long as we didn’t make too much mischief and were home in time for supper.

Kelsale is an old village. The Guildhall was built in 1495. The pub, the Eight Bells, was built early in the 17th century. The highest point in the village is at the top of Church Street. There stands the 11th century Norman era Church of St. Mary and St. Peter. This church and the surrounding cemetery with its leaning tombstones with ancient dates and inscriptions was the site of many a game of Robin Hood and His Merry Men, King Arthur and His Knights, and any variety of hide and seek you can imagine. And where did all of these adventures begin? Where did we meet to plan a day’s mayhem as only a group of children ages 6 to 11 could do?

At the Lych Gate

Lychgate Church of St. Peter and St. Mary Kelsale, Suffolk, England

Lych is an Anglo Saxon adjectival form for corpse. In addition to lych gate (which can also be spelled lichgate, lycugate, lyke gate or lychgate,) the term is incorporated in other funereal terms from the Middle Ages. The lych bell was a hand bell rung before the corpse as it traveled from the home to the church and possibly from the church to the cemetery, depending on the distance. The lych way was the path along which the corpse was carried to burial. The lych owl was another name for the screech owl because its cry was thought to be a portent of death. And a lyke-wake was a night watch over the corpse.

There were no mortuaries during the Middle Ages. People died at home and were placed on a bier to be taken on their final journey. The first stop on that journey was often the lych gate, where the body might remain until the funeral a few days later. More often than not, attendants or guards remained against body snatchers, no matter what the weather. The corpse bearers carried the body of the deceased under the lych gate at the entrance to the churchyard and placed it on a communal bier. Bodies were buried in shrouds, not caskets. The priest would then perform the first part of the funeral service there.

Lych gates were built at the entrances of churchyards as early as the 7th century. These early lych gates were basically a covered gate built of wood, and very few of these earliest examples have survived in any form. They became more commonly built beginning in the 13th century. They were crafted of older timber construction and traditionally were roofed with wood tiles, clay tiles, or thatch. The large timber beams framing the gateway were often carved with decorative elements. Some had lichstones, large flat stones in the middle of the gate upon which the body might be placed. Many had benches inset into the sides of the gateway to seat the watchers and / or corpse bearers whilst shielding them from the elements.

The oldest surviving lych gate is thought to be the one leading into St. George’s churchyard in the Beckenham area of South London. It has been restored in part, but the roof and much of the structure is over 700 years old.

Lych gate St. George’s in the Beckenham are of South London

A more modern custom, which began during the Victorian era, was the closing of the gates once a wedding began in the church. The children of the village were set as the gatekeepers and the bride and groom had to pay them in order to pass through the gate.

Below are some other examples of this unique and only slightly macabre structure.

St. Wulfran’s Ovingdean
Castle Eaton





Canterbury St. Martin’s

I knew none of the fascinating and tiny bit gruesome history of the lych gate when I was meeting my friends there as a child. Had we known, I am certain we would have spent far more time trying to frighten each other or telling each other ghost stories under the shelter of our childhood meeting place. Countless adventures began and ended at the lych gate over the three years I lived in Kelsale. Which was probably more appropriate than we knew. After all, death is often considered life’s final and most daunting adventure. And for innumerable thousands, the lych gate was the first stop on that journey.



All historical romance authors start out as historical romance readers. At least I hope they do. These same historical romance readers turned authors read, in all likelihood, one book that dragged them into the genre and refused to let them go. For me it was Pride and Prejudice, followed closely by Jane Eyre. No matter what the “gateway” historical romance novel, most, if not all, historical romance addicts dream of traveling to England to see the places they have only imagined when they were reading. For some it is an annual pilgrimage. For others it is a once in a lifetime trip.

Whichever it is, Sonja Rouillard’s charming and informative book is the perfect travel companion. From the brilliant short story featuring Jane Austen’s Emma on a visit to modern London to the Appendices of historical romance novels quoted throughout the guide and suggestions as to romance novels to read whilst on the trip, the book is well-researched, whimsical, extremely informative, and replete with useful ideas, descriptions, and tips to plan and execute a memorable romance reader’s trip to London and several outlying areas featured heavily in historical romance novels.

Whilst the introductory short story is entertaining and endearing, it also gives the traveler a prospective on travel across the ages. With that, the next chapter provides a brilliant set of criteria for the author’s grading of each of the suggested sites to visit. There is some wonderful information about history in general and as it pertains to the reader of historical romance. And there is also some practical travel advice for the romance traveler.

