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Guest Blogger Cara Elliott

The Riskies welcome back Cara Elliott to the blog, to tell us about the story behind her new release To Tempt a Rake! Comment for a chance to win a copy…

Hi everyone! I’m so delighted Amanda invited me to stop by and visit with the Riskies today. I’m celebrating the release of my latest Regency-set historical romance, To Tempt a Rake, since it’s always a Cause of Joy to finally see a story hit the shelves. However, with all the dreary winter weather up where I am, I confess it’s been hard to feel in a real party mood. Looking like the Michelin Tire Man in sheepskin boots and layers of thick fleece sweatpants and tops does not make a girl feel very glamorous.

But knowing the fashionistas here, I figured this was a perfect place to add a little sparkle to the grey days by talking Regency glitter and bling, Vienna style!

Part of my story is set at the Congress of Vienna, the grand Peace Conference that convened in the fall of 1814 to reorder Europe, now that Napoleon was safely (ha!) exiled to the isle of Elba. Royalty from all over the continent were invited to the city on the Danube, and together with the leading statesmen of the day, they set themselves the task of hammering out solutions for a vast range of political and social questions. All very laudable, of course. But with such a scintillating array of celebrities gathered in one place, the work quickly turned into play. As David King notes in his book Vienna 1814, the movers and shakers had come to make love as well as peace!

It is a truth universally acknowledged that rich, powerful men attract beautiful, scheming women–and Vienna in 1814 was no exception. Some of the notable females included the Duchess of Sagan, the “Cleopatra of Courland,” who was carrying on a passionate affair with Prince Metternich, the Austrian head of the conference…but then she needed a favor from the skirt-chasing Russian tsar…only to become enamored of a handsome cavalry officer–you get the picture. One needs a scorecard to keep track of who was sleeping with whom. Her rival in holding the most influence with men at the conference was Princess Bagration, the Russian “Naked Angel of the North,” who wore only white muslin (well dampened) to cling to her svelte form.

So trust me, Vienna turned into the party town of the time. Masked balls, medieval jousts, outdoor balls danced under a blaze of fireworks, sumptuous sleigh rides, complete with a traveling orchestra–the daily entertainments were dazzling in the extreme. And of course, a lady has to dress for the occasion, right?

Here are a few of my favorite fashion tidbits:

–At the Emperor of Austria’s Welcoming Ball, one of the “decorations” was having the Duchess of Sagan and 23 of her friends come dressed as the Four Elements: Six ladies dressed as Water, wearing blue and green dresses festooned with pearls, coral, and seashells. Six wore bright red dresses and carried torches to represent Fire. Six wore thin, nearly transparent gauzy dresses and wore wings to be Air. And lastly, representing Earth, the duchess and her group wore brown velvet dresses and headdresses made out of golden baskets filled with jeweled fruit!

–At the Carousel, the recreation of a medieval joust, there were 24 Queens of Love appointed to cheer for their champions. Each queen wore an elaborate velvet dress with lace trim, and vied to have the most elaborate display of jewels adorning it. Princess Esterhazy’s gown was reputedly worth 6 millions francs, and one of the other ladies proclaimed, “We shall wear every pearl and diamond to be found in Hungary, Bohemia, and Austria!” Indeed one Prussian officer was moved to exclaim that 3 military campaigns could have been fought with the riches on display that night. (In keeping with the “bling” spirit of the evening, Lady Castlereagh wore her husband’s Order of the Garter as a tiara)

As you can imagine, this real-life history made a colorful backdrop for my fiction. I had a ball weaving some of the details and people mentioned here into Kate and Marco’s adventure–for me, research of what helps make a story come alive.

So, have you any favorite parties from history? And speaking of gala parties and fashion, the Oscars are coming up–who will have the most fabulous dress? (Amanda and Megan will have the skinny on this!) Please chime in! I’ll be giving away a signed copy of To Tempt a Rake to someone who leave a comment here…

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Kim in Hawaii
11 years ago

Aloha, Cara and the Riskies! A fascinating post! It must have been more glamorous than the Oscars … but just imagine the poor servants! Even the jewelers who probably had to make grander pieces by the minute.

I can’t think of a fabulous party from the past but looking forward to the Wedding of the Year – William and Kate!

Perhaps historical authors should wear tiaras to RWA’s Golden Heart and RITA awards in NYC in honor of the Vienna Conference! Does anyone have a spare Order of the Garter?

Linda
11 years ago

Favorite historical fiction party – the barbarque at Twelve Oaks in Gone With the Wind – Scarlet’s beautiful gown and our first glimpse of Rhett.

Maureen
11 years ago

Congratulations on the new book Cara! It has been so cold and snowy here that it is hard to imagine a beautiful party but your setting sounds very interesting and how amazing that all that intrigue was going on.

Diane Gaston
11 years ago

Welcome back to the Riskies, Cara!

Groan…you have to mention a book I don’t have!!! I already have two books on the Congress of Vienna that I haven’t read

I guess our Oscar fashions are just rookie stuff compared to that time!

I suppose the party that the Prince Regent held with the fake miniature river on the dining table, the one that wound up with the fish dying….that was notable!

Congrats on the new book!!