The author has done a fantastic job of picking sites appealing to almost any reader of historical romance set in a variety of eras. And the entries for each site are well-researched and delightfully written. She also grades the sites as to their authenticity to the historical eras in which they most often appear in romance novels. And, of course, she lets the reader know if a site mentioned in a historical era has since disappeared. I found myself reading the entries strictly for the information and entertainment in them. The Then and Now aspects of each site allow the traveler to decide which sites are most appealing to them.

Period maps and a quick list of museums, along with the fees one might be expected to pay is most helpful. And the chapter on staying in period authentic places and dining with historical style, on a winsome scale from “touring like a governess” to “touring with royalty” is amusing and timely. There is a chapter on period activities in which one can participate today that is a stroke of genius.

With numerous photographs, maps, suggested excursions from London to other places mentioned frequently in historical romances, and entertaining and intriguing entries on every page, the Romance Readers Guide to Historic London is the perfect traveling companion for the historical romance reader making a pilgrimage to the land where historical romance was born. With its other worthy qualities, it is also an excellent read. One I intend to add to my research library.


Romance Readers Guide Buy Link:




Written specifically for the 30 million historical romance fans in U.S., the Romance Readers Guide to Historic London offers everything you want to know about the famous London sights in romance novels. In the “Then and Now” chapter (nearly half the book), learn the back-stories of places such as Almack’s, Bedlam, and White’s, and whether they’re still around or can be visited. Hear fascinating anecdotes, like which princesses stayed where or which upstairs maid married up. More than 130 photos and “Then and Now” illustrations show how these places have changed over the centuries. There’s a foreword by NY Times best-selling author Sabrina Jeffries, and romance excerpts by Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer, and today’s best selling authors (Mary Balogh, Tessa Dare, Elizabeth Hoyt, and more) add delightful flavor to the places described.


The Guide is an entertaining read for the armchair traveler curled up by the fire with a warm cup of tea. But, it’s an essential resource for anyone who wants to experience old-world London first hand. Enjoy an authentic Afternoon Tea in a charming salon or play princess sleeping in a four-poster bed or even a castle! With historical maps, insider tips, and “~for the guys” highlights, the Guide will make it easy for even a rookie traveler to hit all the historic-romance highlights. The Romance Readers Guide to Historic London is your companion to the London of Elizabethan, Georgian, Regency, and Victorian times, whether in the comfort of your own home or on that once-in-a-lifetime trip.


Praise for the Romance Readers Guide:


“Not only does she point out places I have not seen, she has my love for all things romantic at the forefront. … If you are planning a trip to England, LONDON in particular, you should definitely purchase this book and keep it with you every day you are there.”

— Amazon customer review, 5 Stars


Author Biography:

Sonja Rouillard is a successful writer of fiction and non-fiction. Recently, she launched an erotic romance career under the name Kate Allure with two books from Sourcebooks (Playing Doctor and Lawyer Up), receiving high praise: “The sensuality and sexuality are palpable…4 Stars!” & “Escapism of the richest, most decadent variety.” —RT Book Reviews. “Intense chemistry, great characteriza-tion, and a kinky page-singeing ending will have readers clamoring for more.” —Publishers Weekly.

Besides being a huge fan of historical romance, Sonja’s other great love is travel and seeking unusual, off-the-beaten-path experiences. China, Monte Carlo, Bora Bora, Mexico, and Poland are among the many foreign countries she’s visited. Her extensive U.S. travel covers the gamut from exotic Hawaii, to historic Washington, D.C., and the indigenous cultures of six remote Native American reservations. Sonja lives in California with her husband of 26 years, 3 children, 2 dogs, 2 cats, and a Flemish Giant rabbit.


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 by Regan Walker

Inside the Old Bailey Court


Echo in the Wind, my new Georgian romance set in 1784, smuggling features prominently. Tea drinking was so popular that many people turned a blind eye to the activities of the smuggling gangs. Because it was an illegal trade, it is impossible to know exactly how much tea was smuggled into Britain during the years of high taxation in the eighteenth century, but it is clear that while tea drinking was becoming ever more popular and widespread, the official imports of tea were not increasing. By the 1780s, in areas where the smugglers operated most freely, virtually all the tea consumed was smuggled.

Echo in the Wind includes a smuggling trial at the Old Bailey. To portray the trial accurately, I dove into the Old Bailey archives. (Yes, the trials are available in an online database:

How smuggling cases were portrayed:

Before the 1770s, England’s government portrayed smuggling as a crime against the nation, but after this time, smuggling became a crime of assault against revenue officers. During the first part of the eighteenth century, smugglers might refer to their trade in terms of tradition. They were surprised to find they awaited execution for such a commonplace activity. But after the 1770s, smugglers increasingly considered smuggled goods to be their private property. To them, the revenue officers were wrong for seizing what was not theirs by right.

Some of that can be seen in the trial scene in my story. To capture the trial as it might have occurred, I scanned dozens of transcripts of Old Bailey trials. In the end, I selected the trial of John Shelley for my model. He was accused of disturbing the peace, assaulting “officers of the king” and failing to pay duties on imported tea, otherwise known as “unaccustomed goods”.

Since my heroine, Lady Joanna West, is the “master of the beach” for a gang of smugglers operating off the West Sussex coast, she listens carefully as the trial begins:

With a word from the judge, a clerk at the end of the counsel table stood and began to read from a paper.

“The prisoner, one John Shelley, is accused of disturbing of the peace of our Lord the King on the nineteenth of November last. With firearms and other weapons, including bludgeons, a blunderbuss, a pistol and a sword called a cutlass, he did unlawfully, riotously and feloniously assault officers of the king. He and ten other persons took away three hundred pounds weight of tea, being unaccustomed goods liable to pay duties, and which duties had not been paid.”

“A smuggling case!” Cornelia exclaimed in a whisper to Joanna. At the mention of “unaccustomed goods” Joanna had known the nature of the case they were to hear. Her stomach was already tied in knots at the thought of what lay ahead.

The clerk paused and then began again. “The prisoner is charged with another count for forcibly assaulting, hindering, obstructing and opposing said officers.”

Looking up from the paper he held, he asked the accused, “How do you plead?”

The man responded from where he cowered behind the wooden railing. “Not guilty.” By the look on his face, Mr. Shelley well understood he faced the possibility of execution.

As a lawyer, I found the transcripts from the Old Bailey trials fascinating. As a writer, I recognized them as having the potential to add realistic drama to my story, adding to the heroine’s fear of ending up on the gallows.

The Old Bailey:

Newgate and the Old Bailey

By the time of my story, the Old Bailey had long been the place where criminals were tried. Between 1674 and 1834, over 100,000 criminal trials were carried out at the Old Bailey. In the late 18th century, the Old Bailey was a small court adjacent to Newgate gaol. Hangings were a public spectacle in the street outside the Old Bailey until May 1868

The result of the trials:

The majority of smugglers tried at the Old Bailey before 1787 had been charged with the capital offenses of armed assembly or carrying illicit goods. But this was to change. Between 1787 and 1814, 49 out of 64 smuggling cases featured assault and/or obstruction as the main charges.

Throughout the eighteenth century, the acquittal rate was seldom less than 25 per cent, and often more than 50 per cent of those indicted. As the century progressed, the conviction rate fell well below 25 per cent. In 1784, the year of my story, the conviction rate was only 14% (out of 1037 indictments, there were only 149 convictions).

A letter in the Morning Chronicle for 1 January 1773 complained, “The numerous acquittals at the Old Bailey, on some days greater than the convictions, are truly alarming.” They further observed, “Whenever any case admits of the least doubt, the Judge and Jury give it a cast in favour of life and liberty.”

It is no surprise that during the 1780s and later, communities were more frequently the smugglers’ willing accomplices than their terrorized victims. Then, too, the rule of law posed formidable problems for the prosecutors. The law was slow and costly, and biased judges and juries often failed to convict on the most straightforward evidence. Bribery produced many false alibis and witnesses “disappeared” or had convenient lapses of memory.

And what of Mr. Shelley?


Hanging in the street near Old Bailey


At the end of the trial in my story, Mr. Shelley is found guilty in one of those rare instances of conviction. Of course, this causes Lady Joanna much fear. After some upheaval in the court and much sobbing by the man’s relations, this is how the scene ends:

The prisoner was led away and the gallery began to empty. The women who had watched the trial beside them were dabbing at their eyes with handkerchiefs as they stood to leave.

Once they were gone, Cornelia abruptly stood. “Tea, I think, is in order. Twinings?”

Joanna got to her feet, her shoulders sagging with the weight of what she had witnessed. “Some refreshment after that is welcome, though I shouldn’t wonder if we ought to drink something stronger than tea.” Particularly if it were tea she knew might very well be smuggled. But then, so was most of England’s brandy.



“Walker sweeps you away to a time and place you’ll NEVER want to leave!”