Diane Gaston
11 years ago

Maureen! You were my Prince of Pleasure winner. Email me at diane@dianegaston.com

gamistress66
11 years ago

Congrats on the latest release 🙂 Wow, those sound like some parties. A talented pick pocket could have had a field day at one of those and lived quite happily after 🙂 I’m not a big flashy jewelry or dress but rather pratical type so I would have definately been a wall flower, but to witness such extravagance would have been something. Can’t think of any historical parties that could begin to compete with the ones you mentiond — they’ve completely blown my mind 😉

Amy Kathryn
Amy Kathryn
11 years ago

I have been dying to go to a regency house party lately with all the historical reading I have been doing in my cozy chair. The food, the games, the musical bedrooms in the evening…

Bibliophile
11 years ago

Congratulations on the publication of the book.

Since discovering Mughal food, I have wanted to go back in time to attend a feast at the court of Shah Jehan, but my favourite historical party of all time has to be the wedding party of Marie de Medici and Henry IV of France. 300 guests, 50 courses and splendour I can’t even begin to imagine.

cara elliott
11 years ago

Kim, I agree the wedding will be the party of the century (so far!)

LOL on the Order of the Garter—know anyone lord willing to lend one?

cara elliott
11 years ago

Linda, that’s definitely a party to remember

cara elliott
11 years ago

Thanks, Maureen!

cara elliott
11 years ago

Oh, Diane, I have more books to suggest (just saying!) I have SO many research books stacked that I’m dying to read.

cara elliott
11 years ago

Oooooh, Bibliophile, I’ll come as your guest to the Medici wedding!

cara elliott
11 years ago

gamistress66, I tend to be a wallflower too, so we could watch together.

cara elliott
11 years ago

Amy, Vienna was the mother of all house parties! I would love to go back in time and be a fly on the wall!

Kat
Kat
11 years ago

What a fascinating post; I can just imagine all the bling!! I have been looking forward to Marco’s story and can’t wait to read.

Kirsten
11 years ago

I always wanted to go to the wedding of Mr Darcy & Elizabeth. I imagine they had a fabulous get together. I wonder if he danced with anyone besides his wife. (And yes, I want to see for myself how handsome he is)

And to the Christmas party in: A Wallflower Christmas. Just to see what it’s really like at a historical home in December. Loads of decorations, fabulous food. I think it’ll be awesome.

cara elliott
11 years ago

Thanks, Kat!

cara elliott
11 years ago

Kirsten, what a great suggestion. I’d love to see Elizabeth and Darcy’s fete. My guess is Darcy danced with Jane, but Lydia definitely wasn’t invited.

Melanie
11 years ago

Hey Cara!
Love reading about you and your books. I’m having the hardest time locating your new one. All of my Borders are out of stock, so I hope I win it!

I have the other two on my TBR and as soon as I get the third one, I’ll be reading them all.

I’m very excited to read about Vienna. I must say that when I lived there in the ’70’s I loved that town. It was soooo clean and people were awesomely friendly. Parks and museums, stores and people made an awesome impression on a 17 yr old 🙂 I left Vienna for USA in ’73 after 10 months there.

Thanks for a great post 🙂
Mel

Louisa Cornell
11 years ago

Hello Cara !!

To Tempt a Rake is sitting on my TBR stack TEMPTING me to avoid my rewrites and settle in with what I know will be a great read.

Vienna is a lovely city. Very elegant and cosmopolitan, very friendly and sweet as well. Lets not talk about the food, especially the pastries! I swear I gained ten pounds every time I visited!

I did attend the Rudolfina Redoute in Vienna about 20 years ago and it was the experience of a lifetime!

I would love to have attended the 17 day long feast the Earl of Leicester threw to honor Elizabeth I. From what I’ve read it was a fantastic party!

The first Earl of Carlisle was known as the “English Heliogabalus”
He threw parties where the food took weeks to prepare and when it was served it was so wondrously wrought people stared at it rather than eat it. Now THAT’S a party!

Amanda McCabe/Laurel McKee

LOL! I wonder if they had to make a new rule against inappropriate use of Orders after this? 🙂

librarypat
librarypat
11 years ago

We have excess now, but I don’t think the Oscars would compare with the glitz, glamor, and expense of this party season. Is it any wonder that there was discontent with the aristocracy and their lavish life style? Not only could several military campaigns have been financed, but medical care, orphanages, and better conditions for workers. I understand the reasons for the jewelry and show and I am certain it was impressive. We all love spectacle and glamour. It would certainly be wonderful to be able to look in on some of these grand events.

TO TEMPT A RAKE sounds like a good story. Intrigue, a heroine that is very much her own person, a mysterious hero, and parties. I hope the release goes well. I look forward to reading it.

pageturner
11 years ago

I actually enjoy sewing, even the tedious stuff like beading, so I rather fancy making my own frock for a ball.

pageturner345@gmail.com

Karyn Gerrard
11 years ago

What a great post! I can’t think of any great parties…any party from a Lisa Kleypas historical I would hazard to guess!

Barbara E.
11 years ago

Eloisa James had a great costume party in one of her Desperate Duchesses books. I can’t recall exactly which one because a lot of the same characters interacted in all of the books, which I thought was fantastic.
As far as the Oscar’s go, I think Jennifer Garner always looks fantastic.

Jeanne M
11 years ago

I’m still trying to get to a store to buy To Tempt a Rake. They closed our local bookstore and if it every stops snowing here I might be able to get to one up in the northern part of the state!

I keep being amazed at how sometimes the history of the past seems to reappear now between the intrigues going on all over the world and a Royal wedding happening soon in England.

I love the way you bring history into your stories and help us transport back in time and feel we are there along with the characters.

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