~ NY Times Bestselling author Danelle Harmon


England and France 1784

Cast out by his noble father for marrying the woman he loved, Jean Donet took to the sea, becoming a smuggler, delivering French brandy and tea to the south coast of England. When his young wife died, he nearly lost his sanity. In time, he became a pirate and then a privateer, vowing to never again risk his heart.

As Donet’s wealth grew, so grew his fame as a daring ship’s captain, the terror of the English Channel in the American War. When his father and older brother die in a carriage accident in France, Jean becomes the comte de Saintonge, a title he never wanted.

Lady Joanna West cares little for London Society, which considers her its darling. Marriage in the ton is either dull or disastrous. She wants no part of it. To help the poor in Sussex, she joins in their smuggling. Now she is the master of the beach, risking her reputation and her life. One night off the coast of Bognor, Joanna encounters the menacing captain of a smuggling ship, never realizing he is the mysterious comte de Saintonge.

Can Donet resist the English vixen who entices him as no other woman? Will Lady Joanna risk all for an uncertain chance at love in the arms of the dashing Jean Donet?


Echo in the Wind on Amazon:



Regan’s website:

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THE FOOL OF A BEAR baiter looked at her as if she had two heads.

“I mean it, you puffed up bully.” She flicked the whip at him and knocked the tattered hat from his head. “This dog belongs to Miss Worthy. Should you try to take him I shall horsewhip you within an inch of your life.” She stepped forward and raised the whip to prove her point.

“And I will take up where she leaves off,” Lucy declared. She handed Horatio’s lead to the menacing footman and pushed her sleeves up to her elbows.

“You’re both mad. I’ll teach you to strike me, you silly chit.” He raised his fist and might have hit Adelaide had two things not happened almost at once. She was lifted away from him. At the same time, a powerful hand shot out and knocked the man on his arse.


Her husband glared at the two ruffians who held the scarred dogs on leads. They retreated immediately. He stood over the barker, shaking with fury. “That chit is the Duchess of Selridge. My wife.” The man’s face paled noticeably. “If you value your life you will take this sideshow back to Bankside and never show your face to me again. Understood?”

The barker and his dog handlers nodded vigorously and made haste to do exactly as Marcus said. Adelaide found herself guided by an overbearing grip to her elbow as she was propelled back to the phaeton. The Earl of Creighton offered Lucy his arm and escorted her back towards the Serpentine, her footman and Horatio close behind her. Lucy waved, her face wreathed in concern.

Adelaide was suddenly snatched off her feet.

“Your leg.” The words of concern came out in a squeak as Marcus lifted her by the waist and deposited her with a short drop onto the bench seat. He climbed in beside her and, with a brief nod to the Earl of Creighton, started the grays toward the main gate of the park.

She looked back at the two dogs as the barker and his henchmen dragged them towards the crowd of young gentlemen. The dogs gazed at her forlornly. Their eyes said so much and it broke Adelaide’s heart. A horse and rider stepped out of a copse of oak trees. Dylan raised his hat to her in silent salute and then walked his horse in the direction of the barker, the dogs, and the crowd.

Adelaide turned to find her husband’s gaze fixed on Dylan’s back. She did not like the expression she saw there. When he turned his piercing green eyes on her, she liked it even less. She searched her mind for the words to cool that emerald fire. “Marcus, I realize I shouldn’t have—”

“We’ll talk about it when we get home, Adelaide. I’d rather not be involved in two scenes in Hyde Park in the same day, if it’s all the same to you.”

“Is there going to be a scene?” She tried to pass the question off as a jest.

“Oh, yes, madam. Count on it.”




Most of the early forms of dog fighting involved baiting them with other animals. The most popular of these were bull-baiting and bear-baiting. The first record we have of a bull-baiting in England gives the date of 1209. The so-called sport lasted until the 19th century. Bull-baiting was actually required in the 17th century, as the theory was it tenderized the meat. As for the practice of baiting between dogs and monkeys, rats, ponies, and even lions—I am still trying to find a twisted justification for those events. I doubt I ever will.

Both dog fighting and cock fighting were considered gentlemen’s sports. The major spectators, therefore, were members of the aristocracy. Queen Elizabeth I enjoyed animal baiting and banned plays on Thursdays, as that was when most animal baitings took place. King James was also a fan and retired several mastiffs after they defeated a lion. He felt after they had defeated a lion, any other opponent would be beneath them. Dogs fighting each other was established as a sport by the mid-17th century and was legal in England through the mid-1800’s. Some owners of fighting dogs were indeed gentlemen and members of the peerage, but the sport also became popular among the working class as well.

The venues for bear-baiting were called bear gardens. They consisted of a circle, fenced completely by a high wooden fence. There were raised seats around it for spectators, very like a Roman arena. A post was set in the ground at the back of the “pit.” The bear was chained to the post by his leg or his neck. A group of baiting dogs was then turned loose on the bear. In its earliest form, this dog was what we know as the Old English Bulldog. The dogs were replaced as they tired, were wounded, or were killed. The most well-known area for these events was the Paris Garden area of London, a section of Bankside lying west of The Clink at Southwark.


Bull-baiting was conducted in a similar fashion, with the dogs sometimes tied to the bull’s back. The last recorded bull-baiting took place in 1838. Once bull-baiting and bear-baiting became illegal, dog-fighting came into its own. It was an exceedingly popular sport amongst the aristocracy and was equally popular with the middle and lower classes, especially after the Industrial Revolution. The fact it was not legal did little to slow it down. Much as the laws today have done little to prevent it.


There were those who opposed dog fighting in all its forms. As early as the 16th and 17th centuries the Puritans opposed it – not for its inherent cruelty, but because it brought pleasure to the spectators. Those Puritans were seriously anti-pleasure. It wasn’t until the early 18th century, when people, beginning with William Wilberforce, began to read the biblical term “dominion” as “stewardship” that people began to see these sports as cruel and demeaning. Rather than seeing animals as lesser creatures to be dominated and used in any fashion man desired, Wilberforce espoused the idea that humans were put on earth to care for animals and to look out for their best interests.

Baiting sports were prohibited by Parliament with the Cruelty to Animals Act of 1835. However, as I said earlier in this post, this resulted in an increased popularity in the sport of dog fighting. Legal or not, it became a lucrative business beginning in the Victorian era. Those dogs bred for bear-baiting and bull-baiting, a cross between English bulldogs and rat terriers, were called Bull Terriers. These were tough, tenacious, compact dogs of around 50 pounds with powerful jaws for tearing and biting. After 1835, larger dogs were crossed with these dogs to create the dog we know as the pitbull today.

I will not engage in the debate for or against the breed in this post. I only know my two grandnieces, ages two and three, learned to walk by pushing up on and holding on to a large white pitbull named Penny. She is their constant companion and watches over them with a vigilance many young mothers might seek to emulate.

Dog fighting was and remains one of most heinous, disgusting, and cowardly acts of cruelty ever conceived. It is the provenance of classless, ignorant, cowards – men, and sometimes women, who do not have the courage to prove their over-inflated egos by engaging in combat themselves. They prefer to force animals who have no choice to prove it for them. The only thing it proves is we have not come very far in the last 800 or so years. And we still have a long way to go. Fortunately, there are still people like, Addy, heroine of my book, Lost in Love, in the world. People who are not afraid to speak for those creatures who cannot speak for themselves. To all Athe modern-day Adelaide Formsby-Smythes in the world, I say “Thank you!” and “Keep up the fight!” To those dogs still waiting to be rescued from the wastes of human flesh who force you to act against your loving and gentle natures, please hang on. We will never give up. We’re coming for you. Hang on, babies. Just hang on.



When Adelaide Formsby-Smythe insults the Duke of Selridge to the point she sees her own murder in his eyes, her wish that the ground would open up and swallow her seems a perfectly reasonable response. Until it does.

Thus, Major Marcus Winfield, now the Duke of Selridge, ends the worst year of his life by falling into an underground cave with the younger sister of his former fiancée. An offense punishable by—marriage!


Although he never imagined marrying Adelaide, Marcus decides they will limp along quite well together. There’s no need to mention he’s being blackmailed… or that his irritating new wife fills his nights with a passion he cannot deny.

Adelaide, however, having unexpectedly married the man of her dreams, will settle for nothing less than her new husband’s heart. She’ll make him love her. Far less bothersome that way when she has to tell him she’s a thief. And possibly a murderess.


Lost in Love is available now through these links :


Congratulations to Karen Feder, lucky winner of a place on our English Country House Tour!

Karen entered the raffle at the Barbara Vey Reader’s Weekend in Milwaukee on April 29th and will now be joining the tour group for an eight day tour of country houses in September.

More chances to win a place on one of our tours are coming up. Sign up to our newsletter in order to be the first to know about upcoming tour giveaways! Newsletter link can be found in the right sidebar – good luck!

The History of the Country House Guidebook

by Louisa Cornell

Anyone who writes romances set in Regency England must have a thorough knowledge of that quintessential piece of British architecture – the English country house. One of the best resources for the study of these monuments to old titles and often older money is the country house guidebook. They usually include photographs of the most beautiful rooms, and more often than not, a floor plan of the house. I have an ever-increasing collection of these guidebooks, many for homes I have not visited. Yet. Frequent visits to Amazon used books and Ebay make adding to my collection easy. And I have friends who enable my addiction by bringing these books back from their trips to England for me.

Elizabeth I actually set the wheels to the country house tour in motion. Whilst her father made pilgrimages to tour his own homes, Elizabeth I often traveled England visiting houses of the nobility. Therefore, as early as the Elizabethan age, the aristocratic pattern of building large country houses for the sake of display and prestige was set by these royal pilgrimages.

In the Georgian era, the increasing wealth of the expanded upper classes provided time for travel and cultural pursuits. More and more turnpike roads were created, making travel faster and safer. Inns were built to accommodate tourists. By the end of the 18th century clergymen, lawyers, military officers, bankers, merchants, minor landowners, and members of the aristocracy were all making tours.

Frequent wars on the Continent thwarted traditional Grand Tour Destinations. Even without wars, travel for women was restricted. Visiting other ‘good’ families was an acceptable way to broaden their knowledge and tastes – cross pollinating ideas, styles, and fashions.

Houses near large conurbations were especially susceptible. Walpole’s neo-Gothic Strawberry Hill near Twickenham was a particularly sought out destination. When visiting an area, day trips to nearby country houses were a favorite activity. The expectation was an owner would, as part of their duty to better society, open their house. Part of being a polite land owner was allowing tourists to visit one’s house and grounds. Key questions in planning these visits were – find the houses, determine whether the owners were amenable to visitors, no matter how genteel. Areas with a higher density of fine houses, within a day or two ride of a city or other existing tourist destinations – Norfolk, Derbyshire, Wiltshire – became part of the unofficial British Grand Tour.

By the latter part of the 18th century the number of people visiting country houses had grown exponentially. As these numbers increased so did the need to manage the situation. Some owners simply refused visitors access. By 1760, Chatsworth was specifically open two days per week.

In 1774, Walpole began issuing tickets and rules for good conduct. He only allowed a maximum of four visitors per day, and children were absolutely forbidden. Smart man. He wrote his own guidebook and printed them on his own printing press. He seldom gave them out as he was afraid people would never leave should they try to see everything he described in the guidebook.

Frontispiece to A Description of the Villa
at Strawberry Hill

Only a handful of houses attracted hundreds of visitors. Wilton House in Wiltshire was one. The increase in visitors eventually led to formal opening hours and standardized tours led by housekeepers. Inns were built near to these houses to cater to tourists.

Internal tours were conducted by the housekeeper.Whilst their stories of family history might or might not be true, their information about works of art and collections in the house were more often than not quite wrong. Some housekeepers were even rumored to simply make things up. Demand for more accurate information gave birth to the concept of the guidebook. In the beginning, the standard form of these guidebooks was a map of an agreed upon route through the home,with entries on each work of art. Indeed most of the ones from the 1730’s and 1740’s were in-house creations with the aforementioned maps, i.e. a floor plan with a suggested route through the house. All of them were focused on an individual house and were basically a catalogue of the artworks and collections in the house.Usually published after a house became established as a tourist attraction, they included information about those things visitors were expected to notice. And, of course, they excluded those things visitors were expected to ignore.

[A Guide to Burghley House, Northamptonshire, the seat of the Marquis of Exeter; containing a catalogue of all the paintings, antiquities, &c. With biographical notices of the artists. [By Thomas Blore. With plates.]]

Only a handful of houses had their own guidebooks before 1800. In 1774 Benton Seeley’s guide to the House and Gardens at Stowe was the first to be published by an outside publisher. It ran to twenty editions in sixty years.

Early guidebooks not designed in-house were published to take advantage of the new market and to build on tours available at multiple country houses. They were designed to be practical for travelers – small, lightweight, simply bound pamphlets with marbled paper covers. They were comprised of information about the house and gardens – according to the paths visitors were expected to take. The guidebook to Hawkstone in Shropshire provided information about various views and spaces of the renowned gardens there.

Hawkstone Park, depicted here by John Emes,  a landscaped parkland and pleasure gardens belonging to the Hawkstone Hall estate in Shropshire. (1790)

Places popular with the 18th and early 19th century visitors were :

Stowe, Buckinghamshire – It was the first to attract visitors in significant numbers, to have its own inn, and to have its own guidebook. It was primarily famous for its gardens.

Kedleston Hall, Derbyshire – It was known for its art collection. It offered impressive tours conducted by the housekeeper. It was considered one of the first “modern” stately homes as its interiors were the work of Robert Adam.

Stourhead, Wiltshire – One of several popular houses in Wiltshire, it could easily be included in a tour of the West Country. Visitors came to see the gardens, the park, and the fabulous ‘Pope’s cabinet’ on display in the house.

Studley Royal Water Garden, North Yorkshire – Studley was most known for its gardens and its connection to the ruins of Fountains Abbey,which was purchased by the Aislabie family in 1767. However, visitors were rarely admitted to the house.

As outside publishers realized the value of these guidebooks they were designed to be more functional. They came in small octavo form, bound in paper covers, lightweight and inexpensive. They were sized in easy to carry forms to be used as one toured the house. Their appeal as a souvenir was heightened by the addition of illustrated frontspieces – the most common being images of the house. The most elaborate guidebooks included a series of illustrations. Some editions of the guide to Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire included a fold-out map of the gardens, often with hand-colored details, and a set of views of the house.

Booksellers began to see the value in guidebooks and before long rival booksellers were publishing guidebooks of the same house. Eventually they became available in London bookstores as well as in the shops near the houses themselves. People began to read them whether they ever intended to visit the houses or not. The guidebooks began to include a wider range of information. They began to describe the surrounding countryside, details about the family, an architectural history of the house – which included information about everyone from the architect to the plasterers and other artisans involved in the creation of the house. And, of course, they also served as catalogues of the works of art and collections assembled in each house.

Eventually, writers took on the task of writing guidebooks for specific areas, such as Stephen Glover’s The Peak Guide published in 1830. He was among the first to write a guidebook for an area, rather than an individual house. However, his book does include extensive entries on houses in the area. The entry for Chatsworth is over 37 pages and includes detailed entries on important paintings and the artists who painted them.

‘Plan of the Library Story’ from ‘The Peak Guide; containing the topographical, statistical, and general history of Buxton, Chatsworth, Edensor, Castlteon [sic], Bakewell, Haddon, Matlock, and Cromford’ by Stephen Glover of Derby [1830]

The country house guidebook has come a long way and has undergone numerous permutations to become the stylish, slim, photograph-heavy little books sold in the souvenir shops and village booksellers in and around Britain’s stately country houses. They began as and continue to be important sources of information about the treasures, mysteries, histories, and families of these magnificent microcosms of British history.


by Kristine Hughes Patrone

Our next stop on the Visit Britain Familiarization Trip was Audley End, where we were able to tour the 1880’s servants wing and the gardens. I was thrilled to be able to see the extensive domestic offices, as Audley End is on the itinerary for Number One London’s 2018 Upstairs/Downstairs Country House Tour.

At Audley End, costumed characters bring the House back to its Victorian heyday and allow visitors to discover what life was like below stairs by meeting the Victorian workers in the stables, service wing, nursery and coal gallery. During our tour, we’ll also come face to face with the cook, Mrs. Crocombe, as she prepares a meal for the family, bump into the stablehands while they’re grooming the horses, and meet Governess Miss Dormer as she organizes the children for the day.









Making our way outside, we headed out for a tour of the Kitchen Garden, which is managed according to organic principles. The Kitchen Garden offers over 120 varieties of apples, 40 types of pears, 60 kinds of tomatoes plus many more fruits and vegetables. It also has an Orchard House where peaches and figs are grown in pots, in the same way that they were in Victorian times. The kitchen garden also has pumpkins and squashes still to be harvested as well as herbs and leafy vegetables such as spinach and cabbage.

Videos of our tour of the Kitchen Garden coming next time.



Originally published May, 2014

The first quadrille was danced at Almack’s –  pictured are the Marquis of Worcester, Lady Jersey, Claronald Macdonald and Lady Worcester.

The Duke of Wellington’s ties to the Marquis and Lady Worcester were fastened on both sides – Lord Worcester had served as an aide-de-camp to the Duke of Wellington during the Peninsular War, while the Marchioness of Worcester, Georgina Frederica, was the daughter of the Hon. Henry Fitzroy and the Duke’s sister, Lady Anne, and therefore Wellington’s niece. Prior to their marriage, Lady Shelly wrote in her diary, “Georgiana Fitzroy’s marriage was announced. It was to take place on the following Monday, when the Duke was to give her away. I hope that it will turn out well, but I have my doubts! Lord Worcester is only twenty-one, and very wild.”

The marriage proved happy enough but, at the age of 28, Georgina became gravely ill. The following account is from The Letter Bag of Lady Elizabeth Spencer-Stanhope – ” . . . Lady Worcester was not expected to live thro’ last night. She was at the Birthday and at the ball, danced a great deal, felt unwell, and was fool enough to take a shower bath before she went to bed. She was seized with inflammation in her bowels and in great danger immediately. Lady Worcester’s sufferings were most extreme, her complaint a twisting of the guts. She died sensible but screaming. On one side of the bed sat Lady E. Vernon, on the other, Lady Jersey, also screaming with grief. The Duke of Wellington had to drag them by force out of the room. There were eighty people standing round when she died.”

Apsley House

Mrs. Arbuthnot’s Journal gives us another view of the events leading up to Lady Worcester’s death:
“Lady Worcester died after a week’s illness of inflammation brought on by going into a cold bath after dancing at the ball at Carlton House. She was only 28, one of the handsomest women in England, had made the most brilliant marriage and was flattered, followed and admired by all the world. It is sad to contrast all this brilliancy with the cold and dreary grave that will so soon close over her; and yet she will then have more tranquility, for her prospects were not happy ones. Lord Worcester, overwhelmed with debts, had lately had executions in his house and, if the Duke of Wellington had not given her rooms in his house, she would not have had a hole to put her head into. . . . .

The New Monthly Magazine ran the following report about her death on May 11, 1821 — At Apsley House, the Marchioness of Worcester, of an internal inflammation. Her Ladyship was Georgiana Frederica Fitzroy, eldest daughter of the late Hon. Henry Fitzroy, son of Charles, first Lord Southampton, brother of the Duke of Grafton, by Lady Anne Wellesley, sister of the Duke of Wellington and Marquis Wellesley; and was married to the Marquis of Worcester on the 25th of July, 1814. Her Ladyship was one of the most intimate and favourite friends of the late Princess Charlotte.

And from the Greville Diary – May 12th.—I have suffered the severest pain I ever had in my life by the death of Lady Worcester.1 I loved her like a sister, and I have lost one of the few persons in the world who cared for me, and whose affection and friendship serve to make life valuable to me. She has been cut off in the prime of her life and in the bloom of her beauty, and so suddenly too. Seven days ago she was at a ball at Court, and she is now no more. She died like a heroine, full of cheerfulness and courage to the last. She has been snatched from life at a time when she was becoming every day more fit to live, for her mind, her temper, and her understanding were gradually and rapidly improving; she had faults, but her mind was not vicious, and her defects may be ascribed to her education and to the actual state of the society in which she lived. Her virtues were inherent in her character; every day developed them more and more, and they were such as to make the happiness of all who lived with her and to captivate the affection of all who really knew her. I have never lost anyone I loved before, and though I know the grief I now feel will soon subside (for so the laws of nature have ordained), long, long will it be before I forget her, or before my mind loses the lively impression of her virtues and of our mutual friendship.

“This is one of those melancholy events in life to which the mind cannot for a long time reconcile or accustom itself. I saw her so short a time ago ‘ glittering like the morning star, full of life and splendour and joy;’ the accents of her voice still so vibrate in my ear that I cannot believe I shall never see her again. What a subject for contemplation and for moralising! What reflections crowd into the mind!

“Dr. Hume told me once he had witnessed many death beds, but he had never seen anything like the fortitude and resignation displayed by her. She died in his arms, and without pain. As life ebbed away her countenance changed, and when at length she ceased to breathe, a beautiful and tranquil smile settled upon her face.”

Emily, Duchess of Beaufort

As stated above, Lady Worcester died on 11 May 1821, and on 29 June 1822, her husband Lord Worcester married Lady Anne’s other daughter, Emily Frances. This opens up a whole can of worms, as it was against the law for a widow or widower to marry a brother or sister-in-law. How did they get around this? It might have been due to the fact that Emily had been Lady Worcester’s half sister – their mother, Lady Anne’s husband, Henry Fitzroy died on the 19 March 1794, and on 2 August 1799 Lady Anne was remarried to Charles Culling Smith. Their daughter Emily Frances Smith was born on the 3 March 1800.

On 23 November, 1835 Emily became the Duchess of Beaufort.  She died on 2 October 1889 at age 89 and was buried at Badminton. Her mother, Lady Anne Smith, died in 1844.